Friday, October 06, 2006

Flakey? Just a tad

The drummer, Alan Tilston, wore a Native American headdress on "Top Of The Pops." Keyboardist Ken McAlpine, he of the peroxide blonde hair, allegedly got in trouble with the fuzz for stealing a drump truck from a building site. The group also released a pair of EPs on their own label, cleverly dubbed OFL (yes, as in offal).

The Supernaturals were a tad flakey, sure, but the Glasgow quintet certainly did take its recording career seriously, churning out three albums and four EPs of bouncy guitar pop during its short lifespan.

Instead, the group's noted penchant for silliness spilled over into its lyrics, which were frequently of the whimsical and witty kind. A prime example is "Lazy Lover," a single off the band's album debut on Food, 1997's It Doesn't Matter Anymore.

In this track, singer James McColl details his utter indolence, confessing that his loafer lifestyle has even affected his (gasp!) performances in the bedroom: "I'm her lover/Her lazy, lazy lover/I can't be bothered getting into bed/I'm her lover/Her lazy, lazy lover/I'd much rather do it in my head." Rock sex-god posturing this is not.

Hear it for yourself. Download: "Smile" and "Lazy Lover" by The Supernaturals.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Until the razor cuts

I've been to Luton only once -- more like through, actually, since one doesn't typically spend time in Luton (unless you were squeezed out there); you just zip right through it, blinking out the bleakness. It's a London overspill town, a post-industrial town that once topped a Sam Jordison and Dan Kieran "crap" list. (Fun reads these always are.)

The Razorcuts hail from Luton and my, that's amazing when you think about it. Luton is an ugly, little burg, and yet The Razorcuts were so beautiful and romantic in both word and sound.

I can remember getting my fingers inky with an NME story about the blokes and Tim Vass saying, "I don't think that pop music is about creating perfect records -- it's about creating perfect moments."

Ah, so bloody true! The Razorcuts crafted perfect moments both in their tunes and in the lives of their zealous fans. I hear "A Contract With God" and think of the summer of '88, Sundays (my only day off from bricklaying), nursing myself back to health from a hangover and spent "muskles." I would crawl like a crab outside my flat for a cigarette, the song's Byrds-like guitars still ringing in me brain, the churchgoers across the street sneering at my grotesqueness.

"A Contract With God" by The Razorcuts

"Try" by The Razorcuts

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Choose or lose

Was recently alerted to a site that's begun a project similar to one we recently finished up: the top Scottish singles of all time. The site is dubbed The Great Jock 'n' Roll Single, and is run by a pair of lads named Dave (a self-described failed indie guitarist who has opened for at least four different acts eligible for this little contest) and The Cat (an individual who manages to trump even my Orange Juice fanboyism; he named his daughter after the single "Felicity").

Participants vote via email, listing their top 10 choices. (An added twist: Dave and The Cat have asked folks to list a selection for "worst Scottish single of all-time." Choose wisely.) One can only vote for U.K.-released singles -- no B-sides, extra tracks, songs featured on LPs, flexis, compilation tracks, or download-only releases. Folks can vote up to 10 times, but only one vote is allowed per artist.

At the moment, Associates' "Party Fears Two" is leading the voting with Orange Juice's "Rip It Up" and The Jesus And Mary Chain's "Never Understand" right behind it. It's hard to carp about the results thus far when acts like Strawberry Switchblade are among the chosen, but there are a few noted omissions (hello) and hopefully that will change as results continue to pour in.

Hear it for yourself. Download: "Since Yesterday" by Strawberry Switchblade, "Don't Talk To Me About Love" by Altered Images, and "Party Fears Two" by Associates.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Impatient for the coming fight

This is a special Monday edition of Gather 'Round Me Men Of Ireland. Tomorrow morning, bright and early, I'll be departing for Cyprus. My destination: Neo GSP Stadium in Nicosia.

The Boys In Green will be battling Cyprus. Lots of no-shows expected, so we're all a tad apprehensive, to say the least. No Staunton, no Given, no Steven Reid. Cyprus once beat mighty Spain during the 2000 Euro qualifiers -- anything is possible on the pitch!

We're riding a wave of good karma, however. This weekend, the Irish team entered in the Homeless World Cup in South Africa won the City of Edinburgh Cup; the Sean Kavanagh's boys thumped Finland, 4-1. Also, the amateur side defeated England down at Cooke Park on a goal by John O'Neill.

A few songs by Solas to keep the mind occupied as we count down the days to Saturday's match: "Aililiu Na Gamhna" and "Primrose Lass/Molly from Longford/The Four Kisses."

Budge doctors of the Stoic fur

Dad is a surgeon. A few years back I approached him with a copy of Clinic's Internal Wrangler. I told him how the band is known for donning surgical masks during performances or for promotional photos. My dad seemed interested (though I could tell it was feigned a tad).

He's always looking for new and exciting things to groove to while cutting folks up, so he said he'd give the album a go. Well, after a few spins of Internal Wrangler during a run-of-the-mill splenectomy, dear ole dad was hooked. Of course, he's Internet skills are poor at best, so I have keep him abreast of the latest news regarding Clinic (or The Surgeons, as he affectionately refers to them as).

"When is their new record coming out?"

"October 16."

"And where can I purchase a copy?"

"Don't worry about it, Pops. I'll hook you up."

Here are a few tracks from the new Clinic album, Visitations: "If You Could Read Your Mind" and "Visitations."

Also, here's a pair of songs from Chicago's Chin Up Chin Up. A fitting name for the band, I suppose, since the guys have endured their share of tragedy, yet are soldiering on: In early 2004, just after completing a four-song-demo, bassist Chris Saathoff was killed in a hit-and-run accident. Here are: "Water Planes In Snow" and "Blankets Like Beavers."

And no, dad is not a fan.