Cornershop had released two full-length albums and several EPs before releasing When I Was Born for the 7th Time which contained the single “Brimful of Asha”. “Brimful of Asha” elevated the band to new heights; they did not relinquish their fame in the UK where they remain chart mainstays. But here in the USA, Cornershop has been pigeonholed as “that ‘bosom for a pillow’ band”. It is the curse of being a one hit wonder. Their latest EP is The Battle Of New Orleans and it shows off the band’s diverse style beyond singing about Bollywood icons.
Now diverse style is probably a little of an overstatement considering the EP is only four songs. But those four songs show off three distinct styles. The EP’s title track and opening track “Houston Hash” are mock country songs. It is a bit odd to hear British-born Indian musicians trying their hand at country music. I must admit the attempt meets mixed results. “Houston Hash” feels hamhanded and awkward. The track starts off with a slide guitar version of “The Star Spangled Banner” before breaking into the actual song. The song itself is pretty much singer Tjinder Singh singing the recipe to something called Houston hash. The track really feels a bit pointless.
“The Battle of New Orleans” fares a little bit better. The track reminds me of something that would have been featured on Animaniacs; it is basically a history lesson on the battle of New Orleans. It also does not help that with his accent, Singh sounds a little like Wakko.
For me, the real star of the EP is “Soul School (School Dinners Mix)”. The track is perhaps the closest to the style of “Brimful of Asha”. After listening to the track a few times, I still have no idea what it is about. During the chorus, Singh sings “I went soul school/I went piggy in the middle room/I went soul school”. Perhaps I am not up on my British slang or maybe Singh is just singing nonsense, but the track is poppy enough that I am willing to overlook the odd lyrics.
The EP’s closing track “Lynndie England” is an organ-driven instrumental. It reminds me a little of Booker T & the M.G.’s. It is not a bad song but it feels a bit empty. It is a little bit of a lackluster ending to the EP.
Overall, I think The Battle Of New Orleans probably could have used one more strong track to really make it feel like a worthwhile purchase. To me the EP has one great song, one pretty good song, one mediocre song, and one bad song, that does not exactly propel me to spend cash on it.