Ocean Colour Scene

So Low/Soul Driver/Jane She Got Excavated

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Long considered one of Brit-pop's most unabashedly retro acts, this single sees Ocean Colour Scene halting its retro '60s fixations long enough for stabs at evocative country-pop. The standout track is "So Low," on which frontman Simon Fowler pulls out all the vocal stops behind its haunting lyric of lovelorn isolation. Understated acoustic rhythms, clanging harmonica breaks, and loping pedal steel leads from Steve Cradock readily evoke nods to the Byrds' more esoteric country-rock offerings, or Crazy Horse, Neil Young's engine room for similar experiments. "Jane She Got Excavated" also successfully taps the latter vein, although its melody isn't as catchy as "So Low," while "Soul Driver" is routine pop-soul pastiche that's heard better on the band's commercial breakthrough, Moseley Shoals. The band's sturdy journeyman airs may seem off-putting at first, particularly for the cover shot -- which shows them earnestly huddled around a campfire, clutching their instruments for dear life against their chest. One other curious fact emerges amid all this overripe symbolism: while allegedly recorded live for VH1, these tracks contain no audible proof of those circumstances -- not even the odd crowd ripple. Still, one excellent and one decent track in three isn't a bad score, so proceed accordingly when combing the dollar bin; you may still need this single to fill whatever gaps exist in your Brit-pop knowledge.

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