Liam Finn – Champagne In Seashells (Transgressive)
For an example of the varied guises and stylistic diversity that Melbourne-born wunderkind Liam Finn is now capable of, one need only listen to the closing track on this excellent mini-album. Captain Cat Is Crying begins as a severe and spooked sound collage complete with a brassily-intoned narration (remnants surely from some sick old children’s programming), gradually weaning from that source with gentle vocal samples, rhythms investigated and abandoned until the base ingredients of wonderful epic slope into view. Almost imperceptibly, Finn conjures pop majesty from the merest of beginnings in a truly brilliant finish.
That’s not to decry the five songs that precede it, however, for they are imbued with wit, with honest sentiments and keening, weary pop, fuzzed to high heaven but somehow polished. The whirling organ bedding of Honest Face serves as a perfect balance to the squeaking guitar lines and stomping chorus, but it is the sound effects of waves crashing that tie the record together, remind us of the title and crystallise it as a complete work more than just a collection of songs. If these principles were applied to Finn’s next full-length release, we’d be in for a real treat.
This is out on the 21st September, and the review is in this month’s Artrocker. Which you should buy. Also, just so you know, there’s deliberately no references to Neil Finn in the review. I made the connection, but wanted to do a review that didn’t refer to it. He gets it all day I bet. More here.
Dave Cloud & The Gospel Of Power – Fever (Fire)
With intimations this fiery, unfocused and sickly, it’s easy to find ample entertainment in Dave Cloud’s reasonably barmy incantations. Questions about this veteran Nashville Arthur Brown-alike might include the following for the uninitiated: Is he singing in tongues? Why does he have two voices? Does he have some sort of mental problem? The answers are unimportant when lines like “Did I say calypso? Well, shut my lips-o!” are peppered throughout this micro-masterpiece of tension and dirt.
Aside from the artful quirkiness on display throughout, it’s chilling to hear exactly how an elderly David Berman would sound on Try Just A Little – it’s uncanny. The freewheeling spoken-word final track, ‘In The Distance’ is brilliantly atmospheric, sounding almost like an after-thought, but with gravitas aplenty in the spooked tale of a courtship betwixt bugler and belle, providing a fine ending to this short (a shade over twenty minutes) but electrifying collection.
This comes out via the inestimable Fire records on August 24th. Visit.
Friends, lovers, we’re back. Holiday was ace, thanks. Did you know Peter Hook has posters all over Valencia?
Castrovalva – S/T (Brew)
This mini-album from Leeds-based ‘experimental’ (if ever a catch-all term was overused, this is the one) rock duo Castrovalva has the entire requisite energy, spasm and verve to align them with their chief influences. Lightning Bolt are perhaps a slightly-too-obvious reference point for clueless press, but one that provides a template for the band’s aim. While they have the aforementioned requisites for this supposed ‘experimental’ rock genre, do they have the other, oft-unassailable factors necessary for success?
At points, this self-titled thrash anarchy is beautifully taut and well-rendered, but the experimentation (as we might term it) could be more frenetic and intuitive. This pair are definitely the product of much gruesome research and rehearsal, but their improvisational impulses might not be as honed yet as they might be. When a groove is established it seems more often than not to be one that could have been dreamt up in the cotton fields, but played at disgusting volume. Furthermore, any tweaks of meter are strictly simplistic extensions of the bar rather than the instinctive accelerations of, say, Castrolava’s labelmates Kong.
When they do reach their zeniths, like on the furious, chugging Bison Scissor Kick, it’s entertainment and reflex boiled down to bare brilliance. More of this might result in the worthy exorcism of ‘the riff’ as a concept for Castrovalva, and the rewards will be all ours to analyse and enjoy.
This will arrive on download and physicaload on May 5th, via Brew. More.