June 12, 2008

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Supergrass, Diamond Hoo Ha
Astralwerks Records, June 10
British indie-pikers Supergrass were incorporated in 1995 as a squealy, flea-bitten variant of the Buzzcocks. There’s more history to cover, most of it revolving around hype-born BS stories about this or that sleepwalking/drug-bust incident or whatnot, but the bottom line is that they aged, listening intently to different genres on the way, and went in a more commercial direction as the millennium began crashing down on everybody’s heads.

At first listen, the swaggering vocals of Gaz Coombes on semi-eponymous track “Diamond Hoo Ha Man” could be diagnosed as symptomatic of Mick Jagger wannabe disease, last seen this severe in the case of the short-lived New Radicals. Getting to know the song better, however, and making note of the Harley-cowboy slide guitar in particular, invites thoughts of ’70s glam mutts, say Sweet doing an end-of-night jam with Foghat. “Bad Blood” resulted from fixated listenings of Franz Ferdinand’s “Evil and a Heathen,” while “When I Needed You” delivers on their sworn oath that they dig old Supertramp albums (which is more hip than admitting they like OK Go, which they obviously do). Between the latter and a few other interesting changeups, the album does have a lot going for it, although there are a couple of points where the Franz Ferdinand robbery freezes the blood. BEric W. Saeger