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The Bluehearts / Clearlake | No More Long Goodbyes / Lido (Big Cactus / Dust Company / Domino)
Outside of the dance community, the view of Brighton's contribution to global musical culture probably stops at Leo Sayer and The Piranhas. It is a city that attracts bohemians and pulsates musically, but somehow, hotbed status has eluded Brighton. But in 2001, things are afoot. Lots of hardworking, skilled bands hold hope that they may soon get a break, as peers and friends are beginning to make inroads nationally. The Soft Parade - two sickeningly young and talented pop-freak brothers, and the cool Kraut Farfisa-Boogie of female foursome Electrelane are both gaining nods of approval. And there's so much more. The BlueHearts are a Brighton institution. Their brand of Country is a twangsome and cheery night out, chilled a little by the omnipresent spirits of Dark Lords Johnny Cash and Nick Cave, both of whom the band love. They possess an authentic Nashville sound, but the delivery is looser and tougher, lending urgency even to the ballads. Simple songs of complex emotions, played with joy and gusto. No More Long Goodbyes is reason to celebrate in that it is their first release in seven years. Not, I might add, as a result of R.B.L.S (Rob Birch Lethargy Syndrome) but of having reconvened following guitarists Mark Horse's Australian sojourn. And they are as good as ever. Clearlake meanwhile, have been heralded in some circles as saviours of British indie guitar pop. I'd say that whilst the band is capable of the odd flash of brilliance, those circles are squares. This band may, until they find their OK Computer, be as followed by one song as Radiohead were for so long in Creep. One aforementioned flash is their debut single and albatross, Winterlight. Singer Jason Pegg's disinterested Mockney croon at odds with a thousand layers of guitars, created an epic with hints of Blur, XTC, The Kinks, Pink Floyd and Ride. They have yet to follow it, the subsequent singles just not cutting it. Consider this: Prior to the release of Lido, Clearlake had released a total of seven songs across three singles. It is unacceptable that five of them are on this twelve track album. Of the remaining seven, two are a minute long, and the remainder just dull or lumpen. Winterlight is proof that they can excite ?? they just need to find more like it. Some sunshine in Brighton may inspire, if ever - as Pegg bleats - it should dissipate.

Tom Sheriff
CWAS #8 - Summer 2001