Album Reviews: August 2002


Grand Oral - World's Highest Thrill Ride (Five45 Records)

There's no doubt that, upon hearing Grand Oral's debut album, you would believe that they emerged from Seattle or Boston. But no, they're from Tottenham, Brixton and all corners inbetween. Having been embraced by the mass music media as one to watch, this album is released on September 9th.

T: All the influences listed here - Nirvana, The Pixies, Sonic Youth, Pavement and Red Hot Chili Peppers are very much in evidence. No mention of the Meat Puppets though, which is odd, as to my ears it's even more apparent than all the others.

N: A group you may be forgiven for considering they are ten years from home, but considering they would have been at the height of their adolescence around this time, maybe tehy're right on time. A welcome noise that stomps on their competitiors in my opinion. Kurt Cobain's spirit lives on in this band.

T: Two more comparisons - Echo and the Bunnymen and Lou Reed seem to be in there somewhere too.

N: An album that will rate high on the playlist of any fan of the grungier side of the musical scale. 8/10


Kingpin - Kingpin ( Noise-A-Thon Records)

Having received a nomination for Best Short Film ("Upside Down") at the 2002 West Australian Film Awards, Kingpin made their first visit to the UK in June this year. I wonder what kind of a welcome they'll get from Atomicduster...

T: This bands songs are a bit like sixties singles, but with hundreds of heavy guitar riffs and loads of distortion added. A bit like a retro-psychedelic emo band.

N: For me, at the opening bars, this was Green day. Ooh skip that one, but then this was Crowded House through a kick-ass "stack", and the foot started to tap.

T: I really don't know what you've got against Green day, a band I prefer infinitely to Crowded House, but with regard to this album, there are a few great tracks, but the whole thing ultimately ends up sounding far too much like the Gin Blossoms for my liking.

N: Did I say I actually liked Crowded House? For me, it's like squeezing a zit, at first that pain, but you know it's going to lead to the relief and then it's over. 5/10


SonicAnimation - Reality By Deception (Doublethink Records)

More Aussie stuff, this time of the club variety. Not variety club though, that's a different kettle of pilchards altogether. No, these guys are a lot more off the cuff than that!

T: The Prodigy have obviously featured heavily on this duo's playlist. As have Leftfield and possibly even Manchild. So dig out those insurance claims - I admit Mrs.Smith, it was ME who burnt your house down.

N: Does this offend? Good, in yer face is it's presentation, and up yours it's message. Nastier than Josh Wink's "Higher State", this is the next 808 from down under. Where's Keith though?

T: He's hiding under the settee.

N: Neighbours from hell? When buying your next property, just make sure these won't be yours. 8/10

web site


Obi - The Magic Land Of Radio (Cooking Vinyl)

Obi's first single, "What's In A Name" was made single of the week on Virgin Radio, and the band have earned plaudits on the London music scene lately and many admirers to boot.

N: Not at all what I expected. Like a Sunday afternoon's drive on an open road, or a cashpoint without a queue.

T: At 4am in the morning. It's unusual to find a band that appears to be doing "alternative country music", so all credit should go to the band for making the effort to do so. It all flows along dreamily and becomes quite absorbing really. 7/10


Cracker - Hello Cleveland! Live Fron The Metro (Back Porch)

The Evening Standard imaginatively praised Cracker's recent live shows in the Uk as "cracking". This live album was recorded three years ago in Chicago, and has finally seen the light of day for the comparitive youthfulness of Atomicduster to stick their claws into.

T: I have to admit, I've never been a huge fan of live albums...

N: That said, surely you would have to agree that this is a well produced affair, although considering within a live album, the group should come forth in the presentation. The fact these don't to me might suggest that it is the group that are missing something.

N: I agree. Cracker made some scintillating music about ten years ago - the superb "Teen Angst (What The World Needs Now)" and "Happy Birthday To Me" (the former track mentioned is included here), but put their stuff together on a live album and they start to sound a bit too mush like Dire Straits in some places, and Johnny Cash in others (I think "Lonesome Johnny Blues" might have just had a tad to do with that last judgment!! 5/10


Various Artists - Sorry We Are Circo Locol Vol 1 (Southern Fried Records)

Circo Loco at DC10 is a compilation taken from the apparently legendary "all dayers" in Ibiza, so you know what you might expect here. From a multitude of stables crossing a variety of styles, Circo Loco is here. Circo Loco is at the Atomicduster.

T: Er...I think we should employ a dance expert like we used to...

N: Watch this space. 3/10


Sancho Panza - Carnival (My Records)

As far as Sancho Panze goes, last issue you got the picture. So the party goes on, this time across 24 tracks of light ridden tracks.

T: The sun is shining, you're feeling good, no work for a month, just one long carnival with like minded people and it's a whole party atmosphere out here...and then...and starts pissing down with rain and you realise maybe going to Skeggy for three weeks wasn't such a good idea. Then you realise that the music's actually pretty boring and that the drugs you were sold by that bloke with the toothless grin were actually just ground up turnips.

N: Go fetch me my dad's cardigan - what happened to the days when dance music possessed some influence, when Pete tong still had his own teeth, and the clubbers didn't look like my nephew.

T: About as appealing to me as walking around with fifteen kippers stuffed down my pants.

N: that's a point. I've gotta go down to the fishmongers tonight... 4/10


Misterlee - Chiselgibbon (Rubberczech Records)

Apparently, Misterlee wanted to combine the classic songwriting of the likes of Jacques Brel, Lennon and McCartney and Scott Walker on this album. Has he succeeded?

T: Well it's certainly a lot more interesting than the last two we've had to review, but it sounds to me like a second rate version of the Fall, with lyrics that could have been written by Matt Johnston from The The. That said, some of these tracks - particularly "Rubberband Shoeshine" - are actually very appealing. He certainly likes to test the listener with his music, but I just feel at times he tries to be a little bit TOO clever.

N: Copyright 2001 as far as I can work out, Misterlee has obviously had issues to sort out with Mark E Smith. It sounds like a reworking of his favourite albums compressed into the 14 tracks found here. Like myself, hopefully he will find that fans just want to cuddle this and keep it safe, but let's hope they don't have any objections to sharing it around. 7/10

web site


Cribabi - Volume (Fidela)

N: To be honest I don't really know what to make of the start of this album. My anticipation suggests something different.

T: Sounds like Bow Wow Wow, Lush, PJ Harvey and Belly all rolled together at the beginning to me. A bit like Bellatrix being backed by Gomez at times too. Very diverse musically.

N: In 1988 I bought an album by Danielle Dax.

T: Oh yeah, I can see that influence I really wanted to see her perform live when I was a teenager. Although that may have been more to do with the fact that she was renowned for stripping off on stage than to do with the music! This band features Japanese singer / songwriter Yukari, and Andy Cox, formerly of The Beat and Fine Young Cannibals.

N: I can't see those two bands influences here, but if only for the fact that they were extremely successful bands of their time. The pop element is there, but I'm not sure exactly how pop Cribabi are. Then again, look what happened to Moloko.

T The Japanese seem to have a good grasp on music, given that any decent UK band that goes over there (e.g. Ash, Muse etc) will get treated like The Beatles. That treatment only seems to apply to sugar coated virginal boy bands over here so we should all raise our hats to the Orient for that. 7/10


Layo & Bushwacka! - Night Works (XL Recordings)

T: I would love to do an intro for this Nick, but I've heard so much of this kind of music over the last couple of days that my arms and legs have gone numb, and there are huge beanstalks growing from the end of my fingers. You may have noticed that I have attached my mind-reading machine to a printer in order to write this text out. You may have even wondered why my eyes had appeared to be matchsticks. You wondered where they'd gone didn't you?

N: Quite where you place this when it comes to catagorising your music I'm really unsure, sometimes it has a touch a Starsky and Hutch, at others Enya (very briefly), then again I can see thatthese guys are unsure themselves of where it is they are heading. The sort of music you might put on at the end of a dinner party and hope that your guests left forthwith. 4/10

Ozric Tentacles - Live At The Pongmaster's Ball (Snapper music)

This is the first Ozric tentacles live album to be released in ten years. Was it worth the wait?

T: Oh, not another bloody live album. I've always said you can't recapture the feel of a live performance on a CD or record, so why do bands continue to make them?

N: An album that I'm sure will nor compare to being there, although the sounds are intact, it is the sights and smells associated with the spectacle that are void. Did you not buy bootleg tapes at a local event then?

T: Yes, but after getting them home I realised they were shit and binned them.

N: Fair cop, but watch out for the visual affair released on DVD this autumn. 6/10

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Slightly Alien - Unlock (Big Blue)

Recently having made their first festival appearance at the Fierce Festival London, this young four piece are intending to raise their profile still further by recording a new album with the help of...erm...Genesis's Mike Rutherford. Hmmm, that's their credibility shot to pieces then.

N: I can't really see the connection here. I think even Mike Rutherford would be the first to wish he no longer sported his own name. That said, this possesses nothing to leave listeners to make the link.

T: Like a hybrid of Alien ant farm, Blink 182, and Sum 41. But less appealing unfortunately. 5/10


Raging Speedhorn - We Will Be Dead Tomorrow (ZTT)

Formed in 1999, the band (from Corby of all places) are inspired by rock legends such as Led Zeppelin, Black sabbath and Deep Purple amongst others.

N: I'm really surprised that you waited for this with such anticipation. MTV has a lot to answer for. Although I've lived in Corby town, home of this band, I can at least understand the dirge they are producing.

T: Erm...I know I kept saying I was looking forward to hearing this album because I heard a track on MTV that I really liked, I think I might have actually got mixed up Speed Racer. If the title of this album turns out to be true, I don't think the music world will need mourn too much. It has the appeal of Five Star. I would rather drink a pint of a vagrant's vomit. Please turn it off NOW. 1/10


Polak - RubberNecking (One Little Indian)

Album of the year?

Atmospheric, full of georgeous soundscape and as lyrical as ever, Polak return with this, their third album and show that they've not lost any of the vigor or passion that comes along with their music.

Echo and the Bunneymen anyone?

Next month with give a full review to this the new release from the 'simply adorable' Pete Fijalkowski and his group Polak.

In the meantime why not visit them online


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