Music

Pugwash: Giddy

Oasis with brains.


Pugwash

Giddy

Label: Ape
US Release Date: 2009-10-27
UK Release Date: 2009-10-05
Amazon
Amazon
iTunes

Pugwash enjoyed rave U.K. reviews for its 1999 debut Almond Tea and even raver ones for its subsequent records. Along the way, strings have been recorded at Abbey Road and shoulders brushed with such luminaries as Ian Matthews, Glenn Tilbrook, and XTC’s Dave Gregory and Andy Partridge. Nods of approval are also in from the Mark Ellen/David Hepworth branch of the U.K. music press (which exists to regurgitate the Beatles, Stones, Dylan, Beach Boys, and Pink Floyd cover stories and to patronize any new group resembling any of those blueprints).

Giddy compiles some tracks from those earlier releases. Pugwash is seemingly the admirable antithesis of pretty-boy throwaway manufactured pop, but the album’s production suffers from being crafted to the point of ephemeral irrelevance, with preened and almost catchy-by-numbers songs and rather tedious lyrics. Pugwash sounds more like the dull bits of late-period XTC, Crowded House at its most repetitive, and Beck-lite. Giddy is the first release on Partridge's Ape label, and he has proclaimed Pugwash songwriter Thomas Walsh a “saviour of modern pop” and “better than McCartney, fatter than Lennon”. Sorry Andy, joking aside, this is pop strolling in ever-decreasing circles trying to eat an image of its heroes. Oasis with brains is how one wag has described some of the songs.

But hang on. The case is far from closed and egg might quite possibly be all over wannabe critic’s face. For Thomas Walsh is one half of the Duckworth Lewis Method (a reference to the formula by which one-day cricket matches are decided when play is suspended). Neil Hannon of Divine Comedy is the other half. Its self-titled concept album about cricket, The Duckworth Lewis Method, is rumored to be influenced by the genius Noel Coward. It contains a track called “The Ball of the Century”, featuring the following gem from the perspective of batsman Mike Gatting, hapless recipient of an impossible delivery from (then emerging) spin bowler Shane Warne: "Jiggery pokery / Trickery chokery / How did he open me up? / Robbery muggery / Aussie skullduggery /Out for a buggering duck". Now that’s giddy.

5

Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

Keep reading... Show less
9
TV

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less
9

To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.


Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09
Amazon

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less
7

Gallagher's work often suffers unfairly beside famous husband's Raymond Carver. The Man from Kinvara should permanently remedy this.

Many years ago—it had to be 1989—my sister and I attended a poetry reading given by Tess Gallagher at California State University, Northridge's Little Playhouse. We were students, new to California and poetry. My sister had a paperback copy of Raymond Carver's Cathedral, which we'd both read with youthful admiration. We knew vaguely that he'd died, but didn't really understand the full force of his fame or talent until we unwittingly went to see his widow read.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image