The Nothing: A Warm Gun (Amaj001/Rhythmethod)

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The Nothing: Empty
The Nothing: A Warm Gun (Amaj001/Rhythmethod)

Lately on my Kiwi FM programme I have been playing quite a lot from Chris Knox's albums and thoroughly enjoying rediscovering them. (Like Mike Leigh movies and city buses you often didn't feel the need to catch them because another would be along soon enough).

Knox has been prolific and always offers good value -- his last one Chris Knox and the Nothing ran the full 70 minutes available.

If that was his White Album (it came in a Beatles-like "White Album" sleeve and deserved double vinyl release) then what to make of this where he disappears to simply become a member of the Nothing and didn't even do the cover art? (Although we must assume the Lennon-referenced album title is his doing.)

Certainly he wrote everything, bar one co-write, but this is very much a band recording and the Nothing (now with guitarist-producer Roy Martyn in the ranks) are brittle and abrasive as required, or gently supportive on the ballads.

While no one would suggest that has been given studio polish -- it still has a gritty and knocked-off quality -- there is a sure sense that the Nothing have given considerable forethought to this one, without sacrificing that ragged but right quality Knox is so famous/notorious for.

So here are Wreckless Eric/Troggs-like pop (Empty), adult matters (She's Leaving Him), the acerbic but sea shanty-like rollick of The Song of the Tall Poppy, the five minute psychedelic To the Sun with eerie violin, the lovely but edgy ballad In My Heart . . .

Yes, there is a lot of Chris Knox on vinyl and CD in the world but -- like that current Mike Leigh movie coincidentally -- this is one to catch.

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Shaun - Dec 20, 2008

The first time I saw Chris Knox play was at the Ori in Dunedin with Alec Bathgate as the Tall Dwarfs, sometime in the mid-eighties. Having been hooked by my sisters copy of the Toy Love album, and then the brilliance of Tall Dwarfs e.p’s “Canned Music” and the fantastically titled “Slugbucket Hairybreath Monster” (which had excellent Knox-created videos- when will we be able to buy a dvd of his back catelogue?) I was a genuine fan. That night, Knox was at his abrasive best, walking into the crowd and stroking the face of my rather freaked out friend as he serenaded him during “Turning Brown and torn in two”.

While perhaps leaving some of the more lo-fi approach behind with forays into an actual studio with an actual band for this album, and 2005’s “Chris Knox and the Nothing”, Knox (with the band) remains at his best on “A Warm Gun”. Ending with the infectious, almost sing-a-long “all I want is you”, standouts for me are “Then She Exploded”- how not to love a song with such a title?- with the violin section (“No Strings”) reminding me a bit of the Beatles “A day in the life”; and the heartbreaking track “She’s Leaving Him”- with Knox at his vocal and lyrical best, with lines such as “He’s known all has not been well for years- ignorance is bliss compared to tears”; and the almost anthemic “In my heart” (perhaps this albums “Not Given lightly”- still a great song, despite the over-exposure).

An album I love for what it provides itself, but also because it has meant I’ve dusted off the vinyl to play the e.ps; made me remember the thrill of that gig at the Ori; and sent me quickly to you-tube to check that the violins do sound Beatles-esque- all good reasons to have it as one of my top albums of the year.

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