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Santa Barbara

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Album Review

Often passed over in the the High Llamas' canon (even the liner notes of the reissue go out of their way to reassure that things are a little rough), 1992's Santa Barbara is nevertheless an important formative record that will please and interest many admirers of the band. There's an emphasis on pre-acid house English pop ("Market Traders"), Out of Time-era R.E.M. ("Put Yourself Down"), and an orchestral touch that would reappear later in albums like Cold and Bouncy. "Period Music" pokes out with verses lifted from XTC and a closing, layered, almost dream pop refrain, but non-fans may wonder about the band's bored and serious approach toward Byrds-ian acoustica.

Biography

Formed: 1991 in London, England

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Although the High Llamas are nominally a group, they're pretty much the brainchild of singer and guitarist Sean O'Hagan. O'Hagan did some time in the London-by-way-of-Dublin band Microdisney, in which he was the songwriting partner of Cathal Coughlan. After Microdisney split in 1988 (Coughlan forming Fatima Mansions), O'Hagan released a couple of import-only solo albums before forming the High Llamas. The Llamas issued their debut, Gideon Gaye, in 1994 to high praise in the British press; it was...
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Santa Barbara, The High Llamas
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