“West Coast Whine”

John Alexander
Acoustic Music Centre @ St Bride's
15th & 24th August

All art, by its nature, is subjective, but few art forms are as subjective as music. Fringe comedy is easy to assess – either it’s funny or it isn’t – but how do you rate something as divisive as music? Some of the finest sounds known to man are produced by an 80-strong orchestra of classically-trained musicians, harmoniously coaxing the sweetest sounds out of brass, woodwind and strings. How then does one tally this with the knowledge that the finest sounds known to man have also been produced by a group of snotty punks screaming obscenities over a scuzzy three-chord soundtrack? It shouldn’t work and yet, to those of a certain disposition, the simple snarl of an insurrectionary punk trio can be every bit as euphoric as those produced by a philharmonic orchestra.

Marlboro red, smoky eyes, winter mornings, casual encounters with random strangers, autumnal leaves, the Mississippi.

One man’s Skrillex is another’s alien communique; one woman’s James Blunt is another’s vapid coffee table garbage. How do you tell whether John Alexander’s Dustbowl Blues with a Glasgow Kick will be to your liking? The simplest way would be to type his name into Google (or Yahoo if you’re feeling nostalgic) and listen for yourself. Assuming your computer speakers have broken however and you’re eager to determine whether Alexander’s country-tinged blues are worth witnessing live, here are some words to help you reach that decision. They’re not as evocative as the music itself, but they’re the best that can be mustered using the text-based format that constrains all music reviews.

If you have an affinity for any or all of the following, John Alexander should appeal to you: desert highways, the twang of steel strings, the lure of the open road, trials and tribulations, simple pleasures, love lost, the gurgle of whisky splashing on the rocks, cherry red lipstick, Sons of Anarchy, gathering storm, navigating by starlight, campfire tales, broken mirrors, tales retold, Americana, melancholy, true grit, the smell of rain, pine needles, empty promises, Marlboro red, smoky eyes, winter mornings, casual encounters with random strangers, autumnal leaves, the Mississippi.

John Alexander can’t be your Skrillex any more than he can offer to be your James Blunt, but if you like your Dustbowl Blues with a Glasgow kick, he’s the apotheosis of this most subjective of all art forms.


—★★★—

Kitty’s verdict? “I got the blues. I’m keeping them under my hat.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This month, Ed Uncovered will be reviewing 25 Fringe shows, from kids’ to comedy. Whether they be good, bad or utterly soporific, you can get the lowdown in our Fringe 2012 section, which will be updated daily.

Since our last attempt at a rating system (scoring video games out of 79) was such a raging success, we’ve decided to adopt an entirely new system for the Fringe: each show’s rating will be represented as a shooped reaction face. Of a cat. Because…well, just because. We’ve got an entire folder of this cat’s RFs, and it seems only right to put them to good use, helping people make an informed decision about the merits of each show. Let kitty be your guide, cos that’s as close to a rating system as you’re gonna get.