Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Micko Westmoreland - Yours Etc Abc

Article by KevW


It's been six years since the last album from Leeds-born, London-based musician Micko Westmoreland, but since the talented git is also a notable actor and has also been working on film soundtracks then we can forgive him the wait. You can't do everything at once, and if you return with an album as interesting as 'Yours Etc Abc' then it's soon forgotten. It's an album that follows in the footsteps of many other quirky and individual British songwriters such as Syd Barrett, Ray Davies, Kevin Ayres, early Elvis Costello, Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook, in that the tracks are unique yet oddly traditional and timeless. He's lined up a stellar cast of guests too, including Bedders from Madness, Mick Gallagher from The Blockheads and Terry Edwards who's been a member of Gallon Drunk as well as working with everyone from Spiritualized and Faust to PJ Harvey and Hot Chip. We should be allowed to expect something decent, and it's duly delivered.

What appears to be important to Micko Westmoreland, is that music should be fun as well as written and recorded to a high standard (involving members of The Blockheads and Madness is testament to that). So we get eleven songs which are of conventional length, generally uptempo, contain a few twists and turns musically, don't take themselves too seriously, yet impress with the standard in which they're composed and also lyrically. There's a bounce to 'Freaksville' which could be Squeeze dabbling in ska with lyrics that are witty whilst being slightly sad with it. 'Schmescos' comes from a similar place but is a little grittier and deals with mental heath issues, telling the tale of someone who declares "all I wanna do is rob from Tesco", during which he's subsequently caught and let off because of the aforementioned issues, but it never musically feels depressive. Perhaps we should expect that from someone who cites The Rutles as an influence. It's the same with songs such as 'A Place For Everything'; you can take what you want from it, be it a jaunty pop song or something to explore a little deeper as it talks of losing control, ruining friendships, false security, anxiety and, judging by the title, OCD, but never are these subjects made light of.

It would be easy to dismantle every track this way, but really each listener will interpret the lyrics and fit them around their own insecurities. Either that or simply enjoy some great pop songs. The title-track is a prime example, starting out like a jangly '60s guitar number but switching to the '80s at various points (Squeeze crop up yet again). 'What Do You Bring To The Party' is a similar hybrid, along with the excellent 'The Facts of Life' which is part garage-rock and part C86. If it's something a little more contemporary that you're after then 'Casting Couch' brings a little indie-funk to the proceedings, and 'Vampire Couch' is closer to the guitar bands of the past twenty years and will likely strike a chord with indiepop fans. A couple of late highlights come in the shape of the brassy, slightly maudlin 'Cliche (Paints a lie)' which would work as an epic last track, and also the splendid glam-pop-punk of 'Godstar' with it's memorable melody and chorus, before 'Your Etc Abc' bows out with some scuzzed-up guitar and twinkling electronics on the instrumental 'Brighter Shade'. This is an album of very good pop songs, but look below the surface and you'll find much more.





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