Hugs and Kisses #45: Slow Down Tallahassee


Slow Down Tallahassee: name sponsored by assisted living.

Everett True is moving back to Australia. So enclosed with this week’s column, the venerable music mensch writes, “Everything’s gone from our house, pretty much, bar this computer — and our internet provider cut us off last week, against our instructions. Borrowing a neighbour’s right now.” So for once, give thanks for what you take for granted: a weekly column from Mr. Everett True, “roving ambassador” of Plan B Magazine, a title dedicated to writing about music (and media) with barely a nod towards demographics, a man who writes about music even when he has none. Or something. — The SOC mint-pillowing maid

Hugs and Kisses

The Confused Outbursts of Everett True

THIS WEEK: Power-pop’s not dead

Remember, a couple of weeks ago I promised to write about a variety of exotic artists — ranging from the latest Bedroom Community practitioner to bedroom music from Tasmania so something I’m not sure I even listened to (Paper Bird)? Well, guess what? I diligently put aside all the relevant information and music, only for it to disappear in the madness of shipping. Damn. It’s cold here without our bookcases, and with but a Hoover to wield.

So wait. So what? I still have the memory of the sweet, churning, Costello-style Sixties pop of Slow Down Tallahassee’s debut album The Beautiful Light to sustain me through these bleak hours of no man’s time: the way the three female voices congeal in controlled harmonious splendour, the poignancy of their songs railing against rain ruining hairdos amid Spector-esque drumbeats…

For a brief, forgotten moment back in 1978, there was this wonderful sound called power-pop, quickly overwhelmed by punk’s vociferousness – slightly edgy bands schooled in the post-Beatles chug of Nick Lowe and (early) Cheap Trick. Yes, I’m talking The Records, The Freshies, The Boys… or if you want it more obvious, what followed later: Dolly Mixture, The Tourists (whom, despite the presence of the horrendously overstated Annie Lennox, were really alright), The Photos, The Mo-dettes.

Slow Down Tallahassee — my radio sweethearts from Sheffield, England, remember? — have at least three songs the standard of their own first demo “So Much For Love”, and that’s three songs way more than most bands possess, but if you feel the need for more parallels then, at a pinch… Seattle’s bounce-laden Visqueen, Edinburgh mid-Eighties band The Fizzbombs (without the fuzz pedals), The Judds (without the twang), The Go-Go’s (of course), Jesse Garon & The Desperados (a name I try to throw in at least once a month), Clive Pig… um. I miss power-pop, always have done, always will do — “Starry Eyes” anyone, for the most underrated song of the Seventies? — but Slow Down Tallahassee help to ease the pain.

Every chord is minor, every trauma is epic and teenage, every heart is heavenly, every walk is rain-splattered, every street is paved with heartache. (Power-pop wasn’t all chirpy-chirpy-cheapness, you know.) And that’s the way I like it.

And wait! I’ve just remembered. What have I been doing the past three months if not turning my entire CD collection into MP3s? 76,878 songs and counting… Quick, where’s the iTunes?

Ah, here it is. I can happily report that on Cryptozoology, Paper Bird happily imitates tumbling Japanese waterfalls and plaintive childish games utilising rudimentary electronic, a soft acoustic and wood-blocks: and charms, quite unnecessarily. Her voice reminds me a little of Jane Siberry (but there again, everything reminds me a little of Jane Siberry, especially if I owned a dog), and every note lingers. We’re talking typewriters and recorders, and pianos recorded on 4-track. And that’s the way I like it, uh-huh.

What I cannot do, however — because my bastard Internet suppliers Tiscali cut me off two weeks early — is to report on the country of origin, or indeed nationality of the winsome, wastrel Paper Bird. I’d say Swedish at a push, but I’m probably wrong.

I usually am.