He could well be an absolutely lovely guy in “the real world”, but I have always thought of Jamie T in his musical persona as a bit of a tosser. I’d like to be able to dismiss him as a waster and consign his memory (and his cd’s) to the wastepaper bin.
This is, I admit, a bit of an extreme reaction. “Calm down and get a grip on yourself, Ian!” I hear you saying. Dear reader, you could be right. But listen to his music – it’s loud and leery, sometimes discordant and out of time. Lyrically, it’s uncomfortable stuff about drink and drugs and violence and death. Songs are not sung so much as drawled, in an urban London accent, like a wayward teenager trying to explain away a session on the cider in a local field. It’s not “nice”; it’s not “an easy listen”.
10/10 – Ian Gunson – Hamburgers N’Heroin
Sadly my aspiration to ignore has in the past gone out of the window. The simple reason is that his music over a nine year career has been just too damn good! The songs possess hooks that keep them nagging away at your brain. The samples weave in and out alongside the traditional guitar band indie. The albums move from unseemly mess to some sort of coherence. I laugh at the wit in the words, even as they talk about life being blasted away with a shotgun or contracting nasty illnesses.
No surprises, then, that I find myself taking the cellophane off the new CD “Trick”, ready and willing to say that the game is up and Jamie T has gone to the dogs.
Initially, the wind is in my sails. The poppier and more accessible elements of his previous outing “Carry on up the Grudge” have disappeared and we are back at the heavier, nastier end of the spectrum – it’s loud and difficult, particularly Track two “Drone Strike”.
Then things start to unravel for me. “Power over Men” is a finely crafted tune. Laid back funk beat, stylish, low key, yet compelling. “Tescoland” is unashamedly a “Clash song for the modern generation”. If you want to sound like an influence, then a persona that mixes Strummer and Jones is not the worst you can choose. “Police tapes” veer towards the nasty again, but nasty in a Public Image at their best sort of way. “Dragon Bones” addresses the oft visited gun and suicide themes with a pop undertone and a singalong chorus.
It’s all still in the balance – I could still win.
Of course Jamie T, truly annoying git that he is, has merely been playing. At the heart of “Trick” lie songs of brilliance. “Joan of Arc” – as good an indie rock track as you will ever hear (soaring guitars could be Delorentos influenced) underpinning a story built on few words that cleverly take you straight to an emotional heart. “Solomon Eagle” is throwback and modern – Velvet Underground and grime mashed together beautifully. “Sign of the Times” is a reflection around an electric guitar that Billy Bragg at his best might come close to and Ed Sheeran never will. It evokes and considers what it is to be young and male and finding your place in the world with clarity, insight and soul.
Yes, there are many influences at play here. It is that the collection of music makes sense as a whole that is remarkable.
If Blur or Radiohead made something this diverse of this quality it may be heralded as “the best CD of all time”. Trick is unlikely to get such an accolade as we are, after all, considering Jamie T.
For me, I admit defeat. The bastard has won. Buy Trick – it’s a classic!