Who? The 3D’s
Title: We Bury The Living!! Early Recordings 1989-90
Label: Flying Nun
Tell me more: New life for the first two EPs, Fish Tails and Swarthy Songs for Swabs and 11 demo tracks, many of which were recorded in a porta-studio.
The Lowdown: The 3D’s came along as the so-called Dunedin Sound was resounding in the indie clubs and late-night radio shows around the western world, but, like all the bands (The Clean, Straitjacket Fits, etc) they had a distinctive individuality while having a penchant for cranking up the guitars. We Bury The Living has a haphazard running order, with the tracks bundled together, with no attempt to segregate each EP nor timeframe the demos. So I’m fast forwarding to listen to the debut EP as a whole, and doing the same with the follow-up. The songs reveal a band who quickly formed a unique, lo-fi/ no-fi sound, full of caustic tunes that chime to the passive-aggressive disharmonic fusion that had Nirvana, Superchunk and Pavement all calling their numbers. The EPs could have been merged into one mini-album while some of the demos should have been released in their own right.
Anything else? They were so-called because the original three members were David Saunders, Denise Roughan and Dominic Stones. Then came David Mitchell but there was no expansion of the name. Mitchell also designed their individualistic sleeves.
Who? Arctic Monkeys
Title: Suck It And See
Tell me more: Surely, I don’t need to tell you about the Monkeys, the biggest thing to come from Sheffield since someone discovered the steel could make teaspoons, whose albums soar to number one in the UK and most other places, with tales of everyday life and the characters that inhabit their world? Wait, I just did.
The Lowdown: The debut album was so good, and hit a wave with its matter-of-factness, wit and punchy lyrics that anything that followed was the equivalent of the American chasing after Usain Bolt. The Monkeys have moved on, as all the best bands do, even venturing into areas that may prove commercially insensitive, as Humbug, from 2009, was. On the first couple of listens Suck It And See sounds like their adventure in Indie-Rock, as if a sober Pete Doherty ghosted into the studio and left some ideas behind. Could it be … no, I dare not so their name ….damn I’ll have to now, but have they been listening to post-Madchester James? Later listens suggest a broader palate, but you get the picture.
Regardless, Alex Turner’s words remain as potent as ever, if you’ll forgive the monotonous Brick By Brick. Turner’s come up with some gems like “Topless models doing semaphore” (Reckless Serenade), or “You’re rarer than a can of dandelion,” (title track).
Oh yes, and there’s those gloriously long-winded titles, like The Hellcat Spangled Shalalala and Don’t Sit Down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair.
Who? Seasick Steve
Title: You Can’t Teach An Old Dog New Tricks
Label: Play It Again Sam
Tell me more: Much has been said about Steve’s life as a hobo and casual farmhand and manual labourer. But he has also been involved in the music industry in some form since the 1960s, generally as a session musician and sound engineer. It was only in 2004, aged 63, that he released his first solo album, and the third and fourth were released on corporate scum Warner Bros.
The Lowdown: I tried desperately hard to like You Can’t Teach …. but the blues-heavy feel and the minimalistic nature of it proved too challenging to someone who, admittedly, has never given the genre a proper crack. But I can certainly emphasise fully with Steve Wold’s worldy view, of emotional wealth over material wealth, and of accepting your personal limitations and rolling with them: “I might not be perfect but I‘m me to the bone/ I don’t need to change my style.”
And on Treasures, Wold comes across snooty people who look upon him as someone who wants to steal or beg for “one of your precious things that do not last.”
White beard will travel.
Anything else? Already a monster success, having reached No.26 in the Belgian charts.
Who? Thomas Tantrum
Title: Mad By Moonlight
Label: Stranger records
Tell me more: Second album following 2008’s eponymous debut, from a fourpiece from Southampton, a rough port city on England’s south coast. TT revolve around Megan Thomas, the writer, voice and one of two guitarists.
The Lowdown: It’s been a long time since plaintive, evocative indie pop came through the speakers of Porky’s stereo, maybe as far back as the late 80s, a time of The Sundays and The Sugarcubes. Their name, the album title, referencing mental health issues, suggest some form of angst, and some lyrics revolve around the subject of sleep, of insomnia, and occurrences during the night when we should be having sweet dreams. In a slight twist to that generic theme, Thomas emphasises with a friend too depressed to get out of bed, on Cold Gold.
Mad By Moonlight is an intriguing album, which requires a certain amount of patience. It is professional, evocative, the perfect sound for teenagers who’ve just discovered Thomas Hardy, but therein also lies it’s boundaries: there’s 12 tracks and after six I feel satisfied enough to press the pause button and start writing. There are good tracks beyond that point, but, by then the review has been typed, and subbed with nothing else to add.