Cult Of The Basement
If things seemed weird back in February 1989, when we made this baby, the Weird were going shopping on bikes. In a farmhouse in the dead of winter, in personal circumstances too bizarre and complex to relate, we set about making our "commercial suicide" album. For the first time, I felt, we had made an album that really sounded like us. This record does have personality. One of my favourites, this.
This disc opens with "
," a bit of
spy movie surfedelia which reprises occasionally
over the course of the album, like a theme. It's
an appropriate expression of the not-quite-serious
attitude the Jazz Butcher takes to his music. The
sound is a witty amalgam of cabaret pop, '60s
rock, wistful songwriting and a tongue-in-cheek
knowingness. While his voice veers close to that
of an overly sincere folksinger, there's an
intimate smirk behind the Butcher's lyrics that
makes even an apparently serious song like
" seem suspect. A quick glance at
some of the titles made me wonder if the Jazz
Butcher wasn't becoming a Robyn Hitchcock
but even oh-so-British character studies like
" or "
She's On Drugs
" reveal an individual
personality at work. Those latter songs offer
excellent melodies, appealing textures in the
guitars, and none of Hitchcock's overreaching for
rhymes, metaphors, or weird phrasemaking. Though
he doesn't seem to be making headway in finding a
wider audience, Butch has again come up with a
consistently engaging and successful record.
(Rough Trade, 611 Broadway #311, NYC 10012)