Here goes again. Ten City Nation’s debut was my favourite album of 2008. The debut from the three members’ previous band, Miss Black America, was about as significant an influence on me as something as fundamentally naff as pop music can be. You could mention this lot at a provincial-ish club venue in England and be in with half a shout of meeting someone who would make a point of gushing amidst the lip service. Their eponymous first album was met with unsurprising yet genuine excitement from established UK music sites equivalent to Treble, written on time spared. Subba-Culture proclaimed that they were “streets ahead of 90% of underground music.” Ten City ended 2008 sharing a stage with the likes of Wire and Future of the Left, BBC Suffolk put them forward to represent the station at Reading and Leeds, and one of their songs ended up on the forthcoming Suicide Girls film.
Despite being pushed for time, several hundred words came very easily here, alongside repeated listening. At the Still Point is as credible as anything the trio have done. It sounds full of life, fresh with ideas (admittedly, mainly recycled ones—but it’s rare that this isn’t the case with something that I want to replay in loop) used in an interesting context, and fully deserves to be heard by as many people who want to listen. This album is generally more melodic and stylistically varied than their debut. Lacerating garage rock is still present, albeit amplified and more expansive. “Silent Disco” sounds chaotic, like early And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead driving a spike through the Quadrophenia soundtrack. “Black Tie White Soul” evokes Magazine and Jane’s Addiction. “Black Tie White Soul” pummels slyly with a little Keith Richards in the middle. “J.L Give It Up” could be Blur’s “Trimm Trabb” pitched to In Utero.
There is no let up in quality when At the Still Point branches out in disparate directions. “A Butcher in Silks” is reminiscent of excellent early nineties group Adorable, with some fantastic whirring bass in cahoots. “Snakebite Blues” (the first word is another name for a mix of beer and cider over here) appears a touch ridiculous, and very fun. The Troggs and Mudhoney come to mind, and it’s hard not to crack a smile at the caveman Freddie King solo and background screams. “Take Me Down” is one of the best things I’ve heard in 2009, somehow recalling Noel Gallagher and Helium. Mike Smith’s vocal’s have a wonderful knack of conveying bucket loads of sincerity, effort, and an abject lack of interest in what anyone else thinks. When he sings “we’re trying to find the reasons, you’re just trying to make it through” all seems as well as can be with the world. This is a consistently strong album that builds on the last one. It beats being neglected and great back in the day, hands down. I hope Ten City Nation keep enjoying things to this effect.
And You Will Know us By the Trail of Dead – Source Tags and Codes
Adorable – Footnotes 92-94
Helium – The Dirt of Luck