Album Reviews

thisGIRL – Uno

(Drowned in Sound) UK release date: 12 July 2004

thisGIRL - Uno Rotherham, home of dodgy ex-England goalkeepers (the once able Seaman) and even dodgier ex-Tory party leaders (Hague – was he ever able?), is about to get put on the musical map, my friends, courtesy of thisGIRL – four bonkers but scarily proficient musicians who simply don’t sound like anyone else.

Having been messed around by various major record labels since the 2002 release of their debut album, Liam Creamer, Matt Westley, Chris Shepherd and Ryan Jenkinson took the brave decision to join a newly-launched indie label who would give them carte blanche to do whatever the heck they wanted. And whatever the heck they wanted seems to be exactly what they have done.

Everything about Uno is refreshingly idiosyncratic from the CD artwork, which has a colour chart to represent the songs, to the song titles (You Are But A Draft, A Long Rehearsal For A Show That Will Never Play is a particular good ‘un), to the music.

Ah, the music. It’s not every day that a band potentially creates a new genre but with Uno, thisGIRL seem to have stumbled upon jazz-stoner rock. Opening salvo Master Blaster is a case in point, with torrents of fuzzed-up guitar riffs showing that these boys like to drink Mudhoney while they listen to their Black Sabbath and Jimi Hendrix records. Add to that Creamer’s Robert Smith-meets-Matt Bellamy voice and an undercurrent of jazzy bass-lines and drumming, and you have a recipe for something that is very strange but curiously alluring.

Of course, it’s not just a case of the quartet strapping on their instruments, putting on their shades and proclaiming to themselves, “Let’s go to quirk!” No, they know how to rip out a cool chorus too, as the likes of Don’t Be A Kite (not one of my common temptations, it has to be said) and Oscilloscope Love demonstrate. In fact, there may just be some Queens Of The Stone Age type crossover potential here, with enough guitar meat to satisfy the rockers and plenty of vibe and melody to turn the indie-lovers.

And it’s not all space rock workouts either. You Are But A Draft…, for instance, slowly builds from a base of jazzy ramblings into a Nirvana-at-their-most-awkward fuzz-fest. “I’m singing this song just for me. It’s not for you!” cries Creamer throughout. Rarely can selfishness have sounded so good.

Inshallah has an almost Latin/bossanova feel with some scampering drumwork that will have you shaking your head in disbelief that the rhythm section was recorded in single takes with no overdubs by Sabbath/Judas Priest/Thin Lizzy producer Chris Tsangarides.

And as if any further proof were required of their ambition, Drake (a reference to Nick perhaps?) is a comedown full of melancholy instrumentation and cello while Creamer dons his best Jeff Buckley impression.

Whatever this band are on, I don’t think I want any. However, with a defiant resolve to transcend musical classication, and the ability to know when to stamp their feet on the effects pedals and when to take them off, thisGIRL is definitely one who has beauty as well as brains.

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