A collection of posts from my original weblog...or the inscrutable rantings of a madman...could be both...

Saturday, March 15, 2003

Happy Saturday, Musos!! I have correction from my previous post..M.A.D. reminded me that Fred Rogers was actually born into wealth in Pennsylvania and in fact did not possess any "working class roots". D'Oh! Sorry for the misinformation. The area he grew up in was rife with labor/management disputes, however, and it informed him of the struggle of the working classes and caused him to feature "everyday jobs" as segments on his show. Again, I apologize for the error and direct you to M.A.D.'s tribute to get the real story!!
I received a copy of the new Ed Harcourt disc, From Every Sphere, recently (thanks again to Flaming Pixie). It was just released last month in the UK--I'm not aware of a domestic release date yet. The new record continues in the English romantic/gothic vein Harcourt began on his debut, Here Be Monsters. He certainly has a knack for arrangements (the brass on the opener, Bittersweetheart) and he utilizes a variety of instruments (the harmonium on All Of Your Days Will Be Blessed, the electronica on Jetsetter). His vocals seem stronger on this album--probably due to his gaining confidence in the studio (and his live work) over the past year. As on "Here Be..", Harcourt attempts a different "mood" on each track..he's melancholy on one, love-struck on another, and nearly deranged on yet another. It's a credit to his vocal abilities that he succeeds on just about every one--managing to sound both worldly and far past his 24 years. His backing band deserve acknowledgement for helping to flesh out Harcourt's melodies without drowning them in needless hooks. I suppose one could fault him for not taking more chances on his second full-length..but he clearly knows his strengths and he builds on them. He's waiting out his "sophomore slump"--and honestly, I didn't expect him to churn out some three-chord indie-rock. I believe he'll experiment a bit more on his third record..in the meantime, it's tough not to appreciate the beautiful melody of Birds Will Sing For Us--with it's main piano line reminiscent of another song--though I haven't figured out what that is yet. Undertaker Strut is this album's rocker--but just when you think it will go over the top, Harcourt reels it back in and quietly plinks on the keys like he's in a posh restaurant. From Every Sphere, the title track and album closer is atmospheric and reminds me a bit of Kate Bush's Breathing--and possibly a signpost to where he is heading musically. It's tough to follow up a debut like "Here Be Monsters", but I think Harcourt has reprised himself masterfully without making a carbon copy of his first record. Harcourt's debut EP, Maplewood is still available as an import--and worth owning if you liked "Here Be.."--it's got different versions of a few tracks that ended up on the full-length and they're different enough to warrant comparisons of pro or con...check it out if you can!!
I finally got the newest Brave Captain disc as well (thanks again F.P.!!) It's called Advertisements For Myself and was released in May of last year..I don't think it ever got a domestic release date and I was going to try to score one from those jackals at eBay. Brave Captain is of course Martin Carr, formerly of The Boo Radleys gone solo. "Advertisements.." is his second full-length, after three EPs and his debut. Carr keeps with the sound he began also--though this one has much more electronica than his previous efforts--he had dabbled with it on the EPs a bit but only to augment the acoustic riffs. He also continues railing against the powers that be in his lyrics.."You piss in our water/is all that we're good for" from The Sound Of Wichita..."You've got your health/just be yourself/they'll kill you otherwise" from Stand Up And Fight. The songs alternate from gentle love songs to the aforementioned anti-government screeds..so it could be said that Carr's obsessions are still intact also. Still, it's an interesting listen and I'm just grateful that he's still making music..and hey, like I've said before, Martin's actually got a decent singing voice! The highlights of the record are the opener, The Sound Of Wichita, with it's tribal drum beat and Carr singing "Trapped in this capsule" at the coda...I Was A Teenage Death Squad, with it's acerbic lyrics ("We partied with the locals/and filled them full of holes") and brass arrangement...This Weight That You Have Found, which is a song that Richard Ashcroft *should* be singing instead of half the shyte that ended up on his solo debut...and My Mind Pictures, which sounds like a cross between a Stones-y rocker and some 70s synth-pop..a killer bouncy melody! I would recommend this disc to just about anyone--not just for Brave Captain/Boo Radleys freeks--it's too bad Carr is just a cult act in the States..this stuff is so much better than anything on commercial "alterno-radio" (or whatever it's called now). Always the way, innit?
Alright, kids..I'm going to wrap this post up--I'll be back on Monday for a St. Paddy's Day shout-out--so don't go anywhere!! Slainte!!!