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   Monday, July 22, 2002  
So just how many copies does a well-received roots-pop indie record actually shift? Say something like The Pernice Brothers' The world won't end which scored no.5 on Uncut's year-end Best of '01 chart. Answer: around 15,000, which doesn't sound like a whole lot but it's enough to get by on, apparently. The guys have been holed up in the wilds of Vermont thrashing out material for a January-slated follow-up and chief Pernice Joe tells the Boston Phoenix all about the fevered creativity: "We’ve been having some good horseshoe matches up here [and] I’ve been out in the canoe a few times."

Talking of Uncut, all bets are off regarding this year's 'Best of' list as they award the Flaming Lips' latest 5-and-a-half stars out five. "The greatest album released in Uncut's [5-yr] lifetime," they foam, leading a pretty much unanimous critical chorus. Saturday's Times called it 'a landmark of intergalactic brilliance.' Are there any contrary voices out there? Step forward the New York Post: 'It's hardly a pleasure to listen to. The title track is particularly grating with its simplistic repeated melody and tortured-cat screamed vocals. When the Lips aren't experimenting, they borrow melodies from Cat Stevens ('Fight Test') and Tangerine Dream ('In the Morning of Magicians') - one star.' Make up your own mind - Warners are currently streaming the whole album...

Mojo/Uncut Best of '02 guess list update:
Doves - The last broadcast
Cornershop - Handcream for a generation
Wilco - Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
The Streets - Original pirate material
Lambchop - Is a woman
Boards of Canada - Geogaddi
The Coral - The Coral
Flaming Lips - Yoshimi battles the pink robots
Tom Waits - whichever
James Yorkston & the Athletes - Moving up country
Alison Moorer - Miss Fortune
Eminem - The Eminem show
(Subs bench: BeGoodTanyas/Blue Horse; Caitlin Cary - When You Weren't Looking)

"Personally, I have no aspirations to sound all artsy-fartsy like a lot of the British pop bands," says Alex Livingstone of Grand Champeen somewhat splendidly. Swizzle-stick chats to the band who also say, "there’s a chance we’ll head over to Europe in the late Fall..."

Eric the guitarist loves hitting his guitar. Jason the drummer really loves hitting his drums. And Greg the bass is damned if he's going to be bullied out of the picture. The Hurricane Lamps come at you pretty much straight between the eyes through the course of latest album Tilting at windmills, but it's not a Heavy affair. Even 'muscular' would be misleading. With trebly chord riffs skidding across 33 minutes of tightly-focussed, combustible indie pop-rock, the Lamps occasionally generate the helium-filled thrills of, say, '60s Who (but a Power Pop/Nuggets retro trip this definitely isn't). They're a trio and don't try denying it, channelling their energies into a string of driving lo-fi crackers like 'Parade', instrumental 'Perfect Taco #1' and 'Suffocate'. (On the latter and also 'The List' the band would seem to have nailed the art of the arresting intro.) The palette really only broadens at the end where pedal steel's unexpectedly dropped into the mix on 'Stranded', to excellent effect. To these ears there's an occasional echo of someone like Tom Robinson when vocalist(/songwriter/all-round mainman) Eric pushes the top end. With half the tracks clocking in under three minutes, the band earn triple bonus points for bringing each one to a proper full-stop (cue reallyrather rant on the laziness of fading - sometime maybe). The band have got a sound and they're not gonna mess around. Are you ready, Jase? 2-3-4...
   posted by SMc at 1:04 PM |