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“DD Review: Gaz Coombes – Live in Paris (EP)”

Score: 8.5/10

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How much does Supergrass’ Gaz Coombes love rock and roll in the late 20-teens? Well, enough to nudge out this four-song live EP. I think we’ve just found that out.

Well, just look at what he’s saying to The Guardian in 2015: “Britpop was overblown — there were only a few decent bands.” All in all, he certainly strikes me as being within an overwhelming crossfire of criticism, elitism and good ol’ fashioned snobbery, allotting us this collection of only four songs out of either out of indolence or else, and this seems far more likely, but just an effort to evade criticism, to make sure none of his output is even remotely, even embryonically, clichéd or static.

Supergrass, which broke up in 2010 after the curiously melodic and hard-hitting Diamond Hoo Ha, hailed from Oxford, a town about 50 miles northwest of London, housing of the second-oldest university in the world. Coombes immerses himself, ergo, whether purposefully or not, in a complete saturation of surrounding “minds,” ostensible critical meat-tearers, and I think it’s safe to say that especially in rock, juxtaposed by the electronic-dominated London, that such a thing could have a pretty stifling effect on him and his ’90s alt-ies, which might have something to do with why the band broke up in the first place, too.

So I wouldn’t quite describe Live in Paris as perfect, but it is two things, undeniably: funky, and fun. That mix just tears it up, with the bass sound brought to undeniable central prominence and plotted down with technical agility and style, all the way through. Coombes, too, projecting out songs I don’t recognize from Supergrass’ catalogue, employs an exemplary knack of varying his vocal style and keeping it fresh, from the conventional singing of opener “Deep Pockets,” to sort of half-rapping half-singing “Walk the Walk” to almost like crying, or crooning in a melancholy stupor, in closeur “Vanishing Act,” which dissolves at the end into this screaming session of voluminous, power pop guitar chords. Perhaps to Coombes’ credit, the greatest “influence” on this work seems to be his old band, beyond which, a quest for such provenance would never outweigh what is just Coombes’ cathartic self-affirmation as an artist here, as if having to literally scream loud enough to sonically drown out all of his haters.

 

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