singled out – missive 145

Singled Out
Missive 145

For Kelly and Mark

Singled Out ‘if only your hi-fi could talk’

Okay we’ve been promising this for a fair while, the long warned of ever growing pulsating singled out packed to the brim and busting at the seams choc a bloc with the finest sounds skirting in record world right at this moment. Well we would say that and have to other wise you wouldn’t read the blighter

All being well there will be a fast tracked Singled Out – Missive 146 unless I’m very much mistaken winging fast through cyber world in a day or so which right now we heartily advise you to check out if only to hook up with the incredible IO Casino (you have been warned).

Also its with a heavy heart that we hear the sad news of the passing of Psychic TV’s Lady Jaye. Jaye had been instrumental in the reconvening after a lengthy absence of the Psychic TV brand with Genesis P. Orridge. Their recent back to form and arse kicking psychedelic odyssey ‘Hell is Invisible Heaven is Here’ via Sweet Nothing is without doubt one of leading contenders in our humble opinion for album of the year (review to be posted) – the album has recently been revamped as a double disc vinyl set to include the additional previous unheard ‘I’m making a mirror’ sung incidentally by Lady Jaye. Lady Jaye died suddenly as a result of heart complications believed to have been connected with her long suffering battle with stomach cancer. Our sincerest thoughts go out to all in the PTV camp.

Elsewhere a few rather tasty releases on the horizon worth keeping an eye out for via the much loved of this parish Trensmat records – as per usual ultra limited (and when we say ultra limited we are talking label stock sold out on pre orders alone though little whispers reaching us on good authority hint that those of you quick off the mark may yet still be able to secure said goodies from either Piccadilly, Aquarius or Norman records) vinyl affairs featuring first up Circle doing a spot of crunching kraut inspired sonic gymnastics and the Telescopes with the additional bonus of a multi media CD featuring the video for ‘phase kinosis’ doing what they do best – that is exploring sound mediums no other artists dare dream let alone attempt – sadly for now we haven’t received these yet hopefully they’ll be winging their way to us for an imminent Singled Out dissection – go to

Magazine wise the hopelessly annoying Art rocker – (and we say annoying because in recent issues it appears to gone into a tedious ‘we reviewed them first’ spat with the NME, the NME of course being the NME whether it be so far up its own arse or else noting these slight transgressions with the kind of ignored disdain metered out to someone you wouldn’t cross the street to spit at let alone resort to some form of exchange have happily ignored the rumbles). As though to add insult to injury the magazine has now gone monthly so removing it once and for all and taking away any remaining vestiges of providing any form of competition to the NME. Which incidentally was the magazines original remit with one letter even taunting the magazines decision with a ’who’s the competition now – Q?’ slice of sarcasm. That said we have to admit to preferring the new beefed up monthly version, the former fortnightly format was a little to fleeting and ill fitting fanzine styled for our palette, now blessed with re-designed headers (a big A incidentally which given its in a pinky red had us receiving a few odd looks from passers by), Young Knives beam ominously from the cover like redundant geography teachers while inside your usually dose of thrills, spills and dills only doubled up – interviews and features with Maths Class (who feature here somewhere), Johnny Foreigner (whose current mini albums ’arcs across the city’ is shafting the losing today hi-fi big time), My Device, Video Nasties and the Click Click. Additionally there’s an un-appreciation of the Pistols to coincide of course with said circus being back on the road – the Stones anyone while elsewhere the near perfect Violets and the clearly un-perfect nay deranged Untitled Music Project get deserved kudos. And as though it couldn’t get any better a cover mounted CD which manages to shoehorn a bulging 22 band roll call of the finest teen spirit on the street today which we’ll quickly race through the roster now. A prime cut voting panel would have the Figurines ’all night’ deemed one of the tracks to hear – a ravenous Pixies / Wall of Voodoo mutant replete with unwavering tunnel vision attack attack attack chugging riffs and a disturbingly shocking and tasty discordant chorus hook; the uber cool ’direct hit’ stumped up by Art Brut affirms their status as one of this nations finest, a full frontal dance floor wrecking ball – a tale of pitfalls in the copping off order of things scarred through with a strutting sharp suited boot shaking sinew straining dynamic – nuff said – just stop sitting on the fence and get your lugs around it. XX Teens ’darlin’ is currently we assume doing brisk business over at Mute Irregulars HQ where it was, we believe, a recent single. A retread of a former outing from the days when they were plain old Xerox Teens (gets confusing) and something we picked up on briefly at missive 128 – think Higsons / Pigbag and 23 Skidoo hosting a no invites guerilla party in a studio banging out hot and frantic frayed and furious calypso punk treats. Neil’s Children continue with all the finesse of smack in the face with a baseball bat to worm their way into our affections, ’window shopping’ culled from their debut full length (which we must try a nab a copy of) tones down the usual sonic insurgency of their previous outings to come across sounding like Josef K squaring up to the Fire Engines with a particularly youthfully frantic Robert Smith doing trademark whooping howls and castrated cat noises and set upon a fermenting shock to the system angulated white funk grind swiped from the arse pocket of classic era Postcard and nailed to the floor by a chest beating terrace chanting chorus – really, how could we resist it? Chipping in with one of the best tracks of the set comes Forward Russia (minus – by us cos we can’t be arsed – exclamations marks) who in the shape of the gloriously humbling ’nineteen’ tap superbly into the bleakly beautiful worlds of the Teardrops ’Wilder’ to festoon it amid a spectacularly choking heart stopping jaw dropped array of wide screen and epically ravaged grandeur. Singled Out favourites Shit Disco re-arrange fringes with ’lover of others’ which we’ll simply describe as deranged while Love is All‘s ‘spinning and scatching‘ frankly needs to heard to be believed – a dissipating sugar coated pop thriller that aside sounding like it recorded in a basement (which adds to its vintage retro charm) sounds like some previously thought lost manic Meek overseen 60’s styled Johnny Kidd and the Pirates on speed garage punk beat boogie with belting bras arrangements featuring a very youthful Debbie Harry sounding oddly like Clare Grogan. Basking in an austerely wrapped early 80’s minimalism rooted with demented and dinky Devo happenings blissing out on New Musik kookiness arrives courtesy of the skewed pop mindset of Twisted Charm’s ’television nation’ which believe you me once heard will insidiously attach itsel to your brains receptacles and have you up all night while it plays early Heaven 17 ditties. As for Victorian Englishmens Club and the Harrisons – can we just say regular observers to these pages will be in no doubt as to our overwhelming affection for both these bands the former only matched in terms of intensity and edge of your seat melodic roller coasting by the Clerks (and dare we say new loves of our life – the Insect Guide) the latter along with the creatively astute Working for a Nuclear Free City heading up Manchester’s finest imprint – Melodic. Likewise with Tiny Masters of Today who we believe have a full length out that we’ll have to nail rather smartish – as the title hints ‘radio riot’ is a carnage fuelled car crash of impish trashed out garage blues spiked with pre teen turntable terrorism. Award for best of the set though is Best Fwends ’dream off’ – which we fear the onset of sleepless nights until we have in our hands, on our hi-fi and safely tucked in our record collection platters by – this knockout serving ’what the fuck was that’ razor sharp skewed lunatic lo-fi psyche bubblegum blaster gatecrashes your listening space to fill it with the kind of day-glo bitter sweet teen spirited effervescence that was once the domain of the Pooh Sticks and Teen Anthems and then in a flash fucks off – leaving you disturbed, shaken and begging for more. Elsewhere there are sly shots from Good Shoes (a fucked up anti-homage to Morden), Hot Club de Paris, Mother and the Addicts, Blood Red Shoes, Die Die Die, you say party we say die (who incidentally feature somewhere below in this missive with ‘like I give a care’), Help she can’t swim, young knives, Jakobinarina (who singer sounds a ringer for the Stranglers Hugh Cornwall) and the Black Kites. What are you waiting for – get the bugger.

And after months of trying to track the blighter down we finally managed to nab a copy of Foggy Notions for our own thanks to those nice people at Cargo. Issue 91 – September 2007 features MIA both on the cover and inside along with interviews and features on / with Mice Parade, Matthew Dear, Go! Team, O’Dea (whose current album incidentally is well worth a punt) and Trunk Records to name but a few. Also adorning the cove of the Dublin based periodical is a spanking 18 track set put together by DJ Kool Drool entitled ‘’Kool pops – volume 1’ which gores someway into showcasing her anything goes policy. Eighteen fill ya boots cuts feature here seeing La K Drool mixing up it up big time daubing a huge paintball of aural groove belching dub, wired electronics and strange daydream 80’s styled whirly pop among the multi tonal sound spectrum. Each and ever one a bit of a corker in its own right and hell – we’d love to waffle all day about them all – but hey dinners on the table and record piles are screaming for attention so a brief indigestible précis follows. Leading your set with the crooked as f*ck Dan Deacon is always a safe starter, we reviewed this schizoid honey way back at missive 126 – well I say reviewed – hell we needed shots to peel us from the ceiling and even then had to do the review while tied up in straight jacket while the record played 7 houses down the street just in case we got over excited again – bit of a gem, wired and bonkers fair dues – but still a gem. Boom Bip – sadly no info other than to say this was culled from their ’sacchrilege’ EP which by all accounts is a bit of a nugget, anyhow think Herbie ’Rock it’ Hancock meets Time Zone to beat up Freeeze. Matthew Dear doing his best late 70’s David ’I’m fucking weird me’ Bowie vocals atop a dinky melody that bizarrely – and er worryingly sounds like FR David a la ’Words’ with 10CC on hand to do pristine celestial bound harmonies – taken from his much raved full length ’Asa Breed’ which damn it we’ll have to add to the bulging list of must have releases. Afraid to say that Alex Delivery is artist / ensemble that sadly so far has managed with much aplomb to avoid our hi-fi – ’komad’ is a sunning thing of buckled beauty – for the best part a dark psyche shocked shanty liberally swept in a strange aural array of creaking rusted swings and looping beats and drones that after a few melodic facelifts ends up sounding overall like early Danse Society boogying with Clock DVA with a particularly artily minimalist Art of Noise daubing in the grey bits. Then there’s the dusty drum ‘n’ bass dub aftershocks of the superbly chilled ’Cosa Nostra’ recalling the mighty Dreadzone as though in a pistol pulling face off finale with Depth Charge. Fans of Muslim Gauze will warm to Hey O Hansen’s ’Europe is no fortress – Europe is an island’ – think classic Adrian Sherwood going head to head with Barry Adamson crafting out a head buzzing mantra like Eastern Bazaar – killer stuff – think we need to hear more – a son. Needing something to drive you all the way to distraction and back again then Siriusmo’s warped electro funk soup ’discosau’ should fill that need – looping beats, cat sounds (kid you not), fried electronics and old discarded 70’s styled riff samples – absolutely daft but devilishly addictive – fans of Earsugar’s more out there moments may well swoon. Blimey its been a while since we heard anything from the Tigerbeat6 stable – DAT Politics’ loon skewed bubblegum pop punk noise core digitalis laced fried jamboree ’step back’ is quite possibly the most accessible thing we’ve heard from this eclectic imprint. Elsewhere there’s a precociousness about the skewiff celebratory treats that Gustav carve out that recalls a very youthful Bjork although obviously being stalked by the Polyphonic Spree while the delightful igloo pop of Run_Return’s ’tributary’ is a sleek rustic electroid cutie that taps into the same wavelengths as the much loved d_rradio and Arthur and Yu’s ’the ghot of old bull lee’ sounds like some vintage apparition crafted by a Meek produced Everly Brothers with Lonnie Donegan pretensions lifted from their ‘in camera‘ debut for the Sub Pop off shooting imprint Hardly Art which I suspect needs further investigation. All this and goodies by Born Ruffians, DNTEL, Yacht, Thee More Shadows, Height, DJ Rupture Vs Filastine, Scuba and Afterdark. Damn they are spoiling don’t you think?

And staying with the music press if you happen across the lower shelves of your local newsagents you’ll see a pretty nifty and wonderfully packaged 4 track clear CD with a copy of the NME hanging of its arse – featuring 4 remixes of Bloc Party’s current chart bound sound ‘Flux‘ – fuck me went all 70’s Radio 1 there for a second – which should be available from all good record shops and a fair few bad ones we suspect – mention no names – Woolworth’s, HMV oops.- anyhow four buzz sawing electro retreads are yours there for the taking features killer cuts from JFK, Punx Soundcheck, Metal on Metal and in our view the best of the bunch Good Books numb star gazing workout kinda Swimmer One meets Birdpen. Doesn’t end thee pop kids – if you pop the said disc into your PC you get a video type thing of ’Flux’, photo galleries of their Icelandic jaunt, a chance to enter a lottery to win tickets for their invite / fan only secret gig next month and a dinky piece of U-MYX software that allows you to do your own remix of Flux – we made one a little earlier and showcased to amused (and terrified) passers by whereupon one hapless wit was heard to ask ’what’s that mate?’ ‘flux’ we said beaming from ear to ear to which the reply came ’your not kidding mate’.
Albums that are currently turning our heads – of which you can expect reviews imminently – we promise J

Montag ‘going places’ (Carpark) – a sugar rushing symphony and quite possibly a late entry for album of the year

Sailplanes ‘sailplanes (Self released) – killer debut full length from London based three piece think of a almighty mix tape of Peel shows 1979 – 82 with bits of Sonic Youth tagged on and some long forgotten shambling accents – check out

Khaya ‘is/are/was’ (SL)
Valley girl ‘glamorous world’ (sick dog)
Wholeskymonitor ‘bland bland bland’ (firebomb radio)
Bela karoli ‘furnished rooms’ (beta-lactam ring)
Ivor the engine – original television music by the Vernon Elliott Ensemble (trunk)
Anaemic arch (self released)
Yeasayer ‘all hour cymbals’ (we are free).

Various Artists ‘anthems from the phantom’ (Phantom Power) – 14 cuts collected, tailored and sent packing to delight your hi-fi from those dudes over at Phantom Power home of the excellent Balor Knights, Screaming Mimis and Repomen – here you’ll find tasty tuneage from Plans and Apologies who kids will be massive if there’s any justice in the world, Lard pony – whose album we’ve been meaning to type a review for – sorry guys – killer pop stuff all the same, Beangrowers, delta sound and pete green plus more.

Another comp that been turning our heads is Hassle Volume 1 from – er – Hassle records – stonking collection of misbegotten misfits including the Silicon Vultures (see below – somewhere) – just wait though until you hear Fucked Up and the insanely addictive Untitled Music Project cuts – oh yeah and the Gallows.

And literally just in as we were wrapping this up – the totally insane and weirdly worrying and wonderful world of Neil Burrell comes to haunt, romance and frankly do your head in via his debut full length ’white devil’s day is almost over’ for Akoustik Anarchy – you have been warned.

So as promised the long overdue and promised bumper missive which apart from being a 50 plus record feast all wrapped in a thesis styled 25,000 wd epic of badly drafted and written meanderings – yep you’re right we have no social life the CD’s and records won’t let us out into the normal world – is being split into several parts otherwise the bulk off it would fall off the arse end (damn – I hear you saying) opens with the welcome return of one of our admittedly favourite obsessions…

Schizo Fun Addict ‘Dream of the Portugal Keeper’ (Bracken). We were going to include this last time out but seeing as we already had one Bracken release featured in the shape of the amazing Aritomo whose ‘we become the cloud….’ really needs to be checked out before any of you get any much older – then we thought hell it would seem like we were spoiling you. With a tantalising limited sunburst vinyl edition of their fourth album about to see the light of day shortly – entitled ‘the sun yard’ the follow up to 2005’s rather inspired ‘the atom spark hotel’, this softly serenading three gem nugget reveals a shift in perspective for the Schizo Fun Addict sound. Not so damaged and deranged as previously evidenced between the grooves of the more fractured ambitions of the aforementioned third full length, instead ‘dream of the Portugal keeper’ is a liltingly forlorn end of summers past echo to the late 60’s flower pop scene, described in the press release as ‘indie bossa nova shoe gaze’ which frankly though we’ve tried we can’t better – that said what we will add as further testament is that this silkily delicate treat takes its reference markers from Camera Obscura, L’Augmentation and Oddfellows Casino and weaves the ingredients into a deliciously fading beauty peppered with a bracing trumpet appearance by Roberto Muolo that casts a wintry hue upon the pastel laced setting of heart stopping serenades provided for by the lovelorn sweetly glazed boy / girl harmonies and tumbling cascades of pastoral prettiness that trickle with lazy eyed sereneness from this aching gem. The flip side features ‘traditional’ which many of you may well more readily recognise as the coda that featured throughout Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘Scarborough Fair’ itself finding its origins dating back to medieval times, in recent times its been covered by a wealth of artists existing at polar ends of pop’s great firmament including Sergio Mendes, Martin Carthy, Bert Jansch, Nana Mouskouri, Queensryche and more recently by the Stone Roses on ‘Elizabeth my dear’. Left to their own devices the Schizos work the classic score into an unhinged and haunting twanging lysergic moocher providing along the way evidence indeed that they haven’t quite yet lost that knack for throwing you onto the back foot just when you thought things were getting a little comfy. ‘Jenny Says’ rounds up the pack – record observers of these ramblings may well recall that this lost gem initially appeared on Death of Fashion’s essential full length ‘hello movement’ (their ‘these days’ debut also happened to feature in these very pages at missive 69 – Ed!). Originally penned by the Schizo’s – so in effect this is a cover of another bands cover of their tune (getting terribly confusing this) – ‘Jenny Says’ is reclaimed from the clutches of Death of Fashion (whose own version we noted at the time as sounding not unlike Link and Duane shimmying up to JMC) to be superbly re-aligned and tweaked to sound not unlike the Modern Lovers with a bad case of the Velvets with the Flaming Stars stumping up the riff struts. Has to be heard. We eagerly wait with baited breath for that vinyl full length. For now though deputy single of the missive.

Cardiacs ‘Ditzy Scene’ (Org). Let me just say that the minute this arrived in our gaff it was immediately banged on the hi-fi with the volume cranked up to overload much to amusement of the neighbours who for six minutes had their tranquil no work today Saturday morning regime corrupted by the impish delights of new ear gear from the Cardiacs. Unless of course you’ve be blighted with being in a coma or else have been just listening to the wrong types of records and music then the Cardiacs will need no introductions. They are one of those bands for whom the word ‘genius’ is not lost whilst arguably responsible for unwittingly forcing upon the nation Supergrass who it appears have forged a profitable career in ripping them off (only kidding lads) and the Pixies (just check out ‘Surfer Rosa’ kids – if you play it backwards you can hear the undeniable ‘we love the cardiacs’ mantra festering between the groves). Without doubt the most criminally overlooked band of the last 30 years what with all this nostalgic fondness for rooting out lost causes from the past and elevating them to the heady heights of mover and shaker – ville – the Cardiacs are routinely denied the kudos they so richly deserve, instead they have become a cult phenomenon that, for want of a better description, has spread with cancerous glee. Limited to just 1,000 copies and sure to sell faster than your ‘fuck me what was that’ disbelief upon hearing it ‘ditzy scene’ is the bollocks. A crooked carnival of lysergic sound, a surreally fried musical opera whose roots are snared in the kaleidoscopic states of the Pretty Things psyched out ‘S F Sorrow’. Within you’ll encounter a bewildering smorgasbord of reference points and styles shoehorned for your discerning delight – art pop, prog, pie eyed psychedelics and just good time wilfully obscured wig flipping annoyance all converge to coalesce into a mind melting maelstrom of fractured intent that manages to submerge and weave into a kaleidoscopic dreamcoat elements of Barrett era Floyd, the Move, King Crimson, Quickspace and Psychic TV while simultaneously providing a one stop shop as though all the best elements found on those Nuggets box sets had somehow been purified, melted down and pureed into a seismic slice of tripped out oblivion. As though it could be anything else – single of the missive (and perhaps the year I’m willing to bet).

Never heard of Zeppelin ‘Is in business’ (metal postcard). Wired official debut outing on the informed and highly relevant Metal Postcard imprint for Brooklyn based fly in the ointment frazzled pop pioneer Alexander Bryan AKA Never heard of Zeppelin. Information is annoyingly scant though self described as ‘8 bit punk’, Bryan pile drives through a four track set in the most schizoid and obtuse way imaginable, coming across like a damaged and partly deranged Daniel Johnston armed with reclaimed spectrums and casios (we assume) though peek a little closer and you’ll hear the distant echo of Half Japanese buzz sawing between the sheens of fuzzed out bliss. As said four cuts feature on this EP – twisted slices of battered and buckled and caustic candy pop is what’s on offer, ’this song’ in particular taps in to the whole spite laced no wave mindset of the Voidoids albeit rattled together on a seriously patchy shoe string production – and while he might be a little behind the game in terms of peers Zea and Atari Teenage Riot the totally fucked up ‘popular demand’ serves more than adequate notice that here is an impish mindset whose not quite ready to throw in the towel just yet. In terms of sound Never Heard of Zeppelin see saw ominously between scantly spiked sparse minimalism and impending breakdown, this mutant hybrid of punk and post punk austere electronics mainlines into the same veins as were once occupied by the likes of the Normal and Cabaret Voltaire though served up with a brittle part psychotic edge. All said and done though for our money ‘here to stay’ proves to be the cherry pick of the set – a kind of evil Beastie Boys with unresolved issues if you like. And it doesn’t end there those wanting more may well do themselves a favour or three by hooking up to where through some careful navigation you’ll be able to download for gratis three EP’s worth of tasty electrified buzz pop in the shape of ’dance, dance devolution’, ’covering you is sleazy cos you’re beautiful’ (just check out the awesome day is done’) and ’all business’ – the latter of which appears to be sample cut ups of old radio and TV spots interspersed with the usual buzz sawing anti pop – we suggest you rip ’top 8’ for starters and the frankly queasy ’jesus christ….’ which those with long memories of 70’s children’s TV culture may well look upon it as an insipid Double Deckers gang gone God. Nevertheless strange things await we suspect.

Beneath Fire and Smoke ‘The Iceberg Waltz’ EP (Battered Ornaments). One of life’s great disappointments – ell for us at least – is that somewhere along the line we appear to be a bit light in the Battered Ornaments releases order of things, sure we got the Wolf People debut ‘October fires’ – frankly without doubt one of the releases of last year (we just discovered the imminent release of their ‘storm cloud’ twin set due next month) but then we’ve missed out on not only a brace of releases by the Laughing Windows but the debut offering from Beneath Fire and Smoke. That said we are it must be said likes pigs in shit over the arrival of this gem like creation, Beneath Fire and Smoke is the gloriously warped folk project of Peter Hedley, four tracks feature on this strictly limited 500 only 10 inch hand crafted vinyl oddity. Both enchanting and hypnotic, Hedley’s strange woodland odyssey offers a rarefied glimpse into a timelessly magical world, these four suites appear like thought long lost dusty relics of an age long since past, radiating a warmth and a curiously alluring charm Hedley applies both electronic and classical string disciplines to create a hazy almost kaleidoscopically off centre landscape, recalling the finest of the early career Constellation roster – Set Fire to Flames, Sackville et al as though transplanted in some strange travelling sideshow of late 60’s acid folk freaks. The wonderfully airy ’Smoke and Flames’ opens the set, freewheeling amid looping pastoral mantras and weirdly wandering violin / flute virtuosos through the initial confused and dislocated day breaking, yawning and stretching opening sequences this soon evolves into a homely feast that one suspects fans of Terrascope and the like will demurely dig – a kind of shy eyed Polyphonic Spree tinkered and touched by the celebratory magic of the Earlies. Slowly building in measured stature the sparsely woven ‘songs from a slipway’ courts with an almost regal yet traditional Ukrainian folk accent while the closing ‘so it came to pass’ is succulently threaded with a Brontean piano canter that finds itself liltingly fleshed out by the weaving delicate shimmer of ghostly noire-ish string serenades which to these ears had us recalling Big Eyes yet for us nothing quite touches the untouched beauty of the title cut ‘the iceberg waltz’. Sitting somewhere between Broadcast and L’Augmentation this frost tipped slice of refined and majestic cinematics with its chimes and church like key motifs is a deftly drawn classically eyed treasure that obits in the milky star lit folds of Stereolab’s more cosmic inclined voids found within their ‘Cobra’ set while simultaneous laying claim to some distant blood line to Add N to X’s ‘the regent is dead’ from their (much loved here) ‘Add insult to injury’ full length which all in all I’m sure you’ll agree is worth a peak at the very least.

Outfit Faux ‘we the people’ (artswa). Now we pride ourselves on our honesty – sometimes we are so honest that it gets us into trouble, and well if not in trouble then it has the effect of making us appear like complete twonks. Case in point is the debut single from Outfit Faux (don’t worry they’re not the only casualties of this show of incompetence – you’ll find Purist Spiritual Pigs, Zebedy Rays, Sugar Drum and worst of all – the absolute near perfect Lily Green suffering similar fates though happily at long last featuring some here in this particular missive). How we missed Outfit Faux’s debut four track EP in the first place can only be explained away by the fact on that particular morning a month or two ago perhaps we were wanting to drive our normally dull journey to work into oblivion with something skull splitting – and well Outfit Faux didn’t quite fit that bill. Instead this trio craft out exquisitely softly delicate slithers of uber pop that’s tempered with a beguilingly breathless caress and a long lingering purr brought about by an aromatic marriage of drifting harmonies, pristinely cured sun kissed melodies and a wonderfully serene glazing that coalesce admirably into revealing a slender heart hugging impeccably majestic song craft that those among you with a fondness for all things Pellumair may well swoon for. With a mix of the arresting and the memorable opening cut the honey tipped ‘crossed fingers’ sumptuously arcs and flits beneath the defences radiating a warming romance as it gently scrambles the senses with its overtly vivid cocktail of disarming beauty and twinkling exuberance freewheeled by the appearance of crystalline riffs and lid back bliss fuelled cocksure vocals. The gorgeously carefree ‘all and sundry’ tumbles and treads amid cascades of gently rambling acoustics whose main remit it would appear is to silkily fill you with a fuzzy glow while the parting ‘fool’s talk’ possesses the same mercurial and wayward pop prowess as befitting New York’s Ambulance LTD care of the fact that it side winds and terra forms deliciously from a slow burning gem into a crushing nugget in the blink of an eye. Though that said it’s the angelic ‘we the people’ which knocks us bandy and sees them upping the tempo. Shimmering stuttering rhythms cast a strobe effect to the proceedings whilst bathing the listening space with pockets of day-glo effervescence all the time endowing the experience with a hazy shoe gaze presence that demurs with a refined anthem like glow. Nuff said. Buy.

Stoney ‘Jailbird’ (Sonic Roar). Already the source of much fevered whispers and excited chattering amid the word of mouth brigade as proven by the reaction to last years low key release of his debut full length ‘the scene and the unseen’. For someone who it can be said has been hiding his light beneath a bushel Mark Stoney can count the likes of the Artic Monkeys, Guy Chambers, Rick Rubin and so it seems the entire length and breadth of radio land as admirers. Happily the album has been re-licensed and at last given an official release, by way of a taster comes this four track release ‘jailbird’. Okay we’ll make this simple – the reasons you should buy ‘Jailbird’ (and if so minded and flush with readies – the aforementioned ‘the scene and the unseen’). It’s clever. It’s melodically astute in a way that fans of the equally clever and astute Epicycle will appreciate. The songs are primed with more hooks than a Japanese fishing fleet. Its infectious. Audacious. Catchy. Cute. Its laced with the type of (not overtly) saccharine pop thrill that made you in the first instance want to buy records as a nipper. It’s the bollocks – and huge dangly ones at that. Still not convinced eh? ’Jailbird’ features twice here with a ’restyling’ provided courtesy of Camp America, one of those tracks that literally terra forms whilst cocooning itself and oozing a pristine pop precision and prowess. Revealing a propensity for mixing up styles and textures this EP cleverly captures three of the many facets of Stoney’s song craft – ‘Jailbird’ providing a devilishly hook bound slice of princely pop invested with vocals that at times recall Bret Anderson (kid you not) albeit transplanted on to a mindset fused with psyches’ of Divine Comedy and the Lightning Seeds. Elsewhere the strangely lysergic though gorgeously lazy and spongy ‘good timing’ provides for a wayward slice of goofiness that imparts a curious slacker-esque and seemingly irrefutable feel good trippy vibe. Yet despite the amorous overtures of the lead cut for me personally ‘round here’ is the overarching nugget in waiting. A bourbon soaked dusted down arid blues bruiser with Ry Cooder inclinations from the outset that soon picks up pace and gets it shit together in fine style to come across like some meeting of minds between RL Burnside and (early career) Steve Earle replete with side winding motifs and fraying electronic squiggles.

Nato ‘ballroom dance with angels and demons’ (rising). Battle scarred, blistering and bludgeoning metal headed boogie that sounds like it was posted straight from the bowels of hell itself. With a debut full length ‘kill the fox to foil the plan’ currently curdling in all essential record racks across this fair and green nation, ‘ballroom dance with angels and devils’ torn from that sets umbilical chord is a festering display of apocalyptic angst and searing menace riddled angst. Armed with a suffocating razor sharp underpin this speed freaking bastard is drilled with the kind of demonic vocal that would give the likes of Carcass and Nepalm Death nightmares while amid the furnace of shot through sonic assaults the punitive growl of skin peeling classically abridged white hot metal accents freewheel their brutal bravado. ‘Last Goodbye’ is equally laden with doom lashed brutality bearing a full on assault of crusading chorus’ of see-sawing needle sharp riffmanship while the parting ‘my cortina tragedy’ is invested with a smoking dream like sequence displacing the unrivalled carnage elsewhere providing evidence of their more playful and hitherto softer side.

My Alamo ‘1994’ (seventh star). Stunning in a word, well at least the b-side is anyway. We swear we’ve featured these youngster before in these pages but buggering hell can we find the review or the CD – can we hell as like – so much for our super duper chaotic filing system which involves CD’s being found floor space where that is floor space still exists. Anyhow rambling on their – back on track for a second. My Alamo are a South Wales based quartet who to their credit are about to post (according to early indications) a well acclaimed self titled full length around about now. Culled from that album ‘1994’ is a bit of a ripper, crunching hooks, an anthem like dynamic thats sure to please the MTV loving community and a chorus so insidiously catchy you’ll need medical attention to remove the bastard as it seeks to claim squatters rights and party hard when you least expect it. However it’s the attending flip cut ‘doctor doctor’ that had us swinging with wild abandon from the rafters. Thankfully not a cover of the insipid UFO song of the same name from years back, instead this punked up nugget sounds like some kind of mutant hybrid DNA crossed beast made up of the best elements of Nirvana’s ‘slither’ and their (superior to ‘bleach’ – the session outtakes bootleg) ‘Wipeout’ while blessed with a killer roller coasting melody that just begs you to don your imaginary air guitar and frug out big time. Absolutely recommended.

Tom Hunt ‘Perry Flat’ (self released). Another release we must admit has been snoozing for a fair while in the singled out shed of sound for slightly longer than we cared. A rather (it has to be said) wonderful five track debut outing for a young singer songwriter by the name of Tom Hunt who armed with the softest of vocals, an acoustic guitar and the liberal use of electronic backdrops has crafted out (what once heard may just blow a few of you away) a strangely alluring collection of pining pastoral gems that skip curiously between lilting summer breeze and darkly absorbing shades of tranquil bliss. The slyly woven ‘perry flat’ pens the set, a delicately worked tinderbox of lullaby-esque delights tingling and twinkling amid streams of fireworks, clockwork rhythms and a gently looping acoustic refrain which had us recalling J Xaverre while the romantic wash of the slender ‘suffer in love’ has more than a whiff of Denver about its wares whereas ‘colours in my head’ radiates seductively combining delicately picked cascades of rustics sweetly tempered with a good to be alive feel good aspect. However it’s the latter part of the EP that reveals the true becoming talent of Hunt’s song craft. Herein the CD’s mood takes a u-turn from the mantra like ‘untitled epic’ onwards, not so dissimilar to the compositional attention to detail as applied by the Owl Service and EPOK, this gracefully carefree and longingly sumptuous gem taps directly into the medieval May Day ritualism of the rustically hued nature bound backdrops that weaved hypnotically throughout the soundtrack of the cult film ‘Wicker Man’ only to dissipate half way through for a brief but bewitching moment of sparse solitude that once fulsomely equipped emerges as a richly vivid knee slapping rural hoe down of sorts amid whose grooves we swear we hear the faintly audible murmur of Steve Earle’s ‘copperhead road’. ‘pictures on the wall’ wraps up the set and perhaps provides the collection with its crowning centrepiece, haunting and yet elegiac it takes it cue from the intro to Zeppelin’s ‘Stairway to heaven’ – ushering in a church like resonance and a captivating spellbinding gaze this sheathed from the light honey creeps and crackles with stealth like cuteness to wind its way beneath your defences – resistance is pointless. Absolutely recommended without question – go to his my space site at and rip the homely yet drift some ‘pills from the end’.

Zebedy Rays ‘Religion’ (little hellfire). Call it senility brought on by old age or the cold weather affecting our usual level headed incompetence but I’m pretty certain that the little hellfire imprint has something to do with the much loved in the parish Filthy Little Angels organisation – who while we are about it we recommend you check out their rather stunning free download ’Filthy little horror show’ which features a galaxy of acts that you‘ve probably never heard of all boogying hard to their re-treatments of a chosen cut from the cult ‘Rocky Horror Show‘ soundtrack (which Woo in case you were wondering we are half way through writing up about). Okay we appear to have meandered somewhat here – where were we – ah yes – Zebedy Rays. Now I’ll start by saying that we kinda screwed up with these kids a while back when they sent a long a much loved (three track) demo which then promptly disappeared into the place where CD’s here seem to have a knack of running to for safe cover. If I’m honest the same fate nearly happened to this cute twin set until we noticed a degree of restlessly in the CD mountain to which on further investigation we did notice said disc kicking several lumps out of a Sugar Drum CD (incidentally another release which till now had gone walkies and which before we even reviewed has been mentioned twice already in this missive). Anyhow this lot hail from Worcester and number in three. To their credit they craft frenetic spaz pop of the type that’s unruly, audacious and frankly irresistibly infectious. With a total disregard to bandwagon hopping and fashion markers the Zebedy Rays occupy a musical universe solely of their own making, no-one quite sounds like them – well that is if you don’t count Popular Workshop who themselves seem keenly adept at carving out dislocated ditties at the drop of an hat. To describe the Zebedy Rays sound is to say they incorporate a wealth of unrelated musical styles raging from spiked up punk laced with intricate jazz codas to wilfully acute angular art pop motifs routed with unfathomable math rock computations, in some instances it’s a sound that’s not so dissimilar to the type found emanating from the early 90’s post grunge american scene such as Trumans Water and the like. ‘Religion’ from said two tracker is a corking corrosive pie, stuttering rhythms, melodic cul de sacs, combination riff jabs and rapid fire surprise attacks are the order of the day that together crookedly coalesce into a punctuated zig zagging stop / start wig flipping frenzy that doesn’t so much concern itself with the obligatory intricacies of verse / chorus / verse but rather more prefers to poke you in the eye, make your ears pop and kick your arse big time as it races in hop, skip and jump formations towards the finishing line. Flip side features ‘2.16 and wondering’ – more cutely eyed indie thrill pop that on this occasion sounds not unlike the Weddoes with serious issues packing a fragmented mindset and frankly alone worth hearing if only for the gratuitous yelps 3 minutes in – does it for us. Soon to be your new favourite band.

Imperial Leisure ‘In a letter’ (Org). Not content with already serving up a blistering broadside beauty in the shape of the Cardiacs as well as a stunning split release Herzoga and To the Bones, perhaps of one of the finds of the year comes courtesy of the rampantly infectious Imperial Leisure. Apparently this London based 10 strong ska fuelled hip hop collective have already garnered themselves the reputation of being the band to see right now, possessing an unnerving street savvy they’ve been known to do the odd guerrilla gig or two as well as posting up DIY videos recorded via mobile phone on you tube as well as blowing the entire Reading festival line up away with their appearance last minute impromptu appearance at the sites car park. Displaying a rapid fire exuberant sound which describing would be to say imagine a face off between the Two Tone old guard and ‘searching for the young soul rebels’ era Dexy’s with Pigbag on hand crafting out mexicana infused brass fanfares and John Cooper Clarke hastily scribbling the lyrics and Bad Brains overseeing the melee. Limited to 1000 copies and sure to sell out of pre-sales alone, ‘In a letter’ is furiously catchy, a bit like an itch you can’t scratch or a seriously bad case of funky bug bites this exhaustive anti-love cutie is packed with so much urgency and energy it leaves you breathless as it races through with g-force velocity amid an enviable volley of fast flung rhyming couplets, old skool scratchin’ and blistering brass underpins. Similarly infectious the saucy and sassy ’the landlord’s daughter’ sounds like prime time Terry Hall and Co being served with electric shocks while ’the beast’ (the best thing here incidentally) is a seismically scorching sugar twisted sci-fi b-movie babe replete with twangs galore mainlining on the impish mindset of the Cravats at full tilt which once heard this riotous nugget will drive you to distraction hosting 24 hour parties in your headspace. Perhaps the most crucial band around right at this moment – the revolution begins here.

Matt Eaton ‘The Village Bear’ EP (Drift). Quite ruddy sublime is you want my honest opinion. Not content with being festooned with kudos galore for his Actress Hands work (and who incidentally have a rather spiffing full length doing the rounds right now in the shape of ‘Boy needs Jazz’ – which when we get our arse into gear we shall be praising from the highest CD piles in the land – oh alright then – from the singled out record hut) this debut solo sees Mr Eaton branching out for a spot of extra curricula past timing. With an album already in the can entitled ‘Finnish your Chips’ (due on the streets in March) the download only ‘the village bear’ EP serves as a superb taster for what’s to come. Comprising four tracks Eaton flexes his muscles to craft a gorgeously freewheeling set of
sugar popping Americana basked and bathed in the warmly radiating glow of tingling West Coast accents servicing honey crusted morsels of cruise controlled power pop. Appealing in the main to lovers of ‘Durable Dream’ era Moviola, Summer Hymns, Beachwood Sparks and Teenage Fanclub, ‘the village bear’ set provides for a mix of introspection and unfailing homeliness the latter of which in the case of Eaton hasn’t been the real deal of late following his relocation to Bisley having found himself the victim of Brighton’s success and as a consequence its escalating house prices and cost of living. ‘Too scared to fly’ opens the EP a kind of maudlin resigned to his fate opine configured around a tongue in cheek tale about the fears of flying – love the references to not being able to smoke in enclosed places while the slickly svelte melodically astute ‘time aside for stories’ with its lightly breezy countrified tugs is succulently decoded with a low light shimmer that soon sparkles and splutters into effervescent life with the arrival of the superbly chorusing sun soaked buzz sawed riffs. The lovelorn and tenderly conceived ‘Your left’ the EP’s parting cut is a deliciously lilting hazy hued babe hooking slyly into worlds more commonly associated with Buffalo Springfield and Gram Parsons while it’s left to ’reasons rarely ever allowed’ to provide the set with its most defining moment which without putting to fine a point on it is akin to imagining the sugar spun soft topped power buzz of Kevin Tihista re-arranging and re-calibrating some hitherto studio recordings culled from a chance meeting between a particular laid back and chilled Sonic Youth and Sugar all replete with a killer kick back that trails off the cut to its conclusion. Gem like. There’s also a superb label taster about to do the rounds entitled ‘the drift collective’ that features 11 to be loved and cherished gems from Devon’s finest imprint including aside Matt Eaton’s ‘too scared to fly’ outings for Birdengine, Monk Jack Deer, Tandy Hard and the absolutely awesome The RG Morrison whose ’I Meadows’ is alone worthy of the entrance fee.

Nex ‘tick’ (rising). Huddersfield based metal head quartet with an unerring knack for annoying and amazing in equal degrees, maybe its just me but inside their allotted 3.33 groove space Nex rally hard into trying to shoehorn everything from unabashed anthem derived power metal, apocalyptic annihilation and er – comedy – albeit in the unlikely shape of gnarled rap. Incorporating the best and worst excesses of heavy rock of the last 30 years – Saxon, Europe, Maiden, Whitesnake, Ozzy – oh the list is endless but I’ll leave it to you to pick out the good from the bad. A strange blending of the ‘beggars opera’ and ‘Pinocchio’ set to searing needle worked riffs, Nex employ a fair degree of tongue in cheek to their armoury that at least is refreshing to the genre given that most of the stuff that crawls out of the doom laden pit of neu rock (or whatever its called this week) seems intent on dragging you by the hair on a carthorse fast wheeling to the bowels of hell and beyond. Comic asides sadly become wearisome two or three listens in which is why we suggest therefore that you quickly flip the disc for the far superior twin set of the live acoustic cuts ‘the worm’ and ‘the hand that feeds’ both basking in a maturity that far out strips the lead cut with the best of the two proving to be the latter cut a touchingly frail and bruised beauty that perhaps reveals amid the ensemble someone more than a little admiring of Queen’s ‘A kind of magic’. A self titled debut full length i8s currently rattling the crap out of our hi-fi which we heartily recommend you seek out.

Albatross Conspiracy / Tam Rush ‘Split’ (Field). Okay this cutely tasty affair pressed on seven inches of loving wax is we believe ultra limited to just 100 copies which given we have 1 copy means there are only 99 left in existence. The first of two featured releases in this particular missive for the Nottingham based imprint Field whose marketing line appears to be to provide a ‘home for dysfunctional artists…’ which frankly is mighty fine in our books. Albatross Conspiracy – great name – is the solo project of a certain Tanya Byrne who in a previous musical life as a member of Maybeshewill (another band ho seem to have fallen short of our usually keen eyed radar). Think FortDax harnessing and mellowing the frail tearful timid torture of the achingly majestic backdrops as provided for by Shady Bard into some beautifully free flowing cinematic experience is I think the best way to describe ‘fall’. Braided seductively by a cantering piano motif this scintillating gem of rarefied classicism lilts, caresses and teases with the kind of after the storm breezy calm more associated with godspeed to turn in a brief and bountiful idyllic moment of beauty in a world of ugliness. Flip over for the equally alluring ‘let’s get things straight’ by Oxford based artist Tam Rush who aside being busy putting the finishing touches to a proposed film project soundtrack ‘nos vies extimes’ is also nearing completion of a full length ‘waking in her mind’ for which this cut serves as a taster. Much darker and scarred with a sense of Hitchcockian tension than its attending flip partner, ’let’s get this straight’ provides for a slice of frayed and fractured ambience that’s not unlike Add N to X meeting John Carpenter with Goblin tweaking the tape controls, desolate and disarming this lonesome lunatic suite steadily builds in stature upon a beautifully looping key motif upon which the chatter like beats and sweet discordance happily exact their noire-ish nightmare. Essential in a word.

Atlantis / Karhide ‘split’ (Field). Second featured release from the small though obviously perfectly formed Field imprint, again an ultra limited 100 only 7” split this time featuring Dutch musician Gilson C. Heitinga (Atlantis) and ex Ann Arbor member Tim Waterfield (Karhide). Culled from his recent ’Carpe Omnium’ full length, Atlantis stump up the feedback laced neo psychedelic space grooved ’this is heavy’ – a glorious manifestation of towering hazily glazed dream pop that succulently dips with deft clarity between slithers of stately resonant 70’s styled mind warping ambience a la Floyd with the mercurial side trimmings of Porcupine Tree that assumes for the best part a jaw dropping celestial Cathedral like grace pierced by cloud howling stratospheric braids that soon unfurl in effervescent sheens of bliss fuelled white noise that recall early career Flying Saucer Attack. Quite stunning if you ask me. Albeit more refrained and less monumental in terms of sonic execution, nevertheless prepared not to be outdone or outshone Karhide’s ’Ride’ over on the flip sees Mr Waterfield armed with only his trusted laptop crafting out a beautifully down tempo canvas upon which a flirty side winding riff nuzzles and noodles away seeking sanctuary beneath your defences, ushered along by tides of monastic elegance in the shape of droning feedback manipulations this delicately balanced morsel sumptuously trips the wire between noise and pastoral tranquillity to eke out a vividly enticing aural landscape whose tempered shoe-gazed bliss a la My Bloody Valentine is sweetly honeyed and harnessed and served up as a delightfully spongy and trippy montage that to these ears had us recalling Discordia and early career Toshack Highway. Another winner then from those Field dudes and again another simply essential platter.

Waiting Room / Giveamanakick ’Split’ (Road Relish). Another label previously unknown to us until now that is and two more bands who appear to have so far escaped the amorous overtures of our (so it seems) lazy radar. 500 numbered 7”copies are out and about of this rather tasty split release – and one hopes they are doing brisk business in record world. The first of a brace of releases from the Irish imprint who appear to delight record racks across the nation every few months with a choice cut split releases which to date have seen outings for the likes of Adrian Crowley, Joan of Arse and the Chalets to name but three. This particular release sees Waiting Roo and Giveamanakick sharing the enviable honours. This cutie originally saw the light of day in 2004 and we swear we have just picked this up from Cargo so for once we are totally blameless for the lateness to this. Already proud parents of a by all accounts devilishly good full length entitled ‘catering for headphones’ via Out on a Limb, Cork’s Waiting Room appear to excel in crafting out pristinely perfect prime sliced pop at the drop of an hat ‘Denis’ despite being criminally brief and over in the blink of an eye is an overwhelmingly beautiful sugar burst of warmly radiating fragile and frail tender pop, delicately recalling the timid daydream appeal of early career Mum and Animal Collective only to transplant that mindset into a shimmering indie pop harness of chiming guitars and heart hugging loveliness which fans of Hey Paulette may well swoon to. In sharp contrast flip the disc for the fuzzed up buckled blues of duo Steve and Keith better known to record shops and live venues as giveamanakick. ‘let god touch your children’ is a hi-fi humping gnarled growler of some measure, grizzled and as heavy as f**k spliced with a head jarring spanking frenz like jolting underpin and a ripping riotous bent out of shape blistering and grinding spazzed out glam rock coda – I kid you not – with a healthy serving of nods aplenty in the general direction of early career Mudhoney. You have been warned.

Palm Springs ‘I start fires’ (Random Acts of Vinyl). Somewhere along the way this Brighton based combo have managed to sneak out four releases when our back was turned – much – it has to be said – to our annoyance – all culminating in a by al all accounts treasure of a full length ‘no hurt like a broken heart’ earlier this year. Decorated with swathes of arresting heart heavy string arrangements and revealing a tempting melodic sensibility that has the ability to crush and celebrate with deft simplicity, ‘I start fires’ is a deliriously happy / sad extravaganza of prickling perfect pop dutifully adorned with a fetching and welcoming glow that’s cut to the bone with the unfailing tread of optimism against adversity, one minute crest fallen and abandoned the next euphoric and rising high, this fulsomely colourful carnival of sound touches, teases and tears away at your resistance to radiate a candy coated elegance pitted with the same lump in throat forming mastery as akin to Dream Academy being asked to score a musical backdrop for Yuletide. ‘twilight of a star’ over on the flip side is a wonderfully conceived homely slice of wayward lazy eyed bluegrass inspired campfire prairie folk that possesses a gorgeously off centred inebriated trippiness that liltingly bathed amid corteges of steel guitars. A bit of a treat if I’m honest. Breathless stuff.

B C Camplight ‘Suffer for Two’ (One Little Indian). Every so often in the pop’s great universe strange melodic manifestations journey through the usually settled stasis momentarily causing it to wobble on its axis as the fleeting invader passes non-chalantly to carefully navigate through the debris of bandwagons and last week’s fashion fatalities. ’Suffer for Two’ is one of those rare momentous occasions, like a shooting star or an eclipse if they were a daily occurrence you’d tire fast of them but as they aren’t they’re held like a precious event, so to then with this little nugget in isolation a truly rarefied pop treat though exposed too much to its saccharine delights one would imagine bellyaches for all and the threat of rotting teeth. Culled from his (sadly unheard here) acclaimed ’blink of a nihilist’ full length B C Campfire (Brian Christinzio) goes in search mining for certifiable pop gold and returns with rarely seen precious stones. To adequately describe ‘suffer for two‘ is to have you imagine a mid 70’s setting wherein Gilbert O’Sullivan, Alan Price, Supertramp and Sparks all find themselves sharing the same table at a bar around the corner from their favourite studio comparing notes initially trying to gain bragging rights before deciding to pool their resources to craft a silken sugar symphony whilst quickly cobbling together a time tunnel ray gun to fast forward through the years straight into the living room of Neil Hannon and persuading him to have a tweak at the mixing desk duties. Blessed with a lazily hazy and sponge like inebriated groove, this daft and dandy pop donut mainlines on mid 70’s styled MOR airwaves, cutely corny and crooked and deliciously awash with string cascades and the kind of sun drenched harmonies trademarked and copyrighted by the West Coast. In other words quite irresistible.

SafetyWord ‘Pope Joan’ (Static Caravan). Limited to just 400 copies and housed in a hand stamped wood cut sleeve there’s a strange voice in the head panicking ‘get off your arse and get one now’ – and we have no reason to disagree because in the best tradition of Static Caravan’s house trained ensembles of the passed – and here we are talking – Shady Bard, Tunng and d_rradio to name but three – these will fly like the proverbial sh*t off a hot shovel. We owe SafetyWord an apology we feel – because they sent us a copy of their stonkingly handsome ’man’s name is legion’ which although we did happen to mention in passing in these very pages some months ago we then let ourselves down miserably (we feel) in neglecting (foolishly) to actually afford it a full review (of course we will remedy this glaring oversight very shortly). The obscurest odd pop of ‘Pope Joan’ is a strange baby, irregular time signatures and when we say irregular we mean the type that sound like fluttering heart murmurs, part math funk wired through with the faint though ostensibly audible ingredients made up from elements of pre post punk angular art goo that sound in truth not so dissimilar to the quieter more obtuse moments found within the Playwrights back catalogue, of course it’s a reasonable assumption that there’s no doubting that the SafetyWord occupy a unique aural world whittling crooked sound hybrids that on this occasion comes across like an experimental early career Talking Heads blissing out on some strange bent out of shape Beefheartian tampered Brechtian inspired Bowie phase. Compulsive listening though understandably you’ll wonder why exactly. Flip the disc for the bizarrely haunting and beguiling ’dandelion clock’ – kind of Pavement meets Gorki’s with a dusty sepia tinged noire-ish monochrome sheen that suggests its fallen out of Frank Capra’s attic, a crooked kaleidoscopic kindergarten waltz invested with homely Inkspots styled harmonies the type of which each time you play it you’ll keep expecting the steady flurry of snow flakes to begin descending to festoon your listening space with a sentimental festive card scene glow. Between you and me a bit of a gem all said and done.

William D Drake ‘Earthy Shrine’ (sheBear / Onomatopoeia). With a career stretching back some quarter of a century and one time sparing partner for a certain Tim Smith during his time with the Cardiacs (see above) there are few artists around presently who can match the formidable and varied output of the workaholic talents of Drake. Even this far in to his career he still isn’t content just yet to settle down and plough one chosen musical furrow, instead aside collaborations, guest appearances (the most recent being with North Sea Radio Orchestra last year) he’s even found time this year to release two albums each individualistically showcasing his love for classicist piano playing (’yew’s paw’) and as a full on rock pop combo front man (’briny hooves’). Courtesy of the same label that brought back into the public conscience those impish and hugely underrated space cadets they came from the stars, I saw them this sumptuous quartet of multi faceted gems dips into both of Drake’s musical worlds additionally featuring two unreleased cuts from each of the albums sessions. ’Serendipity Doodah’ opens the set a kookily lysergic hued crooked carousel of sound classily dipped in all manner of soft psyche treatments and nuances while flightily eschewing a head warping surreal pop dynamo (and getting a second reference mention this particular missive) sounding like Alan Price eking out a trippy music hall styled Tom Robinson rummaging around in the withered acid fried mindset of Syd Barrett with a bonkers as hell twisted and psychotic Cockney Rebel for company. Fans of the elegantly lush laden symphonies crafted out by Ooberman especially via their snow kissed ’running girl’ full length from 2001 will swoon to ‘sister to the night’ – this honey crusted teaser, sveltely swept amid gentle corteges of waltzing strings, cantering keys and sweetly beset in twinkling daydream facades more commonly associated with the respectable Oddfellows Casino woos, romances and haunts within a mercurial wintry wonderland of noire scored pastoral delights – gem like in a word. Flip over for a brace of delicately spun piano suites, the sugary bright eyed breathlessness of the exquisitely turned ‘the kissing song‘ and the refined and elegant ‘kiln‘ with its cleverly cultured pre electronic obsessed Raymond Scott accents make this indeed the most perfect and deeply engaging of releases.

Madam ‘Calling for Love’ (Reveal). Assembling a posse of pale riders to aid her cause, Madam are hired hands led from the fore by Sukie Smith a raven haired hustler. ’Calling for love’ acts as a taster for her forthcoming full length debut ’in case of emergency’ – a curdling western voodoo that mooches amid a hollowed and unwavering snake winding arid landscape braided by twangs and sun scorched death rattling chord atmospherics all the time silkily shimmering throughout the parched spectral abandon the cleverly applied dark / light double tracked vocals of Ms Smith purr and haunt with nonchalance emitting her shaded opining love notes like a bad girl Nancy Sinatra though possessing an alluring feline vulnerability rarely heard here since Tanya Donnelly a la Throwing Muses, Breeders, Belly – the latter two of which this shares vital signs with. Kinda classy all said and done.

Rhys Marsh and the Autumnal Ghost ‘I will find a way to reach you’ (self released). Absolutely gorgeous is I think the best way to start in describing this fragile beauty. We tumbled across Rhys’ my space site a few missives ago (missive 133 in fact) and were literally blown away by the mesmerising entwinement of symphonic classicism and noire-ish folk nuances. That said such measured elegance should come as no surprise to fans of the late and lost Mandala whose tantalisingly spectral delights captured within their extended play collections ’before memory’ and ’tears of a thousand angels’ (see missive 99) where timelessly statuesque works of such tear forming bleak sweetness that any foolhardy attempt to settle down and navigate throughout in one bold attempt bore the potential health warning of supervised counselling afterwards. Now relocated to Trondheim, Norway and adorned, aided and abetted by the select and svelte intonations of the six piece multi national orchestra the Autumnal Ghost, ’I will find a way to reach you’ / ’Spoken’ provides Marsh and Co with their first fully realised shy eyed outing into the world of pop. Quietly demurring, ’I will find a way to reach you’ from outset starts to work its spell weaving magic, delicate and unassuming it occasionally unfurls momentarily to blossom into a vividly preening beauty before shyly withdrawing in on itself all the time the measured elegance tweaked and pinched by a dulling sense of unshakeable winter set sadness that aligned to Marsh’s richly hushed vocals – themselves sounding remarkably like a loose limbed and longing David Sylvian – ferment splendidly to join the dots between Oddfellows Casino and Nick Drake. Lulled by corteges of achingly frail strings ’Spoken’ over on the flip is seductively sparse in contrast courted by the haunting onset of refined interweaving near neo classical / church like harmonies that although irrefutably timeless appear oddly out of time and yet embrace a feeling that this is something enchanting, engaging and far beyond the acknowledged remit of pop and instead rather more a gloriously noire invoked cuttingly bleak but beautiful overture that in these days of here and now urgency and greed is I’m sure you’ll agree a most rare commodity – handle it with care.

Spilt Milk ‘Frank’ (Happy Release). Okay this cutely contagious knock on your front door and run tin of wildly happy jumping beans isn’t officially out until after the festive season though it wouldn’t surprise us in the slightest if from between now and then it gets to hog the airwaves at every given opportunity. Third release from the Happy Release pop stable following much loved outings from Molloy and Dirty Hands comes via Bromley in the shape of Spilt Milk whose debut visit to pop world ‘Frank’ is as ridiculously catchy as a grade one listed airborne virus and positively sprouts with sun bathed happiness, comprising of a cute ear for a tasty toe tapping tune this buzzing beat pop jamboree is cut from the same skittish upbeat optimism as found on the Housemartins ’happy hour’ though on this occasion all decorated in a strangely crooked feast of xylophone chimes, needling codas and la la la chorus’ – will be dug by those mourning the passing of days when pop records used to talk to you and in some strange degree replay your life like a soundtrack instead of today’s sloganeering for effect brigade who seem intent on dictating – classic indie then packing humour, hurt and happiness almost in the same groove. How clever is that? ’Little habits’ features over on the flip – in our humble opinion the better of the sides mainly for the fact that its so skewif and seemingly without form sounding like some strange dislocated post math shambling babe thsts been shipped straight from the scene defining mid 90’s Chicago set not before getting itself a rather nifty west coast tan – the kind of thing that the late Mr Peel would have hit the repeat button for.

March Violets ’Cut down pretty’ (pre release download). Well we’ve spent the last 10 minutes picking ourselves up from the floor – not once but twice (in the last quarter of an hour). The first cause for us falling arse over tit was getting an email from March Violets guitarist Tom Ashton dropping by to say that the band had uploaded a new cut ’Cut Down Pretty’. Well bugger me – we’re still reeling at the prospect that the band are getting it on for a one off gig at the Leeds Metro Uni on the 8th of next month (which incidentally news of which had had us some weeks ago falling off our perch in a rather unspectacular manner). And now a spanking new track – something tells me these blighters are teasing us – and just to add to the fevered anticipation those purchasing tickets for the show will have the option of getting their paws on a whole CD’s worth of new stuff. ’Cut down pretty’ is the Violets like you’ve never heard them before, built over snake winding trip hop beats (we kid you not). Messrs Denbigh, Garland and Ashton don the Velveteen shades and leathers for some seriously lean and chilled mooching action, stripped to the bone and packing a hazy psyched out groove ’Cut down pretty’ sleazily prowls with a sleek reptilian repose amid backdrops of squalling floor rupturing lock jawed looping feedback struts upon which Rosie Garland applies her seductive lovelorn potion across a faux Siouxsie / Nico arabesque mantra that intertwines sumptuously with Si Denbigh’s cool as f**k eyeballing and circling overhead carrion hunter vocals – best filed alongside those superb People’s Revolutionary Choir releases. The track can be heard and downloaded as a high quality MP3 via while those among you wondering who exactly the Violets are / where check out though frankly you ought to be ashamed of yourselves either that or you’ve been reading the wrong music papers – for now joint deputy track of the missive.

Jon Redfern ‘Can’t take the heat’ (Reveal). So far the becoming charms of Mr Redfern’s debut full length ‘may be some time’ have somehow managed to avoid our turntable which I don’t mind telling you now is causing a fair bit of anxiety in our gaff, that said we at least have ‘can’t take the heat’ to partial fill the gap and those hitherto pangs that fear we are missing out on something rather special. Formerly a member of Tarras who again much to our embarrassment passed us by without so much as a ‘hi, hello, goodbye’ this collection sees him going it alone in fine style, ‘can’t take the heat’ culled from that aforementioned full length is a delightfully nuzzling gem, all at once strangely frail yet vividly luxuriant it possesses a quietly demurring winter hued sheen that softly you beckons you slyly demanding your undivided attention, as though waking from slumber this shyly shaded string laced piano led beauty shuffles idly with an unmistakably dulled and fragile sense of despondent inward hurt that in many ways had us recalling Archer Prewitt – set to what sounds suspiciously like the underpinning guide line coda from the Cure’s ‘lullaby’ and sympathetically counselled by the emotion buckled serenade of a lone violin pining in the distance this little wounded honey might just break a heart or two once heard.

Yellow Moon Band ‘Maybach’ (Static Caravan). Xmas well and truly arrived early at our gaff earlier today – a small but well formed package from the Static Caravan headquarters had us with much fevered expectation as though a child eagerly eyeing foil wrapped presents decked out at the foot of a Christmas tree. Inside a copy of the Ass debut via Head Spin imprint which on further investigation I guess can be considered as some form of preparatory homework given that Ass will shortly be making their Static debut with a split release with Blood Music. Elsewhere there was a copy of the limited to 500 ‘Binary Oppositions’ compilation which is released to tie in with an art exhibition currently on show until January in Brescia, Northern Italy. The compilation and art exhibition are an attempt to showcase the ‘symbiotic pact between audio and visual art forms’ and is lavishly housed in packaging designed by the Outcrowd Collectives Ben Javens. On the CD you’ll find a whole host of tasty tunes from the likes of Magnetophone, Broadcast, the Young Baron, Seeland, Pram and Misty’s Big Adventure to name but a few. Elsewhere on the listings roster and the cause of much baited breath, the coming weeks will see Static releases from d_rradio, dream of tall buildings, Inch Time, Men an Tol and the near perfect Shady Bard. Between then and now though the second outing from Its Jo and Danny’s side project Yellow Moon Band. Not strictly out yet for a few weeks (date TBA) if you’re lucky enough (collectors alert time) you might be able to track down two ultra limited pre release packages of this three track cutie coming replete with what’s described as a ‘harvest kit bag’ – one in an edition of 25 only the other in 50 – both with differing catalogue numbers – we haven’t a clue which one we have – all we know is that its green and as of now has been filed away in the singled out safe to be exchanged in years to come for readies to supplement – we assume – a non existent pension. Any way we’ve waffled on enough – back to Yellow Moon Band – regular observers may well remember (or may indeed not) recall us beaming enthusiastically about their debut ‘entangled’ (see missive 116) well their back with three more slabs of what perhaps can be best described as tantalising away from the madden crowd stoner folk babes. The hazily grooved ‘maybach’ opens the set, a primed and potent faux fringe flipping kraut rocking instrumental laced up with corkscrewing struts that sound like they’ve been whipped straight out of the arse pocket of Jimmy Page’s book of bliss out blues by Mountain and deftly squared with a decadent retro cast that appears to have been imported on a tripped out late 60’s magic bus all cosmically tailored and tweaked by an insanely addictive Hawkwind underpin. In sharp contrast the acoustically spirited ’Folly’ opts for a spot of breezy maypole carolling which older Static fans may well swoon too and as a result of which may well go digging around to unearth those all to crucial old school Tunng releases that they have snucked away. For us though the sets best moment arrives in the shape of ’Focussed’ – possessing something irrefutably wide open, liberating and pastoral, this slender and meandering free spirited spot of bewitchment has enough vintage early 70’s accents about its wares to suggest its been scented and sourced with classic era traces of Dandelion, Vertigo and Island while simultaneously casting nods in the general direction of Buffalo Springfield, CSN and to a lesser degree serving it up with math / prog undercurrents a la King Crimson. As ever you need this.

Chiara L’s ‘knives’ (this is fake diy). Second featured release in this particular missive for the This is Fake DIY imprint this time a download only bolt from the blue – eye pokingly poptastically cute as a brand new shiny brass button – blimey I better stay off the smarties – had a bit of smashey and nicey moment coming on there. Welcome return to these pages of those spiky starlets in the making the Chiara L’s who still number in three hail from Leeds and it seems refusing to let up their insidious knack for belting out chicly caustic head drilling gems. Briefly mentioned in passing previously (see missive 133) whereupon we were much taken aback by their ‘bad hair day’. ‘knives’ their official debut following appearances on the ‘fresh, weird and wonderful’ compilation via Pistol (which we really must remember to check out) as well as wrestling their way onto the cover mount of the latest – and dare we say – spankingly good Sheffield based fanzine Thee Humbug where among the cream of need to be heard talent you’ll be treated to the bands demo version of ‘odio’ (see missive 138). Though we’ve said it previously ‘knives’ offers further proof that these austere laced aural assassins are hot in pursuit of the equally cool as f**k Maudite Dance (nee the Clerks) – this caustically lined slice of brittle bubblegum pop comprises a tightly wound shock treated intricate post punk riff needlework bolted fast onto a throbbing death disco underpin over which femme lead Chiara whoops, soars, hops, skips and jumps with all the girly impetuousness of the Waitresses whooping the back side of the Shangri La’s. ‘Kate’s Kid’ over the flip is a more measured affair revealing the bands determination not to snared with the one trick pony tag, off set with a displaced pop thrill this little gem of infectious delight splutters into life ducking and weaving between moments of razor like dream pop, spatial atmospherics and robust toe tapping beat pop – comparison wise think of an edgy early career Darling Buds mixing it up with the Heartthrobs. Expect great things.

Hybernation ‘Snow Cover’ (Rednetic). We can only imagine that those tasty dudes with an ear for the rather special and spectral over at Rednetic records are secretly locked away in an underground bunker chemically culturing a cheeky army of mood manoeuvring melody musing nanobots. Having already serenaded us with the recent Shreber Harper Mole Flying Machine ‘bloom’ set now arrives a dinkily demurring 32 minutes six track suite from Hybernation or as he’s better known to friends and family Stuart Bowditch. Refined, elegant and fragile these porcelain sculptured night sky cosmic carousels exude a frozen state of majesty that eschews sometimes a solemn introspection (‘acorn’) at others Eastern styled lonesome lunatic lullaby montages speckled with corteges of squelches, crackles and fizzes (‘pm/am’ a reworking of Lightning‘s ‘ambient mayhem‘) or the minimalist cyborged futuro funk of ’planet, oth’ – a beautifully conceived set that tempers its moods and vacuumed exploratory excursions into stately equipped pristine notebook symphonies. The gorgeously willowy ’rociruces’ an eavesdropping gem tapping into star bound binary conversation with deftly delicate precision unfurls into a tender picture box of night time story telling for the Clangers that invades the same lilting not of this world fragile simplicity of early career ISAN / Plone all the time softly building in texture and stature as though thawing from deep freeze. Darker and hitherto more adventurous and perhaps all said and done the best moment here is the ominously shadowy ‘felion’ a delightful atmospherically chilled slice of pulsating dream woven looping mind melting mechanics that veers ever so slightly into the outer territories of drum ’n’ bass via Wagon Christ albeit wired into some strangely dislocated aural wasteland cultivated by Art of Noise and Yello while its left to the orbiting ’ 011001 (December mix)’ to tuck you up, bid you farewell and bring closure to proceedings with its daintily colour rushed becalming bed time treat. Quite a special thing if you ask me.

Derrin Nauendorf ‘Shipwrecked’ (Rising). Already generating much chatter amid mainstream radio world following his well received live session for BBC Radio 2 little over a year ago, the Australian singer / songwriter Nauendorf now relocated to the UK has to date have been building a steady fan base, across the four corners of his native country he travelled in a beaten up post office van from out of the back doing brisk trade by selling his self released records. Having exhausted the festival circuit’s his career highlight so far has been to support Van Morrison. ‘Shipwrecked’ culled from his forthcoming commercially available debut ‘that rattling wheel’ features two previously unreleased gems and serves warning notice of a becoming star on the country folk rock firmament. Applying clever lyrical interplays (‘shipwrecked’ being a cleverly guised metaphor for better to have loved than to have never have loved at all), Nauendorf casts stones of stunning richness into the heady pools of pop, across these three tracks (arguably perfect for listening to while driving with wild abandon on a free open route way in a slick open top) don’t be to surprised if you hear the distant calls of Dylan, Springsteen and a youthful Steve Earle (especially on the sun blistered nostalgic barn busting hoe down ‘dance steps’) filtering through the melodic ether within the vibrant haze of Neil Young styled motifs. The aforementioned ’shipwrecked’ especially is routed in classically styled 70’s era Young accents gloriously coalescing into a wide open oceanic daydreaming sweetie that seductively charters musical map references more commonly associated with the likes of the World Party. Though for us the best of the set is without the live solo acoustic rendition of the achingly bruised and reflectively frayed ’my enemy’ which unless we are very much mistaken is a bit like having your heart anchored heavily by a two ton weight. Stunning.

Captain Phoenix ‘Loneliness’ (Grand Canyon). Another welcomed return for an ensemble who’ve graced these pages one or twice this year already (see missives 118, 127). Captain Phoenix have been one of the finds of the year, dispensing with any bandwagon chasing or engaging in attaching to the weeks latest fad, they have instead proven to be one of those rare creatures whose collective remit appears to be to concoct melodically adept nuggets that drag you from one end of the emotional spectrum to the other in the blink of an eye, ’pistols and hearts’ their last outing surely has to be up their as one of the classic debuts of the year (or for that matter any year) and just begs to be heard. ’Loneliness’ originally featured on an advanced showcase taster issued earlier this year providing evidence enough that not only did this lot have the aural ammo to engage all on comers but that they also possess a debilitating knack for eking out crystal cute beauties that crush just for the fun of it. ‘Loneliness’ is a certifiable jewel in their crown here accompanied by the additional nakedly damaged acoustic version which if anything manages (what was first thought impossible) to cut deeper than its full blown electric sibling, this sharp as needles precision cut heartbreaker is a real wounding wonder scored through with see sawing riffs and the kind of inescapable heart hurting bitter sweetness that’s usually reserved for slushy black and white weepies. Flip side features the equally emotion scarring ‘peace of mind’ which decorated by a deliciously bright eyed chiming snake like riff has you pausing for a moments reflection to craftily dig you in the ribs and lay you low amid it reflectively dulling ‘things can only get better’ optimism while serving a well aimed kick up the backside with its torturously tasty tuneage. A whole albums worth of gems currently lies in wait in the shape of ‘life, temper, riot’ due, one suspects, to break hearts and cause much swooning in equal measure this coming January.

Department S / Terry Edwards and the Scapegoats ‘Split’ (Sartorial). And here’s something a little special. The first in a planned series of corking split releases this one marking the first vinyl appearance in over 25 years for the newly activated Department S who older readers may well best remember for their early 80’s hit ‘Is Vic there?’. The story goes that the remaining members of the band (their enigmatic front man Vaughn Toulouse sadly died in the early 90’s) where invited to appear at Bowie’s Meltdown Festival and cut such a much talked live set (doing Bowie covers by all accounts) that they decided to see if they could get it on in the studio. Featuring Beddders from Madness fame initially cut at the peak of his early 70‘s powers Alvin Stardust’s immortal 50’s wrapped glam cut (incidentally a favourite of Toulouse) is spliced through with a dirty Bolan-esque growl atop an Ants / Glitter styled double tracked tribal drumming template with Edwards left to braid the cut with his trademark sax squall a la classic era Roxy – killer stuff. Rumours abounds that future Dept. S recording will feature both the Wolfman’s Marco Pirroni and the Pistol’s Glenn Matlock. Flip the disc to find Terry Edwards and his Scapegoats doing a deliciously dirty skanking retread of Bowie’s ‘Cat People’ which alone deserves tuning into just to hear Edwards’ explosively fried sax shrieks – the former Higsons man hasn’t quite sounded this on fire in a fair old while we suspect. Pressed on red vinyl and in limited quantities – bet you want one now and why not – don’t blame you.

Silicon Vultures ‘Silicon Vultures’ (Captains of Industry). Exactly how we have so far managed to avoid or miss the Silicon Vultures is something of a mystery that may well keep us awake at night for a fair old while yet. This spiteful and chaotic 5 track puke ridden slice of vital vinyl saw the light of day earlier this year – we managed to nail a copy from those kind dudes over at Cargo a day or three ago and have to admit since arriving in our record collection this riotous baby has been squaring up to all and sundry. We haven’t a clue where their from, in fact there’s bugger all information about them aside the small detail that there’s four of them – but hell what a dastardly racket they make, honed with a life threatening frenetic urgency they beat to a pulp a buckled brand of caustic hot rod noise core that taps not so obviously into the world of Atari Teenage Riot et all but rather more into the festering oblivion of the Ministry a la c. ’Jesus built my hot road’ and welds on to it a ferocious hard core garage punk trimming that could easily pass itself off as a precocious Queens of the Stone Age lamping the crap out of Monkey Wrench. ’Incest wounded nun’ opens the set a frenzied white out of squalid uncouthly wrapped rampaging riffs and crooked synth mayhem over which the deranged vocals of Delaney shriek and howl as though undergoing some cruelly essential shock treatment. ’Howling stallion teen feast’ just weeps carnage through its grooves, a b-movie gore fest of monochrome minimalism the Spartan sights trained on the chirpy chirpy new romantic scene of the 80’s – think early Clarke / Depeche Mode or Landscape dragged headlong through some menacing art pop axe attack and shredded amid a gruesome meltdown of skewed needling riffs and life threatening anxiety ridden claustrophobic glacial tension. The trash happy ‘sour tits’ with its post punk austerity recalls a would be fist fight between the Fire Engines and Clock DVA while ‘born heaven for the vampire set’ (where do they get these titles from we wonder) is a disease ridden slamming no nonsense do it yourself trepanning experience without anaesthesia leaving the rough as a bear’s arse lo-fi lunacy of ’D.U.T.F’ to menacingly wrap up the set and send you packing with the dread feeling that albeit rough around the edges and a bastard to dance to that all the same you may just have heard one of the debuts of the year – had Peelie still been around he’d have adopted the blighters. Joint deputy single of the missive.

The bands ‘Sour Tits’ features on the must have Hassle compilation ‘Volume 1’ which limited to just 2,000 copies all at a gift horse staring cheap price glues together 15 cuts from the likes of Untitled Music Project, the Gallows, Fucked Up, Hexes and the Cancer Bats – our order has been banged in – expect a hi-fi demolishing review in the near future.

Teedo ‘You are my girl’ (ICMB).Okay the name mightn’t mean anything at the moment but given time this multi national genre weaving collective may just in time prove to be a much needed fix on the hi-fi. ‘You are my girl’ is the Tokyo via Brooklyn 7 pieces debut release – a hot ‘n’ horny smoking street wise sassy uber soul bastard of a cut that taps deliciously into the headspace of early career Scissors Sisters and fleshes out the silken sophistication of the BDI’s (nee Panda Gang) seductive Smokey obsessed grooves into a finger licking sub six minute mutant floor growler. Braided with a whirring array of sugar rushing 70’s styled disco ball meets Wakeman / Rush keys, tightly coiled riffs hoodwinked from the arse pocket of T-Rex and blessed with imported west coast accents fed through the grooves of ‘Catholic Education’ era Teenage Fanclub and a vocal whose blood line traces directly back to Lloyd Cole, Teedo cleverly follow flight into aural arenas more readily occupied by the criminally overlooked Ambulance LTD as though transported into some strangely amorphic world that fuses soul / late night svelte disco aromatics and subtle shades of glam – quite possibly the sexiest thing in record world right at this moment. Flip side features more turntable tastiness in the shape of the tenacious twin set ’king of the world’ and ’shut the door on the world’ the former a key drenched smooching laid back slice of lights out MOR that sexily bucks and throbs like an all star studio shag fest between the Faces and the Stones while the latter a cool as f**k hip shimmying silken strut laced prowling babe bedded with effects laden crystalline new wave riff accents notched up to stun intensity. Essential in a word – perfect is another.

The Owl Service ‘Chime Hours’ (Hobby Horse). Not so much a review – well it will be when it arrives at our gaff and no doubt plays its way into our affections as all Owl Service releases to date have managed to do with some dare we say – measurable ease. Special mention for this one though because this was intended to be made available at a rare London appearance but due to pressing problems has missed the boat and is now available on a pressed to orders only strict availability. You can get it for the princely sum of £3 via – get yourself a piece of future collectability while at the same treating your listening space to some inspired and wonderfully woven classically set folk. While you’re there also check out the immense CD set ’John Barleycorn Reborn’ via Woven Wheat Whispers which we’ve just received from Peter Ulrich which even as we speak is getting much deserved love in our gaff.

Love Ends Disaster ‘Suzanne’ (This is Fake DIY). How they’ve grown, seems like only yesterday when their faltering steps were captured on the seismic debut ‘stories for the dislocated’ – comprising of a rapid firing five track poke you in the eye set that had us all a buzz with those rare occasional tingles that here as a band primed for future greatness. But that was some two and a half years ago. Then came the teething problems – ’Cut your hair’ as good as it was just didn’t fire the expectancy and ’ladders’ released earlier this year totally passed us by. So you can imagine the mix of elation and trepidation on receiving their current 500 only twin set ’Suzanne’ / ’Dinosaur’. If you ask me it seems Love Ends Disaster have navigated their way through the teething and teen years with much gusto, ’Suzanne’ meters out an urgency of growing maturity and in sharp contrast sounding more like a emotion stripping symphonic hurricane than their first steps angular selves from years gone by. Now ensconced on your soon to favourite label This is Fake DIY – the home to not only Bolt Action 5 but the mighty Chiara L’s (who download only official debut features elsewhere here) ‘Suzanne’ is all at once crushing, demanding and colossal – this chest beating blood pumping beast is equipped with a gasping for breath dynamic that’s anchored to the spot with veering riffs, anxiety hiking neck brace recommended velocity and the kind of storm lashed tempestuous grind that literally has you jaw dropped, stunned and frozen solid in admiration at the sheer visceral splendour of it all. Packing more punches than an after hours East End pub ding dong think prime time Wedding Present colluding with the bitter sweet kitchen sink sugar rushing effervescence of Pulp – and if that don’t convince is that a Theremin we hear in the background. Just can’t fail to get right under the skin and do some serious damage. Flip over for ’dinosaurs’ a lot looser and edgier this time around, utilising stop start rhythms and spiked with moments of rampant discordance and unhinged psychosis this apparently is a homage to Elton ’Frightwig’ John (well thats what the press release says – between you and me I think they are shitting us) – anyhow worth it just to hear the unravelling finale where things go all spectacularly misshapen in a Pixies meets Dinosaur JNR type way, in fact so god I think I’ll get a spare copy myself before I wear an additional hole into this cutie.

Black Lips ‘Veni VidiVici’ (vice). We haven’t a clue what weird sh*t passing for grass that the ‘Lips are smoking at the moment – but hell we want some. This blissed out softly stoned psyche skank nugget that ‘Veni Vidi Vici’ is so laid back and off of its face its almost comatose with casualness. Culled from the Atlanta based self described flower punsters fifth full length ’good bad not evil’ this wasted baby mainlines into the same veins as Brian Jonestown Massacre and proceeds to cruise across the hot dusty highway of pop along the way making routine breaks at the likes of the Velvets ’Sunday Morning’, Jonathan Richman, Joe Strummer and the Happy Mondays while finding itself laced sumptuously with some of the finest smoking acid dipped 60’s lysergic riffs you’ll hear this side of a Northern Star compilation. Flip over for more reclining hoolabaloo as Diplo get to work under the originals bonnet to give it a seriously wig flipped and tripping tie dye reggae / dubstep re-styling which frankly to these ears comes across like an middle eastern bazaar / Arabesque sounding prime time Clash which is a pretty neat stunt to pull don’t you think?

The Bobby McGee’s ’S’Amuser com des fous’ (Cherryade). …there are – it has to be said – none more stranger than the Bobby McGee’s for they craft crooked pop gems so ridiculously cute you want to kiss them just for the hell of it. ;S’Amuser com des fous’ (which according to the google language translator means ‘S’Amuser des crazy’ – why thanks for that – what a fat lot of good that was) features six misshapen affectionately tingling tunes that for all the world sound like they’ve escaped pre-school for an idyllic afternoon of impish tomfoolery and pranks galore (check out the deliciously daft a sweetly fluttering ‘Coalmine Kampf 1984 and see if we ain’t wrong) all diligently crafted and cobbled together by the bastard ‘reality gone awol’ offspring of the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band. Gorgeously flippant folk shanty teasers for when the pubs kick out crookedly beset with a becoming childlike simplicity and led from the fore by the twin vocal interchange of Jimmy (dark sardonic and deadpan) and El (chirpy dainty and obvious somewhere else either that or sky high on happy pills). Based in Brighton which judging by the amount of bands and records flying from that way appears to be the latent cultural epicentre of this nations pop conscience, the Bobby McGee’s race through a surreally engaging sextet of oddities in a blink and their gone 12 minute duration, set around El’s ukulele led playing there’s something waywardly life affirming about these curiously twisted treasures that recalls John Hegley’s Richman obsessed 80’s beat pop combo the Popticians (tune into the breathlessly skewiff ‘Au Suivant‘ in case you ned any further evidence), decorated in all manner of fetching twee styled kookiness these cute pups play peek-a-boo hopscotch across your hi-fi. The lightly flightily twinset of flutes and flirtatious banjos give the opening ‘when father died. Ferrets licked away the tears’ a strangely wonky half inebriated charm, a less caustic Vichy Government if you like dishing out delicious side servings of bizarrely becoming breezy lo-fi while in pass the parcel cuteness of ’Danny Baker / Bob Marley’ they stump up the season’s first Xmas record. Quite obviously bonkers yet nevertheless hopelessly affectionate. Strictly limited to just 1000 copies and all pressed up on blue wax – do you really need any more nudges of encouragement – I think not.

Candy Panic Attack ‘Fruit is nature’s candy’ EP (Cherryade). This time limited to just 500 pink wax copies – the second featured release from the rickety Cherryade shed of bizarrely beautiful pop thrills comes courtesy of the tenacious and damned feisty tri Candy Panic Attack. Already causing a fair amount of buzz after their appearance on the must have (and we will shortly) Leeds based Squirrel Records compilation ’nut boppin whoppers’ now comes their official debut (I think I’m right in saying) and damned fine it is too. Blending third generation punk (Expelled, Ejected, Partisans et al) and Riot Grrrrl (Period Pains and so on) these cuties stump up six short but bitterly sweet ditties of (from both sides of the fence) ‘fuck you love’ prickly buzz pop. Delivered with a certified do it yourself beaten out of shape throb and hints aplenty that these kids spend their free evenings around the hi-fi bouncing off the walls to the back catalogue of K records. Snotty nosed Candy Panic Attack are a throwback to the days of knock about kick back puking pogo pop – a time when both the bands and songs alike appeared to be more about the here and now could all go tits up tomorrow attitude rather than today’s long term careerist pension plan mentality. Charging out of the traps with much gusto as though on some urgent life threatening mission to deliver spiked mixer shots of humour, sarcasm and spite fuelled angst, the Candies are in truth not a million miles removed in terms of sound to X-Ray Spex albeit scalded with the unenviable thrust of Sleater Kinney and the crookedly insane bubblegum buzz of the Shaggs ’I didn’t do it’ in particular tunes into the blitzkrieg shoe shuffling stomp of the Ramones while impishly crafting out an answer / reply as were to Madness’ ’Shut Up’. Elsewhere there are tales of damaged love, hateful relationships and teen angst all shoehorned across six tracks lasting a heart stopping 8 minute in total duration – from the two chord chug of the hurting Jilted John-esque ’what’s he got that I haven’t?’ to the squaring up and in your face Vice Squad like ’heartbreaker’ though for us it’s the baiting rumble-tastic and deranged 55 second searing ’operator’ that gets our thumbs up, a charging 100mph frenzied row crookedly interspersed with lucid moments of honey combed harmonies, if that don’t slap across the head and jab in your eye in an attempt to rouse you from your lethargic listening habits then nothing will.

Both releases via

Superface ‘State your business’ EP (GrooveLaboratoryProductions). Damn we do indeed love this – since arriving on our doormat a day or two ago it had the mixed effect of both bugging us and having us partake in impromptu fits of boogie for which the latter was the cause this morning of us receiving a complaint letter from the council kindly requesting that aside the small detail of the upsetting spectacle of the boogie strides that we try to at least tone the colour of the pants we were wearing. No taste you see though we must admit it must have been a peculiar sight to behold at 4am in the morning. Hey ho. Anyone bit of a floor rumbling bruiser this, Superface is the brainchild of Leeds based producer / guitarist Robin Durbin who aside concocting a devilishly delicious stalkers theme tune in the shape of lead cut ’I can see you’ has managed to jam pack into so many reference points it makes your head hurt. Principally taking its cue from the Police’s ’Contact’ Durbin then sets about applying what can only be described as a coolly chilled and sassy loose limbed prime time Peter Gabriel like rock / funk gloss with slyly cured Rick James accents to the proceedings and then drops them into a deliriously decadent sounding 70’s sourced stew that craftily emits all manner of Floyd-esque nuances – has to be heard to be believed. Elsewhere there’s the super chilled down tempo smooze of the seductively string trod ’shine like a superstar’ replete (again) with neat Floyd mirages while ’night time lifetime’ hooks upon the mid 70’s Chic / Studio 54 for a spot of late night after dark sophistication. Those preferring their sounds a little buckled and wired funk grooved then the Beck-esque ’monkey’s gonna getcha’ may well see that that itch is scratched while parting shot ’feed me’ is a hot ‘n’ horny dirty slice of intoxicating desire laden grind that draws upon and fuses the best elements of INXS and Primal Scream. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

White Light Parade ‘Wait for the Weekend’ (Split). Like the cavalry coming over the hill – only this cavalry resplendently decked out with humungous anthems so blisteringly infectious they’re pre packed with their own course of jabs, riffs so sharp they could cut stone and the kind of fist clenching rallying call that has ASBO warnings stamped about its wares. There’s no doubting that the Leeds based beat pop combo White Lights Parade’s debut offering is a bit of turntable terror, importing a prime time late 70’s / early 80’s new wave mentality that jabs and shadow boxers amid a welter weight of tasty reference points – notably the Clash, Skids and Big Country – this chest beating slab of sub three minute throb pop is a defiant ode to the lie in, chill out and do what the f**k you like two day sanctuary from the drudgery and desperation of the working week (something that we hear fully concur with). Cut with a chorus hook that’d make the Kaisers weep in envy and grounded upon a foot shuffling spiked indie disco underpin dashed through with sky piercing which when all gathered up sounds to these ears like a killer paint bombing distant cousin of the Ruts ‘staring at the rude boys’. The weekend starts here. Flip over ostensibly more angular and agitated ‘riot in the city’ which unless we are very much mistaken sounds like some glorious McGeoch / Levine face off with classic 101’ers / Clash crossover era Joe Strummer leading from the front. Seek out and dance your ass off.

The Band of the Eye ‘dress down day’ (self released). Strangely addictive stuff from Bristol based grizzled power poster trio the Band of the Eye. Again another combo refusing to buckle to the ‘do you wanaa be in our gang’ mentality preferring instead to go off on their musical expedition. Three facets to their song craft are revealed here, ‘dress down day’ which in the hell hole we laughingly call the day time job happens to be a Friday whereupon every excuse is given (and they do believe you me) for people turn up for duty in the kind of fashion accidents that suggests either a) they wore it as a bet 2) they have an elderly relative so far removed from reality that the annual release day from their hermetically sealed padded isolation is spent purchasing things with such stomach turning brightness it puts the sun in the shade or else 3) this is what these people actually wear at home, home obviously being in cloud cuckoo land with all the other misbegotten freaks of nature. And we share the same breath as these people – kinda worrying isn’t it? Anyway we’ve rambled a tad – ah yes – the Band of the Eye – did we neglect to mention strange name for a band okay not quite up their with the Revolving Paint Dream or a threatening as Anal Beard (has there ever been a more insulting and horrifically image forming band name – don’t go there kids) but still – strange. Anyhow three tracks feature here admittedly with the lead out ditty ‘dress down day’ buckling against an insidiously fuzzed up needle like corkscrew riff that on any given day has a sense of Wipers vibed ‘bleach’ era Nirvana about it albeit fed into a becoming funky stew simmering on a back burner belonging to the Jane’s Addiction while elsewhere the parting shot the buzz sawing ‘why you are not so awful’ sounds not to dissimilar to early career Dire Straits (that is the Dire Straits years before they cut the woefully horrific ‘Brothers in Arms’ set which at one time found an unhappy in every record collection across this fair nation with the exception I’m resolutely happy to announce this particular one) tangling with the pub rock / Canvey Island set in particular Dr Feelgood. Though for what its worth the best of the set by far is ‘beatnik acoustics’ – which we’ll simply describe as trying to get you to imagine what kind of dusted blues derived country twang might manifest had you a green room space shared by RL Burnside, Ry Cooder and Ian Asbury – yep that good I’m afraid.

Champion Kick boxer ‘Candlepower’ (Thee SPC). Okay we are going to get in early with this one because there’s only 300 numbered copies of the blighters, they are all pressed up on 10 inches of wax and once word gets out about them they will fly from the pre sales racks like proverbial festive reindeer shit off a hot shovel. Five new cuts feature here – and lets say here and now – those who thought they had the measure of Champion Kickboxer – think again. In terms of musical growth this quintet of honey crusted shy eyed and homely gems reveals a sense of dynamic maturity that can only be compared to waking up as a pre teen and finding your balls have dropped, your hairline has during the night mounted with stealth like glee an advance to your chin and the floor has an uneasy knack of rumbling each time you utter a word. Getting the reference points out of the way is easy – think Shady Bard, Gorki’s and iLikeTrains overseen by Ooberman orbiting in some far off crystalline celestial glacial chamber transmitting spectral symphonies made up of cosmic honey comb that twinkle and tingle with classical majesty and repose. The shyly unfurling ‘Clouds’ opens the set amid a dreamily glowing floorshow of eerily vintage folk styled enchantment speckled delicately by the teasing tread of overlapping barber shop meets Gregorian harmonies (that these days only Circulus appear brave enough to tackle) arcing softly to chiming floret’s of heaven bound harp like shimmers that together elicit a divinely breathtaking silken suite. There’s an almost fragmented early career Gabriel-esque tonality to the hiccupping ’hole’ which follows in sharp pursuit to up the ante utilising the unusual art popping time signatures employed by the Playwrights on their less agitated moments while the lightly sprinkle of lilting pirouettes within ‘master of dancing’ which aside the flutter of a needling figurine guitar, shuffling drums and the frail underpinning key guideline finds the collective engagement of vocals alone crafting out the melody. Much recalling the tenderly woven and distantly reflectively nuggets prized out by Oddfellows Casino the sepia lined introspection of the fading pastel shaded ’photo’ is a softly wounded gem that appears initially to be held in some unnatural state of suspended animation, combining the collective mercurial qualities of both the aforementioned ’Trains and the ’Bard it soon begins to melt to reveal itself as an aching beauty of some measure. That said nothing quite touches the parting ’ice cubes’ in terms of refined stature and elegiac content, a fragile wintry picture book loosely woven with dimpled key swirls and a touching thoughtfulness that recalls Shady Bard’s ’Penguins’ make this shyly eyed timid creature the stuff that exudes a tear forming warming inner glow. An unearthly and elegant master class and with that the joint single of the Missive.

Pale day ‘Euro tramp’ (Ranggy Tanggy). Okay first things first – this is not our usual bag – in fact there’s not a scant angular riff, life threatening chorus hook or wonky moment with which to endear itself to us. In truth it’s a little over saccharine for our normal anything goes palette. However we aren’t so much removed from mainstream teen pop as to be able to spot a great hulking pop tart of a meteor fast descending upon itunes world when we see one – neither are we so switched off to note that this three track dance floor dynamo will shortly provide the backing soundtrack to a whole host of relationship blossoms and break ups and no doubt be a near permanent feature on the portable players of the youthfully spotty half of the nation with questionable attitude and musical taste. Produced by Geoff Pesche responsible for putting the gloss on Kylie and the Spice Girls (so immediately you’re on alert as to where we are going with this) ’Eurotramp’ is a boogie behemoth that threads a hot ’n’ horny floorshow of disco accents sourced directly from the 70’s and 80’s while diligently weaving chilled hi-NRG grooves with a throbbing Studio 54 sheen that braided with slender spun white funk treatments festooned with sweeping mirror ball strings – think Grooverider, Chic, Shakatak, Edwin Moses and Sylvester all salaciously strutting their thang. Elsewhere there’s the ostensibly chilled and sophisticatedly sassy ’bimbo (funky in your disco)’ to contend with providing a more svelte template to the proceedings while ’blue sky’ brings up the rear to go all strangely daytime Radio 2 on us with its optimist every thing is going to be okay Ronan Keating like drive time smoothness.

Claire Toomey ‘Found’ (self released). Croydon based singer / songwriter and before you all start reaching for a pillow to press over your face at the miserable prospect of another addition to the LDN collective – think again. Ms Toomey has been plying her trade now for nigh on four years in that time she done the obligatory local festival appearances (Guilfest, 02 Wireless), been a regular feature on BBC radio where she’s recorded several sessions and recently finished runner up in the best solo artist section of Clapham Grand’s esteemed Indy Music Awards. Several self released outings to date have quietly sold out of their initial print runs and word is fast spreading outside of the M25 exclusion zone as to the potential of this youthful musician. Anchored with the same rich tonalities as early career Tasmin Archer and as equally engaging as Hull’s star on the rise Emma Rugg, there’s much to admire about (the co-written with Judie Tzuke no less) ’found’ which is being pushed by a press statement as to the effect that 250 of these beauties have been somewhat lost and scattered to the (quite possibly) four corners of the world with Ms Toomey desperate to hear of their adventures are as implausible as rumours abound that Elton, Prince and Robbie are retiring from making ’music’ (sorry kids – I made that one up – call it wishful optimism – boy if only I had a genie offering three wishes). Anyhow this gorgeous cruising on the highway slice of drive time radio hugging acoustic folk rock slickly arcs and shimmers with an undeniable melodic astuteness that quietly ushers a sense of the slow to burn inwardly radiating an off road unassuming epic appeal that craftily knocks you on the back foot while setting within you an alluring glow of liberation while serving as one of those tracks that once heard lays tugging seeds beneath your skin that demand you hit the repeat button if only to assure yourself that what you thought you’d heard was in fact what you heard.

Kat Vipers ‘Hot Air Balloon’ EP (self released). Truth is that this isn’t the first time we’ve found ourselves musing over the eclectic and eerie myriads of melodic manifestations born of the pen of Kat Vipers, in fact we should and would have expressed overwhelming joy and undying affection in print for her 2005 outing ’mother superior’ had it not been for the fact that whether by cruel fate or hapless incompetence (our money’s riding on the latter) we managed to somehow misplace and invariably lose said disc and despite a succession of elite armed forces styled seek and search reconnaissance missions the blighter has remained in hiding refusing to give up its wares and secrets. Hence we nailed this 5 track baby to our foreheads the minute it arrived at the losing today listening camp thus ensuring this cutie wasn’t going to follow it sibling into hiding. To describe Kat Vipers sound is to start by saying its dark – not dark in the gloomy sense, but dark in respect of its uneasy alluring presence which like a moth to a light bulb draws you in with its passively dysfunctional charm, described as punk jazz which we cautiously adhere to ‘hot air balloon’ listened as a whole reveals an interweaving non genre specific creative freedom rarely countered these days from the chillingly enchanting shadow cloaking surrealist nursery like icicle ivories led parting shot ‘this is now’ – curvaceous, caressing and classically astute recalling along the way Serafina Steer to the avant garde Berlin-esque cabaret / freakshow fairground meets Brecht styled ’wasting time’ which superbly turns about face 2 minutes in to emerge momentarily as a beautifully bespoken child chorus line of disarming folk mirages. Elsewhere you’ll find echoes of the early Creatures template fleshed out on the mooching torch styled ’hot air balloon’ while the absolute gem like panic stricken staggered tempo of ’just like jerry lee’ craftily tunes into Kate Bush’s ’sat in your lap’. Though for me personally ’get a new dog blues’ frankly runs away with the set, a fog bound noire-ish creaking shanty chilled with a deathly aspect that weaves a supernatural romance to recall in the main ’swordfishtrombones’ era Tom Waits – spellbinding stuff – a very special and uniquely eccentric talent.

The Swankers / Atomic Suplex ‘Split’ (Death Pop). Those of you with radars acutely tuned may well recall us falling arse over tit in devoted admiration on accidentally stumbling across the Death Pop my space page a few weeks back (missive 142 to be precise), this London based imprint headed up by Becky Blitz (we suspect not her real name) is in its short infancy so far proving to be a much needed shot in the arm for the underground scene. While others are jumping on the merry go round and chasing the same quick buck returning ensembles, as with the likes of the esteemed and respected (here at least) Marquis Cha Cha and Art goes Pop, Death Pop is quietly going about in a manner befitting all classic DIY labels and extending the view finder above and beyond the cheap hype machine and attention seeking luvvies and in so doing is uncovering the misfits, the oddballs and the plainly crucial head turning talent that the underground scene has to offer. Already stumping up to their credit three long since sold out releases in the shape of Brain Washington, Carry on Satan Vs. the Electric Tumour and Rocktopus Vs. Thee Abbatoir (top name eh?) – all over which we’ve foolishly missed no doubt causing many a sleepless night until we have them in our mits and belching big time on the turntable – the next record rack rumbling outing sees a gloriously bad assed basement boogie face off between the Swankers and Atomic Suplex. Haven’t a clue how many of these babies there are about but safe to say they’ll sell out faster than sh*t of a hot shovel, the Swankers step up to the plate with the short, sharp and sweet totally radio unfriendly ‘fuck off’ – a total (and dare we say) much needed car crash of a cut that hones in on the whole shoe string and play it ineptly philosophy of the Mummies and still – to these ears anyway – sounds like a bastardised early career knuckle dusting hot-rod Mono Men backing a spiteful spat between the Babes in Toyland at their most unforgiving and a running for cover fast Suzi Q. Flip the disc for more riotous rawk courtesy of the scowling and totally mental Atomic Suplex, ‘atomic suplexed by a girl’ is so delicious dirty and sleazy sounding you’ll be hot footing it for a shower the minute its run its course and left your beleagured hi-fi in a state of nervous wreck – scuzzed up fuzzed up carnage that insidiously takes its cue from Bad Afro bad boys Sweatmaster as were with a hot poker shoved up their backside and taps into the early back catalogue of the greased up garage trashing unholy trio of Mudhoney / Halo of Flies / Dwarves. Absolutely essential sell a relative if need be – you need this.

Natasha England ‘Iko Iko’ (Platform). A little bit of explaining is I feel needed with this particular release. Way back in the mists of time – well the summer of 1982 to be precise – yea summer remember those more importantly remember when we basked in their hot rays during the months when we were meant to have a summer and not like these days for a brief blink and its gone two week period in early April and late October. Darn gone and done it again haven’t I – bad news this waffle lark – anyway where were we – ah yes ‘Iko Iko’. As said way back in 1982 released in the same week where two versions of the Dixie Cups credited Mardi Gras classic ‘Iko Iko’ (those wanting a full and detailed history of the song and its roots may do well to go to by the former members of the all girl Ska outfit the Bodysnatchers now resurrected as the Belle Stars and Natasha England. (England had previously been engaged behind the scenes her talent scouting laying claim to discovering acts such as the Darts and er – Chas ‘n’ Dave – which rather than chastise and throw mud in the direction of certain rags who’ve sought to have them re-invested back in our affection – I think is a thing best left unsaid – ‘Rabbit’ – do me a favour!). The ensuing battle for chart supremacy was eventually won by England, followed by a handful of minor hits and two albums a mix of personal crisis’ and lack of recognition from the media and press alike saw the music side of England’s life slowly take a back step towards the end of the 80’s. Returning momentarily in the 90’s again she was struck by a cruel blow by fate diagnosed with breast cancer – now fully recovered and currently busy writing material for a ‘comeback’ album due to see the light next year ‘iko iko’ serves as a timely reminder of what was and what still is. A ball busting 38 minute CD set featuring the 1982 original fleshed out by – count ‘em – 8 additional multi generic recalibrations by the likes of Rikki Rok, Julian Marsh, and Robert Logan, amongst here you’ll find the quick stepping calypso caressed ’power drive radio mix’ plus 12“ extended edit, the floor buzzing ’house radio mix’, the re-sprayed and trimmings equipped 2007 retread and a ‘midnight club’ which though I suspect not deliberately intended mainlines into those 80’s days of format wielding uber grooves though it has to be said our pick of the bunch is the hazy left field mechanically dislocated ’logan’s Budapest mix’ with its snake winding eastern bazaar charms – well tasty. or via

Tin Men ‘Parallel lives’ (NRONE). The first of a handful of tasty releases from the coming winter season collection of Norwich’s finest imprint NRONE. Admittedly this has been out for a while – in fact for such a while that we hear across the grapevine that their second single ‘tonight’ is due in a matter of weeks and given it’ll be a limited 250 only red vinyl affair then something to bang on that ever bulging Festive list that you have secretly stashed in your arse pocket. You won’t be to surprised to learn that we have in fact lost the press release that came accompanying this release so news as to special events and rare titbits about the band members personal lives with which to amaze your friends with are sadly non forthcoming. However its safe to say that Tin Man are blessed with an incurable knack of knocking out tunes that have a tendency to bite long after you’ve wrestled them off the turntable and filed them away in your record collection, by refusing to kowtow or jump upon any of the bandwagons currently rampaging through pop world they’ve managed to carve out their own niche crafting deftly woven slow to burn pop morsels. ‘Parallel lives’ features three cuts and the thing that really needs to be pointed out here is that each of these tunes bear no close melodic proximity to the others therefore revealing a rare talent for a band so young, the lead cut in particular cuts funk grooves with slickly sewn strut grinds that not for the first time this particular missive had us recalling the soul pop / new wave savvy of New York’s Ambulance LTD while cleverly working the odd straying nod to pre ‘Maneater’ Hall and Oates and the Average White Band. That said it’s on (in particular) ‘elephant’ and ‘while Rome burns’ wherein Tin Man really come into their own, the former a blood rushing slice of fulsome drama pop seductively spliced with a breathless array of racing dynamics, cantering key motifs and fist clenching intensity that builds step by step into a colossal melodic dynamo of some measure while the latter is a blazing power popping carnival of numbed and prickling effervescent laced widescreen grandeur that will in equal abandoned measure rise you on crests of euphoria and simultaneously drop you in wells of hurt awe.

Maths Class ‘Emporio Laser’ (Life is Easy). Simply ingenious. From the same imprint that recently stumped up crucial releases from Restlesslist and My Little Problem now comes the debut release from Brighton based five piece Maths Class. Don’t be fooled by the name – Maths Class are anything but math rock mixing up frenzied shock treated high wiring aggressive art rock formulas with a skull pounding dislocated death disco underpin these whipper snappers are rightly causing much fuss in their adopted home town. ‘Emporio Laser’ is out and at your from the word go, braided with a caustically styled panic stricken opening vocal salvo that recalls the Buzzcocks ‘everybody’s happy nowadays’ and pitted amid an intricate minefield of short ‘n’ sharp scalded quick fire lacerating riffs that sound for all the world like they were cut by a jigsaw wielding psychotic suffering with a bad case of the shakes, this grizzled babe doesn’t so much get under your skin but rather more performs a trepanning exercise and lays festering seeds in your psyche, acutely obtuse and urgent not so much infectious there’s no time for that its about you like a swarm – reference wise think Cravats, Fire Engines and Gang of Four with a truckload of early Touch ‘n’ Go grooves. ‘cushion glamour’ over on the flip is decidedly more playful in comparison, revealing as were their more skewif noise core personality, wonderfully abrupt and bringing with it not the slightest care for any notion of structure or form instead happy just to drag you by the hair with its blankly rampant wiring meltdown mayhem. Ones to watch e suspect.

You say party! We say die! ‘Like I give a care’ (Fierce Panda). Admittedly we nearly lost this in the huge ever growing CD mountain. This full tilt rampaging punkoid uber groove from Vancouver quintet You say party we say die hits all the buttons simultaneously with the crucially crude ‘like I give a care’ – setting the vital signs into shockwaves of frenzy, an anti anthem of sorts for the blank generation laced wildly with bastardised angular riff chorus’ haemorrhaging fast and searing and scathing in psychotic formations – need we really say more – I somehow think not. Flip side features the equally devastating ’opportunity’ – the best of the twin set in our humble opinion – spring coiled with needling McGeoch-esque riffs sprinkled with the loosely aired essence of Sonic Youth’s ’Tunic’ this drilled panting post punk prowler craftily lays the gauntlet down to the chasing similar minded pack Controller Controller and the Violets in fine frazzled fashion.

Q Without U ‘one piece puzzle’ (hot guts). Been a while but we like to think its been worth the wait. Glaswegian buzz beat posters Q without U came to our attention following a record buying foray where we happened upon picking up their ultra limited debut single ‘slow clap’ around this time last year (see missive 107).
Self released on the quartets newly set up Hot Guts imprint this twin set of tastiness steals a march their last visit to this turntable, packed with drilled guitars, stop starting ruptured rhythms and blessed with an irrefutable eye for a sly pop coda ‘one piece puzzle’ mainlines casually into territories more commonly associated with Chris Brokaw – more notably his woefully underrated Snares and Kites debut ’trick of trapping’ back from a few years ago – for a slice of seriously unassuming off road power pop gold that insidiously wires itself into your affections the minute your back is turned – a bit like imagining a superb charged Raspberries acquiring a vibrant post rock dialect to their artillery replete with devilishly corkscrewing hooks and packing a boot full of subtle west coast struts. ’numbers!’ over on the flip is an altogether stranger beast all said and done that appears to freewheel undecidedly through an array of generic styles so that sometimes you’ll hear shades of classic styled early 70’s pub rock a la Dr Feelgood interloping with shards of unravelling psyche flashbacks all the way to a more defined 60’s styled blossoming retro beat pop persona decorated in all manner of effects laden reverb riffs and swirling synth sequences – those needing reference points think of a more sugar glazed pre acid house Shamen od’ing on Traffic – quite frankly I think your record collection deserves this.

Clash – Volume 3 Issue 5 – Daft Punk decorate the cover of this the latest issue of the self described ‘ dedicated to music and fashion’ Clash magazine – inside you’ll find your usual cornucopia of finger on the pulse early warning alerts on the bands currently bubbling below the surface. Its also that time of the year for the best of listings, elsewhere there are features / interviews with Sigur Ros, Burial, Boy Kill Boy and Wu Tang Clan while the obligatory ’ones to watch’ feature is this month extended and showcased via a cover mounted 15 track CD of which our copy is so poorly pressed that we’ve tried with much exasperation to play via several devices to no lasting success – that said from what we’ve been able to salvage the following on a much needed ‘check this out before you get much older’ stand out as the best moments – be thrilled to the sounds of Liverpool based Eugene McGuinness whose ’child lost in tesco’ has the same off kilter as early Knife had that is they decided to allow Ariel Pink to join their ranks – best filed under crooked yet deliciously mercurial pop. Elsewhere there’s the Shocking Pinks’ ‘this aching deal’ – a prime slice of hurting and hiding from the light that frames perfectly those days and nights spent swooning and wrapping consoling arms around those nimble but necessary releases from the Summershine stable – think Hoverchairs’ rare and lost ’Hide and Seek’ fused with New Orders ‘Run 2’ and overseen by Another Sunny Day – (those wondering why we constantly fuss about the Hoverchairs check out where you’ll hear said cut). And while summer may well be long since gone – we can but dream though we can’t think of a better way to soundtrack what might have been than in the company of Slow Club’s lilting ‘summer shakedown’ – a Sheffield based duo – Rebecca and Charles in case you were wondering – dig out the most succulent pearl stones of perkily reclining happy pop whose sole remit it seems is to shower warming rays of loveliness into your dull, dark and dank winter wept world – damn we could kiss it – expect an album next year sometime. And staying with things that snap, crackle and pop with glinting effervescence then admirers of early Animal Collective may do well to hot foot it over to the sounds of Canon Blue whose ‘pilguin pop’ is a carnival-esque haze of lysergic flashbacks, Elephant 6 Collective kookiness and Joe Meek like wonkyness primed with lashings of princely pop dialects. Tacks, the Boy Disaster – strange name indeed pretty much nearly steal the show with the noire-ish honey combed ’paris’ – a four piece from Austin Texas from what we can gather – a place it seems judging by our my space missive specials providing a rich hot bed for tomorrows talent – anyway this disarming gem fuses classic styled early 90’s Bristol sounds into whoozy dreamscaping montages – imagine Shortwave Set romancing with the Broadway Project. Nuff said. Not far behind in the bewitching stakes and by some distance the best thing on this compilation is 17 year old Laura Marling whose haunting defence breaking ‘night terror’ really has to be heard to be believed – think Karen Dalton / Sandy Denny impishly concocting intoxicatingly spectral and tender ghostly dark folk love notes. As for the rest of the CD sorry chaps and chapesses but the CD was buggered a quick roll call for the unheard Make Model, So So Modern, Marbert Rocel, Toddla T, Jahcoozi, Herve, Cut off your Hands and Young Punx whose ‘dirty shoes‘ we heard brief snatches off and will be checking out elsewhere.

The Runners ‘All over again’ (Weekender). Well we are still reeling from just discovering that somewhere along the line we managed to miss out on this lots ‘Get in line’ debut from early this year. Already booked to support the Bluetones shortly, Hertford’s the Runners now firmly ensconced on the highly impressionable Weekender imprint themselves proving to be incredibly astute in the ’I know a good tune when I hear one’ scheme of things having fattened us considerably with a whole host of top tasty tunes this year already. Comprising surging angular riffs that throb ferociously as they smoothly shift through the gears and whipped up into a humungous frenzy of razor sharp dynamics, ’All over again’ hones into its three minute time slot a skin pinching energy and effervescence that’s undeniably hard to avoid as it pins you to the wall of your listening space and happily pummels you with its swift as you like jab and hook combinations, boisterous beat pop melodies galore married with a ridiculously catchy chorus line – like being on a rollercoaster but without the g-force and the repeating taste of that candy floss you foolishly had 5 minutes before boarding. As is typical of these things it’s the flip cut ‘Having fun‘ (or as the case seems to prove – obviously not on this occasion) that provides the best moment here – intricately laced clock working spiked angular riffs crusted with an alluring blank despondency and harnessing a subtle pop psychosis and acute anxiety that fans of early career back catalogues of Mansun and Radiohead may well find cause to swoon to.

The Official Secrets Act ‘Snakes and Ladders’ (Dead Hostess). I can’t say for certain whether my gruesome day time job required me to sign the official secrets act because by nature of the said act I’m not meant to tell you that I’ve signed for fear of being slapped on the wrist or sent to Stoke – not that being sent to Stoke is anything approaching an ordeal – hey I’m living in Morden which is as bad as things can get just ask Good Shoes – talk about glass houses and stones. Anyway debut release from hotly tipped London based quartet is the blistering boot tapping break up beaten up pop prickler ‘Snakes and Ladders’ – a slam dunking adrenaline drilled slice of shuffling heart stopping hurt driven at speed limit defying pace replete with pulse racing jerky skiffle punk rhythms all metered out with the irresistibly honed precision of a regimental assault and brimming more angles than an origami set and we haven’t even mentioned the vocal yet as they cruise with perilous delight through the four seasons of emotion. Well tasty. Flip side features the equally smart and dare we say edging it as the better of the twin set – ’the girl from the BBC’ – a slow paced casual affair shot through with wiring post punk atmospherics and subtle dub accents which when combined give it a gnawing lopsided and crooked effect that throughout the best part of the track you listen intently half expecting the whirring concoction to either fizzle out through apathy or to splendidly rear up in some kind of fraught and festering fragmentation – puzzlingly it does neither yet for all its abstract posturing there’s a bit of a corking hum along tune shimmying just below the surface.

And did we just mention Good Shoes in passing – seamless these reviews – painful to read but faultless in their seamlessness –

Good Shoes ’Small town girl’ (Brille). This cute thing originally saw the light of day a few years back via the Young and Lost imprint. Now commanding daft money on various online auction sites it finally gets a much deserved lease of life and wider audience appreciation. Now on the precipice to big things and garnering much acclaim at every turn with support slots for Maximo Park and the Kaiser Chiefs bagged and ready to happen before the years out, these dudes still obsess about all things Morden (their hometown) and who can blame them – (just check out the latest Artrocker cover mount for their de-spirited ode to the shed at the arse end of the Northern Line – well we were going to call it a satirising dig but blimey having lived here its all sadly true and there only the good things they mention). Good Shoes are one of your more melodically inclined ensembles that currently trade in chugging guitars and sub three minute ditties realms of underground pop these days, mixing personalised close to home tales of every day ordinary hum drum existence and nailing them on to frantic moments of jingling ear candy. ’Small town girl’ is one such gem, safe to say it easily works its way through your defences to nuzzle deep beneath the skin, produced by Stephen Street which depending on whether you love the Smiths or not will invoke swoons or yawns in equal measure (really how can it fail?) this boisterous ditty is rumoured to be about Keira Knightly (whoever she is?) a tale of too much success, too much pampering, too much money and still wanting more – ah the dream eh – well sort of – slyly nibbles at the riff coda to Blondie’s ’Dreaming’. Flipside has a pretty nifty e-tread of the same cut by those loveable rascals XX Teens (who we are under contract to each and every time we mention their name to happily point out that they were once called the Xerox Teens – we have it on good authority that this was prompted by fans being unable to spell said name and that various spell checks were returning Durex Teens – is this really true – nah not really we made it up – sounds good though don’t it). Anyway XX Teens re-spray is the far superior cut here -sublimely freewheeling between a montage invested with multi generic grooves made up of dub / trip hop / ska accents all deliciously wrapped in a hazy Marrakech vibed sultriness – does it for us. Elsewhere you’ll find the sadly tedious ’May Lannoye’ and the rather smart toe tapping strut happy sing-a-long hook heavy ’Southwest Trains’ – what are you waiting for buy the blighter if only for the XX Teens remix (formerly known as………).

Herzoga / To the Bones ‘Split’ (Org). Third featured release in this particular missive for the highly esteemed Org imprint This rather nifty disc comes as part of Org’s ongoing singles series – single number 33 to be precise – no need for tiresome subscriptions here – limited to just 1,000 copies this outing loosely celebrates Wrong Pop (don’t look at me though I do have a deep suspicion I may have applied that exact description to something from Distraction or Vacuous Pop before today. Not quite your usual trademark split face off between two bands on this occasion – well it is and it isn’t if you get my drift which right now you don’t but keep reading and you will – remember we will be asking questions to make sure you’ve been listening. Okay two tracks apiece from Stoke’s Herzoga and Bolton’s To the Bones are principally showcased on this release bolstered by an additional 13 cuts from some of the undiscovered players currently skinny dipping in the pools of underground pop. And get this – all the above for a miserly 2 quid – genius. First up then on the inspection blocks the are Herzoga whose ’things to say’ is a tasty slice of blankly fraught dislocated grizzled austere swept frayed punk funk whose reference markers seem to be ‘Hex Enduction Hour’ era Fall distilled with late 70’s era Pere Ubu and trace elements of current anti heroes One More Grain culminating in a wired spectacle of finger jabbing restlessness built over an impatiently rumbling bass twang upon which jigsaw effect spider like riffs shudder and stammer to weave tightly intricate montages of flat lining groove. ’bumper to bumper’ sounds like its jumped ship from a Peel mix tape dating back to 1981, all at once edgy and ominous and very much recalling the ‘minus eight’ debut from South East London’s distressingly overlooked Left Hand from a few years back in so far as the way it caustically carves out a chilling claustrophobic mass of stricken regimental laden bleakness. Inspired stuff. To the Bones are frightening both in terms of how aggressive and unrelenting their sound is and for how bloody good they are. ’Rex’ is a squalling mass of heads down no nonsense buckling groove that assumes the mentality of a rampaging Jon Spencer’s Blues Explosion, oozing sickness and disdain and wrapped amid discordant storms of ice forming anxiety pulsating menacingly with the steel eyed verve of early Killing Joke this blistering concoction of no future oblivion grind collides at intervals into a fierce some rage that to these ears sounds like early career psychotically minded Queens of the Stone Age in a face off with Ministry. That said nothing quite prepares for the frenetic ’tycho’ – one malignant chaotic bastard of a cut that manages with much aplomb to seamlessly shift between familiar markers such as the unhinged mindset of the Pretty Things ’Defecting Grey’ and the Cardiacs while freewheeling between a multi generic swamp fest made up of bone crunching snarling bent and twisted buckling blues, new wave power chords and soft strands of dissipating psyche and out of which through the clearing haze of the carnage elements of a sharp as knives Stranglers come into view albeit crippled and pummelled by the take no prisoners punishment of the raging schizoid doom laden Hey Colossus styled head drilling interweaves. As for the attending bonus tracks Transistor Six’s ’Backyard Rocketship’ is sadly not around long enough to enjoy being that its only 28 second excerpt. Appealing in the main to fans of classic Touch ‘n’ Go groove Death of London’s ‘new York’ with its stop starting loud and quiet dynamics should satiate the most ardent Fugazi / Pixies obsessive while the excellently named Flies are spies fro Hell do a neat line in post rocking atmospheric majesty on their ‘blood runs down my satisfied face as I scream with delight’ possessing more than a whiff of the sadly missed San Lorenzo about its wares. Its quite possible that you’ve never heard anything quite like ‘truck house’ by Zag and the Coloured Beads, they are a five piece based in Croydon who do strange lines in psychedelicised lounge laced junk funk progressive math rock and who to these ears are quite possibly the nearest ensemble around to tap into the outer voids of worlds more readily occupied by they came from the stars, I saw them which I’m sure you’ll agree is a pretty neat thing to do. If you like your sounds distressed and decidedly dislocated then we recommend filling your boots with Schulte Eriksson’s ‘for the sake of clarity’ which unless we are very much mistaken is what Stereolab might have sounded like had Tim Gane not closely guarded the mixing desk and left John McEntire to have total control. More deranged groove and blistered post punk styled white funk coming courtesy of Vile Vile Creatures whose ridiculously addictive ’city lights’ could easily be a mash up between the Waitresses and …and the native hipsters whereas Maps offer a moment of bewitching solemnity on the tranquilised and dare we say disturbingly eerie though darkly beautiful ’old rhino boots’ – an epic 9 plus minute gem featuring the rarely heard theremin which to hear alone is worth the entrance fee – think of a reclining sinister alter ego of Pulp being re-measured by an early career Black Heart Procession is I think the best way of describing this alluring nugget. Both Lower Forty Eight and Cerberus Shoal come via the Monotreme imprint – the former masters of applied raging math core the flame retardant ’unrequested fission surplus’ serving notice of that while the latter toe in with some bizarrely skewif Muppet like carnival of unhinged odd pop which for the second time same review takes its cue from Pretty Things ’defecting grey’ and into this weaves strange 50’s styled american tv commercial montages, sporadic art rock treatments moulded with touches of Cockney Rebel harmonies, bonkers Zappa-esque operatics and a general feeling hat someone is messing big time with your head. Measured undulating atmospheric mooching elegance from the hand of Last Days of Lorca is the order of the day for ’I am the rat’ deftly decorated as were like a mid career Radiohead od’ing on Mountain. There’s something utterly beguiling about ’happy accident’ that suggests we ought to tracking Vessels closely before we get any much older – a delicious post rock dream coat combining the drama of Godspeed, the elegance of the Workhouse and the mercurial lilt of Land of Nod. Another Monotreme family member were led to believe are San Francisco’s Ral Partha Vogelbacher who if ‘birthday in Beijing’ is anything to go by delight in turning out such evocative works of tormented stateliness that its enough to leave you bruised and breathless while rounding up the pack ’I killed a guy with a trident’ by three piece Cove is a bolted down swamped grooved portion of grizzled math rock the like of which lovers of imprints such as the Jonson Family and Gringo should hastily retune to and frug out big time. Details and links and other stuff via – did we mention it was absolutely essential – well it is – go buy – now!

If you happen by a newsstand in the next day or two – though arguably today would be a good idea – try and blag a copy of the Guardian who from today onwards running through next week are featuring a supplement showcasing the ‘1,000 albums to hear before you die’ – we’ve had a quick flick through the first part of the set happily noting a mention for the criminally underrated AR Kane whose ‘69’ the writers comment beats MBV to the punch – sadly we thought ‘I’ was a much more solid outing and lacked the press acclaim it so richly deserved. Elsewhere key Bowie disc in their view is thankfully not the tiresome and so easily name checked ‘Ziggy’ but ‘Low’ which in my humble opinion towers above and beyond anything Bowie had done before or since mainly for the fact that here was an artist with global success squarely achieved and snucked safely under his belt willing to walk away from it in an attempt to refine and find himself again – in addition it would be the template for the ground breaking ‘Scary Monsters’ and one of the prime movers of the still in its infancy electronic scene.

Violet Violet ‘Love this band’ (NRONE). Indeed we could and do. Hot on the tail of their debut full length ‘bitchbox’ which we incidentally absolute love to bits here though puzzlingly when we tried to lay hands upon it found that it’s gone momentarily AWOL to no doubt sniff out the action amid the towering CD mountain. Recently to be seen treading the support boards for the likes of the Nightingales, Robots in Disguise and Blood Red Shoes word is fast catching on amid the underground chattering classes about this trio. Pressed up in ultra limited quantities of yellow wax (which along with the Rosalita release – see next – we’ll have to nab for ourselves) this killer outing features two cuts culled from the Norwich based surly sirens’ aforementioned full length, blending elements of early Babes in Toyland, Hole and L7 these sisters kick out barbed wired insult laced brazen babies with such aplomb it’s a frightening spectacle to behold. ‘love this band’ is a particularly pissed off and primed pot shot at the cheap image over substance culture that sours the record industry at large today, three way vocalising and chugging see sawing gnarled power riffing guitars dole out a superbly blankly f*cked off resigning spiteful edge that’s cast in a sweetly cute albeit frazzled bubblegum haze. The bastardised bludgeoning brew of post punk angular accents and sassy riot grrrl attitudes caustically collide on the wide eyed feisty thrill of ’baby’s going down’ over on the flip which unless I’m solely mistaken sounds like a prime time Kat Bjelland lamping the crap out of Kirsten Hersh – tell me again what exactly is there not to like? Your record collection needs this – nuff said.

Rosalita ‘Manga Girl’ (NRONE). Debut outing for Ipswich five piece who to date in their so far brief career have managed to bag the coveted ‘Road to V’ competition hosted by Channel 4 for themselves. As with the previous NRONE release mentioned elsewhere here we must admit to being a tad smitten by these three choice cuts of vital sign sizzling pop. Lead cut ’Manga Girl’ sounds like its been laboratory tested for immediate day time radio play, corkscrewing rhythms riddled with memorable hooks designed to mainline immediately into your humming and whistling regimes and blessed with a deliciously day-glo chorus throb that to these ears much recalls ’modern life is rubbish’ / ‘boys and girls’ era Blur strangely cast within the floor rumbling swirling sound montages of the Utah Saints stabbing out sub three minute mutant indie dance gold nuggets. ’AWOL Sean’ is another certifiable corker of frantic shoe shuffling dimensions – think ’Stereotype’ by the Specials wrapped in the smile happy audaciously addictive mindset of an early skanking Madness with post punk pretensions and sent packing to Supergrass for them to work their imitable magic with the frayed around the edges ’Art Attack’ rounding up the pack for a spot of wiring electro shocked throughout with seizure stricken panic attacking candy sliced pop mentality. Damn smart if you ask me. Limited to just 500 white wax lovelies plus the usual CD and downloadable formats. Both releases via

Lupen Crook and the Murderbirds ‘Matthew’s Magpie’ (2007/08). The long overdue return to these pages of Lupen Crook as he invitingly ushers us into his twisted and darkly lit curiosity shop. Last years ‘accidents occur whilst sleeping’ debut was perhaps one of the most overlooked albums of the year – fragmented, chilling, sometimes funny, sometimes odd and occasionally disturbing – occupying the shadowy overlaps between Drake and Radiohead, Lupen Crook tinkered amid the aural voids like some alchemist mixing and matching aural brews whose creative remit it seems as to constantly catch the listener on the back foot and off guard. Several months on and fresh out of cutting shed a whole new batch of peculiar sound sensations lay in wait to puzzle, prickle and prowl ominously amid the mindsets of those willing to partake. These will be gathered together on a full length due early next year. By way of a taster the ’Matthew’s Magpie’ EP takes pride of place. Featuring 5 cuts that clock in at just over 10 minutes in duration and including a reframing of the title cut which initially featured on his debut EP ’Petals fresh from road kill’ (see missive 81) which alone is worth the entrance fee given that its as volatile as it is unhinged braided as it by a disturbingly encroaching darkly set imagery slashed through by a shock of stricken strutting riffs that shriek and scowl in frenzied delight amid wired to eyeballs distressed harmonies that litter throughout like victims of a gore fest b-movie. The macabre yet mesmerising funereal tug of the deathly shanty like ‘miss page, I love you’ is an eerily nimble treat to behold speckled through with haunting corteges of crackles and whispers that overall recall in the main the nightmarish apparitions concocted by early career Black Heart Procession. Brief though it is the twisted and hiccupping ‘fine start to misdirection’ provides momentary respite from the gathering gloom before the bite of realism sets in with the strangely Russian folk styled signatures of ’the hardest way home’. Best of the set though comes in the shape of the closing ’22u and the SA-10 Sounds’ an unusually kooky and disarmingly fetching treat from the Crook workbench, eerily abstract nursery rhyme like mantras, dinky and almost playfully cutesy cute electronics, dislocated rhythms and time signatures – hell we are thinking Beck lost amid the crooked soft psychedelic folk treads of early career Busy Signals – quite loveable if you ask me. That aforementioned album is being eyed with loving anticipation.

Paul Hawkins and thee Awkward Silences ‘the bigger bone’ (Jezus Factory). We could weep with joy though I suspect joy isn’t really the right way to describe this trio of nuggets from the skewed mindset of Paul Hawkins. Of course much loved here following his appearance on last years anti Christmas compilation from those loveable rascals over at Cherryade records and his split release with Lil’ Lost Lou via the Jezus Factory imprint (who while you about it checking their wares hook up to the killer full length by Belgian prog psychedelicists Ow – which kids if you haven’t bought yet then shame upon you is all we can say). Hawkins featured here fully complimented by his Thee Awkward Silences cohorts is set to release his second full length (early next year) entitled ’we are not other people’ with ’the bigger bone’ providing a taster of things to come. Comparisons to Daniel Johnston are unavoidable when listening to Hawkins, yet while Johnston is infamous for his happy pill overriding ’oh woe me’ introverted bleakness Hawkins in sharp contrast is more than happy to wallow and fester and let you know about it in no uncertain terms. Three bitterly tongue in cheek twisted and crooked gems featured here, Hawkins’ almost despise laced cynicism is overpowering as he trains his dimly lit viewfinder on the world at large, an accidental hero of sorts who with a blank monotone delivery oozes resignation, sarcasm and darkened humour at every turn all the time backed by the distant though audible sound of dusted and scarred though timeless buckled blues accents. ’the bigger bone’ the most immediate of the trio of cuts is a drilled statement of intent of sorts, a deliciously despondent septic howl braided by wayward keys and a crookedly ill timed rhythm section that once viewed as a whole evoke an unshakeable sense that any time shortly its all going to come apart at the seams and goes arse over tit big time. Elsewhere there’s the slowly unravelling mindset of the finger jabbing ’the cavalry ain’t coming’ – like some evil and twisted classroom nursery rhyme this bruised baby gathers ever so deftly in both intensity and menace all the time sucking you (whether you like it or not) into its ever consuming black hole while the buckled moonshine grooves of ’hate is all around’ is a spiked assault on the fear baiting national press amid whose darkly apocalyptic dread stirs the lightly coated flecks of sugary la la la harmonies – did we say its as clever as f*ck – no – its as clever as f*ck okay. Now buy.

Cedar ‘Black Sparks’ EP (self released). We do in fact clearly recall the day that this CD arrived in our gaff because we had to fetch it from the post office and pay over a charge to compensate for the lack of postal duty on the envelope from which it was housed. Now a meaner spirited person would have instantly cast said CD into the dumpster or else to the bottom of the listening pile in which case chances of a review would have been a close run thing with the prospect of hell freezing over which in these times of global warming just ain’t on the agenda. That said we’ve had it a while if truth be told and so far the reason why its been neglected is because the blighter decided to go walkabouts. Anyhow Cedar are a young four piece from Watford who kindly sent over this killer 6 track debut – and though we grumble about the lack of information or for that matter song titles (which during the course of this little write up we are simply going to refer as ‘untitled #1’ to ‘untitled #6’) one thing we can’t fault are the tunes shrink wrapped inside because Cedar seem to have a penchant for crafting out defence crashing emotionally turbulent wide screen beasts of breathlessly bruised and blistering pop. A little delving amid their website reveals that this lot used to be Echo in a former life who released full lengths before calling it a day and re-branding themselves as Cedar – still no song titles – bugger. Call us hopeless romantics but we’re quite fond of the parting acoustic shot, a forlorn beauty braided by a string swept introductory which once evaporating into the ether leaves the solitary nakedness of a delicately strummed guitar to work its hurtful shy eyed magic – simple, effective and touchingly tearful. A well crafted CD debut it has to be said that gets mellower the further towards the end you get so that the bracing moments of energetic effervescence are front loaded leaving the trailing twin set – the aforementioned – ‘untitled #6’ and ‘untitled #5’ to draw you in closer the latter a sweetly glazed sugar fizzed slice of quietly alluring majestic lovelorn pop steeped with thoughtfulness and regret and succulently decoded by the tender cascade of chiming florets and the kind of slow to burn epic detail that craftily reaches inside and strangles the life out of your vital signs only to crush whatever resolve that still remains amid a peaking finale of crescendo bearing dynamics. The 60’s styled Will Bunnymen at full tilt like spiked up riffs on ‘untitled #2’ roots this babe with a fuzzy feedback laced softly pulsating psyche glow while the driving heads down no nonsense power chord saturated ’untitled #4’ reveals a band who possess an ear for a cutely turned out beat pop moment or two heavily indebted as it is to the Beatles ’Revolver’ and early career Who. And those of you much a swoon with all things lighter waving and anthem like in the variety of Keane, Travis, Snow Patrol may do well to throw yourself headlong into the raging ripples of ’untitled #1’ while ‘untitled #3’ is primed with such class apart song craft that it makes you weep – ones to watch for – in the meantime we’ll see about nailing a rumoured ’acoustic’ demo for inclusion in a future missive.

Cedar update – track listing as follows –
1. i am because you are 2. she said all these things 3. weight of it all 4. last of our kind 5. radar 6 don’t stand too close to the edge.
And so to the last featured release of this extended singled out – and something for which apologies are long overdue given that we’ve had this primed and earmarked for review for as long as I care to remember………

Purest Spiritual Pigs ‘self titled’ (self released). There’s something decidedly wrong about listening to this debut release from Helen Thompson AKA Purest Spiritual Pig by day beneath the blue hazed skies. Instead suited more to be listened to in the dark stillness of night happy to play peek a boo and skulk around the edges of your senses, that’s not to say that the five cuts here are bleak or morose although to some lesser extent if truth be told they are – rather more Thompson oozes a disquieting intimacy that’s clawing with its claustrophobic touch. Housed with a very Volcano the Bear artwork adorned sleeve, Thompson will appeal in the main to fans of Kat Bjelland, Carina Round, Courtney Love, Nico, Patti Smith and Lydia Lunch. At times disturbingly raw and potently so, Thompson scavenges the more shaded arenas of outsider pop, sometimes cathartic, grizzled, frayed and fragmented this quintet of cuts don’t so much fester but ache with a primal beauty opening with the death rattling blister of chamber blues that is the unflinching ‘burnt through’ – Thompson navigates deftly through the dusty plains of scarred and scoured blues wastelands with her mojo bag firmly gripped in the palm of her hand, ominously chilled, wasted, sparse and anorexic it initially recalls the first recorded fruits of Cave’s post Birthday Party outfit the Bad Seeds before manifesting into a charred punch drunk variant of Gallon Drunk albeit orchestrated by Tom Waits. By sharp contrast ‘MJR’ is a more uplifting experience, set to a delicate echoing mantra strum braided with dreamscaping swirls it retains a similar resonance to that heard throughout magical Roy Montgomery’s ’True’, from the light to dark the spectral glazes that initially hauntingly twist and caress ’remains’ root this tenderly hypnotic honey into a somewhat crystalline and macabre goth beast a la Cure ’pornography’, fields of nephilim and Dead can Dance that without warning shifts gear to rapidly gain in momentum spitting and hissing in tribalised festering formations much in tune as it were with Katastrophy Wife recycling Love’s ‘7+7 is’ albeit shot through with the ice cold mentality of the faded glamour of the Banshees ’JuJu’. ’picking myself up’ is without doubt the sets most detached moment, a skewed and gnarled slice of primitive boogie drilled with blankly despondently nagging and wiring industrial grooves over which Thompson’s disembodied vocals scowl and swoop. That said its left to the parting shot the Creatures-esque ’Blood Set’ to provide the EP with its centrepiece, a throwback in some respects to the late 70’s post punk scene that takes its reference points principally from 23 Skidoo, A Certain Ratio and Cabaret Voltaire to concoct a riddled off key primal stew augmented by tribal rhythms and scarred with the nomadic bleakness of PIL’s piercing anti-pop mindset as encountered on the howling ’flowers of romance’ – edgy and essential.

Okay space cadets that’s your lot for a wee while all being well there should be a quickly turned out my space missive shortly – well a day or so – after we‘ve gotten the blood back in the typing finger – from therein a short-ish singled out (well short-ish compared to this thesis like outing) which (strangely enough we’ve half written up already) will include the debut Gringo appearance for the Sailors (limited to just 317 7“’s which by all accounts should fly from the racks), plus seven’s from Battered Ornaments -thanks to Doug who kindly sent along limited releases from Beneath Fire and Smoke (their debut no less) and the Laughing Windows, a new killer thing from MELA, Patscan, Jo Bywater, Sugar drum – for certain this is absolutely gorgeous, Richard Houghten, the Arteries, And his voice became – which we’ve managed to rediscover having lost it for a while, Hazel Mills, Alexandra Quartet, 3 daft monkeys plus shed loads more.

As per usual sincere thanks to all the bands, labels and press people who’ve made these ramblings possible though not necessarily cohesive. Address for correspondence, death threats (of which I‘m glad to say that Sailplanes took up but demanding that we listen to their fucking record – impetuous souls – bloody good album to – expect to see its name in lights very shortly), offers of marriage (although we must admit to cooling off of this rash slice of openness given that we scarcely have time to eat these days) and round wax things with holes in the middle.

Other than that it only leaves me to say take care of ourselves.


Singled Out is a ‘taste factory’ production.

from November 2007

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