5 October 2008

Murry The Hump - Cracking Up

Murry The Hump Cracking Up

Label: Too Pure
Year of Release: 2001


Another defunct noughties act I'm afraid, retro fans - although that doesn't mean to say that you shouldn't download the single and listen to it anyway.

Aberystwyth's Murry The Hump were earmarked by some critics in the alternative music press as being "ones to watch" at a time when, quite honestly, nobody was very sure what was or wasn't going to sell anymore. In the post-Britpop, pre-New Rock Revolution days, the NME in particular gave coverage to acts who have now almost completely been written out of overground history, from post-rock bands to "skunk rock" artists and even "intelligent techno" (whatever happened to that phrase? And what was so stupid about techno in the first place?) In The Hump's case, however, they also had other bands on their side who seemed completely convinced they were the next big thing. Alex James out of Blur referred to them as being "the best new band in Britain" at a time when they actually weren't very new and had already paid their dues on the unforgiving pub circuit, and they were offered endless support slots from key bands of the period.

If the singles "Cracking Up" and "Colouring Book" had been issued in the mid-nineties, there's little doubt in my mind they would at least have nudged their way into the charts. Timing is everything, though, and by 2001 there may have been something slightly passe about their lyrically wry, upbeat indie rock. Whilst Travis and Coldplay were bothering the world's airwaves like a bothersome spell of particularly fine drizzle, the humorous, frivolous touches in Murry the Hump's songs didn't have a hope. Low tempo emotional intensity wasn't really their thing, man, as the lyrics "You're like a ten foot wall, I can't get over you" on this single prove.

Almost immediately after their rather good album "Songs of Ignorance" was issued, the band decided to call it a day. According to the lead singer Matt Evans, there was bickering amongst the members and it had "stopped being fun". There were even rumours about court action being taken by ex-members of the band, which seems somewhat unbelievable for an act who never charted - who in their right minds would spend money fighting over 25% of nothing? After all this hoo-ha, the band The Key were formed from the remaining members, who were considerably more Rock in their outlook and nothing like the outfit they all originated from.

Murry The Hump seem destined to be one of those bands who came and went in the blink of an eye, failed to fully realise their potential, and left a lot of fans cursing in their wake. They barely even merit a mention on music sites dedicated to Welsh bands these days, which is a shame for an act who actually produced two of my favourite singles of 2001.

To make matters even sadder, even their host label Too Pure (which has at various points been home to Stereolab, Jack, Pram, Moonshake and PJ Harvey) closed down in July of this year... but whilst the slate may be completely scrubbed clean in most respects, the good old Interweb still has Murry-ish traces around and about, and their official website is still active here: http://www.murrythehump.co.uk/

And you can download the single (plus flip side "No Girl, No Sex") here: http://sharebee.com/0f5875ab

The album also still seems to be available from a few online outlets, which is more than can be said for most of the pre-21st Century Acts featured here on L&TB. One wonders if it will ever be truly possible to wipe out the history of any post-nineties act in the digital age, or if most of them will have material available somewhere forever.

3 comments:

Jones The Ears said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jones The Ears said...

I wouldn't say The Keys are nothing like Murry The Hump. There's a more wistful, country flavour to their stuff, sure, but there's still a lot the charm there which made Murry The Hump so fantastic. I can't help thinking that if they'd carried on, they'd have pretty much ended up where The Keys are anyway.

Songs Of Ignorance was an opportunity missed. The production is as awful as the songs are wonderful. How much more alive does Cracking Up sound on the Colouring Book EP? I still listen to it regularly though, the quality always shines through. When an album opens with "My dealer, drives a three-wheeler, lives in a house by the side of the sea", you get the impression that what follows is going to be more than a little special.

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