Time once again to leave the week's big releases (The Rolling Stones) behind and take a listen to some of the more esoteric releases that have dropped into the Londonist Music team's mail box recently.
The Oggs - Radiotherapy
If we were to say The Oggs hail from NYC, with an album title like Radiotherapy, chances are you'd expect something on the punkier side of The Strokes. Not to be. Instead what we have is 36 minutes and 20 seconds of British musical history. Take She's A Revalation for example. A sublime blend of Beatles Strawberry Fields brass pop sass and ELO pomp that follows Good Enough which takes Teenage Fanclub playing New Wave in the style of Brian Wilson. Waiting For The World could have happily have found itself as one of the slower tracks on a Robbie Williams if it wasn't anything like that and hadn't built itself upon a Radio Ga Ga's chord structure.
It's to Matt DeGroat and Brian K's great credit that this doesn't come across as some kind of dodgy tribute record to all their favourite genres, the kind of criticism that was hurled at Ryan Adams' Rock N Roll (although we really liked it). Rather it's a playful rollicking thing that can get away with throwing an over the top crowd reaction to their Oasis Elastica bombastic rock out on Waiting For The World. Only in time to roll it back in to the moody strummings and ethereal electronica of radiotherapy where Matt pulls off his best Thom Yorke.
Not only do they seamlessly blend genres but they also write some damn fine sunny pop songs. Get It On rewrites CSN's Our House as an uptempo mid period Madness tune that bounces up and down in the terraces and is as catchy as the clap in a cheap Thai brothel. Nothing To Say sees the guys crunching away at their guitars with a bright shiny electro pop synth line over the top before returning to the moody Brit pop of I Don't Know although its monotone feel lets the side down in an album that's otherwise pretty peerless in it's poptastic pilferings. So even though the album's been out for a while, it's new to us this week and get's a well deserved album of the week award.
Listen to some Oggs here
The Blue Hearts - Dark Side Of Town
Brighton's The Blue Hearts' third release, Dark Side Of Town brings us ten tales of broken spirits and bleeding souls drowning themselves at the bottom of a grubby whisky glass. We always thought Brighton was quite a lively place but with the crown prince of darkness, Nick Cave, living just round the corner, there seems to be some kind of vortex of bleakness just off the Weston Road.
And it's with Mr Cave's sombre supine psycho-billy that The Blue Hearts find their spiritual home. That's not to say that there isn't the occasional bow to Brighton's other best known band, The Levellers but then again no more than those other frenetic fiddlers, The Waterboys (the surprisingly uptempo Mother of the Faith). However it's when The Blue Hearts stray into the cracked alt.country territory of Seattle's The Walkabouts with frontman Bob Powell pulling his best Cave phrasings: Downhearted (I could swear, I could holler, I can bet my bottom dollar) or Strange Fruit Tree with its eerily gentle backing vocals that the album works best rather than the more straightforward Elvis-country of the title track.
Steel Pulse - African Holocaust
Birmingham's Steel Pulse emerged during the late 70s punk scene playing Rock Against Racism Shows with Generation X and The Stranglers. Their seminal album Handsworth Revolution is still seen as a classic within the British reggae scene. Since then they've gone on to become the first ever reggae band to appear on America's The Tonight Show, and played at Clinton's inauguration ceremony in 1993 at his request.
Thirty years down the line African Holocaust retains the band's strong political stance, a harsh reminder that successive global policies have done little to improve the standards of living for the millions living below the poverty line, and comes at a time when despite the all too brief attention grabbing of Jive 8 the crisis facing Africa is still a blight on our so called civilised way of life. Musically African Holocaust blends for the most part classic dub roots reggae with a strong commercial feel, and yet still has time to throw in the occasional bluesy guitar lick (Door Of No Return), all without losing any of their credibility as returning political force and long time champions of equal rights. Steel Pulse return to the UK this month.
Thunderclap Featuring Goodmoney - Pick N Tell
Mention Thunderclap Newman's Something In The Air and you'll often receive blank incredulous stares. Mention the track from the British Airways ad, Talk Talk's Big Brother ident and everyone's: ah yeah, that one. A classic 1969 one hit wonder British protest song that's survived most of the band's original members through a host of film and tv appearances, has now been revisited by Pete Goodall, one time booker during the 60s and touring guitarist with the original Thunderclap Newman. Pete's now hooked up with blues vocalist Zoot Money and Cream's old lyricist, Pete Brown, for 12 tracks of old school British rhythm 'n' blues of which the highlight is an expansive reworking of the old warhorse.
Pete got on the blower recently to tell us that he enjoyed reading our Big Brother posts even though he no longer has a tv, his love of Chuck Berry and to bemoan the state of an over commodified British music industry where the only two artists getting any major push these days are an over-rated karaoke singer and a skiffle group (that's Robbie Williams and Coldplay if you hadn't already guessed). Who says old rockers just lie down and die? Having spent almost 40 years as a promoter, player and producer Pete's now shifted base to the leafy confines of National Trust friendly Herefordshire to set up the Hereford Music Studios where he's teaching new bands how to survive the wicked wiley ways of the music industry (technical musical skills, improvisation and emotion) as well as building an online database of unsigned talent (we'll take as many good new bands as we can and flog them to death globally) on a server to rival that of EMI's. Anyone interested in seeing what HMS has to offer can get in touch with them through the previous link. So after turning his back on the major label ethos, having seen the corporatisation of all the great protest movements - from the hippies to punk - from the centre of the big smoke, could he still describe London in a word? Massively wonderful! That's two words Pete...
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