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Mike Badger | Volume (Viper)
With the ragged, no bones tone of a good home demo, Volume marks Mike Badger's first release since his days as founding member of Liverpool's proto-Oasis, The La's. While his replacement in that band, Lee Mavers, went on to become either an eccentric, perfectionist visionary or an opiate-assisted slacker (depending on which update you choose to believe) Mike Badger has waited until now to break his musical silence, finding interim success with his artwork. Volume is a homely, sweetly understated collection of songs that blanket a latent poppiness under the intimacy of Badger's gruff strum and soft, deep-set vocal. For the most part he goes it alone, backed only by a pair of acoustics, underpinned occasionally by shades of accordion, piano or cello, or with florid interludes like the brief chamber coda to When We're Alone. Opening track Where Love Is, with a falsetto vocal from Space's Tommy Scott, sets a slightly fey mood, dispelled elsewhere by the Spanish suggestions of Turn To Her, or the ring of vintage Simon & Garfunkel on Reach For The Stars. Of the instrumentals which break things up, Piano Sativa is a slowly unfolding, sorrowful whirl with a likeness to Gymnopedie, while Twilight in D closes the album with a measured, fading chime of guitar and strung-out rumble of cello. Volume doesn't rewrite any rules, but its low-key charm leaves you hoping Mike Badger won't leave it so long next time.
CWAS #4 - Winter 1998/9 - The Lost Issue