Vibrations Reviews – September 2009 Issue 9

The 39Steps – Ghost Writing (Single)

Having already launched the careers of promising acts such as Wild Beasts and Tigers That Talk, Bad Sneakers Records are on somewhat of a roll. With this release from Leeds’ very own producer and musician DJ Kato, a.k.a. The 39Steps, expect even bigger things for the future. This, the second single from debut Coming Clean, ‘Ghost Writing’ offers up four minutes of slick production, thick beats and a delightfully mellow and an aptly haunting vocal provided by Laura Fowles. There’s plenty of comparisons to be made with the nineties trip hop era, from Massive Attack through to Sneaker Pimps. Effortlessly cool.

Birdflew – The Life & Death Of… (Album)

No, not the over-exaggerated national panic of the noughties but the latest effort from Wakefield songwriter Richie Day. Avian jokes aside, it’s always risky offering your influences as a musician to us all too bitter hacks; immediately providing us with the ammunition with which we will all too willingly use to blast you to pieces with if you don’t live up to them. In the case of Birdflew, the bar is set ambitiously high with the accompanying press release citing The Smiths, Joy Division, Radiohead and Bright Eyes to name but a few.  Thankfully this time though this is not just distasteful name-dropping but is to an extent is justified.

Lets get one thing clear though; this 12-track offering is no masterpiece. The production, whilst by no means the worst ever, feels far too amateurish. Not bad given it was recorded on a home computer, but it does show and will undoubtfully put off anyone with less time for unsigned acts. Technical aspects aside, some of the song writing is impressive. ‘Limited Edition’ and ‘You’re What’s Wrong With This Country’ both attack contemporary Britain skilfully, referencing classic Morrissey-esque observational humour, with lines in the former such as “LP, EP, CD, MP3… means nothing to me, Lo Fi, Hi Fi, just play the song”, also playing on Mozza’s trademark cynicism.

Elsewhere the more sombre feel of ‘Let The Sleeping Dogs Lie’ hint at the equally melancholic Nick Cave. However aside from these standout tracks, the rest feels far too inconsistent and generic, to the extent that after numerous plays there’s still nothing else I feel remotely interested enough in to mention. And it’s a real shame, as the aforementioned tracks really do shine, but are let down by far too pedestrian supporting tracks. Ultimately, whilst there are some nice ideas here, the best ones are those borrowed from elsewhere. It may be worth a listen, but is sadly nothing to shout about. A cult hit at best, but to the majority somewhat under-whelming.

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