lunedì 19 settembre 2011

The Reindeer Section "Y'all get scared now, ya hear"

Benchè si parlasse di un supergruppo composto da gente che presa nei singoli contesti mi piace molto, devo ammettere che non ho ascoltato più di tanto questo disco.
L'ho ripreso in mano per fare questo post e insomma, non è che mi abbia entusiasmato più di tanto. Ritmi medio bassi, melodie che si muovono per lo più in territori folk.
No, non mi aspettavo un disco così. (2001 Play It Again Sam)

The debut from this U.K. supergroup is a strange, uncertain, and undoubtedly unique record that resulted from a 10-day clatter through the nooks and crannies of the guitar-wielding Glasgow underground. Project leader Gary Lightbody, the fey-voiced front man of Irish indie-popsters Snow Patrol, manages to keep members of bands as diverse as Arab Strap, Astrid, Mogwai, Mull Historical Society, and Belle and Sebastian playing from the same hymn sheet. A
nd on the whole, it's his own quavering, tremulous vocals that take precedence on these ponderous, sad, Sebadoh-like songs (the gorgeous "12 Hours It Takes Sometimes"), lo-fi beat-box breakdowns ("Raindrop"), and technofied Sonic Youth-style droners ("Tout le Monde").
Sure, it would have been nice to hear some of the record's other contributors making more use of their talents--Arab Strap's splendidly miserable Aidan Moffat only steps up to a microphone once, for the rolling acoustica of "Nightfall." But it's clear that this is Lightbody's project, and it's a marvel that Y'All Get Scared Now, Ya Hear sounds so polished, focused, and complete. (Louis Pattison -

The Reindeer Section has me anxious. Not scared, ya hear, but anxious. I am nervous about the dilapidated state of popular music, predominantly inspired by love and romance. Creativity is dying and sentimental rubbish is settling in, all inspired by the big L. Thankfully, we can turn off MTV, get onto the Internet, and find a gold mine: there's an alternative to the triteness. And in a world where Wilco, of all bands, is dropped from a major label, independent music has become a surrogate mother. There is musical innovation and sincerity out there.
But where does the Reindeer Section fit into all of this? Well, they've been deemed an indie supergroup, and their roster would appear to justify such a label with members from Mogwai, Belle and Sebastian, Arab Strap, Astrid, Snow Patrol, V-Twin, Mull Historical Society, Eva, and Hercules. The story goes that all of them were at a Lou Barlow gig in Glasgow when Snow Patrol's Gary Lightbody suggested the idea: "Everyone thought that it was a great idea but I'm sure they were thinking, 'Aye, right, Gary, whatever,' and that I'd forget about it when I sobered up. In fact, the next day I wrote the complete album." Should we expect some mind-blowing material from this supergroup?
Not quite. Whereas the output of the typical supergroup collapses from the weight of creative tension, the presence of most of the Reindeer Section's members barely exceeds the level of a standard collaboration. Y'all Get Scared Now, Ya Hear! debunks the supergroup designation with the first track, confirming that this is, for all intents and purposes, the project of Snow Patrol's Gary Lightbody. "Will You Please Be There for Me" is a simple two-minute solo acoustic number vaguely resembling a simplified version of Badly Drawn Boy's "Epitaph" with all of the filtered flutter and bird noises replaced by straightforward white noise in the left channel. The first words we hear are, "If I gave you my heart/ Would you give yours to me?," and the lyrical banality and romantic lamentations are sustained for the rest of the record against a backdrop that closely resembles Snow Patrol's acoustic moments. Lightbody writes in the liner notes that this entire record was written in one day and recorded in ten, and the lack of engagement shows.
But it's not all tedium. The next track, "The Opening Taste," features gorgeous vocal harmony between Lightbody and Astrid's Charlie Clark. "12 Hours It Takes Sometimes" wouldn't have sounded out of place on the Court and Spark's Ventura Whites debut with a lulling tempo, a slight lilt, and a distant piano. "Tout le Monde" stands out in its oddity; it's based on a driving guitar riff played by Mogwai's John Cummings that's looped alongside shifting harmonies (some repeating "anywhere in the world") while others just moan. Processed drum loops enter, along with timbaleze played by Belle and Sebastian's Richard Colburn. It turns out to be a bizarre, yet homogenous, dance number that's satisfying but undeniably out of place.
Truthfully, I bought this record because the juxtaposition of Mogwai, Belle and Sebastian, and Arab Strap made an intriguing concept, but it never comes together. Mogwai's Cummings is the only member of any of these bands with a substantial presence here, playing guitar on 8 of the 14 tracks. And even then, his performances are muted by the ubiquity of Lightbody. Arab Strap's Aidan Moffat shows up once on "Nytol," a song he lyrically co-write, but ultimately, the track comes off as a lightweight and lighthearted Arab Strap clone. Moffat's intonation, "I think it must be the soap that you use," proves to be the lyrical apex of the record. Belle and Sebastian members Colburn and Mick Cooke appear on only four tracks total (but never simultaneously) playing percussion and brass, respectively.
Which leads to the glimpse of light on Y'all Get Scared Now. "Sting," easily the album's best track, features Cooke playing Spanish-inflected muted lines on trumpet and flugelhorn, Cummings on guitar, and layers of harmonies in a coda that proves to be simultaneously compelling and hopeful for the future of this group. You see, Gary Lightbody's already written another record for the Reindeer Section, including one track exclusively for Aidan Moffat. To which Moffat responded, "Apparently, Gary's written a track for me already, so he's roped me in for that. It's that northern Irish accent, it gets me every time." Maybe you should get back to sadness, Aidan. (Christopher F. Schiel -

- Will You Please Be There For Me
- The Opening Taste
- 12 Hours It Takes Sometimes
- Deviance
- If There Is I Haven't Found It Yet
- Fire Bell
- If Everything Fell Quiet
- I've Never Understood
- Raindrop
- Sting
- Billed As Single
- Tout Le Monde
- Nytol
- The Day We All Died


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