There's a neat symmetry to this limited edition split single release on Repeat Records. Pitching Open Mouth, the solo project of Seymour Glass (the former frontman of cult personal/political punk/indie act Miss Black America) against the solo work of Dexy, a man who last year emerged from behind his scissor kicking bass weilding antics of the much-missed New Cross rock heroes Corporation Blend) to create some beautiful acoustic work, notching up over a hundred gigs and even playing at the same festival as Bob Dylan!
The fact that these two are placed alongside each other is perhaps a recognition of not only the potential talent of the bands from which they emerged, but the fact that they both share a refreshingly heartfelt and impressively individual approach to their solo works. That they sound different enough to give you contrast is pleasing too.
Open Mouth's two superb tracks at first inevitably sound a little like the more acoustic moments from MBA's two albums: "Castle Keep" exhibits Seymour's (slightly nasal) weary delivery, against a night-time acoustic backdrop, his passionate Manicsy aleniated angst ("These Machines for living in grow cold") is still firmly in tact, but here he'splaying with the idea of identity, he ripps apart the cliche that an a englishman's house is his castle;("These four walls are everything /I'll blue tak my life to them/ but its no castle to me/Coz I'm no english man.") and resigning himself to losing someone ("This indefensiable space/Won't keep us together"). Now shorn of a band, Open Mouth is striking for Seymour's singularly personal musical approach and a now searingly personal hue, heartbreak turned up to ten, the strumming outro is underpinned by multiple dappling electric guitar notes, growing into something quite special indeed. The twinkling instrumental slide rule guitars of track two "327" remind me somewhat of the bittersweet urban tragedy of an early Suede acoustic b-side, which is an awfully good thing.
Contrasting neatly with Open Mouth, Dexy's solo work is
initially more reminiscent of Elliot Smith or Bright Eyes, yet retains
a quality that's definably Dex: On "Waiting for an accident"
his opening frail falsetto is offset by a great harmonica part that
weaves its way through the entirity of this wistful song. About a minute
in and some superb tumbling drums kick into your guts, and a buzzing
bee of an electric guitar part gets in your head: as the rhythm gathers
a life of its own it allows Dexy's voice to grows strongly into the
lurching melodic line's body: it's simple well-crafted songwriting,
a tale of self doubt ("Screw the sunshine/Screw my heart")
delivered with a sensitive heart. "Asleep in Your Attic" is
gorgeous; a more solitary affair; Dexy's echoing delivery floats above
this heavy hearted strum, and Neil Young-esque harmonica parts, suddenly
the pre chorus melody reminds me of the chorus from "Chasing after
you" by the Foo Fighters, before taking a different path where
its heartfelt, lovelorn, plea for comfort is beautifully realised: ("But
If you ever wanted me/ A heart to drift out in the snow.") A superb
split single that's well worth getting hold of - passionate solo artistry
is a rare thing in the mainstream scene, the music that these two produce
is full of heart, and alive with a passion for creativity that's a pleasure
to behold from two men who have clearly learnt from their respective
former band's pasts and come out fighting.