The Bevis Frond - "North Circular"
(Flydaddy, 1998 FLY-029)
From Aural Innovations #5 (January 1999)
What appeals to me about The Bevis Frond is their combination of simple song structures and raucously crushing psychedelia. Nick Saloman is psychedelia's true acid minstrel, equally at home lulling his listeners with an acoustic guitar as bulldozing them with an electric. A singer-songwriter who's guitar turns each tune into an anthem. On their latest release, North Circular, the Frond offer up 26 new tunes for a full two hours of bliss on a two CD set.
Some of the standout tracks include: "Hole Song No 2" , "That's Why You Need Us", and "Blew Me Out" feature 60's pop stylings made totally Bevis by the rawness of the band's sound. Hole Song has a simple but catchy melody that could almost be a Beatles tune only its grungier and has some great wah-wah guitar. "Growing Up" and Stoneground Head" bring Hendrix to mind, with Growing Up being a true freakout track. Heavy power trio junkies will drool over this one. Somewhat along the same lines is "You Make Me Feel" with its driving jam rock rhythms and screaming wah-wah guitar. Psychedelia for head bangers.
Most of the tunes are in the 4-5 minute range but there are of course some extended tracks that break the ten minute mark. "Heritage Coast" is a song, but jams out in a big way. This and "The Stranger's Mirror" demonstrate how a guitar solo can be slow and lacking in chops, yet pack an emotional punch that comes straight from the heart. "The Pips" could be described as North Circular's journey into Miskatonia, but taking a far more dissonant and disturbing route. With plenty of crunching guitars and Bevis acid licks the song may also set a record for the most occurrences of the word FUCK in any song. I think Nick was a tad angry when he wrote this one.
North Circular doesn't offer anything new to Frond fans. But it is full of the great songs and rockin' psych that the band offers up so well. It's also priced very reasonably for a solid two hours of music.
Reviewed by Jerry Kranitz