My prediction for Pitchfork’s rating for Blonde Redhead’s 23 was off by a point. They gave it a 7.0, I said they’d give it a 7.6 and I gave it a 6.6. Sort of on the mark, if I make the glass half-full.
Today P4K gave a rave to the Twilight Sad’s Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters, and while I find the album intriguing because it presses all my Scot-rock and 80s Celt rock buttons, it’s also overblown and cringe-inducingly cliched at times – “Talking With Fireworks/Here it Never Snowed” repeats “with a knife in your chest” and, worse, “Cold Days from the Birdhouse” includes the corny-as-Bono chorus “and your red sky at night won’t follow me.” Please don’t name check U2. Ever. As a rule.
Previously, Twilight Sad’s EP got a 7.8, but I could swear it was lower at the time of the actual posting. They’ve changed ratings before, not to mention reviewing albums twice.
All in all, the Twilight Sad album really only updates The Trash Can Sinatras with oodles of shoegaze and early Radiohead moves. And Frightened Rabbit executes this with better lyrics, although they’re not as far along as the Twilight Sad, or they at least don’t have the major league distro (EMI/Caroline) that the Twlight Sad enjoys.
Frightened Rabbit – Music Now (from Sing the Greys)
Twilight Sad – Talking With Fireworks/Here it Never Snowed (from the debut long player)
I’m admittedly manhandled by Scottish-accented singing, male or female (Arab Strap drives me nuts, as you can imagine), possibly because Mr. Parnell’s paternal ancestors fled that country in the 18th century due to beheadings and the like (Braveheart, my family was not). It’s in the Jungian conscious, at least when I’m drunk. When I toured the highlands as a young man, I skipped the relations’ graves for a right pilgrimage to the only headstone that counted, at least at the time: Thomas De Quincey. And this was years before Trainspottting.
As for the Trash Can Sinatras, they dispensed with the shoegaze for their debut, Cake,and went after an acoustic-based version of the Smiths’ starry, pompish pop and, for a few singles succeeded, especially with their it’s-not-on-80s-comps-but-should-be (because it came out in 1990) “Only Tongue Can Tell.” And John Leckie produced it, so there you go.
Their 1993 soph rekkid, I’ve Seen Everything, remains their high point, gaining raves at the time (I recall one in the Washington City Paper). J Frank’s pal (and wicked good shortstop) Jack Rabid wrote the album’s Allmusic profile, and he’s totally right about the outtakes. I’d post the whole record if I could. Not a low point on it, with varied stylistic approaches to a set of uniformly excellent tracks, all melodic in that way that Scots seem born to offer. The lyrics don’t offend, either, for when they use a cliche, it’s well placed: the soft, careful love song “Worked a Miracle” suddenly takes a worried, darker, and louder turn matched by the command “nobody leaves this room. Nobody here. Nobody touches anything.”
If you have a wedding, and want to avoid cheese, use this album (if not the Blue Nile). Imagine Sigur Ros backing Aztec Camera. Only the Las rivaled them.
Trash Can Sinatras – Send for Henny
Trash Can Sinatras – Worked a Miracle
Trash Can Sinatras – One at a Time (always loved the “I’ll be your muscle man, your I-Don’t Care-Who-I-Hit-man” promise from the loser don juan here)
Trash Can Sinatras – Hayfever
Trash Can Sinatras – Earlies
1996’s A Happy Pocket may be only rarely found in the US, but worth searching out, for fans, for its handful of winners. Here though, they reverted to a consistent pop sheen, much like mid-career Prefab Sprout, albeit less commercial. I saw them at Maxwell’s aroudn this time, and while they were at times pretty hokey performers, the songs sang for themselves.
2004’s Weightlifting was an okay comeback, not embarrassing, but not much to go crazy for, either. I can’t find my copy.
And oh yeah – I’m commenting on Idolator now. What fun.