tales from the attic – volume XXI – bumper Xmas missive….

Tales from the Attic
Volume XXI

Bumper Christmas Jingle Jangle Missive

Revolutions of a 45 and 33 kind.

This extended missive features a Christmas cool gathering of turntable treats from……

Helen love, Sebastian melmoth, smoke fairies, the silhouettes, miserable rich, theatre royal, the luck of eden hall, rich bennett, merinuk, soporus, maps and diagrams, primitives, pins, holly berries, poly styrene and gold blade, belle ghoul, nick garrie, steve blood, jagga, simian ghost, young husband, snowbird, sharon jones and the daptones, crystalline Jacqueline, keys, honey pot, shadow kabinet, modecai smyth, green question mark, devils jukebox, strange turn, moon band, beauliea porch, eighteen nightmares of lux, man overboard, set it off, all time low, sea surfer, menage a trois, ummagma, deadline shakes, jubilee courts, maria taylor, Epstein, velvet underground, essaie pas, apatt, Helen love, 6ftplus, shout bamalama, hyper bubble, Sebastian melmoth, benbo and oli spleen, yellow6, festive 50, dandelio radio, antonymes, theapplesofenergy, offthesky, isnaj dui, olan mill, Gideon wolf, david newlyn, wil Bolton, james murray, listening mirror, clem leek, spheruleus, ultrasound, the motifs, rod Thomas, james yuill, akira, and what will be left of them, bear suit, black tulips, chris tt, cops on the edge, copy haho, fight likes apes, finlay, fonda 500, Helmholtz resonators, home science, je suis animal, joy of sex, keyboard choir, levelload, long blondes, little eifell and the birthday girl, me my head, milky wimpshakes, Monroe transfer, napoleon IIIrd, pagan wanderer lu, pains at being pure at heart, piney gir, scul hazzards, Sarandon, the bridport dagger, the loves, the lucksmiths, the new royal family, toy toy, their hearts were full of spring, Vatican cellars, wet dog, whose the daddy now, chevelles, Christmas a go go, Clarence carter, eddie argos and keith totp, Edward ka spell, electric prunes, elvis, fab four garage punk, goblin, holly and the Katie winter, hot slop, jonny cola and the a grades, kinks, len price 3, lovely eggs, ramones, state of mind, the gang, Victorian English gentlemens club, tina sugadh, awesome weklls, bobby mcgees, brian setzer orchestra, detox cutie and the beauty junkies, dumb instrument, eardrum, 80’s matchbox, fever fever, fountain, florida rocks, Gresham flyers, hearts attacks, hotpants romance, little my, micropenis, mj hibbert, motifs, penny broad Hurst, pocket gods, rod Thomas, seven inches, stark palace, ten tigers, tenebrous liar, the very most….. ,

And so to the end of year selections. Long time readers of these missives will be all too familiar with our reluctance to cast our votes in such matters, personally because I think they are superfluous fillers for printed titles to use as an excuse for giving staff writers a few weeks off during the silly season. Added to that you are always bound to miss something which has snared your heart more often than not at the start of the year – so at this stage – apologies if that’s been the case. That said we’ve had our arms twisted by the guys at God is in the TV to commit. So against principles here’s our favourite 10 albums of 2013 – well 12 because we’re awkward tykes. The top 4 would have been the top 4 regardless – though not wishing to detract from 5-12 quite frankly there’s been so many wonderful albums this could have been open season – safe to say if we mentioned your album then consider yourself amongst this lot on merit.

Magik markers – surrender to the fantasy
The bordellos – ronco revival sound
Schizo fun addict – the sun yard
Chantal acda – let your hands be my guide
Beautify junkyards – s/t
Lanterns – rock n’ roll Rorschach
Hookworms pearl mystic
Atom eye -the otolith sessions
Oiseaux-Tempete – s/t
Toy – join the dots
Crystal Jacqueline – sun arise
Laura J Martin – dazzle days

As to the tracks of the year – I suggest you thumb through the blog entries via http://www.marklosingtoday.wordpress.com for enlightenment as it gives a perfect insight as to where our headspace is at any given time, however if I was to choose the tracks of the year based on –

1. The track that made me cry and had me much humbled
2. The track that had me going wow
3. The track that’s had us manically hitting the repeat button and connecting us with our younger self…….

Then these are the dudes…..

1. Bordellos – temperature drop
2. Georges Vert – interrupteur jones
3. The new fabian society – Barbarossa

Quite simply enchanting. Following on from our mentioning the garlands festive fancy as part of the snowflakes Christmas singles box, the label have been in touch with links for the three errant winter warmers that make up and complete this rather wonderful set. As previously these releases feature an original on one side and a cover on the other and arrive as limited edition 500 only gems all pressed up on snow white wax. Amid this little treasure box a nugget from the adorable Smoke Fairies here accompanied by Neil Walsh on viola duties. ’simple feeling’ is utterly adoring, a timeless trimming of ethereal folk, all at once ghostly and alluring as though some siren-esque calling card from a fog bound enchanted woodland stirring shyly like a youthful Laura J Martin retracing as were the snow pressed footprints of a teenage Kate Bush and concocting spell crafting love potions from musical recipes made up of equal parts Tunng, Mellow Candle, Fairport Convention and Men An Tol. A bewitching bouquet oozing in a fuzzy inner warmth. Over on the flip incidentally a cover of ’I wonder as I wandr’ alas no sound clips but I bet its beautiful.

Next up, the same label and also part of that four way Snowflakes seasonal series the Silhouettes shimmy up to the plate with the affectionately lilting ’under the Mistletoe’. a chime chirping snow flurry of a love note sweetly stirred in 60’s fizz pop motifs all daintily dinked and demurred into a cosy toed twee tweaked slice of becoming bubble groove which reference wise has its settings turned to swoon as it shimmers along as though the result of a three way summit meeting between the Shangri La’s, the Shaggs and the pains at being pure at heart hosted by Spector. Flip side is a cover of ‘a merry little Christmas’ – again alas no sound links and again limited to 500 copies all on white wax.

Last of the Snowflakes treats comes courtesy of the miserable rich who to much embarrassment – on our behalf not theirs you understand – haven’t featured in these pages for a fair few years. Described as a sort of song of song about ’not feeling Christmassy, then buying loads of presents, having a few drinks and then feeling very Christmassy and celebrating with oodles of trumpets’ or at least words to that effect, we do love song descriptors, profits from this release go to the Philippine victims of typhoon haiyan so dig deep. As previously pressed on white limited to 500 copies and sure to sell like hot mulled wine on an ice frosted night, ’everything you wanted’ this indeed starts off quite mellowed and somewhat wind blown all bitter sweetly hued in weeping strings and echoing whistles which I must say there ought to be a law that all bands include at least just once on their sonic catalogue. Anyhow this bundle of frostiness soon blossoms and unfurls into a, dare we say, sumptuously crafted slice of strut-a-rama shoe shuffling effervescent loveliness flanked by Beatle-esque string corteges on one side and ablaze in trumpeting fanfares the other shoehorned between all this aglow in the kind of sighing frailty of the low anthem, kind of instils a warm fuzzy inner glow.

Seems like someone has been busying themselves making study of crafting the perfectly purred seasonal sonic present out of eyeing the Spector handbook of jaunty rock-a-hula and effervescent pop. Out via the Vacilando68 imprint (expect more from the label later on) this sugar rushed slice of snow fairy magic comes from the theatre royal and friends – the friends incidentally in question being a tree gathering festive choir made up of members of the muswells, the dredgermen and kids unique all tipsy of the seasonal air of merriment, mirth and good spirit. ‘I believe in Father Christmas (I don’t want socks)’ is a digital only Christmas cracker festooned in sleigh bells, chime shimmers and sighing 60’s bubble grooved shimmies all kissed with an audaciously infectious feel good sing a long hook hugging chorus line and dipped in a divinely twinkling sepia framed warmth. All proceeds from sales go to Crisis UK. http://www.theatreroyal.bandcamp.com/track/i-believe-in-father-christmas-i-dont-want-socks

And so to the Luck of Eden Hall, by way of an introduction should you need one, Chicago’s finest alchemists of psychedelic buzz pop. ‘Victoria Moon’ their latest full length has been attracting admiring glances – reviews here shortly. For now though something of a rare treat leaked by way of band camp. ‘Noel and other holiday classics’ gathers together four collectable nuggets culled from various limited issues or pulled from seasonal radio session broadcasts. The set starts with the brief but bracing yuletide salutations of ’lucky Christmas time’ – a fuzz packed snowballing gem stuffed choc-a-bloc with kooky power popping shimmers, slinky sleigh twinkles and Christmas bells all resplendently wrapped up and bow tied in a discernible E6 crafting. Next up and decked in all manner of day-glo trimmings and harmonic halos ‘Noel’ appears adorned in the kind of quickly drilled buzz bombed pop groove which was very much the trademark once upon a time of Velvet Crush though here caught taking sneak peeks at the dB’s songbook. Elsewhere there’s a pretty nifty and lazy eyed take on ‘the little drummer’ here dream weaved in a vintage psych tapestry blended upon lysergic candy twists and reverse loop glazes which all said as woozy as it is pales in the shadow of the parting ‘wonderful red stockings’. tapping directly in the mindset of those dukes of the stratosphear dudes and mainlining heavy on ‘rubber soul’ era Beatles, this hallucinogenic honey literally throws the kaleidoscopic kitchen psink into the mix and ratchets up scramble dials for maximum psych out freakiness. Any questions? http://www.theluckofedenhall.bandcamp.com/album/noel-and-other-holiday-classics

More crystal tipped elegance from Australia’s hidden shoal imprint, seems the label are including in December orders a free download of Rich Bennett’s ’music for underwater supermarkets’ – no doubt inspired in part by both Eno and Jarre – with every copy purchased of monocle’s ‘transpacific sound paradise’. from that digital freebie – we assume – comes a cover of Charlie Brown’s ‘Christmas is here’, described by the label as dream lounge – and who are we to argue – this slice of ice sculptured sereneness thaws in at just 2 and a half minutes, a gorgeously mesmerising lunar lullaby showered in celestial opines all weaved from the same kind of stuff that fixes the stars in the night sky not to mention sweetly hazed in a heavenly haloing of harpsichords. Beguiling. http://www.soundcloud.com/hidden_shoal/rich-bennett-xmas-time-is-here

And staying with all things Christmas related here’s something strange and unusual yet all the same quite essential from the flannel graph imprint, a label I should say of whom I’m certain we’ve mentioned in passing in various dispatches. Again we’ve got this on the back burner in readiness for inclusion in our bumper seasonal missive . it’s a compilation entitled ’the holidays don’t have to be so rotten – volume 4’ which aside title alone suggesting its been beaten to the punch by three previous instalments, gathers together 19 artists all bringing with them their alternate takes on the yuletide musical recipe. Again as with previous releases mentioned here – notably the ’for folk’s sake’ compilations, profits from this go to a Bloomington based addiction recovery centre by the name of the Amethyst house. Anyway as previously loads of nuggets here though for now it’s the Soporus cut ’dad’s home movies of me with my transformers’ that tweaked our ear lobe, you guessed it mainly for the title, kind of stands out, but that shouldn’t detract from the sounds within, orbital waveforms, analogue symphonic electronics that ought to appeal to admirers of the Weird imprint and strangely enough old school Din Disc / Factory groove and here I’m thinking very early OMD, a perfect bedfellow all said to that recent trase archive find via finders keepers, best described as a lunar ice cream van piping out bitter sweet Radiophonic opines, does it for us. http://www.flannelgraphrecords.bandcamp.com/album/the-holidays-dont-have-to-be-so-rotten-volume-4

Better dust down your seasonal smoking jacket for some ultra cool groove heading this way courtesy of Jeff Hershey and the Heartbeats. Released via the Soundflat imprint and adorned in an eye catching garage grotesque artwork by Merinuk ’Santa Claus is a monster’ finds Jeff Hershey and the Heartbeats stumbling upon the true Santa, here dutifully revealed as a drunken cookie munching, milk stealing elf slave master in this vintage sounding creeping cool yuletide soul blues sortie, a mirthfully macabre soulful shanty festooned in 50’s bubble grooved sepia and trimmed in terrified tinsel to be located somewhere between Cab Calloway and Screaming Jay Hawkins. Over on the flip there’s two more seasonal soirees, one being a cover of the Sonics ’Santa Claus’ the other ’don’t believe in Christmas’.

Says here ‘available as a limited 7 inch pressed up on surf foam coloured vinyl’ which we’d love to describe if we had a copy to fondly hold, hug and of course play to death. More Christmas cuteness this time from the Hollyberries and their cut ’(I wanna go) surfin with Santa’ – this little yuletide honey seems to have been making seasonal forays since its original release in 2009, written by Kip Brown of Shock fame this babe comes pressed up on wax and in seriously limited cassette forms, a Spector-esque snow trimmed surfadelic cutie all decorated in baubles, twinkling lights and a festooning of tinsel and turned, cooed and zipped up by a deliciously affectionate golden age 50’s poppified bubble grooved winter warming wrap. Dare you wish for more, well the cassette would be nice – out via freak beat for the vinyl and burger for the cassette….here’s a quite seasonally sinister video to accompany it…..

Okay – drum roll at the ready…boom, rat ta tat tat – hang on, is that all can muster, I mean was it really worth the effort, I say effort as an act of kindness, come on if you want to make an impression, an impact, an entrance – you do it in style, grandeur and epic stateliness – a bit like Ultrasound who by all accounts are shortly to release a Christmas single, yep you read right, a fecking seasonal single and have cobbled together a b-movie styled trailer to announce its imminent arrival – reel back aghast ’modranicht’ is pagan, ’modranicht’ is love, ’modranicht’ is re-birth – alas ’modranicht’ is no sounds or clues as to how it goes, guess you’ll have to wait until its release date, and just in case you were wondering that’ll be next week as to ‘modranicht’ roughly translates as ‘mother’s night’ a pre Christian winter solstice celebration of motherhood, survival, death and life – cheery souls aren’t they…….

More seasonal shenanigans this time from the Pins. This honey features on the flip of their forthcoming Bella Union single ‘waiting for the end’ as well as appearing on the bands own Christmas cassette – more about that in a second. ‘kiss me quick (its Christmas)’ is your three minute tinsel trimmed twang-a-rama groove, immaculate in short, like a Christmas tree gathering of Ronettes and Shangri-La’s types replete with Link riff growls, sleigh bells and a smattering of fairy dust, what more could you wish for – well it seems the blighters might well have beaten you to the punch on that one because they’ve rounded up a party list of friends each of them donating a Christmas chestnut of their own with the proceeds from sales of the 12 cassette entitled incidentally ‘hymns’ going to the SWAP charity who help and assist refugees and asylum seekers. Among the roll call assembled – post war glamour girls, September girls, the supreme god, brown brogues, zissou society and many more – all comes housed in a natty looking prayer book type tape cover – go to http://www.hausofpins.co.uk/shop for more info…..
http://www.soundcloud.com/house-of-pins/kiss-me-quickly-its-christmas

Backed by a rather robust and worthy campaign to get it to the Christmas number one spot, Damaged Goods bring out the big guns with the release of ‘City of Christmas Ghosts’. a very special release it should be said as it features the late and sadly missed Poly Styrene with Goldblade. A charity release with proceeds going to the sterling work done by the St Michaels Hospice in Hastings. A gruff punked out call to arms is the order of the day all replete with ear candy Marco Pirroni styled spaghetti twangs, Goldblade’s John Robb doing his best Joe Strummerisms with Poly on hand as though the clocks had stopped in ’79, essential stuff.

And did we just mention the Primitives, getting good at this seamless link lark aren’t we. Anyhow this was originally out last year but has been gathered up on a by all accounts killer Christmas compilation being put out by the Elefant imprint a label who at one time used to send us loads of lovely things when we were losing today and who then sadly let us slip from their mailing lists. There was much heartache I can tell you. Entitled ‘a Christmas gift for you from Elefant’ this initially aired last year and featured a gathering around the snow tipped tinsel tree of Elefant friends, folk and family – among the seasonal cast modular, attic lights, the magic theatre, bmx bandits, fitness forever and so much more besides including the Primitives who stepped up to the fairy dust smothered plate with ’you trashed my Christmas’. fuzz buzzed break up pop is the order of the day festooned in twinkling sleigh bells and seasonal Spector styled swoon, in short a simply stunning slice of snow shimmered strut pop – you can all the songs via the elefant you tube channel at….

Staying with Elefant a little while longer, it appears they have a brace of treats out now that quite frankly deserve the descriptor essential listening. First up from Belle Ghoul who are currently putting the top coat finish to a debut album planned for release next year. Amid their ranks they feature an Electric 6-er and Jesse Smith – daughter of Patti and Fred Sonic. Entitled ‘songs by other people’ this three track offering is a homage to artists who’ve moved, shaped, inspired and informed the Belle Ghoul journey into pop. Amid the grooves a little Zombies nugget, something by Nick Drake and a little lost treat by Harry Nillson. Originally aired on their ‘odessey and oracle’, I’d always held the notion that ’care of cell ’44’ was one of those untouchable types, much like most of Drake’s work, just perfect as it was and not up for re-evaluation, aside being one of the best and strangest things to have tripped out of the 60’s, its blessed with such an arresting sun shiny radiance that repeat listens herald the occasioning of swooning fits. In the hands of Belle Ghoul its kooky spirit is captured and honed with crystal clear clarity albeit sounding less madcap and distracted than the original it assumes a hitherto unseen lushly hushed baroque pop uncovering which all said sounds more like Left Banke under the watchful eye of Van Dyke Parks. Talking of Van Dyke Parks, loose connections alert for ’swee’ pea’s lullaby’ – originally by Nillson and included on the Dykes’ scored ’Popeye’ film – the string saturated rephrasing by Belle Ghoul is simply bewitching, a sepia trimmed Technicolor dream coat that sounds as though its stepped straight out of a 40’s styled Disney dream factory is all we’ll say about it. Last up Nick Drake’s ’free ride’ – one of those rare occasions when a cover appraisal gets it and rather than seeking to better the original rather more adds a differing perspective to its legacy. In recent times Rhys Marsh and the Beautify Junkyards have done just that with such exquisite execution, add to that list these guys for their take relocates it away from Drake’s faraway mellowed rustic gaze and supplants upon it a spectral soft psych aura distilled in the smoky monochrome haze of fog bound Church key corteges which by our reckoning sounds a tad like a certain Julian Cope channelling the spirit of Syd Barrett. Well cool. http://www.soundcloud.com/belle-ghoul/care-of-call-44

Second of those promised elefant treats takes the guise of a little familiar slice of old school Christmas candy, a traditional take on the carol classic ‘In the bleak midwinter’ by Nick Garrie. Now would that be the same Nick Garrie who scored the ultra rare lost ‘69 treasure ’the nightmare of JB Stanislaw’ – indeed it is, here found exchanging melodic Christmas treats by way of an aglow and hushed version of the yuletide trembler here accompanied by the Meadowbrook Montessori School choir, its delicate demurred trimming kind of fills you with a fuzzy inner warmth.

Another release that’s managed to worm its way to bypassing our defences is the debut platter from Steve Blood, well I say debut platter for Steve has been around the musical block for a while in the mid 90’s heading up the Woof imprint and as Wide Receiver riding the early wave of the big beat scene and then forging something of a lucrative career on the back of remix commissions. Here paired up with Andrew Lee they’ve known each other since their teens, Andrew having been in the early 90’s combo the Scarey Men. ‘the Last Xmas’ here in four variations is a bruised winter warming ballad tailored in introspection and classically measured and turned in a lost song craft vintage much reminiscent of a yuletide yearning that once upon a time cut its teeth upon the snow framed icing by a certain Greg Lake, a picturesque posy of pastoral flurries and a sweetly demurred Dickensian picture card framing. Same track but here re-housed as the ’tuscan leather vocal mix’ wherein its invested in oodles upon oodles of crunching trip hop beats all haloed in a quiet majesty. Elsewhere there’s the stripped to the bone spectral dance sophisticat that is the ’Armstrong factory mix though all said we suggest you seek out the ‘audiotrip space dub’ version which as it says on the tin is a trippy Orb-y styled celestial dubtronic groove machine sumptuously spaced out in twinkling chill toned down tempo motifs. http://www.thelastxmas.com

More aural festive baubles for your Christmas listening tree this time from Jagga of whom alas we have absolutely no information other than to say there’s a little back story to this shy eyed gem. Per the press release ‘that day in December’ was recorded in 2010 at a time of heightening concern as to the coming 2012 wherein some believed the end of the world was nigh and that the dawning of a new age of enlightenment was fast approaching. Alas none of the above happened, the rich just got richer, the poor a lot poorer with one third of the world in war torn chaos, another third starving to death while the rest shrug their shoulders comatose on a cheap diet of bad reality TV, cheap booze and blissful ignorance while politicians far and wide turn another degree towards the right. The apocalypse started long ago the only difference being its not at the hands of celestial beings with wings or horns but at the hand of man himself. Well enough of this cheeriness and back to Jagga – who after all that we still have no information on – as said songs about two lovers at the precipice of the end of days looking on at the beauty of destruction. Quite morbid when you come to think of it. Anyhow as the track itself a gorgeously hollowed slice of celestial shimmering, disquietingly beautiful and hurting paraded in hulking trip hop beats and framed in shoe gazed silvery ambient orbs all braided in a glorious resonating panoramic hymnal like down tempo dusting and not for the first time this missive much calling to mind the Aloof most notably their cut ’one night stand’. scarcely a dry eye in the house. http://www.soundcloud.com/jaggamusic/that-day-in-december-1

I feel compelled to say that this is getting a tad bit daft now, no sooner do we dispatch one killer groove then along comes another in rapid fire succession. Out via playground very soon – this week in fact – new single from Swedish pop dynamos Simian Ghost ‘a million shining colours’ is a bit of beauty. Replete with honeyed harmonies and swooned by the affectionate caress of sun bathed sea breezes, this radiant sugar kissed sweetie is steeled in the kind of beautified Byrdsian jangle shimmering that once arrested platters bearing the hallowed name Clock Strikes 13 upon them, not to say here found honed exquisitely and pristinely pressed into a sub four minute slice of tingle toned effervescent magicalia. New album ’the veil’ is rumoured to be planning its descent into pop world orbit shortly.

Just listen to those Link-tastic riff growls don’t they just have you purring. Seasonal snow shimmied pressie from those nice folk over at Sonic Cathedral comes in the guise of a new thing from younghusband. A festive treat no less for their version of Margo Guryan’s ‘I don’t intend to spend Christmas without you’ was premiered live yesterday evening at their show at the Social in London wherein the band served out mince pies along with a smart URL to download the song. In short two a half minutes of glam garnished smoking gun 50’s bubble grooving with a kicking Spector-esque 60’s shimmied twang – what’s not to love……

I’ve long suspected that there exists in Scandinavia some government funded secret operation pay rolling a factory producing a conveyor belt line of audaciously perfect pop combos. Latest to the list the Garlands who we happened across by pure accident when doing a spot of background on the aforementioned younghusband cover. It seems that this lot have also covered ’I don’t intend to spend Christmas without you’ on the flip side of a newly rephrased version of a self penned nugget of their own entitled ’Christmas song’. limited to just 500 copies and pressed up on dinky white wax 7’s this is one of four releases being put out by the Snowflakes imprint as part of their first Christmas singles club. We’ll try and nab the other three for later mentions. For now though the crystal tipped ’Christmas song’ – what can we say – utterly adorable, a playfully affectionate pristine pop posy lightly dusted in the affectionate lilt of an early 70’s Beach Boys dialect all gorgeously dilly dallied with a sweetly arrested Free Design flightiness that’s sumptuously haloed in baroque pop braids that sigh with Left Banke ingenuity all sugar rushed in harpsichords, oboes and sleigh bells, St Etienne admirers will swoon longingly. Okay yes maybe it does sound a tad ’I get the sweetest feeling’ but hey – still perfect….

Indeed we mentioned this in an earlier missive, perhaps one of the most elegant and elegiac tracks we’ve had the pleasure of hearing all year. The debut release from Snowbird – essentially a new post Cocteau project by Simon Raymonde here aided and abetted by the siren-esque tones of Stephanie Doyen. An album is imminent on bella union towards the tail end of January entitled ‘moon’ for now though debuting teaser ‘porcelain’ is set to arrest and break hearts. I’m still of the mind that this is the closest thing to heaven as your ever likely to get, all at once bewitching and beguiling, traced in a rare beautified sepia framed classicism sculptured as were from the delicate whittling of an Antonymes scoring and cooed by a mesmerising spell craft brought to bear by Doyen’s soft enchantment. Exquisite. Video to the track goes something like this….

More Christmas cuteness this un comes from Sharon Jones and the Dap Tones. Originally appearing on 2010’s ‘soul time’ album ‘ain’t no chimney’s in the projects’ have been dusted down, spruced up and accompanied by a killer cute animated video. As to the track itself a festive ghetto anthem coolly smoked in the finest vintage soul funk threads that the 60’s ever had to offer up, except these dudes aren’t some forgotten relic recently awoken from slumber instead they are cooking hot aural alchemists plugging directly into a rich old school seam that channels Sly Stone albeit purred with the same kind of soft slinky uber cooled craft as so often put out by the lancashire hustlers who used to be the BDI’s at one time though before that were the Panda Gang – all headed up by a voice you’d swear was the result of a cross wiring DNA fusion of Bettye Lavette and Etta James personas. Gem like.

A very special release indeed and something which we were considering holding back on until our Christmas bumper missive but frankly couldn’t resist and anyhow its out sometime this week and is strictly limited to just 100 CD copies and available as an unlimited download. From the Mega Dodo imprint a seasonal compilation no less entitled ‘home for Christmas‘ – a stellar gathering of talents some unknown, some known and some soon to be known all donating their time for free with all proceeds from this going to the Salvation Army. Now ordinarily I’d agree with you on the ’what Christmas – we’ve just got over the strife and commercialism of having kids with begging bowls rolling up the path dressed in naff looking Halloween garb’ – but the Salvation Army along with countless other charity organisations do a sterling job in helping those less fortunate and not just at Christmas but every single day of the year and it’s a constant source of annoyance and hurt in trying to be proud of a nation headed up by politicians who callously sit in ivory towers expecting the majority of us to tighten our belts to pay for the mess that the elite have caused through greed and cheating whilst watching the gap between the have’s and the have not’s growing wider by the day. Rant over. Eleven musical baubles hang twinkling upon the grooves of this cutely cosy release, a mix of original ditties and familiar old friends season this winter warmer. Here you’ll be serenaded by the alluring sultry purr of Crystal Jacqueline’s lysergic lilt ’on Christmas day’ all showered in a warming glam psych pout ushered by a tenderly trimmed hymnal hue and cosy toed by a magical seasonal card glow of crackling open fires and an affectionate peace to all kiss. Those much loving of honeyed melodies and homely hushed harmonies may do well to steer yourselves in the general direction of the Keys ’queuing up for Christmas’ – prized from their see monkey do monkey released ’Christmas’ EP – this little gem is oozed in a vintage 60’s craft echoing bitter sweetly to a pristine pop matrix as though hand carved by Bacharach and David and rephrased by a youthful Ashley Park. The honey pot – who incidentally feature again later this missive – weigh seasonal anchor with the dream drifting mirage that is ’angel in the sky’ – a gorgeously woozy treat longingly sugar rushed in halos of softly dissipating seafaring riptides all cooed in a mellowing faraway lazy eyed yearn. Culled from their ’smiling worlds apart’ album the excellently named the shadow kabinet craft a similar olde world kaleidoscopic psych folk tapestry as that of the long admired Soft Hearted Scientists, rustic hues, Beatles-esque mosaics, floral flutes and tip toeing string arrangements endow all in a becoming introspective baroque enchantment. Label old guard Mordecai Smyth – now there’s a name to ghoulishly conjure with – steps to the plate with a spirited version of Jona Lewie’s ’stop the cavalry’ (I should admit at this point that I’m not the greatest fan of this particular ditty) though I will say that Mr Smyth does at least win us around somewhat by laying off the full on-ness of the original and spiriting it with a lazy eyed lolloping and ramshackle campfire glow. Sure we’ve mentioned trolley in previous dispatches at one time or another, ’I’ll be home for Christmas’ prized from their 2011 Christmas EP is a razor sharp buzz sawing power popping present that by rights ought to appeal to admirers of platters grooved by the wares of the Velvet Crush. Last featured in these pages courtesy of their killer version of the hollies lost nugget ’Pegasus’, the green question mark return to the fold with a rather nifty Troggs meets Pretty Things festive fuzz-a-rama fancy in the shape of the suited and booted strut garage beat grooved ’santa claus’ which by our ears sounds as though its been time travelled straight out of an early 60’s Hamburg club scene and remained elusive from prying Nugget vault diggers eyes ever since. Might just be me but devil’s jukebox sound as though they’ve been sneaking more than their fair share of the Christmas punch for this rendition of ‘white Christmas’ here summarily sozzled and treated to varying attempts by the assembled gathering at Dean Martin and Bing stylees and of course loveably daft with it. Originally done by the three wise men – an XTC in disguise alter ego – ‘thanks for Christmas’ is given a cheery pruning by Strange Turn and re-wired into a strangely worse for wear sounding Syd Barrett albeit as though stumbling under the cover of night into the Spector lair and being kissed by a Christmas fairy that’ll be Roy Wood in disguise and then having quickly read up on a manual for ‘making the perfect Christmas tune’ has summoned forth a whole arsenal of festive trimmings and shoved them in the merry magic cooker for voila this chiming, chirping, children caroling wonderland. Need I say more – a single is expected soon. If I had to choose the best moment or in this case the best moments of the collection then first up would without doubt be the hare and the moon band’s haunting rendition of ‘the snow it melts the soonest’ here given a gloriously lulling monastic treatment all phrased in an archaic English folk tongue and sounding not unlike some ghostly and spectral carol service attended upon by Men an Tol and Dead Can Dance all headed up by those folklorist gurus Tunng. Rubbing shoulders in the affection stakes Beaulieu Porch’s ‘Simon Christmas’ is unreal, a ghostly cortege refracted through a kaleidoscopic viewfinder wherein haunting recitals of ‘God rest ye merry Gentlemen’ are woozily fractured upon a coalescing carousel of hammer film scores and Victoriana tavern shanties all traced in a macabre melodic magicalia by the spectral spellbinding bewitchment of a Komeda craft – nuff said. Essential. http://www.megadodo.bandcamp.com/album/home-for-christmas

Strictly speaking not really festive at all but we’re getting to thinking that too much seasonal saccharine can rot your earlobes. Step forward Eighteen Nightmares at the Lux – bad assed dudes with a thing for twang trashed voodoo blues. Of course band name alone should give enough warning that these imps pray at the dark altar of the Cramps. There’s an EP about to drop entitled ‘Pig’ from off which comes lifted ‘6ft6’ outed over the Christmas season to serve as a taster tipple as to what‘s coming fast down the track . wasted swamp dragged b-movie boog-a-loo all at once camp, kitsch and so sleazy it makes you squirm, primal rock-a-hula blues curdled in a prime time Cramps frenzy and wired upon the kind of trashed out lo-fi dragster growl that was once the trademark kiss cool poke in the eye groove of the Mummies. Any questions….

Out now via fearless is the punk goes Christmas compilation set, a pogo-tastic punked up seasonal sledgehammer gathering together 12 of the undergrounds leading three chord rapscallions crowd surfing and slam dancing their way through a mix of original penned treats and covers of familiar roasted chestnuts of festive times gone. Well I say slam dancing and crowd surfing – but obviously some people’s notion of punk is more sugary than my interpretation. Three selections feature here with Man Overboard being the first to step up to the decoratively festooned plate with ‘father Christmas’- perhaps the best of the three showcased cuts, EMO punk rumbles very much in the Green Day mould all kissed with a kick botty chorus hook. Set it Off stump up ‘this Christmas (I’ll burn it to the ground)’ – obviously inspired by an evenings viewing of Christmas flicks mainly for the fact that it lifts heavily upon reference markers that no doubt imagining some dastardly and demented duo pairing together of impish Jack Skellington and the Grinch types – kind clever and ridiculously catchy. Last up all time low go for a spot of 50’s bubblegum pop swooned in the merest of glam teased twinkling for ’fool’s holiday’ – why oh why then am I hearing some weird E17 meets Alvin Stardust happening is pretty much beyond me, scary……

I seem to recall mentioning this in passing a little while back when we touched upon Seasurfer, a new compilation from Saint Marie records entitled ‘static waves 2’ which seeks to unearth and bring to wider exposure some of the finest dream pop ensembles currently bubbling beneath the shoe gaze spectrum. We only mention this again because we’ve happily stumbled over another of the sets cuts this time by Cloud from the Sea. Entitled ‘ever new’ this celestial love note woos and coos buoyed upon ethereal vapour trails seduced in spectral whispers and frosted tipped heavenly orbs to shimmer its ghostly amorphous astral folk murmurs whilst simultaneously drawing the invisible dots together that exist between Dead Can Dance and Heather Duby. Utterly enchanting. http://www.saintmarierecords.bandcamp.com/album/static-waves-2

And back with Christmas gubbins once again, this lot apparently eased a debuting cassette ‘the bogans of death’ beneath our usually ever watchful radar which amid its track listing included a cover of the Bee Gees ‘islands in the stream’. well here’s the latest from Menage a Trois – a faithful re-reading of that yuletide Chapman / Chinn tearjerker ’lonely this Christmas’. of course made famous by Mud who took it all the way to the summit of the pop single charts way back in black n’ white, flares and platform days of yore and much aping Elvis as I seem to recall. As said faithfully teased by Menage a Trois even right down to its titsy bitsy golden aged sepia draped 50’s styled bubble grooving and packed with enough forlornly crushed trimming as to thaw the heart of a snowman, tissues please…… http://www.soundcloud.com/the-bogans-of-death/m-nage-trois-lonely-this/s-26K3U

We mentioned Ummagma in passing a missive or two ago, a dream pop duo – Alex and Shauna be their names – who in recent times have come up on the radar of a certain Robin Guthrie no less. New twin set out just now via emerald and Doreen is your classically drilled shoe gaze swoon, lead out track ‘rotation’ emerging from out of a hazy showering of fuzzy flurries to resplendently seduce the star set heavenly formations in a softly unfurling floorshow of sonic snow bursts much adored as were as though emerging from the subdued and lovelorn hand of a ‘loveless’ era My Bloody Valentine. That said we’re quite smitten in truth by the flip cut ‘live and let die’ – alas not the McCartney Bond cut of old but a self penned slice of smoky 60’s styled lounge torch loveliness that manages to trade a down tempo kitchen sink cool of St Etienne with the alluring sophisticat elegance of Musetta, in short a class apart. http://www.ummagma.bandcamp.com/album/rotation-live-and-let-die

Fools that we are, blame it on a year peppered with so many killer tracks, one single that we forgot to mention when going through the brief list of highlights is the current honey from the Deadline Shakes. Out just now ‘a bright spot in a bad year’ via flowers in the dustbin – this perfect pop posy pirouettes on the kind of effervescent sunbursts that was once the remit of the heartstrings add in some Abba twirls and voila – instant delight…..video here….

Not strictly a Christmas release, in fact it has no connection to Christmas at all, included in this particular festive soiree mainly because we mentioned his hidden shoal activities earlier on in this despatch. Seems no sooner did we file our review of Rich Bennett’s re-appraisal of ’Christmas is here’ then arriving from Italy via the mail dropped his forthcoming self released set ’DiBenedetto’. per the press release it seems Mr Bennett has been somewhat mournful and feeling as though he’s betrayed and neglected his guitar in recent times in favour of the synthesiser. To redress the balance and in someway seeking to reconnect to his roots he returned to Sicily discovered he had a long and rich Italian lineage and that his name was in fact DiBenedetto hence the title of this set. it was also here that he was reacquainted with his love of the guitar with said affection manifesting beautifully on this 5 track self released opus. So what do you get in exchange for your hard earned cash, in short a well crafted, varied and lushly toned selection of purring portraits opening to the exquisite rephrasing of Morricone’s ’Il Grande Silenzio’ (the big silence). This comes culled from the soundtrack to the oft overlooked spaghetti western film of the same name, here faithfully realised and impacted superbly with the legendary trademark Ennio awareness for the majestic, the climatic and the operatic and dutifully spun into a stirring hypnotic widescreen end game that’s both beguiling and brimming in foretelling whilst simultaneously applied with the kind of deft craft that in recent memory shares an affinity with the likes of Jon Atwood and James McKeown. Admirers of John Barry’s TV / film scores especially ‘the persuaders’ will no doubt swoon in admiration. An altogether different proposition is the sleek and slinky ’lee’s summit’ its smouldering frisky afterglow imagining sultry nights in far flung lands of exotica chilling out under retiring blood red skies. From therein time for a spot of mellowed noir scratched musing courtesy of the dreamily adorned ’narcissus’ here seductively dappled in crystalline rustics sweetly scented in subtle delta motifs that nod snoozily to a Fahey workbook whilst underpinned to the soft opining sigh of Jesse Krakow’s almost smoked out Mick Karn styled bass bliss outs. That said all fall in awe of the statuesque and stilled elegance of ’Cianciana’, liquid reverbs, the delicate detailing of romantic murmurs and the free spirited sereneness endow it with a floaty spectral seduction that much recalls a super chilled Manual. The short but touching ’Oss’ brings matters to a close, a fragile piano led love note all at once brief, bruised and beautiful. magnifico. http://www.richbennettmusic.bandcamp,com

Just out, the debut single from the hotly tipped Northumberland based quintet Jubilee Courts. Entitled ’room with a view’ this acutely angular post punk slab of apocalyptic groove sounds as though its time tunnelled its way from out of a night of the long overcoats celebrating Peel play list c.1980, desperation and resignation seep solemnly from the darkly gouged grooves amid flotillas of austerely despatched spectral riff sirens, hark – do these well trained ears detect a long standing admiration for a youthful Comsat Angels buried deep in the collective psych – I think so.

Moving picture show here….

Another favourite album of ours which we kind of forgot to mention was Maria Taylor’s rather fetching ‘something about knowing’ via saddle creek – reviewed at tales from the attic Volume XIII note takers, well as a treat and a perfect way to apologise for the erroneous forgetfulness here’s a handful of videos and a sound cloud link. First up an acoustic rendition of the sweetly reflective ‘folk song melody’ from said recent album along with a new video to back the absolutely gorgeous Patsy Cline prairie swoon that is ‘up all night’. last up a classic treat now re-issued on vinyl no less. ’a christmas album’ was released originally over a decade ago raising money for the Nebraska AIDS charity, headed up by Bright Eyes Conor Oberst and Maria – taking time out from Azure Ray duties – it featured a gathering of Saddle Creek all stars performing familiar festive chestnuts, courtesy of the link below there’s Conor and Maria re-appraising ‘little drummer boy’……

http://www.soundcloud.com/saddlecreek/little-drummer-boy/s-YDheR

Last outing ‘sophie loren’ was much adored around these here parts, it was of course the flip side to their last single ‘chimes’ which wasn’t a bad ‘un itself all said. The Epstein round off what’s been a successful year what with the glowing reception lavished upon their second full length ‘murmerations’ (which I must admit we have yet to hear) with a special end of year mix tape. Before plans are under way to start recording their third album the band felt there was just enough time to prize another nugget from that aforementioned ‘numerations’ set and rather than lazily dish up the album version they decided to pass the track around various musical friends for them to stamp upon it their own interpretations. So what you have are five versions of ‘Hudson’ – the original, the Phil O wombstep mix, salvation Bill mix, clapping hand remix and TCH remix. First up the original mix imagines idyllic days whiled away under basking summer suns, country coded and dappled sweetly in the sultry arrest of steel guitar florets there’s something here lightly arrested in a seductively alluring prairie glow. Phil O opts to strip matters right back to the bone on his womb step mix, monochrome beats, sparsely clipped samples and moments of frazzled kookiness give this mix an oddly dislocated aura as though it had been put on a hot setting in the frank wobbly and sons tumble dryer. Salvation Bill goes all woozy and dreamy in a fried Panda Bear way for his recalibration while the clapping hand mix relocates things to a lushly heave like chill tipped cavernous cool. Its left to the parting TCH remix to turn in the best of the mixes applying something of hymnal glow to the proceedings the kind of which elicits warm fuzzy feeling all around and with that perfect for the seasonal tidings. http://www.soundcloud.com/the-epstein/sets/hudson-remixtape

The more sceptical among you might consider this something of a cash in, truth be known though that this re-mastered and expanded re-appraisal of ‘white light / white heat’ had long been on the release schedule before the sad news reached us of Lou Reed’s unexpected passing. That said its here and perhaps as fitting a tribute as you could call upon that celebrates the Velvet’s best moments 45th anniversary. The expanded set comes spread across three CD’s and features both stereo and mono mixes augmented with alternative takes, four newly prepped remixes and the complete official release of a Velvets show dating back to April 1967 recorded at the Gymnasium in New York and pulled from John Cale’s own personal cassette of the gig recording. The release is completed by the inclusion of a 56 page hard backed book packed with rare photos, memorabilia and interviews with John Cale and Lou Reed from earlier this year conducted by David Fricke. On a personal note I’ve never tired of ’white light / white heat’, even on repeat listens through the years, though I’ve been well versed at what to expect its always retained that punch to the face awkwardness that I first encountered way back on hearing it originally for the first time in my formative years. All these years on ‘white light / white heat’ stands the test of time, still relevant, still awkward and still pinning and pricking the ears back. Whilst punk cited the Stooges and MC5 as forefathers, for the more abstract and disparate fall out elements from punks initial rebellious belch it was ‘white light / white heat’ that subconsciously spoke and informed their waywardness. Described by one of its co-conspiring creators as ‘a very rabid record’ there’s a pathological unruliness that pervades throughout the original six tracks on this seminal album with each of its creators pulling in opposite directions though unified in the aim to craft something loose, fried and a mirror opposite of their debuting platter. As though intent on antagonising and testing the listeners patience, its darkness for the time must have been choking to the would be listener expecting a second helping of VU and Nico, raw and blooded upon a back to basics template it was a close to home reflection of their lives, their neighbourhood and their very existence. Here you’ll find the twisted tongue in cheek humour of Cale’s spoken word ramble on ’the gift’ back dropped to some fried soft psych noodling sitting alongside the blanked out stoned drone of ’Lady Godiva’s operation’ and the freakish distort ravaged ’I heard her call my name’ with the 17 minute improv blues scowling jam ’sister ray’ providing the main course. As to the extras a cleaned, clearer and dare we say more wired alternate take of ’I heard her call my name’ that sounds more shit faced than the original, a razor hot newly mixed instrumental take of ’guess I’m falling in love’, original mixes of ’temptation inside your heart’ and an arresting version of ’Stephanie says’ and a previously unreleased early version of ’beginning to see the light’ which alas our copy appears to have scrubbed out completely. That said main event here, well for us, is the complete recording of the Gymnasium gig. As said culled from Mr Cale’s own personal cassette and here released for the first time in its entirety – in official terms that is – highlight has to be the previously unreleased ’I’m not a young man anymore’ which is blessed with the finest primitive snake winding riff you’ll hear in an age not to mention kissed with a killer psych blues motif that shuffles along bonged out of its brains smoking its own home grown. Add to that an absolutely barking and scuffed up freak beat blues rendition of ’run run run’ which is so out there and gone that it quite frankly pisses over the original and a seriously skewed slab of ’sister ray’ which in truth shapes up to be more deranged that the eventually studio mix. Essential – I’ll say.

Responsible for causing mild heart flutters in our listening space, we happened across Essaie Pas via band camp during a restless night unable to sleep and desperately in need of hearing something new. A duo residing in Quebec, the only clues here being he plays everything and she plays everything and sings. They’ve just released a limited vinyl 6 track – we’re assuming – debut release entitled ‘nuit de noce’ via teenage menopause / malditos records which is riddled with drop dead cool noir electronics which for description purposes we’ll just say for now sounds like something from the bastard offspring of a Link Wray and Nico bunk up not least on ’hey hey’ wherein the spectral psych blues twangs eke out a brooding dark hearted mantra from out of which emerging from the fog something chilling and suspense riddled looms as though swamp dragged from a David Lynch film. That said parting shot ‘devotion’ is a killer post punk slab of chill noir minimalism shrouded in a deathly bleak beauty that imagines a seriously flat lined Suicide holed up in a late 70’s eastern bloc underground studio cutting shapes with Xmal Deutschland. On the strength of this well worth keeping an eye on, while we hunt down that album here’s the sound links. http://www.teenagemenopause.bandcamp.com/album/nuit-de-noce

I’m suspecting someone here has had their head well and truly dunked in the Christmas punch bowl, we’d like to say the ominous return to these pages of aPAtt. We say ominous because for over a decade now these tykes have baffled public consensus, refusing easy pigeon holing and clearly on a mission to at once deviously delight, frustrate, perplex and indeed piss off all those easy listening folk who prefer their sounds regimentally set out in an easy to follow verse chorus verse formation. Last featured here – I believe – following a much loved release on the much missed pickled egg imprint – blimey has it been that long. Peculiar and fried are words you’d imagine in another age to have been created purely to describe these sonic sore thumbs so imagine our surprise and yes, delight in tripping over this nugget on band camp. A festive toon no less, yes I said toon by the name ’spare a thought for Santa’. always expect the unexpected – of course I should have remembered the aPATt byword, well bugger here’s a toon you can whistle, a stuffed to bursting Christmas carnival shimmered in tinsel twinkles, shimmering sleigh bells and all manner of nostalgic nausea, a kind of bonkers and wired festive hallucinogenic experience where all your Christmases come rushing back thick and fast in cruel flashback formations, a wiring collage of Disney decorations, Christmas parades, salvation army winter warmings all wrapped up, bundled off and crowned by what sounds like Mary Poppins on acid. It’ll still a devious delight, will frustrate, will perplex and indeed no doubt piss off some, job done then. http://www.apatt.bandcamp.com/track/spare-a-thought-for-santa

With its cut ups, samples and manic pop merryisms this cute thing had us fondly remembering the Cuban Boys – remember them eh – anyway this digital darling is the last Elefant records release of the year. A seasonal shimmy from those lovable punk poppers Helen Love here found delivering Christmas delights a plenty in a buzz sawed bouquet brimming with holly-dazed hullabaloo courtesy of ’hark the herald angels’, an utterly addictive tinsel trimmed rock-a-rama festooned with Christmas past visitations all primed with a hook hugging three chord rumble that sounds not unlike a snow shimmered Shonen Knife…..

Did we just mention Shonen Knife a little earlier, Osaka’s favourite three chord buzz poppers are included on a special yuletide pod cast put together by the dudes at 6ftplus. Over 90 minutes of twang dragster groove features on the happy horror holidays mix, aside Shonen Knife’s ’sweet Christmas’ there’s asmodeus setting lit to an old Slade classic of old, some los straitjackets, david allen, satans cheerleaders and more. Cutest of the lot is king kukelele and the friki tikis’ kookily doo-wopped ’hooray for santa claus’ while best moment by far is the haunting chill of nox arcane’s ’ghosts of Christmas past’ and the hymnal shimmer of the ice glowed ’do you hear the sound’ by music for zombies – http://www.6ftplus.gravediggerslocal.com/2013/12.episode-87-happy-horror-holidays-2/

Fancy more pod cast mayhem, lifted from the formidable garage punk hideout – shout bamalama gets jiggy with a bulging sack worth of bad boogie – among the treats the moon glows, mabel scott, darlene love, 5678s, Arthur lyman and more……
http://www.mevio.com/episode/335517/shout-bamalama-10-merry-freakin-x-mess

Somewhere below you’ll find mention of an old hyperbubble cutie from many, many years back – 2008 to be precise. It seems it was spotted by Jeff of the band who kindly corrected us by stating categorically that no Bee Gees samples where harmed or indeed used in said track and to tell us that the band had happily just released only a few days ago a brand new Christmas warmer in the guise of ‘a synthesizer for Christmas’. this cute bundle of flighty electro pop is acutely framed in the same kind of becoming blip groove that once adorned and adored the grooves of platters stumbling out of the weird imprint sound factory, a lo-fi casio-fied Raincoats happy high on a transfusion of Dollar essences with a side serving of BiS for added affection with Tony Mansfield’s lost songbook stashed up their rainbow jumpers for inspiration. In short two minutes of impish android candy pop festooned in kooky chorus baubles and a distractively catchy hook so infectious they ought to provide jabs. Incidentally the song is accompanied by the cutest of animated videos directed by Ambar Navarro.

Now I don’t mind admitting to being a tad bit distressed to receive a package from afar – well London way as it happens – inside of which was included a CD, a tape and a typed note that to paraphrase chillingly read thus ‘….two thirds of us are currently jobless and looks unlikely that we are going to survive the winter…..help us….’. a London based trio going by the name Sebastian Melmoth, for them not the spread of wordy hyperbole of false hope spread by well heeled press houses with influential connections nor the limitless financial backing of some nameless patron; instead their lot is executed and realised upon a slow acting intoxicant from out of which a mercurial craft slowly emerges that whilst not immediate plants a seed that nags, haunts and compels you to hit the repeat button for another serving which if there’s any justice in this world ought to shape up to be your new favourite sound resource. So taken by the contents of this package that there’ll be two bites of the cherry, so to speak, for this lot with the cassette – incidentally entitled ’the nausea of being’ – getting a stand alone review next missive out. For now though their forthcoming aural attraction. Due out next month ’in ruins’ is a bit like rummaging through the best moments of a well heeled record collection, there’s no bandwagon jumping or catching a lift on the latest passing trend or musical mood, if anything Sebastian Melmoth appear to operate in a void, secluded from outer influence and free of infection from blandness. that’s not to say you won’t hear amid these grooves familiar signposts that’ll make to ponder, think and with a wry smile nod sagely. Much like the forlorn macabre foreboding that soundtracks those conspirator theory videos often found on you tube proclaiming such things as the world’s destruction, secret alien intelligentsia, the illuminati and other such, opening cut ‘the engineering of consent’ is to find yourself stumbling hazily and blurry eyed upon a secret sonic summit meeting headed up by a gathering of Goblin and Godspeed types bleakly purring out prophecies of doom and puncturing the falsehoods of existence. On the other hand ‘Miet Mitzvah’ is demurred and traced upon a subtle laid back Velvets afterglow that unfurls midway through into shimmering hazes of fuzzy monochrome post punked dialects to recall elements of Left Hand’s ’minus 8’ set curdled in quick space essences. Long time admirers of the Pixies especially from pre ’Doolittle’ days will do well to fast forward to ’catching up with morrison’, a deadheaded lock grooving mantra that manages to warp within its groove space elements of a flat lining Television and Tom Waits to weave a wiring and darkly crafted slab of fraying odd pop. Somewhere else there’s the sinister dark hearted opine of the grim charcoaled psych blues carnival of the Paul Roland-esque ‘black September’ whilst there’s something uneasy, parched and stricken permeating through the stilled monastic like ‘prosopagnosia’ a stalker like obsessional slab of chilled psychosis that wraps its spidery austere goth-ique spiders in a choking strangle hold like a creepy Felt. The set is brought to a close by ‘Presley Honey’ – all said ‘in ruins’ best moment by a nudge and the merest hairs breadth, certainly the most radio accessible track of the seven and perfectly framed in a psych dub braiding that to these ears had us much recalling a youthful talking heads. An early bench mark setter for 2014 by our reckoning. http://www.sebastianmelmoth.co.uk

Video for ‘miet mitzvah’

Cast your minds back a month or three and you might remember a track ‘I’m gone’ – a collaboration between Schizo Fun Addict’s Jet Winter and Benbo, at the time we foisted upon it observations alluding to it being the sexiest thing on planet pop at that moment – in truth it still is. Anyhow it came part of Benbo’s year long campaign to try and complete 52 collaborations, to date there’s been face off’s with the likes of uber, Pablo, red crayon spider, cat, bagwah, tracey edges, vib, desire line, Eleanor lou and more. This time of asking benbo turns his collaborating sights on Oli Spleen for ’a carol for Joseph’. a one off seasonal gift which we should say now might be liable to cause offence and unease due to its content. Two versions here – the radio edit and the explicit mix – be prepared for swear words and as far as I can recall, the first use of the word hymen in a pop record – though I’m certain some smart alec Fred Dellar type is busy now cobbling together a corrective missive with an abundant list of said tracks that have escaped our listening titled ‘now that’s what I call songs with the word hymen in’. okay so with the warnings in place, ’a Carol for Joseph’ takes the viewpoint of Joseph in so much as the anguish and the mixed emotions at finding his wife Mary with child though not by his doing. Now I don’t want to get into theological arguments the subject matter I’m ill at ease with, safe to say music wise it’s a corker, vocals that lean towards the tindersticks, a trimming of timeless sepia twisted festive melodies that sound as though they’ve ripped straight from a picture postcard Dickensian winter scene made all the more fetching by a delightfully squirreling cello and set to the kind of enigmatic grandeur that was much a feature on the Crimea’s exemplary ‘the secrets of the witching hour’ set. http://www.smarturl.it/spleenbenbo-SPTY

Those of you missing your Christmas disturbia will be happy to hear that after a period of hibernation Scouse imps Windmill Mothglue have awoken. There’s an album out soon awaiting listening love here entitled ‘and so Grandpa Satan came for John’. for now though find yourself a suitable spot behind the sofa and prepare for chills aplenty courtesy of a harrowing 15 minute horror holiday tale of waking dread and n’er do well stirrings from the shadows just out of eye shot. A dark hearted spine tingler from the depths of the beyond of alternative Christmas happenings that don’t alas feature good cheer, festive carolling and seasonal spirit but rather more hi-jinks and horror phonic dread decamped in an ill gotten macabre carnival of penny dreadful recitals and grimly gruesome tricking and treating. Consider yourself warned.

For the last 15 Christmastimes our normally agitant moods brought on by the silly season and all its associated tat, commercialism and thoroughly miserable weather have been somewhat warmed and cooed by the expectant arrival of yellow6’s seasonal offering in the release of his ongoing Merry6mas CD‘s. Much cheer has been afforded and spent in that time transfixed to the sounds emanating from the turntable from said offering that its made the seasonal experience a tad more palatable. As traditional as turkey this limited release was originally given out free to friends, fans and admirers of Yellow6, demand and repute grew such that it became an official release in recent years. This year though word came that the 15th annual soiree nearly never happened. Keen observers will duly note that once responsible for a prolific release schedule there’s been something of an easing off the gas in respect to Yellow6 outings these days, where once these annual selections came adorned in detailed liner notes ‘XV’ arrives bereft of such information just simply stating ‘a collection of new recordings made during 2013’. has, we wonder, Mr Atwood lost interest. We certainly hope not, long admired here, Mr Atwood is one of this nations foremost sound alchemists whose expansive canvas to date has journeyed at turn into the drone, minimalist post rock, space rock, dream pop and ambient outposts, equally adept at crafting the grand and panoramic as he is the lulled and spectral, his craft is both intimate and porcelain in design. Available digitally and as an uber limited hand numbered 100 only CD edition – our copy for note takers is #96 – ’Y6XV’ features over an hours worth of material composed during 2013, included here the complete ’fives’ suite as recently commissioned by the esteemed Silber imprint which I think I’m right in saying includes an array of movements that where clipped from the final edit. On the whole the collection is the most inward looking to date in so much that the prevailing mood appears soured and steeped in loss, that said still steeled and equipped in classicism, poise and elegance, Atwood is a proven past master at the stately, the monolithic and the cinematic as opening salvo ’bright skies’ so ably provides testament. Frosted chime arpeggios softly serenade the undertow of bruised opines, there’s almost a hymnal reverence about its wares as though a bleakly beautiful epitaph suspended in a moment. In sharp contrast the tension unfurling throughout ’calling once more’ coils constrictor like amid a late 60’s suspense styled noir drilling you could easily imagine underpinning a David Lynch chiller elsewhere there’s the slow arrest of the tearfully traced ‘sleep day’ hushed, hurt and hollowed in an introspection all primed upon a John Barry slow fuse. Somewhere else ‘two days previous’ mentioned in passing in previous despatches – notably Tales from the Attic Volume XX – incidentally the briefest cut here is subtly aglow in a shy eyed romance delicately bathed in 60’s inflections and turned in the kind of measured grandeur oft portrayed on Godspeed platters. ‘they look lost’ offers a rare moment of lightness; reflective and softly radiant, a dreamy lull exudes from the grooves to reveal something of a reclining cloud watching beauty. Best of the set ’summershine’ is adorned and shrouded in vapour trailed halos, the motifs brooding and bitter sweet pulsate and prowl to a navigatory path blended upon forlorn and pensive spy themed noir pierced with a quiet majestic stillness that nods to some colluding studio activity between Budd and Mancini. http://www.yellow6.bandcamp.com/releases

Like the seasonal servings from yellow6 another one time traditional listening experience was the tuning in to the legendary Festive 50 hosted by the much missed John Peel – often dominated by entries from the Wedding Present and the Fall, the chart acted as a barometer to what was relevant on the outsider pop radar – chart listings are noted via http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio1/johnpeel/festive50/s

Of course there’s the John Peel archive at http://www.johnpeelarchive.com where you can access the john peel record collection, rare clips, band interviews and session tracks. While a quick rummage around on mix cloud has an endless repository of archive show recordings – one of which we were listening to uploaded by someone calling himself the tanglydad was an entire broadcast from September 1980 featuring all manners of Angelic upstarts, jimmy pursey, ub40, cockney rejects et al via http://www.mixcloud.com/robcarr/john-peel-show-191980/ while over at keepingitpeel there’s a complete recording of Peel’s Christmas special from Xmas eve 1992 that includes a smoking cut by Black Ace amid its track listing – http://www.keepingitpeel.wordpress.com/2011/12/14/podcast-peels-other-christmas-records/

In recent years – well since 2006 the chart has been compiled and aired by Dandelion Radio – a radio station set up with the aim of keeping the Peel spirit alive. Over the years those who’ve bagged the prestigious top slot have included the likes of the savages, standard fare, pj Harvey, tall pony – and er – the Fall. This years chart is scheduled to broadcast on Christmas day – go to http://www.dandelionradio.com/index.htm

Christmas baubles……..from yo la tengo ‘it’s Christmas time’…….

Christmas baubles 2.….from belle and Sebastian ’are you coming over for Christmas?’…..

Hibernate’s annual winter collection arrives as ‘paws for thought’ – a crackling fire gathering of old friends, thirteen of whom have dedicated a track to the compilation from which proceeds of which are going in aid of the hospice of the good shepherd in Chester. A chance for those previously unfamiliar with the wares of said imprint to get an introductory grounding of this exquisite neo classical / ambient label. First off the blocks and book ending the set perfectly are Antonymes and theapplesofenergy, both artists initialling the set with a similar fragile grandeur, the former of course much adored around these here parts, serves up ‘hibernate’ – typically elegant and frail, this beautified key opine measured in poise and breathlessly sparse trips somewhere between an ethereal aural axis upon which at one end sits Satie to the other Budd. Theapplesofenergy approach matters with much the same graceful arcing for the aptly titled ‘sleeping cubs’ – a serenely stilled aura endows throughout, the momentary turn of time by way of the unlocking a new world, for this sounds like the unearthing of a long silent celestial craft fallen from the stars and laid for centuries asleep, undisturbed and here arrested from slumber by its finders. Offthesky after some nervous twitches, clicks and what sounds like the sigh of a steam engine unfurls gloriously as though some unearthly visitation on the simply lilting and sepia drifted ‘bear wind against barren fur’. if glitchy spectral lo-fi frost tones be your bag then Isnaj Dui‘s ‘tremarctinae’ may prove right up your street, for admirers of Foehn and minotaur shock in the main, binary blip cascades and the silvery orb shimmers give it a sense of some heavenly body in eclipse motion. Tim / Maps and Diagrams kindly sent us a package of releases a week or so ago, all are on the to do list for words of fondness shortly. Before that though he serves up the bitter sweet beauty ‘the bear necessities’ – best described as an orbital sound station, the beauty here is that behind the monochrome shimmering detail there’s a secondary aural resource at play in the background which for a moment lines up to fuse with the primary source before dissolving away to nothing. Bit of a strange un this, two suites in one it appears to be, abruptly crossing over without warning, there’s a quiet refined majestic attaching to the first part of ‘Marsican RIP cycle 1/2’ by Olan Mill as it awakens from slumber to unfurl elegantly amid opining heralds while the second part is a more subdued affair of corteges of bowed flurries giving the impression of an aural water feature of sorts. Probably one of the sets best moments is ’hungry bear’ by Gideon Wolf – a haunting wood crafted minimalist mountain folk mirage threaded in the initial stages chiefly upon ghostly vocal choruses and the blending of old school nursery rhyme cut ups, from therein things get a little woozy as it dissipates into silvery shards of ethereal celestial bliss. Frail, fragile and elegiac are descriptors perfectly primed for describing the craft of David Newlyn, like Antonymes his neo classical murmurs are both stately and majestic and hitherto touched with a shy eyed romance as keenly noted on ’colargoi sur la lune’. also admired around these here parts is Wil Bolton whose collaboration with Mark Streatfield as Anzio Green for rednetic is primed for admiring words next missive out, here with ’Nanook’ a frost glazed snow globe. Those of you preferring your ambient listening experience expansive, cinematic and steeled in statuesque atmospherics will do well to fast tracks to James Murray’s ’ursa minor’ whilst with seamlessness from ‘ursa minor’ to ‘ground to ursa major’ prowls listening mirror with something darkly crafted, lunar and shimmered in ghost lights. Elsewhere the arresting dream popped showered ’norman’ by Clem Leek is whittled from the same kind of translucent beauty as that becoming of releases bearing the name Vini Reilly or else once upon a time found stumbling hazily glazed out of the make it mine imprint while Spheruleus usher in on what appears to be celestial tail smoke with the bliss kissed choral cortege ’ursida’. an utterly recommended collection that’s best experienced after dark in silent solitude. http://www.pawsforthought.bandcamp.com/album/paws-for-thought

Nearly forgot this one in all the hullabaloo, mentioned in passing a while back, festive single from the on the rise ultrasound. Now somewhere about our person I do remember many, many years back getting samplers for what would have been their second album proper following ‘everything picture’, a darker affair and very much going all out epic glam. Of course the split in ranks was a sad shock though the bitterness of the pill was somewhat sweetened a few years later by Richard Green’s newly formed enterprise somatics who if I recall rightly nabbed a single of the missive way back in the day. As to ’modranicht’ available as of now digitally Ultrasound apply the massive, the head bowed, the stately and the stratospheric in other words just to truncate matters, epic. Spiralling soft psych crystalline riff side wind opine a la beatglider, slipstream and spacemen 3 to weave hypnotic shapes, from out of the mist Tiny’s delicate murmurs softly entrance as slowly but purposefully all the intertwining ingredients converge. The result a glorious coalescence of familiar folk rituals from a lost age impacting in celebratory harmony upon an emotionally stirring psych prog dialect to leave you in the wake of its visitation drained and just a tad bit in awe. Scarcely a dry in the house

And talking of maps and diagrams, there are at least two further Maps and Diagrams releases up for critical consideration next missive out. First up though and just to whet the appetite we have here ‘Forste’. strictly limited to just 100 hand numbered copies pressed up on attractive looking 3 inch CD’s all housed with a postcard and part of hibernate’s ongoing – er – postcard series. Absolutely no information on this, even the press release is mischievously guarded about matters briefly suggesting that Mr Martin breaks away from his usual joyful ambient electronica to voyage into worlds considerably darker and more of out of character. Or at least words to that effect. He does, does he, you see I’m not so sure, certainly ’forste’ is more considered, more thoughtful and considerably more intimate than previous listening encounters. But darker. I suggest not. Meditative maybe for these six suites are tailored and trimmed in mesmeric tonalities; the forlorn sun spot activity viewed on ‘helderberg’ and the dubtronic ambience encountered on the KLF meets Biosphere styled opening ‘meyeri’ suggests that amid the stilled glacial serenity and the glitch grooved mediums ‘forste’ is endowed throughout with a cosmic elegance. A star lit symphony showered in murmuring mirages and silken snow bursts all forlornly sighing in the cosmic heavens embarking on a journey into tangerine dream territories. I’m hard pressed to recall a time when the Maps and Diagrams sound was so expansive and all encompassing, ‘gassefjord’ sounds as though it broken free from the glitch electro kraut groove hybrid station of the klangbad empire while the stilled and graceful snow globed ‘puynax’ emerges from the misty twilight bathed in luxuriant swathes of ethereal silvery whispers. All said our favourite moment is the parting ‘goldfuss’ a seductive cosmic folk flotilla on defrost settings lost in its own spectral configuration transmitting love note broadcasts into the darkening voids. http://www.handstitched.bandcamp.com/album/f-rste

Rummaging through an old hard drive we unearthed three Xmas related missives originally posted via the now sadly defunct Losing Today website. These two extended seasonal soirees date back to Christmas 2008. The bumper missives where as I recall a regular end of year waltz through whatever Christmas gubbins happened to be terrorising our turntable at the time. Sadly most of the missives commissioned for Losing Today are lost in cyberspace – we’d like to think that somewhere in a shed as with the Dr Who tapes that keep turning up – that someone has copies – its unlikely as on three people at most ever read them and one of them was me. Singled out ran to some 400 missives accounting for over ten years material extending to over 2 million words – I kid you not. Some have been salvaged, some are locked on crashed drives but the majority alas gone forever since losing today pulled its web site. New years resolutions and we don’t do them usually will be to try and gather as many as possible together and get them archived on the wordpress page – http://www.marklosingtoday.wordpress.com along with finally getting around to digitising some 3,000 plus cassettes. Please be mindful when reading through these – should you get this far – that there’s a good chance that most of the links have long since been deleted……

‘Ghost of Christmas Present’

Second part of the annual festive bumper Singled Out…..

Happy Christmas…..

Not rightly sure whether or not we’ve mentioned the Motifs in passing previously, to date the Aussie quintet have released a handful of albums via Knock Yr Socks Off and Japan’s Lost in Found imprint whilst also featuring on a free to download compilation put out by Eardrum entitled ’a good crop’ volume 3 which also includes selections from the likes of Dark Captain Light Captain, Left with Pictures and the curiously named Children and Corpse playing in the Street – all of which if we think on we’ll try and have a peek at in the coming days – though it being a download its likely to sit on our hard drive unperturbed until kingdom come. Anyhow back to the Motifs who in the spirit of the season has crafted together a little festive freebie of their own entitled ’Christmas Lights’. Criminally brief it may be standing tall at only 1.55 but in this finitely sculptured and slender moment there’s something tenderly arresting brewing within as though the Christmas fairy had playfully decided to sweetly marinate the harmonic elements of the Beach Boys with the flighty willowy carefree nature of Free Design, then adding to the mix a sprinkling of frost tipped Mum dialects enhanced with a beguiling down tempo warmth with the finishing seasoning to the recipe coming care of a crisp celestial halo of glow loveliness. Does it for us. http://www.myspace.com/themotifs

The link for that Eardrums compilation which we forgot to give is at http://eardrumsmusic.com/the-label/a-good-crop-eardrums-autumn-compilation-2008-volume-3/

Rod Thomas ‘on a silent night’ – another freebie festive single that you can grab yourselves by redirecting your no doubt spanking brand new PC / Laptops via http://www.myspace.com/rodthomasmusic – Mr Thomas needs no introductions in these pages for he has proved something of a re-occurring delight on our turntable courtesy of the occasional sprinkling of a honey tipped gem like release or four over the course of the last 18 months or so. ‘on a silent night’ delicately taps into the near exquisite and quietly alluring song craft folds of the much loved Heartstrings (whose ‘try fly blue sky’ full length every home should own by our humble reckoning), breathlessly dispatched with the tender pit a patter of anticipation this shy eyed lovely is replete with a nimbly cascading fretwork that’s mellowed by the rustling of sleigh bells and the caressing hush of twinkling bells that from its fragile appearance soon begins to thaw and unfurl into an acutely fond and warming rush of transfixing heart surrendering homeliness.

Staying with Rod Thomas loosely – if you redirect your mouse to http://www.wichita-recordings.com/invite/ you’ll able to hear him pairing up with James Yuill for an dislocated and tripping electro version of that old seasonal nugget ‘winter wonderland’. Rummage around the showcased baubles and you’ll also be able to pick up for yourself a video seasonal greeting from the much admired Sky Larkin, the Slow Club singing ‘Christmas TV’ (sadly the link was down when we tried) and First Aid Kit doing a heart hurting cover of ’Blue Christmas’ which we must say really deserves to be heard by a wider public at large.

Think we may have mentioned a few essential pod casting ear gear from Garagepunk in the previous part of this bumper missive, well it seems these dudes have uploaded a few more rumbling slabs of garage styled Christmas cheer – Florida Rocks Again #33 is a bursting with holiday festivities featuring selected cuts from the likes of the Tropics, Bellamy Brothers, something pretty smart from the Goods, Floyd Miles, Sam Moore and Tom Petty. Also well worth checking out is the latest show from Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide – #61 collects together an hours worth of uninterrupted nuggets – sadly no play list here but you can bet your arse it’s a wig flipping and scowling seasonal set of fast ‘n’ furious ‘n’ funny folly of demented festive rawk, punk and vault emptying retro groove. Well tasty if you ask me. Both available via http://www.garagepunk.com/

The Brian Setzer Orchestra ‘the ultimate Christmas Collection’ (surf dog). Hell they weren’t kidding when they said ‘ultimate’. Been a fair old while since we had any Setzer cause a commotion on our hi-fi – if I recall rightly last time out was 2002’s stunning ‘68 comeback special’ platter for Ignition. Older readers may well remember Brian Setzer as the blonde be-quiffed front man of rock-a-billy trio Stray Cats who once upon a time cut a dash of rootin’ tootin’ smoked 50’s styled retro riffage that detuned itself into the wild cat mindset of Gene Vincent and the Blue Caps, Eddy Cochran and the early Sun Studios sound, to this day they occasionally reform for live appearances though one suspects just to put in their place and embarrass the hell out of the new breed. Anyhow it seems Mr Setzer has managed to cut himself a niche on the swing circuit racking up a Thunderbird boot full of awards along the way. Irrefutably influenced by the late Glenn Miller, Setzer has managed to tap into a public conscience still passionately stirred by the stylising sound of rock ‘n’ roll’s older sibling. This double disc extravaganza, extravaganza being the operative word here, pairs together not only a CD that culls together cuts from his previous holiday season full lengths but a jaw dropping DVD set featuring the entire 100 minute holiday season ‘Christmas Extravaganza’ live experience recorded at a sell out show at LA’s Universal Ampitheatre in December 2004 wherein he’s backed by a full on 18 piece orchestra, its glitzy, showy and massive and we highly recommend – if you get the chance – checking out ‘Santa Claus is back in town‘ and ‘the nutcracker suite‘ which has to be both seen and heard to be believed. In addition to the entire concert the special features includes some rare behind the scenes footage of the writing and preparation of the show, back stage diaries along with interviews with band members and fans alike. On the CD a frankly killer twenty track collection of cuts that have in recent years become a staple diet of the BSO yuletide shows, these cuts as said previously acting as a sort of ‘best of’ of previous holiday inspired releases though here including for the first time ’santa claus is coming to town’ plus a few selected treats from Setzer’s 2007 ‘Wolfgang’s Big Night Out’ set (‘Bach’s Bounce’ and ‘take a break guys’) elsewhere you’re left with a humping set spliced aplenty with an array of timeless seasonal standards such as ‘winter wonderland’ and ‘white Christmas’ along with the sleekly mooching and purring rendition of ’baby its cold outside’ which features a duet with Ann Margaret and the sassily cool swing beat boogie of ‘santa drives a hotrod’ which additionally features on that well smart ‘Christmas a Go Go‘ set from Wicked Cool. The ultimate holiday record anyone?

Dumb Instrument ‘Boxes of Santas’ EP (Bad Tool). Again another record to which we’ll put our hands up in admitting we mislaid much to our own stupidity though we’ve happily made amends since discovering it cowering under a pile of CD’s given its been something of a permanent feature on the losing today dansette player these last few days. This dusty vision of a Christmas past comes wrapped up in red and green tartan wrapping paper and features three dinkily dimpled demurring slices of twinkling treasures that to these ears sound as though they’ve somehow along the way uprooted and left behind them some cosy toed magical paradise of fairy tale enchantment to embark on an expedition that hopefully should be completed in the re-assuring knowledge that the loving embrace of a record buying home has offered safe shelter and an affectionate misty eyed appreciation for them. The work of an Ayrshire based trio – Tom Murray, Keiron Campbell and Mickey Grant who gathered together have crafted perhaps the defining release of the season that’s all at once mellowing, humbling and utterly disarming. ‘Boxes of Santa’ offers up some rarefied Victoriana treats, the fuzzily glowed ‘dear Santa’ opens the set festooned with an up tempo cantering wintry accent, a Dickensian picture card carousel populated by the Broons and lovingly brushed with a classical touch that sees the coalescing soft centred fondant caress of sleigh bells, twinkle some keys and peek-a-booing wind arrangements endowing the landscape with a radiant picture book glow through which whose spell bound intimacy and timeless tonality the gentle drift of Vernon Elliott, Oddfellows Casino and L‘Augmentation tenderly intoxicate and warm the still chilled air spaces all the time bitter sweetly at odds or so it seems to the piping of an Ivor Cutler styled dour steely realism which grittily manifests at the close wherein the peace is shattered by the mention of domestic violence. Flip the disc for ’Boxes’ and its extended half cousin ’big boxes’ – a decidedly worrying fascination manifesting into a crooked overture to the delights of er – boxes, as daft and concerning as it may first appear it’s a bit of sweetie really, dainty and delicate, quietly alluring in a kind of clock working charm motif noir nursery room lullaby like way and admittedly contagiously catchy. Apparently there’s a whole album of the stuff entitled ‘no-one knows what its like to be me’ to be had which has been elevated to the top of our wants list. http://www.myspace.com/dumbinstrument

And here’s a wee video for ’boxes’…

Tenebrous Liar ‘I feel love’. Back with the Maps Magazine advent calendar – day 7 sees Tenebrous Liar going head to head with Donna Summer’s disco hall behemoth ’I feel love’. Somehow this Steve Gullick led four piece have so far escaped our usually attentive ear lobes, come to think of it its been a fair old while since we heard anything by his other interest Bender. Several releases via the esteemed Fire imprint tucked under their belts, ’I feel love’ is reduced to a beautifully brutish brooding sludge, both distressed and dislocated its given a decidedly out of it and wasted sheen, a grizzled flashback of some primitively sourced fuzzed blues a kind of blissed out Grails for those needing reference markers which ambles around in a state of aimless haze for the best part of three minutes before getting its head together to whip up a frenzied slab of fracturing teeth grinding acutely scalding and serious pissed off psychosis. Definitely need to here more. (see maps magazine links elsewhere).

The Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster ‘surrender’. Staying with the Maps advent calendar day 9 sees the appearance of an exclusive cut from psych goth overlords the Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster. The howling ‘Surrender’ is a dust swirled sinew seizing colossus of the highest calibre, an apocalyptic love note riddled with tension, desire and rage, a warring cauldron of brooding and grizzled shade wearing psychotronics that to these ears sounds not unlike a three way summit meeting between Sisters of Mercy, Fields of the Nephilim and ‘phantasmagoria’ era Damned which I’m sure you’ll agree is a pretty neat trick.

MJ Hibbett ‘I got you what you want for Christmas’. Day 6 of the festivities has the decidedly infectious sounds of MJ Hibbett and the Validators streaming out of the speakers, disbelievingly last heard around these parts with the ‘shed anthems’ EP (surely not) which was like years and years ago. Anyway ‘I got you what you want for Christmas’ sees them festooning the Maps advent calendar with all manner of slyly coy effervescence and perkiness – banjos, sleigh bells and a liberal dashing of ridiculously brisk and frisky sing-a-long cantering should at least see to it that your thawed of the icy chill of December’s frosty embrace, whilst sound wise should find itself appealing to those of you with fond memories of the Popticians, mind you we thoroughly recommend you also checkout their MS page at http://www.myspace.com/mjhibbett and hook yourselves up to the Half Man Half Biscuit like ‘the lessons of the Smiths’ with its faux ‘is it really so strange’ riffs. Well smart.

And did we just mention the Cherryade’s ‘a very cherry Christmas’ compilation earlier when chewing the fat about the Lovely Egg‘s fetching ‘tyrannous rex for Christmas‘ offering – oh yes – a positive stocking filling extravaganza of bands you’ve never heard of but should have and would have had we had a decent radio service and musical publication in this tin pot place we call the British Isles. Cherryade like fellow punk indie foot soldiers Filthy Little Angels have seized upon and taken the whole DIY ethic as their own and along the way time and time again have proven to possess an acutely unerring ability to unearth gems from straight under the noses of labels undeservedly tagged as the shakers and movers on the musical scene by certain magazines. Now up to its fourth seasonal Christmas box Cherryade round off what has been a superb year of releases that has seen outings for the likes of the Deirdries, the Kabeedies, the aforementioned Lovely Eggs and Ste McCabe with this spiffing amply portioned 18 track seasonal set of emerging soon to be household named talent. Norwich trio Fever Fever open the proceedings with the scalding and abrupt ‘hallelujah Carol’ – spitting and fizzing with a latent riot grrl tension and blistered by an edgy austere exterior, these loveable souls piss in similar pools to fellow East Anglians Violet Violet, though here found brandishing a wicked evil travel bag of swamp dragged festering riffage which unless our ears do deceive sounds not unlike an abrasive festive fist fight between the Dolly Mixtures meets Delta 5, we highly recommend you also check out the scathing flat lining fury of ‘glare’ via their MS page at http://www.myspace.com/feverfevertheband. The Very Most chip in with ’Christmas came November 4th’, a quartet hailing from Idaho who to date have managed to sneak out two albums that have seemingly sneaked beneath our usually attentive radar to much grumbling. This tenderly tingling dash of tastiness embraces all manner of west coast accents and heart hugging fondness to smother your listening space in a shimmer like twinkling honeycombed homeliness whose sole purpose it seems is to arrest your psyche with a beautifully radiating fuzzy glow – does it for us. Those preferring their sounds a little frayed around the edges, roughly cut and sounding slightly worsened for wear as a result of the type of yuletide spirit you find behind the bar of a local public house may well savour the bracing unkempt delights of the excellently named Hotpants Romance’s re-drill of that seasonal nugget ’all I want for Christmas is you’ – raucous, riotous and riddled with wholesomely wicked and whacked out feisty fun – a bit like a head on collision between the Shaggs and the Ramones if that is your looking for reference markers. Head out to their MS page at http://www.myspace.com/hotpantsromance for the Mancunian trios wired and delightfully beaten around the edges shambolic surfed up bubblegum pop that is ’shake’ – infectious doesn’t cover it. And how could we possibly fail to fall for the disarming charms the twinkle some Little My, the daintily dinky ‘Xmas Song’ is a breezy bouquet of willowy wonder, decked out with sleigh bells, softly coaxed harmonies, dimpling riff cascades and off set with the kind of frost tipped shy eyed mellowing effervescence that literally hurts, hugs and heals with grace like abandon. A bit of a peach in our book easily deserving filing away next to those early Belle and Sebastian aural adventures. We are hearing shades of the Weddoes and Hefner coursing through the grooves of the Gresham Flyers achingly beautiful boy / girl tear stained storybook ‘perfect Christmas snow (perfect Christmas kiss)‘ – a tale of stolen seasonal moments, lost loves and heart hurting reminiscences that taps loosely into similar pop sentiments as once approached by the Human Leagues’ ’louise’ – will cut you deep. Frantic, furious and frenetic is the best way of describing the Heart Attack’s whose scuffed up razor sharp bubblegum wrapped prickling pop sortie ‘it was Christmas that killed us’ rounds upon you at such a seemingly ramshackle pace that you half expect it to implode any moment soon and admittedly sounds to these ears like a Ronnettes styled aural paint bomb. Next up Penny Broadhurst go all quietly affectionate and willowy on the gently tip toeing and frailly sculptured sweetie ’the end (bedroom demo)’ while the superbly (and guaranteed to cause hilarity and offence in equal measures) named Micropenis of whom we’ve already had the pleasure of decorating our hi-fi this year via an EP from Filthy Little Angels stump up the blankly chilled ’Christmas in the Midlands’ which manages to survey similar post punk / industrial / austere electro voids as once visited by the pre disco dolly incarnation of the Human League though here indelibly fractured, crooked and paying loose dues to the native hipsters. Ah the Bobby McGee’s – its always a comfort to know that somewhere out there breathing the same air as me and you are the Bobby McGee’s who when the authorities backs are turned gather quickly to record the odd certifiable gem and then disappear into hiding, ’Santa De La Crux’ is once such tinsel traipsing treat – clearly bonkers and several donkeys short of a nativity scene – we’re suspecting the ghost of the much missed Viv Stanshall has been visiting them of late. We here are all in favour of people butchering the odious ’mistletoe and wine’ and so its with much admiration and a hearty thanks that we find pink punk popster running roughshod and rampant across ’Christmas time for sanctimonious swine’ – bitter, belligerent and blistering a bit like a cross between Julian Clary and Pete Shelley though armed with a wired to the teeth armoury of schizoid electronics fast going in to meltdown. We’ve a feeling that Ten Tigers could in time be firm favourites in our gaff if the excellently dour and downcast ’Christmas on Prozac’ is anything to judge while the clearly fried the Seven Inches are taking this Christmas lark a little to serious methinks given that their riotous ’12 days of Christmas’ appears to be attempting to shoehorn as many festive references into the available 140 second groove space as possible – did we mention it highly addictive – no – well it is. If it wasn’t for the Lovely Eggs appearance elsewhere then we’d have certainly crowned this utterly intoxicating pop gem as the pride of the set, we mentioned Detox Cutie and the Beauty Junkies in passing a few missives ago in fact as far as we recall highlighting this particular cut as deserving of wider coverage and indeed adoring acclaim. ’Alarm Bells b/w Silent Night’ is an utterly enchanting slice of pristine purring pop, sculptured with the same breathless soft sophistication as was once the trademark of St Etienne and longingly drilled with the silken corteges of swirling strings and delicately brushed with an all at once desirably tasty fragile, forlorn and beguiling persona – a bit of a peach if you ask me guaranteed to have you cooing, swooning breathlessly and going strangely weak at the knees. We not to certain what the attraction of trout is for Manchester trio the Fountain yet we can be certain in saying that their puzzlingly named ‘shout for trout (for Christmas dinner)’ is as skewiff, schizoid and minimal as anything you hear on this here seasonal parade, apparently there’s an EP lurking about which we’ll have to nail as our own and an as yet unreleased album looming large on the horizon. For now though this rather boisterous slab of wiring crookedness sees them detuning into the pockets of pop cosmos more commonly occupied by a seriously scatty Devo fused with Winter brief – goes without saying you need it in your life. We won’t deny that we here have a soft spot for Liverpool’s Awesome Wells, ever since their ‘Danni’ homage via (again) Filthy Little Angels earlier this year we’ve been counting down the days to a follow up. And so ‘never buy you roses’ delivers the goodies and hit’s the mark, this time laying off from their usual trademark punked up sound this babe instead prefer to sweetly amble and mooch in a carefree day dreamily way not unlike if truth be told like a super chilled and laid back Sleeper. Elsewhere there’s some neatly served skewed and arid coffin blues from Stark Palace courtesy of their ominous ‘saw what your momma did’ which sounds to us not unlike some dusty lo-fi basement boogie committed to tape by an un-festively spirited gathering of Waits, Beefheart and Muleskinner Jones while Pocket Gods see out the set with the hymnal Velveteen like ‘Alien Xmas Song’ all dashed with a sumptuously orbiting star kissed haze that caress fully references both Hopewell and Spiritualized which as you can imagine is a pretty nifty combination to call upon. All in all a bloody essential collection guaranteed to give you thrills for many a Christmas to come. http://www.cherryademusic.co.uk

NME ‘Xmas Special’. Gonna open this with a simple question. Why did my NME fade so badly? There was a time when the NME Xmas issue was a much celebrated and eagerly anticipated thing, crammed with enough reading material to warrant its place near your side until at least mid January, painfully sarcastic, lacking respect for both its readership and the acts it featured and lashed page to page with records that you’d happily sacrifice several members of the less immediate side of your family to own. These days the NME is going through a perpetual decline, a shame when you consider what it was then and what it is now, it’d be easy to blame the rise of the blog generation via the internet but the decline has been noticeable since the mid 90’s. perhaps it’s the lack of competition – its nearest rival Melody Maker folded several years ago, before that and for a time both Record Mirror (whose golden age was the late 70’s when Paula Yates would conduct her bitching broadsides) and of course the Sounds who went through many personality changes before getting its crap together in the 80’s and proving itself to be the best weekly music rag around. In between for a season or two there was Super pop – launched during the established second years fruits of New Wave and the much missed and dare we say very brave – New Musical News (I think that’s what it was called – primarily aimed at the post punk long over coat brigade – Joy Division, Bunnymen et al….).Threats have been made in recent years to arrest the NME’s relative dominance and though sales have sharply plummeted – rumours abound that they recently recorded their lowest circulation of 50,000 – both Plan B and Artrocker have lacked the armoury to compete, that said at least Plan B had the good grace to pursue its objective of acting as a flag bearer for music now woefully ignored by the NME and didn’t go into a child like war of words. Sad to say the same can’t be said about Artrocker whose recent reversion from bi-weekly to monthly status still hasn’t curbed their annoying knack of trying to steal a march on the NME at any given turn and whose market really is shackled to that of 10 to 17 year olds. So where is the NME going wrong. The XMAS issue says it all really. I personally stopped buying the NME earlier this year, I felt that if I needed a weekly fix then the Guardian, the Independent and the Times more than adequately satiated my needs with their Friday supplements. It was of course a bind, how do you break a habit extending 30 years plus, it was like the buying of fags – you did it without thinking. Well the cycle was broken (the fags are next) as said earlier this year. I saved myself £2 a week and the NME lost another reader, not that there was much to read and neither you suspect did the NME care. It had become a side show, a cover to cover browse picking out the bits of interest to me where withering at a weekly rate, where once it would consume the time of a bus ride to work (10 minutes) in recent times it was barely getting me through two stops. Having surveyed the current Xmas issue (you’ll be happy to know it took up a whole bus journey- just!) – 100 pages for a whopping £2.70 which to be honest from page 64 onwards is basically adverts, gig listings etc…that’s not to say there aren’t adverts prior to this which account in total to say another 8 full pages (wouldn’t mind if they were useful or indeed relevant one of them for fuck’s sake is for what’s on TV!!!) – leaving you with 56 pages of mirth (I wish). You get the choice of two covers – lucky us – both admittedly loathsome – one featuring the Kings of Leon doing what can only be described as the Westlife take and the Mighty Boosh in a (un) hilarious Jesus and Mary get up – now even I’m not God fearing but that doesn’t stop me noticing bad taste when I see it. Inside there are pointless festive posters of the Artic Monkeys (dressed as elves), the Libertines (as urchins), the Killers (as bouncers) and the Strokes (as – bugger me you tell us) – all appearing to be ghosts of photographic sessions for Christmas covers past. Scattered about the pages within q and a’s with Lily Allen, a Mighty Boosh feature so bad it makes their piss poor annual look vaguely enticing, something on the Cribs, a feature on Spector’s defining Christmas album ‘a Christmas gift for you’, Charlie Brooker’s ’12 days of Christmas Evil’ and some tosh called the Xmas Factor which looked painful to the eyes – the misery exasperated when you look at the so called list of celebs drafted in to give their opinions – Kate Perry, Tom Jones, Heather Mills and Bob the feckin builder – who said they were the most evil gathering of four people since Strife, War, Famine or Death best known to most as Bucks Fizz. Highlights of the issue – the crossword, the festive quiz and the back page. Now having read this you may well think we have a downer on No Musical Entertainment and you’d be right and you’d be wrong. As a music consumer the market music magazine wise hasn’t been this good in a fair few years, just take a moment and browse the shelves of your local newsagents and check out what’s there – the ever presents of course Mojo, Uncut and Q still cater for an across the age groups spectrum though admittedly do have a knack of covering each others pitches, then there’s Artrocker servicing the cutting edge of the underground indie scene, Wire still remain a law unto themselves covering the type of disparate bases that no one else dares, likewise to a smaller extent Plan B (who’ve admittedly dipped in quality in recent months), Rock ’n’ Rolla – admittedly not the best written magazine in record rag land but bulging in enthusiasm, Shindig – the coolest rag on the shelf catering for all your psyche, garage beat and beatnik needs, Clash – after years of being an occasional is now on a regular monthly footing and pretty smart with it though attempts at being the new Face are sadly long of – and of course the Word – in terms of all round entertainment by far the best monthly on the stand. So why is the NME so bad. Or is it just perceived as such by those jealous of its status. Well for starters its trite, considered by many as a musical Heat and nothing more. Its gotten noticeably worse since it down sized itself appearance wise and into the bargain getting itself a glossy cover. Its seen by many as being more concerned with advertising revenue (check the credits – the advertising team is bigger than the editorial – is this a clue) than it is with quality control but then on their side of the equation they could argue that they are the only weekly in existence and as such to keep such an operation on an even keel it needs to pay for itself. Another complaint is its obsession with certain bands meaning the coverage to other emerging acts isn’t evenly spread this accusation further manifests with Artrocker’s constant taunt that it’s a Dad’s paper (while more regular observers accuse it of being a kid’s pop rag – make your mind up chaps you can’t have it both ways). The Artrocker contention is based mainly on the NME’s relationship with Oasis, leaving aside the Dad equation – which given the fact that Dad’s probably have the greatest means and access to disposable income and hence make up a sizeable chunk of the record buying market – the Oasis criticism is equally unfounded and unfair, okay agreed they are past their sell by date and have been since those heady days of the mid 90’s noticeably since ’be here now’ which in case your asking wasn’t as bad an album as most make it out to be. Yet even a bad Oasis can still on their worst day piss over most of the new breed from a great height. Personally one of the things that jars with me is the NME’s relative safeness, its no longer cutting edge or willing to stick its neck out come hell or high water of the consequences and lets face it do you blame them. It seems they are constantly under the critical eye at the mercy of their detractors all to willing to pounce at the slightest straying of convention or intimation of weakness, take for instance the Morrissey debacles the latest in recent memory seeing them accused of entrapment though obviously this has to be set against their disbelieving and wholly embarrassing pursuit and championing of his comeback notwithstanding the fact that it was they who happily sent him to the poor house in the first place. As to the plus side and positives of the NME, most bands will no doubt concur that the merest mention of their name in its pages is guaranteed to add any number of zeros to their my space page visitor tally. Then there’s the legacy – for six decades its existed, its survived the circulation meltdowns and the market collapses that terminated publications such as Record Mirror, Sounds and of course Melody Maker, whether you like it or not it is generally accepted as a benchmark publication recognised globally (and that includes the usually insular American market) and is (as far I can see) the only known music weekly around (certainly in the UK if not the World) and with that performs to varying degrees of competence a mammoth task in collating enough materials to service such. However, though some believe the NME’s attentions are now firmly focused on its web site – which personally I find hard work trying to navigate through and have to admit to its being extremely disappointing in terms of its failure to provide either the informative or incisive pop interface that I’d would normally come to expect from such a richly resourced enterprise, the chief problem still remains with the NME – that being they don’t know its market anymore and neither – more worrying does its readership, the evidence I’m sad to report plain to see with this latest shambolic seasonal offering. Perhaps it really is time for an alternative weekly if only to serve them with a much needed kick up the arse. And so ending just how we started – how did my NME fade so badly. Answers on a post card to ‘how much for a half page spread’ c/o IPC / Ignite.

Wire #299 – navigating territories outside of the sphere of wider pop market acclaim, Wire still remains alone and unrivalled in its quest as a lone voice championing those styles and practitioners of sounds found at the very edge of pop’s unclaimed cosmos. On the eve of its landmark 300th issue who’d have thought this most eclectic of publications would still be around, ever stronger as it advanced to its 27th year in office. Initially starting out as a predominately contemporary jazz inclined journal it has during the course of time embraced and championed an ever widening sphere of styles and fashions the type usually found lazily filed beneath the odious catch all description ’experimental’. Both informative and authoritative the Wire has provided the benchmark for well written musical critique for longer than many care to remember as well as constantly proving to be something of an annoyance given they feature far to many records that we quite frankly never get a sniff at. Issue 299 is the annual year end ’rewind’ – that’ll be the bit wherein all the staff writers gather to give their opinions of the proceeding years musical highlights – the collective vote for the office album of the year in case you were wondering going to ‘London Zoo’ by the Bug. Elsewhere the combined forces of the Animal Collective go head to head with the Invisible Jukebox and come away with a highly respectable 10 out of 11 score. Sadly no primer this issue though epiphanies more than makes up for matters with Hugo Wilcken passing on his recollections of listening to the bracing post industrial chill of Joy Division whilst sun bathing on an Australian beach. Also includes all your usual must have dansette dietary needs.

Record Collector #358 – is it just me or have Record Collector started going bi-weekly on the sly, it seems no sooner had we finished marvelling at the Elvis ’68 Comeback special issue (#357) then along comes the latest issue with Queen adorning the front cover and featuring inside courtesy of Brian May and Paul Rodgers chewing the fat about the recent return to the rock fray. Elsewhere there’s a Britpop rarities feature with Blur, Oasis, Suede and Pulp being the focus of interest while other featured collectable overviews take in the work of Sylvie Vartan and the second instalment of Record Collector’s ’Bluesy British and Rare’ celebration.

Rock-a-Rolla #17 – much loved in our parish, the bi-monthly Rock’n’Rolla is fast becoming one of our favourite reads of late catering as it does for all your swamp grooved riff terrorising needs, this particular issue – the last of the year – features the Grails on the cover whose recent ’doomsayer’s holiday’ full length is in our humbled opinion one of the essential releases of the year. Inside there are interviews / features on DeerhoofBohren and Der Club of Gore, the Hair Police and Porn whose face off with Merzbow we really must try and nail down over the festive period if only to upset the neighbours kids who will persist in playing piss poor chart inflicting r’n’b on a loop. Southern Records are this issues choice for the label focus while the rest of the mag is packed to busting with your usual record buying recommendations, live appraisals and other such like.

Shindig! #volume 2 issue 7 – have we mentioned this particular issue yet – I’m sure we have – ah well so what if we have – deserving of as much coverage as it can get. This issue rounds up what has been an excellent ongoing and extending article on the West Coast Pop Art Band, elsewhere there’s an appraisal on the 60’s production work of Mickie Most – and though there may be the odd grumble and look of puzzlement among you then consider just a smidgeon of his cv catalogue – the Animals, the Nashville Teens, Herman’s Hermits, Donovan, Jeff Beck, Brenda Lee, Nancy Sinatra and the Yardbirds while his in house studio band included Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and Nicky Hopkins – need we say more. Montreal residing all girl ensemble Sweet Somethings get a much deserved overview while the critical eye wavers over the ‘60’s psychedelic sounds’ of Texas – that’ll be the lone star state and not the band – in the frame fond memories rekindled for the likes of the Holy Smoke, Fever Tree, Cold Sun and the 13th Floor Elevators while amid the page after page turning reviews we eyed a Fuzztones full length that we’ve disappointingly somehow managed to miss out on. Bugger. Sadly we haven’t seen sight nor sound of that advertised Shindig annual at our local newsagents.

Mojo #182 – Oasis adorn the cover merrily festooned with the tag lines ’we’ve been to the dark side’ and ’the boys are back in town’ – the hours spent fretting to come up with those – I think not. Anyway Liam and Noel take up the magazine’s centre spot to chat about their new album (which admittedly isn’t that bad even if the current single ’I’m outta time’ still lingers with that sense of Lennon-esque shmaltz) and all things Oasis-y. the unfairly maligned Status Quo do a spot of question and answering, the time machine revisits that golden year 1990, the Bunnymen chew the fat about the highs and the fall out resulting from their self described ‘greatest album ever’ set ‘Ocean Rain’ while Deep Purple’s infant years are viewed under the critical viewfinder. Then there’s the obligatory ’best of…’ section – in case you were wondering the Fleet Foxes run off with the album of the year spot. How to buy highlights the peaks and pitfalls of Nick Cave’s back catalogue while John Illsley recounts his hello and goodbye moments with Dire Straits. As usual comes accompanied by a cover mount CD on this occasion entitled ‘Heavy Mod’ and includes 15 seasoned nuggets from yesteryear featuring eargear from the likes of the Pretty Things, Blossom Toes, Aphrodite’s Child, Humble Pie, Caravan and more…..
Archived Christmas missive 2.….

Singled Out – bollocks to Christmas….

Of course Christmas is a strange time of the year for the record industry, it’s a time when the banal and bland rub shoulders with the frankly bonkers and beastly, a time wherein everyone and their pet dog and z list celebrities from shows so atrociously foul in nature that the mere mention of their name should make your eyes role upwards as though seeking salvation gather in attempt to strike some seasonal immortality, and just in case you missed them this year then like some Dickensian festive nightmare they’ll sure as hell be gathered up onto some frightful festive collection next year wherein you can happily relive the horror all over again.

Amid these snow covered pages you’ll hopefully find a fond bundle of Christmas treats – we’ve got stuff from former Stray Cats head dude Brian Setzer, some killer seasonal compilations from two of the vanguards of incisive indie pop Cherryade and Filthy Little Angels, elsewhere a rather smart gathering of the clans via the musical advent calendar commissioned by Maps Magazine plus something tasty from the Wicked Cool imprint that features servings aplenty from the likes of Keith Richards, the Fab Four (though obviously not the Fab Four that you’re probably imagining), the Chesterfield Kings, the Electric Prunes and the Kinks. While squeezed about somewhere in this seasonal mix there’s the annual aural greeting card from Yellow 6 now up to its 10th instalment – blimey where have all the years gone – regular friends to these pages will be all to aware that these limited CD’s (which incidentally in recent years have been available to the public in limited quantities) where initially a form of ‘thank you’ to people who had in someway spread the word on Yellow 6 and included between their finite grooves a mix of unreleased cuts, alternate mixes and guest remixes – more about that later.

Of course this being Christmas we have our annual seasonal cold to contend with which has had the effect of – as I write this – slowing the wordy writing thing down a tad – which basically means in plain English we are still writing it up. Mind you whether you view it as good or bad (we are veering on the bad) it has meant we’ve been able to doodle about on the web and find a few stocking filling treats. Therefore expect videos and download links aplenty. Also as the blighter is too big to fit into one singled out dispatch – it will be split into three visitations – the first one here, the next tomorrow and the final part on Boxing day – for arguments sake we’ll call them ‘ghost of Christmas Past’, ghost of Christmas present’ and the ‘ghost of Christmas future’. After that there will be a Kelman Christmas come down along with another bumper missive to see out the year….

Anyhow I suspect I’m waffling as usual so without further ado the sounds…..

Various ‘Christmas a go go’ (Wicked Cool). And when we say a serious gathering and festooning of legends around the Christmas tree we mean a gathering and festooning of legends – just check the roll call – the Ramones, Kinks, Keith Richards, Bob Seger and er – Joe Pesci, guaranteed to kick start any vintage garage loving party. Culled together by Little Steven – as in Van Zandt – this ridiculously cool twenty song set rounds up a positive smorgasbord of treats, opening to the sound of Stones riff slinger Keith Richard’s ripping ’run Rudolph run’ sees him paying nods aplenty to Chuck Berry likewise with the Chesterfields Kings ‘hey Santa Claus‘ sounding like a distant cousin to ‘Johnny B Goode‘, apparently the first time this perennial nugget has seen the light of day on CD while the uber hard to source ’sock it to me Santa’ by Bob Seger and the Last Heard gets a rare unwrapping and frankly steals the show notwithstanding the fact that it’s a stomping James Brown sound-a-like the blighters so frenzied and wildly primal that its whole heap of bad to the bone boogie guaranteed to have your foot stomping tootsies coming out in blisters. Edged into second spot in our affection is Rufus Thomas’ slinky drill of ‘I’ll be your santa, baby’ – a prime packed slice of off kilter sassiness that tyo these ears sounds like a Grotto gathering between Captain Beefheart, Frank Zappa, John Lurie and James Brown. Next up ’Merry Christmas’ from the much missed Ramones, the masters of the sub three minute tri chord rumble cut a dash with this slab of throbbing 50’s retro bubblegum groove the video to which you’ll find tucked away somewhere below. Featuring some of the best steaming saxophone you’re ever likely to hear this side of Wizzard, Darlene Love stumps up some timeless tinsel adorned tastiness in the shape of the 50’s sugar glazed glam-tastic ‘all alone on Christmas’ while Clarence Carter gets down and dirty with the mooching soul groove via the smoking ‘back door Santa’. Mod heads and power pop lovers will do well to tune into the DB’s meets Teenage Fanclub throb of the Len Price 3’s audaciously addictive thrill drill ’its Christmas time Ebenezer’ while the Kinks surging ‘father Christmas’ could we suspect be solely responsible for given birth to the much loved Velvet Crush if it does go a little ‘pictures of lily’ at times but then didn’t we just mention Wizzard in passing a few seconds ago, where is Roy Wood – surely this man needs bringing in from the cold, the one time face of The Move, ELO and of course Wizzard was a one time master of the full on over the top pop production, like being transported back to my child hood ’I wish it could be Christmas every day’ never tires unlike some of its perennial peers (Elton John anyone), literally has it all – kids, sleigh bells, snow, Spector, saxophones and strings if you didn’;t know better you’d have to say it had time travelled back to a 50’s hop – just makes you tingle with expectation. Nuff said. We haven’t a clue who the Fab Four are except the fact that they are some sort of Beatles tribute act, all we know is that this cutie is culled from a double disc set that appeared a few years back via Delta and featured a host of Christmas hymns (done in faux Lennon / McCartney dialects) set to the music of Beatles classics of yore – on this occasion its ’Silent Night’ backed by the sounds of ’Norwegian Wood’ – agreed on paper it sounds positively horrifying but believe you me it works a treat. Apparently known as the ’tabla girl’ in honour of dexterity with said instrument, Tina Sugadh cuts some transcendental shapes out of ’white Christmas’ – this cut originally appearing on the woefully painful ’Christmas with the Kranky’s soundtrack (the woefully painful bit being the film not the soundtrack – mind you now I come to think of it – yes the soundtrack to – only joking) from a few years ago while the Chevelles pay nods aplenty to the Psychedelic Furs ’pretty in pink’ and the traditional ode ’o’ come all ye faithful’ and somehow rewire assembled ingredients into the tinsel twang of ’come all ye faithful surfer girls’. moving swiftly on former Stray Cat dude Brian Setzer whose killer double disc dealing ‘ultimate Christmas collection’ has been wowing us aplenty of late tears up the tarmac with his big band sound for the criminally infectious Santa drives a hot rod’, sadly the only thing ’surf’ about the Soupy Sales disappointing ’Santa Claus is surfin to town’ is in the title a little alone else while Joe Pesci’s show tuning ’if it doesn’t snow at Christmas’ it should be said is strictly for fans of novelty pop. Hailing from Oslo and sounding not unlike a spiked cross fusion between the Bangles and Blondie the strut grooved candy laced fuzz pop gem that is ’Santa is coming home’ is a no nonsense toe tapping head turner though that said we suggest you head over with further fuss to their MS page at http://www.myspace.com/cocktailslippers and rip the shade shimmying ’stop’ while the anthem laced power punk pop effervescence of the Boss Martians should – if there were any justice in the world – be a permanent feature on your turntable in the coming year, here they dispatch some neatly frantic fuzz folly in the shape of ’3 ghosts’. Alas we have no information on the Electric Prunes cut ’jingle bells’ though we seriously suspect it a latter career by product featuring none of the original band – best viewed as one for the completists while rounding up the pack you’ll find Jean Boauvoir sprinkling a little lysergic magic to the seasonal proceedings with ‘Merry Christmas to all the World’ – to these ears it sumptuously spirals like some kaleidoscopic pop trip devised by the Beatles and refracted through the viewfinder of Tears for Fears and Oasis yet recalibrated by Epicycle. All said and done a tasty collection that like the traditional Christmas table features a lot of turkey laced with tasty trimmings and the odd welcomed surprise guest.

Get your freebie download of Cocktail Slippers ’santa is coming home’ from http://www.wickedcoolrecords.com/cschristmas.html

The Ramones……


Head over to the (unrelated) Christmas a go go blog spot at http://christmasagogo.blogspot.com/ for a party ripping spree of freebie downloads . Here you’ll find two versions of the ’Zat you Santa Claus?’ – the smoked original and the ‘heavy’ remix culled (we believe) from a Verve ’remixed Christmas’ compilation, then there are two versions of ’Chilly Winds’ by Nina Simone the remix being by Fink who gives it a sumptuously sophisticated club floor persona. Scroll down a bit for a freebie EP from Dutch label Coverclub which we gather first saw the commercial light of day way back in 2006 and features four bands giving their renditions of Christmas cheer so that you get Moss, Silence is Easy, the Gasoline Brothers and Audio transparent (our favourite of the bunch) all vying for your affection. Continue to tip toe through the site and you’ll be met with treats from Sufjan Stevens, the Miracles, Stevie Wonder, the Mighty Bosstones and Belle and Sebastian while those wanting to hear something nearing the knuckle ought to check out both Dennis Leary and South Park doing alternate versions of the highly un-seasonal ’merry fuckin’ xmas’. Elsewhere there’s the utterly beguiling ’un moment d’espoir’ by Dutch combo Nougat – a beautifully orbiting slice of softly tendered celestial dream pop – think Broadcast and Stereolab in a snow tipped embrace – stunning while pop patrons tending to favour the mellower and heart tugging moments of a lonesome Christmas can feast yourselves on a tear stained selection that includes cuts from Prince, Red Sovine, KT Tunstall, George Jones and Adam Faith whose ‘lonely pup in a Christmas shop’ should at least keep the pre school members of your dinner table quietly subdued.
Jonny Cola and the A Grades ‘Christmas everyday’ (self release). This release arrived tied up inside a loveably dinky Christmas card not that we needed any bribing you understand given that these dudes have already had cause to blow us away with their recently released debut single ’we’re all going to die’ (see missive 175). This track is part of the musical advent calendar being hosted by those nice people at Maps Magazine whereupon a host of underground stars have been gathered up to donate free to download tracks in order to sprinkle a little festive merriment into your lives. So far there’s been a six track feast from the Fortuna Pop stable, cuts by the Victorian English Gentlemen’s Club, the Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster, Fonda 500, MJ Hibbett and more besides. Peel away the wrapping and December 17th’s selection sees JC and the A Grades getting suited and booted up for the silly season , ’Christmas everyday’ is a honey crusted slice of chest beating anthem like warts ‘n’ all gritted realism coaxed within a timeless tune-smithery delicately dinked with a softly stirred glam tinged sucker punch that‘s festooned amid a bracing bauble of tear stained hollowed bitter sweet effervescent glow replete with cooing harmonies, a heartfelt pleading delivery and decorated with a forlorn twinkling seasonal landscape, sound wise imagine a snow chilled gathering around the soup kitchen of Pulp and Blur both led from the front by Peter Gabriel and orchestrated by Roy Wood. Tell me now what is there not to like. Need we say more – a bit of a gem. And just in case you missed the Mott for the noughties ‘we’re all going to die’ you can catch it by redirecting your mouse in the general vicinity of http://www.myspace.com/jonnycolaandtheagrades as to the advent frivolities then go fill your boots at http://www.mapsmagazine.co.uk – expect full reviews via our well packed seasonal Xmas bumper missive.

Holly and the Katie Winter ‘see the star’ (self released). Arrived today and being the eager souls we are it was scarcely out of its wrapping and onto the player. Billed as a ’little Christmas gift’ I’m suspecting that this delightful twin set isn’t commercially available to the public at large though a quick check on their MS page reveals that ’A Winter’s Beach’ is available to rip via their showcasing player. Of course Holly and the Katie Winter need no introductions here having recently graced these very pages with their debut release entitled ’come to me’ (see missive 179), but for those of you who haven’t been paying attention at the back, the Katie Winter emerged on our radar a few months ago, the alter ego of Les King who at one time traded as Uncle Black who are we believe taking a lengthy sabbatical, early recordings where heard by Holly Burton who admiring the tracks applied her vocals to said cuts and thus Holly and the Katie Winter where born. Rather the usual sycophantic pop tinsel that tends to invade the airwaves this time of the year, these two cuts veer closer to the true spirit of Christmas, offering a chance to pause for a moment to take stock and reflect, both ’see the star’ and ’a winter’s beach’ exude a softly aired timeless tonality, the sparse acoustics and the almost hymnal / prayer like salutations though sounding mournfully reflective bitter sweetly cast a hope fading hollowness, these creaking shy eyed seasonal swansongs are wrapped up in a dustily ageless archaic folk tapestry that’s dipped with the kind of forlorn enchantment more readily associated with Waterson : Carthy which should see it firmly up the play list street of a certain Andy Kershaw – non more so is the case than on the sweetly soured intimacy of the bruised siren-esque lilt of ‘see the star’. That said we must admit to being mildly smitten by the spectral and frail love noted ‘a winter’s beach’ wherein everything from its seasons fading pastel applied imagery and innately aching regret strangely combine to usher a bitter sweet warmth with Holly sounding remarkably more like Alison O’Donnell than last times venture out which less face it is no bad thing. http://www.myspace.com/the Katie winter http://www.myspace.com/hollyannsmall

The Gang ‘all I want for Xmas is you’ (download). They hail from Brooklyn, number six in their ranks and boast a full length released earlier this year by Absolutely Kosher to much admiring glances entitled ‘Zero Hits’. The Gang it seems can do no wrong at the moment and with that in mind aligned to the fact that they were positively dizzy with seasonal high spirits (and by the sounds of this little treat somewhat overdoing on the type of spirits found on the inside of a bottle) they took time out to record their very own version of the old Mariah Carey festive nugget ‘All I want for Christmas is you’. Sounding more MC5 / Stooges than Motown / Spector, this lo fi festive fuzz bomb is a nifty slice of frayed around the edges stripped to the bone shade wearing drunken dragster psych garage grind that to these ears has all the tonalities and sparse sound dynamics as to suggest it was recorded in a mechanics inspection pit with the Mummies and the Mono Men gate crashing the party, loveably rough, raw 100% proof cool as f**k festive cheer. Can’t argue with that. Will scare the bejezus out of small household pets. While you’re about it check out their MS page at http://www.myspace.com/thegangnyc and hook up to the squalling and wiring friction laced battered and bent out of shape Sonic Youth meets Quickspace strut packed ’Squatters Inc.’ – well smart if you ask me. As to the freebie download try redirecting your mouse in the general direction of http://www.mediafire.com/?sharekey=685eca8e10e2661a91b20cc0d07ba4d25c6fc8da911361b2

For those of you who’ve been living on a Mariah Carey Christmas free zone since the time when dinosaurs walked the earth here’s the original…..

The Victorian English Gentlemen’s Club ‘Dress (second hand with broken zip and oily smudges)’ (free download). Day two of the Maps Magazine festive advent calendar sees those loveably schizoid cuties the Victorian English Gentlemen’s Club deconstructing, re-assembling and re-wiring a P J Harvey classic from yesteryear and crafting said gem with their uniquely scuffed up impish charm. Removed of the primitive buckled blues edge of the original, this trio of tunesmith terrorists apply their trademark angular paint box to much frenetic folly, teetering at times on the point of collapse, this wilfully wonky re-drill prowls impatiently within a dislocated armoury of ad hoc time signatures, fractured rhythms and fragmented mindsets, at times ominously austere at others just plainly wired and with that should appeal in the main to fans of the Violent Femmes.

Those of you with fairly long memories may well recall our first sightings of seasonal reverie were mentioned in missive 175 when we had cause to cast the critical eye over the ultra limited Paw Tracks split release between Reverend Green and the Drawlings. Well here’s the video to accompany the Drawlings part of the bargain entitled ‘wolfie’s Christmas’…enjoy..

<br /><a href=”http://vimeo.com/2531535″>Drawlings – Wolfie’s Christmas</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/user590602″>Joe Gallagher</a> on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.
A short brief stop over at the Filthy Little Angels sound pad over at http://filthylittleangels.blogspot.com/ and it seems like these melodic munchkins have been having a ball festooning their gaff with all manner of festive felicitations and into the bargain packing their own seasonal sack full of cheer in the shape of a belt bulging 25 track free to download Christmas card of their own entitled ‘it’ll be a filthy Christmas’ – mentions of all the tracks you’ll find hung and strategically placed around these here parts starting of with……

Hyper bubble ’Christmas with the Bee Gees’. Taking a break from their ongoing plan to see every discerning indie kids record collection containing at least one of their pristinely and unfeasibly coolly sculptured retro glazed electro throbbed club floor cuties, Jess and Jeff kick back, chill out and get in the mood for some festive impishness with the frankly kooky ’Christmas with the Bee Gees’ – no prizes for guessing that there are plenty of Gibb samples shoehorned into this babe most notably culled from ‘Staying Alive’. Pop heaven for those among you who’ve laid awake at night trying to imagine what the disco demi-Gods would sound like had 70’s electro whiz kids Space cannibalised their trebly tones into a strangely brewed Studio 54 meets Sylvester meets Rick James slice of funk bug bitten folly all neatly tailored to the distinct waft of ‘God rest ye merry gentlemen’ tuneage – I know we have – funnily enough after eating Stilton washed down by Port and Guinness mixers. We also heartily recommend that you get your back sides along to their MS page at http://www.myspace.com/hyperbubble and hook yourselves up to ‘non biogradable hazardous waste disposable’ – a prime time Human League well on their game and frankly the coolest thing in pop world at this very moment by our reckoning.

The video goes a bit like this….

Eddie Argos and Keith TOTP ‘Mistletoe and Wine’. We suspect that Eddie Argos and face of the underground Keith TOTP have been freely imbibing of the Christmas punch if this re-reading of the Saint Cliff of Richard hit of yesteryear is anything to go by, of course ’mistletoe and wine’ was a Christmas number one back in the days of rickets, shingles and Thatcher (and you thought the pop charts were piss poor now), here its delightfully scuffed up and given a slightly worsened for wear ’n’ tipsy treatment all buckled, bent out of shape and ridiculously ramshackle in a way we here find utterly engaging. Wonder if there are plans to re-wire his entire back catalogue similarly – I can tell you it’d get our vote and respect. (filthy little angels).

Lots of wonderful stuff found adorning our welcome mat when we arrived home this morn armed with breakfast refreshments and the day’s broadsheets, our little Christmas treat for oneself arriving to the sound of much cheer and in the shape of a whopping parcel from Cargo (cheers Craig for sorting out). Inside said box of delights the eagerly awaited Edward Ka Spel ‘dream logik’ vinyl box set. Beta Lactam Ring have done themselves proud on this occasion, ultra limited in nature – we believe there are 400 worldwide – all hand numbered – ours in case you are taking notes is 226 – housed in a rather smart looking 12 x 12 box this is the version that features the entire ‘dream logik’ odyssey spread across four slabs of 12 inch wax and includes the bonus album ’dream logik 3333333333333’ along with matte oil inner sleeve artwork by Jesse Peper. An admittedly pricey artefact but a much welcome addition to any well ordered record collection. Elsewhere we where much lucky to nail the uber limited ’Blood is Red’ 5 LP set put out by Dagored. Word has it that Cargo only received a measly 30 copies of this beauty with orders far out stripping supply. This 250 only box set is sumptuously packaged in a white plastic briefcase with handles and inside contains five 180gm repressed gems featuring Dario Argento related soundtracks that include Goblin’s legendary score for ’Suspiria’, Ennio Morricone’s ’il gatto a nove code’, ’tenebre’, ’profound rosso’ and ’the four velvet flies’ – again ultra pricey but well worth tracking down just for the frankly stunning and arty packaging. Next up two 180gm represses featuring the self titled debut and follow ‘viva’ albums from the Klaus Dinger post Neu experience La Dusseldorf – a trio often criminally overlooked by Krautrock purists, these two legendary cult outings from ’75 and ’78 clearly show a mindset light years ahead of their peers – available via the 4 Men with Birds imprint who you may recall dropped off that excellent Fairport Convention ’lief and liege’ repress a while back. Last up to criminally expensive Elvis related goodies sanctioned by Elvis Unlimited Promotions which should go some way to sugaring the bitter taste of that woeful ’duets’ compilation currently doing the rounds. First up ’Inside Graceland’ – described as a pictorial journey back to the time when Elvis lived in the mansion’ – this soft backed book boasts over 100 previously unpublished photos from the interior of the legendary Presley home, most of the photos taken in ’75 in the company of Elvis’ girlfriend Linda Thompson (who additionally features in many and pens a short foreword) reveal all to well the opulent life style of the King – here you get to see the see the inside of the Piano Room, the Jungle Room, the Trophy Room, Mediation Garden and the Pool Room – strictly for fans only or else interior designers with an obsession for 70’s kitsch. Again extremely pricy but nevertheless excellently packaged is the latest instalment in the ongoing ’Inside….’ series. This particular edition limited to just 2000 copies worldwide focus’ in depth on Elvis’ first cinematic appearance – ’love me tender’. Housed in a distinctive pizza box styled packaging, this set includes a DVD (that includes rare recording / filming shots from New York, trailers, footage from the premiere and the legendary ’speaks in person’ recording which initially featured on the ’truth about me’ single). The ’truth about me’ recording is further featured on a 7 inch slab of vinyl while rounding of the set a lavish and hugely informative 152 book featuring rare photographs and an in depth commentary about the film that includes a positive cornucopia of reprinted fan memorabilia that includes images of related worldwide releases, posters and related marketing memorabilia.

And while we are on the subject (loosely) of Elvis, I’d just like to say that ‘duets’ isn’t bad for what it is, obviously buoyed by the successes of ‘duets’ with Lisa Marie and the live shows (you know the ones – footage of Elvis as a backdrop with the accompaniment by and large of the original session singers and musicians playing in sync which lets face it given the numerous accounts of Elvis‘ last few gigs may well have been preferable viewing when faced with the choice of that or a stoned, bloated and clearly shit faced and out of it King – totally unrecognisable from the man that was). The thing that jars with ’duets’ isn’t the idea or the concept but that cheap overpowering smell of cash in, not with standing the fact that Elvis as a product probably makes more money now than he did when he was alive, this set is a massive slight on the great man’s legacy hell Sony BMG the culprits have even set up a sing with Elvis web site at http://www.singwiththeking.com which we must admit a fair few punters who try out the experience will no doubt make a better fist of things than some of the so called featured femme talent here. Only Gretchen Wilson escapes from the wreckage with any real dignity with her inclusion on ‘merry Christmas Baby’ perfectly complimenting the overall hanged dog spiritual blues tonality of the original while sad to say Olivia Newton John’s visitation to ’o come all ye faithful’ is best viewed as forgettable.

Prized between these little wonders and making much fuss on the doormat was a delightful and much welcomed hand crafted Christmas card from those loveable tykes the Lovely Eggs inside of which making up a dinky crystal ball montage is a CD containing a Christmas treat (‘Tyrannosaurus Rex for Christmas’) that you’ll find featured on the latest seasonal blessing (Volume 4 of their annual ‘A very Cherry Christmas’ set) from those rascals over at Cherryade records which all things being well you should find the occasional reference to in this bumper missive. Of course the Lovely Eggs surely need no introductions within these pages, they have for us personally been one of the finds of the year dispatching tenaciously tasty treats with such impeccable cheekiness that they’ve often had cause to leave us all a swoon in their wake. Clearly cuckoo and kooky, loveable rugrats Holly and David are indeed the impishly precocious The Lovely Eggs, having already befuddled our poor hi-fi with several acutely adorable albeit affectionately child like skewed ‘n’ wired day-glo dashed kindergarten releases this year alone for the likes of the much admired Filthy Little Angels imprint and latterly (for the aforementioned) Cherryade (who I think we are write in saying they have signed for now for) they have for us been a breath of fresh air all at once untamed, delightfully disturbed and insanely infectious. Belying a strange brew that sees the winsome elements of early Altered Images blending with the cutesy fey willowy pre-school aura of 70’s children’s TV show ’A Handful of Songs’ – the mix is turned on its head by the occasional growl of sparsely honed fuzzy eruptions and buckling grind fractures to deliciously coat the goo in a decidedly wayward charm which is all topped off by Holly’s clearly barking head in the clouds delivery – overall think Modern Lovers for an Early Learning Centre generation. Tucked under their snake belts comes this little cutie, ‘tyrannosaurus Rex for Christmas’ – quite possibly services ‘a very Cherry Christmas’ with arguably its best moment by far, bedded down by an inebriated and dislocated riff chug that at times sounds as though its going to seize to halt, this babe takes its cue from the Plastic Ono Band’s ‘give peace a chance’ and crookedly festoons the Lennon / Ono idealist classic with all manner of dinosaur references courtesy of Holly’s disarming array of yelps, screeches, growls and general insanity. Essential festive fun by our reckoning. Expect great things next year.

Safe to say we’ll be mentioning more of the Cherryade compilation in the next part of this Christmas missive.
Fans of Hancock’s Half Hour will do well to check out the BBC7’s listen again options at http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio7 where you can savour the festive hilarity of the Xmas 1958 show ‘Bill and Father Christmas’ – it’s the episode where hapless Bill still believing in Father Christmas as an adult receives a shock and regresses back to his childhood with comic consequences for Tony Hancock, Sid James and Hattie Jacques while the 1956 show (again on the listen again option) sees Hancock and Co play host to the kids from the local children‘s home.

Get your arses along to the finest garage / punk / trash pod cast collective on the face of the planet which you can find by redirecting your mouse to http://www.garagepunk.com/ in order to sample some Christmas mistreats courtesy of the latest Haunted Shack Theater pod cast – show 5 is the Xmas special a britches filling instalment in the creepy company of Uncle Yah Yah accompanied by a wealth of gruesomely seasonal sounds and macabre movie mentions – this particular episode being headed up by classic film gore ‘black Christmas’ and ‘deranged’ from that golden year 1974 (‘black Christmas’ we believe is being shown on terrestrial TV over the Christmas period via Channel 4).

Staying with the garage punk dudes the last State of Mynd show for the year is packed to the rafters with prime sliced morsels of hip wiggling psych and garage groove – the treats on offer being the Ugly Ducklings whose ‘she ain’t no use to me’ has to be heard, the Lyrics, the Leaves, Harbinger Complex, Wild Uncertainty, the Kinks plus a heap load of mind melting lysergic lovelies from the likes of the Yardbirds, Electric Prunes, Wild Weeds and the Poets.

Those among you loving your sounds a little more smoked and r’n’b in appreciation ought to download the latest edition of Hot Slop – show 36 features oodles of timeless and tasty tuneage ranging from Shorty Long, King Richard and the Poor Boys, Jackie Wilson and Linda Hopkins, Lorraine Chandler, the Supremes, the Pets and more besides. Go fill your boots.

Those of you out there missing your annual fix of Peel Festive 50 should hook up to Dandelion Radio who begin their FF on Christmas day – go to http://www.dandelionradio.com/ while the great man’s top 10 selection as revealed to Andy Peebles way back in ‘84 is repeated at midnight on Christmas Eve via BBC 6 Music http://www.bbc.co.uk/6music – other radio highlights worth book marking – Phil Spector’s legendary Christmas Album ‘a Christmas gift to you’ is the focus of an hour long feature being broadcast on Christmas Eve on BBC Radio 2 at 20.00GMT – http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio2 – this album still represents the be all and end all of the Christmas album, many have tried to replicate and surpass and all have failed miserably (for your starter for ten see Brian Wilson). The album itself is a must have addition to any well ordered record collection and as essential as the obligatory tree, decorations and stuffed turkey, squeezed into this seasonal offering are thirteen crystalline snow trimmed pop trinkets all fondly sprinkled with a radiant timeless magic replete with the full on Spector wall of sound handiwork and dimpled with sleigh bells aplenty. Here you’ll find festive follies from the likes of the Ronettes, the Crystals, Bob B Soxx and the Blue Jeans and of course Darlene Love whose ‘Christmas (baby please come home)’ steals the show.

A clip for Darlene Love doing ‘Christmas (baby please come home)’ goes a lot like this….

Released a year or two ago via Acrobat and well worth tracking down is Mark Lamar’s ‘rhythm and blues Christmas’ best served for those feeling a little blue, these heart heavy mellowing babes should have you weeping your way to the bottom of that stashed away purely medicinal bottle of bourbon, some real tasty slices of bruised tidings of sorrow here from the smoking ‘bring that Cadillac back’ by Harry Grafton to the chilled ‘n’ mooching scat cat groove of the Moonglows’ ‘hey Santa Claus’, tucked between all this some wound licking blues from Lightning Hopkins ‘happy new year’, Floyd Dixon’s ’empty stocking blues’ and the must hear ‘Sonny Boys Christmas Blues’ by Sonny Boy Williamson. Mind you that said its not all down and depressing (well not overbearingly so) – the hymnal ‘its Christmas Time’ from the Five Keys and Louis Armstrong’s ‘cool Yule’ should unhappily see you reliving Christmas’ past.

Sony’s ‘Austin Rhythm and Blues’ has been kicking around for nearly thirty years in various shape and form, a gathering of treats culled from the Austin, Texas scene – this set is a treat serving gathering of talents from yesteryear that includes appearances by the Fabulous Thunderbirds (whose duck walking strut riddled harmonica laced ‘winter wonderland’ is alone worth the entrance fee), Lou Ann Barton chips in with ’please come home for Christmas’ and ’rockin around the Christmas Tree’ – the former will literally crush you, Willie Nelson covering ’blue Christmas’ is an admittedly unexpected treat while not forgetting to mention Sarah Brown and the swing-tastic Charlie Sexton.
Archive singled out Christmas edition #3

Post flu and toothache special

Dedicated to whoever.

Singled Out – revolutions of a 45 kind.

Hoping this finds you all well. The delayed final part of the seasonal singled out which by rights should round up all the unopened windows from the Maps Magazine calendar. As reported previously next missive will be a Kelman only special and then it’ll be back to business with whatever singles we’ve got skulking around the gaff…..

First up on the Maps Magazine advent soiree a few tasty morsels from the Fortuna Pop stables…

Pains at being pure of heart ‘everything with you’. prized from their current single for Fortuna Pop / Slumberland and bristling with anticipation at the prospect of their forthcoming debut full length set currently looming in the shadows and set to take flight and capture hearts and acclaim alike, what is there not to love about Pains at being Pure at Heart, their sound a sweetly marinating shade wearing brew comprised of the assembled ingredients drawn from MBV, the Pastels and early TFC all lovingly packed into sub three minute heart arrests and dappled with a wide eyed honey suckled effervescence. ’everything with you’ is the dogs bollocks – a gorgeously radiating babe sugar spun with a mind set that veers and swerves between prime time Creation gems of yore and the spiked twee intonations of classic era Summershine and Bus Stop. Expect them to be all over you like a rash in 2009. http://www.mapsmagazine.co.uk/Calendar/Calendar%202008/Files/Everything.mp3

The Loves ‘the ex gurlfriend’. Much loved around these here parts and much missed in what seems like an age since their last recorded works tantalised our turntable. Now back and blessed with a new full length due for release next year, ’the ex gurlfriend’ is whipped straight from their current 3 track EP a copy of which I’m certain we’ve seen about our gaff and which will feature in all its unadulterated glory in the next but one missive, a humping slice of glam tinged strut grooved bubblegum pop unless I’m very much mistaken, of course its pretty damn cool, casts admiring glances from the hi-fi and frankly every good home needs one and that means you. Any questions? http://www.mapsmagazine.co.uk/Calendar/Calendar%202008/Files/The.mp3

Milky Wimpshake ‘(if you wanna know the time ask a) policeman’. Defiant, dizzy, dippy and desirably good fun, it seems like Milky Wimpshake have been around forever occasionally springing up just when you least expect them to serve up some of their cure all generic free melodic medicine as well as serving to remind the record buying public that they can still hatch the odd pop gem that’s guaranteed to flip your wig and knock you bandy in admiration, ’if you wanna know the time ask a policeman’ is your traditional type musical dirge spliced with the Yummy Fur’s ’policeman’- its all wired and wonky and coming across like a car crash between Half Man Half Biscuit and the Beatnik Filmstars which sounds a mite dandy in our books. http://www.mapsmagazine.co.uk/Calendar/Calendar%202008/Files/(If.mp3

The Lucksmiths ‘a sobering thought just when one was needed’. Ah the Lucksmiths – we must apologise first of all in owning up to having their current full length though exactly where it is right at this minute is a bit of a mystery as it seems to have caught up in all the Christmas hullaballoo. Anyhow we will rectify matters in the coming days. For now this sprightly little gem which initially appeared on the flip side to their recent ‘up with the sun’ single and was mentioned with much fondness at missive 174 – still sounds well tasty and needless to say another finitely squeezed nugget from one of underground pop’s most underrated acts.

Finlay ‘home’. A little treasure rescued from the vaults from the much missed Finlay, ‘home’ rattles out of the traps as though it has several lit rockets wedged up its backside as the Maps pre-amble rightly observes a searing ’slice of Sonic Youth meets Blur alt-rock’ and who are we to argue. Blistering stuff.

Homescience ‘drive a snow plough through your heart’. Again another casualty of an uncaring record buying world, Homescience where indecently perfect and had ‘next big thing’ tattooed on their hides except this being far from a perfect world – it didn’t happen. ‘drive a snow plough…’ is an acute and timely reminder of how out of step, travelling in a different lane and mischievously playing to their own pop rule book this lot could be, in terms of style, ability and delivery they were literally streets ahead of less talented ensembles who happily (and without any warranted merit it should be said) and persistently occupy the inkie space in certain rags. This blast from the past sounds like a glorious holiday gathering of the Elephant 6 Collective – dashingly dippy and wonderfully wonky, traces of west coast, mid 70’s MOR, children’s musicals and softly drawn psych radiate amid the creaking kookiness that when scratched of its surface gloss the distant echoes of ’grocer jack’ from ’excerpt of a teenage opera’ – or is that just me. Rumours abound they will be back next year as the Super Wolfgang. http://www.mapsmagazine.co.uk/Calendar/Calendar%202008/Files/(Drive.mp3

Piney Gir and the Age of Reason feat. The Choir of Friends ‘for the love of others‘. Admittedly Piney Gir is a talent who sadly been seldom seen or more importantly for that matter heard in these singled out rambles. It is something we will endeavour to rectify next year, anyway ’for the love of others’ is a beautifully bracing slice of intoxicatingly speckled gospel country folk laced with arresting arrangements, a sack load of warmly radiant cheer and sugar coated with the kind of softly glowed shy eyed effervescence that stokes up the bits inside you responsible for endowing you in that all to rare fuzzy feeling. A bit of gem in short. http://www.mapsmagazine.co.uk/Calendar/Calendar%202008/Files/16%20for%20the%20love%20of%20others.mp3

Fight like Apes ‘snore bore whore’. Another ensemble who sadly passed us by this year to much annoyed and grumbling regret are Fight Like Apes, this cut is a specially commissioned remix of ‘snore bore whore’ – a cut culled from their debut full length ‘fight like apes and the mystery of the golden medallion’ here recalibrated as the ‘spherical mix’ – its all homely stuff in an icicle decorated igloo kind of way all at once hushed, hymnal, snow tipped and serenely hypnotic which in these long winter nights of rapidly plummeting temperatures is just the kind of thing you need around as you warm your cockles in front of a roaring open fire – did we mention the fact it loosely reminded us of the Delgados’ ‘pull the wires from the wall’. http://www.mapsmagazine.co.uk/Calendar/Calendar%202008/Files/03%20Snore%20Bore%20Whore%20(spherical%20mix).mp3

Fonda 500 ‘soon the snow’. Another blast from the past and still going strong even to day – in fact we swear we were sent a download link for an album recently – so if we did and it was you who sent it – apologies we will try and remember to check it out in the coming days. Anyhow this lost gem initial saw the light of day on 2000’s ‘Autumn Winter Collection’ a copy of which we are sure we have stashed somewhere about our person. Anyway ‘soon the snow’ finds them in mellowing moods – and don’t misread that for meaning in any way shape or form that its in any way less skewed and wonky – ingredients it should be said that if missing just wouldn’t make it feel like a Fonda 500 outing. Instead this frost tipped beauty creaks, yawns, features falsetto harmonies, fluttering rustic cascades and penny whistles which when all gathered together as they are here in a strangely out of focus nativity scene setting type way will thaw the frostiest hearts, heaven alone knows where the cats fit into the proceedings though. http://www.mapsmagazine.co.uk/Calendar/Calendar%202008/Files/(Soon)_The_Snow_MP3.mp3

The Monroe Transfer – hate to stick my neck out at such an early point in the proceedings but frankly this runs away with the award for best moment(s) of the seasonal selections. we must admit to not having the faintest idea who the Monroe Transfer are though on the evidence of this selected brace of offerings we’re minded to make it our new year quest to track the blighters down. At eleven minutes in length we are betting that you’ll never hear a better rendition of ‘silent night’ done in a droning psych post rock vibe in your life, an absolutely jaw dropping experience – resonating opines, caressing string arrangements, glazes of shimmering hazes, monumental swathes of grandeur and spectral dimples all serviced with a hugely glacial wide screen aspect that’s as cavernous as it is colossal – step aside Sigur Ros – utterly breathtaking. Not to be outdone the twelve and a half minute ‘joy’ is the star attraction here – makes no bones about that. A transfixing spectacle of noir orchestral atmospherics, bleakly beautiful, both pensive and brooding and darkly vivid as though the scarred romance of Black Heart Procession and the unbridled passion of GSYBE had somehow been tethered and teased into some senses enrapturing supernatural symphony by a minimalist minded Sakamoto where amid the arcing alleyways of forlorn shadows the momentary parting of the unfurling tear stained drama evaporates to reveal cresting hazes of brief euphoria – absolute crushing stuff – we need to hear more and soon. http://www.mapsmagazine.co.uk/Calendar/Calendar%202008/Files/The_Monroe_Transfer_-_Joy.mp3

Copy Haho ‘pulling pushups’. Goes without saying we know bugger about this lot either other than that they are a four piece and hail from Scotland and well lets put it like this had we had possession of our own label or radio show we’d be hot footing it north of the border to sign them up forthwith and have them locked in a basement studio refusing to let them out until they’d committed enough dashing toe tapping ditties to tape to have us suitably satisfied for a week or three. ‘pulling pushups’ is a spanking slice of scuffed up tear arsing pop that happily sits between classic era Postcard / Fast Product ear gear and the quickly drilled jingle jangle melodic throb of the Weddoes with trace elements of Pavement, about you like a rash before you know it and blessed with more hooks than a butchers back room. Need we say more. You need these in your life and fast. http://www.mapsmagazine.co.uk/Calendar/Calendar%202008/Files/02_Pulling_Pushups_RM2_TB.mp3

Pagan Wanderer Lu ‘England expects’. culled from his forthcoming ‘fight my battles’ full length due to cause much fuss amid the record shelves of your local record emporium this coming March, ‘England expects’ is an acutely brooding slice of withering electro pop that mainlines into the same melodic veins as Depeche Mode’s post Vince Clarke work most notably ‘construction time again’ – decidedly hollowed, sparse and erring on the right side of austere and braided by the subtle wash of oriental motifs – kinda gets under your skin in a good way – unassumingly brilliant if you ask me. http://www.mapsmagazine.co.uk/Calendar/Calendar%202008/Files/11_England_Expects.mp3

The New Royal Family ‘iwishiweasgay (live)’. Sadly and with much perturbed annoyance we couldn’t open the file for the New Royal Family track – so it’s a bloody good job that we happily mentioned this in a previous missive – no 178 to be precise which just in case you ignored first time around I’ve reprinted here – so just imagine this but in a live capacity with no doubt plenty of hijinx….

The New Royal Family ‘I.w.I.s.h.I.w.a.s.g.a.y.’ – last appearing in these pages courtesy of their contribution to that excellent and frankly essential 3 disc charity set ‘doing it for the kids 08’ though in all honesty who could ever forget their ridiculously catchy ‘anyone fancy a chocolate digestive?’ split with Keith TOTP (missive 125 note takers), ‘I wish I was gay’ is surely destined to offend and amuse in worryingly equal measures, think mid 70’s Studio 54 disco freak sound off teased with a seriously smart Sylvester and Village People meets Chic with ‘f**k off’ PC attitude – going down a storm in our gaff and no doubt right at this moment being monitored by ambulance chasing solicitors with their liberal manifestos squarely shoved up their back passages.

Me My Head ‘white lights’. this lot used to be the Moths who I swear we featured in these very pages on the odd occasion or two – my heads so kettled I can’t recall for certain. Anyway their debut single has just been released – coincidentally called ‘white lights’ which we recommend you should seek out as we will endeavour to do in the coming days. This offering is an exclusive remix of said cut entitled the ‘Adventure! Elephant. Remix’ and pretty nifty it is to, a throbbing slice of hypnotic club floor smoochiness is what’s on offer all delicately drilled with a pulsating head swirling futuro white funk workout much loved it should be said of the missing in action Radio 4. http://www.mapsmagazine.co.uk/Calendar/Calendar%202008/Files/04%20White%20Lights%20-%20Adventure!%20Elephant.%20remix.mp3

The Helmholtz Resonators ‘Robocop’. Hell even the Maps dudes have no information on this lot which kind of saves us the hassle of haplessly ploughing through cyberspace in a haphazard attempt of bringing you much needed up to the minute information (like we would if we had it – yea right). Are we agreed a great name for a band eh? ‘Robocop’ is ominous stuff indeed, if references are what you need imagine a freaky electro jazz kraut boogie woven out of the grooves of Tubeway Army’s ‘replicas’ by those impish mites Add N to X. Need wee say more – has to be heard to be believed – I’m thinking we need to hear more and sharpish. http://www.mapsmagazine.co.uk/Calendar/Calendar%202008/Files/death_records_-_the_helmholtz_resonators_-_robocop.mp3

And now for a few goodies from Angular records….

The Long Blondes ‘Christmas is cancelled’. Sadly no more following Dorian’s stroke earlier this year, the much fancied Long Blondes were in their short life span one of those rare and shining examples amid a sea of indie blandness of a band comfortably masters of the art of crisply crafted effervescent retro pop. ‘Christmas is cancelled’ is in short a prime example of such – imagine Blondie and the Pretenders in their heyday had they been reared and stumbled out of Yorkshire and found swaggering along with a prized note book bursting at the seams with unrecorded Shangri La’s melodies. Need we say more – our sincerest wishes for a swift return to health go to Dorian. http://www.mapsmagazine.co.uk/Calendar/Calendar%202008/Files/14_Christmas_Is_Cancelled.mp3

Wet dog ‘zah und zaheet’. ripped from their debut full length released earlier this summer and seemingly passing us by to much muttering and ill murmurings, ‘zah und zaheet’ taps sumptuously under the icy glare of ‘scream’ era Banshees, blank death disco groove deliciously wrapped with a wonderfully fraught, minimalist wiring austere menace much in tune with Controller. Controller and yet edgily sombre and chilled to the core in a way that we here haven’t heard since Left Hand’s criminally ignored ‘minus 8’ full length – think we need to snaffle a copy of that album and fast. http://www.mapsmagazine.co.uk/Calendar/Calendar%202008/Files/21_Zah_Und_Zaheet.mp3

Je Suis Animal ‘rousseau world’. Blimey our kid another ensemble that we somehow managed to miss this year much to our embarrassment, Je Suis Animal hail from Norway and have to date released a by all accounts rather tasty debut full length in the shape of ‘self taught magic from a book’ from which ‘rousseau world’ is culled. Initially had us recalling L’Augmentation – maybe it’s the brass arrangements and the general mellowness abound but then scratch away a little deeper and we swear that we can detect the ever so feint traces of Le Mans peeping through, though that’ll be a Le Mans shimmying up to Dererro and happily hatching teasing gems that make you tingle. http://www.mapsmagazine.co.uk/Calendar/Calendar%202008/Files/05_Rousseau_World.mp3

Who’s the Daddy Now? ‘A daddy Christmas Eve’. Can’t believe how come I’ve never previously heard this one before but those Maps dudes have raided the vaults and hand picked this oddly seasonal nugget by Who’s the Daddy Now who for those unaware – as we were – was a brief collaborative project by Carter USM imps Fruitbat and Jim Bob. Scrumptiously creepy and metered out with dark deeds aplenty, this curious shadowy shanty styled penny dreadful is best described as a meeting between Tim Burton’s ‘a nightmare before Christmas’, Mary Hopkins ‘those were the days’ and Brecht / Weill’s ‘Alabama Song’ – all at once sinister and macabre and much deserving of being appreciated with the lights lowered preferably when the witching hour approaches close to hand. Stunning. http://www.mapsmagazine.co.uk/Calendar/Calendar%202008/Files/02_A_Daddy_Christmas_Eve.m4a

Chris T-T – next up two treats from Chris T-T culled from his now traditional seasonally adorned festive EP which these days sadly appear to pass us by as does all his other stuff given its been a fair few years – in fact not since the early days of these missives – since he featured in these pages. This brace of delightful ditties are musical interpretations of poems found in A A Milne’s ‘when we were very young’ and while we are quite smitten by the Billy Bragg-ish gruffness of ‘disobedience for Jim’ we suggest you hot foot quickly towards the simply enchanting ‘lines and squares’ braided as it is by a jaunty musical hall aura and dinked with a dippily carefree charm that wrestles to the heart of a quintessentially English mystique that we here feared was lost forever – spellbinding. http://www.mapsmagazine.co.uk/Calendar/Calendar%202008/Files/02_02_Lines_And_Squares.mp3

And what will be left of them? ‘get him a gun’. blimey another ensemble who somehow managed to evade our normally attuned radar, this bone rattling babe from Worcester’s finest is a teaser taster for their by all accounts much anticipated debut full length ‘the hi-fi low life’ which is slated for March release by Pop Art. ‘get him a gun’ is a doctors ordered wholesome slab of raucous sinew straining panic attack indie rawk that pings the earlobes like no-ones business to punch sizable holes in your speakers with the most insidiously audacious blister marked hook we’ve had the good fortune to hear all holiday season, hang on a sec while we note that album title on our ever growing wants list. http://www.mapsmagazine.co.uk/Calendar/Calendar%202008/Files/Get_Him_A_Gun.mp3

Their hearts were full of spring ‘winter long’. Apparently this cut is culled from a whole seasonal set that if you’ve been good this year you can proceed to download from the God is in the TV website at http://www.godisinthetvzine.co.uk and far from us telling you what you ought to be or for that matter ought not to be doing we feel you should get your arses into gear fast and be prepared to fall headlong into the loving embrace of this rather exquisitely warming gem of a Neil Young cover. All at one beguiling, bewitching and beautifully this theremin laced although in reality it’s a musical saw (can’t win em all – still sounds like a theremin mind) lovely falls between the cracks that exist between Damon and Naomi and the Mommas and the Poppas as though found relocated to a west coast region delicately blanketed by a softening sheet of snow – an absolutely haunting and dare we say magical gem. As to those freebie cuts via the aforementioned God is in the TV there’s a rather nifty and bracing re-drill of the Fleet Foxes ’white winter hymnal’ to be fondly loved, cared for and swooned about. A bit of a treasure if you ask me. http://www.godisinthetvzine.co.uk/mp3s/WHITEWINTERHYMNAL.mp3

And now for a brace of beauties from those loveable folk at Brainlove records……

Napoleon IIIrd ‘deck the halls with boughs and holly’. been a fair old while since we had any Brainlove ear gear about our hi-fi – which be honest is not a good position to be in. Here we find the precocious talent that is Napoleon IIIrd stepping up to the Christmas plate to kick out this exclusive rendition of a seasonal classic – its all rather effecting stuff, whirring electronic blips, pounding and incessant beats and throbs and quite splendidly over the top carolling in an unfeasibly jubilant kind of way – kind of makes you go all fuzzy and tingle some – mmmm.

Keyboard Choir ’death wank in toy town’. now be honest not the most festively spirited title you’ll come across this holiday season and let’s face it there’s a feeling of trepidation as you approach it fearing its going to melt your speakers and leave in its wake a decidedly odd and bad aftertaste. Fear not pop brethren behind the obvious un charming title lies a little nuzzling beauty ready and armed to captivate, caress and make you coo in fond affection though if truth be told we’d describe it as a rather delightfully early learning centre styled star kissed and twinkle some recalibration the Tornadoes Meek produced classic of yesteryear ’telstar’ and with that a bit of an essential requirement for any well ordered record collection. http://www.mapsmagazine.co.uk/Calendar/Calendar%202008/Files/deathwankintoytown.mp3

The Vatican Cellars ‘running with the devil’. a cover of an old Van Halen fave eh? Well does it for us, festooned with all manner of country lite fancies seductively adorned with string corteges and reeds this mellowing slice of mercurial drift pop sounds like a ringer for a sumptuously chilled out and spectrally pastoral mid 80’s era Tom Petty which in our books is no bad thing to be.

Scul Hazzards ’killing floor blues’. again no information on these dudes but you can bet your backsides that this won’t be the first time they’ll get mentioned in these pages, a must have for those of you who really dig all that that classic early 90’s Touch ‘n’ Go goo, ‘killing floor blues’ is a swamp dragged bastard of a cut that rages, rumbles and writhes about menacingly, like some sort of cranium vice it’s a powerhouse of sludged blistered blues that unless our ears are much mistaken should appeal at first instance to admirers of Big Black, Shellac and Jesus Lizard. Nuff said.

The Black Tulips ’the power of love’. for what its worth we always thought the version that Frankie did for their John Peel session was a far superior affair to the whimped out mix that eventual stole the nations affection and gave them the coveted hatrick of numbers ones with their first three singles. Such a difficult track to make your own all said and done though the Black Tulips admittedly give it their best and end up making a rather smart fist of things bathing their rendition in a unreal celestial radiance and an exquisitely crafted tenderness – sadly the download appears to be suffering from gremlins and only plays half way through before giving up the Christmas ghost which is a shame all told cos we were quite loving the blighter. http://www.mapsmagazine.co.uk/Calendar/Calendar%202008/Files/The_Power_Of_Love.mp3

The Bridport Dagger ‘anchor’. Another exclusive cut this time from South London beat pop combo the Bridport Dagger who should – if this track alone is anything to judge by – be firmly in sight of viewfinders belonging to those who love their sounds a little more atmospherically charged – ‘anchor’ is a darkly brooding slice of intensity – a bit like an oncoming storm if you like where amid its grooves we swear we hear elements of the Triffids, the Turbines, Violent Femmes and the Godfathers wallowing in the mix. They be ones to watch I’m afraid. http://www.mapsmagazine.co.uk/Calendar/Calendar%202008/Files/Anchor%20(drums%20first%20mix).mp3

Akira ‘hard feelings C0-1’. We featured this lot to much turntable delight at missive 178 when a variation of this particular track featured on their Filthy Little Angels debut EP ‘Japanese frequencies’ – this version sees the template radically stripped down and left sounding decidedly unhinged, head bowed, blue in a melancholic sorrow for itself way and frayed to the point its unravelling at the seams, did we mention it sounds like it was recorded in their local drinking tavern – ah well it does – you’ll also find it adorning the freebie EP ‘I have forgiven you Santa’ which you can nab as your own by going to their web site at http://www.akiraband.com though sadly we just have and it seems the shelves are bare with nothing but a mix of ‘white xmas’ available to feast upon – mind you that said it sounds uber cool in a kind of sepia underwater way though we here have our suspicions that some hapless soul has left the recording tapes out in the sun the result of which they’ve ended up all wonderfully warped – either that or someone’s gotten themselves a new sound system with which to dick about with. Expect great things.

Levelload ‘yellow fever’. Getting awfully confusing now is this, but day 19 of the Maps advent soiree is a double headed feature pitting the talents of Levelload and Thomas Truax. Of course Levelload need no introductions here we were about them like a rash many, many years ago via their first stirrings happily found welded onto a dinky demo when we were oh so much younger and optimistic in our belief that life would refrain at some point from dealing us a cack hand. Several years on and receiving admiring glances and the cause of much whispering on the underground network, the Levelload juggernaut is gathering pace, now expanded to a trio ’yellow fever’ is a blistered slab of wiring dysfunctional and skewed blues, combining elements of a primal PJ Harvey as though in a fist fight with Carina Round and all witheringly lacerated with a strutting death disco charred slice of austere chill. Perfect if you ask me.

The video goes a bit like this…..

Bear suit ‘what you’ve never seen snow before?’. too clever for their own good are the Bearsuit(s), much loved in this parish due to the fact that they don’t kowtow to any rule book, each of their releases arrives like wickedly
wonky wafts of fresh air with you never knowing exactly which Bearsuit you’re going to get though happily safe in the knowledge that which ever it is you’re going to be flattened and smitten by some of the tastiest ear gear on planet pop. ‘what you’ve never seen snow before’ – well as it happens not around here we haven’t – rain yes – and plenty of it but no snow, anyway before we get bogged down and off road with nonsense this little teaser sees the Bearsuit kids doing devilishly cute things with bells, star glazed lunar synth motifs and cooing harmonies – its all charmingly dinky and dainty in a kind of fuzzy and willowy Elephant 6 Collective do dippy and twee Stereolab type way and just when you’re beginning to lilt under the spellbinding folly then the blighters kick in with some dashingly day-glo three chord power pop struts. Why aren’t they massive?

Joy of Sex ‘December month of plenty’. think I’m right in saying the briefest track of the seasonal set and again another ensemble previously unknown to us – though I can guarantee that won’t stay like that for long not now that we have them in earshot. Anyway ‘December month of plenty’ sounds like its been time travelled from a late 70’s John Peel session and arrived in latter day adorned in all manner of strange angular dialects, mutant Wire like motifs and preened with a curiously alluring off set post punk glaze. There’s an EP apparently kicking around that we really need to catch up with methinks. http://www.mapsmagazine.co.uk/Calendar/Calendar%202008/Files/jos-dmop.mp3

Cops on the Edge ‘I want don’t get. Now this is blinding stuff though we deeply suspect we may owe this lot an apology as I swear they were in touch by email or else a my space request a little while back which we’ve since inadvertently lost. Oh well – we are nothing if we aren’t bloody useless. Again another track much like the previously mentioned Joy of Sex cut that sounds as though its arrived straight from pop’s late 70’s cold war, frankly the best thing we’ve heard around these parts since the Playwrights, ‘I want don’t get’ sounds not unlike a killer cross firing white funk union between the Higsons, Pere Ubu and early career Talking Heads with Joy Division making up the numbers and adding the finitely detailed schizoid regimental pop glazes and that’s before we even begun to mention the absolutely drop dead gorgeous chorus hook that this babe weighs in with.

Toy Toy ‘the me song’. An anthem in many respects for all those of you – me included – who hate the self perpetuating populace who use cyber outlets such as face book and my space as some sort of hey look at me aren’t I great type publicity machine, you know the ones – those bands who have a full time street team sending out friend requests and other such like in order to bolster their ‘friend’ total. Us here at no mates central are more than adequately satisfied with our three friends even if one of the number foolishly thought they were signing up to some religious cult. Anyhow we’ve gone a tad off road as usual with the waffling nonsense. Where were we – ah yes Toy Toy’s ‘the me song’ is a scathing slice of barbed electro punk, at times sounding strangely like early career Toyah braided by fizzing shards of kookily schizoid vibes and shoehorned amid a strangely becoming skewed pop sensibility. Apparently a debut single looms on the horizon due for release in February – safe to say our name is already on a copy (I hope).

Sarandon ‘and don’t the kids just love it’. more much loved ear gear around these parts courtesy of their fleeting turntable visitations via the Wrath imprint, Sarandon pay dues to the mighty Television Personalities for this homage that features on a spanking new tribute album though I’m suspecting not the same one I received today from those dudes over at Beautiful Music – ho hum – think we’ll need to do some intensive research into this. Anyhow this lip smacking shimmering strut happy spot of turntable tastiness is a humping slice of finger clicking breezy bubblegum groove, immediate in its attention grabbing loveliness and acutely infectious in its hook happy summery beach party like ways which reminds me did this beauty come with prescribed jabs anyone?

And so we come to the final track of this extended and dare I say slightly erratic festive singled out…….

Little Eiffel and the Birthday Girl ‘atlantic city’. Pulled from an imminent Bruce Springsteen tribute album that’s being aired by the folk at Where its at is where you are ‘atlantic city’ features the paired talents of Little Eiffel and the Birthday Girl, admittedly takes a second to kick in as it initially sounds like two separate songs feeling their way around each other yet once it does a strangely alluring and divinely skewiff dye is cast that curiously seems light years from the original and simultaneously is primed with such an affecting off kilter oddness that the little voice inside your head screams like a police siren to hit the repeat button time and time again.

And so that’s it young pop people – be honest you never thought I’d get through it all – in truth neither did I.

Have yourselves a safe new year’s eve and no doubt see you at the other side.
Next missive – Volume XXII – due before the festive season run out is an end of year soiree featuring all manner of treats that we’ve somehow managed to overlook in recent weeks.

We love records, cassettes and even CD’s so should you feel the desire to contact you can get in touch in the following ways –

For archives and other happening gubbins – http://www.marklosingtoday.wordpress.com
For email – marklosingtoday@gmail.com
Networking – http://www.facebook.com/thesundayexcperience
Or finally – good old fashioned snail mail –

71 Pennsylvania Road, Liverpool, L13 9BA, UK

We’re also on sound cloud and twitter but I’ll be buggered I know the address that said if you really need them then send an interesting record or tape and we’ll root out the details.

Have yourselves a happy and peaceful Christmas and as ever take care of yourselves…..xx

Marklosingtoday
©

 

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