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ATP CD 1-2-3!

These CDs were a great idea. The ATP organisers acknowledge that you can’t possibly see every band, some bands were only playing one weekend and anyway, most people spent the time too lashed to remember anything. So here’s a three-CD reminder of every single band to help inform your inevitable ‘ooh, they were good at ATP’ post-ATP record purchases. The only criticism – the CDs all come in paper wallets without the tracklisting written on them, so you put the CD in the player and immediately can’t tell which track is who. Come on, kids, a sleeve’s not too much to ask, is it?

Here we have some diskant-related rock legends reviewing a CD each for your reading pleasure. CD 1 is reviewed by Ady Foley, CD 2 is reviewed by Jason Graham and CD 3 is reviewed by Rob Strong. CD 3 is also reviewed by Stuart Fowkes. Just because.

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CD 1 – reviewed by Ady Foley

Hey, this is clever, they’ve done these cd’s with the bands in an alphabetical order, there’s a lot to get through…

Fred Armisen
Starting out with the funny guy who introduced the bands this little skit sees Fred taking on a Joey Deacon style retarded persona in a short interview with Steve Albini.

Arcwelder – Never The Same
I like this, it starts out with some pulsating rhythmic guitar and vocals reminiscent of the husky drawl of Screaming Trees’ Mark Lanegan before it gathers pace and the guitars crash in full on stylee. I’d like to have seen these.

Blonde Redhead – Bipolar
Blonde Redhead are great, but you probably already know that. High pitched shrieking Japanese girly vocals alternating with the contrasting intonations of Italian Amadeo Pace all set to a driving almost haunting backdrop complete with some lovely sounding dirty bass. I like Blonde Redhead.

Bonnie Prince Billy – Minor Place
A gentle strumming folk/country hybrid, very Celtic sounding. This isn’t Will Oldham singing though surely – apparently it’s Place Called Space doing this . Definitely no minor threat, but a pleasant enough little number.

The Breeders – Little Fury
This is a track from the long anticipated new Breeders album, Title TK. Opening with a great lone drumbeat before the distinctive hangdog vocals of Kim Deal come in, recalling the likes of Throwing Muses (or early Breeders) from all those years ago, it mutates into an almost bluesy swamp rock stomp. Nice.

Brick Layer Cake – Stars
So this is Todd Trainer’s side project. Coming on like a strange Royal Trux/JSBX/Zappa hybrid, the slow drawl spoken word delivery could even be Iggy on a bad day. There’s some nice guitar noise in the background, but it probably outstays it’s welcome at almost 7 minutes long. He mentions fluffers though, so bonus points are awarded for the amusement factor.

Cheap Trick – Anytime
I vaguely remember this lot, or at least the name anyway and lo and behold I even recognise the tune as it builds into what you think could actually be a parody of a band in time gone by, evoking images of spandex clad loons with bubble perms, but it’s actually quite a recent tune. Straddling the borders of Rock and Metal, with a distinctive vocal delivery it’s like classic FM rock that Smashy and Nicey would be proud of. Not ‘arf mate.

Consonant – Buckets of Flowers
Fast paced, with a very American sound whatever that is…(and hardly surprising as they are American), this one wastes no time in getting right in your face with it’s instant vocal delivery this is evidently a tale about buckets of flowers, porno mags and canaries. It’s one of the guys from Mission of Burma and a bunch of well-travelled cohorts, including folks from The New Year and Come. The sound is early 90’s US alternative guitar, but that’s not a bad thing, it was a great time for music.

Danielson Famile – Good News for the Pus Pickers
This one’s a bit mad and very hard to pin down as it’s basically all over the shop. Screeching vocals open this fantastically titled track, with a grinding synth organ sound underpinning the whole thing. The chorus is catchy in one of those quirky sort of poppy (annoying?) ways and brings to mind bits of REM and They Might Be Giants but adds some light relief from the mixture of punk gospel country rock that makes up the rest of the song . These sound interesting and I’d like to have seen them.

Dead Moon – Sabotage
These sound like a bunch of old rockers, in fact they are. Good and dirty rock and roll by old people. Alternate old man/old lady vocals with driving guitars. It’s all about Dead Moon according to Steve Albini…

Fred Armisen
This time an amusing little bit from a live show with Fred taking on the guise of a priest, a stand up comedic priest no less, ruminating on urinating, drugs and counselling couples amongst other things. He’s a funny guy is Fred.

Dianogah – Wrapping the Lamb, Sir
From the outset this is unmistakably Dianogah, with that recognisable dual bass thing going on, but with the added texture of some dreamy keyboards that bring to mind the likes of Tristeza. In fact as the song goes on, slowly meandering it’s way to the end it sounds more and more like Tristeza. Not everyone’s bag, but I like this.

The Ex Orchestra – Uitgeest
Weird shit from arty Dutch rock collective, The Ex going all orchestral on us. It’s got lots of brass and probably woodwind coming across like the soundtrack to some sort of sixties black and white horror film going all spaghetti western towards the end. The Good, The Bad and The Ugly meets Psycho or something… Scary.

The Fall – Way Round
The Fall go electronic. Starting out with a psyched out fucked up intro akin to the Dr Who theme tune, this builds and builds. Mark E. Smith, ever the eternal miserabilst rants on about the fact he can’t find his way round. Nice bass too. Yep, totally wired this one, The Fall are ace. Shame I missed ‘em.

Flour – Blood
At first this sounds a bit like The Fall too or maybe even New Order or Joy Division, until the vocals come in that is and reality hits home that it’s actually that bloke downstairs who wasn’t very good – no, not David Lovering – but the behatted Flour. It’s OK, but that’s about it.

Robbie Fulks – Anything For Love
Slowing thing’s down a tad comes Robbie Fulks and it’s a pleasant enough ramble through alt-country territory. Starting off gently, but building itself into something quite big with a rousing vocal in the chorus before mellowing back down again. Matthew Sweet is the closest comparison I can make as this does almost rock out. Surprisingly he’s not massive because I gather this sort of thing should be really popular on Suburbia FM ™.

Godspeed You Black Emperor! – Storm
So we come to the end and we’ve only reached G. You should already know what this one sounds like, taken from the album Lift Your Skinny Fists… this is the segment that sounds like Amazing Grace. Sweeping! Epic! Emotive! Crashing! Orchestral! Fuck, you know what Godspeed sound like by now so I needn’t go on…

All in all it’s a pretty neat little package, the only problem being that it’s in a blank sleeve making it bloody difficult to know what you’re listening to. But hey, I got around that by photocopying the CD – now is that pirating I wonder…

* * *

CD 2 – reviewed by JGram

There once was a saying all good things start with a dick joke (or should I say “penga”?). Certainly my second day at ATP 2002 did and so does the ATP 2002 Disc 2. Fred Armisen was a wasted element at ATP, his pre-Shellac were comedic genius, even better than Chevy Chase. His turn as Niles Covington (erm, Prince) was only bettered by his self-defence seminar on sunday, which appears on track 10 of this CD.

I won’t lie to you, of the 16 bands/acts featured on this CD I only turned up for six and only paid real attention to two of them. See if you can guess which bands those were, I think you will be pleasantly surprised.

Anyways, kicking off musical proceedings is the floating headfuck of High Dependency Unit. Nope, I didn’t go see them but from listening to their offering here I reckon had I turned up for the party I might have gone completely insane, with the spinning and the revolving. Is this really Can? Am I Boner Boy? Silly question.

I was told the Lonesome Organist was a genuine treat, an ultimate wedding and party (VFM) act. I was told the movie The Wedding Singer was originally supposed to have featured the man (lie!). Or at least it should have. The Lonesome Organist may suggest something of a novelty act but tell me this is not the kind of backdrop Tom Waits and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins would lynch for.

The gravelly drawl of PW Long was yet something else I missed and the offering here suggests I missed an even dirtier version of early Will Oldham (who I hate) type character. I was told the Shellac song Prayer To God was written about him. Now, that may be true.

Low, as per usual, offer up he/she acoustics that sound nothing but lame to me. Elvis was a hero to most….. And upon each additional turn of the digital disc is begins to sound like something of the Blur experimental album. That’s a low man.

In contrast, the complete opposite noise noise noise of Melt Banana is something that is absolutely special and I would dearly have liked to have seen (but didn’t, them being weekend two only and all). Cleverly the raw sheet white noise of Melt Banana does sound like the great stuff of distortion, standing head and shoulders above frenetic by the book hardcore, which the uninitiated might mistake it for. Their track here is titled Introduction For Charlie and/but it is a third of the way through the song before I realise it is a cover of Neat Neat Neat by the Damned. Cheeky sauce.

A big highlight for me was accidentally happening upon/across Mission Of Burma and discovering that they are/were still really fucking great. I was told they were “hardcore legends”, which was something I took on very sceptically, but their ferocity and charge was genuine and fuelled sounding anything but dated. And so I feel they are poorly represented here with a soft (in comparison) version of That’s When I Reach For My Revolver, the song made famous by Moby (and also covered by Graham Coxon). As much as I dug Mission Of Burma on the Sunday, I’ll openly faux pas here by declaring I prefer the Moby version to the original (call me Traitor Graham).

Nina Nastasia returns things to a slow pace with her acoustic twiddlings, displaying her real strength/asset in her strong but vulnerable (and very beautiful) voice. In the same manner as Hope Sandoval and Chan Marshall, I have to admit although very popular with the masses, it doesn’t do much for me as I go out in a blaze of glory but it’s the sort of sad joy people love Cat Power for.

I was well prepared for The New Year having already heard (dismissed) their album and made myself familiar with their lineup and pedigree (Bedhead, Codeine). Somehow however their inclusion track here sounds fresh to me, a good version of that there Karate rock in one of their country tanged times.

Also sounding very different on disc (perhaps ill representing their general sound), the Oxes sound part of that whole scene that manages a guitar sound akin to a beeping computer, a strange observation in comparison to the metallic and visceral sound they have/had live. However as with the Oxes live, the track here is something fairly jerky (math, even Don Cab style) which ends up going on a bit (lot).

Plush turn out to resemble what their name suggests, velvet on vinyl (or rather digital disc). P lush are plush, loungey and cheesy, smoke-stained and out of place. There is an air of Bobby Conn appeal but ultimately it does sound like the Divine Comedy (nah good).

I thought the Rachel’s live were pretty good but their track here is shit sandwich. A Denis Leary-esqe review might go “insects crickets, random piano, strings come in, I go out, lame”. No excuse for it, full stop

Mark Robinson, who used to be in Unrest, reminds me of some guy on Matador a few years ago called Chris Knox. That’s good. Mr Robinson’s inclusion here is a jittery affair, a real treasure of echoing guitar, inholding a stop start stutter (akin to Gareth Gates perhaps) that manages to contain a fresh air to it. And for someone performing on their own that is really good, powerful and memorable in leaving its mark.

Prior to Shellac performing Disgrace on saturday, Steve Albini commented “this song describes English cuisine”. Of all the tracks on this CD, this is the song you have most likely already heard and thus needs little introduction nor description. For me, Terraform is still the Shellac album that contains my favourite Shellac tracks and this is the one notorious for the eternity break in it (memorable for the Peel airplay back in the day and prior warning of impending dead air). Everything has been said about Shellac already but I have to say I fucking loved superstar Todd Trainer’s etiquette over the course of the weekend.

The Shipping News offering is less startling. For me they’re still very hit and miss and the track here is a disappointing mish mash of silly cymbals and silly effects, a slow mish mash of disappointing atmospherics over a dull offering that makes an occasional great band sound like a crap solo project. Ouch.

A surprise here is the Silkworm track. Their set (partly clashing with Arcwelder on the Sunday) proved pretty lame and ordinary but their offering here equates to fun, verging on adventurous and proving a genuine swinger. Touching upon areas like (again) Karate and Braid, it sounds indie rock with genuine integrity like a soft Fugazi almost. Aces.

The final track and hey, it’s Smog. I think Smog caused most offence over the weekend, the man basically just did not cut it on his own, relying on reputation and, as my new best friend who bought me a pint during his set stated, “this is just shit served up as ice cream”. Why’d the prick go solo live when he is capable of such joys as his track here when motoring a whole band. Then again, I would question as to whether it is very healthy for a person in their twenties to be listening to such aged music. Dr Evil, s’wrong.

Did you hear about the couple who made love in the plumbers position? They stayed in all morning, but nobody came.

* * *

CD3 – reviewed by Rob Strong

Three Second Kiss “King of The Air”
I presume this is an Albini production job. Further proof of the everyday household maxim ‘Albini production jobs don’t work on CD’. Totally lacking in the warmth vinyl (or a live set) would generate. Shame, as this is a strung-out, bass-heavy chop through all the tricks in the Touch & Go rulebook.

Threnody Ensemble “Tha Roman (Formerly Valerie White) Part II”
All-acoustic and vocal-less, guitar/piano/cello extravaganza. Sorta like the more ‘early music’ tracks from Magnetic Fields ’69 Love Songs’, but heading away into Rachel’s territory. The only track on this CD that might make me buy an album.

The Upper Crust “Eureka – I’ve Found Love”
Big hair rock, appropriately enough given their onstage ’18th century powdered fop’ appearance. Initial impression suggested Aerosmith, but they’re lacking the vocal grit this implies. So I’ll plump for AC/DC instead.

Versus “Shangri-La”
Fey indie rock. The vocalist strays worryingly close to Manic Street Preachers territory at times, in both his delivery and lyrics (“high rise utopia, maybe there’s still hope for you”). Having never heard Versus before, I am somewhat mystified by the esteem certain circles bestow on them.

Wire “In The Art Of Stopping”
In, churning straightahead guitars and workmanlike drumming, out. Stops and starts at regular intervals but nothing changes in between. Maybe someone should buy them the new Six By Seven album – they seem in need of a ‘how to do intense’ lesson.

Shannon Wright “Less Than A Moment”
Didn’t register at all the first three times I played the CD. Shame, as it’s considerably more enjoyable than much of the rest. Albini’s drum sound, circular bass and guitar melodies, topped with a glace cherry and (is she from London?) post-punk vocals.

Zeni Geva “10000 Light Years”
Starts with the fizzing hiss of an amp turned up to 34. Menacing riffing. 40 seconds in, the drums blast everything into orbit. Heavy on the math, light on the subtlety. Doomy spoken vocals. More riffing. It is utterly pointless to play this at anything less than the limit of your hearing and your stereo. Preferably beyond.

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CD3 – reviewed by Stuart Fowkes

Stuart Fowkes wanted to review this SO MUCH that we’ve let hm do an alternate review. This is not because we didn’t trust Rob to finish his on time. ahem…

CD 1: 17 tracks. CD 2: 18 tracks. CD 3: 7 tracks. Spot the difference. It’s as if halfway through compiling disc 3, Steve and the boys either realised they didn’t have enough tracks to fill completely three CDs, or just thought ‘we can’t follow Zeni Geva with ANYTHING. Fuck it, let’s go down the pub.’ Either way, this is basically an EP with the stragglers and extras from the first two, meatier CDs. And, of course, the mighty Zeni Geva. Might as well give you a track-by-track, then…

Italian three-piece, err, Three Second Kiss sound like the kind of band you’d expect Shellac to have put on: three members playing guitar, bass, drums, vocals, nothing left to waste. It’s a sparse, repetitive sound that has its effect by making you really notice when any one of the three instruments drop out, rather than by any spectacular melodies. There’s a great, great part when only the bass remains and the other instruments smash their way back in like drunk rugby players breaking into an all-girl school, with about as much elegance. Three Second Kiss were never about elegance, though.

At first listen, Threnody Ensemble sound like they might be playing versions of Rachel’s’ more ‘upbeat’ tunes, but on second thoughts, they’re much more than that. The main part of ‘Tha Roman (Formerly Valerie White) Part II’ would actually be at home backing scenes from a BBC1 costume drama if it weren’t for a minute of so of bizarrely off-kilter fast piano-led stuff that could have come out of this week’s fascinatingly-patronising look at the Algarve in Wish You Were Here. Full of ideas and fascinatingly pretentious, but just on the right side of not taking themselves too seriously (I hope).

On entirely the wrong side of not taking themselves too seriously are The Upper Crust, who I also have to admit to not seeing at ATP. The roped-off seating areas and medieval costumes don’t come across on the CD too well, so we might have to – shock! – judge them on their music. The fact that the CDs didn’t come with any case meant that I didn’t know which band was playing when the tune came on, and immediately assumed it was Cheap Trick. In fact, having checked, I’m still almost certain that this is a Cheap Trick song. The lyrics are all about studying the classics, and how this matches to studying, like, the classic lines of a chick’s body. I’m sorry, I tried not to take this seriously and enjoy it for the party music it’s intended to be, but I think even Bill and Ted might have found this hard going. It’s like Slade meets SpÔnal Tap in a rubbish dump, and is no doubt MASSIVE in rock-starved Eastern European republics.

Versus are wholly more considered, playing lo-fi woolly jumper songs that leap out into, ahem, ‘life-affirming’ guitar breaks at a second’s notice. Bob Weston was right on the button when he said of Versus in the ATP programme that even when you hear one of their songs for the first time, you could swear it’s been one of your favourite songs for years. Genuinely rather lovely, and that’s not something you’ll get me to admit every day.

And now Wire (or rather WIRE!), who get hold of a classic post-punk riff and keep hold of it for five minutes, only stopping when their fingers get tired. The playing’s obviously tighter than their cracking loose live versions of their songs, but the guitars still sound like the production booth must have been full of wasps, pneumatic drills and vacuum cleaners all playing paper-scissors-stones with each other. And the great thing is that the guitars just seem to get louder after every break, until by the end of the song, my house has fallen down. I love Wire.

Shannon Wright‘s ‘Less Than A Moment’: if you took any fifteen-second bit of this song and played it to someone, it would sound like something special, but the song as a whole doesn’t really hang together as well as it could. I want to like her, I really do, but this song always sounds like it’s building into something really great and then letting me down. Wish I’d seen her live.

Closing proceedings are Zeni Geva, Japanese noise terrorists who were the band of the weekend for those seeking more ROCK for their hundred nicker. Their live set was 45 minutes of classic riffs, so as you might expect, this is six minutes of classic riffs. It’s like the Fucking Champs without the histrionics and soloing, but with the same utter, honest love of and belief in the power of the Flying V. It’s like the Oxes without the cowbell and all those pesky time changes and stop/starts. It’s RIFFS, dammit, and RIFFS are what make rock music exciting. I want a statue of Zeni Geva in my living room.

Article collated by Stuart Fowkes