Album Reviews: April 2002


Tetra Splendour - Splendid Animation (Chrysalis)

Hailing from the land of the long onion, vocal miners and Tom Jones, Tetra Splendour, a group who seem to have been around for ages release their debut album on May 20th. Keeping it real, the group recorded here in Cardiff City Audio Zone with Paul Durrant and Steve Davis, presumably not noted for his "interesting" vain.

T: Nice Hammer Horror intro anyway.

N: God this rings of seventies prog rock. That's not to say in any way that it's bad - just a bit of a shock, that's all.

T: I can't really see where you're coming from there. Explain.

N: Listen to the intro here. The funny little twiddly bits. It's Rick Wakeman to me.

T: Ok I can see a Tubular Bells or Pink Floyd kind of reference, but surely the voice has no relevance whatsoever to Yes.

N: None at all. I wouldn't burden the group in that light. I've met the band and they're nice guys. That's not to say Rick Wakeman isn't nice too, but hey, I've never met him. But that's in a "mate's dad" kind of way.

T: I like the morosity of it all. I doubt if they'd be invited to the Boy Scouts' disco.

N: That's a point. If they were, hide the sharp objects. He DOES sound like Roger Waters though doesn't he? It's apparent that the band were listening to Floyd in the green room prior to going into the studio.

T: Sounds like the weakest track was the one they released as their last single to me. "Bless My Soul" sounds a lot like the Longpigs.

N: This reeks of Julian Cope more to me, possibly on his "Fried" album, even down to the guitar work. I'm impressed with what the group have done in production here. The songs are great. A very different album -quite unlike what I would have expected after seeing them live. 7/10 web site


D*Note - Fuchsia Dog (Channel 4 Recordings)

See background about this act in our interviews/features section (link).

N: On hearing the artist's current single, I was quite taken. On hearing this, his latest album, I've not changed my opinion. I like what he's done with the moods he has created here. A veritable chillout album, post club.

T: There is a similarity in feel here with Kraftwerk's classic album "The Man Machine". I'm half expecting to hear the words "We are the robots dah dah da dah" any second now. Well, that album must be ranked amongst my favourites in my collection, so it's a pretty good prototype to work from if you ask me.

N: Don't you think it's a little less structured, and less rigid than Kraftwerk? This is warmer, friendlier and perhaps more approachable.

T: Yes but there is something enigmatic about this act, in the same way as there was about our loveable towel snatching European counterparts. It's a most relaxing listen and it gives you a nice glowing feeling inside.

N: I'm not so sure about the vocals on "Same Mistake" though.

T: A bit too "Ride On Time" do you think?

N: Yes, just not on a par with "Shed My Skin" which has to go down as a classic. I would say though, I would perhaps question the album's running order...I don't know though, maybe not, because it does hit a high on "Atomised" before coming back down again. Then again, what do I know? Matt's latest film "Out of the Game" is about clubbing the dance and drugs scene, so maybe that rush is something I know nothing about.

T: Yeah whatever. Shut up and pass me that spliff anyway. 8/10 web site


Haven - Between the Senses (Radiate)

Ok so this album was released this February last, but this month our writer Na'im Cortazzi interviewed the group so we thought this might be a good chance to take a listen to this, the band's debut album. Uprooted from their native Cornwall, to the bright lights of the big city (Manchester in this case) Haven are a group that belie their age as a band, but I think we've said enough here, take a look at the interview while we get used to this album (link).

N: Well we've digested what this group have to offer, your comments?

T: I'm pretty divided to be honest with you. I think the extra mellow tracks work on a massive scale for me. They have an enormous amount of emotion to them, and the right ingredients to give you a bit of a tingle. However, the ones that build up and up seem to be a little excessive for my liking. It's all very well putting your heart and soul into your songs as long as you don't do it to such an extent that it leaves the listener wanting to hack off his head with a chainsaw. Not that I was in the least bit tempted I can assure you...

N: Yeah I have to say I tend to agree with you there. On first listening to this album, I was most impressed, but long winded might be one way of putting it. I really don't wish to put the band down, as the product that they have produced is a good one, but maybe they have been a little too dazzled by the bright lights, like a kid in a sweet shop who wants everything, not realising that when the evening comes, they are likely to be sick.

T: Exactly. It's like an album where if you play one track on Monday it will sound absolutely fantastic, then another on Tuesday and again it sounds fabulous. Then you put the whole album on all the way through on Wednesday and suddenly you find yourself ringing the Samaritans to get you through it. 7/10 web site


Sheryl Crow - C'mon C'mon (A&M)

Sheryl Crow needs absolutely no introduction really. A fairly lengthy career to date has seen her having many smash hits in both UK and Stateside, some of which she openly admits she herself loathes. You know which songs they are. But are there any tracks destined for that fate on this album?

N: I've lived with this album now for a few days, and impressed was my initial reaction. Sheryl certainly seems to have brought the weather with her on releasing this album, as the song surely all of you have heard, "Soak Up The Sun" is simply stunning.

T: It's a cracking single, yes. I personally think her opening track "Stev McQueen" is stunning too, even if she DID nick the title from Prefab Sprout. She is definitely on fine form on her latest offering anyway.

N: I can just see myself, top down, stereo on, cruising the wide roads - even if it would take me a can opener to get this effect on my car.

T: I think it's definitely a summer album anyway. Could well be my soundtrack to the World Cup I reckon. Let's face it - it just makes you feel good listening to this. 9/10 web site


Jetplane Landing - Zero For Conduct (Yoga Boy Distribution)

This trio have been making all the right noises in all the right places recently, raising more than a few eyebrows wherever they have played. As Andrew Ferris quite rightly told us in last month's issue: Jetplane landing rock. That is all you need to know.

N: Ok, the album you've been waiting for I presume?

T: Every now and again, along comes an album that blows your socks off and laughs at you as realise you have been sitting prostrate for the whole entirety of its duration, in awe of the music that hits you. I for one am glad that CDs don't wear out as quickly as trainers, because if they did i would have spent an awful lot of money on this album. It's fantastic. I wouldn't say I'd been waiting for it particularly, as at that stage I was blissfully unaware of the effect it would have on me!

N: I like the influences the band have used here, aware of unaware of it, in particular the Blue Aeroplanes, a little known group who have certainly made their impact on this one. But to say just that would be to overlook the songwriting, particularly the line used in "End Of The Night" about people, trucks and hair dye. That was quite remarkable.

T: I think that's one of my favourite lyrics too. The overriding influence to me on this album is that of the Pixies. Handy that, seeing as they're my all time favourite band. I just think with "Tiny Bombs" they have done the ultimate cool thing by starting with the least commercial track on the album. "What The Argument Has Changed" certainly nods towards Trompe Le Monde's "Distance Equals Rate Times Time", and "End Of The Night" is oddly reminiscent of "The Happening". To me, this is the best debut album since "Surfer Rosa", and I can't even begin to tell you how much impact this album will have on you if you buy it. I'm still shaking with excitement.

N: Where did this group come from? It seems to have happened for them so quickly, snowballed if you may. I'm sure the band would disagree with this comment - a lot of blood, sweat and tears I'm sure was involved, but thank God this Jetplane landed. I can't thank the group enough for bringing us their music. 10/10 web site


Pet Shop Boys - Release (Parlophone)

The duo have worked with the legendary Johnny Marr on this new album. That's reason enough for me to like it anyway.

N: The opening track, their recent single "Homa And Dry" is a great tune, Neil's vocals as always damn near perfect, only slighted in the respect that we think he's borrowed Cher's harmoniser to sing through. Hey, I consider Tone my mate (aah thanks - deputy ed). However, I wouldn't ask to borrow his underpants.

T: Not after the last time anyway. Took me three weeks to get the stains out.

N: Thanks mate - I thought that was private! Anyway back to the music...

T: Yeah - 'I Get Along' sounds like the theme tune to 'The Likely Lads'! How retro.

N: Are you suggesting that Neil has come to the end of his creative tether?

T: Far from it. I think dabbling in the field of seventies sitcoms is the way forward for the youth of today, without a shadow of a doubt.

N: Well after just seeing S Club Juniors on the box, I would tend to agree, but back to the real music. You say that Johnny Marr worked here. Strangely enough, the guitars are as reminiscent of a singer's voice. This is Johnny Marr all over. However, I think that his work on this album far exceeds anything this record would have been otherwise.

T: 'London' is a great track though - except for the Cher-ism once again. I think the Pet Shop Boys have deserved their long and illustrious career to date, but maybe this release isn't quite happening quite the way we'd hoped it would. 6/10 web site


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