Chris T-T & The Hoodrats - The Bear (Xtra Mile Recordings) 
Chris T-T & The Hoodrats - The Bear

Release Date: 7th October 2013

In the 90s, when I was stumbling blind in to the world of becoming a music obsessive, I started picking up certain record labels that I thought I had fairly infallible taste. 4AD, Food, Rough Trade and Geffen were all up there but, with the advent of the internet, record labels seemed to become less important. Now, though, it seems to be switching back again with the excellent output of Domino Records and, my new favourite label, Xtra Mile Recordings. For it is this hive of musical activity that has brought us, among others, Chris T-T and the Hoodrats and the marvellous example of good ol' English songwriting that is their 9th album. Come on in, the water is lovely....

'1994' opens the album with a pastiche on the Prince song of a numerically similar name along with some shambly, rambly guitars and an infectious indie melody. But this is just a warm for the dirty bass scuzz of title track, 'The Bear', which rips in to life like a serial killer at the moment they admit to themselves that they kill because they enjoy it - pure, unadulterated freedom. "I might be a king in winter but I'm still a king" sings our indie-folk-hero as he name checks Joan Rivers, Orson Wells and Lenny Henry and slips in words like 'gumption' as if t'were natural. Things take a turn for the more countrified on 'A Beaten Drum' which is like Midlake doing Frank Turner on a soggy Sunday afternoon, watching the rain roll down the windows and wishing Ski Sunday was still on. Meanwhile, 'Paperback Karma Sutra' has the fragility of a Damon Albarn penned love song along with Billy Bragg's panache and a sense of musical and lyrical honesty that is hard to resist - trust me, I tried and I just couldn't.

At around the half-way stage, everything goes a bit lo-fi electro with a squelchy keyboard melody persistently thrumming away on 'Idris Lung' before it all goes a bit Polyphonic Spree and the aforementioned keyboards go batshit crazy. Apart from being a strong contender for song title of the month, 'The Music Is Alive With The Sound Of Ills' is a nostalgic tale of drinking in parks after dark and fucking pandas. I think. I'm probably missing a lot of the subtleties to Mr T-T's lyrical fun but, frankly, I can enjoy that level of understanding on listen number 23 - which this album will get, no diggity. The mournful, frosty tones of 'Gull' give way to the angular, scratchy pop of 'Bury Me With a Scarab' which brings to mind Reuben in their pomp or a dirtier Franz Ferdinand with more alcohol in their veins. The weary trumpets of 'Jesus Christ' herald a potted, four minute history of JC himself disguised as a jangly indie stomp in the style of Teenage Fanclub as Chris sagely sings "Jesus never said anything about the sex or the gays or any of that shit" like a winner. As the album comes to a close with 'Tunguska', a song that seemingly got dropped off the Bladerunner soundtrack, it is not hard to see why Chris T-T is so well respected but it is also sobering to think that out of his head have come nine albums, NINE ALBUMS, of inciteful, funny and though provoking music. Kudos Chris T-T, bravo the Hoodrats and ruddy well done Xtra Mile Recordings. No go and see the guys on tour. Go on....GO!

Live Dates:
10th October - Lemon Tree, Aberdeen
11th October - The Arch Inn, Ullapool
12th October - Ironworks, Inverness
13th October - Oran Mor, Glasgow
15th October - Komedia, Brighton
16th October - Shepherds Bush Empire, London
17th October - Blackfriars Priory, Gloucester
18th October - The Globe, Cardiff
20th October - The Musician, Leicester
21st October - Atrix, Bromsgrove
22nd October - St John's Church, Oxford
23rd October - The Apex, Bury St Edmunds
25th October - Open, Norwich
7th November - St Philips Church, Salford
8th November - Brewery Arts Centre, Kendal
9th November - Cluny, Newcastle
10th November - Brudenell Social Club, Leeds
11th November - Junction, Cambridge
13th November - Discovery Centre, Winchester
14th November - Phoenix, Exeter
16th November - St Mary's In The Castle, Hastings
17th November - Wedgewood Rooms, Porstmouth
19th November - Glee Club, Birmingham
20th November - Greystones, Sheffield
21st November - Floral Pavilion, New Brighton
22nd November - Folk House, Bristol
24th November - Moon Club, Cardiff
28th November - Town Hall, Ipswich
29th November - The Black Swan, York
30th November - Bush Hall, London (w/ Jim Bob Carter USM)
5th December - Kraak Gallery,  Manchester
6th December - All Hallows Church, Leeds
7th December - Old Cinema Launderette, Durham
13th December - Eras Of Style, Bexhill
14th December - Tom Thumb Theatre, Margate
15th December - Watershed Arts, Milton Keynes
18th December - The Monarch, London

20th December - The Lamb, Devizes