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2009-11-28My reviews: Hot Puppies - Clarinet Town & The Word On The Street

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[Clarinet Town][The Word On The Street]

Clarinet Town
1. Clarinet Town
2. How To Choose A Wife (session)
3. The Word On The Street (session)

The Word On The Street
1. The Word On The Street (remix)
2. The Word On The Street
3. The End (session)

The Puppies are hibernating at the moment, although whether they'll actually want to find their way back from cosy domesticity and family additions remains to be seen. (There might be a bit more to that, given the "It’s when everyone in your other band can’t be arsed and the manager has completely fucked things up." in an interview last year.) The website's currently a bit dead too, not even noting on the discography that "single" The Word On The Street is available from Play.com now along with Clarinet Town. CD-R promos of both were released.

I'm not a fan of buying downloads, but releasing CDs or even vinyl is prohibitively expensive for singles and Play do almost everything right — this was under £1.50 for the three tracks and they come as 320kbps MP3s. It does take a few minutes for your downloads to become available, at which point they email you a download link, which could be better explained on the site. The single was released last October, at which point I was rather disillusioned with Blue Hands (the album the tracks are from) and since this offers session recordings rather than b-sides I didn't see much reason to partake. Completism has now kicked in.

All three tracks are a more pleasant listen in this running order than on the album, the repetitions in them less of an issue when not surrounded by other tracks that do the same. In fact, stick this and the Somewhere single together and they make a decent EP.

Clarinet Town is stately, bassy and a bit like a fusion of The House of Eliott and 80s synth pop via some goth overtones. The Word On The Street is more likeable live, with some nice wind instrumental moments breaking out of the sound, and How To Choose A Wife likewise brings things down to a relaxed lounge-funk conclusion that's not too slow or drawn-out. As a re-examination of material from Blue Hands, it works well.

If I had to recommend just three Hot Puppies releases, though, they'd be the All Washed Up EP, Over My Dead Body, and Under The Crooked Moon — representing the progression from small town uni band to BBC radio performances and a 'pro' album release around which time their sound started moving away from the early punky numbers. Those are all available from the band (or from many sources in the case of Crooked Moon) and well worth investigating, but hopefully someone will add early material to Play in future.

Moving on... the remix of The Word On The Street is certainly different enough from the original to warrant a release, if you like it. As you'll know if you followed the first link in this review, Hemme Fatale are another project of guitarist and songwriter Luke, and there the similarities with the Pups appear to rest — it's not really my cup of tea. The original of the song is included in in the single pack in case you haven't heard it, but frankly if you already have one of the released versions you're best off just getting The End (at a bargainous 70p) — a powerful and slow cover version that sounds wonderfully pub-band-ish. If this is indeed the end, it's quite fitting that things have come full circle in such a listenable way.


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