the scratch – various reviews….

St Alban’s finest – sadly on an extended tea break….these lost musings are ripped from their web page….

Monday, April 19, 2010

the scratch
Category: Music
The Scratch ‘x-ray eyes’ (pony land). Frankly too cool for their own good. Much loved and obsessed at the losing today record shed are the Scratch that we actually foolishly forgot to actually review this blighter given we were having so much of a wheeze dancing around the kitchen CD player and neatly exhibiting our prowling and preening panache of the foot shuffle to all and sundry – in fact there have been press reports and we hear – much hoo-ha at the hastily convened impromptu ad hoc midnight committee meetings at the funny hand shakes are us local council (tabled no doubt after the under dimmed lights submission of expense receipts and some nifty double entry reconciliations). Ah well I digress – the Scratch – from St Albans – as you should all know – have graced these pages much over the years – informed by a late 70’s new wave long since passed and blessed with a knowing knack for kicking out day-glow dinked three minute killer cuts en masse the band have now retrained their sights on their recorded past and decided to polish, re-master and re-release their teasingly limited debut full length ’diy’ (streuth and gadzooks even we don’t have a copy of that one – a pox upon your houses sire or some such foolish nonsense). as a taster for said event they sent out this nifty number entitled ‘x-ray eyes’ on a reconnaissance mission. Ah be it the dog bollocks I say – originally commented upon way back at missive 35 wherein we described said funky bug as –
‘X-Ray eyes’ sees them cocking a snook at the dance floor crowd, an unrelenting beauty that channels the grittier elements of the Gang of Four’s trademark grind and marries it to the dub / disco crossover that Strummer and Co aimed for on the often overlooked ‘Sandinista’ throw in for good measure Big Audio Dynamite, a taster of Pigbag a few sly Ry Cooder sliding hooks and you have something of a dirty disco assassin that Bobby Gillespie you’d imagine would be happy to be caught in the line of fire of.’
Wise words and still they hold true given its exactly the same track on the player right now playing as I write (okay copy n’ paste) mind you we neglected to mention the seriously loose limbed and mooching R L Burnside blues blissed side winds and the tightly drilled cornucopia of hot n’ horny early 80’s NY dance floor vibe – oh yea and add in A Certain Ratio factor to proceedings. Limited to just 100 copies – can I have one please.
A video of them….


The Scratch should need no introductions in these pages, pardoning the French but they literally piss melodies so razor sharp, acutely addictive and drilled in threads of a vintage golden era new wave flavour that we here suspect them of having access to a time travelling device.

‘Destroyed by the look of love’ is frankly worth the entrance fee on its own. This babe is primed and charged with the kind of wickedly audacious exuberance not heard around these parts since Supergrass started re-branding old Buzzcocks ditties as they?re own. And talking of the Buzzcocks the Shelley / Diggle et al reference markers aren?t lost on us here because ‘Destroyed by the look of love’ has a definite ‘love bites’ edge to it albeit subtly smoked in the irrefutable shade adorned soft psyche hue of 60’s fuzz shakers the Shadows of Knight while cut pristinely with one of the most drop dead chorus? this side of a garage beat pop styled Sundazed re-issue.

‘Flicker’ should rightly see itself garnering something of a thumbs up and some admiring glances from the psychedelic community draped as it is in softly warping lysergic tonalities that we here are thinking reveals someone in the ranks spending their spare time genning up on the finest kookily kaleidoscopic moments to be had from the Elephant 6 Collective back catalogue and decided to observe those off kilter wonky west coast moulds through a vintage viewfinder and tender the emitting refractions with essences procured of a quintessentially English eccentricity that suggests Pete Shelley leading out a magic mushroom munching Syd loving collective made up of members of the Soft Boys, the Freed Unit and XTC in their Dukes guise. Trippy stuff.

Not to be outdone ‘Not your friend’ lands a considerable jaw dropped punch, an unrepentant slab of searing, sneering, snot nosed spite replete with nasal drawls and a warring armoury of wilfully frantic spiked and sparring insurgent three chord hip hugging accoutrements that we here are suspecting has been born of some impish soul cross matching the DNA?s of the Godfathers with those of the Dead Boys.

No prizes for guessing that you need this in your life sharpish. []


The return of one of our favourite turntable obsessions of recent years, the Scratch have on more than one occasion flattened us into states of jaw dropped fondness within these pages. Despatching a high end pedigree of pop grooved new wave the Scratch sound like renegades from another pop age time tunnelled into the present and brandishing an impeccable arsenal of hook laden nuggets and whistle-able sub three minute anthems whose prime directive it would seem – aside that is wearing your stylus blunt – is to drive you to the limits of distraction.

Both ‘Against the grain’ and its flip cut ‘cool in an uncool way’ bristle with the
trademark class of Scratch releases of yore, the former seductively swooning ‘n’ swaggering and proving to be a hitherto instantaneously shot of delirious radio friendly new wave buzz laced power pop over-turing that catches light with the same acutely knowing melodic symmetry of the much missed Motors from yesteryear albeit here found peaking over the shoulder of the Flamin’ Groovies and comparing notes
whilst shoehorning into the mix some neatly drilled strut riffed ear candy and MOR harmonies.

In sharp contrast the hot rod boogie of ‘Cool in an uncool way’ yelps, coos, pouts and preens its way in to your psyche and burns the grooves in the process to sound not unlike a preened, primed ‘n’ stripped to the bone early career Reverend Horton
Heat who aside sounding like some 50’s wet dream homage sublimely manages to not only veer into the same retro glazed avenues similarly occupied by Pirroni’s much admired Wolfmen but craftily echoes of the ghost of Bators former charges the Dead Boys and the Lords of the New Church while happily showing off its Vanian like Damned / Phantom Chords implants.

In short devilishly cool stuff from the practitioners of perfect pop. []


  • The Scratch – I Relax to Spiral Scratch/Trigger Finger

    Debut single from The Scratch, and the first release on Ponyland Records. Released in 2001 as 7 inch vinyl only.

    Another record that’s nearly be worn out through constant play is this smarting debut from The Scratch for whom everyday would be locked into 1977 is they had their own way. A homage to the Buzzcocks stupendous debut ‘Spiral Scratch’ as done by Magazine, okay a bit unfair but you get a sense of where this lot are coming from, all gritty retro fun, rumbling bass lines and set to stun three chord shocks, impossible to stay still to for any given period, a razor sharp gem of a release. Flip the disc for the stripped down holler of the frenzied mutant garage punk / disco groove of ‘Trigger finger’ which recalls the New York Dolls / Black Halos sleaze and lays it all to dust with a serious boot shaking foundation, call it a scuzzier bad assed half cousin to Radio 4 / Lomax, essential in case you needed telling.[

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