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   Thursday, May 29, 2003  
Part way through the opening number of The Be Good Tanyas' Oxford Street in-store set back in March a heavily pregnant but still bewitching Frazey Ford was somewhat less than thrilled to notice that her quite-big-enough-already-thanks-very-much figure was being simultaneously relayed onto a giant screen behind the band. 'I'm not continuing 'til it's turned off,' she said in a lighthearted but-I-actually-mean-it kind of way. An operative scurried. The Tanyas' touring behind new album Chinatown being necessarily abbreviated, they've since returned home, nature has taken it's course and Frazey has recently become mother to a baby boy. 7.5lb and all is fine, apparently. No more Tanyas action 'til next year...

...but The Tyde's a-comin' in though - the UK dates of their European tour are:
Tue July 1 London, Water Rats
July 2 Nottingham, The Social
July 3 Liverpool, Barfly
Featuring reallyrather's official Song of the Summer (Go ask yer Dad), new album Twice wrings a tasty 8-out-of-10 from this week's NME...

The Good Stuff. It's out there somewhere, we know it is. Tracking it down without wasting too much money is the aim here. Do the research, minimize the risk of buying something that you know the first time you play it you're never going to do so again. But once in a while you take a flyer based on the slimmest evidence and you get lucky. Not 'Bullseye!' necessarily but certainly the next ring out. Take a bow then, Palaxy Tracks.
To the Chicago abyss, track 8 on this Austin band's 2nd release Cedarland, is the sort of number that makes reallyrather late for things. Not bullseye - not Mull Historical's Animal cannibus, Rilo Kiley's Spectacular views or Art class by Superchunk - but not far off. It doesn't break any moulds; indeed, a New Order-shaped one may have played a part in it's assembly. But it's mid-tempo mix of choppy/grinding/ringing guitars underneath archetypal indie-rock almost-singing firmly hits this blog's spot. So, you ask, is this the stand-out One Good Track which most half-decent bands can generally muster? Crucially, fact, make that NO!
Cedarland registers zero on the tracks-to-skip-ometer. Ranging from twinkling/churning indie to listless mandolin-spiked pop via stretches of post-rock-lite and more, even it's flatter moments are ultimately redeemed and rewarding. Lovely opener The sediment chimes and pulses softly in a Yo La Tengo sort of way. The sharper thwack of The wasp complete with deeply satisfying thick guitars could've come straight off the last Pedro the Lion album. (Girls on bikes completes a trinity of fine crunchy rockers.) The Pedro-ish strains are carried over into Walking backwards mixed up with dashes of Depeche Mode moodiness and REM melodic loveliness - it works, believe. The most out-of-step number here is the tightly-sprung Aim for Providence powered by the kind of drum loop & keyboard combination that's all over Slowreader's '02 debut. More typically, the rest of the album is filled with soft, trilling guitars and warm, bubbling-under keyboards (many courtesy of Okkervil River/Shearwater's Jonathan Meiburg and Will Sheff). Straightforwardly produced (by songwriter/vocalist Brandon Durham) and modestly presented, Cedarland is a good, good place to go... will be, in all probability, Eveningland. That's the tentative title of the second album from Hem which the band 'will start recording in New York shortly'...

Already in the can and almost ready to ship is Leap of folly, album no.2 from Andrew and Beth aka The Trolleyvox. Can they top the sparkling guitar pop of Ephemera for the future? Your investigations begin here...

'"All of the DJs at WQDR are fans of Tift Merritt,' [programme director] Lisa McKay says. "We all took the album home and listened to it, and it was just a lovely CD." So why don't they play it on the air? "What would be on the playlist? Which one? Am I just supposed to listen to the whole CD and pick one out?''
Er, ideally, yes! In an excellent feature, a US local newspaper investigates why a pretty hot local artist can't get played on her local station. Read 'Why can't you hear Tift Merritt on the radio?' and weep...
   posted by SMc at 4:37 AM |