singled out – missive 163

Singled Out
Missive 163 part 5

For Kelly and Mark – much love

Singled Out – making ineptness and art form since pencils and paint was invented.

As usual delayed – apologies – no chit chat you’ll be glad to hear – next missive due shortly – well in aday or so…see the foot of this one for details….

The Word # 65 – the ever readable Word aside its usually round up of sounds to seek out basking on its cover mounted CD (this time of asking featuring cuts from the likes of Fleet Foxes, Half Man Half Biscuit, M83, July Skies, Congregation and quite worrying Mick Hucknall – well that’s what the skip buttons for – isn’t it?), while inside a positive array of subtle sarcasm, clever observations and strange treks into the realms of pop make this a consuming passage of time. This particular issue has a rare interview with Bill Drummond this time of asking proposing the end of pop as we know and a return to year zero which involves the Beatles ‘strawberry fields’ as the template or something like that while waxing disappointingly about his new already defunct the17 project. There’s a chance to peak a Bob Dylan’s etchings – which – am I’m not an art critic – look to me like an accident with a paint palette committed by a five year old with his / her hands tied behind their back and a paint brush glued to their front teeth whilst in the dark – obviously a nod to the Daniel Johnston school of infantile expressionism and very much harking to Tony Hancock’s child like creations in the classic film ‘the Rebel’. there’s also a rare excuse to feature Laurel and Hardy with the onset of a new box set and though recent years have seen their stock diminish in comparison to other silent / early film comedians – Chaplin, Keaton and Lloyd – personally I still think no one blends such an acutely disparaging attitude to pathos as this duo while John Martyn is this the subject of this months centre staging interview with the poor old (neither here nor there) ’Select’ magazine gets the ’found in the attic’ treatment whilst not forgetting to mention there‘s a rather touching tribute to the late Humphrey Lyttleton to be savoured.

Wire #293 – well written, extremely authoritative and almost impossible to read more than 5 sentences without the need to consult a dictionary, Wire has proven without doubt that its in a league of its own, covering artists so far outside the usual pop cosmos that they’re m references haven’t even been recorded yet. We’ve literally just taken delivery of this issue so haven’t had a chance to read it in any great depth though their appraisal of Isabelle Corbisier’s tome on Tuxedomoon entitled ’music for vagabonds – the tuxedo moon chronicles’ has had us scampering for our credit card while their sobering critique of Mark E Smith’s ’renegade’ is for once a review refusing to kiss arse and made this particular reader thankful at least that after having read said tome and the pursuing reviews (in other music magazines) that I’d actually either been reading the wrong book or had totally missed the point of the whole exercise. Anyway elsewhere in this particular issue Mark Stewart features both on the cover and on the inside, snd face the invisible jukebox while both the Necks and Bill Dixon hog the column inches with Cecil Taylor rounding out the issue via the Epiphanies section.

Art rocker #79. Haul your arse down to the nearest newsagent and you’ll be able to grab yourself the latest copy of your monthly indie pop dietary quota courtesy of Artrocker. Aside your usual smorgasbord of youthful exuberance, strangely dressed young chaps and lasses hoisting guitars and Molotov cocktail melodies (which just briefly in this particular issue features – pause for sharp intake of breath – Matt and Kim, William who we swear we’ve just received a CD by which will be rooted out for forthwith, Holy Fuck, Theoretical Girl and cover stars White Denim) there’s also sell taped to the cover a simply stunning 21 track CD entitled ’Artrocker unsigned 08’ – packed start to finish with some of the finest bopping kids with abrupt guitars and tasty tunesmith-ery to had just nuzzling beneath the surface tide of the scene. The aforementioned White Denim open the proceedings with ’mess your hair up’ which is blessed admittedly with a vocal that sounds like it was the result of a shared DNA between Hugh Cornwall and Nick Lowe atop a tune clearly riddled with a marked Dr Feelgood vibe whilst lashed with flanged wah wah’s aplenty – bollocks we could love this lot. Next up the excellently named The Ape Drape Escape – trying saying that after a few neckings of the sauce – who seem to have hit upon a curiously art house experiment that involves grabbing some finely tuned spidery come needling riffs, a maddening fuzz like underpin, the Slits in to do backing vocals and Flowered Up to apply the infection laced zaniness – well that for us appears to be the deal on ‘climbing up my drainpipes’ – ridiculously tasty. Thomas Tantrum – oh the Thomas Tantrum – how we could rat for days as to how they should be massive and that you the public ought to be ashamed at yourselves for not embracing them with a hulking ’next big thing’ banner hoisted aloft. ’Swan lake’ is dangerously dinky and dislocated, this off kilter pop treat has a tendency to swarm about you like an allergic reaction – blending the folly of the Altered Images with Catatonia yet possessing an unnerving knack for erupting with a skewiff zeal to almost match Johnny Foreigner – damn, damn, damn – we just adore it. We’ve been having a quick rummage around because we sear we’ve come across these cuties previously – alas we can’t find anything which is no great surprise given that trying to find a particular CD here is the equivalent of trying to locate a hay pollen on a needle in a haystack. Anyhow ’Ashes’ is a deliciously abrupt slice of austere laden fuzzed up candy pop much reminiscent of the Pixies as though shimmying with the Insect Guide with both Bleach and the Cranes vying for control at the mixing desk. Elle S’Appelle – current indie darlings and from God’s country to boot – supply ’honesty’ which if you ask me sounds like a ringer for something that’s just missed the cut from Wah Heat’s ’Nah = poo – the art of bluff’ and with that a sumptuously tap tapping tot of tuneage. ’five called stars’ offered up by Ipso Factor is blessed with what I believe – or at least it certainly sounds like – one of those good ld fashioned pump organs, recorded in the legendary Toerag studios this darkly swept macabre laced fairground folly is wracked by as tense edginess and an overpowering sense of latent menace – does it for us all the same. Previously unknown to us French duo John and Jehn step up to the plate with their remix ’20l07’ – again like fellow countrymen Ipso Factor another cut that finds itself sublimely carved with a bespoke austere chill – boy / girl vocals very much like early career Sugarcubes revisiting some strangely caterwauling ’kaleidoscope’ era Banshees. Best cut of the set by some distance comes courtesy of the Yorkshire based cuties Sky Larkin – from the minute that ’I was a teenage hand model’ rears into earshot you’re put on immediate alert that your fast knee deep in something very special, effects laden atmospherics akin to slow scratching nails on blackboard shrieks, this baby seductively mooches to creak and groan magnificently to blossom into something that to these tender ears has all the hallmarks of ’head on the door’ era Cure shimmying up to the much missed Bang Bang Machine while slyly nibbling the chorus flashes from the Lover Speaks ’no more I love’s’ – frankly if they are giving this away gratis it makes you shudder to think what they are hiding in their locker drawer. Next up Paper Planes whose ‘exchange’ certainly does have leave an arresting after taste in its wake – Adult Meet meets the Primitives and Sleeper with kick ass attitude – somewhere amid the thunderous see sawing procession of low strung grinds there’s ashy eyed slice of light headed candy pop struggling to wrestle its way out and disarm you. New Black Light Machine’s ‘disguise’ – damn yes we love this racket if we didn‘t know better we‘d have said it had crept off an early 80’s post punk Peel radio show – squalling lo-fi fuzziness that erupts into hazes of in your face interference deftly riddled with a sumptuously nagging no future vibe that had us at various points imagining a dragster take on Wire. More kids who’ve wiled away a fair few hours tuned into Wire and Gang of 4 gems from yesteryear are Le Tetsuo, a trio hailing from Norwich who already have a – by all accounts – killer of a debut 10 inch via Parlour (which we feel we really need to check out – and soon) frazzling hi-fi’s in bedrooms up and down the underground corridors of indie, ’chicken stack’ taken from that set is an abrasively edgy slice post punk grooved grind razored with needling riffs, boy / girls vocals, a hectoring hollow like melodic hook and an all round sense of untamed mania – expect to hear more from these cute some kids in this pages in the near future. S.C.U.M. – deleted any thoughts that by name alone there’s suggestion that these dudes are suited and booted 18 hole Dr Marten wearers sporting beer bellies and penchant for aggressive hardcore punk, okay the beer bellies we can’t confirm but what we can say is ’Rituals’ is deliciously claustrophobic stuff – a bit like a dark matter variant of Battles that delivers persistent, unrelentingly antagonised chilled sounds capes – almost a watered down ’millennium’ era Killing Joke with Front 242 circling the nest. ’you and me both’ kindly off loaded by the much touted Post War Years is blessed by a vocal that sounds like it was birthed as a result of an illicit back street union between Glenn Gregory and Phil Oakey applied onto an alluring underpin of minimalist sheens ridiculously catchy electro grooves dappled with some skewed slices of funked up art pop fuzziness. Quick Now, Here Now, Always stump up ’Angeline’ – the Artrocker dudes lump this in with Post War Years and Crystal Castles though we feel that there sparsely topped ambi-pop is more akin to the Aloof shimmying up to early career 808 State – amorphic stuff best served we reckon by partaking in its advances at 4am in the morning after a long night clubbing as a perfect come down tonic. Much loved in these pages though we did foolishly manage to accidentally delete an email containing a download of their last EP much to our annoyance and obvious incompetence – the record label will never talk to us again we suspect (Stolen Records in case your reading this – hi) – anyhow this trio are loved to bits here okay – think of an aural cake mix whose ingredients contain traces of the Fall, Half Man Half Biscuit and Sebadoh all topped off with a fair amount of Pavement for icing, though on this occasion ’I won’t lie to you’ does have a veritable Dinosaur Jnr as done by the Modern Lovers charm about it. We’ve been hearing good things about the Siegfried Sassoon who by all accounts delight in their ability to craft with frequency rampant sub three minute pop ditties. ’I, Galactico’ is no exception – stupidly contagious, once it gets past its initial Orchestral tinged euphoric swirls this exuberant beauty soon unravels amid a charging cortege of crooked time signatures, slender slices of warped candy pop and a bonkers as hell blend of fried fusing that culls together Wire and the Cardiacs which as regular readers of these pages know only to well is mighty fine by us. Bretton we suspect could in time become something of a permanent feature within these pages, ’everything you asked for’ is again another cut spliced through with ad hoc see sawing time signatures that operate on the senses with drip effect glee, very much appealing to fans of the Playwrights though sounding strangely like a math rock take of an early career variation of New Model Army wrapped in folds of austere goo. Plaaydoh as you might expect from a band loosely named after an Early Learning Centre toy are indeed a merry bunch of impish upstarts. There’s a debut EP kicking about on the Winning Sperm Party imprint which I think we are right in saying in available for gratis as a down load at the label site. ’Purple mini Jack’ from the Glasgow based quartet is an audaciously abrupt and sparse sounding take of attitude laced wrong side of town Go Team deftly delivering detached Pixies like bass pins with an almost child like mischief amid a fractured wall of petulant like shouty vocals and an overall air of satisfying unhinged and dislocated candour which to these ears had us reaching momentarily for our Shaggs records which neatly leads us to 2 Hot 2 Sweat. ’your space or mine’ initially reviewed in these pages at missive 155 is the debut release from duo Mia and Matt – the latter of whom is and was front man of Cortez and Crest , this baby still sounds like a riot in waiting and though we’ve said it before and will again has all the trappings of a tag fight between BiS, Shaggs, B-52’s and X-Ray Spex – so like its good them – available via NRONE. Hailing from Australia, Diamond Sea’s ’heavy skies’ really does sound like its crawled from a boot sale lot of foolishly discarded late 70’s / early 80’s 7’s – maybe its just our ears but elements of Pink Industry / Pink Military flicker to the surface amid the chill of retro post punk edginess – well worth investigating further as are the sets parting shot Racecar Red whose ’shrimp’ menacingly strangles what is essentially a mighty fine pop gem under the weight and frantic friction of chop chop needling riffola the blighters.

Plan B #34 – can’t recall for sure whether we’ve mentioned this in passing or not as there’s so much stuff kicking about at the moment – we will check later as well as revisiting #33 – again another issue that we suspect may well have been foolishly overlooked. Anyway enough blather this particular issue has the mighty Sparks on the cover and on the inside for a rare interview – a duo of whom it has to be said the words living genius’ are not lost or flippantly applied, through four decades Russell and Ron have perfected the ability to playfully put listeners on a constant back step, so ahead of the game in terms of creativity and application that frankly you suspect they are taking the piss out of their peers.
Their extensive musical oeuvre has forever seen them refusing to stand still evolving sound wise to pre-empt and incorporate at any given time art pop, disco and the return to a crafted and more cultured melody coined in the silver screen era, a law unto themselves they are one of few creative forces around who extend beyond the boundaries of considered pop notions. Elsewhere there are spots featuring Sebastian Tellier, Shearwater, cover stars Effi Briest, the return of Rudimentary Peni whose current album ‘no more pain’ has been hammering our hi-fi of late, there’s an extended live feature on Laurie Anderson plus an exclusive extract from the very excellent Steve Chick penned Sonic Youth biography ’psychic confusion’ – which is a highly recommended read unlike the Mark E Smith tome – ho hum. Tagged to the front you’ll also find a handy little 15 track CD in celebration of this years forthcoming ’End of the Road’ festival, the three day event at the Larmer Tree Gardens in Devon is due to take place in mid September and boasts a formidable line up with Mercury Rev headlining and three day festival which includes such stellar names as Calexico, Richard Hawley, Robyn Hitchcock, American Music Club and the Mountain Goats to name just a handful. As well as that glued to the front of this issue you’ll find a 15 track sampler CD featuring some of the artists due to appear – sadly no exclusives though there’s a few gems on there including Mercury Rev’s gloriously uplifting and softly curdling ‘Opus 40’ which beautifully unfurls with a west coast hued gospel spiked redemption like radiance as it freewheels between hazes of the Beatles, Traffic and Buffalo Springfield and ’Songs: Ohia’s near perfect ’Farewell transmission’ both are which worth the entrance fee alone. Elsewhere we must admit to being quite smitten by Devon Sproule’s ’old Virginia block’ – culed from her recent ’keep your silver shined’ full length this prairie picking cutie festooned with fiddles and foot tapping fancies is an age less return to classic country standards – absolutely melts. Wild Billy Childish aided and abetted by the musicians of the British Empire is your 100% original punk renegade, having released more than a 100 albums / singles, an equally accomplished painter and poet – he has for four decades been a lone and much respected troubadour peering out rather than in from the ever changing musical and fashion landscapes, ‘again and again’ culled from his current Jamie Reid sleeve designed ‘Thatchers Children’ full length is a back to basics three chord snot nosed two fingered stab at the man that fuses a classic blank generation vibe procured from a fusing of Devoto and Cooper Clarke. And though we’ve heard many good things about A Hawk and a Hacksaw and heard them fleetingly in passing we’ve so far managed to foolishly avoid taking a closer peek at their wares. This is the Albuquerque collective headed up by the one time Pickled Egg ever present Jeremy Barnes who since the late 90’s has lent his hand to a positive who’s who of the underground including Neutral Milk Hotel, Bablicon and Broadcast – ’God bless the Ottoman Empire’ lifted from 2006’s ’the way the wind blows’ set is a delirious slice of snake charming arabesque spell binding that nods subtly to the Beatles ’within you without you’ between its sultry flashes of jazz free-forming – damn it we’ll have to nail those lost albums and play catch up fast.

Clash #28 – now settled into its monthly format and getting better with each passing issue, this bumper sized edition includes a pocket sized 52 page festival special booklet as well as the obligatory CD (more about that in a second). Inside Kris Needs features as guest contributor and fills in the blanks of Lou Reed’s lost decade (the 70’s), there’s also a rare interview with the former Velvets man centring around his recent ’Berlin’ shows. Elsewhere the classic album spot invites the Band’s ’music from big pink’ under the critical microscope while Johnny Marr offers up seven rules to achieving success (none of them we hasten to add involving lottery winning numbers – alas). Featured spots include 12 things you never knew about Iggy Pop, the ones to watch casts an affectionate eye over Magic Wands, Lionheart Brothers and the Dodos while the Subways return to fray after a long lay off for an interview spot as does legendary country star Emmylou Harris, the Rascals, Fratellis, the Zutons with cover stars Coldplay assuming the coveted centrepiece spot. As to that CD – again another worthy addition to any well ordered record collection given that it features what’s nonchalantly billed as ’the essential summer selections’ and includes a gathered cast of 16 acts some well known some not so all vying for your love and affection. The set opens with Roy world’s ’elasticity’ a London based combo who appear to be quietly garnering plaudits from all corners of the music community though that said we did eye a rather bemused and near insulting review of their recent Kentish Town gig – we won‘t bother giving a link if you really want to read it then just google Roy world / Kentish although it amused us to note that the reviewer – a lady we suspect – well from the name – comparing them to a stab in the testicles – how would she know. Anyhow with a full length under snucked beneath their collective belts in the shape of ’man in the machine’ and a Club Fandango single of which this cut featured on the a side, ’elasticity’ sounds like its being transmitted from the 70’s through the telephone wires, a classically cured rock wannabe that strangely has a feel of Rush c. ’permanent waves’ about it though threaded with subtlke strands of ‘Virginia plain’ era Roxy all neatly drilled with swaggering riffs struts and a consuming wide screen aspect. We must admit that we’ve spent the day carving the names of the Lionheart Brothers into our arm having falling much in love with their dream weaving soft psyche nugget ‘bring it down’, several albums favourably received in their native Norway haves started to register sizeable blips on radars across Europe, this lysergic ally grooved chime churning babe is coated with cosmic dust and a lushly mesmeric pop sensibility, loosely nodding with a warping effect that sees the Beatles ‘within you without you’ lilting in the evening shade with early career Spiritualized enjoying a kaleidoscopically enhanced west coast adventure – nuff said – a full length ‘dizzy kiss’ we suggest needs immediate investigation. You can imagine the Jyrojets ’all the rage’ doing some serious seismic damage on the radio when it sugar rushes into earshot – blessed as it is with punch you out hooks, ridiculously catchy sing a long chorus’ all drilled with stupidly overt feel good vibes- a kind of Green Day its okay to like I suppose. Culled from their current full length ‘silent city’, ’miss you’ sees the long awaited return of Feeder back after a lengthy sojourn, anthemia, breathless and seemingly unrelenting this spanking gem is a loaded hammer headed slice of punk pop frenzy that’s best described as trying to imagine a DNA wiring of early career Leatherface and Mega City 4. Well tasty is Hoodlums ‘in the out crowd’ – think Flowered Up recalibrating old skool Chumbawumbe gems from yesteryear – immense stuff very much street savvy and sassy with it especially the subtle shoehorning of 70’s styled smoking Stones like licks. Again someone else who up to this point has remained happily avoiding our radar is Cathy Davey whose ’mr kill’ featured here had us – for reasons best known to us – reaching for our copy of White town’s ’your woman’ kissed as it with the same kind of off kilter riff, Davey purrs huskily throughout recalling Hafdis Huld as she waltzing dizzily through a disturbingly delicious frazzled funk drenched charmer. Ah Ladytron – a band so deserving of being far bigger than they already are, for nearly a decade now they’ve sublimely crafted an electronic species by rewiring the dark austere core of blueprints left abandoned by Kraftwerk and warmly weaving it with a sophisticated Tran global club floor dialect, ’deeep blue’ is a love child echo to early career Yello subtly laced with the seductive sheen of the Pet Shop Boys – need we say more – somehow I think not. The mutant chilled rap core of ‘poison dart’ by The Bug is ominous stuff indeed – initially sounds like something that the Native Hipsters have had their hands all over not before it’d been through a spot of tinkering by ’reproduction’ era Human League – oblique and quite stunning stuff. The Pinker Tones are up next and maybe its our ears playing up but ’working bees’ really does at times sounds like some radically re-worked variation of Imagination dropping chill pills and crafting out street savvy slices of scratch happy crookedly frazzled electro funk a la Herbie Hancock’s ’rock it’ era. Its at this point that our cd copy decided go missing for a handful of tracks – notably those stumped up by the Cazals, Shout out Louds, the Thirst and the Late Greats which was rather bloody annoying though marginally excused courtesy of it picking up the baton for the sets last three cuts and just as well because Get Well Soon’s ’witches, witches rest now in fire’ just needs to be heard to be believed. Culled from their – we assume – debut full length for Nude entitled ’rest now weary head you will get well soon’ which believe you me we will have propped up on our hi-fi faster than you can say ’bollocks what the fuck was that?’ – this babe marries 50’s styled Cinerama symphonic ram-a-lama with super chilled lounge pop deliciously decorated with string swirls and lunatic mirages and metered blissfully with silken hazes of trippy accents all blessed with a vocal that sounds like some love child off spring of a Matt Munro / Divine Comedy bunk up. Will blow you away with its seduction. Not to be outdone Sam Beeton dons geetar and steps back into the 60’s for what sounds like a youthful Smokey Robinson fronting the Monkees for ‘finally gone‘. All said and done though best cut of the set by some distance is ‘but now I do…’ from Mara Carlyle. Fads in as the great bearded Peelie would have no doubt commented, hell but once it awakens from its slumber this turns into a real beauty. Blending library pop accents, down tempo bliss states, mooching funk, smoking torch dialects and an unerring sense of willowyness this gem is all at once off centred, haunting and defiantly seductive – best arranged in your record collection next to those treats by the Shortwave Set, Broadcast and ‘felt mountain’ era Goldfrapp – an album entitled ‘nuzzle’ is currently doing the rounds and high on our wants list.

Black Helium / The Teeth ‘split’ (death pop). If we had our own way we’d decree that those loved up dudes of fuzz over at death pop HQ would by the law of the land be forced to release one of their rare as hen’s teeth 7 inch beauties at least once a week and in celebration we’d declare a national holiday. As it is we have to content ourselves with these rare visitations to our hi-fi – ho hum. People with fairly good memories (hell it was only a missive or two ago) may well recall us proverbially falling arse over tit for their last outing wherein they paired together an audacious face off between The Swankers and Atomic Duplex – a slab of wax to which all good homes deserve – well at least those with musical taste. Next up on the ramp and limited to just 500 copies and sure to sell out faster than a non Jay-Z headlining festival is a killer split from London based combo Black Helium and the insanely zany the Teeth. Black Helium stump up ’consumed with doom’ which if we’re honest sounds like its been dragged from some fuzz i9nfested swamp from the basement of a primitively fucked up Mudhoney shimmying up to the Halo of Flies and found amping it up big time kicking out hip grinding gnarled glam blues boogie that’s suffering psychotic reaction 60’s coated flashbacks. Well smart. While you’re there we thoroughly recommend you check out ‘sugar sugar’ on their my space site which sounds like some god like glam meets space rock sort with some seriously mental Hawkwind styled riffing with a rough as a bears arse production in tow the type of which we’ve not heard around these parts since we last unearthed those gem like Mummies discs. Flip the disc for the Teeth’s ridiculously infectious ’high hair’ which we gave an early warning of way back at missive 142, this booty shaking futuroid funk babe is set to do mental things on a club floor near you and though we’ve said it before still sounds to us like the Pizzicato 5 being rogered by Ladytron with Fireball XL5’s Robbie the Robot taking up lead vocals – stupidly sassy and in time could be the most annoying thing to have connected to a stylus since Lipps Inc’s ’funkytown’ – just lo the S’Express samples – a hit in any well ordered record buying society. Buy and be disturbed. There’s a launch party for the records release planned for the 4th July at the George Tavern on Commercial Road (somewhere in London – just to narrow things a tad) where both bands will be joined by the Spivs. Future Death Pop ditties will see parole releases for the aforementioned Spivs in a head on mash up with the Bumps, Brain Washington’s ’LSD’ will get a limited repress (the band being – if we recall rightly) the alter ego of) the Teeth who themselves will be celebrated on their own thumping slab of 12 inch wax with a mega mix of ’god of sex’ a version of which you can hear on their my space site. Frankly I suspect we spoil you. http://www.myspace.com/deathpoprecords
http://www.myspace.com/blackhelium
http://www.myspace.com/wearetheteeth

Dark Captain Light Captain ’Circles’ (loaf). Another release to which we must admit to have grown very fond of over the course of the few weeks since its arrival here is this four track EP from Dark Captain Light Captain. This set acts as a taster for a forthcoming full length currently looming large on the horizon which hopefully should propel the London based sextet to the ears and hearts of a wider audience. Reference wise this quartet of slow to unfurl shy eyed cuties should principally appeal to fans of Swimmer One and Birdpen (especially ’they be underwater’ with its intricate and interweaving flurries of pastoral dialects and the ebbing and flowing cascade of deftly touched John Fahey like delta charms). Featuring in their ranks a former member of the much missed Quickspace, Dark Captain Light Captain carve out a delicate patchwork of curvaceously spiralling breeze like melodies bled from the finite fusion of tripping electronic beats and richly spun acoustics, the sounds are warm, colourfully vivid and inviting, the overall mood prevailing throughout ’circles’ is one of mellowness brought to bear by the hazy sheens of softly stirred sumptuous halos of rustically hued flightiness liltingly wrapped within orbiting cascades of twinkling baubles of delicately woven florescent climes. It’s arresting stuff and something that one suspects has been calculatedly crafted as such in order to put you in another place – a place far, far away from the smash ’n’ grab attention seeking ensembles currently littering the great indie conveyor belt. ’robot command centre’ perhaps – with arms prized up my back and red hot tongs strategically arranged in a threatening manner about my delicate regions – is for me personally the sets finest moment, a murmuring rustic affair temptingly teased and decoded in hushed harmonies and a slightness of melodic touch that to these ears at least had us recalling with much fondness those early Static Caravan outings by Tunng. All at once tranquil, tender and gorgeously hymnal in texture assuming a quietly affecting stateliness the underpinning of skipping beats and braids of woodwinds casting a willowy winter like melancholic hue that’s crushingly loveable. ’walls’ the most up beat cut of the set rounds off the set and into the bargain offers a desirably dainty depiction of care freeness with an array of pastoral spindles pining beautifully with a porch like softness. Frankly how can you resist? http://www.loaf.com

Just a mention or two for a few of our favourite pod casts at the moment –

Dark culture goes all Pete Murphy / Bauhaus on us for broadcast #45 as a tribute marking his appearance at the House of Blues which you can access at http://www.darkculture.net/ – broadcast #44 includes a few reasons as to why we included one or two of the videos below namely Specimen, Alien Sex Fiend – though frankly they never topped ’ignore’ in my view and The Birthday Party – we are still trying to source the killer ’deep in the woods’ as well as the Bad Seeds version of ’I put a spell on you’ – fear not we’ll nail them one day…..

For those of you who might just have forgotten what the Lover Speaks sounded like then here’s the video to their great lost mid 80’s hit –

And while we are on you tube a spot of kitsch from the Carpenters -admittedly not one of their best but hell still scary stuff – in a ELO way…..

‘calling occupants………’

Seamless links abound Sonic Youth…..’Tunic’ –

And er – totally unrelated mainly cos we can’t be arsed to think of a link – the birthday party – ‘release the bats’…..still sounds f**king awesome

While no doubt sharing hairdo’s – alien sex fiend and ‘ignore the machine’ beating Sigue Sigue Sputnik to the punch by our reckoning two years……

And fellow Batcavers Specimen with ‘beauty of poison’…….

The Silents ‘23’ (passport). From the label that recently peppered our hi-fi with that rather snazzy single from the Panics (see missive 161) and are responsible for the import of Aussie talent to the British masses, release number 5 sees the opening twin set ambit from Perth based quartet The Silents equipped and ready to vie for your affection and damn smart it is to. ‘23’ is a finitely bottled 152 second rousing slice of Brit laced beat pop that to these ears sounds like a ringer for early career Bluetones which is no bad thing I’m sure you’ll agree, ripped through with an insidiously catch hook line and braided with strut happy strummed riffs clipped and finished by a criminally catchy la la la chorus we don’t mind admitting we’ve nearly worn the grooves of this blighter clean through. That said gem of the set is to be found happily tucked over on the flip. ‘Strangers’ sounds like its returned from a day trip to the 60’s, glowing with a veritable soft psyche pop sheen that dallies silkily with lysergic tinged corkscrewing riffs, bliss out atmospherics and chiming seranades that at various points call to mind Simon and Garfunkel and the Blue Oyster Cult though those among you with a fondness for early 90’s brit indie may well have an inclining to rummage through your record collection for those celebrated initial outings by the High. http://www.passportlabel.com

Eat Lights Become Lights ‘they transmit‘ (Enraptured). Featured this lot in missive 162 which agreed you might think was fairly recently but hell it was over a month ago given that we’ve had gremlins in the old PC department. This lot were eagerly talked up by Jack Enraptured as being the best thing he’d heard sine – well er – the last biggest thing he’d talked up whoever that was though you can be sure it involved copious cascades of floating guitars, hazy dreamscapes and a passing shade wearing resonance – which funnily enough is a description befitting of these cruise controlled cosmic cadets. Pressed on pink red wax ’they transmit’ / ‘musik for motorways’ is the debut 7 inch from the London based star gazers who are already it seems causing a certain amount of buzz among certain labels reps and media types. Indelibly influenced and crafted from many a night lolling around thumbing through old school Kraut / space rock artefacts from the early 70’s (Tangerine Dream, Harmonia, Amon Dull II etc…) and spiking the listening mix with some of the finest shoe gaze / psyche from the late 80’s / early 90’s (Spacemen 3, Ride, My Jealous God et al…) ’they transmit’ is a interstellar message from the far side of the sun. Layered upon hypnotic trances of lysergically tipped electronic hums this softly bathed slice of psyche bliss buzzes and whirrs almost with ceremonial jubilance into a monumental space grooved beast that mid way through kicks and grinds like Hawkwind all the time celebrated and caressed by the gentle opine of the soaring and dipping haloing swirls of mind evaporating chiming fuzz. Bit of a gem if you ask me. Flip the disc for the far superior ’musik for motorways’ here done as the Chris Olley ’twelve mix’, Mr Olley you should know as being the front man for Six by Seven – an ensemble who its safe to say had more talent than return receipts. From its astral plane like ethereal twinkling drone introduction made up principally of interweaving soft sheens of feedback squalls this beauty slowly emerges and unfurls gathering in depth and stature to emerge and blossom into something that to these ears has all the hallmarks of an Alphastone penned hyper driving highway cruiser succulently framed with bespoke passages of mesmerising kraut grind to which fans of both Slipstream and some of the more lunatic ally inclined outings via Ochre such as 90° South would do well to check out. However – and don’t you find there’s always a however with these things we still say you ought to check out the simply divine nugget hauled up in their locker by the name of ’become lights’ which you can find on their my space site at http://www.myspace.com/eatlightsbecomelights – a truly captivating moment wrapped in spectral splendour and assuming a numbing jaw dropping stately perfection to which lovers of the Verve’s great lost flip side ’one way to go’ will simply swoon. http://www.enrapturedrecords.com

Debbie Leggo ’car crash crowd’ (fire). We can’t apologise enough for initially overlooking this – truth is it got lost in the great CD mountain and though its been out for a month now that is no great reason to turn your nose up at it. Indeed we suspect the partaking of a diet of funny fags have been the recreational motivator behind this tripping far out and spacey gem. Pressed up on 10 inches of wax with the promise that two more such sets will follow before the year is out, Debbie Leggo are a South London based quartet of space cadets who describe their influences as being ’cider, dope and wine’ which sounds just about right considering they have crafted a stunningly sprawling prog jazz odyssey on the opening salvo of their debut release for Fire. ’car crash crowd’ featuring the guest vocals of Scot poet Gerry Mitchell (who it has to be said does some neat Mark E Smith styled intones) is a mind expanding chill inducing flashback to the early 70’s, gorgeously disturbed it meanders marvellously to the point that at times you feel they’ve disconnected from reality and somehow just lost the plot and gone off on some cosmic styled inner mind voyage only to occasionally touch base and bring it back together before bungee jumping again into the void. Plenty of noodling free form jam moments and beard stroking loveliness which should appeal to fans of the Living Brain, Zukanican, Hillage, Floyd and Scatter though one suspects the enjoyment would be maximised by a fair few tokes of a spliff. And while ‘car crash crowd’ is indeed psyche fried and tasty in our humble opinion the real gem in waiting lies over on the flip. A truly inspired mind altering experience and frankly the nearest thing you can probably get to recreating an acid experience without actually resorting dropping anything. Wired mayhem awaits on ’tripping with my pals from Partick / you doo wrong’ from moments of fried jazz eruptions to mellowing psyche erasing lounge routines blended with passages of space dub, this 12 minute third eye voyage is a stunning, scary and seismically stewed slice of sonic multi layering that evokes the spirit of Sun Ra flashing as it does deliciously through a genre cross pollinating tapestry of long forgotten myriads of sounds one time in vogue with labels such as Vertigo, Deram and Dandelion that combine to drag the listener through a revolving door of moods (psychosis, happiness etc….), textures and extremes to the point that your left decidedly dizzy by the experience mostly worrying whether your ever gonna make it back to terra firma. Stunning stuff and by our reckoning absolutely essential. http://www.firerecords.com

The Krak ’Madame Riviere’ (militant entertainment). This bundle of fun arrived at our gaff accompanied with a party bag contain hats, sweets and lashings of information (we is easily bribed). Another ridiculously catchy slice of hip hugging toe tapping tuneage from a quartet who by all accounts have been causing something of a flutter by serenading the London public from the top of a housemaster bus from where they hammered out an acoustic set, mind you that’s nothing when you discover that these cuties have performed gigs on the Orient Express, hogged local TV and radio spots as well as securing the cooing affections of at least one half of the Mighty Boosh. With this born in mind you’d expect this boy / girl pop carnival to be seasoned players sitting gleefully on a healthy mountain sized back catalogue. Alas – not so. ’Madame Riviere’ is in fact the quartet’s debut 7 inch – yep hard to believe I know but it seems that those dudes at militant entertainment had the good foresight to superglue these workaholic blighters shoes to the floor with time enough to get to nail at least two cuts to tape before escaping and to plan other likewise guerrilla campaigns. Sounding as though its just fallen off the back of a Mediterranean bazaar ‘Madam Riviere’ is a ridiculously effervescent slice of good wholesome high grade pop fun – admittedly it might stretch the patience several listens in but it terms of first hand experiences its like a hyper active child dragging woefully addictive kick botty grooves in his / her wake. A thumping slab of up tempo tastiness is what you get, armed with Eastern charms aplenty, handclaps, hip hugging strutting twangs (just check out the opening pastiche of the Surfaris ’wipeout’ for any further evidence), snaking needle like riffs – its all at once sultry, sassy and scatty and blessed with such a breakneck and infectiously skipping underpin that you’d be forgiven for thinking it had been tapped out while forced to walk on hot coals – we suggest the nailing of feet to floorboards in a futile attempt to stop the blighters wandering off to follow the musical circus. Flip the disc for more prickling pop loveliness in the shape of ‘I can’t seem to’ which being forced to choose is our favoured cut of the brace – an ostensibly darker and more melodically curdling affair than its accompanying A side, none the less provides evidence indeed that when this lot want to play it straight that they have more than enough ammunition sitting on the back burner to stun their peers given that this astute slice of freewheeling drive pop manages to shoehorn warmly hued elements of dust swept country vibes spiked by slow burning soft sheen spokes of drifting psyche pop. Copies of lipstick pink 7 inch slabs of wax are known to exist – as though you needed any further persuading. http://www.militantentertainment.com

Loxsley ‘Flashlights’ (self released). Took just one listen of this four track EP to find us hopelessly hooked. The Austin, Texas based quintet have to date posted two full lengths in the shape of 2003’s ’forecast a brainstorm’ and 2005’s ’maps and organs’ – both we are sad to say managing to avoid our radar. Just ahead of completion of what will be their as yet untitled third album comes this rather dinky 4 track affair. Loxsley it seems have a curious knack of distilling a rarefied brew of sound that refuses – or so it seems – to be pegged or at the very least is prepared to follow some predetermined formulaic process. Alluding a sense of something broken, ‘Flashlights’ as a whole adheres to a kind of obscure playfulness that suggests it could easily fit alongside some of the more creatively astute ensembles to be found within the Elephant 6 collective notably Neutral Milk Hotel. The melodic structures instil a deliciously murmuring spectral like glee that shimmers with the subtle drifting elements of Buffalo Springfield – at least that’s the case on the opening lingering lilt of ‘Lamprey Eels’ – a wonderfully breezy affair honeycombed by pining riffs and bathed within the alluring glow of a resonating warmth west coast fuelled country vibe. Next up is the delightful ‘chopper’ – deftly speckled by a crooked rag time piano motif, this beautifully worked slice of flea market styled demurring pop crackles and seduces like an early 70’s variant of the Kinks with Alan Price onboard working the strings from behind the scenes and Ben Folds 5 orchestrating the floorshow. If we didn’t know better we’d have sworn ’speckled eggs’ had resulted from the creative song book of Kevin Tihista’s Red Terror albeit loosely based on a re-drilling of elements of the Beatles ‘8 days a week’ with a with a quick guest appearance by Cheap Tricks to boot though for us it’s the parting ’virgin isles’ that provides the sets best moment by some distance, a gorgeously framed sparsely tendered wide screen MOR gem – in fact better described as something of a pocket pop opera that seems so out of step with current pop consensus cut and crafted as it is with nods to the Beach Boys ‘Smile’ and our very own the Crimea – frankly a must. http://www.loxsley.com

Templeton Pek ‘No association’ (Small Town). Do you know I do believe this little beauty has begun to grow on us during the course of the last few days.The Birmingham based trio have been shifting apace on the outside lane picking up admiring glances along the way from the leading metal / punk periodicals, culled from their acclaimed debut full length of the same name and following up their recent ’if all else fails’ single, ’no association’ features in three different variations here (’strings’, ’radio edit’ and ’album’) and offers up a tasty slice of speeding train radio friendly melodic punk pop which we’ll refrain from referring to as emo – damn that’s done it, though I’ll qualify that by saying its emo of a Mega City 4 type though obvious rounded and enhanced by some nifty production work which in all honesty between the three versions you can’t really prise to decide a preferred cut though admittedly the original mix is somewhat edgier in texture though the string version does endow for its part a hitherto (though brief as it may be) lush like wide screen aspect to the proceedings. That said we reckon it’s the exclusive cut ’the origin’ that offers the best excuse for hitting the repeat button and wildly flinging yourself across the room like a bad ‘un, a pile driving pop dynamo that for the best part had us reaching for reference our battered though much loved copies of Ned’s Atomic Dustbins gems from yesteryear. Tasty indeed. http://www.myspace.com/templetonpek

Bristle Weather ‘the oblivion seeker’ (October man). Apologies being late with this – we’ve heard already that October Man have sold out of this at source though the more savvy among you should be able to source yourself a copy or two from other trusted outlets such as Norman records (don’t worry we’ll be there too as it seems we’ve missed out on both the Sceneslow and like kisses of thread releases – damn). Anyway one of the reasons this got overlooked – and this is not a piss poor attempt at an excuse was because it is pressed up as a dinky 3 inch CD – during our unearthing of it we also came across at least one Smallfish release, something by Cheju, a few outings from envizagae so expect plenty of electronica groove in the next few missives. For now release number 28 for the esteemed October Man enterprises comes courtesy of Bristle Weather which is the creative psuedonym of Russian musician Eugeny Trifonov, previously unknown to us which shouldn’t really come as a great surprise to regular readers of these passages, limited to just 30 handsomely packaged copies all pressed on dinky 3 inch cd’s. As with those crucial Smallfish releases (see next) this comes without any press release which is fine by us given that it makes us do a spot of research the result of which we’ve discovered that aside his Bristle Weather alter ego, Mr Trifonov occasionally dabbles in what he describes as a spot of ’industrial / dark ambience’ under the guise of Ribbon – a distinctly darker proposition whose deeply whose deeply ominous ’lgn’ you can access for gratis via the OLN imprint by following the link http://70.87.68.194/~pakot/olnlabel/blog/oln/2007/oln-al/- its excellent stuff providing evidence indeed of Trifonov’s creative abstract use of spaces, textures and sound manipulative techniques and something that we feel will appeal greatly to fans of Pimmon (whatever happened to him?). Back with Brittle Weather though, four tracks feature within ’the oblivion seeker’, crafting out thought provoking moments frozen in time, Trifonov excels at creating beautifully forlorn idm drone scapes – at least that the case on the opening salvo ’NT’ – minimalist, pensive and beautifully haunting lunatic montages tapered by glitchy beats and strangely out of sync time signatures make this something of a willowy and lulling gem eerily cast in an exotic air that’s both tearfully melancholic and lonesome. In sharp contrast ’apathy’ is more abstract in intent and texture, braided by what seems like a galactic typewriter tapping out binary communications into the vast void this chilling slice of coldly detached blip core is one best played with the lights on. Parting shot ’nothing came’ ass the title may well hint is heavily beset with a sense of loss cast as it is by an unfailing and inescapable colatitudes as it shuffles almost despondently with lethargic hesitancy to leave you numbed and emptied of emotion. However its left to the radiance casting ’yellow air’ to provide the set with its best moment, the oppressive aural sculpturing within tenderly bleached by a delicious cortege of opining looping ether drilled celestial swirls that arc and chime in celebratory harmony. Bit of a gem if you ask me. http://www.freewebs.com/octobermsanrecordings

Cyan 341 ‘hex’ EP (Smallfish). And so to the small but well formed Smallfish label. This little cutie pressed up on the now standardised 3 inch CD format is strictly limited to just 100 copies and is bound to fly from the labels racks one suspects before it gets a chance to hit the streets. Cyan 341 is the alter ego of Zainetica better known to friends as Mark Sreatfield who in recent years has released a considerable body of work that has managed to surface on some of the coolest imprints on the cutting edge scene of electronica including Boltfish, u-cover and en:peg to name just three. Cyan 341 sees him freewheeling his more dance cultured persona – this fruity little slice of mesmeric ambience had us wobbling on our lunar axis and finds its feet distinctly in Detroit techno realms deliciously cooking up some damn fine transcendental tuneage. Should appeal principally to fans of mid 90’s era Biosphere, 808 State (especially the parting ‘#ff00ff’ – don‘t ask us), FSOL and most surprisingly late 90‘s styled Derrick May who we detected buzzing intermittently between the grooves). Its stunning stuff, layered loops of chilled out groove cast with futuro funk dialects, disembodied phased vocals and seriously fat ‘n’ juicy bass underpins especially on ‘#ff0000’ – each track building slowly in texture and adding to the previous as though evolving on a theme to which culminates sumptuously in the aforementioned parting ‘#ff00ff’ – a delicious slice of spectral like seductively layered subterranean dub funk peppered with exotic florets and a gorgeously laid back down tempo calm – crank this baby up at the dead of night for a spot of sophisticated nocturnal amour. More of the same please. http://www.smallfisdh.co.uk

The Vivians ‘a human angle’ (electric toaster entertainment). I know I keep banging on about this until we are literally royal blue in the face – but where the hell re all these corking releases coming from? Debut twin set from Scottish quintet the Vivians is another neat and nifty slab of skinny tie, hip hugging, hi-fi humping guitar strut pop. ‘A human angle’ is a cock sure cutie primed and armed to the teeth with a potent power pack of short fuse riffology, locked grooved sparring motifs brought to bear by the pummelling onset of the twin turbo assault attack guitars that assume an incurably immediate radio friendly dynamic that at times to these ears anyway veer close in origin at times to Steve Stevens speaker rattling craftsmanship on ‘rebel yell’. However for us it’s the flip cut that provides the treat, ’divided we stand’ blending elements of the Scars, Fire Engines, Josef K and the Gang of 4 this unrelenting panic stricken post punk beauty barely gives you a chance to draw breath as the bob and weave of search light styled angular white funk dialects insidiously bore into your psyche as they frantically chop chop between the grooves with urgent glee. http://www.myspace.com/theviviansdivided

Rosabella Gregory ’water’ (crown music). Okay accepted its not the usual thing that we go for here but it with thanks to Kate at Quite Great who obviously feels that we need to broaden our musical horizons and rightly so I suppose given that we’re not so stupid as to not be able to spot a becoming talent when we hear one. Along with her twin sister Dina a child protégé by all accounts who forsook academia to pursue her muse to study at the Royal College of Music. Achieving many glittering awards and notices throughout her career both with and without her sister ’water’ marks her official debut outing. Blessed with a beguiling angelic vocal that tip toes between quietly sensual and delicately demurring the attached press release passes out comparisons to both Morrisette and Amos which agreed is pretty much unavoidable given the huge shadow that both these artists cast over female songwriters though by our reckoning the flip cut ’what angel’ (the best moment here) belies traces of both Cyndi Lauper and Sarah McLachlan let loose amid vivid floral corteges of brontean sweeps and tenderly arresting backdrops – all at once willowy and touching this honey is best served listened to in the stillness of the night in order to embrace and enhance its fragile, poised and sublimely sophisticated traits. Not to be grumbled at ’water’ is no slouch when it comes in the graceful stakes, braided beautifully by a lulling undulating wide screen aspect of cantering piano motif breathlessly arrested by sweeping string arrangements that collectively seek to smother you in a mystery filled velveteen lushness that evokes at times distant memories of the more tender moments found on Kate Bush’s first two full lengths. http://www.rosabellagregory.com

Shindig #vol 2 issue 5 – current issue of the quite ridiculously essential psych, garage, beat and power pop bi-monthly Shindig is possibly their best yet featuring inside an extended appraisal of the much overlooked and underrated the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band and as if that wasn’t enough to prise the entrance fee from your mits elsewhere within there’s a rare catching up with Jackie Lee who is probably best known for her sound tracking vocal on the 60’s tv series ’white horses’ which for those who either weren’t born at the time or more worryingly actually forgot about it we’ve managed to nab one of those you tube type links below – we’re so good to you. Somewhere else there’s a feature on Mellow Candle whose Alison O’Donnell can be found lurking amid this missive with her duet with the Owl Service – seamless eh? Shindig’s continuing serial on groovy head films from the 60’s and 70’s goes on abound this time of asking managing to dig up a whole heap of stinkers a la ‘Wonderwall’ and ‘beyond the valley of the dolls’, there’s also word gear on the Pink Fairies and Mad River the latter of whom we must admit by putting our hands up to say we’ve never heard of – shameful I know – oh yea and a disappointingly short piece on how jazz was spiked with the psychedelic tang – we’d love to hear more.

That promised ’white horses’ title sequence…..

Uncut #135 – we’ve only just nailed our copy so haven’t had a chance as yet to get through it in any great detail though there’s a superb though admittedly lightweight feature on George Harrison of whom we will agree was probably the most important Beatle – after le Ringo of course. Alice Cooper is the subject of this months ’an audience with…’ while a quick rustle through the pages reveals a ’making of…’ feature about Blondie’s a career in arenas jumpstarting ’heart of glass’ and a Stone Roses ’spike island’ spot along with all your usual reviews which strangely enough on this occasion they haven’t told us exactly how many on the cover – or am I confusing that with the Q and Mojo.

Sugar drum ‘1 of 1’ / ‘absence of friends’ (self released). Apologies are indeed due on this occasion, in fact we couldn’t apologise enough as this re-affirms any notion that you may have had that we are work shy fops – indeed on this occasion we have even managed to exceed in disappointing ourselves at such an oversight. Okay here’s the root of all the fuss. 2 CD’s are sent to us last year – and when I say last year I don’t mean the tail end – I mean last year – 12 months ago – okay. Said CD’s are played and loved at the time but due to one thing or another no write up is forthcoming, handwritten notes are made with a view to said typed appraisal. Alas CD’s go wandering as do the handwritten notes (to date the notes still haven’t been found). An occasional recent spring clean unearths said discs. Now we are in a quandary. Do we casually ignore them because lets face it 12 months to do a write up is like – taking the piss. Or do we brace ourselves, keep our integrity in tact and bugger it – go with a ‘we are only human after all’ plea and hope our fawning apology will be accepted. Honesty they say is the best policy and anyway with tunes of this calibre – frankly we’d have had sleepless nights suffering with guilt if we didn’t somehow make amends. So there you go – that’s the reasons out of the way. Sugardrum is better known to family and friends as musician Nigel Bunner who from out of his leafy Surbiton based bunker crafts daydreaming slices of drifting carefree acoustic pop bathed in both intimate and tender sparkles of quietly assuming grace whilst dashed delicately with a becoming pop fluency. Two EP’s feature here – ‘1 of 1’ is the more considered of the pair in comparison to ‘absence of friends‘ an admittedly neutered affair that is until ‘aunt agony‘ manages to loom into vision braided by the lilting rustic florets and the caressing interweave of boy / girl vocals you can imagine this being a truly sumptuous affair if it were treated to the lush symphonic arrangements as applied by Kirby to Drake . Accompanied by guitar and cello this four track set assumes a more noire-ish glow, beautifully crafted liberally dashed with tumbling cascades and delicate dustings of bitterly sweet sugar rushes with tracks such as the melancholically introspective ’1 of 1’ and the dauntingly elegant ’easily pleased’ hinting at a blossoming talent on the rise and its to the ’absence of friends’ set that that very talent comes into full view, featuring 5 cuts (there’s an unaccredited version of ’new york, new york’ tagged to the end – a ghostly, graceful and gorgeous thing succulently pierced with a mellowing majesty more typical of a latter career Paddy McAloon). The set opens with the frail and fragile ’motorway song’ a beautifully conceived slice of drift pop peppered by accordions that imagines a heaven bound spectral collision of Dream Academy and the Go Betweens yet its from ’limbo’ on that Bunner’s confidence, stature and demurring song craft comes into being, this church like beauty equipped with hushed vocals and the lull of watery guitars is a gorgeously laid back life affirming pop portrait that emerges from its initial fog bound haze into a quietly majestic and measured aching love note. ’Absence of friends’ the title track is without doubt the jewel in the crown, flighty pastoral florets, vocals a la Tim Buckley and a stately fragile persona make this a touching gem in the making, the shy eyed undulating craftsmanship giving way to the sumptuous moments of flowering vibrancy of the beautifully conceived bouquets of Nick Drake like thoughtfulness. ’sleepwalk’ rounds up what is an eloquent and elegant set – upon a bed of flickering celestial mirages and pillows of heaven crested chorus’ this intimate beauty albeit exasperatingly brief is a sweetly coated moment of faraway rustic bliss. http://www.sugardrum.co.uk

Vanadium ‘EP-ic’ (self released). This little blighter finds itself lucky not to have been catapulted through the air at speed as though hoisted into the void by a Herculean athlete styled thrust given that we initially misread the bands name as Van Halen – mind you we blame the type set on the sleeve, the fact that it was dark when we struggled to view the name and most importantly we are stupid. Not that we – I hasten to add – have any particular gripe again the big hair scissor kicking 80’s Gods of the riff in fact most nights you’ll find us huddled up in our latest trendy band logo t-shirt indulging in a spot of forbidden pleasures listening to Dave Lee Roth – of course a fresh supply of eyeball piercing needles are forever at our side but then that’s another story and not a very interesting one at that. Which not so neatly brings us to Vanadium who caused this hullabaloo in the first place – I‘ll supply an address at the end so you can send your well worded complaints venting your displeasure. By all accounts Devon based quartet Vanadium have been around in one form or another since 2003 – several line up’s later some tweaking of the sound and defining of their own style which they refer to as ’new new wave of british heavy metal’ (don’t ask – really – don’t ask) fast forwards the story to the present. Freebasing on Iron Maiden riffs especially on the opening salvo ’thin ice’, Vanadium craft a punishing aural assault riddled with apocalyptic tension lacerated by hell bound cross weaving vocals that scowl between something recently unearthed from the bowels of hell to something touched with crusading valour – beneath all this an unrelenting black hole of frenetic veneer scalds and scars as the chop chop style riffs needle away frantically wrapped in sombre foreboding. ’the fallen’ as you’d rightly imagine from such a title is a crippling mass of hollowing futility drowned amid the reins of a battle scarred aural artillery. ’save the day’ initially changes tact and texture, slowly unfurling like some faux Coverdale / Whitesnake slab of MTV loving soft rock, occasionally erupting in to passages of spiked hopelessness bleached with an inescapably sludge fest like down cast claustrophobic air before changing lane to evolve into a cavalry coming over the hill racing solo climax. Leaving the best until last – don’t they always – ’broken man’ is a howling and festering slab of labotomising metal headed scorched earth agitation, raging riffs see saw menacing acting as a support cast to the ritual like doom laced sermon exacted throughout delivered by a vocal no doubt left out too long distilling in kerosene and partaking in a diet of broken glass – titanic stuff. http://www.myspace.com/hatual

The Cedar Falls ‘Abandon’ EP (self released). Power driven MTV mauling groove from trio the Cedar Falls marks for what is for us a quality debut release with the press release rightly noting a close affinity with Sound garden a point not lost on us. In terms of mood, emotion and apocryphal dynamcism this four track calling card is head and shoulders above the normal ‘metal / heavy rock’ releases we get to hear. The Cedar Falls excel at crafting out blistered shards of ravaged and gridlocked skin peeling scorched and scarred metal headed grunge bluesas deftly displayed on the opening salvo the searing ’abandon’ and while ’twilight’ may well be considered the EP’s centrepiece blessed as it is by a brooding to blistering gear shifting dynamic for us the sets best moments are the two beauties assuming defence positions to the back of the release. The fringe parting down but un-bloodied locked grind of ’unity’ gets our unquestioned vote blessed as it is with its Maiden-esque montages and pummelling drills of angst spiked assaults while the parting acoustically tendered ’a place to stand’ reveals a hitherto sensitive side to their song craft. http://www.cedarfalls.co.uk

Midasuno ‘Sister Temptation’ (Sugar Shack). An altogether different prospect comes courtesy of Midasuno of whom we don’t mind admitting that we were more than a mite smitten by this lots debut full length ‘songs in the key of fuck’ in particular the track ‘a machine the rhythm thief’ – a head jarring beauty spiked with a furious gridlocked groove much reminiscent of old school Queens of the Stone Age. Pulled from the same set its opening salvo ‘sister temptation’ gets a much deserved outing in its own right and sees Merthyr Tydfil’s finest spanking the hi-fi good style, a howling beauty that sounds for all the world like its crawled straight out a hell pit. Blessed with a ravaged unravelling psychosis ‘Sister Temptation‘ is all at once, vicious, stricken and discordant, this potently flame torched skull fuck lunges menacingly with a punishing aural carnage of bludgeoned industrial accents, snarling metal dialects and spiked eruptions of thrash metal tyranny that combine together to rain down on you without mercy or sanctuary. Will reduce your listening space to rubble. Flip the disc for two cuts culled from a live session commissioned for by BBC Wales, ’taste the virus’ first spotted occupying groove space on Midasuno’s ’til death do us party’ EP, this babe is spiked with a skin flinching demonic edge replete with a bass heavy gridlocked and grizzled groove making it something of a furious fuzz laden black hole while ’reactions’ culled from the current aforementioned full length shapes up to be a nifty slice of volcanic tempest orchestrating goo. http://www.myspace.com/midasuno

Violet Violet ‘bring bring the dawn and bike till morn’ EP (NRONE). And how we do love these three impish felines, previously swooned upon when their ‘love this band’ 7 inch loomed large on our turntable (see missive 145). The perfect antidote for those labouring with tiredness at the way femme pop has been hijacked by young singer songwriter lasses pitching fey and maudlin pop badly out of tune with lyrics a la ironic (apparently) swiped from the note book of a nursery attending family member and a cutesy cute aren’t I clever attitude and the endless conveyor belt of boy bands sharing jeans, names and the same three chords. Dragging their brand of skewif punk pop in tow Violet Violet are a cherry picked amalgam of all the great attitude laced girl bands of the last three decades, ostensibly leaning towards riot grrrl in style and presentation their crooked craft exploits, distils and enhances past hi-fi heroes the Waitresses (none more so than on the ridiculously infectious ‘one little problem‘), Shonen Knife, L7, Hole, the Shaggs, Sleater Kinney and more besides and rewires their spirit and essence into playfully undernourished slices of barbed pop. Five aural paint bombs feature here split across a double vinyl package that’s been split into two releases – the first just out the second due to hit the racks later this month. Deliciously sprinkled with kooky caterwauling harmonies ‘Spicy noodle treasure’ seesaws and zig zags amid angular accents and a wayward wonkyness much reminiscent of the Babes in Toyland albeit stripped of Ms Bjelland’s curdling screams while older listeners familiar with the bands of yore such as Expelled, Ejected and Hagar the Womb will be much loving of the threadbare lo-fi potency of the audaciously catchy ’cereal reflector’ though repeat plays had us much mindful of early career Xmal Deutschland which I’m sure you’ll agree is a pretty neat trick to pull off. Skull burrowing insidious wiring chords are the order of the day for ’Twin on twin’ which opens the set for the second part of the release, hyperactive skulduggery much in tune with the Slits – though that’ll be the Slits aided and abetted by a very youthful Siouxsie though in our humble opinion it’s the twin sets final cut (and briefest moment) ’pick your point’ that earns its stripes as the collections best moment, irrefutably sparse in design pierced by the finger jabbing corkscrewing of repetitive needle worked riffs and a cutely affecting nonchalant attitude – why aren’t they massive we wonder? http://www.nrone.co.uk

Sukie ’Pink-a-Pade’ (new slang). Hell we must need the bumps on our head feeling for not having got to this sooner. Ridiculously catchy and irresistibly cute with it. These cheeky pups (totalling 4 in number) hail from Kettering and may just have delivered a spanking twin set to soundtrack the promised summer (you know that sun type thing – yellow, round, found in the sky – though if your name is Morrissey apparently shining out of your arse – hides behind clouds – when seen is often warm). Anyway seems that Sukie have a knack for the turning of a melodic phrase, rooted with a disarming pop sensibility ’pink a pade’ is so stupidly catchy it should be illegal, deliiously dinky beat pop with the emphasis on pop, this cutie is a wickedly wayward throwback that blends a seesawing musical hall demeanour with a dislocated skiff-ladelic persona that sees elements of the Small Faces cast into the melodic melting pot alongside Cockney Rebel and then blessed with a skewiff fringe arranging radio friendly hook happy immediacy that quite frankly once within earshot of your hi-fi’s stylus will require superhero strength with which to prise it away from its greedy mits. Flip the disc for the equally rascal-ish ’fairies’ – a breathlessly restless skinny tied party pack shoehorned to bursting point with sun filled radiance whilst eliciting an impossible to ignore desire to tap toes wildly. So audacious it shouldn’t be allowed. http://www.myspace.com/wearesukie

The Talks ‘picture this’ (all our own records). The latest line in young gentlemen packing guitar cases stuffed full of top turntable tunes and a swaggering intent to win over your undying affection. Sadly not a cover of the old Blondie chestnut, this particular ’picture this’ is the eagerly awaited debut release from the hotly tipped beat pop combo the Talks who it seems have already managed to fill up their autograph books with admiring glances from the likes of Mick Jones, Alan McGee and Robert Plant while various radio heads have been turning over airtime for them to riotously entertainment the airwaves. ’picture this’ is your genuinely articled from the heart slice of skiff-ladelic hip swerving, skinny tie wearinhg toe tapping pristinely primed pop, cast with drop dead hooks, life affirming sing-a-long chorus’ and a swooning combination trading punch you out pop sensibility. Nuff said our kid. Flip the disc for the far more fanciable ’faces’ – blessed with a barricade storming frenetically festooned driving dynamic that to these ears at least sounds like the resulting offspring from a one night bunk between early career Supergrass and the Sultans of Ping, so fiercesomely effervescent and in your face its liable to drag you kicking and screaming around your listening space just for daring to be in earshot of it. Ridiculously cute. http://www.myspace.com/thetalks

The International Submarine Band ‘Blue Eyes’ (Sundazed). Rarely is it our fortune to lay our hands upon Sundazed releases these days, harder still trying to track down their 7 inch issues so you can imagine our utter joy at nailing down not one but three such outings (well four if you count the killer ‘live at the Royal Albert Hall 1971’ double vinyl set from the Byrds) from one of the coolest imprints on the planet. Not sure exactly how many of these babes are around but given you never get to see them in the local record emporium racks for long (that is – if they ever reach there in the first place) then its safe to say that if you want to call one your own then you better move your arse into gear sharpish. The Incredible Submarine Band have a unique and lasting place in the annals of rock, not withstanding the fact that in their ranks they had the youthful Gram Parsons who would later go on to briefly join the Byrds and later secure his legacy in the Flying Burritos they were later regarded as one of the primary visionary ensembles to be found fusing elements of country / rock and pop years before it became an accepted medium and a recognised genre in its own right with the bands reputation cemented by the watershed third full length ‘the hangmans beautiful daughter‘. This babe comes housed in a retro styled mid 60’s EP sleeve replete with faux vintage jukebox labels all pressed up on 7 inches of black wax. Inside mono re-pressings of the bands two releases for Lee Hazlewood’s LHI imprint, both ’blue eyes’ and ’luxury liner’ penned by Parsons are nimbly carved nuggets of twinkling drifting country hazes peppered sumptuously with corteges of steel guitars and lilting prairie tonalities with the particularly up beat ’luxury liner’ being the certified gem here mainly for the fact it veers close towards the Beatles ’rubber soul’ and ’revolver’ sets. The flip culls together a brace of faithfully distilled covers – Hank Snow’s ’miller’s cave’ and Merle Haggard’s ’I must be somebody else you’ve know’ the latter in particular seemingly hogging space on our pining hi-fi for its smooth honky tonk glazes. Essential aural artefacts accounting the early stirrings of one of country rock’s pioneering fathers. http://www.sundazed.com

The Byrds ‘Live in Holland 1971’ (Sundazed). Again another superbly packaged and authentic looking 7 inch from those archive gurus Sundazed. Pressed up on a jukebox styled clear vinyl platter this cutie culls two previously unreleased cuts from a live appearance in Holland in 1971. For all intents and purposes the band as a unit were finished as the sleeve notes report with McGuinn openly admitting the name was only being kept alive for the benefit of new guitarist Clarence White as he’d ‘always wanted to be in the band…and now had his chance’. The set features the Dr John spoof ‘lover of bayou’ originally co-written by McGuinn and Levy for the musical ‘Gene Tryp’ backed by the Dylan cover ‘you ain’t goin nowhere’. your standard early 70’s FM radio affair, ‘lover of bayou’ in particular will appeal to mid 70’s Young fans with the intricate guitar interplays between White and McGuinn are alone worth buying this gem just to hear though the real nugget lies on the flip. ‘you ain’t goin’ nowhere’ blessed with some neat pedal steel is given a seriously laid back honky tonk like porch lit amber which strangely sounds like the Faces at times. If you’ve a few extra quid to spare we suggest you try nabbing the double vinyl issue of the ‘live at Royal Albert Hall 1971’ set which – okay aside the cost (that is if you can nail one of these excellently packaged Sundazed babes) features a mind blowing smoking stack of an 18 minute chilled out extended jam of ‘eight miles high’ which in our humble opinion is the best bloody live version of this nugget that we’ve had the pleasure of hearing. http://www.sundazed.com

Gene Clark ‘Only Colombe’ (Sundazed / Columbia). As with the previously two featured releases this two track gem (the best of the three admittedly) comes replete with retro labels and sleeve. Completing this Byrds related threesome, Clark was of course along with McGuinn the founding member of the Byrds and responsible for penning their early ground breaking cuts – notably ’eight miles high’. Often accorded with being a visionary (like Parsons, Clark was one of the early purveyors soft country) and dogged with serious misfortune, Clark never received the success he duly deserved being critically lauded by critics didn’t translate into record sales. These two cuts were originally destined to be released as a single shortly after the release of his solo debut full length ’Gene Clark and the Gosdin Brothers’ though that idea was put on hold following said albums poor sales, Clark’s inability to promote it by touring and Columbia‘s decision to drop him – not withstanding the fact that its release coincided with the Byrds own ’younger than yesterday’. In fact the recordings lay forgotten and gathering dust until Clark’s death in 1991. This release is particularly special because it marks the first time that both tracks have been pressed on wax in their original mono mix. The self penned ’only colombe’ is a marked shift in the usual Clark sound and style, a more mature and broodingly beautiful ballad of sorts that may well strike a chord with fans of Leonard Cohen, the baroque tonalities and the lushly lined wide screen aspects distinctly edging into musical references more commonly associated with early career Scott Walker – how Columbia managed to keep this under wraps for over a decade is nothing short of a crime. In sharp contrast the gorgeously willowy ‘the French girl’ is a shimmering 60’s pop treat of an Ian and Sylvia cover cast with a delicately demurring light headed hippy chic and feathery pastoral demeanour festooned beautifully with tip toeing strings and the lilt of underpinning female la la harmonies, both immediate and incurably infectious one suspects if it had been released then Clark’s fortunes may well have been markedly different. Essential of course as though you’d needed reminding. http://www.sundazed.com

Smokers Die Younger ’sketchpads’ (Sheffield phonographic corporation). a little further down the road from On the Bone and you’ll find the equally fond happenings emanating from the Sheffield Phonographic Corporation or TheeSPC as they prefer to be called. You should find dotted liberally around this missive 3 killer releases from Sheffield’s finest who incidentally also sent over the debut full length from Slow Down Tallahassee which we don’t mind admitting is being lavished with much fondness here. Smokers Die Younger indeed they do must be something to do with all that exhaust pollution that we now inhale while standing outside in the pouring rain and freezing cold trying to grab a quick drag or three. According to the accompanying press release this lot absconded from the scene after their by all accounts critically noted debut full length ‘x wants the meat’ only to sporadically re-appear on occasions upsetting fans of Reverend and the Makers, gate crashing recording sessions for the Monkey Swallows the Universe recording sessions, becoming TV celebs in Scandinavian and undergoing a few line up trims. Currently putting the top coat to what will be their – as yet untitled – second full length this cute twin set features a slender taster of things to come in the guise of ’sketchpads’ backed with a re-working of the ensembles ’yer actual’ by Ross Orton whose previous assists with the Fat Truckers has been duly noted and loved within these very pages. ’sketchpads’ is a tantalisingly tasty affair, not your usual rush of sheep with guitars following tune-smithery here, instead – and don’t ask why – this has all the hallmarks of the much missed Garlic (themselves much in awe of Pavement – though on this occasion sounding like they’ve been tweaked by a particularly impish Hefner). Skewiff time signatures, ridiculously dinky and frighteningly infectious melodic hooks, between you and me deep in the grooves of this beauty there’s a certifiable pop gem demanding to be let loose the only problem is these imps have decided to re-arrange all the pieces of the puzzle so that it appears delightfully dislocated so that what you get is a hyperactive aural paint bomb braided by violins, shanty styled licks and a certain degree of mindset unravelling – ingenious really. Flip the disc for what is our favourite moment the reworking of ’yer actual’ – here stripped down for a spot of tinkering with the cylinder heads and rebuilt sporting a new paint job and a spiked turbo charged fuzz loving beast of a motor. This has been getting a spanking of late on the hi-fi and rightly so given that its lo-fi delivery sounds like a classically drilled 7 inch from overseas c. late 80’s / early 90’s being kicked out by the likes of AmRep, Estrus and Ringers Lactate, mental stuff indeed – frenzied and skewed slice of glam trashed hot rod boogie with a particularly freaked and out of his mind Aerial Pink in the driving seat Frankly do we need say more – nope – go buy. http://www.theespc.com

Horowitz ’I need a blanket’ (theeSPC). Staying with Sheffield’s finest for a tad bit longer for this little beauty. Now we’ll be honest in saying we’re not sure how you can nail a copy of this treat given that it was out a few weeks ago (yes I know we should have told you sooner) and only available via the labels web shop. Strictly limited – if I recall rightly – to only 100 copies, theeSPC have really pushed the boat out on this given it comes housed in a special edition of their excellent on the pulse though occasional ’thee humbug’ fanzine which on this occasion sees the editorial taken over by these impish Horowitz dudes and as though that wasn’t enough finds tucked within its pages a nifty three track CD single but – and wait for it – a DVD featuring the video for ’I need a blanket’, a postcard and a brace of button badges. Damn fine we say not that we needed our arms twisting. Horowitz hail from Stoke – number in four and have by all accounts been causing something of a stir in the indie / twee musical community following the release of their debut full length ’frosty cat songs’ and the ultra limited ’Tracyanne’ single from a year or so ago. For lovers of those classic indie / twee imprints of yesteryear – Bus Stop, Summershine, Sarah, In Tape et al this release is so f**king good that we wept, ridiculously crafted nuggets of sumptuous candy pop that all will at once radiate with effervescence or else choking back the forming tears, ’I need a blanket’ culled from that aforementioned debut full length should mark the start of a fair amount of release action from the Horowitz camp that will see in the coming weeks / months a limited issue of ’Tracyanne’ repackaged and re-issued on vinyl as well as a positive smorgasbord of outings dotted across the coolest record racks one of which a promised split with the Parallelograms. ’I need a blanket’ is a fuzzy wuzzy babe of prime sliced laid back and smoking bubblegum pop that’s cutely fey in delivery and braided with buzzing west coast styled riffs hoodwinked from the Razorcuts whilst blending elements of the Hoverchairs and Another Sunny Day into a gorgeously woven tapestry of shimmering haze driven pop that to these ears we needed a double take to make sure it wasn’t the Pooh Sticks. Flip the disc for the upbeat, kooky and playfully dinky ‘Animal soup’ which unless I’m very much mistaken I’d have sworn it had fallen straight from a teen tv show from the early 70’s notably ‘the double deckers’ – possessing a wonderfully willowy infectious summery disposition longingly pierced with a childlike innocence and braided by a nifty corkscrewing riff this honey crusted cutie could easily pass for one of the more whimsically whoozy moments from Of Montreal’s back catalogue. Last and by no means least the cumbersomely titled ’It’s better to eat twinkies with yr friends than to eat broccoli alone’ is a reflective slice of stripped down shy eyed recalling in the main early career Belle and Sebastian which as you all know kids is no bad thing. http://www.theespc.com

Kris Morris ‘Someone Sometimes’ (self released). Second outing for singer songwriter Kris Morris following his warmly received ‘little light’ EP debut from last year – now settled in London and regularly to found tripping the boards of the capital’s acoustic stages, the relocated Aussie has recently teamed up with the Weeks brothers Matt and Dan the first fruits of which can be heard on ‘someone sometimes‘ which it appears sees the once fragile artist muscling into the outer edges of the drive time radio play lists, often compared to Dylan and Finn, this babe is a touching slice of aching acoustic thoughtfulness, indelibly introspective yet spliced with hope braided as it is by an affecting bitter sweet tang – a quietly lovelorn anthem for those out there scarred and hurt at the hand of love methinks. http://www.krismorris.com

The Postcards ‘the hours up to midnight’ (valiant). We’ve literally spent the last half an hour thumbing through our record collection in an attempt to spy our copy of the Clash’s ‘London calling’ to no avail (we knew before we started it was a mission doomed) – the reason why you may well ask is because we swear the cover of this dinky debut from the Postcards is a pastiche of it. Oh well never mind – the blighter will no doubt turn up once we’ve posted this babe on line and had millions (okay two) correction emails from keen eyed smart arses revelling in catching us out. Anyhow back to the important stuff. The Postcards are a Brockley – South London based – four piece who it seems have managed to tweak, polish and turn to near perfection a nine minute four track debut spree gathered together under the collectively titled ‘the hours up to midnight’. Those longing and dare I say missing your quota of jangling bitter sweet cutely turned pop may do well to retune your radars for this natty little treat which is due to surface on 7 inches of wax in a month or so time. Alarmingly immediate and audaciously addictive these primed gems are a distilled brew culled from the finest resources of classic pub rock, C-86 twee pop (damn I hate that term) and the well thumbed trawl through trusted old school shy eyed swoon swaying song-smithery as found on labels of love such as Sarah, Bus Stop, Summershine and of course current vanguards of the melodic pop flame Matinee recordings. Succulently invested with a deft ear for a spot of tasty tuneage, The Postcards sound assumes the brittle urgency of early career Wedding Present though finding itself dallying with the soft sucker pop punch caress of the 14 Iced Bears and scratched with the mellowing amour of the Lucksmiths, all at once disarming and fluent with free spirited flightiness these four sprightly nuggets set about immediately scrambling your defences to work their way with insidious impishness beneath your skin from the chiming corteges of the lilting arrest of the opening ’hurry on home’ armed with its Milltown Brothers like summer fresh tingle, this delicate honey is festooned with all manner of drifting harmonics gently reclining amid the shade cover of memorable hooks and a ridiculously infectious though gently undemanding chorus twist. ’I never said’ assumes a more razor edged twee tipped power pop augmentation while the tear jerking ’john peel was a friend of mine’ should strike a chord with even the most casual observers of these pages however all said and done its ‘golden boy’ that provides by far the sternest example of the set that these young pups have the melodic kudos to be a scene mainstay for a fair while yet. Enlisting the same faraway lilt that was once the sole remit of Hey Paulette though sumptuously invested with a off sided and glancing killer hook drenched with a sublime pop sensibility that to these ears at least had us scrambling for our stash of Brinsley Schwartz tunes. http://www.myspace.com/thepostcards

Six Toes ‘Four leaved clover’ (Toe Music). Literally just fell through our letter box and a bloody gorgeous thing it is to even if we do say so ourselves. Six Toes named after a member of the band who indeed has six toes though they aren’t coughing who exactly it is though if I were doing a spot of fact finding interviewing the first obvious question I’d be asking would be ‘hands up those who can count the number of toes they have on both hands’. But then that’s just tittle tattle and are we bothered its not as though we are the N*e or Q magazine which is a tad sad really because more than three people would read this. Anyhow before we get derailed any further Six Toes are a London based six piece who are busy at present putting the finishing touches to their – as yet – untitled debut full length which hopefully all things being well will see the light of day sometime in the Summer – an album that was incidentally recorded on the site of a 16th C mental asylum – full of trivia us and no as you’ve probably gathered we haven’t quite managed to lose this particular press release which I’m sure you’ll agree is a good thing otherwise you’d have been none the wiser about the 6 toe member or the spooky recording location. Ah well it passes the time. ‘four leaved clover’ is a taster for what to expect, a track one fears is not ready made or pre-disposed for the hustle and bustle of gridlocked traffic life. Instead we suggest in preparation of your imminent listening experience in sampling the succulent delights of this quietly affecting gem that you find a lone spot – preferably beneath a tree within hearing distance of the tranquil calm of a river or stream that’s set in an ascetically pleasing to the eye idyllic locale and be prepared to be romanced. ’four leaved clover’ aches and enchants in equal degrees, the parched none suckle rustic acoustics delicately drift and meander softly but surely unlocking your resistance – beautifully mellow and tender, its ingredients seemingly sourced from deep within the southern states and imported and briskly left to ferment to soak in the rural green quilted aromatics. This babe hurts and heals with immeasurable timeless artistry freewheeling beautifully between porch lit sereneness softened by a melancholic swansong persona brought to bear by the gorgeously imparted viola florets. An intoxicating salvo of touching folk noire. That said we were quite smitten by the flip cut ’the reggae song’ – a deeply contrasting and peculiar potion it has to be said which appears to echo eerily from the shadows exuding a intoxicatingly darkened countenance that indelibly points in some small way to ’swordfishbones’ era Tom Waits, all at bewitching and strangely embracing it acts almost like an invitation salute to a Victorian freak show, a wilfully surreal mix of Brel / Brecht crookedly scarred grimly with an unerring shanty / cabaret persona makes it an oddly irresistible listening affair. http://www.myspace.com/sixtoes1

Kierononon ‘brutaltechnopunk’ (roxxor2). Bollocks we’ve lost the press release for this – in fact now we come to think of it we can’t there being a press release in the first place. Its all slightly confusing. But then nothing it seems appears to make sense in the insane world that is the Roxxor2 imprint. Alas as stupid as we are we did spy the arrival with this – the third an final release from Kierononon and bit of a spiffing (if we do say so ourselves) debut full length from Mr Introspective entitled ‘beyond our comprehension’ – a gorgeously twinkling collection of beard stroking retro prog electro ambient montages which unless I’m very much mistaken will appeal in the main to fans of Tangerine Dream / Cluster / VdGG et al as well as Mr Jarre (second mention this particular missive no less – should we be asking for endorsement fees we wonder). Elsewhere we’ve also noted with much annoyance that we’ve somehow missed out on Teeth’s ‘career suicide’ release and a DVD of Kierononon entitled ‘DVDVDVDVDVD’ featuring a career spanning collection of all their videos which frankly we suspect every good home should own. And so to ‘brutaltechnopunk’ – billed as the last Kierononon release – I can tell you now letters are currently in transit to Downing Street to enshrine these dudes as a National Treasure. Numbering in three and hailing from Hull home of the H*********s, this slab of super charged mind warping goof pop features five demented tunes that in turn freewheel between hip hop, DC hardcore, dead eyed bone rattling bar room boogies (a la an evil breed version of Tom Waits) and dumb f*ck English psychedelic. Last time we featured these skewif souls was via their absolutely belting and competently incompetent ‘more boring than poison’ EP (see missive 109) wherein we haplessly added an additional ‘on’ to their name – that’ll teach them. If you ask me this is just what the doctor ordered – if that is the doctor in question was an axe wielding psychotic escapee from the local asylum, a seriously worrying listening experience but an enjoyable one at that. Kierononon excel at doing your head in, they sound like nothing around at the moment, al at once festering, pummelling and playful they literally rip up the rule book – in recent memory its not been since the advent of the impish foreheads in a fish tank that we’ve been treated to something so outwardly unkempt, deranged and dashingly devious. Clever and resourcefully crafted ‘brutaltechnopunk’ opens with ‘no one laughed’ an ominously brooding bastard off spring of the Cravats, this mentally challenged and acutely crooked and caustic spot of freakish sloth pop curiously stop starts amid wig flips of power shorn aural assaults and loose limbed gold chain wearing street savvy ghetto grooving. In sharp contrast ‘fishes lay’ ups the ante considerably posting up for all to their credentials as art popping aural terrorists in waiting whilst simultaneously creating a frantically brutalised psyche stew of fuzz strewn frazzled lysergic day-glo pop that takes the Pretty Things ‘Defecting Grey’ as its inspirational source and then near kicks the blighter senseless amid an unforgiving reign of hammer headed dragster dialects a la the Ministry ‘Jesus built my hotrod’. The skewed ’Moral Decay’ on the other hand is less forgiving a corrosive gem riddled with corrupting time signatures that will appeal to fans of Melt Banana before the unhappy accident that is the deeply worrying ’temporal conflict’ which after emerging from a brief haze of daydreaming to step up to the plate and unleash a warped montage of bad assed and blistered slo / sludge core intertwined with some seriously waywardly impish moment of skewed psyche tinged psychotics which happily had us recalling at various bit’s the Cravats. Wrapping up the set ‘roulette in paris’ is – shall we settle for – worrying. Okay with that agreed this cutie may well have you reaching for your copies of Cud’s debut full length ’when in Rome, kill me’ and any Butthole Surfers album of your choice though ’locust abortion technician’ seems to be the favourite starting point. Fried dudes indeed. Joint ruddy single of the missive.

Oh yeah here’s a few videos of them……

Sunflies ‘the indigo sampler’ (self released). Apparently this Hertfordshire based lot have been garnering themselves an enviable reputation for their live sets in recent times, their core nucleus James and Joanna have in that time survived numerous line up changes and career derailing, now with bassist Matty and drummer Chris safely ensconced onboard they’ve been busy honing their sound to a frighteningly precise detail. Reminiscent in the main to Leeds combo the Somatics who as you all should know feature the multi talented ex Ultrasound man Richard Green, this stunning three track offering is knee deep in a melding of skinny tied strut happy shade wearing riffola powered by a melting pop potion that has the generic palette blended sublimely to draw upon the subtle but clearly identifiable elements of a grit laced 60’s edge, the fusing of post punk angular dialects of late 70’s and drilled with an acutely vice like macabre melodic thrust more apparent to the re-energised March Violets – the results of this are all stirred into visceral entourage of volcanic sub three minute pop juggernauts that buckle beneath a punishing pop powerhouse best exemplified on the breaking ranks parting shot that is the anxiety riddled ‘no charge without pain’ as it adopts its wiring, unhinged and unravelling persona with the palpable innate tension literally oozing from its grooves. Elsewhere ’Caroline slipped across the sky’ with its flanking of potently jarring riffs and the crystalline corteges of sky piercing sonic soars possesses an identifiable 80’s goth / 4AD yet nothing quite shines with such intensity as the lead out cut ’Vampires’. This panic stricken beauty initially opens to a superb Ruts ’Babylon’s Burning’ styled intro before finding itself lushly pepper corned by some seriously snazzy 50’s sourced sci-fi twang twists riddled by the onset of urgently paced recoiling grinds that find themselves blessed throughout by a vocal very much blood-lined from Hazel O’Connor. Ones to watch fore suspect. http://www.sunflies.co.uk

Laura Warwick ‘No more’ (the Public Record Label). Obviously the result of a cock up at the pressing plant. The press release describes the debut release ‘no more’ by singer / songwriter Laura Warwick as to quote ‘catchy, punchy with the just the right mix of soulful vulnerability and aggression’ – ell that may be so but then what we got was 28 seconds of feedback skree which I suppose if you were a fan of say – Merzbow – then such descriptions would be most dutifully observed. Alas for now we suspect gremlins in the burning process and shall return to sender and re-review in a forthcoming missive (no doubt). That said it does at least give us a chance to mention the novel way in which Ms Warwick intends to finance the recording, pressing and issue of her forthcoming debut full length (though be mindful to check out a similar scheme being operated by Morton Valence – see elsewhere here). For a mere five pounds of the sterling variety you can buy yourself a share from out of which the funds raised will be used to pay for the album. There’s no limit to the amount of shares that can be acquired though obviously the more you have the greater your ownership of the project. In return for your hard earned dosh you’ll get yourself a digital copy of the album, a mention in the credits, a ticket to the album launch, exclusive input in various projects including the shooting of the video for this here ‘no more’ single and a share out of the profits from sales intended to be voted as a dividend in April 2010 – all enquiries should be made via email to laurasteph123@hotmail.com

Nephu Huzzband ‘Nurse! Nurse!’ (deep recordings). Frankly the bollocks. The second release from Nottingham’s Nephu Huzzband following their wildly acclaimed ‘papers’ debut earlier this year – see missive 149 if you will for further spills and thrills. Our copy is pressed up on a nifty looking candy pink CD (though whether it is candy pink may be the subject of conjecture given our lighting is pretty crap and as we type this up it is some ungodly hour wherein the only people up and about are insomniacs and burglars) – ’Nurse! Nures!’ is at and about you in a flash like contagion, immediate, infectious and ridiculously insidious. There’s two versions featured here a short sharp shock treated 1 minute 27 second affair and an extended (though puzzling billed as) ’morphine 100ml – edit’ which is actually longer than the original – boy are we confused. Anyhow just what the doctor ordered or should that be the nurse (sorry couldn’t resist). This frenzied slice of panic attack agit pop comes galloping out of the traps at some pace inducing pulse rate pulverising seizures – blistering stuff punctuated abruptly by some neat skewed angular riffology and drilled with a stylus warping velocity that’s bedded upon scalding underpin of quick fire lacerating standing on the spot dynamics, reference wise imagine the Gang of Four on so serious speed plugged into the national grid and forced to perform on hot coals. Offering a chance to draw breathe the flip side features the markedly contrasting ’lions, tigers and bears’ – this melodically astute cutie is trimmed with slo-core / post / math rock dialects welded onto an almost at odds and laid back vibe that for the best part recalls a more with it and slightly sparkier Codeine albeit fused with a subtle air of ’let’s go to bed’ era Cure milling about its wares. Essential in case you needed reminding. http://www.myspace.com/nephuhuzzband

China Dogs ‘Social Blackout’ (self released). Something else that’s been having us all cock a hoop in the losing today gaffa taped gaff has been this spanking debut four track EP from London based trio China Dogs which we don’t mind admitting has been getting one hell of a hammering on our turntable. Blessed with a vocalist who sounds like a cross between a youthful Paul Weller and Malcolm Owen especially on the incendiary ‘something real’, China Dogs are the perfect antidote for those pissed off with the current train hopping fashion chasing band wagoneering indie scene. Four tracks feature here that if I’m honest are cut with the kind of youthfully spirited fist clenching calibre that made us, and I suspect you too, start getting into music in the first place – pristinely powered 3 minute escape routes from a humdrum existence are what you get – oh yeah and a perfect excuse to fling yourself around your listening space like a bad ’un. While we agree with the accompanying press release acknowledging the fact that there’s a knowing blood line that can be drawn directly towards the first two albums by both the Clash and the Jam – the latter serviced perfectly by ‘small town boy’ – yet we rather feel (and not for the first time in this particular missive) that they are closer related to both early career Alarm and the much missed Parkinsons who both filter through the grooves to different degrees none more so than on the barnstorming finale ’bland cynical times’. These street anthems subtly decoded with political spite / commentary (especially on the insurgent ‘a social black out’) are a sharp shock call to arms clarion call for those preferring their sounds to be resolutely meaningful rather than veiled and dressed in meaningless rent a quote sameness, all at once brutal, blistering and bulging with intent, attitude, angst and a searing street savvy flag waving bravado China Dogs storm the barriers carrying in their wake a welter weight of titanic boogie the aforementioned ’something real’ is particularly cast with a take no prisoners attitude while assuming a punishing route one up close and personal verve. All said and done best cut by some distance is the parting volley ’bland cynical times’ – a snotty nosed chest beating beauty that just makes you want to pack your things together and cut loose – a nu age ’born to run’ anyone? http://www.myspace.com/chinadogs

Eaten by Tigers ‘Solstice’ (self released). Frankly we are getting a tad bemused by all these high quality releases, barely do we have time to recover our thoughts and composure before another flies past our defences and into our affection. Case in point the second self released EP from Leeds based quintet Eaten by Tigers. Admittedly we’ve had this for a fair few weeks now and the fact that we haven’t reviewed it so far should not be in any way taken as an indication as to its merits -failing or otherwise. The truth of the matter is the blighter (like so many releases featured here) got buried beneath the weight of cd’s flying through our door. Formed little over 18 months ago, a tweak here and there of the line up and one previous EP under their belt in the shape of ‘Entropy’ which gnashing of teeth aside we sadly missed. Frankly we won’t beat too much about the bush about this four track affair – it is simply immense stuff – for sensitive souls they may appear and seem, Eaten by Tigers craft out atmospherically charged lonesome melancholic structures of such titanic, tumultuous and turbulent beauty that you are simply left huddled in the corner of your listening space – floored, speechless and daring to beg for more. Leaning towards a post rock dialect in the greater scheme of things the set opens to the introductory strains of ’prelude’ – a beautifully tear welling gem lushly formed bleached atmospheric landscapes tenderly air brushed with the sultry swirls of delicately dappling mistrals braided longingly by sparsely woven stratospheric piercing arpeggios which soon surrenders into ’solstice’. A nine minute thing of unbridled beauty all at once magnetic and disarming and possessed of an innate desire and sense of intensity that literally blisters and bubbles from the grooves, filtered through with longing arcs of air formation styled pirouettes of interweaving needle worked riffs its serene lulls are intermittently scratched and scorched by flashes of erupting fuzz laden halos that overall create a glorious floorshow primed with passion, sensitivity and a hitherto measured elegance. In sharp contrast ’reflections at 40,000 ft’ though with a want to pursue the seemingly trademark loud / quiet dynamic reveals a more wintry tipped persona brought to the fore by the additional wind arrangements themselves pinned firmly by the ominous onset of ‘Twin Peaks’ styled motifs. Though for us it’s the parting ‘Deciduous’ that provides the sets best moment by far mainly for the fact that it provides resolute evidence of the ensembles ability to meld moods with sublime song craft arrangements. In terms of reference points not a million miles from the likes of I like trains, ’deciduous’ is braided by gorgeously airy quilts of rustic hues playfully basing amid willowy Brontean landscapes all the times delicately dappled by sweeping tides of heart hurting string corteges that waltz away beneath the seductive glare of arcing arpeggios – something which it has to be said fans of San Lorenzo should be mindful to seek out. ‘Solstice’ makes for a caressing crescendo of crestfallen cinematic captivation – bruised, scarred and wounded but desirably perfect. http://www.myspace.com/eatenbytigers

Stagecoach ‘School Day’ EP (Stagecoach). Another release that we’ve haplessly and regretfully lost the attending press note for which had you said prior to now we hadn‘t previously reviewed we‘d have been around to your gaff to show off our arm wrestling and Chinese burn skills faster than you could say ’oi ya hapless tw*t where’s that Stagecoach review then?’. Of course we stand corrected and shamefully so because this is another release that bestowed tiny rays of joy on the hi-fi when it first appeared here only to go and bugger off and play in the CD mountain – a case of out of sight (and indeed earshot) out of mind. Anyhow Stagecoach sent along a nice little hand written note to accompany this CD (no we haven’t lost it – yet), hailing from the ’darkest depths of Surrey’ them that it is and not us, we of course hail from the darkest depths of a bijou CD festooned fleapit on the outskirts of Surrey a place where light is a rare thing unless we attempt the hazardous manoeuvre of diving into the great CD mountain for a spot of pruning or as its more commonly known in the trade – reviewing. Anyhow where were we – ah yes Stagecoach, four track nugget type thing festooned with jangling guitars and a pretty nifty ear for a memorable melodic kick, opening salvo ’school day’ indeed had us recalling the youthful exuberance of the Jags’ ’back off my hand’ as though cross wired with an early career Joe Jackson, both of course under the supervision of the Wannadies which lets face it is no bad thing. ’(come find me in the) library’ – yes, yes, yes – a tasty fatly carved juicy up tempo slice of pristinely drilled candy pop that unless we’re very much mistaken nods in the general direction of ’pure’ era Lightning Seeds – a galloping parade of stealing glances styled riff struts and hook happy harmonies – how could we resist. Heading out of the blocks next is ’delinquents’ which features about its wares the most blatantly effective over use (though admittedly well coined) of the ’ooh ooh’ since XTC’s ’making plans for Nigel’ and makes this such a ridiculously catchy affair that frankly you’ll have to wrestle your hi-fi to prise it away from in order to commit it back to its protective sleeve – additional side effects are hat it unfurls into a raging power pop beauty the type of which will pings around your headspace and claim squatters rights – you have been warned. ’hang that head’ wraps up the set, a beautifully cantering affair that we must admit to being rather smitten by no least for the way it nibbles gently at the coda from Andrew Gold’s ’lonely boy’ – recommended of course. http://www.myspace.com/stagecoach

Back very shortly with a my space missive – then after that missive 165 will be a shared spree between I blame the parents and filthy little angels with the occasional interuption of a few well heeled jezus factory discs….

Have fun..

Mark
X

 

tho

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