Tuesday 17 September 2013

Steve Shiffman & The Land Of No - Mon Dieu

Album review by kev@thesoundofconfusion.co.uk

It may be a decade-old point, but you don't have such a struggle to seek out the types of music that you like any more. Since dial-up was surpassed by broadband there have been thousands of music sites springing up and unveiling just what a stupefying amount of music is actually being made and is commercially available. Pick a genre/scene/town/band, type it in and spend the rest of your life listening to a constant stream of sound which you'll never reach the end of. There has always been a stupefying amount of music out there, but we often only heard certain bands because of the filtration system that is the music industry, and if you don't like their picks then you look a bit harder in the right places and find those golden obscurities. Nowadays, perhaps more than ever, it takes a lot to stick out from the crowd. So Steve Shiffman & The Land Of No, whaddya got?

Besides a rather funny and endearing press release, the five guys have got some tunes they've made with guitars and drums and stuff, and it's hardly like we're suffering from a shortage of those. What's great about 'Mon Dieu' is its total lack of unpretentiousness; the band know they're a bunch of guys making indie-rock songs and they don't try and dress this up as anything else. There's nothing bad on 'Mon Dieu, in fact it's not a bad album at all, but it's unlikely to be filed next to 'Revolver', Dark Side Of The Moon', 'The Queen Is Dead', 'Nevermind' and so on. The songs range from the good ('Said You Did Me A Favour', 'If You Are Smart', 'All Part Of His Plan', 'Blackness In My Judgement') to the very good ('Clown's Lament', 'Truth Or Propaganda', 'Beginning Of The End', 'Atlantis') and a few that somehow teeter between the two: it's a pretty solid body of work.

Alternative rock comes in many shapes and sizes and this album covers many of them, the only constant being the "alternative" part. Steve Shiffman & The Land Of No' don't try and flirt with the mainstream at all, but when they hit their best then the tables could turn and the mainstream may wish it was flirting with them. One or two songs here could be a hit on the indie charts if they were released by a bigger name (therefore securing more publicity). Points of reference would range from Sugar, Neil Young, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and even Calexico at some points. For what is made out to be such a straightforward record (and it is at times), they cover an awful lot of ground, more than you realise upon first listen. It took the guys quite a while to get this second album out to the public as everything was done independently, but that doesn't matter, and if their third takes just as long then that won't matter either. Music like this doesn't really come with a sell-by date.

Steve Shiffman & The Land Of No's website

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