ghosts of christmases past – third visitation

Archive Singled Out first viewed on Losing Today , December 2008…..

 

Ghost of Christmas Future….

29-12-2008

‘Ghost of Christmas Future’

Dedicated to my mum.

Third and not so final part of the Seasonal Bumper Singled Out.

Typical isn’t it. You have everything planned out review wise all the good intentions of kicking out as many reviews as possible between now and the year end. And then – the dreaded flu. Okay the flu is one thing. But then. Toothache. And boy is it the mother of all tooth aches, so painful that Christmas was but a fleeting thing as we busied ourselves dosing up on scotch, painkillers, cold syrups and today – antiobiotics. No surprise that we slept right through the festivities. And I mean slept right through, all except watching the mighty Reds wallop the not so mighty Newcastle yesterday. What a joy to behold, can we really the premiership, personally I feel a little apprehensive and would have to air on the side of no but then saying that of all the games we’ve played this year I can only recall three were we’ve played to anything resembling of full capability – those being yesterday at Newcastle, the Spurs game and the Madrid game Anyhow less of the football nonsense.

How are you. Me I’m fine – thanks for asking – a little miffed I missed Christmas.

And so because of the unexpected and unwanted health presents these missives have been thrown on their heads, this was meant to be the third and final part of the Xmas bumper missive and was due for Boxing Day broadcast – which by the way I slept through – did I mention that. So with that in mind imagine if you will that this is Boxing Day and that yours truly has as usual made promises he couldn’t hope to keep and has had to extended what was meant to be a three parter into four p[arts. Are you still with me – fancy some of these antiobiotics with some scotch – not advised kids……..onward…..

Dotted liberally amid the following pages you’ll hopefully find selected treats from the free to download Filthy Little Angels Xmas compilation ‘it‘ll be filthy this Xmas‘ (though one or two have found themselves escaping into the pages of the second part of this extended missive) which should you need it – and of course it goes without saying that you do – you can rip a copy for your own by going to http://filthylittleangels.blogspot.com/ – elsewhere which will now be tomorrow for those of you who weren’t arsed or lost the will to live reading the opening pre-amble (I know we did and we are writing the blighter) we’ll try and squeeze in the rest of the unopened treats from the Maps Magazine advent calendar along with hopefully – a mention for the now seasonal standard festive aural card from Yellow 6. Which for those of you taking notes now means the Kelman special has been shunted back to New Years Eve. So without further ado – records…..

Postcode ‘black and white Christmas’ (FLA). Much loved in this parish since featuring their wares in one of our Filthy Little Angels missive specials this year and then following that up by sending out – all the way from their Isle of Man base two full lengths – ‘zebra land’ and ‘zebra core’ both of which though worryingly revealing a strange obsession with zebras are getting a fair speaker spanking on our hi-fi of late. Anyhow enough of that ’black and white Christmas’ – which incidentally opens this FLA festive set is a crunching slice of acutely irresistible throb lashed power surged and spiked bubblegum pop replete with purring vocals Dinosaur JNR styled riffage all blessed and bolted down fast with a searing pop sensibility that imagines a scowling Echobelly trading notes with Sleeper. Need we say more – a gem.

Shock and Awe (FLA). One of life’s great disappointments is when you come across a band who’ve been plying their trade for a fair few years and whom much to your shock and embarrassment have so far managed to remain out of view from your usually well tuned listening radar. Shock and Awe are one such combo, a trio hailing from Edinburgh who to date have managed to stash away a few well heeled full lengths (well we are assuming that they are well heeled purely on the strength of the brace of cuts to be found here – okay admittedly one is a remix of the other) in the shape of ’school for scoundrels’ and shock and awe go home’. Unless our ears do deceive ‘Xmas Party’ sounds not unlike a minimalist variant of Sigue Sigue Sputnik relocated to the classic era surroundings of a mid 70’s CBGB’s and finding themselves stoned and wasted and boogying with Johnny Thunders and friends. The ’Xmas Party (Filthy Spector Version)’ is pretty much the same as before though suspiciously sounding as though both James and Co and the Thunders entourage have been kicked into touch by the Ramones – well smart.

A video of them goes a bit like this…..

S Punk 7. Another ensemble who so far we’ve managed (God alone knows how) to miss out on are the impishly named S Punk 7 who according to their my space page incidentally at http://www.myspace.com/spunkseven describe themselves as the ’spunkiest punk covers band ever’ and who are we to argue given that said page features a searing showcase of assorted gems from yesteryear including the Buzz cocks ’ever fallen in love’, the Crickets / Bobby Fuller 4’s ’I fought the law’ as reclaimed by the Clash and er – the Pistols ’pretty vacant‘. Try imaging a mid way point between Leatherface, the dickies and peter and the test tube babies, the mentally vomit venting second generation stirrings of the crunching ’fault of you’ manages to cross wire elements of the Monkees punk standard chord refrain from ’Steppin Stone’ and impishly wires it into what can only be described as some sort of faux take on ’not the nine o’ clock news’ early 80’s send up ’gob on you’ while the festering and wasted ’white (trash) Christmas’ is a superb slab of festive road kill laced with a seriously sleazily decadent grind. Does it for us anyway.

The Rocks ’Christmas (baby please come home)’. Okay – admittedly not a patch on the definitive Darlene Love version but then anyone foolish enough to take it on was always going to be – shall we say pissing in the wind, instead where the Rocks may lack in intensity they more than make up for in decorating the spectacle with a fair amount of the heart heavy and tear stained quotient, adorned with a homely glow this quietly effective sucker punching cutie will have you a weeping like the little toddler Santa forgot.

Hilary and the Democrats ’do you remember snow?’. Yes that’s a point – snow whatever happened to that, not that we ever got snow in December it was always in February as I recall, and who remembers fog, you never see fog anymore in fact when it was foggy you never saw anything not even your hand in front of your face, in fact at my ol’ fella’s house the family used to recreate Victorian fog scenes by way of intense smoking, got so bad that when the ciggies where flashed around – and when I say flashed around I mean they be thrown towards a general direction where you were sitting, often poking you in the eye. And who said smoking wasn’t bad for you. Anyhow it seems we’ve gone off road a tad. Where were we – ah yes Hilary and the Democrats who serve up a spot of tasty strum happy and delightfully tuneful beat pop with plenty of ’jingle bells’ overtones – jeez anyone would think it was Christmas the way they are banging on. I think a single is just about due from the chaps and chapesses….what do you reckon.

The Housewives ‘blue Christmas’. Already elevated to the upper reaches of writers lists as ones to watch in 2009 and who are we to argue on the evidence of two well heeled single releases this year and this rather wired white funk cutie really which if truth be told really does sound as though it managed to tripwire itself through some sort of time fracture from a Peel show Christmas past c. 1979 / 80 – one methinks for fans of Talking Heads, Gang of Four and the Raincoats and well smart with it.

Captain Polaroid ’you’ll never see Christmas again’. Like Billy Ruffian another ensemble (or individual – you know we never can remember) so criminally underrated that the record buying public at large ought to hang their collective heads in shame, having already decorated our listening space this year with some of our most cherished releases this year. There’s a beautifully numbed blankness about ’you’ll never see Christmas again’, aside its politicised overtones and its frail and sparse demeanour – which incidentally courts a strangely alluring shanty vibe which if you’re none to careful kind of picks away beneath your skin – this beauty waywardly waltzes in a rather affecting and sumptuously punch drunk nonchalance that suggests those of you out there missing your essential fix of Pavement – especially of the early career variety – may do well to fall headlong into. Great things await.

Rod Jones ’Christmas Fire’. Absolutely gorgeous even if we do say so ourselves, another artist squirreled out of hiding by those lovable folk at Filthy Little Angels and again another who arrives at our turntable with no prior information as to forthcoming happenings and other such delights. Instead all we are left with is this rather spectral and homely hymnal treat, ’Christmas fire’ sounds not unlike the handicraft of a certain Rod Thomas, delicately serviced with a both beguiling and bewitching acoustic arrangements this mellowing beauty is touched with the kind of stuff that binds together the stars in the night sky and leaves you feeling warmly radiant and a glow with an inner fuzzy feeling – did we mention it also sounds like a rather frail and fragile Superimposers – no – oh well it does.

Lonely Ghosts ’Christmas time is here’. And the teasing gems still keep a coming, no sooner have we shaken ourselves from the spell cast by Rod Jones and along comes the Lonely Ghost who hail from Brighton, occasionally number in 6 and we swear have previously featured in these pages courtesy of a four way debut split release for the OIB imprint (see missive 125) – alas it seems their currently touted mini album has passed us by – boo hoo and much grumbling besides, still we’ll instead savour this which is best described – if described is what you can call it – as a strange warping dream like collage that manages to cut between being both eerie, enchanting and lullaby-esque – if you need reference points think Death Cab for Cutie meets Arab Strap with Jarvis at the mixing desk.

Lost Summer Kitten ’jullaten’. Frankly they are taking the piss now these FLA chaps, we suspect that this may well be the best thing they’ve released to date. Lost Summer Kitten are a duo – Matilda and Lisa in case you were wondering – who hail from Lund, Sweden and as far as we are concerned are quite possibly the best thing to have graced our turntable since that rather fine Smoke Fairies demo a few months ago. Utterly enchanting stuff, this willowy woodland whisper offers up an arresting slice of exquisitely crafted timeless folk pop braided beautifully by the divine spectacle of impeccably entwined harmonies cast upon the gentle tumble of deftly plucked clock working acoustics. We suggest you head over to their MS page at http://www.myspace.com/lostsummerkitten and familiarise yourselves with the near perfect and emotion sapping ’lovesong no.1’ as I seriously suspect we will be revisiting these femme folksters in these pages next year and we will be asking questions to make sure you were taking notes the first time of asking.

Micropenis ’happy Christmas Stalin’. More welcomed flashbacks to those golden years of pop – 1979 / 80 and dare we say much loved in this parish and by our reckoning the second mention in this extended missive for the wonderfully named Micropenis. Those of you who’ve been keeping an ear and the odd eye on their steady rise in our affections may well consider the association with anything remotely commercialised as Christmas to be something of a no no in the Micropenis base camp – and hell you’d be right – ‘Happy Christmas Stalin’ is obliquely blank and typically tersely sculptured in a scarring and oppressive manner as to suggest that they snarl at people who walk about wearing comedy Santa hats, of course we love them to bits – best filed next to the Normal, early Cabaret Voltaire and Throbbing Gristle.

Psychotic Reaction ‘goodwill to all beings’. Again nowt known about this lot – we promise that in the new year we will start researching these things properly (ha ha – if you believe that you’ll also believe us packing in the fags – which honest we will be- honest, honest, honest – which reminds me – fag time). Anyhow – before we decided to go off road we were about to remark on the quite excellent Psychotic Reaction’s ’goodwill to all beings’ which in a nutshell really does sound like a seasonal get together between Dinosaur JNR and Teenage Fanclub – what do you mean you don’t believe me – look just download the blighter and prove me wrong.

Billy Ruffian ‘it’s a long lonely Christmas without Jimmy Greenhoff’ / ‘all I want for Christmas is a ting ting’. Scallywags Billy Ruffian have throughout the course of the year decorated our listening space with some of the most impish and insidiously tasty treats this side of Half Man Half Biscuit. Irrefutably dour, dashingly cynical and teasingly equipped with a rarefied albeit fractured and skewed melodic astuteness, they have remained one of a select few ensembles currently to be found on the ever expanding underground circuit much deserving of the tag ’should be bigger’. rounding off the year with not one but two skulking in the shadows gems, ’it’s a long lonely Christmas without Jimmy Greenhoff’ – a tongue in cheek homage of sorts to the former Man U player, don’t know about you but we are hearing shades of scuffed up Stones riffs and elements of a skewed nod or two towards Wreckless Eric’s ’whole wide world’ – alas that could be the Jack Daniels kicking in and yes I know it’s a little early to be imbibing but we’ve ran out of Glenfiddich so it’s the juice now. That said we must admit to being rather smitten by ’all I want for Christmas is a ting ting’ which we must admit was high on our Christmas wants list alas they were all out of the silent ones – damn. Anyway two minutes of rowdy to good wholesome boisterousness is what you get for your troubles, plenty of toe tapping impishness, cheeky merriment and sing-a-long seasonal fayre – who said preferable to the real thing. Now now play nicely young people.

Shisho ‘stranger in the manger’. lovable rascals Midge and Vivian – better known to regular readers of these pages as ShiSho get in on the holiday celebrations with this decidedly crooked half cousin to the Waitresses ’Christmas Wrapping’, delightfully kooky, minimal and adorned with all manner of off kilter skewed funkiness as though delivered by some wired creation of Charles Schultz. If that’s not enough head over to their ms page at http://www.myspace.com/shish for a whole grab bag of festive treats of which we suggest you hook up to the dinky grotto grooving ’Christmas Bells’.

p.s. blimey we nearly missed this – in fact the set features two Shisho cuts – the errant additional track being ’Christmas Red’ which as you can imagine offers up more delightfully despatched kinder-core treats for all though this time couched with a curiously raucous knee slapping barnyard grind that we suspect fans of Lonnie Donegan (to name but one) will certainly swoon to.

Paris Street ’a marshmallow world’ / ‘candy cane withdrawal‘. sadly we have absolutely no information with which to impart upon you about the who, what and whereabouts of Paris Street which from a personal point of view kind of saddens the heart as here you’ll find them in fine fettle – well sort of – and parading two little nuggets that unless our ears do deceive hint and whiff of a ‘ones to watch’ potential, agreed both cuts do arrive shall we say worse for wear with seasonal glumness and sounding like they’ve been at the wrong end of a kicking from Santa’s troupe of reindeers, still their lovable, un-fancibly homely in a bitter sweet way and affectionately twisted with a downcast happy morose tingle while adorned with an eerie children’s musical glow as on ’a marshmallow world’ – while ’candy cane withdrawal’- and this may be the result of the Jack Daniels, beacham’s all in one cough syrup and assorted painkillers finally kicking in to form a strange light headed warmth – sounds not unlike a wrist cutting ’seasons in the sun’ being done by a tree gathering parade made up of Pavement, Will Oldham and Leonard Cohen. Expect oddly great things in the near future.

Later ‘long winter gone’. Stunning in a word and to this medication addled flu and toothache riddled head sounding not unlike the much missed Corn Dollies’ ’nothing of you’ – a monumental track from yesteryear all said and done as is likewise this babe from Later, a softly murmured shimmering cutie succulently framed amid dream woven cascades of orbiting star kissed chime parades and heart surrendering fuzzy feedback mirages, all at once lovelorn and hollowed with a sweetly bitter soft centre that we here reckon lovers of Hey Paulette and the Hoverchairs would do well to check out this instant.

That Corn Dollies track can be heard by redirecting your mouse type thing in the general location of http://www.last.fm/music/Corn+Dollies/_/Nothing+Of+You?autostart – you know we are just to nice to you.

And that’s your lot till tomorrow…..wherein there will be more – groan

Take care

Mark

X

 

post flu and toothache special….

31-12-2008

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

yhe 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

http://www.mapsmagazine.co.uk/Calendar/Calendar%202008/Files/The_Monroe_Transfer_-_Silent_Night.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

http://www.mapsmagazine.co.uk/Calendar/Calendar%202008/Files/01_Disobedience_(for_Jim).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

http://www.mapsmagazine.co.uk/Calendar/Calendar%202008/Files/WINTERLONG.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.

http://www.mapsmagazine.co.uk/Calendar/Calendar%202008/Files/akira%20-%20HARD%20FEELINGS%20C-01.mp3

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.

http://www.mapsmagazine.co.uk/Calendar/Calendar%202008/Files/Yellow_Fever%2BDr.mp3

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?

http://www.mapsmagazine.co.uk/Calendar/Calendar%202008/Files/02_What,_you%27ve_never_seen_snow_before-.mp3

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.

http://www.mapsmagazine.co.uk/Calendar/Calendar%202008/Files/I_want_Don%27t_Get_-_Cop_on_the_Edge.mp3

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).

http://www.mapsmagazine.co.uk/Calendar/Calendar%202008/Files/The_Me_Song_Kjaer_MRG_441.mp3

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?

http://www.mapsmagazine.co.uk/Calendar/Calendar%202008/Files/And_Don%27t_The_Kids_Just_Love_It.mp3

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.

Mark

X

 

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