Ocean Colour Scene: Saturday

After 20 years of solid and dependable releases, Birmingham's Ocean Colour Scene have survived the Britpop era with flair, and pack their latest disc with good-time party jams that are guaranteed to keep you moving.

Ocean Colour Scene


Label: Cooking Vinyl
US Release Date: 2010-02-16
UK Release Date: 2010-02-01

It's a fact... some British bands just never break big in America, despite what may be considerable chart success in their home country (and/or the rest of Europe). In many British circles, the Manic Street Preachers are near musical royalty, but over here they just aren’t widely known, in spite of years of successful releases and charting singles in the UK. Fans of a band may find this criminal, but others may still find it a blessing. There's sometimes nothing worse for a band than monumental mainstream success (ahem, U2).

Another band that’s even lesser known in the States is Birmingham’s Ocean Colour Scene. Sure, many music fans may know the name, but ask if they can name a single song or album, and you may be met with confused bufuddlement. All the meanwhile, though, OCS have put out consistently engaging releases to considerable acclaim at home. They’ve been one of the few bands to survive the halcyon Britpop era relatively intact, and were able to shift their style sufficiently to keep up with the musical progression of the times. And they continue their journey steadily forward on their latest, Saturday, a bluesy party-jam of an album that’s one of their best in years.

“100 Floors of Perception” opens with subtle horns and woodblock percussion before opening into a Who’s Next sort of throwback, the kind of sound that's rarely explored by willing bands both British and otherwise these days. This is the song that sets the tone for much of the remaining runtime of the album; overall it’s a feel-good sort of set, though theres also several artistic curveballs.

“Mrs. Maylie” is full of the kind of blues licks and all-out country-rock that Wilco damn near perfected on Being There years ago, but halfway through the song downshifts into a polite

little British jig before picking back up again. Title track “Saturday” reaches for anthem status with cries of “I don’t go for that, my name is Saturday!”, while “The Word” is vintage Moody Blues (or early Pink Floyd) in its gentle acoustic strumming and fairy tale melodies. And OCS save the best for last, as closer “Rockfield” is the most rewarding track of all, evoking Alien Lanes-era Guided By Voices before morphing into another Who-homage barn burner.

To say this album is retro in nature is a bit of an understatement. From the aforementioned Who, GBV and early Pink Floyd influences, there’s also hints of the Animals, the Zombies and other Invasion-era touchstones. What OCS have always been great at, and indeed better than many of their peers in this regard, is distilling those influences into a still-recognizable, but utterly unique new form. This disc is no exception. Despite all the genre shout-outs and cribbed Invasion touches, this is still an OCS album through and through, and could be mistaken for no one else's creation.

It's worth noting that Saturday is one of the more aptly-named albums to surface in recent years. The whole disc carries a pleasant vibe of weekend campfires and Saturday-night keggers in suburban basements, an innocent time of loose-limbed dancing and drunken revelry for which this disc would make the most perfect of soundtracks. After this many years of solid recorded output, it’s great to see a band like Ocean Colour Scene are still having such fun with their material, and willing to redefine the lines of what makes their sound theirs. While they may never break through in the American mainstream (that ship has probably long since sailed), it is -- in an artistic sense -- a much greater victory that they’re still enjoying themselves, putting out some of the best music of their career, this late into the game. Chart-topping American singles are overrated, as we’re certainly no judge over here of deserving talent meeting up with respective success (see: Nickelback, nu-metal, Jack Johnson, et. al). Judging by the sound of things, Ocean Colour Scene simply don’t care, and that’s one of their greatest attributes, and what makes discs like Saturday such an unqualified, unadulterated thrill.


So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

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

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