Tuesday, 26 June 2012

The 2kDozen 500: #239 - Cornershop, "Urban Turban"

I liked the first incarnation of Cornershop that I came across in the early Nineties, when Blur and other bands I can't remember where walking about in the glorious foothills of Britpop before its arteries grew fat with Carnaby Street and the mountains of Oasis and the other fucktards rose up and blocked out the sun. The band's name was witty, the music was closely affiliated with Riot Grrl bands of the same era. On "England's Dreaming" they mashed up Morrissey and Public Enemy. It was vital and trembling with possibility. "Brimful of Asha": not so keen.

So "Urban Turbans" is a compilation of various singles they released on their online Singhles Club (geddit?), almost entirely with different vocalists with Til Singh and pals acting as the backing band. Not surprisingly then, it's quite mixed. "Beacon Radio 303" features some Panjabi (I think) over rather a sparse bass and drums background with a couple of acid squiggles. "Milkin' It" is sparser yet, lyrically reaching back to 1988. The vocals sound more than a little like Mark E Smith, hoarsely shouting out to hip hop greats. Kay Kwong's "Concrete, Concrete" is jolly and strange and frugs about under its steam. "Something Makes You Feel Like" is basic Troggs rock/pop.

Dollops of funk with more subcontinental vocals on "Inspector Bamba Singh's Lament" followed by a course of near-baroque synth organisation on "Dedicated", landing somewhere between Daft Punk and Hot Chip. But the tunes with Singh's vocals seem that bit more fleshed out and have that the hungry magnetism that draws ideas and different musics to its underbelly. "What Did the Hippie Have In His Bag?" has schoolchildren providing halting backing vocals, singing "Now that we've climbed the mountain/The mountain will never seem the same again"; getting kids in touch with nostalgia and disappointment early.

The last track is called "First Wog on the Moon", acid tongue buried back in the cheek, back as it was in those passionate early Nineties. But the idea is sketched out in squelch into a tune that could have been played on a piano in the Twenties. Wish the album has more lyrics, but that's been the issue today.

Rating: Magnetism out of Mixed Musical Pedigree

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