Sunday, April 09, 2006
Looking back to February 2004 a couple of low-key, unassuming homemade records found their way into this blog's orbit and never really left it. Two years on and their follow-ups land on the mat almost simultaneously. Such piffling synchronicity aside, Chad King and The Weepies - for tis they - shared a knack for crafting beautifully understated country-folk-pop and reallyrather is more than pleased to report they've been and gone and done it again. Though having been out for a few weeks neither of these releases seem to have received anywhere nera the attention they deserve. More particularly, they certainly deserve yours...
posted by SMc at 4:29 AM
Surely this has been done before? All eleven song titles on Chad King's Well, hell are girls names - Heather, Sandy, Linda, etc - who may or may not be actual people in King's life. Whatever, this is happily no embarrassing personal score-settling exercise; sourness is one characteristic this very consistent collection of tunes doesn't share. What they do share is an uncomplicated recorded sound (ever-so-slighly more finished than the bedroom demo quality of debut Love your engine) and arrangements typified by solid acoustic strummin given a lapsteel shine.
So who's particularly worth meeting? This blog's vote has to go to Estelle right at the end there. This is closest in feel to the debut, a casual-sounding ensemble slice of deep, low-slung country-soul with a loosely sketched-in female vocal harmony nicely offsetting King's burnt umber lead. Slightly undercooked but still gorgeous. Altogether more peppy and optimistic is Heather complete with some Dick Dale-lite geetar and even a bit of whistling - shame that one didn't work out, Chad.
Fans of the now sadly defunct Gingersol in their mellower moments will find a ready home here. Without being obviously derivative Well, hell carries echoes of The Byrds and strains of distinctly English '60s pop and folk. But you're never too far from another seductive lapsteel moment as in Maggie which also sees a viola player take up the baton and run with it a while. But not for long since The Song is always the thing here...
[chad king][keep recordings]
..as it most definitely is with The Weepies who have signed to mini-major Nettwerk for the release of Say I am You. The first fruits of singer-songwriters Steve Tannen and Deb Talan’s coming together was the enduringly effervescent self-release Happiness [hear/buy][see rrFeb 1 04]. The crisp lightness and sureness of touch of it’s best moments raised great hopes for their next move and yet as terrifically enjoyable as SIAY is there’s a verve and freshness of style about Happiness that isn’t bettered or particularly developed here.
Oddly, for all this is a Weepies project – all the songs are co-credits – there’s still something of a his ‘n’ hers feel about the set. Several songs would sit easily on a Deb solo release and anyone bemoaning her current project/distraction has little reason to feel deprived. The solid, full-sounding opener Take it from me is one such as is the sweetly spare perfection of the following Gotta have you to which Steve adds some fine b/v shadings.
And while its Talan’s voice that is this duo’s most distinctive feature it’s Tannen who takes the lead on two of the most immediately attractive numbers. Some brushed drumming boots Riga girls along nicely while World spins madly on is another stellar example of its type: clean, light, tactile strumming and a composition expertly constructed and executed, particularly the final few bars, the couple's hand-in-hand sense paying dividends with some affectingly subtle vocal refrains.
This is easy listening in its very best sense. Songs like Painting by Chagall and Nobody know me at all positively ooze pleasantness but their melodic and lyrical distinctions, their sheer deftness render any sniffiness redundant. The Weepies do their colouring-in in pastels, smudging and rubbing, but beneath lie some fine spare lines draughted by the sharpest pencils in the box…
To the big back room at the Bull and Gate in Kentish Town last week where reallyrather surveyed the alarming emptiness as a band called The Silent Parade threw down their dully proficient Muse-meets-Stereophonics stylings for next to nobody. Could this blog's antennae be going a bit wonky I wondered as the men in black (yep, you guessed) packed away their gear. Happily, no! As if by magic a properly buzzing little crowd appeared from nowhere (well, ok, the front bar) to give a deservingly enthusiastic reception to My Sad Captains and their catchy, crap-free indie-guitar pop thingy. As noted before, there's something of The Tyde about this young London five-piece - listen to songs like All hat and no plans or Ghost song alongside Separate cars [hear] from The Tyde's imminent Rough Trade release, Three's Co. But most of all Ed & co. bring to mind the calmer finer moments of NZ also-rans Garageland - remember Beelines to heaven? You are advised to make a beeline for The Luminaire this Thursday for My Sad Captains first headlining show...