Which is to say they appear in the August issue of Clash rather than that they are especially awe-inspiring or majestic. Not that they aren’t, of course. Slightly strange batch for you this month as I’ve already covered Philip Selway’s ‘Familial’ in more detail here and the Rose Elinor Dougall piece had to be a smaller one in order to fit the format. Rest assured that Rose’s magnificent debut will be given a very detailed write-up in the next week or so, along with the appearance of a substantial chat we had about the record around the same time. Plus, there’s a review of the new album by The Charlatans, which isn’t actually out until September. Not that you should be too bothered about that particular wait, as you’ll see.
ERGO PHIZMIZ - ‘Things To Do And Make’ (CARE IN THE COMMUNITY RECORDINGS)
Ringo fronting The Beta Band might sound as appealing a pairing as jam and cauliflower or James Corden and a TV screen but, on this evidence, it could have worked. Album standout ‘Late’ is the track most closely fitting this hypothetical sound and bloody marvellous it is too. Random samples and quite determinedly bizarre lyrics further cement the idea that this album is a bit different. That the title of ‘The Dapper Transvestite’ is not the oddest thing about it (it’s the use of a typewriter for the drumbeat) should give you a pretty clear idea of what to expect. 7/10
This record is definitely worth seeking out because its highs are magical. It could well have been an 8, only to be subbed down to a 7 anyway, and there is a truly eccentric charm about the whole thing. My thanks to Tom Ravenscroft for the tip off via his excellent 6 Music show.
PHILIP SELWAY – ‘Familial’ (BELLA UNION)
Forget Selway’s day job in Radiohead as a reference point here. Far more pertinent is that ‘Familial’ is released by Bella Union, home to some of the finest alt-folk music known to mankind. Singing in a hushed, reserved manner, solo Selway is a genuinely moving listen. ‘All Eyes On You’, a charming acoustic number, occasionally threatens to become a little too saccharine only to switch to a more reticent refrain before joy can be unconfined. The gentle drone running through ‘Don’t Look Down’ represents another high point on an album which deserves to stand free of anyone else’s shadow. 8/10
Pretty much what I said the other day, only with fewer words. It really is a lovely sounding record and one which will take a little while to infiltrate but, once it’s got you, it’ll receive multiple plays.
ROSE ELINOR DOUGALL – ‘Without Why’ (SCARLETT MUSIC)
The former Pipette with the strongest voice delivers on the promise of her early solo singles…and then some. ‘Find Me Out’ is the dreamiest thing you’ll hear all year, while ‘Watching’ crackles with an unsettling stalkerish tension. Hard to pigeonhole, easy to love, the artist formerly known as ‘Rosay’ has hit the ground running with an impressive box of tricks. 8/10
Writing a review in sixty words is a funny old business. Far easier with albums you don’t have much to say about but VERY tricky with records like this one. I won’t say much more as we’ll be having something approaching a Rose Elinor Dougall week here soon with a big review and the aforementioned interview. This record, meanwhile, is a beaut.
THE CHARLATANS – ‘Who We Touch’ (COOKING VINYL)
What exactly do we need another ‘reasonable’ album by The Charlatans for? Can’t we just pretend they split up after ‘Wonderland’? Quality control thereafter slipped, with their last album, ‘You Cross My Path’, being given away for free. A great idea if it captures the public imagination, less effective if all people think is, “I’m glad I didn’t pay for that.” After multiple compilations and a reissue of their debut, it’s increasingly difficult to accept that this is the same band and I’m tired of forgiving them for plodding mediocrity. Tim sounds largely disinterested now; I know how he feels. 4/10
It’s not a particularly bad record, it’s just not a particularly good one either. You’ll see some of the big monthly magazines lapping this up at the moment and I just don’t hear what they’re hearing. It’s noisy, but not endearing. It’s brash but utterly unedifying and it just feels like a record we don’t need. I’m sure many will disagree, just as I found when I gave ‘American Idiot’ a bit of a shoeing on its release, but I’ll stand by it. Don’t bother with it. Buy any of the other three records mentioned here instead.