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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
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The Walkmen - Lisbon
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Fat Possum
Magic and Medicine
Deltasonic/Columbia Records

Rating: NR/10 ?

October 1, 2004
Hyped throughout the pages of NME and loved by the British press, it's The Coral. And they're about to drop the follow up to their well received 2002 (2003 in North America) debut on American shores.

Originality is dead, everything has been done several times before. Sure every now and then you think you've found something new, but after scratching the surface a little, and some constructive thought, you discover that the 'original' idea of theirs has been several times before.

Now originality is measured by seeing which artist can resurrect the most unique music scene from the past. Interpol could be regarded as original- who would have thought of an American band ripping of Joy Division and The Chameleons and making a superb debut with the formula. The White Stripes aren't original, that whole Black Francis scream thing has been resurrected by more artists than we'll ever know. The Strokes aren't original, Pavement only happened a few years ago- revolutionary yes, excellent band yes, but original? Not a chance. That brings us to the artist in question, The Coral.

The Coral might sound a lot like The Beatles (if The Beatles were raised in a small, murky coastal city that is). They are also far more eclectic than their peers, their landmark debut having everything from brilliant pop songs ("Dreaming of You") to fast punky jams ("Bad Man") and even sea shanties ("Spanish Main"). They're also as frenetic as they come. They also don't have much of a following here in the U.S. critically or commercially. A lot of people (particularly you indie kids) have a monomaniacal view on The Coral based around a lethargic ipse dixit they've had since first hearing about them. No matter, every generation deserves it's own Blur. Oh yeah, and they're also capable of making highly captivating albums.

On Magic and Medicine, The Coral stays more focused, instead of sporadic, on one genre- namely, late 60's Psychedelic Folk (with the occasional traditional Spanish guitar lick). But they still have great pop songs. This is best exemplified on the tracks "Don't Think You're the First" and especially "Pass It On". "Pass It On" is an optimistic tune (a nice throw back to some of its predecessors) with a great hook (but not on par with the pop songs from their debut). The band also deliver some ballads such as "Careless Hands". The opening track, "In the Forest", is nice enough but the scoundrel appeal of "Gypsy Market Blues" is better. "Secret Kiss" and "Milkwood Blues" are good tunes too but are really nothing compared to the standout track. "Eskimo Lament" is probably the closet thing to sea sea chantey on this album, sadly. The track slowly moves from beginning to end creating a haunting aura of sorts. "Rain, go away/ Come again some other day" a lyric that could have been clichéd in the wrong hands but singer James Skelly delivers his vocals with such desperation and conviction it's hard to deny him.

Now then, are The Coral original? No. Magic and Medicine is a great album that gets better over time, so don't discard it if you can't get into it on your first listen. And while it's not as accessible or, for now anyway, as good as their self-tilted debut, it's an album that should experienced. Besides, as it stands The Coral are the most original unoriginal band on the planet, and that's something to write home about.

Reviewed by Tim Smith
LAS\' resident television expert.

See other reviews by Tim Smith



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