Tegwen Roberts & Emma Clarke
Sandman used to live next door to a pub which hosted regular folk nights. Nipping in for last orders could be something of an ordeal, as surrounded by ancient, farting, sweating old twats clutching instruments which could only have been conceived for a bet, the air was filled with drones and the sound of folk forgetting history is not simply the lineage of funny clothes. Tegi (guitar and voice) and Emma (violin), are folkies, but are more to do with the powerful communal element that ensures folk will endure while rap/metal will go the way of the pub of doom. That said this CD doesn’t do them justice - all the components are there and well recorded but lack a certain spark or, perhaps, an audience. Tegi, as a singer is no belter but has a clarity which is enchanting. The songs are simple and beautifully compact, ‘Smile’ is a milkround whistler and Firefly is just lovely but this captures all the fragility and none of the resonance.
pic: Chris Saunders
The Charm Offensive
Recorded at home apparently. It sounds like they’ve all snuck under a giant duvet and put the mics in a bin. The muffled sound, however, fails to completely some some nice touches - melodic piano, backing vocals, some nicely aggressive guitar. They’re trying to write melodies which is always a good thing. The vocals, teetering between desperate and irritating, work in parts, not in others. There’s something in there which very vaguely reminds us of Elvis Costello but we can’t pinpoint it and he’s pretty good so feel free to ignore it as a reference point.
DJ Rude Hands
When it’s structured it’s good, when it’s not it ain’t. 57minutes of Mr.Rude Hands is a big brantub of ‘ooh, that’s alright’ and ‘get the muppet awayfrom those decks.’ It’s a bit Orb-y here, a bit Kraftwerk-y there and a bit stoned meddler for much of it. It starts off trying for the seemingly random notes early Aphex Twin scared kids with but sounds more like someone’s got a sampler and wants to find out how it works. Round about halfway through (no tracklisting, obviously) it hits its stride and sucks you into a dense, compelling groove four or five tracks but peters off towards the end, like a shagged middle-distance runner into the kind of background slush that probably sounds OK if you’re stoned out of your gourd.
Sandman once drifted off to sleep convinced The Frank & Walters had made the finest album man could ever hope to make. Be warned.
Stripped down songs of temptation, yearning and seduction, both as seducer and seduced. This is a lovely CD. Reminiscent of PJHarvey’s demo album of ‘Rid of Me’ in its sparse instrumentation - simple acoustic guitar occasionally overlaid with distorted, grinding electric - but with more of the spirit of a Beth Orton, gentler, less disturbed. This simplicity means her slightly breathy vocals aren’t swamped by its surroundings. For want of a better adjective the songs are sexy, balanced on the tip of desire before action becomes irrevocable. Final track ‘Another Game’ with its scratched ancient vinyl overlay is probably the slightest offering but still appeals with its nursery rhyme melody while Shine Bright is elusive and allusive.
Get Yourself Together
If you want originality, sorry but this band really doesn’t have it. There’s Wellah! and Owaysis all the way through. In fact the strained vocals in the title track make me cringe the way I do every time I unfortunately hear Liam wailing on the radio. Well recorded at Yellow Arch but the band really needs to try and break out of the mould. I doubt I’d need to listen to the second track, ‘Keep it on,’ to guess the content. Lyrics go “I’ve seen the light that shines, you know you’ve seen it too.” Give them a year I say.
Then again in Spar the other night some pissed muppet was shouting out the merits of Heathen Chemistry and how it was ‘their best yet.’ Maybe Trap 2 are being very deliberate and are simply taking advantage of the market that is still there?
Tegwen Roberts & Emma Clarke - Live
The Charm Offensive
DJ Rude Hands