Spotlight February 2005


David Francis - Fake Valentine

It's not every day that you have compliments bestowed upon you by the manager of the Rolling Stones, but that's one of the many feathers in the cap of David Francis. What do our dynamic duo think about these songs though?

T: It's quite an extraordinary set of tunes to be honest. A more alternative Elvis, shades of Chris Isaak, large splodges of Bo Diddley, a smattering of early Roxy Music and even Eno's solo output. Those folk who dismiss something as "crap" if they don't like it upon their first listen will continue to bury their heads in the sand, whilst those of us with even half a brain will be handsomely rewarded with repeat listenings, as this is a fine release filled with exquisite beauty, and while it is unlikely ever to spawn so much as a hit single, it would almost certainly be championed by any of the more "mature" music magazines that seem to be the only ones worth buying nowadays. I only wish the great John Peel were still around to witness Francis impressive output, and I'd be intrigued to hear his comments. The references that spring at you are endless while the album plays: the latest being the late Billy Mackenzie crooning over a Latin American beat, but the fact remains that this album is truly wondrous.

N: I think it's a case of getting into the right headspace before drawing any conclusions, and as you said, all this and more. David, to my mind, bears the uncanny spirit of Ray Davies, perhaps vocally, but none more so than track three "Reflections In the Mirror of the Light I'm Wearing", which cheekily utlises the intro of "Sunny Afternoon"...or perhaps it had just been on random play just before he settled down to pen this track. His musicality is undoubted, and wholly worthwhile once you get past the "sheep". 9/10

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The Story - Victories

A four piece outfit from Southend-On-Sea featuring Stephen Rudd on vocals, who has been playing with a wealth of unsigned acts over the past decade.

T: Is it just me, or is this stuff just too "clean" for your liking too? Nothing wrong with the song arrangements I hasten to add, but I fear it lacks that "cutting edge" that all too often is needed for a band to get anywhere these days. Reminds me a little of the Gin Blossoms and, to a lesser extent, Barenaked Ladies. Nice enough tunes, but not enough to turn industry heads in my humble opinion.

N: I found the group may have gone for "safe"; a set that would seat easily with a multitude of audiences, and the landlord of said venue. Nothing wrong with that for a jobbing band, but; Mondeo Man does tend to come to mind and as you have already stated this lacks the spark of creativity that'd make it truly shine.

T: I also feel as though Rudd, whilst being the owner of an obviously well trained voice, is guilty of purely "singing" the words rather than emoting them as well. A little more emphasis on this would surely only help the band towards what it wants to achieve. 4/10

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Tears In X-Ray Eyes - The Way We Live Now

This "band" seems to be becoming quite a firm favourite amongst the Atomicduster staff of late, so we're approaching this one with trembling fingers...

T: Completely rivetting, as is always the case with Tim Closs. I don't know what else to say about it - it's innovative, it brings a tear to your eye at times, and the rest of the time you feel as though you're grabbing closely at the sidegrip of a white knuckle ride. Astonishing, sublime, beautiful: all those words still can't sum up just how much of a national treasure Tears In X-Ray Eyes are. If you don't agree to give this ten out of ten I'm going to punch you on the nose...

N: Right. It's not surprising this artist has become somewhat of a, how did you put it?, "a firm favourite". This is the shining star on top of the Christmas tree (no pun intended, Anthony). An album's worth of content that screams "brilliant". Well paced, and collectively superb - this should be shown to all who come after exactly how an album should be made. And as for my nose, it'd make no difference even if you did - 10 is no less than this deserves. 10/10

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