Pop: When Will I Be Famous?

the independent's guide to tomorrow's bands RADAR BROTHERS GARAGE, LONDON u

TIME PASSES very slowly for the Radar Brothers. Their melodies seem to be locked in slow motion; each song might have taken centuries to evolve. Their singer, Jim Putnam, succeeds in stretching every word to at least 18 syllables, pushing his voice to the outer reaches of falsetto. The gig seems to go on for a week.

These drowsy atmospherics are crucial to the band's sound. The mood is introspective without being indulgent, the pace leisurely but never boring. With his head lolling and his eyes closed, the drummer gets so carried away that he looks ready to fall off his seat. Either that or he is bored to death.

With such credentials you probably won't be surprised to know that the Radar Brothers inhabit the lo-fi, countryish end of the market. The Californian band recently signed to Glasgow's Chemikal Underground label, home to Mogwai, Arab Strap and Cha Cha Cohen. They have been together for five years and have evidently spent a large proportion of that time listening to Leonard Cohen, Neil Young and the Beatles' psychedelic era.

Putnam's voice is intoxicatingly emotive, and by "Shoveling Sons" he is bent almost double over his guitar while singing in scorched, high- pitched tones, a cross between Neil Young and Mercury Rev's Jonathon Donahue. His voice ripples with contempt in "Shifty Lies", during its soaring and sour climax, subtly backed by an acoustic guitar and fluttering drum lick.

A blueprint may apply to most of their songs but each has an understated beauty. And the Radar Brothers give you all the time you need to appreciate them.

Hailing from London, Canberra and Cork, Cousteau seem to have crept up on us unawares, arriving with a startlingly sophisticated debut album. Singer Liam McKahey, an unsmiling cross between Marc Almond and Reggie Kray, comes equipped with rich baritone vocals that fall somewhere between Scott Walker and Nick Cave. A glance at his velvet-attired band might lead you to believe that we are in for an evening of arch Sinatra-style kitsch, but the parody stops with the suits. Cousteau's songs are genuinely lovely creations arranged, Bacharach-style, with discreet double-bass, keyboards and horn textures.

Their greatest gift, though, is in the melodies. "Jump in the River" and their recent debut single "The Last Good Day of the Year," ooze haunted disaffection and melodrama, and are both underpinned by a sizzling sense of glamour. Cousteau have aimed high and, for the most part, have reached it. Go see them.

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