martedì 31 agosto 2010

Action Spectacular "From Here on It's a Riot"

Il mio unico ricordo di questo disco è...."non ho nessun ricordo". Spinto dalla curiosità e anche dalla bruttissima copertina mi sono messo ad ascoltarlo e sono resistito 20 secondi a pezzo. Dio che porcheria. E' bello avere a casa simili dischi. Ma è più bello regalarli. (Curveball 2000)

As in a laugh, or a revolution? Action Spectacular are hoping for the latter, for they are a band with An Agenda. Emerging from deepest Sheffield not with the usual PR doubletalk, but with their own extremely compelling rhetoric, they rail against "mediocrity" and "rose tinted revivalism", promising the sort of "improvement and improvisation" that will make us all feel awfully foolish for thinking, for a second, that Coldplay might be the future of rock.
Unfortunately, when it comes down to the crunch, Action Spectacular don't have enough energy - or ideas - to pull it off. Certainly, they excel at fluid melodies and observant, well-crafted lyrics. There are two songs - 'Hey Duffy' (about adolescent sexuality) and 'Transformers' (about Brian May, apparently) - which are positively heart-wrenching, but about as sonically revolutionary as spoons. 'Roxy Music' prods deft, Pulp-inflected pop, 'General Lee' mingles alt-country and jaunty dancehall like a clear-thinking Beta Band, 'Every Second Counts' has a pleasantly dozy Happy Mondays backbone, and the lovely 'Music In The Sun' evokes Badly Drawn Boy's wistful romanticism. All nice, mildly experimental classicism, but no riot.There's a wan cast to every song, like a party balloon listing at half mast. Even 'Stand Up', a - grrrr - vitriolic articulation of the band's intent ("Acid teds and techno ravers all the youth has been disabled/Replica drones sing 'never ever'...") sounds hollow and dispirited. Action Spectacular protest wasted potential, yet there's tankards of that here. The Action is sorted. The Spectacular, however, needs work. 6 out of 10 (

- Roxy Music
- General Lee
- Music in the Sun
- Streetfighter 2
- Half Empty Bottle
- Stand Up
- Drew Barrymore
- Every Second Counts
- Hey Duffy
- Transformers


lunedì 30 agosto 2010

Jack "The Jazz Age"

Secondo disco per i Jack, che risulta essere una naturale prosecuzione del suono del primo disco. Ancora una volta intensi e magnetici. Nonostante buoni consensi però risulterà non avere vendite ottimali. Peccato. (1998 Too Pure)

- 3 o' clock In The Morning
- Pablo
- My World Versus Your World
- Saturday's Plan
- Nico's Children
- Lolita Elle
- Cinematic
- Steamin'
- Love And Death in the Afternoon
- Half Cut, Wholly Yours


Jack "Pioneer Soundtracks"

Piero Scaruffi può dire quello che vuole (e lo leggete sotto), ma questo per me rimane un disco incantevole. Partiamo da una base Tindersticks e poi....pronti al decollo. Un prima parte esplosiva, con i singoli movimentati e melodie incisive e orchestrazioni folgoranti e poi una seconda parte oscura, malinconica, disperata, struggente. Questo è un disco che ho consumato. Va ammirato e lodato dalla prima all'ultima nota! (1996 Too Pure)

I hadn't heard of Jack in 1996, when Pioneer Soundtracks was released. By the time I was seduced by the wildly romantic, lush (or should that be louche) tones of singer Anthony Reynolds, and the bewitching, innovative music he and Matthew Scott conjured up between them, it seemed the good times were already almost over.
It all started so well. A deal with Too Pure, the embryonic band having the gall to ask for Pete Walsh, who'd worked with Scott Walker among luminous others, as producer on the first album, and amazingly getting him; a clutch of rave reviews, and a follow-up album (The Jazz Age) that displayed none of the notorious difficulties associated with the second album.
But Jack seemed to have a built in self-destruct button that alienated record labels, and the third and last album, The End Of The Way It's Always Been, was released on the obscure Crépuscule label after a fall-out with Too Pure related, some say, to the wayward antics of Reynolds and Scott.
Anthony was experimenting with solo projects - notably his superbly atmospheric Jacques album To Stars, but gigs had become nervy affairs and while long-standing fans were loyal, new ones could be put off by live performances that frankly didn't live up to past glories. A final fall-out between the two prime movers of Jack signaled the end in 2002.
But now, with the re-release of this extraordinary album, we have the chance to re-assess Jack. Was it really as good as the press said at the time? Yes. It was. If anything it was even better, and the fact that ten years later it still feels fresher and more exciting than anything I've heard recently speaks volumes.
From the opening soundscape build you know this is going to be something good. ...To Lights is a sprawling track that lays searing strings over driving percussion. Reynolds' soft Welsh lilt speaks lyrics that could be a London version of Under Milkwood: 'Dirty is in her lover's arms / it is London in the morning / behind them the skyline burning / the riots meaning nothing...' Then it develops into a marvelously intertwined tapestry of sound, with competing voices and repeated motifs - 'These are beautiful stories for ugly children.' Mesmerising.
Wintercomesummer, White Jazz and the brilliant Biography Of A First Son are upbeat numbers in which we get the first inkling of how much fun Jack can be. Terrific rock beats combine with poetic storytelling: "Above ourselves looking down, a glittering tinsel town / those buses full of half lives, the lovers cars at traffic lights, adultery, Sapphic tendencies / bored lovers on a Saturday, virgins on the verge of disappearing..." It's no surprise that Anthony Reynolds has also published slim volumes of poetry.
One mustn't underestimate the contribution of Matthew Scott, however - Reynolds may be the most prominent member of Jack but there's no doubt that in later years, sans Scott, there's something missing.
Filthy Names takes us into darker territory with the splendidly sleazy story of two "pissed up whores", made sublime by the beautiful melody and perfect strings and dramatic by the crashing re-entry of guitars towards the end.
I Didn't Mean It Marie is classic Jack, celebrating Reynolds' gorgeous voice and preoccupation with the melodrama of sex and death: "Set fire / on some rented bed / saying my Catholic prayers / as I'm giving you head." F.U. and Hope Is A Liar are quietly beautiful songs of love lost, both with atmosphere in spades.
Dress You In Mourning is the other real highlight of this almost uniformly brilliant album. Inspired by the bullfighter El Cordobés it typifies Jack's songs - mournful but uplifting, a perfect balance of great melody, inspired instrumentals and Reynolds' rich voice. (Helen Wright -

Una delle molte "next big things" del Brit-pop degli anni ‘90, i Jack furono il veicolo per le cupe ballate pop del cantante Anthony Reynolds. I primi singoli (Kid Stardust, Wintercomesummer, White Jazz) prendono in prestito gli eccessi orchestrali dei Verve e le chitarre battenti degli Oasis ed un po’ di male di vivere adolescenziale nel comporre un atmosferico dream-pop sullo stile dei Tindersticks.
Il terribile album Pioneer Soundtracks (Too Pure, 1996) è composto da languide, decadenti ballate come Of Lights e Dress You In Mourning che fanno sembrare Frank Sinatra un genio. Biography of a First Son ruba le melodie di Johnny Rivers' Secret Agent Man e le trasforma in un numero da cabaret. (Piero Scaruffi -

Jack embodies a cross between Scott Walker's sombre crooning of the '60s crossed with his way-out experimental masterpiece Tilt (as a matter of fact, Tilt producer Peter Walsh is on board here). Airy pop melodies collide with abstract, sometimes dissonant elements that smack of druggy improvisation. Heavy baroque orchestration engages in dominance/submission struggles with samples, found voices, Velvet Underground guitars, and cocktail crooning from some nightclub of the damned. Two striking uptempo numbers break the languid brooding. "White Jazz" weds a truculently abrasive orchestra meltdown with a nihilistic punkish rant, as if John Cale's brain had been transplanted into Stooges-era Iggy Pop's body. (Roch Parisien - All Music Guide)

- ...Of Lights
- Wintercomesummer
- White Jazz
- Biography of a First Son
- Filthy Names
- I Didn't Mean it Marie
- F.U.
- Dress You In Mourning
- Hope Is A Liar


giovedì 26 agosto 2010

Catherine "Sorry!"

Attivo già dal 1985, questo gruppo di Chicago era ottimamente inserito nel giro Smashing Pumpkins, a tal punto che, dopo tanti cambi di formazione, Billy Corgan fu il produttore del loro ep "Sleepy", del 1993. L'anno dopo ecco l'esordio vero e proprio, questo "Sorry!" che diede loro una buona e meritata notorietà, anche in virtù di toour con nomi piuttosto grossi. Mi ricordo che erano definiti la versione shoegazer degli Smashing e in un certo senso la definizione pare anche appropriata. Quindi posto molto volentieri questo disco, anche perchè me lo sono risentito davvero volentieri, non trattenendo le lacrime alla canzone numero 5 "2AM", una ballata struggente, con finale sonico e un violoncello malinconico! Un gran bel disco! (1994 TVT)

- Songs About Girls
- Funny Bunny
- Every Christian Lionhearted Man Will
- Her Pills
- 2AM
- Saint
- Inchworm
- Broken Bunny Bird
- Dollhouse
- Sorry
- Flawless
- Waterfall


Grand Mal "Maledictions"

La vera domanda è...perchè a casa dovrei avere un disco dei Grand Mal? Ma la risposta è semplice: chiedete a Carlo Villa. Tra l'altro da questo blog risulta sempre più drammaticamente evidente che nella mia adolescenza io ero schiavi di quell'uomo. Qualsiasi cosa scrivesse o dicesse io abboccavo come una trota all'amo! Gesù, che sperpero di soldi! Però, ditemi voi, di fronte alla recensione di questo gruppo, che veniva definito come dei Dandy Warhols che puntano tutto su Stones e David Bowie, oppure un incrocio folle fra Primal Scream, Eels e Iggy, dico io, come si fa a lasciarlo li in negozio? Ecco..adesso lo lascio li nel mio armadio a prendere polvere, che è quais uguale...però a quel tempo no, non potevo proprio resistere!! (2000 Slash)

Even the cover seems to have been designed in accordance with the faintly fundamentalist principles embodied by Grand Mal's debut album: four suited, sneering and sunglassed figures, rendered against a background of gunmetal grey. It is a cover that is clearly intended to evoke recollections of New York's classic New Wave lineage: The Velvet Underground, New York Dolls, The Ramones. It is also a fair warning of what is secreted inside. Grand Mal's singer/songwriter Bill Whitten has clearly grown up immersed in, and obsessed by, the music of the aforementioned bands. It is therefore ironic that the music these bands have inspired him to make most closely resembles what it is reasonable to suppose Whitten hates most: the irony-laden pastiches of British groups like Gay Dad and Denim. (Andrew Mueller -

- Superstars
- Whole Lotta Nothing
- Out on Bail
- Sixteen
- Stay in Bed
- I'm in Trouble
- Picture You (As Always Falling)
- Fun, Fun, Fun
- Whizz Kidd
- You Gotta Be Kidding
- Sucker's Bet
- Leave Me Here


martedì 24 agosto 2010

Red Sleeping Beauty "Singles"

I dischi, la musica, il suono sono incredibili. Ripensare a certe canzoni fa tornare alla mente immagini, emozioni, situazioni del passato. Ecco, riprendere in mano questa splendida raccolta dei singoli dei RSB mi fa tornare alla mente le storiche puntate dell'"Impaziente Inglese", quando con Claudio e Vanoli dispensavamo Brit Pop, ai miei esordi a Radio Popolare Verona. Claudio era li, con le sue chicche, con i suoi gruppi Twee, con le sue melodie incantevoli, con intrecci vocali tra voce maschile e femminile su chitarre gentili e arpeggi delicati e ogni volta io e Vanoli ne eravamo conquistati. E così accadde anche per i RSB, la parola giusta è questa: incantevoli. (2000 Siesta)

- Sick and tired
- Wealth of imagination
- The Chime song
- Her Favourite cliché
- You're the kind
- Summer tells stories
- The Trumpet song
- Make me smile
- Cinema
- Christmas
- Seasons change
- Try
- Sugarbowl
- Don´t say you love me
- You & me
- Happy birthday
- Promise me
- For fun
- Can you say love will last
- Rules
- Stay


domenica 22 agosto 2010

Bike "Take In The Sun"

E chi poteva farmi scoprire questo gioiellino se non l'ottimo Claudio?
Da innamoramento al primo ascolto. Freschi e spensierati, elevano il guitar pop all'ennesima potenza. Imperdibili. (1997 Flying Nun Records)

If you formed an idea about New Zealand music from just Crowded House and the Mutton Birds, you'd never guess how much noise you're missing. Bike, my favorite recent Kiwi discovery (the album was released in New Zealand by Flying Nun, but was licensed for the US by the Darla-distributed March Records, who earned my buy-on-sight devotion by putting out barcelona and Kleenex Girl Wonder), aren't noisy in the dissonant sense of This Kind of Punishment, the Cakekitchen, or any of Graeme or Peter Jefferies' other projects, but the arrangements are much denser than Finn's or McGlashan's, and rely much more heavily on waves of distorted guitar. A cross between Jellyfish and Sugar (if the clashing food metaphors don't drive you away) seems like a rather inspired idea to me, and many of these songs approach it, Jellyfish's penchant for exuberant melodies funneled through Bob Mould's monolithic guitar roar. The title track is fast and deliciously bleary, Andrew Brough's boyish singing caroming off sun-bathed walls while guitar noise settles over the seaside like a bioluminescent fog. "Circus Kids" feints towards Radiohead's "Creep" and Oasis' "Wonderwall" before blasting off into a swooning Jon Brion/Jason Falkner-ish chorus. "Tears Were Blue" invokes Badfinger, XTC and Ziggy Stardust. "Welcome to My World" combines the warmth of Velvet Crush with the taut obsessiveness of Verbow. "Inside" is what it might sound like if Jimmy Eat World or Lincolnville tried to write a Beatles pastiche, but couldn't stay in character for the choruses. "Anybody Know" settles into a deeper, Oasis-like rock groove, and "Old and Blue" is massive and lumbering, but "Keeping You in Mine" is like Teenage Fanclub in "Brasilia Crossed With Trenton"'s clothes, and the delicate "Sunrise" could be a murky Merrymakers demo. "Save My Life" sounds like it was steeped in a mixture of the noisier Grays songs and Hüsker Dü's cover of "Eight Miles High". And the muted "Slide On By", which eases off the distortion for the verses, rises into an elegant howl again by the end. Hyper-melodic pop can be precious, but not when you can turn it up and feel like the air between your walls has become solid enough to support you. (

- Take In The Sun
- Circus Kids
- Tears Were Blue
- Welcome To My World
- Inside
- Anybody Know
- Old And Blue
- Keeping You In Mine
- Sunrise
- Save My Life
- Slide On By


giovedì 19 agosto 2010

Arco "Coming To Terms"

Mi ricordo bene cosa diceva Carlo Villa per descrivere gli Arco, una sua frase classica: pop noir. In effetti non è certo la voce grossa che predilige questo gruppo,anzi, i toni sono decisamente soffusi, morbidi, malinconici e fragili. Incantevole e vibrante, merita di non essere dimenticato. E poi con questo nome italiano, beh, meritano l'ascolto solo per questo. (2001 Pehr)

There will be few records released this year (or indeed any year) which capture fragility and tenderness without coming across as irritatingly fey. Arco's debut release is one such record, however. 'Speak' is a lovely, typically simple opener. Following after that, 'Alien''s guitars whine and threaten to rock out but manage to restrain themselves whereas on 'Flight' they chime deliciously like forgotten 80's innocents, The Lotus Eaters. 'Movie' begins like a Field Mice track, its deadpan lyrics betraying the dreamlike quality of the music ("Life's a bad movie but I'm way past caring. So I'll sit and watch with a beer and some friends"). There are several other fine moments on offer and only 'Babies' and 'Lullaby' mistake soppiness for a tune. With a bit more airplay, 'Coming To Terms' could seep into the consciousnes of the hardest hearts. (

Following a brace of well received EPs in 1998, ‘Longsighted’ and ‘Ending Up’, Arco, the trio based around vocalist and songwriter Chris Healey seemed to disappear from view. Until now. Following the recent release of their third EP ‘Driving At Night’ the band are about to release their debut album ‘Coming To Terms’.
Whilst admittedly somewhat on the short side, the 33 minutes of music that comprises ‘Coming To Terms’ is some of the most beautiful , fragile and ultimately euphoric music you’ll hear during this or indeed any year.
Although at times introspective and heartbreakingly sad, the catharsis undertaken by the album as a whole induces feelings of joy, hope and tranquillity.
Chris Healey’s whispered, delicate yet also robust vocals are excellent throughout, no more so than on the albums closer, the irresistible ‘Lullaby’.
Backed up by Nick Healey (Chris’ identical twin brother) on drums and Dave Milligan on bass and guitars, the playing is simple and uncomplicated as are the arrangements. In fact these gentle songs are so beguilingly intimate that they are rendered all the more indelible as a result.
Occasionally the arrangements are fleshed out with additional instrumentation such as on the wonderful ‘Accident’ where the trumpet brings to mind Eric Matthews’ ‘Fanfare’, or the mournful cello on the short but unforgettable lament ‘Movie’.
Anyone with more than a passing interest in the minimalist gentle pop of the likes of Low, Elliott Smith or East River Pipe should investigate this forthwith. Arco’s blend of melancholia and mournful pop music really is something special. Demanding little more than half an hour of your time ‘Coming To Terms’ is half an hour of quality time that you’ll be wanting to spend again and again. (Geraint Jones -

- Speak
- Alien
- Flight
- Driving at night
- Babies' eyes
- Accident
- Movie
- Grey
- Into blue
- All this world
- Lullaby


The Yards "The Yards"

Chris Helme e Stuart Fletcher, rispettivamente cantate e bassista dei Seahorses, dopo aver salutato John Squire e i suoi assoli vanno a formare gli Yards. Niente per cui strapparsi i vestiti, ma quel classico disco che ti può andare bene per un giretto in macchina o per sonnecchiare sul divano. I riferimenti del gruppo sono proprio quelli che io non apprezzo, ovvero anni 60 - 70 e chiedermi perchè ho in casa un disco simile non è certo reato. Prima di buttarlo in un fosso però ho deciso di postarlo, e riascoltarlo non mi è neanche dispiaciuto. In fin dei conti Chris mi sta pure simpatico e la sua voce risulta comunque piacevole. Disco che ha pure avuto un seguito nel 2009, ma ora Chris si muove come solista. (2005 Snapper)

Il fatto che la precedente esperienza del cantante Chris Helme fosse nei Seahorses dell’ex Stone Roses John Squire fa immediatamente capire l’area entro cui si muovono gli Yards, quella di un rock saldamente piantato tra la fine degli anni ’60 e l’inizio dei ‘70. La bella sorpresa, però, sta nel fatto che, nella maggior parte dei casi, il quintetto preferisce dare la precedenza ai sentimenti e non ai muscoli. Non che manchino i brani tirati, intendiamoci, e, anzi, quelli che ci sono (“Forget Your Regrets”, l’impetuosa “The Devil Is Alive And Well And In DC”) non dispiacciono affatto; solo che, nel computo dell’intero album, si trovano in stretta minoranza rispetto ai mid-tempo e alle ballate, tutte o quasi di stampo acustico. Questo il contesto in cui la band fa valere al meglio il proprio gusto per le melodie (“Fireflies”), per le armonizzazioni vocali, gli intrecci tra chitarre e piano e i crescendo, in una trama di rimandi che comprende gli Who come Neil Young, i Velvet Underground come i Beatles, gli Ocean Colour Scene come qualcosa dei Radiohead meno sperimentali (“On The Inside”). Non saranno originalissimi, anzi, non lo sono proprio, ma scrivono canzoni solide e, soprattutto, suonano onesti e genuini. In che, specie per chi ha gusti orientati verso il classico, dovrebbe bastare. (Aurelio Pasini -

- Forget Your Regrets
- Get Off My Back
- The Devil Is Alive And Well And In DC
- Only Myself To Blame
- Crime
- On The Inside
- Superhuman
- Pure
- California
- Fireflies
- Up'Til Dawn


martedì 17 agosto 2010

Mainstream "Hurricane ep"

Ma chi si ricorda ancora dei Mainstream? Io si, perchè a casa avevo sto singolo e non l'avevo mai ascoltato. Mi è bastato il pirmo pezzo. Mi ricordano i Charlatans che vogliono fare i grintosi. Con questo ho già detto tutto. (1997 Nude)

- Hurricane
- Chemistry
- Broken Magic


domenica 15 agosto 2010

All Natural Lemon & Lime Flavors "Straight Blue Line"

Non c'è due senza tre, quindi chiudiamo il discorso con questo magnifico gruppo con una pregevole compilation di singoli e pezzi inediti. Da avere e da amare. (2000 Gern Blandsten)

- Repetitive Monotonous
- Catcher
- Spaun
- Exploded View
- Linear Force
- Purple Puddles
- The Number Knows Its Name
- The Familiar Look to You
- I Am Where You Were
- Spin Cycle


giovedì 12 agosto 2010

All Natural Lemon & Lime Flavors "Turning Into Small"

E avanti tutta con il Dream Pop!! (1998 Gern Blandsten)

- You Can Never Tell
- Your Imagination
- Puzzled Into Pieces
- Lattershed
- When Things Come Falling
- In Between And After
- False From Above
- Snowflake Eye
- Emergency Turn Off
- Paradigm Somehow


domenica 8 agosto 2010

Gloss "Gloss"

Adorabile terzetto con voce femminile (ovviamente!!) che faceva del pop leggiadro e delizioso. Tutto molto spigliato e solare, la colonna sonora ideale per una piacevolissima estate all'insegna del disimpegno. Peccato che questo resti il loro unico album. (2002 Nude Records)

- Lonely In Paris
- My Heart Belongs To You
- New York Boy
- This Is All I Need
- Everyday
- On And On
- Dont You Worry
- Why
- I Swear
- Aeroplane
- Another Day
- Gone Too Long
- Sleepless Night


Minty "Open Wide"

Bologna. Un festival di un pò di tempo fa, neanche mi ricordo quando. Sul palco i Servant, li con me gli eroi di sempre, da Aurelio alla Elena Brit Pop. Finiscono i Servant e dopo un pò te li vedi gironzolare per l'Arena Parco Nord. Ho scolpita quest'immagine di Aurelio che si avvicina a loro e dalla sua borsa tira fuori il cd dei Minty per farselo autografare....lo stupore sul volto dei ragazzi inglesi è stato impagabile e poi grandi sorrisi e quasi l'imbarazzo per quel passato, ben diverso da quello che al momento era il loro presente. Mi rimarrà sempre impressa questa scena e ovviamente chiedo ad Aurelio un contributo in merito, su quel momento e sui Minty in generale. Gruppo che a dire il vero non mi fa particolarmente impazzire, un pò troppo "art rock" se vogliamo per i miei gusti, ma su questo blog non potevano certo mancare. Notevole la loro stosia ben dettagliata che ho trovato su un sito e che vi riporto. (1997 Candy Records)

Fueled by the underground club culture of London, England, Minty existed for one purpose: to push the envelope of performance art rock to unimaginable limits. Original leader Leigh Bowery, a gender-bending "prima-diva," as stated by Carlo McCormick in Hot Wired online, stood out among all of the other outlandish and creative figures on the 1980s club scene.
For Bowery, his art was literally his life. Using himself as a subject, his own body as a canvas, and clothes and makeup as his tools, he explored self-expression via self-invention. But because Bowery's fabrications appeared so over-the-top and were reserved to the subculture, he was never readily accepted as an artist. As McCormick suggested, "Bowery may ultimately be most famous for just being himself: a personification of the homo-clown with full license to the most surreal, confrontational, and threatening elaborations of grotesque and comic burlesque. His was an ephemeral and experimental performance art, a mixture of the hilarious, the dangerous, and the tragic acted out on the stage, street, and dance floor life."
In June and July of 1998, Bowery—who spent his adult life continually grasping for and reveling in fame—gained some outside recognition for his work when a survey of portraits, documentation, and Bowerydesigned clothing was exhibited at New York's Tonya Bonakdar Gallery. Unfortunately, Bowery never had the opportunity to revel in the bit of mainstream attention, as he died of AIDS-related meningitis on December 31, 1994. After his untimely death, the remaining members of Minty, after a period of mourning, continued as a group until 1997.
In addition to creating his persona through Minty, Bowery also modeled for painter Lucien Freud, acted for the Fall's Mark E. Smith, and made costumes for choreographer Michael Clark and pop sensation Boy George. Two books were also published in his memory. Leigh Bowery—The Life and Times of an Icon, published in 1997, is written by Sue Tilley, one of Bowery's best friends. A humorous, candid, and sometimes sad biography, the book features several photographs, including one of Minty performing at the Fete Worse Than Death art event in London in 1994. Robert Violette's Leigh Bowery, published in 1998, serves as a companion to Tilley's biographical account. It focuses mainly on the visual side of Bowery's life and art. One section devoted entirely to Minty includes a photograph of a now-famous performance at the Freedom Café in London on November 24, 1994.
Born in 1961, Bowery began his career as a clothing designer, but after moving from Australia to London in 1980, he developed an increasing interest in expressing himself through music. Soon after his arrival, Bowery established himself as one of the club scene's most innovative figures, always dressed in the most extraordinary outfits which blurred the lines between male and female. By the mid 1980s, he was hosting at his own club Taboo. Here, he created a world in which performance art and the excesses of nightclub life united.
In 1993, Bowery, along with another former clothing designer, guitarist Richard Torry, conceived the idea of Minty. The name for the group came from an old theatrical slang term used to describe someone with a very offhand attitude. With Minty, Bowery and Torry hoped to push their ideas about performance art into a more public arena.
The opportunity to test the concept arrived when the pair met Matthew Glamorre, a charismatic performer/musician and host to the club Smashing! At the time, he was also putting on his Smashing Live! showcases at a transvestite club in Soho, New York, called Madame Jojo's, which in the 1970s had been a popular punk rock venue. After writing a few songs, Bowery and Torry assimilated a band—featuring Glamorre on keyboards, Bowery's wife Nicola Bowery on vocals, Danielle Minns on bass guitar, Honolulu on sampling, and Miranda Sex Garden's Trevor Sharpe on drums.
Minty played their first gig at Smashing Live's "Monsters of Drag" night in 1994 to a stunned audience. As they launched into their first number, "Useless Man," Bowery sung an X-rated version of Pepsi Cola's "Lipsmacking, thirst-quenching" advertisement while simultaneously "going into labor" and "giving birth" to his wife, who was tied upside down under his outfit. The performance, as well as those following, left attendees in a state of disbelief, marked the group's commitment to deranged theatrics and bizarre costumes, and gained Minty instant notoriety. In late 1994 as part of Glamorre's short film A Smashing Night Out, excerpts from the debut performance were broadcast on the British Broadcasting Corporation's BBC2 network.
After the initial success, Minty underwent line-up changes. Minns, followed closely by Honolulu, departed, and composer Neil Kaczor on keyboards, Matt Fischer on bass guitar, and Steady on guitar came into the fold. The group played more live shows throughout the remainder of the year, including appearances at the Amsterdam Love Ball and the Fete Worse Than Death art event in Hoxton. As the group's visibility continued to escalate, a series of performances were lined up at the Freedom Café in Soho. However, citing nudity and indecency, Westminster Council officials put a stop to the Minty shows at the venue.
A few days later, on New Year's Eve in 1994, Bowery died suddenly of an AIDS-related illness. Overcome with shock, the remaining members of Minty took some time off. Prior to his death, Bowery had recorded the single "Useless Man" with the group. Released early in 1995 by the independent label Candy Records, the song reached number two on the Dutch charts, but failed to win over pop fans in Great Britain.
Meanwhile, Glamorre, with money earned from record sales, rented studio time and formed the Offset, a larger collective of artists and performers who went on to host a series of underground art clubs called the Mint Tea Rooms. Eventually, he also coaxed Minty into regrouping and becoming part of the Offset as the closing act at each performance. Surprisingly, Minty maintained their shocking and original quality without Bowery. However, the group's aim began to shift in a different direction. Increasingly, Minty embraced the notion of continual change and communicating with those outside the underground scene.
Minty's shows became more and more popular; songs like "Plastic Bag," "King Size," and "Minty" commanded attention from both fans and critics. Then, at the personal request of Jarvis Cocker, Minty toured with Pulp and later appeared on the British television show Top of the Pops. After the arrival of another single, "That's Nice," in 1996, Minty released their Open Wide album—which featured some of Bowery's vocals—and the single "Nothing" in 1997. Both the album and the single were recorded in New York City as part of a new deal with the Candy label.
But shortly thereafter, Minty amicably decided to disband. Fischer, Sharpe, and Minns formed a group called the Servant, while Glamorre and Kaczor—along with transvestite poet Sexton Ming, poet/novelist Aidan Shaw, and new member Doris Alloy—continued with the Offset. Also, in July of 1997, Glamorre, under his birth name Harden, opened the speed-darkcore club Harder!Faster!Louder! He remains one of the most well-known alternative figures on the London club scene. (

- Procession
- Minty
- That's Nice
- Plastic Bag
- Useless Man
- Homage
- Manners Mean
- King Size
- Hold On
- Nothing
- Homme Aphrodite
- Dream
- Art
- Jeremy


sabato 7 agosto 2010

This Beautiful Mess "Temper The Wind To The Shorn Lamb"

Secondo lavoro per i This Beautiful Mess, intensi e completi come nell'esordio. La loro musica rimanda ancora a gente come Radiohead, ma non è strano percepire anche rimandi a Coldplay o Bright Eyes. L'emozione pura vince incontrastata. (2004 Sally Forth)

A very promising cover artwork invites to a journey through the moodier moments in life. Barren trees in a foggy landscape normally don't promise joyous rock'n'roll, but you don't often find bands that can celebrate sadness with so much depth like these young people from Holland. Temper The Wind To The Shorn Lamb is already their second album, and would have been criminally mature for a debut. Although the first couple of songs are still rather rhythmic, drawing parallels to a less commercial Coldplay, it's the occasional brass and string arrangements that add a vivid colour lacking so often with sad core bands.
Already the second song ends with a fanfaresque sounding brass section, For Me Ten Others has an alien country tinge, putting This Beautiful Mess somewhere into Saddle Creek regions, and it's there where we notice for the first time that a Conor Oberst would be more than happy if he could still write such moving songs. Other highlights include the sprawling epic Everything Is Held now that keeps its spine-splitting conclusion 'til the very end, in a fit of mariachi genius only reached so far by bands like Neutral Milk Hotel and Calexico. And if you are looking for an ideal pop song, you will find it with Don't Go There, combining perfectly catchiness, rock and melancholy.
This Beautiful Mess haven't stolen their name. Their basic indie rock sound is enriched with the strangest elements, elevating them above the sad monotony of slow core bands. There are enough great songs to make this one of the best indie albums in a long time. If you think you need to hit the deepest American Midwest to find emotional indie bands, look no further than Holland. A perfect album for the cold and lonely months of the year. (

- Come One, Come All
- Kid Of Thee
- Up The Barricades
- For Me Ten Others
- Everything Is Held Now
- For The Life Of Me
- Don't Go There
- Avignon
- Wood For Trees
- Refugee
- Did You Mean It To Be A Fight?


This Beautiful Mess "Falling On Deaf Ears"

Decisamente di grande effetto emotivo la musica di questo gruppo, se non sbgali olandese. Sarebe troppo facile etichettarli come gruppo che si muove sulla scia dei Radiohead, in realtà c'è una cura quasi maniacale a creare 1 atmosfera, una situazione che cresce e si sviluppa intorno a noi, cullandoci, rassicurandoci, ma anche facendo del male a volte o spavendando. Post rock, elettronica, pop visionario, una voce incantevole quella del poetico Arjen Van Wijk. Un esordio importantissimo a mio avviso. E' notizia di pochi mesi che il gruppo si è sciolto. Purtroppo. (2001 Deep Elm)

The ambient, astral roar of this album is fueled by the intricately crafted, pleasantly unfamiliar sound of This Beautiful Mess. A rich blend of studio technology and solid pop sensibility, the band makes their debut with an intelligent collection of hard and soft layers, electronic noises and swooning melodies that are stirring, refreshingly unique and strangely beautiful. Call it creative rock for the ages, it's a presentation that relies on two musical approaches which together propel the surreal, cinematic quality Falling On Deaf Ears. Infinitely detailed in its production and dynamically varied with an abundance of textures, this record breathes genuine emotion and intense imagery. The aching voice of lead singer Arjen has an emotional directness that is undeniably sincere. Simply beautiful, breathtaking music. (

- Black Is The New Red
- Overexposed
- Cacophonic
- Fly Anna Fly
- Clean
- Soundtrack Of My Life
- Sola Gratia
- Kill
- 21st Advent Hymn
- Here I Stand
- Last Day's Embrace


All Natural Lemon & Lime Flavors "All Natural Lemon & Lime Flavors"

Nel 1996 usciva l'esordio per questa formazione che Carlo Villa non avrebbe esitato a definire "amici MBV" e noi ovviamente non possiamo che seguire la citazione del maestro Villa, lasciandoci trasportare dal dream pop del gruppo, che mischia comunque bene le carte, con richiami evidenti allo shoegazer, ma che piazza anche delle melodie che potrebbero benissimo appartenere a una versione psichedelica dei Sundays, ma con delle tastiere e dei suoni che, come dice molta critica, potrebbero rimandare anche anche agli Stereolab. Insomma, un trionfo! (1996 Koombia Music)

- Muffin 57
- Saturn Jig
- Salad Forest
- All The Time
- Jayne Baby
- String Of Stars
- How Come?
- Tea With Honey
- Nice Soup
- Yellow
- Blue Balloons
- Wondered Why


lunedì 2 agosto 2010

Brassy "Gettin Wise"

Capitolo numero due per la sorellina dello Spencer e a me continua a non dispiacere il grande minestrone sonoro. Disco estivo. (2003 Wiiija)

Forti del successo del singolo Play Some D (2003), il secondo album dei Brassy Gettin' Wise (Beggars Group, 2003) funzionava meglio nel registro di certo funk irritabile e punkeggiante. Riff hard-rock e toni sarcastici reggono Hit 'em Hard e So Long Baby, e, siccome i Brassy non sono i Public Enemy, queste tracce mostrano energia sufficiente a farsi distinguere dalla dance muzak di sottofondo. La voce della Spencer è diventata più caratteristica, e i suoi sproloqui (1-0-0, Feeling Sorry) spesso reggono le melodie noncuranti della musica. Ci sono tributi alle radici(il suono funk classico di Mine, il call-and-response di coro soul e rap capeggia in Gettin' Wise). Ci sono esperimenti sul ritmo (Still Stealing) e alcune novelties(Where Did You Get That Funk?). Forse il pezzo più avventuroso è Dus', un carnevale di effetti sonori e scratching (inventivo e propulsivo quasi quanto i Sugarsmack). (Piero Scaruffi -

If archeologists were to one day peruse the voluminous crates of Brassy reviews over the last three years, they would uncover a lot of first sentences that tell readers how vocalist Muffin is Jon Spencer's sister. It's true that we reviewers are lethargic cretins opposed to thinking of actual criticisms, but the real reason everyone's compelled to state this relationship is that Muffin has so little going for her, it just seems like we can give her a reprieve by bringing someone else into the review for a minute. It's like that old "how would it feel to be Jesus' sibling?" joke. Of course, Jon Spencer is barely the Son of Pussy Galore, let alone God. Suffice to say, when Jesus rolls out his blues explosion, you better all be packing heat.
As for Brassy, well, put it like this: If you are Brassy, please don't read the rest of this review. It's rarely a good sign when the best track on an album is a 30-second sample of some 50s pop standard. Anyone who's ever heard a 50s pop standard knows that could not possibly be a compliment of anything on this CD. Anything that was obliquely, lingeringly entertaining about 2000's Got It Made is thrown on the ground here, disparaged, defiled, and left for dead. It is admittedly significantly more hip-hop-inspired than its predecessor's cauldron of spaz-pop, echo chambers, creepy psychopathic narcissism, and lyrics that all but defined the word "stoopid." This is not saying much. Lest the genre of hip-hop is at all familiar to you, let it quickly be noted that the hip-hop inflections here are the same ones present on Limp Bizkit's newest album. I doubt there's a more incompetent DJ in the entire western hemisphere than DJ Swett. His contribution to his own band's songs is tantamount to what DJ Shadow contributes to the average Tito Puente album: effectively nothing.
To dispel with the task at hand in the most harmless way possible: "Hit 'Em Hard", "Mine", "Feeling Sorry", "Dus'", and "Where Did You Get That Funk?", and, okay, almost every other song on this album, all have some cliched wah-wahing funk guitar that's kind of interesting in its absurd banality until it becomes apparent that there's usually nothing else accompanying them-- for, on average, four minutes straight of our lives. Occasionally, pop/punk guitar bursts will punctuate the meandering attempts at making people "hit 'em hard" or "shake the boogie to the bang bang boogie" (yes, this is actually repeated in a song) or "still stealin' when we come to the stage" or whatever other nonsensical stream-of-boredom choruses get tossed into the mix. The most unique offering is "1-0-0" and this is primarily because it centers itself around a two-note keyboard line and mindless reverbed vocals that, maybe, grasp at some sort of jazz singing amidst the typical Jon Spencer-style egomania, smugness, and vain disco-rapping. For some point of comparison in terms of sheer pillaging, uniformity, and tedium, I'm going to go with that Jamiroquai song off the Godzilla soundtrack, except I at least liked the bass on that song the first few times I heard it.
In the aim of balance, it can be claimed that "Mine"'s beat is sort of fascinating in the same way tumbling kitchenware is. Kettles, ambience, radio static, and studio echoing permeates a lot of the mixes, but they're superfluous layers done better elsewhere. The lyric about "my unfettered flow" was briefly amusing. Poor imitations of trip-hop are distributed through a handful of tracks seemingly only to ensure listeners know this group can hollowly duplicate a few more sounds. And to quietly appreciate aspects of one song, "Still Stealing" has a guitar riff as dismembered and discombobulating as P. Diddy's "Bad Boy for Life". Whether you think these aspects are enough to warrant interest in this album is up to you. But they shouldn't be. Perhaps if you're really into dancing, to the neglect of all intelligence and taste, you could find one or two songs to enjoy here. For the rest of us, let's forget this whole family and move on with our lives. (Alex Linhardt -

Got it Made is pretty good at first but after a while it gets to be redundant, too many "oh yeahs" and "uh huhs" plus a front woman who had obviously not fallen far from the family tree. That's ok, because even John Spencer has a hard time geting out from under his own shadow. So what's up with Gettin Wise? Well, besides the fact that it sounds like the title of a Beastie Boys record that never came out in the 90's, not much. The music is tight enough but the vocals are still oversaturated in the nasal sounding old style of 20's era jazz which can be intersting in moderation but can easily become irritating after a short while, especially when combined with hip hop style cockiness for the lenght of an album. Where Did You Get That Funk? Come on, it's 2003. If you really think you can write a song withthe word "funk" in the title you're going to have to step it up a notch or two, but really isn't that a bit tired. Some of the the tracks are still promising, but most of those are because you can almost squint your ears and hear big brother doing them. The best bit of the cd is Swett's Muse, and it's only 120 seconds long with no vocals. Gettin Wise was due for an uphill struggle once the novelty of Got it Made wore off, and ultimately it doesn't cut it. Slick and boring, eventually annoying. (Kilwag -

- Hit 'Em Hard
- 1-0-0
- Mine
- Nobody Cheers Me
- Feeling Sorry
- Still Stealing
- Dus'
- Where Did You Get That Funk?
- Swett's Muse
- Gettin Wise
- So Long Baby
- Everything You Need
- Turn This Thing Up
- Good Place


domenica 1 agosto 2010

Brassy "Got It Made"

Mamma mia se me lo ricordo il can can che si era sviluppato intorno ai Brassy, e non credo sia dovuto solo al fatto che in pista ci fosse la sorella di Jon Spencer. La verità è che avevano smosso in modo molto gustoso le acque con dei singoli decisamente accattivanti, che facevano muovere, ballare e saltare al ritmo di pop, chitarre grintose e richiami all' hip hop, insomma un mix furbetto che di solito fa sempre centro. Questo è il loro esordio. E mi piace. Si Si. (2000 Wiiija Records)

Brassy's immediate claim to fame is that they're led by one Muffin Spencer, younger sister of blues-strangling, pants-on-fire rock reverend Jon Spencer. And anyone picking up Got It Made in the hopes of hearing a family resemblance won't be disappointed; with a wink and a snarl, Muffin shoots down inflated egos with the same swaggering, hey-baby-I'm-in-charge strut as the elder Spencer. (They must have played King of the Hill a lot as kids.) And, like her bro, she's fond of shouting her band's name; "No Competition" declares "No-THING can com-PETE with the B-R-A-double-S-Y!" Musically, though, she's running a different show, leading her London-based band through an elastic, sampladelic blend of rock and electronic hip-hop that owes much to Luscious Jackson and the Beastie Boys but distinguishes itself with catchy repetitions and Muffin's call-and-response vocals with her band mates. ("Who stole the show?" "We stole the show!") The CD as a whole is a bit short on actual songs but unrelentingly fun and funky; you'll appreciate Got It Made at your next unstoppable 2 a.m. party or long drive to a hot beach. (Lisa Gidley -

Finally! The word "anticipated" is an understatement when applied to this, the debut album from Brassy. How long have we waited?? Anyway, finally it is here and, quelle surprise, it rocks.
The CD has been released as a limited edition and, from our scouting about, seems to be quite a rarity. We checked several Virgin Megastores and HMVs and not a few independents and no-one had heard of the album, which is a real shame. Maybe somebody wants Brassy to be a cult. Who knows.
The first track, No Competition, gives a broad pointer to what we expect, full of Jonny Barrington's scratching and the distorted vocals of the inimitable Muffin Spencer. Parkside' doesn't quite carry the enthusiasm of Brassy's infectious live set, but all that matters little when Work It Out follows it, introducing Stefan Gordon's garage guitar-playing, complete with huge riffs.
Various tracks from the first three singles/EPs appear in their original forms, so Work It Out, I Can't Wait, the punk anthem Good Times and I Gotta Beef all rock. You Got It and That's The Way also get feet tapping and arms flailing. A coda is made out of B.R.A.S.S.Y. which might have been left out and, for reasons I can't quite understand, Secrets has been left off the album. This track is something of a turn-of-the-century take on Great Balls Of Fire, so to find that the album is without it is a shame. You'll have to get the Bonus Beats EP to hear it. New track Nervous, however, makes up for this big time. Curiously, this is the track which leans most towards punk and away from hip-hop. So take a listen to track 11.
A gem of punk and hip-hop fusion then, with Jonny alternately spinning and scratching, drumming and sampling, Karen Frost with her ludicrously large bass screeching gurrly backing vocals over Muffin's distorted rapping and singing and Stefan laying on the guitar riffs in a funky kinda garage way. It all adds up to a concise (17 tracks in just over 40 minutes) album of fun, energy and personality - three words that describe Brassy just perfectly. (Michael Hubbard -

Brassy è una combo di Manchester formata dalla cantante Muffin Spencer (la sorella di Jon Spencer), il chitarrista Stefan Gordon, la bassista Karen Frost e Jonny "DJ Swett" Barrington alla batteria e allo scratching. Mescolano le estetiche dell'elettronica, dello hip-hop e del garage-rock. Come molte "next big things" inglesi, sprecarono i colpi migliori in singoli ed EP. Debuttarono con tre singoli (Boss e Straighten Out nel 1996) sulla falsariga del dance-pop degli Elastica, e gli EP Bonus Beats (1999) e I Can't Wait (1999). Il primo album, Got it Made (Wiiija, 2002), era a base di riempitivi. Work It Out, I Can't Wait e You Got It forzavano la convivenza tra effetti elettronici disorientanti e groove relativamente leggeri. Good Times e Nervous erano più intense, ma poco travolgenti. (Piero Scaruffi -

- In
- No Competition
- Parkside
- Work It Out
- That's The Way
- L vs S
- I Can't Wait
- You Got It
- Who Stole The Show
- Play Some D
- Nervous
- Good Times
- Put You Right
- Micstyle
- I Gotta Beef
- B'Cos We Rock
- B.R.A.S.S.Y.