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   Friday, November 16, 2007  
Who's a lazy boy, then...?

Early November. It's a crap time of year and also a song by Miranda Lee Richards. Who? Over five years ago [!] reallyrather was mildly distracted by the debut album from this west coast songstress. Called The Herethereafter it seems to have survived every record collection cull since, largely on the strength of tracks 1-thru-5, drowsy, dreamy folky-pop-rock. Nice songs albeit airbrushed and tricked out with instantly-dating urban beats; it sank without trace. But what's this? Out of nowhere, 6 (as in six) live dates in London later this month. In the mysterious way of things, seems she's been taken up by UK shoegaze devotees Sonic Cathedral who will be releasing a 7" called Life boat soon. Amazing, basically. If only out of curiosity reallyrather will probably catch one of these shows:

20 Nov @ The Social
21 Nov @ Water Rats
23 Nov @ Barfly
25 Nov @ The Social
26 Nov @ Bodega Club
28 Nov @ Sonic Cathedral @ The Social

[miranda lee richards]

Missed the recent Gravenhurst show at the Luminaire, a bummer really since the new album's a great listen. No earthshattering mouldbreaker, The western lands is simply a poised, adroitly-paced refinement of their spectral electric folk-rock thing. It's very particularly guitar music, with spare, methodical arrangements which never overplay their hand. Whether this wholly admirable 'economy' is intuitive artistic restraint or simply a lack of any more ideas this blog neither knows nor cares, frankly. It's good atmospheric rock.
The emotional semi-detatchment and methodical calibration of opening pair Saints and She dances might put some off but this blog loves it and the way they perfectly tee up the satisfying slash of Hollow men. First single Trust came over a bit so-so in isolation but pulls its weight in this line-up. The title track is an uncluttered Spaghetti western chugger while a chiming guitar figure glints in the ghostly half-light of Hourglass. The album's cover design is oddly reminiscent of Blue Note releases from the '60s and actually there is a vague jazziness to Grand Union Canal but, thankfully, this is Nick Talbot not John Schofield. (The melody and vocal gets close to Archer Prewitt, though.) A strong final track is always a great persuader this blog has long found and The Collector is the equal of any that preceed it. Collectively, its fine, fine stuff...

Nick Talbot has recently been sounding off about toilet venues. What would he make of Ginglik, the public toilet-turned-cosy subterranean venue on Shepherds Bush Green? Certainly no complaints from this blog last night about East London Is A Vampire's latest promotion featuring Glasgow pseudo-shambles Dananananaykroyd and tidy NZ quartet Cut Off Your Hands.
So who's that lanky guy down the front really getting into it. Oh, it's the, er, 'singer' Calum who spends much of the show facing the stage with the audience. This blog's second Dananana.. encounter, the show featured noticeably tighter lashings of their pulverising anarcho-funk powered by a double-drummer attack. Some truly adrenalizing moments - Song one puzzle and the mighty mighty Totally bone - amidst the chaos. Good-natured intensity? Shouldn't work but it does. This lot are having are 'avin' a larf but, crucially, so are we...

Re-asserting a skinny-jeaned contemporary orthodoxy, headliners Cut Off Your Hands came over like The Cure at their most urgent, agitated and danceable. Challenging and adventurous it ain't but the band ripped out a string of taut, immediately enjoyable tunes which ensured no-one left early...
[cut off your hands]

It probably was always too good to last. The matt pond PA super-hot streak comes to a muddling end with album #7, Last light. Not that this is a bad record at all it's just not great like the last two, Several arrows later and Emblems, which banked enough brownie points to keep the guy in credit round here for probably, well, ever.
As we've come to expect, the tunes are of a standard but as a collection its somehow hard to love. The busy electric clatter of the opening title track sets the tone for too much of what follows. Not that this sound is a departure - Fairlee kicked off The nature of maps in much the same fashion five years back but then followed it up with the transluscent pensiveness of things like The party, No more and archetypal mpPA belter Closer. On Last light its all a bit too obvious, too direct and lacking in character.
The pell mell 'rockers' have never been this blog's favourite Pond moments; things like From debris and Emblems from the last record were balanced by great compositions like City song, It's safe, Brooklyn stars and Halloween. This time around there's the twangy mis-step of Taught to look away with its rather sickly piano break and peculiarly superfluous Neko Case cameo; the a-shade-too-easygoing clapalong Sunrise; the always-unwelcome prominence of piano on undistinguished if perky radio pop of Foreign bedrooms and People have a way.
Calling the final song It's not so bad at all sounds like a desperate effort to convince (himself?/us?). Actually, this is a bit more like it, dripping in that watery midtempo ambience we've come to expect. Locate the pieces is another; great yearning tunesmithery and springy acoustic arrangement. Much like Rilo Kiley with their latest release, there's plainly a desire here to finally move in from the (chilly, impecunious) margins, wholly understandable. Certainly Matt Pond is a massively 'underheard', under-rewarded artist. But it would be dismal if this can only be achieved through a coarsening of his hitherto sublime and subtle talents...
[matt pond PA][mySpace]

Great overlooked tunes of 2007 #609:

[my teenage stride]
   posted by SMc at 4:55 PM |