Pop Review: Fine and Dandy

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The Independent Culture

SAN FRANCISCO'S Dandy Warhols certainly have a bad name, but not, apparently, among members of that boys club calling itself the rock fraternity. Stories along the lines of "The Dandy Warhols sorted us out in Portland/Chicago/ Butthole, Idaho" or "That singer's a nice bloke, we stayed up all night. What's his name anyway?" are legendary.

That singer is called Courtney Taylor, and he really does possess star quality, even as he discards his shirt to reveal a skinny torso for once completely free of scarification. Stripping has been something of a theme for the Dandys in the past. Keyboard player Zia McCabe achieved some notoriety for, uh, letting some air reach her if she deems the venue hot enough. All of which deflects from the fact that, at their best, these louche and loaded Americans are an excellent, relentless garage band of the sort that hasn't been seen since the high school hops of 1967. Despite their claims to greater depth, they're at their best when thrashing through insanely catchy three-minute monsters like last year's hits "If You Were the Last Junkie On Earth" (with the immortal hook "heroin is so passe") and that fabulous, if unlikely, blend of Talking Heads and Duran Duran in "Every Day Should Be A Holiday", both from last year's Come Down album.

They come unstuck slightly when they try anything more grandiose. An obvious love of the Velvet Underground and affinity with Spiritualized never really suits them, their putative epics hardly better than the likes of other SF psychedelic wannabes like the equally daftly monickered Brian Jonestown Massacre. Then again, how popular would Spiritualized be if there was a chance their organist, Kate Radley, aka Mrs Richard Ashcroft, might take her top off.

Though they clearly understand just what's required of a long workout their pop heart always beats harder as the deliberately inane likes of stalker song "I Love You" and the distinctly Who-like "Boys Better" show. Three guitarists, one of them sporting a defiant "hit me" hairstyle, no bass and Zia berating the crowd in a form of English never heard before, even in Brighton, the home of the language school - this is entertainment.

There's no doubt that new tunes like the snappy "Bohemian Like You", the shambling nod to Country and Western "Country Leaver", more solo Mike Nesmith than the Monkees for once, and best of all, the trumpet-led, guaranteed hit "Godless" will be haunting your radios and your dreams next year, as they soon start work on their third album.

As long as young people like to dress up, get wasted and display their dishevelled make up as evidence of a good time had, they'll always have a following.