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Mojave 3

Mojave 3 are vocalist/guitarist Neil Halstead, bassist/vocalist Rachel Goswell, guitarist Simon Rowe, keyboard player Alan Forrester and drummer Ian McCutcheon. The band broke cover in 1995, when a six-track demo impressed 4AD sufficiently to offer them a deal, despite a then-prevailing musical climate of bumptious Britpop that seemed totally at odds with what Mojave 3 were doing. There incongruence was hardly surprising given that Halstead, Goswell and McCutcheon had form as members of definitive Thames Valley shoegazers Slowdive, while Rowe had previously served with dreampop kindred spirits Chapterhouse.

Mojave 3's debut, Ask Me Tomorrow, was a refreshingly stripped down collection that changed little from the original demos. Halstead's melodic, folk- and country-tinged songs stood alone in a sea of Britpop anthems, drawing favourable (if lazy) comparisons to Nick Drake, Cowboy Junkies and Bob Dylan.

Three years later, Out Of Tune continued where the first album left off. From the warm bar-room boogie of ‘Some Kinda Angel’ to the stark simplicity of ‘Yer Feet’, the album showed a group that had grown in both confidence and cohesiveness. Much of it was written in Cornwall, Neil having relocated to Newquay for the surfing and peace of mind. The rest of the band remained in London, where the recording took place, aided by friend and fellow musician Mark Van Hoen (aka Locust).

Third album Excuses For Travellers contained some of the most ambitious Halstead compositions yet, ranging from the unabashed pop of ‘Any Day Will Be Fine’ to lachrymose epic ‘In Love With A View’. The former added the name Brian Wilson to those routinely dropped in Mojave 3 reviews; the latter was infused with the rueful wisdom that characterises the best work of Paul Simon and or Jimmy Webb.