ANDY GILL ON ALBUMS

ANDY GILL ON ALBUMS

Bush

Razorblade Suitcase

Trauma/Interscope IND 90091

Oasis may garner more column inches back home in Blighty, but there's no contest about the UK's biggest musical export of the moment: following the unaccountably huge sales of their debut album 16 Stone, 's follow-up, Razorblade Suitcase, has gone straight into the charts at No 1 in the USA, Canada and Australia - in fact, the entire English- speaking world except Britain, where they remain routinely reviled by right-thinking music fans everywhere.

Put it down to taste, or to the insurmountable barrier of a common language. For despite their origins, speak with an American tongue - specifically, the one that used to belong to Kurt Cobain. Time and again here, the grey, leaden chording and torrential self-pity summon memories of Nirvana, though the songs themselves can muster only a fraction of their impact: it's Nirvana-lite, MTV-friendly and polite.

Sometimes, the appropriation gets a little embarrassing. It may be that the mention in one song of a "fishhook" doesn't irresistibly remind you of the cover of Nevermind, but when the very title itself is used in another song, it's hard to think of anything else. After all, until Cobain cemented them together, the two words were never used as one.

Leavened only by a few squawks of turgid cello, 's characterless grunge is every bit as dismal as their world-view, which, like that of Pearl Jam, promotes the popular misconception of alienation as a routine condition. "I'm with everyone and yet not," claims singer Gavin Rossdale, "just wanted to be myself." So why, one wonders, be so like someone else? Especially since, like self-important indie boys everywhere, he appears to have had a complete irony bypass. How else could he offer, as a straight- faced critique of societal pressures, the pompous statement "We are servants to our formulaic ways," without realising that it applies all the more so to his own music?

Still, there's every chance that, come the next round of industry gong- giving, will be awarded some kind of Queen's Award to Industry for their export prowess. And rightly so; it's not everybody who can manage to flog so much of the Americans' old rope back to them. Well done, lads.

EXPERIMENTAL POP BAND

Woof

Swarf Finger SF009CD

Compiled from three EPs released over the past couple of years, Woof offers a surprisingly coherent account of where Bristol's Experimental Pop Band stand at the present time: straddling more genres than might seem comfortable, but enjoying the experience.

Earlier tracks like "Twentieth Century Tack" and "Skinny" involve a kind of brooding, jazz-inflected indie-pop littered with synth bleeps, only tenuously connected to any specific style; by the time of "Universe", they're lolloping nicely in a baggy manner, with a smart, laconic vocal and giddy little curls of slide guitar; and on more recent tracks such as "Oslo", a low, rumbling techno fizz has crept into their sound. Admirably eclectic, and with lyrics that seek out the dark and ironic in everyday life, the Experimental Pop Band most resemble a British provincial Beck, but finding inspiration in indie, dance and easy-listening samples, rather than folk-blues and hip hop. Intriguing.

VARIOUS ARTISTS

NBA at 50

Mercury 534322

As the only music genre with any substantial connection to basketball, you'd imagine this demi-centennial celebration of its American league would be replete with the extravagant metaphors and battle cries of rap. But no. Aside from Kurtis Blow's "Basketball" and a poor mix of Naughty By Nature's "Hip Hop Hooray", rap is conspicuously absent. Even Shaquille O'Neal, the sport's bona fide rapping superstar, is ignored in favour of a bunch of mundane soul tracks interspersed with snippets of barely intelligible commentary from presumably famous basketball moments.

Most of the songs featured here - "Good Times", "Signed, Sealed, Delivered", "Shotgun", "I'll Take You There", etc - have only the most tenuous of connections with any sport; worse yet, they're cover versions by the likes of SWV, David Sanborn and Brian McKnight, rather than the classic originals. Then again, the only time that a classic soulster puts in an appearance, it cuts the rest of the album stone dead: shaming the grossly overwrought anthems of today's female soul stars with its sincerity, the simple, moving version of "Star Spangled Banner" with which Marvin Gaye opens the album leaves all that follows out-dribbled, out-jumped and out-pointed.

ARCHIVE

Londinium

Island 524 285-2

Given a limited-edition vinyl-only release last October, Archive's debut album finally makes it on to a little silver disc, and not before time. Residents of the planet trip hop, this South London crew paste swooning, rhapsodic violins and light, jazzy guitar figures (some courtesy of Underworld's Karl Hyde) over the genre's languid breakbeats, with the customary female crooner/ male rapper combination fronting most tracks. The result is something that sounds like Morcheeba, but without the deep dub soul.

There's a faint air of over-familiarity about the album, with several tracks pursuing the same methodical route - opening with a strings-and- breakbeat skeleton, then gradually developing a more muscular presence courtesy of guitar, synth and organ parts, before slimming back to solo violin or subdued beat - but at their best, there's an exhilarating widescreen beauty to pieces like "Organ Song" and "Skyscraper" that effortlessly transcends the limitations of the genre.

Andy Gill

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Thomas carried Lady Edith over the flames in her bedroom in Downton Abbey series five

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Affleck as Nick Dunne, seated next to a picture of his missing wife Amy, played by Rosamund Pike

film
Arts and Entertainment
Rachel, Chandler and Ross try to get Ross's sofa up the stairs in the famous 'Pivot!' scene

Friends 20th anniversary
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham

books
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey

There’s revolution in the air, but one lady’s not for turning

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Chloe-Jasmine Whicello impressed the judges and the audience at Wembley Arena with a sultry performance
TVReview: Who'd have known Simon was such a Roger Rabbit fan?
Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams plays 'bad ass' Arya Stark in Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Syria air strikes: ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings

    Robert Fisk on Syria air strikes

    ‘Peace President’ Obama had to take stronger action against Isis after beheadings
    Will Lindsay Lohan's West End debut be a turnaround moment for her career?

    Lindsay Lohan's West End debut

    Will this be a turnaround moment for her career?
    'The Crocodile Under the Bed': Judith Kerr's follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

    The follow-up to 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'

    Judith Kerr on what inspired her latest animal intruder - 'The Crocodile Under the Bed' - which has taken 46 years to get into print
    BBC Television Centre: A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past

    BBC Television Centre

    A nostalgic wander through the sets, studios and ghosts of programmes past
    Lonesome George: Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains

    My George!

    Custody battle in Galapagos over tortoise remains
    10 best rucksacks for backpackers

    Pack up your troubles: 10 best rucksacks for backpackers

    Off on an intrepid trip? Experts from student trip specialists Real Gap and Quest Overseas recommend luggage for travellers on the move
    Secret politics of the weekly shop

    The politics of the weekly shop

    New app reveals political leanings of food companies
    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Beam me up, Scottie!

    Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
    Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

    Beware Wet Paint

    The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

    Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    Sanctuary for the suicidal

    One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world