Cosmic Rough Riders - Manchester Roadhouse - 24.6.03

The synchronicity of a much needed good British Summer following the troubles with George Bush killing the innocent civilians of Iraq gave the Cosmic Rough Riders their first Top 40 hit with "Because You". It embellished the spirit of summer through 3 part harmonies and the breezy guitar pop which fellow Scots Teenage Fanclub, Astrid and Travis have based their own careers on for so long. Most of all it was a record with no baggage - no teenage angst, no political agenda - just a simple record about the long stay of pop lyricism - L.O.V.E.

This of course happened the Sunday after the gig at the Roadhouse when they were recalling the days of a chart entry at number 76 which missed out on a Guinness Book Of British Hit Singles by just one place. The Riders, as they will now be known, are a band who create the most beautiful melodies, but are blessed with the sort of faces which immediately say child spitting the dummy. It's a psychologists dream scenario where they can actually get their teeth into a subject whose outward appearance suggests that of a severe depressive, but whose outlook on life is forever positive. Stephen Fleming who wrote much of the bands 3rd album "Too Close To See Far" is very much the caricature of a story telling Scot where every song requires an anecdote and while it's endearing to start with you wish they'd just let the music speak for itself.

"Justify The Rain" introduces itself as a subdued cousin of Cast's "Fine Time" before making it's own mark as a driving record made for pulling the top down and cruising country lanes. "For A Smile" matches Travis note for note and if it wasn't so familiar it could be the bands breakthrough radio hit. The band don't veer too far from their blueprint and that ultimately poses a problem for anyone but the hard-core contingency. There's only so many prozac laced 3 minute pop gems you can take before it all becomes a little too sickly sweet and whereas a band like Astrid had the cute boy next door look to distract you and Travis were never afraid to rock out their debut album, the Riders can only dip into a back catalogue of singles which is much the same. I love the bands music and the way the crowd could double up as extras from Chewin The Fat, but it's that sugary sweet i'm still worrying about my blood sugars.

Alex McCann

Post your Cosmic Rough Riders reviews / comments on the Message Board