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   Saturday, March 04, 2006  
So, where was I...

Well, at the Dublin Castle one evening to see promising local talent My Sad Captains dish up a brisk and very taking set of dapper alt-jangle. OK, so leader Ed was sporting a somewhat identikit indie-geek look (think charity shop Rivers Cuomo) and they obviously had plenty of friends in the house but - and this is the very best kind of but - they've certainly got something. Specifically, they've got tunes, modestly memorable, smartly turned and ready-to-go. They're at the Bull & Gate at the end of the month and this blog intends to be there too...
[my sad captains]

...and Kentish Town is certainly easier to get to than Chatham which is..where, exactly? Somewhere way down river but perhaps not totally beyond the call of duty since it's the only place Yndi Halda are favouring with gigs anytime soon. This blog's curiosity has been prompted by the decision of US indie label BurntToastVinyl (home to rr favourites like Denison Witmer and Unwed Sailor) to pick up their as-yet unfinished debut. Check out the Kentish instrumentalists' sound here then it's thisaway for railway timetables...

Sweden's Boy Omega..'will travel as a five-piece-orchestra' when they tour the UK next month, which is more than nice...
20.04 Glasgow (SCO), Bloc
22.04 Manchester
23.04 Hull, The Adelphi
24.04 Stockton, The Georgian Theatre w/ Akron/Family
25.04 London, Betsey Trotwood
26.04 Brighton, Hanbury Ballroom
27.04 Newport, Le Pub
28.04 Coventry, The Tin Angel
29.04 London, Rough Trade's RoTa (Notting Hill Arts Club)
[boy omega]

Not too many acts being booked into The Old Blue Last as yet but the upstairs room in this Shoreditch boozer is the highest new entry on reallyrather's Top London Venues chart. Of course it's possible this blog's first impressions were coloured not necessarily by the particularly reasonable bar prices but by the fact that the main band of the night was.. The Research! Russell, Sarah and Georgia will never let you down and celebrated their debut album's launch with lashings of harmony-denched electro-twee greatness. They make a mighty sound considering their minimalist approach; this isn't quite replicated on disc but if you're OK with their limited instrumental palette Breaking up is stiff with catchy lovelorn musing on life's crapness and deserves your support...
[The Research]

And its been one of three albums to have been hogging the player in recent weeks, fighting it out with...

...Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins' Rabbit fur coat which is pretty much everything everyone's being saying it is, the few naysayers looking increasingly wrong-headed with every spin. rr is fairly sure this collection of singular indie-country-gospel would stand up without the help of her new-found friends but they are worthy of their titular co-credit, making their mark most gorgeously on things like Born secular and Rise up with fists! M.Ward's atmospherics draw out the deeply swinging twang of Happy while Big guns and You are what you love are brisk beauties both.
The only skipworthy moments for this blog are the relatively characterless Travelling Wilburys cover and, though it's cited by many as the record's high point, the title track. While it may be lyrically revealing its repetitive all-verse structure puts this listener right off (cf vast swathes of Bob Dylan) and proves how less suited Lewis is to this kind of stripped-down folksiness compared with someone like...

...Shelley Short. 'Captain Wildhorse (rides the heart of tomorrow) is a fantastic album', concluded someone on Billboard recently, overstating things but only fractionally. Back in the summer of 2004 this blog was telling anyone who'd listen about Short's charming limited-edition debut, Oh say little dogies, why? and is deeply pleased to report that everything said then holds true for it's successor.
And happily, despite it's more conventional release (via Hush) and enhanced recording process, the sonic qualities of airy homespun directness which, among other things, made Dogies so appealing remain intact. Short has gathered round her a sympathetic acoustic ensemble whose bowing and a-pluckin' stand as ballast to her disarming plinking and plonking. reallyrather isn't going to say Captain Wildhorse.. is better than its predecessor but its peaks are higher.
Specifically, we have something like Lupine manner, Short's wide-eyed vocals sparkling like glass beads in candlelight while fat, frazzled glockenspiel, a lonesome trumpet and fireworks - yes, fireworks! - fill the air. Magical. The jaunty twang of Goodbye old morning ends with some irresistable ooh-oohing, Like anything, its small is as pleasing as it's title while about one minute into All eyes on the skyline comes the album's most luminous melodic moment, albeit frustratingly fleeting. And while faint traces of Dolly Parton and Joanna Newsom surface in things like The sunny side and Wild wild horses, Short remains distinctively her sweet-sounding yet unsentimental self throughout.
The opening of Roaring roars borrows from the melody of When Johnny comes marching home. The reprised Pullin', pullin' feels almost like a traditional itself so familiar is it from her first release. Captain Wildheart is indeed 'the same old beautiful story' and you should own it...
[shelley short][hush records][buy]

Good to see the Union Chapel tiptoeing back into the live music arena:
June 10/11 sees The Undertow Orchestra featuring Vic Chesnutt / Mark Eitzel / David Bazan / Will Johnson...and best of all, Johnson's also here in May in his original and finest incarnation, Centro-Matic! Praise be, etc...
   posted by SMc at 10:00 AM |