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Posts Tagged ‘Family Fodder’

“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 Fodderweirdos? 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.

OUtfitThey 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.

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Who? Cold In Berlin

Title: Give Me Walls
Label:
2076 records
Tell me more:
A relatively new band from London, who have been touring around the UK for the past two years, gaining a reputation and a following.
The Lowdown:
The opening line from the first track is: “I had a girl and she was perfect, so I decided I would fuck her. And even though she had a boyfriend I knew I had to have her,” sung by Siouxsie Sioux-soundalike My. And herein we find a lot about the band: they like to swear, and are happy being confrontational. “There is no white horse, you stupid little fucker,” from White Horse – and the f-word gets a good airing in virtually every song. Porky approves, it appeals to his mischevious side, and no doubt to millions of schoolboys too. Reminiscent of PJ Harvey, particularly on her corruscating Stories From the City, Stories From the Sea, My is an uncompromising frontwoman and Cold In Berlin are a tight-knit unit, producing undiluted music that reminds me of the post-punk era of the late 1970s. But, whereas that movement produced something radical, and with feeling, Give Me Walls is repetitive and there’s a failure to find a formula that expands upon their passive-aggressive approach.

Who? Family Fodder

Title: Classical Music
Label:
The State 51 Conspiracy
Tell me more:
The Family were one of the more enlightening bands of the post-punk era, singing about how wonderful Debbie Harry was, while their debut single, Playing Golf (With My Flesh Crawling), was one of the most bizarre yet mesmerising singles of a highly productive period from 1978 to 1983. They left a legacy of radical music but achieved little in light of intense competition.
The Lowdown:
I am delighted to say they haven’t resorted on reformation to recording, ahem, radio fodder, but have the same commitment to esoteric, left-field music, with a soundscape that appears to have originated in Asia folk music or from one of the Kenyan bands John Peel used to play. The man who’s name provides the title to Whatever Happened to David Ze? was a victim of the Angolan military regime’s repressive methods in 1978 although it is also about the many other murders committed by the junta. Suitably, it has an African feel, with touches of the sub-Saharan Rumba style. There’s all sorts of unusual instruments used on Classical Music, such as the mouth harp on Be More Wise but Primeval Pony is a minimalist track building on an imagined nursery rhyme.

Who? The Dunwell Brothers Band

Title: The Dunwell Brothers Band
Label:
Nature’s Little Punchline
Tell me more:
The core of the band is, rather surprisingly two brothers, Joseph and David, a duo for many years before expanding to a five-piece last year. They are the proud owners of strong Leeds accents.
The Lowdown:
Porky generally feels it’s unwarranted to take a debut album and rip it to shreds; if you can’t give them encouragement, ignore ’em and hope they disappear. So, here’s a wee policy breaker, but it’s done so in a good cause. Like an unpleasant disorder ‘downstairs’, action should be swift in order to prevent further infection. And, so to preserve sanity, and the planet even, Porky is beginning a campaign to stop the Dunwell Brothers from developing beyond a cafe chain they are playing. It’s a safe, nice album you could play to your grandmother and her rest home pals, or have on a church stereo. It’s bland, turgid and sounds like a hundred acts from the 1970s and their revivalists. You know, Jack Johnson, that kind of lame-ass. So, c’mon guys, help me out here with the Prevention of Blandness – sign the petition, protest outside record stores, write to your MPs. Together we can beat this.

Anything else? The Dunwell Bros have recorded a jingle for Leeds Utd that gets played at home matches.

Who? The Puddle

Title: Playboys In the Bush
Label:
Fishrider records
Tell me more:
The Puddle made a splash from 1986 to 1993 as one of the many talented acts on Flying Nun. Alas, none of that material is now available so I can’t determine the quality of this period.
The Lowdown:
What I am familiar with is the home-recorded The Shakespeare Monkey, released last year which impressed Porky with its “captivating tone and heartfelt lyrics”. But I also said that George D. Henderson’s voice is infuriatingly frail. That remains the case, especially when he sings “in the country”, but with far better production values through recording in a bona fide studio it means the music is predominant. Rainbow Bridge Airlines is melodic, English Speaking World is articulate, and Valhalla is a nine-minute rock opera, an epic of Lord of the Rings proportions. The Puddle are quite possibly New Zealand’s best-kept secret.

Anything else? London’s Sunday Times and Uncut have both given favourable reviews to the reformed Puddle.

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