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(Item no.: 309)
Label: Creation
Released: 1998

The Band's name is all wrong: a lazy, dull, colorless mistake, borrowed with love if not wit from bassist Phil Payne's dog. But everything else about Hillside is very, very right. The London trio Arnold makes its U.S. bow with a record rich in quixotic sound games, cool, limpid melodicism and classy influences – pastoral English psychedelia, the sweet hurt of Big Star and John Martyn, a touch of unplugged Radiohead. Think of the Band's Big Pink digs as a thatched-roof Yorkshire cottage, of Neil Young joining the Incredible String Band or of Meddle-era Pink Floyd, and you've got a good idea of Arnold's quietly odd, hearthside-pop ways.

The songs seem to hang on slender threads: the rain-shower strumming of guitarist and main songwriter Mark Saxby; the sleepy-whisper singing of Phil Morris; the clockwork piano ting poking through the narcotic haze of "Fleas Don't Fly"; the dusky glow of vocal harmonies in "Fishsounds." But Arnold – who debuted in England last year with a mini-album of demos cut in a country barn – have a gift for smart, dark dashes of tension, like the faint, acidic guitar distortion running through the soft distress of "Face," the spidery tremolo guitar shooting Bowie-esque electricity through "Windsor Park" and the Floyd-ian, Day-Glo-sunset collage "Rabbit." A little more dirty riffage like "Moroccan Roll (Part Two)" would have made Hillside more fun, less precious. But in Arnold's warm blend of bucolic sound and prickly discontent, you can hear them trying hard to be special, not just popular. The dog would be proud. (RS 796)


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1. Fleas Don't Fly 3:12
2. Ira Jones Goes to the Country 3:32
3. Hillside 2:37
4. Fishsounds 4:56
5. Country Biscuit 1:03
6. Windsor Park 4:19
7. Curio 2:47
8. Rabbit 4:56
9. Goodbye Grey 3:15
10. Face 5:18
11. Rubber Duck Pt. 1, 2, and 3 2:36
12. Mickey's Mother 2:22
13. Moroccan Roll Pt. 2 4:00
14. Catherine Day 10:36
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€ 3,95 € 2,95
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