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Michael Carpenter / Myracle Brah / The Shazam | Hopefulness / The Myracle Brah / Rev 9 (All Not Lame Recordings)
Consolidating their position as the most prolific power pop label around, the latest three releases from Not Lame provide no indication of any impending drop in the quality of their releases. Most pop fans are probably already familiar with Michael Carpenter, Myracle Brah and The Shazam, who are on the basis of their latest respective releases reinforcing their standing amongst the best purveyors of pop currently plying their wares. It might not generate quite the same level of excitement induced by Carpenter's wonderful debut album Baby, which figured in many people's best ofs in 1999, but the fact that we are more aware of his talents and now have an inkling of what to expect doesn't mean that Hopefulness will disappoint. On the contrary, his understanding of classic pop influences and structures, from The Beatles to The Beach Boys, together with his harmony-laden vocals and tunes that urge you to sing along, should ensure further acclaim. The fact that he's also an in demand producer back in Australia and finds the time to front The Finkers, another excellent power pop band who've released two albums of their own, just emphasises his ability. Myracle Brah, fronted by former Love Nut leader, Andy Bopp, also made a big impact with their debut, the intriguingly entitled Life On Planet Eartsnop, which, despite the band moniker, was recorded almost entirely solo by Bopp. Since then he has expanded Myracle Brah to full band status. The eponymous third album finds them comfortably churning out another great album, Bopp's Lennon-like vocals fronting some of their most energetic material to date, but not at the expense of the songs. If they can replicate this live then they're going to be a must-see prospect. I've already had the pleasure of seeing The Shazam live, early last year, when the band played the UK for the first time in support of their excellent Godspeed the Shazam album. Apparently inspired by The Beatles' White Album, on Rev 9, The Shazam have condensed its sprawling diversity and occasional excess into something uniquely their own, but without disregarding their acknowledged inspiration. Adventurous, fun, addictive and lasting just over 27 minutes, they've even managed to almost metamorphose Revolution # 9, probably the Beatles' most indulgent, discordant and inaccessible creation into a song. Business as usual from Not Lame then; their output is consistently good, increasingly innovative and these exceptionally well crafted albums should, once heard, remain on your playlists for some considerable time.

Geraint Jones
CWAS #7 - Spring 2001