GOES SKIING Yeah Right Sure
Before I get into the actual review, I'll just say
that this was originally intended to be in the Shorties section
of the site. But its taken me so long to get round to reviewing
it, that I'm making it up to Harvey from Pop Kid by making it a
Idly flicking through an issue of Kerrang! One boring Saturday afternoon
I arrive at the reviews section. I hardly ever bother reading any
of these as they’re usually about CDs by bands no-one has
really ever heard of, or long-haired pretend Satanists trying to
keep death-metal alive with band names randomly plucked from Norse
mythology or H. P. Lovecraft stories.
However, this time one band name did
stand out. I’ve always been a sucker for a good band name;
not that it has to be funny or poetic, but names like Pavement and
Bivouac have led me – in the past – to buying albums
before even hearing and songs by the band.
I’m also a sucker for retro games
and 80s nostalgia, so when the name ‘Horace Goes Skiing’
caught my eye I was immediately interested. And I think this is
one of the only Kerrang! Album reviews I have read.
About a month or so later a friend told me she knew the band. This
was to become the start of a bizarre, hazy chain of events which
led me to receiving a copy of the bands CD ‘Yeah Right Sure’
through the post.
Well ok, Harvey from Pop Kid Records
emailed me saying he heard I wanted to review it, I said ‘Yeah,
cool’ and he sent me a copy. But let’s just pretend
there were traps, puzzles, hookers and monsters involved. Damn I
need some rock n roll stories.
Just before I get into the album, let
me just explain that Horace Goes Skiing was a fantastic game on
the Sinclair Spectrum. It was actually the first game I had on my
Spectrum (also my first computer), the sentimental attachments of
which probably led me to being so interested after catching a glimpse
of the bands name.
And upon listening to the album it’s
this feeling of nostalgia which remains, only jolted forward about
10 years or so. Maybe I’ve just been out of the underground/indie
scene for too long, but the sound is reminiscent of the 7”’s
by little known indie bands I used to buy circa 94/95; which - to
me at least - says that it has that rough, lo-fi sound that seems
to sound just right on vinyl.
Opening track ‘5.65 Keep Breathing’ is a great start
to the album, with punk/pop riffs and a beat to pogo to. The intro
sounds eerily like the first song I ever wrote – which I suppose
is a good thing. In terms of sound and structure it’s a great
track, especially with the drop towards the end, morphing itself
into a chilled out hazy summers evening sounding melody. I still
always find myself singing ‘there’s a time and a place
for everything, this is the exception to the rule’ for most
of the day after listening to it.
I’m still not sure about the
lyric ‘haven’t got the time for feeling like a bellend’
though. I don’t think I’ve used, or even heard ‘bellend’
since I was in school, but since I’ve moved to London I’ve
heard it used a few times – so I guess it’s a London
Lyrically - this kind of sets the feel of the album. It was apparently
recorded about 10 years ago, so expect some immature lyrics, and
I don’t mean that in a bad way. Most of the time they get
to the point, like ‘I’m sorry for being cheesy, this
time it was so easy’ on ‘Lookout There’s Sand
Everywhere’ and ‘I cock this up and I’m to blame’
on ‘Yum Yum Yum’. Not the most poetic of lyrics, but
then there are lines such as ‘these insurances we crave don’t
cover everything, but this time I’m healing’ woven into
But I’m focusing too much on
the lyrics here. The music has a great raw sound, good structure
and held together well by the melodic bass lines and mixture of
jangly and driving guitars. Very reminiscent – as I mentioned
– of early 90s indie bands such as Mega City Four, The Doughboys
and some of the Newport punk bands like 60Ft Dolls and Flyscreen.
It’s that rough punk/pop –
with the emphasis on punk – sound that got floppy haired indie
kids moshing back then. And which Horace Goes Skiing employ now,
with heavy, thrashy-twanging of the guitars and shouty/can’t-carry-a-tune-and-proud
vocals which lend themselves so well to punk. But there is also
a bitter pill of emotion dropped into the mix especially on tracks
like ‘All Spleen No Gleen’.
It’s taken me a few listens and
has started to grow on me, but I think this has a lot to do with
taking me back to those records I used to listen to as a teenager.
A lot of old punks could probably get into it too with the 70s-punk
influenced tracks such as ‘Up Yours Hitchcock’ and,
once again, ‘Yum Yum Yum’ – which also gets another
mention for the excellent ‘Rocky’ sample included towards
the end under the blanket of the song.
AND THE SPIDERS
I’m left wondering what kids today would make of this sound
though. There’s been a lot of backlash against overproduced
American nu-metal and punk/POP lately, and over-produced is certainly
something ‘Yeah Right Sure’ isn’t. Maybe they’ll
see it as a refreshing change? With Horace Goes Skiing finding a
place within the new British rock scene amongst bands like Hundred
Reasons and Hell Is For Heroes.
The album ends on the downbeat and
(I hope I’m right in assuming this) purposefully naff sounding
‘Jana’. Well, I say ‘ends’, that’s
where the album officially ends, but there are still 4 more tracks
included from the bands previously released in 1997 ‘Domestic
These 4 tracks probably make up the
best part of the album for me, and it was a great idea to include
them. Things kick off with the excellent ‘Input=Output’.
This is very similar to early Doughboys songs, with great dynamics
and structure – it sounds a little more mature than the previous
tracks on the album. And by ‘mature’ I mean progressive
in terms of the band's songwriting.
The remaining tracks include a cover
of Cat Stevens’ ‘Father & Son’ and closing
track ‘Ignore The Screaming’ which includes another
cool movie sample courtesy of John Hughes 80s classic ‘Pretty
In Pink’, and the closing, yet touching line ‘Even though
I’m falling I’m still reaching for your hand’.
‘Yeah Right Sure’ was a
strange album for me to listen to. I didn’t think much of
it at first, probably because I’m so used to everything being
so produced these days and don’t buy so many ‘indie’
records anymore. I’d already heard ‘Input=Output’
and thought it was a great track, but the other tracks I wasn’t
so sure about. However, after quite a few listens it’s started
to grow on me. The blunt lyrics are kind of endearing to a certain
extent, and at just over 38mins it’s a snappy album that I’ve
started to warm to.
So now I’m torn between wondering
if Horace Goes Skiing would benefit from better production to maybe
get some airplay and reach a more mainstream punk audience, or whether
the charm lies in the lo-fi production and they should stick to
their roots. Whatever the case, I look forward to hearing some new
material – let’s hope it doesn’t take another
'5.65 Keep Breathing', 'Up Yours Hitchcock' and 'Input=Output' mp3s
from mp3.com here
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