MOJAVE (SINGLE OF THE WEEK) 3 - Who Do You Love (4AD)
The first in our series of 'Where are they now, so we can still tease them mercilessly and chase them down the street with sticks after all these years?' shoegazing revival reviews (see also Swervedriver) finds Neil Halstead and Rachel Gosling, once of Slowdive, involved in a quite shockingly fine record. The chief reason for this is that they've written songs rather than a series of 'soundscapes' with vague sentiments about drowning in the sky. 'Who Do You Love' is the kind of honest, heartfelt, laid-bare love song men are too scared or too cool to write these days, romantic without being sentimental, unafraid to be plain-spoken and emotional.
It's like sonic cathedrals never happened -
an acoustic guitar surrounded by lazy organ and a
distant trumpet. And then, almost as good is
'This Road I'm Travelling' which is truly
sublime, all country-inflected harmonies and hazy
sunset acoustics like Nick Drake on holiday in
New Mexico. OK, then, we forgive you. Just this
MOJAVE 3 - Some Kinda Angel (4AD)
Kinda, hey, y'know, kinda, well, kinda...
dull, is probably the word we're after, fine for
brown corduroy fetishists who chew tobacco, but a
step too far in the direction of earnest country
rock for anyone else. This is the humourless big
brother to Delakota's buoyant, bubble-gum card
collecting fascination with the USofA, a song
that aims for a romantically dusty Three Dog
Night vibe and ends up merely dusty, more
car-boot sale than road movie. It's got all there
should be - brass and Hammond organ and
references to moonshine - but unless you secretly
dream of being friends with the characters in The
Big Chill, you'll find yourself slowly slipping
MOJAVE 3 - Out Of Tune (4 AD)
OLD SHOEGAZERS NEVER DIE, THEY JUST GET progressively more down-at-heel. And so the scuffed-out career of Mojave 3 (ex-Slowdive, but don't hold that against them forever) is getting more interesting by the day.
Because this, their second album, is quietly cool. Nine tastefully clipped tunes, less than 40 minutes altogether. A bit of strumming, some bleary, countrified licks and a facility for framing the saddest of times.
Plainly, Mojave 3 know their Dylan and their Nick Drake - 'All Your Tears' and 'To Whom Should I Write' reek heavily of the latter - and, accordingly, 'Out Of Tune' is one thin-lipped, introverted and desperately blue album.
The lap steels may swoon and the harmonies may be high and lonesome - evoking a 4am Nashville skyline - but their author Neil Halstead remains a morose English boy through and through. Highlight 'Caught Beneath Your Heel' catches him in a romantic bind, trying to restore some personal dignity as organs wheeze plenty and the hard questions stay unanswered.
And when Rachel Goswell lends her voice to proceedings, the woozy, lovesick mood is only heightened. On 'Baby's Coming Home', she and Halstead bend and bewail like the indie answer to George Jones and Tammy Wynette.
The recent single 'Some Kinda Angel' - an enthused homage to Dylan's 'Visions Of Johanna' - provides a momentary escape from the doleful business at hand, but in the main, 'Out Of Tune' is a beautifully downcast affair. With 3, of course, as the tragic number. 7/10
Mojave 3 - Out of tune (4AD/MNW) Country/Rock This is really not possible.
Gloomy brits, with a background in goth-constellations as Slowdive, shall not be doing soft, warm, sincere country- and folkrock that makes the world think about a desillusioned Nick Drake, travelling through that part of America where Gram Parsonīs hickory wind still blows through the fields.
But Neil Halstead and the others in Mojave 3 has done it anyway. Confusing. But nonetheless less convincing.
On this album, there are songs that makes me reconsider my list of the best albums of the year.
New Musical Express (UK) 15 July 1998 p36
MOJAVE 3 live review
LONDON King's Cross Water Rats
For Mojave 3's Neil Halstead and Rachel Goswell, sonic experimentation is nothing new. Their first incarnation as Slowdive saw them dabbling with hazy atmospherics before venturing, less successfully, into ambient electronica. Now, with new single 'Who Do You Love', they turn up a more traditional card with floaty multi-layered harmonies and somnolent strummings.
Although vaguely reminiscent of the footware-ogling days of yore, the emphasis has shifted from feedback to emotionally-charged, pastoral semi-acoustics.
To contribute a melancholic country-tinged twang to the proceedings, they've
even recuited steel pedal guitarist BJ Cole, who ambles in halfway through the
lovely 'Baby's Coming Home'. As it ends, Halstead spots Bernard Butler in the
front row and smiles. Welcome to Mojave 3. Not so much shoe-gazing as star-
NME 24 October 1998
London Highbury Garage
It's a dry, long and dusty road from Reading via Slowdive, to this