Spotlight issue 23


Atomic - The Big Issue

A group who appear to run with the stars, well Noel Gallager, Paul Weller and no doubt the still credible element of the Quadophenia cast (is there a pattern emerging here?) and one who 'sport' real instruments is something they seem very proud of. Well honory Anglo-Germans ('scuse me if this offends guys) Atomic do everything short of wearing their parkers and wheeling their chrome laden Lambretta's out in front of me, although I'm sure they have the former hanging in their wardrobe and the bikes in the garage back at home.

This band are out to have fun and preach the gospel according to the 'face', does it work? Here are our thoughts:
T: If they make much more music like this, they'll be selling the Big Issue let alone releasing it. Actually that's not true, but I just thought it was a funny thing to say...anyway this is a bit like Suede meets the Buzzcocks meets the Stone Roses meets the band that they sound most like whose name I really can't remember.

N: A fair point from which to start this month, call their follow up album "Duster" and maybe we'll have something to shout about. But surely a Sonic Youth influenced slice that would fare well served pre-Sushi style. 8/10

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Sonafield - Operations Of The Unseen

This group's biography starts by describing them as a 'rock/pop band'. Now hold on a moment, this description almost suggests at something less than credible, maybe using something like "a solidly crafted stone-faced band with pop sensiblities" might draw a readers gaze away from thoughts of anything less desirable, or perhaps that just makes situations worse! But this group are from the home of credible - Seattle, as the description continues, so our minds can be put to rest somewhat.

Now I'm sure that some 'less than credible' bands hail from this city of the 'rising son', but the question is are these of the later or former variety? Let's take a listen:

T: This sounds quite a bit like Placebo's early stuff. I like the drummer's regular use of his toms. Gives them a slightly different slant. Some of their tracks sound like they could have been written by REM, and that's testament to their songwriting ability.

N: He's certainly worked well on the sound guy in getting his message high up on the presentation here, but a very "new" sound from this very derivative of cities. 9/10

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Hjortur - Keen Sabid

Iceland, it's cold I'm sure, just the very name suggests this to me, but Hjortur casts off any icey feelings by producing a beat ridden sound, overlaid with vocals so laid back, I'm sure if it weren't for the music he'd be likely of falling asleep.

Can't tell you anymore I'm affraid and visit his website and you'll see this enigma's had this said about him before too. So just let the music do the talking:

T: This is a dirty, sleazy, funky album that's also pretty wacky, and it would be easy to "shake your thang" on the dancefloor to some of the tunes booming out from herein.

N: This is a wonderful approach to the presentation. The music makes you smile, is well produced and its content considered, even if the stories from within the lyrics are a little sad. 9/10

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Mystechs - Showtime At The Apocalypse (Omega Point Records)

Looking like a cross between Marilyn Manson and a circa New Romantic Sparks, Chicago's Mystechs pack a digital punch full of binary coding. In fact this is so retro it's scary, from the costumes to the audible presentation, this is as an authentic slice as you are going to get in a 21st Century world. Mention the heart felt feelings of a glammed up T-Rex or Sigue Sigue Sputnik and you're half way there.

T: This sounds like the B-52's having a foodfight with cast members of the Rocky Horror Picture Show. You might think that would be a far from tempting prospect but you'd be surprised. Quite a few unexpected musical asides make this an interesting listen.

N: Quite apart from the flamboyant image that this group project, I'm sorry but I felt that the music fell a little flat, didn't possess the depth I was expecting, although lyrical content was amusing, timing was off.

T: I think it's a decent release, but the fact that one of the tracks sounded like Toto Coelo is (almost) unforgivable. 6/10

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The Pomes - Mind / Body Problem (Omega Point Records)

Song writer Michael Cummins is the brain child behind The Pomes, an artist who has more than digested the word according to the likes of a calm late eighties Wonderstuff or Cole in his sound full of country sensibilities. Once again Chicago plays home to this musician, but unlike stable mates The Mystechs, The Pomes produce music more familiar to the smaller venue live circuit, than any studio techniques.

T: Who's been listening to Lloyd Cole and the Commotions then?

N: A six track affair that again, to my surprise, fell foul of timing. It doesn't feel comfortable. This is obviously a beatbox, and lacks organic input.

T: Are you saying that the tunes themselves are inoffensive and could benefit from a "proper drummer" rather than relying on the click track of a machine? Do you think you might like it more if that were the case?

N: Exactly. This is what this, and the last artists would evidently benefit from. I'd like to see just how they would grow from input of a drummer to their ranks. This is what appears to be holding the recorded material back.

T: But certainly the songwriting in itself is strong, so it will be interesting to monitor the artists progress. 6/10

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