Monday, 7 January 2013

reviews: matthew e white, cuddly shark, a band called quinn

Matthew E. White – Big Inner 

Mattthew E. White - Big Inner (****)

As well as being the debut album from Richmond, Virginia’s Matthew E White, Big Inner is the vanguard release from Spacebomb, White’s Stax-and-Blue-Note inspired production house. Brought to wax by the nascent studio’s generously-proportioned house band, these seven heavenly slices of country soul unfold with leisurely precision, with horns, strings, keys and guitars folded through White’s delicate baritone.

There are hints of Lambchop circa Nixon in the instrumental interplay and bittersweet air, while Jason Pierce’s gospel blues are echoed in Big Love’s lifting choir. But for the most part, White recalls an earlier songwriting vintage, with opener One of These Days unfurling smoothly like an old spiritual, and the warm chorus of Steady Pace displaying White’s self-confessed and oft-noted affinity with seventies storytellers in the Randy Newman mould. Both indebted to and reflective on its patrimonial past, this is the kind of debut on which devotional followings are founded.

Out 21st January

Cuddly Shark - the Road To Ugly 

Cuddly Shark - The Road to Ugly (***)

Few bands have monikers as apt as Cuddly Shark’s; fun and loveable, but sharp in tooth. Like last year’s Body Mass Index EP and their self-titled debut before it, The Road to Ugly overflows with energy and ideas, with the Glasgow-based trio hopping genres with spiky nonchalance. Not everything fully works, but that only confirms one of the band’s most endearing traits: a refusal to play it safe.

Body Mass Index returns as bonkers as before, furnishing the album with its title and supplying its most marmite moments. Indeed, throughout the record, Colin Reid’s off-key yaps take a bit of acclimatising to (particularly the pretty fly Dexter-echoes on Pull the Finger Out), but their distinctive flavour soon convinces. Elsewhere, more straightforward numbers like My iPod Made Me Do It give a good account of the accomplished rock chops that lurk beneath the quirk, its dynamic riffage confirming the seriousness of Cuddly Shark’s abilities.

Out 28th January

A Band Called Quinn – Red Light Means Go

A Band Called Quinn - Red Light Means Go (**)

A Band Called Quinn’s third album was ready for release three years ago, but other projects delayed its arrival till now. With such a lengthy build-up, this inadvertent time capsule perhaps inevitably feels like an anti-climax, the talents of those involved having been channelled in more interesting directions in the interim. Nonetheless, the components all gel nicely, and Louise Quinn’s voice is as resplendent as ever, its pure tones more than capable of carrying mediocre material.

Unfortunately, it has to do so with regrettable frequency, and even on the tracks that do more-or-less hit the mark – soulful torch song Gene I’m Starting to Remember; the sassy Sayonara; Can You Swim?’s gentle sway – Quinn invites monotony by adding superfluous repeats of every chorus, sabotaging otherwise concise pop songs by overstretching them. Proficient but never spectacular, Red Light Means Go isn’t an embarrassment, but nor does it shower its creators in glory.

Out Now

No comments:

Post a Comment