Spotlight November 2003

Supra Argo - Supra Argo

An interesting item this. Some years ago, you may well remember a band called Ultra Vivid Scene, a short lived outfit that made some quality music in their time together. If so, you will be interested to hear that the group's former guitarist Colin Rae and future Clevergirl drummer Karen Sandvoss formed a new act called Supra Argo. Descriptions included "My Bloody Valentine and Nine Inch Nails coming together to score a David Lynch film. Unfortunate circumstances forced the band to split before ever properly releasing anything, but thankfully now, several years later, the band has reformed and this is the first time we have been able to get hold of their debut album.

T: Several references I would make herein. The opening track has Depeche Mode written all over it, and then you can pick out Broadcast, Lush and the aforementioned Nine Inch Nails quite easily. Have I just ruined what you were going to say?

N: Vary much so! But let's continue...bastard! A polished album full of those references, but for fans of the independent scene, this will hold great appeal. Colin Rae does offer a vocal style that is alarmingly like that of Dave Gahan, whilst Karen Sandvoss conjured up memories of Lush's Mikki. But that's no bad thing. Do you agree?

T: I certainly do. This is a breezy yet strangely downbeat release that, although not instantly infective, does indeed grab you enough to satisfy your intrigue for the album's remainder. Good, innovative stuff.

N: I'm glad you agree with that point. A very entertaining album that I feel crosses genres, and is not stuck in just that we've lavished references on previously. This would have been hugely successful fifteen years ago, although not wishing to take anything away from this group, could just as easily pick up many followers now. 8/10



Bywater - Bywater

In complete contrast to the last review musically...

T: This is more like an easy listening album really, and definitely has a late seventies, early eighties AOR feel to it. Sounds like a watered down Supertramp to my ears, or a less comical Squeeze, and whilst there is obviously no shortage of talent here, it's probably the sort of stuff that would pass me by if it came on the radio. In other words, it wouldn't make me turn the radio off, but it doesn't really inspire me, to be frank.

N: I think the criticsm I would offer is that this could be better produced. I felt that the vocals suffer from the tendency of being overridden by a somewhat untidy musical arrangement, which is a shame because I feel that this does have a great deal to offer. You're right when you mention Supertramp, and certainly Squeeze - I think Tilbrook's influence comes across loud and clear - but earlier in the album I got the feel of a solo Paul Simon. I certainly feel, as we progress through the album's content, that standout tracks tended to be those homegrown recorded tunes which take up the latter half of the album. 4/10 for the first half of the album, 7/10 for the second half.


No Fixed Abode - Acoustic Attitude

A twelve track album from Midlands duo Tony Dean and Una Walsh.

N: I might have been inclined to the age old scenario of drawing similarities to Julianne Regan of All About Eve, but although there are certainly similarities in Walsh's vocal style, I don't think that this carries the theme throughout. Definitely an album with a far less "rock out" feel. Instead we find almost an acoustic jam in our living room. Una's Celtic charm is forceful and only more forgiving on the more insightful musical offerings.

T: I don't know about All About Eve, but this to me sounds more like Hazel O'Connor. It strikes me that Walsh has been blessed with a remarkable voice and which would perhaps be put to better use in musicals on the theatrical stage. Then again, it's pretty obvious that this duo are as good as anybody at the kind of stuff they do; it just doesn't appeal greatly to my tastebuds, that's all. So I think I'll let you take centrestage here and decide upon the overall score we give it.

N: Alright. 6/10


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