Oh are you sure you end it all my love?
Do you really need more time to think about you life?
Not the most cheerful of starts to a song, but back it with a few catchy guitars and upbeat chorus, and put it in the hands of a trio from Brazil and you have a song which could lift your spirits on the greyest of days. In short you have "go ahead" the second song of the debut EP, "a weekend with Jane" from Pale Sunday. The band who formed through boredom back in 1999, endured various changes in their line-up, and were named on a cloudy Sunday, have created a small piece of sunshine to add to the music collection of any indiepop lover.
Listening to the EP it is easy to imagine laidback afternoons of sitting listening to records with friends as the sun shines though the blinds. The EP is a feel-good mix of light-hearted summer pop, with a carefree innocence, that skips happily form one song to the next. The sweet shy songs talk about infatuation, heartache, and happiness in equal measures and yet somehow manage deal with each in a breezy optimistic manner that can only ever be achieved in a pop song. Backed by an upbeat rhythm the EP races through four songs all too quickly leaving you wanting more..
If only reviewing albums was always as easy as this. Slipslide have put together a debut album of their own music that is instantly likeable and yet it has obvious depth. Graeme Elston's songs are matched by excellent musicianship resulting in high quality pop.
"The world can wait" is the first full length album from the London based band Slipslide. But the band members are no strangers to the music scene. The current line up (consisting of Graeme Elston, Matthew Hawes, Brychan Todd and Dave Masterman) evolved together through various musical projects such as Astronaut, Eva Luna, not to mention solo projects from Graeme.
The album revels in easy charm alternative country. Guitar driven and highly melodic, each song crafts a unique story for itself. Tenderly sung with gentle harmonies and a bouncy upbeat tempo ensures the album is worms a way into your heart.
The opening number, 'Sleeptalk' hits the listener with upbeat infectious guitar, which combined with crisp vocals immediately, grabs your attention and track after track the standard is maintained. The highlights of the album also include the equally catchy and memorable 'The Right Time' and the slightly sad and haunting title track. Whilst 'Watching Waiting' perhaps fully illustrates just how good this band can be.
Having one or two outstanding tracks in amongst several bland attempts spoils some albums. This CD avoids that mistake by having so many good tracks that as one finishes you are already looking forward to the next even before it starts.
With the correct air play and a more mature audience than one that simply craves the latest artificial boy/girl band and this first offering could easily contribute a couple of highly placed chart singles. Nevertheless for those that enjoy their music with vibrancy and enjoyment this album could be part of their play lists for sometime to come.
'Back when I was 8, I'd sit outside on an old milk crate and look out at the world from the sloop across the street. The boom boxes and the hot concrete, and every Halloween they hung a million rubber skeletons across ninth street'.
I'm glad there are people like Jeffrey Lewis around.
The title of this album tells you a certain amount, as do the sleeve notes which inform you that the album contains 'all nine guitar chords that proved so popular on the 2001 album, with two additional bonus chords: B Minor and G with the G string held down instead of the E string'. Honest to the point of brutality, self-deprecating and just a little bit eccentric.
Okay, scrub the 'just a little bit' from that sentence. This is Jeffrey's second album, following the equally attention-grabbingly monnikered 'The Last Time I Did Acid I Went Insane'. It begins with his life story from the ages of 4 to 128 and, as it continues, Jeff shares his philosophy with us. It is all presented in his own utterly idiosyncratic manner: Jeff bemoans his problems with LSD-peddling fans; warns of the perils of success ('don't let showmanship get more important than honesty'); sings of the apocalypse on three separate occasions (at least one of these events involves a giant factory made out of toothpicks and a 'Dukes Of Hazard' lunchbox); considers the evil that money brings and the nature of his identity, performs the odd naughtical lullaby - the list goes on, and none of what I say will do him justice.
Sometimes, the tone is cynical -' Don't let the record label take you out to lunch, cos every sip of soup is going to get re-couped' sometimes whimsical, sometimes warm - 'When you feel ugly and petty/Awkward and unsteady/ Just try not to forget there were so many people that liked you'. Always, it is engaging.
Musically, Jeff gets tagged with the 'anti-folk' label rather a lot. Anti-folk being (very vaguely) the result of a group of artists from New York getting bored of the folk-music scene there and experimenting both musically and lyrically (I could explain that in more detail, but not right now). It isn't a bad description of where he's coming from, essentially meaning 'folk and whatever the hell else I choose to do'. So, in with tradtional accoustic guitar numbers such as 'Back When I Was..' and 'Alphabet' are the spiky 'No LSD Tonight' and 'Texas'; the utterly unhinged 'If You Shoot The Head You Kill The Ghoul' and 'Graveyard'; the beautifully gentle 'Sea Song' and the backwards chords of 'Zaster'. This prevents the album from ever seeming predictable (musically, that is - lyrically it could never be so) and shows that Jeff's diversity is not confined to his subject matter.
Often, when you're trying to write a review, there's a temptation to over-use certain adjectives - certain words seem to encapsulate the album better than a whole page of blurb. The one I'm finding myself drawn to here is 'beautiful'. It is a dramatic over-simplification, of course - some of the more manic songs would be better described as beautifully odd or funny.
Added to which, there are some people who won't find this record beautiful at all. If your music has to be loud, luvvd-up, or complete with a drumbeat, you'll be utterly bemused by this. If, however, you're the sort of person who ENJOYS being bemused, identifies when an artist expresses confusion and uncertainty, and appreciates that a fragile voice can carry far more emotion than a pefectly pitched warble, then I recommend this to you unreservedly. It'll lull you one minute, amuse you the next and make you slightly moist around the edges of the eyes after that. And even if you haven't been everywhere Jeff has been, the whole thing is presented with such integrity, honesty and sensitive self-awareness that you can't help but share his point of view and appreciate his humour.
Jeffrey Lewis is precisely the sort of person we should be writing about on this web-site. I'll nominate him now as a Hero of the Friends Of The Heroes and will doubtless be wittling on about him again before very long, after I've played this a few more times.
Hell - the guy even wrote us a Halloween lyric, without knowing we needed one. Not even Wonderwoman could do THAT! Although I'm not sure how good Jeffrey Lewis would look in gold lame and satin tights.
About that, we can only speculate.