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The Sharp Things

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  • A Moveable Feast
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    The Sharp Things

    The Sharp Things : Foxes And Hounds 7
    There Will Be Violins / Homeless / Letting Go / She Left With The Sun / The Suicide Bombers / 95 St Marks Place / I'll Always Be Your Loser / Silver Anniversary / Hard Life / The Most Dangerous Man In The Living Room / These Dreams Of You Are So Much Sweeter Than The Truth / 50 Heads Over High Street / Slay The Night / Love With The Proper Stranger

    Being a dead unfamous record reviewer, I get sent quite a few CDs through the post from various record labels and up-coming and unknown bands. In the four years i've been doing this site, nothing sent through to me has struck me quite as hard as the opening track on this CD. You know, i'd been briefed on The Tindersticks aspect. Indeed, the strings wail and soar quite dramatically. Besides that however, well. What a glorious opening number! Ditching guitars for Violins or "life will so much better when you throw those guitars down" as the singer pleads, and I quite agree. The current musical climate reduces musical ambition. We've got this drums, bass, guitars thing going on with numerous new bands all sounding very similar to each other. Not so with 'The Sharp Things'. My initial first impression listening to 'There Will Be Violins' was that a sober Shane MacGowan from The Pogues had somehow stumbled into a room full of classically trained string players. Cool, I thought to myself. Ah, but there is more on offer on this excellent CD. '50 Heads Over High Street' kind of nods towards brit-pop and indeed, includes guitars and very Talk-Talk type, elegant vocals. Albeit, over a soaring musical backdrop including guitars yes, and also strings. Also, much energy. Some very beautiful songs are dotted around the tracklisting of this CD. 'Slay The Night' is very lovely indeed and that elegant word crops up again. '95 St Marks Street' includes jaunty piano and very well strung together lyrics. A pop song that Neil Hannon would have been proud of, although with a string section sounding, dare I say it, better employed than on several of those lovely Divine Comedy albums.

    Ah, i'm throwing names of bands at you, because perhaps you haven't heard of 'The Sharp Things'. I suggest you invest in a copy of 'Foxes And Hounds', not because it's the best album ever made by anybody ever, but just because it is indeed very good. Ah, '95 St Marks Street' was surely written for a lover of beautiful music? There's a great instrumental section where suddenly 'The Sharp Things' sound like 'Pet Sounds'. Just for a few seconds, but it's enough. Perfectly melded into the song. I won't get overly excited, because there are perhaps a couple of songs too many on the album. It runs to 59 minutes length with a few songs merely repeating other songs but not quite so well. Still, sterling work from The Sharp Things on the whole, a band i'll certainly be paying attention to in the future.

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    Readers Comments

    John, County Kildare john.j.doyle@nuim.ie
    Yet another band that have caught my eye (or eye to be more precise) through Adrian's site. Has anybody got anymore info on them?, as there shore is some mightaay fine potential here folks!

    top of page The Sharp Things : A Moveable Feast 8
    The Jumpers / Through With Love / An Ocean Part Deux / Storm King / Cruel Thing / Don't Hold Out Hope / La Chose Francaise / Bureau De Change / The Devil In You Sings / What's The New Girl Wonder / Don't u Leave Me This Way / Rey / Driving In Manhattan In My Car / Now That I'm Back / Franz Agonistes

    I like putting down my emotions with little thought to editing. I like these reviews to come across as pub conversation. Yeah, i've got something to tell you, baby. The last time I came across The Sharp Things they were promoting 'Foxes And Hounds' and kindly lent me a copy. It chimed with my mood at that time, particularly the opening track with talk of throwing guitars down and picking up violins. Well, this ensemble have moved on for their 3rd LP. Their press-release mentions they have no one to please but themselves, and I like that. The Sharp Things are ignoring fashion to pursue a calling. Their calling involves being an eleven member strong ensemble, recording with orchestras and numerous other musicians. It involves, for this LP, expanding their sound. I made comparisons before to Tindersticks, to Scott Walker and The Divine Comedy. This album stands quite alone and doesn't make me think of anybody else but them. There's also a couple of songs I want to talk about that resemble nothing less than pure soul music, glorious in emotion. That much is new.

    'Through With Love' is a joyous orchestral pop declaration, wonderfully arranged. Theres tick-tock, theres a beating heart, there's numerous stupendous string parts. There are many fine songs here, actually. 'Storm King' breaks your heart before the soul tunes reel it back in. 'Cruel Thing' is the one. Amy Winehouse transported to Al Green via Marc Almond. Well, something like that, at least. Oh these strings! The sparkling pop of 'What's The New Girl Wonder' is a gem and it sounds like they aren't even trying, that this just comes naturally to them. The sunshine that rides through 'What's The New Girl Wonder' matches 'Through With Love' and 'Don't U Leave Me' matches the soul of 'Cruel Thing'. 'Don't U Leave Me...' is sheer class, a heart wrenching, dramatic soulful wonder and I should wonder about running out of words. I want to listen to it again. I know ( see above ) at least one extra copy of 'Foxes And Hounds' was sold thanks to my review. Here's hoping many more copies of 'A Moveable Feast' are sold. These guys deserve your attention.

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    top of page Green Is Good
    Blame The Bankers / The Piper / Here Comes The Maestro / Flowers For My Girl / Eric Of Norway / Lights / Goodbye To Golders Green / I Know You're Gonna Break My Heart / Dogs Of Bushwick / Back Down The Rabbit Hole

    It's been six long years since the last LP from The Sharp Things, although they did begin recording in 2009 towards what they have promised will be a four-album series titled Dogs Of Bushwick. More than $3600 in pledges received via Kickstarter has helped fund 'Green Is Good', something of a departure from how I remember the group. Well, this is the recording of a band, without the strings and orchestra that formed highlights of their earlier work. They lean on 60s pop for a few of these songs, and for a few others get into the global banking crisis of 2008 for inspiration. 'I Know You're Gonna Break My Heart' features support from the wonderful Laura Cantrell, suitably enough for this country-tinged, weepy ballad. The instrumental break then goes all Beatles on us, a strange hybrid of a song then? Well, yes, but the strings are here and the vocals are genuinely packed with emotion. If I'm being super-critical, I really don't like the drums throughout 'Goodbye To Golders Green', they are either not interesting enough, or simply too high in the mix - can't decide which one it is. 'The Piper' was the first song this record gave me that I loved, and I've heard the record a few times now. It's a blend of simple guitar tunefullness, crooning, delicate vocals and nice string accentuation. Meanwhile, 'Back Down The Rabbit Hole' goes all funky, 70s TV cop show on us crossed with early 80s New Wave soul.

    'When I fuck up, who bails me out' a man quite rightly screams during the opening seconds of 'Blame The Bankers' a situation that despite the UK right-wing press, wasn't entirely created by Gordon Brown, a man who half of the UK voting public still believe wielded enough power that he, and he alone, created the worldwide global monetary crises. I'd like these same people to tell folks in Germany or the USA that one Scottish man held more power than their entire populations put together. Anyway, this is a five-minute song full of drama and a mean Piano solo half-way through, quickly followed by mean brass and mean electric guitar playing. Bells and brass and sunshine permeate 'Flowers For My Girl', quality vocal-laden pop, and no mistake. 'Here Comes The Maestro' fares less well, sounding like a cheap 90s take on the 80s and some perhaps weird mixing decisions resulting in an uneven balance of sounds. Still, overall 'Green Is Good' is arguably the most ambitious Sharp Things album to date and i'll leave the last word to 'Lights'.

    "Hello, I'm The Sharp Things song 'Lights' and I'm pretty decent, with nice keyboard work and an insistent, addictive rhythm'.

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    top of page this page last updated 09/06/13

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