I first happened upon the charms of this particular artist when skimming through one of Spillers Records’ weekly mailouts at the end of 2007. Ashli was wildly enthusing about Sarabeth Tucek and I clicked through to listen to a few samples before ordering the CD. Some months later, whilst visiting Britain’s finest city, for Wales’ largely mediocre rugby, I popped into Spillers, situated as it still was then on The Hayes, for a quick rummage in the vinyl racks. Happening upon a vinyl copy, I was overcome with a sense I’ve since learnt to not even fight: the need to have a record I love on my favourite format, despite already owning the tunes. As I took it the counter, Ashli began wildly enthusing about how good it was and I replied that I already knew as I’d bought the CD some months ago. After a slightly odd look, we then rhapsodised about that particular debut for several minutes before I went off to watch the boys in red take a hiding.
‘Get Well Soon’ is a very different record to that debut, documenting the death of Tucek’s father and borne out of a period of lows and self-destructive behaviour which ensures that this is not simply more of the same. It sounds like the kind of album you’d dig out of the crates at a record fair, pick up on the basis of its beautiful sleeve and buy on a whim, only to find you’ve unearthed a lost classic. ‘The Fireman’ is a warm, spacious recording and Tucek’s vocal, which sits atop, delivering lines like “The Fireman saved many a home but the fireman could save his own,” is utterly beautiful. When the plucked guitar line comes in, my day is quantifiably improved. It’s one of those little moments in songs which cause the hairs to go up on your neck and other assorted clichés which describe discernable psychical reactions. Soft and measured seems to be the musical order of the day here, but as anyone who likes a little Cat Power or ‘Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle’ knows, when this is executed to perfection, it can be genuinely very affecting.
Continue reading “The Just Played Verdict: Sarabeth Tucek ‘Get Well Soon’”
Having released the bleakest record of their career, and quite possibly of the entire decade, with 1994’s ‘The Holy Bible’, the Manics were reaching critical mass and it seemed something had to give. Chief tunesmith James Dean Bradfield was becoming worried that he wouldn’t be able to fit the increasingly polemical lyrics of Richey Edwards, permanent icon and sometime guitar player, to workable melodies. After poor sales of their bold third album, the band feared they might be dropped and, in February 1995, an American tour was looming on the horizon when Edwards disappeared.
After several months of uncertainty, the band vowed to go on. Convening for a nervous get-together in a Cardiff studio, they attempted a run-through of a song called ‘A Design For Life’, assimilated from two different lyrics Nicky Wire had provided Bradfield with in the months after Edwards’ disappearance. Realising that they had something special on their hands, the Manics attempted to record, with Stephen Hague in the producer’s chair, but found the results to be mixed. Opting instead for Siouxsie and Associates producer Mike Hedges, revered at the time for his stellar work on McAlmont & Butler’s ‘Yes’, the band decamped to a French Chateau and got to work. Described by Bradfield as “the most idyllic experience the band has ever had,” the results were to reverse their commercial decline and redefine how the band was viewed.
Continue reading “Classic Album: Manic Street Preachers ‘Everything Must Go’”
There are some great releases for the month of May – none of which were actually in my pile for Clash – and I’ll endeavour to get round to some of them fairly soon. However, see below for the four I did spend time with.
CULTS – ‘Cults’ (IN THE NAME OF/ COLUMBIA)
Maximum jangle with artwork resembling old iPod adverts? That’ll be Cults then. The punchy indie exuberance pervading this record is its calling card but beneath the surface there’s a whole lot more going on. ‘Go Outside’ and ‘Abducted’ have done a fine job of luring in an excited audience and the album is a largely satisfying experience. The sugary swing of ‘Never Saw The Point’ conjures the curious notion of Mazzy Star after six litres of supermarket cola while album closer ‘Rave On’, with its gloriously undulating bursts of euphoric wall-of-sound pop, suggests there’s a little more to this duo than simple indie club thrills.
A likeable album this, which goes some way to delivering on the promise shown on their early singles. It certainly suits a bit of sunshine but, like so many things, its lustre does fade after regular exposure. When it’s good, it’s very, very good but it’s the sort of album that my fifteen year old self would have bought, raved about for a few weeks whilst playing almost nothing else and then filed away, likely to be ignored for years to come. It’ll be a fine soundtrack to the coming months but make sure you go into the relationship knowing that it won’t be forever.
Continue reading “May Reviews”