They Built Ships That Sank (Words and Works Rejected 12" mini-album)
From the timid opener 'Fire On The Leading Edge' you know that Fourth Quartet's second release is going to be a difficult, and at times uncomfortable listen, but at the same time intelligent and absorbing. The musicianship on the album is slow, but not dreary, and is best exemplified in the crisp instrumental 'Rockets Into Buildings'. There are also some truly emotional lyrics; the final track 'Song Of The End' is an intense experience due to a combination of depressing words and the voice of a raging philosopher. Occasionally the band play their guitars loud, but they are at their best when they appear most fragile. 'The Hope Part', with it's traces of melody and short guitar bursts is the best song on an album that has it's weak momments, but is generally quite beautiful.
Stamina (Deceptive mini-album)
I think mini-albums are great; they give young bands an xcellent opportunity to record music how they think it should sound, without having to 'mature', or write slower songs to provide the tempo change that a full-length album needs. Every band should make one, particularly if, like The Junket, they are in the more punk side of pop. The Junket play spiky punk, with lots of angular guitars and punchy drumming. All the songs rock, particularly the singles 'Punk Mickey' and 'You're The Same', but a couple lack a decent chorus to bring them above average. The band have been compared to Idlewild quite a lot, and while they don't have the ferocity or melodies of Scotland's finest, this is a sturdy debut.
Shorley Wall (Tugboat mini-album)
I'm not sure whether I think Ooberman are totally a good thing. The lead track is lovely; very pretty and relaxing, especially when it sinks into a glorious, harmonious outro. 'Why Did My Igloo Collapse?' is great too. It sounds all silky, before bursting into a gorgeous chorus. They are very musically adept as well, everything is very crisp. There's also some rotten tracks on here; 'Serotoni Smile' is confused as to whether it should rock or be graceful, and there are too many instrumental fillers. I can see this being a band you either love or hate (except me, who seems to be stuck in the middle!), so why don't you see what it's like for yourself, because it was quite cheap.
The Hot Rock (Matador)
Any thoughts that I may have had in thinking that Sleater-Kinney would not have progressed much from their, admittedly superb, album 'Dig Me Out' of two years ago were quickly quashed by the opening track of 'The Hot Rock', the band's fourth album. 'Start Together' is a brooding, downbeat classic, and is quite different to anything Sleater-Kinney have previously produced. In fact, 'The Hot Rock' has an entire aura of the band not sitting on their laurels, as they reach new depths in their sound. The single 'Burn, Don't Freeze' is instantly memorable with it's slick harmonies, quirky guitar line and kooky, fast-paced tune. The antithesis of this is the gentle 'The Size Of Our Love', which as well as incorporating a viola sees lead singer Corin singing for once instead of her usual high pitched screaming. Not that her voice is a problem, of course; far from it, I think it's great and gives Sleater-Kinney a real edge over their contemporaries, it's just it may not appeal to everyone. So, if you haven't liked Sleater-Kinney in the past, you probably won't enjoy 'The Hot Rock'. If you have however, you will discover that the band have just got better.
Issue 3 Contents
Issue 3 Easter '99 © Tim Bragger