Big yins

10th July 2010

Truly indie ‘veterans’, the Dundee five-piece have made their seventh studio album something of a ‘back to basics’ effort. Not that the band have really worked with anything more than the pure rudiments of recording, even their recent releases with award-winning producer Paul Savage have always have had a lo-fi grime swept across them. This is however a return to – almost – the feel of their debut Live At Home. That album was indeed recorded in someone’s house, and this similarly stands on no ceremony. ‘And Now It Is Over’ perhaps deceives a little, kicking into punk rock life with a rousing chorus and chugging driving indie feel, but from then on it’s less hits and more evidence on how the band have never quite made it to the top of the charts. ‘Zappa is Sound’ grinds out a rhythm which rather than going for that killer chorus that the band are quite capable of, instead allows a sort of drunken mumble to sit centre stage. ‘Gold in Her Hands’ just about defines the term ‘lo-fi indie’ while ‘All The Little Things’ is kind of like Prince fronting Pavement (which is just as sexy as it sounds, believe me). As a whole there are as many moments of family-friendly fun as there are of bafflement – bona-fide glimpses of pop genius, contrasting with the band’s intransigent experimentalism, as on ‘Obviously Too Obvious’. And, moments when pop and, er, unpop, collide (’Up Against It’).
You won’t find this album on iTunes or Amazon (order from their website – I’m not sure if this is another side of their ‘no compromise’ stance or that they just can’t be arsed – but we’d not have them any other way.

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10th July 2010

One of those bands which is actually just one bloke (Gord Mathieson) , the Dundee-based one-piece have, for this recording at least, enlissted the help of Dundee rockers Pensioner. However, while the album shows a variety of light and shade, Car Boat Sail is more about the song and less about the rock.

The eleven tracks here rise and fall, but opener ‘Walkabout’ is nothing short of magnificent – classic, towering songwroting in the vein of Built To Spill or Will Oldham, or even Y’All Is fantasy Island (I’ve just reviewed the Adam Stafford solo album so this may be in my mind, but even so, that’s no disgrace as a comparison).

That’s the opener of course, and as with any album, the strongest track is placed first. That’s not to say that the remaining tracks aren’t worthwhile, but since (for example) ‘Oh Georgie’ and ‘A New Jersey Affair’ are more standard pop-rock fare, we can focus on the lyrics, where Mathieson weaves tales of ordinary occurrences, liaisons and affairs in an engaging way that, like a good book, keeps us captivated until the end.

It’s also creative as well, and every track has something to involve and intrigue, from the title of ‘Te Moeka O Tuawe’ to ‘Across The Line’ which is basically a drunken sea santy. Other highlights are ‘The Canterbury Association’, a slow-moving fiddle-driven paean to New Zealand which suddenly gathers a crowd lustily singing “don’t leave us now, we’re not good alone”.

In all, an understated release that could just turn up on a few best-of lists come the end of the year.

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