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