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Carrie Wade  (US)

The Old Ways  (2009,  41.45)  **½

The Old Ways is mostly rather wet singer-songwriter stuff, at its best on Drive, Love Me and accordion-driven closer Cuddling With Doom. Peter Kearns plays watery samplotron flutes on opener Needles In The Waves.

Wagon  (US)

Beauty Angel Queen  (1999,  47.32)  **½

Wagon? Beauty Angel Queen? Gotta be country, right? Right. Reasonably good country, but country nonetheless, at its best on Can You Tell Me's fiddle interjections and Still Amazed. Todd Schnitzer plays samplotron flutes on opener Everything She Owns.

Wainwright  (Canada)

Wainwright  (2008,  37.00)  **

Michael Wainwright's kind-of eponymous album is a thoroughly average singer-songwriter pop/rock effort, with no obvious highlights. Charlton Pettus plays sampled Mellotron strings and flutes on Our Story and strings on World To Bring Me Down.

Rufus Wainwright  (Canada)

Poses  (2001,  52.54)  ***

It took Rufus Wainwright three years to follow his eponymous debut with Poses, probably due to his much-publicised drug issues (crystal meth, kids? Just say no!) and, despite being described as more down to earth, it's not that different, to be honest. Richard Causon plays alleged Chamberlin, with what sounds like distant choirs on California and while several other tracks may have some hidden in the mix, it's pretty much impossible to tell.

The Wake Ups  [a.k.a. The Scruffs]  (Australia)

Wanna Meet...... the Wake Ups?  [a.k.a. The Actual Size]  (2001/02,  46.54)  ***½

So what's with all this 'a.k.a.' business, anyway? Seems the Sydney-based Scruffs released an album called The Actual Size in 2001, changing not only their name but their album's title the following year to avoid problems with their previously-existing namesakes in Memphis. So shouldn't this file under the original names? Yes, probably, but it's generally available as The Wake Ups, so The Wake Ups it is. The new title? Seems it's a homage to the original Scruffs, a late '70s outfit, whose debut album was titled Wanna Meet the Scruffs? So now you know. Anyway, this lot are a pretty decent powerpop outfit, The Actual Size/Wanna Meet...... containing a fair amount of variety in its grooves, from the mainstream powerpop of opener Let You Down and Can't Believe My Luck through the garage punk feel of Trash and You Make Me Nervous to It's Not Me's acoustic balladry. Michael Carpenter and Manu Galvin both play samplotron, although I'm not sure why it took two of them to play the flute part (with pitchbend) on Keep It To Yourself; one to play, one to manipulate the pitch-control? Don't laugh; it's been done before.

Rick Wakeman  (UK)  see:

Rick Wakeman

The Walkabouts  (US)

Nighttown  (1997,  61.04)  ***
Trail of Stars  (1999,  64.41)  ***½
Train Leaves at Eight  (2000,  68.47)  ***½
Ended Up a Stranger  (2001,  64.58)  ***
Drunken Soundtracks: Lost Songs & Rarities 1995-2001  (2002,  129.41)  ***½
Acetylene  (2005,  52.38)  ***

A name like The Walkabouts make you think the band in question might be Australian: wrong. The Walkabouts are from Seattle and their remit seems to be to sound as European as possible, even covering material by the likes of Jacques Brel and Scott Walker. Never mind the indie ethic, this is the noir ethic, personified by The Walkabouts. Nighttown is their seventh album 'proper', ignoring compilations of EPs, live efforts etc. and lives up to its title with aplomb, channelling the melancholy end of those '50s Sinatra albums, anything by Scott Walker... You get the picture. Their record company apparently described it as 'the sound of a band committing suicide' (it wasn't), although it's certainly one of the most unremittingly downbeat things I've heard in a while. Orchestral arrangements (mostly strings) on most tracks, making it difficult to spot Glenn Slater's samplotron when it appears. From what I can tell, though, we have a distant flute line on Unwind, with equally distant strings on the chorus and what sounds like a polyphonic flute part on Slow Red Dawn, under the orchestral arrangement.

Trail of Stars carries on the good works of its predecessors, to the point where, to the casual listener, it's almost indistinguishable from Nighttown, although I found it slightly more appealing. More Slater samplotron, with strings on Gold and Drown and full-on flutes and strings on the album's samplotronic highpoint, Last Tears. They followed up with a covers collection, Train Leaves at Eight, with a sleeve more noir than noir. Unlike many similar, it actually works, to the point that if you didn't know they were covers, you, er, wouldn't know they were covers. Stylistically, of course, it's the usual, so it comes as even more of a surprise when they suddenly kick out the jams (albeit fairly slowly) on Brel's People Such As These, a.k.a. Ces Gens-La, also covered by French proggers Ange, back in 1973. The samplotron finally appears on That's How I Live (a.k.a. So Lebe Ich), with a string line that sustains way past the eight-second limit. Ended Up a Stranger is, of course, in a similar vein to the rest of the band's work, though, at least to me, is slightly less appealing. Maybe I shouldn't have listened to it after Train Leaves at Eight? Anyway, a decent enough record, just a bit the same old same old. Slater plays samplotron on several tracks, as far as I can work out, with flutes on Life: The Movie, flutes and possible strings on Fallen Down Moon and strings on Mary Edwards and Winslow Place.

The following year's double-disc set, Drunken Soundtracks: Lost Songs & Rarities 1995-2001, does exactly what it says on the tin, collecting outtakes, live tracks and no doubt all manner of other things that didn't make it onto their earlier albums. Not that you'd know, as it sounds every bit as good as any of their 'regular' releases, which makes a nice change for an outtakes album. Mind you, it's ridiculously long, so I wouldn't recommend playing it in one sitting, as I did... A few tracks of Slatertron, with flutes on Sorry Angel, full-on strings on The Getaway, tentative strings on Cowbells Shakin', faint ones on Glory Road and quite upfront ones on Incognito, although I've no idea from which era any of them hail. After a several-year break from releasing new material, Acetylene appeared in 2005 and it's immediately apparent that the band have rocked things up in the interim, to the point where they're almost a different band. It's a perfectly good album, just... different, with a distinct Neil Young fixation becoming apparent, noticeably on lengthy closer Last Ones. Very little samplotron, too, with nowt but occasional strings on Northsea Train, alongside what sounds like real ones.

Butch Walker  (US)

Letters  (2004,  51.07)  **

Bradley Glenn "Butch" Walker played in bands throughout the '80s and '90s, before his solo career kicked off with 2002's Left of Self-Centered, following up with Letters two years later. By and large, the latter is an album of turgid, ballad-heavy mainstream pop, although some powerpop elements have 'boosted' its rating to a whole two stars. Not every track's a loser; #1 Summer Jam's a passable powerpop effort and Lights Out is a decent enough rock'n'roller, but the high(er) points are few and far between. Joey Huffman plays samplotron, with flutes and strings alongside real strings on the alt.country-ish Best Thing You Never Had.

Jason Walker  (Australia)

Ashes & Wine  [as Jason Walker & the Last Drinks]  (2004,  43.30)  **½

Ashes & Wine sits at the singer-songwriter end of the Americana spectrum, at its best on the rocky Dissatisfaction, although far too many of its tracks cross the line into 'slushy country' territory. Brian Crouch is credited with Mellotron and Chamberlin; what, in Australia? Anyway, we get strings on Angel and flutes and strings on closer Looking Out, both sampled.

P.T. Walkley  (US)

Mr. Macy Wakes Alone  (2009,  46.57)  ***

NYC's P.T. Walkley is better known as a TV/film and advertising composer, Mr. Macy Wakes Alone being his debut, a '60s-influenced lighter-end-of-singer-songwrtier record, without (mostly) tipping over into 'insipid'. Scott Hollingsworth's credited with Mellotron on two tracks, with a samplotron flute run on Run and nothing obvious on Lonely.

Martin Wall  (Canada)

Metaphysical Facelift  (1977,  32.57)  ***

Martin Wall is an unusual enough name that I think it's safe to assume he's the same guy who wrote something called Mr. Love for a Canuck act called Vehicle, which doubtless has little to do with his self-released 1977 album, Metaphysical Facelift. While very much his solo, er, vehicle, several other musicians appear on the record, although Wall's vocals and piano are its chief components. Musically, it veers between progressively-inclined singer-songwriter material (Ordinary Man, Dear Friend, Time Will Tell) and keyboard instrumentals of wildly varying length, from three extremely short tracks that barely count as more than links, to the album's two best pieces, the three-minute Golden Glow and the near side-long title track.

With specific track-by-track credits on the rear sleeve, you'd think there was no doubt as to where Wall used his 'Mellotron', but this is where we come to the album's sticking-point: it isn't. It's absolutely no coincidence that on the three credited tracks (the three short instrumentals, Chanson D'Ordinaire, Choral Prelude and Monk's Access, which sounds faintly rude), the actual credit is, "Mellotron, String Ensemble", or as I prefer to read it, "String Ensemble". No Mellotron here, folks, now move along... Progressive completists (er, me?) might wish to hear this for its couple of good tracks, but there are far better obscurities out there for the aficionado, so with not even any real Mellotron to sweeten the deal, I'm not really sure I'd bother.

Ian Wallace  (UK)

Happiness With Minimal Side Effects  (2003,  47.11)  ***½

In progressive circles, Ian Wallace is best known for his brief tenure with King Crimson (1971-2), but his CV encompasses his work with Bob Dylan (Street Legal period), Eric Clapton, Stevie Nicks, Jackson Browne and dozens of others. Around the time he joined The 21st Century Schizoid Band, replacing Michael Giles for the second time in their respective careers, he released his lone solo album, 2003's Happiness With Minimal Side Effects. The album owes a partial debt to, not 'his' version of Crimso, but their mid-'90s resurgence, particularly opener Too Much Dogma, its excellent lyrics taking a heavy, yet intelligent dig at organised religion. Wallace turns out to have a fine singing voice, only one guest vocalist credited on the album and then only on one track, while two other ex-Crims (Ian McDonald and Pat Mastelotto) turn up, although Wallace played with neither at the time. The rest of the material's not at all bad, although personally, I'd have quietly dropped jazzy closer Pilgrim's Progress, the album's weakest track.

Wallace is credited with 'Mellotron', although it's quite clearly nothing of the sort, with strings on Too Much Dogma and possibly Castaway. So; a pretty decent effort, particularly for Crimson fans, given the quality of Wallace's sidemen. Incidentally, with a terrible irony, given that this album's I Can't Breathe includes the line, "We've got a cure for cancer", Wallace died of the oesophageal variety in early 2007, mere months after his old Crimson bandmate Boz Burrell, wiping out half of their mark two lineup at a stroke.

James Wallace  (Australia)

A Red, Red Rose  (2003,  40.13)  ***

According to James Wallace's website, A Red, Red Rose 'features beautiful melodies and inspirational settings of historic poems', better known songs including the title track and (Oh) Danny Boy. As Celtic diaspora albums go, I've heard worse, although this tends towards blandness, presumably in an attempt to sell lots of copies. I have no idea why Wallace's collaborator on the project, Dennis Keldie, is credited with Mellotron. Scrapes three stars.

Joanna Wallfisch with Dan Tepfer  (UK)

The Origin of Adjustable Things  (2015,  48.50)  ****

Why is it so difficult to compare quirky, artistic, piano-playing female musicians to anyone other than Kate Bush? I suppose she broke out of the mould of rather vanilla, Carole King-style 'confessional' singer-songwriters, although I'm sure she was far from the first to do so, but as soon as anyone even vaguely similar comes along (Tori Amos, anyone?), out come the comparisons. I do my level best not to get caught in the same trap, but, although displaced Londoner Joanna Wallfisch (now based in NYC) doesn't sing like Our Kate, her writing is comparable, as is her sense of musical adventure on her second release, 2015's The Origin of Adjustable Things. It's actually Wallfisch's collaborator, Dan Tepfer, who plays the bulk of the album's piano, alongside other keyboard contributions. Most of the material is hers, though, highlights including oddball opener This Is How You Make Me Feel, with its wordless, percussive vocal interjections, Satellite, Brighton Beach (Wallfisch on piano) and the title track. The album's four covers all get the Wallfisch treatment, probably at its most extreme on Radiohead's Creep, deconstructed to the point of unrecognisability, although the overall effect is of a cohesive, meticulously-planned record that, if there's any justice whatsoever, should catapult Wallfisch up to 'household name' status. Tepfer plays background samplotron string and flute parts on Satellite, arranged with a subtlety way beyond the talents of (dare I say?) most artists, although I don't know if Tepfer or Wallfisch is responsible. So; very good indeed. Make the effort to hear this record.

Pat Walsh  (US)

Pat Walsh  (1997,  11.31)  ***

Pat Walsh's four-track, eponymous EP appears to be his debut release, a decent enough powerpop record, at its best on opener The King Of Tinseltown. Randy Hoexter and Bryan Holmes are both credited with Mellotron on We Will and Umbrella Birds, with flutes that could almost be real, but aren't.

J. Roddy Walston & the Business  (US)

Hail Mega Boys  (2007,  43.45)  ***

Tennessee native and vocalist/pianist J. Roddy Walston grew up surrounded by pianos, so it comes as no surprise to see him fronting his rock'n'roll combo, The Business, playing one. His/their first album, 2007's Hail Mega Boys, contains an appealing combination of southern boogie, rock'n'roll, blues and punk, not to mention several other related genres, better tracks including Sally Bangs and Mommie Bomb, although nothing here offends. Jeff Conlin plays samplotron on two tracks, with nothing obvious on Mommie Bomb and a brief but major flute part on closer Go Malachi.

Walt Mink  (US)

Bareback Ride  (1993,  30.43)  **½
El Producto  (1996,  38.37)  **½
Colossus  (1997,  41.27)  **½

Walt Mink formed in '89 as the power trio of John Kimbrough, Candice Belanoff and drummer Joey Waronker, son of producer Lenny and brother of Anna. Their first 'proper' release (after a couple of album-length demos), 1992's Miss Happiness, sounds slightly like King's X, i.e. vaguely interesting hard rock with some unusual chords, although their follow-up, '93's Bareback Ride, is a rather less interesting proposition all round. Much of its material is in that vaguely 'punk' style that American bands seem to've made their own, although the acoustic tracks, notably Sunnymede, are rather better. The album's only samplotron use is on closer Tree In Orange, with a murky flute part, probably from guitarist/vocalist Kimbrough, although the strings on Shine are real.

By their third effort, '96's cynically-titled El Producto, they were more at the rocky end of indie, which this site finds to be rather less interesting. It's not an awful album, by any means, but with so few positive features and so many neutral ones, it isn't that surprising that they only lasted another year or so after its release. I get the impression Kimbrough plays the samplotron, with a faint flute melody at the end of opener Stood Up, distant string chords at the end of Me & My Dog and similar on Sunshine M. The following year's Colossus was the band's swan song, slightly better than its two predecessors (particularly on the production front), although I really wouldn't take that as a recommendation. Once again, the acoustic tracks work better than the electric ones, notably the hidden track at the end of the album. Samplotronically speaking, all I can hear are murky strings on Lovely Arrhythmia (do I detect a pattern here?)

Wan Santo Condo  (US)

Wan Santo Condo  (2004,  38.03)  **½

Wan Santo Condo kicks off like it's going to be a storming pop/punk album, then almost immediately slumps into a generic indie slough of despair, therefore, it's at its strongest on opener A-Hole and Down. Jason Mozersky and Bob Via supposedly play Mellotron, but all I can hear is sampled cello on a couple of tracks.

Kristen Ward  (US)

Roll Me on  (2006,  46.26)  **½

Roll Me on is an Americana-end-of-country album, at its probable best on its sparser material, notably 1974, Night After Night and closer Lovin' You. Brad Zeffren is credited with Mellotron on Why Don't He Love Me?, although I have no idea why.

M. Ward  (US)

Post-War  (2006,  37.35)  ***

Matthew Stephen "M." Ward is an American singer-songwriter of the mainstream variety (aren't they all?), whose fifth studio album, Post-War, consciously echoes post-World War II music of the '40s and '50s, referring to the West's appalling current escapades in the Middle East (there, that's given you an idea where I stand on the issue). It's not a bad record, per se, but its deliberately very retro sound is only going to appeal to a certain type of listener, I suspect and that type isn't me. Mike Mogis plays alleged Chamberlin on the album, although the only obvious use is the dusty strings on opener Poison Cup.

Sammy Ward  (US)

My Passion  (2000,  40.09)  *

Hideous, hideous CCM, its awfulness unleavened by its (slightly) rockier tracks. Absolute fucking shlock. I have no idea why Otto Price might be credited with Mellotron.

Terry "Buffalo" Ware  (US)

Buffalo Tracks  (2001, recorded 197?-198?,  53.07)  ***½

Terry "Buffalo" Ware's Buffalo Tracks comprises the tracks from the instrumental second side of Ware's 1981 release, Caffeine Dreams, with other (mostly instrumental) pieces recorded from the late '70s through the '80s, highlights including his versions of Frank Zappa's Peaches En Regalia and Bach's 3 Part Invention and closer The Battle Of Midriff Bulge (ha ha). Criticisms? Although fiftyish minutes isn't horrendously overlong, a certain similarity pervades many tracks; a little more sonic variety would be welcome, although, when such variety arrives, in the shape of the female vocals on Let's Make The Water Turn Black, you end up wishing it hadn't. Two of the 1981 album's credited Mellotron tracks are here, Peaches En Regalia and The Battle Of Midriff Bulge, but whatever Jim Herbst plays on the former and Ware on the latter sound nothing like a Mellotron. I'll keep my eyes open for the original album, but I'm not holding my breath hoping for any genuine Mellotron action.

Anna Waronker  (US)

Anna  (2002,  41.35)  **½
California Fade  (2011,  40.48)  **½

Waronker? Haven't I heard that name before? Of course, her dad, noted producer Lenny Waronker. Add another name to the lengthy list of 'ambitious offspring of famous musos'. After three albums with the strangely-named that.dog, Waronker released her solo debut, Anna, in 2002. Despite being married to the wondrous Redd Kross' Steven McDonald, it's... not actually that good. Aside from a couple of decent powerpop tunes (notably A Hollow Daze, although Goodbye is worthy of mention), most of the record veers between dopey pop-punk (Love Story, All For You) and dozy ballads (John & Maria, The Powers That Be), few of which capture the imagination in any great way. Oh and spot the Who cop in How Do You Sleep? One bonus on the album is Anna's samplotron use, with strings on Beautiful and flutes on the chorus of Nothing Personal. Nine years on, she released her follow-up, California Fade, a very different record to its predecessor. Although it features the occasional punkier effort (I Don't Wanna), the bulk of the album contains typical, if better than some, singer-songwriter material, better tracks including What Do You Do? and Scared. Anna plays samplotron, with flutes on Our Love and Spinning Out and strings on What Do You Do? and Scared.

Krystle Warren & the Faculty  (US)

Circles  (2009,  50.22)  **½

Krystle Warren's debut album sits somewhere in between jazz, folk and blues, in a downbeat kind of way. I've no idea why Frederic Jaillard is credited with Mellotron, as there's nothing even slightly apparent.

Ricky Warwick  (UK)

Tattoos & Alibis  (2003,  51.36)  **½

Given that legendary hard-nut Ricky Warwick is best-known for his leadership of the heavier-than-thou Almighty, it comes as something of a surprise to hear 2003's Tattoos & Alibis, probably best described as an Americana-tinged John Mellencamp-style roots-rock album. The trouble with this style is that if you haven't got an absolutely killer set of songs, the whole thing can fall as flat as a pancake and, while Warwick digs out a few decent melodies, the overall effect is of an overlong album of mostly so-so material that, sad to say, fails to ignite. Ronan McHugh plays samplotron, with a rather generic flute part on It Always Rains On Sunday and no more than a couple of flute swells on Minor Miracles.

Washington  (Norway)

A New Order Rising  (2004,  55.33)  **½

Washington seem to be the Norwegian equivalent of a slightly more interesting Keane, as far as I can work out; other pointers tend to be Coldplay, Radiohead et al., which should be telling you 'slow, stately and rather empty' (Radiohead honourably excepted). Even Pink Floyd have been quoted, probably for Washington's lap steel and gentle Hammond use. A New Order Rising is their debut album, five years into their career and is a perfectly respectable record, without running any risk of triggering any adrenaline in its listeners. Of course, that's the whole point, but I personally find nearly an hour of rather dreary indie drags somewhat, especially as vocalist Rune Simonsen sounds rather too close to Keane's Tom Chaplin for comfort, unless, of course, you happen to like that kind of overwrought over-emoting...

Lars Lien (Dadafon, 3rd & the Mortal) produced and plays keys, including what I'm quite sure is a sampled Mellotron on a handful of tracks, with a very upfront flute part (and background strings) on Have You Ever, 'are they/aren't they?' strings on Bluebird and some distant choirs on Velvet Room, the last chord on the last-named overrunning the 8-second limit in true sampled fashion. The 'Mellotron' use only slightly enhances a rather drab album, to be honest.

Washington Squares  (US)

Fair & Square  (1989,  38.36)  ***

The Washington Squares formed in the '80s with the express intention of recreating the early '60s Greenwich Village-style folk revival style, albeit while acknowledging the impact punk had on the music scene in the interim. Their second and last album, 1989's Fair & Square, is actually rockier than that description would indicate, probably at its best on Fourth Day Of July, The Pride Of Man and Neal Cassady ("Did you hear Neal Cassady died?"), although some dodgy harmonies wouldn't have passed muster first time round. Producer J. Steven Soles is credited with Mellotron on All Over The World, but, unsurprisingly for the time, it turns out to be no more than generic string samples.

Watashi Wa  (US)

Eager Seas  (2005,  45.58)  **

Watashi Wa were a Christian indie band, which is every bit as awful as it sounds. Not only whiny, 'confessional'-style vocals, but whiny, 'confessional'-style vocals singing about God. Painful. Eager Seas was apparently originally going to be called People Like People (hey! Good title!) by Eager Seas, a new band rising from the ashes of Watashi Wa, but they were obviously persuaded to keep the moderately successful original brand. Most of the album consists of either over-cheery upbeat songs (the vaguely punky Free Ride, Sydney Tonight) or 'intimate' stuff (the countryish Courtyard, 2:57), with a handful of less tedious tracks (The Game, the powerpop-ish All Of Me). Not really a recommendation, is it? Zach Hodges and Yuri Ruley both play Mellotron, although there isn't that much of it obviously about, with heavy-duty cellos on Broken Man and slightly lesser ones on All Of Me, plus a string part on Father, Son.

The Watch  (Italy)  see:

The Watch

Waterboys  (UK)

An Appointment With Mr. Yeats  (2011,  56.43)  ***½

The Waterboys' An Appointment With Mr. Yeats sets Yeats' poetry to music, largely successfully, highlights including energetic opener The Hosting Of The Shee, A Full Moon In March and the brief Before The World Was Made. Leader Mike Scott credits himself with Mellotron, amongst many other instruments, but it's entirely inaudible, sampled or otherwise.

Waterclime  (Norway)

The Astral Factor  (2006,  43.21)  ***
Imaginative  (2007,  48.49)  **½

Waterclime are one of several Andreas "Vintersorg" Hedlund projects, a (deep breath) heavy/psych/folk/prog outfit, who've released two albums to date. The first, 2006's The Astral Factor, is completely divorced from Hedlund's usual metallic leanings, shifting stylistically between the 'Uriah Heep-go-folk' of opener Mountains, the '70s retro-rock of Midnight Flyer and the jazzy (!) Scarytale. 'Mr. V' (i.e. Hedlund) plays nearly everything, including the overt (and obviously sampled) strings that open Floating, not to mention the strings and flutes on just about every track here, overused in classic 'we've got a sample set and we're gonna use it' stylee.

His/their second album, Imaginative, appeared the following year, essentially more of the same, but less so, exposing a rather unfortunate tendency to add (synth) brass to several tracks. No, that does not make your album sound like Blood, Sweat & Tears. More overused samplotron, mostly strings and choir this time round, for what it's worth. I hate to be down on these albums, but while Hedlund is aiming in the right direction, he seems to be missing his target by some way. Both records commit the cardinal sin of being boring, admittedly one more than the other, making me think that one disc of shorter versions of some of their better material might make for a more interesting listen.

Watermark  (US)

Constant  (2002,  44.27)  *

More hideous CCM crud; the weird thing about this stuff is that, before you even bother listening to the lyrics, the sickly-sweet, mid-paced, allegedly inoffensive music has already given the game away. Nathan Nockels plays samplotron flutes on Made For You and Noah's Song.

Patrick Watson  (Canada)

Wooden Arms  (2009,  45.13)  **½
Adventures in Your Own Backyard  (2012,  47.58)  **

Canadian singer-songwriter Patrick Watson's third album, 2009's Wooden Arms, is quite infuriating in its own way; moments of genuine beauty (Sarah Pagé's harp on Down At The Beach, Man Like You's guitar intro) are indiscriminatingly slotted in amongst acres of weedy falsetto and cod-indie rhythms (for want of a better phrase). The overall effect is of an album that could've been good, but simply didn't try hard enough. Watson is credited with Memotron, but with real strings on the album, it's impossible to say where it might be used. Does it matter? Not really, no. If anything, Adventures in Your Own Backyard is even worse; is this man incapable of instilling any kind of energy or, y'know, meaning into his work? Some background samplotron. Whatever.

Waxwings  (US)

Shadows of...  (2002,  43.45)  **½

Led by vocalist/guitarist Dean Fertita, Detroit's Waxwings made three albums before (presumably) grinding to a halt in the mid-2000s. The second of these, 2002's Shadows of... (or, I suppose, Shadows of the Waxwings) clearly owes a debt to their city's 'garage revival', enhanced by the band's touring with The White Stripes, better tracks including the raucous Cloud Over and the early Kinksian Blur To Me. Unfortunately, the overall effect, despite the album's 'sensible' length, is of a band with limited songwriting skill, which is quite possibly why they are now no more. Although Jessie Greene is credited with violin and cello, the strings on Almost All Day are clearly Mellotronic, albeit most likely in a sampled form, probably played by Fertita, who's gone on to play keyboards for the wildly overrated Queens of the Stone Age. Do you bother? Shouldn't think so, no.

Bry Webb  (Canada)

Free Will  (2014,  44.29)  ***

Bry(an) Webb's known for his membership of The Constantines, Free Will being his second solo release, a dark country album with no particular highs or lows. Thom Hammerton's credited with Mellotron, but the strings on Translator, not content with being inauthentic, then sustain for over twenty seconds. Fail.

Derek Webb  (US)

I See Things Upside Down  (2004,  63.44)  **
Mockingbird  (2005,  40.20)  ***
The Ringing Bell  (2007,  30.31)  ***

On/off Caedmon's Call member Derek Webb's second solo album, 2004's I See Things Upside Down, is a pretty tedious affair, I'm afraid to say. Its Christian content is fairly low-key, but its overlong, drawn-out material made this listener have to physically restrain himself from reaching for the 'next' button, the old-style r'n'b of Ballad In Plain Red being about the best thing here. Cason Cooley plays samplotron, with vaguely 'Strawberry Fields'-esque flutes on the strangely-titled T-Shirts (What We Should Be Known For), although that would seem to be it. 2005's Mockingbird's sparse, folky CCM is something of an improvement, a long way from the offensively syrupy dreck served up by the likes of Charlie Hall et al, which has to be applauded in a world where that kind of stuff is apparently considered acceptable. Saying that, the album is a bit bland in places, not least closer Love Is Not Against The Law, but overall, it's far from unlistenable. On the samplotron front, flutes on A King & A Kingdom, soon supplanted by a beautiful string part, from Cooley, nothing audible on Rich Young Ruler, but My Enemies Are Men Like Me has faint strings and very upfront 'Strawberry Fields'-style flutes from Cooley and Webb. His follow-up, 2007's The Ringing Bell, is, again, a passable listen, although not something I can honestly see myself digging out too often, even if I don't listen too closely to the lyrics. Ben Shive plays samplotron this time round, with flutes on The Very End and I For An I.

Wedding Present  (UK)

Take Fountain  (2005,  47.02)  **½
El Rey  (2008,  45.26)  **½
How the West Was Won  (2008,  56.51)  **

'Archetypal indie outfit' The Wedding Present's first post-reformation album, Take Fountain (from a Bette Davis quote, fact fans), continued the rhythmic indie stylings of their previous incarnation(s), so whether or not you'll like this largely depends on whether or not you like their earlier work, I suspect. The album's actually quite varied, shifting from the near-noise of Interstate 5 (Extended Version) through the not-so-light jangle of Always The Quiet One to the dark balladry of Mars Sparkles Down On Me. Co-producer Steve Fisk is credited with Mellotron, which rings alarm bells straight away; he's notorious 'round these parts for using samples, so the male voices on Interstate 5 (Extended Version) and Queen Anne, plus strings and cellos on closer Perfect Blue, are most likely sampled. El Rey has no fewer than three Mellotron players credited, while the album's pretty much the usual stuff; you know, if you like The Weddoes you'll like it, with the standard corollary. Gedge, Christopher McConville and Graeme Ramsay all apparently get some samplotron in, although I've no idea why it took three of them to record so little, with naught but flutes on Model, Actress, Whatever... and cellos on Swingers. How the West Was Won contains the contents of four EPs, two of which are of the 'four versions of the same track' variety, effortlessly turning 'tiresome' into 'infuriating'. Gedge and McConville both get Mellotron credits, although all I can hear are background strings on Hulk Loves Betty.

Ween  (US)

The Mollusk  (1997,  43.54)  ***½
White Pepper  (2000,  39.28)  ***½
Quebec  (2003,  55.27)  ***

I've always mixed Ween up with Weezer, for obvious alphabetical reasons, but it seems there are few points of contact between their styles, which has to be a good thing. Ween are the duo of Aaron "Gene Ween" Freeman and Mickey "Dean Ween" Melchiondo, plus whoever they're working with at any given moment. If it's comparisons you're after, try 'a bit like They Might Be Giants' in their overall quirkiness and fanatical fanbase, which isn't to say that fans of one will necessarily like the other.

The Mollusk is an intriguing album, referred to (admittedly by fans) as their Sgt. Pepper, which is probably going a bit far, to be honest. It's certainly an eclectic mix of styles, with the vaudevillian I'm Dancing In The Show Tonight contrasting sharply with the irritating novelty number Waving My Dick In The Wind or the psych/prog monster Buckingham Green (surely the album's best track?) 'Mellotron' from an unknown player, presumably one of the 'twins', with a major string part on the old English folk of Cold Blows The Wind, that, although it sounds raw enough to be real, has a final note that hangs over the eight-second limit, making me think it's probably samples. Muted choirs in Buckingham Green and strings on She Wanted To Leave (Reprise) all sound good, if not entirely genuine.

2000's White Pepper is less, er, conceptual than The Mollusk, although still wildly eclectic, covering neo-psych (Flutes Of Chi), ELO-ish pop (Even If You Don't), pseudo-calypso (Bananas And Blow) and metal (Stroker Ace) and that's just in the first twenty minutes. 'Mellotronically' speaking, there are possible skronky flutes on opener Exactly Where I'm At, with very upfront ones on Ice Castles and Back To Basom. Y'know, they sound so wobbly on Ice Castles that I'm beginning to wonder if it's samples put through some kind of modulation, the pitch wavers up and down so badly. Badly and suspiciously regularly...

2003's Quebec is a bit more laid-back than its predecessors, with little that stands out on initial listens, although the ghostly Alcan Road's psychedelia and the proggish The Argus are worth hearing. The rest of the album's as eclectic as ever, just less appealing than before. Maybe too much variety? Very little sampletron this time round, too, with a brief string part on Transdermal Celebration being the only obvious sighting, although it could be buried away elsewhere, too.

Of course, now I've put Ween here, someone will write with hard evidence that the Mellotron's real, even if not on all the above albums. I'm sticking by my theorising two paragraphs up until/if I'm told otherwise, though. As far as the actual albums go, their star ratings tell the story better than more pointless verbiage. As for the fakeotron, The Mollusk and White Pepper are fairly equal, with the most upfront part probably being the latter's Ice Castles.

Weepies  (US)

Be My Thrill  (2010,  38.28)  **
Sirens  (2015,  48.14)  **½

The Weepies are the husband/wife duo of Steve Tannen and Deb Talan, already fans of each others' music when they met. Sadly, their fourth album (and third on Nettwerk), 2010's Be My Thrill, is a rather insipid effort; I'm sure they're making exactly the kind of folky/indie stuff they like, but I'm afraid I find myself hard-pushed to say anything nice about it. Or, indeed, anything at all. Brad Gordon supposedly plays Mellotron, but no idea where, as it's completely inaudible, which doesn't even give me the chance to ascertain whether or not it might be sampled. I suppose this is good at what it does, but please don't ask me to trawl through it again.

Their fifth album, 2015's Sirens, while still somewhat on the twee side, is an improvement on its predecessor. At its best (the title track, Wild Boy), the music can be most affecting, although it tips over into 'twee' a little too often for its own good (the irritating folk/pop of Never Let You Down, the teeth-gritting My Little Love). The Mellotron samples aren't even played in a convincing manner, but at least they're audible this time round, with strings on opener River From The Sky and Boys Who Want To Be Girls and flutes in a couple of places.

Scott Weiland  (US)

"Happy" in Galoshes (deluxe ed.)  (2008,  94.58)  **½

Scott Weiland's second solo album, 2008's "Happy" in Galoshes (no, I don't know, either) resides in a kind of indie/singer-songwriter pop/rock zone, at its least dull on a decent (if relatively unadventurous) version of Bowie's Fame. The album was released in single- and double-disc versions, Doug Grean being credited with Mellotron on disc two's Sometimes Chicken Soup, although its distant strings and flutes fail to pass muster.