Press releases are strange things. Take Kansas quartet Conner for example - "away from the scrutiny of a music scene such as New York or LA..." One can only imagine that if Conner did come from New York they would be described as "hailing from the hotbed of America's music scene" or something or other. It's the same with other bands - one week we're reading that a band is great because they don't have a MySpace and then the next they're great because they only had MySpace to get their music out. You have to wonder if these writers are clutching at straws.
Well, concerning Conner they are, for the band in question are about as New York as they come. On one album alone we have a disco Strokes, Garage Strokes, Mellow Strokes and even more pissed than T in the Park 2004 Strokes. The latter is a comical effort with singing from James Duft that wouldn't seem out of place on South Park's Fat Albert parody, Fat Abbot (I'lba popa tuba wooba - bitcha).
In fact, most of the singing on here is unique to say the least - the first truly audible line arrives on the Modest Mouse influenced 'Cold Feeling' ("every time I look around I see the sky and the walls keep closing in"). Musically, the first lull arrives with the tracks 'Overflow' and 'Floating on Error'. While the former is about as interesting as Ray Stubbs, the latter does at least close with a huge guitar assault, which is a fun surprise for all the family. 'For The Fourth Time' shows a different side of Conner that harks back to the Stones. Unfortunately, it goes a step further and turns into Wolfmother.
So now we've got the bad and the ugly out of the way, what about the good? The second half of the album begins with an enthralling sequence of three tracks that all divert from the rest of the CD. There is a downside to this, in that putting them together takes away the feel of a 'whole album', but it does seem rather petty to criticise the track listing so I'll let them off.
Let's begin with 'Enough for You and Me' which at first seems to trundle along modestly, forgetting to really break into life. On second listen however, we hear a blissed out Bossanova era Pixies, as if they were performing an acoustic BBC session. The trip continues on the instrumental 'Toluene', which takes a lazy bathe in a hot Jacuzzi (or bath, in my case) and puts it into two minutes of music. The following 'Up To You' pulsates like a lost Libertines gem with a lyric ("in a way it's always up to you") not too far away from Blighty's fallen heroes also.
All of which leaves Conner a confusing act. One minute a poor man's Hot Hot Heat and the next standing shoulder to shoulder with Arcade Fire in the indie queue. 'Hello Graphic Missile' is an intriguing record, but for every stroke of genius, there is an imminent flaw.