The Return of the Bumper Christmas Missive – part 1
……Christmas overhype….in truth an irregular gathering of Christmas things, call it laziness or consider it a turntable stuffing, eye straining, ear popping yuletide feast of grooviness, ghouls and kitschy geeks and old Christmas Singled Out’s dredged from redundant hard drivers…..I make no apologies, you will hate me for this…….
It seems perhaps sadly apt and appropriate that we open this particular missive with a few words paying tribute to George Michael. His passing left us in deep shock and while his music, both as a solo artist or with Andrew Ridgeley as Wham, were not quite on our listening radar, we weren’t so ignorant as to not appreciate his talent as a songwriter, tracks such as ‘careless whispers’ and ‘a different corner’ marked him out as a craftsman deeply versed in the affairs of the heart, both in terms of the cruelty and joy of love and that fleeting happenstance of finding your soul mate. Blessed with a sensitivity of lyrical phrasing there was an autobiographical lilt to his penning that was at once painfully honest, tender and hurting, just scratch beneath the shimmery pop surface of his most well-known songs and the agony and inner torment of a person lost to his fears and demons is revealed in all its stinging glory. Yet behind the mask, there was a secret life, for in the passing days since his death was announced, stories have been filtering through on social media of his acts of kindness and generosity, secretly giving his time to Shelter, un-documented donations to various charities and individuals in dire need not to mention being a massive supporter of the NHS and let’s face it in ‘last Christmas’ one of the finest festive records ever recorded, its failure to claim that years number one spot was solely down to the fact that it was competing against Band Aid, yet what makes this record so truly remarkable is that tucked on its flip (yes I know it was a double A-er) was, by our humble reckoning, the finest thing committed to wax by the duo in the guise of ‘everything she wants’.
Several well-heeled garage gouged festive related / unrelated podcasts…..
Up next the festive Von Pip Musical Express, a nifty festooning of snow twinkled tuneage, two hours in fact featuring a smattering of lovelies from the likes of Marika Hackman, Smith and Burrows, Flaming Lips and er Miley Cyrus (are you dissing me?), the duke spirit – who incidentally we featured just a few days ago, les bicyclettes de belsize (who we will be checking out further in a few days) and the best Christmas record this year – Low (sorry Evil Blizzard and big top heartbreak)….. https://beta.mixcloud.com/TheVonPipMusicalExpress/the-vpme-xmas-podcast-2016/
Next up a rather dandy comp gathering together names familiar and forgotten, ‘punk rock Christmas’ is a 19 track offering featuring the likes of the UK Subs, the Anti Nowhere League, slaughter and the dogs, eddie and the hot rods, Iggy Pop and reel big fish whose skanking cover ‘little drummer boy’ is the best thing here. https://newredarchives.bandcamp.com/album/punk-rock-christmas
A little something from shoegazing cool dudes Stellarscope from a year or three ago in the shape of a cover of ‘silent night’ which incidentally as a child was our favourite carol, why I’m telling you that is frankly beyond both you, me and any other poor souls accidentally finding themselves straying onto this page….. https://soundcloud.com/stellarscope/stellarscope-silent-night
More party rollicking podcast action courtesy of the Mal Thursday show, an oldie from what we can gather dragged up from the vaults and given a sprucing – a manic twang tuned punk trash garage sonic spree featuring a plethora of band grooves from the likes of the gripweeds, the fleshtones, the mockers, paul revere and the raiders and more, much much more……..
those fancying their festive podcasts somewhat more seasoned in power pop prowess might do well to head over to the Ice Cream Power Pop and more….show – episode #169 in fact which features swooning sounds aplenty from the likes of French pop dream, Somerdale, the brigadier, tommy lorente and oodles more……
As Mick Foley rightly states in a conversation over on the flip of this release, a true lost classic unearthed by mike adams, a cover no less of roger miller’s ‘old toy trains’ – a cosy toed nostalgic tear jerker which I’m certain most of you will struggle to get through without choking up. http://flannelgraphrecords.com/album/old-toy-trains
Much like Wil Bolton and Jon Atwood, Antonymes works from an expressive palette where silence and pause are both as integral as to the symphonic lines themselves, instruments in their own way, no more so are these phrasings more apparent than on ‘sleep (away in the manger)’ where he utilises them to great effect to create a sense of magical wonderment. https://antonymes.bandcamp.com/track/sleep-away-in-a-manger
The first of several featured chillers – this being from the pen of M R James’ ‘the experiment’…..
Isn’t this quite angelic, tinsel trimmed in a disarming 50’s bubble grooved sepia, this is Cassie Ramone covering ‘little saint nick’ – adorable in a word….. https://soundcloud.com/burgerrecords/cassie-ramone-little-saint-nick?in=burgerrecords/sets/burger-records-holiday-mix
Those fancying filling their boots in all manner of friends of Burger records related festive grooviness may do well to head over to their holiday mix page where there’s a gathering of 92 of the blighters – should keep you bopping and a swooning for several hours…….
this little jaunty sortie from Jack Scott dates back to 1963, the year of the great freeze, and features Elvis’ backing band the Jordanaires……
A nifty bit of rock a hula from the Refreshments…..
Fancy something smoking and seductive, they don’t come more slinky than this nugget from Wanda Jackson and the Continentals……
Sadly we have absolutely no information on this funk bugging cutie from electric jungle….
Those fancying their Christmas tuneage somewhat tinkered with an industrial flavouring should seek out brutal resonance’s short but essential listening soiree featuring a smattering of darkly woven creepers from the likes of skinny puppy, trial and leaether strip, the latter of whom come bearing un-gifts aplenty with ‘it happened on Christmas day’. www.brutalresonance.com/feature/industrialmas-several-songs-to-add-to-your-industrial-holiday-playlist/
Loads of links to cool yuletide releases here, though we suggest you track down the page and make your first port of call a superb album put out by chin chin records entitled ‘A Christmas Chin para ti Vol. 02’ – we’ve been absolutely smitten by this especially the cuts served up by ooby and dooby and parade. https://christmasunderground.com/tag/garage-rock/ – and here’s the link to the chin chin compilation – incidentally free to download…… https://chin-chinrecordsmundiales.bandcamp.com/album/a-christmas-chin-para-ti-vol-02 – blimey we’ve just heard los lavaboboys’ ‘navidad con las f.a.r.c’ – think I’m in love……
This might be the woofing cookies, alas another with absolutely no information – but damn fine all the same – ripe for those who love their sounds somewhat scuffed, scuzzy and slinky…..
Some cool groove from plan 9…….
Some killer beardy festiveness, this one from Canned Heat……alas some blighter has disabled the embedded link so it’s the long way in folks – copy n’ paste this in your browser and press send / return……. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GMSVAHhcxwc
We actually had this prepped before the sad news of Rick Parfitt’s passing came through, the Quo – yea their stuff sounded the same but that was the magic and anyway as Mr Parfitt rightly pointed out why would they want to sound like someone else….
Never ever heard this before, hit play and your hooked – smoky kitsch funk from the Jive Turkey’s ……
so many versions of this to choose from, none hold a candle to Eartha Kitt’s though……..
One of those perfect Christmas songs, Andy Williams no less……
And of course, Bing……
Something a little vintage from Charlie Brown……
We did try to dig out our prized copies of these seasonal gifts from Sufjan Stevens, a fanciful thought which in truth we kind of gave up the idea of half way up the stairs. If I recall rightly these appeared at Christmastime for a few years and were gathered onto an album or two, a more traditional and mellowing celebration of yuletide…..quite lilting if you ask me.
The original Wailers – have to admit another that we’d never previously heard……..
We here are still smarting from missing out on that Moomins Christmas single, as though that wasn’t bad enough also missing out on the limited special pressings of the Moomins album due sometime February, but here in the baubles besieged tinsel toned Sunday Experience grotto of delights, we are made of sterner things and such woes and tribulations we take on the chin without the odd idly passing grumble – ya bastards. Anyway we mention all this because yuletide yarns, chilly casios, Christmas capers, seasonal silliness and sonic tidings with a certain Mr McCartney along for the ride are afoot at the Finders Keepers sound shed with their possibly legendary Christmas Radio Spezial having hit the sound cloud. So gather attentively puzzled looking listening folk as Messrs Votel, Shipton and Mitchell spin servings of seasonal platters aplenty all interspersed with chat, good humour, the occasional mocking and Paul McCartney – again – whose ‘check my machine’ the flip of ‘waterfalls’ features among the tracklisting, a time when the Macca one was dead good, also here oodles of grooves from the likes of Second hand, cybertron, the moomins,and yoko ono. https://soundcloud.com/finderskeepersrecords/finders-keepers-radio-christmas-special
Things you should be checking out…….
Thee eviltones – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=89jlL2w9FsU
from Boxing Day1970, the much missed John Peel gathered together the talent of the day for a rousing Christmas carol around the studio piano……
More Peelie Christmas gubbins here…….
incidentally this is well cool – Hank Ballard And The Midnighters ‘Santa Claus Is Coming’……
As is this, Solomon Burke ‘Presents For Christmas’
Phil Ochs ‘No Christmas In Kentucky’…….
Champion Jack Dupree ‘Santa Claus Blues’…..
Those into lists and things – here’s pitchfork’s 50 best seasonal songs……
a rather wonderful and mellow Christmas compilation that’s worth spending a little time with…..
I’m sure we loosely mentioned this in passing in a previous dispatch a few weeks back, but here’s a killer compilation put together by the folks over at Emotional Response – features sparrow people, tvc15’s, the Reynolds family and more…..
first of a few rescued singled out’s that originally appeared on Losing Today far, far away in another time……
ghosts of Christmases past – first visitation…..
Posted on December 15, 2014 by marklosingtoday
archive singled out from year ends from long ago….well 2007….originally appeared on losing today…..
missive 148 – part 1
For Kelly and Mark
Okay a tad later than we originally planned and instead of three missives which was the original idea its just your bog standard Xmas bumper missive all rolled into one like a huge crisp snowball to arrive slightly delayed but hopefully in time to see out the year. The initial bit includes all the my space stuff that you need to hear – like now followed by the singles – fair few admittedly have been around for a while -so apologies to all concerned. As per usual because of the size of this baby it will be split into several parts. Plenty of goodies to be found lurking around these pages – some ultra limited releases from static caravan and trensmat – woo woo and a fair amount of the usual gubbins you’ve no doubt come to love and hate.
There will be another missive before the week’s out were well pick up the bits that fell off this one at the last minute whether that be due to time constraints or bone idleness (I’m betting on the latter) – apologies to all that we’ve let down in the year – you know who you are – it wasn’t deliberate but there have been things happening behind the scenes that made it nigh on impossible to sometimes keep focused music wise – hopefully this coming new year we’ll get our shit together. One thing I will say is that the Lumerians have nailed the next missives Single of the Missives you can up with these psychedelic dudes via http://www.myspace.com/lumerians – so expect that sometimes over the weekend. We’ve decided to make the landmark 150th missive a killer my space / pod cast special (seriously we already have about 50 sites which we are running the thumb over as I write including some stunning stuff from – Sam Isaac, the distortions, three cautionary tales, the milk house – who sorry for going on sound superb, don’t tread o the spiders, pretty in velvet, a new track from one of favourite bands of the bands of the year – Tabloid, the coffe killers, luke hirst, daniel persson and last up the Wrecking Dead who I suspect will be a egular feature on the singled out turntable in 2008 – so if anyone’s reading this and has a band they feel will quicken our pulse or has a pod cast which that they reckon will have us about the gaff it raptures then email at the usual address or else visit http://www.myspace.com/thesundayexperience
Albums / singles and the like that are currently quickening our pulses –
The high wire ‘ahead of the rain’ (impatio) – expect glowing words for the teaser single ‘Easy’ via the next missive
Various artists ‘john barleycorn reborn’ (cold spring) – words fail – a superb double disc set featuring the cream of dark folk secret underground – a mammoth 33 track set with an additional freebie download disc that we still haven’t check out as yet – features a cast of waiting in the shadows stars – owl service (see below), peter Ulrich, English heretic, xenis emputae travelling band and alphane moon plus more much more.
Talk ‘reset start again’ (fortune and glory) – been a while coming but well worth the wait we feel – ‘return to factory’ will floor you – think Floyd / Radiohead.
Deserves to die ‘surrender all but our skin’ (grind that axe)
Muller and patton ’jonathan and Bailey’
Mississippi witch ’black gamble witch’ (colony 2) – bad ju-ju boogie
Split second feeling ’lo art’
One more grain ’isle of grain’
The hoax ’and so it went’ (detour)
Various ’post Asiatic – lost war dream music’ (URCKarm) – a superb double disc set featuring a positive cornocopia of strange sounds from the likes of muslim gauze, amps for christ, bill horist, metal rouge, f-space, soriah and much much more….
A superb year for music I’m sure you’ll agree, 2007 shifted gear on last year and continued a trend that’s been something of a celebrated feature these last few year – that being that the underground imprints continue to throw up some of the most interesting and ad hoc sounds to be found having rediscovered its edge and sense of perspective shifting. We won’t go into the highs and lows of 2007 here – mainly for the fact that its been done to death by others to more or less differing standards of revelations and insights – and anyway we can’t be arsed. That said favoured albums, favoured singles and labels we can do.
Labels is easy –
Static Caravan continued to amaze or all the right reasons along the way setting a new task of trying to nail all the ultra limited releases they put out – ecstatic when you did nail one but heartbreaking when you didn‘t – note will Dreams of Tall Buildings- Shady Bard were a revelation (see below) as was Serafina Steer, also worthy of a mention that killer Steve Moore album, while releases from the Owl Service (see below) and Safetyword proved without doubt that these dudes have their fingers well and truly primed on the most essential up and coming sound pulses. Despite a relatively quiet year Pickled Egg whipped in at the final gasp with two certifiable classics in the making – Suzy Mangion’s debut solo full length (Suzy you may recall was one time one half of the delectable and criminally undervalued George) and APATT – loons from Liverpool and quite possibly the best thing out of their since er – Mugstar. Trensmat – (see below) – Irish noise / experimental label – home to ever presents The Telescopes and a whole host of artists operating beyond the confines of rudimentary pop – ultra limited releases mainly on lathe cut wax and more often than not sold out even before the stamper went down on them at the pressing plant – some mighty fine outings from Mugstar, Circle and Heavy Winged have all served as remarkable calling card for this fledging imprint – next year will see their profile considerably soared with promised outings from Trensmat include a breathtaking list of who’s who acts in 2008 including Kinski, Acid Mothers, more Mugstar, Astral Social Club, Magoo, Part Chimp and as though the prospect of Bardo Pond wasn’t enough to get us paralysed with fevered fits then the promise of what should prove something a beast – an outing by – wait for it – Mudhoney. Roll on 2008.
Various ‘Beta – Lactam Ring ‘Fall 07 / Winter 08’ (Beta Lactam Ring). And talking of samplers / compilations here’s another worth selling the odd family or two in exchange for – the latest CD compilation showcasing their 2008 line from those finest of dealers in the abstract, strange electronica, noise and avant garde. Featuring 16 selected cuts from their recent releases and including offerings on the horizon and due in the finest record racks in the coming months to include outings from Volcano the Bear (whose ‘amidst the noise and twigs’ needs to be heard to be believed), LSD March, Seven that Spells, the ever weirder LA STOP and Earthmonkey whose ‘be hat charge’ as for us one of the albums of the year blending as it did dub, prog and psych into a funky alluring wide screen brew. If you redirect your mouse via http://www.blrrecords.com/blrr.mp3 you’ll be able to download / here he latest Beta Lactam Ring pod cast – a mammoth 4 and a half hour sonic odyssey (yes you did read right – 4 and a half hours!) which we’ve downloaded for a rainy day and which features selections from Chilean ensemble Un Festin Sagital – well weird and wired out there psychedelic ju-ju who you can sample via http://www.myspace.com/unfestinsagital – perhaps the only band on the face of the planet that make Volcano the Bear sound positively pedestrian pop. This revolving / travelling collective have been around since 2004 – to date releasing just under a dozed self financed cd-r’s – here you’ll find an except culled from the sessions for their as yet untitled full length for Beta Lactam Ring – a strangely disquieting pastoral affair that shivers eerily throughout your listening space like some gothic / monastic apparition, dissipating melodies and haunting harmonies are dispatched into the ether to exact a curiously enchanting supernatural glow upon any would be listener.
Elsewhere Art goes pop and Marquis cha cha both continued to give us excited panic attacks each and every time the familiar envelopes housing their releases was stuffed through our door – high lights from each of the imprints came courtesy of Isosceles ’get your hands of’ and lr rockets ‘personality’ via the former and from the latter stranger son of WB though check the link below for a sneak peek of the forthcoming Whitey release.
You can sample stuff via –
Favoured albums –
Radiohead ‘In Rainbows’ – exquisite to a tee, Yorke and Co delivered an album of tenderness – both accessible and alluring ‘In Rainbows’ harboured the best moments and nuances from their back catalogue and wove the ingredients into a deceptively beautiful collection.
Psychic TV ‘hell is invisible heaven is her/e’ (sweet nothing)
Heartstrings ‘try fly blue sky’ – heartbreaking stuff……sample via http://www.myspace.com/theheartstrings we suggest you fall headlong into the radiating romance of ‘marianna’
Serafina Steer ‘cheap demos’ (static caravan) – Weaving together the absurd, the abstract and the astonishing, Steer applied her classic training to a surreal pop overture that I for one would never have dreamed of hearing without noting it to be the work of Laurie Anderson. Gorgeously off balanced, ‘Cheap Demos’ blended the impetuous with the impish into an intelligent sound collage, sometimes unsettling and never far from perfect.
Shady Bard continued to amaze and ‘from the ground up’ via static caravan didn’t disappoint in the slightest – an evocative and beautiful epitaph to nature go to the end of this missive for their latest limited Xmas treat.
The Winston Giles Orchestra ‘soundtrack for sunrise’ (play up) – irresistible stuff – big band electronics, an effervescent opera of sorts that timidly voyaged the horizons of chill out grooves and bliss out wonderment – gorgeously flighty as addictive as hell – one of very few releases that were a treat from the very start to the finish – key tracks were the fluid ‘welcome to the hotel’ and the horny as f*ck pan psychedelic brew ‘revenge’ just check out the Love like flute florets 3.34 in – amazing stuff.
Finally – okay hats off to Radiohead for their download freebie but for us the best album of the year came courtesy of the Crimea with their frankly awesome ‘secrets of the witching hour’ rock opera – across 11 tracks of such exquisite detail the Crimea wooed, shimmered and strutted with wild colossal abandon – from the opening ‘the Vikings’ sampled ‘All conquering’ to the closing epic styled ‘Weird’ with its Brian May styled guitar pines this bitter sweet beauty beguiled, threatened the emotions freewheeling with exacted pristine precision between flashes of deepening despair rising to the heady heights of ecstatic euphoria – it never left our headphones and guided me for one through the spring / summer months hearing it all these months down the line still sends tingles down the spine – file alongside the Eskimos lost classic ‘something must be transmitted’ and the Makers ‘rock star God’ – pure class.
Best re-issues –
Well two that caught our eye –
Stiff box set which for now has mysteriously gone awol – anyhow a four disc affair culling together everything that was fine and not so fine about the nations favourite indie label – who else would have the nerve to throw together Max Wall and Ian Dury on the same imprint – yea but now I come to think of it – makes perfect sense.
Nick Drake ‘Fruit Tree’ – re-issued in limited quantities following years of featuring via auction sites going for ridiculous prices, culling together the three full lengths and including a DVD ‘skin to few’ (the days of Nick Drake) which replaces the lack lustre (1991 repackaged set) ‘time of no reply’ bonus disc which despite its ad hoc band wagon jumping demeanour did in its favour include a killer version of ‘black eyed dog’. We’ve just ordered the vinyl edition – expect reviews – belated admittedly – shortly.
And we kick off this particular missive with something tasty from Steve Moore who the more clued up among you may well know from his Zombi work and his solo project the latest of which is currently showcased by his very excellent ‘the henge’ available now in limited quantities via static caravan. This time around via http://www.myspace.com/iheartlovelock Steve along with Lauren Theresa shimmy up with some slushy night time lurrrrve music that taps into the whole slickly sophisticated retro disco vibe of the late 70’s Studio 54 scene – four excerpts feature here -’maybe tonight’ takes its cue from Stereolab’s flirtatious cosmic mirror ball set ’margerine eclipse’ and wraps it in sveltely succulently Chic meets Moroder accents that lovers of early career Marr / Sumner ensemble Electronic may well swoon for though all said and done we suspect a bit of a monster hit weighs heavily on their hands in the shape of the glitter dusted Dollar gone super stellar ’love reaction’ with the aid of Cerrone.
http://www.myspace.com/billydsongwriter – hell – okay it may use every single cliché in the Wilson canon but darn it if this isn’t one the best things we’ve heard around here since the Ashley Park debut from a few years ago or that rather spiffing Epicycle full length ‘swirl’. Ohio musician Billy D it seems has mastered the art of Van Dyke Parks pristine pop prowess resulting in the production of a svelte carnival of homely tingling sounds crafted in the myriads of vintage mercurial bliss. Sweetly honey glazed these little beauties are rich with the memories of classic Beach Boys and Beatles pop echoes from the past, from the snow tipped saccharine dipped sleigh bell swept ’Christ in Christmas’ to the delightfully dinky yet ostensibly frazzled, dreamscaping and trippy ’summer song’ with its warping harmonies and melodies that sound like they’ve deliberately skewered backwards and out of sequence – though all said and done we suggest you make ’western world’ your first port of call – a gorgeously syrupy music hall feast festooned with delicately soft west coast lysergic tipped folk accents a la Oddfellows Casino.
http://www.myspace.com/perilhill – we have more than an inkling that this won’t be the last time we hear or indeed feature the lilting tones of this Manchester via Derby and Sheffield based quintet, Peril Hill cut richly intimate folk spectres that are all at once inviting yet strangely distant, a forlorn marriage of tranquil treasures dusted as though being recently excavated and polished up after being found left and abandoned in a undisturbed attic space. Part mournful this trio of rustic gems shyly serenade all the time weaving a warming web beautifully fashioned in spectral overtures whose roots can be traced to the gentler more free spirited to be found amid the late 60’s Cambridge scene. Awash with lulling cascades of softly unfurling acoustics braided by banjos, violas and concertinas these pastel cuties endow a deceptively hypnotic hue upon the would be listening space to illicit their bewitching and hurt brew – the gorgeously dainty ’heir apparent’ is a beautifully tip toeing slice of maypole enchantment replete with a timeless harvest of clockwork like medieval florets though we suggest you rip for yourself the mesmerising and frailly scratchy banjo swept ’vapours in august’ – a CD is kicking about we believe to which you can bet your bottom we will be enquiring about.
http://www.myspace.com/ptv3 – a year that was meant to be one celebrated by rebirth and hope has closed with death and despair. ’Hell is invisible / Heaven is her/e’ marked the long overdue return of Psychic TV – a petrifid collision of references wired up from the 60‘s via Brian Jones, Syd and the 13h Floor Elevators, this was no simple return to the fray that called upon past glories as so many reformations are, this was an ensemble at the top of their game perhaps arguably crafting their
most accessible body of work to date. It was a stunning psychedelic odyssey much loved in our gaff and for a fair while earlier in the year a constant feature on the piping through the headphones as we trundled to haplessly work – ’Hookah Chalice’ featured here was its centrepiece a white hot schizoid fuzzed out wig flipping blister forming boogie just check out the re-igniting riffs after the dream-scaping montage half way in – still casts a shiver each and every time. One of the albums of the year. However despite all this what would have been a lucrative tour schedule has had to be cancelled following the tragic and sudden death of Lady Jane – now in disaray, a year end that should have seen Orridge and Co reaping the rewards of a sterling about face has now been catapulted into chaos leaving the band in both emotional and financial ruin. RIP Lsdy Jane 1967 – 2007.
http://www.myspace.com/edwardbarrow – damn this is gorgeous, lovingly wrapped all the way from Paris, Edward Barrow aided and abetted by Fabrice Cloulon crafts alarmingly teasing tastily charismatic morsels of silkily laced pristine pop carved from delicate shimmers made up of lazily spun cascading acoustic riff and the merest trestles of electronic landscapes. Richly textured the hurtfully dreamy ‘again and again’ is a curvaceous beauty that orbits hypnotically with a flailing melancholic design though for me personally nothing quite touches the musical box beauty that is ‘song for a friend’ – brief, sparse and ethereal this gem tip toes seductively with heartbreaking intent – think we need to hear more and very soon.
http://www.myspace.com/semlabel – fledging Paris based label who to date have recently released their inaugural outing in the shape of the self titled debut outing from the Green Kingdom of which you can sample four cuts via this here my space site. A gorgeous collage of sparsely minimalist rustic electronics with a delicate folk ambition emblazoned to its core. The Green Kingdom is essentially Michigan based musician Michael Cottone who delights it seems in composing delicate snow bound treats primed in all manner of honey glazed chilled out ambient textures the best of which without doubt is the divinely beguiling ’wind up wildlife’ – a beautifully curated nursery like picture box braided with the most desirable and alluringly playful clockwork dynamic that lovers of early career ISAN and Plone may do well to stop by for a brief spot of enchantment. Elsewhere the label has just signed up both Letna and Alexandre Navarro – the former a Parisian based artist by the name of Sasa Vojvodic who to date has put out three full lengths with a fourth tentatively titled ’Adria’ due shortly for Sem – the latter again another Paris based musician whose site is devoid of sound files (darn) but who will – we are reliably informed – be releasing an album via SEM in March.
http://www.myspace.com/theshadoworchestra – and we feel that apologies are long overdue to the Shadow Orchestra who debut album we swear we received earlier this year and then stupidly got it lost in the CD mountain – and though we’ve searched high and low for said disc to date no sign. Mainly the creative brainchild of Chris’ Bangs and Warren, the Shadow Orchestra have a unerring knack for crafting demurring ditties cared from out of the sweet marriage of strings and laptop manipulations, partly mellowing, partly haunting these perfectly paraded pirouettes hurt, humble and hypnotise in equal measure – rain drizzled forlorn noire-esque landscapes dipped in the finest spectrally sumptuous electronic collages as were once the remit of the early 90’s Bristol underground scene (Portishead, Massive Attack et al) though pulsating with a sweetly curdling bruised romance and loose limbed classicism that suggests that a super chilled exotica of deep set jazz styled free formed psychedelics lies buried at the core of their collective mindset much reminiscent of a more out there and playful Orb – don’t believe me then check out the rather superb ’Spring’ – here captured being performed live at the Luminaire. Though arm forced up the back and asked to chose then ’rain music’ featuring the vocals of Amy Duncan is torturously tasty an best filed along Heather Duby.
http://www.myspace.com/xtcfans – one of the finest bands to comes out of these fair isles are XTC who in Andy Partridge had one of this nations finest and dare we say most unsung of song writers. We stumbled across this site by accident – and well hell this being Christmas (just) there are a few festive related nuggets prized from the vaults with which to set off your party poppers to – should you – that is – be so inclined.
http://www.myspace.com/shortwavefade – not to be confused with the Shortwave Set who in their spare time go sourcing for antique synthesisers in thrift shops and car boot sales throughout East London – no this lot – no sir – seems this quartet have honed to near perfection the art of crafting power driven effervescent dream pop, freewheeling between hazes of spiral chiming riffs and florescent swathes of keys ’stay as you are’ hits you straight between the eyes, a throbbing lovelorn symphony of stratospheric pop cut through with the kind of swagger and savvy that would cause many peers to give up and seek employment elsewhere while being decoded with one of the most infectious chorus hooks we’ve had the pleasure of hearing all year. There’s a three track EP skulking about entitled ’cover your eyes’ via the ever irrepressible Shifty Disco the lead cut which incidentally features here as tasty as it is though we suggest you direct yourselves immediately to the mellowing ’Anything to Anyone’ which reveals an innately tortured tenderness at the core of their song craft.
http://www.myspace.com/peopleofthedeer – we happily mentioned People of the Deer or as he’s better known to friends and family – Andrew Perez via missive 140 when we accidentally stumbled upon his secret lair. ’Les conte’s sparrow’ is a newly posted track that’s been made available for your discerning delight. Quite gorgeous if you want my humbled opinion, not as obvious as his previous cuts – more measured it would seem and best viewed nuzzled up to the glow of an night lit open fire while outside the soft treads of snow softly dapple the ground. For your trouble what you get is a gently tingling piano spun folk beauty replete with washes of ivory cascades and a lilting faraway idleness much in harmony with the work of Oddfellows Casino, delicately breathtaking its visitation upon your listening space is served with an almost apparition like aura – all in all an engagingly hollowed beauty.
http://www.myspace.com/thehouseofloveofficial – what can we say – its probably not a known fact – but these things did would you believe happen on occasion – but towards the mid 80’s I’d stopped listening to Peel – I know I hear what your saying – sacrilege isn’t it. Well to be honest the music wasn’t doing it – it was a lull period – I‘d basically fallen out of love with it. However feeling particularly bored one night I retuned to the bearded one and something happened that had me racing back to my local record shop (Probe – in case you were wondering). The sound of ’love in a car’ (featured here) and several nights later ’man to child’ a track so disturbingly unsettling and beautifully bruised that we’d dare anyone to get through it without shedding a tear. Perhaps the finest band to emerge from early days of the Creation catalogue and yes I know that’s a major sticking out of the neck given the roster included such heavyweights as Jesus and Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentine and Ride. But in House of Love the label had a band of such immense repose and beauty that descriptions such as sublime seemed to fall short of truly capturing their essence. Mixing silken strokes of 60’s signatures sugar spun into delicately sculptured spectral montages the band were a rare breed opining gems of subtle pop classicism with discreet and beguiling grandeur, possessing an unnerving knack of being able one minute to lay you low and cut you to the emotional quick (’Blind’) – the next carried aloft on euphoric tides (the shade wearing psyche bliss of the crystalline ‘Christine‘) – in Chadwick they had a front man so inwardly bruised and forlorn to the hand that fate had dealt him who rose beyond tragedy and purred with passion – Bickers the perfect foil and quite possibly the finest guitarist to have emerged on the underground scene since Marr – without doubt head and shoulders above his contemporaries Squire et al, provided the intricate sonic detail, the melodic murmurs, the fleeting finesse and the serene ghost like aural apparitions. Of course the pair are re-united now rekindling their lost art, last years ‘days run away‘ was a low key return to the fray and without doubt one of the years most critically overlooked releases – their debut album has been recently repackaged and polished up via Renascent – which we really must check out given our old vinyl copy is a little worse for wear – though saying that we did spy for ourselves a killer double disc ’Fontana years’ set which we thoroughly recommend if only to hear the divine ’Safe’ – which in my much humbled opinion was the bands finest 5 and a half minutes.
Which neatly leads us to…..
http://www.myspace.com/levitationmusic – oh yes – on departing the House of Love, after a brief period licking his disillusioned wounds Bickers returned with Levitation, dismissed at the time by the weekly music press as being out of sorts with the current wave of home grown shoe gazing and Madchester sorts and across the pond grunge types, Levitation crafted out fluidly expansive terra forming rock based monoliths whose apparent dark heart could be mapped in the out of favour wastelands of early 70’s progressive rock and the recesses of Syd Barrett’s fried psyche, like a half way house coffee shop frequented by pop’s outsiders such as Zappa, Gentle Giant and Faust, Levitation were a multi faceted animal who portrayed within their intricately layered sound structures a myriad of diverging off the radar influences that made them impossible to pigeon hole with a great degree of success – perhaps at the time only Porcupine Tree and Spock’s Beard came close to occupying their out there sphere – key track here the hallucinogenic mirage ’pieces of mary’ – a ferociously challenging head fuck pre post rocking hybrid that inhabits elements of the brooding claustrophobic darkness apparent via ’heaven up here’ era Bunnymen all nailed firmly amid a freewheeling haze of space / kraut / psyche rock workouts.
Which happily leads us to……seamless all this don’t you think…
http://www.myspace.com/mikrokosmos1 – Mikrokosmos is the ongoing project of former Levitation, Cardiacs and Dark Star guitarist Christian Hayes, it provides for a wonderfully crafted interplanetary pan psychedelic experience. These cuts showcase material from the albums ‘in the heart of the home’ and ‘the seven stars’ – the former a thought lost project recorded way back in 1994 the tapes were damaged in a flood only to re-surface complete in 1997 and again shelved and forgotten about. Now or the first time lovingly restored and issued on an ultra limited 500 only set each coming replete with a signed letter of authenticity these babies are set to be future collectors items. As to the music Hayes weaves an ever darkening psych odyssey that fans of early career Porcupine Tree may well be best to check out, ‘Guilding the Lily’ in particular could easily be a distant cousin to Wilson and Co’s ‘radioactive toy’ while nevertheless easily finding itself on ‘Stupid Dream’ without looking out of place, bruised but bleakly beautiful this lonesome shade wearing mantra is slender and spectral, ether driven vocals and looping lysergically daubed cosmic interfaces endow this gem with a quietly epic grace while ‘where now earthman’ is very Levitation in texture and appeal, a swirling wig flipping beauty that retunes itself at key intervals into streams of Beatles-esque interference bled through by minimalist woven ominous omnipresent overtures. Frankly we need to hear more.
And so to…….
http://www.myspace.com/cardiacs – just in case you decided to ignore all our bunting waving and praise heaped upon this gem in the making (see missive 145) ’ditzy scene’ saw the return to the fray of one of this nations true eccentric institutions, worryingly erratic, the great undiscovered genius – this lot through a plethora of line up changes have been honing their acrylic action painting pop for nigh on 30 years now mixing abrasiveness, weird time signatures and wired to the teeth melodies much to the envy of their peers – fundamentally psychedelic though scarred with and tampered with so many diverging reference points (a few of which we suspect they copyrighted as their own) as to make the most seasoned music fan swoon in amazement – all at once abstract, absurd and undeniably amazing they are pop’s fly in the ointment – ’ditzy scene’ is the sound of the Pretty Things ’defecting grey’ thrown into a psychedelic tumble dryer though in terms of insanity and crookedness we suggest you rip the screwball art pop zaniness of ’res’ – totally bonkers and frighteningly infectious.
http://www.myspace.com/starsinbattledress – seems these shy creatures have been plying their trade for a fair few years now – to date one album under their collective belt in the shape of 2003’s ‘secrets and signals’ beyond that there no other information which is rather alarming because these four cuts are stunning to say the least. ‘I spook the language’ (no that’s not a spelling mistake from me) is a gently playful though rather macabre key drenched hallucinogenic promenade parade, think Satie woven in with the Pretty Things. ‘Pinocchio falls in love’ is elegantly ethereal, a dreamy cortege of spidery spectral psychedelics and teasing piano accents that when married together give off a deliciously hazy and trippy vibe while ‘doing well’ is a pepper corned slice of weirdly wafting wonderment that nibbles not only at early career Porcupine Tree but also towards the mercurial melodic flair of Oddfellows Casino. That said our favourite moment comes via ‘Hollywood says hi’ – a crookedly light headed dissipating rock opera of sorts that terra forms sumptuously at any given moment – or so it seems – utilising similar creative curvatures as the Cardiacs in playful moods, this spiralling cyclical cherry pays passing nods to the Sparks and strangely enough – Kate Bush – with the Pretty ‘SF Sorrow’ Things motifs never far from the creative canvas. Quite perfect really.
http://www.myspace.com/zagandthecolouredbeads – insanely good – Zag and the Coloured Beads hail from Croydon, are a five piece and together make music. Any thing you feel you need to know – well of course what do they sound like – well frankly these bright and gifted blighters craft an amorphous freeform progressive psychedelic funk stew – okay not as adventurous and off the radar as the likes of Apatt – but still suitably equipped with that ‘not quite right air’ about them so as to attract fans of Zappa, Soft Machine and dare we say the Crimson as in King – ‘Sweaty thing’ even manages to tailgate spheres more associated with Radiohead while the kooky jazz jamboree that is ‘elongated thing’ has more than a whiff of the Ozrics about but without all the space grooved frippery. Best of the set though – in our opinion that is – is ‘meandering thing’ – we sense there’s a ‘thing’ theme going on here ‘meandering’, ‘elongated’ and ‘sweaty’ – what do you think? This crooked baby is skewiff to say the list – think (well at times) the Cardiacs being zoot suited by Wizards of Twiddly in some freakish cosmic duel whilst slyly nicking and nibbling the coda from Kate Bush’s ‘babooshka’ I kid you not – a bit of a winner around our gaff anyway.
http://www.myspace.com/onospace – my space presence for the Onomatopoeia imprint who are of course home to the quite brilliant wig flipping space cadets ‘they came from the stars’ – who this year to much personal joy actually re-surfaced with a steady stream of releases culminating in a long overdue full length ‘Vs. Reality’ from which via this site you can hear ‘an Angel’s help’. Elsewhere there’s the simply mercurial ivory intonations of William D Drake and the delightfully ‘biorgan taster’ from Stars in Battledress (see above) – well I say delightfully if we were really honest it’s a bit spooky in a Tubeway Army ‘Asylum’ type way – we understand there will be an EP released in the coming year entitled ‘the story of the hood tapes’ – frankly we can’t wait.
http://www.myspace.com/dragons1 – Bristol based six piece – Dragons admirably mix the flair and darkness of early Fields of Nephilm / Sisters of Mercy, the austere blankness of Joy Division (especially on the razored post punk numbness of the sinew snaring ‘condition’) and the pummelling symphonic teeth barred finesse of early career Chameleons (check out ‘lonely tonight’) and for that matter the Kitchens of Distinction into a tormented and epic battleground of searing white hot union of riffs and electronics, in lead singer Anthony Tombling JNR they possess a singer who sounds not unlike a cross DNA experiment derived from the personas of Ian Curtis and Babybird. The sounds are fraught in some ways apocalyptically unravelling bleak portent ‘here come the roses’ proving to be a towering unflinching classic in the making, culled from their debut full length of the same name. Dealt with a pristine production and a voluminous sound metered by intricate storm lashed textures, initially sounding like a ringer for Joy Divisions ‘Isolation’ its soon braided by sheens of 80’s styled goth accents, throw in a spot of PIL, shimmering halos of looping stratosphere piercing keys and a stutter gun attack drum underpin and we are away ascending at velocity towards a critical sonic black hole of cool as f*ck proportions metering out struts like they are fast going out of fashion. ‘where is the love’ is a brooding impenetrable ceremonial black mass seductively tailgating the aural spheres occupied most notably by ‘music for the masses’ era Depeche Mode – bleak but beautifully so it’s a deceptively seducing snowstorm of Ice dripped chiming riffs a la the Mission melded to a paralysing and hollowed claustrophobic tombstone marking a love lost. Certainly a band to watch for in the coming year.
http://www.myspace.com/officialtreblemakers – frankly stunning stuff. Tasty twang terrorism from Montreal, Canada in the guise of quintet the Treblemakers. Seems these dudes have been busying themselves releasing – to date three – full lengths whilst appearing on a few prime cut serving compilations all of which we’ve so far managed to miss – though that said you can bet your arse we will remedy that shortly. Ensconced on California’s esteemed Dionysus imprint – a label who we must admit much to our embarrassment we rarely see these days on our record rack travels (see next my space link).
http://www.myspace.com/dionysusrecords – peddling their wares now for over 20 years – blimey is it really that long, like fellow underground ever presents Get Hip and Estrus, Dionysus are the arbiters of cool – mixing exotica with gnarled garage, pristine power pop and the strange. Their current catalogue from these cool cats features full lengths from Hell on Wheels (a fierce some feline quartet hailing from Phoenix who fuse classily sassy mooching rawk ‘n’ roll with primal strands of key drenched garage goo – think Heartbreakers meets the Ronettes). The Satelliters who hail from Franfurt and number in 5 sound like they’ve just stepped out of a mid 60’s beat pop boutique – an unadulterated and authentic call from the formative years of garage that had us recalling the Troggs in a head to head with the Seeds on their cool as f**k ‘you will never be’. Those loving their sounds a little more scarred and wired may do well to hook up with the Controllers whose ‘another day’ provides for a slice of ravaged no future styled wrecking ball grind that to these ears sounds like a primed on speed 13th Floor Elevators having their but kicked big time by early career Mudhoney. Culled from his ‘Voodoo 2’ set Robert Drasnin applies some smoking bossa nova vibed lounge like easy listening courtesy of the slyly sophisticated snake charming ‘Puente doble’ on which said evidence suggests we need to get this beauty in our life and fast. Also via this site there’s a link to a snazzy gratis (that’ll be for nowt) 25 track download compilation entitled ‘keeper of the secret’ – a sumptuous multi generic collection that manages to shoehorn enough styles and fashions as to make the most would be casual listener swon in admiration – from the 70’s styled smooth chill out symphonies of Stereophonic Space Sound LTD to Scott ‘Deluxe’ Drake’s fast and furious Biafra barricade – elsewhere there’s the Young Playthings who sound not unlike a rough n ready early career Blondie while the Buttersprites we feel need further checking given their ‘panic attack’ is so devilishly addictive while we mentioned Karling Abbeygate in an earlier missive (missive 121 to be precise – tut tut if you weren’t paying attention) frankly gorgeous blending countrified pop with breezy bluegrass Ms Abbeygate is Brenda Lee fused with Patsy Cline and ‘tonight is gonna last’ sounds just like its fallen off the Louisiana Hayride stage – perfect stuff. Those pining for a spot of submariner surf should check out Clouseaux while Ruby Dee and the Snake handlers ‘I remember you’ is by far the best portion of hillbilly country we’ve had the pleasure of hearing since Laura Cantrell’s ‘not the trembling kind’ and boy was that a debut and a half.
End of part 1……..