There’s a becoming awkwardness, a disconnection or more so a dislocating distance applying to this deeply satisfying oddity from pulselovers. Released in a miniscule cassette pressing by Sensory Leakage – quite possibly just 20 copies all told, ‘noisedemo’ mostly features a live performance from early 2019 at Doncaster College, where having recently completed the excellent ‘Cotswolds’ set for Castles in Space and duly handed in the masters, Handley and co decided to withdraw to the safe shadows of the minimalist frontier. Those expecting more of the same folk blown idyll, think on for this 30 minute set is a seasoned example of deep trance wired abstraction featuring looping overlays and a vintage 50’s era electronic eerie – which admirers of the Barrons, Louis and Bebe will surely adore as well as those well versed with the modular manipulations of Sonic Boom’s EAR period. The sounds both sparse and stripped back to the bare, generate a somewhat psychedelic experience, shimmering oscillators forge alliances with dronal waveforms which at times have the feel and out there airlessness of those unnamed white label offerings that Mr Peel would drop in to his late night track listings more starkly, it’s the unbroken 30 minute continuity that affords Mr Handley to sonically evolve in real time that makes this so rewarding, the recurring water effects applying a genteel touch, both calming and cavernous. In addition to the Doncaster event over to the flip, you’ll find three archive recordings from 2015 in the shape of ‘noisedemo’, τρόποc and 91455, the former of which has all the hallmarks of V/VM making a surprise visit to the tigerbeat6 studios or at the very least seeking to spook the folk over at twisted nerve. As to ‘τρόποc’, well in truth we are back in EAR terrains though here as though in a face off with a particularly impish and youthful Add N to X. Which all but leaves ‘91455’ to lead matters to the run out, and with that drop the sets best moment, a wonderful slice of rustic nostalgia finding its sonic friend in littlebow, a charmed carousel possessed of the playfulness of the much missed Assembled Minds and with that the lush courtesy of the silken symphonia of Magnetophone.

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current and future polytechnics …..

Those of you fully abreast of polytechnic youth happenings will know Dom’s 2020 schedule is pretty much tied up until release number 125, it seems there’s still uncertain on vinyl pressing from Europe with Brexit potentially hiking up costs to prohibitive levels, still there’s talk of lathes not being affected, thanks to Phil at 345rpm and the potential reliance on cassettes.

However, just out of pressing, two long out of print compilations have been gathered together and given a new lease of life, the previosly well received ‘they make no say’ and ‘popcorn lung’ both re-emerge as a limited 300 double disc on red and mustard vinyl ….. both mentioned here….


… and here …..


Lastly, it’s a rare thing for me to find myself lost for words, but I am ever so humbled and overwhelmed that the label over the busy Christmas period got together with a host of very kind folk to put together a limited lathe release by way of a benefit type thing for me – see I told you, so stunned I can’t even express the words properly.

Anyway,  I’ll leave it to Dom to explain before I start welling up again……..

‘Hey folks, news of a very special NEW release just planned over the Christmas period, which I think may just make it out as the first release for 2020.

Released by way of a benefit 45 to the widely revered and much loved, ace musical scribe MARK BARTON & THE SUNDAY EXPERIENCE. Mark has been a mate for 20 years or so now, and as many of you who tune into the page may know, has been struggling with his writing during a hellish last 12 months or so with failing health. So many artists and labels are indebted to his continuous support and enthusiastic writing. The four mentioned below are just the tip of the iceberg really.

so PY117 is released in his honour. a lathe cut 45 released as a pressing of 100 copies featuring new tracks (we’re 99.9% sure at the time of writing) from: TOMORROW SYNDICATE | POLYPORES | LAKE RUTH | POLYTECHNIC SOUND ARCHIVE.

more news as it’s ready to roll but just to say HUGE thanks to all bands and especially cutting guru Philm who is working flat out to get this one done asap.

All proceeds go directly to Mark himself.
Thanks guys, Happy New Year to ya’s!


update …..

The Sunday Experience” benefit EP | PY117 RELEASE DATE: This coming Monday night 20|1|20 at 9PM

Hey everyone, I mentioned this one recently, now it’s ready to roll. As I said before, Mark Barton’s writing, reviews, features and sheer enthusiasm and know how have long been admired by many; this past year he has continued at an incredible rate despite fighting an ongoing battle against ill health.

As it turns out, since mentioning this, we could have filled a double LP without exaggeration. however, it’s a 4 trk EP we come knocking with, here. TOMORROW SYNDICATE | POLYPORES | LAKE RUTH w/LISTENING CENTER | POLYTECHNIC SOUND ARCHIVE. 100 numbered copies WITH ALL PROCEEDS GOING DIRECTLY TO MARK.

This one will fly, so tune in right here this coming Monday (20/1) at 9PM UK time. Also every bit as key in this one’s creation Philm at 3.45 cutting, has very kindly cut a total one off copy as a picture disc with a 24 hour auction also beginning monday at 9, whereby this one-off 45 also goes up for grabs with full bid going directly to Mark…. The package also includes a fab insert with tribute from Nick Taylor.

see you then….


many thanks to all involved, I am forever indebted to your kind spirit and time taken over Christmas, bless you all ……..





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e +

Hopefully the links are working below, but here’s a sneak snippet of one of the tracks featured on a limited 250 (standard vinyl) polytechnic youth pressing by
project e +. according to the press notes ‘….. the debut 45 from this enigmatic Canadian, a 6 trk 7″ in stapled, inkstamped, numbered flipover sleeves harking back to the golden days of ’78-’82 DIY period’ which, incidentally, is available now on pre-order. Titled er ‘untitled’ this cosmic carousel is trimmed with a wonderfully trippy flavouring which by these well worn ears had us instantly recalling the rarified cosmically pysched grooves of the, for too long, missing in action Mr Lyons … better known here as the Palace of Swords. I’m guessing another essential then.


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Gabe Knox

No date of release confirmed on this yet, though its been assigned the all important catalogue number PY98. From Gabe Knox via polytechnic Youth, this is ‘hello world’ and its accompanying flip ‘taking a break’. A quality slice of rero electro that appears timelocked on the frontal horizon of electronicas golden age, possessed of a lightness of purpose and a playful accessibility, it comes seductively cut with the same nostalgic glow as those that decorated that recent the Twelve Hour Foundation outing for Castles in Space, that same air of kitschy kosmische, ‘taking a break’ particularly cheerily chiming as though prepped as a lost mid 70’s theme for some aborted ‘Tomorrow’s World’ rival.of course, essential

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Archiv – Singled Out – Missive 41 ……..

Archive posting originally published on the losing today site ….. August 2004 …..

Missive 41
Singled Out

Missive 41

‘Holy shit Batman, what is that sound, it’s hurting my head…’

‘Shut the fuck up Robin, don’t you know it’s the all new swanky Singled Out, superhero tunes for a superhero guy, and while we are at it, why has my Sonic Youth t-shirt got nipples, have you been wearing it again?

Dedicated to Kelly and Mark missing you lots and lots.

The joy, we’ve discovered brackets, yes brackets as in (these type brackets) and as a mark of respect (and joy at our discovery) this weeks singled out will be bulging with words (and brackets). Next time out, the, mysteries, of….punctuation!!! explained, . (?) !

Okay a kind of very quick Singled Out before we check out for a week or two to clear the decks of what is beginning to look like a mountain range for a CD album pile.

Our thanks to the people responsible for the latest issue of the Word (Issue 19). Not only did they hit us with a cover mounted CD that features the God like genius of Robyn Hitchcock teamed up on this occasion with Gillian Welch and David Rawlings but delighted us with an observant and highly readable appraisal of Undead looking Jack and the diminutive (but gorgeous with it) Meg better known (as if you didn’t know) as the White Stripes. But the best was yet to come, as though making it seem like all my Christmas’s had come on the same day albeit four months early they threw in a highly entertaining and memory jerking 5 page salute to the greatest band in their own tea break that the Beatles wanted to be (had they of course not split up five years earlier or else formed 15 years later), the Rutles, we salute you Neil Innes.

Quote of the week comes via a spot of casual twilight internet surfing where we happened across God like Genius number two, Julian Cope. When asked by a fan via his sites message board:

‘Would you ever do another Teardrop Explodes gig?’

Our intrepid Space Druid resplendent in the art of one-line put-downs replied:

‘Would you ever return to having your mother wipe your asshole?’

So we’ll take that as a firm NO then Jules?! For more spleen ripping moments aplenty check out http://www.headheritage.co.uk/drude/qa/brain_donor.php

Sad news indeed reached us this week that the self styled super freak and King of Punk Funk Rick James passed away in his sleep on 6th August 2004 at his LA home. The multi million selling artists performances shocked and astounded audiences in equal measures when his ‘Street Songs’ album brought him to the attention of the music world at large. As well as being a musician in his own right and proficient with at least five instruments, he also wrote songs for other artists including Teena Marie and the Temptations and was often sampled, perhaps most famously on MC Hammer’s ‘U can’t touch this’ which included ‘Super Freak’. James (real name James Johnson) was born February 1st 1948 a nephew of Temptations vocalist Melvin Franklin he founded his first band the Mynah Birds after going AWOL from the Navy, a band whose members would later go their separate ways and form legends Steppenwolf (Goldie McJohn) and Buffalo Springfield (Bruce Palmer and Neil Young). Following his subsequent arrest for draft dodging he relocated to Britain and formed funk combo Main Line. Returning to the States permanently in the late 70’s he assembled together a group of musicians called the Stone City Band with the aim of creating a more progressive and rock orientated take on the whole funk genre or as James put it ‘funk ‘n’ roll’ taking elements of Sly Stone, George Clinton but with the kick of early Rolling Stones and fusing it with outsider streetwise attitude of sex and drugs (note the veiled references on ‘Mary Jane’ which was dropped from radio airplay). Having earned sizeable sales for both the ‘Come get it’ and ‘Bustin out of L Seven’ James took to the road accompanied by the Mary Jane Girls and a then unknown artist, Prince. The quintessential ‘Street Songs’ was released in 1981 having already seen James corner the disco market with the contagious ‘Super Freak’ and ‘Give it to me baby’ hits. Never quite able to top the success of ‘Street Songs’ James slowly withdrew to more ballad-esque laid back soul as the 80’s progressed mainly born from being irritated at the constant comparisons to, the now established, Prince and his apparent turnaround of attitude towards drugs. Leaving Motown in the mid 80’s he joined Reprise were he was to score a number one hit ‘Loosey’s Rap’ with Roxanne Shanty. Yet the spectre of drugs returned with vicious abandon culminating in his being imprisoned in 1991 and serving 5 years. One thing that can never be denied or taken away from James was that he was a visionary who single handedly took a genre by the scruff of its neck and dragged it kicking and screaming towards its next logical evolution. At the time of his death James was finalising work on a new album due for release next year and had recently been seen duetting with Teena Marie at the BET awards were they performed ‘Fire and Desire’. The cause of death was thought to be coronary related. His is survived by his 3 children. Our thoughts and deepest sympathies go out to his family and fiends.

On the magazine front the long awaited Losing Today in print is still somewhere about but fear not a crack squad of sniff it out tracker dogs have been let loose with express orders to find the errant publication and bring it home to the loving arms of its over anxious parent like staff, I have just today seen the first finished copies and it looks, without blowing our own trumpet right fuckin’ awesome in the age old tradition of front to back it features: !!!, Lali Puna, Fierce Panda, Jet, Fiery Furnaces, the Veils, Franz Ferdinand, cover stars Blonde Redhead, a feature on everything you should know about the Canadian music scene, Nitrada, Tales from the Attic (the older and wiser sibling of this here Singled Out), Fiel Garvie, Mum, 22 pages of album reviews, Gen X and a handy bite sized essential CD featuring 14 foot stomping tracks from artists that your record collection is begging to say hello to.

……..……..NB Losing Today magazine will be out and available in Borders later this week……………

As previously we are still accepting submissions for the next cover mounted CD details as outlined on the last Singled Out as can the address for submissions to these pages and any general gifts you wish to unload yourselves with (all graciously received of course) please note that though advising me of hot new MP3’s is very much encouraged I still like having the sounds in my hand whether it be on vinyl (preferred especially in hand drawn wrap around sleeves with stacks of inserts), CD’s, floppy discs and even cassettes.

And when you are fed up playing CD’s and records then take some time out and have a listen in on other people playing CD’s and records on that old fangled contraption called the radio…highlights……

Mixing It on BBC Radio 3 http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio3/mixingit Friday 22.15 – 23.30. Radio at its most eclectic, hell they even play stuff we’d give the odd spare limb for. Presented by Mark Russell and Robert Sandall, those with PC’s can play catch up and re-listen to Bjork’s interview on the 20th August show, while treats in store next week include a session from Los Angeles ambient acoustic musician Tom Heasley.

John Peel on BBC Radio 1 http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio1/johnpeel still in my view the only DJ worth listening to on Auntie Beeb’s flagship radio station despite them continually dicking about with his programme schedules. Next week sees the Deerhoof locking swords 26/08 while the night before (25/08) sees he of the velveteen electronic symphonies Darren Durham better known as Fort Dax stepping out for what should be one of the sessions of the year and which will feature (in his words not mine) a slightly more realised mix of ‘Wolf’ (his forthcoming single on the ever dandy Static Caravan) and a less emphatic version of ‘Beverley’. The following week has Graham Coxon dropping by on the 01/09 and the daunting Trencher which we recommend hard hats at the ready and all moveable objects glued down or at least removed from the vicinity of the radio / PC (02/09). As previously advertised those with PC’s can relive moments from the Fall’s 24th Peel session, not to missed or sniffed at unless of course you have a bad cold and a note from your mum to excuse you.

Meanwhile erstwhile Mancunian bad boy of early 90’s graveyard radio Mark Radcliffe can now be heard without hapless side kick Marc Riley in tow on, what is the new Radio 1, Radio 2 for four nights a week, not a patch on the anarchic Hit the North and sounding like a less anally sarcastic Out on Blue 6 but then you can’t have everything. http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio2/markradcliffe

Talking of Marc Riley he’s now divorced from his radio partner of 15 years and now happily lives on BBC 6 where he presses dainty flowers and scares the birds out of the trees with his bag of musical gems as part of his show Saturday afternoon Rocket Science broadcasts. Again those with PC’s may like to recheck the 21/08 show where the absolutely wonderful Anna Kashfi clock in for an acoustic session. http://www.bbc.co.uk/6music

Album wise the current batch of long players to send us spinning till we are sick and dizzy…..

Tangiers ‘Never bring you pleasure’ (Sonic Unyon)
The Violettes ‘The Violettes’ (Violette Music)
The Go! Team ‘Thunder Lightning Strike’ (Memphis Industries).
Hedaya ‘Another brave act, like leaving’ (Clever Bedsit)
Charlie Parr ‘King Earl’ (Misplaced Music)
For Against ‘Echelons’ (Words on Music)
Argentine ‘In other fictions’ (Self Released)
The Fairways ‘This is Farewell’ (Matinee)
Kate Bush ‘Lionheart’ (EMI)
Gabriel Minnikin ‘Hard Feelings’ (Self Released) we can’t recommend this one enough…..

Onward to this times all conquering singles among the pile awaiting the to go under the knife the following:

Hood / Themselves; Myrakaru; Bauri; Oceansize; Michael Shelley; Greenland; Ali McQueen; Meow Meow, Truckee Brothers; Emerald Ocean; Thee Jenerators; Broadway Project, the Hot Puppies, Small World, the Projects and 100 bullets back.

Hood / Themselves ‘Split’ (Rocket Racer). An absolutely spiffing release that pairs together the eminent Hood with Themselves. This release is the third instalment of Rocket Racers 7” picture disc series which has so far seen (not by us we sadly hasten to add) outings featuring the absolutely awesome Blackheart Procession and a head to head between Styrofoam and Dntel. These releases are limited to a 1000 copies of which there are a further 100 specially designed artwork versions kicking about housed in dinky Braille sleeves (of which ours is one) which look mighty damn nifty. Hood no introductions needed really, our only complaint is that we haven’t heard nearly enough of the releases they’ve put out over the last few years. They’ve been mooching around the music scene from the comfort of their Leeds based bunker for over 10 years now originally coming to prominence in the jet stream that followed Flying Saucer Attack’s introduction upon the ears of the underground, but where both ensembles fuzz laden pop connected them initially FSA would mature into more folk realms while Hood would shift ever more into the uncertain and creatively wide open left field arenas. It’s a busy time ahead for the Hood dudes what with a new single slated for October release entitled ‘The Lost You’ and an album as yet untitled due early next year. As an appetiser this split features the first new Hood material in two years and gorgeous it is to, woozy daydreaming soft centred psychedelia fused by the blending of electronics and acoustics that have the overall impression of a melody eerily slipping in and out of consciousness. Laid back and trippingly docile, think Animal Collective at their most sedately out there being hot-wired by the drifting sophistication of ‘Spirit of Eden’ era Talk Talk, simply magnificent. Flip over for an interpretation of a Hood composition by Anticon stable mates Themselves who are basically duo Dose One of cloudead fame and Jel. Not prepared to play second fiddle Themselves work their own unique brand of magic to create an equally fuzzy dream like spectacle. Slightly less together than Hood whose wisp like dream scapes have you running through fields of oddly coloured talking poppies Themselves on the other hand help you relive those odd fragmented surrealist dreams where objects not normally known for their conversational techniques chatter endlessly about the meaning of life in places where the sky is the ground, clouds are marshmallows and the sea is a big tub of yum yum yoghurt (or is it only me that has dreams like this then?). Skipping beats, vocoder vocals and all manner of strange toy-tronic sounds waltz about in confused delight to upset your otherwise well ordered life. And as though it was going to be anything other, the Single of the Missive. http://www.rocketracer.us

Myrakura ‘Klutic Reso’ (Expanding). Okay the latest instalments in the eclectic series of seven inches from London’s premier electronic label, Expanding brings onboard latest signings Myrakaru. You know the deal by now, 400-coloured vinyl pressings only all housed in a heavy duty PVC that smells of gabardine. This particular release comes in a lovely shade of sherbet yellow in case you were wondering. Estonian duo Indrek and Joel have been plying their art now since 2000, initially operating within break beat mediums their sound has now coalesced and harmonised since those heady chaotic days into what will shortly be their soon to be released debut album ‘Tammetoru’ again on Expanding (an album which from a few sly cursory listens we highly recommend). In the meantime and acting as something of a taster is this delightful two track offering which sees the pairing of the delightfully sensitive sounding ‘Klutic Reso’ with the softly toned (though inclined to spit on occasions) enchantment of ‘Kimalnu’ (taken from the aforementioned long player). Slender, fluffy and very heart warming, ‘Klutic Reso’ lovingly peeps about from behind a dainty clockwork dynamic that’s scrumptiously moulded onto a dozing calypso like melody that could easily pass itself off as a holiday brochure for two weeks bathing in some extra terrestrial seaside beneath the tropical eyes of twin suns. Though darker ‘Kimalnu’ is equally tempting, squelches and tripping beats flutter in the background while all elsewhere seek a more heaven bound plateau on which to play, the duo absorb the ebb and flow of sensual ghost like drones to woo you and it works well drawing you into a hypnotic slumber where the serene landscapes only pierced by the impromptu bursts of jungle-esque friction. File under melting. http://www.expandingrecords.com

Bauri ‘Have no fear’ (Expanding). The fifth instalment of the Expanding Seven inch series (and for the note takers among you this time pressed on sky blue vinyl) features two cuts from Martin Abrahamson AKA Bauri. Shamed as I am to admit but I haven’t really had the pleasure of hearing anything by Bauri other than his tasty remix of Yellow 6’s ‘Leitmotiv 3’ which appeared on Enraptured ‘Source : Remix’ album of 2002 so it comes as an understandable surprise to find that Mr Abrahamson has appeared in one form or another on releases for among others Awkward Silence, Jonathon Whiskey, New Speak, Toast and Jam and City Centre Office to name but five from an ever growing list that goes back to his 1999 debut ‘Sassafras Flip’. ‘Have no fear’ is slyly ear catching, built around a sparse mesmerising mould that incorporates a determined trip hop beat and a thunderous floor rumbling grooving bass under carriage, like Myrakaru’s ‘Klutic Reso’ there lies the merest trace of a sublimely exotic thread that’s caught floating unmoored in the ether romantically entwined with the tingling spacey overtures that flicker and shimmer throughout. Flip over for the toy box lullaby like sweetness of the lilting ‘Hugs’ if ever ISAN and Plone sought to collaborate this would be the sound they’d make, dreamy, innocent, childlike, frosty though deceptively warm trembling pop. Absolutely beautiful stuff. http://www.expandingrecords.com

The Projects ‘Ulysses in the Supermarket’ (Track and Field). Now this has superb stamped all over it and don’t let the older boys and girls with bad excuses for record collections tell you other wise. The Projects are a London based quintet who formed in 2001 released a debut single in the shape of ‘Entertainment’ (which sadly passed us by) and then disappeared for a few years to plan world domination the seeds of which can be heard on this two-track single and the ensuing debut long player ‘Let’s get static’ due any day soon. As is our whim the flip side ‘Nancy Garcia’ gets the first mention mainly for the fact those of you out there who’ve ever laid awake at night wondering what a chance meeting in the studio between Honey Bane and Ian Curtis would sound like with both Postcard’s finest Josef K and Orange Juice doing a tellingly edgy post punk makeover with (the as where Human League’s) Craig and Marsh adding the futuristic swirls on an old rickety synth (so it’s just me then eh?) then worry no more. Dangerously cool shadowy stuff. As if to add insult to injury ‘Ulysses in the Supermarket’ is even better, more of that machine rock stuff that we love so much here but this time cursed with an inventiveness that few groups operating in the same medium seem to sadly lack the grasp of. Sounding like a new age Stereolab tinkering about with a punk / krautrock hybrid and sneakily tapping into Quickspace’s catalogue for source material while their backs are turned, ‘Ulysses in the Supermarket’ is blessed with a striking blank aloofness and a pulsating throb that literally stalks menacingly from start to finish not to mention being home to one of the best bits of pop this year at 1.21 where everything goes spacily light-headed. Neu romantics anyone? Deputy single of the Missive. http://www.trackandfield.org.uk

The Hot Puppies ‘Green Eyeliner’ (Purr). Another record so catchy you get splinters in your ear is the second outing for Aberystwyth five piece the Hot Puppies. Available on heavy duty vinyl and CD from Bath’s most crucial underground label Purr, who for those among you keeping notes may be all to aware haven’t featured in these pages for a fair while we are sad to say, between our last acquaintance (Aqua Vista way back in 2002) and now the blighters have managed to sneak a further nine releases beneath our ever watchful radar. Anyway enough of the bleating back to the Hot Puppies (what a name, eh?), three slabs of poke you in the eye and knock you straight out indie pop, these kids operate in the same retro world as the very wonderful Brand Violet sharing further common ground in that they have a lead singer, Becky Newman, whom you feel could cutely purr her way out of any imminent danger with a mocking ‘is that your best shot?’ retort. ‘Green Eyeliner’ ricochets around your head like a rubber bullet in a confined space, prime time Shadows 60’s twang meets the exuberant pop rush of classic Darling Buds after a catfight with Transvision Vamp all metered out against Beth Gibson’s creamy keyboard swirls and Newman’s enticing quiver like vocals, simply un-missable stuff. ‘All we’ve got to do is kiss’ comes across like a more crushing younger sibling of Catatonia, all softly tender on the outside while hiding away a cauldron of heart racing throbbing lustful desire (way hey…sorry must be the heat!). Sandwiched in between is what can only be described as the swooning twists of Phil Spector and Roy Wood howling gloriously in earth shaking wide screened grandeur, easily the best cut here if only for the underlying sinister sense of simmering bitterness brooding away against the unabashed innocence of the ornamental saccharine laced melodies fluttering happily beneath. And with that, pretty much another of those essential type purchases we think. http://www.purr.org.uk

Thee Jenerators ‘Burn the house down’ (Twist). The absolute dogs bollocks this. The welcome return of Guernsey’s premier arse kicking garage howlers Thee Jenerators who following last years raring to go ‘Jenerator X’ album can’t, in our eyes, do anything wrong. Limited to 500 copies only and featuring three songs 6 minutes in length and 6 minutes we couldn’t begin to imagine being better filled, well we can but what do you do for the other five and half minutes (only joking). Recorded as always at North London’s (now famous thanks to those Stripes dudes) Toe Rag studios. The accompanying blurb says of ‘Burn the house down’ we quote ‘blasts like the Meteors on acid out of your speakers’ and to honest we couldn’t put it better other than to add that this’ll cause you to swing your pants at such velocity that they’ll spontaneously combust. A devilish bar room knuckle boogie that forces through the blender some well sliced prime cuts of not only the Meteors, but the Guana Batz, the Turbines and early primitive Vengeance era Cramps (without the witch craft obsessions of course) the resulting blend gathered up for what can only be described as a riotous recipe of lip curling addictive foot stomping psycho-billy fun that’ll give you a number 2 flat-top just for daring to listen. ‘French Disco’ not on this occasion the old Stereolab number from a few years back (which was spelt with a k anyway) but a tale of a stag do in France and which if my ears don’t deceive rattles around almost in homage to the Small Faces Steve Marriott with Wreckless Eric overtones and houses the immortal line; ‘please mister bouncer don’t say no, you wouldn’t let us in to your casino, we pissed on your car but you don’t know…..’. Last up one of those Confederates Vs. the Union odes ‘The day I let the Union fall’ trades with the heart felt sentiments of a would be a deserter delivered with the rolling train like country acoustics of those early essential Johnny Cash Sun issues. Recommended without hesitation but then you probably gathered that all by yourselves. http://www.theejenerators.com

Meow Meow ‘Sick Fixation’ (Devil in the Woods / Integrity). A quick return to these pages for Los Angeles based Meow Meow following their highly infectious Earlies / Spiritualized meets head on at full speed Jesus and Mary Chain debut ‘Cracked’. With a long player waiting feverishly in the shadows slated for release next month time enough for this 3-track taster to pull in a few wandering souls. ‘Sick Fixation’ is one of those cuts that grows with each attendant listen, not as immediate as ‘Cracked’ it has to said but still packing a brutal West Coast punch. Slacker pop for the beach kids, ‘Sick Fixation’ is so laid back its horizontal, tingling fuzzing guitars with Wilson brothers sun kissed harmonies craftily reminiscent of Husker Du as though tamed and lulled by the Mayflies and Velvet Crush. Better still is the kooky heat stroked ‘Breathe Easy’ with its trace fumes of Elephant 6’s finest breezing in the stratosphere and without a shadow of doubt housing some of the most comatose guitar riffs you are ever likely to hear for the rest of the year. Bringing up the rear in a strangely odd fashion is the decidedly creak and off balanced ‘Rewind’ which is sort of a acoustic lullaby and then not a acoustic lullaby if you get my drift, imagine the characters from the Magic Roundabout sleeping off a real bad night on the ale with Dylan much to wired to fall into slumber trying to sing himself to sleep. You know you want it. http://www.integrityrecords.co.uk

Small World ‘Seaside town in the Rain’ (Detour). Another of those (what seem like) rare outings these days for the UK’s premier mod label Detour into the singles market, yet when they do you can always be assured it’ll be a gem and this particular release is no exception. Having already recently coaxed back into circulation members of Secret Affair (Ian Page who incidentally releases his second single via Detour very shortly) those Detour dudes have now uncovered the much-missed Small World. For those wondering what the fuss is about Barking based mods Small World where set for happening things way back in the early 80’s, two singles quickly appeared ‘Love is dead’ on the hugely collectable Whaam! followed by ‘First Impressions’ on their own Valid imprint aside a few mail order demos, compilation appearances and a retrospective entitled ‘Slight Detour’ it was all but over until now. Now back with the original line up they’ve recently been seen sharing the stage with Paul Weller for a Ronnie Lane tribute. ‘Seaside town in the rain’ has more zip than a Vespa and easier on the ear to boot, smarter and sharper than a showroom stocked with retro lined Ben Sherman clothing and built around a spirit that harks subtly back to Morrissey’s ‘Everyday is like Sunday’ and blessed with an anthemic brass fanfared melody that those Stereophonics kids have nightly wet dreams about writing. ‘Don’t make me feel’ loosens on the ante slightly deliciously bathed in 60’s Booker T keyboards but its left to the deceptive power popping ‘Birds’ to provide the best cut of the set with what sounds like the original rhythm section from the Pretenders kicking happily in the back ground scoring of old Americana tinged Who riffs with the sparing washes of Latino brass arrangements curdling the overall mix. Damn cool if you ask me. http://www.detour-records.co.uk

Broadway Project ‘Autumn Breaks’ (Memphis Industries). Last years album ‘The Vessel’ was a delicious mutation of curving down tempo seduction melting breathlessly with gentle jazz overtones, amid its alluring floor show Berridge deftly injected a hybrid fix that saw Harrison’s eastern tablatures swirling as one with the lounge like language of Laswell. ‘Autumn Breaks’ marks Berridge’s first recorded works since that album and perhaps gives indication of what may come on Broadway Projects third long player. This 5 track baby comes pressed on twelve inches of wax only, and be warned is strictly limited to 2500 pressings. This collection serves as something of a trade off between Berridge’s early career Broadway Project releases and last years ‘The Vessel’, opening cut ‘From the Treetops’ finds the Eastern obsession continuing. This time without the foil of Richard Palmer’s vocals to arc his melodies around a wider canvas now needs to be filled, and filled admirably it is utilising rustling beats beneath a bed of souring symphonic touches, Berridge imbues the composition with the obligatory trademark cinematics from whereupon a sense of tender drama unfolds under which a delicate sultry haze of mystique weaves her alluring web. ‘Linear 7s’ follows in similar pursuit with wisping Eastern influences being stretched apart by a sleek though serious chilled jazz motif while on the superior floating dynamics found within ‘Raga 4’ Berridge revisits old Laswell stomping grounds for a spot of intoxicating tripped out Sitar laced space dub grooving. In addition you get the stately sounding semi conscious ‘Solar Lunar’ and the curiously shy like fizz ‘n’ beats-esque ‘Fragments’ and with it all the signs that a forthcoming Broadway Project long player will be a most desirable addition to the top of any shopping list. http://www.memphis-industries.com

Oceansize ‘Music for Nurses’ EP (Beggars Banquet). You know how it is, there’s just too many bands out there in the big wide world, much to many records for one person and his trusty hanging by a thread Hi-Fi to feasibly keep abreast of, and consequently because of this dilemma some bands fall beneath the radar much to my given annoyance. One such band is Manchester five piece Oceansize who aside from hearing their storming debut for Errol Records a wee while back haven’t so far (we missed their debut album and Beggars released singles) managed to cause any out break of neighbourhood panic around our gaff, until that is this little honey pie dropped onto our mats. Though evidently not like Radiohead in the slightest way shape or form, Oceansize do share with Yorke and Co that self same spirit, perhaps sense of warring angst / agitation while at the same time making the whole concept of progressive rock something plausible instead of laughable. Kindred spirits of the awesome Immune both of whom have a habit of honing their sounds to form a myriad of mood swings one minute decidedly gentle and lulling the next brutal and fiercesome, one thing you can be certain of is the growing uncertainty as to which route their compositions will take, its an effect that can be pretty much replicated by standing outside for the duration of a violent storm. ‘Music for Nurses’ EP then, five tracks opening with the blistering ‘One out of none’ has the quintet sorting out the men from the boys pretty early on in the scheme of things, opening to the sound of fuzzing guitars being fired up this caustic baby soon rattles into a fractured groove that changes vantage point so often you’d be lucky not to get whiplash. Oceansize make full use of their arsenal of three guitarists, seesawing precariously between moments of relative calm to torturous skull bashing hate venting industrial ferocity which, though housing the obvious Nine Inch Nails comparisons, also sounds like both Foo Fighters and the Pixies have gate crashed to wreck the party. In a curious about turn the next handful of tracks ease of the friction considerably, as much as it spits and gloomily wallows away ‘Paper Champion’ takes the slow burn option intensely and steadily mutating from brooding to simmering. On the other hand ‘Drag the ‘Nal’ cloaks itself from prying eyes with a remarkably serene Church like quality that slowly bleeds into ‘Dead dogs and all sorts’ whereupon a spot of Floyd (which never did anyone any harm) is enacted to the proceedings before venturing into what is the EP’s best moment, the turbulent finale that is ‘As the smoke clears’. Seven minutes of muscular sonic pyrotechnics upon which progressive rock gets bludgeoned by grind core while floating amid all the carnage some tastily crafted moments of celestial trimmed noodle rock, not bad at all. http://www.beggars.com

Greenland ‘The Prisons of Language’ (Gizeh). Having already delivered the monumental debut from Leeds based Immune earlier this year (a release which we thoroughly recommend you check out if you haven’t already done so) now comes the equally impressive debut from Australian 3 piece Greenland. Like fellow country men Silver Ray, Greenland prove that you don’t need a roomful of guitarists in order to craft out what can one minute be dream like spiralling symphonies and the next hypnotic displays of torrential intensity. Honing their craft in the best tradition of Mogwai and Constellation’s finest Greenland are fully fluent in what it takes to create glacial texts and carve impressively towards that goal using post rock tools and cinematic sheens and okay what they may lack in as much as Godspeed’s ability to stir up epic melodramas at the flip off a hat they more than admirably acquit themselves in terms of concocting immediately accessible sonic overtures that are direct, unobtrusive and not so over elaborate as to make them generically tied. On the opening ‘The amps have eyes’ they toy playfully dipping into Floyd-ist realms drawing you in deceptively in fact, almost daringly, to an unseen point of collapse which of course never happens though buried beneath a blizzard of locked down intense groove the threat always seems a realistic possibility. On the sadly tinged ‘Cowboys in Atlantis’ the trio are haunted by the spectre of the Shadows at their most potent and touching (elegantly and faintly snaring that repose between ‘Wonderful Land’ and ‘Deer Hunter’). Cruising melancholia cast like some cinematic moment on which a film turns on its heels to a point where the hero, caught in a moment of reflective introspection, leaves the path he has travelled to follow a route that’ll ultimately be the making of him. In sharp contrast ‘Secret rat and the bag of happiness’ zigzags superbly between shades of light and dark though beneath always instilling that scuffing of oppressive tenseness that suggests something untoward is looming large around the next corner. For me though it’s on the irresistibly sublime ‘Alicia’ where the band blossom in full glorious technicolor. Measured and all at once tranquil and hurtfully heartbreaking, Greenland work amid the same given magical environs that lie elegantly frosted between the reaches of earth and the heavens above, a place more commonly associated with Workhouse and Yellow 6. Chords seductively shimmer in shy formations arcing gracefully whispering a language of mournful romance to enchant and seduce in equal measures. Damn it’s quite perfect. http://www.gizehrecords.com

The Truckee Brothers ‘Wall to Wall’ (Popluxe). Now if I had to own up and admit to saying what release came as the biggest surprise from this assembled Singled Out crowd, then this 6 track EP from the Truckee Brothers would win hands down, initially up for review last time out and again I’d have to admit that the temptation to sneak it away in the pile of heard and done CD’s without a review was overwhelming, yet there was something there, maybe an extra week would solve the mystery. Point of fact is the Truckee Brothers are one of those acts that you simply can’t hear reference points, well not immediately anyway. The blurb attached describes them as being an evil Everly Brothers from a negative parallel universe which to be honest isn’t far off the mark especially on the closing ‘Ashes and Stashes’, but then their undoubted charm is borne out of the fact that they find such ease at dipping into not only Americas rich musical history (to which they tip on its head) but Britain’s too, amid these six tracks don’t be surprised to find the clever weaving of psychedelia, campfire blues and Beefheart / Zappa edits aplenty. Add to that the liner notes, which describe the roles of the duo as ‘prancing about’ and ‘voodoo’, which should put you on your guard immediately that all is not quite right in the house of the Brothers Truckee. The superbly titled ‘Death Vulcan Grip’ has an off centre rockabilly edge to it that’s strangely more in tune, if anything, with the Violent Femmes than Stray Cats while mutating a cow punk dynamic with the lighter elements of Gallon Drunk’s illustrious back catalogue. ‘Road kill constant’ is blessed with a seriously infectious hip grinding side winding riff that subtly points to the Knack doing early 70’s street cool Stones licks for fun while both ‘Ooh, ooh, ooh, Chicken Pot Pie’ and ‘Imperial Nightclub Waltz’ see the duo fall through the cracks of reality into the weird and wonderful world of the Dawn of the Replicants, the latter cut obliquely surreal and alarmingly eerie in a way that only early Black Heart Procession ever achieved with a degree of aplomb, think Bowie’s reading of ‘Alabama Song’ redone by an in macabre acoustic moods Radiohead. A certifiable gem of a record though you’ll be left scratching your head wondering why exactly. http://www.populuxerecords.com

Michael Shelley ‘Little Things’ (Heliotone). And it seems like ages since we’ve been able to jump up and down around the room at the news of an impending release from Heliotone but here it is and imagine our surprise and overwhelming sense of joy to find that it features six tracks from New Yorker Michael Shelley of whom in our humble opinion we feel that no discerning record collection is complete without at least one his recordings mooching happily about its confines. Again as with previous releases an extremely limited outing of only 50 copies all pressed on 8 inches of clear polycarbonate vinyl, you have been warned. My first introduction to Michael Shelley came via the ever excellent Shoeshine label (a label run by Francis MacDonald erstwhile tub thumper for Teenage Fanclub and BMX Bandits and while you are about it check out the splinter label Spit ‘n’ Polish and get yourself some decent musical taste by checking out among other the extremely talented Laura Cantrell) way back about 4 / 5 years ago in the form of ‘Half Empty’ his debut (he’s since released ‘Too many movies’ which we sadly missed). There’s no great mystery to Shelley, the magic lies in the simplicity of his songs whether they be the dumbed down little love notes he sketches or the heart breaking tales of deception and hurt that litter his catalogue all made the better for the soft sprinkle of pop dust he coats them in. One of those rare artists with an eye for making the most obvious taken for granted every day situations and building an upliftingly cute drama around them. This six-track release features a selection of unreleased material, covers and outtakes and acts as a perfect starting point to this uniquely wistful talent. Opening with an exclusive Bobby Goldsboro cover of ‘Little Things’ whereupon you are immediately drawn into Shelley’s un-fussed world, it’s a snappy inoffensive cut that has a soft saccharine taste not a million miles from Kevin Tihista. ‘Don’t’ initially appeared on ‘Half Empty’ a hurting ballad with brooding twangs and drifting harmonicas all packaged around a damn smart lazy country trimming, think of ‘Almost Blue’ era Elvis Costello collaborating with ‘Look Sharp’ era Joe Jackson. ‘Julie’ is a cover of the old Bobby Fuller Four which originally appeared on the bands second long player ‘I fought the law’ (yes kids the album from whence the Sonny Curtis penned title track of which would later be covered by the Clash came) this time lifted from a Japanese Fuller tribute album on #9 records and finds Shelley getting very cool and catchy in a Holly-esque / Everly Brothers kinda way. Then as if to show off his versatility a corking cover of Madness’s rock steady ska classic ‘One Step Beyond’ is thrown in for good measure ending it all with the simply breath taking touch of ‘Baby’s in a bad mood’ from his ‘Too many movies’ album, all lightly tendered with a sublime Gospel meets Nashville like keyboard treatment while possessing that soft sadness of a maturing Squeeze and the numbing is that so delivery of Dean Friedman. All in all a quite special thing and another Heliotone winner. http://www.onoffonoff.org/heliotone

Emerald Ocean ‘Oceanography’ (H.A.T. Music). Like the aforementioned Truckee Brothers release, another CD that was due to be reviewed last time out though it was decided last minute to spend a couple of more days in its company not that that mere fact should be read as meaning it was somehow under the same threat of consignment to the ‘done’ pile as TB nearly were, no siree. Instead Emerald Ocean are a little more direct in their approach. A trio based in Andover, this is the ensembles debut release and a little corker it is too, five tracks that reveal a maturity that, and not meaning to label them for all time, has an air of that multi lingual rock / pop currency that the Manic Street Preachers (check out ‘What is mine’) assuredly tinkered with on ‘Gold against the soul’ and reached a logical conclusion by the time of ‘Everything must go’ that said Emerald Ocean’s strength seems to lie in their ability to craft straight forward, un-fussed hook laden melodic rock that after repeat listens sounds evermore apparent that they share an affinity with Pearl Jam (as though with Tom Petty in the band especially on the college rock radio friendly ‘Tell it like it is’) in that these cuts have a serious commercial appeal in fact practically all the tracks here would test the resolve of a fair few of the so called stadium bands kicking around the circuit today. In Mike Herbert they have a vocalist cut from the finest tradition of rock singers who has the ability to take the compositions by the scruff off the neck imparting upon them a deep ingrained passion is admirable to say the least. Live wise you can imagine these five cuts taking on a life of their own to simply soar such is the underlying radiance of emotion, passion and electricity that pours from them. ‘Quicksand’ the opening cut is blessed with a nagging stutter like riff that just mercilessly hunts you down, a real contagious tour de force of pop / rock attrition with a full on cruising anthemic chassis and a deftly delivered side winding strut housing a deceptive euphoric rush that you can’t but toe tap to. ‘I don’t wanna say’ is a much darker affair, opening to the tones of icily atmospheric fractured reverb riffs the dynamic soon thaws and shifts perspective at the blink of an eye to something altogether quite grandly unfurls magnificently recalling at times the subtle crossing of paths with U2’s ‘October’ and Big Country’s ‘Steeltown’. With the dreamily undulating ‘Media’ rounding up the pack perfectly I’ve a distinct feeling that given the right kind of break this lot will soon be household names and deservedly so. http://www.emeraldocean.co.uk

Ali MacQueen ‘Red Lights’ (Hope Recordings). And it has to be said we are not ones for believing everything we read especially when it’s the by product of an accompanying press release, sometimes such is the disbelieving amount of fawning and citing of reference markers that you wonder whether the writer was actually listening to the right record or at the very least whether it’s a carefully set out piece of wishful thinking. Happily in MacQueen’s case this isn’t so. One time member of Nottingham band Autoplan ups sticks relocates Southwards to London and goes it alone to be quite possibly, if our ears don’t deceive, one of the finds of the year. Limited to just 500 meagre copies and with an album in the can ready to get out and about to play with the public’s affections, Ali MacQueen’s debut 2 track 7” oozes potential and passion by the bucket load while providing overwhelming evidence that along with artists like Daniel Rachel and Roddy Hart, (to name but two), there is at present a growing increase of solo singer / songwriters out there and about worthy of the time and patience seeking them out. The lead cut ‘Red lights’ opens the proceedings and its soon made obvious that its an almost male take on that burning edginess that was so often prevalent at the root of PJ Harvey’s early ‘Dry’ era work made all the more inspired at the way the jostling elements of skewed folk and the subtle wrappings of the blues amble along like pissed buddies after a night’s session with an almost matter of fact slumber that at times threatens to wobble off the grooves, an end of term report would probably read along the lines of ‘would be Beck if at all arsed’. My favourite of the two is the flip cut ‘Miss Whiskey’ and yes the Ryan Adams references may well be apt here although I’d have difficulty trying to recall straight off the top of my head the last time an Adams composition sucked me emotionally dry. Not being one it seems to romance or woo the listener, MacQueen prefers instead to wear you down, this neat happily unhappy tearjerker stumbles along bleary eyed in painfully introspective fashion and yet for all its telling melancholy its cast amid a slyly jaunty acoustic delivery that’ll breathlessly blow most away. A diamond of a debut.

100 bullets back ‘I know’ (Velocity). Literally dropping onto our mats not two hours ago, so good is this second outing from Oxford trio 100 bullets back, we couldn’t contain our over bound joy of it till the next Singled Out. The accompanying press release makes several mentions to Franz Ferdinand and while I personally may not be of the club that believes FF to be the saviours of alternative rock I’m not so stupid or for that matter, to ignorant to see why they are lauded so, yet while Glasgow’s finest are very much tuned into the Postcard tradition 100 bullets back instead have spent endless nights perfecting their own revisionist slant, though their slightly wonky Tardis control panel has seemingly sent them over shooting ever so slightly into a 1979 – 1981 timeline. Both ‘I know’ and the attendant flip side ‘Bangkok (Everybody needs somebody to love)’ are up there as some of the most infectious trappings of electro-pop / post punk / dance crossover we’ve had the pleasure of hearing all year. Not your usual gloom / austere riddled tunes that most operating in this field seem so happily at churning out, this lot instead draw upon that sense of coldness and splice it with an almost get up and go charge that’s immediately loveable and more importantly as catchy as fuck. Imagine this, Depeche Mode before they got hair, tattoos, heroin and various band members dressing up in their sisters gear, in other words when they where still four skinny smartly dressed albeit real bad dancing blokes from Basildon, one day do the old posing routine on the way to the studio with a shiny bag of brand new tunes (one of which is ‘Just can’t get enough’) and get ambushed by those Human League drop outs Heaven 17, who are still mightily miffed at being replaced by two dancing dollies (who also happen to be bad dancers) quickly take a peak at the tunes and decide to mess around with the chord sequence and add their prototype ‘(We don’t need this) Fascist Groove Thang’ sheen to the proceedings. That pretty much sums up the strutting aloofness of ‘I Know’ and damn smart with it especially the Mark E Smith like accentuated vocals, this seasons verified dance floor accessory. Flip over and things get much better on the artfully uber cool ‘Bangkok (everybody needs somebody to love)’ which to these ears sounds as though it could easily sneak onto the Human League’s ‘Reproduction’ album without so much as a sniff or a by your leave. Infectious isn’t in it, with post punk electro credentials intact dinky synths bounce sparkily threaded all the time by a delirious roving bass line and some of the slinkiest guitar riffs to have ever fallen out of Studio 54. Be warned, the sound of (in) crowd. http://www.100bulletsback.co.uk

As usual my heartfelt thanks to all those who’ve made this senile gibberish possible, no names you know who you are while not forgetting you for taking the time out to actual suffer it. As always comments, death threats and other such like heartily welcomed. We haven’t a clue what’s gonna feature in the next Singled Out but you can bet your arse it’ll be great (I hope).

And if you really can’t wait for the next Singled Out may we suggest you check out Phil and Brian’s recommendations as to what you should / should not have in your record shopping trolley with their weekly reviews of all the latest albums / singles from their vast mail order catalogue, tell ‘em we sent you. http://www.normanrecords.com

All that leaves me to do is to hope you have a happy time record hunting and that you all take care of yourselves.

See you in about, ooh, say 14 and remember kids I talk bullshit so you don’t have to.

‘may the groove be with you’

Lots of love and stuff,



Singled Out is made from natural sources and a highly limited intelligence and selected using the finest natural idiot known to mankind.

Singled Out contains no additives, nuts, animal fats or chemical derivitatives. Any abnormal effects are purely of your own making. If irregular symptoms do occur, retire to a darkened room and repeat the dose at an increased volume. If symptoms persist seek your independent record store for advice and reassurance.

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Archiv – Singled Out – Missive 40 …..

Archive posting originally published on the losing today site ……August 2004 …..

Missive 40
Singled Out

Missive 40

‘sounds to mess up your hair and give your hi-fi seizures’

Dedicated as always to Kelly and Mark missing you so much.

Ha ha well surprise surprise we didn’t manage to keep our promise of weekly-ish Singled Out broadcasts from the desk in the Losing Today attic without a ceiling, (that’s a roof to some of you bright young things). We did try though believe you me us, but what with the sun, the faltering PC, even more faltering health, so faltering in fact that we’ve been told by the GP to cease from all the good things in life like smoking, the occasional tipple, bacon butties, coffee etc….which kinda leaves me just with breathing, though we suspect that they forgot to mention cutting out that one. Still we have our Kylie DVD’s and may they never stop and the hope that another Kate Bush album may one day see the light of day to keep us somewhat sane through all the madness, still it could be worse I could be the Edge, of whom its been reported has lost the master CD-r of U2’s recent recorded opus which must surely come as a relief / relief / relief (delete where applicable) to the most discerning record buying lovers among you, better still Justin ‘i’m just a poor boy nobody loves me’ Darkness has been bemoaning the fact that due to the rigours of being a rock star that the band don’t have anything in the can (the can). Kids there is a God after all.

On the magazine front, the European / American version of Losing Today is chomping at the bit at the printers however the Italian version is out at a special introductory price. See the last Singled Out for further details. We are also collating tracks for the next cover CD compilation so if you are interested then get in touch with either myself mark@losingtoday.com or Andrea andrea@losingtoday.com

Now I’m a little weary about doing this but the address for submissions to these musings is (for now); 54 Garendon Road, Morden, Surrey, SM4 6LY.

Further to the last missive I am as yet unable to review the forthcoming Fort Dax single as the mix hasn’t been confirmed but we can tell you that he has been invited as a session guest on the esteemed John Peel wing-ding, broadcast date is August 25th between 23.00 – 01.00 those without radios check out http://www.radio.co.uk/radio1/alt/johnpeel for info. Up and coming sessions from the French, Graham Coxon and the Deerhoof and if your quick about it a chance to catch up on last week’s guests the Fall for what was their 24th appearance and something not to be missed. Also no sign of those Great Pop Supplement singles which either suggests that they’re not out yet or we’ve fallen of the promo sheet, ho hum. In their place though a dandy crew of top notch gear that more than adequately gives you an excuse or seven to make that well earned trip to the local record emporium to part with your spondoolies, included in the parade of all stars a trio of heart stopping releases from last missives AWOL stars Static Caravan, albeit one of them has already been reviewed in these pages, ooh aeons ago and the other two being those polycarbonate lathe dudes kinda things that our resident hi-fi simply loves to bits. Enough chit chat the singles…..

Aberfeldy ‘Heliopolis by Night’ (Rough Trade). Opening the charge in a truly spectacular way is this delicious summer loving butt mover from young Scotland. Taken from their forthcoming long player debut ‘Young Forever’, ‘Heliopolis by Night’ has apparently already seen the light of day as a fully fledged single a few years back when head honcho Riley Briggs masqueraded as combo Firestone: Legend of the Hawk who we swear to owning a copy of but as always with these things can we lay our hands on the blighter, needless to say our crack squad of elite search and (not) destroy troops have been deployed to survey the recesses of losing today’s dusty shed. Utilising trade secrets only known to honorary members of the magic circle Aberfeldy cleverly swarm you with their deceptive ghost like melodies that to these ears have the feel of a love sick REM c. ‘Green’ smooching up to Damon and Naomi to string up heart piercing bows on red sky nights and pay homage to the Mamas and the Papes. To describe it as beautiful is to faintly scratch at its unfurling glow. http://www.roughtraderecords.com

The Clientele ‘Lacewings’ (Unpopular). The first fruits from Exeter based Unpopular records. Growing up to the sounds of Sarah, Summershine, Bus Stop and Johnny Kane and in awe of the vanguards of vinyl pop Postcard and Creation to name but two, Unpopular wear their wax seven-inch hearts on their sleeve. Each release will be limited to 500 pressings each arriving housed in specially commissioned artist designed sleeves, no genre specific codes just an underlying aim to put out quality releases. Judging by the first three releases we’d like to bet in time Unpopular could be your new favourite label. The debut outing stars the Clientele who regrettably we don’t get to hear enough of here other than on those very rare occasions when we accidentally come across their releases in the local record boutique whispering gently in our ears to take them home, but then if we did I bet before to long you’d be bored with us falling over ourselves in awe of them. The Clientele are simply from another time, their sound is perfectly pristine; lilting and loving; softly spectral and above all carved from the finest of song writing traditions. The two tracks featured here have both been culled from their live performance at Bush Hall, London in May 2003. The dreaming ‘Lacewings’ will appeal to all those who still recoil to the comfort and safety zones of those early Tindersticks and Clock Strikes 13 releases. Yet it doesn’t end there, the Clientele pick away gently within a hazy 60’s aura imagining some heavenly super group formed from the meeting of Dylan, Walker, Cohen and the Velvets. Delicately spun the Clientele weave a kind of curdling magic as to suggest that time literally stands still when they play. Slow burning and feint but with a heavy heart, the Clientele are masters at creating the most numbing of pop melodies that wrap tightly around your heart and toy with your emotional threads to play aching symphonies and ‘Lacewings’ is no exception as it sucks and picks away until your broken from inside to out. ‘Policeman getting lost’ is equally crushing, bathed in an autumnal glaze its gently cascading chords upend the frail vocals of MacLean of whom throughout the duration you fear will simply fall beneath the weight of melancholy he carries upon his shoulders. Perfection in slow motion.

Lovejoy ‘Strike a Pose’ (Unpopular). Release numero two from Unpopular is this deceiving gem from Lovejoy and before you ask, no it isn’t the bronzed foppish buffoon with an eye for Antiques from the BBC show of the same name from years gone by, no this lot are a Brighton based quartet who’ve already set alight the indie world with their ‘Who wants to be a millionaire’ album for the ever dependable Matinee Records. This two track 7” reveals two distinct sides to our would be heroes psyche. ‘Strike a Pose’ enlists bubbling synth back drops that bobble around with a sly down tempo glee and have that edge as though Hacienda’s favourite sons New Order and ‘Good Together’ era A Certain Ratio loving it up in the corner blessed out on e’s doing something vaguely off road Dubstar. Flip over to be treated to a delicious cover of the Television Personalities often overlooked ‘Someone to share my life with’ originally found brooding lonesome on the bands fourth album ‘The Painted Word’ and if memory serves me right proving something of a sensitive side to a combo previous seen only as an waywardly arty retro obsessed mod / psych / punk pop band with an ever bulging suitcase of frazzled underground classics just waiting to leap out. Lovejoy take to the challenge with gusto and guile following down similar well trodden paths as label mates the Clientele, keeping in check the sensitivity and bequeathing the whole process with a magical feast of lazy summer afternoons spent idled away sitting beneath the shades of old Oak trees sipping pop to watch a rushing and oblivious world fade into a blurring distance. A perfect summer companion.

The Playwrights ‘Dislocated’ (Unpopular). Third release from Unpopular throws the spotlight upon Bristol’s worst kept secret. The Playwrights, what can we say, firm favourites of these pages there’s little they can do wrong in our eyes, one album under their belts and a second due shortly on the ever cool Sink and Stove label. Intelligent, sharp and a perfect acquisition for any well ordered record collection with a wish to being considered ultra cool, the Playwrights sit at the forefront of a growing scene inspired by the early 80’s art / industrial / post punk crossover that includes such notables as the awesome Culture Industry (see elsewhere) and Art Brut to name but two of the leading lights. ‘Dislocated’ features on the cover mounted compilation of the UK / US version of Losing Today which should be around any day now, while the flip side, ‘Welcome to the Middle Ages’ can be found doing sizeable damage on that damn fine compilation ‘The Hospital Request List (Volume 2)’ put out by those nice people Sink and Stove and which we hasten to add any self respecting record buyer ought to have by law. It might seem churlish or not churlish as the case may be for us to review something we’ve already cast an eye over (check out Missive 29) safe to say though that fans of Wire, the Fire Engines and austere tipped brutalised white funk will not be found wanting on the cutting ‘Dislocated’, while flip cut ‘Middle Ages’ gives the Stranglers ‘Nuclear Device’ a brass accompaniment and a rogering to within an inch of its life, crucial as though you needed telling, fuck what the NME tell you, you need this band in your life now. Check out our MP3 platform for a peak of their forthcoming single ‘Guy Debord is really dead’. All releases via http://www.unpopular-records.com

The Vibration ‘Ear to the Ground’ EP (Sink and Stove). Seamless link time. Weren’t we just mentioning those bright young things of Sink and Stove, lo and behold as if by magic release number (unlucky for some) thirteen features the latest pre season signings to Bristol’s finest, the Vibration. Now we don’t really want to drop ourselves in it, but we’d like to think that by the time this New York based combos debut album is due (sometime next year) you’ll literally be climbing the walls in fevered anticipation and into the bargain they’ll be the coolest all girl band on the underground scene. This baby of a release originally saw the light of day Stateside last year on BC records and by all accounts caused a bit of a stir among those in the know selling out faster that it takes Klark Kent to whip off his three piece and get into his Super Sunday best, now given a second lease of life it’s the turn of UK and Europe to be entranced by the Vibration. As the press release so rightly admits the Vibration are not easy to categorize, over the course of the five tracks that make up this EP you’ll hear the austere landscapes of post punk rubbing shoulders with the dark atmospherics of the more gifted disciples of the goth scene in the mid 80’s (March Violets, Skeletal Family, Throwing Muses), along with some delicate nudges of math rock (Slint, mid 90’s Touch and Go) and maybe a dash of the Breeders (in particular on the semi-searing wounded ‘Badge’) and a pinch of Sleater Kinney for good measure. Yet though all these variants are true and apparent in abundance, for me the quartet nail that fictional dream meeting between prime time Television, Sonic Youth, early PJ Harvey and pre McGeoch Siouxsie and the Banshees minus the psychosis especially given that in Ann Fitzgerald they have a vocalist who encapsulates that icy paranoia so symptomatic of Siouxsie and a guitarist Randie Williams who plays McKay-esque chopping riffs oozing with subtle dark psychedelia for fun or so it seems. Playing to awkwardly fractured time signatures initial listens to the Vibration are dutifully unsettling, the sounds seemingly appear without any rudimentary structure flipping and twisting constantly in a way that impresses an edgy feel that’s enhanced by their use slow to cantering rhythmic speeds. ‘No Eyeliner’ is perhaps the best starting point, evolving as it were as though from two separate songs, regimental drum licks and campfire musings soon begin to blister and fester amid washes of feedback like a baby sister version of ‘Mirage’ poking pins into the eyeballs of ‘Switch’. ‘Vibration’ loosens up the intensity momentarily but even then its primed to the teeth in looming jarring riffs that side wind sniper like waiting to sting and ambush while ‘Begin Again’ is the evil twin sisters of the Bangles dragged kicking and screaming from a parallel universe, cruelly gorgeous and emotionally punishing with it. Best of the lot though is the beautifully unfurling sense of menace on the opening ‘Sweet Oil’. Shaded 60’s motifs scratch and stab into an ever darkening swamp haze of overpoweringly bewitching mantras and brooding storm calling spell making to slyly consume and intoxicate you before you even have the faintest glimmer or notion your under the influence. Deceivingly cool just don’t come crying to us when they go massive and we won’t have to tell you we told you so. http://www.sinkandstove.co.uk

Eye ‘Eye’ EP (Eyemusic). Another release that’s had us shaking our thang is this scorching 6 track self release from London based quartet Eye. Take one Finnish singer / guitarist, a drummer from Sardinia, a Swedish guitarist and an English bass player, the brief to create moving atmospheric rock in the vein of Interpol, U2 and Sonic Youth, the best part of 2003 spent getting to know each other and sharing ideas playing to each others strengths culminating in this their debut recording. A powerful baby it is, Eye perfectly harness and utilise that whole loud / quiet dynamic, and before you switch off thinking ‘not another one’ just check out the crunching finale ‘No more idols’ which in its 6 minute duration has everything an adolescents listening space should be filled with: bitterness, hopelessness, hurt and anger just to name four in passing. But then this EP is more than mere adding casually to the clutter of an ever bulging alternative scene, it is a beast of a calling card. The storming opener ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll song’ is the kind of cut that would make most bands established bands on the circuit these days proud as punch to call their own, a ferocious back side kicking mass of raging strutting aloofness and alarming swagger that frankly shits twisting hooks and falsettos for a laugh, think of Placebo with big bollocks and then think a bit more, a demonic bastard of a track. But if you think it ends there, think again. ‘Runaway’ has the unique attribute of having you imagine Radiohead collaborating with the likes of Baby Woodrose, ostensibly 60’s dark psych in mood and texture but ferociously blessed with the emotion shredding turbulence of ‘The Bends’ era Yorke and Co, we kid you not. And still they come, ‘Girl’ without doubt is the killer of the pack, walk away from this without either shedding a tear or feeling as though someone or something has just torn a hole where your heart used to be then frankly you are made of stone. Call us romantic fools, a love song no less very much in the best tradition of those very early Verve b-sides, gently it picks away softly undoing you from the inside, slowly drawing you close and just when you are so far in and lost within its spell the ground opens up and all hell is let loose, we foresee future St Valentine days spent in casualty as hapless beaus sit in vigil over loved ones having suffered seizures at its heart stopping crescendo as a result of having it played to them. And don’t be fooled into thinking that both ‘Victim’ and ‘Beyond my reach’ are mere fillers, what the former may hold back on in intensity it more than makes up for with deliciously stinging summer pop mechanics while the latter’s drive happy cascading chords point to a band more than able to plug the gap left by the Manics. Certainly a band to watch for, a muted second EP is now complete check out their site for samples. Joint single of the missive. http://www.eyemusic.net

Kid Carpet ‘Shit Dope’ EP (Slow Graffiti). Very nearly winning the coveted Single of the Missive if only by default this crooked debut from Kid Carpet is sure to split the Sunday lunch table into two halves and into the bargain possibly cause a bout of fisticuffs for good measure. Selflessly described as shit hop there’s no denying that there’s something adorable to be found on this debut four-track EP even though it does strike at the heart of the bizarre and child like. Coming across like a deranged younger sibling of Mike Skinner you have to award gold stars for the way he enthusiastically tackles Van Halen’s ‘Jump’ before giving up the ghost and later deciding to give it a well deserved kicking just for the hell of it, Reeves and Mortimer would be proud as punch. Likewise on ‘Blind Boy’ there’s a spot of tomfoolery as our intrepid hero armed with bag of toy electronics takes the classic ‘I’d rather go blind’ down to the seaside for a candy floss over dose and an action packed fun time afternoon of donkey rides before trying to drown it in a shallow pool of salty water. Unrepentant and like an accident waiting to happen Kid Carpet opens the proceedings with ‘Special’ which in all honesty is the Trumpton Fire Brigade pissed as farts and looking for a spot of argy bargy before lunging into ‘Nelson Street Space Invaders’ which imagines the resultant noise had anyone been brave enough to lock the Happy Mondays in a room full of seen better days bargain basement synthesisers and fed them copious amounts of speed. Not quite the full shilling though appreciably a star on the rise even though that star might be slightly at the end of its days and sitting in the shade getting wellied while flicking V signs at passers by. http://www.kidcarpet.co.uk

The Knife ‘Heartbeats’ (Rabid). The return of Sweden’s kookiest duo the devilishly talented brother and sister combo the Knife. Having already floored us earlier this year with their eponymous debut EP and album, ‘Heartbeats’ acts as a trailer for their imminent ‘Deep Cuts’ long player which if earlier releases are anything to go by should keep the old hi-fi shaking its backside until it drops. This CD features three versions of ‘Heartbeats’ plus the bonus cut ‘Afraid of You’, get the twelve-inch and you are treated to an additional mix of the lead track by Style of Eye. ‘Heartbeats’ is as irresistible as it is child like operating on a similar template as used by McLaren on his ‘Madame Butterfly’ release, its bathed in a curious off centre Oriental glow with an ostensible 80’s twist in the tail. What makes the Knife such an alluring listening experience are Karin’s wandering vocals which manage all at once to encapsulate the cloaked tempestuousness of Kate Bush, the dramatics of Lene Lovich and the barking waywardness of Bjork, align them to Olof’s slyly infectious zig zagging off balanced funked up electro dance grooves and you have a recipe for something both disturbing and utterly enchanting. Imagine if you like a more earth bound Pop Off Tuesday (if you can that is). Left in the hands of Rex the Dog ‘Heartbeats’ is given a dandy New Order-ish muscular cast as though caught in a street brawl with Front 242 while the ‘Techno Remix’ bites hard at the heart of the electro-clash scene as was (is) and should ensure total destruction on the dance floor. Last and by no means least the rather curious and dare we say loveable ‘Afraid of You’ which finds our terrible twosome veering at one point perilously close towards frontiers occupied alone by Laurie Anderson before settling down for a spot of sinister bed time lullabies that have all the veiled nightmare quotient of those slightly worrying early 70’s cartoons from the Eastern bloc. Genius whichever way you paint it. http://www.theknife.net

Halflight ‘Subside’ EP (My First Records). Damn this is gorgeous; I’d almost forgotten what it was like to fall head over heels in love with a record. Now its not often that you get a CD that simply forces you to stand in awe muttering wooaa, but then not many records are like this debut outing from Halflight. Halflight are a Cardiff based quartet who were recently voted the best new band in Wales after topping the A&R; panels in the 200 band competition Shout Out. Led by singer songwriter Sarah Howells who in a previous life was a member of Jylt who signed to Ugly Man Records the label responsible for putting out the exceptional ‘To You’ by I am Kloot, released one single ‘Surrender’ and then disappeared of the radar. Now refreshed and back with a vengeance, this dainty four track EP houses some of the most crushing moments we’ve had oozing their way from our hi-fi’s speakers in such a long time. References to Tanya Donelly and Kirsten Hersh are not offered likely neither are the subtle pointers to the Delgados and Sweeder’s ‘Swallowed by the Sun’ debut (especially on the up tempo opener ‘where the pins drop’) as Halflight teeter that fine line between beauty and cruelty. Like Singled Out favourites Anna Kashfi, Halflight have in their ranks a vocalist in Howells whose softening tones hold a lifetime of scars and bruises borne out of regret and loss that far exceed her youth. Complimented by a lone acoustic guitar, a cello and the gentle trace of drums don’t for one second be fooled into thinking that sparse means empty, again like Anna Kashfi, Halflight are adept at creating an exquisite line in melody that’s deep in emotion and rich in vibrancy. Tales of regret and deep introspection pave the way here, harrowingly intimate and so explicit you can almost touch the wounds, the crushing ‘Treading Water’ must surely rank as one of the most haunting and openly candid compositions ever committed to tape, enchanting and hurt it kisses gently to leave an everlasting bruise ensuring its fading glimmer is locked away in a secret dark place forever in your psyche. The elegant strings within ‘Sixfour’ exude a delicate spellbinding ghostly texture that would not be found wanting or out of place where it sat on Kate Bush’s ‘The Kick Inside’ while the sorrowfully parting ‘Photos’ is racked with the kind of resigned fate of helplessness as to make you either seethe with anger wanting to know the culprit responsible for the pain is so you can have a gentle word or else have you crying bucket loads from now until Christmas. And with that the esteemed Joint single of the Missive, nuff said. http://www.halflight.info

Dive Dive ‘Good Show’ (Diablo). Damn us and our elephantine memory. We’ve had this one-track promo burning holes in the side of our head for a week or two now. Convinced we’d heard it before, each listen we kept thinking Dive Dive, did we imagine hearing that name around. A little routine digging around the losing today shed and bingo, turns out this baby originally crawled from the wreckage of its own making towards the middle of last year on Idle, a whopper of a cut and still is. Just to recap Dive Dive used to be Dustball in another life, impish noise-pop-niks who for a short while ripped up sizeable patches of the underground scene with releases for Oxford’s leading label of love Shifty Disco before going on a quest to use up all the available band names in sight (only joking). ‘Good Show’ is being re-released by their new label Diablo to act as a taster for their debut album due later this year and continues to show the ensembles delight at concocting the kind of tuneage that literally jumps out and throttles the listener. Out of the traps and running you can’t help feeling the need to dive (dive) for cover as though besieged by the hail of fire that this lot unload, all in all a spanking debut primed with enough well placed effervescent pop hooks and meaty carnage to have the most reticent of listeners reaching for their air guitar. http://www.divedive.co.uk

Bone Machine ‘Another Day Over’ (Hackpen). Seamless links abound (again), now this is getting daft. Previous record by Dive Dive used to be Dustball who were on Shifty Disco. Shifty Disco used to run a singles club, and mighty damn fine it was it has to be said. Mounting costs, deadlines etc….forced them to re-consider options a so the mp3 club was born, where for a small-ish fee you can gain access to weekly or quarterly downloads, your choice. Current goodies available to have as your own are new releases from Monkey (reviewed here last missive), the Black Madonnas, Trademark and Chris McMath. This particular release sees the mindset of Bone Machine put to the sword on two exclusive remixes along with the album edit of ‘Sleepy from a bad dream’. Remix number one features the Sigue Sigue Sputnik pitting their might against SI Heartfield. Sigue Sigue Sputnik to be honest need no introductions, and if they do, are you really sure your looking at the right website? A band who these days are rightly acknowledged as being ahead of their time by a least a decade, yet in the mid 80’s for a brief period their use of samples (though not revolutionary it has to be said at the time) aligned to art, fashion, sound tracks and a psuedo violent apocalyptic view of the future certainly put many of the music execs of the time on a back foot. On this occasion SSS are augmented by the percussive bleep talents of SI Heartfield (Binary Nation / Geushky fame) and pretty much keep close to maintaining the originals down tempo cast and welding to it a seriously mind expanding tripped out groove that should by rights see the club scene taking it to their bosom. Southampton duo Mike Spall and Luke Taplin better known to scenesters as NA get to grips with Bone Machine’s ‘Sleepy from a bad dream’. So impressed with the results where Bone Machine that they now use this version as part of their live set and a wonderful thing it is to, head expanding up tempo hypnotic bass heavy grooves morph delectably into becalmed dream like ambient washes to create a curiously disorientated vibe that’s as much sublime as it is sensual. Ending it all with the album edit of the same cut, a cinematic treat of blockbuster like symphonic waves pierced by swollen space dub grinds grooving intoxicated to the soaring sensually humid middle Eastern motifs found filtering throughout, alluring to say the least. http://www.hackpenrecords.com http://www.shiftydisco.com

Three Man Amp ‘Harbour’ (Demo). Super fast return for ex-Concrete Dog trio Three Man Amp and one would have to say a visibly marked improvement on their last outing ‘Best Dress’ which we checked out a missive or three ago and admitted at the time to being fair done stupefied by the whole experience and if memory serves me right cries of Nirvana’s ‘Bleach’ and early career Manics where summoned together in one sentence alone. A tough call to top but they manage it admirably. This time around the trio up the ante splendidly with three more slices of heaving muscular rock to get your appetites worked into a lather, although annoyingly we nearly lost the blighter when it decided to take up residency in the PC’s CD drive and refused to come out, it’s a wonderful thing what sense of power and intimated threat to a CD’s livelihood the mere holding of a big hammer and rusty old screw driver can do. Opening the set with the title track ‘Harbour’ itself a heavy bearing beast of a cut filled to the brim with swollen hooks and the kind of looming post rock and creeping grunge like atmospherics that initially recall some kind of bastard offspring resulting from an illicit drunken meeting between Jon Spencer Blues Explosion and Jesus Lizard. The anthemic ‘Lounge’ proves to be the surprise cut of the pack finding the Three Amp kids in mellow moods and dare we say it toying with a slow chilled out back room at the bar boogie that’s fitted out superbly with an ear candy off kilter lazy smoulder within which the delicately spun nuances of that old loud / quiet dynamic are tastily woven just ever so lightly. That said best of the set is the insane ‘Mechanical Monkey Eyes’ steeped in angular riffs and pulse quickening signatures so sharp that they snare and snag dragging you into the inevitable blistering panic ridden frenetic implosion that lies in wait cooking up a storm mid way through and which proceeds therein to yank by the hair kicking and screaming to its logical conclusion. Damn those kids and their corking tunes, desirable stuff. http://www.threemanamp.co.uk

My Pet Junkie ‘Overhanging’ (Riverrun). Now this cute little three track CD has been the cause of much consternation in the losing today record shed since it landed on our doormat. London based trio My Pet Junkie are mischief makers, of that there’s no doubt, the accompanying blurb states the band are fuelled by heartbreak and hangovers with influences ranging from pop, progressive rock to jazz. Yeah you think maintaining a sceptical viewpoint. So you put on the CD thinking ‘give it a whirl’ no harm done. Hell, like, were we fooled big time. ‘Overhanging’ is dangerous, daft and deranged and that’s just half the story. My Pet Junkie play with a contagious fun time filled brew of whiplash invoking pogoing pyrotechnic pop at break neck speed, ‘Overhanging’ finds itself bolting off at the blink of an eye into worlds more associated by the Dickies, Peter and the Test Tube Babies and the Toy Dolls. But then don’t be fooled into thinking that this is purely an exercise in novelty pop, no siree, in its two minute time line when not beating you about the head playing unfeasibly fast guitar solos their bludgeoning you with brief blood thirsty detours in demonic grind core. ‘Particle’ is so infectious you swear the description was made for it, a spot of wholesale ransacking of Pistols riffs never did any one any harm we agree but then to turn it back on the listener in a Neds Atomic Dustbin type stylee as though their collective arses where on fire is admirable to say the least. All said and done though best cut by far is the teasing ‘Breathing without living’ revealing to all that amid the frenetic chaos there lies three sensitive souls with the power to bring you to your knees in tears. An acoustic gem with more stings than a porcupine, delectably twee in stature and so softly bruised and understandably hurt that you just want to throw your arms around it in protection. Recommended as if you needed telling. http://www.mypetjunkie.com

Loose Canon ‘What comes next?’ (Akoustik Anarkhy). It’s strange how these missives manage to work out, take the last time that we had the opportunity to review anything by Loose Canon. For those with memories not stretching that far it was way back at the tail end of 2002 when we were treated to their debut ‘Out to Lunch’. During the course of the same missive the Clientele featured, who I’m pretty certain haven’t appeared since until that is in this particular rambling and as though to stretch the coincidence factor to breaking point a little known band by the name of Sancho Panza appeared and disappeared sharpishly until that is recently with when out of the blue their debut album materialised though with their name now pared down to Sancho. More kids with their feet in the present day but with their hearts and heads poking rudely in the late 70’s / early 80’s. This two track release is raw and primal and caustically so, angular riffs, dirty hooks and housing a real biting sense of the austere. If there’s any complaint to be had about it, its just that its there and then its not, enough to get your teeth into but then not more than enough to chew on but then I suppose those Akoustik Anarkhy kids don’t want to spoil us too much. ‘What comes next?’ the lead track imagines some kind of parallel universe where the 101ers with Strummer in attendance do early rough n’ ready Clash covers for kicks and coolly coming strutting and sneering from out of the other side sounding like a late night fisticuffs between Eddie and the Hot Roads and Subway Sect, sharp stuff if you ask us. Flip over for our favoured cut ‘Take these eyes’. Taking you back to Manchester 1979. Imagine the scene, bleak Northern town, high unemployment even higher hi-rise monstrosities. Like neighbours Liverpool a small but crucial music scene is beginning to develop with the early Anthony Wilson funded Factory records finding the scenes pulse. A rain drenched night brings together a studio confrontation of the varying disciples of the Beefheart / Can / Krautrock namely the Fall, Cabaret Voltaire, Joy Division and A Certain Ratio, a jamming session of sorts ensues, the result ‘Take these Eyes’. Dark, scruffy, brooding and bloody brilliant. Nuff said our kid. http://www.akoustikanarkhy.co.uk

Aaron Short ‘My World’ (Self Released). Debut release time and mighty fine it is to. Aaron Short is a young singer songwriter whose done the whole busking on the London Underground to headlining sell out gigs in Chicago and can be found keeping himself busy on the live circuit who when not found performing solo can be seen out and about as part of the quartet the Bluejacks or else hooking up with duo Itchy and Scatchy (and no kids not the famous gore and splatter two some from the best TV show on Earth the Simpsons, or at least we think not though it would be an interesting spectacle if it were). Anyway back to the music, ‘My World’ as said is Aaron’s debut release revealing a songwriter of some note. Sadly it has to be said not the old Secret Affair number but a self penned ditty presented here in three variants: the full on glossy pop cut, an acoustic mix and an instrumental version thus ensuring that once over this baby will be pinging around your head like an overactive pinball. ‘My World’ is slyly jubilant almost effervescent, built around a swaggering MOR chassis that subtly nicks that snagging riff from Tom Petty’s ‘Running down a Dream’ it’s a deceptive blighter that’s all at once brazen and bashful, lovers of World Party and perhaps Crowded House will be particular smitten by it softly winding countrified dynamics, drifting pedal steel treatments and lazy eyed laid back easy pop simplicity. The acoustic mix adds a delicate brush of ethnic drums to the picture to curiously end up sounding vaguely like a cross between those post Bickers stripped down House of Love overtures and those oh so rare slow burn anthemic gems that Pete Wylie occasionally steps up to do when the muse strikes him. A bit of a winner if you ask me and quite possibly the beginning of a rare talent. http://www.aaronshort.com

Santo El Diablo ‘The Santo 7 Ride’ EP (Self Released). Featured stars of the last missives whereupon their ‘Santos Vs. the Flying Saucers’ EP had us all a cock-a-hoop and whooping up a storm in our otherwise dreary confines of the losing today record shed. We moaned and whinged about not having heard their debut disc and lo and behold lying upon the doormat ready to do the business on the failing house hi-fi was that errant disc in all its glory. Originally released at the fag end of last year and still available via the bands web site it’s a seven track feast of softly drifting surrealist psychedelia that we here strongly recommend you nail down and treat your record collection to. Having heard this EP several times now it won’t come as any surprise to us if in the very near future this trio are hailed as the British version of They Might be Giants with Pixies inclinations (best served on the sleepy eyed ‘Computer Gears’ with its softly smouldering brushes of ‘Flowers’ era Will Sergeant-esque ice dripped shimmering collages which make this by far the EP’s best cut). Opening cut ‘Santos are El Diablo’ has had the honour of being picked up by Smalltown America (www.smalltownamerica.co.uk) as part of their series of compilations entitled ‘Public Service Broadcast’ on which the Santo trio appear on Volume 4 rubbing shoulders with Holland’s (can do no wrong) Seedling and 21 other bands who we haven’t previously heard of but will spend our idling hours hunting down, of that you can be certain. Back to the EP though, Santo El Diablo craftily cram your air space with wonky slightly off kilter melodies that sound strangely out of focus and hazily tripping, one minute shyly ambling in a mix of bluesy folk psychedelia via the opener ‘Santos are El Diablo’ the next all bathed in a tangy lysergic hue as though the Summer Hymns were doing prime time Beach Boys as ventured on the aching ‘Lemon Citric’. Just when you think you have the measure of them they throw you off orbit by adding a few well aimed gritty cuts just to keep you on the edge of your seat, ‘Staring into the Floyd’ perhaps provides the clearest indication of the bands true guiding spirits in terms of reference points as it feverishly dips into both ‘Saucerful of Secrets’ and ‘Ummagumma’ and twists and flexes elements of ‘Set the controls’ and ‘Careful with that Axe, Eugene’ with a ‘Trompe le Monde’ era Pixies glee which just begs to be heard. Elsewhere the Black Francis and Co homage continues on the very wonderful ‘Opportunity’ where the neo Latin devices employed in the main throughout ‘Doolittle’ come clattering to the fore in a rather special kind of way culminating in a middle section that’s so Dawn of the Replicants we nearly swooned in admiration. A stunning release make no mistake. http://www.santo-el-diablo.co.uk

Daniel Rachel ‘Dear Friend’ (Dust). We could gush for hours about this second release from Daniel Rachel and still wouldn’t be able to summon up the right words to do it justice. Responsible for without doubt one of the sweetest records we had the fortune of hearing last year in the debut single ‘Burned by the Wire’ which over spilled with all manner of colourful references to Dylan, Springsteen and Wylie (probably the first and last time you’ll ever see these three names together in one sentence). It was a release that hinted at special things to come and on this new two track single Rachel hasn’t betrayed the faith we placed upon him. Literally having just taken delivery we were tempted to shelve it until the next Singled Out missive but so good it is we were busting at the seams to spread the word. The spirit of George Harrison breezes lovingly throughout the reflective landscape of ‘Dear Friend’ toeing by the hand the memories of Tilbrook and Difford’s finest moments to venture upon the pastures of the Beatles ‘Revolver’. A delicate yet articulately colourful composition acoustically delivered where regret, hope, fondness and sadness are vie for centre stage and blessed with juxtaposing moods born from hooks that one minute soar skywards only to tumble magnificently into a melancholic descent a la ‘Eleanor Rigby’. Flip over for the bitterly sarcastic ‘An Englishman Abroad’, which in our humble opinion just edges the lead cut. Fans of classic Robyn Hitchcock will lap this up, the irony of the xenophobic disease that we Brits hold dear to our hearts without even realising it is all to evident. That whole mentality about going to a restaurant offering French cuisine and then sitting there sulking because they don’t do Eggs and Chips, none of that flag waving nonsense like that pitifully executed by Morrissey from the safety of his LA confines. Eccentric and woundingly observant like only Hitchcock and Ray Davies could ever be and fitted out within an irresistibly catchy melody that dips between Soft Boys type psychedelia as though tripped out with terrace charged soft glam, irrefutably English in an XTC kind of way. Essential and we hasten to add, simply perfect. http://www.danielrachel.com

Culture Industry ‘dj ascetic loves himself badly’ (Static Caravan). And just in time for the new season the latest signing to the Static Caravan All Stars. We reviewed this beauty way back in Singled Out 37 when we had a CD-r to work from, good news is that it out of the pressing plant and waiting to do mucho damage on any willing Hi-Fi’s it can find. So without the wish to repeat ourselves it might be best referring back to http://www.losingtoday.com/tales.php?id=38 just in case you have any lingering doubts as to how good it is. Safe to say limited to 500 copies and guaranteed to shift faster than shit from a hot shovel on a frosty morning and with that a totally essential acquisition to any half decent self-respecting cool record collection. You know it makes sense.

And sticking with the Static brothers for two ultra limited lathe cut polycarbonate clear vinyl 7” releases which as regular readers to these pages are more than aware have this knack of causing us mucho headaches given that our cheapo portable homemade stand in record deck (which it has to said by and large does us proud) really cannot cope with these fragile though, admittedly, beautiful looking releases.

The Young Barons ‘Richard and the Ghost Train’ (Static Caravan). First up comes from duo Matt Price and Rich Whitelaw who masquerade around the nighttime streets of Birmingham scaring would be passers by with their bag of spooky tunes as the Young Barons. Ultra limited to 100 pressings which by all accounts according to the Static site is now sold out but never fear a spot of ingenuity and a bit of hard detective graft work should see the most determined souls being able to secure a copy (best bet being a quick visit to Normans at http://www.normanrecords.com). ‘Richard and the Ghost Train’ is exactly as the title suggests, Richard Whitelaw on the ghost train, honest, that simple. Now I don’t know about you but I find the kids who go on these rides much scarier than the laughable Munster-esque (oh I wish) back drops within, all toothless grins and wired expressions with the added charm of being out of their kites on additives. Still doesn’t deter dear old Richard who armed with a tape recorder takes account of his over in the blink of an eye no thrills even less spills ordeal passing the results over to Matt who with his bag of archaic analogue toy shop keyboards weaves the whole thing in a decidedly spooky albeit wonky electronic ditty. Think Abbott and Costello teamed up with Scooby Doo and Co on a murder weekend with Lon Chaney Jnr playing all your B movie horror heroes. Still, better than those torturous end of ride photos you get, who knows this kind of thing could catch on. ‘The Golden Palace’ on the flip is even more surreal, the duo having borrowed ISAN’s ice cream van (without permission) park it up an alley at the back of Molineux football ground home of the once mighty soccer side Wolverhampton Wanderers to partake in a spot of dozing plinkety plonk lullaby loving electro pop, the dreamy faraway ambience fractured ever so slightly by the (recorded for posterity) distant memories of a truly misspent Saturday afternoon as the home side entertain Wimbledon, we are inclined to say akin to a watching paint dry experience being had by all but then being a Liverpool supporter it’s pretty much a case of hello pot hello kettle. Like candy floss, sweet, light, fluffy and leaving you wanting more.

Ward ‘De Furnius’ (Static Caravan). Last time we featured those Ward kids Richard and David was when they knocked us bandy with their debut Static release from about 18 months ago entitled ‘Sesquipadelian Origins’ and before you ask, no we haven’t a clue either but you can bet your life savings it doesn’t go well with chips and ketchup. Since that time they’ve squeezed out an album for Loca Records called ‘It’s not necessarily your height it could be your feet’ which we somehow missed but will no doubt add to our never ending wish list of releases we won’t sleep until we have. Again as with the Young Barons release another lathe cut clear vinyl polycarbonate thingummyjig type er…thing (huh and they say the art of the English language is going for a burden). Ward step in with two tracks of such contrasting calibre that you’ll either be gently lulled to sleep or frankly to scared witless to close both your eyes at the same time ever again. ‘De Furnius’ is creepy, in fact so creepy that we reckon it’ll ensure that you’ll be leaving on all the household lights and nervously checking behind doors, under beds and behind sofas. Casting an eerie eye; in fact the same eerie eye as those belonging to the one eyed alien invaders with a predilection (not) to influenza from War of the Worlds, sparse manipulated sounds are the order of the day, impossible to dance to we’ve tried believe it or not, though don’t be surprised if various electronic appliances start acting up strangely. If you want my honest opinion I swear its one of those pornographic sex lines for toasters but in binary code. Flip over and things get a little more playful on ‘Armonica or Something’ in fact so playful that you swear the Ward duo have discovered the enchanted land were all the old children’s TV themes go to when they’ve been discarded and forgotten. Amid the gentle scratchy toy box chimes the fleeting memories of Jamie and his Magic Torch, the Clangers, those surreal Charley Says adverts from the 70’s and a positive who’s who of BBC Radiophonic incidental pieces found lying around on the Tardis floor come out into the daylight for a spot of off ground tick. Very cute indeed and well worth annoying your local record emporium owner about. While your there also check out the latest line from the Static Summer Collection by Tuung (limited lathe cut): a delicious cork sleeved Maps and Diagram CD strictly limited to just 100 pressings and a split featuring the Static boys in a face off with those eminent dudes from north of the border, Fence. http://www.staticcaravan.org

Spectrum 311 ‘Lying Eyes’ (162a). Apparently to be found doing some serious business on the club scene is this grinding 5-track debut from North London trio Spectrum 311. The accompanying press release describes their sound as a lip smacking ‘culture clash of hip hop, soul and ska’ with everything from Dr Dre to the Specials flooding the mixes and though we’d be inclined to partially agree we’d prefer to offer up the early 90’s work of Dreadzone as being closer brothers in arms especially on the catchy space dub treatments of the mooching ‘Supersonic Raygun’. ‘Lying Eyes’ is all at once slinky and sexy, imagine a seriously tripped out Orb churning out irresistibly cool dub vibes with the noire-ish edge of Barry Adamson as though drafted in to collaborate on a sinister though ostensibly floor friendly grinder with ‘Ghost Town’ as its template. If that wasn’t enough tagged on the end for good measure are an additional three mixes of the title cut. Aside the superbly stripped down Juan Maclean retread with its bare boned dynamic milking the original for all its worth you get Mish Mash’s Oscar Fullone servicing it with a wicked early 80’s groove that’s not a million miles away from some dream collaboration between Yello and Heaven 17. Best mix of the set though is the Simian Mobile Disco rehash who rev up the Eastern atmospherics and cleverly weld onto the chassis a stinging 80’s white funk gloss in the best tradition of 23 Skidoo and Brilliant. Pretty much essential if you ask me.

And to end things on a slightly strange note, big spotters badge to Nigel of Pickled Egg records who was in touch puzzling over the disappearance of the infamous Zukanican review from earlier in the year, ‘he’s trying it on’ we thought and so rechecked for the would be lost musing only to find by jiminy he was right. Somewhere along the line, some hitherto unexplained glitch to the mighty wibbly wobbly web world at Losing Today HQ had rendered Singled Out Missive 37 incomplete (hurrah I hear some of you shout) and with that offered an incomprehensible (what’s new come the cries from the back of the gallery) write up on the excellent Flannelmouth CD as well as missing completely not only Zukanican, but Pearl, The Playwrights (again) and the almighty Series 7. So without further ado and apologies to all concerned a second bite at the apple so to speak for our erstwhile MIA’s…..

Flannelmouth ‘(What a) comeback’ (Grid). Once upon a time the airwaves of late night radio chimed to the tender tones of carefree sensitive indie pop, like-minded couples cuddled tearfully to the sounds of now long forgotten ensembles such as the Caretaker Race and the Triffids, labels popped up in droves, enterprises founded with the aim of fans and bands alike at sharing these lovesick odes to one and all. Nothing hurts quite like a well-aimed stinging hook line and Flannelmouth know this. Flannelmouth are a Finnish ensemble who’ve had the distinction of being the only Scandinavian band to win the coveted In the City best unsigned band award, and believe you me that’s no mean feat. ‘(What a) comeback’ has those tender shots, the stinging hook the euphoric rise and fall and a to die for melody all welded to a rush of strummed jangling guitars that belies a nod to early Wedding Present while managing to sit up prettily reminiscing Weather Prophets ‘Almost Prayed’, all in all combining to hurt and hunt you until in tearful states you can’t resist any longer. In total contrast ‘Bravado’ on the flip is thoroughly more dramatic so much so you can feel the tension rising through your very veins during its duration, chunky guitars whipped up in frenzied doom laden desperation, think of a tighter and more anxious Chameleons being prepped, primed and pulled apart by an early career Comsat Angels, simply stunning stuff. http://www.gridrecords.com

Zukanican ‘E 5number’ (Pickled Egg). While the Coral / Stands and to a lesser extent preserve the Liverpudlian heritage of princely pop, somewhere in the hazy fog up yonder a strange brew is taking shape where the arguments are not over the merits of the Moptops but over who is the worthier: Floyd or Beefheart, the latter winning hands down in this veiled but crafted modern day exposition of ‘Trout mask replica’ as we go flip yer wig time across 6 tracks of head-melting frenetic gamesmanship from Scouse space cadets Zukanican who by our reckoning exist in a different dimension than normal folk. Brought to you by the Living Brain Collective, yep the same motley dudes that reaked upon us the warped psychedelia that was ‘Bad Present Day’ a few years ago. Since that time the collective has sprouted to produce offspring notably Zukanican and the Hand Museum, and like all offspring ‘E 5number’ has all the worrying signs of warring growing pains in the camp. Highly lysergic stuff, ostensibly out there and out of sight and running Zukanican create eerily tripping stoner down tempo kraut jazz rock, part Ozric Tentacles after having raided their greenhouse and consumed their stash of magic mushrooms in one bloated session while listening to Sun Ra and part Bablicon doing a Coltrane / Reich crossover appreciation with a thoroughly out of it Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band adding the backing with the space dub aesthetic of Bill Laswell floating perilously in the ether and imprisoned for all eternity by the wired lunatic fringe of the Clangers especially on the wacked out ‘Lack of Signage’. Alarming stuff, across six tracks Zukanican take you to places you’ve only briefly visited in nightmares, so unreal and warping that you are forced to keep checking out of the window for re-assurance that your still within pinching distance of reality. ‘Pay never’ offers the most viable route to sanity but even that’s fraught with crooked cul de sacs and impending shift shaping obstacles a far cry from the barking ‘Dust from a Goose’ which is so erratic that you feel your mind slowly ebbing away to the place where the plot was first lost. Though it’s on the extraordinarily loose chilled out vibe throbbing throughout ‘Medallion’ were most will feel a sense of blissful union with their inner karma. Daunting but delightfully deranged. http://www.pickled-egg.co.uk

Pearl ‘I wanna love you’ (Longlostbrother). Could be the single of summer that’s for you to decide but one things for sure they don’t get much better than this trailer track from Pearl’s forthcoming album a positive Factor 10 on the phwoah scale. Brought to us by the label who picked up the tab for the second Repairman single last year and excellent it was to, Pearl was once a member of 90’s Brit-poppers Powder who after delivering a few tasty singles abruptly fell off the radar. ‘I wanna love you’ smoulders and really that’s about all you really need to know. But then a review wouldn’t be a review would it if it were down to just one word (unless it was Darkness…cack [Ed]). How about sultry, summery, sensual, slightly off centre lounge pop sophisticatedly arranged as potent as Venus’ tipped bow and as inwardly invigorating as a crystal clear summer morn in the countryside with the call of dawn being ushered in by chorusing birds nearby. Is the picture painted fully enough yet? Well imagine the infectious pop exterior of Dodgy smooching with the elegance of Edwin Moses and subtly nibbling at the riff from the Chiffons ‘He’s so fine’ all drenched by aching Hammonds to create the kind of summer cool that the Style Council hinted at with Pearl’s husky vocals causing the temperatures to rise. Perfect. Flip over for the equally tempting ‘Lotta Love’ which to be honest has all the sublime grace of those immortal 60’s girl bands and the smoochy warmth of early Smokey Robinson (I kid you not) and you have yourself an irresistible cocktail.

The Playwrights ‘Guy Debord is really dead’ (Sink and Stove). And did we mention the Playwrights earlier? Seamless stuff these missives, you think I just throw them together and hope for the best, okay to be honest I do, but still looks good dunnit. Typical with these things I’ve lost the press release, no matter, nobody can tell me anything about this lot that I haven’t already heard for myself. Perhaps one of the best bands currently to be found on the circuit right now, with a soon to be released second album awaiting release this three track taster finds the Playwrights sound evolving in massive leaps. Their still awkwardly angular with the compositions themselves sharp enough to give you cuts just listening to them, yet on two cuts here, notably the energetic double jointed ‘Bridge Burning Co-operative’ and the spasmodic ‘Knock yourself out’ (where the disjointed rhythms you may be surprised to hear curiously appear not as far removed from the pop world as first thought being distantly related to a roughened ‘Sat in your Lap’ by Kate Bush) the regimental rigidity of the caustic bodywork is found somewhat loosened and made malleable by a sly funky grain lurking at their hearts. The Playwrights contort and manoeuvre intelligently to a crafted half-breed mutation of art math rock that’s intense and demanding as exemplified perfectly on ‘Guy Debord is really dead’. The cue being taken from a fragmented ringer like concoction of spare parts from early 80’s stalwarts the Fire Engines and the Nightingales, the assembled bits hammered together by an agitated groove evoking memories of the Gang of Four and the splintered riffs of the likes of Fugazi all given a fulsome body by billowing brass arrangements. The real new order of cerebral rock begins here, the rest are only pretending. http://www.sinkandstove.co.uk

Series 7 ‘Revolt’ EP (Miscreant). Saving the best till last. If there’s anything Series 7 can do wrong we’d like to hear it. This blistering 5-track baby finally gets an official release (on Miscreant home of ILOVEUFO) having previously been doing Hi-Fi damage as a very limited self released demo (see full review at Missive 30). Without doubt the most abrasively powerful band we’ve had on the decks in a long time who in our humble opinion are probably THE band to watch currently to be found trading blows on the circuit at the moment. Series 7’s sound is unrelenting, rampaging and without doubt the most threatening thing you’ll hear all year, such is the sonic arsenal they utilise you’d be forgiven for thinking you were under siege from a Panzer attack. Fist clenching punk rock at its most potent and direct possessing the no nonsense hammer like astuteness of early Leatherhead and the melodic undercarriage of both Sink and Mega City 4 while paying its dues to the classic era Killing Joke grind. Best cut of the set ‘Seroxat Suicide’ a ferocious fatalistic feast of schizophrenic seizures, slow / fast, loud / quiet dynamics all colliding into a searingly intense bloodbath. An awesome display pent up aggression with unarguable attitude. As essential as the air you breathe, no decent record collection should be found wanting. http://www.miscreantrecords.com

And that kids is pretty much it for about a week, and I promise it will be a week, okay maybe 10 days. Next time out we’ll tune into the latest tunes from the awesome Australian combo Greenland: a superb second single from the Projects: an ultra limited Hood / Themselves split on Rocket Racer but which was sent to us by Misplaced Music who it should be worth noting have a stunning new CD out by Charlie Parr and an excellent compilation raising funds for the Animal / Dog rescue services, please check out http://www.misplacedmusic.co.uk for further information; also the latest from Guernsey’s premier garage rock band Thee Jenerators; the debut release for both artist Ali MacQueen and label Hope Recordings; the latest brace of instalments from that crucial Expanding singles club featuring Myrakaru and Bauri; the next single from Heliotone records which features the very talented Michael Shelley of Shoeshine fame; guaranteed spots for both Broadway Project and Emerald Ocean (I know we promised last time out but…..), the new single from Meow Meow and whatever else we manage to pick up between now and the next 7 or so days.

All that leaves me to do is to thank all those record labels, bands and press agents for making these musings possible, no names no pack drill you know who you are and of course to you for taking time out to decipher these garbled thoughts. Feedback always appreciated whether it’s just to say hello or simply to abuse and criticise, and remember, death threats given pride of place on the gallery. For submissions to these pages, should you be daft enough, please check the address somewhere at the start of this thesis like excuse for writing.

See you in 7 – 10 and happy hunting with the records and most important of all, take care of yourselves.

‘may the groove be with you’

Lots of love and stuff,



Singled Out is made from natural sources and a highly limited intelligence and selected using the finest natural idiot known to mankind.

Singled Out contains no additives, nuts, animal fats or chemical derivitatives. Any abnormal effects are purely of your own making. If irregular symptoms do occur, retire to a darkened room and repeat the dose at an increased volume. If symptoms persist seek your independent record store for advice and reassurance.

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Archiv – Singled Out – Missive 39 …..

Archive posting published originally on the losing today site ….. August 2004 …..

Missive 39
Missive 39

‘sounds to make your hi-fi weep with joy too’

Dedicated to Kelly and Mark, always in my waking thoughts and missing you badly.

A fairly hefty missive it has to be said this time around and hopefully from now on in these things are going to be very regular like a fortnight apart, or maybe even a week as was the intended plan all those years back when we writ with quills and had proper ink pots, shame we still work by candle light but then you can’t have everything you want, though we do look forward to the day that the losing today shed gets a roof….a door…a two more walls, now I know it was hip and cool for the Beatles but it has to be said that it’s slightly disconcerting listening to records on the roof especially in the rain.

The hard copy version of the Losing Today magazine is I’m glad to say after all the delays and hiccups finally out and about with the pretty nifty looking Italian version on the streets as we speak at a special introductory price. Inside you’ll find a freebie CD featuring (wait for it): Volcano the Bear, Mice Cars, Decades, 50Hz, Fiel Garvie, Cut, Franklin Delano, Stained Glass Heroes, Blue States, Mashrooms, LWRM, Tellaro and Yuppie Flu an aural feast to guarantee that you know your onions from your, er potatoes. Features on Homesleep records and interviews with among others Fiel Garvie, Mum, Blonde Redhead and Lali Puna plus a stack of album reviews please go to http://www.losingtoday.it for more information. The US version is currently at the printers and due any day soon featuring all the usual gubbins and another record collection defining CD by some of the best artists currently around the underground scene, further information please check http://www.losingtoday.com. Deadlines for the next issue are tentatively pencilled for the mid September and submissions for the next CD are happily encouraged, please either get in touch with me at mark@losingtoday.com or Andrea at andrea@losingtoday.com

Okay to the singles. Ordinarily the mere mention of the Earlies usually means talk of the hallowed Single of the Missive, while looming on the horizon another regular recipient of the rarely awarded SOTW, Fort Dax, is currently deciding on mixes for a forthcoming release for ‘the fingers all over the pulses’ Static Caravan and putting the finishing touches to his third full length. All we can say is that judging by the ‘rough’ two track CD we have currently hogging the CD player, then everything is looking rosy in the world of Darren Durham with ‘Wolf / Wolf / Wolven’ proving to be his best work to date, review hopefully next missive. Back to this missive though, the welcome return of Anna Kashfi whose single for the much missed Emma’s House a few years ago still sends shivers of delight just thinking about, plus repeat calls calls for the excellent Merchandise, Sweatmaster, Broadway Project, Jens Lekman and the Koreans plus four whopping killer debut releases by the Big Cash Prizes, Ten Foot Nun, the Omegas and the Carolgees, which by rights should all set your hair alight and make your Hi-Fi rattle as though its ass has been bitten by the groove bug.

Album wise the singled out office is currently shaking its bits to the debut long player from the Go! Team. ‘Thunder, lightning, strike’ ain’t officially due until Autumn but it still doesn’t stop us diving headlong into it’s tangy feast of all those moments from the 70’s that you crack on you hate but secretly adore all perfectly distilled into 35 minutes of bouncing hyper active thrills and sporting one of the greatest singles of recent times in ‘Get it together’ that’s really the kids from Double Deckers on summer holiday armed with Curly Wurly’s, Spangles and the Look-In magazine.

Singled Out 39 curtain call:
The Omegas, Ben Christophers, the Koreans, Big Cash Prizes, Loud Devices, the Carolgees, the Earlies, Designer Babies, Wolves (of Greece), Sweatmaster, Mike Summers, Wren, Ten Foot Nun, Jens Lekman, the Vanities, Multiplex, Santo El Diablo, Anna Kashfi, Monkey, Penny Red, Merchandise, the Legends and a new six track double pack from Fierce Panda featuring Razorlight, Ludes, the Rakes, S.Rock Levinson, the Souls and house favourites the Rocks.

Nuff chat, the records…….

Wolves! (of Greece) ‘For the Greater Good’ (Gringo). Opening this particular missive in the unruly schizophrenic company of Nottingham’s Wolves! (of Greece) for a spot of earwax shedding on this their debut outing consisting of seven tracks (though looking at the groove breaks seems like five, either way its hard to tell for sure) spread invitingly across one side of 10-inch plastic. Early Birthday Party / Boys Next Door comparisons aside (although check out the chaotic skull fucking of ‘Moving beyond maintenence’ which combines the menace of those early scary Big Black records and the primal savagery found lurking at points on ‘Junkyard’), the Wolves certainly make a racket of that there’s no question, and any way would you dare. Featuring ex members of such notables as Bob Tilton, the X Rays and the splendidly named I am Spartacus and in between extra curricula activities as erstwhile members of Savoy Grand (are they still going?), Great Bear, Lords and Last of the real hardmen (a name that’s asking for trouble methinks), Wolves make the sound of hell in your very own living room, a corrosive mix of aural hijinks and totally wired time signatures. Fraught with the kind of tension that can only come from being at the end of your tether, Wolves seer and soar viciously. The calamitous ‘I, Linedancer’ (we’d like to see you try) is something so brutal that we for one would like to see it implemented as a fully-fledged Olympic event. A truly bastardised mother of a schizoid howler. Best cut of the set though is the satanic ‘Howl!’, a deliriously spastic take on a prog rock jam only done at 100mph with a meat cleaver held tightly to its throat, harrowing stuff, so good it brings tears to the eyes, blood to the ears, guaranteed to deliver the mother of all migraines and give your hi-fi a run for it’s money. Without doubt excruciatingly essential. Joint deputy single of the missive.

Designer Babies ‘Baghdad Boogie’ (Gringo). And we kind of wonder how Gringo records treat their bands, sleep deprivation and diet of razor blades perhaps, because there’s no doubt there’s something undeniably cruel and primitive going on. If the Wolves are a little to telling on the palette then there’s no figuring what atrocities this two track anti-pop 7” will do to your nervous system. Blood thirsty stuff, a haemorrhage waiting to happen, this just has corrupt stamped all over it. If your idea of sonic dismemberment lay with Melt Banana then think again, while they may lack the noise factoring of their label mates their lack of due care or attention towards any notion of structure has to be applauded, if they were Japanese let’s face it certain elements of the media would be shitting bricks to declare them as saviours. ‘Baghdad Boogie’ is pure psychosis, deranged, ad hoc and deliberately unfriendly. Think the boot boy clowning mentality of the Test Tube Babies and the Toy Dolls, then add (sparingly) a smidgeon of the Happy Flowers an unholy amount of Japanese noise core wind them up as tautly as possible and let them run riot for 6 minutes to create all manner of carnage in the very best tradition of an evil take on Ed, Edd and Eddy. Kids you have been warned. Things get slightly more disconcerting on the flip. ‘R.Mutt’ can be sort of viewed as the musical version of the Reduced Shakespeare Company where, for those not readily acquainted, the bearded Bard one’s entire work is reduced to something like 10 minutes. Likewise ‘R.Mutt’ is a demonic and often furious race through lunacy, spiritualism, gothism, medievalism, music hall and that’s just in the first minute. Only kidding, the trials and tribulations of the Rainbow King and the Rainbow Queen who we somehow think won’t be appearing on the big screen near you just yet or for that matter popping into the local for a quick sherry or two and a friendly game of snap. Approach with due care, thoroughly recommended for those with troublesome neighbours. http://www.gringorecords.com

The Carolgees ‘Neon’ (Demo). Another band from Nottingham, yet unlike fellow natives Wolves (of Greece) and Designer Babies this lot seem content to plug into the currency of pop and milk for its worth. Now I’ll admit to getting a fair few demo releases and I’d have to say that either I’m fortunate in not getting the dodgy ones or else there’s a simmering groundswell of talent that indicates the underground scene is as healthy as its ever been, just a shame that most of it never makes it out of the bedroom / garages and further a field, pop radio you break my heart. Case in point is this three-track gem from the Carolgees who are the self-appointed electro-clash indie pop heroes. In the hands of many this’d smack highly of arrogance and self-delusion, yet the evidence is here to be seen, a scorching trio of pop mastery that tugs at every conceivable emotion. Recently found supporting house favourites Girlinky, the only flaw to the Carolgees and impending beckoning success that we can see is the name. Presumably named after that famous anti comedian, he of the one gag routine (only joking there was after all Jimmy Krankie) Bob Carolgees a man of whom it has to be said made Saturday morning children’s TV such a painful thing that most wished school was a six day extravaganza, the bitter pill only dulled by the sight of Sally James. The sacrifices we made when we were young. The Carolgees are a five piece that could just be the much needed jab in the arm of heart racing crystalline pop into a genre that’s so often found to be dour, a celebratory mix of towering 80’s collages, shameless thrills, infectious melodies, hooks you’d sell your soul for all wrapped up and bathed in the glow of a radiant synthesiser wall of sound. ‘Neon’ is a euphoric sugar rush into pop heaven, all at once bruised and bombastic, tearful and tempestuous, a sub 5 minute roller coaster ride to make you simultaneously cry and smile while all the time subtly clubbing you into submission with its sheer force of will, one of those cuts that forces you to press the replay button and pinch yourself to make sure your not dreaming. The storming ‘No-recover’ blends icy atmospherics, new wave power pop hooks with a strangely alluring soft rock backbone and as daft as it may seem sounds not unlike a fighting for their lives Manics. When all the dust is settled they still find time to lay to waste any residual vestiges of emotion with the epic ‘Increasingly so’ offering heartbreak in three simple steps: the lulling tones of a musical box melancholically sounds, soon to melt into the chorus of chiming guitars that hang ominously delicately undoing your defences mutating without mercy into a flotilla of shoe gaze showers. Game over. Nottingham, it seems, is the only place to be right now. Joint deputy single of the missive. http://www.thecarolgees.co.uk

The Legends ‘Call it ours’ (Labrador). One of the best tracks from the Scandinavian nine pieces current debut long player ‘Up against the Legends’. ‘Call it ours’ with its instant radio friendly pop appeal, swaggering riffs and slinky mid 80’s / C-86 day-glo chassis is as near perfect an infectious buzzing jangle you’ll hear all summer, JMC slugging it out with the more fuzzy chime happy brigade of the Sarah label roster, teasingly brief but so tantalisingly potent you’ll beg for more. Backed by three tracks, one of which ’Against Time’ is really the lead cut with its chord sequences subtly re-arranged, while ‘Change’ dips its toes into the same misty waters as trod by the Pale Saints to incorporate a dreamy slice of harmonica haunted folk bliss. Pick of the lot though is ‘The Ballad of the Band’ where smouldering shadowy 60’s Spector-esque psyche back drops collide gracefully with cascading early 90’s shoe gaze, early Boo Radleys fused with even earlier Rose of Avalanche anyone and cute with it. http://www.labrador.se

The Vanities ‘Buzz’ EP (Star Asylum). Another of those must have records I’m afraid. Cardiff based three piece the Vanities had the dubious honour of having their debut outing ‘Space Tourist’ produced by non other than Tony Hadley of Spandau Ballet fame. Apparently so taken was he by their demo that he switched sides around the mixing desk for his first taste of control twiddling. So without any further hints you can guess that this is more 80’s revivalism choking on the leash, and you wouldn’t be disappointed. ‘Buzz’ features four tracks that we are inclined to admit grow on you like moss and has the unnerving ability of getting under your skin and mating immediately with all the bits of your body that grind and groove. Imagine a darker Duran Duran with a more edgy personality as opposed to the sugary pop boy band prototype as was delivering a more subliminal though sleazy melodic matrix, lying somewhere in that frosty void between the excellent Stained Glass Heroes, the Feint and the Koreans, the Vanities nibble away at the shadowy corners of early 80’s electro pop, those questioning their credentials would do well to tune in immediately to ‘Dark Satellite’ where Brum’s favourite sons Le Bon and Co go to head to head with Devoto’s Magazine replete with shock treatment darting riffs and a down ‘n’ dirty throb throughout. Elsewhere ‘A brand new dawn’ lip-gloss in hand waltz’s closely in spirit to Marc Almond’s ‘Tears runs rings’ dressed with delicious harpsichord like elegance while shimmering with the same aloof sophistication of Ure era Ultravox. ‘Buzz’ on the other will snare the most casual of the pop crowd, snaking riffs and a groove that’ll drive you to distraction imagine a watered down soft focused Guns ‘n’ Roses doing new romantic / glam crossovers being fronted by Martin Fry. Best of the set the traumatic ‘Pneumatic Blue’, Baccarach meets Barry, a slow unfurling stinger with Bond-esque aspirations and a world-weary heart to match. http://www.thevanitiesmusic.com

The Koreans ‘Still strung out’ (Storm). And did we just mention the Koreans, my these musings are getting seamless. Literally hot of the presses is this new four track EP from London’s finest foursome, something of a taster for their imminent self-titled debut long player. The Koreans plug into that whole machine / android punk rock genre with such alarming aplomb, their sound ranges anything from upbeat locked down hypnotic grooves (check out the clockwork throb of the electrifying title cut ‘Still strung out’) to charged atmospheric blip pop (especially on the fuzzed out tripping icicle pop dynamics of ‘Too tired’), their nearest allies the early stripped down dark electro of Depeche Mode or the tense romanticism of Duran Duran c. ‘Sing blue silver’. Without doubt the two tracks that’ll be ignored from this set by most happen to be their best to date. The moodily absorbing ‘Moondust Silver’ fizzles and pops blissfully lost in its own dizzying patterns, ambling rustic space folk that strangely enough sounds at times like the Beatles had they of course decided to enlist atmospheric beats and indulged in enough mind bending substances so as to jettison the whole Magical Mystery Tour to the far flung recesses of the cosmos. Dozing lullabies for robots is what the closing ‘What’s going down’ offers, stumbling and stuttering ominously on its own lazily spun web seemingly to bloated to be arsed to come out to play and it has to be said not a million miles in terms of spirit from the more magnificently inert moments found on the Cure’s ‘Head on the Door’ and ‘Disintegration’ albums, good company indeed. Essential in case you were thinking of asking. http://www.storm-music.com

Mike Summers and the Doons ‘King of Tomorrow’ (Backwater). And we really do feel obliged to doff our caps to Ipswich’s Backwater Records with their no genre specific attitude. This little cottage industry has in the last few months unearthed the timid Daniel Johnston like Jamie Clements debut ‘Sleep Creases’ which if you haven’t bought by now then shame on you and may it rain long and hard upon your house. Step a little further back for the awesome debut from the Future Kings of England a magnificent feast of prog / stoner / psychedelic overlaps that frankly blew out off the water the usual names associated and regarded highly in the same sonic work space. Latest addition to the Backwater stable is the Suffolk based musician Mike Summers and his more than able backing crew the Doons. Those expecting more of the above, think again, those darn critters at Backwater have gone and switched the tables again. Mr Summers is a traditionalist, and a traditionalist of some note, this dinky 4 track debut is the kind of release that would easily sneak into the Spit ‘n’ Polish roster without so much as a grumble. Featuring mandolins, ukuleles and accordions, in the space of fourteen minutes duration they take you by the hand to another time of endless summers and forever blue skies, just check out the gorgeous ‘Open Roads’ a mixture of evensong porch like serenity and hood down driving pastoral pop spliced perfectly by the ghostly sound of the accordion breezing in the background. Don’t be fooled into thinking this release is purely out of bounds for a pop market, ‘King of Tomorrow’ with its lolloping trombone and jaunty ukulele is made of the kind of stuff that the Beatles initially cut their teeth to and armed with its valve radios renascence and music hall glitz isn’t a million miles from Space’s ‘Money’ at least in spirit if not in design. ‘Blue Memories’ with its trembling timbre points distinctly to late 50’s soft pop yet belies a resonantly eerie cast that could easily find itself on a David Lynch soundtrack providing a mix of lonesome folk that to these ears summons the heart ache of Roy Orbison and the gentleness of the Everly Brothers and with that remarkably reminiscent of Paul Burch’s ‘Blue Notes’ album. The haunting closing cut ‘Long black train (Going Down)’ takes its subtle cue from ‘Amazing Grace’ with the ghosts of Perkins and Cash sitting in the shadows the only thing lacking is a symphonic crescendo to give it that epic appeal it so eagerly deserves. http://www.backwaterrecords.com

The Swansea Mass ‘Silver Venus’ (Loud Devices). Yum, yum. Debut two-track release for both Chicago label Loud Devices and quartet Swansea Mass. Former members of Salome, the Fucking Werewolves (a great band name if ever there was one) and the Abandoned Silos, two girls / two boys, guitar, bass, drums and another guitar. Anything else you need know? Of course there is. This release has two things going for it. Firstly its sleeve art was done by Steve Krakow he of The Galactic Zoo Dossier (which for years with increasing annoyance on my part has managed to elude our radar) and secondly it’s a mighty fine release that most record collections would be honoured to usher into their loving arms. ‘Silver Venus’ is the best thing we’ve heard since the Butterflies of Love’s ‘Rob a bank’, melodies so quiet, fragile and meek that they are almost invisible but gorgeous in that self same way that the soft psychedelic atmospherics of the Verve’s ‘One way to go’ on the flip of their debut was. Slow burn shoe gaze, cascading effects laden guitars that just surround the air space to smother you with an aching but nonetheless consuming sense of affection, throw in the obvious reference pointers to the much missed Galaxie 500 and you have something of happening lazily waiting to happen. Flip over for ‘Chessy’, Velvet Underground by any other name and what a name to have or for that matter to be compared to. This is the real McCoy not some half arsed attempt to band wagon jump a band wagon that left the station many moons ago. A gritty though it has to be said casual affair of sneering fuck you attitude laced with a proto new wave / no wave edge that ambles ever so closely from the Factory to CBGB’s c.1974 / 75. Buy on sight or be forever ridiculed by cooler peers. http://www.loud-devices.com

Various Artists ‘On the Buzzes’ (Fierce Panda). Another of those limited must have double 7” packs from the ever industrious Fierce Panda featuring six vital cuts from some of the most rocking dudes currently to be found shaking their tail feathers down your local independent record emporium. Kicking things off in blistering style to the sounds of current darlings of the masses, Razorlight. With an album kicking about somewhere out there, not that we’ve heard it, a couple of singles is what we get and then bang ‘hello stardom, goodbye losing today’. Phew! Rock ‘n’ roll, pants if you ask me. Hell we won’t hold it against the skinny dudes, exclusive alternate take of ‘the Dagger Song’ ensures that for at least three minutes of your day things will get superbly mental. Neat or what? Next up on the chopping block London based five piece the Ludes. Is there a garage thing going on? Clash wannabe’s who in their ranks have at least two members sporting fourth generation Faces hairdos. The Ludes come armed with a big, big bag of tunes, one of which ‘She was just a girl’ charges ominously to mess with your neat haircuts and have you acting deliriously daft on the dance floor, expect an album for their major label paymasters early next year. Screwball new wave pop at its finest courtesy of the ridiculously infectious brand of angular riffs, impromptu schizoid charges and howling sing a long chorus lines that lies in wait on ‘Something clicked and I fell off the edge’ by the Rakes. A kind of fist fight of eccentricity between a seriously wired Talking Heads and an impish Devo, anything else you need to know, oh yeah their from East London, a quartet, one single firmly tucked under their belts for Trash Aesthetic (the previous home of those other art rocking scallywags the Bloc Party) and another single due, like any day (we think…research just ain’t what it used to be!), so with that two more reasonable excuses to visit the record shack for both you and me. What are you waiting for? House favourites the Rocks kick in with ‘Celeste’ a scuzzy, down and dirty take on the New York Dolls and the Heartbreakers, three singles already out and about chinning the opposition this being one of them, perhaps their most blatant at sounding pop, ear candy hooks and harmonies yet there’s still no getting away from the fact that they are a sleazy as a late 70’s Soho strip joint on a rainy day with it’s nawks out for all to see. Top of the class book token award goes to the demonic S Rock Levinson whose ‘Spitting in Italy’ is a rogue-ish bully boy, post hardcore punk rock or so it seems, this baby kinda leaps from the Hi-Fi and grabs you by the throat and swings you around the room until your beg undying love for it. Rounding up the pack and admirably so if we say so ourselves, the Souls, who sound not unlike another Fierce Panda species of yore, the Parkinsons. The Souls have a certain Richard Digance in the fold, surely not THE Richard Digance the British comedian / folk singer (BBC’s words not mine), you should be so unlucky. Think Bad Manners slammed through the blender with the Ruts with the capricious sprinkling of zest, attitude and a whole heap of wicked fun. http://www.fiercepanda.co.uk

Merchandise ‘Swallowing Curses’ (Cityscape). For those who missed it the first time around, us included, another chance to sample the delights of Bolton’s finest duo Merchandise’s earlier output with this re-release of 2002’s ‘Swallowing Curses’. Already confirmed as Singled Out house favourites following their glorious ‘Beautiful morning for a bad day’ single and this years charmingly addictive second long player ‘Lo-tech solutions to Hi-tech Problems’ which we in our humbled opinion thoroughly recommend you withdraw now to your local caring and sharing record shed to purchase. ‘Swallowing Curses’ sees the Merchandise duo Brad and Con furrowing the tranquil yet seductive scenic route between the hilly pastures occupied by J Xaverre and Minotaur Shock for some more oodles of scrumptious ethereal pop, delicately hypnotic their brand of acoustic folk electronics is all at once captivating and warmingly fluffy. Lyrics written by sometime band collaborator Roger Williams, ‘Swallowing Curses’ glides softly to moments defined by the exquisitely sizzling faraway elegance of the ‘La Folie / Feline’ era Stranglers all tripped by scuttling dusty beats and honey drenched China Crisis ‘Wishful Thinking’ like backdrops, cruelly gorgeous. Flip over for ‘Terracotta Caterpillar’ to be treated to a spot of spectral click crazy beat bopping upbeat magic, think of a heavenly overture for the passage into the afterlife devised by a cryogenic Boards of Canada collaborating with Plone and being played by an assembled cast of 70’s children’s TV test card boffins led by the Clangers, quite sweet in a starry eyed kind of way. http://www.cityscaperecords.co.uk

The Earlies ‘Devil’s Country’ (Names). Deep breath kids the Earlies alert is sounding and that can only mean one thing, pop magnificence is in the house. Already the subject of one of the gigs of the year for their debut live performance at the Arts Café early this year where quite frankly from a bulging stage (just how many Earlies are there?) the sounds emanating had that chilly feel good vibe that you get from waking on a Christmas morning to find that that Santa bloke has checked in with all the goodies you earmarked on your begging letter along with a few you’d some how overlooked or couldn’t find space to fit on. But then that says it all about the Earlies there’s something unearthly and wrong about listening to them when the sun’s cracking the flags, to Polyphonic Spree’s almost radiant glow they are the polar opposite offering that sense of inner warmth in frosted climes. Currently turning heads with their debut long player ‘These were the Earlies’ which to be honest is a gathering up of all those singles that we warned you about yonks ago, don’t you feel daft now? That’ll teach you to pay attention in future. Our mathematical head tells us ‘Devil’s Country’ is their fifth outing now, coming across like an older brother of ‘Wayward Son’ its more of that soft hazy folk psychedelia in the vein of Spiritualised chomping at the bit with a preacher man delivery from the back of the rickety Painted Wagon being dragged through the Australian out back to a furious glazing of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Tusk’ and a subtle Roxy like glam icing ushered all the time by blasts of exhilarating brass fanfares while spreading the word to the wise. In other words damn fine. ‘One of us is dead’ features more ethereal visitations from above, pretty much orbiting the same floating voids as ’25 Easy Pieces’ and ‘Long Road (again)’ and in spirit lyrically complementing the Beatles ‘A day in the life’, so gentle and torturously timid it takes your breath away not before serenading you with a spot of melancholic willowy brass that dips ever so slightly into Soft Cell’s ‘Torch’. By rights by the time the snow bound ‘Across the Line’ hits home your already spellbound, more like a reprise, it softly curdles to caress you with its elegiac late night touch. We are already converted, what the Earlies want to know is, are you? Greatness looms large. http://www.theearlies.com

Ben Christophers ‘Good day for the hopeless’ (Cooking Vinyl). We hold our hands aloft in admitting that Ben Christophers previous two albums had somewhat passed us by and that on the evidence of this delightful three track release we are deservedly kicking our shins as a result in penance for the oversight. A taster for his forthcoming third long player ‘The spaces in between’, ‘Good day for the hopeless’ sees Christophers moving into more upbeat realms, a crooked mix of ambling wide eyed spectral folk spliced through with fluffily spooled up day-glo textures that mood wise aren’t to far away from ‘Flowers’ era Bunnymen, one minute in this babies company and your hooked, think of a more ethereal Baby Bird basking in lolloping ice dripped hanging chords playfully ushering in lysergic summer morns. ‘Walking with you’ is just arresting, several notches up on the lead cut, both intimate and demanding, it relays a sense pensiveness that these days you only find finely crafted to such precision by Yorke and Co, that presence of being wrapped in a bubble of calm while all outside is chaos, if not in spirit than in essence drawing on the same song writing blocks as Kate Bush in that same tensely aching way that’s only aim is to root you to the spot in awe. Complete the set with a demo version of the romantic and rustically kooky ‘She’ and you have something of a shiningly effervescent release. Check out the label website http://www.cookingvinyl.com/benexclusive for a free download of ‘Devil to Kill’. http://www.cookingvinyl.com

Wren ‘Drive down lines’ (Melodic). ‘Drive down lines’ is a taster for the forthcoming debut long player ‘The Egg and The Tree’ from Birmingham based Wren known to his Ma and Pa as Nick Peill. According to the accompanying literature Nick, a normally shy creature, it seems has been laying siege to the Melodic mailbox with demos to such a point that Manchester’s purveyors of electronica faced a life imprisoned in their windowless hide out unless they succumbed. Succumbed they did the result being this slow cooking nugget of fluffy pop. Noodling cyclical rhythms, scuttling beats and rippling electronic under carriages that appear initially with the same kind of autumnal chilliness as more associated with Archer Prewitt before breathlessly slipping up a gear or three to morph into a driving whirly pop wonder of a cut that leaves you hanging on to the bumper in its wake and getting high on its enriched chemical compound of post rock-ist laid back past orally perfected exhaust fumes, dreamy stuff indeed. Things get ever so better elsewhere being backed lovingly by the snoozing ‘It grew from a stone’ which has all the chilly calm of a picture-esque village having a Sunday morning lie in, all the time warmly snuggled up beneath a blanket of freshly laid snow. Another of those Melodic magic moments then, don’t say we didn’t warn you. http://www.melodic.co.uk

Anna Kashfi ‘Lakeside Call’ (Stolenwine). There’s no doubt that the name Anna Kashfi is synonymous with the phrase near perfection, 2001’s ‘Philokalia’ was one of the defining moments of that year when it was granted a limited release on the much missed Emma’s House records and into the bargain perhaps offering the label its most celebrated moment. It was simply a record of such withering elegance that angels wept and the very heart of nature buckled and sighed in mournful awe. Now back and fleshed out to a quartet following the arrival of Peter Martin and Sarah Kemp to the fold of mainstays Sian Webley and James Youngblood. Three years on, a new release in the form of Lakeside Call’ backed by Whitworth Park’ and a new label which says to me that either (a) the music industry is a cruel place for overlooking such irresistible talent, or (b), that in Anna Kashfi we have a group of work shy fops, but then if the waiting brings such exquisite rewards, who cares? Anna Kashfi okay another time, a time where innocence and timid naivety run hand in hand, there is no hype here, or for that matter pre arranged bandwagon jumping, the music simply speaks for itself. It’s a music that is timeless and forever hopeful that lies in the cracks between fashion and cult-dom. Sharing that same rustic eloquence and that unique ear for a divine melody as the likes of the Relict and Quiet Loner, both cuts are perfect examples of arresting heartbreak pop. From the opening strains on ‘Lakeside Call’ of the soft viola and the tripping dusted banjo you are immediately aware that you are in the presence of something monumentally special. Brushed with a heart shredding melancholy Sian’s vocals add the final complimentary piece to what painfully fragile and exhaustingly sapping. Flip over for ‘Whitworth Park’ where moods are thankfully happier in spirit, Anna Kashfi playfully imagine the Velvets had they shifted into country rather than pop, subtle tones of pedal steel washes, twinkling bells and the cooling breeze of an accordion melt together into a delectably sensual backdrop that quite frankly summer’s were made for. Joint deputy single of the missive. http://www.stolenwine.co.uk

Multiplex ‘With hands and feet’ EP (Multiplex). Multiplex are duo Christian and Roland Dorman, an album ‘Pinghaus Frequencies’ for London’s Toytronic label and a plethora of releases and remixes for a multitude of electronica labels is about all we know about this lot. ‘With hands and feet’ marks the duo’s first outing on their own Multiplex imprint, a CD clocking in at over 40 minutes worth of music and gathering 10 cuts of which 9 are remixes by friends they’ve met along the way to include Safety Scissors, Shitmat, Novel 23, Digitional, Proem, Fizzarum, Dictaphone and Decadnids invited for the ride and whose only entrance fee was to offer up their own interpretation of the hosts ‘Hands and Feet’. By and large a spiffing release, Multiplex lead out the troops with their Oriental bathed space noodling concocted dinky toy town electronics. An alluring musical box feast of enchanting escapism that wouldn’t really go amiss sitting on the Static Caravan or Expanding roster having that same frosted complexion of say ISAN and the delicate child like aroma of Plone. Fellow Toytronic team players Digitional take to their task with some daring sophistication drenching their appraisal with a cortege of dreaming string arrangements and bobbing squelches very much in the best tradition of that man Fort Dax. Shitmat weigh in with two mixes, Planet Mu’s favourite sons completely strip down the original chassis and refit it with a bouncing chaotic blip core boost with all manner of dismembered add ons and wilfully discordant grooves. Proem bring clarity and calm to the proceedings, scratches and clicks jostle fluffily against space dub-esque backdrops it’s a similar style as adopted by Decadnids only theirs incorporates a more soundtrack like approach that fans of Manual may do well to check out. Safety Scissors dig into that whole robotic funk groove as ventured by Herbie Hancock in the early 80’s and come out the other side all the better for it. If our arms were forced up our back and at gun point told to choose one defining track the vote would have to go to Fizzarum’s retread. An exotic cocktail of late night down tempo sultriness and reclining snooze pop that’s matched only by the cosmically tinged romantic Android waltz pop of Novel 23 who manage to find the middle ground between Kraftwerk and Jean Michel Jarre before the Vector Lovers. Last an by no means least bringing up the rear admirably the sounds of City Centre Offices duo Dictaphone who serve up a tidy three minutes of evocative folk-tronics that’s sure to nuzzle in your head and play on ages after the CD has finished. Essential in case you really needed telling. http://www.multiplexmusic.co.uk

Santo El Diablo ‘Santo Vs. The Flying Saucers’ EP (Self released). It’s funny how band names have you sub consciously categorizing them even before you’ve had a chance to hear a single note. Santo El Diablo, no be honest, a surf sci-fi combo, right? Check the evidence, a sleeve with a still from a 50’s sci-fi b-movie depicting a UFO, then there’s the song titles: ‘Scream Freak’, ‘Animal, Vegetable, Mineral’ and the obligatory ‘Santo Vs. the Flying Saucers’. Man, it’s a certainty, we even quiffed up whatever hair we had, charged our ray gun proton packs
and for good measure slung under our arm surf boards in readiness for battle with the bug eyed dudes from Mars. Man were we wrong, what was geared up to be a twanging feast in the company of Man or Astro Man’s bastard half cousins manifests unnervingly into the total opposite. Strange indeed it is, when their not grinding out lysergic comatose inducing pop their happily whipping about in inebriated states in dustier climes. One EP already to their credit ‘The Santo 7 Ride!’ which we swear we’ll forego sleep for until our mits are firmly on a copy, and now this their latest 5 slice opus. Now call us romantic old fools but we’d like to think that ‘Santo Vs the Flying Saucer’ is the work of some strange futuristic transmogrication between They Might be Giants and the Pixies, combining intellects to cure the worlds evils with, and I kid you not here, post rock bubblegum pop. It gets better on ‘You am I blues’ where subtle word plays loosely sourced from ‘I am the Walrus’ are given a wonky numb school playground psychedelic edge that generally makes it the best off balanced weird pop song that Of Montreal didn’t write. ‘SITTM’ changes tact and dynamic completely sounding to these ears like Steve Earle staggering along Copperhead Road pissed as a fart on moonshine. ‘Animal Vegetable Mineral’ has the Beach Boys dragged of in a haze of recreational drugs into 70’s children’s TV land where Magic Roundabout relocates to Camberwick Green and our hapless trio are sentenced to play forever on ‘Handful of Songs’. Best of the lot though without doubt is the starry eyed ambling space folk opener ‘Scream Freak’ which ventures into territories more associated with the Earlies as though trimmed of their whirly pop additives and lugging behind them a massive bag of long forgotten and sadly discarded Will Sergeant riffs and blessed with a lilting fuzz laden fanfare like crescendo that Spiritualised would die for. A very coolly reclining treat for all. http://www.santo-el-diablo.co.uk

Penny Red ‘Say you will’ (Demo). Most releases that come by our way these days are perfectly produced, there are so many gimmicks and gadgets that the most amazing gloss can be credited to something worked in a bedroom environment. And maybe its because of that exact reason that when we heard this we fell over ourselves with joy because this four track debut demo is, how can we put it mildly, as rough as a bear’s arse. Frankly we weren’t really expecting it, but then that’s the charm of it, so undeniably DIY and yet couched in that whole 77 / 78 era where the whole aesthetic seemed to be developed as the key players learnt from their mistakes, a time where there were no rule books the fundamental criteria being having the passion, ambition and belief to succeed. Penny Red are that era’s offspring and okay this EP is flawed with odd moments that have you scratching your chin and thinking ‘impetuous youth’ but then its that gritty warts ‘n’ all showmanship that makes it so appealing. Upholding the spirit of punk from their Suffolk / Essex borders these tracks were recorded as a live demo in Chelmsford and capture perfectly the bands energetic aggression. Opening with ‘Say you will’ itself a turning back of the clock to those late nights spent watching rock’s aristocracy being upstaged on the OGWT, its probably the sets most casually laid back cut that digs deep into that early pub rock groove that would spawn Dr Feelgood, although here we think references to Tom Robinson are probably more apt. ‘Bully Boy Tactics’ ups the ante considerably, cockney terrace punk rock that has one foot in the boot camp of early pre –‘Hersham Boys’ Sham 69, you know the good stuff before the fascist come along and pissed on the everyone’s parade, while the other foot is busy pogoing itself sick to the sounds of a primal sounding Buzzcocks fronted by Steve Diggle, the only ingredient missing being the additional harmonies which you feel would do wonders on this. Likewise the ‘Cocks influence is all to apparent on ‘Stupid’ but it’s the crunching ‘Falling’ where the band hit the road running a racing punk pop nugget that perfectly hooks up to that New York scene of the era to recall a loosened up Television. All in all a nifty little rough and ready rocker it has to be said. http://www.pennyred.org.uk

Sweatmaster ‘Song with no words’ EP (Bad Afro). More top drawer garage rock from Denmark’s finest purveyors of all things six string and hook laden, the eminent Bad Afro, having already drove our Hi-Fi to distraction with corking debut releases from Viva Vertigo and Silver now it’s the turn of Finland’s Sweatmaster to incinerate sound system. First encountered in these pages with their blistering ‘Hold it’ 7” from a year or two ago the Lords of the Stooges Church are back to kick ass and bloody your nose in a death defying roller coaster ride of ball breaking bravado. Currently in the studio putting the finishing touches to their follow up to last years awesome debut long player ‘Final Cut’ which is tentatively slated for early 2005 release this smart must have electrifying 8 track EP serves as taster to fill that gap between now and then. Featuring two new studio cuts and 6 rollicking covers that show where Sweatmaster are at, 8 songs packed viciously into a storming 17 minutes, Sweatmaster get to executing the task at hand like a turbo charged version of the Supersuckers, a total cranium busting display of motherfucking mayhem as the dudes strut and swagger to give your airspace the spanking of its life. Opening with the scorching ‘Song with no words’ beset with that same stripped down dynamic as the Seeds, the lads tune into the Hives frequency and fuck them over just for the pure fun of it while ‘Dirty little things’ arms itself with a sure to be heavy MTV rotation lusting throb recalling an unholy alliance between those White Stripes kids and QOSTA. After all that fun throw in six floor shaking covers the best being the razor sharp drive through of the Wipers ‘Mystery’ and a demonic speed freaking make over of Minor Threat’s lost classic ‘I don’t wanna hear it’, fucking awesome but be honest did you really expect anything else? http://www.badafro.dk

The Omegas ‘Nothing left to show’ (Demo). Now this kids is going to take your breath away, forget all those bands peddling second rate 60’s melodies, this my friends is the real deal. An awesome package that features a four-track demo and a 23-minute home movie DVD of the band, sadly our copy doesn’t work, nevertheless this is going to blow your mind. With a band name that’s so silver age marvel comics superhero like, the trio: Prash, Veno and Taina (that’s one bloke and two sisters in case you were wondering) have been billed by their management company as the hottest band in London which to most is gonna serve as a red rag to a bull, but then they may just have a point. The Omegas dig deep to deliver an authentic glimpse of the London / San Francisco scenes in 1967 as though if by magic they’ve just fallen through some kind of time vortex, their psychedelic folk rock jam is captivating and so intoxicating that you can smell the potent aroma of sweat, incense, promiscuity and carefree wild abandon eking through the hanging choked lines of marijuana of a happening scene. Currently with one release under their belts the recent 6 track EP entitled ‘The Omegaz’ (which we are yet to hear) this sizzling set is a mind melting fusion of acid drenched fuzz laden tapestries and blessed out loved up voyages into the minds eye that recall the bluesy work outs of Hendrix tripping out with the organ bled cerebral landscapes of the Doors while taking to their bosom the freeform improvisational dynamic of the Grateful Dead especially on the arse shaking smoking gun groove of the softly spaced out sensualism of ‘Time has come’. Throughout this quartet of cuts the subtle whiff of Jefferson Airplane, Curved Air and Cream come to the fore Veno’s powerful Joplin-esque vocals acting as a guiding light through the thick stoned fog created by Prash especially on the maddening chimes of the grooving transcendental rocker ‘Nothing left to show’ where their brand of hocus pocus hippie idealisms do battle with the more liberated rockers from the current garage scene such as the Dirtbombs and the Bell Rays while on the crushing ‘She rides a lion’ the trio tune carefully into the intense swamp like storm inducing territories of the Space Team Electra’s darkened spiritualist voids of lead vocalist Myshel Prasad’s mind. All in all amid an era of fast living and selfishness the Omegas return to the old ideals could just prove to be rock’s saving grace, whatever happens a mind-blowing ride awaits, dare you jump on? Joint single of the Missive. http://www.osfa.org.uk/the-omegas

Monkey ‘Spider in the Water’ (Sugarlow). Debut two-track release from London based trio Monkey which we have to admit really put us on the back heel when it was slipped into the CD player, so gentle and unassuming is it that you can’t help being smitten by the whole thing. If we didn’t know any better we’d have said that these was the result of a co-incidental meeting in a burger bar between Pavement, Coldplay and Air, who after allowing the fizzy stuff to flow had laughed and joked swapping notes and studio tales then decided at the spare of the moment to collaborate. The result being ‘Spider in the Water’ which mixes all the prevalent ingredients of the three i.e. waywardness, bristling end of the line melancholia and tingling cosmic backdrops and something which we’d be inclined to suggest could easily be a distant cousin to the flip side of that Birdpen debut from last year ‘Dig that hole’ given that it’s borne of those similar kind of electronic dream wash soul sapping pop motifs. Flipside features the lonesome ‘Brand new blues’ slightly more upbeat than the lead cut yet doing nothing to dull that sense of feeling crushed from the inside out. A beautiful thing once you’ve pieced your broken heart back together. http://www.sugarlow.co.uk

Big Cash Prizes ‘Movement’ (Demo). Not much information about this lot other than they are from Stoke and this 4-track demo release is one of the best things we’ve heard in a long while, all raging and baying for blood and not a duff cut in sight. Rushing in from the same austere future’s past as the likes of the Koreans, the Vanities etc…reviewed else where in these musings, Big Cash Prizes are the gritty edge of the whole machine rock / post punk genre currently sweeping through the nation, though instead of looking aloof and making music to vogue to their more happy chartering a more terrace orientated approach of acidic laced Terminator pogo pop that toys with 90’s strobe infested psychedelic hazes and throbbing wannabe rock-ist dynamics best captured on the spitefully Idol-esque sneering dirty grind of the ZZ Top fucked over by the Primals ‘Walk On’. Big Cash Prizes excel at delivering a blistering fix of agitated guitars, darkly looming atmospherics all under-towed by electro shock grooves, just check out ‘Bleak Disco’ which nicks along the way the bass line from U2’s ‘A new years day’ then enticingly plugs into the whole bleak 1979 / 80 landscape in particular the Liverpool scene where they cleverly engage Wah Heat c. ‘Nah poo! The art of bluff’ in a head on clash with an all consuming hybrid of current day and old school Killing Joke bloodied by the moodist storm warring of ‘Script of the Bridge’ era Chameleons. Add in the aspect of unnerving tenseness that they manage so ably to thread intrinsically into their melodies, the opening ‘Movement’ spends the best part of it’s sub four minute outing creeping around ominously in the shadows like a deranged stalker causing your blood to run cold while eliciting the chill of very early Cabaret Voltaire before exploding into a caustically charged hip swinging floor melting groover. Not wanting to be left out ‘Z Cars’ with its infectious zig zagging cranium-boring riffs is blessed as though being the result of a fist fight between a particularly up for it Clash and a dance orientated Joy Division and at the close has the cheekiness to take sizeable pot shots at Bananarama’s ‘Robert De Niro’s Waiting’ just for fun. The youth of today, phew! All in all a remarkable festering debut of fuck you aggressive miserablism and deserving of the rarely awarded single of the Missive albeit jointly. http://www.bigcashprizes.net

No Tsuris ‘Sampler’ (absolutely Kosher). There was a time when I used to get sent all the Absolute Kosher releases the minute they fell off the production line, and mighty fine they were to. Though if anyone where to ask me to describe the label I’d have had to admitted that they were a little sparse, perhaps more so frail and a tad genteel that made twee positively rocking. So imagine my surprise in recently getting hold of a copy of Pidgeon’s debut album ‘From gutter with love’, blimey we fell over ourselves in total admiration. A spiteful release that really does show up musicians far older and with (allegedly) more experience of the so-called business for what they really are, i.e. clueless. So why am I rambling, where is this leading. Well simple really, this twenty-track sampler from California’s Absolutely Kosher reveals a label that these days are kicking sizable with Pidgeon just one of many stinging bows to their armoury. So what treats lie in wait then, good question. Eltro are represented by ‘Motorboat’ a curious though compelling mix of beats, psychedelic folk and Edward Lear, think of Bjork, the Slits, Cornelius and the Lemon Jelly all collaborating on some waywardly trippy down tempo fest. Those morning the loss of the Elephant 6 Collective might do well to check out the lysergic pop of Marty while the Telegraph Melts offer a curious blend of pensive quiet pop spliced through with the sophisticated washes of accompanying violins. Then there’s the infectious toy town tuneage of Jukeboxer and the electro power pop perfection of the Wrens ‘Hopeless’ or the Anthony Newley phase David Bowie doing slightly off balanced West Coast sunshine pop in the shape of Bottom of the Hudson. Summer at Shatter Creek again as with all of these bands / artists are / is previously unknown to me, but you can bet your bottom dollar after hearing ‘My neighbour’s having a seizure’ we want to hear more, a feel good confused collision of multi faceted pop moments that shouldn’t by rights co-exist let alone blend, warm and weird but daft as it may seem in 6 minutes it manages to touch base with Sigur Ros / the Busy Signals and everything in between. Aside the excellent ‘Strelnikov’ from Pidgeon best cut of the set is the turbulent though gracefully soundtrack sweeps of the Swords Projects which should satiate lovers of Mogwai and Workhouse while not to mention keeping lovers of Set Fire to Flames glued with fascination. With future releases promised from current darlings the Hidden Cameras and Goblin Cock (yes we spotted the accidental seamless link too) the future certainly looks Kosher. All you need do now is hear for yourself, drop Cory a nice email macher@absolutelykosher.com and tell them dudes we sent you.

Jens Lekman ‘You are the light’ (Secretly Canadian). Can’t remember for sure whether this is the third or fourth EP in as many months from Scandinavian musician Jens Lekman. For those who haven’t been paying attention at the back, Mr Lekman recently scored a top 5 hit in his home territory of Sweden under the pseudonym Rocky Dennis with the track ‘You are the light’ featured here in all its glory. Believed destined for greatness in some quarters and who are we to argue given that his previous EP releases for Secretly Canadian have proven beyond a shadow of doubt that here lies an artist caught with both hands and feet in the perfect pop cookie jar and possessing a finely tuned ear for candy pop and the writing tools to deliver them by the truck load. This EP reveals a growing sense of maturity as Lekman ventures into Bacarach’s sophisticated realms. ‘You are the light’ ushers in to the sound of sunshine filled brass fanfares with the sweeping bravado of anthemic cool, so drenched in saccharine laced grooves you could easily get a sweet tooth, ridiculously infectious its cue is indelibly motored by the early 70’s prime slices of Edwin Moses as though sharing bar snacks with the crooning Brat Pack and being fronted by Andy ‘Music to watch girls by’ Williams. It’s a cute trick that’s repeated on the late night bourbon soured intimacy of the wiley ‘A man walks into a bar’. Elsewhere ‘I saw her in the anti-war demonstration’ is blessed with a snaking Byrds-esque riff flooded by softly alluring orchestrations that gives of a hippy inspired ‘Sweet November’ vibe and is temptingly topped off by a Morrissey / Richman like vocalisation that’ll simply floor you. ‘A sweet summer night on hammer hill’ ups the tempo considerably, a hip swinging sultry summers night concoction of the Modern Lovers and Martha Reeves and the Vandellas ‘Heatwave’ and damn smart with it. A star in the ascendancy methinks. http://www.secretlycanadian.com

Ten Foot Nun ‘The Mask Drop’ (Self Released Sampler). And last but by no means least, the deranged sounds of a young Croydon in the form of Ten Foot Nun. We’ve had this baby kicking holes in the speakers for a few weeks now, one of those rare releases that once inside your head demands to be revisited again and again coming across with the same pathological glee as an addiction. Self described disciples of spazmo pop, this four piece (according to the accompanying notes) threaten to spread word of their imminent arrival into the pop world via gigs, word of mouth, airplay ‘and the massive and baffling interweb’. Don’t you just love ‘em? Well we’ve made up our minds and suspect (and hope) that this lot are going to be around for a fair while yet. This killer seven cut sampler possesses some of the most ad hoc and deranged fun we’ve had in a long while. Angular riffs that act like hidden booby traps waiting to spring ferociously into action aligned to furious surges of everything from glam / punk / prog / art on detox to rock opera / metal and beyond, there’s no doubting that the sounds that Ten Foot Nun extricate are indeed worthy of brain damage and more than likely will lead to wide spread medical complaints of aneurysms across the nation once their circus wheels out on the road. Coming across like an evil Supergrass this collection gathers together prime cuts from selected releases to date, most notably their two EP’s ‘Modify my young’ and ‘Science Abuse’ with a brace culled from their forthcoming LP ‘Squelch’. TFN offer humour by the truckload but wrapped in sledgehammer like blows, frankly this sampler is either the work of warped genius or the fruits of the local asylums annual creative day. The screwball ‘Last night I dreamed I saw your band’ is hearteningly worrying, consider the Pretty Things ‘Defecting Grey’ being done by a wired to the hilt Half Man Half Biscuit doing Cardiacs impressions and instead sounding like the Damned being chased by the Texas Chainsaw dude and reading the chord sequences back to front. If you manage to get past that, and many won’t, the gruelling ‘Limpo / Collapso’ awaits talons sharpened just around the corner, casually lifting the riff from the Sparks ‘This town ain’t big enough’ and dropping it nervously into a divinely spasmodic groove that’s frankly impossible to jig to with or without a seizure and elsewhere incorporating a dangerously unhinged metal core to the whole thing. The discordant ‘Find him and kill him’ is equally frantic, apparently from the musical ‘King of Kings’, now we assume the film of the same name is their point of reference though for the life of me I can’t remember any scene were our erstwhile central character played by Jeffrey Hunter, went off into the wilderness to pogo until he was sick. Needless to say invites to play the Cambridge Folk Festival are a long way off. The shredded blues of ‘Open your house’ is the nearest those romantics among you will get to hearing a love song, but don’t build your hopes to much the Commodores it isn’t (thankfully), to these ears sounds like Ned’s Atomic Dustbin sent through the air with great pace and force with the resulting stationary body mass slammed through a blender with the added bonus of some leery backward vocals. Storming stuff all of it. All in all the kind of thing to give Mr Peel wet dreams total acidic angular anarchy awaits and rightfully earning the coveted Single of the Missive though jointly by a short head, a few waywardly erratic solos and a nose bleed or three. http://www.nuntoof.net

And that’s pretty much it for another week or so. Keep your eyes peeled for the aforementioned Losing Today magazine. Next time out hopefully we’ll have the finalised Fort Dax mixes plus a stack of goodies to make your feet tap, teeth chatter and wallets lighter, among the chasing pack being assembled new releases from Singled Out favourites the Knife (a taster for their up and coming album ‘Deep Cuts’), a particularly nifty debut from Spectrum 311, some wonky toy box madness from Kid Carpet, new Sink and Stove kids on the block the Vibration, latest Rough Trade pre season signings Aberfeldy, a storming first outing from Dive Dive, something quite sublime from Eye, the corking demo from Emerald Ocean, the second release from favourites Three Man Amp, a tasty newie from Broadway Project, the latest from My Pet Junkie, the Truckee Brothers, a mighty fine debut from singer songwriter Aaron Short, quite possibly one or two offerings from the Great Pop Supplement stable plus any other treats that we can manage to unearth between now and next time.

All that leaves for me is to thank all the bands, labels and press rep’s for making these musings possible, no names you know who you are. Death threats and general words of comfort as always welcome mark@losingtoday.com

Take care of yourselves and I’ll see you in seven (hopefully). Happy hunting,


‘May the groove be with you’.

End of transmission.

Singled Out contains no additives, nuts, animal fats or chemical derivitatives. Any abnormal effects are purely of your own making. If irregular symptoms do occur, retire to a darkened room and repeat the dose at an increased volume. If symptoms persist seek your independent record store for advice.

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Archiv – Singled Out – Missive 38 …..

Archive posting originally published on the Losing Today site …… July 2004….

A truly excellent micro label based in Italy who uses to issue their releases on cassette …. I mean who’d have thought it – an insane idea …. ha ha

Missive 38 (Best Kept Secret)
It’s been just over two years since we first received our initial parcel packed full of goodies courtesy of Italy’s Best Kept Secret. Since that time they’ve provided us with a constant flow of top class releases keeping us in tune with the newest and most crucial sounds in the world of indie pop.

By way of our gratitude and more so a return on the unflinching patience we thought it was high time to play catch up on the last dozen or so releases and to share with you why exactly this tiny Italian label ought to be by rights at the top of your shopping list.

The label is the brainchild of Alessandro Crestani, a small cassette only label yes you heard right, cassettes. In an age where it seems the music industry sees fit to have us all fooled into thinking that with each new medium we buy into our total listening experience will be made all the better and into the bargain sells back to us our record collections over and over again, then isn’t it re-assuring to us troglodytes and purists that labels like this still exist, so up yours with your fancy SA-CD’s (though admittedly they do look quite cute!).

On entering the website the first thing that greets you is the immortal banner proclaiming ‘D.I.Y. sounds for the lonesome and broken hearted’ and really that perfectly describes what BKS aspire to. Having recently released their 82nd tape (the Shifties), market wise Best Kept Secret operates to the left of centre of labels such as Red Square, HHBTM and the like whose love of the label greats such as Sarah and Bus Stop is all to apparent, yet that said BKS is not genre specific so that amid the usual flux of strum happy wide eyed kids from indie-ville, there have been memorable space rock / shoe gaze moments (Skywave), the ethereal (Nanook of the North), non conformist whirly pop (the Rotating Stars) not to mention the why get out of bed when someone out there searches for the best sounds on the underground for me ongoing series ‘We are not Alone’ (now up to its seventh instalment).

So in a nutshell hats off to one of the finest plunderers of the seams of indie pop’s rich mines and your ever reliable seeker of the tastiest morsels currently around and shyly hiding out of sight from commercial view. So in the immortal words of one Stan Lee, ‘nuff said……..

Girlinky ‘High kicks beat low punches’ [LIE074]. And what better way to open than with Girlinky welcome regulars and house favourites of these Missives. This adorable 3 track cassette features hot off the press demo material in readiness for their forthcoming second album ‘It’s the sugar rush’ due any day now. This provides Girlinky’s strongest work to date given that it reveals the bands growing maturity in terms of song writing attested perfectly by their recent b-sides which have all shown a willingness to extend beyond their normal cut ’n’ thrust trash twee as proven by the curvy ‘Danger of Death’. Still wickedly barmy coming across like an impish distant relative of Winterbrief and still proudly wearing their BiS t-shirts and streets ahead of those Surferosa dudes the schizoid ‘Let’s have a fight’ with it’s rowdy ramshackle rollercoasting vibe gives you an insight of what Sonic Youth might come up with given a project to produce something in style of early Sebadoh meeting latter era B-52’s on the set of Battlestar Galactica with the restriction of being only able to use Ataris and two chords for instruments. Throw in the dinky ‘It’s the sugar rush’, quite possibly the best thing they’ve done to date, why it reminds us of Dean Friedman’s ‘Lucky Star’ is beyond all comprehension, but there we’ve said it. Boy / girl vocals, ear bending hooks, spacey backdrops all indelibly cut from the kind of precious melody which not before to long you’ll be able to charge rent as it takes up residence in your head. A mighty fine starting point for getting familiar with the Best Kept Secret catalogue. http://www.girlinky.com

Cabrini ‘Cabrini’ [LIE 069]. Previously known as Project Cabrini the Californian duo Austin Bean and Kory Ross have recently been breaking hearts and receiving warm reviews for their debut long player for Red Square entitled ‘show offs get hurt’ (which has sadly passed by our radar…hint, hint). This tape release pre-dates those recordings and finds the Cabrini sound at its most frail and intimate. Not a million miles from the early work of Death Cab for Cutie yet possessing that same wide-eyed naivety as displayed by the likes of Orchids and Field Mice, Cabrini’s flair for creating soft centred pop treats is admirable. Simplistically set around harmonies and an acoustic guitar Bean and Kory delight in creating unassuming nuggets that happily skip about lost in their own infectious sunshiney appeal. Strangely the main pull of ‘Cabrini’ is found on the cassette’s first three tracks. ‘UNA red’ is deliciously catchy, strangely off centre but playfully tingling while in sharp contrast ‘Fearlessly waiting’ (the best cut here) is reflectively tinged sitting thoughtfully looking out from the comfort of a shelter at the summer afternoon showers. Then there’s the lullaby-esque spookiness of ‘He switched on the’ a real thing of beauty, which holds to its heart elements of Archer Prewitt re-appraising the Beach Boys more intimate moments with Animal Collective sabotaging the resulting master tapes. Elsewhere it might be worth peaking in on ‘Dramatized’ which subtly recalls early career Go Betweens being fused with the Pale Fountains and prototype era China Crisis. A more wonderful way to spend 30 minutes we’d be hard pushed to find. http://www.projectcabrini.com

Clare ‘Womb Fantasy’ [LIE 046]. Clare have the honour of being the first of two Japanese bands (so far) to grace the Best Kept Secret catalogue. Essentially a duo, though this time expanded to a quartet, these particular recordings date back to 1999 and we defy anyone who on listening to these 8 tracks aren’t in someway sufficiently moved to replay the album again and again to re-assure themselves that what they thought they’d heard, they had heard. If there is one fault or gripe to be aimed at this collection it’s just that it’s so dislocated in terms of style, but then curiously that’s its endearing charm. Clare create intoxicatingly saccharine based ethereal twee pop hinting subtle references to Dubstar and St Etienne at its heart and ranges from the elegantly statue-esque ‘As you think’ (which sounds like the Cocteau Twins caught in a fluffy space bubble created by a particular laid back Stereolab) to the aching scratch happy chocolate box hypnotic atmospheric scapes of ‘Edge of the Top’. Elsewhere the dreamy spectral haze of ‘Doze’ ushers in the set sweetly before mutating to cross-pollinate varying genres so that the goofy oddball waywardness of the folk 60’s orientated ‘Distorted Moon’ dissolves sensually into the delectable heartbreaking pop motifs of the bruising ‘Winged Angel’ with it’s sensitively arranged piano accompaniment. Add into the overall mix the irrefutably sense of romance best served on the hurting ‘Here I am’ and you have quite a shy gem on your hands and with the promise of three albums being worked on at present how can you resist. http://www.ismusic.ne.jp/clare

Girls in my Pocket ‘Girls in my pocket’ [LIE 075]. And in case you were wondering about the other Japanese band currently gracing Best Kept Secret’s roster then wonder no more. Girls in my Pocket are a quartet who so far have released three singles and this debut for BKS is their first full length. Not a million miles sound wise from 63 Crayons (who incidentally we love) while having serious Teenage Fanclub flashbacks (just listen to ‘Northern Star’ for further proof), and again another band adept on creating memorable slices of naively crafted lo-fi pop that neatly dips between summery 60’s tinged pop (‘Dizzy’ with craftily veers towards New Order’s ‘Run 2’ at times), homely soft psyche as though having members of JMC / Ramones doing West Coast (‘We look at a shooting star’) and hazy off centre spangly fuzz pop (‘December’) which in addition harbours a slow curling glam dynamic that cleverly pays a nod to the Beatles ‘A day in the life’ right at the close. Our favourite though is the cutesy twee pop-isms of the jangly ‘Hello’, breathlessly innocent and perfect for the beach party portable cassette player while the wintry rush of ‘My Blue Star’ takes several leaves out of the songbooks of the Plastic Mastery and the Mayflies and wraps them up as an irresistible homage to Blake and Co. And just when you thought you had the measure of these kids, as brief as it is ‘Carp Metal’ reveals that their not so bad at doing a spot of ENT for fun. All said and done a promising debut. http://www.003.upp.so~net.ne.jp/girls

The Sharp Things ‘Here comes the Sharp Things’ [LIE 068]. Fed up with egos, abusive lifestyles and the brain numbing snobbery of the whole rock scene, Perry Serpa sought solace away from the speed-fuelled buzz to a back to basics paced approach. As a duo with long time friend Steven Gonzalez, the relaxed environs enabled Serpa to ‘get close to the music’ and so the Sharp Things came into being, conceived as a reactionary anti band orchestral collective it’s been known for its fluid membership numbering anything upwards to 12 members at any one time. Several years down the line and here we have the collective’s debut 11 track full length ‘Here comes the Sharp Things’. Quite possibly the most unusual and hitherto best release put out by BKS to date. The Sharp Things aren’t your average indie rock tearaways, their sounds are more laboured, expressive, deeply colourful and above all romantically dramatic. Not an immediate hit to the senses, the Sharp Things are more concerned with making a lasting impression than offering a quick fix, channelling into the same waters as a fused animal from the parts of Polyphonic Spree / Big Eyes and Elvis Costello (c. ‘Almost Blue’) yet only maintaining a kindred spirit in so far as they seem so out of step with what is / was considered contemporary pop. ‘Boys club’ for instance is strangely MOR in texture, part Velvets doing soft early 70’s commercial friendly countrified CS&N.; In a flash it’s gone and what becomes more and more apparent as the album proceeds is that this lot don’t let being pigeonholed so easily, ‘Vacationing’ soothes and swoons, the haunting strains of the strings are teased and lightened by the wintry wraps of brass arrangements yet the clever part is the way the composition swans from imparting elegant love notes to smoky filled jazz realms which overall bear resemblance to not only Black Heart Procession but to Set Fire to Flames. Elsewhere ‘It took forever to get home tonight’ is a monumentally festive like homecoming that swaggers with the same kind of that sounds like a tender take of the Earlies in Prefab Sprout moods skipping happily about in the final scene of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’. Track a little further for the intensely spiritual (or so it seems) wash of ‘Demon of Love’ which as audacious as it is finds itself eclipsed by the bitter sweet overtures of the grandiose ‘Lies about you and I’. And just when you think things can’t get any better the blighters go and tuck in a little heartbreaking gem like ‘Lament / A million things’ which oozes the same kind of refreshing classicism as so often delivered by Southport’s much under valued Panda Gang and spins in the same kind of untouchable bubble as does hold Edwin Moses and Lefte Banke. An impeccable release and we didn’t even get to mention ‘Lonesome for the man’ but then we don’t want to spoil the fun, heartbreak has never sounded so good. http://www.thesharpthings.com

The Shifties ‘The Apartment / Factory Songs’ [LIE 082]. The latest addition to the BKS catalogue is this tingling 10-track album from Chicago based five-piece ensemble the Shifties made up of various demos recorded in 2001 bolstered by a smattering of live takes and the cut ‘Lonely Christmas’ which they donated to the Red Cross benefit CD for 9/11 victims. Now we’ve played this a few times now, more perhaps, if truth be told, than we usually allow for most releases. Why I hear you ask. Well simply because the Shifties sound twists, hops and disappears out of view when you least expect it, one minute you feel you are settling down to a Sebadoh like lo-fi feast of three chord fun as hinted on ‘Fat Shirley’s’ and the punky tones of ‘Whelmed’ then they are off spinning towards the 60’s to do shadowy kaleidoscopic West Coast psyche pop on ‘Insomniac’ where the unlikely pairing of Donovan and Barrett meet head on. Dare we use the word, but ‘The Apartment’ is quite mellow, opening with the warming pastoral soft folk feel of ‘Tell me why’ and really that’s the key to the whole Shifties sound, there’s a spring hue cast that ring fences the melodies, themselves cutely docile in their own acoustically driven daydream way take for instance the lysergic rustic touch found on ‘Foot out of Door’ which veers ever so close to Elephant 6’s more goofily arranged around the campfire brethren. Best of the lot though are the final two cuts, the infectious ‘Can’t go on’ which sounds like Jan and Dean all tooled trying to pick the bones from Blondie’s ‘Plastic Letters’ and the Ramones ‘End of the Century’ and coming up with an irresistible power pop ditty with more hooks than an Angler’s Club and ‘Instrumental’ which as the title implies is an instrumental (no way) and sees the ensemble getting stuck into some seriously grinding post rock noodling as though Billy Mahonie was auditioning for Costello’s ‘Detectives’ Attractions. Pretty smart stuff we say. http://www.theshifties.com

And Academy ‘Her and Hurt, Hearts’ [LIE 057]. Another superb release from an ensemble based in Wichita, US and who unbeknownst to us have been putting out release after release since 1998, most of which are sadly out of print and from the evidence of this album cassette all (probably) top-drawer gear. When their not creating intricate sonic bubble-scapes like the storm lashed ‘Red wine walls and silk’ with it’s armoury of lush like swirling melodies, And Academy do a neat ethereal take on the Cure as though Smith and Co had been drip fed Prozac and forced against will to sit out in the sunshine as ‘Miracle dare devil’ so ably proves while all the time being booted into shape by the faintest of Spector-esque handy work diligently pulling the strings from the background. Still not convinced, then maybe the dream like inducing cosmically bound up curvaceous chords that cascade throughout ‘Zero plus zero plus zero’ might just make you swoon or the wax and wane like dynamics that softly permeate throughout ‘Swim, bike’. Flip over to side two and things get a little more angst ridden, dislocated, angular and dare we say in our humble opinion better. Unusual time signatures become the byword as And Academy attempt to throw you off the scent, from the almost clumsy moodist mechanics of ‘Warmer dead cold’ which splutters out impatiently almost as if its tripping itself up on its own haste to reach you. ‘Lovers and Daughters’ really is something else as it cleverly manages to thread progressive rock templates with a gritty shoe gaze under carriage and emerges from the fusion with wind swept magnicence. Best of the set though is the uncharacteristically breezily lilting ‘Barbara killed Roger’. Softly basking under clear extra terrestrial skies its what the words smooth and tender were made for, imagine Stereolab at their most serenely carefree making the Pale Saints hearts break. Another essential release I’m afraid. http://www.andacademy.com

Blurred Images ‘On the Horizon’ [LIE 063]. As the inlay card so aptly states ‘music for contemplating and dreaming’. We could put it any better. Eight absorbing prime slices of undulating guitar based dream-scapes is what you get on this solo effort from 20 year old Jose Banuelos AKA Blurred Images. Overall the experience that ‘On the Horizon’ imparts can only be likened to stand on a beach shore at night watching the sea waves ebbing and flowing exacting their calming almost hypnotic effect, except in Blurred Images case those seas would belong to some far flung exotic moon, the night sky lit by the presence of twin suns bathing the waves in an eerie though nevertheless breath taking translucent glow. Banuelos takes his cue from Yellow 6’s more intricately layered sonic symphonies, the melodies glide rather than soar as captured on the heavenly lull of the chorus of hanging chords found within ‘Passive and Paralysed’. Throughout the set Banuelos delicately weaves his spidery chords to curve and bend sensually in celestial formations to wrap around each other to create a brightly coloured canvas that serenely finds the centre point between shoe gaze and chilled out ambience. The driving snowbound contours of the opening ‘Look inside’ betrays a respectful nod to Durruti Column while ‘the world through a window’ invites you to take flight into hidden dream worlds you never knew existed. For us though ‘Outside’ stands head and shoulders amid the chasing pack, treasures unearthed within cavern-esque textures make you think you feel as though you’ve hit upon the entrance to a glorious enchanted grotto frozen and untouched since time immemorial where sounds of echoes tip toe like chilled chatter. Beautiful stuff. http://www.geocities.com/blurredsound

Soda Jerk ‘Pop On’ [LIE 078]. The first of two releases featuring the talents of a certain Ryan Marquez (the other being Apple Orchard). Those who love their pop slightly more powered and spikey will swoon to this, drop-dead hooks aplenty and to die for uh-hoo harmonies and if the mere mention of Velvet Crush, Jags, Teenage Fanclub (especially on the wonderful ‘the things you say’), BMX Bandits (so cute there’s even a cover of the BMX’S ‘Extraordinary’) and the Raspberries gets the pulses quickening then we advise you seek this out immediately. Nine tracks including two lives cuts from a radio session for the Fridge see Ryan and the boys mixing up the ingredients of pop’s rich larder to bake a cake so deliciously feel good you’d swear in the current musical climate of post everything that it was illegal to have so much fun. The curious thing about this release is that despite the obvious homage to all things West Coast pop Soda Jerk subtly underscore the compositions with delicate 50’s bubblegum-esque wraps take for instance the opening ‘Heartcrusher’ which is invested with a neat nostalgic snagging rock blues riff while the summery breeze of the chiming countrified contours of ‘Dead Stopper’ is pure hood down wind in the hair open road drive music. ‘There’s a place for you’ changes tact ever so slightly bringing the pace to a more tranquil level though dims in the presence of the simply beautiful and sparsely touched ‘Extraordinary’ which sits strangely between oddball and Beatle-esque as Soda Jerk wrestle it from the BMX kids to make it their own.

Apple Orchard ‘Paris was a Daydream’ [LIE 076]. And just in case you were wondering about Ryan Marquez’s other band, Apple Orchard. Essentially a stripped down affair, Apple Orchard are duo Ryan and Dale and this slender release features seven home recordings of succulent bitter sweet acoustic pop that to these ears sounds not unlike a chirpier version of the Red House Painters. Obviously the work of people whose youthful nights were spent falling in love and cataloguing various Sarah label related records while scanning the airwaves hoping to hear the latest C-86 hopefuls being played by John Peel. Compared to Soda Jerk, Apple Orchard are a more intimate affair, slow unfurling dozing pop motifs with the merest of melancholic sheens from the opening ‘(When everything is) safer’ the duo slyly hold your emotions to ransom. On the casio tutored ‘Midnight stars and kisses’ the racing heartbeat of the Lightning Seeds ‘Pure’ is slowed to the merest of murmurs but for us it’s the trio of hand holding twee induced tracks awaiting on Side B that are the most likely to have you suffering from swooning episodes especially the playfully tranquil ‘Scenes from the sky’. A brief but beautiful release. http://www.appleorchardpop.tk

The Cellophane Sky ‘Sunset Shadows’ [LIE 061]. The Cellophane Sky is / are essentially Brian Pennington (head honcho of Sandcastle Records) with the appearance and disappearance of friends. These days found focussing on his other project the Plastic Hearts, this cassette collects together twelve home recordings made over a two year period in 1999 and 2000 which we can only describe as teasing curios given that they have a charming thread bare sheen about them as well as the kind of child like softness that makes them unobtrusive or so it seemed with the initial flight of the first couple of tracks where the order of the day was jaunty piano routines (‘Callie Road’) and seductive spacey electro manoeuvres (‘Saint Alia of the Knife’) but then without warning the vaguely haunting ‘Follow the Leader’ (sadly not the Killing Joke classic from yesteryear) comes into view carrying what sounds like a blueprint for a face off between the Orb ( who are allowed only their sample box of tricks) and the Normal. Dipping between a slightly warmer Arab Strap / Rooney, ‘Momentos’ courts with a spoken word collage drifting above a gently gliding melody lost in its own romantic space similarly so to does ‘Getting Acquainted’ where the use of beats and nimbly utilised electronic backdrops have the feel of Cabaret Voltaire mucking about with old New Order tape loops found languishing on the studio room cutting floor. On Side 2 things get a little more focussed, the compositions still bare all the same but endowed with a visible pattern where spacey moods come to the fore and the dynamic shifts from awkward to ethereal. ‘Various modes of travel’ with its exotic brushes of atmospherics and tingling late summer’s day blissfulness will melt the coldest of hearts while the haunting ‘No advice for the unprepared’ has the vocals uncannily sounding like a young Edwyn Collins (Orange Juice). Inspired stuff indeed.

Various Artists ‘We are not alone’ (volume 5)[LIE 032]. One of the label’s ever-present features has been the regular appearance of the ‘We are not Alone’ series of compilations. This fifth instalment features 18 cuts from the world of indie / dream pop. What makes this series so special is the wealth and diversity of the bands that BKS seek out and bring to you, its not your average lazy compilation, its apparent to the most casual spectator that these collections have been meticulously threaded together. As with Volume 7 (reviewed elsewhere) more bands that we are shamed to admit to never hearing of except maybe only Fotomoto (who with ‘Monster and Belle’ serve up some uncharacteristically haunting middle eastern / dub fuelled atmospherics that to these ears sounds like a less wayward version of Scandinavia’s the Knife) and the Burnside Project who here have a crack at Lisa Germano’s ‘If I think I’m love’ and turn it into a click / scratch happy down tempo with a lullaby-esque of sorts dynamic. Ready for a spot of aching autumn hued melancholic pop then the spectrally charged ‘Several moons to you’ by Tarmac should hit the spot perfectly while ‘All my love’ by The Reds, Pinks and Purples sounds like 10CC’s ‘I’m not in love’ left out in the open to be drenched by April showers. If you survive that then you still need to confront the tenderly stripped down introspective elegance of History’s ‘Life’, which should floor most within earshot distance. Flip over to the second side for the skewed pop vision of Australia’s strangely named Hi God People Vs. Huon whose ‘Polo Song’ displays an unsettling aura sounding like a group of people a version of Donovan’s ‘Hurdy Gurdy Man’ in the spirit of the Butthole Surfers but all reading from different pages of the songbook. Better still Pangs ‘Chronic Flashlight’ is suitably addictive fuzz pop that comes across like a detuned glammed up Glitter doing Ramones licks for kicks though admittedly upstaged by the Breeders / Donnelly kick up the seat of the pants pop punk of Tizzy’s ‘Pushing Positive’ who themselves are undone by fellow label mates the Mitchells whose XTC / Wire post punk mutation ventured on ‘Flashlight Hunter’ is dragged screaming from angular pop heaven. But hands on heart things don’t get much better than Pangloss’s ‘Taste the Sun’ (again from the same label as is home to the Mitchells and Tizzy, are they breeding them or something?) who sound like the Go Go’s doing Lush covers with Sonic Youth in charge of mixing desk duties. And if you ever wondered what Pavement might have sounded like had they ended up in the studio sharing ideas with They Might be Giants then wonder no more as the Mines decidedly off centre ‘False Sense’ neatly does the job for you. Ending it all in the safe loveable hands of San Francisco’s very able the Skygreen Leopards whose ‘Take good care of yourself, Sally Orchid’ is blessed with chiming guitars that have been cutely lifted from the Will Seargent oeuvre c. ‘Ocean Rain’ and gathered together for this amazing shot of Eastern vibed West Coast psyche pop.

Various Artists ‘We are not alone’ Volume 7 [LIE 052]. The seventh addition to the ‘We are not alone’ series features 18 more waiting to be found nuggets from the cosy underworld of indie-ville. Clocking up more air miles than a Virgin airline, this collection calls in at the UK, Australia, all corners of the US for its contributions wrapping up things to sun itself in Argentina and Brazil, while not forgetting to mention that in its midst its home to a former UK chart topper, Whitetown whose splendidly fluffy candy floss ‘No more times’ has a distinct Spector-esque vs the Walker Brothers the last waltz vibe running throughout. Now we’d have to admit that this particular release is quite scrumptious opening perfectly to the sounds of the slow drip seduction of Marine Time Keepers (a duo based in Stoke, Jason and Sam). Their offering ‘Paper Moon’ is as sweet as anything we’ve heard all year, frail, ethereal and utterly disarming as the gentle wave like atmospherics arc around Sam’s drifting romance laden vocals. Other than that no contact details or anything that could be construed as clues which is a great shame, ho hum. Despite suffering soundwise The Condiments summer fuzz-tastic ‘4 and 20’ dips slyly between Brighter and the Shaggs, while Denver’s ‘the prettiest eyes you will ever see’ strikes a personal chord because I used to know someone with the prettiest eyes but that, as they say, is another story. Think of a laid back JMC collaborating with prime era China Crisis, crushing stuff. Those hand holding indie love hearts among might like to check out Magic Crayon’s ‘Scanit’ which in it’s three minute life span deliciously swings from lulling Sarah like summer pop to C-86 Weddoes inspired strum heaven. Elsewhere Australia’s Ashtray Boy nudges into your affections with the vaguely Josef K-esque sounding ‘Room 50 at the Fez’. Flip over the cassette to be greeted by the timeless angelic rustic moods of Jason Smart on the graceful ‘Sleeping Sickness’, while the simply delicious ‘Gael’ by the Spanish Armada if our ears aren’t deceiving us sounds like the Weather Prophets fronted by a vocalist who resembles a mutation between Joe Strummer and Shane MacGowan. The Sharp Things (reviewed elsewhere in this missive) serve up the rather tastily docile ‘Boy’s Club’ and lovers of the Charlatans c. ‘Tellin’ Stories’ might be more than satiated by ‘Una mujer amabile’ by Argentina’s the Mundys. On the evidence of Twelve 24’s perfect pop mutation of the Sunday’s with the Bangles on ‘All too nice’ it might also be time to check out Australia’s Steady Cam Records as they seem to be nurturing nuggets of rarified pop not yet known to the greater public at large, then I suppose the same can be said for Morella’s Forest whose ‘the sand and the sea’ cutely fires its little love arrows hitting the target time and time again.

Tyko ‘Further Transmissions from the Biosphere’ [LIE 072]. Aw now this is getting a bit daft, more pristine space pop this time traversing all the way from Arkansas. Tyko are a quartet and for those who might want to check further have their third album ‘A long way from zero to one’ awaiting release on the ever-dependable Blisscent Records and I can tell you now that we wont sleep until a copy is firmly placed in our mits. This particular cassette is essentially the bands second album ’Transmissions into the Biosphere’ (in its entirety on Side A) with an additional dozen or so previously unreleased lo-fi tracks creating all manner of spacey squiggles over on Side B. Dreampop, yes. Tyko delight in serving up Cathedral-esque motifs threaded by all manner of loops and searing guitars, the nearest reference point would be to imagine the resultant evolution of New Order’s sound (listen out midway through on ‘Central Image’ for the ‘Ceremony’ like nod) had they not met Arthur Baker and decided to leave their sequencers at home to explore mesmerising interstellar bound atmospherics and welded the resulting effects onto the Cranberries (just check out the soothing sensitivity of ‘Floating’). Tyko’s mix of droning synth backdrops washed with layered feedback mightn’t be anything new but then it’s how they utilise the dynamics with the result that the compositions aren’t confined simply to the time honoured tradition of the usual space gaze cadets of bleached out symphonies but are instead spiced and sprinkled with an alluring pop heart (‘Kids in the Biosphere’). Floating seductively almost cosmically induced ‘Elastic Brain’ perhaps the stand out cut here, though having an 80’s vibe manages to sound like Hazel O’Connor being re-worked by ‘Pearl’ era Chapterhouse, then there’s the adorable ‘Summertime comeback’ buried beneath a blanket of dreamy haze and sounding not unlike a blissed out version of the Primitives. Looking for some shake your booty action then ‘Saturn 5’ with its sublime candy glossed pop friction should provide a tangy quick fix. Side 2 reveals the band in more stripped down acoustic settings the summery jangle pop of ‘Pills for a dream’ and the near perfect ‘My front lawn is a landing strip’ providing the lead, then there’s the New Order-ish fuzz pop of ‘Portrait in Letters’ and the down tempo space lushness of ‘Communication laser # 17’. All said and done they all pale into the shadows beneath the shimmering glow of the punky ‘Northern Sky’. A mighty fine release. http://www.tykomusic.com

Chelsea’s Corner ‘When they gain they fall’ [LIE 065]. More space cadets with an obvious taste for huge rollicking power pop hooks are Swedish quintet Chelsea’s Corner led by one Tom Hanning, any information up and beyond that we aren’t privy to as this lot seem to be something of a mystery. Sixteen tracks make up ‘When they gain they fall’ and we’d be inclined to advise lovers of the Stills to hop aboard pretty sharpish because this lot share a fondness for creating epic hook galore melancholia. Chelsea’s Corner are an odd beast, initial listening has full on blistering riffs swarming your listening space, it’s easy to fall into the trap of recalling Gumball and Dinosaur Jnr (especially on the frenetic ‘Beaten’ and ‘Indie Kills’), whereas into the mix traces of Ride and elements of Fugazi occasionally clutter the centre stage for attention (just check out the autumnal glaze quickly evolving to destructive ‘Supertransformation’). Yet repeated listens reveal that maybe, just maybe Snares and Kites’ lost gem ‘Tricks of Trapping’ might have graced the rehearsal room Hi-Fi on the odd occasion, either that or Hanning is a great admirer of Chris Brockaw, which I hasten to add isn’t a bad thing especially when you are treated to slices of prime heart stopping underground rock as found on the likes of the awesome ‘Motion State’ and the fearless ‘How actions pass: zero gone mad’. Elsewhere Chelsea’s Corner expertly duck and dive between punked up shoe gaze that’s be pre-disposed to a mutation of lightly coated grunge and wired post rock that’s packed with enough melody frayed turbulence to keep you keenly tuned in. And as though to prove that they can play the sensitive card when called upon the delicate ‘I’m the million dollar man’ and the simply elegant thrill of ‘Stacy’ are thrown into the mix to leave you in awe. A tremendous debut. http://www.chelseascorner.cjb.net

Pants Yell! ‘Our Horse Calls’ [LIE 070]. This release predates the current album ‘Songs for Siblings’ which is should be presently wowing all the hip kids in indie-ville. Boston based Pants Yell! Are a clever bunch of bastards. ‘Our Horse Calls’ is so out of step and waywardly crooked you begin to question your own ears. What makes matters worse is that even before they’ve been allowed to play a note on the old Hi-Fi you’ve already clocked some of the song titles eg ‘Rou Leed Indeed’ and ‘electroclash is the noose around my neck’ and your now in a state of quandary wondering whether this might be a good idea to pursue. Well in a word, YES, things mightn’t be quite right in the Pants Yell household but let’s face it the song titles alone burn into your head that enquiring desire to check further just for curiosity sake. And yes you are right, you knew you would be, Pants Yell! are not your full shilling for their creaky compositions are wonky and fragile things held together with moments of hurt and combining 99% hope and 1% industry. On first listening Pants Yell remind me in a lot of ways of Pavement, not the Pavement we all grew up to love but the Pavement of those early years and the singles they did for Drag City where despite them being faintly oddball with their sparse dislocated melodies you knew that something special was beginning to smoulder under the surface just check out ‘the gate’s open, we’re going in’ and ‘mic check’. Pants Yell! take the blueprint sideways then up one step and then down three levels, in all honesty their brand of warped folk twee pop shouldn’t by rights really work, elements of the goofier side to the Elephant 6 Collective flicker in and out into their world of child like naivety, compositions so ridiculously arranged as to catch you on the back foot time and time again, and yet that’s the great thing about them, they never tire you. As with Black Heart Procession, another band they share a mutuality with in terms of essence, PY have a knack of making misery sound so jaunty as proven on the inescapable sombre edge of the lolloping casio enhanced ‘song for architect’ though one listen to the fragmented wits end tones of ‘don’t feel bad for being my girl’ might make you think otherwise. Dig a little deeper for ’83 in 03 (for Alan Magee)’, which sees them, veering into Pooh Sticks territories. Strange stuff indeed but cute with it. http://www.asaurus.org/records

And that’s about it for this particular missive, with many thanks to Alessandro for the constant supply of top tuneage and to all the bands featured may you all carry on upstaging the big players. Best Kept Secret can be contacted at Best Kept Secret c/o Alessandro Crestani, via Biron di Sotto, 101 – 36100 Vicenza, Italy or check their website http://www.indiepages.com/bestkeptsecret

Next missive in seven days will feature amongst others a truly awesome release from Croydon’s new secret weapon Ten foot Nun; something equally special from Monkey; a new must have double 7” pack from those Fierce Panda dudes featuring current press darlings Razorlight, the immense Rocks and the Souls plus three more; a dandy little dig into the past history of the very excellent Merchandise; a sterling demo from Penny Red; the latest from house favourites Broadway Project and whatever else we manage to pick up between now and then.

Have fun and as always take care of y’selves,


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Archiv – Singled Out – Missive 37….

Archive posting originally published on thr losing today site …. June 2004 …. apologies in advance as this one appears annoyingly truncatedat the end …..

Missive 37
Singled Out 37

Dedicated as always to Kelly and Mark, never far from my waking thoughts.

Blimey how fast these Singled Out’s seem to come these days, doesn’t seem so long since we showered the old inbox with pretty much 4 on the bounce, of course I was joking. Many apologies for the delays on this particular Singled Out but it was due for reasons out of my control. That said an extended Singled Out which in all fairness could be legitimately counted as four, maybe five Missives rolled into one and by our reckoning the biggest Singled Out we’ve done to date, well you deserve it don’t you.

As per usual a wealth of classy releases to be getting on with among the charging pack a few old friends (Braer Rabbit, Series 7, the Playwrights) and a few even older friends (Melys). Next Singled Out due in about a week or so will be as previously advertised devoted solely to Italy’s Best Kept Secret label who in the nick of time for the impending jamboree have weighed in with four more releases to set the hearts gushing and record collections begging for.

Current albums wowing the Losing Today record shed are (in no particular order) the much-rumoured return of Bark Psychosis, which in my humble opinion has to be one of the albums of the year. Another mighty return in the form of They might be giants, the sterling hectic English pop of Dogs die in hot cars and the quite simply splendid d_rradio debut.

Reading wise, a slight departure from the usual music related stuff, a thoroughly recommended read from Bill Bryson entitled ‘A Short History of Everything’ for all those wishing to steel a step on the smart arses a handy everything you should know about who we are, why we are and where we are but were to afraid to ask. A kind of Hitchhikers Guide to the Guide Galaxy meets school textbook Science in a Nutshell.

Also worth catching is the latest Uncut magazine with an excellent interview with Mr Paul McCartney, who at last comes from behind the shadows to tell it how it is and for once stands up to be counted as the ultimate Beatle, included is a version of the much overlooked ‘Temporary Secretary’ from way back in 1980 on the freebie CD just to prove his solo stuff wasn’t all frogs, mulls and peace thereafter. So now Paul about that experimental stuff…

Without, as they say, further ado, the singles (40 plus of them…see we don’t slack here, haven’t got the time…..)

Kicking off in spectacular style with the walloping…..

The Boss Tuneage Instant Singles Collection Volume 2 (Boss Tuneage). Six bands, twenty three tracks and boy those Boss Tuneage dudes don’t do things by halves. This jaw dropping compilation CD housed in a seven-inch sleeve retails for the same price as your average limp wristed 3 track single, originally intended as 6 EP releases but gathered up into one easily digestible portable butt-kicking scorcher. Sadly opening ensemble Rope and Beauty School Dropout have since disbanded leaving us with pogo to the delights of their final recordings. On the evidence of Rope’s three parting cuts, it shouldn’t be too long before they re-emerge in some shape or form in the not to distant future, a blistering cocktail of as cool as you like melodic three chord anthemic punk pop that gives several nods in the direction of the Senseless Things, best cut of the set the razored ‘Welcome to my world’ which pairs up a match made in heaven featuring ‘Thunder’ era New Model Army with Mega City 4. Japan’s Baby Little Tablets perhaps offer up the compilations perkiest moments, an inferno charged mix of unrelenting power charged old / new skool punk possessing the killer pop hooks of the Buzzcocks and sounding along the way like a particularly wired Stiff Little Fingers being trashed by Sink, pop so raucous it’s guaranteed to mess up your head and get your feet stomping right out of your boots just check out the adrenalin infected ‘Our technology is improving but we don’t know how to use it’, bombastic, blistering and blood thirsty. Nice to see Belgium’s punk rock is in good hands courtesy of the formidable Innerface who serve up four potent cuts of serrated head crushing pop that includes the simply irresistible storming re-branding of ‘Hanging on the Telephone’ as once upon a time done by Blondie while seducing us to a tender spot reflective tuneage in the shape of ‘All about eve’. Just ahead of their soon to be released debut full length, East Coast kool kids Skeeter could plug that overlong gap left by Husker Du and early 80’s era Elvis Costello / Joe Jackson and elements of Chris Brockaw / Moviola (so yes, as you can imagine, superb), combining meaty chords with succulent hooks that weave a curious yet intoxicating fabric of soft MOR pop rock that nibbles away under the skin to bask you beneath glowing skies and the tender chill of introspective solitude, best track ‘In my Amp’. Beauty School Dropout, as mentioned earlier have since split and can now be found plying their individual trades in Barefoot and The Day I Snapped. These five tracks are the last recordings as BSD, try imagining Placebo with less make up and angst having sneaked under the cover of darkness to raid Steve Diggle’s home of his notebook containing the secrets to pristine pop punk hooks and nicking his Ramones collection into the bargain, nuff said our kid, check out the awesome ‘Passing Thru’. Last up and by no means least Canada’s In Harm’s Way kick in with four exclusive ditties just ahead of their debut release for Boss Tuneage, more than able to kick backside among such daunting company, the crunching ‘Train Stations and Airports’ acts as testament to that yet its on ‘Tennessee Whiskey and Elvis’, asides being two of my favourite things, it shows the band have a serious angle on the whole classic era Faces malarkey. Well worth keeping an eye out for.

Boss Tuneage May 2004 Sampler (Boss Tuneage). Staying with the Boss Tuneage dudes for a little while longer, ask them nicely and throw in a few quid for postage and you may be able to get your hands on this neat 25 track window shopping CD which features selected cuts and rarities released / to be released / never to be released from the bulging BT catalogue. Featuring in no order of preference though we have to admit to being smitten by Finland’s I Walk the Line whose debut album we’ve been murdering along the way, ‘Demons are Forever’ combines elements of latter era Clash with the Pogues, instantly loveable stuff be warned. Elsewhere the very wonderful Lukestar from Spain who will put everyone on their back foot I promise; hardcore fun from Stoke’s All one Word here serving up a demo version of the track that’ll be going head to head with Barefoot on a forthcoming split; something quite simply crucial from Textbook; more teasers from soon to be your favourite band, Skeeter and something quite simply dippy as Camblewick Green meets Half Man Half Biscuit in the form of the charmingly named Anal Beard. 25 cuts of good time head crunching fun and thoroughly recommended.

The Milwaukees ‘Angel with a Knife’ (Boss Tuneage). And so to the last of the Boss Tuneage releases for this particular missive. New Jersey based quartet the Milwaukees perfectly combine classic rock dynamics to indie sensibilities, rooted in a thickening heavy sound that shies short of being totally metal and yet is potent enough to sting the lug holes and devilishly groovily enhanced to have the most casual listener licking their lips. This EP features two cuts from last years ‘This is a stick up’ full length and includes the stinging melodically twisting ‘Lighthouse Signals’ which teasingly showcases a reassuring sensitive maturity to the bands canon, it’s a trait that’s repeated to a greater or lesser extent on the shyly invigorating ‘Academy Awards’ which aches lovingly nuzzling beneath your skin to the point where you can’t resist its softening charms before changing tact to clobber you within an inch of your life with its storm lashed finale. Best of the lot though is the nimble acoustic gloss of the hurting ‘When they attack’ getting to the end without shedding a tear is a testament to strength and willpower. All releases via http://www.bosstuneage.com

Atone ‘un Jour’ EP (Autres Directions in Music). Another label well worth your time and investigation is the French based Internet resource Autres Directions in Music. All releases are freely downloadable, even the artwork and if you can’t find the time to manage that then for a feebly small fee they’ll do the job for you. What makes this label so special is that each and everyone of the releases so far has been straight from the top drawer of electronica pop. Release numero six welcomes five nimble slices of dreamy lullabies from Atone (to you and I, Antoine Monzonis-Calvet to his parents). Think of a seriously chilled out ISAN under sedation (if that was at all possible) or the more frosted electronics that we have come to love and expect from the eminent Static Caravan label and here I’m thinking Ampop, Charles Atlas and Marcia Blaine. Call it funky chamber pop but it does it for me especially on the lunatic ‘Two Marimbas’ where you are set upon by the rush of what seems like a host of bargain basement synthesisers having a collective blip seizures before realising that it’s groovy core of the Clangers on vacation to the North Pole, subtle elements of the Penguin Café Orchestra and the nursery symphonies of Raymond Scott tussle and tease with the senses all the time pirouetting delicately lost in their own sweet incantations. ‘Balneaire’ moves apace to more celestial realms, still as cute as a big shiny button, tenderly shuffling beats navigate daintily skip and scratch over the surface of lonesome signatures forming frail angelic arcs to seductively sedate you though the EP’s finest point comes to fruition on the closing ‘qobac sine’, detached and less playful than what’s gone before, its reveals are darker tone that’s melancholic yet magnificent and all at once statue-esque and numbingly captivating like a lost Budd-esque score for some sinister thriller as though remixed by Carpenter with Satie pretensions. Excellent.

Harpages ‘Simple Visions’ (Autres Directions in Music). Staying with Autres Directions for release numero 4, this time showcasing the sublime talents of the electronic minimalist duo Harpages. ‘Simple Visions’ is a 28-minute musical installation that was originally debuted at the Rencontres Audiovisuelles festival in Lille in 2003. Covering pretty much every base Harpages temptingly weave together elements of drone musique concrete electronics, pensive acoustic arrangements with gently undulating frosted melodies to create a continuous flow, which keeps you keenly interested and spellbound. What first appears reminiscent of Windy and Carl et al soon begins to blossom and evolve, the drone waves though never too distant from the central core of the work wane in focus from foreground to background, one minute housed as cathedral-esque swathes the next to mind warping cyclical rhythms, all the time fading in and out. At times your reminded of Jean Michel Jarre’s elongated ‘Magnetic Fields’ as though overhauled by Sonic Boom or an early period Pimmon into some head tripping experience. As with the Atone release Harpages seek to lull and draw the listener, the sounds are likewise sedate in texture though from an altogether darker perspective. Slowly unfurling, structure wise it’s reminiscent of Moondog, each change, dip and shift in texture is slight and subtle only at the 7 minute interval do we first get any indication of life amid the barren landscapes, a lone guitar calls out from the darkness, almost like a ship lost in the thickening fog, from therein the musical shapes become somewhat less shadowy and more colourfully pliable, playful and hypnotically enhanced taking on momentarily, an almost Latino feel before fusing perfectly to lead us out to the final movement in which stately processional marches are washed away by moments of controlled bleached white noise and all manner of unhinged hijinx. Quite splendid if you ask me. http://www.autresdirections.net/inmusic

Kim Hiorthey ‘Hopeness’ (Smalltown Supersound). Now I’d be lying if I said this was good because in truth it’s awesome. As befitting all perfect releases it’s naive, sensual and playful, like some kind of intricate abstract painting refreshingly illuminating with each ventured viewing so to then are the five tracks housed here, each repeated listen reveals a little more, continually catching you off guard and yet proving more colourful under further exposure. Based in Berlin, Kim has so far released two albums to wide acclaim (‘Hei’ from 2000 and the remix and oddities project ‘Melke’ in 2001). This EP is a taster for his forthcoming proper second full length due fairly soon, often compared to Four Tet and Matmos though I’d be inclined to say it has more in common with Manual, and its easy to see why as across these five tracks Hiorthey toys with elegant soundscapes that dip between leftfield electronic appreciation and sunny childlike realms. It’s a release that lends itself to being best enjoyed in the wee small hours when everything is still, ‘Soligna dagens slappiga trosor’ in particular has a lazy late night down tempo edge that can only be truly appreciated when it has your complete undivided attention, imagine Kraftwerk’s calculator pop taken out for a night out to an exclusive underground jazz bar to breathe in the thickening haze and getting jiggy and intoxicated on the potent aroma of cigarettes, sweat and booze. Both ‘Mandarinerna’ and the gorgeous ‘Alt maste bli anorlunda’have that air of early plink plonk pop that was so perfectly executed by Plone, the former touched by the sophisticated shy eyed softness of Mum and stapled together longingly by muscular hip hop beats while the latter courts with numbing enchantment, frozen lullaby like pop, the breathless toy-box tones alert a curious fusion of melancholia and warming safety all set upon a bed of scattering beats. Perhaps the EP’s best moment can be found on 11 minute funsome ‘You know the score’, uptempo and in your face, here Hiorthey brings the sounds of the sunny Caribbean to sit alongside the Oriental, there they duel sensually to the wired and wacky rhythmic arrangements that trip and act as fools like some kind of lunatic comedy troop. Parting with the sorely elegant ‘Ek, Bok, Tistel, Apple’ brief, beautiful and beguiling, not a lot more to be said. Recommended as though you haven’t already guessed. http://www.smalltownsupersound.com

Blue States ‘Across the Wire’ (Memphis Industries). The first cut to be taken from their third album, the immensely wonderful ‘The Soundings’, and perhaps one of the best tracks to grace not only that full length but also our hi-fi this year. Belying its fair share of ‘Coming Up’ era Suede-isms though cleverly fused with the memorable overtones of classic radio pop pre ‘Spirit of Eden’ Talk Talk. Now settled as a trio, the Blue States sound has evolved to the point where they can produce pop that channels and switches at the drop of a hat feelings of euphoria and heartbreak, priceless, powerful and enigmatic ‘Across the Wire’ hits you like a sledgehammer face on, an instant fix of anthemic pop that descriptions such as classic are well founded. Both haunting and hopeful it’s draining though devilishly delicious, resist it at your peril. ‘Hundred Weight’ over on the flip flirts with some tasty rustic finery reminiscent of Porcupine Tree in mellower moods and possessing that same sapping grace as we’ve come to expect from the likes of Candidate. Thinking that maybe you’ve got through the worst of it then the homecoming tribunes of ‘Atomic 79’ come to the fore to clobber whatever emotions still lurk. Strange as it may seem with the sun shining outside, ‘Atomic 79’ has a seriously yuletide feel to it, spectral and yet hearteningly warming, kind of ‘Mind Games’ era Lennon and ‘Life in a Northern Town’ era Dream Academy mashed together and given the old heart string pulled taut symphonic sheen by ELO. Simply perfect. http://www.memphis-industries.com

The AM ‘Utopia’ (Storm). Oh so retro and sultry, so dirty and down with it you’ll feel you’ll need a shower. The AM is taken from their acclaimed debut full length released at the tail end of 2003. ‘Utopia’ is crooked, sleazy and infectious with a capital I, think mid 70’s Bowie ‘John, I’m only dancing’ meets Robert Palmer’s ‘Some guys have all the luck’ meets Prince’s ‘Alphabet Street’ with Pavements ‘Crooked Rain’ tagging along for the fun of it all sneering and strutting their stuff in some deadly cool underground 70’s copyist come Studio 54 dance floor. Mind blowing stuff. Similarly infectious is the snaking groove that threads throughout the hot throbbing ‘Shower’, coming from the same direction as the excellent Eskimos, The AM concoct a gagging for it anthem that even a seriously wired Marc Bolan would be forced to applaud and grind happily to. Parting with ‘Palisades of Love’ which gives you time to draw breathe, eerily disconnected in sound albeit brief, I blame the Flaming Lips y’know. Essential. http://www.storm-music.com

Meow Meow ‘Cracked’ (Integrity). Another Stateside band bitten by the groove bug and high on lysergic substances. ‘Cracked’ is a taster for their forthcoming full length ‘Snow Gas Bones’ due later in the year. Shades of the Earlies and Spiritualised bubble to the surface and that my friends is not a bad thing, one of those tracks where the description ‘losing it’ is so apt, Meow Meow do country laced shades ‘n’ leather psyche to sonic meltdown in the flick of an effects pedal or three as though someone had thought it’d be a fantastic weaze to tape together the sonic ferocity of Jesus and Mary Chain’s ‘Never Understand’ to the strum happy serenity of ‘Some Candy Talking’ to create something that’s all at once vicious and beautiful, gets my vote any way. ‘Not worth recovering’ just ups the ante, dangerously trippy, 60’s summer of love harmonies left out in the baking hot heat to suffer from intense heat stroke, imagine the Beatles c. ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ pissing off Brian Wilson big time doing perfect Californian pop yet being fool hardy enough to have the garage land trash happy lo-fi two chord wonder kids the Mummies backing them but the savvy to include the Oddfellows Casino on hand and sending the resulting tapes off to Atari Teenage Riot to dissect and inevitably slaughter. Wayward hallucogenic carnage at it’s most potent. Last up the skittish ambling nowhere pop of ‘Nature is a machine’ takes several pot shots at the now defunct Elephant 6 collective before turning their sights on the Velvets winning the argument hands down with hooks as big as skyscrapers married to some blatantly administered sonic nuking that makes Concorde sound like a wasp trapped in a beer can. Deputy single of the Missive. http://www.integrityrecords.co.uk

Culture Industry ‘DJ ascetic loves himself badly’ (Static Caravan). As with the recent Thread single, a massive departure from the usual electronic minimalism for Midland’s finest sons, the eminent Static Caravan. Like the Playwrights and Left Hand, Culture Industry could for all intents and purposes come from a different time zone chiefly the period where the austere showers that was to be post punk took root following the fall out left in the wake of punk’s first detonation. Their brand of agit anti pop is awash with caustic fervour, both dense and intense so much so that you can literally feel the hairs on the back off your neck rise to attention. Tipped by head Static boy as the band to watch this year, he wasn’t kidding. This two track debut is extremely limited to 500 copies and will sure as hell fly out the racks faster than bottled water from a hastily set up corner shop in the middle of the Sahara. Brutal and foreboding, Culture Industries legacy owes much to PIL and early grind Killing Joke as it they do to the thickening hardcore groove of Big Black, ‘DJ ascetic loves himself badly’ oozes in its own wretchedness, dark, unloved and uncaring yet distractively engaging enough to set the pulses racing and the inner rage simmering coolly. ‘The recognitions’ over on the flip equally toys with darkly spun textures, underpinned by a subtle dub core groove to its bosom around which uneasily fits a splintered angular art rock dynamic that at times veers towards the more macabre moments from Bauhaus’ back catalogue festering hurtfully with the stalking glee of a serial killer closing on their next victim, in other words, its rather smart. Another winner for the Caravan set.

Maps and Diagrams ‘Ooganon’ (Static Caravan). More wonderful stuff from Static HQ, well we say wonderful, in the certain hope that it is wonderful, but going on previous releases by Maps and Diagrams we can honestly say it is a wonderful experience to behold. See this is what happens when you get lathe cuts to review and find that your turntable which incidentally, is made by the same people who specialise in making learning toys for pre school infants, just can’t hack it. Well it stands to reason that we are gonna be buggered before we’ve begun. Looks lovely and skips spectacularly on my 11p sound system, pressed on 5 inches of polycarbonate vinyl and strictly limited to just 100 copies of which, last heard, stocks where running low so get pestering them Caravan dudes, like now. While your there also check out another limited CD- r release by M+D again limited to just 100 copies. http://www.staticcaravan.org

Katastrophy Wife ‘Blue Valient’ (Integrity). Without doubt two of the best tracks to feature on the recently released ‘All Kneel’ sophomore by Kat Bjelland’s new venture Katastrophy Wife, all said and done one of the most engagingly brutal albums we’ve heard all year as it finds Ms Bjelland rounding up the posse for her best and most frantic outing since the early days of Babes In Toyland. ‘Emit Time’ is fraught with danger, sounding like a wired Johnny Rotten under going paranoiac flashbacks all the time underpinned by the vicious blood letting of the jagged onslaught skin piercing riff shards. Unmerciful stuff. Yet it’s on the awesome ‘Blue Valient’ that the nerves are set a jangling and the teeth on edge, featuring a guest appearance spot from Carina Round, easily the albums best track mainly for the fact that it kicks against the grain of the overall histrionic template. Smoothly bathed in soft 60’s psychedelic codas, darkly passionate and hitherto ablaze with sexual tension, Bjelland and Carina Round like the fabled sirens draw you close before unleashing their deadly sting, imagine some loveless storm drenched witching hour rendezvous between the Go Go’s / Autumn Leaves with Macbeth’s unworldly allies. Last and by no means least ‘Window’ as originally featured on the ‘Amusia’ full length here captured live for Radio K in all its withering gruelling glory. Did we say essential? http://www.integrityrecords.co.uk

Girlinky ‘Newspaper Round’ (Dedear). Taken from their current album, the spasmodic candy pop classic ‘I want the Tsunami’ and just ahead of returning to the studio for the expectant follow up, ‘Newspaper Round’ shows off the bands tender boy / girl bitter sweet lo-fi perky pop side, screwball electronics flicker erratically jostling for centre stage showering would be listener with a feel good summer vibe that begs for factor 5 protection, passing the obvious nods to the Bis sound it ultimately comes across like a less wilful Winterbrief, and that’s fine by us. Better still ‘Heavy hitter club’ is slinky and full on hand holding pop revealing a bunch of individuals having wiled away their formative years dreaming happily to the soft spangly sounds provided by Bus Stop / Summershine record labels and early career Go Betweens. The old saying from small acorns grow huge Oaks is something that could be easily applied to ‘It’s not cold in the snowglobe’, portraying a growing sense of confidence and maturity, what initially ventures out as a quite serene albeit noodly display of frosted bleep pop soon manifests to consume the entire listening space in a swirling frantic cacophony of electronics undergoing meltdown, pure gratuitous fun. http://www.girlinky.com

Serotonin ‘Jenny takes the line’ (Demo). Just where all these bands are coming from is beyond me, another grade A demo to add to the already bulging list I’ve had the pleasure of hearing this year. Serotonin is the body’s natural brain chemical which depending on whether or not it wants to come out to play can induce depression in states of suppression or elation and well being when cranked up full pelt. There so that’s the comedy medical lesson for beginners over and done with. Serotonin hail from Hampshire, yeah get that A and R reps, Hampshire not London, and have apparently been favourably compared to Idlewild and Seafood, exalted company I’m sure you’ll agree and it’s easy to see why because this trio make an unholy melodic racket that you feel would see off a fair portion of any would be competition should they be fool enough to share the stage, mixing irresistible hook laden lines with a head expanding crunch, these three tracks serve as stark warning that hardcore pop actually works a treat given thought over its construction. Opening with ‘Jenny takes the line’ chomping at the bit to fly out of the stalls it swoons, dips and soars with malicious intent to screw up your head even having the audacity to veer towards a 60’s moment of Floyd-ist trippy bliss at the mid section before bearing down to corner you into submission. ‘Intent’ ups the ante several notches in both terms of power and pop, unerringly muscular like some hastily convened supergroup featuring the might of the Foo Fighters with a turbo charge of a spangly Teenage Fanclub adding the gem like heart stopping swerves and slight of hand shimmies. Completing the trio, ‘Intent’ grinds within a thickly set swampy groove to create a curious wigged out kaleidoscopic haze that’s all at once funky and crushing featuring one part Hendrix, one part Smashing Pumpkins and one match to light the blue touch paper and then boom. Storming stuff. tagd@ntlworld.com

Melys ‘Eyeliner’ (Sylem). I‘d almost feared the worst for Melys following their tepid difficult third full length ‘Casting Pearls’, not that the album was anything approaching bad, more just lacking the sparkle that ‘Kamikaze’ hinted at. ‘Eyeliner’ provides a dramatic return to form and reveals an invigorated newfound edge, in simplistic terms it adopts a back to basics approach where old traits are replaced by a fuller and more considered dynamic. No trickery here just good to honest kick ass pop tuneage, heavy bearing grooves surround Andrea’s pixie like cutesy butter wouldn’t melt in my mouth vocals bolted onto to a sexy as hell dirty riff while elsewhere the vaguely glam / spacey treatments are subtly arranged so as not to smoke out the overall seductive feminine stylising. Backed by two new cuts, keeping with their by now trademark obligatory Welsh language track, ‘Disgyn’ provides perhaps the EP’s best moment, spangly guitars freely roam folky pastures tripped by a soft psychedelic edge, at times dipping into more arresting lysergic moods of the Bunnymen’s ‘Flowers’ album, and is that a banjo we can hear magically rooting about in the background, all tripped off by a barn storming euphoric finale that’ll leave you aching for more and wondering how such a harmless nugget could cause such emotional chaos. ‘I can’t stop this (even if I wanted to)’ temptingly packs you off into the night, gentle and alluring until that is the waves of coalescing looped harmonies and buttress like impenetrable melodic defences rally together rain upon your head. Melys’ finest hour until the next one that is. http://www.melys.co.uk

The Features ‘There’s a million way to sing the blues’ (Temptation). A quick return for missive favourites the Features. Third single, and those of you wondering where all those classic sub three minute indie pop tunes to bop till you drop to have all gone, my guess is that this lot have raided the grotto and stashed them under their beds. Infectious isn’t in it ‘There’s a million ways to sing the blues’ swaggers cocksure from the word go, courting the same kind of cool panache as early Dexy’s, Hammonds flaunt gracefully across an irresistible melodic thread that wickedly takes up squatting rights in your psyche to party long through the night, so addictive it should be classified. http://www.islandrecords.co.uk

L Pierre ‘Total Horizontal (Part 1 / 2)’ (Melodic). More moments of refined beauty from those Mancunian dudes at Melodic. It’s been a fair old while since we’ve had anything barely related to Arab Strap’s Aidan Moffat and what a way to return. Just ahead of the forthcoming long player ‘Touchpool’ this delightful twin set swims our way to test the waters. Essentially the albums longest cut split in two and revealing both the old and new sides to the L Pierre (previous Lucky Pierre) sound. ‘Part 1’ has all the stately characteristics that we’ve comes to know and love, fluttering breathlessly suggestive, gentle hypnotic down tempo grooves seek to woo and caress the senses like some kind of chilled out epic plucked from the night lights, repetitive looped beats and sophisticated sampled melodies are the order of the day as they weigh in to cause you to surrender your emotions. ‘Part 2’ is slightly more textured and somewhat organic, the same cut in essence though accompanied this time by the breezy chill of a lone trumpet and the soothing procession of delicately spun flickering chords that weave an erstwhile tantalising aural landscape with which to lose yourself in. Gorgeous stuff. http://www.melodic.co.uk

Nothing ‘EP One’ (Marowak). I’ve probably said this more times than I care to remember, but the great thing about doing these musings is the wealth of top-drawer records you get to hear. Not wishing to inflate the egos of a band so young, but this four track EP has to be one of the best releases I’ve heard in a long time. One of those CD’s where you can’t for certain pin down the influences but instinctively know from what direction they are coming. Nothing are a rock band. Brighton based. Brighton based trio to be precise, and a band who given the support they richly deserve may yet in time develop into a lasting thorn in the side of the limp wristed rock scene currently masquerading within the music industry. Four tracks make up this their debut EP which by all accounts is the first of three planned for release this year. Nothing share a spiritual common ground with Nirvana c. ‘In Utero’, their sounds are heavily laden with a dark unloving sheen that surprisingly benefits from a curiously distracted uplifting undercurrent in particular ‘Will it hurt’ which possesses a wicked off centre groove, soaring pop melodies appear unexpectedly just when you least expect them like snipers in the bush while their ability to sleekly change gear leaves your head spinning. Sound wise they owe a lot to the hardcore rock scene utilising perfectly the loud / quiet dynamic while the riffs and time signatures you feel are deliberately left crooked, that said the aftertaste of Husker Du, or more specifically, Sugar and the Replacements are deeply prevalent check out the opening ‘Dark White’ for further proof where the latent essence of a grinding Wire festers. Difficult to pick a best cut though if pressed the freewheeling ‘Rant’ edges it mainly for the fact its just egging for a reaction, oh yeah and it houses the most potent swerving hook lines we’ve heard in a fair old while. And so as not to leave it feeling left out the concluding ‘You all ignore us’ deserves a mention, replacing the grind with something a little more considered until that is the head bursting finale comes into view to rain down upon you without mercy. Absolutely recommended but be warned limited to 1000 pressings. http://www.marowakrecords.co.uk

Dogs die in hot cars ‘I love you cause I have to’ (V2). Ah Singled Out house favourites Dogs die in hot cars. Disproving the rumours that we are to snobbish to review fully signed up chart acts. We’ve repeatedly warned you about this lot, and well, without placing to fine a point on things I was right and you was wrong. Okay? With an album (‘Please describe yourself’) to be released sometime in the next week or three and a beautiful little thing it is having been found tormenting our poor old hi-fi and giving it a run for its money, the band have been let out of the clutches of record company to come out to play for a re-release of sorts of ‘I love you cause I have to’ from last year. An enhanced CD that features the video to the recent ‘Godhopping’ single and which if you watch carefully proves our long held theory that they are the bastard offspring of some kind of laboratory cloning exercise that took XTC, Talking Heads (c. ‘Stop making Sense’) and Kevin Rowland’s’ vocals as their template on which to work on. Now you don’t need me to tell you that ‘I love you cause I have to’ is a corker of a single, frantically catchy, alarmingly addictive and above all as highly-strung as a child after a hefty intake of e numbers. In short we dare you stay motionless with this blasting full pelt out of the radio, can’t be done. Though the recently deceased and those with their feet nailed to the floor might be excused on production of a doctor’s certificate. ‘Please describe yourself’ on the flip really does sound like ‘English Settlement’ era XTC re-jigging about with Velvet Crush’s ‘Ash and Earth’ all tripped with a curious psychedelic 60’s pastoral touch that nods amusingly towards classic Small Faces. Another hit as if you didn’t already know. http://www.v2music.com

Dopamine ‘A lesson in dying’ (Self Released). Now for a release that really stings the ear and one you’d do well to nail down any loose bits of furniture. ‘A lesson in dying’ is the latest four-track release from Dopamine following hot on the heels of two well-received EP’s, which sadly passed us by. Now we are not really to well up when it comes to the old metal stuff but we can safely recognise the odd Guns ‘N Roses / Iron Maiden licks a decibel or ten away, yet before you all start shying away in panic the main trick up the sleeve that Dopamine possess is their ability to cleverly dip subtly into emo territories while carving out memorable slices of melodic mayhem that many of you might see a vague Ned’s Atomic Dustbin vibe running throughout (especially on the awesome ‘Dead wood floats’). Four tracks then, what can only be described as a stormy roller coaster of a ride, pitted with drama, menace, slow drip pop tuneage and the odd short sharp shock treatment delivered occasionally by brief guitar solos. The shining beacon amid all the tuneful carnage is the malignant rocker ‘Beauty Queens and blood baths’ which is blessed with the same chunky grind that made those early 80’s Killing Joke cuts such a lasting treat, melodic grind core no less packed to the brim with serrated riffs that tear and drag you into submission, that is, when their not swinging you recklessly around the room. Elsewhere the opening ‘One last breath’ is, well, breathless, made of the kind of perky punk pop fluff so beloved by MTV and tigerish enough to catch the channel surfers while ‘Destroy something beautiful’ just gnaws drill like into your psyche to play havoc with your head. Overall an ear bending display intricate sonic pyrotechnics and damn fine with it. http://www.doaminemusic.com

Bone Machine ‘Another day over’ (Hackpen). You wonder what’s left in the Bone Machine tank given that they can let loose this diamond of a release as their debut release. A taster for their forthcoming full length ‘Vent’ due next month, and if this release is anything to go by it’d be well worth making enquiries now. Bone Machine are a Portsmouth based quartet who indulge in darkly spun down tempo electronic sophistication, in part not a million miles away from those colourful wide screened epics ventured so often by those Memphis Industry kids Blue States and the lush classicism of the Broadway Project while on the other hand cutely culling a late night sleazy chill factor that brings together the more shadowy elements of Goldfrapp being tutored by Barry Adamson. ‘Another day over’ is all at once haunting and slinky, Bone Machine glide coolly amid statuesque Middle Eastern feel backdrops, bristling beats all underpinned by a bass line that Mick Karn would envy. There’s also an additional ‘Piano version’ of the same track where they uncannily sound like Radiohead doing an impression of a Mercury sensitively tinkling the ivories Queen. Proving its no fluke that’s caught us off guard ‘This Oceans Angry’ sees them changing tact and personality admirably, still primed with the seductive beats but the dynamics a lot more pliable, sparse atmospherics wrap around the blend of a grooving native score that’s spliced by an intoxicating spacey dub-esque texture. ‘What happens now?’ subtly re-visits the tenseness found on the Shamen’s ‘In Gorbachev we trust’ as though fused with the Primals spaced out ‘Screamadelica’ and given the Happy Mondays trademark drugged up lazy cool to contend itself with. Early hours bliss for insomniacs and night owls. Quietly outstanding. http://www.hackpenrecords.com

AKO ‘The Last Goodbye’ (Naked Ambition). More hardcore fun to scare the shite out of you and again another record for which the press release has disappeared into what we can only assume is some kind of black hole emanating cheekily in the losing today record shed, hang on I’ll turn the lights out so that we can see better. Nope sorry kids, the AKO press release has officially left the building in an unofficial way. Okay AKO, been here before, late last year where they were given the LT seal of approval, so like this one track CD is gonna change our mind. Not a chance. Entertainment at the kind of speed, volume and intensity that makes buildings collapse, sounding like some apocalyptic messenger venturing upon a scene of total devastation, sort of Slayer meets Iron Maiden for some pre-ordained storm lashed witching hour rendezvous, powerful, passionate and punishing. http://www.ako-music.com

The Stills ‘Changes are no good’ (679). Lifted from the bands current debut full length, the very excellent ‘Logic will break your heart’ and quite possibly the most rounded cut off the album showing the Stills with a finely tuned ear for a curvaceous tear soaked hook laden melody. Reference wise ‘Changes are no good’ is not unlike a mid 80’s New Order emotionally bled dry, devilishly alluring and pulling tightly on the heartstrings. Not content with hitting you once with the same, after all what’s the point of having a good tune when you can’t ram it home in style, and style is what you get. The ‘Grand National Remix’ adds an oriental dance charm to the arsenal, effect wise reminiscent to the Lol and Fat Bob redraft of ‘Let’s go to bed’ on the extended version and proving to be a class above the original mix. Not done yet the ‘Demo’ version adds a gritty and stripped down perspective to the whole process proving that even in its naked form it can still clout most of the competition. Tagged at the end the glorious sonic symphonic inferno that is ‘Lola Stars and Stripes’ which alone is all the proof you’ll ever need to see this lot’s worth. Get your hands on CD2 and you get the treat of having the demo version of ‘Let’s roll’ tripping mightily across the hi-fi in all its anthemic glory. http://www.679recordings.com

M J Hibbert and the Validators ‘Shed Anthems’ (Sorted / Artists Against Success). I can only blame the hot weather. Time to hide behind the sofa because something wacked comes this way, and fast. The accompanying press release would have us believe that the Validators debut album from last year was elected record of the year by the esteemed Rolling Stone. So it must be good / bad then eh? For those not privy to hearing that album (me included) this little six track EP is meant to shake the tree, and shake the tree it does, roots an’ all. How can I describe it. Barking. Yeah we’ll start with barking. Firstly bang the CD into the PC and lo and behold an additional 35 tracks come into view on which Mr Hibbert and his cohorts cover every imaginable aspect of pop in their own unique twisted fashion from the last 40 or so years with the exception of soul and er, gay proletarian street electronic thrash pop. All in all its skittish, worrying and head spinning. Now don’t get to scared but on repeat listens elements of the esteemed and oft overlooked Half Man Half Biscuit (whose inspired song title book has a leaf taken out of for the comedically named ‘the primal rhythms of the Bolivian nose flautist’) spring to mind, along with the lunacy of the Cuban Boys while not forgetting a more often than not nod to the lo-fi campfire pop of the Elephant 6 collective (especially on the warped ‘Elmer’ Olivia Tremor Control in the land of the blue meanies doing jackanory excerpts) and the occasional trip into Go Team 70’s children’s TV territories. Throw into the mix the light folk fuzz of the Freed Unit (‘Not’), the music hall Englishness of the Kinks, Irish folk (‘Billy Jones is Dead’) and you have a potentially warming brew that’ll have you laughing in the aisles while scratching your head puzzlingly. The EP also features the unofficial Euro 2004 anthem, ‘The Fair Play Trophy (again)’ sparkling with all manner of pint swilling jollity finding a middle ground between 78’s ‘Ally’s Tartan Army’, Chas ‘n’ Dave and Baddiel / Skinner and Broudie. Elsewhere Altered Images fans might do well to check out ‘Clare’, a loopy ode to the pixie like Ms Grogan with easy sing-a-long lyrics and an impersonation of Scotland’s favourite lass that sounds more like Mrs Doubtfire than anything else all submerged amid what can only be described as a Baron Knights like dig at the White Stripes stripped down dynamic. Alternatively there’s the infectious Weddoes like summer jangle of ‘Things’ll be different (when I’m in charge)’, oh what the hell, go out and treat yourself to something quite splendidly over the edge. http://www.sorted-records.org.uk http://www.artistsagainstsuccess.com

Hypo Psycho ‘Public Enemy No.1’ (Snapper). And staying with records left out a tad too long in the baking sun, the debut from Hypo Psycho who, if tales reaching us are to believed, recently had their lead vocalist, Mikey, left out stone cold after a freak Anthea Turner swinging microphone incident. Is there no end to this woman’s talents we ask? ‘Public Enemy No.1’ is so infectious we are certain its illegal. Crooked, cheeky and sure to put a smile on the face. Sounding like some frantic cross mutation between the Bad Manners and early career Madness with the Lightning Seeds doing production duties, Hypo Psycho provide an edible family friendly slant on the old punk / ska / skateboard malarkey to slam in with three audacious shots of adrenalin laced tuneage (who at the back said Busted?). A heart stoppingly energetic mash of bitching brass fanfares, skanking riffs and rumbling bass lines all tied up and up in your face even sneakily taking a brief time out for a spot of ‘Leader of the Pack’ style bubblegum dreaminess. Flip over for the equally bustin’ ‘Stereotypical’, though be forgiven for thinking Musical Youth wired around a less sombre Specials. Ending with a live cut, ‘Bored’ at least gives it a bit stick and reveals vague hardcore punk pretensions, initially like a comedy Iggy Pop but boy when it kicks in, it kicks in getting seriously down and dirty at the close, not bad at all. http://www.snappermusic.com

Centrifuge ‘Carved In Stone’ (Self Released). More kids with blistering tunes and chomping at the bit sonic armaments and again more apologies I’m afraid as it’s another CD that somehow went walking around the losing today record shed without warning or permission. And hell are we glad we found it because as with so many of these demos / self released records that pass our way, another certified gem of a release. Formed in 2001 this quartet have already chalked up support slots with the much touted Agent Blue, Oceansize and the quite excellent Flamingo 50, and on this four track CD show themselves of as being one of the classier acts in the already overly subscribed melodic punk rock genre. If we tell you that across these tracks bits of the Ruts, Nirvana and the Mega City 4 come flying sharper and faster than glass from a car crash, then be warned. Centrifuge dally between punk and metal keeping the whole package neatly hook ladenly friendly enough so as not to be found pigeonholed into either of the generic stables. Opening with the tense ‘Stand in Line’, dynamics as tight as a gnat’s arse with a seriously gnawing hanged dog resolve to contend with that flare up like explosives tripped on a minefield, scorching stutter fire like serrated riffs jab and spar in a gritty fast / slow rhythm that’s superbly set within a memorable tune that’s sure to prick your ears. ‘Reality’ ups the ante a notch, restlessly pushing all the time revealing a slightly more poppy personality yet it’s on the vengeful ‘Eye for an Eye’ where the sparks really fly and the ensembles true depth of compositional mastery comes to the fore. Relying on awkward time signatures that first appear like a brooding slow burning exposition of lighter waving anthem pop soon rears its head into a festering sonic meltdown with a nonsense take no prisoners mentality. Last up the equally bruised ‘Bricks, Stone, Ashes, Bone’ fuses together an unholy cocktail of grind core / hardcore and math rock like Iron Maiden trying to write the first meaningful anthem for a post apocalyptic age. Damn fine stuff. Recommended. http://www.centrifuge1.co.uk

Three Man Amp ‘Best Dress’ (Self Released). And one suspects another release that you should spend several hours of your life ensuring you track down, another top grade demo would you believe. This band have really been through it and it’s no wonder it’s only been through gritted determination and never say die resolve that their still around today. Originally known as Concrete Dog a bright future was promised until the label they were signed to went under leading to protracted legal arguments. Move to the present day one name change and a bag full of tunes to wow audiences with this current three track CD being a taster of things to come. Songs with the word dress in the title have more often than not been damn cool, three that spring to mind immediately being the Weddoes ‘My favourite dress’, PJ Harvey’s ‘Dress’ and Madonna’s ‘Dress you up’, okay we’ll skip the latter, one bad song in about a thousand from Madge ain’t anything to be scoffed at. And so to ‘Best Dress’ the lead track by Three Man Amp, now we’d be daft to deny that it has the kind of stinging swagger that would easily see it sitting on Nirvana’s ‘Bleach’ if that is it wasn’t for the early career Manics medley running through it which however alarming / clever it is (you choose) doesn’t detract from the fact that this is a devilishly tempestuous cut that lurks ominously waiting to inflict its fatal bite. ‘I won’t play around’ is blessed with the kind of melody that plays pinball inside your head while ‘Kelvin’ pulls in the reigns on the exuberance and chooses to cut between lazy summer afternoons idly lazing watching clouds drift and head pounding all hands to the pumps menace, ‘fraid its another of those recommended things. http://www.threemanamp.co.uk

Ortonomy ‘Hard Lines’ (Self Released). Those of you mourning the serious lack of rock bands currently kicking around may do well to tune into this five-track release. Already the proud parents of two well received EP’s released last year (sadly we ain’t heard), Ortonomy are a North East based quartet with a definable Thin Lizzy thing going on amid their ranks especially on the opening whiplash inducing ‘Going Down’ where the scorched bluesy staccato riffs and vocals have the appeal of Lynott and Moore with Led Zeppelin aspirations, repeated again on the harrowing storm lashed ‘Citizen’s Radio’. Memories of 80’s chart rockers Def Leppard come to mind on the heart breaking lighter waving soft centred radio friendly ‘Life on the line’ which given the strength of the cuts elsewhere seems like short change when compared to the awesome finale ‘You, me, us and them’ a thickening fusion of swamped late 60’s blues and mind numbing stoner rock which masterfully dips between both the Who and early cutting edge AC / DC. Too cool by far. http://www.ortonomy.co.uk

Jesus Jones ‘Culture Vulture’ (Mi5 recordings). Yes you read right first time, the return of Jesus Jones who for a brief period in the 90’s cleverly adapted their brand of snappy indie punk with a cool dance floor aesthetic to sterling effect. This is the bands first material in seven years and if you get the CD a chance to mix your own version of ‘Culture Vulture’ given that it provides all the audio file tools needed for you to try your hand at being the next Fatboy Slim on the block, or maybe not as the case may be. Now signed up to the label that recently brought us the excellent Riley EP a month or two ago, Jesus Jones’ supposed extended absence is soon to made feeling like they just popped to the paper shop for a packet of fags stopping off for a swift pint at the local. In other words its like they never went away in the first place. Okay ‘Culture Vulture’ takes a few plays to really kick in; it’s edgier than anything previously in all honestly sounding like the Cult (is this allowed?) smooching with Primal Scream but still maintaining that alluring magic that much of their hit parade work of yesteryear possessed, packed to the brim with sleazy chunky fuzz laden guitars, swirling spacey electronics and an in your face American college rock radio appeal. Flip over and the temperatures rise to boiling point on the head melting hypnotic groove of ‘Find the Dial’ while old skool Jesus Jones meets new skool on the hectic ‘Head in the Sand’. Momentary dreamy electro lullaby-esque sound-scapes are torn and teased by sly riotous rumbling licks that playfully shift shape and density between hip swerving sexiness and mind-blowing head on destruction. ‘Halfway House’ brings up the rear, just when you think its safe to come out they twist the emotional screw to bathe you in a sensitive glow while bruising you slowly but surely with the crippling sounds of the scarred melodies within, without doubt the best cut of the set and just what the doctor ordered. http://www.mi5recordings.co.uk

Braer Rabbit ‘Fat Content : Trace’ (Foolproof). There aren’t many things better in life than taking delivery of a new Foolproof release that’s for sure. Over the course of the last two years Brighton’s Foolproof have invaded these missives on numerous occasions to our much delight. Now slimmed to a duo (Puffinboy and Tiny Hunter) three more slabs to get the Hi-Fi drooling and the neighbourhood down and dirty shaking its ass. ‘Fat Content : Trace’ is the latest in a long line of storming dance funk mutations that leads out with the head warping hypnotic chill of the Dave Liteyear Full Fat No Content mix, a whopping feast that combines off centre grooves, interlocking drone waves and an inherently audacious white funk underpin. Imagine if you can an all star studio gathering between Baker steered New Order, Shamen, Cabaret Voltaire and EAR all collaborating on a humungous soundtrack for mind trip beyond reality. Flip over for the equally head expanding mind maze ‘Leon’s left feet’ where the familiar stutter like abrasive collision funk dynamics return to mess with your hair, reminiscent of the early 80’s gear put out by Afrika Bambaataa and Herbie Hancock as though putting Kraftwerk through some electric blender to cause a them to fly off into a tail spin. Last up and certainly not by any stretch of the imagination the least the original mix of ‘Fat Content : Trace’ on which we swear we can hear the strains of Sparks ‘Beat the Clock’ pounding loudly at the backdoor for what is ostensibly a touch of the Moroder school of infectious head numbing dance floor robotics. Smart dare we remind you. http://www.foolproofprojects.co.uk

Verra Cruz ‘Soul Collides’ (Crazeltown). Now pardon me, but not wishing to offend the patrons of St Albans, but the last place you’d expect to unearth rock’s next big thing, (and when I say big thing we are talking a huge hulking mass of razor sharp riffs and to die for ditties), is the local village sports hall. But then rock ‘n’ pop has never been snobbish when it comes to birthing classics, take Memphis as the prime example. ‘Soul Collider’ is an immense track, one of those cuts that hits immediately and faster than a junkie’s syringe at that. Produced by Jason Corsaso whose previously control duties include Soundgarden, and really that’s all you need to know, because this is a UK based band doing to the Yanks what they’ve been doing to us for far too long, pissing over our parade. ‘Soul Collider’ struts and jabs with the venom and sleek perfection of a prizefighter, as cool as Ash with the finely tuned turbulence of Idlewild. And while its US college rock that’s primarily under threat Verra Cruz on the evidence of the two additional cuts included here (‘Air that I breathe’ and ‘Rise’) are not content to let it rest there, the former cut taking liberal chunks out of the AOR / soft metal scene, (and more importantly leaving out the over sensitive chocolate box sentimentality), notably Whitesnake while the latter, a slowly unfurling colossus of an anthem (arguably the best cut here), might in time prove to give a certain Mr Springsteen restless nights. An awesome debut with future greatness beckoning. http://www.verracruz.com

Indogo ‘Prend Moi’ (Self Released). You won’t be to surprised when I say that this is another release rescued from the obscurity of the CD mountain. Now when we say that this is an exceptional release we are perhaps underplaying how good it really is. Indogo is essentially Amanda Taylor whose recent claim to fame was appearing on the UK TV show ‘Stars in their Eyes’ performing as Hazel O’Connor but don’t let that cloud your judgement. Nearest comparisons would suggest Bjork, not in terms of sound but spiritual essence mainly for the fact that there’s an unerring fluidity to the three compositions on show, that element of anything can and will happen as she manoeuvres ghost like amid the late night fusion of sophisticated down tempo chills / trip hop dynamics and elegant smoked filled jazz hall entertainment. Bearing a common association with the 90’s Bristol scene (Massive Attack / Portishead) Taylor’s use of vocal scales is extraordinary, wrapping themselves delicately yet masterfully around the disjointed rhythms under foot almost reminiscent of the middle ground between Eartha Kitt, Peggy Lee and Sinead O’Connor, in fact the opening track ‘Prend Moi’ could easily be a modern day appreciation of the classic ‘Fever’ sharing the same traits of being all at once darkly primal and teasingly sensual. Best cut of the set the ethereal and decidedly sparse sounding ‘Not So’ which cleverly dips amongst the icy wide-screen folds found Goldfrapp’s ‘Felt Mountain’ while managing to impart an coolly lounge like veneer throughout. Quite splendid if you ask me. http://www.indogo.karoo.net/indogo.htm

Septembre ‘Rule 3: Conceal your intentions’ EP (Sugar Shack). Now I’ll admit that this little diamond of a release has been doing considerable damage on the old Hi-Fi and we know the neighbours love it because we’ve heard them banging on the walls in approval. September are the newly assembled ensemble by ex Vex Red man Terry Abbott, another band who somehow passed by our radar. ‘I am weightless’ goes straight for the throat from the word go like a version of a Hundred Reasons bitten by the melody bug, calamitous pop rock that when not administering head crunching cracks is busy doling out painful body blows with its bombastic hook laden swerves. Things get more friction worthy on the tender quickly turning to fiercesome ‘Always’ yet it’s on ‘Happy’ where the EP’s real kudo’s lie. Sounding not unlike a laboratory fusion of the Breeders and Archer Prewitt (I kid you not) where highly infectious swollen riffs are married to an ever expanding melody that mushrooms into a towering epic and at times sounds strangely like Tin Tin Duffy’s ‘Kiss Me’. Those with a sensitive side and lovers of Porcupine Tree in their more mellower soaring to celestial might do well to check out the dreamy ‘[Face]’ which goes to prove that there’s more to this lot than sonic assaults and riff-tastic pyrotechnics while giving the likes of Explosions in the Sky and Oceansize a few things to think about. http://www.septembremusic.com

Autodrone ’02-18-04’ (Self released). Just gets better. Those of you with not to distant memories might recall us falling over ourselves on hearing the last demo from New York based kraut / shoe gaze rockers Autodrone. Well time to nail down all the belonging and to find some form of shelter because they are back again sounding stronger than ever. Venturing from the same loosely kindred scene as the likes of Highspire and A Northern Chorus, Autodrone wear their My Bloody Valentine / Ride / Slowdive allegiances on their sleeve for all to see, yet what sets them apart is the raging undercurrent that smothers their compositions where elements of a locked down Sonic Youth like punked up groove add body and muscle to an already brimming over fusion of aural atmospherics. Five (though my CD appears to have 6) brand new spanking tracks from your soon to be new favourite quintet that reveal a more frenetic and darkly agitated personality to the ensembles mind set that literally holds you under siege from the word go. The darkly supernatural opener ‘Forward Fever’ shares similar traits with the ever wonderful Space Team Electra (as does ‘For Now’) in terms of impending drama and nail biting gripping to the edge of your seat, all the time the storm like dynamics are pushed to speeds in which metal warps to leave vocalist Susanna sitting calmly at the centre doing her best Nico-esque matter of fact delivery (hat’s tainted by a presence of Patricia Morrison) while surveying the carnage around her. The brooding ‘Blue Mind’ has the air of a friction based jamming session that’s strangely blessed by a stinging bloodthirsty groove. By far the best of the set is ‘For Now’, the mood lightened; swirling atmospherics are put on cruise control to shimmer behind Chameleons like pedal effects that collectively combine to create a colourful tapestry of frenzied feedback white out. Elsewhere the March Violets and Skeletal Family are recalled on the doomy grind of the razor sharp ‘XO’ as it provides 4 and a half minutes of grated grooving menace that just leaves you drooling for more. Will someone sign this band! http://www.autodrone.com

Seldon Crisis ‘Honey’ (Lorag). From the same nice people who brought us the wonderful Analog release late last year. This is the second release for the Irish based label Lorag who proudly question on their website ‘Where does music live?’ Well if this tasty five track EP is anything to go by then we be inclined to say in Ireland’s Sun Studios when Seldon Crisis are in residence. Quite a smart release it has to be said that really justifies repeat listens if only to let the melodies soak ‘n’ shine and for the breadth of styles to seep through. Take ‘Shaded’ and ‘God Damn’ for instance. Tracks three and four, by now you are beginning to see a thread evolving then up rears these eye popping stripped down grunge psych punk nuggets to throw you off balance and have you re-adjusting your viewpoint. Recalling the Wipers as covered by Nirvana with subtle MC5 (as though fronted by Iggy) touches oiling the under carriage, ‘God Damn’ is a blistering tour de force to say the least matched equally in terms of grit and aggression by the fuzzing bruised throb of ‘Shaded’ itself housing what sounds like the motors of a DC10 and taking several side swipes at the hallowed Seattle sound into the bargain. Yet the clever thing here is to let the foot off the gas and follow it with something sedately and lyrically biting as ‘Fashionable’. Elsewhere the driving chorus’ of jangling riffs on the opening radio friendly ‘Honey’ tips a hat across the Irish sea to the mercurial Mersey scene and pick pockets Lee Mavers sketch book of perfect pop annotations, a real nifty release well worth the time chasing. http://www.lorag.com

Twenty Twenty Vision ‘The Wonderfully Titled E.P.’ (Self Released). Even before we started we had problems with this. First the note that it came with went AWOL, when that was located the actual CD-r went on a tour of the Losing Today with the note stopping off amiss everywhere except the CD player. In a last ditch attempt to hear it a last resort effort to email Stockport based Adrian Lomas (for it is he who is Twenty Twenty Vision) only we lost his contact address. Things were not looking good. But then out of the blue they all appeared as if by magic. Now for something to put us through such an ordeal had, we thought, better be worth the effort, and, it is. This is such a beautiful record. Like Flannelmouth (later), Twenty Twenty Vision (who by name alone sound like some tooled up militia based rock group with bad tattoos) yearn for the days when frail lovesick records ruled the airwaves of late night radio where it would serve as refuge for bands like the Field Mice and the Orchids to softly lull and comfort broken hearts. Three tracks here that are so timid and gentle that you just want to throw a protective arm around them and whisper re-assurances, a perfect harvest of fragile melodies shivering and shimmering in their own shy nature to dipping dozily amid the lilting sounds of the Pale Fountains, Go Betweens and early Belle and Sebastian. If you love perkily cascading spring time jangling chords all sensitively delivered then this is for you both ‘Adequately Marvellous’ and ‘In you I hide’ are things to rekindle hope in perfect song writing yet the jewel in the crown is the dreamily spun ‘Complication’ swooning prickly pop of the highest order just what the word pristine was thought up for and with that in the face of stiff competition from the Playwrights, Autodrone, Melys and Meow Meow the rare accolade of being the Single of the Missive. http://www.twentytwentyvision.net

Liszt ‘Sampler’ (Foundry). Time to have the tissues on stand by to dab, what we reckon, will be a short spell of weeping in the company of Liszt. Three tracks that on one hand have you feeling frail and vulnerable while on the other have you bopping happily in the aisles. Confused? Then read on. Liszt have been around for little over three years now, a quartet who so far have two self released tucked under their collective belts as well as their current ‘Avalanche’ EP for Foundry. Liszt’s main ability seems to be their knack of arranging well-crafted heart stopping nuggets carved from the very essence of pristine pop. ‘I’ve been here before’ slowly reels you in tender and softly does it upon melodramatic emotional tides, all the time the tension and tempo of pianos and guitar arc and jostle around each other to ebb and flow gaining velocity until you are all but overwhelmed by the serene soar as the melodies take full flight. ‘She walks away’ has a feel of a muscular Squeeze as though collaborating with Ride doing their take on a less frenzied Pixies (seriously), stealth like chords are torn apart by aural booby traps laced with piercing riffs that lie hiding around each corner eager to be sprung into life. Best cut of the set though is ‘Avalanche’ which just comes over you like a rash. From the opening hum of feedback you are instantly reminded of the High and their knack of sowing together from almost nothing the most graceful and memorable of tunes, and so to likewise does ‘Avalanche’ easing itself gently and harmfully cantering along and just when you begin to lull almost hypnotically amid the calm they rear up to give you a well aimed kick up the seat of your pants. More please. http://www.foundrycrew.net

Flannelmouth ‘(What a) comeback’ (Grid). Once upon a time the airwaves of late night radio chimed to the tender tones of carefree sensitive indie pop, like-minded couples cuddled tearfully to the sounds of now long forgotten ensembles such as the Caretaker Race and the Triffids, labels popped up in droves, enterprises founded with the aim of fans and bands alike at sharing these lovesick odes to one and all. Nothing hurts quite like a well-aimed stinging hook line and Flannelmouth know this. Flannelmouth are a Finnish ensemble who’ve had the distinction of being the only Scandinavian band to win the coveted In the City best unsigned band award, and believe you me that’s no mean feat. ‘(What a) comeback’ has those tender shots, the stinging hook the euphoric rise and fall and a to die for melody all welded to a rush of strummed jangling guitars that belies a nod to early Wedding Present while managing to sit up prettily reminiscing Weather Prophets ‘Almost Prayed’, all in all combining to hurt and hunt you until in tearful states you can’t resist any longer. In total contrast ‘Bravado’ on the flip

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Archiv – Singled Out – Missive 36 …..

Archive posting originally published on the losing today site ……April 2004 …

Missive 36
Singled Out

Missive 36

Packed fresh to hold in those lushened lush-y things 24th April 2004
Those where the days old friend by 08th May 2004

Dedicated as always to Kelly and Mark, a day never goes by without me thinking about you.

Damn those pesky varmints stuffing up my mailing box with those grooving toons that my make my feet stomp wildly, my hips shake from a side to side and does fun things to my hair, my head is an aching with it all, I’m a feels like I’m as itchy as a fuzzy tree. Them there’s naughty folk are messing with my brain, I’m a wondering sometimes whether I’m a going backward, forwards, this way that way any way welcome to another trawl through the latest release that no one else wants to review (only joking), as fine and dandy a collection of records that has been our pleasure to have parading one of these missives if of course you don’t count the amazing selection from Missive 9 and Missive 23, and quite possibly Missives, 7, 3, 15 and 29, and now that I come to think of it how could we forget Missives 31, 2, 10 and 23 (so good we had to mention it twice) or 4, 8, 27, 24, 19, 17 and 14 and really we could go on without remembering 1, 20, 5, 32, 21 or shame on us 12 and 13.

And to whit we start off this well tuned missive with the sad news that Westlife have split up, we in the Losing Today shoebox laughingly called a bijou living space, have wept like babies since hearing the sad news, no more will we hear the dulcet tones of the bum fluff five (or is it six, three, might be seven possibly four), no more we will ever have the joy of hearing the such sweet classics as ‘Back for Good’, ‘Stay another day’, ‘Love me for a reason’, ‘Sweet surrender’, ‘Wannabe’ or the entire canon of the Bee Gees and Bazza Manilow, we love you so much, missing you already. Hey kids there is a God after all.

The Losing Today dispatch riders have been going ballistic lately, news of our impending magazine re-launch has meant that we’ve expanded in size at Singled Out HQ and in keeping with our ‘we mean business’ policy we’ve acquired a posse, however I still need convincing as to the somewhat merits, value and input that an elastic band, one piece of corrugated cardboard, a used stamp (2nd class) and a cockroach (which I was led to believe was a rare midget black tortoise) can bestow upon our heaving schedule, so it’s over to you roachie dear……%$&*() &*( $*&%$$….see what I mean could take a wee while yet.

And before we venture into the lumbago inducing sack of sounds an email just received mentioning the ground breaking missives 6, 11, 16, 18, 22, 25, 26, 28 and 30 which we somehow managed to overlook, tut tut tut.

Can’t remember how we got here, for that matter from where we came to get here, but now that were here where not there. Confused, well join the Losing Today record shed, we here are indeedy slightly bemused and for why we can’t think, so cutting the waffle and the excess fat straight to the smorgasbord of wonderful wecords and when I say wonderful I mean without doubt in my humbled opinion the best assortment of must have records ever stood side by side in a missive…….

Tuung ‘Tale from the black’ (Static Caravan). After what seems like months of no releases from the Static music laboratory we, my friend, were getting just a little worried. Apparently it’s to be blamed on the great vinyl shortage dilemma which has resulted in the rationing of wax to record labels. Tuung are a duo and this is their debut release, 400 pressings and all on snow white vinyl and described in passing by the lads at the Lab as the sound of the Beta Band doing the Wicker Man, can’t go wrong can it. No siree, Tuung do not disappoint and live up to the billing admirably. Instantly loveable in a timeless tune kind of way ‘Tale from the black’ smoulders amid click happy beats that duck, dive and undulate beneath a tempting off centre lysergic groove that meekly recalls Candidate being warped by Lemon Jelly who’ve both met on the local village green to compete in the great bubble blowing contest atop McCartney’s Fools Hill, wired world-weary lunar folk for you and your boats to float lovingly to. As if to ram home the point ‘Pool beneath the pond’ has that same kind of naked Far Eastern ethnic mysticism that Japan’s ‘Tin Drum’ so moodily flexed itself within, crooked, cute and crucial to any cool collection of curious vinyl, buy now to avoid having the neighbourhood curtains twitching, your peers whispering behind your back and more than likely the whole damn roof and several bits of heavy duty masonry crashing through your world. http://www.staticcaravan.org

Exit 52 ‘Dandelion’ EP (Pronoia). Twanging guitars, theramins and shadowy atmospherics, almost as though these kids have purposely gone out of their way to make a single with all the ingredients (bar a blast of a harmonica here and there) to suggest that this is right up my street. Okay nothing known about this band which is pretty much something that by now you are probably well used to (investigative journalists we are not but then you gathered that). Four tracks, and let me say here at this point, four tracks that are excellent, yes, but, as the tracks progress through from start to finish they appear to get ever more disconnected. So that you get on the opening cut ‘Dandelion’ (the most together pop nugget here) something that sounds like a menacing Baby Bird exiled on the film set of Forbidden Planet with the Bad Seeds and Black Heart Procession for company. ‘Nineteen Eighty Three’ has (obviously) an air of 1983 about it, chillingly austere, sort of New Order / Depeche Mode / Chris Isaac doing musical backdrops for adverts selling seaside package deals on Mars, replete with that same hypnotic circular bass line that Kylie (allegedly) made famous and stalking riffs that collide with hostile intent. Eerie as it is ‘Meow’ is the preferred cut, waywardly homely, mysterious and distant, with vocals that sound like Morrissey on helium, it bobs and weaves between acoustic drunkenness and ethereal atmospherics to swerve about seductively, which leaves the very odd ‘Twelve Bar’ to round up the set, imagine a very sparse Radiohead without the trickery doing late night down tempo arty musical collages with David McAlmont doing guest vocals, strangely sublime if you ask me. http://www.exit52.com

Le Concorde ‘Le Concorde’ EP (Space Kitty). This cutie has several things going for it even before it’s been put on the CD player. Firstly it features the production credits of Epicycle (brothers Ellis and Tom Clark) who left a lasting impression with their ‘Swirl’ album a year or so ago (which if you don’t own now then our deepest sympathies go to your record collection). Add to that it features ex members of the Psychedelic Furs and if that isn’t enough to wet the appetite then maybe the fact that it all centres around the talents of ex Post Office mainman Stephen Becker who lavished us with the dB’s Chris Stamey produced ‘Fables in Slang’ way back when we were all a little younger and more carefree. To good to be true then, though as my granddad would say ‘good breeding stock’. Six tracks of sublime sun-shining perfect pop is what you get from the sugary McCartney like meets Gilbert O’Sullivan helped by Ben Folds Five sweetness of ‘Parallel Lives’ which gently nuzzles its way into your chest with its curvaceous love sick motifs to the anthemic foot stomping fuzzy pop greatness of early Sparks meets Nirvana on ‘It’s the minor chords that kill you’. Put up against the wall and tickled to death with a giant feather I’d have to say ‘The sound of your name’ just edges the competition, classic ‘Pure’ era Lightning Seeds being remixed by Roy Wood’s Wizard with Mr Spector in the shadows sprinkling lavish amounts of the old magic dust and how those tingling hooks cut so deep, a gigantic festive pop tart in spring (surely that can’t be right?!). And for those still longing for the days when Prefab Sprout still made the most heart-aching sounds from the barest of arrangements then ‘People Mover’ ought to re-affirm your belief that out there somewhere the art of pop classicism hasn’t quite gone out of fashion just yet. All in all an irresistible release of some measure. http://www.leconcorde.org

Immune ‘Elek’ EP (Gizeh). A hulking debut release from Leeds based quintet Immune with which I’ll start off by saying that I’m not so naive as to realise that the mere mention of the words ‘progressive’ and ‘Radiohead’ in the same sentence will send a large proportion of you running for the cover of the nearest hill. If I was to say that this is one the best things I’ve heard in a long while then you’ll get the inkling that we are quite fond of this, and yes the Radiohead comparisons are well placed on this occasion in so far as this lot manage to perfectly tap into the core essence of Yorke and Co so by making it something more than merely copyist. But really the fact that this release is so important doesn’t stop with referencing Radiohead. Immune occupy the hazily shaded fuzzy folds that lie between the outer reaches of rock and the ethereal oblivion of the atmospheric wide screen soundtrack. The three tracks here summon up a wealth of vaguely spun influences as to have your head spinning, that aligned to their ability to wrap together a wealth of conflicting genres into something so unsettling that it makes for compulsive listening is an awesome feat of creative practicality. Sound wise it’s akin to an impending storm, heightened tensions, heaving dynamics and the dread chill of an imminent threat. Not a million miles from the austere dynamics found on Left Hand’s debut ‘Minus 8’ Immune meter out an eerily sparse caste with the complicated so perfectly that you are presented with threads of Portishead like trip hop atmospherics biting chunks away at Tool / NIN / ‘Pure’ era Numan like industrial gloss especially on the alarmingly frazzled ‘2 stranger’ where the sense of edgy mood swells and darkly disconnected atmospheric arrangements jar and scrape awkwardly like ill fitting jigsaw pieces. Pick of the set is the crudely spasmodic art rock / avant garde math tendencies of ‘Hindsight’ which despite it stuttered sequences and its penchant for running in to its own self created space without word or warning ultimately serves as the closest you get to rule book rock presentation. Alternatively you could always dirty your hands and be coaxed home down dark alleyways and lonesome paths as ‘Elek’ seems to invitingly suggest only to be subjected to the odd savage beating as the fragmented complex densely swept textures so readily seem equipped to meter out. Without doubt a band to watch for and God help the competition. http://www.gizehrecords.com

100th monkey syndrome ‘Kick, spastics!’ (Demo). Okay those with a tender disposition avert eyes now, this is f***ing awesome, we aren’t known for dishing out the old single of the missives to often but in an action packed singled out such as this is we’ve dusted and buffed it up, 100th monkey syndrome win it by several short hairs breadths. A release that is so recklessly violent it kicked our speakers to pieces and nearly threatened the record shed into meltdown. This lot are a Birmingham based quartet whose sound is a torture theatre of mangled dynamics, unrelenting, unforgiving and unliveable, opening with crushing ‘kick, spastics!’ (a great Fall title by the way) which leaps rather than lunges with untold menace, imagine T’ Faith Healers being cooked alive by the Pixies at their most tormenting, in essence veering close to the latter’s ‘Dead’ with a seriously wired Sonic Youth addiction scored throughout, as scary as hell and perfect with it. The caustic ‘rhr’ sounds like the Buzzcocks ‘Everybody’s happy nowadays’ after having been stretched, flogged and starved by classic doom laden Killing Joke, rumbling heavy bearing bass lines and marauding riffs that viciously strut looking for potential targets to sting recalling Dinosaur Jnr at their most potent. Completing the set, ‘spies’ in comparison is pretty laid back, an obsessive love song no less (and no this ain’t ‘Every breathe you take’) that does it’s best to sound poppy but still ends up like something that’d give the Reid Brothers endless nightmares. All in all a killer of a release seek out now for maximum cool. http://www.100thmonkeysyndrome.co.uk

Jamie Says ‘Down to the debauchuary’ (Sorted). Lo-fi hip swinging austere bubblegum pop, yep you read it right first time. One of those records blessed with two sharp as a knife tunes plastered either side of a piece of wax, determined to stand up, do its stuff with the minimum of fuss or wastage and then get outta Dodge as fast as it arrived. Jamie Says is the latest vehicle for Kyle Hill formerly of Circa 1983 and the Abandoned. ‘Down to the debauchuary’ (incidentally spelt as it says) combines the cool shades and leather demeanour of early Sisters of Mercy and riddles it with the added spice of a throbbing Joy Division like bass line and a needling post punk guitar riff that joins the hands of classic Fall with the Fire Engines topped off by a healthy quotient of Wreckless Eric for something as cool and as infectious as f***. ‘Rebecca’ on the flip is classically moulded, drawing from the very essence of those early must have Stiff releases and giving it a lick of the Velvet Underground had they of course had a certain Mr Dylan in the ranks. Pretty damn smart if you ask me. http://www.sorted-records.org.uk

Inch Blue ‘Walking Backwards’ (Demo). Those with long memories may remember us raving about this lots last EP release ‘Three songs about dreams, lovers and the sea’ which provided for a trio of storm lashed classics carved from the stars that hurt and soothed in equal measures. We’ve had it on good authority that rather than sit back smugly the trio have been busy pulling out the stops refining their sound and laying down tracks of such sublime beauty that you feel it’s only a matter of time before the words ‘next’, ‘big’ and ‘thing’ coming kicking in their studio door. This tasty morsel has been burning impatiently on the old Hi Fi for a week or two now and though we realise we should wait for a proper release (as this will, assuming my facts are right, feature on the bands forthcoming split with the mighty Workhouse on the equally eminent Bearos records fairly soon) we just couldn’t rest until we told someone. ‘Walking backwards’ is an arse-kicking baby of a track, turbulent, mightily atmospheric and above all monolithic. Harnessing a brooding inner core its akin to standing in the wide open during a torrential electrical storm with the winds painfully stinging from all sides, the rain metering down like bullets as you bear witness to the spectacle of nature having an almighty tantrum, and yet throughout all this you smile in the knowledge that its good to alive. Think of the Chameleons with a groovily punked edge being marshalled by a throbbing unrelenting New Model Army underpin sublimely fusing the dark with the light and the crushing with the caressing. Crucial stuff. Joint single of the Missive. http://www.inchblue.co.uk

aPAtT ‘aPAtT’ EP (aPehAt). Those preferring their sounds a little more irregular, viscerally challenging and against the flow may feel obliged to check out the debut release from Liverpool’s aPAtT. Described to me in passing as ‘a release that the band thought I’d be doing everyone a favour by hearing’ with the added proviso ‘sounds like nothing from Liverpool’, (or for that matter a several plays), like nothing in the world. APAtT it seems forego the usual subtleties of trying to woo the listener and win them over, instead they arguably provide more questions than answers with their awkwardly channelled fusion of out there art rock, drone montages, film samples, hip hop (as evidenced on the streetwise sample menace of ‘My nuns door theme’), mallowy electronics and bleached psyche folk (though I’d hastily add not all at the same time). This particular EP is the bands debut with a new batch of songs eagerly waiting in the wings for a release date. Occupying the shadowy sub divide that vaguely links the curious netherworlds of Volcano the Bear and the new age travelling doom drone friction folk of the Sunburned Hand of the Man with the oddball melodic anarchy of Zappa especially on the hauntingly numb ‘Loneley’ and the parting shot ‘a passing’ and yet shows their willingness to lead the viewer into a guessing game, their sounds bounce erratically from the odd to the eerie to the devastating without no heed or attention to form or principle, at times its reminiscent of a freeform jam, maybe a tuning up session whatever you may call it there’s no denying that there is an explosion of ideas at large within which ultimately means that just when you think you have the measure of them they spice up the mix to throw you off the scent. The dreamy ‘Nice II’ prickles softly like some kind of drunken space symphony, equally ethereal and warped, either that or Satie having chemically assisted flashbacks, and if you get over the monastic moment, probably the most together cut here. Elsewhere the aforementioned ‘Loneley’ belies a subtle film noir cast that invites you to check, not only under the bed but also under the stairs, behind the door, in the closet and is perhaps best resolved by listening to it in the hours of daylight outside preferably somewhere where there are plenty of people about. ‘Idi’ is strangely up tempo and jiggly with it while grindcore meets thrash meets Melt Banana surfaces on ‘broken elbow’ only to be laced with all manner of menacing head melting psychotic overtones. Consider yourselves well and truly warned. Deeply deranged and cleverly obtuse to be filed under strange species pop. http://www.geocities.com/itsapatt

Matra ‘Mechanics’ EP (Unlabel). Pressed on 10 inches of heavy duty vinyl and ultra limited to 100 copies (of which we have on good authority only about 50 still remain), this release features the welcoming debut offering from Kent based electronica trio Matra to the Unlabel fold. As shiny as a brand new button, (in fact five brand new buttons if you like), Matra entwine loveable tripping folds of lullaby-esque plink plonk pop that has one eye on Boards of Canada to add to the warming sub textures being developed throughout especially on the toy electronics versus enchanted fairy tale pop opener ‘Warming up the machines’ which perfectly sets the table for the lulling ‘Camblewick Green’ like sophisticated drifting sweetness of ‘The Engineer’ which itself shrouds itself in a delightfully haunting mystique that’s nonetheless desperately lonesome especially with the inclusion of double tracked vocals floating their dream like disconnected mantras, heart warming stuff. Flip over and you get the same sounds played backwards and fittingly titled ‘Reverse Engineering’ (obviously). Matra provide for an arresting collage of techniques and moods mixing and matching the sultry and the dreamy with the stark and cold all the time the emphasis being placed on laid back numbness none more so than on the EP’s final brace of cuts ‘this old Patagonian express’ and ‘mechanics’, the former capturing a full bodied claustrophobic off centre funky middle eastern core that at times drifts closely to Blur’s ‘Out of Time’ and the parched glumness of Radiohead’s more together moments on ‘Hail to the Thief’ while the latter with it’s unsettling down tempo groove as playfully curvaceous as it may seem still manages to purvey a disconnected fracture like base that creeps like an austere AR Kane, beguiling and beautiful all the same though. Recommended as though you hadn’t already guessed. http://www.unlabel.net

Part Chimp / Joeyfat ‘Split’ (Awkward Silence). Technically staying with the Unlabel roster as Awkward Silence are part of their extended family and are principally responsible for addressing the more eclectic electronic concerns over the years. Not any more, for those expecting tranquil robotics may do well to start nailing down all moveable household objects for this frenzied all out twin pronged bludgeon attack. Part Chimp are formed from the various limbs and body parts of Penthouse, Scarfo and Ligament so those familiar with any of these ensembles will rightly assume immediately that this isn’t going to make for a leisurely Sunday morning walk in the park. ‘Crash the high octave’ is a gruelling festering monster of a track that’s so loud you’ll find people from different postcodes complaining that you to turn it down, even with the volume at zero you can still feel this baby rumbling restlessly, imagine a more moody Big Black sparring with a toxic sounding Carcass, in short the foolish equivalent of standing at the foot of a rocket launch at Cape Canaveral only louder and groovier. Flip the disc for the return of Joeyfat now fully re-invigorated from their five-year hiatus having returned to the fold with last years immense ‘the house of the fat’ long-player. Joeyfat arm themselves with a post rock dynamic that splutters and stutters with the kind of agitated erratic groove that was so prevalent on Talking Heads ‘Remain in Light’, partly oppressive and setting the teeth on edge ‘Five minute watch’ crookedly navigates awkwardly creating a strangely unsettling gritty fabric into which overlapping sub texts collide caustically to map out a complicated and decidedly intense patchwork of sound. Dare you enter? http://www.awkwardsilencerecordings.com

That’s pretty much your lot for now, not a bad deal eh four missives on the bounce, I’m now off to rest the typing finger, which is looking a strange shade of blue and green just now. Back in about two weeks when there’ll no doubt be more than enough tasty records to have you bouncing from the ceilings to the floor and walls, among the goodies, hopefully a release or two from Great Pop Supplement and a new Earlies release, but we’ll see. After that we’ll have a singled out special dedicated solely to the Best Kept Secret tape label as I feel we’ve been doing them an injustice of late, by my reckoning about 7/8 releases to feast yourselves over and every one of them a gem.

As is the usual gratitude and mucho thank yous to all the bands, labels and press reps who’ve made these musings possible no names but you know who you are and with that all it leaves me to say is tara for now and have yourselves a great time.

Take Care,


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