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


A Long Way To Go
October 19, 2010, 8:55 pm
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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



Stick At It
October 13, 2010, 10:22 am
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…was the advice given to the Trashcans by one-time NME editor, Steve Lamacq.

With little or no help from the skinny git and his newspaper, the Trashcans thankfully did. Stick. At. It.

As you already know there’s a bit of history between Mr Lamacq and the Trashcans. Here he gives a review of an early gig at the London Borderline.

2 June 1990 NME Magazine



Coffee Or Cake?
September 11, 2010, 4:40 pm
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I’ll have Cake please.

The Nescafe/Yamaha Band Explosion was a unique event with 12 bands, yet to make the Top 40, playing live over three nights at London’s Marquee Club with the added bonus of being broadcast nationwide on BBC Radio 1.

Band Explosion originated in Japan as a means of supporting new pop talent and steadily grew to become one of the largest music events in the world. Around 22,000 groups have participated worldwide, each getting around 30 minutes exposure and was a great chance for bands that might otherwise not get one.

In September 1990, the Trashcans were chosen to participate along with others such as Swervedriver, The High, India and Everyday People. A great opportunity for a band – who were already signed to Go! Discs – you would think to get some much needed publicity. But when the band found out that Nescafe were sponsoring the event, they pulled the plug on the gig and got some publicity of a different kind altogether.

Here’s the guide which was given away free with the NME…

Programme text:

SCOTTISH FLAVOUR of the month the Trash Can Sinatras had the major labels on their tail before they’d hardly stepped out of hometown Irvine.

Naturally, they told them they weren’t ready for the albatross of a major deal round their necks, but persistant man that he is, Andy McDonald for Go! Discs “nipped round the back of the defence” and secured their signature from underneath the noses of the Big Boys.

He won, for his trouble, a subtly colourful five-piece whose potential is still to be fully realised. With a self-deprecating streak as long as a Highland river, the Trash Cans are one of the most unassuming bands playing in the Pop Game at the present time, harking back (albeit unintentionally) to the charm and refreshing brisk guitar sound of the early ’80s Postcard era.

‘Obscurity Knocks’, their first, lyrically picturesque and plaintive single, interrupted the polluted wash of the downstream Top 100, while its follow-up ‘Only Tongue Can Tell’ went a few fathoms deeper with its strummy, shiny melody – not totally unlike the more reflective songs of your Roddys and Edwyn Orange Juices.

Some rare live appearances headlining on their own, and supporting They Might Be Giants earlier in the year, raised their profile before the release of their debut LP ‘Cake’ in July.

Its matured jangliness and poetically pointed lyrics tied up in a (too?) clean production that found itself ‘out of time’ in many quarters, but raved over in others. For this we should be perversely grateful.

The Trash Cans aren’t an easy band to dismiss, but they’re a hard one to place, with their cute and cynical outlook for the ’90s so often at odds with the pundit’s perceptions of latter-day pop.

Rest assured though, they’re outsiders worth backing.

NME 1990 September(ish)



You Can Have Your Cake…
September 8, 2010, 6:46 pm
Filed under: Press | Tags: , , , ,

…and eat it.

Here’s a review of an early gig from NME’s Andrew Collins, which took place in Minneapolis along with Buffalo Tom.

9 March 1991 NME Magazine




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