Nine Black Alps - Candy For The Clowns

by Jim Harris Rating:7 Release Date:2014-04-21

With Nine Black Alps, you at least get a healthy dose of consistency. They came out sounding like a British Nirvana cover band. The other influence they clearly have is that 90s, power-chord Oasis sound which this Manchester group has been polishing up. And ten years into their career, they just keep plowing through it.

First track ‘Novokaine’ continues on their path to Nirvana, but somehow, this time around, it all seems a bit long in the tooth. (I mean - a song about a dentist drug? You might as well write about Ibuprofen). I never like to use the word derivative, as all music derives from something else, but if it derives from bad stuff, bad stuff usually results. Nirvana and Oasis are hardly bad but a track like “Patti’ sounds a bit too much like Kurt and company, from the vocals to the riffs, while the track ‘Supermarket Clothes’ would fit a little too snugly as an Oasis b-side.

Owing to all these similarities, NBA can craft a highly listenable power-pop song, as on final track ‘Clown', where they seem at home with their Manchester roots and that up-tempo, hook-laden Britpop sensibility, but Candy for Clowns doesn’t have Nine Black Alps stretching all that much. It comes across as a bit too 'haven’t I heard this somewhere before?' 

I have a framed letter Charles Bukowski sent me shortly before his death which reads: “Almost everything is a copy of something else that wasn’t very good in the first place”. Yes, in order to not be a part of that "almost", you have to someday establish your own, in this case, musical voice. Nine Black Alps are worth waiting for, I believe. But I’m still waiting.

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