The Owsley Sunshine : Watermelon
Christ, where do I start ? Yeah, their name suggests a 60s psyche vibe. Their
name I had came across frequently on the jockrock message board. They claimed
a lot of things, but so do most bands. Still, the name stuck in my head.
It was the 60s acid reference I guess.
So, I finally get to hear them. Well, they say good things come to those
who wait. It is the third album from this prolific band. 18 songs culled
from a 35 song list. I can?t think of many bands who would keep interest
with such an ambitious amount of songs. They are a melting pot of a band.
A range of influences right from the Cavern Club to the Isle of Wight then
beyond shine through. Prolific yes, but the songs don?t feel like they
have been rattled off. There is nothing half arsed about this collection.
A look on their myspace account has the Super Furry Animals topping the
list of bands that they like. Like SFA they dip in and out of many styles
effortlessly. Wearing influences on their sleeves for one, or even a part
of a song then moving on. Till The Morning Brings my Train is sublime mid
sixties pop. Welcome To Your Life, which the whole album seems to build up
to, could have been released any decade in the last 40 years. Could be as
much punk as it is prog. Sharp riffs and energy combine with melody and
sudden direction changes to deliver a song that is a microcosm of the album
itself. I am almost ashamed that this band have slipped through my half interested
fingers so many times. At least I have found them now. If you are in the
slightest bit curious then satisfy that curiosity now. (Jimmy Kilminster)
Norman Lamont - Romantic Fiction (Habibi)
The work of an Edinburgh-based songwriter and his band, the songs on Romantic Fiction are designed to surprise the listener with sudden appearences from Uliean pipes on 'Leaving', or the reed-like synth that introduces 'At The Harbour'. Lamont is a more than competent guitarist and the mix of blues and afro touches on display go a long way towards bolstering the rhythmic babble that underpins first number 'IOU' and which suggests there is something a bit livelier on its way from both Lamont and backing band the Decibelles. That isn't all though, Lamonts breathily subtle vocal style might give Sting cause for concern, although Lamont himself is showing the depth of a highly experienced musician who's quite able to fend off less than charitable comments such as ' that was a bit new agey' or ' wasn't he in TV21?'. (Jon Gordon)
Nom - Nom (Nommusic)
I first heard Joe McAlinden sing as part of 'Smiles and Good Vibes' back in 1995 or thereabouts. He was part of the West Coast (of Scotland's) tribute to Brian Wilson and the beach boys. I was totally smitten by the fragile beauty and raw emotion of his voice. I then offended Duglas Stewart, we had just met, by telling him I'd picked up a BMX Bandits' album in Fopp and “uifbvuuvuain” was my favourite track he said, “..uh thanks but that's Joe's song...”
Since then I have kept an ear open and watchful eye on Joe's career path. When the chance came to review this album by Nom for ITM?/Jock Rock, after all the other reviewers gave it the - erm well it's a bit easy listening for me to be objective body swerve. I thought give me a go...point me at it …bring on the bossa nova and those smooth strings!
Unfair really, because this is just very good commercial song writing, not just slushy slowies for cash! Anyway, easy listening makes me think of Jimmy Webb, the Bee Gees, Macca, Burt and the aforementioned Mr Wilson and even Scott Walker. Throw in a bit of Serge, Francoise Hardy and Astrid Gilberto - now that's not a bad late night-party-come-down-soundtrack….dude!
So what about this album….
If ever there was an album that needed a Striesandesque budget this it. Now that isn't a put down because Joe can really write a good tune - just ask Rod Stewart, who covered 'Superstar'. Where things are lacking is that this album sounds like a demo for a bigger project altogether. Yet, it still makes for an interesting listen.
Robbie Williams' biography has been kicking around the coffee table in our house -sad but true - so maybe that's why I immediately thought these are great tracks for any boy band in need of songs. Hey, Joe McAlinden could be the next Stephen Duffy and 'Hot Waterfall' could almost feature on a Bee Gees album - it's that good - and of course it helps that his famed falsetto aches in all the right places.
There's no denying that this album has some lovely songs, some beautiful changes and fabulous singing but overall it lacks real personality to take it to a wider audience that the writing deserves. Joe has made a wonderfully commercially sounding album - reaching a kind of peak and undoubted maturity as an artist - but by trying for this ultra commercial sound, the rawness that makes an emotional connection is missing.
Strange as this may seem this album would have sounded much more interesting if the choice of instruments had been different - more acoustic. Hey, but what do I know! The song writing is not unlike George Michael's “Listen Without Prejudice” period, an album that had an organic and easy flow. Such an approach, Nom's album perhaps would have benefited from.
Great songs and definitely worth a listen - order for £4.99 from wwww.nommusic.com.
The burning question for all is which track will Rod cover?