More Reviews

30 01 2009

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

Sky Larkin

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’

Edwin McFee


James Taylor

Covers (Universal)

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’

Edwin McFee


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’

Edwin McFee


Mi Ami

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’

Edwin McFee

Hot Press is out now.


30 01 2009

The new issue of Hot Press is currently out on the shelves, so here’s my review of the latest Morrissey record…


Years Of Refusal (Decca)

Four and a half out of five


Over the last few years this writer has started to become worried for Steven Patrick Morrissey. You see the singer hasn’t had an easy time of it recently. Not only has he been outcast by the UK press for his opinions on immigrants (lest we forget his own parents were immigrants themselves and came to Manchester from this very country) his last album Ringleader Of The Tormentors was a patchy, average affair and to make matters worse, his once erect quiff now dangles limp and lifeless on top of his greying temples. Yes friends, it’s been a tough time to be a fan of the Moz-Father but fear no more as he has finally returned with Years Of Refusal and to say it sees the singer at his career best in an understatement.

            Kicking off with a sharp, T-Rex inspired riff, ‘Something Is Squeezing My Skull’ is a riotous album opener and sets a high standard for the record. Over the course of 45minutes, Morrissey has never sounded as alive, relevant and downright essential in decades. The guitar work is almost punkish (thanks in no small part to the production of the now sadly departed producer Jerry Finn) and there is an air of urgency on most of the tracks (‘Black Cloud,’ ‘I’m Throwing My Arms Around Paris,’ ‘That’s How People Grow Up).

            Mozza has often been derided for being a slightly maudlin character but Years of Refusal sees the legend in remarkably upbeat form boasting mariachi horns on ‘One Day Goodbye Will be Farewell’ (which teases his imminent retirement from music) and his beautifully battered and achingly poetic lyrics are as special as ever, particularly the catty line “You’re gonna miss me when I’m gone.” While there are hints that this may indeed be the former Smiths’ frontman’s final bow, this writer thinks it’d be a shame if he gave up now as he’s hasn’t sounded as vibrant, assured, inventive and downright pissed off since his 80s heyday. Welcome back Morrissey, we’ve missed you.  


Key Track: ‘One Day Goodbye Will Be Farewell’

Edwin McFee

Crooked Timber

30 01 2009

This week I’ve spent a lot of time listening to the latest Therapy? record ‘Crooked Timber’ (well, aside from watching Akon and Coolio suck up the stage at the Odyssey, though Akon did prove his punk creditials by saying “All my catholics in the crowd put their ‘x’s’ up” haha).

There’s no doubt in my mind that Therapy? are the greatest band to ever come out of Ireland (yeah, you heard me) and they’re the reason why I started a band back when I was an angry young teen, so I’m happy to report their new one is the shiz. ‘Enjoy the Struggle’ is my current fave on the slab of wax and I’ll post up a full review whenever it’s published. The record comes out on March 23 and in the meantime (if you want to be cool) get yourself a T? tattoo like mine.

Quote of the Day 4

30 01 2009

No matter what way I write this-it’s going to come across as being arsey, but at this stage I’ve pretty much interviewed all of my heroes. Thankfully the majority of them were cool and I’ve no real horror stories to tell and one of the sweetest was Andrea Zollo from the sadly defunct Pretty Girls Make Graves. From the opening bars of ‘Speakers Push the Air’ on their debut ‘Good Health,’ I was utterly in love with them. If you don’t know much about PGMG, they formed from the ashes of one of the all-time greatest groups in the universe Murder CityDevils. I love MCD so much I’ve for tattoos devoted to them (yeah, it’s a bit much). I don’t have any pictures of them,but you can kinda see two of them on my left arm here-

Anywho, a few years ago I got to talk to Andea and I tried my hardest not to do the “Henry Rollins talking to his heroes” voice.  We were going to put the band on the cover of AU as quite a few of us had flown over to England and Scotland to see ’em but sadly, the decision was made to put Muse on the front instead. It wasn’t a move I was in any way happy with, but fuck it. So here’s today’s quote from the lovely Ms Zollo.Enjoy.

“I knew from the start of Pretty Girls Make Graves that people would be pissed. All those stories and rumours surrounding Murder City Devils’ split were ridiculous. No-one knows what goes on in a band unless you’re the people in that specific band. People tried to paint me out as the Yoko Ono of the scene-it was hilarious! I know how it must have looked, but Murder City didn’t break up because of our band. It’s just the way things went and I’ve known those guys [Murder City Devils] for years. They worked their asses off touring and so much shit went down. Most people don’t know this, but Leslie was actually an alcoholic-which is ironic because that band are so well-known for writing songs about drinking. Anyway, she kept it hidden for ages and the band didn’t even know about it. By the end of the Murder City Devils she was a total mess and it all took its toll I guess. If people want to blame me for their break up then let them. They don’t know what they talking about.” Andrea Zollo, June ’06.