‘Pop Up Jim Bob’ comes seven years after Jim Bob’s previous studio album, but in that time he’s been doing anything but resting. There have been Carter USM reunion gigs; two massive and critically acclaimed solo tours and, as J.B. Morrison, he’s written award-nominated novels. You can say what you like about this man, but you could never accuse him of being lazy. Compared to his Carter days, Jim’s solo work has sometimes been overlooked, but as those who were present at any of his “National Treasure” shows – or have been lucky enough to catch him at other times with pianist Chris-TT – will attest, he’s lost none of his lyrical bite. Those still paying attention after 1997 have known the pleasures of Jim’s sweary cookery teacher (‘Mrs. Fucking MacMurphy Teaches Food Technology’), Ray Davies-esque romances transplanted to the inner city with added heroin for the heroine (‘In The Future All This Will Be Yours’) and supermarket unrest (‘The Tesco Riots’, a number that melds a very Carter USM-ish lyric with the kind of bluesy arrangement you wouldn’t have found within a hundred miles of his previous band’s albums). With most of his best work carrying a strong narrative, Jim has continued to be one of the UK’s most distinctive songwriters, regardless of any musical differences.
To the Average Joe, the Britpop movement is likely best remembered by two major incidents: the Blur vs. Oasis rivalry which reached its peak in a race for the #1 spot in August 1995 and Jarvis Cocker’s stage invasion during Michael Jackson’s appearance at the Brit Awards in 1996. Neither had anything to do with the music itself, but were both big enough to over-excite the tabloid press. Those with more of a musical interest might also associate the period with great music from The Bluetones and Cast; hit-makers that managed regular chart appearances, but due to neither band having a tabloid friendly loudmouth a la Noel or Liam, weren’t always so sharp in making themselves known outside of the music papers. Both deserved much bigger success than Oasis.
For regular readers of NME and Melody Maker, Britpop covered a wider range of things and among the many indie bands that both helped shape that movement and subsequently rode on the coat-tails of the scene’s big sellers, there were a whole host of other guitar-driven heroes. For every two that made the charts, there were a dozen that were often left chasing that big breakthrough, despite regular press. In many ways, ‘Super Sonics’ is their story.
Towards the end of 2019, Yard Arms released ‘A Glossary of Broken Humans and Beating Hearts’, a gloriously downbeat EP featuring indie-pop sounds that drew its main influence from Kitchens of Distinction. The duo would occasionally rise from their gloom to offer something a little more Cure-like in places but, in the main, the music carried a beautifully melancholic sound. It was one of the finest releases of the year.
Another release in the series of Music For Gloves digital EPs raising money for Spanish hospitals during the Covid-19 pandemic, Banana & Louie Records present four unreleased tracks from two cult singer songwriters, Kelley Stoltz and Carwyn Ellis.
“Not a day without a murder / Not a week without a bomb” proclaims Jim Bob, somewhere near the peak of his new single. A burst of punk rock anger shows the one-time Carter USM frontman in a particularly angry mood. …And rightly so, since the world seemed to be falling apart as we all hurtled into the new year, unaware that things were in fact about to get worse.