beatglider Witches (CD, £10.95)label: enraptured
It’s been a few years since we’ve been graced with an album’s worth of new material from slacker-pop legends, Beatglider. In the interim between their debut album and the imminent release of Witches, much has happened, not least in the notoriously fickle world of British indie rock. To think that their hometown of Southend on Sea has become some kind of scenester-teenage-wasteland…not that Beatglider would have noticed. To these doyens of cool, thankfully, Slanted and Enchanted is always on the stereo, plaid shirts are the height of sartorial elegance and Kevin Shields is still God. Beatglider formed some time in 1996, influenced equally by the classic late 80s/early 90s UK shoegaze scene and eclectic American guitar bands. After supporting Leicester's legendary Prolapse around the country, a mysterious fellow named Turk approached them, enthusiastically espousing a deal. Tube Bar was the name Turk gave to his label and Beatglider became the first act on the roster. Their debut, 40 Days of Summer, won over the critics with ease - a testament to the band’s easy charm. Not long after, the band came to the attention of Sony affiliated major, Lakota Records. To the boys’ delight, they found themselves holed up in L.A., making an album with the man behind Beck’s Mellow Gold, Bongload Records, Elliott Smith’s shiner moments and all round West Coast hipster, Tom Rothrock. Perfect bed (head) fellows you might think. And you’d be right. The resultant album, Dreaming of Roads, was polished and clean but still beautifully Beatglider. Shame you’ll never get to hear it. Lakota ummed and ahhhed over things for a year or two and sat on it with all the sage like prowess of a clueless boutique label. By which time Beatglider had lost a lot of faith in the business of music. As singer/guitarist Lee Hall muses, “It got to the point where they were telling us what clothes to wear…” Few bands can pull together such seemingly disparate feelings and make it work as a coherent body of work. Witches finds Beatglider weaving their eclectic influences with an audacity rarely matched by their peers. Witches is Beatglider personified – weird, wonderful…and effortless.
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