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Kelman - The Heart Is A Useless Ally

  by John Clarkson

published: 17 / 3 / 2006

Kelman - The Heart Is A Useless Ally
Label: Select Label
Format: CDS


More upbeat sounding second single from London-based melancholists Kelman, the first to feature new keyboardist Paul Ragsdale

With both his last band Baptiste and also with his current group Kelman, Wayne Gooderham has proved particularly adept at chronicling inner turmoil and despair. 'The Heart is a Useless Ally', which is being released in a limited edition of 1000 copies, is the second single from Kelman, and proceeds their as-yet-unnamed debut album which will follow in the summer. Since forming in London in 2003, Kelman have largely worked as duo, consisting of Wayne on guitar and vocals, and his brother and fellow ex-Baptiste member Marc on drums. 'The Heart is a Useless Ally' finds the band expanded to a three-piece and is the first recording to feature new member-keyboardist, melodica player and percussionist Paul Ragsdale. While Kelman's previous demos and their 7" single from last year, 'The Happiest Man Alive', were sparse and minimalistic in tone, 'The Heart is a Useless Ally' is a much noisier and on-the-surface more upbeat affair. Ragsdale's breezy, organ-like keyboards merge with Wayne's jangling guitar and Marc's tingling drums, whipping up a surging, organic storm of energy that recollects the Velvet Underground at their peak on the classic 'Live 1969' album. These all help to sharpen Wayne's typically bittersweet lyrics. "I haven't been myself for weeks/One more drink will destroy me" he sings as an opening line, capturing in a moment the agonised hell of his protagonist, claustrophobically desperate to escape himself, but unable to see any way forward out of his situation. The B side, 'Untitled' is a reworking of a song that originally appeared on an early Kelman demo. While the early version featured a racing cello, the new recording thrusts Ragsdale's swirling keyboards and Marc Gooderham's funereal drum beats to the forefront, giving 'Untitled' a previously unheard eerie quality. Wayne Gooderham's words are similarly sinister. "I just sat back/ watching my kingdom collapse/ Everything I held/ came apart in your world/ And you said just let it go/And so I just let it go" he sings hesitantly about a new love affair, before leeringly admitting later on with a sudden sniping vehemence "Because I know I can always get it back/When you go I'll just claw it back." Intelligent, thoughtful and provocative, ‘The Heart is a Useless Ally’ shows a band pushing at its own boundaries. It reveals after the minimalism of the past two new sides to Kelman, the loud rock band of the title track, and the more experimental art rock project of its B side. With the debut album now only a few months away, this is a thrilling and adventurous new offering from one of the best bands on the current London independent music scene.

Track Listing:-
1 The Heart Is A Useless Ally
2 Undone

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Interview (2008)
Kelman - Interview
In what is our fifth interview with him, John Clarkson speaks to former Baptiste front man Wayne Gooderham about the surprising tentative optimism of his current band Kelman's second album, 'I Felt My Sad Heart Soar'

live reviews

Albany, London, 11/10/2007
Kelman - Albany, London, 11/10/2007
At a show at the Albany in London organised by the Uptight club, Ben Howarth watches one-time Pennyblackmusic Bands Night stars Kelman and Joe Gideon and the Shark play high quality sets
Betsy Trotwood, London, 10/5/2005



I Felt My Sad Heart Soar (2008)
Excellent, frequently surprising second album of dark, haunting melodies and atmospherics from fine London-based trio, Kelman.
Is This How It Ends ? (2007)
Loneliness Has Kept Us Alive (2006)
The Happiest Man Alive (2005)

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