Thursday, May 21, 2009

Fake Problems - It's Great To Be Alive
Side One Dummy

A handily named combo for the type of indie-rock they drag to any chopping block in any neck of the woods, turning the heads of many wouldn’ts with this slice n dice of skewiff orchestral pop-fizz. Leaving the funk hi-hats of Franz Ferdinand and every bland bandwagon-ista slipping in the wake of these barking broadsides, this Florida mob here swell coffers and shake coffins with some spirited performances that frequently fling arms of brass and banjo around you with a warmth that’s entirely genuine, kinda like eels and Mercury Rev face first in happy plants on an excursion so far up-country they christen stars, as on Tabernacle Song, the Eastern folk-punk Alligator Assassinator (which should also be played to any modern same-a-billy scenester, incidentally) and Don't Worry Baby and the lovely closing mini-epic swoon Heart BPM. Though they can still do harder than it looks simple sing-a-longs to shed a sly tear for like The Dream Team. Centrepieces, in more than their central position in the track-listing, are the gloriously schizoid country-gospellated narratives The Heaven and Hell Coalition and Level With The Devil, with the latter, why, nothing less than a mini-popera conducted by Tom Waits. Likewise crammed with intriguing lyrics straddling the eternal, and ever-essential, great divide between intelligently inventive and pleasingly idiotic musings on life and the ways around losing where you find yourself, feeding a passionate rasp that worryingly-lauded wee man what’s im from the fantastically tedious Kings of Leon should be apprised of. Not perfect, as lapses into indie-disco land on Diamond Rings show but a damn sight better, with much promise and a believable ability to match their idiosyncracy with a marvellously natural ambivalence to mediocrity, as well as being simply more joyous than any other oft-hyped hydra foisted on the fickle deserves. Except Black Lips.
Stu Gibson
M.I.C. - Made In China
Self-released

Canadian pop-rocker Yvon Serre upped (quite a lot of) sticks settling in distant-ish China in 2004, setting this no-frills barrage of gutsy bar-prop rock roaming the streets and provinces. As far as AOR with chiming guitars chorusing amidst the cheerleader-clocking chug this is a cheery celebration, such that it can easily lose the descent into Green Day-y pop-punk of Everything You Do, decent enough though the stop-start idea is, as elsewhere it shows it ain’t trying to be anything it isn’t, confident in it’s vibrancy, as something that makes you think of sun, surf, and, erm, Huey Lewis should be. Though perhaps a bit pedestrian, it banishes any initial doubts about Bryan Adams style fare quick sharp on the opening AC/DC rompastomp of Take A Look, ushering instead thoughts of videos that’d splice open-top ogling of low-cut tops with joking about as a camera circles a downtown soundstage. They may even be wearing a variety pack of pastel shades and have their jacket sleeves rolled up. Several songs could easily soundtrack some slice of eighties kitscha-teen-a-delia like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, even Back To The Future, which right now, with the sun shining between monsoons, seems mighty fine to me.
Stu Gibson
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