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THE MUTTS -I Us We You (Fatcat)

Posted: July 28th, 2006, by Fraser Campbell

FatCat usually release pretty interesting guitar based music, so it’s something of a surprise to hear this, a pretty straight up conventional rock record.

This is fairly patchy stuff, but when the Brighton based 4 piece get it right as they do on 3 or 4 tracks here, they deliver a blend of powerful riffing and snarling swagger that hints at a bright future, even if there is always the danger that they might get lost in the crowd.

My favourite track on this is “Don’t Worry”, an overwrought, slow shuffle that drips with attitude and also hints at a sly sense of the bands tangled roots.

Production wise, it lacks a bit at the top end for me and would benefit from sounding a little crisper.

Ultimately though, “I Us We You” only occasionally suggests that The Mutts are capable of moving beyond the efficiency they display here.

This is worth checking out if you like stripped down, unpretentious heavy rock n’ roll, but I’d expect better from these guys in the future.

The Mutts

VARIOUS ARTISTS – A Very Cherry Christmas (Cherryade Music)

Posted: December 22nd, 2005, by Fraser Campbell

The theme for this offering is pretty obvious, so I’ll tackle each track on it’s own. I’m afraid to say that the bribe of chocolate coins has done little to sway me, even if I recognise it as a nice gesture.

Mistys Big Adventure – Have Yourself A Psychedelic Christmas

Pretty unispired stuff from a band who’s album I quite enjoyed.

Steveless/Syd Howells – Seasonal Schizophrenia

This is pretty ropey. Steveless often complain of being bored, but the problem is that they almost always sound as if they are.

Tiger MCs – The Way That You Arrived

This is ok, but I personally hate deliberately wishy washy stuff like this unless it’s really well done. Grow a dick.

The Hot Puppies – Green Eyeliner

Lena Lovich meets Altered Images meets Texas. I just don’t get stuff like this.

Sarah and the Johnsonauts – The Lonely Little Elf

One of the worst songs I’ve ever heard. A bunch of half pissed sounding students trying to do Jeffery Lewis. Problem is even he does Jeffery Lewis badly.

Hello, How are you? – Alice The Christmas Pie

A song that took me longer to type than it took me to listen to. Mercifully.

Grand Prix 86 – Everybodys Dancing

Thank God. A great track. About bloody time. This makes me want to ruminate on the intagible factors that seperate good music from bad. But I’ll simply thank the stars that there is at least one decent track on this record, even as it becomes repetative to the point of irritation.

Das Wanderlust – Sleigh Ride

He he, this is quite funny. A “cover” of sorts of the popular Xmas song it kind of reminds me of a friend of my grans who would “Les Dawson” her way through the classics on the slightest pretext.

Giant Robot and the City of Tokyo – Vest

This pretty decent track walks off with the “second best track on the album” accolade. Their mums must be proud.

Container Drivers – In the Bleak Mid Afternoon –

A perfect example of a song that need never have been written.

David Craigie – Christmas In A Can –

This is much more silly, imaginative and interesting. Loads going on here, including a sense of humour. Wee gems like this are the point of compilations like this in the first place I suppose.

Chihiro – The Plans That We Made –

A nice wee tale of Xmas heartbreak here. Sweet, nicely excecuted and intelligent.

Steveless/Syd Howells – This Is What Dying Is Like (Christmas In Swansea) –

Oooow ma lugs. It’s difficult to imagine there is any working technology that can still record something that sounds so bad. The poor sound quality is deliberate of course. Sounding like unfunny students mucking about I assume isn’t. A bit harsh maybe but you generally get much better from these guys.

So, sorry Xmas fans, I’m afraid this compilation is overall much more of a turkey than a cracker.

Cheeryade Music


Posted: December 14th, 2005, by Fraser Campbell

This is a very good single which could have been great but for the fact that it’s packed with just a few too many ideas. A very breezy pop tune, “Staci Stasis” would benefit from a clarity of approach that often eludes punk/ska/pop bands like this.

Personally I find all three tracks offered here pretty toe tapping stuff, but given that “Staci Stasis” is considerably lighter in approach than the other two tracks, I would assume it’s a stab at being more universal and I don’t think it will ultimately translate to a large audience simply because of the mish-mash of ideas and styles contained within.

It’s just a personal thing, but I always feel that bands with a highly stylised image and style of presentation have to match that with a certain clarity of vision when it comes to the musical approach. Think Cramps, think Ramones, think Blondie – the walk matched the talk exactly. They could also have done with spending more cash on the mastering.

But I’m being picky. This is a very good single by a good band who sound as if they are having plenty of fun – I just don’t see this particular record breaking down any walls for them, that’s all. Cool free comic though.

Zombina and the Skeletones

MISTY’S BIG ADVENTURE – The Black Hole (SL Records)

Posted: October 4th, 2005, by Fraser Campbell

If you are looking for a madcap amalgam of The Walker Brothers, Neil Hannon and The Rezillos (and lets face it, who isn’t?) then Misty’s Big Adventure are the band for you.

Full of enthusiasm and humour, this is an album full of great lyrics, strong songs and killer arrangements, with an obvious grand vision at play.

Featuring serveral obvious singles like “The Story Of Love” with its Boo Radleys style radio-friendly perkiness, simple verse and killer hooks, the more overt tracks are blended very well with much more interesting stuff like the glorious, Wire-esque “Smart Guys Wear Ties”, “Evil” and the intoxicating “It’s Not That Important”.

“Never Stops, Never Rests, Never Sleeps” features some hilarious battle scratching effects at the beginning while blending Jacques Brel and The Divine Comedy and along the rest of the way there are hints of Johnathan Richman, The Kinks, Julian Cope and The Polyphonic Spree, while strong references to the glory days of Cud and The Frank and Walters also abound.

A lot will depend on whether you enjoy the voice and humour of vocalist Grandmaster Gareth (not a moniker to conjure much confidence I know) but if you do, you’ll find “The Black Hole” delivers a more than diverting experience.

Misty’s Big Adventure

CHARLOTTEFIELD – How Long Are You Staying – (Jonson Family)

Posted: September 8th, 2005, by Fraser Campbell

“I want this one back if at all possible.” said Marceline as she handed the CD over to me.

“What If I like it?” I replied.

“I’m pretty much prepared to fight you for it.” came the ominous reply.


I put it on, not sure if it would all end in violence.

And it’s brilliant, just a joy to listen to. I’m not going to compare them to anyone or draw comparisons as I’m want to do. Suffice to say this is jaggy, melodic, dramatic and as energetic and life affirming as anything you’ll have heard in a long time.

It’s just such a pleasure to sit back and enjoy a perfectly balanced band ripping it out, track after track.

If Marceline does want this back she IS going to have to fight me. That’s how good this album is.

Getting a copy is worth taking an ass-kicking from a girl.



Posted: September 8th, 2005, by Fraser Campbell

I’ll come out with what I don’t like about this record straight off. On a couple of tracks, there is some plinky-plonky, clean strat-style guitar that kind of sets my teeth on edge.

And that’s about it. Other than that, this is a very good, occassionally great collection of taut, stripped down country numbers.

Apart from some excellent songs, Lee’s great strength is his voice, half Layne Staley growl, half Neil Diamond melodrama, which he couples with a sharp instinct towards presenting his work in as uncluttered a fashion as possible.

It’s a good formula. The spartan production values allow both his soaring voice and deceptivley graceful songs to come to the fore.

Miles displays some fairly obvious singer/songwriter influences here, most notably on “Cold Wind Blowin'”, which borrows heavily (and knowingly) from Dylan’s “Isis”.

But there are signs here that Miles could develop into a genuinely significant songwriter, with cracking tracks like “My Protector My Punisher”, “Canned and Jarred”, “Mrs James” and “Mama They Made Me Beg” leading the line.

I’m a huge fan of Kris Kristofferson’s early records and that’s who Lee Miles reminds me of the most, a little less pithy maybe with a little bit further to go. On this evidence, I’m pretty confident he’ll get there sooner rather than later.

Lee Miles

CADILLAC – Locomotive (Pop Fiction)

Posted: August 15th, 2005, by Fraser Campbell

According to the accompanying press release, Cadillac aspire to the dizzying heights of QOTSA and At The Drive In in terms of “…drive and aggression”.

This single, produced by Black Crowes stalwart Rich Robinson, doesn’t quite scale the summit of their ambitions, despite boasting a truly profane guitar sound they can all reflect upon with some pride.

The problem? “Locomotive” isn’t really a single. It’s a fiery, rocking number to be sure, which starts well but waits far too long to bring in what sounds like a slung-in chorus and the song in general rather pales in terms of a melodic hook when compared to backup track “The Saint”.

Stylistically, the band appear to want to draw parallels between themselves and fellow Scandinavians Glucifer and The Hellacopters, but musically they still seem to be searching for a peg to hang their coat on, blending Monster Magnet, Screaming Trees and latter day Cult in solid but ultimately uninspiring fashion.


LARGE MOUND – Go Forth And Amplify (Scientific Laboratories)

Posted: July 28th, 2005, by Fraser Campbell

Imagine you’re hungry, starving even. Then someone comes along and serves you up a delicious stew containing every flavour you’ve ever enjoyed.

It might just be that I’m peckish just now but that seems to me as good a way as any of summing up this terrific record.

The analogy, crap as it is, does genuinely stretch to explain the massive range of influences and styles Large Mound use on this album without ever sounding like they are reaching or forcing anything.

With hints of everything from Gorkys to Iron Maiden, the astonishing achievement here is that they never truly sound like anything other than Large Mound. In drawing their influences without any apparent preference or particular prejudice, they seem to have created not only a distinctive sound for themselves but a natural sounding blend of stylistic surprises, providing a genuine tonic for even jaded old souls like my own.

Lyrical content focuses on hatred of menial jobs (“I Have To Work” and “Wad Of Cash”), semi-ironic references to “rocking” and acerbic true life accounts (“I’m Being Sued By The Fire Brigade”) while the production remit seems simple, featuring mixed down vocals, a towering wall of guitars and a selection of rasping riffs At The Drive In and RATM would have been justly proud of.

Large Mound

LEBATOL – Circo Russo (Function Records)

Posted: June 30th, 2005, by Fraser Campbell

Strongly reminiscent of The Screaming Trees, this four track EP lacks real punch, mainly down to muddy production.

A shame really, as Lebatol have come up with some interesting, well crafted songs and demonstrate that they are not afraid to mix a pretty straight up rock sound with some unusual and refreshing percussive touches.

Singer Shane Billingham tends to set the musical tone with a very distinctive voice, which I’m sure will be something of an acquired taste to most. Gravely and laconic, he sounds a little like Mark Arm meets Tom Waits.

This band aren’t there yet, but have shown enough potential on this E.P to suggest they may well be in the future.

A clever move in my book to steal the start of Cool Thing by Sonic Youth for their last track, the highly enjoyable Spectator NY, a SY/Heads-esque blast, which closes out the offering in real style.

THE MITFORD GIRLS – The Mitford Girls (Demo)

Posted: June 30th, 2005, by Fraser Campbell

This is a fun collection of three really good songs (Binary Boy, Pills to Paris and my favorite, Angry Raisins) by the Glasgow based band, who appear to have developed a distinctive sound without pulling away totally from Glastronica (my swiftly made up name for the many Glasgow bands who blend electronics with other instruments and, dare I say it, tend to sound vaguely the same in doing so).

I won’t lie, this kind of stuff is generally not my cup of tea. But the songs on this self-produced 3 tracker are all well conceived and executed with amusing, intelligent lyrics.

If you like your Glastronica (it’ll catch on, I’m telling you) tongue in cheek and frankly a cut above the norm, check them out.

You can find out where they’re playing next and what their plans are here.