missive 200 (h)
http://www.myspace.com/hauntedtapes – recommended to us by the lost and found sound with whom they share a c-30 cassette split with which we think Stacy (who is the lost and found sound is emailing us – so expect further mentions in a few days when we’ve savoured the contents). An Arizona based trio no less comprising of friends Brandon, Zach and Stacy (yep the lost and found sound dude again) who in the own words ‘strive to musically recreate the artwork found on Atari 2600 cartridges’. we have to admit being much in favour of the overt use of subliminal messaging as ventured on the opening salvo ‘pyramid song’ on which we swear we hear amid the sounds of an intergalactic space station broadcast some distant robotic relation of Fireball XL5’s Robbie (the robot) mischievously advising ‘buy it, buy it’ mind you the clincher is the impish snippets of Gary Numan’s ‘M.E.’ albeit here revealed in its Basement Jaxx’s (‘where’s your head at’) guise sent happily through the crookedly cosmic blender. ‘riding high’ initially sounds like the arriving onset of some epic slice of pop heartbreak by the Walker Brothers or the Big O until the appearance of what sounds like an army of drunken mole men hijack it and put it up for ransom but then had that not been the case then things wouldn’t have sounded half as like a prank minded Echoboy mooching around the undercarriage of Add N to X’s console unit with a soldering iron and pliers. ‘sarcophagi’(that’s meant to have an additional ‘I’ at the end – this blighter of a PC keeps changing it) is best shall we say described as wonky, warped and very weird, a bit like a playful promenade jaunt as enacted by say – the Busy Signals – only the promenade has long since been succumbed by the advancing sea and the Busy Signals has been found donning his best looking snorkel and skins for a spot of the underwater sonatas. Last up and by no means least a spot of strangeness courtesy of ‘nownowherehere’ all dimpled with strange archaic dub mantras, flotillas of dream weaving mirages, soft psyche kookiness and oriental frost tipped motifs – nah we haven’t a clue what it means either.
http://www.myspace.com/amberhazemusic – armed with an array of guitars and electronics, Amberhaze is the work of Singapore based musician Giuliano Gullotti, one release firmly under his belt to date in the shape of the ‘newborn’ EP with the promise of a full length scheduled to arrive and no doubt break hearts this summer via the KittyWu imprint (more about them later). Described as falling somewhere between ‘shoe gaze / indie / electronics’ Amberhaze tread with measured elegance within realms already occupied by the likes of Yellow 6 and Workhouse, the melodies tear stained, introspective mellow delicately dapple the star crossed voids in a tempting array of sugar blazed sheens of frosted stratospheric opines, here you’ll be enchanted by the milky atmospherics of ‘a certain affinity’ as it playfully swirls and sways like some sort of forlornly minimalist toned New Order its inherent am orphic armoury of nocturnally tweaked glitchy electronics and glassy riffs playing out a lunar like courtship. Elsewhere ‘December’ is poised and subtly primed with the same glacial set classical pirouettes and twinkle some lullaby-esque Brontean flurries much recalling the early work of fortdax albeit re-engineered by a snoozing and serenely minded Maps and Diagrams. That said best moment of the set for us is the vapour trailed ‘crush’ – deceptively majestic and statue-esque amid its hollowed orbiting glazes lies an immeasurable beauty softly thawing, stretching and yearning. Utterly captivating.
Wooderson / Ox Scapula ‘split’ (we like danger). Must admit that we here are a tad cheesed off with ourselves because we’d have sworn we’d already given this our blessings in previous dispatches. However a quick root around the gaff reveals otherwise. Not sure how limited this four track face off is but given that previous We Like Danger ear ware (here’s to the atom bomb, herzoga, ms Thomason et al) have had a tendency to fly from the racks like the proverbial shit off a hot shovel we suggest you go in immediate search. A seven inch EP no less pressed up on black wax replete with inserts and all your usual packaging, this release sees the welcome return to the decks of Ox Scapula who occupy one half of the grooves being accompanied by Wooderson who – obviously – apply their craft across the remainder. Hailing from Sheffield and numbering four in the ranks. ’Audacious day’ and ’janet bruce’ marks their first official debut outing following the acclaim garnered by way of their demo which sadly we missed out on here – harrumph. Definitely cutting Dischord shapes with their jagged brand of agit based grizzled goo ‘Audacious Day’ it has to be said is a bit of a killer cut replete with revved up chorus’ of squalling sheens of driving riffage (which quite frankly from their initially appearances sound like Dick Dale firing up) whose bloodline easily finds something of a shared kinship with the latter career back catalogue of the Am Rep roster and here found lunging and about you up close and personal in the blink of an eye whilst concocting something of a decidedly savage and melodically astute brew. Think that covers it for now mind you did we mention the Fall-esque moments? ‘janet bruce’ is a more dislocated affair and perhaps all said and done the stronger of the two cuts, built around a seriously scarring mooching bass line and blessed with a spoken word delivery much recalling Rooney it frequently fractures and rages into seizure gripped menacing moments of white hot frenzy. Well tasty. Flip the disc for a brace of Ox Scapula gems, last featured in despatches with their ‘cuts’ debut – see missive 170 – both ‘the man’ and ‘suspended letter’ continue to reveal their growing love of all things math rock, the former smothered in an abrasive and abrupt goo is a jarring brew of distorted time signatures and wildly erratic stuttering rhythmic calibrations all at once fierce some, frenzied and dare we say wilfully manic in a charged and scarred Fugazi type manner. More settled is the accompanying ‘suspended letter’ well we say settled but then that only lasts for about a minute before the festering jabs of the intricately honed corkscrewing riffs assume a domineering presence and colour the proceedings with a fraughtly animated edge the type of which you’d have to flick back through your record rack to the likes of the Arm or San Lorenzo for a suitably comparable reference point. http://www.welikedanger.com
The Scratch ‘destroyed by the look of love’ (pony land). Damn (ed), damn (ed), damn (ed) we’re so mightily pissed at ourselves because somehow we’ve managed to inadvertently mislay this babe much to our embarrassment and save it from a fate worse than – well in our gaff – death – that being the unheard mountain of CD’s currently hiding the floors of two rooms and several work surfaces. The Scratch should need no introductions in these pages, pardoning the French but they literally piss melodies so razor sharp, acutely addictive and drilled in threads of a vintage golden era new wave flavour that we here suspect them of having access to a time travelling device. Sadly we only have a one track promo of this their three track download only release – the gone missing in action cuts being ‘flicker’ and a live demo take of ‘not your friend’ (which we will enquire about in a begging letter and report back with haste in future despatches). Mind you we’ll forgive them just this once because the lead out cut ‘destroyed by the look of love’ is frankly worth the entrance fee on its own. This babe is primed and charged with the kind of wickedly audacious exuberance not heard around these parts since Supergrass started re-branding old Buzzcocks ditties as they’re own. And talking of the Buzzcocks the Shelley / Diggle et al reference markers aren’t lost on us here because ‘destroyed by the look of love’ has a definite ‘love bites’ edge to it albeit subtly smoked in the irrefutable shade adorned soft psyche hue of 60’s fuzz shakers the Shadows of Knight while cut pristinely with one of the most drop dead chorus’ this side of a garage beat pop styled Sundazed re-issue. Between you and me I think the blighters are toying with us. http://www.thescratch.co.uk
Up date – Andy from the Scratch kindly sent over a finished copy of ‘destroyed by the look of love’ which we don’t mind admitting has been getting a fair hammering since being prized from its mailer, in fact so hot off the presses is this beauty that the ink has scarcely dried on it. Mind you that said it now gives us a chance to tune in and savour the previously reported gone missing in action flip cuts ‘flicker’ and ‘not your friend’ – and little blinders they are. ’flicker’ should rightly see itself garnering something of a thumbs up and some admiring glances from the psychedelic community draped as it is in softly warping lysergic tonalities that we here are thinking reveals someone in the ranks spending their spare time genning up on the finest kookily kaleidoscopic moments to be had from the Elephant 6 Collective back catalogue (Minders, Apples in Stereo, Neutral Milk Hotel, Olivia Tremor Control et al) and decided to observe those off kilter wonky west coast moulds through a vintage viewfinder and tender the emitting refractions with essences procured of a quintessentially English eccentricity that suggests Pete Shelley leading out a magic mushroom munching Syd loving collective made up of members of the Soft Boys, the Freed Unit and XTC in their Dukes guise. Trippy stuff. Not to be outdone ’not your friend’ lands a considerable jaw dropped punch, an unrepentant slab of searing, sneering, snot nosed spite replete with nasal drawls and a warring armoury of wilfully frantic spiked and sparring insurgent three chord hip hugging accoutrements that we here are suspecting has been born of some impish soul cross matching the DNA’s of the Godfathers with those of the Dead Boys. No prizes for guessing that you need this in your life sharpish.
Fever Fever ‘keys in the bowl’ (cherryade). Two Cherryade releases in as many days (the other being heavily hammered already debut full length from the Lovely Eggs) received over here in the bijou confines of the losing today record shed, blimey it must be Christmas and we’ve slept through the summer we thought. But then it was Christmas when we first stumbled upon the rather wilfully abrasive Norwich based trio Fever Fever whose contagious and caustic ’Hallelujah Carol’ proved one of a number of highlighting delights to be found hogging groove space on Cherryade’s annual festive soiree ‘a very cherry Christmas’ Volume 4. Accompanying this their official debut twin set is a press release replete with a photo portraying said trio with petulant scowls as though momentarily interrupted for the shot from lamping chunks out of each other and each adorning a t-shirt individualised by one letter – R S and E – arse (geddit – bloody hard work this explaining stuff). Its an image that perfectly conjures up what Fever Fever are about – volatile and vicious. Both these cuts ‘keys in the bowl’ and ‘stage shoes’ come shrink wrapped in the kind of up and at you gear shifting gusto that’s so acutely agitant in demeanour and delivery that it makes you wince and cower, the former a frenzied and furious f**k you three chord slab of riot grrl baiting that sounds not unlike fellow East Anglian compatriots Violet Violet albeit oozing and curdled with several side servings of bad assed attitude and lashed amid a crudely caustic armoury of quarrelsome combination pogo popping jabs. ‘stage shoes’ is equally shrilled with a teeth bearing gasket blowing antagonistic relentlessness that had us here reaching with haste for our stash of Rubella Ballet, Expelled and Ejected ear ware from yesteryear though quite frankly we are more than a tad smitten by its criminal ability to flash without due care or regard between being caustic and cutesy. Essential of course but then did you really need to ask? http://www.cherryademusic.co.uk
The Phantom Band ‘the howling’ (chemikal underground). Indeed we here have been much loving of this lots debut full length ‘checkmate savage’ that in all the excitement and joy that its poured forth and bestowed upon our person we’ve somehow forgotten to write about it in despatches. That’ll teach the blighters for cobbling together a knee knocking nugget nurtured cutie. Anyhow debut single culled from that aforementioned set sees ‘the howling’ being turfed out of its safe confines and forced to embark on a bit of lonesome space walking. Hands up who fancies a spot of kraut folk. No I haven’t been on the pills again or else had a bang on the head that has somehow disengaged our ears and seemingly removed them reality – mind you two hours of Merzbow on the turntable may have played a small part in matters. Do we not hear the feint drift of Quickspace and Fly intoxicating the listening space and what’s this as we scratch a little deeper beneath the kosmic tonalities some slender and barely audible elements of the Band and Buffalo Springfield. Okay maybe not so much of the Springfield’s but there’s no denying that there’s a homely campfire pageantry unfurling here curiously tweaked by a discernible element or three of kraut borne motorik rhythms and the subtle wash of buzz humming hyper driven sprinkled space dust. Anyhow in truth one of the weakest cuts of the debut full length (see I told you the album was a gem) and something that has had us all in a quandary wondering whether to don the sheriffs hat or the space helmet, featuring loads of woo wooing moogs, dust bowled mantras, ghostly hymnal recitals which I suppose all adds up to being something that admirers of the Earlies should be rescuing from record racks and lavish much love and affection on while as a bonus for all you comic buffs the sleeve features artwork by Frank Quietly (all star Superman, new X-Men, Batman, the Invisibles et al). Ma are those beans ready yet? http://www.chemikal.co.uk
The Authors ‘household appliances’ (Scribe). This lot featured in these very pages somewhere in the mists of time when we had the good fortune to hook up to their ‘taxi’ debut (see missive 138). Fast forward several years down the line and while it could be argued that the world domination train hasn’t quite managed to navigate its way to their Jersey located base camp just yet the trio happily (mind you that could equally be unhappily) hatch out the finest morsels of surging sugar pop this side of a hooks r’ us website service. ‘household appliance’ here featured twice in both its radio and full edit versions is a ridiculously catchy slice of playfully busy strut fused electro pop, replete with stuttering kick backs and dislocated rhythmic time signatures while blessed with the kind of candy trimmed electro framing that was once the sole remit of a Vince Clarke featured Depeche Mode this beauty slyly and serviced with a pulse racing urgency which when viewed as a whole seems them sharing something of an affinity with the gone quiet of late Computerclub. As always with these things our preferred cut is the flip side ‘hospital’ – trimmed as it is with a decidedly alluring backdrop of stilled atmospherics and glazed with bitter sweet trappings which unless our ears do deceive lends itself a certain frail and fragile detail that recalls a sense of ‘picnic by the motorway’ styled Suede motif about its wares while simultaneously being steeped with an austere majesty much reminiscent of a very youthful ‘Organisation’ era OMD and decoded with the type of numbed magnetism that makes Decoration such a bloody treat to hear. Will tug at the heartstrings. http://www..myspace.com/theauthormusic
Dalmatian Rex and the Eigentones ‘octopus I love you’ (music 4 goldfish). The return of our favourite loons, how Dalmatian Rex and the Eigentones have so far escaped institutionalisation is beyond us – mind you perhaps they have and are currently on the run, still whatever the case they occupy a rare and eccentric corner of pop’s ever expanding cosmos, a place where the lines between what passes for the great and genius and the whacked and weird blur, a place where the heralded and feted go unrecognised, unaccredited and largely ignored by the public at large, a place equally where the hopeless remain – er – hopeless. A brief run through of the admittance register would maybe read – Captain Beefheart, Viv Stanshall, Half Man Half Biscuit, the Fall, the Cravats and of course Dalmatian Rex and the Eigentones. They have been a crucial part of our listening enjoyment for a good number of years, so blatantly obtuse, off the wall and so resistant to toeing the line they’ve hatched for themselves a world where only they exist, a world only they could exist. Latest release – incidentally a free download from their website – address below – features two cuts that initially appeared on their recent and I should hasten to add much loved here ‘psychedelic monsters’ set though here finding themselves culled from a session for the Mr Peel honouring Dandelion Radio. ‘Octopus I love you’ is braided by a loveably lilting and radiantly lazy eyed and summery laid back acoustic refrain that’s coloured coded with a swanky happy go lucky hand clapping dizziness that’s much reminiscent of the sparse lo-fi treatments applied by the Freed Unit to their criminally ignored ‘gigglegoo’ full length from a few years ago. Admittedly there are vague Barrett-esque impressions pickling the canvas and while the lyrics are barking in a one slate short of a roof type way there’s more than enough of a shyly effervescent crookedness here to suggest this lot can navigate their way around the pop sensibility maze and still emerge out of the exit with their credibility still intact. Flip over for ‘hairy monsters’ which for reasons best known only to us probably had us strangely recalling the Soft Hearted Scientists – well at least momentarily until that is it goes all Weddoes ‘sea monsters’ on us, throw in some childlike imagery, some kooky electronics, an underpinning of swathes of lunar like tides, some chugging guitars and we’re fast tracking a well beaten path up to the equally fried and foolishly neglected territories frequented by the Beatnik Filmstars. I wonder what medication their being prescribed these days? http://www.dalmatianrex.co.uk
And here’s the equally demented video…..fried stuff….you have been warned…
Fresh Legs ‘chess’ (cool for cats). Seem to recall us giving this label something of a panning in recent despatches when upon spotting we now had a sizeable gap in our prized Kabeedies collection mainly due to missing out on their third (I think) release which was by way of a brief detour to the beckoning arms of Cool for Cats there was unmitigated grumpiness for an entire weekend and beyond with words not heard on British shores since the arrival of the bearded blokes with big hats and funny looking ships led by a bloke called Kirk. I bet their ears were a burning as was our pile of fierce panda and related paraphernalia on the steaming funeral pyre that we’d hastily made in the front room, a front room that should be said here and now is sporting a rather smart looking hole that the cat invites his friends along to go pot holing on rainy days when playtime is cancelled and malted biccies and glasses of milk are the order of the day. Where exactly where we. Fresh Legs that’s the bunny. Fresh from the acclaim garnered by way of their debut single ‘Samwise’ – well we’re assuming it was acclaimed because it says so in the press release (almost) and as you know press releases never never lie unless of course they’re for Moz and extol such rib tickling witticisms as ‘his best to date’ and only then do we single him out because his adoring fans are well handy with complaints and quite frankly vivid and ingenious in their death threats – and anyway we need to up the blog readership count because lets be honest three readers is embarrassing. And so to Fresh Legs for a third and final time who by now have probably either dozed off, given up and gone to pub or else grown beards much like those mentioned earlier in this thesis like word generating appraisal. Two tracks feature within and smarties they are. ‘chess’ is precociously perfect, sitting somewhere between the much admired Johnny Foreigner and the ever adorable the Lovely Eggs, this baby freewheels between the mellow and manic. Graced by Ella’s vocals themselves teasingly dizzy and blessed for the best part with a cutely fetching head in the clouds wooziness under which mooches an armoury of potently patient hip hugging jig-sawing needle like strums whose reference markers indelibly cast a nod or two towards the early career work of the Weddoes and which quietly with stealth like adeptness slyly gather velocity to momentarily erupt and fracture into combustible shards of furiously thumping heads crunching meltdown and from that point on proceed to inscribe something delightfully deranged and unhinged. ‘house’ over on the flip – yep you’ve guessed rightly – is our preferred cut mainly due to the fact that its decorated with an insidiously off kilter dressing of a spiky, fragmented and fried funky groove all lovingly done up with the cross exchange of shouty boy / girl vocals and finished off with sun steamed cute as f**k harmonies. Could you honestly ask for anything sweeter we wonder – I somehow think not. http://www.myspace.com/thosefreshlegs