Simple Kid - SK2
In his outstanding book 'Rip It Up And Start Again', Simon Reynolds chronicles one of pops most interesting periods - the post-punk generation who mostly got of their own backsides to write, record, mix and often package their own mini-revolutions. DIY pop was at its height in the dying embers of punk, where bands and Indie labels resisted the urge of the corporates and attempted to make as transparent as possible the mechanism of record production.
Following a similar ethos is Simple Kid, who records largely in his own house. This record was made during what he calls "the great hibernation of 2004/5", put down on an old 8-track cassette machine (meaning the masters were cheap C-60's, something I am sure wasn't the case for the new Scissor Sisters). These were then stuck into computers at the Church Studio in Crouch End, but often bounced back into the cassettes, as Simple Kid had by that stage grown rather fond of the sound. This does make this album sound different - in these days of pro-tools and mass-compression to make everything sound too damn loud, this release has a quaint charm, the music sounding strangely real and organic. Once back in cassette form, the songs were slowed down, sped up, and generally messed around with, rendering most of the tracks out of tune. Which isn't as bad as it sounds.
And yes, the songs on here, for all their ramshackle appearance, are rather good. Opening track Lil' King Kong is a riot of fuzzy banjo and country steel guitar, whilst Old Domestic Cat is the other extreme, a dull (only in sound, not in content) ballad, reminiscent of 'You Have To Be Joking' by The Flaming Lips. A Song of Stone is a gentle folk song, with light strings, whilst Self Help Book is a great little number full of advice (I particularly like the adage "if you throw boomerang, its gonna come back, if you eat too much pie, you're gonna be fat". Too true).
Its not all lo-fi stodge though - Mommy n Daddy sounds bright (but still a little fuzzy), and You is a trippy piece of melody, veering in and out of tune but never less than interesting. You as well is a stand-out track, sounding like early Janes Addiction. Simple Kid's ethos is to be admired, as this is a collection of highly original songs where his voice and style shine through in a very real way.