Clam Abuse - Stop Thinking

Bloody Wildhearts copycats. Ooops, sorry, wrong review. Clam Abuse. Yeah. Let's look at this one in all honesty shall we? If it weren't some bloke known as Ginger doing half the stuff on this, then you probably wouldn't give it the time of day. I probably wouldn't. I mean, it's a magpie's nest of pop songs, riffs, melodies and all that malarky. Halfinched and then welded back together like some musical Frankenstein. The music is pop, there are dance, techno and europop beats. So, for everyone going on about how genius this is (because it's the work of Ginger), well I wonder if the open mindedness will extend beyond this. Because if you admit that you like the songs here, then there's no reason probably why you should ever say that pop music is crap.

I mean, Message To Geri is europop. Yes, it is catchy, but by anyone else, Iíd probably be whingeing and cringing. Unlucky In Love is country, and that sort of music does nothing for me. Sure, they may have some kind of "biting" lyrical twist to them, but musically it's what they are. And that's the sort of music that I don't normally listen to. Here I listen because it's produced by Ginger. But let's never loose sight of that. Thereís also a lot of Beatles and Beach Boys influences here, with the melodies. And I guess thatís deemed a more credible influence, but once more, thereís no point me pretending Iíve ever listened to those bands. They may be great, they may be revered by musicians, but not by me. So the influence is there, but Iím not going to fall to my knees and lick his boots just because of it.

If itís melodies youíre after, then thereís bucketloads of them on offer, from the cover of I Think I Love You you to the really rather good Sheís So Taboo, which almost could be an offering from that W band. And there are times where itís pretty hard to believe the claim that thereís absolutely no electric guitars on this album. Specially after having seen them live when ALL there was was 2 electric guitars plus the backing tapes. Still, thatís the claim, as was made in the interview that took place afterwards and will be in the next issue (see, just planting those seeds in your mind. Gotta be done.)

Thereís Always Someone More Fucked Up Than You is obviously an inspirational title, if not always true (ah, you miserable sod Dave), and isnít a bad track. But the 4 minute spank-a-thon at the end is I guess a little debatable. And no, itís not cos I wasnít there doing the spanking, cheeky sods. And I suppose it is better than being a hidden track. Though donít go getting any ideas. Oh, but the samples between songs do get irritating after repeated plays.

But let's face it, the title says it all. Anyone like me who attempts to analyse or criticise becasue the musical contents fall outside of their normal sphere of music should sometimes just "Stop Thinking.". So, if I do, what is this like? Fun. Yeah maybe. Catchy. Yeah. Disposable? Certainly. Genius? I'll reserve my opinion on that. I'm not yet ready to call pop genius. But it probably does make a pretty good album to throw on at a party, and maybe thatís its intention. So take the chance if you wish. But donít let anyone sway your mind either way on this. Believe in what you believe in. And while youíre doing that, Iíll try and make up my own mind!

Available on Infernal Records.

 

Anathema / Hangnail

Birmingham Foundry

July 1 1999

 

Went to this gig for a few reasons. One is there's been a dearth of them lately, it's all quiet. Which may or may not be good for me, because work has been so busy lately I haven't had the time or felt like it. Which is another reason. Worrying in a sense. At least to me. There's a cloud of doubt hanging over the zine at least in some respects. And itís stuff Iíve gone on about elsewhere, so I wonít bore you again (though you can read theoriginal whinge in the web version of this review.)

Now the other reason I had to go to this gig, was because after receiving a two track promo of the new Anethema album, I was so impressed with it I had to go and buy the album. Ah yeah, I just whinged about that didn't I? Yeah, but this is one of a select few. This sounded great, not just hyped well. And as it looked like I wasn't going to get a review copy, I had to buy it on the strength of the music. And so now I had to see them. And once we've dealt with Hangnail, that's what ew'll do.

So Hangnail came on to about 5 people down the front. The Foundry is a decent venue. I wish we had a place like this in Nottingham. It's not Rock City sized, but can house decent bands, big and small. There's always gigs, and though I don't know anyone here, and so don't talk to anyone, (like I would anyway!), it feels like a friendly place. It feels like it's there for the music. Which makes it a major shame that there's so few people here, especially given that this is I understand, the second largest city in Britain. But anyway, Hangnail come on. And I'm trying to decide. There's a major element of the Soundgarden and Monster Magnets going on in here for me. Yet my first reaction to the vocalist was an 80s cheesmetalmeister. But then I thought, no, it's more a Chris Cornell of Soundgarden thing. Which to my mind can often be one and the same thing, but hey, that's just me. The first track just kind of drift's on by, does nothing. The second one starts promisingly. Half way through it gets a bit of the old musonoodlejam syndrome, and I have to check myself a few times, because my mind has wandered back to work issues. Yet perversely I'm begining to enjoy this. And it's like that throughout the set. I don't know the song titles, though if I remember correctly, they said they have an album out soon on rise Above Records. And if I can afford it, then I might well check out a copy. It's a bit of a mmmmmmm kind of affair I guess. I can enjoy them, but they're not essential to me.

Luckily, a few people who had hung back for Hangnail wander up as Anethema hit the stage, though it's still a depressingly small turnout for them. Towards the end Vincent quips "thanks. Even though there's so few, it's been a good rehersal for Bradford tomorrow where there'll be people." Humour? Attitude? You need to know the person to know, and I don't. I kinda grate when bands seem to slag the people who are actually there for the people that haven't turned up, but that's a personal bugbear. Anyway, the music is the most important thing, and although throwing a straight run of the first 5 tracks from the new album Judgement might seem to be risky, for someone like myself who has only heard that one album, it works, and works well. So we get the Paradise Lost inspired Deep, through Pitiless, Forgotten Hopes, Destiny Is Dead and the Metallica Sanitarium recalling intro of Make It Right. From there I guess it's a mixture of old and new, Angelica is in there, along with a few other oldies whose names were given but I've forgotten. There's Rory Harper song apparently, which features an incessent guitar part that actually made me think of Marillion around say the Misplaced Childhood album, which was a phenomenal album.

Having said all that, I got a mixed feeling about the gig. There's no visual impact, but I don't think there's meant to be. No spotlights on the band, and the lighting is impressive in a minimal kind of way. It echoes almost the album cover, and you get the feeling that in a larger venue it impresses on you, but doesn't detract from the music, in fact it all feels that it's designed to draw you in more to the music. The vocals are a bit high in the mx, and there's a little bit of hesitancy at the start, but there again, it is the first night of the tour. Give them a couple of weeks to warm up, and it should be hugely impressive. At the moment it was good. I think they're better than that. Be interesting to see though what they'll make of the lack of crowd that they'll probably get in Derby in a few weeks time. I'll hopefully be at that one as well, so at least then, unlike this time, I'll have a kind of benchmark to measure it all by.