Release Date: Jan 6, 2009
Record label: SonyBMG
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
Alan McGee is no meteorologist but, as he would no doubt testify, lightning can strike twice. In May 1993, at King Tut's Wah Wah Hut, a small music venue in the middle of Glasgow, the fast-talking founder of Creation Records chanced upon a quintet of menacing beer boys and, three songs into their bottom-of-the-bill set, declared them 'fucking brilliant'. The name of the band? Oasis.
Too often, the problem with great live bands is a producer's tendency to turn away from the band's live strengths when in the studio. How many Muse albums left you wondering, “So this is the greatest live band in the world?” after getting killed by modern recording techniques. Arguably, the one Muse album that didn’t do that is 2003’s Absolution.
There's no doubt that Glasvegas have had it tough. Not, it should be clarified, because of their background in Dalmarnock - the deprived district of Glasgow their songs depict as a grim world of violence, broken homes and crime - but because of more recent events. No sooner had their debut single appeared than a bitterly fought contest erupted to find who could burden the quartet with the most ludicrous degree of expectation.
Alan McGee, the British record mogul who discovered Oasis, is pushing Glasvegas really hard overseas, claiming that they're the best Scottish band of the last 20 years (sorry, Alex Kapranos). That can't possibly be true, because the Jesus and Mary Chain didn't break up until the late 90s. Still, McGee's definitely onto something. These Glaswegians mix 50s pop, Elvis aesthetics and the Chain's droned-?out buzzing guitars - an interesting backdrop for James Allan's doo-?wop-?inspired vocals.
Upon first glimpse, everything about the Scottish foursome Glasvegas comes off as trite, unapologetically calculated, and even bordering on novelty. There’s that terrible band name. The Jesus and Mary Chain ripoffs, from the waves of feedback to the pompadours, to the shades. The girl who drums standing up, Moe Tucker style.
Review Summary: Expansive, ambitious, quite pretty, and utterly ruined by a hopelessly incompetent singer. Perhaps the most consistent failing in the history of popular music, amongst rock artists in particular, is a lack of humour and wit. Altogether too many bands, young ones especially, take themselves painfully seriously, believing that every word and every note of their music will be held up to scrutiny by their listeners, and that any criticism of their music represents an unacceptable personal attack on everything they stand for.
Swamped in distorted Eurotrash feedback, Glasvegas frontman James Allen comes on like Glasgow's Eddie Vedder. Although his quartet's first LP has boozy punch, even with two bonus tracks, the Scots' eponymous debut still feels padded. (Just ignore the spoken-word and piano exercise "Stabbed.") Nevertheless, Allen's lyrics and delivery, loaded with Proclaimers' burr and Morrissey's sense of the grievance, make for infectious Britpop.