Lazycame: Finbegin

November 10, 2010

Today’s roll: 2 – 4 – 9.
Finbegin by Lazycame.

After the Jesus and Mary Chain hot-rod sputtered to rickety halt in 1998, the brothers Reid popped up here and there in a few projects. In 2005 Sister Vanilla saw their sister Linda on board as a singer for probably their best record since Honey’s Dead.

Yet it wasn’t so good a record as to inspire anybody notice or care. Too bad because it’s a great slice of poppy rock’n’roll (aptly titled Little Pop Rock). Though a bit smoother and shinier than JAMC ever tried to be, the chrome finish is still a little rusted, dusty and scuffed. Of course, if Scarlett Johansson (who’d sang with them at their Coachella reunion show) had been the vocalist, then maybe things would have gone differently. Perhaps in the worst possible way.

As neat and tidy as Sister Vanilla were, William Reid‘s solo project, Lazycame, is an entirely different animal. It’s ramshackle, lo-fi, messy, unpleasant, unfocused and, at times, brilliant.

You really cannot make a case for much of Finbegin (2001) being anything other than bedroom demos for the JAMC completist. Usually just an acoustic guitar and a vocal with a second guitar overdub, the tracks generally have that compressed, slightly fuzzy sound of a cassette four-track which can be charming enough.Still, the first three songs really come-off like unfinished JAMC cast-offs, probably recorded in one take. Intriguing for the fan, but not much there to hold interest over repeated listenings and the casual listener might mistake it for unearthed demos by a particularly strung-the-fuck-out Lou Reed.
Things get worse with “Rokit“, a uniquely abysmal piece of noise-tronica. Truly a blight on the ears. Few tracks have ever made me wish deafness on myself like this one does. I’m also a little surprised it wasn’t a bit of an underground hit since this kind of thing is quite popular in certain circles. Circles six though nine of Hell, that is.
The fifth track onwards though is where the record starts to get interesting. It goes from Reid’s half-baked, three-chord would-be JAMC ditties to entirely baked (in another sense) psychedelic stews. The meandering “Gogetfind” sounds like the worst case of heroin withdrawal ever recorded and “Naturallow” could be a mistaken for a particularly messy Spacemen 3 track. Both are brilliant but the centerpiece of the album is the spectacular “Fornicate.”
It’s the weirdest, most ramshackle, absurd and, simply, best thing Reid has ever recorded. A rambling drone with tabla, bizarro vocalizations, white-noise and Eastern influences, it sounds, almost, like nothing he’s touched before. Pure, free expression. The closest reference point would be a feral Six Organs of Admittance. The track swirls in and out of existence leaving you wanting more. Perhaps not something all JAMC fans would appreciate or expect, but for those who also enjoy free-psyche, it’s worth investing in the album for alone (or seeking out on iTunes).
The rest of album is rounded out with a few more JAMC style acoustic numbers, but generally better ones than at the start of the program. “Unfinished Business” sounds a bit like the song Oasis should have followed-up “Wonderwall” with. This CD edition contains two hidden tracks. One is actually a Sister Vanilla track and the other, I believe, shows up on the second Lazycame album.
Ultimately, the thing about Finbegin, and Lazycame in general, is it’s not very good. Points of brilliance, but these jewels have to be dug out of a mound of nearly unlistenable excrement. Myself, I’m a big enough JAMC fan I don’t mind getting elbow-deep into their offal. But it’s hard to justify recommending the experience to others.

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