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   Monday, May 15, 2006  
Play it again again...

Like most of the rest of Britain, London got an advance preview of summertime last week and reallyrather took full use of the opportunity to put in some serious practice, loafin' and lollin' long and hard, oh yes. And in one of those coincidences that almost makes one ponder the existence of some Higher Being the perfect soundtrack for such weather had arrived just days before. It's close on three years [!!] since The Tyde released album no2 Twice but somehow these five Los Angelinos have managed to find time in their hectic schedule of surfing, surfing, hangin' out and, er, surfing to squeeze out another 36 - yes, three-six - whole more minutes of sun-spangled cynicism. And reallyrather for one is grateful.
So here we all are again down at the beach with our heads in the sand. The Tyde just don't care and neither does this blog quite frankly, not when they're still dishing up killer pop tunes the likes of Do it again again and The Pilot, all solar-powered kickass boogie with a drop of acid. If that pair are ripping up the green room (dude), Brock Landers and Too many Kims aren't far behind, fizzling, squizzling analog joy. The slightly more blissed out Glassbottom lights drops down a gear while The lamest shows sees the pace slack right off with some trademark trippy lassitude.
Three's Co. is immediate and immediately recognizable but The Tyde have evolved, at least sonically, over their three-album existence. The glistening 'rus in urbe' langour of Once was booted into pop-smart shape on the follow-up by the addition of drummer Ric Menck. Twice might well stand as The Tyde's high water mark; Three's Co. has seen that record's acoustic-led jangle almost completely supplanted by the fizzing electric variety and this blog has no complaints.
So some things change and some things remain the same. Each Tyde album has its throwaway old-school surf-rock ditty, County line being the new record's Shortboard City/North County times. And of course there's the lyrical freight: bitterness, negativity, lying duplicitous bastards continue to abound. Brock Landers in particular is a fantastic bit of spleen-venting with Darren giving the finger to 'the pastiche police' and those who would sneer at a record deal with a trendy label in London (like, say, Rough Trade?!). 'Fuck 'em, let's go to the beach,' would seem to be the message, an uncomplicated and not unpersuasive philosophy for life, you'll agree...

...and somewhat perversely, the band will be coming over in July to play the Truck Festival in Oxfordshire, possibly the most land-locked music event in the whole calendar...

A feature common to all three Tyde albums has been the lap-steel playing of Dave Scher. A Silver Lake/Echo Park fixture, 'Farmer Dave' was the natural choice for Jenny Lewis' band for the Rabbit fur coat tour, the last leg of which this blog caught at the Shepherds Bush Empire. Approaching the venue reallyrather had little doubt that the girl could pull it off and was not disappointed. For someone who has professed uncertainties about her ability she has always projected a confidence and unforced poise live, be it in front of 30 people in the back room of a pub [see rr Sept 03] or the thousand or so drawn by her name this night.
Wearing a floaty, full-length vintage dress and with sterling back-up from the statuesque Watson twins Lewis roused and enchanted her public by turns with her freshly-minted brand of idiosyncratic indie twang. A hero for the girls, a PC pin-up for the guys, after eight years of slog and pretty much on her own terms Jenny Lewis seems have this game all sewn up...

So follow that Blake, baby - The Elected play Shepherds Bush Empire (opening for Gomez) June 12...

Bummer: it's goodbye to Clor (one ace album, several ace gigs, thanks guys)

Opposite of bummer: it's hello to Shapes and Sizes [go]

Watching Ox's set at the Luminaire recently this blog was reminded just what a loss Nadine were and how good it is that the likes of Centro-matic are still around. Anyway, Ox were only the support and made to look somewhat heavy-footed by those, er, perky pop sensations My Sad Captains. Stopped all that kind of thing, is that what it was called? Yet another cracking addition to the canon. Surely someone's signed these guys? reallyrather wants the album and wants it..quite soonish..please?

There is a record called Black swan days. It is by Scarboro Aquarium Club. It is out there, it has been recently released, but no-one seems to want to tell you about it, least of all Mr Corey W Schmidt (for it is he) and his label Becalmed Records. Their respective web presences are next to useless and the album sleeve design is spectacularly uninviting. (If it shouts anything it's 'bargain bin here we come'.) So if they all don't seem to be overly bothered by the whole thing, should you be? reallyrather has the facts and, as they say, is voting 'Yes'.
Canadian Schmidt is a one-man eclectic pop maven with a particular fondness for 60s chamber pop and 80s electronica. But the lead instrument is the crisply strummed guitar of the classic bedroom pop songsmith. Schmidt likes a tune and nailing an arrangement; his efforts on Black swan days have been holding sway in this blog's headphones for weeks.
The transporting pair of Queen of the beach and Blind like the sun share dreamy, mildy hynoptic choruses and choicely multi-tracked vocals, Queen being Bossa-flavoured with a spot-on trumpet motif, the latter all crystalline arpeggiated guitar and echoes of Windmills of your mind. Flash like diamonds and All her careful plans have a squelchy synth/guitar pop-rock sound not unlike The Tyde's. Plans also showcases Schmidt's sonorous Ferry-meets-Morrissey croon as does orch-pop twinkler Leave this town. The lighter vocal and fat synthesized groove of Before the morning light will keep Postal Service fans happy, ditto the album's electro-acoustic pop standout, Black swan days. A no-nonsense backbeat, great melody, clean strummin', wafting synths, bells.. this perfectly realised confection is certainly in the mix for this blog's pop song of the year so far.
A couple of unexpected but nonetheless delightful doses of jangly folk-pop carried by guest vocalist Heather Chappell and a few briefer stylistic studies make up the rest of the package. Quite how the product of such a low-key project based in Canada has surfaced on a sleepy micro label in England is a minor mystery. Well, the parties responsible may not want to shout about it but this blog is happy to: Black swan days is available from Norman Records in Leeds for just £7.25. Proper Yorkshire value, I'd say...

As all true aesthetes will know this weekend sees the apex/nadir of the whole music year, the gruesome geo-political popfest that is Eurovision. Who's favourite? This blog cares not (it's Greece apparently). reallyrather knows but one thing: if this lot had been entered for Sweden it would have been NO FUCKING CONTEST. OK, so it's all very post-P.Spree and they might look like the staff of Malmo University library on a bonding away-day but I'm from Barcelona will, repeat will, make you happy...
[Play the 'We're from Barcelona' video]
[and again]
   posted by SMc at 9:43 AM |