Last week I spent a day or two writing 12 album reviews and other bits and pieces, so here’s a few shortish ones that are in HP
The Golden Spike (Wichita Recordings)
Four out of five
If you’ve found yourself longing for those heady days in the 1990s when it seemed like every other band had female singers with voices like broken glass then look no further than Sky Larkin to sate your thirst. This Leeds based outfit has clearly studied from the dislocated songbook of the likes of Juliana Hatfield and early Veruca Salt (ie-when they were good) and their debut record is an utter revelation. Full of guitars that are as fuzzy as a billy-goat’s bum and vocals that recall the heady days of the Bangs and Sleater Kinney (courtesy of the multi-talented Katie Harkin) The Golden Spike is an early contender for album of the year.
Key Track: ‘Antibodies’
One out of five
Early contender for worst record of ’09, the imaginatively titled Covers by easy listening crooner James Taylor (ask your dad) is a collection of interpretations of such “classics” as ‘Oh. What A Beautiful Morning,’ ‘Witchita Lineman’ and ‘Hound Dog.’ As if the coma-inducing sound of the songwriter’s voice isn’t enough to put you off music for life, his reworking of these tired old tracks have about as much life in them as a party round Dracula’s house. Horrible stuff.
Key Track: ‘It’s Growing’
Polly Scattergood (Mute Records)
Three and a half out of five
Graduate of the infamous Brit School, it’s said that Polly Scattergood wrote 800songs while attending its “hallowed” halls. Clearly destined for big things this year, she comes off like the daughter of Kate Bush and her debut is an emotional roller-coaster ride. “My doctor says I’ve got to sing a happy tune” she sings on album opener ‘I Hate The Way’ with more than a wink to the listener. Well, clearly she isn’t listening to her psychiatrist as the ten tracks on offer are an at times harrowing experience and are as dark as Beelzebub’s boudoir. Far from just a Bat For Lashes knock-off, her self-titled debut flirts with many different sounds and vocal styles and her taste for twisted humour (‘Bunny Club’) marks her out as being quite special indeed.
Key Track: ‘I Hate The Way’
Watersports (Quarterstick Records)
Two out of five
Mi Ami warbler Daniel Martin-McCormick sounds a little like Miss Piggy in the middle of a Prozac fuelled meltdown. His undistinguishable yelps and howls are more like a second thought for the rhythmic fusion of noises and take a back seat to the band’s love for all things jazz (‘Echononecho,’ ‘Pressure’). Featuring members of Dischords’ Black Eyes, Mi Ami’s music doesn’t really go anywhere. Yeah, there are some undeniably catchy nuggets such as ‘Freed From Sin’ which bounce along nicely, but the lack of focus makes Watersports a frustrating listen. This writer has no doubt that the record will be a big hit in clothes shops that try to hard, but when was that a good thing? Better get back to the day jobs lads.
Key Track: ‘Freed From Sin’
Hot Press is out now.