By Various Artists
You would have thought that Lancastrians would have come to terms with the fact that they're never going to get the better of us lot, but it would appear that they're still up for the challenge. This CD seeks to showcase local talent in much the same way that the first couple of DTTR efforts did (y'know - before they went all cosmopolitan on us with 'Something I Learnt Today'.) I suppose Lancaster can't really be seen as a direct competitor of Leeds, but it's interesting to see what they have to offer nonetheless.
3D Tanx kick off the album with a scuzzy low-fi look at the human condition, summarized in a basic 6 note structure. The couplet "Just looking for a kiss / Just looking for a fix" pretty much summarizes their take on life. Premier Kiss Off are tight without ever quite snapping you to dancefloor attention, whereas 3 Ages Of Elvis purvey somewhat reserved indie rock. Sadly, the most interesting moment turns out to be some whistled feedback towards the end of the middle eight.
Death In Public provide sinister, brooding verses punctuated by frightening guitar noise. The vocals are gently malevolent throughout, but an understated rhythm section really hold it together. U R Penetrators are far more arresting. Fab Gossip-style riffs, choppy percussion and frenetic boy / girl vocals make 'Got To Get It Right', for me, the album highlight. And it's danceable as you like; surely this lot can't be genuine Lancastrians... ?
The next two tracks provide some mid-disc jocundity. Inertia's po-faced urban offering is obsessed with narcotics, whereas Kriss Foster prefers his kazoo and knowingly mundane observations about the joys of seaside life. "Morecambe, it's a place that's by the sea / It's just like Venice, but it's not in Italy" may rhyme and even scan (very nearly), but this is not the tag line of a song aiming for credible appreciation. These may be two of the more memorable tracks on the album, but are far from being the best.
Beat The Radar provide flailing guitars and female vocals, but unlike their white rose counterparts (Sky Larkin, for example) subtlety and depth are sadly lacking from their armoury. Similarly, The Missionaries are unlikely to convert too many listeners to their brand of arch-racket pop using only the persuasion of some slightly tremulous vocals.
Dolore are brooding yet uninspiring directionless; definitely one for fans of the Manics. As for Ulcat Row, I don't know what an 'ulcat' is, but this is definitely one hell of a row. File this one next to Whores Whores Whores in the section labelled 'Blunt, Uncompromising and Slightly Weird'. LegoHair, meanwhile, may apparently be named for a recent Hadouken! lyric, but seem a world away from that band's exciting sounds. Think of the (already execrable) 'You And Me Song' being performed by a tuneless tramp and you won't be too far from the mark. Fortunately, Impartial Entity put us back on track with a funky electrified shake-down, seeming to draw equally from the Stone Roses and 70s cop show incidental music.
Now if your Uncle Jeff had formed a Lancastrian stab at being the new Clash or Libertines then he might've ended up churning out something like 'Beggin' For A Meteorite'. However, like many a drunken uncle before him he overstays his welcome - on this occasion with a moody, yet unnecessary, coda. Justifiably lengthy, on the other hand, is the fantastic album-closer 'Spiderwebs' by Thishumansoundrack. Equally reminiscent of Kraftwerk, Tangerine Dream and Sigur Rós, what more could any discerning listener possibly ask for?!
So, in spite of this late burst of prog, the LP doesn't necessarily demonstrate that Lancaster is going to be giving Leeds a run for its money any time soon. But in fairness, Lancaster long since passed the mantle to Liverpool and Manchester on that side of the Pennines, in music as in so much else, as did York (barring good old Shed 7, of course) to Leeds and Sheffield on this. And so with this in mind, it really isn't a bad little collection for a small town, if not quite enough yet for me to cast aside centuries of irrational animosity.