Music

Beatnik Filmstars: Barking (A Collection of Oddities)

Joe Tacopino

The self-proclaimed British version of Guided by Voices releases a 31-track compilation of rarities and abnormalities.


Beatnik Filmstars

Barking (A Collection of Oddities)

Label: The International Lo-Fi Underground
US Release Date: 2006-10-17
UK Release Date: 2006-10-16
Amazon
iTunes

The Beatnik Filmstars like to fancy themselves as a British equivalent of Guided by Voices, and although there are some similarities between the Filmstars and Robert Pollard's iconic rock group, I happen to find the cross-pond comparison trite and a bit of a stretch. The two bands exist in a similar vein of lo-fi rock, and both display an extensive catalogue of four-track material, but the Filmstars low-budget garage rock just doesn’t stack up to the prolific stature of GBV. There is an appealing aspect to the Filmstars delivery -- which, at times, sounds like a meandering mishmash of separate styles -- but the lack of coherency ultimately leaves you befuddled and a bit disappointed.

So who are these cheeky Brits anyway? Since forming in the early '90s, the Filmstars have released a bevy of records, befriended the legendary John Peel, and eventually toured America with the Flaming Lips. However, the Filmstars are still relatively obscure compared to indie-rock behemoths Pavement and Sebadoh -- two additional bands the Filmstars would like to equate themselves with.

Barking (A Collection of Oddities) is a 31-track sample of what these eccentric lo-fi rockers are all about; a smorgasbord of vintage punk riffs, melodic indie rock, infectious dance grooves and experimental interludes. There are some delectable pop-punk selections like "New Boyfriend and Black Suit", a delightful tune with a hop-a-long riff that crescendos into a cascading horn section toward the end. The grammatically incorrect, "These is Rotten Days", gives us some standard indie rock while the melancholy, "The Pieces of My Heart" sounds like the mellowed out Brit-equivalent of American alt-country. The Filmstars even provide some mixtape material with the mildly danceable syth-laden tune, "The Family That Stays Together", and the techno flavor of "Jesus is Coming, Look Busy". There are a couple of short punk ditties like the garage-influenced "Radio Hopeless", and the declarative, "Free Speech Protest Song" -- both combine to barely break the 1:30 mark, lending creedence to that line about brevity being the soul of wit. If only the Filmstars applied the brevity theme to the complete effort, we might be spared some unnecessary selections. Among the ugly tracks, there is the incongruous drone of "Zetland Hardware", and the sleepy Interpol-esque "Romance's Final Image", with a remarkably banal chorus of, "There's a party going on downstairs, people dancing in their underwear, and I don't care".

This 70-minute effort from the Beatnik Filmstars provides a bit of something for everyone. Even though the band probably could have cut off about one-third of the album and still assembled a decent effort, this is probably what you should expect from a rarity compilation by the self-appointed British version of Guided by Voices. There's a lot of variety, a lot of rockin' tunes, a couple of experimental head scratchers and a few pop gems: It’s a lot of talent going in many different directions. Rather than GBV, I’d be more likely to dub them the poor man’s Sebadoh.

5

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less
3

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less
9

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

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