singled out – missive 154

Singled Out
Missive 154

For Kelly and Mark

Another of those my space type special things that we occasionally throw together – well I say throw together there’s a little more to it than that – twiddling across the voids of cyber space in search of tunes to turn us (and hopefully you) on and then er – telling you why we like them – rock hard or what – bollocks kids it ain’t the tunes write the reviews themselves not literally you understand -that would be a nifty trick. As you can probably gather this my space thing is becoming something of regular event, much loved here – ignore the detractors – okay there’s plenty of shite to be found – but that’s for the lazy bastards who can’t be arsed putting in the time and delving. Admittedly most of these are actual friend requests that have somehow tracked us down and I’m glad to say that all are loved we’re eagerly awaiting the arrival Owen’s spanking new ‘hope is a magnet’ full length in our gaff any day now. For those of you previously unacquainted with Owen Tromans – the one time front man for San Lorenzo (colossal post rocking / atmosphere laden guitar pyro-technicians – see and check out the scarring ’we got mysticism’ from their ’the sea is a map’ album for Bearos) could often be seen wiling away the spare time between recording sessions and live spots cobbling something a little more measured, both intense and intimate – think chilled Cathal Coughlin if you like – across several releases he crafted an enviable body of work that has helped flex his melodic muscle – here you’ll find a brace of tasters for the aforementioned new set. ’levitate me Judith’ – a perky and brisk shanty like folk beat sortee that sounds like its been christened in the Mersey delta – well tasty – though for us it’s the chugging power pop driven ‘korea’ with its Kevin Tihista like buzz sawing throbs and cutely life affirming hooks that gets our thumbs up and had us bouncing off the walls around our gaff. – absolutely no information with this one even a quick spy at the profile reveals nowt. Self described as ’melodramatic, popular song’ with the added proviso ’bullshit’ – still provides no clues – though his / her / their top 10 friends list reveals a love for porcupine tree, mogwai, gsybe and housework (who you may recall featured in these very pages a missive or two ago) – but what can we say – this is gorgeous. A whirling union of orbiting oscillations and disembodied vocals sugar rushing through the ether cast a frosted and spectral symphonic bliss that delicately weaves and wanders between down tempo passages and ice sugar coated silken electronic textures – the lovelorn overload that passes for ’everything senseless’ in particular drawing you deep within celestial curvaceous cascades of lilting after lights out sumptuousness. Elsewhere the refined majesty of the hypnotic ’heavy metal birds’ possessed by a drifting widescreen aspect that subtly draws on the outer fringes of krautrock and a head swirling cosmic psyche, referencing in the main Land of Nod at their most fragile this seductive courtship of milky way designed fluffiness and tenderly cured willowy lunatic ambience gestates with divine precision.

And didn’t we just mention in passing the much missed (on our hi-fi anyway) Land of Nod
As well as that it a welcomed hello to Ochre records who after years of disappearing off the radar are now back and fully recharged…… – this Cheltenham based imprint was the byword for eclecticism in its heyday – from its Cheltenham based hide away it was one of the UK’s leading exponents of the drone movement in the late 90’s, with an unreservedly unapologetic love for the leading pioneers of kraut / space rock of the early 70’s and the work of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop (the incidental score for the Dr Who episode ‘the tenth planet’ was salvaged and pressed up for release in 2000) not withstanding an adept ear for strange psychedelic oddities the label soon began to pick up exposure and a deserved reputation for upturning stones that most of their equally adventurous DIY / bedroom label competitors would sniff at and quickly pass over. Much loved by the late John Peel the labels catalogue boasted a formidable array of named scene players operating on the fringes of pop (in all its varied shapes and sizes) most notably Will Sergeant (Bunnymen) and Pete Kember (Spacemen 3, EAR, Spectrum…) while servicing the nation with the sounds of Mount Vernon Arts Lab, Stylus, Land of Nod, Longstone and the very excellent 90 degrees South. This page features a few snippets from their multi faceted past – the oddly creepy psychedelic crookedness of ’jack me’ from Applecraft culled from their stupendous ’happiest man alive’ set (which all self respecting homes should own) sits unsettlingly somewhere out there joining the invisible dots between Syd and Freed Unit while there’s a moment of beguiling refinement from Mr Sergeant by way of a remix of ’pate’ which to much gnashing of teeth we must have missed – think of a snow globed Charles Atlas pirouetting with Satie. – we could kiss this we really could – duo Pob and Marion who hail from Ealing (as in the hallmark of great classic comedies) are the demurring electro guitar bubblegum lovelorn cutesy cute duo known as Sparky’s Magic Piano (didn’t cartoon cult hero Sparky – or was it James – have a magic piano as well as a torch or something like that?) who recently sent us a copy of their rather delightfully fluffily innocent ‘feel the beat and do it anyway’ debut just before Xmas – an album that was most loved but somehow got sidetracked in the festive shenanigans (as if). Anyhow while we try and locate that for a full review a quick peak of the five showcased cuts provide evidence enough as to why you need these loveable urchins in your life. Obviously raised on a diet of St Etienne and Frente, sparky’s magic piano craft the kind of teasingly shy eyed pop that is much loved by the Track and Field Organisation, Matinee and Elefant records – unassuming, spectral and fluffy yet radiating a warming glow that makes you want to curl up by the hi-fi wrapped around a loved one. Orbiting just the right side of fey ’you are a star’ is delicately courted by suggestive wrappings of rustic braids and a peek a booing mellotrons that coalesce into dreamy hazes of nimble sugar rushes while the tenaciously catchy ’like falling in love’ manages to shoehorn a radiating cocktail of prickling perfect pop that draws greedily on elements of late 60’s French pop, subtle traces of West Coast, twee textures (honed from the back catalogue of Sarah, Summershine and early k) with a healthy stone rubbing of the Loves and the Cardigans thrown in for good measure. Elsewhere there’s a rather defences surrendering cover of ’perfect day’ though we must admit to have been drawn beneath the spell of ’home improvement’ which has been the cause I’ll tell you of much feelings of fuzziness in our gaff each time it comes into view on the hi-fi. Now to find that album…… – Bristol based husband and wife duo aided and abetted by friends carve out monumental slabs of sophisticated smooze, their debut full length ’winning is for losers’ out via malicious damage (see elsewhere here) is a deliciously balanced cocktail of dub drilled lunatic electronics that prickle and purr with the definable tug of sparsely toned sultry soul. Six cuts are showcased here direct from the Canola Tenderfoot workbench from the lost in the moment ‘summum bonum’ with its faintly erotic middle eastern dialects

Those of you who really can’t get enough of Canola Tenderfoot are heartily advised to check out their remix site without further delay which you can find at….. – just as it says on the tin a remix site wherein Canola Tenderfoot shows of their recalibrating skills – we utterly recommend without hesitation that you seek out the ‘eleven eleven diego mix’ which unless our ears are playing up sounds like a love lorn romantic note swapping session between Shortwave Set and early career Sigur Ros but then just to be different we must admit to being absolutely smitten by the distractively delicious ‘demons’ mainly for its spatially sublime sophisticated and tender Massive Attack meets demurring Invaders of the Heart svelte ness. We need more. – hailing from Munich though who love your sounds decorated in summer breezed 60’s day-glo accents and Byrds-esque pop chimes may well swoon to these three featured cuts, ‘something’ in particular is a light headed and sprightly revisiting of your old Velvet Crush record collection while the psyche titled ‘never 7 permanently 5th dream’ with its deliciously warmth radiating power pop tugs and subtle Beatles dialects had us half away across the record room in a single stride itching to re-acquaint ourselves with ‘bandwagonesque’ era Teenage Fan club – we only wonder why the firestation imprint hasn’t snapped them up already. – a brief mention here for Colt who have been in touch and have promised to send their brand spanking new CD which you can hear being showcased via this page. So while we wait for ‘you hold on to what’s not real’ to arrive for a more detailed inspection a quick peak then at what to expect. Last time we had the pleasure of hearing Colt doing their stuff on the hi-fi was via their former incarnation Living with Eating Disorders – one of those bands deserving of the ‘should have been massive’ accolade. The music was irrefutably dark and stately though personalised to such an extent it was oppressive with vocalist Andrea obviously exorcising inner demons, so scarring where the experiences that counselling was highly advisable after listening. Colt are a duo – Andrea and Jared – the core nuclei of LWED, the sounds are still foreboding and brooding achingly laced in a brittle tension falling between the polar aural orbits of industrial and goth (and when we say we mean mid 80’s 4AD etc…). ’Static’ is quite obviously the most affecting cut of the four featured here, an ethereal treasure, Andrea’s softly demurring vocals gently hushed beneath a magnificently refined Cathedral like soft psych trance ambient montage – a bit like Low in some kind of seductive celestial congress with early Spiritualised. ’lullaby’ despite its title is anything but lulling, distorted and haunted, this stalking slice of walls converging cinematics sits somewhere between the sparse near naked textures coiling within Japan’s ’tin drum’, Depeche Mode’s fraught ’songs of faith and devotion’ and early 90’s era Portishead. In sharp contrast ’never know’ is a beautifully bruised affair, deliciously cinematic – think John Barry rescoring twin peaks’ – need we say more while ’demon in the wheels’ which rounds up the set with its cautiously shy set minimalist frailty building deftly in stature and aggression had us recalling the more introspective moments found on the much missed work of Melys. – those of you busy biting your nails to the quick wondering what the new Colt stuff sounds like can get a nifty preview via their self set up record label my space page, ’black rabbits’ just has to be heard though we do suspect it is a very close relative of ‘demon in the wheel’ (see previously – if fact several double takes and we were almost convinced they were one and the same). Orbiting in the same melting romantic cast as Garbage’s ‘milk’ and equipped with a noire-esque grandeur given the right amount of exposure this could prove to be a bit of a monster. That said we must confess that having heard it several times now ‘snakes to dust (35mm mix)’ is seriously growing on us, all at once ethereal, majestic and elegiac this seductively hermetically sealed amorphous lunatic babe is honeycombed amid silken washes of spectral amber divine doesn’t come into – an arresting frosted love note made from the stuff that holds the stars in the skies that joins the dots between the Cocteau Twins at their most fragile with Heather Duby – a crystalline gem. – another of those rare things that at only five seconds in you know instantly your going to fall headlong in love with, the bitter sweet cruise controlled drive timing ’persuade yourself’ smoulders its way into your affections in a way that these days only Kirsten Hersh manages to do. I am not left handed which incidentally I am – are a young London based trio who whilst at school cottoned on fast to the worthiness of turning up to Chemistry lessons because what they don’t know about the art of slight of hand pop alchemy probably isn’t worth knowing. Five quietly alluring gems feature here – a feast of gently caressing intertwining pastoral chimes that weave succulent hypnotic mosaics all the time enriched by a meltingly breezy and nimble folk pop lilt, emotionally tugging and soft to the touch, these achingly faraway stone rippling beauties are all at once passive and passionate recalling elements of a youthful Suzanne Vega and less obviously Judie Tzuke. Each cut here listened in order betters the last from the skipping subtle stateside Californian buzz of the tigerish ’rushing’ to the reflective and mellowing ’endline choose nothing’ though for us ’dedicated’ frantically pushes the buttons leaving you swooning in its immeasurably beautified winter cast. – we could have swore we’ve mentioned these in passing previously but I’ll be buggered if I can find any reference on recent missives. Ah well – if we have do so then bollocks because frankly this is pretty smart and deserves to be heard. Wearing their love of the early 70’ on their cheesecloth glittered shirts v sparks are a three place who hail from – of all places – Chicago. Taking up where Suede’s glorious pop tonic ‘coming up’ left off V Sparks are an incurably addictive throwback to the early 70’s glam scene, freewheeling between 50’s teen pop montages (check out the audacious bubblegum sweetness of the shake down that is ‘red love suicide’ replete with vocals not heard here since Paul Anka’s ‘Diane’ and Del Shannon’s ‘runaway’) and T-Rex styled groover boogie (check the riffs on the same cut), indebted for inspiration to Mott (just hook up to the sassily strut soaked sexy horn thing ‘sweet kiss‘ and the cool as f**k ’making friends’ ), Cockney Rebel and the Sweet and channelling the same out of fashion realms as the Eskimos and Ambulance LTD – they serve up magnificently twinkling stomping stunners. All said and done best of the set by some platform stride is the humbling ‘out of control’ – a towering string laced beauty that literally hangs for dear life on your heart strings – best filed next to the Crimea. Frankly we want that album….and now. – from California, three cautionary tales are quiet possibly a duo and then maybe not given that mainstay vocalist / keys player and programmer Desiree mentions Ezra with the proviso that he’s not sure whether he’s still ants to be in the band – go on Ezra be a devil and stay. Why? Because quite simply this is rather tasty, three cautionary tales occupy the shadowy realms of electro pop, quietly alluring shy eyed spectral symphonies wrapped in sheens of stealth like sophisticated auras – elegant and enigmatic whose roots can be traced to the likes of this mortal coil and propaganda though ostensibly sveltely dipped in the rains swept sophisticated noire-ish landscapes more commonly associated with Massive Attack albeit as though collaborating with Heather Duby (especially on the curvaceous night time shimmer of the trip hopping lunatics of ’just in time’) and with the Shortwave Set and ROC twiddling about at the mixing desk. Of course we admit to being overly fond of the porcelain snow globed ’perfect cry’ – an slender ether driven atmosphere laced panoramic cutie snaking the voids that for the best part had us recalling the much missed Ex Post Facto. And when their not content to romance you with their celestial love noted hazes the darkly wrapped monochromatic minimalist post punk vibed futuro funk of the ghostly mid career Creatures meets the Breeders ’only one’ rears into view to catch you squarely on the back foot to instil a knowing and edgy chill.- more please. – yum yum – Walter Sickert and the Army of Broken Toys are I am right in saying that these New Englanders are a duo – Walter and Edrie who it seems love nothing more than crafting strangely beguiling and hallucinatingly surreal sounding glazes of psyche folk – well that’s certainly the case on the eerily daydreaming and dissipating hazes found on the strangely alluring ‘sacrilege’ which unless our ears do deceive had us recalling the more trippy elements of early career Animal Collective in some sort of celestial embrace with Black Dice. Sparse and lazy eyed the melodies appear to freewheel amid moments of haunting blissed out weariness (check the crooked almost comatose and stumbling ‘lows’) to animated shards of pockmarked spite ridden unhinged dust weathered death blues shanties – see ‘la divorce’. And then there’s the regular covers spot wherein you’ll find a rather smart re-evaluation of the Dresden Dolls ‘messed me’ here given a creepy death rattling evil 30’s styled Weimar fairground dialect while Jefferson Airplane’s classic LSD / Alice in Wonderland epic ’white rabbit’ is despatched onwards on an odyssey honing directly for the minds eye – really has to be heard to be believed – stunning – personally I feel its always a good way to endear yourself by having your Top 20 friends lists populated by such exalted names as Throbbing Gristle, Nurse with Wound, Rudimentary Peni, Subhumans, Sol Invictus, legendary pink dots and perhaps the odd ones out in this list – the Chameleons. Yet its to the latter that this Seattle based combo most easily identify – both ‘life is brief life is long’ and ‘weighed against a feather’ (culled from their ‘new roman twig light’ set) both mainline into the darker more sombrely reflective territories found on Burgess and Co’s Statik era work simultaneous cross threading its DNA with the claustrophobically tenseness of ’pornography’ era Cure fused with early career And Also the Trees, the latter track in particular sounding scarred and bruised with a suffocating repose as the melodies twist and slow waltz to coil around you with their detached melancholia. Personal favourite though is the live take of the numbingly beautiful ’comfort in the cold’ which to these ears has a definite feel and texture in common in common with the early 4AD / Situation 2 catalogue.

And that is your lot for a week when we’ll back with the singles, for now check here for regular updates – later today there’ll be a few albums plus reviews for Johnny Foreigner, Rambo and Leroy and the Myself Band – all damn good stuff. Thanks to all those who’ve made these ramblings possible – no names you know who you are – as per usual contact details via – don’t forget to check out the John McGeoch documentary on Radio 2 via the play again option on – and I’ll leave you with two moments of McGeoch magic…..

Till next time – take care of yourselves


first aired – February 3rd, 2008

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