Alternative music reviews

June 20, 2008

Little Fish In Custard

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Little Fish have signed to Custard Records/Universal (the label that has James Blunt on their books). It has been almost exactly a year since a thirty second blast of Devil’s Eyes was played on the Radio Oxford Demo review – their first exposure to the wider world. I have become familiar with a number of brilliant bands/artists over the past 5 or so years but, out of all of the unsigned bands, Little Fish were the most likely to make that leap. The voice, the music, the songs, the live perforamnce? Yes, but others had that too. I like to think it is not because they broke the rules of what a band should be – but they didn’t even accept that there were any rules. No bassist, no distance between the singer and audience, no guitar solos, no restrictions on mixing in any genre/decade/style of music – so what, that’s Little Fish.

The Simple Carnival

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Me and my arrowI was watching My Name Is Earl on the TV last night and suddenly there was a song I recognised used as backing to a scene where Earl shoots an arrow into the air (and it then skewers him on its way down). The song was Me and My Arrow by Harry Nilsson which is covered by The Simple Carnival on the EP of the same name that I have been listening to for a few weeks.

Me And My Arrow

Me And My Arrow (clip) by The Simple Carnival

This is an EP of Pop so, well, Poppy that it almost defies belief. But this isn’t the cheesy attempt at humour of Mike Flowers, but seems to be a serious love of the sweet melody and gentle dance rhythm. It is the product of one man: Jeff Boller, who clearly has an ear for a good tune and a wry sense of humour as well.

When I was growing up there was a clear conflict between Pop music and Rock music. Pop meant shallow while Rock was ‘heavy’ and ‘deep’. And even now melodic beat combos still stick to their Indie credentials and try to fool people that they are a pretty smile and a sweet rhyming couplet. That leads me to a problem – I still feel that way. I say ‘feel’ because I get a physical reaction to too much saccharine tunefulness. I understand that to openly present pure Pop is really the more radical option but I am old and reactionary now.

The video to Really Really Weird

So, I am not saying I like this record. But there are enough melodic hooks here in amongst what my ears hear as ‘cheese’ to convince me that Jeff has considerable talent. If you like a bit of Beach Boys harmonies then you really should get acquainted with The Simple Carnival.