Spotlight issue 34 (October 2005)


The Jim Muir Slideshow - Tomorrow's World, Today (Bowmans Capsule)

From the highlands of Scotland, via the travails of hundred hour weeks as a junior doctor, for the Jim Muir Slideshow it's been a long, strange trip. The band has suitably impressed the NME, Record Collector and The Guardian thus far, but what will the terrible twins make of it all?

T: He looks rather like a young Bryan Adams doesn't he? Sounds nothing like him admittedly, but visually it's quite uncanny. Musically, some of these tunes remind me of a post spliff Athlete. There's actually another artist he reminds me of enormously but I'm not going to tell you who that is because I've been using his name WAY too much in comparison with other artists recently. Having said that, there IS a touch of the Rufus Wainwrights in there as well. What say you?

N: This burgeoning artist collects together mostly, it has to be said, rather grey - although well exercised - set of songs on this EP. They've used interesting techniques to produce what is a product that will, I feel, meet a more mature audience well. Certainly an artist who deserves recognition. 8/10

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Mono Taxi - Kind of Better (Play It Again 7) released 10/10/2005

It's a bit of a rarity these days to hear of an Anglo-French band, but that's just what Mono Taxi are. Steve Lamacq and Claire Sturgess have already picked up on the band and their debut single has been produced by successful rookie Mike Crossey, whose recent CV includes that of Arctic Monkeys and the Daed 60s. Things are on he up, it would seem.

T: You can't really go wrong when your biggest influences include Velvet Underground, Pixies, My Bloody Valentine and the Moldy Peaches. And they haven't gone wrong at all. Interesting to note that the Pixies influence seems to lean towards the Kim Deal side more than the Frank Black one.

N: The rhythm, vocal and pace of these songs bear more than a passing similarity to what I was listening to fifteen years ago, and this retro slice of twee is just gorgeous.

T: But surely that's a contradiction? Calling something "twee" is saying it is overly sugarsweet and this is anything but that. It's a great selection of tunes, as I think you're trying to say, but with me being something of a "word Nazi", I thought I ought to pick you up on that...

N: The context in which I was using the word wasn't in any way a putdown. It might be considered just like shopping at the charity shop and coming away with something your grandmother might have worn in the fifties and yet today still has its place. That's twee, and I love this band.

T: Hmmm...I'll let it pass on this occasion, and I'll also mention that if you liked Stereolab, you'll probably like these too. But Nick, I'd really appreciate it if you thought before sausage putting errant words in your critiques.

N: And I'd appreciate your not stealing my references to bands, thank you.
I spoke of Stereolab and you duly nicked it! But like the beer, I'm not bitter.

T: OOOh (in high voice while holding up handbag) 9/10



The Heart Strings - Try Fly Blue Sky

"Twin brothers lead an ever burgeoning troupe of musicians past circus tents, airstrips and beyond" - well, that's what it says on the press release anyway...

N: Formed in the Spring of this year, these guys shouldn't be a fully formed unit by Autumn; they should still be arguing about who's paying for the petrol to take them to their rehearsal rooms.

T: Don't you think they sound like 10cc being fronted by Paul Heaton? That's what's going through my mind anyway.

N: Alright, so now I've gotten past my initial shock to the music, I WAS surprised but as brothers Todd and Max Roache had obviously been hatching this idea over time, the coming forth of mature music is no surprise. I can certaqinly hear 10cc, although that of Paul Heaton is less apparent.

T: It was just the one track that called to mind that reference. The rest of the tracks could have ALL been composed by the seventies legends. Nothing wrong with that of course, this is a great sampler. 8/10



Steveless - Popular Music in Theory (Cherryade)

The last band to be championed by the late, great John Peel...

N: I really like this.

T: Heheh. Me too. Unavoidable comparisons with The Fall so let's get that part out of the way straight away. You needn't claim I've nicked your reference this time by the way, because I reckon if you took this down the nearest maternity ward and played it to any newborn baby they'd say "Fucking 'ell, it's Mark E Smith". Anyway, they've pulled it off marvellously and it's tremendously exciting. In fact, it's far and away the best thing I've heard today thus far. It would be great to blast this out in your car to someone who doesn't appreciate good music - a James Blunt fan perhaps, for example.

N: Noise. Bloody noise. Vocals sung from the toilet and very little sense of what the vocalist is screaming, yet I find this draw exciting; a sound that would otherwise be filed alongside "shit". An unstructured mess of sound reminiscent of a four year old's temper tantrums, but still this is infectious. It's easy to hear what the trained ear of Mr. Peel heard.

T: In a nutshell, this is exhilarating. 10/10


Paul Waters - Victory Garden (Magic Hat Sound Recordings)

N: Music we might have heard had the Beatles continued to make music into the early seventies - in fact, rock 'n' roll McCartney comes to mind, even dipping its toe into the retro slice that is the Polyphonic Spree early on in the album.

T: Exactly. I mean, are we sure that Macca hasn't done an Alarm style trick a la the Poppyfields. I wouldn't be at all surprised if we found out it was all an elaborate hoax to garner newfound critical acclaim as it it just SO reminiscent of the guy. Thankfully we're talking early days as opposed to that of the Frog Chorus and its ilk. Charming is the word I'm looking for, I think.

N: It could even be said that this is the Paul Waters "White Album" but without the influence of Yoko, and given your coment, perhaps this was the album Macca WANTED to record. The only downside to my mind comes as far as the artwork goes, which is downright horrible. 8/10



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