DESERT AFTER RAIN

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I JUST NEED SOMEONE TO TELL ME HOW TALL I AM

Review: Americana UK

By Mark Phillips

4.5 out of 5 stars

It's taken an age to pick this record up--there's nothing worse than the storming debut followed by the growing pains of the second, under pressure from the label to repeat any hint of success that there might have been. And Road Movies is one of my favourite debuts of the last ten years. Still, I've been steeled by a couple of things--The Coral and BRMC surprising everyone by their own thoroughly high quality second outings, and the fact that Minibar have parted company with Universal. So, they had a little less money this time around? So what? They had a lot more freedom to do what they wanted, and not under a stopwatch. They also had smashing production assistance this time around despite the staunched flow of cash- Dusty Wakefield, who has recorded Lucinda Williams and Buck Owens, and played bass with Michelle Shocked and Jim Lauderdale; oh, and a couple of Wallflowers helped out as well. The sound is quite compressed, but soulful--the acoustic guitars and organic bass leaving room for Simon Petty's understated but dramatic, keening vocal. Pedal steel picking and gentle lead work weave in and out at appropriately emotional moments. Opener "It is What it Is" teaches The Thorns how it should have been done, whilst "Somebody Down Here Loves You" has a big, raspy, honeyfied blues riff, Abbey Road style harmonies, and a really neat musical hook which insidiously insinuates itself into your synapses through trickery and stealth. The title track, meanwhile, is classic country-rock and Petty's strongest performance--rough-assed but sweet, frustrated but ardent. Fly Below Radar is restrained but skillful, a document of an English band over their first flush of love for American life and now considering their place in it; as their fellow countrymen, we have every reason to watch their growth from afar with pride and love.

From Americana UK


Last updated: Oct 01, 2006 - 03:52 PM PDT

Fly Below The Radar
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The Unstoppable EP
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Road Movies
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