Thursday 13 September 2012

Gumshen - Everything What We Recorded

Album review by KevW

There's an awful lot of music out there. Seattle group Gumshen are well aware of this, and by the sounds of latest album 'Everything What We Recorded' they've been trying to listen to as much of it as possible. Not only that, they've decided to try their hand cramming as many styles and influences as they can into these seven tracks. So the good news is that they don't fit, they're part of no scene, they're tied to no label and they're clearly a talented bunch, capable of turning both their writing and playing skills to whatever takes their fancy. We don't quite mean they're aping Rihanna one minute, then diving into a Cradle Of Filth-style extreme metal dirge the next, finishing with a Wagnerian symphony (although if they did it would be bloody brilliant!), but they have a crack at various elements from the rock/pop catchment zone. To be blunt: they're a jack of all trades, master of some.

The easiest way to approach this is a track by track guide. When 'Hammer & Nails' sets things off it looks like we're on a course for a trip down jangle-pop lane, all sunny melodies and jaunty basslines. It's easy-going and fun, not too taxing and perfect for soundtracking your summer. There's no radical departure for the harder, punkier 'Too Much Good Times' where they briefly test the waters of alt-rock. The lane the cunning quartet have led us down is nothing but a dead end though, and on the lengthy 'Jag It Up' they launch into some brooding funk-rock (it's not as bad as it sounds) with vocals borrowed from Talking Heads. As the song develops with its four-to-the-floor beat all seems reasonably OK (although we could do without the Jamiroquai sounds in the chorus). There seems to be a little freestyle breakdown in the middle which we can forgive them for. It tricks you into thinking it's about to take you on a psychedelic trip but decides on freeform funk instead (really, it's not as bad as it sounds).

They stick with the funk on 'Gooch Machine', this time brushing it unconvincingly with hip-hop and lots of slap bass (this one actually is as bad as it sounds). There's been a wave of slap bass appearing in records lately. Can we please stop it now? We don't want to encourage The Red Hot Chili Peppers, and if anyone samples/covers Level 42 may they be thrown to the lions. 'Done' is heavy riffing and heavily distorted vocals punctuated by an unusual pop chorus about "the little people" (we don't know if this is bad or not, but it probably is), and then 'Every Drop Of Rain' dabbles in atmospheric post-rock with mixed results and bypasses your ears somehow, being fairly anonymous although it possibly thinks it's being latter-day Pink Floyd. Ultimately we end up at the disco (or how disco would sound if it had been invented by TV On The Radio) on decent enough final track 'Say What You Want'. So 'Everything What We Recorded' covers several kinds of music: good, bad, awful, reasonable, inventive, ill-advised and fun, and as an album it's there purely for you to take what you want from it.

Gumshen's website

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