“I have found the Family Fodder record to be of great comfort and delight. I was going through a bad patch and then I listened to the Family Fodder record and the bad patch ended almost immediately.” (Mr D. Shrigley, Variety sleevenotes.
Even Porky, as an experienced music scribbler, finds it a minor challenge to describe Family Fodder to passing aliens in bite-sized chunks. Post-punk? Yes, but in their early 80s heyday. Space-age weirdos? Getting there, there’s definitely a strangeness and aloofness to this English act. A pop group? Stretching it perhaps, but it’s easy to singalong to some tracks on the new album Variety (The state51 Conspiracy).
Porky was taken by the multi-instrumental nature of 2010’s Classical Music (see review here, https://craighaggis.wordpress.com/2010/11/26/lowdown-on-the-new-23/) and a reference to an Angolan activist killed by the brutal military regime in 1978 which showed an interest in global politics, a penchant largely mocked in today’s celeb-and-trivial-obsessed society.
Variety continues where Classical Music left off, with the pounding rhythms of Deja Deja Vu reminiscent of the Fodder from 1979, and an instrumental, Blue Puppies, sounding like the soundtrack to a scary version of the The Teddy Bear’s Picnic. Vampyre On My Mind is very, well, different, the first time FF have really used electronica to such effect, with inanely splendid lyrics.
Overall, I found this Family Fodder record to be of interest and intrigue. I was going through a bad patch and then I listened to the Family Fodder record and the bad patch continued.
As opposed to Family Fodder’s longevity, Liverpudlians Outfit have their debut album, Performance (Double Denim records) out now. The first platter is always a crucial statement of intent and Outfit have made a decent fist of that.
They seem to have picked up a fair bit of hype in their brief existence, with the likes of the Guardian and the NME acting like mutts around a dog on heat. Portishead and 70s prog (God bless) have been referenced but the spectre of ethereal-electro Norwegians Royksopp looms large. Plaintive vocals, haunting melodies, matter-of-fact lyrics and a reverential beauty are the hallmarks of Performance. Nothing Big and I Want What’s Best are two ball grabbers, and the remainder is a mixture of melodrama and banality with The Great Outdoors and its evocation of a personal independence that borders on loneliness finding a way into the heart.
There’s a certain gravitas about people whose surnames matches English counties; think broadcaster Victoria Derbyshire, ex-Ipswich Town bench warmer Lee Norfolk and David Essex. So in terms of names Jack Cheshire is up there with such luminaries. Cheshire’s self-released debut Long Mind Hotel is actually his third.
He is a dapper-dressed man, and the most notable aspect of the record is Cheshire’s hushed but endearing voice. Unlike Outfit, where the vocals almost seem incidental, Long Mind Hotel revolves around the main man, with his band largely playing catch-up. There is a curious beauty here, the feeling that I’ve unearthed an item at a garage sale which appears to be just another trinket, but contains individualistic elements that give it life.
Downloadable preview track Gyroscope does, however, feature a band fully in tune with Cheshire, with their jazz inflections, although it doesn’t actually sound like a jazz track. If that makes sense. In fact, there are surf guitars and latin rhythms aplenty, the excellent Into The Void in particular harks back to late 50s San Francisco and is eminently hummable.