Album Reviews: March 2001

Wheatus - Wheatus (Columbia)

Hands up who remembers Deep Blue Something? No? Well you probably remember 1996’s "Breakfast At Tiffany’s" and the anoraks amongst you may also recall their minor hit of the same year "Josie".

I can’t help feeling that there’s something remarkably similar between Wheatus and the aforementioned band. Let’s see - ‘massive hit with ridiculously catchy pop-cum-rock tune followed by less successful follow up single and then KABOOMF!’

That’s my word for disappearing in a cloud of smoke never to be seen again. It’s an inoffensive, fun album and I may of course be having these words rammed down my throat in years to come but somehow I doubt it. Still, I’ll always be fond of the line "Your boyfriend’s a dick" - a sentiment I’ve often wanted to express to various women on many occasions. I would have preferred being spared the Erasure cover though lads. 3/5 Tone E


28 Days - Upstyle Down (Mushroom)

Now this came as an almighty surprise. I was fully expecting the whole album to be of the so called "nu-metal" given the taster singles previously released.

Whilst it certainly begins that way, there are more than enough diversions to keep the true music connoisseur from dismissing them as wannabe Bizkit kids on a runaway bandwagon. For example, on "Sucker" the outfit sound like EMF in the verses and Anthrax in the chorus. Plus, silly little instrumental detours like "Jedi vs The Krust" always gnaw their way into my affection like rats wearing tartan pyjamas.

The only criticism I can ostensibly level at the Aussie rockers is that "Song For Jasmine", whilst it would have made a very nice poem for whoever’s daughter she is, the lyrics are a mite too trite to bear. Nice tune though - sounds like Sugar or Bob Mould’s solo stuff. 4/5 Tone E


Vegastones - Love Hotel (V2)

From the kick off, "Porcelain Skin" sounds like Freakpower vocally and musically like The Beautiful South. "Drag Queen Eyes" as I may hve mentioned in a review of the single, puts me in mind of The The.

Apparently they’ve just finished touring with Duran Duran and to me that sounds quite apt because the band clearly belongs in the 1980s. It’s an inoffensive album, but having worked plenty of nightshifts in my time I can tell you now that this would definitely be the kind of band who would be featured on "Cue The Music" at half past two in the morning when really you need someone like Amen to give you a shock to the system that renders your trusty matchstick props redundant.

It’s probably the kind of thing where if you play one track every now and again you think "Hey this is great" but playing it all the way through is like a 200 mile journey with your parents and you can’t help screaming "Are we there yet?" 2.5/5 Tone E


The Pixies - Complete "B" Sides (4AD)

So you think I’m biased just because the Pixies were my all time favourite band? You think I’m going to go on and on about Black Francis being one of the most influential rock geniuses of modern culture.

You probably think I’ll rave on about the beautiful acoustic version of Doolittle’s "Wave Of Mutilation", the weird out wonder that was "The Thing", the majestically toe curling splendour of the early b-sides or the pure silliness of Dave Lovering’s obsession with Debbie Gibson ("Make Believe").

Maybe you even think I’ll bring up that all these magnificent tracks are all available mid-price on ONE album. I bet you even think I’m going to give this five out of five. Well just watch 5/5 Tone E


Sandy Dillon - East Overshoe (One Little Indian)

Janis Joplin’s reincarnation breathes new life into songs that could have been written by old Pearl herself. It’s at the points where Dillon sounds like the flowered up wild child that she seems to be at her best. On other occasions she trespasses rather frighteningly on goofball territory. Macy Gray to be precise.

Me, I often think I should have been born early enough to have experienced the late sixties given my penchant for running around in my birthday suit chanting gibberish at people, but sadly I missed out. Different, but maybe four decades too late. 3/5 Tone E


Divine Comedy - Regeneration (Parlophone)

Ok to start here and to way lay any claims of nepotism I’ll get this out in the open and nail my colours to the mast. The Divine Comedy are music gods and Neil Hannon is probably one of the greatest song writers the 20th Century ever produced, John Lennon is way out there, but Hannon is good.

I don’t know what it is, but Neils vocal refrain has the ability to turn melancholy moments to joy and add an air of hope to even the sadest of storylines. The music here ‘plods’ as a mainstay to the storyteller and is possibily the most joyless of scores I’ve heard the group produce in a while, but when I thought we’d seen the last of this comedy, following cut price releases and greatest hits on the shelves, I’m lifted to hear yet more divinity from the lips of Mr Hannon.

So listen to what is offered on the surface of any Divine Comedy release and I’m sure you’d be forgiven for considering that it’s all very samey, but you would only have read the first page in the book. These have been written so that you allow them to penetrate and really are blinding affairs, any of them. I’ve been listening to Frankie Goes to Hollywood lately and putting aside my teenage infatuation, by the time they’d released ‘Liverpool’ (now that was a tricky title to have come up with!), it showed that really they were washed up. But The Divine Comedy, don’t show any fatigue or chink in their armour at all and look set to do a ‘Duracell’, I just hope this doesn’t prove the kiss of death. 4.5/5 Nick James


My Vitriol - Finelines (Infected)

As I sit here listening to this album, literally weeks and weeks before its scheduled release date, the debut from these indie pretenders, I am of the mind I have just born witness to surely one of the albums that will be remembered among the best of this, the first year of the ‘real millennium’.

The press release that accompanies this release has got it down to a tee, describing music "awash with glorious guitar" and "punctuated by spiky anxious lyrics", I hear a sound that echoes those moments from My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive from ten years ago, but bringing things right up to date with the teenage angst displayed by the likes of JJ72.

I heard My Vitriol perform, live, a few months ago as support to the mighty Manson, proceeding to the venue full of anticipation not for the headline, but for My Vitriol, this was met by an air lost of what was to come. The performance certainly possessed the promise shown here, but fell short. Well ‘Finelines’ is here now and is where this band starts in my eyes. 5/5 Nick James


Tram - Frequently asked questions (Setanta Records)

Opening with ‘Are you satisfied?’ this album scopes the sound galleries of Codiene and Bark Psychosis. The less is more introduction gives you that blissed out feeling that can carry you for miles. It feels like rock took a vacation and while the cats away this serene mouse will play. Caring for every sound, this emotive album will console the most aggressive feelings. This offers you a chance to escape the false bravado that is fast paced living and solace in some else’s aching heart. Lo-fi at its lowest… beautiful. 3.5/5 Stuart Wright



Low - Things We Lost In The Fire (Tugboat Records)

Low battle with the inertia that makes Sebadoh scribble and mess with sound. All the songs on this album cry out for release, but the band manage to keep the secret attraction firmly under wraps. Seductive must have been invented with the foresight that Low would be created. Sounds swirl amongst the haunting vocals of Alan Sparhawk as he encourages you "closer… closer" (on White Tail). ‘Dinosaur Act’ (single from Oct. 2000) cherishes the moment they reach the chorus and keeps you waiting anxiously, until they return to it. Blessed with honesty, this is the one thing you do not want to lose in the event of a fire. 4.5/5 Stuart Wright


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