another rescued singled out – pulled from a dead hard drive – this one is from 2007 and features – john smith, club 8, animal collective, the cinematic orchestra, peggy sue and the pirates, the laughing windows, beneath smoke and fire, pre, aids wolf, sailors, data 70, the new royal family, keith totp, kontakte, the wyo’s, eight legs, the playing fields, the whitest boy alive, the answering machine, new cassettes, the cloud room, crystal castles, we are wolves, dj champion, mother mother, fuck buttons, duchess says, the departure, the travelling band
For Kelly and Mark – miss you.
Singled Out – 100% waffle, fat and wholesome tastiness.
Blimey it only seems a few days since we finally pinned down the beast in the basement that was Missive 145 and word has it that that self same thesis styled behemoth is now being used as a leading scholarly text for students of whom English is not their first language, or second, or third, come to think of it 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th or 9th. In years to come it’ll be treated with Dickensian awe many leading authorities will pour over it painstakingly almost weeping at its lack of form, its lack of opportunity, its lack of charisma, start, middle and finish and its unabashed refusal to folly in the use of trite punch lines. The offers to turn it into a film have already started rolling in – well okay we’ve had one, a strange looking bloke down the street who has seemingly acquired a digital hand held video camera (notice I use the description ’acquired’) who has this strange fascination for nocturnal recordings – I’m not saying a thing at this juncture safe to say there have been complaints.
Well kids it would have been a remarkable feat had it not been held up on the buffers due to yours truly contracting the dreaded bug that kicking around – simply known to women as a cold bug but to us blokes as the deadly pan Siberian indo Asian fever. Man have we felt like sh*t, mind you the prescriptive anti-biotics have had us tripping wildly and the inability to eat now means that a sharp reduction in weight that means we are at our feather weight fighting fit – hell our clothes are so big on us now that we look like a cross between Charlie Chaplin and a shop lifter.
Onward young souls to the flippin records, loads of them this time of asking albeit we bought most of them – well a few of them – once again its apologies time this was meant to be a quickly turned out missive and brief at that – but hell there’s been so much top drawer stuff that we felt we’d combust if we didn’t mention as many of them as possible – some corkers feature here, a few familiar names and a few not so but then you can bet your arse that this time next year they’ll be household names.
Also we are cock – a – fookin – hoop to discover plenty of Fall action on the horizon – first up an interview with the great man himself via http://www.visi.com/fall/news/fallnews.html where Smithy gets to shoot the shit about terrorism, football, horoscopes and the talking heads among things. Also in April next year book shelves across the nation will be taking delivery of two related Fall tomes – first up ‘renegade – the gospel according to….’ by Smithy himself – no doubt triggered by years of misquotes and musicologists screwing up in their notions as to what, how and who are the Fall. While a month later in May Mick Middles ‘complete guide to the music of the Fall’ – a track by track exposition of each and every cut recorded by the Fall – it remains to be seen if it comes up to the standard bearing ‘revolution in my head’ by Ian MacDonald.
Some top pod casts / internet we’ve just discovered we should have mentioned a missive or two back –
www.echoes.org is a stateside internet radio show who if you go via http://www.dirpodcast.com/podcasts/index.php?iid=10139 you can get to access and download a vast selection of interviews with the likes of John Foxx, Banco de Gaia, Steve Reich, Lou Reed and Mark Mothersbough, Ulrich Schnauss, Robin Guthrie and Harold Budd
Those with a fondness for all things surf, punk, garage, trash and all other forms of delinquent guitaring should retune immediately to the legendary GaragePunk HQ for quick fixes of Rock ‘n ‘ Roll Suicide #43, State of Mynd #11, Flying Saucer Rock ‘n’ Roll #40, Savage Kick #45 and shed loads of primitive underground grooves and transistor trouncing tuneage. www.garagepunk.com
Those of you bemused, amuse or simply bored sh*tless by the latest Moz vs. NME spat – two aging queens in career crisis methinks one pissing credibility faster than a Labour cabinet the other a comedy music paper for the NW6 postcode – racism or fair comment you decide.
And a better way to start this particular missive we have struggled to come up with………..
Club 8 ’Heaven’ (Fortuna Pop). Okay lets get two things out of the way first of all. This is an absolute gem of a release. Okay – got that good. Both cuts are freebie downloads serving advance warning of the bands impending sixth full length ‘the boy who couldn’t stop dreaming’ due in early January. Okay so are we clear on that – gem of a release and free download. Much to our embarrassment Club 8 have up to now managed to duck below our usually well oiled radar, apparently according to the accompanying press release (which miraculously we haven’t managed to lose – just yet) this lot have been quiet for the best part of three years with lead man Johan Angergard busy behind the scenes working on his Labrador imprint who you may recall released some much loved nuggets by the likes of Wan Light and the Legends (sadly the hi-fi has been starved of late of similar minded goodies gracing its turntable) Anyway less of the grumbling two tracks feature here – ‘heaven’ is sublime pop gold make no bones about that, built upon a subtle salsa rhythm this pocket sized grab bag of sunshine pop is sveltely slinky and has you imagining Kirsty MacColl fronting St Etienne with Bob Stanley crafting out indie Sarah styled twee core thrilled recitals of New Order / Cure crossover riffs and casting them into deliriously hazy sugar laced feel good floorshows. After its all to brief ‘Time after time’ like intro ‘Whatever you want’ soon shapes up into an arrestingly perky feast of love note sending pristine pop whose daintily drawn fluffiness and lightly toned effervescence had us recalling early 90’s beautiful beat combos the Catchers and Frente. A delightfully demurring download all said and done – and its for nowt I mean what else do you want – them playing live in your front room – now I come to think of it they probably would. www.club-8.org
John Smith ‘the bird and the worm’ (static caravan). There was a brief moment of panic in our gaff when we discovered much to our horror that those Static dudes had sneaked out this rather fetching twin set under the cover of night completely bypassing us into the bargain. Momentarily thee were some very long faces I can tell you But then google is great isn’t you type in the most innocuous word or expression and get things belonging more readily to bizarre inc. not withstanding how innocent your desired request / query may be. So you can imagine the mere attempt of typing in John Smith on the old search may well return a fair few results – but hell 209 million – that’s a fair sized country that is and guess what our John Smith – well I say our as in the craftsman of this single not in a we own time our – there we go again labouring hard over such an easy point I’m sure there’s a page in the Guardian supplement for us – perhaps Charlie Bookers (only joking). Anyhow getting back on track this John with the record hits home in position numero 10 on the google search engine. Based in Devon and fresh from a recent tour slot supporting both John Martyn and Davey Graham, Smith is this nations rising folk star, wrapping tales of despair to a threadbare but beautifully conceived melodic tapestry that stretches through and past the ages of pop he’s self released a handful of records to date all slowly picking up acclaim of from whoever hears. Limited to just 400 copies ‘the bird and the worm’ makes for a spot of nuzzling timeless folk that trades amid the gently cantering cascades of sweetly tumbling and lilting rustically hued acoustic braids, combing the same pastoral mysteries as Nick Drake before him, Smith exudes that self same trait of being able to sound all at once distant and yet closely intimate whilst crafting as his does on this occasion a richly inviting warmth from out of the available sparse detail unassumingly arresting. The skewed ‘no one knows’ over on the flip is ostensibly a more dislocated affair, formed from twisted acoustic attacks and jabbed strums this darkly weeping brittle slice of creeping with intensity frayed folk howls and eerily taps into the mindset of Tom Waits though strangely it takes a few listens for the bent out of shape brew to ferment and reveal a reward reaping gem that in the main may just cause much swooning amid fans of the darkly genius Lupen Crook albeit the less fractured and unravelling moments to be found in his back catalogue. www.staticcaravan.org
Animal Collective ’Fireworks’ (Domino). We must admit there’s much affection (or should that be infection) in the singled out shed for the garbled pop life form that is Animal Collective. Since tripping over Fat Cat’s deliciously packaged twin set that glued together ’Spirit they’re gone, Spirit they’ve vanished’ and ’Danse Manatee’ a few years back we’ve been perplexed, puzzled, prodded, pleasured and pickled by their strange amorphous kaleidoscopic odysseys, several years on they still sound like no one else yet ridiculously sound for all the world like everyone else albeit fractured, dislocated and fused together into a forever evolving myriad of sound. Deceptively enchanting and anarchic in a strange nursery room full of addictively potent highly strung inducing confectionary they’ve been masters at flipping between the ethereal and the eerie in the same note. Culled from their umpteenth full length (we forgotten exactly how many now – s it 7?) ’strawberry jam’, ’fireworks’ comes pressed up on limited quantities of 10 inch candy floss pink wax. Housed in a die cut sleeve, this one sided baby is a real treat to look at etched as it is with Animal Collective doodles over on the flip – as for the actual track itself well frankly its everything you’ve come to love about New York’s strangest sons only his time shot through with the applied accoutrements of a wider dynamic sound, you’ll be happy to know that they’re still schizoid and positively cuckoo as they freeform across a vibrant locomotive shuffle to deliver what is essentially – on initially views – a normal pop record albeit it that‘ll be a normal pop record being hurtled backwards through a velocity defying wind tunnel – but then this being Animal Collective everyone else’s idea of normal is not necessarily the given translation that applies to these impish souls and so it is that just when you’re beginning to think they’ve sold their soul to become the next Doleful Lions (which kids is no bad thing) they go and turn everything topsy turvy crafting out a swirling mass of lysergic tipped day-glowing sherbet pop replete with staggered rhythms, ad hoc and abstract shimmering effervescence and dissipating candy coated helium fuelled Beach Boys harmonies married to the blood rushing inducing anticipation of a spell on a speeding ghost train. Kind of special then. www.dominorecordco.com
The Cinematic Orchestra ’to build a home’ (Ninja Tune). Ultra limited or so we are led to believe and probably the sweetest and most arresting thing featured in this particular missive. The Cinematic Orchestra are another London based collective who somehow so far have managed to escape our playful advances and much to our horror have released beneath our noses four full lengths and a remix set. But hey guess we are on their case now having nailed this little beauty. Culled from their current ’Ma Fleur’ set ’to build a home’ featured here via two versions – the radio edit and an acoustic re-read by Brooklyn based Grey Reverend. Delicately woven across sumptuous layers of lushly trod string arrangements the type of which that literally reach into your chest to softly caress and playfully pluck your heartstrings and sweetly glazed by the most achingly tendered and defences down vocal we’ve heard since – well – Thom Yorke’s almost resigned and pained outpouring on the recent ’In Rainbows’ set, with its measured elegance ’to build a home’ resonates with the warming winters glow of the oncoming festive season casting a picturesque snowbound scenery replete with cantering sweeps and an bracing yet arresting homebound beauty. Quite beautiful if you ask me. As previously advertised the flip side features Grey Reverends acoustic version, a magically near naked and touching slice of nuzzling intimacy that quite frankly will have you in its unfurling duration swooning, crying, smiling and throwing a re-assuring arm or two around it for comfort. www.ninjatune.net
Peggy Sue and the Pirates ‘Television’ (Thesaurus). Darn it groove dudes we are loving this – threadbare art rockabilly all the way from Brighton (where else?). Peggy Sue and the Prates are duo Rosa Rex and Katy Klaw – obviously kids not their real names unless of course their parents where stoned reprobates with an unsound sense of humour and a love for the Flintstones – and they have names for their guitar (stud) and their guitar tuner (Sir Pablo) and just between you and me I think they’re shitting me. As with all duos these days with at least one of their number armed with a guitar the likely comparisons will either be the Everley Brothers (ha ha bet that’s got you all fuming now) or the White Stripes, we were going to include Yazoo and the Thompson Twins but firstly the former – you think we were taking the piss and the latter weren’t in fact a duo but a trio who before the great inter-band cull were so big in number that there was talk of actually nominating a postcode for them. Okay we’ve gone off message somewhat. Back to the Everley Brothers and White Stripes (okay we are winding you up) – not a bad call it would seem because ’television’ snatches a twisted and buckled beauty from the jaws of being a dandy radio friendly mass appealing pop treat. Primal, primitive and remarkably beaten up boogie that steals itself with a few well sourced late 50’s styled jazz tinged torch moments a la Nina Simone though spiked with a curious mid 70’s no wave blankness, swept with a strangely becoming push pull time signature and playing house to some of the most laid back femme vocals we’ve heard since early career PJ Harvey and some of the best stammers committed to vinyl since the Who‘s ‘My generation‘. Add in a spot of skewed skiffle some inebriated guitar twiddling lock the blighter in a darkened cellar for six months until smoking and hey presto let it out to beat up all the other fey sounding acoustic oddments currently circulating around the great pop parish. Mean and bloody marvellous with it. Flip over for what is the best of the twin set – the seductive and deeply intimate ’the new song’ is a gorgeously chilled out spot of cool as f*ck late night jazzed out wooziness which unless I’m very much mistaken finishes well before it hits the run out groove which kinda left us a tad deflated. Those fancying hearing more then we suggest you retune immediately to their my space site and check out their XFM session cut ’spare sparts’ especially for the vocal effects – did we mention Carina Round? www.myspace.com/peggyandthepirates
Pre / Aids Wolf ‘Split’ (Sincraft). Absolutely limited and from what we can gather pretty damn elusive. Russia’s Sincraft imprint give your ear lobes a roasting with two ‘unauthorised’ live recordings featuring London based noise niks Pre and Montreal’s crudely chaotic Aids Wolf. With one album under their collective belts in the shape of ’epic fits’ (which we really must try and nail before we get any older) five piece Pre apply their hardcore handiwork in the most uncompromising and unforgiving way possible. Compared by the sleeve notes to the untouchable Melt Banana, Pre certainly know a thing or two about dishing out discordantly damaged and deranged grind, sounding as though each of the players are reading from different pages of the script and with lead vocalist Matsuuara laying down a scalding mental mantra this unrelenting mass of caustic carnage proves a fierce some firecracker of oblivion derailed noise gear. It could be that the five piece alt mayhem juggernaut known as Aids Wolf have spent many a evening gathered around the hi-fi listening to all manner of schizoid jap core and psychedelically brain dead platters from the far east, all at once anarchic, abstract and absented from any notion of form or structure, their frenetic freeform is almost a treat to encounter – both dangerous and delinquent, this untitled slab of gnarled groove tantalisingly tripwires between total collapse and free reign chaos with the kind o deft uneasiness that suggests we really should be featuring them more in the future. And just in case you needed any further prodding – comes housed in a calendar sleeve with breasts no less and available as both a censored and uncensored edition – don’t ask – really – just don’t ask. Just buy the damn thing. http://www.myspace.com/skingraftrecords
And those with short term memories may well recall that we recently swooned aplenty over the latest outing (Beneath Fire and Smoke) from the highly eclectic Battered Ornaments imprint run of course by Doug Shipton he of Finders Keepers fame (whose back catalogue we really must try and catch up on). Anyhow during said review we may have mentioned or indeed grumbled over the fact that not only had we missed out on Beneath Fire and Smoke’s debut release but also had much to our horror discovered that the Laughing Windows had flown way past our radar…..well happy to say that Doug got in touch pronto and sent along said platters along with the new Wolf People release (which will feature in the next singled out – hey it’s a bit of a beast.
The Laughing Windows ‘Opel Hair’ (Battered Ornaments). This little baby comes pressed on dinked clear wax and is strictly limited to just 250 hand numbered copies (our copy is 239 – so you better get your skates on). The Laughing Windows are a London based collective no less fronted by one Luke Insect (which we suspect is not the name he was born with – and how do we know – well he ain’t in our phone book that’s for sure). Everything about this gem screams 60’s acid flashback right from the bands name (very Pebbles / Nuggets inspired and wholesomely rooted in all things English Psychedelia) to the song title (Barrett) and the sounds within. ’Opel Hair’ could have easily fallen from the sessions of the more trippier moments found on the Walking Seeds ’bad orb whirling ball’, a woozily light headed affair that sounds for all the world like its been nurtured in the fried recesses of Syd’s fading mind, a soft psyche folk apparition combing through lysergic mantras and strangely haunting yet transfixing rustic blues cascades that combined somehow join the distant dots between the late 60’s Cambridge scene and the Stone Roses debut full length. The out there odyssey ’growing pains’ over on the flip is more hallucinogenic in texture, a fried krautrock inspired mind melting experience replete with tripping beats set over droning slices of looping ambience and frayed feedback squalls which we feel unreservedly that fans of Alan Vega’s Revolutionary Corps of Teenage Jesus may well be advised to tune in immediately and bliss out to. Essential type thing.
Beneath Fire and Smoke ’Sometimes’ (Battered Ornaments). Okay just to clear up any possible confusion – this is the debut release from Peter Hedley’s project Beneath Fire and Smoke there is out and about right now a rather killer 10 inch entitled ’the iceberg waltz’ which we strongly recommend you search, purchase and love forevermore (see missive 145 for review). Anyhow this honey is again a strictly limited affair – just 500 hand numbered copies of this dinked 7” are doing the rounds and believe you me this are set to be future collectors items. Hedley it seems operates in a uniquely self contained universe, it’s a vivid and lush play area, the essence of well worn paths into timeless melody may well be familiar yet the setting and scenery have subsequently been re-arranged and shifted out of focus, ’sometimes’ deliciously trip wires between the disciplines of classical, psyche and folk to create a hazy montage of enchantment. Sugar tipped strings cavort, caress and tease in mercurial matrimony crafting out a delirious carnival of trip like symphonics that both arrest and cuckold the senses in washes of dreamily seductive sound-scapes – beautiful doesn’t even begin to describe it. Flip over the disc for the inspired ’the man from Pittsburgh’ – the easiest way to describe this would be to imagine a jamming collaborative face off between Broadcast, Pram and Basil Kerchin with Douglas Gamley doing the arranging honours sumptuously carving out a delightfully cascading pastoral prog beauty replete with breathtaking Brontean canters and a silken elegance for which the word exquisite appears aptly fitting. Again an essential release for any well ordered record collection. Both eleases via www.batteredornaments.com
Sailors ‘EP’ (Gringo). Been way too long since we had any Gringo ear gear gracing our turntable so you can imagine the bunting billowing big time in our gaff when a rather snazzy 15 track Gringo compilation entitled ‘Oh Yeah!’ came our way (featuring killer cuts from Lords, Polaris, Wolves (of Greece) and San Lorenzo just to name but four) as well as a stunning debut four track EP from Sailors. Now this cutie is strictly limited to just 317 copies (we have two – don’t ask – so that means there are only 315 in existence now). Anyhow this is the bollocks – four grizzled cuts of post everything – so that’ll be your rock variations punk, hardcore and math all blended, bruised and bashed into a blistering sonic stew. Of the current crop the Leeds based quartet share a close affinity with the Arm, stop start rhythms, tension building edginess welded to the floor by a grating austere chill, their sound is a cross generic mutation whose cue and reference points can easily be identified to those of the much under exposed south east London ensemble Left Hand especially on their debut opus ’minus eight’. Having already self released a handful cd-r’s all of which I’m sad to say have somehow ducked below our radar without a warning or so much as a by your leave, Sailors appear to cleverly freewheel between being your classic mid 90’s Touch ’n’ Go starlets – (and here we are thinking Storm and Stress, Jesus Lizard with lashings of the Melvins thrown in for good measure) and fanatics of late 70’s art popped new wave fractured psychosis (think prime time early Fall, Wire and Gang of Four). None more so is this best exemplified than on the opening salvo ‘hot buttons’ with its frazzled canvas of needling riffs, trip wired anxiety, see sawing dislocated shanty like mindsets and unwavering investment of blankly numbed simmer like festering resolve which from start to finish you half expect at any given moment to over spill in the most ferocious of manifestations though it never does. Elsewhere there’s the squalling abstract boogie of the no rock (clue in the title) ’birthday mode’ with its damaged corkscrewing riffs – an inspired bastard offspring to Roland S Howard’s signatures via the Boys Next Door while ’bigger land’ channels into the same gnarled pummelled blues perspectives as was once the sole forte of Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. However best of the bunch proves to be the parting shot ’Hex’ – skewif time signatures and a near total disregard for structure this honey wrestles it way into your psyche like an unwelcome sickness giving out a distant sense that its literally trying to peel itself free from the grooves in order to reach out a throttle you. Disjointed and seemingly out of focus, it spits and stings like a less threatening ’release the bats’ era Birthday Party carrying upon its shoulders its fair share of unresolved issues – which in our books is no bad thing. Al good record collections deserve one. www.gringorecords.com
Data 70 ‘Space loops Volume 2’ (Enraptured). The long overdue follow up to ‘space loops – volume 1’ which passed briefly into our orbit some 18 months ago (see Missive 52). Data 70 is the collaborative meeting of mindsets belonging to Jon Chambers (Sunray) and Bob Bharma (West Norwood Cassette Library), the former more characterised by his deep forays into bliss out psychedelics the latter specialising in sophisticated collages of dub fused down tempo grooves though here both finding a common ground in their affection for minimalist transcendental electronics. Ten bite sized shy eyed brief but beautifully lilting cuties feature on this blue vinyl 7 inch package each appearing like glacial apparitions to which the only disappointment registered is the fact that they’re over before they’ve really begun. All bases are covered from the twinkling igloo pirouetting pop preening sereneness of the opening ISAN like ’into the outside’ to the gorgeously celestial exoticism of ’live in munich’ with its mind erasing effects or the binary bleeps of the intergalactic transmissions within ’something returns’. Though for me personally stand out moment is the hypnotic lunar dub funk electronics of ’heartfelt science’ – and that’s just side one. Side 2 provides for a more playfully abstract mindset, the sounds positively more vibrant the textures more layered and arguably more left field with a noire-esque night time appeal, the edgy ’last orders’ pays a distinctive nod in the general direction to Pimmon while the sparsely drawn ’I think I love you’ assumes a certain amount of eeriness to its armoury as to suggest Raymond Scott collaborating with John Carpenter while elsewhere frankly if we didn’t know any better we’d have said ’stylus’ was prime time Roy Budd. An album I feel is long overdue, for now though ‘volume 2’ is an essential smorgasbord serving of a moods, textures and out there sounds inspired by the pioneers of electronic pop’s godfathers.
Kontakte ’transmitter / receiver’ (Enraptured). These pretty things are strictly limited or so we are led to believed, hand numbered in specially designed die cut sleeves that look well tasty – and just in case you were wondering ours is numbered 170 and is autographed – oh yea – thus ensuring the minute its been played and reviewed that it goes into the pension vault to be sold at some date in the future for a shed load of dosheroonies when the band become famous. First release (though technically the second) for Enraptured’s ultra limited GS series (the first as catalogued was due to be the delayed four track outing from Ojn who readers of these pages will be all to aware is the long running musical guise of former Landshipping / Metrotone mainman John Brenton – anyway word has it it’s the bollocks though we are still smarting from missing that by all accounts killer release via UnLabel’s Series 52 series – ho hum). (taking their name from Stockhausen’s electronic installation of the same name – perhaps) Kontakte are a London based trio who just may be the future of post rock / kraut / shoe gaze only time will tell though after hearing this killer twin-set I personally wouldn’t bet against it. ’transmitter / receiver’ is a humungous free wheeling mind evaporating progressive jam odyssey bled through with thunderous canals of kraut grooves and hypnotic loops that assume mass and texture to evoke a sense of movement as though traversing on some celestial highway. That said the flip cut proves to be the sealer here, we’re not readily convinced that these should be played at 45rpm (as directed) so we’ve thought bollocks to that and spun them at 33rpm to which ’sterile world’ emerges as a glorious celebration of wide screen dream pop – majestic and magnificent this babe soars and solemnly serenades with bleakly beautiful abandon, part jubilant in its own lonesome bliss and yet scarred with a sense of deeply hurt regret – more please and quick about it. Deputy single of the missive. www.enrapturedrecords.com
The New Royal Family / Keith TOTP ‘Split’ (Filthy Little Angels). Okay a bit of cheat with this one considering we gushed big time about it at Missive 132 but them dudes The New Royal Family sent over a hard copy of the split pressed up on seven solid inches of black wax and well if you haven’t got yourself a copy yet then we do have to wonder whether you’ve ever considered reading a different singles reviews site. www.filthylittleangels.co.uk
The WYO’s ‘A letter from Saint Jude’ EP (Windingstair). Or to give them their full name The Wasted Youth Orchestra are essentially a Dublin based duo – Rory Carlile and Daragh Dukes who somewhere along the line have laid down a well acclaimed (in certain quarters) full length entitled ’throw your arms up to heaven’. This EP is I’m afraid to say one of those essential shopping list record requisitions that features four tracks set across 7 inches of wax and housed in a gatefold sleeve and possibly does more to act as a perfect starter as to what this ensemble are all about being that both pairs of tracks on either side of this platter reveal a differing sound perspective that collectively viewed as a whole show a collective of souls primed with a pristinely honed pop prowess. ’a letter from Saint Jude’ is cut with a glowing homecoming feel as though the wide screen celebration of the Dream Academy had been teasingly dinked by the Waterboys and World Party and dutifully sent headlong into a lazy eyed seductive spread of Beatles ’Strawberry Fields’ motifs and softly surrendering lunatics swirls – makes you kinda fuzzy inside. ’In need of a dance’ is framed in a beautifully bitter sweet tenderness that burns with a encouraging optimism for hearts crushed and crashed on love’s hurtful highway. As good as they are its over on the flip where the real cherries are to be found. ’She couldn’t feel anything’ – the best thing here incidentally – is a slow burning hypnotic honey that taps into the same tramlines as Ooberman and Swimmer One, all at once mercurial and haunting this rustic electronic nugget tip toes to arc seductively across spiralling synth montages and sublimely off centre hook kick backs. The introspective ’before now’ rounds up the pack perfectly an enticingly bruised gem braided by spectral electronics and the arresting cortege of nimbly plucked pastoral loops all invested with a breathtaking breezy chemistry whose simple remit it seems is to floor all who hear. www.thewyos.com
Eight Legs ‘These grey days’ (Weekender). More hot hi-fi action from those loveable rogues over at the Weekender imprint this time courtesy of a rather nifty twin set from Eight Legs who by a quick toggle of the google search engine we’ve been able to discover are a four piece based in Wood Green which last time we checked was still in South East London (on the Dartford line unless I’m very much mistaken – useless information don‘t you just love it). Anyhow ‘these grey days…’ is your happy / sad jangling skiffle beat pop affair that for a while had us recalling some kind of heaven sent union between Sarah old guard the Orchids and Another Sunny Day, blankly melancholic vocals (did someone say a youthful Robert Smith) bedecked with happily carefree strummed guitars that slyly needle chirpily – oh darn it – look we love it okay. Flip over for the quite irresistible ’staring at the sea’ which for reasons best known only to our hearing had us recalling a very youthful ’bed and breakfast man’ era Madness in exotica climes surrounded by palm trees, banana and Robinson Crusoe look-a-likes – how trange – still you need the bugger. www.myspace.com/weekenderrecords
The Playing Fields ’Glass and Concrete’ (Cacti Shed). Both cuts culled we believe (we say we believe because we haven’t heard) the debut full length ’hello new world’. This baby is a strictly limited 300 only hand stamped 7 inch affair which frankly might have done better being a one sided outings given that ’glass and concrete’ kind of acoustically drifts aimlessly with no particular place to go, even the usually thumbs up serving harmonica doesn’t really save its hide sad to say. However flip over ’protect the humans’ and you’d swear it was a different band that had been ushered into the studio, this baby is a cool as f**k bleached out arid rocker replete with fractured squalling shards of feedback, an apocalyptic edginess, driving grooves bludgeoned into wells of primal swamp like goo and fuse lit with a dust ridden claustrophobia that for the best part had us searching high and low for our copy of Death Cult’s debut EP – yep that’ll be the one before they all went on to become saviours of AOR metal or whatever they called it way back in the 80’s. Top stuff all the same – the Playing Fields track that is – oh yea and it goes without saying that Death Cult EP too which if you see on your travels well recommended that you pick up.
The Whitest Boy Alive ’Burning’ (Modular). Unless we’ve been dreaming or have this totally cocked up – which hey lets face it wouldn’t be the first time – the Whitest Boy Alive have some loose connection with the Kings of Convenience, the Norwegian outfit recently picked up by the super cool Modular imprint already have one full length carefully snucked up their jumpers entitled ’dreams’. ’burning’ is a rather infectious slice of buzz sawing electro candy twisted pop all metered out with circular grooves and clockwork rhythms that have been delicately daubed in latter career New Order motifs sublimely decorated in all manner of ascending / descending needle like chimes silkily braided by shy eyed and homely riff florets and cool as you like kick back struts. Flip le disc for a rather dinky defences piercing cover of Morgan Geist’s ’24k’ – here submerged in a kind of subdued and super chilled Studio 54 texture that’s been dipped in a sassily seductive smoking 70’s styled soul funk stew – one for the loved up and amorous night birds among you one suspects
The Answering Machine ‘Light bulbs’ (Regal). A long overdue return to these pages for Manchester’s Answering Machine who if memory serves right last appeared in these very pages with their spiffing debut ‘Oklahoma’ for High Voltage both of whom sadly disappeared off our radar from therein (see missive 100). The latest round in the Regal singles club series which you’ll have to pardon me when I say – blimey that’s the first I knew about it. This babe sees Manchester’s latest exports doling out two slices of what can only be described as the most ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ release in terms of style, content and presentation that you’ll hear all month – limited to just 500 copies all housed in plastic wallet styled die cut sleeves – ‘light bulbs’ is an audacious sugar rush of breezily effervescent jangling chorus’ of melodic corteges of shimmering guitars rooted to underpins hoodwinked straight from the arse pocket of ’Seamonsters’ era Gedge and Co. Check the bands my space site at www.myspace.com/theansweringmachine to hear the same track given a killer re 80’s styled re-drill by James Yuill. However what makes this release so utterly special is the flip cut ’decadent’ which sees Gemma taking up vocal duties. This hazily hypnotic lovelorn honey set upon a simple drum machine beat is despite its minimalist dressing a fulsome beauty that taps into the classically tender realms of the Sundays – which last time we checked is still a pretty nifty comparison to come by. Purchase on sight.
New Cassettes ‘Recover / Retreat’ (Last Space Recordings). Welcome return to these perky pages for Midland five piece New Cassettes following their long since sold out debut for Fantastic Plastic entitled ‘you won’t stop me’ (see missive 117). Only 500 of these little cuties kicking around all on blue wax – as though you needed any further prodding – ‘recover / retreat’ is a dashing slice of achingly catchy shoe shuffling buzz sawed pop replete with tide rising rhythms and cut through with an unmistakable sense of a deceiving pop prowess held close to its chest all rooted to XTC like backing harmonies and an adorably infectious push / pull dynamic which should ensure its gets a fair amount of repeat needle action on the turntable. ’I’m always right’ over on the flip side with its stuttered stop / start art pop dynamics is blessed with a veering nuts down chorus line and a deliciously agreeable twin tracked vocal overlap that once coalesced might just whip your arse into next week. I think an album must due pretty damn soon. www.myspace.com/thenewcassettes
The Cloud Room ‘Hey now now’ (Agre). Oh blimey this is tasty, tenaciously tortured and titanic pop from New York based quintet the Cloud Room, culled from their self titled debut album ‘hey now now’ builds in intensity, its bit like the pop cavalry fast hurtling over the hill chirping out a chest beating clarion call of hope and salvation, one of those rare records that immediately mainlines to your nervous systems core operations and sets the blighter all a jangle – in the space of three minutes you’ll cry, laugh, be depressed, be elated, hate, love all interspersed with moments of total apathy – a draining emotional rollercoaster with hooks aplenty. Flip side features the RAC remix of the same cut who we assume are not the same RAC who repair cars with a magic sponge, anyhow whoever he / she / they are they apply a sweetly alluring kooky and dinky musical box appreciation of the original that caressed with a manner of warming electro pirouettes and lullaby-esque treatments to make you go ooh and aah – damn we could just kiss the blighter. www.agrecords.co.uk
Various ‘Hordes of Canada’ (Cheap Date). Superbly packaged cheaply priced 5×7” box set inaugural outing for new London based imprint Cheap Date. This baby features 10 up and coming Canadian ensembles currently making sizeable waves on the pop underground. First up the Crystal Castles a boy / girl duo hailing from St Helena, ‘alice practice‘ is a just what the doctor ordered, a caustic anti pop rumbler that taps into the same dislocated and frazzled mindset of the excellent Winterbrief, sounds like a prime slice of candy pop undergoing a seriously mental breakdown amid a chaotic sound blanket of fragmented electronics and damaged diode histrionics. Flip side of disc 1 features Montreal’s rampaging trio We are Wolves whose up and at you ’fight and kiss’ is a razor sharp fusion of death disco decimating dance floor terrorism spiked with gnarled kraut grooves and a panic attack stricken surliness that levels your nervous system into seizure like shocks. Les Breast feeders (blimey where do they get these band names from?) are a five piece from Montreal who do a neat line in nagging 60’s garage twist, ’viens avec moi’ is a heads down no nonsense spot of suited and booted beat pop swiped straight from the arse pocket of the Troggs / Kinks though spliced through in some sort of melodic – horror – comedy experiment gone wrong with Plastic Bertrand doing their level best at making a fist out of trying to sound like the Ramones. Over on the flip you’ll find setting their stall some distance apart from their fellow compatriots more Montreal cohorts this time in the guise of the electro / techno / chill out collective DJ Champion who serving of ’no heaven’ is a sassy slice of mooching hipster gospel hoe-down set to a slow but smoking snake eyed side winding underpin. Stunning stuff but don‘t expect me to nail the samples could be Tammy Wynette on e for all I know. Next up Mother Mother are the kind of ensemble who to be perfectly frank with you wouldn’t surprise me at all if they appeared on a regular basis in these pages in the coming months given the fact that I could happily hatch out a career in lovingly hating them. Based in Vancouver and already proud parents of album which we’ll have now have to nail before we get any much older, ’dirty town’ is a ridiculously infectious slice of skewed bluegrass treated cow punk – think Yip Yip Cayote or the Shillelagh Sisters having their redneck DNA fused with Shonen Knife – need we say more – well yes approach only after a course of jabs. Duchess Says’ ‘cut up’ is well – stone me – fucking stunning – a ravaged and frantically festering slice of austere angular manic moog boogie that literally lacerates at will with its searing shard venting hysteria – put this on at the local indie disco hop and it’ll be goodnight Vienna. The dreamily decoded ’architekt’ (demo) from Toronto’s Put the Rifle Down has all the glowing tingle of a lovelorn glacially apparelled cherry tipped A Flock of Seagulls, pristine 80’s styled retro pop bathed in silkily electronic swathes and softening honey crusted vocals deliciously braided in celestial swirls styled on the more laid back moments found on New Order’s ’power corruption and lies’. We must admit having a soft spot for You Say Party! We Say Die! Following their Fierce Panda outings, ’Monster’ reveals their – shall we settle for – tender side, culled from their debut ’lose all time’ full length this babe is less your brittle stutter gun attack antics of their more familiar record rack visitations at times recalling early Quickspace in laid back tones shimmying up alongside Kirsten Hersh – a winner indeed. Rounding up the 5 disc pack something rather curiously and strangely alluring. Think About Life – a Montreal based quintet who already have to their credit a self titled full length out about released via Alien 8 a label who used to send us some mighty fine releases a few years back which sadly dried up (we must catch up). Anyhow ’the blue sun’ is a strangely skewif affair which in many respects had us recalling Pavement lobbed in a tumble dryer with Captain Beefheart with early career Talking Heads overseeing the tie dye wash while last up on the inspection blocks Uncut who hail from Toronto serve up the cool as f*ck ‘out of sight’ a brit pop influenced soft psyche drenched slice of dream pop that at various points had us fondly recalling everything from Swervedriver, Neds Atomic Dustbin to My Jealous God which go on admit it is some rare f*cking feat. www.cheapdaterecords.com
Fuck Buttons ‘bright tomorrow’ (ATP recordings). With a name like the Fuck Buttons we half expected some gnarled and putrid sickly twisted blues groove to be spitting in our eye so imagine our surprise when instead we encountered much to our joy moments of manicured cathedral framed ambience mainlined with shards of grazing feedback. Fuck Buttons are Bristol based duo Andrew Hung and Benjamin John Power who it seems have a thing about their hometowns much vaunted sons Flying Saucer Attack by deftly applying the same head drilling melody fractured distortion to their song structures. Released one assumes as a brief but all important taster for their debut full length ‘Street Horrrsing’ due on the streets next year, this baby comes packaged up on a limited to 1000 picture disc pressing and houses a rather deceptive schizoid cutie that’s built upon a persistently unwavering dulled beat a la New Order’s ’Blue Monday’ over which plays out what sounds like a delicately lulling pre ceremony church organ recital scratched by the gentle haze of humming sonic manipulations that once ensured of your reclining dream state without warning crackles and fizzes up into a drone glaze driven slice of jubilant fuzz fare itself once entrusted upon your psyche momentarily goes toxic a la Ministry ’Jesus built my hotrod’ then settles down and races for the run out groove – how strange. Flip side features ‘little bloody shoulder’ and proves to be the least compromising of the duo of the cuts here, fans of Trensmat may well warm to this given its unwavering fuzzed out processional drone and general all round desolate and mind melting minimalist aura and then way it craftily shifts momentum on the tail out to sound like Kratwerk‘s ‘trans Europe express‘ being caught in the speckles of a cosmic hail storm. We await that album with baited breath. www.atpfestival.com
The Departure ‘7 years’ (Parlophone). Limited to just 500 copies and acting as a taster for their as yet untitled due in 2008 second full length comes this one sided hand stamped cutie. Now with a re-jigged line up, signed to a new label and with Ed Buller (Boo Radley’s, Suede, Pulp….) on production duties beefing up the sound – can anything really go wrong for the re-branded and re-invigorated Departure. Well if ‘7 years’ is anything to judge by – no. This buzz sawing beauty is a vibrant slice of sugar rushing dream power pop cutely spiced with hulking hooks and a razor sharp pop prowess replete with insidiously addictive whirring electro swirls that recalls the aforementioned pre west coast spliced shimmer toned ‘wake up’ Boo Radleys shimmying up to crystalline understated beauty of the Stars. What more needs to be said?
The travelling band ‘if this is a gag, I’m in’ EP (Self Released). Okay drop everything – and we mean everything – right now because if like us you have an unerring tendency to be rooted to the spot in jaw dropped awe when you hear something rather special then this is one of those all to rare moments. We are seriously late for work something that’ll get us a swift bollocking when we eventually arrive which at this point is still a minimum of an hour away that is assuming the trains aren’t too wet or that the wrong type of leaves have fallen on the tracks – or worst case scenario steel thieves haven’t stripped bare the signal junction box. And why are we late well quite simply because of this blighter. The instant we banged this on we knew our day would be restless until we had exorcised ourselves and committed pen to paper so to speak. One of those rare debuts that simultaneously moves you between spheres of tear jerking bliss whilst filing you with a good to be alive fuzzy glow. Essentially a Manchester based six piece who it seems has brought all your Christmases crashing down at once if that is your bag happens to be the lush lilting sounds of the dream academy, world party, buffalo Springfield, gram parsons, summer hymns, mid 70’s era Neil Young, Moviola and the doleful lions – and that’s just for starters. A bit like getting a telephone call from the mid 70’s, the Travelling Bands 4 track debut is a treat of timeless beauty that sumptuously arcs and entwines the breezily homebound resonance of that lost era and into the bargain gets your senses tingling. Deliciously housed in a handsome Hessian styled pouch replete with inserts – the packaging alone worthy of the entrance fee – this cute baby is strictly limited to just 200 hand numbered copies – ours in case you were wondering is numbered 89. As to the sounds within, the Travelling Band are a group of gypsy roving melodic minstrels with prairie grass delicately dusting their hair crafting out a glorious jamboree of idling country folk pop much it has to be said reminiscent of the prime Fence Collective sauce of years gone by. Utterly engaging, heart warming and crushingly gorgeous and without doubt the best thing we have had the pleasure of hearing around here since Shady Bard had us reeling in the aisles with their bewitching ’Treeology’ debut. From the bitter sweet melodically astute opening of the dreamily cast pastorally cherry picked ’only waiting’ with its aching vocals, silken harmonies and sugar laced shy eyed thawing winter hued tumbling chimes that together coalesce to stretch out to offer a tenderly sympathetic arm to lean on or the up tempo ’I.n.v.e.r.t.’ with its slyly tempting nods to the Beatles more roots based back catalogue while casually bumping you along amid a beautifully lazy knee slapping bluegrass hoedown of porch lit infected tranquil bliss. The quietly beguiling and intimately touching MOR styled ’biding my time’ perhaps offers the set its centre piece, mellow and tender the delicate brush of hypnotic swirling strings draws you close into its romance laden core all the time working its murmuring enchantment like some lovelorn magician while the parting crookedly nursery rhyme like ’crocodile song’ reveals that amid the smoothly matured Americana trappings that this lot still have time to goof about impishly. A gem. Single of the missive. www.myspace.com/thetravellingband
Okay that’s your lot for a day or two – hopefully we should be back with more of the same before the weekend – all things being well there’ll be two missives (the first of which will feature two spanking releases from Trensmat and a new 7 from MELA who if Steve happens to be reading this can you send another seven inch as we‘ve damn well scratched the one you sent through overplaying) – the second being a my space type trawl. After that it’ll be Singled Out’s 150th missive which as yet we haven’t quite decided as to how or in what manner we are going to celebrate this feat but being that it will be nearing Christmas / end of the year you can bet your arse that it’ll be a bumper special of sorts (whether it outstrips missive 145 in terms of words and record numbers remains to be seen – it will however feature our personal selection of the best albums / singles of the year).
As per usual many thanks to all who’ve made these incoherent ramblings possible its greatly appreciated and apologies to those whose stuff we haven’t quite got round to – we will get there eventually I promise.
till next time take care of yourselves.
Singled Out – good taste by the shed load.