Release Date: May 3, 2011
Record label: Wichita Recordings
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
Nominally inspired by Gruff Rhys' habit of collecting sample bottles of shampoo at every hotel he’s stayed at over the years, Hotel Shampoo is decidedly not a cosmetic concept album, yet it does have an underlying musical theme. Rhys uses this third solo album to slide into his softer side, creating a sweetly hazy, soft pop fantasia that recalls both Bacharach and the sunnier side of ‘60s psychedelia. Such softly swirling spaciness has been Rhys’ specialty ever since Super Furry Animals hit their stride, but the noteworthy thing about Hotel Shampoo is that he sustains his mood while serving up one of his strongest set of songs.
Enjoying the more eccentric quarters of Gruff Rhys’s colorful back catalogue hinge’s on one’s tolerance for his loose wordplay and peculiar themes. Rhys’s last departure from Super Furry Animals, a culture-colliding collaboration with Brazilian VCR repairman Tony da Gatorra, was perhaps his most off-the-wall effort to date, packed to the gunwales with influences and ideas that would have been best left on the cutting room floor. Hotel Shampoo, then, catches the plucky Welsh songster in a mercifully modest mood, and is replete with comparatively straightforward songwriting and some surprisingly charming couplets.
If there were ever a map guiding Super Furry Animals mainman Gruff Rhys' musical path, he tossed it overboard long ago. He's set out on an endlessly convoluted route, using his instinct rather than reason to guide him. That rudderless approach has propelled a career full of never-ending left turns, including recent collaborations with De La Soul and Gorillaz (on the latter's Plastic Beach), Sparklehorse and Danger Mouse (on Dark Night of the Soul) and Brazilian TV repairman Tony Da Gatorra (on The Terror of Cosmic Loneliness).
Gruff Rhys' last album was a collaboration with an unknown Brazilian protest singer/instrumentalist named Tony Da Gatorra, who invented his own instrument, a peculiar combination of guitar and drum machine referred to as the "gatorra." That album was a furious mess, quite possibly intentionally so. But if Rhys' dedication to the new and eclectic was ever in question, that album, The Terror of Cosmic Loneliness, put the doubts to bed. .
Turning 40 is a big milestone for anybody, a time when you should probably leave behind any childish flights of fancy and become, you know, a proper grown up. For Gruff Rhys, who has spent the last 15 years touring the world with the Super Furry Animals, this meant writing an album of piano ballads and finally getting over his pathological fear of the saxophone. Of course, as with anything that the Welsh singer-songwriter has ever been involved in, the results aren’t quite as straightforward as that might sound.
That bastion of 1970s rock, the concept album, is alive and well and concerning itself with international haircare products. [a]Lemmy[/a] hordes Nazi memorabilia. [a]Mark E Smith[/a] collects musicians (then fires them).[a]Super Furry Animals[/a]’ [a]Gruff Rhys[/a], however, has a penchant for acquiring complimentary hotel shampoo while travelling, and it’s these lathery miniatures that have inspired this pragmatically titled collection.Well, ‘inspire’ is pushing it.
Super Furry Animals frontman Gruff Rhys likes to collect shampoo bottles from hotel rooms. It’s hard to tell how, if at all, this affects his artistic outlook, but it must be of some musical significance to Rhys. He named his third solo album Hotel Shampoo and has fashioned the cover art so that every track is represented as a different shampoo bottle.
PEARL JAM play the Air Canada Centre on September 11 and 12. See listing Rating: NN At this point in Pearl Jam's incredibly successful yet determinedly self-directed career, it's unlikely anyone tells Eddie Vedder and the boys what's best for them. If Vedder wants to release and mass-market a 16-song solo album of spare ukulele tunes, then that's what the furrowed-browed singer is going to do.
Super Furry Animals frontman’s third solo LP captures his creative wanderlust. Louis Pattison 2011 Despite his well-documented anarchic streak, Gruff Rhys has often showed a weakness for cosy, bucolic songcraft, leading to tunes that while pleasant on the ear, rather sell short the scope of his creative ability. His third solo album began in such a comfortable place: as Rhys puts it, "I thought the time had come to buy a suit and record an album of piano ballads".