This is a review of "The Boxroom Tapes" recorded by Cardboard Cowboy. The review was written by Richard Garnett in 2001.
There's a lot to like about this collection of four tunes, which are true testament to what can be done with home recording and some decent song writing. There is certainly a lot to suggest that Cardboard Cowboy will have a lot to offer in the future. The bands influences whether realised or not are apparent through out every track and a couple of times I had to remind myself that I wasn't listening to a Jason Spaceman production.
All four tracks have an epic slant to them and that big set-ending feeling to their melodies. You know the Hey Jude syndrome, which I personally go with for one or two songs at the most. But hey it worked for Oasis so whose the sucker here? But Oasis, Cardboard Cowboy most definitely are not. Think the Eels call up Spiritualized and get them over for an evening of chips and dips with Grandaddy where they all listen to some late Beatles before Hefner arrive to add the finer points of songwriting to the mix...ok got that? Good!
"Crawl lane life blues" despite being the opener is actually the least likely candidate for it's top billing and despite starting with a great Clangers inspired swanny whistle solo, it has too much 'I desperately want to sound like American lo-fi' about it's verses. The chorus does redeem it with its sing-a-long-a-swing beat but the distorted vocals become a little waring.
"Titanic soul" however is fantastic and shows the bands song writing ability at it's finest. With it's gospel-esque female backing vocals it brings a new quality to the sound.
Track 3 "He said / she said" is the band at their most inspired and rocks along with it's own squeaky charm. If this band don't listen to Hefner then they should if only prove that their talents are more than equal.
Final song "110 reasons to be me" is a perfect finale and definitely leaves me wanting more.
If Cardboard Cowboy could vary their sound and pace a little more they would probably have a lot more to offer picky sods like me but their epic sweeping lo-fi sound will certainly work on the ears of most. They could do with dropping the fake American accents as well, as there is no need with such good songs as these. Look out for these gunslingers in a saloon near you because they'll be shooting from the hip.