LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION! - The TV Men (Action Records)
If the cover of "Murder City Nights" isn't a dead giveaway, the guitar Tek-nique certainly is. It's a fair bet certain members of the TV Men wake up in the morning, pour themselves a bowl of processed bran and crank up "Radios Appear" (the white album) at ear-reaming volume in preference to the breakfast radio traffic reports. Which is fine by me. I've done the same many times.

These Frenchies are serious Radio Birdman fans so don't buy this album for lullabies. That said, they're way ahead than many of the similarly besotted bands that filled stages in Sydney pubs in the mid-1980s. Hailing from Breton and building their attack on the twin guitars of Pento and Sylvain and a singer named Fabian with a strong and melodic set of pipes, the TV Men have been kicking out the French equivalent of jams since 1995. This is their third long-player.

The TV Men's strength lies in their songs. If "Riot Love in a Car" is a bit close to a Tek-Masuak attack as the guitars duck and weave, well don't say you expected anything different. "King of Your Ass" might have a title that would sit well on a Turbonegro album, but the sounds (and sentiments) are pure early Trilobites. (On a Turbonegro level, I had to chuckle at bass player Bruno being billed as "Ass Rocket". Not sure if that has a similar meaning in France as other parts of the world...)

You could spend an inordinate amount of time trying to match these tunes to numbers in the Citadel back catalogue but that'd be unfair. The 43 minutes fly by at a fair pace and the hidden track (a subtle and harmonically pleasing guitar instrumental (not unlike Wayne Kramer's "Farewell to Whisky on "Citizen Wayne"") erodes some of those preconceptions.

If you're thinking this review is a dissing of a band that's soaked up precisely the same influences as many (if not most) of us at the I-94 Bar, you're wrong. This is a terrific disc and its only fault is it doesn't go anywhere new or throw up enough light and shade. But then it probably doesn't mean to. TV Men are good at what they do and more musical than many treading the high-energy path. Proof that fast tempos do not always equal power...

The production is another first-class effort from Johnny Cat (the same wizard who twiddled the pan pots for The Outside and The Stoneage Romeos, both fab French bands with similar Aussie influences). It's punchy as 10 rounds between two championship welterweights, and he conjures some sharp guitar sounds and a crisp bottom end.

If the TV Men's usual suspects are your usual suspects, you should turn on a little "Lights, Camera, Action!" It's a damn sight more nourishing than TV (free-to-air or cable) or processed bran.– The Barman



3/4


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