I’m playing catch-up this week, so all talk of Monday’s brilliant TV on the Radio / Celebration show will have to wait till tomorrow, as I cast my mind back to Sunday afternoon in the Rough Trade shop in Neal’s Yard.
I’ve been meaning to catch Absentee since I missed them supporting the Magic Numbers last year, but with so much other music to listen to, I just never got round to it. Sunday afternoon’s instore set was meant to rectify that. Absentee were not unlike what I expected, but an enjoyable half hour or so it certainly was.
As they played through songs from their new album, their scuzzy pop, boy/girl vocals and lovely warm guitar riffs gave me a big whiff of nostalgia, and almost transported me back to the Glasgow scene in the early nineties, as I was cutting my musical teeth, with Teenage Fanclub and all their merry mates. They reminded me of a more ramshackle Fanclub (if only they hadn’t become so clean and middle of the road lately), maybe crossed with Grandaddy. It’s also easy to see why The Magic Numbers like them, but again the comparison would be a more low budget, rougher version of Ealing’s finest – which is a good thing.
Despite the ropey sound in the Rough Trade shop, I was impressed enough to buy a copy of Schmotime, and it was later, as I was finishing some long-overdue repairs on my kitchen, that I realised how good their songs are, and the full effect of singer Dan Michaelson’s deep, grizzled vocals. The lyrics too – gloriously shot through with an earthy pessimism and grubbiness are well worth listening out for. There’s a recommendation that two ugly people shouldn’t have children (We should never have children), a lament to drunkenness and beer goggles (You try sober), complaints about being a red-blooded man (Something to Bang) and drinking to escape loneliness (Duck Train). And you’ve got to love a song called There’s a body in a car somewhere.
So a good little find then. It’s well worth embracing the rough charm of Schotime. It won’t change your life, but it should put a smile on your face and might even give you a slight warm glow inside.
And given better circumstances, I reckon they could be a fine live band. I’ve just missed their Bush Hall gig, but no doubt I’ll be making a beeline for them at Summer Sundae.
Download: Absentee - Getaway
Download: Absentee - Weasel
Download: Absentee - Duck Train
Sorry about the dodgy photo with the back of the bass player's head. But then again, it's quite similar to their album cover!