Elliott Smith joins the Beta Band, right, they sod off to India for a while doing a bit of Kula Shaker and instead of rubbish like K they produce an ecclectic mix of samples, acoustic guitars, electronic noises and mantra-like chanting that bears a passing resemblance to the stuff you hear Hare Krishnas banging on about, except it's something to do with polygamy and...
Pants. Lost the thread there. That's pretty much what the Beta Band were anyway. What I'm trying to describe to you is Mona Lisa Overdrive - the album little-known multi-instrumentalist Trashmonk released on Creation Records last year before old ginger nuts himself decided his label was old hat. Despite being rather good, it seems to have pretty much vanished without trace... as has Trashmonk himself.
Let's talk some tracks. High Times with it's driving bassline sounds like Rocks-era Primal Scream. There's marimba percussion, tambourines, the works. He even effects a semi-Gillespie voice (which also sounds a bit like over-rated martyrboy John Lennon in spots too). A nice little number.
Amaryllis on the other hand seems to be Crowded House doing a cover of Bush's Swallowed but without the grunge rock dynamics. Nice harmony vocals lift up above the chugging guitars and the minimalist beat keeps it all together till he's had enough.
Skipping back a few tracks and you find Polygamy - the only single I can recall being released. It didn't do too well, obviously. A nice song that builds and builds with guitars, noodles and a nice (if simple) bassline throbbing politely as percussion slowly creeps over it. The lyrics are alright. They're all about that whole two's company, three's a crowd lark. It goes on for ages with a female vocal sample that I can't quite place. Is it Black Box? I dunno.
Inner Brownstone Symphony is a nice acoustic number, sounding almost flamenco like with the whispered vocals and sounds of cars passing by. You could come down to this. This is the gentle, pretty air stewardess who wakes you up as you're circling the airport below; or the gradual process of waking up itself. Coffee for the soul.
On that note, It Won't Be Long is a mix of Ave Maria, lullabye and Wilco-esque love song. You ignore the fact that just before it you were listening to weird eastern chanting and strangeness... the soothing message of the title repeated just makes you smile like you've just had the most amazing orgasm with the most beautiful, adorable person ever.
Dying Day follows that but it's the last track on the album, On The Way Home, that really goes for the jugular. One of the prettiest things ever committed to tape, the song offers more whispery vocals and acoustic guitars. Heartbreaking. A term often misused but wholly appropriate here. Oh gosh, I told myself I wouldn't cry. ::sniff::
OK, so there are a few places on the album where you think "Enough with the George Harrison sh*, dude..." but those are greatly outnumbered by the bits where you think "Cracking!" or "I'm 20 years old, I'm supposed to be over that crying thing". If you can find it, invest. If not, let me know and I'll bung you some MP3s - after all, our man Alan *is touting this Internet thing having left acts like Trashmonk without a job.
8Dale Price's Score