Five Hungry Joes – A pictorial archive of the Trashcan Sinatras. Legendary Scottish Band

A Long Way To Go
October 19, 2010, 8:55 pm
Filed under: Press | Tags: , , ,

6 out of 10 was what NME’s Roger Morton gave the Trashcans’ debut long player, ‘Cake’, but after reading his review, that could have been a misprint.

Here’s what he had to say…

IT MUST be tough to say no in the groove-pushing ’90s. With Morrissey missing, presumed vacillating, and surrounded on all sides by computer-looters, psychedelic organ-grinders and remixed up kids, you must be pretty bloody-minded to set up stall in the nation’s rhythm-blasted shopping centre under a huge banner proclaiming ‘Like Funk Never Happened’.

This, however, is precisely what The Trash Can Sinatras, Scotland’s newest traditionalist songwriters and accidental conscientious objectors to Club Culture, have done with their first album. They must be very determined, or very depressed.

‘Cake’ has some good things going for it. The first is that there is nothing conspicuously Scottish about it. Bluster free and bereft of local namechecks in the lyrics, TCS speak to us in the Esperanto of well-crafted, harmony-kissed, pastoral pop. If their acoustic strumming and afraid-to-rock recalcitrance connect them with early ’80s Postcard label Scots, as is often claimed, then it also serves to make friendly signs at a mixed batch of nimble pluckers and hummers, from Bradford to The La’s to The Housemartins.

The key word here is ‘sensitivity’. TCS bicycle through this album, clear-eyed and sober-headed, smothering you with mother lovable three part vocal sweetness, and attacking their guitars with the savagery of macrame mat makers. They are about as raving as a string quartet and as rock’n’roll as a bunch of Christian birdwatchers on a canal boating holiday, but they are capable of achieving a swooning, scintillant, petal strewn mix of elation and poignancy that makes you want to…what?

In the case of their pleading, propulsive first single ‘Obscurity Knocks’, it makes you want to act like Mozzer doing ‘This Charming Man’. Elsewhere, on ‘Maybe I Should Drive’ their rattle ‘n’ chime is sturdily beat braced, allowing for folkish anthemic possibilities, and ‘Even The Odd’ swings along in pleasantly dreamy fashion with a touch of Smiths-ian booming guitars.

There are, then, positive things to be said of The Sinatras refusenik situations. Bereft of any fad trappings and with Roses’ producer John Leckie opting to emphasise clarity and naturalism, the focus is all on the songs. It is sort of brave, but on this first album it has a lot of drawbacks too. When they’re good, the songs have the sort of deceptive simplicity that’s come to be expected from The Beautiful South (singer Frank Read has a touch of Paul Heaton’s wholesome crooning style to him).

The lullabye strum of ‘Funny’ has both the necessary wisdom “I know she doesn’t play the field/But she likes to know the strength of the team” and weirdness, to keep things a bit challenging: “She’s a funny kind of girl/Set sail in a ship in a bottle/She’s a funny kind of girl/And do the Swiss fake it when they yodel?”. What the hell does that mean?

Too many maudlin minor chord changes, too many “Give me the strength to face another lazy day” type lines and they start to sound just depressed. Midway through ‘Cake’ you might find yourself accidentally humming songs by the favourite TCS comparison, Aztec Camera, and realising that if they’re going to breathe life back into literate, jangling waif pop, the Sinatras still have a long way to go. Roger Morton

30 June 1990 NME Magazine

2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Help me out–I’m trying to put names to the faces on that “half-baked” poster (top left, behind ol’ blue eyes). If I had to bet, I’d say (l to r) Frank, George, Paul, Stephen and John. But the 3rd one I identified as Paul also looks a bit like George, making the one I called George become Paul? (That’s not right).

Comment by Randy

You were right the first time Randy.

It’s Paul’s quiff hairstyle that gives it away – now sadly gone.

This image reminds me of a really old ‘demo’ tape I once saw which had Frank Sinatra pictured with a bottle of Buckfast in his pocket.

Buckfast is a tonic wine and is the choice drink of many a youth throughout the West Coast of Scotland.

Comment by fivehungryjoes

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: