By Various Artists
The Bright Young Things CD for 2002 is being distributed by Leeds City
Council in April as a free addition to the glossy and widely available Leeds Guide. Copies are also being sent to 'a multitude of music magazines and recording agencies'. The 15 tracks can be downloaded in MP3 format from the BYT website.
Part of the point of BYT is that young players get the opportunity to climb a bit closer to the professional world of pop music. It's a fantastic chance to sit on Dad's shoulders at the big event and see some of what really goes on. It lasts a short time, and the view isn't necessarily as good as you thought it would be. But it's a help, and every participant gets something different and maybe useful from it.
Musically this year's collection is the best for some time. Personally I'm discouraged by the fact that so many youngsters are keen to do imitations of musical genres that have been around for a generation or more. There's no new music here. Nothing even faintly experimental or contemporary. And even within the limits of the traditional pop formats the clichés rumble past like the traffic in Headingley - relentless and mind numbing. Next year it would be nice to hear that Leeds City Council (to whom much respect is due) had hired a producer to crack the whip a few times and chase out the worst effects of youthful naivety. Brian Eno, maybe.
My first impressions (neatly arranged in alphabetical order) are as follows:
All Star 69ers "English Pop Star": Flashes of classy Britpop inspiration mixed with clumsy production stunts and pointless lyrics.
Beautiful Feet "James": Acoustic warbling with some disorienting 'dramatic' stops and vocal insecurity. Some interesting Tortoise-like improvisation sneaks in towards the end, but too late and too little to cheer me up.
Buzzkill "I'll Take The Alcohol": The shortest and best track on the CD. Great attacking guitar, bass and vocal style, but at 2 minutes 52 it's still a minute too long.
Design "Springer Generation": Oooh. The Devil's Music. Dark Star meets Death Metal. This lot have some ideas. Not all of them pinched from other bands.
Draco "Office (Alright @ The)": Two part harmony and clumsy guitar with ploddy drumming and lame lyrics ... 'sexy lingerie'?
Ian Beetlestone "Skeleton": Strangely Peter Skellernish retro piano song with an over-delayed punch line. Exotic and different in a Radio 4 sort of way, but musically repetitive and way too long.
Icarus Smith "Tried Not To": What's a song without a tune or interesting words when you can't dance to it and there's no instrumental texture or flourish to admire? An emotional space where some lonely souls might find recognition and comfort.
Laserkid "Take The Money And Run": Bog standard pop/rap excursion with funk backing. Very well executed but unexceptional, with overt Thatcherite sentiments.
Last Night's TV "From The Top Of The Watchtower": Warm, well made and professional. Well blended instruments and good natural vocals. Risky re-use of Dylan's "All Along the Watchtower" chord structure.
Melvyn "Helpless": Helpless indeed. These ska punk kids shouldn't have been exposed like this. They're not ready.
Mojo Pin "Everywhere & Nowhere": Great rattling start, but way too long. Jimmy Page tribute anyone? Extended stuff like this needs a good underlying song. This one hasn't got it.
Novacain "Real Time" : Enthusiastic Parisman style, with a Robert Harvey vocal delivery and really not bad. Cute riffs and real identity. Watch out for this lot.
Quarry Hill "Candy": Delicate indie pop stuff. Old furrows being ploughed to the point of exhaustion.
Rhythm Kickers "Waiting For The Rain": Slightly awkward Rolling Stones approximation. Rhythmically out of control bluesy pop song with textbook Chuck Berry riffage.
Three 33 "Barrier To Your Soul": Bedroom writing with rock guitar chords from the Heard It Before (guitar Tab and Vocal) Song Book.