the return of the Christmas bumper missive – part 2….

The return of the Christmas Bumper Missive – part 2

Second part of a ramshackle Christmas gathering of selected tunes, reviews and old Singled Out’s rescued from abandoned hard drives, sadly most of the links are probably obsolete but I’m sure the savvy among you will, with a spot of careful search tuning, be able to source them anew. So without further ado Christmas Bumper Missive-ness a go go…..

It must be that time of the year again folks, fevered messages from the Snowflakes Christmas Singles Club alerting us to their fourth annual yuletide gathering, this time of asking four shimmering seasonal sevens the first of which to be hauled on the festive inspection blocks is a prickly pogo popping discordant dandy from the much loved the Manhattan Love Suicides. Well I say much loved, there was certainly a time when our listening space was festooned with their fuzz twanged grooves and then they split, some became the equally adored Blanche Hudson Weekend who alas, also fell off our radar. Now reformed and putting out platters through odd box, again a label so missed around these parts since they jettisoned us from their mailing list – ho hum – herewith a testy twin set that pairs together ‘look who’s coming to town (please let it snow)’ and a cover of a lost ’79 oddity by Elmo and Patsy entitled ‘grandma got run over by a reindeer’. The former as the press release so rightly makes note, sounding like a half way meeting place where lurk the Primitives at one end and Sonic Youth at the other, a wiry blighter haunted and stalked by a tensely jarring and nerve jangling edginess spooked by Christmases past and grimmed in a tinsel terror that’s skin pricklingly atmospheric that gives it a kind of shadowy macabre that draws a distant kinship to a youthful Banshees albeit scribbling and cobbling twisted bubblegrooves with Zombina and the Skeletones to backdrop VHS silent nightly nasty ‘black Christmas’. As to the flip, a snow fallen sepia haloed howler mourning the little publicised death by reindeer occurrences, comically odd and really taking the Christmas un-spirit just a little too much off radar methinks, still musically it sneers and spits in the eye of those happy dappy Spector seasonals opting instead for a spot of Shangri-La’s style merry maudlin.

Second of that spiffing seasonal soiree from the Snowflakes Christmas Singles Club, this is the legendary twee bop combo the Haywains doing a spot of affectionately cosy toed snow freckled shimmer pop courtesy of the love noted ‘who needs summer’, a kookily cool gathering around the festive festooned crackling open fire whittling out reindeer cardigan wearing jaunty and strumtastically funky and lolloping hot mulled wine servings of tinsel twee tuneage that are sure to have the hand holding indie shy eyes a tad swooning in the yuletide aisles. Over on the flip a rather rousing and gruffly grooved take on the seasonal classic ‘Santa Claus is coming to town’ all decorated with a whistling intro and a deliciously bracing stripped bare three chord pub rock bop. Available in a 320 issue all on 7 inches of white vinyl.

Returning with more of those Snowflakes Christmas Club sorties, admittedly I nearly forgot about these, anyhow third of the four tinsel treats comes courtesy of Rope Store whose ‘nerer had Christmas’ as the press release rightly states is a time travelling sleigh ride back to the Christmasses of the early 70’s. within 5 seconds of this kicking in, I’m faced with my youthful self donning a Spock mask sitting wide eyed watching Top of the Pops and tapping toes a furiously to the Slade and the Wizard while my brother eyes from afar waiting for the Wombles to appear. Pure glam gold seasoned in a sepia framed vintage sung by folk who looked like bricklayers in make up sporting hair of unusual voluminous quantity whilst teetering on unfeasibly high skyscraper styled platform boots bedecked in outfits made from stuff we used to wrap the turkey up in. them were the days. Rope Store impeccably recreate the same with affectionate aplomb on this infectious blighter. Now call us hopeless souls but just between you and me, I’ve always had a soft spot for ‘Winter’s Tale’, in fact in the highly unfashionable year of 1982 I was the short lived president of the 6th form David Essex fan club marvelling to impromptu and rowdy renditions of ‘oh what a circus’ and ‘gonna make you a star’ much to the puzzlement of the assembled make up wearing new romantic fops with the Duran Duran fringes and awkward musical tastes – ahem – Billy Joel. But enough of my gallant quests to ride the outsider seas, Rope Store set to work tackling ‘winters tale’ and in to the bargain give it a deliciously fuzzy power pop overhaul which unless our ears do deceive sounds not unlike some waywardly wonderful lost trick by some hastily assembled Elephant 6 collective seasonal studio soiree. Adored in short.

Finally, for this year’s quartet of Christmas treats from the Snowflakes Christmas Singles Club, Hannah Epperson’s delightful two-track ethereal ‘raise the white flag’ and ‘dreaming of a white Christmas’. An utterly adorable gathering of eerie elegance, the former a self-penned mysterio traced in ghostly enchanted woodland soul noir trimmings, utilising silence as an instrument this frail and fragile love note is snowily kissed by lightly tip toed frost carved vocals delicately aided and abetted by the playful peek a boo of a solitary violin, really is quite entrancing. From entrancing to beguiling ‘dreaming of a white Christmas’ really is quite exceptional, a magic land winter wonderland poised, measured and majestically tailored in a most beautified sepia framed neo classical framing, all at once breathlessly beautiful and blissful.

celebrating the arrival of winter, what better way to usher in the season of death and likewise this most enchanting time of the year than with a visitation from Melmoth the Wanderer. So, stoke up the open fire, pour forth a wee dram of a chosen warming tonic, light thy pipe, pull up the fireside chair, settle back and in the reflective dance of the burning embers prepare thyself for a chilling as sonic spirits and tales of the unreal and the supernatural gather with impish glee to whisper in thine ear of eerie happenings from the black meadow.

very nearly missed this and might never have known of its existence had we not tripped over by sheer accident. Yet such is the way of the Soft Bodies dudes that for the last twelve months they’ve been sneaking out gems aplenty without so much as a hark or a fanfare, this one in time for the approaching yuletide – entitled er ‘Christmas 2016’ is a sumptuous twin tinsel affair that features Quimper and Jodie Lowther. Now Ms Lowther needs no further introductions here, ‘circles and holes’ from earlier in the year has proven to be one of our favourite releases of the year. As you’d secretly wish with a title like ‘snow gloam’ she ice sculptures a sonic mysterio carved with pristine prettiness and winter wonderment, a snow flecked yuletide ghosting trimmed in spectral foot steps and a nostalgic enchantment more Lewis than Dickens. As to Quimper, ‘lung numb’ playfully remodels old Children’s TV vintage anew affectionately reforging a vague ‘box of delights’ theme into a wonderfully lulling bowed cortege that mesmerically takes you down a rabbit hole into 70’s radiophonic dreamland.

this ‘un, a Christmas compilation from those dudes over at emotional response records entitled ‘hey it’s Christmas’ is a wonderfully warm though decidedly wayward and wonky gathering of friends and folk. Amid the pickings on this 15-track tinsel teaser there’s the TVC 15’s slightly out of season south sea opining slide riffed ‘ho ho bush’ cooing distractively as its demurs yuletide tree side to lost bubblegrooved golden era pop twinkles. Frazzled and delightfully discordant not to mention straight up close n’ personal there’s the bad guys usa’s unseasonally uncharitable ‘donald trumps christmas’ while frantic family festive follies are aplenty of the cutely groovy ‘hey its christmas’ by Jen Myffy and Stew. All said we here are more than a tad fond of Lonna Kelley’s ghostly spiritual ‘silent night’ enough to put a cheery glow on any frost flecked cheek of a grumpy grinch while those fancy some noise niking nativity no wave ought to check out the Reynolds Family’s frankly wired out and squalling head butt ‘no ghosts’.

once upon a time a regular Christmas experience and a release we always looked forward to with a excitable sense of wonder much like a child eyeing presents beneath a Christmas tree. Between then and now we assumed these Cherryade yuletide gatherings were a thing resigned to a forgotten past much like their label mates Filthy Little Angels. Of course by then we had relocated to northern territories and well, just lost touch. It was a usual early morning ramble through facebook postings that we eyed with a certain amount of glee, news of a new ‘a very cherry christmas’ compilation, volume 11 no less, the last we’d encountered would have been around 2007, 2008 or thereabouts. This set gathers around the seasonal open fire 21 bubblegrooving spike tops, alas to hear them all you’ll have to buy the strictly limited CD – just 200 copies of these babies going with just two of the number on the preview platform those being Niagra Balls feat. Matt Moskal and the Yellow Melodies, the former ‘don’t be a dick a christmas’ a buzzsawing scuzzed out pogoing power popper replete with razor lined jingle shimmers and a corkscrewing three chord throb-a-rama riff rumble playing relationship fisticuffs around the Christmas tree while the latter ‘happy birthday, merry Christmas’ is a rather affectionately dayglo candy coated electro-gliding twinkle tweaked psych punk fry up. Any questions then?

…from a Christmas past…..



(Fast Food)

As a rule I normally shy away from whole albums packed with Yuletide content, I think it has something to do with a child hood being severely tarnished by the obligatory playing of Elvis’ ‘Christmas Album’ every festive season. The experience has, as you can imagine, left an indelible mark on me.

So imagine my horror to be faced three albums packed choca-block with seasonal salutations, and worse still to find that, after a fair few slugs of Christmas punch, that they ain’t to bad.

First of the bag of delights comes courtesy of New Zealand, originally out in 2001, well you know how these Christmas things take on a perennial air, this whopping 19 track feast springs up several notable surprises, in the main it’s a covers exercise some well known some not so, all basted and ripe for target practice. Sadly there’s nothing to leary here though you do at least get the chance to hear media luvvies D4 and the Datsuns getting all sentimental as only they how.

Cherry picking through the compilation the festive set is opened by The Hollow Grinders who can be found happily plucking, and I did say plucking, the old Johnny Mathis chestnuts warming by the fire classic ‘When a child is born’ and giving it a sleigh surfing work out. Pitching in fur flying, the Datsuns kick off the AC/DC tags to get down and dirty with a self penned seasonal scorcher ‘All I want for Christmas’, toxic stuff even if it does sound like Mudhoney stomping all over Slade. Playing it all homely the Brunettes come in for a neat spell of curling Belle and Sebastian had they swallowed a dippy version of Jonathon Richman’s more poppier songbook, just watch out for the mock falsettos and the lazy laid back vibe, quite groovy really. D4 turn up the heat for the riotous ‘Don’t believe in Christmas’ pogoing in the best spirit of the Ramones, fraught rawk.

One of the collections best cuts is former Black Panther Matt Aliens cover of Band Aid’s ‘Do they know it’s Christmas?’, what appears at first just a gentle ramble soon manifests itself into a discordant piece of hi-jinx that has by the sound of it a buzz-saw for a lead guitar, beastly stuff. Matt Alien turns up again as part of the Hitone Destroyers for the scorching ‘What’s the deal with the man in red?’ lo-fi menace pretty much in the mould of the Halo of Flies in a good mood. Five Car Pile Up are equally up to the challenge as they faithfully run through the old Patsy Raye seasonal tuneage ‘Beatnik’s Wish’ and give it, if at all possible, a smoother retread, really tasty stuff. Xanadu pick up the pace again with the soaring space rock fuzz out ‘I see a Star’ which admittedly seems more than a might out of place here but we won’t hold that against them as they wig out in fine style with their hybrid Hawkwind / MC5 mutation.

One of the collections daftest cuts and one for all the family to sing-a-long to is Shaft’s re-treading of a traditional arrangement ‘Must be Santa’, like being back at school again. And it’s not very often that we get the Fall being covered, in fact it should be made law that every half decent band should at least once in their life feel obliged to get to grips with a Smithy composition, here Brother Love’s Free Association tangle themselves up with ‘No Xmas for John Quaye’ to fine style, obliterating it in the process under a deluge of sonic mayhem. ‘Blue Christmas’ is given the Dolly treatment by the Radio Kings, all country sultriness and packed to the brim with steel guitars while the best cut of the lot, and only because it’s so waywardly off balance, ‘Rudolf 2001’ by Little Stevie Mccabe blessed with such a lazy and trippy dynamic that your amazed it manages to somehow make it to the end, think Marc Bolan on a seriously blissed out chemical cocktail. Christmas bah Humbug!

I guess your winter’s cheer wouldn’t be the same without the occasional ghostly visitation to chill your bones, we suspect that shadow master and guardian of the weird and wayward Melmoth the Wanderer has been similarly minded for while you’ve been content to stuff your faces full of mince pies whilst festooning your living space in tinsel and trimmings, the silent one has been rummaging around his musical basement and under the cover of the nights deathly grip has been concocting sonic potions to delight and disturb. The result ‘Christmas – through a glass darkly’ a 25 minute serving of  Christmas creeps, a bit like being visited by the ghosts of Christmases past, present and future all at once. Amid the spectral choral and Gregorian chants various Hare and the Moon, Vaughan Williams, Hermione Harvestman and Corncrow types spook its ominous belt busting palette. Consider your fair warned.

Back with all things Peel – think I may well have featured or at least included the link last year Christmas – but the keeping it Peel site also have John’s 1992 Christmas specials available as free downloads – the download comes in two parts – initially aired Christmas Eve that year it features a few vintage gems from the likes of Otis, Lonnie brooks, moonglows, johnny preston and hank ballard along with some familiar late night visitors to nocturnal transistors such as the Fall, shonen Knife and Captain Beefheart…..fill your seasonally buckled boots by going here –

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

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

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

ghosts of Christmases past – second visitation….

Posted on December 15, 2014 by marklosingtoday

archive singled out from Dec 2007 – first transmitted on losing today…

missive 148 – part 2


Singled Out

Missive 148

part 2 – Ah Mount Vernon Arts Lab – one of pop’s sore thumbs and a collective rarely given the credit and acclaim they so richly deserve, children of an era when the BBC Radiophonic Workshop conquered and championed the surreal, the abstract and the oblique. Personally I was much surprised to find these outsiders still plying their trade as its been fair few years since we had the pleasure of hearing anything by them – with a fifth album snucked under their collective belt in the shape of ‘the séance at hobs lane’ (which we really must try and nail as our own) – this aural project is named after the fictional underground train station where the supernatural / sci-fi classic Quatermass and the Pit unravels. Deeply indebted to Desmond Leslie and Tristram Carey these excerpts provide or an eerie encounter with one of electronic music’s most noted experimentalists, primitive analogue disturbances to file alongside that very excellent Ochre outing from a few years back gathering together the incidental sounds featured on the Dr Who story ‘the tenth planet’ – these sparse montages pulsate ominously within desolate landscapes – exploring the same aural trajectories as unearthed by Johnny Trunk, Broadcast and EAR. A trio of tantalisers feature here from the tension racked mooching Moondog like anticipation of ‘the black drop’ to the frequency manipulating whirr core of the bleak and alien ‘the submariner’s song’ while ‘dash wood’s reverie’ wraps the set in fine form sounding like a subterranean score eked from the pen of Barry ‘UFO’ Gray.

And while you are there to may well be advisable to hook up to Belbury Poly via – a bit like receiving an mp3 from the early 70’s these fluffily perky celestial gems sound like they’ve fallen straight through a time fracture from a time often referred to as the space age, an age where Gerry Anderson ruled children’s TV and cheesecloth was legally allowed to be sold in shops and marketed as a fashion item – alas the good old days – okay we never had the trials of rickets or small pox but damn it man some of us had to live through Birmingham bags, tank tops and nylon pyjamas which believe it or not if you rubbed real hard gave off so much friction that you became a magnet for papers, comics and magazines – bit like a walking library with Stan Laurel hair. Alas no information on the band if indeed it is a band who knows it could be a randy toaster for all we know – that said these sprightly minimalist analogue nuggets strike familiar distant chords from a past long since gone ‘Wildspot’ in particular is a sumptuous bossa nova ./ samba styled slice of chilled out boogie that has you thinking of an impishly surreal backdrop featuring Joe Meek colluding with an ice cream selling promenade stall marshalled by Jean Michel Jarre on the set of ‘Vision On’ – ‘pan’s garden’ though proves to be our favourite – a wonderfully scribed spring bouquet of pastoral sweetness and idle some carefree cuteness not so far removed admittedly from the sounds found on that rather excellent ‘Ivor the Engine’ collection put out by Trunk. – a quick mention for Oggum records given that we briefly mention them again somewhere about these pages in relation to a planned Owl Service release – all getting complicated this constant seamless toing and throwing is it. Been an absolute age since we heard or indeed spied anything by the Oggum imprint that being because the blighters went awol for a while – our listening pleasure was never the same. One time home to the immense Alphane Moon a band for whom the description drone folk psychedelicists was never lost, the Oggum crew very much tapped into the whole Ptolemaic Terrascope (see below) mind set and with equal impish efficiency released records as regular as the said journal printed issues. Inspired or so it sounded at the time by the late 60’s Cambridge folk scene although appreciably in their hands and the interpretation of their roster – Our Glassie Azoth – this affection had a knack of straying down crooked and overgrown secret pathways via eerie folk drone collages. Still word has it the mighty Oggum are back – we suggest for starters you familiarise yourself in readiness by checking out the pristine pastoral due drop like ‘treflyn – demo 1’ – and don’t forget Owl Service loom large in the background. – been absolutely ages since we had anything by Yep Roc – in fact if memory serves me right last thing we heard was the late veteran of rockabilly Ronnie Dawson’s ‘more bad habits’ and the Mayflies USA’s excellent ‘summertown’ debut. A quick spy on the labels web site had us much miserable to discover that we’d missed out on the recent Robyn Hitchcocks retrospectives and repackages culminating – in what looks like – a superb vinyl box set entitled ‘I want to go backwards’ which features his solo stuff ‘eye’, ‘black snake diamond role’ and ‘I often dream of trains’ all re-mastered and packaged up with a must have 5 disc set of bonus material entitled ‘while thatcher mauled Britain’ (is it too ate for a last minute Santa request we wonder). Anyhow I digress – ‘jesus of cool resurrection’ is the tribute site and name of a specially packaged 30th anniversary set (due in February) in honour of Nick ‘basher’ Lowe (a nickname earned in reference to his ability as a producer to quickly turnaround and capture a subjects essence in such a short time) – or more rightly his debut full length from ‘78 – ‘jesus of cool’ (obviously) which in the states was known as ‘pure pop for now people’. Noted producer and former member of Brinsley Schwartz and Rockpile (alongside Dave Edmunds), Lowe was the first artist to appear on the (as was) fledging and now legendary Stiff label with ‘So it goes’. the repackaged 30th anniversary set gathers together all the available cuts from the alternative UK and US pressings additionally including seven bonus cuts. Mixing pub rock (‘so it goes’), 50’s styled bubblegum pop (‘little hitler’), new wave power pop a la Modern Lovers (‘heart of the city’) with humour and veiled sarcasm (check out the lip smacking sugar laced faux homage to the Bay City Rollers ’Rollers Show’) – despite its age the album appears to have succeeded where most of its contemporaries have sadly fallen short in that its stood the test of time. The site also provides a link from you can hear the album streamed in its entirety – well tasty.

Nick Lowe also appears on the cover mounted CD that adorns the festive edition of the Word (#59) with the quite slyly sublime ‘I trained her to love me’ culled from his ‘at my age’ full length – which we really must remember to add tom our wants lists over the coming days. Elsewhere among the 15 ‘best of 2007’ selection – prime cuts as far as we are concerned come courtesy of Amiina’s absolutely spellbinding and lazy eyed ‘rugla’ kindles with the same lilting resonance as was once the remit of Landshipping – elsewhere there’s the beguiling sonic imprint of Epic 45 who – well maybe its just me – appear to have been hogging a fair amount of tabloid column inches for their excellent ‘may your heart be the map’ set – though all said and done it’s the unlikely pairing of Martin and Eliza Carthy with Paul Weller that really stops you in your tracks – culled from the expansive ‘imagined village’ project which includes guest spots from Transglobal Underground, Tunng and Billy Bragg – ‘John Barleycorn’ is a dizzying spectacle of old skool folk meets new world – frankly so good that words fail us – your gathering rightly its on our shopping list forthwith. As to the magazine all your usual stuff which when combined makes this a thoroughly consistent good read – there’s your obligatory the best and worst of Xmas songs – though how Chris Rea managed to sneak into the favoured side of the deal is quite baffling perhaps the writer had been a little early at the sherry – mind you agreed over the worst list – what a motley crew – the kind of line up that has you dreading the winter months and office parties Further in this issue there’s a Doctor Who special focusing on the up coming Xmas special with Kylie ‘omnipresent’ Minogue – of course we love her to bits who doesn’t – just the right size for our Xmas twig – blimey just buy the damn thing. – twanged up psyche boogie from Munich, the Vibro-tones are a duo who if we didn’t know any better we’d swear had tripped out of the grooves of the ‘Pulp Fiction’ soundtrack, succinctly blending Morricone’s western styled scavenged dust relics with the conscious clarity of prime time Shadows these dudes devise well oiled V12 powered shade wearing surf nuggets from scratch (non more so than the aridly atmospheric Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet like ‘nova express’), these three featured cuties purr and side wind with devious ease incorporating elements of 50’s sourced primitive grind a la the Link with the uber cool stare you down black heart sheen of the Jesus and Mary Chain – just check out the primal voodoo boogie of ’non so lo’ with its looping riffs and latino accents. That said best of the set is the 60’s invested flower power popping shimmer of the Ramones spliced with early career Pastels ’I come’ – think we need to hear more and pretty darn soon.

And just before we round off this my space part of this particular missive two absolute gem like treats with which to leave you with, first featuring one of the best bands we’ve had the pleasure of hearing in a fair old while…. – it all started with an email and a link to an MP3, a simple message ’check this out I think you’ll love it’ or at least words to that effect. Several plays of said MP3 later and quick visit to their my space site and we were banging on to them how we needed to hear more, in fact so impressed we even pinged ’holy wholly’ (for that was indeed the track that gave us our introduction to Cody High School) immediately on the losing today top 5 chart which as observers familiar with these things will testify is a rare thing given they are unsigned and relatively untested. With an album at the mastering stage tentatively titled ‘last days of the suicide kids’ which the band are looking to self release, Cody (Come on Die Young – to give them their expanded name) High School are a secretive quartet who having only been together for a few months may well be tinkering about with what could be one of the early album highlights of next year if these three cuts are anything to judge by. Breezy 70’s styled drifting pop is the name of the game all delicately offset with sheens of tenderised pastel hues of west coast exquisiteness and the kind of soft lingering hazy laziness that was one time much the realm of Buffalo Springfield. Perfect to a fault these after glowing gems nibble ever so slightly at the more laid back catalogue of Teenage Fanclub while simultaneously investing elements of ’durable dream’ era Moviola, early career Summer Hymns and the odd dash of mid 70’s era Neil Young, ‘you get so alone’ is ready made for long summer evenings idly wiling the days end away beneath the shade of a tree while the slinky easy thrill of ‘it’s about time’ is so melodically astute in all things early 70’s styled super chilled soul pop it leaves you swooning with its slyly carved side winding buzz sawing codas. All said and done if ‘holy wholly’ had of come pre-packed adorned with New York City plates or tattoos then certain elements of the music press would be drooling and pissing themselves with excitement over this, with its lip smacking pop thrilled deep set snaking honeycombed fuzz buzzing groove – all at once sassy, slinky and sexily demurring this uber cool babe is a shade wearing sizzler that craftily imports the warming gulf streams of the west coast and sumptuously blends them in a deliciously addictive hybrid of glam and 50’s bubblegum wraps. We await that album with fevered anticipation. – bugger me with a big stick the enigmatic and ever so crucial Kelman are busying themselves putting the finishing touches to their as yet untitled second full length due to do record rack damage sometime around March next year. As a sneak peak they’ve posted a rough cut of ‘shut a final door’ – a majestic tear stained beauty wrapped in delicate sheens of shimmer like strums that stab and punch holes in your defences in pretty much the same way as was once the forte of the Flaming Stars though here solemnly peering from the bottom of a hopeless glass of sorrow – undeniably aching stuff – Tindersticks, Wedding Present and Galaxie 500 fans be warned this will seduce, romance, caress and inevitably floor you. A bewitching drunken dandy from the arbiters of pain killer pop.

Ian Brown ‘Sister Rose’ (promo). Ian Brown? What him from the Stone Roses. Old chimp features makes half decent record, well it is the season of miracles I suppose though saying that we‘ve never cared for his solo work so the mere sight of a platter with his name adorned upon it is pretty horrific enough and that‘s even before we put the blighter on the hi-fi. But put it on the hi-fi we did and do you know what I’m happy to say our fingers were out of our ears in a jiffy and the normally reserved for painful listening experiences grimace which we keep in a jar just in arms reach for emergencies was tendered into a sly smile of relief. Culled from his ‘the world is yours’ full length, ’sister rose’ sees Brown getting his shit together in fine style, backed by Messrs Jones and Cook of Pistols fame ’sister rose’ is a hypnotic neo psychedelic snake charmer swept amid swirling strings and side winding riffs that coalesce to create hazily warmth filled eastern mantras atop which the shade adorned Brown ducks dives and shimmies with cool reproach.

Kate Nash ‘Pumpkin Soup’ (Fiction). Rounding off what’s been a pretty phenomenal year for Ms Nash that begun being a struggling unknown armed with a sackful of quirky tunes that quickly rooted themselves in the nations psyche with forest fire spreading word of mouth culminating in a hit album ’made of bricks’ and a shed load of awards. Lazily thrown in with the odiously catch all generic anchor that is the LDN set and often compared to Lily Allen which on one hand is no bad thing but then on the other so painfully off the mark as to make you wonder whether certain people have indeed chosen the right profession to be in. ’Pumpkin Soup’ her best (‘recorded’) outing to date and that includes the annoyingly addictive ’foundations’, sees her assuming a big beat armoury to her sound, the rhythms are still dinky, skewiff, dislocated as they devilishly zig zag their way past your defences – her clever word plays revealing her unending confusion as to playing of the love game is still in tact though this time amid the paranoiac confusion of mixed signals from her beau she’s obviously thought sod this and gone for the direct approach and rather than wearing her heart on her sleeve has tattooed the blighter on her forehead . A hit no doubt.

Wolf People ’Storm Cloud’ (Battered Ornaments). Release number 5 for the highly eclectic imprint Battered Ornaments who in recent weeks appear to have thawed out of their hibernation to come out to play having already planted one quite essential release upon us in the shape of that awesome Beneath Fire and Smoke 10”, now get set to turn heads and minds alike with the long awaited follow up to last years near perfect ‘October Fires’ debut (see missive 101) from Wolf People. This babe comes pressed up on limited quantities of bespoke sleeved 7 inch slabs of wax – 500 in all, the aforementioned debut flew from the racks so be warned no tears when they’re all snapped up. Led from the fore by the princely pied piper Jack Sharp, Wolf People are a travelling band of acid fried drop out minstrels – or so it would seem – who frequent a strange woodland world lost in the mists of time at the crossroads between reality and folklore occupied one would imagine by Cat Weazel. ’Storm Clouds’ sounds like a rarefied trippily spun hocus pocus relic from an era where the likes of Floyd, 13th Floor Elevators and Tomorrow bestrode the hi-fi’s of the clued up cognoscenti with their warped flavours and promises of astral plane trajectories. Embedded with a lushly hypnotic lysergically tipped melodic mantra, ‘Storm Clouds’ is decorated with mind erasing swirls of softly seductive psyche folk treads much reminiscent of Oddfellows Casino as though reworking Cream into chilled states that flickers and flutter in bliss like hazes craftily working their spellbinding potion all the time sumptuously braided by chorus’ of frazzled fuzz laden riffs. The deceptively funky and hallucinogenic ‘Cotton Strands’ over on the flip is festooned with flutes, dreamy harmonies and 60’ pastoral treatments and trips deliciously amid a flashback floorshow delicately underpinned by an exotic floral pageant made up of intertwining melodic threads drawn from Love, Traffic and Soft Machine – all at once enchanting and intoxicating its like partaking of some strangely sweet matured elixir and being inebriated on the timeless vibe of classically calibrated English psychedelic. Quite perfect if you ask me – joint single of the missive.

Unusual and Electric ‘Under the Skin’ EP (Zirkus). Third EP from Mark and Adam’s Unusual and Electric alter ego which by a quick arithmetic check means we’ve missed EP’s 1 and 2 to much gnashing of teeth – a two track turntable taste machine of sorts which unless I’m very much mistaken makes it not an EP at all as such but rather more a bog standard single affair. Am I being pedantic – I guess so. Anyhow gripping stuff, if this don’t get the toes a tapping, the hips a swinging and the body a gyrating cutting cool shapes on the floor then frankly we suspect you could be a corpse. ‘Mad Dogs’ is one funky little bastard, imagine Roy Budd’s theme from ’Get Carter’ given a sassy mutant skanked up dubbed out drum n bass re-cut by a collective headed up by Wagon Christ and Adrian Sherwood who aside bringing along a shed load of samples, grooves and multi faceted genre crossovers have managed to shoehorn in the odd kitchen sink or two and wrapped all the ingredients into a club floor rumbling party pack power house – kinda like Yello’s ‘the race’ but smoking better grade grass. ‘Deep Pitch’ features over on the flip which should appeal in the main to fans and admirers of the mighty Superimposers and Lemon Jelly – a huge ever growing spongy slice of wig flipping trippyness, a dub-tronic daydream replete with dissipating loops and whacked out chemically enhanced vibes – think upon it as a fried carnival of loony lunatics – of course your record collection needs it. Smoking stuff.

Ten City Nation ‘exhibition time again’ (self released). I feel apologies are due on this one (and it won’t be the first release featured here that’s a fair while old). Sadly this was one that got away and got itself lost – a spanking release which we hope isn’t lost on the band – who by now have probably split up and found careers as bank managers or some thing equally evil. Ten City Nation are a Suffolk based trio who judging by the quality of this three track EP could in time prove to be more than a match for most in terms of aggression, intensity and melodic muscle. This trio of tracks reveal an ensemble not content with being easily pigeonholed, while the raging tour de force ‘exhibition time again’ with its pummelling front line assault of searing riff attacks nailed to the floor by a killer chorus hook that’d make the QOTSA weep with jealousy may well be a ringer for early career Foo Fighters with their mindset well and truly attuned to Nirvana’s Wipers obsessed ‘Bleach’ – the parting shot the emotionally crushed ‘everyone’s a tourist’ with it needling intertwining cloud piercing riffs reveals an aching lovelorn mindset buzz sawing within their chemistry. That said both are no match for the monumental and refined ‘the air is on fire’ – dark, brooding and epic, this majestic babe mooches in the parched airless stratospheric reaches prickling and prowling amid cavernous cascades of atmospheric chimes momentarily erupting into life to scowl and strut in fearless fashion – damn smart if you ask me. Well worth nailing as your own.

Frightened Rabbit ‘Be less rude’ (Fat Cat). Another release that we found snugged down the back of the hi-fi forevermore thought lost. Sadly the press release which we suspect accompanied it is still AWOL. Anyway been a while since we had anything by Fat Cat since we somehow fell off their mailing list – ha ha – these things happen don’t you find. Anyhow Frightened Rabbit hail from Glasgow are now fully paid up members of the ever evolving Fat Cat roster and have (or should have) their self released ‘sing the greys’ full length polished, touched up, repackaged and doing brisk business at a decent record shop near you right about now and such a wonderful thing as we’ve heard it only for the blighter to go momentarily walkies to which as a result a crack squad of seek and search mercenaries have been despatched to root out. Two cuts feature here ‘be less rude’ the lead out track is clipped by a bitter sweetly happy sad shanty like feel upended by lashings of droned out keys (and unless we are very much mistaken liberally toasted with breezy harmonicas) and chugging guitars which all serve to come across sounding like prime time Pavement duelling with ‘Tommy’ era Wedding Present – fans of Decoration will swoon though the puzzling thing is why oh why does it remind me of Eddie and the Hot Rods? Flip side ‘the Greys’ with its stuttered stop start panic attack dynamics has all the urgency and seizure inducing hysteria of a cavalry regiment fronted by the Weddoes heading over hill to the rescue, slowly building to a steady but sure chest beating crescendo leaving not a dry eye in the house – quite a special thing if you ask me.

The Pony Collaboration ‘Fast Lane’ (Series 8). Another of those ‘blimey where the hell did that come from’ finds in the great pile of lost singles that we recently unearthed – although strictly speaking we are ahead of the game on this for once being that we reviewed it originally at Missive 135 which means – thankfully – that this is a spare we’ve been sent. Any how you can’t keep a good record down and blimey this is a bit of a belter. ‘Fast Lane’ is the kind of thing that frequently slips out of the stables of the Track and Field and Fortuna Pop imprints, vivacious, euphoric and a shimmering belle of loveable 60’s summer pop that sounds like some divine meeting between ‘lazy line’ era Belle and Sebastian and St Etienne – nuff said think. Flip side as previously noted is a ringer for the Tindersticks or better still sounds like reclining Kelman – which in our books makes it the bollocks wouldn’t you say?

MPD ‘Fruits of the forest’ EP (self released). Now I’m hate to sound like I’m beginning to get a bee in me bonnet about these things – but three tracks does not make an EP – okay fair do’s maybe it is just me – I’m suffering from the flu and I’m a tad short on patience – hey ho. MPD (which incidentally is not the Metropolitan Police Department – or at least we don’t think so) is a young and mysterious soul originating from Preston who according to the attending press release was one time member of a short lived combo by the name of Calderbank who split amid musical differences. Retuning to solitude to lick his wounds this shy eyed soul went back to drawing board dispensing of the collaborative assistance opting instead for the slow but painful process of nailing the sounds in his head culminating in the three cuts found on this debut showcasing release. These mercurial acoustic treats weave an alluring spell, the initial moments of ‘electrical’ the opening cut are infused with a bruised noire-ish shade much reminiscent of ‘murder ballads’ era Nick Cave, aching and longingly braided by sorrowful strings it soon unfurls magically as though a parting of the clouds has occurred to silkily woo and enchant with a haunting pastoral exquisiteness as if ’up the downstair’ era Porcupine Tree where flirting with a windswept Radiohead. ’the first time’ perhaps the weakest of the trio of cuts still has enough resolute bleakness about its being as to cut to the bone the steeliest of hearts though for me personally the best is left till last, ’refrain’ takes its cue from the quieter more intimate moments of Verve’s ’Urban Hymns’ before throwing a curveball

Circle ‘Vaahto’ (Trensmat). Is there anything better in life that having the latest fresh of the presses Trensmat release happily doing its thang on the turntable – well now you come to ask yes in fact there is and that’s two Trensmat platters doing their business on the hi-fi. We must admit it was as though Christmas had arrived one month early in our gaff this morning. The arrival of a familiar Irish postmarked parcel was hastily ripped open its contents immediately fed on the eager as hell turntable and the rest of the day subsequently put on hold while we savoured those all important slabs of ear gear. First up on the inspection blocks are Finland’s coolest dudes Circle who over the course of some 16 years now have graced the more clued up record buying cognoscenti with their defining brand of psyche kraut which to date has culminated in a bulging 20 plus album back catalogue. Pressed up in strictly limited quantities of dinked red wax (and which across its run out grooves has scratched ‘take a stress pill and think things over’ – rekindling a lost art) this baby offers up 12 minutes of mind morphing mutations set across two cuts, quite frankly just what the doctor ordered regardless of whether you wanted it or not in the first place. How best to describe both ‘Vaahto’ and ‘spektaakkelin kritiikki’ would be best summed up by having you imagine having your head forced into a psychedelic tumble dryer on the hottest possible setting. Alternatively you might prefer the notional bad assed krautrock. Whatever your chosen preference these brain mushing babies are the bollocks – ‘Vaahto’ is so brazenly uber cool it could house its own fashion collection, repetitive locked down looping mesmerising motorik grooves spliced with distressed harmonicas give this a deliciously dusty aspect to which fans of old school Echoboy and Sunray will swoon in bliss behind their shades to while casually basking amid a mind enlightening snake winding blues mantra that has you imagining a super chilled RL Burnside tangled up in some sort of amorphous progressive primitive space age stew curated by a meeting of mindsets belonging to Goblin and Neu! Flip cut ‘spektaakkelin kritiikki’ provides the best moment of the brace – the bastard offspring of sorts of Barrett’s ‘Lucifer Sam’ though on this occasion shot through with an edgy psychosis that’s been partly fed through Spacemen 3’s fried back catalogue and then pummelled unrecognizable by the minimalist austere scarring of post punk intonations (think Left Hand’s ‘minus eight’ – second mention same missive) – stunningly bleak if you ask me. There’s a by all accounts absolutely essential full length kicking around entitled ‘the blaze game’ via Conspiracy which features Circle and Sunburned Hand of the Man going head to a head for the mother of all jamming sessions under the guise of Sunburned Circle.

The Telescopes ‘Another Whip’ (Trensmat). Would you believe it we’ve actually mislaid our copy – foolishly – so this is just a warning call -of course it’s already sold out on pre-release alone though we advise you check with the usual Trensmat stockists – we’ll nail this blighter down and get it reviewed over the weekend. Promise. Well frankly two Trensmat releases in one missive – that’s plainly asking for trouble – don’t want to get spoiling you too much now do we?

Muller and Patton ‘Hows it done’ (Vexin). We don’t mind admitting that since this little cutie arrived at the singled out shoe box sized record shed its been hogging the hi-fi and into the bargain causing a fair amount of swooning from this here scribe. A taster no less for the simply superb would be lemon popsicle opera that is their second full length – ’Jonathan and Bailey’. Sumptuously blending the cheesy with the classical the duo – Jaye Muller and Ben Patton now relocated in London – apply the key note examples of the pristine pop manual to sound, the completed translation a breathlessly audacious and out of step collection of sugar laced breezy west coast fired tuneage that demands you never leave its presence until the dying crackles of the stylus leaving the run out vinyl grooves conclude. Three teaser cuts feature here all culled from Act 2 of the aforementioned set (which before we forget even has an intermission break – how cool is that?). Think Dean Friedman (especially on the bitter sweet and cleverly phrased wordplay of ‘you obnoxious little brat’), Gilbert O’Sullivan, Alan Price, a youthful Billy Joel and the Beach Boys all locked in a studio charged with the task of concocting a lilting effervescent pop dream. Not since Ben Folds 5’s self titled debut has a musical union been so delicately explicit in their appreciation for the fine art of lovelorn symphonic melodic craft, ‘hows it done’ shimmers with 60’s sultriness and 50’s bubblegum, melting harmonies, 70’s basked zig zagging riffs set to a honey hued re-scripting as were at ‘spread a little happinss’. That said best of the set ‘the Massachusetts slumber party massacre’ manages to arrest your defences like some potently incurable virus, from its ‘over the rainbow’ introduction it freewheels superbly incorporating all manner of enticing tricks and traps with which to draw you in – from the ‘uh oh’ comedic use of the saxophone that strangely sounds like a kazoo, the faux Hitchcockian string slashes, the Beatles-esque dreamscaping flute montages a la ‘strawberry fields’ to the off kilter buzz sawed power pop throb – this goofily purring babe occupies similar pop orbits to both the criminally undervalued Epicycle and the wilfully overlooked Eskimos – frankly there’s nothing else for it other than to pin upon it the joint single of the missive tag.

Okay plenty of Owl Service related goodies flying around our gaff at the moment – though momentarily we seem to have mislaid their debut album ‘A garland of song’ – and not for the first time since it arrived here romancing its way into our life. Beautifully crafted and sadly out of print at the moment though you should be able to nail yourself a download of it with four additional cuts via – though word has it Southern Records have picked it up and are intending to re-release it early next year on CD and vinyl formats (in which case we’ll be nabbing a copy of each – surely we can’t lose a 12” slab of vinyl – can we – oh I don’t know – it has been known). Any how enough tittle tattle – as said several releases have come via our way recently. Those familiar with the Owl Service will be all to aware that this was a one time single handed mystical folk adventure undertaken by one Steven Collins who on the evidence of what we‘ve heard so far appears to have unearthed a somewhat long lost and (we assume) overgrown pathway linking the present to the past along which he‘s seem fit to skip to and forth along with carefree abandon. These days following acclaimed outings via Static Caravan (‘Cine’) and having featured on the simply superb double disc collection put out by Cold Spring records entitled ‘John Barleycorn Reborn’ (where he rubs shoulders with the likes of Peter Ulrich, Alphane Moon, Quickthorn and a whole host of others awaiting affection and love on the underground folk scene) – the Owl Service has expanded into a full compliment even being known to partake in the odd live appearance or two.

Releases via their own Hobby Horse imprint arrive as hand crafted beauties in ever limited quantities – one such being the 8 track ‘Midwinter Concert’ collection. Originally due to be a gig only available affair – however pressing plant cock ups meant it was delayed and made available for a limited period via the Midwich Cuckoos site at As said featuring 4 acts cutting up amongst themselves 8 tracks – the attending parties being Sharron Kraus, Nancy Wallace, the Straw Bear Band and of course a trio of (quite possibly) delights from the Owl Service – we say quite possibly because we’ve have tried playing this on all known devices and nowt, even the PC coughs and splutters barking at us that the disc is blank – oh dear. Steven if you are reading this can you re-do please. Anyhow looks a treat and includes the usual inserts we’ve all come to know and love.

Elsewhere – and again long since deleted (there where only 30 hand numbered copies of this skulking around) is the delightful 10 track ’Chime Hours – live in a room, Autumn 2007’ set. Again a superbly trimmed hand made thing of beauty (believe you me these will be serious collectors pieces in years to come) replete with the usual inserts this aural document catches Steven Collins (nee the Owl Service) performing a rehearsal session in the intimacy of his dining room along with his extended family of musicians who helped record ’A garland of song’ preparing for the ensembles first full band compliment live appearance in support of Lisa Knapp. As said ten tracks feature here (six if you don’t count the alternate re-takes) which apart from ’red haired boy’ and ’a child’s calendar’ all feature on the aforementioned deleted debut full length ’a garland of song’. Despite the minimalist setting the recordings are superbly worked and lose none of their integrity – in fact the first take of ’the rolling of the stones’ actually improves immensely on the original, a gorgeously serenading marriage of Gaelic classicism and timeless medieval styled rustic folk eliciting a spellbinding slice of maypole flirting. Elsewhere ’Apple tree man’ is so delicately unyielding it woos and enchants in in a celebrated union that sits somewhere between Dead Can Dance and Circulus both on location on Summerisle. Then there’s the quite transfixing festivities of the violin / mandolin saturated sprightly village green hoe-down that is ’red haired boy’. Yet for us nothing quite eclipses the disarming ’a child’s calendar’ here found examined twice – a frail, fragile and delectably demurring floral bouquet of pastoral beauty that’s both eloquent and enchanting – a honey due lovelorn gem – a trembling treatise to the seasons past.

Alas we don’t like to rub these things in but we must admit to being more than a tad privileged in having our very own limited edition hand numbered 1 of 1 copy of this compilation of various Owl Service releases. Admittedly we’ve had this for a fair while but stupidly mislaid the blighter in the great CD mountain that seems to be threatening to take over our ‘living’ space. 8 tracks feature here that cull together the ’Cine’ and ’straight on till morning’ sets as well as including ’north country maid’ prized from the aforementioned must have ’John Barleycorn Reborn’ double disc set. Of course we reviewed ’Cine’ when it originally came out in its ultra limited to 30 pressing (and again when it was reprised by Static Caravan) – see – three sumptuous and faithfully crafted re-appraisals of 70’s cult soundtracks – the Wicker Man, Psychomania and Girl on a Motorcycle. In that same review we also cast an eye over the Owl Service’s impeccable debut outing ‘Wake the Vaulted Echo’ – the cuts that make up the four tracks that appeared on the limited ‘straight till morning’ are commissioned remixes by a select number of invited guest musicians. The Heavenly Music Corporation are the first up with their ‘Tigon mix’ of the lead track ‘Wake the Vaulted Echo’ here repatriated masterfully as a timid and fragile glacial heartbreaker replete with looping piano motifs and a breathlessly beguiling celestial sheen peppered with majestic monastic ambient sweeps. Lazy Comet get to grips with ’the two magicians’ and hook it up as ’magicians on comets’ mix to impart a lazy eyed after lights out seductively off kilter funk some down tempo spot of jiggling bliss. In the hands of Pelican Island ’fine horseman’ is given a deliciously sparse though vaguely warming and alluring shipping forecast styled becalming melting away haziness that’s braided by shuffling beats and an ostensibly out there vibe. The Dave Yates Compartment round up the pack to re-drill ’Interlude I + II’ and give it an eerily trippy almost hallucinogenic transcendental texture – essetial if you ask me though how you’re gonna lay your hands on a copy is anyone’s guess.

Hobby Horse / Owl Service plans for 2008 – well the much tooted lathe vinyl series should shortly see the day – initial releases will see the Straw Bear Band and of course the Owl Service laying down the grooves so to speak, the former are busying away at the ’Eccentric Heart’ project while the latter are planning to release not only an EP tentatively titled ’the fabric of folk’ but are also mooted to be planning a mini album for the legendary (well in gaff anyway) Oggum imprint ’the midnight house’.

And to round up this extended Hobby Horse spot news of a freebie download via the Woven Whispers site (for address see above) featuring the debut release by the Kittiwakes entitled ‘lofoten calling’. Currently busying themselves recording their debut full length this free to rip four track EP provides for a taster of the mercurial delights that await, The Kittiwakes are a Brit folk trio who it seems craft timeless and magical acoustically dappled folk treats – gentle and alluring ostensibly gaelic in sound texture and gorgeously flighty braided as they are by corteges of mandolins, accordions and violins. Led from the fore by vocalist Kate Waterfield these traditional old school village fayre sorts are dedicated and hitherto inspired by the Lofoten Islands which are apparently situated in the upper artic circle just above Norway – we suggest you fall head long in to the arms of the charmingly cute sweetly skipping and knee slapping frolicking feast that is the shanty like ‘Ole Petter’ – delicious.

ghosts of christmases past – third visitation

Posted on December 18, 2014 by marklosingtoday

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

Ghost of Christmas Future….


‘Ghost of Christmas Future’

Dedicated to my mum.

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That Corn Dollies track can be heard by redirecting your mouse type thing in the general location of – you know we are just to nice to you.

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

Take care



post flu and toothache special….


Post flu and toothache special

Dedicated to whoever.

Singled Out – revolutions of a 45 kind.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And now for a few goodies from Angular records….

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bear suit ‘what you’ve never seen snow before?’. too clever for their own good are the Bearsuit(s), much loved in this parish due to the fact that they don’t kowtow to any rule book, each of their releases arrives like wickedly wonky wafts of fresh air with you never knowing exactly which Bearsuit you’re going to get though happily safe in the knowledge that which ever it is you’re going to be flattened and smitten by some of the tastiest ear gear on planet pop. ‘what you’ve never seen snow before’ – well as it happens not around here we haven’t – rain yes – and plenty of it but no snow, anyway before we get bogged down and off road with nonsense this little teaser sees the Bearsuit kids doing devilishly cute things with bells, star glazed lunar synth motifs and cooing harmonies – its all charmingly dinky and dainty in a kind of fuzzy and willowy Elephant 6 Collective do dippy and twee Stereolab type way and just when you’re beginning to lilt under the spellbinding folly then the blighters kick in with some dashingly day-glo three chord power pop struts. Why aren’t they massive?,_you%27ve_never_seen_snow_before-.mp3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have yourselves a safe new year’s eve and no doubt see you at the other side.


Christmas – through a glass darkly

Posted on December 14, 2014 by marklosingtoday

I guess your winter’s cheer wouldn’t be the same without the occasional ghostly visitation to chill your bones, we suspect that shadow master and guardian of the weird and wayward Melmoth the Wanderer has been similarly minded for while you’ve been content to stuff your faces full of mince pies whilst festooning your living space in tinsel and trimmings, the silent one has been rummaging around his musical basement and under the cover of the nights deathly grip has been concocting sonic potions to delight and disturb. The result ‘Christmas – through a glass darkly’ a 25 minute serving of  Christmas creeps, a bit like being visited by the ghosts of Christmases past, present and future all at once. Amid the spectral choral and Gregorian chants various Hare and the Moon, Vaughan Williams, Hermione Harvestman and Corncrow types spook its ominous belt busting palette. Consider your fair warned.


singled out – archive christmas missive

Posted on December 22, 2013 by marklosingtoday

another archived missive rescued from hard drive obscurity – originally published December 2008 via losing today…..

‘Ghost of Christmas Past’

Singled Out

Missive 183

Singled Out – bollocks to Christmas….

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

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

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

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

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

Get your freebie download of Cocktail Slippers ’santa is coming home’ from

The Ramones……

Head over to the (unrelated) Christmas a go go blog spot at for a party ripping spree of freebie downloads . Here you’ll find two versions of the ’Zat you Santa Claus?’ – the smoked original and the ‘heavy’ remix culled (we believe) from a Verve ’remixed Christmas’ compilation, then there are two versions of ’Chilly Winds’ by Nina Simone the remix being by Fink who gives it a sumptuously sophisticated club floor persona. Scroll down a bit for a freebie EP from Dutch label Coverclub which we gather first saw the commercial light of day way back in 2006 and features four bands giving their renditions of Christmas cheer so that you get Moss, Silence is Easy, the Gasoline Brothers and Audio transparent (our favourite of the bunch) all vying for your affection. Continue to tip toe through the site and you’ll be met with treats from Sufjan Stevens, the Miracles, Stevie Wonder, the Mighty Bosstones and Belle and Sebastian while those wanting to hear something nearing the knuckle ought to check out both Dennis Leary and South Park doing alternate versions of the highly un-seasonal ’merry fuckin’ xmas’. Elsewhere there’s the utterly beguiling ’un moment d’espoir’ by Dutch combo Nougat – a beautifully orbiting slice of softly tendered celestial dream pop – think Broadcast and Stereolab in a snow tipped embrace – stunning while pop patrons tending to favour the mellower and heart tugging moments of a lonesome Christmas can feast yourselves on a tear stained selection that includes cuts from Prince, Red Sovine, KT Tunstall, George Jones and Adam Faith whose ‘lonely pup in a Christmas shop’ should at least keep the pre school members of your dinner table quietly subdued.

Jonny Cola and the A Grades ‘Christmas everyday’ (self release). This release arrived tied up inside a loveably dinky Christmas card not that we needed any bribing you understand given that these dudes have already had cause to blow us away with their recently released debut single ’we’re all going to die’ (see missive 175). This track is part of the musical advent calendar being hosted by those nice people at Maps Magazine whereupon a host of underground stars have been gathered up to donate free to download tracks in order to sprinkle a little festive merriment into your lives. So far there’s been a six track feast from the Fortuna Pop stable, cuts by the Victorian English Gentlemen’s Club, the Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster, Fonda 500, MJ Hibbett and more besides. Peel away the wrapping and December 17th’s selection sees JC and the A Grades getting suited and booted up for the silly season , ’Christmas everyday’ is a honey crusted slice of chest beating anthem like warts ‘n’ all gritted realism coaxed within a timeless tune-smithery delicately dinked with a softly stirred glam tinged sucker punch that‘s festooned amid a bracing bauble of tear stained hollowed bitter sweet effervescent glow replete with cooing harmonies, a heartfelt pleading delivery and decorated with a forlorn twinkling seasonal landscape, sound wise imagine a snow chilled gathering around the soup kitchen of Pulp and Blur both led from the front by Peter Gabriel and orchestrated by Roy Wood. Tell me now what is there not to like. Need we say more – a bit of a gem. And just in case you missed the Mott for the noughties ‘we’re all going to die’ you can catch it by redirecting your mouse in the general vicinity of as to the advent frivolities then go fill your boots at – expect full reviews via our well packed seasonal Xmas bumper missive.

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

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

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

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

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

<br /><a href=”″>Drawlings – Wolfie’s Christmas</a> from <a href=”″>Joe Gallagher</a> on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.

A short brief stop over at the Filthy Little Angels sound pad over at and it seems like these melodic munchkins have been having a ball festooning their gaff with all manner of festive felicitations and into the bargain packing their own seasonal sack full of cheer in the shape of a belt bulging 25 track free to download Christmas card of their own entitled ‘it’ll be a filthy Christmas’ – mentions of all the tracks you’ll find hung and strategically placed around these here parts starting of with……

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

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

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

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

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

Safe to say we’ll be mentioning more of the Cherryade compilation in the next part of this Christmas missive.

Fans of Hancock’s Half Hour will do well to check out the BBC7’s listen again options at where you can savour the festive hilarity of the Xmas 1958 show ‘Bill and Father Christmas’ – it’s the episode where hapless Bill still believing in Father Christmas as an adult receives a shock and regresses back to his childhood with comic consequences for Tony Hancock, Sid James and Hattie Jacques while the 1956 show (again on the listen again option) sees Hancock and Co play host to the kids from the local children‘s home.

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


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

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

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

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

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

Till tomorrow……



singled out – christmas missive

Posted on December 21, 2013 by marklosingtoday

archive missive rescued from a broken hard drive – this was first published in December 2008……

‘Ghost of Christmas Present’

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

Happy Christmas…..

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

The link for that Eardrums compilation which we forgot to give is at

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Final part tomorrow – sometime….



Tales from the Attic – Volume 49

Posted on December 29, 2014 by marklosingtoday

Volume XLIX

Revolutions of a 45 and 33 kind….

The 6th tales from the attic visitation this seasonal time and the penultimate missive posting this year with the 50th pencilled in to emerge on New Year’s Eve…..this particular bumper bonanza features….a very deep breath is required at this point…..

Dolman, legendary flower punk and dvory, kramies, honeymilk, plastics, Sylvie simmons, octopuses, papernut Cambridge, eat lights become lights, sendelica, deathcrush, history of colout tv, aeolopile, west hill blast, damn vandals, justin wiggan, mervyn Williams, keith seatman, concretism, wyrdstone, flutterby, emily jones, schizo fun addict, the bordellos, matt bouvier, postcode, rivertairs, ummagma, limpid voyage sound, minko, non noncomformists, haioka, lyttet, unthanks, holy see, anton berbeau, gary numan, evil blizzard, mamuthones, kid moxie, half truth, troika, seahawks, babau, kree mah stree, llergy, blue bird dominion, moraljetlag, nevroshockingiochin, h on Bangalore, waken, nicola tribasso, above the tree, the big drum in the sky religion, maybe im, bonfire nights, greyghost, wizards tell lies, pj phillipson, adam leonard, dum dum girls, Helmholtz resonators, tired tape machine, the birthday massacre, empathy test, les bonbons, illona v, max kinghorn mil, sproatly smith, zx+, Claudio cataldi, james mckeown, chemistry set, vespero, magic mushroom band, jet age, jim jenkin, todd Dillingham, gilly mccry, mordecai smyth, sky picnic, octopus syng, wild pink yonder, vicious buzz, jack ellister, david cw briggs, cary grace, johnny thunders, ghxst, corbu, rubato, jay Tausig, folie diamond, rob gould, sendelica, portraits, crystal Jacqueline, interstellar Emily, vibravoid, superfjord, earthling society, eureka California, loveydove, hillstrom and billy, dominic deane, men with ven, white fence, wildhart, Hannah Schneider, sequential point, jay Tausig, Broderick and barnes, dring, frank alexander, goddakk, can heads, preabianco, jasia, fawn spots, drophead vs silent hand, the bishops daredevil stunt club, the heathen and the holy, little secrets, cedric vaugniaus, silkwinders, yellow6, de staat, chapelier fou, huma huma, project zenith, brothers of the sonic cloth, paul cook and the chronicles, lost brothers, the courtesans, telephones, Matthias von Stumberger, old testament, johann johannsson, peace collective, spectres, wasted wine, angeline Morrison, the hare and the hound, disappears, sans parents, ex cops, peacock affect, nancy Wallace, Hannah peel, blunderpussy, tapes out, meltybrains, pinkshinyultrablast, off and jack black, astronauts, the smoking trees, memoth the wanderer, whizz kid, lullatone, mariano rodriguez, one and seven eighths, twink, small life forms, Kentish fire, kindest of thieves, mind brains, stesco, wax witches, hollyberries, today shits, john 3:16, c Duncan, saint agnes, sara lowes, chissie hynde, fottuto, singing loins, theatre royal, Broderick and barnes, stuart turner and the flat earth, julies haircut, moonsicles, sound awakener, bent cousin  

I’ll be totally honest with you, what initially attracted us to this posting was the all-important detail that these dudes are shortly to release an album by the name ‘the never ending paint job’ which title alone should see it being grabbed out of the mailer and placed straight to player should the day ever come that we get sent a copy. Anyway more pristine pop from Sweden (I’m still certain that there is afoot a secret Scandinavian pact to take over the world with music or at the very least they have a conveyor belt chock full of ear candy crafting clones), this lot as it happens go by the name of Hillstrom and Billy – originally a one man affair but now expanded to a collective of like-minded musicians. ‘keys in the lake’ is a  pre teaser tasting of what to expect from the aforementioned incoming full length, a bracing slice of what can only be best described as redemptive pop given that it appears to glide  over the hills and into your ear apace rescuing all from the pits of despair with its slyly deceptive quietly realised feel good radiance, which aside being possessed of the kind of ear candy kudos to see it adoring the drive time radio schedules is also blessed with something of a World Party appeal about its wares.

Here’s something of a treat, an extended sound sample previewing the as yet untitled forthcoming album from Dominic Deane’s Ten which all things going according to plan should see the light of day sometime around February. In truth something that ought to be of primary interest to those fully paid subscribers of the Trensmat imprint given that in its 25 minute cycle Deane explores pop’s unchartered outer worlds along the way traversing the kind of mesmeric sonic spaces occasioned upon by the likes of Loop and the Telescopes for here there’s a quiet elegance, a poise and a majesty where ambient architectures are softly fused in dreamy hymnals, elsewhere cosmic distress calls are  sprayed and dimpled in sun spot activity amid the wallowing ebb and flow of dronal tides and vague noir sequences, not for the playing during the hectic shove and shuffle of the day’s travails but something best experienced in a quiet moment that way its intimacy is allowed free reign to draw you in and take you aboard its shimmer toned orbs for a journey into the void wherein old school bliss kissed neo classicism eyeballs minimalist modernity along the way encountering hushed visitations of such lulled reverence as to make Low sound like death metallers. One for the wants list I suspect.

you may recall us mentioning a killer Xmas release by the men with ven entitled ‘the worst Christmas ever’ which is currently vying for affection in our gaff with that ultra-limited presents for sally release (more about which in a second). Anyhow pushing the limits of gratuitous advertising the band have put together 13 – yes you read right – thirteen – XXXMas promo excerpts on that there you tube – must admit we are rather fond of the Beyonce wind up and the 13 days of XXXMas vid – so without further ado – time to fill your boots with some seasonal mirth and a few hypnotic blasts of that there dandy ditty….and just in case you never listened when I told you in the first place – here’s the review and animated video….

this is quite the most adorable thing, chill tipped sublime symphonia from Gothenburg based trio Wildhart entitled ‘stuck in a second’ – based on this track alone there’s a suggestion that what these dudes don’t know about the crafting of eclectically purred pop probably isn’t worth noting or knowing about for this ice sculptured honey shape shifts with divine svelte like grace all the time moving delicately up and down the gears of emotional turbulence yet for all its ache seductively shimmered in crystalline lunar pulsars and the most breathlessly shy eyed pristine electronica it’s been our pleasure to hear in a fair old time, reference wise Goldfrapp, Client, the Knife and a lost in the moment bliss kissed and playful Bjork would we suspect be your starting points. Incidentally nearly forgot to mention – it’s out via gaphals.

I feel we might be an album light with regards to   White Fence so I can’t even tell you for certain whether this is a newly minted nugget or something that’s previously had you young folk with the floppy fringes and dubious clothing sense all a twisting an a jiving and what other else strange new fangled things that the teens of the day do when the sounds of the stereo kicks into life. One thing we can say though about ‘Anger! Who keeps you Under’ is of course yes there’s oodles of retro garage psych – so much so in fact that you suspect the blighters might have nipped back in a time machine and whilst ensconced in some hippy chic groovy 60’s boutique happened across some  Syd scribbles for gems still in their infancy and on the way to modern day with swag bag over shoulders have along the way stopped by at the Soft Boys ‘underwater moonlight’ sessions for inspiration which by our reckoning is a pretty neat trick to pull off. And yes we’ve just checked it is from that errant ‘for the recently found innocent’ set. Bugger. Available as a download only single towards the back end of January.

Pulled from her recently released ‘pink lines’ set for lojinx / sony Denmark, this is Hannah Schneider’s latest cutie, entitled ‘wild open’. Veering into ear space fully formed and lushly twinkled in the kind of spectral neo classical soundscapes that demurred the soundtrack of ‘the adjustment bureau’ – deceptively beguiling and carefree this hushed crystal tipped folk honey comes tempted in a serene caress all sighing thoughtfully one minute dreamily harnessed to an earthly footing the next gliding full flight radiantly smothered in swirls of joyful euphoria. All in all deceptively transfixing.

Been a fair old while since we had anything by the Tenerife based kalma imprint adorning our speaker space – the silence happily broken by the appearance on our radar of a new remixes EP by Sequential Point whose ‘opportunity’ is here given the recalibrating experience by in demand producer Dam Ian. Taken from Sequential Point’s ‘back to zero’ set left in the capable hands of Dam Ian this honey is left marooned from its chicly dipped nocturnal down tempo moorings and graced by an expansively mellowing dub cosmicalia floorshow whose subtle technoid trappings, ghostly disconnected whispers and skittering lunar beat braiding hints at a kinship with sound-scaping worlds once upon a time found emanating out the boltfish and rednetic sound houses albeit here seemingly caught in the head lights of Depth Charge. Tasty.

Okay so the keener eyed among you may well be wondering where the rest of our review for ‘333’ went having briefly mentioned one track with a promise to get back with the rest later that day and then promptly forgetting. Well I won’t tell lies – it did just slip our mind – a fact only embarrassingly prompted by the arrival of another EP in the same month when scarcely had the cover ink on the first had time to dry. Again we’ll mention this ever so briefly in passing – and yes we will get back to it later in the week with a full hearty appraisal (honest) along with ‘333’ – but the very latest from workaholic sonic freaker Jay Tausig is an EP by the title ‘adventures in the ozone’ – by the authors own description like ‘333’ but 55 (555) minutes long and featuring 6 exemplary slabs of head frying groove. For now though our radar was piqued by opening cut – the excellently titled ‘Captain Oblivion and the Starflight Kid’ – an 11 minute skull popping odyssey into psych jazz voids, this babe just smokes, a shadow playing noir dipped bliss out which to the ears sounds not unlike Bablicon having weird and woozy acid flashbacks while stoned out on a listening cocktail of Ayler, Coltrane and Hayes. We should of course mention its wasted mellowness but then if you’re familiar with Tausig then you are probably wise to his want for the trippy and the mind blowing and frankly this doesn’t sell you short straddling the cracks separating psych, art jazz, prog, exotica, tropicalia and lounge – ultimately though those of you attuned to the less wilfully freaked moments tripping out of the Foolproof Projects label and the likes of vibes stamped upon the grooves of platters by the likes of Embryo, Ariel Kalma and weather report will find much to scramble your head in.

Currently heading out of the ohm resistance imprint all pressed up on 12 inches of heavy duty wax the latest from Brooklyn based alchemists Project Zenit. A quite exquisite set that finds ‘Again’ adorned in its original state all accompanied by three additional re-phrasings all of which come draped in a coolly acute floor thumping electro buzz recalling loaf / lo-recordings stars Seeland and Dark Captain Light Captain. For here the original mix is hoisted upon a muscular dream weaved cosmic hyper driving chassis all drilled upon a locked grooving motorik grind that’s sighed with subtle washes of 80’s styled vapour trailing bliss pop accents whilst hooked upon a pulsar vibe recalling those early releases put out by Swimmer One. The celestial cruiser ‘climaxim remix’ comes kissed in oodles of sky parting euphoric Balearic garlands that fuse to their lunar shell echoes of KLF’s original mix of ‘last train to transcentral’ before succulently adorning itself in all manner of frost tipped shimmer toned ghost like sophisticat elegance. In truth we here are a little more than smitten with the ‘submerged remix’ which as it hints at on the tin lid compressing the sonics somewhat into a gorgeously alluring nocturnal beauty which in truth had us recalling those extended mixes committed to wax in the 90’s by the much missed Paris Angels. That said best of the quartet comes in the shape of the Project Zenit rework which subdues the original mix and dinks it with an attractive minimalist hush all speckled in glitching spectral washes tenderly graced in ice sculptured panoramic atmospherics fractured on occasion by some wired to the teeth industrial-tronica. In short quite classy.

And while we sit here outside their secret shed freezing our bits off waiting for the blighters to issue forth greeting missives announcing the arrival of this year’s for folk’s sake it’s Christmas compilation (you are doing one aren’t you – I mean they’ve become as obligatory to the festive season as turkey, Morecombe and Wise or a seasonal blood soap bath at the Queen Vic) – time to reflect on last year’s little nugget which you can fill your winter wellies with right now though we heartily advise you make your starting point the frankly divine ‘Christmas all the time’ by the Pollyanna Band – absolutely irresistible…..  

Incoming on the neurot imprint in February the fierce-some return to the fray of Tad Doyle – indeed the one and the same who gained infamy with Sub Pop’s original class of ’88 Tad. These days hooked up with former Anunnaki’s Peggy and Dave, the Brothers of the Sonic Cloth are readying themselves for the release of a debuting self-titled full length this February, we’ve been assured that selected cuts will be released on licence over the coming weeks though for now you’ll have to content yourselves with this indicative trailer which flashes warning lights all around that this is going to be one sludge grizzled slab of monolithic doom dipped primordial goo. Bring it on.

Available as a free download EP until the end of December, Paul Cook accompanied by the Chronicles returns to bathe our sound system in all manner of ice tipped arrest following adoration heaped upon his previous ‘a real thunderbolt’ release with the ever so fragile winter warmer ‘night fires’ – apparently according to its author not an intended Christmas release as such but daubed and dinked in enough of a fuzzy glow to make it something of a seasonal treat especially given the fact that its frostily framed in an angel sighed hymnal aura and genteelly trimmed in twinkling chimes which towards its fall suddenly thaw, unfurl and blossom to radiantly effervesce and shimmer its surroundings in a cosy toed cortege of choral campfire cuteness.

In all honesty quite fetching and something of a tear jerker, Christmas loveliness from Irish duo the Lost Brothers which on this outing entitled ‘little angel’ eat least features among its grooves a certain Bill Ryder Jones of the Coral. Now I don’t mind saying that this sounds very much like something you’d expect to come a tumbling out of your nan’s loft whilst you busily beaver away rummaging around for the festive tree decorations, kind of Everly Brothers doing Neil Diamond in truth, nothing wrong with that especially if it comes smokily adorned and framed in the kind of vintage and fuzzy feel good glow of the type that used to fall out of an innocent old worldly pre pop monochrome age and something which shimmies past your defences to pepper all sumptuously in lolloping motifs, brass band fanfares and crooning pedal steels. The single is available as a free download though the band have kindly requested that what would have been the cost to purchase be given to a children’s charity of your choice whilst those purchasing the digital single will find their hard earned spondoolies going to Unicef.

Feels like 1984 all over again what with Band Aid’s ‘do they know…’ being tripped out, Wham’s ‘last Christmas’ on a constant loop at our local convenience store following a particularly brutal split which I’m now suspecting the woes of which the erstwhile owner is ensuring everyone shares though thankfully no frogs to lead McCartney into naff pop oblivion and er this….a rather fine cover of Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s year ending barnstormer ‘the power of love’ here trimmed, tooled up and taken for a spin by ‘all girl doom poppers’  the Courrtesans. This brooding babe comes armed and applied with a darkening shadowy edge curdling the mix morphing it into something coolly steeled in a minimalist statuesque bliss kissed industrial grooving to reveal a seductively purred tension forming stateliness which all said gives it the feel of some kind of spell forming Siren-esque love craft as opposed to the originals almost prayer like celebration, does it for us.

pulled this from the fruits de mer facebook page – no idea information other than to say it’s a 7 inch by the Telephones and goes by the title ‘humming byrd’ – and just between you and me – should be high on the wants list of those who dig Shindig-gy things and platters the envy of their village. A teasingly brief clip – just one minute in length – but enough here I’m sure you’ll agree to tweak your ear lobes have those musing thoughts of dream team fantasy band collaborations suitably satiated especially those of you hankering for some studio schmooze between the Stairs and Julian Cope.

gotta get myself one of these beauties, cassette only album release put out the Sheffield based evil hoodoo imprint, this twang-tastic reverb revelling bad boy being by Matthias Von Stumberger entitled ‘rockundroll musik’ arrives armed with seven slabs of high octane psych-o-rama groove which hepcats with their shades n’ quiffs tuned into the zounds of the meteors, guana batz, man or astro man and reverend Horton heat to name just a small few ought to find aplenty in the grooving down n’ dirty stakes for here you’ll find lashings of fuzzy swamp dragged bop swinging and a strutting not least on the basement beat of the killer ‘all dead’ which manages to drag and surgically taper the gash existing between the Heartbreakers and the Mummies and into the bargain deliciously deliver some serious out of it shit faced uber cool tuneage the type of which used to stumble with unnerving frequency out of the estrus sound house. Mind you that said the parting shot ‘love is in the air’ is no pushover – a puss seeping slice of flatlining negative growl flashed through with oodles of no nonsense no wave nuances and rippled in welts of chill gouged edge of your seat paranoia.

staying loosely with evil hoodoo a second longer, seems they have a collaborative release with the damn fine Cardinal Fuzz who alas to much tears and woes appear to have kicked us off their mailing list in recent months. Enough grumbling though for this is quite a tasty little self-titled treat pressed up on limited quantities of heavy duty coloured wax from old testament who feature amid their ranks various members of stoned out psyche heads dead meadow. A frankly smoking gem that sumptuously sways and swoons lazy eyed and lilted to a demurring coolly chilled collage of prairie blues and country rock vibing all pristinely distilled in lolloping motifs, blissed out campfire mantras, harmonicas, organs and tripping Southern grooved hoedowns. Between you and me though the CFuzz catalogue is bulging with classics this may well yet prove to be their finest vintage for old testament tap deviously into the dark heart of delta blues cooking up a hazy canvas of moonshine mooching beauties whose trace lines delicately skirt around the outer edges of Buffalo Springfield, Gram Parsons and the Raspberries, prime ear candy happenings are aplenty take ‘summer grass’ for instance with its head tuned into  old West Coast pop ways though here sleekly curbed with a gorgeously lushly timbered and smooth slacker shimmered yearn the type of which occasions releases by Woods. Elsewhere the shadows 60’s treatments applied to the darkly dipped psych purr of ‘key to the kingdom’ hints of at least one member of the collective clearly inspired by the Misunderstood. All said best moments on first listen at least are left to the sets parting brace of cuts with the 9 minute centrepiece ‘now as in ancient times’ sounding like a head tripping snake winding arabesque dream coat cobbled together by a mischievous gathering of Gnod, Clinic and Grails on some kind of mind freaked Tibetan retreat armed with a bag full of sun warped and acid fried Amon Duul II cassettes while the clearly out of step ‘time to rest’ offers a momentary blast of kooky and wonky old country yee-hah to proceedings as it pitches its prospecting tent somewhere between a youthful  Summer Hymns and a quite clearly out of it Doleful Lions.

Sadly no links just yet for this one but something certainly worth taking the time out in tracking down especially if your musical boat floats to the sounds of Sakamoto, Nyman (‘rowing’)and more recently that quite sublime sonic choreography crafted by the hand of Thomas Newman to back drop and adore ‘the Adjustment Bureau’ (none more so than on the irresistible ‘collapsing inward’) is the soundtrack for the acclaimed Stephen Hawking biopic ‘theory of everything’ as composed by Johann Johannsson. Out via back lot music this richly lush and vividly colourful odyssey is trimmed and traced with genteel measurement and divine poise, both radiant and yet steeled in introspection, the arrangements arc and genuflect with a surrendering yearn, from the frail and fragile ‘Cavendish lab’ with its thoughtful sighs to the sweetly glazed and lovelorn pastorals that delicately pepper ‘the game of croquet’, Johannsson enlists and utilises the full emotional spectrum to craft a deeply evocative and tearfully touching suite invested in sepia framed hope with ‘the origins of time’ somewhat graced with the unmistakably exquisite charm of Morricone at his most elegant and stately. Elsewhere waltz florets swirl amid the grandly captivating ‘the wedding’ while a beautifully twinkle toned marriage between tingling keys and swooning wind arrangements seduce ‘the dreams that stuff is made of’ – a little further along those made of less sterner things may do well to avoid the bruised ‘coma’ and the aching ‘spelling board’ though thankfully all comes full circle for the beautifully choreographed title cut ‘the theory of everything’. Essential listening.

To mark the centenary of the Christmas day truce that famously resulted in a football match played out between the opposing armed forces in no mans land, the Peace Collective are paying dues to this famous moment where human spirit and common sense for once overcame the pain and hate of war by covering the Farm’s classic ‘All together now’ with all the proceeds from record sales going to British Red Cross and the Shorncliffe Trust. The collective an all star gathering of Suggs, Julian Lennon, Jah Wobble, I am Kloot, David Gray, Holly Johnson, members of the Zutons and reverend and the makers all assisted and aided by an U-12 choir made up of English and German football players. The new version arrives removed of the originals bruised ache and warmly glowed monochrome framing instead coming adorned with a readily more funky mind set and seemingly more jubilant and upbeat than its predecessor all the time trimmed to a stirring gospel sway. You can pre order the single by texting ‘GET PEACE’ to 84222

One release eagerly anticipated in our gaff and due to spar with the shade adorned floppy fringed elements of the record buying cognoscenti is the debuting full length platter ‘dying’ by the Spectres. Adored around these here parts since having blown us away with a recent airing of the 9 minute epic ‘sea of trees’ – a limited release given away free to all those attending Sonic Cathedral’s recent 10th birthday bash – these Bristol based dudes excel in the craft of psyched out shimmer toned dream gaze ‘where flies sleep’ sneaked off the forthcoming set by way forewarning calling card of what approaches providing  a heady stars exploding radiant full on effects pedal pummelled slab of bliss forged mesmeric cyclones of motorik mantras much reminiscent of a youthful Ride in a  full lost in the moment nova glow.

Many thanks to Andy of the Telephones (whose ‘hummingbyrd’ we briefly mentioned a day or so ago) who kindly sent over a full download of the single including its flipside ‘Amsterdam’ which we must admit we here are more than a little fond of not least because it has the hushed breezy vibe of a certain Robyn Hitchcock playing peek a boo between the grooves and comes smoked with the kind of laid back harmony soaked brittle pop purred sassiness that had us fondly recalling those sunny sided gems frequently sneaked out on the summershine and bus stop labels in the early 90’s. Of course having heard the sitar drenched ‘hummingbyrd’ in all its full glory, how this babe sneakily threads its way beneath your skin is pure spellcraft, we’re still sticking with the Stairs meets Julian Cope references in spite of blanked looks especially when it picks up the pace, but it’s quite clear that these dudes know their way away around a trippy motif with this honey trip wiring on woozy axis where you’d normally expect to find the Wicked Whispers and the Lucid Dream hanging around loitering.

Don’t mind admitting that their forthcoming platter ‘wasted wine vs. the hypnosis center’ has been receiving admiring glances around the gaff as it currently hogs the stereo player through repeat plays, for now though let us introduce you to the dark delight that is Wasted Wine, a South Carolina (Taylors if you are splitting hairs) collective who’ve blossomed from their early days described as a chamber folk duo to expand in number and style to craft a most colourfully dream weaved tapestry whose influences are informed from a multi lingual musical tongue that incorporates cabaret, folk, eastern, far eastern, noir and beyond, prime example of this and sent ahead on a reconnaissance mission so to speak is the teaser cut ‘post office’. Part macabre freak show part Vaudevillian shanty waltz, there’s something of a Victoriana vintage spooking its way between the grooves perhaps fright theatre as rephrased by Wedding Present off shooters the Ukranians found prowling dark sinister landscapes dreaded up through the mind’s eye of Tom Waits albeit creepily translated by Kurt Weill. Essential.

billed as the last Vacilando 68 release of the year –( though I’m suspecting it won’t be the last you’ll hear of the imprint this missive at least given we’ve just discovered a few strays that’ll be sure to be getting some adoring attention over the festive week) – two track loveliness from Broderick and Barnes whose full length platter ‘house of broken birds’ is looming on the horizon from which ‘December’ is pulled. A seasonal soiree tenderly ghosted in tear stained melancholia and beguiled by a spectral craft of chilled snow flaked pastorals that undulate seductively to tread reflectively all the time opining genteely to the crushed tug of winter’s bleakness which scratched away at the bruised and cowed veneer hold dear to a burning deep set hope, oh and its quite hymnal and prettified in a kind of youthfully vulnerable Oddfellows Casino type way. Over on the flip ‘dab it’ is in truth to these primed ears the Charlatans as done by of arrowe hill – yep that good, possessed of a subtle Robyn Hitchcock (when he was with the Egyptians) kick and so slyly invigorating the blighters ought to bottle it up and sell it under the chemist counter as a pick you up kick out the blues tonic. As ever with all V68 releases a ridiculously required turntable accessory.

next up a couple of treats from the Silber imprint who of late appear to have gone into some kind of pre yuletide overdrive, first up a quite fetching limited 12 inch release – how limited is something of a mystery with one source stating 300 and another – funnily enough on the same page having it at 250. Whatever the case you need it especially if what passes for dream pop floats your particular musical boat for this four track debut comes from Drlng who feature among their ranks ex members of the much admired plumerai. The ‘icarus’ EP as said gathers together four quite beguiled gems the lead out title cut ‘Icarus’ somehow avoiding the usually obvious dream pop dialects and instead decidedly opting for something subtly kissed in a rain swept noir bruising that purrs seductively like some youthful variant of Belle and Sebastian undergoing a spot of studio tutoring by Musetta. ‘my gypsy’ on the other hand finds itself sharing a loose kinship with Postcode in so far as recalling with pristine effect the much missed Melys. All said what makes the EP such a deceptively attractive listening experience are Eliza’s purring tonalities, part seductive and siren-esque yet somewhat shy and innocent, the croons and hiccups are quite fetching and cute to say the least not least best viewed on ‘playground punk’ – incidentally the best cut here – shimmers and shivers playfully all the time Eliza’s soulful croon dizzily lost in the moment stirring a gorgeously dinked noodling twee motif the likes of which will make die hard Sarah admirers blush and purr given the fact that it sounds not a million miles away from a dream team gathering of Frente and Siddleys type leaving ‘Seattle’ to round up matters though not before revealing itself as something of a slow burning honey clipped in a classic shade adorned 60’s accent with just the merest of nods to Joe Meek and primed with a deliciously dark noir ballad-esque prowl that sumptuously ruptures into fizzing feedback scowls. Breathless in a word.

Silber continue apace with their 5 in 5 series, the remit simple and to the point, each invited artist showcasing 5 tracks in five minutes with four such gems being unearthed and unveiled in time for the party season the first of which by Frank Alexander of whom information about is very scant with even the Silber dudes just briefly noting ‘prog rock bassist – industrial noise to smooth’ which I must admit as vague as it might first sound was enough to have our interests piqued. By smooth we are assuming they are referring the smouldering disco funk purr emanating throughout succulently dipped into what can only be described as trip hopping lounge industrialonics, of clues the titles are hinted in the titles ‘armageddon disco’ coming on like some hulking and lolloping cosmic craft bitten by the early 90’s baggy bug and threaded in all manner of divinely retro soupy grooves. Better still ‘bottoms up’ impishly time travels back to the 70’s to zap Shaft into a glitter adorned future alter ego only to drop him into the middle of a retro cinema Pearl and Dean soundtrack. ‘after the spring’ our favourite moment here hooks aboard the tail feathers of a youthful pickled egg era Go Team again found crafting 70’s summer sizzled soirees while the equally flirtatious ‘all in the past’ smooches up to the lost 60’s hued noir jazz sounds of L’Augmentation a retrospective of whose catalogue is due to arrive here any day soon. Rounding up the pack ‘martian waltz’ is pretty much as it says on the tin a gorgeously dinked time flip back to cosmic pop’s golden age – Raymond Scott admirers will be suitably smitten.×5

next up Goddakk which in case you didn’t know – like us as it happens – is the extra curricula handiwork of plumerai’s martin newman here doing all manner of strange things with guitars some we suspect illegal were there a Geneva convention for 6 strings, again 5 tracks as part of the 5 in 5 dare / task / request and very far removed from his usual dream pop comfort zone. Both ‘my devourer’ and ‘southbounded’ appearing wonkily woozed in the kind of minimalist atmospheric play craft that set up Louis and Bebe Barron as leading lights of the electronic sound age, sound wise sounding like party hard chatter between electroid diodes. ‘where the truth lies’ is made of darker stuff, a chilling cold war slab of edgily paranoiac blank generation futurama while ’52 hertz’ is wired up and get busy enacting an autopsy to pull out and reveal the psychotic dark heart of Numan’s coldly abandoned ‘replicas’. The monochromatic ‘winter in the garden’ wraps up matters though not before leaving you slightly unnerved and frozen to the spot with a deep sense of eerie unease and a desire to pill out your prized stash of early echoboy and add n to x releases.

now were we the type of reviewer to hold grudges we’d have passed up on the can can heads selection like a shot not least because we spent and lavished so much time, care and affection on their album ‘butter life’ that we rather hoped the blighters might send a copy as compensation – sorry scratch that – reward. Good job we here then are made of sterner stuff and have knives at the ready to sharpen poison pens in revenge. Of course we joke. Can Can Heads are for those previously unfamiliar a collective hailing from Finland who do no wave skronk the type of which might even have those dudes over at foolproof projects exchanging envious glances, previous encounters have impressed so much that we’ve been heard on occasion to liken the experience to that encountered when we had the joy of inside ov a butcher shop doing bad things on our hi-fi – this 5 track set ‘king dong kong’ be its name is no exception – a rapid fire skewed and obtuse assault to the senses, barking, deranged and just totally out of it. Opening ‘don of donetsk’ has its hand tightly gripped around your throat before you’ve scarcely had a chance to get comfortable coming on as it does like a rabid James Chance with a particularly fiercely freaked Contortions at his side. ‘Gaffe’ is so brief its over before its begun whilst ‘square with a little bit rectangle’ squares up a little less manic preferring instead to mooch around to a kind of Residents styled Dadaist motif before the fracturing ‘slow kill monotony’ is about you up close and personal draped in pure alienated psychosis hulking behind it some seriously blanked out play with your headspace no wave disfiguring.

Briefly described as ‘sonic collages’ you suspect the expansive sound and creative intent of Matteo Preabianca might well suffer in terms of getting its point over and being truly able to sufficiently breathe and blossom. Fear not for despite the time limitations Preabianca manages with much aplomb to shoehorn in a vast array of sound, style and ambition as to have you literally reeling in admiration. The crypto titled ‘miles, no Davis’ opens proceedings swathing all in a swirling ice sculptured ambient velour propelled by streams of consciousness, the next ‘bratislavskaya’ comes uncharacteristically and by that I mean by title alone you’d expect some Soviet styled regalia instead surprisingly it ushers in adorned in serene bowed chimes that exude a demurring Orient by twilight appeal. ‘Australiana’ likewise arrives reliant on textures in this case a kind of fireworks pageantry while by the time you arrive at ‘Francisco Orleans’ you begin to suspect that the set is a skewed rough guide to native sounds of sorts with this un capturing the jazz spirit perfectly albeit sepia tweaked and somewhat warped in its tonality and execution. Last up ‘puebla vs. milan’ insists on the most simple lullaby motif turned out by dinky twinkling bell corteges.

There’ll be more from Silber before the years out with the promise of 7 Christmas EP’s encompassing everything from punk, noise to ambience. Bring it on.

Now this really is something else, a frankly essential release to backdrop your huddled around the decorative tree brimmed in good cheer and toasting the festivities on Christmas eve for ‘silent night songs for a cold winters evening’ finds Angeline Morrison paired up with the Rowan Amber Mill to grace and bathe the listening space with a most exquisite and humbling choral suite. Six delicate delights await within, some familiar some not so, yet all touched with a jaw dropped reverence and kissed with that rarest of essence that makes your heart skip and fills you with a beguiled fuzzy glow. From the spectral ‘silent night’ which unless your made of hardier stuff might just well have murmuring an affectionate wow while simultaneously brushing aside the odd errant tear to the ghostly though eloquent ‘wassail’ this six track set offers a lesson in poise, classicist appreciation and above and beyond all captivating beauty. For here amid the snow fallen rhyming rustics and the timeless tapestry you’ll be entranced to the shanty jig motifs of the traditional carol ‘I saw three ships’ and the prettified pastoral delicacy that is ‘sleepy woodyard’ which just between you and me sounds as though its fallen from the groove edges of the ‘paint your wagon’ soundtrack though not before being whittled anew by the deft handiwork of a super chilled Yellow 6. Hard to pick a favourite though if I were forced I’d have to say that ‘cold winter morning’ just edges matters not least because it’s sweetly dusted in a frosty twilight aura all longingly hushed along to a most mesmeric and spectral ebb and flow lilt which reference wise should you need them had us imagining Lisa O’Pui re-tweaking classic Nico siren calls.

think this might be arriving soon on rare finds (or is that the name of their PR – darn – look its late at night, my team has been dumped out of the Champions League and well quite frankly we are somewhat mellowed having spent the last hour tuned into festive groove). What we do know for certain is that this is the debuting platter by trio Sans Parents entitled ‘coming back to you’. A bit of a babe all told that blends together a smorgasbord of pub rock, power pop, blitzkrieg bop and shimmer toned new wave grooving into an infectiously dizzying two minute day-glo ditty the likes of which has had certain quarters of the musical press likening them to Split Enz which by our reckoning is a pretty nifty call, that said its buzz sawing bubble grooved radiance and harmony hued feel good vibes had us much in mind of a studio configuration made up of members of Weezer, the distractions and the motors.

first teaser fruits from the new disappears full length ‘irreal’ due early January via Kranky is the dub heavy subtronic beauty ‘halcyon days’ – a sparsely set monochromatic monolith whose somewhat detached edginess had us casting our minds back to earlier in the year when upon our turntable the frankly killer Automat where doing bad things across our sound system. This hulking six slab veers with a similar pulsar like vibe only sounding as though its done a quick reconnaissance fly over of the darkening landscapes of Barry Adamson before subjugating all would be passengers to some starkly atmospheric and bleakly chilling n’  foreboding future life event.

admittedly I’m quite taken with the latest outing from Jasia, entitled ‘safety’ it veers into the same kind of poised shadow lined sound spaces as the Neighbourhood dispatching along the way a slow burning fuse which when lit softly draws you close with its delicately bruised and lonesome dubbed up trip hopping lunar inclines all the time assuming depth, clarity and density as it unfurls to fill its environment only to ripple, rupture and radiate by its fall in the most seductive and life affirming way soaking all in a blindingly warm feel good euphoria..

Hopefully very shortly we’ll have groovy fat cat platters sneaking onto our welcome mat with the promise of a release as part of the newly re-activated split series – more about that as and when – all I’ll say is that we’ve been promised a beauty. For now though the labels brightest upstarts Fawn Spots head up what is a mammoth festive playlist cobbled together by the sixty watt crew that shapes up as a 7 and a half hour sound set made up of 131 cuts plundered I’m guessing from various freebie set lists – all of which we hope we’ll be dipping into from time to time between now and Christmas day. Anyhow Fawn Spots gate crash the party in a truly manic fashion with ‘santa won’t get away with it this year’ – a sub three minute sore thumb which by these ears sounds a lot like gumball in a head on collision with a particularly frazzled and frenzied Dinosaur Jr practicing their lobotomy skills on a rather screwed variant of west coast groove and lashing the enterprise with oodles of fizzing feedback pop fried squall of which admirers of Ariel Pink might do well to check out at their very earliest convenience.

Pulled from the same compilation / set list and found following in fairly schizoid pursuit Ex Cops turn their attention upon McCartney’s seasonal nightmare ‘wonderful christmas time’ and actually end up making it enjoyably palatable albeit a little skewif and somewhat possessed of moments of delicious lo-fi disarray which should our ears fail us sounds to us like a frayed day-glo’d psychotropic errant imp of the extended and crookedly kooky Elephant 6 collective.

We were going to leave this until the weekend but since rearing into our listening space it’s started worming its way beneath our skin and under our defences to such an extent that frankly we couldn’t keep the lid on it. Peacock Affect is the musical alter ego of one George Holman an Exeter based musician and ‘the heaven smiles’ / ‘wallflower’ is his latest single and a corker it to, one of slow burn sorties I’m afraid to say. That said there’s no denying that Mr Holman certainly knows his way around the songbooks of Simon Joyner / Elliott Smith not least of the latter mentioned of which there’s some very subtle spell craft silently shimmering throughout ‘wallflower’ that keeps drawing you back for repeat listens – at once reflective, introspective and intimately coiled in a distancing bruising peppered by the push pull tug of pastoral riff canters. All said for us the main event here is ‘the heaven smiles’ – so bleakly beautiful it arrives rescued from a dark place dinked in the thoughtful riff purr that recalls Vini Reilly and the more introspective needlework crafted by Marr in his Smiths days which is just as well because this gem manages to do what so many have tried and failed in so much as whittling its way inside the very psyche to recall a prime time Smiths in situ Stephen Patrick Morrissey at his most hollowing, soul searching and self-critical.

those of the eagle eyed variety and possessed of long memories may well recall this time last your erstwhile scribe trundling around in a winter wonderland courtesy of four releases put out by the Snowflakes Christmas Singles Club, among the goodies yuletide heart warmers from the Smoke Fairies, the Garlands, the Miserable Rich and the Silhouettes had us all a tad cooed and cosy toed. And so what with this being that time of the year again the Dutch based taste makers have released for your discerning affection two limited wax platters each with a strict 500 only pressing and both stamped and adored upon 7 inches of snow white wax. First up Nancy Wallace – one time a regular visitor to these pages through her releases as part of the Owl Service / Hobby Horse extended family and more recently found wooing us with a rather exquisite and ridiculously limited release earlier this year for stone tape recordings. ‘January’ should by rights be something that will be the cause of agreeable nods from those much swooned by the dreamy folk floatiness of Vashti Bunyan albeit here fashioned and demurred in the undulating tread and opining yearn of gorgeously spring hued twilight pastorals longingly despatching festive love notes. Flip the disc for a cover of the Pretenders’ seasonal lovely ‘2000 miles’ here treated to a deliciously frost tipped farmyard ramble all pepper corned and sweetly harvested in wintry florals and shimmered in beguiled Gaelic motifs. Quite arresting all said.

the second of those snowflake Christmas releases comes courtesy of Hannah Peel who you may recall from her much admired and critically acclaimed Static Caravan outings here found shimmying up to Benge for ‘find peace’ which box ticks her erstwhile obsession with all things retro electro and radiophonic and transports matters into more noir traced minimalist cosmic climes where ethereal atmospherics and the brooding shadowy sighs of future visions meld a curious Knife like alchemy amid which Ms Peel purrs soulfully like some kind of celestial siren. Over on the flip sits a cover of Greg Lake’s timeless ‘I believe in Father Christmas’ which aside arriving with a hearty health warning reading ‘needs to be heard’ comes adoringly shimmered in all manner of musical boxes chimes and twinkling vintage electronica over the top of which Hannah shyly coos. Absolutely blissful – kinda feel all fuzzy and nostalgic now.

so while we get to work having our heads mashed to mush at the prospect of some extra curricula weird ear groove from Fred Earthling Society under the guise Blunderpussy, here’s a slab of intriguing oddness that we’ve just unearthed from his face book page. An album by Brain One – we think – the first in a series of collaborative oblique strategies utilising strange sounds – in this case genuine space sounds courtesy of NASA and the University of Iowa – along with various forms of manipulated sonic shrapnel. The set entitled ‘no one can hear you stream’ promises to be a full locked in 23 minute head phonic experience of which attached somewhere here you’ll find an 8 minute exert. In truth this strays into the same kind of wired and way out aural inner spaces as visited at ever more disturbing frequency by the likes of sound alchemists roadside picnic, wizards tell lies et al, a configuration of sound made up of pulsar drones and rippling seas of sun spot skree the overall effect of which floods your senses with an alienated tongue leaving you disorientated and somewhat detached from your usual comfort zone, in truth it’s as though you’ve strapped yourself to the nose cone of a launching Apollo, the squalling swathes of manipulated feedback replicating perfectly the down force of pressure upon your head space as you hurtle at speeds where metal and stylus arms warp and in so doing gives the effect of momentum or being on a journey. Freaky stuff which I suspect we need in our life as soon as.

Holy baby Jeezus – a shedloads of cassette labels for us to investigate – also includes a three hour mix cloud – are they insane?

Of which we have already started having taken a fancy to this nugget which comes courtesy of Drophead vs. silent land time machine via holodeck records – a two part chill tipped suite entitled ‘from ashes comes the day’ which ought to be high on the radar of all those who subscribe to all things early Kranky / Constellation, everything about this – the frosted atmospherics, the aching curvatures and the ethereal textures make for an intense, immense and richly rewarding listening event whose panoramic tapestry and bruising desolation translates into a bleakly beautiful melodic mirage which to these ears sounds not a million miles from some imagining comprised of a seriously chilled Roy Montgomery re-sculpturing godspeed landscapes.

I’ll be totally honest and upfront about this, 10 seconds in and we were smitten, this impishly crookedly cool seasonal sortie appears courtesy of the excellently named the bishop’s daredevil stunt club who hail from Chicago and manage to shoehorn and stuff a positive cornucopia of reference markers as to have the local A team pub quiz team wracking their collective heads trying to cover them all. ‘bad sweater Christmas party’ – where do they get these titles – initially rumbles along zig zagging awkwardly until settling down to reveal a tasty slice of ear candy made up of a kookified assortment of alt funk forays, buzz sawed power pop purrs, glam glittered pouts, disco dalliances and soft psych shimmers and decorating the melodic party melee in a crystal tipped showering of snowy effervescent tingles – did someone say a pop mottled Apples in Stereo – it’s even a free download – I think they are spoiling us.

Incoming from Astronauts after the forthcoming festivities one of the highlights from their forthcoming full length platter ‘hollow ponds’ 

Here’s today’s merry mince pie – well the second in fact as you should have had your starter already, this is the heathen and the holy who are in truth unmasked as Noah and the Whale’s Tom and Fred found cooking up something quite irresistible in the seasonal kitchen courtesy of ‘Hey Mr Christmas’ . One of those feel good mosaics inviting you to step in from the cold,  this winter warmer comes trimmed in a cooing reflective campfire warmth flanked by all manner waltzing  fiddles and twinkling chimes all dashed in an old time sepia tinged nostalgia which for the best part affectionately bobs along seemingly opening all the little windows on its advent calendar whilst colouring in its tale only for it to  by the end to gather to such a hearty pace so as to sweep you along upon its stirring good cheer. Hurrah.

You might recall us mentioning this a little earlier, well this is the video that accompanies the simply divine ‘IV’ by meltybrains? – a release that we fear we need a copy of should we tempt spontaneous combustion – your task now is to find some as gorgeous…..

Those with short memories its featured here….

This little cutie comes courtesy of duo Kevin and Stacey operating under the guise of the little secrets found here pouting dinky love notes that bristle and fizz with a Spector-esque 60’s shimmy pop vintage all sugar rushed and tingled in a snow melting radiance that’s cosy toed with the attractively adoring twee buzz trimming of ‘Allo Darlin. Need I say more well as it happens yes because beside almost neglecting to tell you what it’s called – incidentally ‘all I need’ I’m also guessing you are probably right at this moment thinking yourself ‘and where would one happen upon this tasty treasure?’ – that’ll be Edge Hill University’s very own the label recordings imprint. We will in the meantime try and nab sound cloud links.

Another little nugget mentioned here a few days ago, ‘post office’ is pulled from their forthcoming ‘wasted wine vs. the hypnosis center’ which I don’t mind admitting is doing serious damage on our hi-fi at the moment….anyway in case you missed it we got our two penn’orth in here

Mentioned this lot way back at the start of the year when we fortuitously tripped over their sound cloud page and found ourselves somewhat smitten by ‘deer land’, now signed up to Club ac30 they’ve an album entering sound space after the Christmas malarkey in conjunction with the shelflife imprint entitled ‘everything else matters’ which when it docks will come adorned in various eye catching colours of wax. They are called Pinkshinyultrablast – number in three and hail from Russia and who as mentioned in previous despatches appear to be heading up that nations My Bloody Valentine fan club. So while we fall headlong and immerse ourselves into their starry worlds here’s ‘Umi’ to keep you occupied and no doubt spellbound. Primed from that set and sent ahead as a herald via club ac30 ‘Umi’ is one of those most rare moments wherein you are left literally dumbstruck and jaw agape at a tracks passing wondering to yourself what the hell you’d just heard. Beyond celestial this dream dazed star child peppered in euphoria and effervescence jet streams through your listening space as though some heaven sent messenger on a brief tour shimmering upon an astral ride navigating the farthest reaches of the cosmic voids all the time as were transmitting love noted distress calls. A truly adorable visitation.

With Keith Morris’ impending 59th birthday approaching who better to kick things into shape than the hysterically deranged Jack Black found here stealing the centre stage in an Off! spoof straight out of Mad – ‘not a dick in a Circle Jerks covers band’ comes the war cry before one of their number is decapitated by foraging bear and all this after hallucinatory trips, exploding planes and psycho sky dive trainers all back dropped to a nifty slab of thrashed up and frenzied punkoid grooving entitled ‘meet your God’…..pure comic lunacy….

Now this one caught us on the back foot I’m happy to say. Initially primed for review next week, we were momentarily at a loss what to listen to this morning finding ourselves twiddling our thumbs whilst hanging around the kitchen doing the weekend chores. Suddenly this reared into ear space and I don’t mind saying that for the next hour we found ourselves transported to flights of 60’s styled televisual / cinematographic fantasy where secret agents guarded against alien intelligentsia, spies roamed noir draped shadowy landscapes and gunslingers enacted death dealing duels into what can only be described as a cleverly concocted and lush melting pot of spectrum stretching soundtrack groove. Its author Anthony Cedric Vaugniaux a Swiss multi-instrumentalist it seems has a fondness for electronic / ethnic scores notably those adorning 60’s and 70’s cinemas which for your discerning ear are sumptuously gathered on this quite frankly alluring set entitled ‘le clan des guimauves’ via the plombage imprint. Crafted with an acute ear and an eye for detail, on this 15 track suite you’ll hear all manner of reference markers tumbling out of the grooves as though a who’s who of the coolest compositions of that era – the holy trinity that is Morricone, Mancini and Barry figure highly as do the likes of Barry Gray, basil kirchin and the leading ladies from the radiophonic workshop Daphne Oram and Delia Derbyshire (notably ‘la valse d’Andree’ as it skirts with almost Broadcast appeal). Add to that mix a healthy dose of L’Augmentation (none more so this being the case than on the demurring ‘Marissa’ which even manages to give a nod to musette), Bronnt Industries Kapital (as on the gorgeously dinked dream draped Francophile florets oozing throughout ‘la naissance des chambrioleurs’), Gnac (‘reveil a l’hopital’) and it all begins to sound like some craftily assembled extra curricula work by the Fantomas that takes you on an exploratory encounter to sonic spheres where inhabit the realms of lounge, smoking jazz, kooky vintage electronica and chamber noir. Here you’ll be greeted to the playfully crooked ‘le clan des guimauves’ as it playfully circumvents the character sound tracks individually scored for ‘once upon a time in the west’ notably the musicalia afforded to Jason Robard’s part as Cheyenne. Somewhere else there’s the funky futuro 70’s kooky chic of ‘mon corps est une arnaque’ shadow playing to an as were curious fascination for car chase lounge noir as re-envisaged by a particularly chirpy Add N to X while those who delight in the arpeggio drenched grandness of fortdax and the luxuriant ethnic tonalities of the Winston giles orchestra will do well to dive headlong into the twilight folds of the haunting ‘grand maman’.

One of ‘hollow ponds’ centrepiece cuts ‘in my direction’ gets its deserved moment in the spotlight after the festivities via lo recordings. The work of Dan Carney these days trading as Astronauts ‘in my direction’ is in essence a softly purred revisit to dark captain light captain times, the soft syncopating rhythms, the cruise controlled pulsar vibes and the mellowed laid back shimmers pretty much coalesce into what basically might be best described as a lunar folk love note, its hushed delicately journeying purr recalling a youthful Swimmer One while its lightness of touch and tenderly dinked craftsmanship loosely opined to the more understated aural adventures of working for a nuclear free city, but then scratch a little deeper and behind the mesmeric murmurs there’s something buried within aglow with the dusting of west coast hues. Over on the flip sits ‘everything’s a system, everything’s a sign’ a lunar waltzing twinkling fancy yearned in sweet isolationism and faded in a most attractively lovelorn lullaby-esque lull.

Billed as a silkwinders track though in reality it’s just Andrea Webster on her own-some. Of course Andrea should need little introduction around these here parts given her other project our missing cat did as I recall have us a tad swooning and feinting in admiration a few years back. This though is something of a little festive treat with Andrea taking on the traditional carol ‘God rest ye Merry Gentlemen’ and giving it something of a much enjoyed and dare I say adored stripped back and intimately coaxed re-appraisal much toned in a homely folk tapestry that’s removed of the normal oompah of the version most are familiar with these days and instead finds itself delicately teased in a ghostly spectral woodland yarn the likes of which invites a quiet moment of reflection before disappearing into ether.

This being the festive season things don’t really get to feeling seasonal or festive around here until the arrival of the Yellow6 Christmas CD card. So I’m happy to announce the 2014 edition is upon us, so while we wait for our copy (just 100 physicals available and then its downloads I’m afraid) we’ll let Jon (Atwood / Yellow6) give you the background as to these annual soirees and details / thoughts on the tracks within though not before we get a chance to put our tuppance ha’penny in to comment upon the cut that Jon recalls having no recall recording (I’m certainly uncertain as to whether that is yer actual allowed English) ‘drone #2’. As rightly pointed out by its author ‘drone #2’ does veer into worlds more commonly associated with past Kranky alumni, pensive and considered, its trademark Yellow6 in so much as it is sculptured in the crafting of moments and moods suspended or put on pause and etched in porcelain beauty, that said there’s an ache to this drifting gem that finds it steeled in isolationism, its mournful contours sigh with such noir detachment and bruised serene beauty as though some graceful Mancini styled opine set to half speed as to have you drawing up close considering the offer of a sympathetic arm.

From Jon Atwood / Yellow6…..

‘so….merry6mas comes of age – 16 years and still g(r)o(w)ing….since it’s origins as 17 hand copied cdr’s in 1999, to it’s peak of 250 copies in 2006, this has been an interesting journey for me – a way of reviewing what I had done during the previous year, and making something worthwhile of music that would otherwise go unheard – music I thought others may also appreciate. I think this has resulted in some really good releases, occasionally regarded by some as better than the ‘proper’ albums released in the same period. I sometimes think I could learn from this, rather than ponder too much over running order etc? Anyhow, this merry6mas includes new unreleased and live material recorded during 2014. Most of these songs didn’t really fit with the album, and a few came along after the album was completed….“October drone” and “to be continued…” were each recorded in a single live take with no overdubs, only edited for length (the latter being cut from a 16 minute original). Of the others,“lighthouse 1” was considered for the album “closer to the sea without moving” but left off, after many listens, in favour of other versions of the piece. Lighthouse 2 is a completely different piece, only sharing a title with the others, both here and on the album. Gusts was a song from early in 2014 that I was initially unsure of, but after some mixing and adjustment I like the result. Drone#2 is an odd one, as i really can’t remember recording it, but i think it’s me at my most Labradford, though obviously not as good as their recordings. The remaining tracks: “sleet day”, “they look lost” and “red candy”, were recorded live at FUSE Art Space in Bradford at one of my two live appearances of the year, this being one of the live shows i am most happy with of all i’ve done, and i think they fit well here with the other material. so there you have it…another year another merry6mas, and hopefully you will feel a worthwhile addition to the catalogue. back for more I guess next year, when merry6mas will be old enough to apply for a driving licence.’

Now if I didn’t know any better I’d have said that the much missed and noticeably absent from our hi-fi of late Superimposers had had the odd hand in this, instead it is in truth by the smoking trees entitled ‘round Christmas time’ and should by rights be heading out of the ample play sound house and onto the record decks of the more clued up record buying patron. Bobbing along upon a wonderfully laid back sea drift motif all shimmered in exotic south sea fancies and shuffling sleigh bells there’s something delightfully homely and touching about this waltzing winter wonderland as it sweetly sighs its lovelorn lilt.

I guess your winter’s cheer wouldn’t be the same without the occasional ghostly visitation to chill your bones, we suspect that shadow master and guardian of the weird and wayward Melmoth the Wanderer has been similarly minded for while you’ve been content to stuff your faces full of mince pies whilst festooning your living space in tinsel and trimmings, the silent one has been rummaging around his musical basement and under the cover of the nights deathly grip has been concocting sonic potions to delight and disturb. The result ‘Christmas – through a glass darkly’ a 25 minute serving of  Christmas creeps, a bit like being visited by the ghosts of Christmases past, present and future all at once. Amid the spectral choral and Gregorian chants various Hare and the Moon, Vaughan Williams, Hermione Harvestman and Corncrow types spook its ominous belt busting palette. Consider your fair warned.

De Staat – remember them – well you ought to given we mentioned a killer smoked out reappraisal that they’ve done on ‘down town’ (see )  as part of a recently released EP set entitled ‘vinticious versions’ via cool green recordings / mascot label group wherein Holland’s finest have selected eight tracks from their back catalogue and rephrased them anew in noir / jazz / cool funky re-treads.

Nabbed these from a closer listen’s ‘the happiest music of the year’ top 10 – which in turn we happily tripped over via the bearsuit records facebook page (after that is apologising for our gross oversight in mislaying their latest remix set ‘I put a time bomb in your submarine’ – might that be a contender for one of the album titles of the year – discuss. Anyway a review is hastily being pencilled in for later in the week). So back with the ‘happiest tracks of the year’ amid which Bearsuit’s Whizz Kid held down one of the prized 10 spots with their highly creative full length ‘there’s conjuring to be done’ from which the genteelly lulling ‘clones’ comes prized a melodic myriad of lost 70’s lounge motifs and warping exotica impishly fused with murmurs emanating from the Vernon Elliott sound shed. Busto power trio whose self released ‘the deal’ set alas sadly passed us by cook up some nifty noir reverb twang-a-rama that finds itself sitting and smoking in the houses of shadowy men on a shadowy planet and henry mancini though keep ‘the deal’ rolling and you’ll be greeted to some tasty ‘rhubarb and custard’ styled schizoid fuzziness by its end. From their ‘deltas’ set chapelier fou it seems struck an adoring chord with the a closer listen staff and it’s easy to see why given that ‘grand artica’ bobbles away ever so graciously lushly kissed with a subtly euphoric aura courted in silken strings and wispy lunar corteges – must remember to check them further. Again another self released set this time from huma huma entitled ‘theme songs for invisible motion pictures’ whose ‘music box’ featured here is an infectious slice of ziggy wiggy uber funky n’ quirky grooving that cleverly manages to collage elements of 70’s styled noir filmic scores through the lazy eyed ethnic lounge lenses of john barry.  Lullatone – is this the same lullatone who at one time many years passed frequented these very pages – I suspect so – here with ‘while winter whispers’ from which is taken ‘a little song about snowdrops’ which as it happens sounds exactly how you’d imagine a track titled such to sound all twinkly frosted tipped charms and a deftest of touch that one might expect to hear on some secret snow flaked studio gathering of  plone and isan types. Those preferring their listening to be daubed and distilled in prairie opines and delta folk signatures might do well to check out Mariano Rodriguez’s ‘praise the road’ which idly demurs in the porch reclined sun somewhere between Grinderswitch and lester flatt n’ earl Scruggs. Next up ‘theme – let’s go camping’ from one and seven eighths has I’ll admit had us racking our heads questioning what the hell it reminds me of – of course ‘funky town’ by Lipps Inc – devilishly daft and cute with it. Again another release I’m afraid to say we missed was smiles with teeth’s ‘everyday always’ from which for your discerning ear you’ll find the cosy toed lullaby lilts of the crunchy minimalist electro glitching of ‘scrunchie’ which by our reckoning recalled the days when the likes of Bad Jazz and Liquefaction Empire used to drop 7 inch platters by landshipping our way. Next up not the twink but one mike langlie whose ‘close to home’ taken from his ‘happy houses’ set for twink tones is a deliriously dippy slab of kooky toy electronica that for the best part sounds as though its fallen off the radar of some Phil Redmond styled teen soap while wrapping matters are waking aida with ‘how to build a space station’ – a sterling seven minute stratospheric soiree of perky post rockist motifs that freewheel between moments of stormy high octane effervescent swathes to periods of lolloping hypnotic calm all of which I’m suspecting you may well hear more of in the coming months.

I think we promised that Silber records would shortly be releasing a stack of Christmas related musical festivities – well they are out – so we’ve already briefly mentioned yellow6 so while we get around to sampling the delights of baptizer, ronja’s Christmas witch, electric bird noise, remora and firetail here’s small life form with ‘parts for holiday projects’ – which according to the press release was initially conceived as a conscientious stab at celebrating the birth of Christ before going a little awry. We’ve trained our ears on the centrepiece cut ‘it’s not all milk and cookies’ and can quite confidentally confirm – well it’s not quite Wham but then were you to expect such in these missives there would be the odd querying raise of the eyebrow and a firmly disapproving tut tut. Still what you get for your dollar is something rathermore very unseasonal unless of course I’ve somehow somewhere come to lose the point, plot and reason for being here. In truth sounds like the third programme of the spin cycle on an Indesit washing machine – model number WCM6165 in case you are taking notes – and we ought to know because we are midway through a wash right this minute and it sounds like this track is communicating with said washer in some strange droning dialect either that or some insane mind frying dream machine. Very odd though that said it ought to appeal to all you astral social club and trensmat admirers.

Hands up those of you who remember Winterbrief? I only ask because London based electro poppers Kentish Fire have recently released the insanely infectious ‘in our band’ – already getting a heads up on the nation’s radio station 6music (is it still called that) which all said comes possessed of the aforementioned named Winterbrief’s punkoid pop bite albeit though not before undergoing a service check at the hands of the criminally overlooked Bis. ‘in our band’ is your tongue in cheek woes of bands cutting their teeth in an attempt to get on the ladder to what will hopefully be stardom by selling their souls to the nightly dread of performing as a covers band, a cheeky jiggy wiggy dandy of a cut that pings around the headspace like an errant imp with a poker up its backside all the time name checking a positive plethora of songs (can you name all the bands in question?) as it zigzags, summersaults, shimmies and struts its way digging deep beneath your skin to give you a dose of the funky bugs.

Just eyed this on a face book posting and thought we pass a curious ear over it, new album – well debut album as it happens due in the new year from kindest of thieves entitled I think ‘box room bed room rebel music’ from which the title track is currently on a showcasing soiree to draw in the passing trade. Ripe for those adoring of the rock a hula vintage reverb grooving for this babe is your back to basics 50’s golden age Meek mottled ear gear that circles vulture like around the early back catalogue of the much missed – at least around – flaming stars albeit as though press ganged in the studio by ex Ants the Wolfmen and given a remit to cobble up something in a johnny leyton stylee. Frankly we have to hear more.

We haven’t quite as yet gotten around to hearing the forthcoming mind brains debut set (due out via orange twin after Christmas) despite ever best intention – though rest assured it’s on our to do list later this week. For the uninitiated among you Mind Brains are a collective pool of talent whose membership have in past lives (some still current) featured in such celebrated combos as Olivia tremor control, of montreal, dark meat, marshmallow coast, circulatory system and the music tapes, their remit is simple – to save from the scrapheap and retain in memory lost sound mediums by way of retuning and cannibalising old analogue synths, circuit boards, toy instruments and Casio and Atari body parts and crafting from said instruments and flea market finds something of a minimalist old school homage to Silver Apples, Tubeway Army and Chrome  (that was it says on the press blurb). As said scarcely a chance just yet to investigate further though I can tell you in arrived resplendently sandwiched between two slices of bread and a whole host of inserts….quite a fanciable thing.

You know how every so often something comes along and hits you unexpected between the eyes and knocks you off balance, well for me today’s wow moment occurred upon hearing this delicately turned darling. In truth not what we were expecting especially since an unsolicited email from one of their number ended by saying there was an album currently around entitled ‘proper fucked’. Be honest like me you were expecting all manner of sonic shrapnel and hijinks, but not so – in fact you couldn’t be further from the mark even if you ran in the opposite direction. ‘Kav’ incidentally a new cut doesn’t appear on the aforementioned album and is the latest single by Scandinavian collective Steso, in short four minutes of breath taking beguilement serenaded in the prickly feel good warmth of swooning choirs, the reflective blossoming hope held sighs of sea faring pastorals and the soft seductive ache of a vocalist whose delicate though alluring yearns sounds like the subdued fusion of the Sundays’ Harriet Wheeler and Olof Arnalds, stir the ingredients together and what you get is what can only be described as a snow crushed dream pop murmur of such serenely understated and  poised beauty that we suspect those admiring of platters put out by ClubAC30 will find much to swoon to whilst likewise I’m thinking that errant album is in much need of hearing 

Seeing as you’ve all been ever so nice here’s a trio festive treats to keep the cockles a warm…..just in case you were wondering where we primed these from – I’ll just say that we’ve only gone and stumbled another merry mix tape this time cobbled together by those burger record dudes…..first up…..

Old friends to these pages Wax Witches stomp up ‘Santa’s on the drugs he’s got the Christmas buzz’ which I must admit had us near digging out our prized filthy little angels platters notably those by captain polaroid and star fighter pilot, as with the current Kentish fire platter there’s something of the Winterbrief’s about this impish cutie as it waywardly staggers along to a wonky electro charm loosely biting at the waitresses ‘christmas wrapping’….

equally fighting their way into our affections are the hollyberries whose ‘(I wanna go) surfin’ with Santa’ which if I recall we mentioned last year when it appeared pressed on seven inches of wax – still you can’t keep down a good tune which is just as well because this is your time travelling Spector-esque surf-a-delic shimmy pop all blister kissed with the most infectious bubble grooved bop-a-rama boogie your likely to hear all season long, add to the merry mix oodles of  horns, harmonies and heaps of twang n’ twist Wizzard-esque grooviness which gathered together is sure to tinsel trim your turntable.

okay there’s no prizes for figuring out how come this one steeled a march on the Christmas rush of potential featurette contenders, of course we were drawn by their name – todayshits – okay a tad immature and obvious on our part but hey take a gander at ‘it’s Christmas time’ and you’ll soon realise the real reason for this stealing the deal, a kinda of morosely happy Daniel Johnston type sortie that bobs along wearily merry warming itself to an open log fire vintage howled in echoes of Christmas nuggets long passed which  ought by rights to be leaving lumps in throats and a little tear trickling down the cheek, kerchiefs please….

did we mention the much missed filthy little angels label a second or so ago well it seems they’ve made available a large chunk if not all their released eargear available to download for free and this being the festive season a little present they’ve stashed beneath your Christmas tree in the guise of ‘oh come, all ye filthy’ – a 27 track compilation features names familiar, missed and lost including lovely eggs, das wanderlust, ant, shisho, from mars, Helen love and more beside – available via

We’ve been promising for ages the onset of a plethora of variously wordy plaudits for things eking out of the alrealon musique imprint and its extended family, believe me when I say stuff is cooking and shortly to descend. For now though and to whet your appetite somewhat something new (I think / in fact I’m fairly certain) from John 3:16. ‘the fountain of life’ comes ripped from a limited compilation being put out by 75orless entitled ‘till the dirt, plant the home, watch it grow’ which features upon its grooves a gathering of twenty like-minded souls included among their number the likes of Gravenhurst, the Kitchen Cynics, swearing at motorists and noel the coward all pitching for your attention and affection. Amid the glacial still motioned along upon a twilight mist ‘the fountain of life’ emerges to the fore gracefully invested in a ghostly majesty unfurling its spell craft whilst uttering in long dead tongues all the time delicately spiriting away as it fills the voids with its swirling snake dance feasted upon the slow drip purr of trip hopped ambi-psych mosaics, call it a visitation perhaps an echo of what once was there’s something finite and pre-natural oozing through the grooves subtly exuding a seductive mesmeric chemistry.

Those of you with memories extending far further than your average goldfish might well recall us getting a tad fond of a pre teaser track put out by those fat cat dudes heralding the arrival of a promised debuting full length by C Duncan – in case you didn’t and do happen to be a goldfish then you can feast your delights here – not content with having us all a cooed with one track Mr Duncan has seen fit to allure all by leaking out its flip side ‘And I’ and in so doing has put the normally sedate life with the Sunday experience listening room in something of a quandary with fisticuffs for added measure I’ll be bound attempting to settle scores as to which is the favoured track. With the lightest of touches and a deftness of delivery ‘And I’ is cast in a delicately demurred sepia glow that crackles and pops with a beautified monochrome vintage as though a faded love note dimpled in a crestfallen hymnal hue the type of which in truth makes Cheval Sombre sound like a speed freaking punkoid. Blissful in a word, ethereal is another.

Disturbingly faultless and impeccably perfect, if both ‘I find you’ and the latest Sara Lowes track to slope off and demur and dazzle ‘JB Priestley’ are anything to judge then quite frankly February can’t come fast enough for that when the Railing records imprint unveil ‘the joy of waiting’ to the greater public it has all the early indicators to suggest it being one of the early benchmark sets for the chasing pack to follow. ‘JB Priestley’ is clever, crafted and kooky not to mention playful and deeply set in the revealing of a boundless free spirited artistry that seductively weaves daintily dimpled folk mirages into love noted mini symphonies that are dinked in a timeless vintage and swirling in a light headed dizzy euphoria to which the press release hints at a feint dusting of Divine Comedy nods, indeed we’d agree if it weren’t for the subtle ghosting of Bacharach and David and Van Dyke Parks lurking at its shoulders giving way to a fondness for an early career Oddfellows Casino. But then scratch a little deeper and amid the breathless motion of the chuffing and puffing rhythms Ms Lowes’ kinship is all too obvious to see aligned with fondness to that of the Carpenters.

think i’m in love, well as in love with a musical track as you can be, incoming by the menace beaches who I’m suspecting we’ve featured in previous lives, this track incidentally titled tastes like medicine’ comes pulled from their forthcoming debut long player for Memphis industries ‘ratworld’. A bit of a babe it is to all stutter strum shimmers and honey dripped harmonies that very much veer into the kind fizzing ear candy so often dropped by the Manhattan Love Suicides and all shoehorned into three minutes of acutely cute shade adorned buzz pop that imagines a studio love in between the Heartthrobs and Another Sunny Day.

Fancy a tree gathering of piping good cheer seems the Vacilando68 imprint thought you might so they assembled the labels finest musical players for a season greeting soiree around the tinsel trimmed turntable….

First up to the Christmas plate the Singing Loins whose hearty rendition of the yuletide classic ‘Ding Dong Merrily on High’ had us a swaying in the aisles not least because the blighter is engagingly fashioned in a lolloping motif festooned by brigades of banjos and sleigh bells – sounds like a whole heap of Medway merriment to us.

We mentioned Theatre Royal’s ‘I believe in Father Christmas (I don’t want socks)’ this time last when it was released as a limited download only single, it so happens – and only because it’s you mind – that we’ve saved you all the time, effort and patience in trying to root out our fond write up by doing it for you – see hear

Likewise with Broderick and Barnes’ seasonal offering ‘December’ which we only mentioned this time last week and with that still maintain it’s the stuff of aching beauty that’s liable to have you smiling through tear stained cheeks….anyway to save you rummaging for our wordy bits just go here – and pronto…..

Finally shuffling up to the centre stage Stuart Turner and the Flat Earth Society serve up the gruff gospel blues cutie ‘walking through snow (to get to you)’ which in truth sounds as though it’s been on a Christmas night out at the local drinking well with an assorted crowd made up of Tom Waits, Wild Billy Childish and the Pogues all gathered to turn in a hulking humdinger of a cut that’s sure to have you tearfully welling up your scotch glass at the Christmas lonely hearts salon. 

New Active Listener sampler has just landed – well it landed about two weeks ago but hey who’s splitting hairs. Volume 26 retains the blog sites impeccable high standard which alas as much as we’d like to cover and give mention to all seventeen tracks on parade, time is of a pretty rarefied essence at present. That said plenty of familiar faces feature here all of whom readers here should be well versed with (paperhead, concretism, mark fry, ummagma, jouis and more so we’ll keep this mention a little low key and let your ears feast upon the treats within. That said we won’t leave it just there for there were several cuts that caught our attention notably Julie’s Haircut whose ‘Karlsruhe’ had us somewhat sedated and chilled not least because amid it woozy mind weaves and cosmically trip-a-delic smokiness there’s a kind of super blissed dream drift aspect afoot that circling around the outer rings of the great kraut universe and simultaneously manages to sound like a bonged out ‘Bad Orb….’ era Walking Seeds. Elsewhere ‘crystal spy’ by Moonsicles was the happy recipient of admiring nods in our gaff not least because deep within its bleakly beautifully frost framed mosaics you suspect lurks the imagining of an early 70’s styled spy noir screenplay awaits on a paper strewn lamp illuminated desk for the filming green light – those admiring of all things early Gnac will adore. Something else worthy of investing your listening time is ‘clay in my hand’ by United Bible Studies which may well strike a heaven sent ear gear chord among those of you who’ve ever lain awake at night restlessly dogged by imaginings of what if and what would a chance meeting in a recording studio between Tunng and Porcupine Tree sound like. Last up for this brief mention dare we depart without a quick call for the Unseen who will – unless some cataclysmic event befalls us – be featuring in these pages aplenty before we hit Christmas day – here with the creepy ‘her father’s voice’ taken from the ‘Mary’ soundtrack, its creepy not for the music as such but for the interspersing of filmic dialogue with the overbearing father laying the seeds to Mary’s fractured and twisted mind set, the clarity in the juxtaposition pitting innocence in polar opposition to abuse  is undercut throughout by the lullaby chill of child-like playroom electro-chimes which soon dissolve into something more revealing of the dark portent ahead, in short it is classic 70’s Giallo horror chic especially the type flying out of the Fulci / Argento vaults to which those well versed and adoring of scores by Goblin, Carpenter and more latterly Zombi will find much to swoon about.

Those intrinsically familiar with these musings will no doubt be all too aware of our love for things dinked and dimpled in playful TV testcard styled lullaby motifs so you can imagine that when this dozy eyed slice of dreaminess came into earshot we’d felt as though we’d died and gone to the big playroom in the sky. Hailing from Vietnam (a territory you’ll be hearing more about in the coming days – music wise – when we get around to mentioning Sound Awakener from whom we receive a rather nice email message from – see – one for Roadside Picnic / Justin Wiggan we suspect) pearthq have recently released ‘binary harmony sunrise’ which he / she / they describe in passing as ‘colourful energy enriched fun harmony light sunrise’ which I think in short translates as happy music to which it is given it playfully skirts around the outer spheres of the vintage idents so oft escaping from the ghost box sound lab and then colours the shy eyed minimalist spectrum in the kind of clockwork charmed lull of a youthful ISAN and Plone and then puts it all to bed to rest to the lilt of Raymond Scott’s ‘soothing sounds for baby’.

If there’s just one incy wincy complaint to be made about this particular Christmas hangover it’s the title. I mean calling your seasonal winter warmer ‘fuck you it’s Christmas’ was always going to get us sitting up on our hind quarters begging to hear, but then there are those who – shall we say – are a little less tolerant and a little 1930’s who perhaps understandably when faced with such blatant attention grabbling use of anglo saxon language might well cry foul – hello BBC. Which is a shame really because this cutie is a bit of merry miserablism that finds Pat and Amelia (better known as Bent Cousin) lobbing verbal snowballs at each other over a very un-neighbourly fence as a result of a rain drizzled and rather awkward teen break up which in truth cleverly echoes Kirsty and Shane’s yuletide woe (best Christmas record ever. Discuss.) albeit re-imagined as were by a very young ‘Tigermilk’ era Belle and Sebastian – essential ear gear for those with ears frequently tuned to imprints such as matinee, fortuna pop, elefant etc….  – believe it’s a free download – (are you sure)….

Blimey another release that caught us on the hop earlier today though I must admit finding it was a cover of ‘walking in the air’ (a record that I have to say I have never really cared for) didn’t have us at once scampering up to it, we did in fact consider options, walk around it pensively stroking our chin for a little while before finally being resolved to the fact that we should at least give it a go. Boy were we mistaken, in the hands of the Half Earth a new (palatable for us at least) persona is revealed, choral rustics enchant to shower it in spectral shimmers of fairy dust, its fragile sparseness nods to the much admired Low Anthem, the falsetto vocals, the poise, the measured application and the somewhat silent majesty all brush up cosy toed to the delicately picked fretwork to craft something wood crafted, ghostly and ached in introspection. A humbling experience. The track incidentally comes peeled from a compilation entitled ‘it’s coming on Christmas’ put out by Daisy Digital with all proceeds raised going to the Coppafeel charity – an organisation responsible for the educating of young people on the importance of checking themselves out. The collection gathers together 28 specially invited musicians all detailed with imparting their own little bit of Christmas melodic magic among the roll call – the Districts, Layla, robyn sherwell, the lake poets, newton Faulkner and shy nature – hopefully we’ll revisit it again in a few days for a closer inspection – for now though go here (for the Half Earth standalone) and here (for the relevant bandcamp ordering site)

Another quality release in the offing from the critically cool Naim Jazz imprint whose wares last featured in these musings serving up a superb set from Get the Blessing. Sometime February will see the third full length from Troyka doing hopefully brisk business at record counters the length and breadth of the nation. ‘Ornithophobia’ be its name titled such after Chris the guitarists’ fear of birds the band and label have issued forth by way of a teaser ‘life was transient’ showcases the collectives unique ability to freewheel the generic cracks moving with a kooky rhythmic vibe incorporating jazz, exotic, lounge, down tempo minimalism, classic trip hop beats, subtle psych prog accents and playful electro squiggles which in truth sound like some Radiophonic rewiring of ‘Vision On’ TV indents on an though on an Oriental soiree and which all said shares a kinship with the Winston Giles Orchestra had they decided to try out for that excellent ‘Monsterism’ compilation put together by (if i recall rightly) Pete Fowler from a few years.

And talking of Mr Fowler – these days when he’s not busy doing arty things and all manner of other creative gubbins he’s also one half of the Seahawks – must adored I don’t need to tell you around this here parish. Anyway on their sound cloud page  you’ll find a downloadable 60 minute mix tape entitled ‘it’s the beginning of a new age’ – alas no track listing but what we can guarantee is an aural head message in the safe comfort of those Seahawks pilots as they take your mind for a spot of astral gliding – wig flipping chill-a-rama perfect for those of you of a Craig Padilla, Magic Mushroom Band, and Tangerine Dream-y lunar lounge persuasion..

And so we’re back with ArteTetra’s whose debuting release a compilation entitled ‘exotic esoterique’ volume 1 you might recall had us waxing lyrically whilst fainting in the aisles. For those who missed our earlier ranting a quick recap would go along these lines into – Italian label specialising in cassette only releases featuring sounds drawn from psychedelic, esoteric and exotic disciplines. First outing a compilation featuring 15 such artists bubbling beneath the radar from Italian and American territories, anyhow last time out we mentioned Felippo Guiffre, obscure and hysm? duo which in case you either missed, blinked or just plain ignored can be scrutinised / read or again ignored by going to As to the rest, I must admit an excellent and faultless selection of new sounds that circumvents the spectrum sublimely ever from the weird and strange to the mellowed and the mind weaving. One of the sets stand out cuts and perhaps one of its eeriest coming from babau, for ‘faus’ is trimmed with a darkly unsettling solution drawn upon elements of Australasian  tribal chants and what sounds like some n’er do well ceremonial mass taking amid all of which there comes the drifting lull of a surreal flavouring recalling the spacey detours once upon a time enacted by Ozric Tentacles, yet dare we neglect to mention the ominous throat chants – very Soriah. Traversing a similar weird trajectory are Kree-Mah-Stree whose ‘king kong’ presents a whole heap of voodoo ju-ju brooding over a cooking pot that threads together a primordial soup out of ethnic drone motifs and dub daubs into a  most surreal psych noir cabaret. Those preferring their sounds somewhat scalded and scorched might do well to don tin hats for the melodic Molotov cocktail that is ‘2 cuorleone’ by Lleroy, a savage and schizoid bastard head case of the kind of twisted and frenzied quality that at one time you’d have expected to kick and scream its way out of the brew imprint, did we also neglect to mention its feral and furious – well we have now – must hear more and so must you especially if your preferred ear gear includes on its listening list that fucking tank. By far the strangest selection on the compilation – and believe you me there are a fair plenty vying for the accolade – though none come close to the crookedness and derangement of blue bird dominion’s ‘sehnsucht’ – prime listening for those of you attuned to the grooves put out by the beta lactam ring imprint given that this uneasy listening gem sounds not a million miles from the kind of strangeness committed to wax by La STPO, not so much a song as such more a theatrical performance transmitted as were through old school valve powered transistors and disfigured by wayward radiophonics and insectoid glitches and groans, a most unnerving experience. There’s no denying that moraljetlag have at some point been schooled and informed by the out there retro electro minimalism of Cabaret Voltaire, clock DVA and SPK found here merging both those sonic worlds in a slice of doom dripped chamber chill courtesy of ‘kitchen disease’. Nevroshockingiochi on the other hand prefer a readily more darker and brooding approach with ‘cinecronica’ finding itself mesmerically morphing into a curiously tripping soft psych dipped dream sequence whose intricacy and terraforming persona steps darkly into to sonic tides imagining a shadowy meeting point between Kreidler and Battles. One of our favourite moments from the set – that’s not to say that every cut is not a favourite moment – comes courtesy of the opening salvo from H on Bangalore whose ‘samboosa’ is a gorgeous slice of transcendental mysticism that pairs together an arresting  cortege merging the  sonic spheres of psychotropically woozy third eye groove and dream drifting astral sereneness. Similarly dinked in mind weaving cosmicalia is ‘sole’ by Wakan – another lilting slice of instrumental isolationism obviously in awe of a late 80’s New Zealand noise scene and sounding very much like the work of a studio summit meeting drawing together Gnac and Roy Montgomery. Elsewhere for reasons best known only to my sub conscious each time I’ve heard ‘nostra signora dei turchi’ by Nicola Tirabasso I’ve had this strange urge to dig out my much adored AR Kane platters which is strange because this cosmic delight sounds nothing like the sonic architects of ‘I’ and rather more like an intense shot in the arm of psych shimmered kraut gouged leviathan like solar symphonics carved by the hand of Astral Social Club.  Somewhere else lurk above the tree with ‘rituale N12’ which I must admit is a rather subdued and understated affair, detached and remotely daubed in a lo-fi glazing which once ears are adjusted reveals itself to be dimpled in a sweet almost distanced bruising cradled in an atmospheric ice sculpturing to which fans of old Ochre releases may well fall for. Discounting the Lleroy track the award for the most wildly furious and wig flipped cut on the set must surely go to the big drum in the sky religion whose ‘hare pussy’ is a howling magma whose improv no wave utterances seem to be the work of unruly sonic imps whose idea of listening entertainment is to confuse, corrupt and put the would be listener on an uneasy back foot whilst simultaneously pummelling their headspace in a light the fuse see what happens caustic boogie. Last in the mentioning stakes ‘houngan boukman’ from maybe I’m is a lo-fi ramble through prairie country turning in a curiously off balanced slab of mountain folk blues which should you scrunch up your ears you may well find a loose nod to the mighty Clinic albeit a frayed and slightly beaten around the edges Clinic.

Mentioned this a few weeks ago – damn if this isn’t the sexiest thing on planet pop right now – it’s by the bonfire nights and comes pulled from a split release with tripwires via bad vibrations and its out right now….and you don’t need me telling you that your hi-fi needs it…..incidentally our fond words are here –

Latest from Constellation Tatsu (who I’ll add right here and now and due for more love later this missive – or perhaps the next depending on how things pan out) have just put what they fondly describe as their ‘holiday release’.  Four track cassette release from Greyghost who is known to fellow Oaklanders as Brian Griffith whose ‘meditations on mindfulness’ is described by the attaching tags as ‘adventurous American bass fun’ which unless one of us have been taking serious grade A happy pills – not me I hasten to add – isn’t quite how the general public would respond had a sample selection been played it in a street and then put to task completing a questionnaire / straw poll exercise. On the sound system and piping mournfully from out of our speakers ‘deep water, lemurian tides’ is 15 plus minutes of softly yearned retrospective ambient drone, dreamily ached and delicately traced in a wave like forlorn bruising, the presentation panoramic, the mood reverential and the crafting majestic, a perfect sound track for those wanting to seek safe haven and somewhere tranquil and populated by nothingness in order to escape the rigours brought on by the busying hustle and bustle of day time life, especially appealing it should be pointed out to those among you well versed in the early catalogue of the esteemed Kranky imprint.

I really do owe Matt Bowers (for it is he who is Wizards Tell Lies) a massive apology, several releases dating back to July have been adoring our listening space with ethereal chills all of whom have yet to make it to the shared word, a matter that will be rectified this side of Christmas so consider yourselves warned and while you’re at it kindly consider booking a place of safety behind the sofa.  For now though a brace of cuts have just surfaced from out of the Wizards lair, first up an ominous visitation in the shape of ‘terror from space (prologue)’ which rather than having your warmed in the feel good spirit of the season might well have you imagining yourself somewhat lost and disorientated as though awoken mid sleep and unable to find your bearings, ghostly manifestations and that sense of the strange and the unreal dictate the grooving of this aural apparition for it is here amid the eerie stillness and bowed echoes where  spectral shadows shift with stealth like unease and where a strangely disquieting dance of dread plays out.

Those thinking sanctuary awaits with the onset of ‘gone’ quickly think again, a Halloween treat of sorts released on the eve of Samhain, bleakly beautiful, to the dreadening howl of fire scorched storms,  their doom and finality accentuated by the contrasting mournful sigh of a delicately strummed and sorrowed riff opine, godspeed purists will swoon and with good reason.

Already responsible for swooning fits here following his impeccably crafted ‘peaks’ set for the Little Crackd Rabbits imprint, starless and bible black woodbine and Ivy Band man returns with his second set this year. Barely reaching the 25 minute ticker tape in total duration and featuring nine mercurial slices of wood carved rustics, this is ‘the limefield sessions’ by Peter Philipson (last time out he preferred to be known as PJ Philipson). This set comes issued by the esteemed Static Caravan as a ultra-limited lathe cut of which there are only 20 around in existence all of which I’m gathering have long since sold out though don’t quote me on that. Okay so what if it is limited (to the point unobtainable – other than through auction sites where it’ll no doubt be traded on at a vastly increased amount) and that in an era of 70 minute plus albums it’s scarcely around long enough exiting at a point where most bands / albums are only just beginning to hit their groove – that is if they have one. What you do get though for your hard earned cash, patience and faith is a beautifully scribed suite dimpled in some of the mellowest and quite frankly laid back rustic perfection you’ll have the pleasure of hearing in a long time, from the moment the simply divine ‘Holloways’ crackles into life your transported afar adored to the kind of timeless tapestry of Fahey’s early delta blues scoring and Nick Drake’s dream drifted pastorals, the craft pristine the fleetly nimble chord finger picking simply exquisite. ‘for these changing times’ follows with similar purpose weaving a rarefied concoction of lost mountain folk murmurs. Then there’s the mesmeric folk mantra that is ‘court in the forest’ recalling the more introspective and fragile moments of the Owl Service catalogue whilst simultaneously half nodding to Mountain. ‘Oldfield Lane in the Thirties’ bades farewell to side 1 all the time caressed in the lightness of touch and delicate dexterity of a daydreaming Marr (Marr’s classic Smith introspection comes to bear on the sorrowed and lonesome ‘for a cat called Pendle’) or Reilly. Chiselled upon a shy eyed village green pastoral ‘marching to the top’ is softly courted in lazy eyed rustic madrigals that weave and undulate playfully while for us best moment of the set if forced with hand behind back has to be ‘sandpiper’ – a longing love note as were sighing as it waves off another day before retiring to the shade of night a lullaby for which to sooth comes dozed and demurred in the guise of the parting sleepy headed sweetheart ‘Nashville Buzz’ – an utterly faultless and rare timeless treasure.

Future Static Caravan’s looming on the near distant horizon – after the hullaballoo of the festive shenanigans the new year should see releases from Victories at Sea – a download only event which should give further hints at what to expect from their debuting long player due in April. Then there’s Free School – alas no information just yet, a cassette limited to 99 entitled ‘the art of the memory palace’ while Mr Philipson’s Woodbine and Ivy Band should have goodies gracing the more informed record racks soon along with a 7 inch from Stick in the Wheel who it appears were recently touted by a certain Steven Collins of Owl Service fame as being the ‘best thing to happen to English folk in decades’ – and frankly I’m not arguing…..if you want to jen up fast then go to

Cold war dystopian glacial groove as pulled from the latest Adam Leonard release the fifth in a planned 8 album set let loose on the 8th in monthly intervals over an 8 month duration under the project name ‘Octopus’ (does that make sense) – anyway as you’ve probably sussed out for yourselves there’s an 8 thing going on here with each of these outings featuring a selection of rare recordings, unreleased materials, live cuts, alternative takes and other various nuggets unearthed from various vaults and forgotten musical lockers. As said the 5th in the series we haven’t as yet in truth had a chance to hear in full just yet though we did cast a curious ear over the parting shot ‘norcross’ which as described in the opening ambit to this rambling monologue comes clocking in at 7.39 and was apparently – according to the briefest of foot notes – originally released under the name ‘a farewell to Hexes’ – a bit of a peach for those of you with your heads tuned into old school minimalist electronica – see Human League mk 1 et al or else those among you much admiring of Conceretism and the eerie sci-fonic sounds tripping out the Holy See / the Use  sound factory, a kind of abandoned frost bitten lunar waltz if you ask me with Carpenter-esque chills.

Available as a free download some fanciable festive festooning from synth pop starlets Dum Dum Girls who have just been confirmed as support for Belle and Sebastian when they take to the road in May. Anyway more’s the point I don’t seem to recall Dum Dum Girls sounding so – well – pop for ‘on Christmas’ sounds like a fuzzy glowed winter wonderland festooned by a gathering of chill tipped types from St Etienne and Dubstar daubing all in embracing snow twinkled effervescence whilst running up to every lonely heart to press upon their palm longing love notes.

Well we’ve managed to lose the press release with all the news worthy gubbins and hip happenings afoot in the gaff of the Helmholtz Resonators which to regulars observers of these pages won’t come as a great shock, that said I have to admit that I’m affectionately adoring of this ‘un. Entitled ‘Automaton’ these soft psych shimmered electro boffins kookify the listening space with this demurring synth buzz sortie which had we not known any better would have guessed was some dream team cosmic hook up between J Xaverre and Sterling Roswell all a lost at sea and loved up in landscapes peppered by echoes of Thomas Dolby under the watchful guide of Karl Bartos himself seeing fit to dimple matters in ‘man machine’ era Kraftwerk binary pop codes and twinkled in lulling fisher price regalia whilst cutting swirly shapes in the starry heavens, irresistibly cute.


okay you probably won’t be too surprised to hear that we’ve gotten nothing in so much as information / details about this, though disappointing as that might sound or seem we suggest you hunt this babe down as your own because this is a truly unexpected rewarding and giving listening experience. It’s by tired tape machine who hail I believe from Sweden and it goes by the title ‘not here’, an album featuring nine tracks which from out of those we’ve heard reveal a collective melodic mind set far removed from the normal glacial velour that emits from the Scandinavian pop factories and instead emerges from a place darkly seductive, beautifully broken and scratched in a rare folk enchantment. So far we’ve been quite smitten by ‘your ghost’ – an aural aperture peeling through the twilight veil, delicately dimpled in spectral pastorals and wheezing to a lolloping and bruised shanty motif all gorgeously hollowed in a frailly haunted tapestry that mourns sweetly as though a blood stained love note left as a cursed reminder of a doomed unrequited love, elements of John Barry creak and bleakly caress a crippled and crooked line whose markers touch upon the vintage of the hare and the moon, set fire to flames and preterite though whose artistry in terms of the arrangement and the eerie trembles to the mercurial unworldliness of Black Heart Procession’s ‘II’. Stunning in a word, there’s a vinyl edition which we fear spontaneous combustion should we not secure a copy.

getting a tad frustrating that I can’t recall where exactly we sourced this from, I’m assuming a random face book posting that took our fancy – beyond that you’re on your own. A little something that ought to appeal to those much admiring of ummagma, new single from dream popping darlings the birthday massacre taken from their as yet unheard around here ‘superstition’ set entitled ‘beyond’ which aside being purred in an unmistakable mid 80’s sheen also comes trimmed in the crystal tipped and demurring twinkling toned pop hush that makes listeners of a certain vintage a tad doe eyed recollecting St Etienne what with the fact that it’s a bit of a love crush sweetheart dimpled in the kind of surrendering lunar pop dynamic that one suspects fixes the stars in the night sky.

Yet another release the whereabouts of how, when and where we stumbled upon it are something of a worrying mystery and again another release that sounds as though its time tunnelled its way from the early 80’s. out via stars and letters it’s by the excellently named empathy test, an EP no less entitled ‘throwing stones’ which comes comprised of four cuts daubed in the kind of ice sculptured elegance and revealing of a hitherto minimalist vintage that a little while ago was the trademark sound of the Weird label. obviously the blurry eyed tear stained title track will no doubt be the cut attracting radio play love given it trades with the enigmatic frost tipped bruising of an ‘Architecture and Morality’ OMD with Paul Humphries taking centre stage on the vocal duties whilst steeled to the wounded hush of China Crisis. That said  we suggest you fast forward through the listings sharpishly to the fragile glacial courtship that is ‘holding on’ – this hollowed heart stopping and  shadow playing brooding babe sounds not unlike a pulling away from the edge and darker A-ha space locked and cutting lunar shapes with a pre-industrial Depeche Mode whilst piloted by Seeland. Tasty stuff.



Here’s something of a damn fine curio and yet again another in a long of releases for which we’ve no idea how we stumbled upon (I’m suspecting the rapid onset of senility or something or other). Out via the wonderfully named Ciao Ketchup records (don’t ask) what we assume to be the debuting self-titled full length from Les Bonbons which somewhere along our travels we’ve managed to pick up a sound cloud player of, alas we haven’t had the time to give it a thorough listening service (we’ll save that for when we nab a hard copy). However all is not lost we’ve had a peak at the opening cut ‘le diable dans ma peau’ which we must admit is a bit of a head turner not least because it re-imagines a weird parallel universe carnival wherein old Tom Waits turntable testaments are dutifully groomed in noir trimmed strings and brass and grooved in the sophisticat prowling purr of Serge Gainsbourg and serviced with the most slyly slinky feline funky kookiness you’re liable to hear in an age.

How do they do it – you may well ask. Last year they gave us the formidable and on paper brave Strange Fish series spread across 5 volumes discounting the bonus 6th volume for patrons buying the set in one complete take this following a year topping  double subscribers freebie ‘the crabs sell out / freak out ’ in 2012 and a special crabstock live  seven inch last year. This year their finest vintage yet saw the year start with an enviable roster of releases by Schizo Fun Addict, Schnauser and Crystal Jacqueline, then there was the return of Astralasia to turntables followed by a rare appearance by Simones on 7 inch. To top it off, or so we all thought, there was the small question of the ‘7 and 7 is’ box set gathering together (obviously) 7 x 7 inches featuring the celebrated old guard covering seasoned selections of rare 60’s groove. And yes by this stage you’d rightly expect most labels to rest on their laurels not Fruits de Mer – currently about is the ‘postcards from the deep’ set – a formidable 10 flexi disc boxset replete with cards, a CD and a handy little box shaped like a clamshell. So while we are here marvelling whilst picking our jaws from the floor you’d expect the seasonal year ending subscribers freebie to be a catalogue filler given all the treats ushered out this year. Only it isn’t, for this year’s subscribers only selection is a formidable gathering of friends old, new and occasionally thought lost all paying tribute to Syd Barrett. Rather apt in our view not least since in my mind’s eye I’ve always seen Fruits de Mer as some haven for old school Barrett / Floyd waifs and strays, since the earliest days when its older brother Bracken records first started appearing on our doormat there was always a sense though not explicitly or obviously so of something subtle bearing the essence of a Syd flavouring. ‘A momentary lapse of vinyl’ is a frankly eye watering double disc happening that gathers together a formidable 30 strong song cycle. All quality control has been rammed up to maxima for this year end celebration which goes a little like this…..been far too long since Ilona V graced these pages, a more perfect set opener we couldn’t imagine, their version of ‘golden hair’ comes graced upon a haunting casing unto which the serenely eerie spectacle of shimmering orbs emerges through the twilight haze like some brief checking in by a ghostly apparition, if you are in need of reference markers you couldn’t go far wrong in describing it as a thawing Nico. Max Kinghorn-Mills might or might not be an actual band, if not then I’m suspecting not the name this mysterio came born with, whatever the case his / their rephrasing of ‘dark globe’ is peppered in the kind of softly wistful prairie son perfection that hints at a guarded love for the critically undervalued Soft Parade (the Anxious records version) albeit here dizzily dimpled in the crooked lolloping loveliness of a youthful early career gathering of kingsbury manx and of montreal types. Previously unheard and indeed unknown around here, Claudio Cataldi does a rather neat Robyn Hitchcock in situ with the Egyptians on the star glazed ‘she took a long cold look’ while crookedness aplenty is the order of the day for ZX+’s rebranding of ‘jugband blues’ whose clear disregard for time signatures and kaleidoscopic theatrics nods to a pickled and far out Cardiacs. James McKeown admired around these parts even if we don’t always get around to reviewing his related releases – resend links – we mislaid them – stumbles trippily in day dreaming formations across the warping wastelands of ‘dominoes’ along the way steadily losing touch with reality. Ah Sproatly Smith – of whom we will making an end of year resolution to pester and feature more in 2015 – are frankly beyond compare, ‘late night’ is found here captured live, a woozy sun kissed floral fancy all seasoned in sighing slides and a breezy vintage shimmered to an adoring of Curved Air and Mellow Candle. Adored around here the Chemistry Set fresh from their killer ‘elapsed memories’ set – in our humbled view their best moment yet stump up a freshly minted re-take of ‘see Emily play’ and take it by the hand from out of Barrett’s fried Carroll lysergic landscapes and send it to play in the sun along the way craftily skinning in some neat Beach Boys ‘heroes and villains’ motifs along with their own ‘we live as we dream…alone’. ‘scream thy last scream’ here recoded by the frankly immense Vespero is coiled in a weird hallucinogenic carnival of sound, several parts Gong, a little Cardiacs and the kooky warping of a young Sparks all coalescing into a head frying and freaked prog opera. Oh my – the magic mushroom band – by our reckoning one of the finest to ever have graced the pop cosmos here recalibrating ‘set the controls for the heart of the sun’ into a mind weaving meditative eastern mantra that might just outshine a gathering of both Goat, Master Musicians and Gnod types in so far as the pitching of third eye turn on tastiness. Fuzzy and gnarled as hell in a Dead Boys type way, the Jet Age drag out a punkoid take on ‘let’s split’ while Jim Jenkin another previously unheard of set a flame beneath Barrett’s wired and wonky ‘bike’ and replaces the originals eccentric whimsy with a fracturing frazzled Nightingales styled head kick. Todd Dillingham and Golly McCry (birth certificates please as proof) capture perfectly the nursery rhyme enchanted willowyness of ‘the Gnome’ to decorate it all manner of surreal strangeness and peculiar play which happily had us recalling the much missed Murmurs of Irma. And then there is the Mega Dodo contingent, a four pronged head off headed up by Mordecai Smyth who turns his gaze upon one of our personal favourite Barrett penned moments ‘candy and a currant bun’ here given a super sexy and sultry makeover that purrs and prowls across the grooves with cool cat like slinkiness. A near faithful kaleidoscopic trim from Sky Picnic for ‘Apples and Oranges’ might just paint swirly shapes on the eyeballs of those much loving of the Purple Gang while Octopus Syng do a wildly tripping cocktail out of ‘Flaming’ which between you and me we suspect its ingredients are heavily biased toward mushrooms of a magic kind. Unknown to us before today that is Wild Pink Yonder flirts with your listening lobes with a spot of nifty bubble grooved psych pop honeycombs which strangely enough joins the dots between the Heartthrobs, the Primitives and the darling buds. ‘Matilda Mother’ always the difficult one to truly get right you suspect and perhaps one of the more adventurous and complex offerings from Barrett’s fractured mind is here dutifully stripped back, dismantled and jigsawed together by Jack Ellister into a dissipating dream coat peppered in lysergic washes haloed in dronal tides which once faded emerges fully formed as a skedaddled noir jazz sortie ripe with wig flipping intent. ‘terrapin’ left in the hands of David CW Briggs assumes a wonderfully lolloping and smoked out off kilter Beck meets Simple Kid vibe while I  am voyager 1 round off CD1 and bring us neatly full circle with a hymnally hushed lunar rendition of ‘golden hair’ awash in bowed instrumentation. CD2 opens with Cary Grace – again another artist previously yet to trouble our hi-fi here coming up against ‘Cirrus Minor’ – a transfixing not say spectral pastoral posy ushered in to the sound of bird song and hazel tipped in a beautifully entrancing dream weave which once the arrest of a lone siren call fades is replaced a mind morphing slice of serene cosmicalia. Jay Tausig mentioned a little earlier this missive (and a little later again – just to keep you on your toes) peppers the listening space with some softly speckled and drifting lazy eyed psych pop for his interpretation of ‘fearless’. Mechanik don space helmets for some dandified motoric mind blasting for ‘remember a day’ while Folie Diamond stump up one of the sets highlights with their big beardy and out of it and wasted take on ‘let there be more light’. Like 1 am voyager 1, Rob Gould reveals a thing for bowed augmentation with the cosmic chime of ‘a saucerful of secrets’ – this dream dipped babe managing to touch base with both Stockhausen and Craig Padilla I admirable style. You can always rely on Sendelica to give matters a caning and ‘the nile song’ is no exception, enigmatic, poised and stately and possessed of the spirit of Jefferson Airplane at their most arresting. The fourth of the Mega Dodo quartet is the beguiling Crystal Jacqueline whose version of ‘Grantchester Meadows’ is just pure sonic sorcery while the portraits do a neatly bright eyed and sun shiney jig on their version of ‘Stay’. A kind of triptych of sorts ‘pastoral symphony’ by Extra features a serene suite dimpled by the ghosts of ‘cymbaline’, ‘green is the colour’ and ‘crying song’ which by these ears ought to be something that ought to appeal to the Terrascopic subscribers among you as it translates to the same mercurial craft of a blissed out youthfully fragile porcupine tree in parts whilst at other nodding to Dan Haywood and the New Hawks. Interstellar Emily nail down a pretty wig flipped version of ‘interstellar overdrive’ (be honest – what else did you expect) this one arriving adorned in 60’s keys and freaked out lost in the moment riff rupturing pyrotechnics while bringing the whole set to a rousing finale space rocking psych prog motoric messengers Vibravoid go headlong in the daunting netherworlds of ‘Chapter 24’ to get all experimental, weird and electronically freaked to venture landscapes once upon a time ventured upon by Louis and Bebe Barron albeit with the inclusion of the Clangers and Robbie the Robot.

Many thanks to Keith over at Fruits de Mer for sending over a spare copy of the remix CD that comes accompanying that forthcoming uber grooving tripadelic Coltrane set that pits the kaleidoscopic hive mind of the Earthling Society and Superfjord on opposite sides of limited coloured wax. Six humungous head trips daub this 70 minute mind frying experience with Astralasia opening the account with an 11 minute hyper driven cosmic brain spin of Superfjord’s cover of John Coltrane’s ‘love supreme’ here remodelled as the ‘deep magick’ remix – this mind warping slab of psychotropia blissfully engages worlds occasionally inhabited by psych cadet Sonic Boom whilst stopping off at various points to doff space caps to the trance toned battalion of the Ozrics as well as the smoked out and gone mystic mindset of those lost pioneers New Fast Automatic Daffodils – just don’t be none too surprised when bits of you start dissolving and forming strange shape cutting dances before your eyes. Superfjord’s own interpretation of the same cut can be found here captured from a live performance, man this wasted stuff, absolutely out of it bonged out acid fried psych wooziness imbibing heavily on a seriously wig flipped jazz tonality that trips its way straight off the turntable and into the core nexus of your subconscious to decorate it in smoking beatnik kaleidoscopia whilst simultaneously shaping up as though some magical and mystical carpet ride piloted by a stoned out Acid Mothers substance sharing with the Bardo Pond. Enter stage right Earthling Society whose frankly awesome re-drill of Alice Coltrane’s ‘journey in Satchidananda’ is here recalibrated by the trance toned hand of VHSHead who it must be said turn in a superbly panoramic Eastern trimmed mantra coiled in a serene glacial stillness rippled in subtly washes of cosmic sunspot activity. Next stopping point on your journey into the void, two cuts pitting both Superfjord and Astralasia in polar alignment, both inspired by John Coltrane’s ‘love supreme’ – the first ‘shamanic waterfall’ – a 17 minute brain melt retuned as a tripped out bliss kissed dream machine odyssey very much mining the shadow traced landscape of Spacemen 3 or more pertinently Spectrum albeit piloted by a super chilled hive consciousness piloted by fellow FdM alchemist Craig Padilla, while the other – the fracturing ‘fjord transit’ loses itself in deep meditative states slowly emerging to reality traversing the astral planes upon a senses destabilising motoric pulsar purring in its wake gaseous psychotropic vapour trails. Left to round up the set, Earthling Society set the navigation dials for the heart of the sun aboard the previously unreleased ‘Dharma Transmission’ – a strangely intoxicating sore thumb that finds the Earthling ones in playfully experimental moods even by their own high standards, here Australasian earthbeat, Vengelis overtures, Bebe and Louis Baron / Schaeffer / Stockhausen primitive electro-scapes, Neu! inflections and stoned out beatnik Bevis mirages all coalesce and converge into a deeply alluring slab of cerebral ju-ju. Quite frankly if you thought the brace of cuts on the Coltrane 7 where far out then this remix set might well prove to be the freakiest wig flipping outing ever to stagger out of the FdM sound house hands down.

Don’t know whether to laugh or laugh even more, do you reckon we could make the destruction of Julian Cope records a national sport. Of course we joke Jules. We say this because there’s a fair amount of pathological venting of anger being administered by hammers and baseball bats upon various Cope platters in the video to Eureka California’s wilfully deranged ‘I bet that you like Julian Cope’ that we are at present putting pen to letter suggesting a Morrissey remix. And no we don’t joke Stephen. Anyhow mini Stonehenge’s aside – nice touch that incidentally – this is probably the most unforgivingly feral, wired and frenzied 1 minute and 7 seconds you’ll encounter this missive and needless to say the rest of the year unless of course the Magik Markers make an unhinged last gasp band call before December run out of days – go on do it, do it, do it. Anyhow this is just pure manic delight built upon a stuttering and butchered Ramones coda that imagines a three way ringside head butt between the Violent Femmes, Teen Anthems and the Pooh Sticks, incidentally on the coolest of labels HHBTM  – so you know it’s a must.

If it weren’t for our feckless nature and incurably consistent talent for mislaying / losing and indeed forgetting about various downloads issued our way then we’d have gotten to this far sooner. LoveyDove pairs the collective talents of Azalia Snail and Dan West who together appear to have discovered lost song sheets packed with unfinished Bacarach scores or else cracked the theorem of time travel and haplessly crash landed in the late 60’s. Exploring some lost golden age of sound, the two sublimely fuse baroque pop with lounge, Francophile groove and flowery twee to creating woozy and fuzzy netherworlds. There’s a self-titled album about that we suspect we need to hear before we get very much older. Until then and for now we’ve been smitten in to surrender by a cut featured in the movie Space Station 76 entitled ‘less is never more’ which deliciously circumnavigates the  sonic worlds of Le Mans, L’Augmentation, Stereolab and the Sound Carriers and takes them on a mind morphing dreamy trip aboard a bliss kissed kitschy kaleidoscopic exotica pop magic carpet. Donning cosmic caps ‘luka fisher’ by contrast is haloed in a bubble grooved wrapping tripped upon a motoric underpin and silkily traced in an affectionately sultry strutting euro pop motifs that imagines a supercharged Space from the 70’s re-entering earth orbit to dock with Air. Assuming a soft psych shade adorned stroll much recalling of both Southall Riot and the criminally underappreciated Freed Unit ‘lou reed (don’t leave)’ which as the title hints is a tribute to the late Velvets man, this babe coming kissed with a delicately shimmering fuzziness that nods to the Jeffersons albeit as though rephrased by the Haight Ashbury. Adored in short.

A quick note from pipeline pedro (woah hold on wasn’t that a character from Blondie’s ‘rapture’ – of course I’m playing with your head and teasing) of remarquable stuff records alerting us of the imminent release of an EP featuring previously unreleased versions of Thunders groove – that’ll be Thunders as in Johnny. ‘real times’ be its name, it getting a release end of November – which I’m suspecting is – am I right in saying – Black Friday Record Store Day – I can’t keep up with these promotions these days. Anyhow 1000 copies on red (UK) and blue (USA), the set features 4 cuts produced by Lillywhite c.1978 comes replete with a poster and a photo coaster download card – looks quite spiffing if you ask me. Those of you nonplussed by the enthusiasm ought to check out the sneak pre teaser clip below of ‘(give her a) great big kiss’ which if anything comes adored in sumptuous 50’s styled teen purred traces of shh bop beat recalling the likes of Eddy Cochran and Alex Chilton. On our wants list that much I know is true.

Oh my – this bad babe has been the cause of mind wiring flashbacks since rearing upon our listening space, the latest from NY based trio GHXST entitled ‘galaxia’ is a hulking and brooding dark hearted mantra  emerging through a napalm haze threaded through with a doom dipped post-apocalyptic psych howl that quite frankly sounds not unlike some grim ritual to a black sun god embarked upon by the gathering of black Angels and Brian Jonestown types, certainly the best thing we’ve heard around here since that sublime janitors release on bad afro or anything bearing the name sonic cathedral tattooed on its hide, incidentally out via club mammoth.

Seesawing between enchantment and edginess, East London based trio Rubato arrived amid our listening space with an attaching press blurb promising ‘sounds like nothing you’ve heard’. Brave words with which to pitch up your tent up to, and it could have gone all horribly wrong as these things have a tendency to do if it weren’t for the small detail that ‘prelude with attitude’ is attached with a neo classical accoutrement spliced in elements of tension grizzled industrial grind simmered and sweetened by flotillas of musical mosaics whose trip hop tongue and symphonic wherewithal draws upon a lineage that sits somewhere upon the territorial family tree branch where at one end you might be inclined to find Moby whilst at the other Barry Adamson. struck with an unnerving sense of poise, elegance and magicalia on the evidence of this cut we suspect we need to hear more.

Ready to steal yourself in something truly ethereal and smouldered in the softly blossoming thaw of purring lunar pirouettes. Let us introduce you then to Corbu, a Brooklyn based 5 piece headed up by Jonathan Graves whose ‘promise me’ is due to embark upon pop’s orbital gravitational pull shortly via 3beat. This nocturnal love note comes traced and teased in the same kind of delicately demurred allure that at one time days gone past used to seduce the grooves of platters bearing the name of old school loaf recording stars Dark Captain Light Captain and more  specifically Seeland not to mention arrives in your listening space drawing you close with its quietly yearning murmured hush and frost framed sophistication which to us coalesces sublimely into something ripe for lights lowered affection.

We have, you won’t be too surprised to hear or read, managed to empty our heads and memory of exactly where or how we tripped across this. So while we try a spot of mind scouring visual following our tracks back type thing – no doubt meaning we’ll get lost somewhere along the line – so if all goes quiet shortly – send for rescue – here’s a little something by the Vicious Buzz of whom we have absolutely diddly information about (until that is we manage to nail either that errant email or recall where indeed we picked up the link)  – this we suspect falling off an album – track 3 as it happens entitled ‘in the air’. Alas no sound clips with which to share but safe to say we here a more than a tad smitten not least because this orbital love note appears to seductively freefall into the vapour trails of a cruise controlled pulsar craft navigated by Beatglider and assumes the kind of shimmering soft sheen cool that one suspects at least one number among their collective ranks has a secret stash of Homescience platters hidden for inspiration. Add the dreamy chill tipped nocturnal glow that bathes it and the incurably delicately affectionate yearn rippling from its core and I guess you could call it a slow burner. 

This is the annual Small Bear festive gathering which we will revisit in full via missives to come though not before a brief mention for three (okay four because we are greedy) carefully opened selections from the advent track listing. Entitled (cleverly I should add) ‘never mind the baubles here’s the small bear Christmas compilation’ (replete with mock Pistols sleeve) we’ve been quick to pick up the assorted seasonal soirees from familiar friends The Bordellos and Schizo Fun Addict (who should shortly be releasing a long promised split cassette – dare say we’ll get word on that the minute this is posted). Anyway sneak in with the playful ‘Christmas Mantra’ which as the title hints is just that, festive felicitations of love and peace set to a decidedly crooked lo-fi wooziness of chiming bells, drum machines, snowy shimmers, ghostly samples from ‘miracle on 34th street’, toytronics and some deliciously misty eyed post rockian noodling which all gather to coalesce into something trimmed in the kind of off centred kookiness you’d imagine escaping from the Freed Unit bunker though not before those imps the Cuban Boys had decorated it. As to the Bordellos, my my do I detect a grudge forming on the irreverent ‘happy Christmas (Alan McGee is an arse)’ – aligned to a seriously skewiff lo-fi psych beaten groove which baiting aside St Helens’ most famous snarl and sneer their way through 137 seconds of blanket bombing flat lining fuzz gouged snowball lobbing in the general direction of the former Creation head honcho all bookended by a choir boy reprise which we around here feel might just catch on this coming season time. Matt Bouvier steps in with the cheerfully uncheerful ‘Santa give me something to live for’ which once done with the bleary eyed opening tracing of bruised twinkles soon rears up close and personal like the onset of Santa’s reindeers over the hill to rip up the blues with a storming anthem charge that very much veers into festive territories you’d imagine would be found frequenting the grooves of a Wedding Present Christmas album. Previously unknown to us Harmony Dischord do some neat Dr Feelgood shenanigans on ‘ghosts’ and festoon the event with some superbly strutting power pop throbbed subtle glam. Does it for us – as said there will more in future write ups.

No sooner do we mention the aforementioned ‘baubles’ Christmas compilation from Small Bear and up pops a video for the postcode track ‘some things never change’ – a bit of an acutely slinky gem it is to that comes replete in smoking cool twanging reverbs and a softly teased crystalline psych purr that radiates with love crushed effervescence to sound like Melys (who these days this lot are evermore recalling) albeit rephrased through a Derrero viewfinder and spiked with spiky pop throb of throwing muses….

Back as promised with Adam Leonard, now midway through or thereabouts with the Octopus project which all things being well will see over the course of the next 8 months, 8 release and featuring 8 tracks all released on the 8th. The tracks feature an assortment of covers, live cuts (as with Fahey pastorally love note ‘my life’ featured here and culled from a rare CD-r set ‘to give up you have to bloody start’, rare audio from long since out of print stock and some rare unreleased gems prized from the Leonard archive. ‘Octopus part 4’ is the November selection which includes as its parting shot a sublime cover of Ultravox (mark 1)’s ‘just for a moment’ which we mentioned with much fondness elsewhere this missive. Taken from the ‘lucky seven’ soundtrack and to date previously unreleased ‘there is also tomorrow’ opens proceedings on this chapter, a sweet but teasingly brief glacial overture snow globed in a stately and stilled porcelain panoramic aspect. Staying with soundtracks – very loosely – dug out from that golden year of 2003 and prized from his ‘how music sounds’ set – ‘music for a slow motion film’ is adorned in the feint speckling of soft psych shimmers and ghostly arabesque swirls to craft out something that sounds not unlike a withdrawn and wounded Porcupine Tree happened upon in a late night studio rehearsal by Will Sergeant. In truth the best here and touched – one suspects – by Bowie / Eno’s immortal ‘Low’ there’s a chilling frostiness attaching to the previously unreleased ‘germans visit Frederic’ whose hollowing and edgy Mancini like sonic choreography had us much in mind of Gnac had he of course happened upon Bronnt in a dark shadow entry.  Elsewhere ‘the ballad of Brian Aldiss’ wheezes, yawns and weirds to a fracturing Barrett-esque mindset that pays nods aplenty to both Hitchcock and Orridge. Hitchcock as in Robyn is readily recalled again on the curiously saloon bar soiree that is the mellowing ‘taking time’ while ‘the twinkling of an eye’ – again pulled that aforementioned ‘how music sounds’ set is ghosted in a becoming atmospheric velour that recalls the quite perfect Grails. Essential then.

Nifty slice of earworm from Rivertairs, we do believe their debut release as it happens, the Manchester combo gaining critical momentum from supports for Space and wow notices for their three track demo outing ‘fool’s parade’ which alas too much grumbling and heavy heartedness we appear to have missed around these here parts. ‘Jack’ (incidentally revelling in the murderous macabre of the whitechapel vampire Jack the Ripper) is in the words of the band themselves ‘ a suspenseful sonance plucking the strings of the imagination’ which in truth sounds  about right to us given its burnished in the kind of scousadelic grooving that was once the trademark sound of the legendary Deltasonic imprint (see the Coral et al) though here garnished for added effect with an acutely trained ear for a spot of authentic retro glazed  hip shimmying 60’s beat pop panache that recalls a more lighter toned and youthful sounding Of Arrowe Hill.

With ‘adventures in ausland’ looming on the horizon, here’s a sneak peak of what’s to come from James Cook’s platter in the guise of the freshly minted single ‘Lilly (a lover’s dream). The first of a promised trilogy of videos ‘Lilly’ reveals superbly Cook’s eccentric persona, what first nods ever so subtly in the general direction of an ‘on broadway’ motif slowly but surely begins to sprout and blossom into a curious chamber psych sortie hinting at a guilty secretive crush on both Lupen Crook and Paul Roland with a side serving of Neil Hannon, though it’s the armoury of swaying strings tiptoeing and genuflecting amid the groove that adore it with a baroque pop eclecticism that much recalls the Left Banke.

A  Cocteau-ian dream waltz is probably the best way to describe the demurring ‘new born’. Prized from the Sounds of Sputnik full length of the same name, it’s a collaborative shared experience with shoegaze duo Ummagma who both gathered together enrich and add to each’s sonic spectrum – the sum greater than its parts if you must. ‘new born’ is aglow in an enigmatic gracefulness teased in a statuesque poise, draped in the fineries of a classicist sonic tongue that finds itself stealed between the tender, the bruised and the yearning, like an orbiting satellite relaying lost love noted distress messages into the heavenly voids serenaded seductively to an almost balletic arc that shimmers crushingly to sly surrender all the time dimpled in sepia hazes and ethereal glazes. In short utterly transfixing and as though visited upon by some celestial happening.

Man I’m so mellowed and laid back with this that we’re almost lying down just blissing out on the strange lysergic cloud formations imagining themselves upon our listening space ceiling. Alas absolutely bugger all information about these dudes who go by the curious name the limpid voyage sound – I’m suspecting they are based in Greece, but hey all you’re interested in is whether or not the track is much cop and I have to say it is for ‘barbarette’s summer coif’ is one of two cuts from a double b-side release on diskex records and kookily shapes up to sounds like the kind of 60’s  space age lounge ju-ju you’d imagine being piped through the lunar corridors of Space 1999’s Moonbase Alpha by an attending consortium of Moog marauding musical magicians gathered and assembled from the unified ranks of Stereolab, L’Augmentation, Pram and Plone all paying and playing some tripped out skewiff homage to Vangelis as impishly overseen by Joe Meek – admirers of platters grooving out of trunk and finders keepers will be richly rewarded.

A lovely little email from Minko who you may recall sometime last year (around this time as it happens) featured in these very pages with the strangely beguiling ‘creature’ / ‘sybil of Delphi’ and who having recently relocated to Cornwall leaving London behind had garnered the praise and support of no less a talent as Nick Duffy – brother of Stephen (Lilac Time). Following a rather quiet year Minko is now set to break cover with a new double A side single ‘I miss you tomorrow’ and ‘Mrs Magpie’. The former a dinky delight about missing someone you haven’t met yet courts upon a delicately demurring breezy tailwind whereupon its scoots through with such alarming allure to whittle out a rather frisky slice of sparsely crafted twee folk that hand holds skipping light headedly lost in dreamy pastures traced upon a bittersweet 60’s styled French pop bouquet that imagines Le Mans fronted by France Galle translating lost scores by the Sundays. However as flirty and attractively addictive ‘I miss you tomorrow’ is it’s the flip cut that had us a purring not least given over to the fact that ‘mrs magpie’ inhabits the kind of strange misty faraway netherworlds that link and sew both Susan Christie and Linda Perhacs into the colourful tapestry of femme folk along with Laura J Martin and in so doing set her aside as a musician uniquely gifted by a creative spirit that always manages to be ahead of her peers and already on the next page with this bewitching and spectral wood carved  rustic posy drawing you close with its hushed and intimate invitation daubing your monochrome listening days in vivid pastoral washes all showered in nursery rhyme enchantment.

I suspect sometime shortly before the Christmas shenanigans arrive that there will be a rather rousing festive tales from the attic lurking in cyberspace literally bulging with seasonal sentiment, the odd misplaced chord and the occasional barbed ditty, I mean there are only so many times you can listen ‘merry Xmas everyone’ before the dread spectre of your hidden dark half takes hold and control and proceeds to kick and punch the household sound system to destruction. If this sounds like you – yes you over there at the back – fearing brain rot from the endless cheerless loop of yesterday Christmas’ in the shape of slade, wizard, shaky and wham et al while all you crave is sparse minimalism and a sonic adulation of the true Christmas spirit, then fear not my weary listening discipline for we might just have what the good doctor ordered. Admired around these here parts, the Non Nonconformists – remember them from a little earlier when we raved over their debut full length – has just eked out their own Christmas sortie with a 6 second – well in truth – 1 second – eat your heart out Extreme Noise Terror. Anyhow whether some mischievous commentary upon the nation’s current austere programme or else a new form of musical species that scribes from the Wire are currently planning to lay claim to naming like say ‘unconcretism’ and into the bargain following it up with a three half page unreadable diatribe one thing we do know is that it saves from the tedium of tears, trinkets and turntable terror – but do remember not to blink.

Sounding not unlike some lost Lee and Nancy slice of voodoo groove shepherded away through the thumbing through of lost Waits manuscripts, new thing by Dutch combo De Staat entitled ‘down town’ comes pulled from an EP (‘Vinticious Versions’) for cool green recordings and finds them reworking a handful of cuts from their three album strong back catalogue and re-appraising them in a newly forged sonic landscape. Much like the imagined face down between Cave’s Bad Seeds and Mick Harvey. ‘down town’ arrives blooded upon a Lynchian styled brooding, a shadow forming preacher man groove sways with a slinky dead eyed noir tasting tipped in darkly grounded blues accent all trimmed delicately in a late night smoky jazz glazing replete with prowling twang arpeggios and momentary apertures of divine dreaminess. Does it for us.

And so we return to Ummagma whose latest ‘Kiev remixes’ set features a seductively purred rephrasing by in demand Japanese producer Haioka. This honey arrives dream glazed in vapour trailing celestial mirages tenderly framed and beguiled in the kind of amorphous textures that in the blink of a star gazed eye could easily pass for some ethereal out of body variant of the Cocteau Twins seductively cosy toeing to an equally frost tipped Sakamoto, divine is I recall the perfect way to describe it.

This is rather gorgeous not least because it comes possessed of a beguiled weightlessness that has it arcing apparition like courting a bruised vulnerability shimmered in monochrome motifs and surrendered in a disarmingly attractive neo classical aura peppered in vapour trailing sighs and the lightest touching of key flurries. It’s by Lyttet – a French / Irish duo who as the press release proudly describes collaborate by means of file sharing ‘à distance’ and have so far eked into the pop cosmos one single in the shape of ‘forever those days’ with this one entitled ‘distance’ shortly to follow in arresting pursuit. In short the best thing we’ve heard around of these parts since the advent of No Ceremony upon our sound player and certainly something that ought to have those among you loving your dream pop subtly daubed in glacial elegance adoring in swoon formations with its ghostly lovelorn whisper.

Pushing my neck out a little, I’m going to say rather bravely that this might well be the most divine thing you’ll hear this side of the seasonal surge, new thing from the Unthanks entitled ‘mount the air’ – the title track no less which is being sent out into the December cold as a herald alerting to the arrival of the ensembles forthcoming February pencilled full length set of the same name. what a way to break a four year silence than with this numbingly beautiful wood crafted slice of deeply alluring folk noir, without doubt the finest fancy to have flirted upon on our decks of this ilk since that rather eloquent and enchanting Lisa O’Piu single for Autumn Ferment (whatever happened to them) and the long missed days of Shady Bard. Utterly adorable and really beyond words that could truly do justice to describing its beauty, everything about it just purrs – its poise, graceful majesty and that sense that you’re being taken gently by the hand to fabled twilight worlds where roam fairy tales and nightmares while this warming winter song delicately smothers you in an archaic musical tradition caressed in lost folk tongues almost as though as were Mum where channelling Wyatt. The version on the album incidentally is extended, blossoming to an apparently breathtaking 10 minute centrepiece whilst sometime late February / March the collective will be hitting the road for a short UK tour. Essential.

Now I refuse to be drawn into such semantics as to whether a TV series by the name of ‘Osiris’ actually transmitted in the late 60’s – I leave you to draw your own conclusions as to whether this is just another spot of hijinks presided over by the Holy See. One thing that is a certain and more pressingly of relevance to us is that this latest visitation from out of the Villa 9 sound labs courtesy of Simon Magus and the Holy See finds the ‘theme from Osiris’ sumptuously decoded and draped in the kind of classic vintage era ITC / TV21 grooving that one time or another appeared the bread and butter of such in demand composers / sound choreographers as John Barry, Edwin Astley and Ron Grainer with this appearing as a distant middle sibling to both ‘Vendetta’ and ‘Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased)’ whilst the adoring of Harpsichords throughout nods ever so subtly to 90’s forward thinkers Broadcast and Pram and might well strike a chords with those Italo doyens of retro – the Shado imprint not to mention aficionados of the late 70’s ‘hammer house of horrors’ series.

Picked this up from a facebook posting, new thang from Anton Barbeau entitled ‘clubbing in Berlin’ via beehive records – a damn fine thing it is to that manages to relocate Kraftwerk’s Kling Klang base of operations to Studio 54 while flying in Georgio Moroder to decorate the decks and give the spectacle an uber retro glazed classic era Blitz club throb which apart from anything else ought to have those much admiring of everything from Visage to Minty literally gagging.

Here’s Gazza the Numan revealing his sci-fi influences for a short BFI promo everything from Gerry Anderson’s early outings into TV puppetry via ‘supercar’ to the genre defining ‘blade runner’……




Incoming via those purveyors of bad boogie rocket recordings, the next in their ‘collisions’ split series (that’ll be release number 4) sees two leading lights of the Italo psych / drone scene squaring up to each other across twelve inches of heavy duty wax (at least I’m sure it’s on 12 inches because the white hills / heads face down was). Anyhow arguments over size aside Evil Blizzard do their stuff with the additional assistance of teeth of the sea acting as sorcerers apprentices while on t’other side lurks Mamuthones whose ‘don’t be choosy’ assumes something of a mind wiping monolithic hypno-vibe tethered to a devilishly prowling motorik underpin amid whose frazzled mantra a psychosis bubbles with white hot locked groove tension dinked by a side winding riffola that courts the kind of flatlining fringe flicking skull fracturing that has television remodelled by a youthful left hand albeit subtly garnished with a jazz mindset. Damn fine if you ask us.

Seriously I lose track of these things, so if forced down with hands tied behind my back and subjected to tickle torture I’d be inclined to say that I’m fairly certain we’d encountered Scandinavian indie pop heroes Honeymilk in previous despatches. Second EP ‘Sanguine Skies’ is just out – or at least about to emerge coinciding with a short UK tour. From that EP ‘a scene in between’ has been sent ahead on reconnaissance sounding for all the world as though it’s just been dropkicked from the mid 90’s and arriving to do bad things across your turntable with the kind of pristinely turned sassy swagger of a youthful Charlatans gone wayward after sneaking lessons from Primal Scream, Soup Dragons and the Roses whilst arming themselves to a subtle though acutely infectious soft psych soul rubbing built upon a rolling and smoking underpin all kissed off with a rousing anthemic fanfare. What more could you possibly ask for. Quite possibly the coolest thing we’ve heard all day.

This babe literally purrs with sexual tension, new thing from the highly thought of the plastics, ‘All I really want’ is all at once slinky and curvaceous not to mention arriving with its seduction setting on maxima, aligned to an attention grabbing armoury that freefalls between a defences breaching poise and a prowling cool in the blink of an eye all this decoded and laced in the skin prickling arrest of a swooning panic attacking purr which all said by our reckoning sounds not unlike a horny variant of Mansun. Recommended in case you hadn’t gathered by now.

And now for something that’ll truly blow you away, not by force of sonic, sound or bluster but by sheer nature, quite something else this ‘un and while lights in the attic have always been good on delivering quality time and time again – this believe you me blows all that that has gone before in the water. The name Sylvie Simmons may among most be more familiar in music journalism spheres, author, critic and historian she has since the late 70’s plied a reputable craft and garnered herself that most rare respect among her peers. What’s not so obvious though is that journalism was a happy by product borne from out of a hesitancy to chance a dream of performing herself. It would take the persuasive call of Howe Gelb last year to get her to commit to tape, and on that tape recordings that would shape this her debut album. Buddying up to Light from the Attic makes total sense, of course the label has an enviable repute and pedigree at unearthing lost nuggets from forgotten vaults with their catalogue by and large sounding like a vintage archive or more so a library of overlooked wonders. Rarer still the outlet for a debuting full length. But then hearing ‘you are in my arms’ and the surface contradictions soon began to dissolve and disappear for this comes phrased in the kind of sepia framed timelessness softly spell crafted in a delicately demurring twinkling 50’s velour that hints to a bittersweet song craft long since forgotten, here trembled and softly spun braided upon a lolloping country tweaked motif that aches and coos to sound like something dreamed from a love lorn exchanging over a crossroads garden fence  between Doris Day and Patsy Cline with a side serving of Isabelle Campbell and Karen Dalton for added measure. Unreal.

Those of you wondering what various members of the Foxes have been doing since going on an extended hiatus might do well to hook up to the Octopuses amid whose ranks you’ll find lurking Adam Bell and Alan Grice. Pressed up on a cassette the four track ‘cool story bro’ single promises to be something of a 90’s neo psychedelic revivalist and should give hint as to what’s expected of the bands forthcoming debut full length ‘yes please’. Imagined as Adam watching an old TV performance of the band from that un-golden year 1985, ‘cool story bro’ chirps and dallies with a subtle vintage sounding electro prog pop cool that curiously chimes in unison to those other arbiters of the retro Goodnight Lenin albeit here straying ever so slightly left of centre and as though glittered up and mainlining on a strange species of Supertramp, though that’ll be a strange species of Supertramp channelling on Thomas Dolby frequencies whilst transmitting on devilishly infectious MOR hybrids. Flip side ‘girl’ isn’t bad either, a total differing beast which from the very brief sample we’ve heard appears to be freewheeling in the same kind of day-glo new wave Buzzcock-ian groove that the Scratch managed to make their trademark sound. And before we omit to say – out via the lick music imprint.

Back with Darren Hayman, just eyed this on a twitter post – indeed before you ask – yes we are omnipresent and yes we are watching you Ed of Essex and put it down you don’t know where it’s been. Anyhow we just spotted this and am now feeling miserable that we’ve a sizeable hole in our record collection, it’s by the Papernut Cambridge who oft feature Mr Hayman on drums though on this occasion have rested the usual restrictions to allow him to dabble in a spot of keyboard and saxophone playing. Available as a handsome three x 7 inch boxset or your bog standard CD variant ‘there’s no underground’ collects together 12 cuts with various bonus cuts and other such alternative mixes – a copy of which I suspect – we really must grab as our own before we get any older. For now here’s (I think) a sneak preview taster entitled ‘nutflake social’ – a bubblegrooved extravaganza that’s managed to time travel itself back to the early 70’s to buzz bomb itself on a tangy mouth popping sherbet cocktail of glammed out power pop references along the way nodding to t-rex, wizard and the rocky horror picture show whilst very much fuelled on the lo-fi loveliness of a youthful pooh sticks.

I’m fairly certain that as yet we haven’t had the pleasure of encountering this dream dipped delight, nine exquisite minutes of leave all your troubles at the door, hook up, tune in and lose yourself astral ambience in the company of eat lights become lights as rephrased by fuxa via ‘into forever’. Words fail. A full on immersive experience traversing into the very heart of the minds cosmic eye arrested to the lullaby lilt of lunar chimes upon a celestial carousel spraying an alluring peppering of heavenly radiance like an out of body at rest ‘at bracken’ era FortDax. Utterly transfixing.

Bugger me this is best filed under uber jaw dropping psychotronic groove. Just had a note from the band with download links to their forthcoming set ‘anima mundi’ which alas we haven’t had a chance to hear in full just yet though judging by this sneak preview ought to shape up to be a beast of a platter when it emerges in the new year. Of course we refer to Wales’ purveyors of psych prog ju ju Sendelica who’ve just dropped this monumental skull splitter entitled ‘master Benjamin warned young Albert not to step on the uninsulated air’. This sub 13 minute bad boy sees them traversing the kind of heads down brain mushing sonic trajectory that Mugstar have cornered as their own in recent years and the Earthling Society appear acutely adept at kicking out at the drop of a cosmic hat. a hulking head trip nailed to the floor by a grinding motorik grooving upon which all manner of melodic mirages pulsate and fracture causing your perspective axis to wobble and go all skewiff and off kilter, add in the feint traces elements of tropicalia and the bliss kissed hazes and its guaranteed some of you will not be returning from this frazzled kraut juggernaut with all your bits and mind in the right places. Available in a plethora of limited coloured wax editions though sadly the must have box with rare as hen’s teeth splatter wax variant,  t-shirts, cd’s, demos and all manner of hand crafted goodies has long since left the stall. Boo hoo.

Many thanks to Carlo of Fuzz Club records who sent us a message giving a heads up to a handful of well-heeled releases that should by rights be on the festive wants lists of all in tuned shade adorned day-glo dudes not least the hot off the press news of a forthcoming uber limited black angels / sonic jesus split. Before all that though there’s the small detail of outings by Singapore Sling and the Underground Youth (both of whom will feature a little further on this missive). For now though – and again due on the blocks for a closer inspection later on is what on first listening is proving to be an essential 2 disc compilation entitled ‘reverb conspiracy’ which features a 15 track gathering of the psych clans among the track listing a veritable roll call of doyens of bonged out groove including Camera, Mugstar, the Oscillation, Lola Colt et al – all of whom will be inspected more closely in a future dispatch. That said you don’t get off that easy for the heads among you (not that you should need prompting) may do well to note the inclusion of a revamped version of Goat’s ‘hide from the sun’ featuring a guest appearance by BJM’s Anton Newcombe – this version spooked, spell crafted and swirled in all manner of dissipating wooziness and stoned out mirages so potent that one whiff could floor a floppy fringed psychedelic horse let alone those well versed in chemical concoctions and here found channelling some far eastern mystic while snake dancing to the most insanely curvaceous arabesque motif we’ve heard since the cavalry came hurtling over the hills charging to the fanfare of an Invaders of the Heart ditty. And as though that wasn’t enough and just to prove we here are no slouches when it comes to spotting a good ‘un three tracks in, there’s always Deathcrush to play austere death disco tag courtesy of the formidable ‘you now’ which if your none too careful has the unnerving ability to turn to stone all who get caught in its frenzied glare – and should be something on the radar of those much admiring of both the Vibration and Controller. Controller. And just as we were about to wrap matters up for now up pops this sparsely etched dark beauty to vie for our affections – from the excellently named the History of Colour TV – the ice dripped early 80’s bruised ‘suddenlines’ slipstreams solemnly and seductively into the sonic vapour trails once emitted by the likes of b-movie, zerra 1, modern eon and the wild swans to allure all with its quietly majestic dream popped bliss kissed grandeur. Oh blimey the Singapore Sling is pretty nifty too – look just leave it alone till next time.

This I’m not too ashamed to admit has been causing no amount of hysteria and hijinks since being discovered sitting up on our welcome mat begging like an impish and excitable puppy wanting to play mischief. Debut full length from Aeolipile whose limited seven inch release from early summer you may well remember (and dare I say hope you purchased) knocked us bandy and flying into next week serving up some of the most wilfully obtuse, angular and frenzied ear happenings we’d had the pleasure of hearing that season. ‘mapping the diaphragms of drowning cats’ is the first of a brace of quality skewed ear gear heading out of the foolproof projects sound house right now this babe coming piped in molten hot free jazz squeals the likes of which that should have the heads of Ayler purists at best case scenario popping at worst positively melting. Erratic, demented and above all furiously caustic, Aeophile do things under the flag of jazz that might lead some to suspect just might be illegal or at least frowned upon. Squirrelling ad hoc time signatures – what am I saying time signatures this is pure spontaneous combustibility which in recent memory the last time we heard anything veering anyway near its sound space was perhaps that recent can can heads outing or further back still inside ov a butchers shop. And don’t get me talking angular the pitching here is so irregular and obtuse that you might need a protractor to gage its acuteness. As to the sounds, a positive anarchic disfigurement of the melodic form, skedaddled and frenzied, there’s an abruptness rather more an urgency as they try insidiously to superglue the disparate forces of James Chances and the Contortions and Henry Cow with opening cut ‘apportioning God’s piece on the pissed’ being particularly singled out and sure to give your sound system a heady workout not least because it sounds like Tubby Hayes on bad acid. Somewhere else lurking the noise niking no wave seizure of ‘the old which pocket shuffle’ and the frankly odd and worryingly fried ‘ondol’ which marks its spot in out hairing even the mighty Apatt at their most impish. Best of the set though in terms of head trepanning you into next year is the frankly barking and fearfully head melting. Proceed of course at pace but with due care. Available as a limited to just 75 physical CD or else download.

What strange chemical additives west hill blast quartet are on is clearly a subject matter up for debate though one things for certain they’ve a curable knack of terraforming sonic landscapes out of barren nothingness with kitchen sinks, variously assembled appliances and the odd penny whitle being thrown into the kooky soup for good measure. ‘blast #2’ out now via the wilfully un-hip foolproof project imprint is the Caines, Spicer, Garside and Pyne concocted second full length. Again circumventing the outer regions of the jazz sonic dictionary in so much as it’s wildly freeform and removed of barriers, walls and parameters, its possessed of a playfulness so absent from its partner in crime Aeolipile’s debut that rather than seeking to turn your headspace into mush is more content to send you on a surreal and zonked out trip into freakville weirdness. Yes of course there are reference markers that man Tubby Hayes looms large though scratch a little a let the blighter soak and permeate into your listening space and what you slowly begin to hear are elements of chamber jazz, native sounds, art pop and skronk along with a curt nodding to brand x and a whole heap of Bablicon (not least as on the rain swept noir of ‘lonesome etchings’ our favourite here – but shush don’t tell the others) though it’s on ‘spake whackin’’ were they appear to guided by the spirit of Goons musical meisters Max Geldray and the Ray Ellington quartet and dropping some serious Goonland /  Michael Bentine lunacy with those imps Volcano the Bear cooking up the beard stroking groove. As appears to be the case with all things foolproof projects this comes in an ultra limited 75 only pressing with download copies for the turntables light among you  Smoking.

Now you won’t be too surprised to hear that we’ve mislaid the email that announced this to our ear space but then Damn Vandals are no strangers to these pages for ‘twist up and tangle’ a twinset released earlier this year had us cooing in the aisles making fond eyes at the hi-fi. This time of asking two more killer slabs of garage growled groove in the shape of ‘cities of a plastic world’ and ‘too lazy to die too stoned to live’ – the former a wig flipped locked grooving mama that struts and swaggers with cool aplomb and a teeth bearing scowl rogering your sound system with a rumbling rout that sounds like some sleaze slimed boys night out undertaken by the Jim Jones Revue and the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – bad assed groove. That said the latter cut is no shy wallflower purred as it is with the kind of cock sure fuck you grooving of a prime time Godfathers.

And here’s the video to that quite wonderful hillstrom and billy single mentioned elsewhere here – or here in fact

And so we return back to Roadside Picnic for a brace of releases imminent on the Jehu and Chinaman overseen plastik tonez imprint and with them an apology to Justin Wiggan for the delays thus far in getting these out. You may recall us mentioning the imprints debuting outing – a phonic reconstruction of Queen’s ‘sheer heart attack’ – all part of a proposed 10 set odyssey all coming pressed up on strictly limited cassette issue (10 in all with no expectation or plan to repress). First up a quite extraordinary rephrasing of Kate Bush’s critically acclaimed centrepiece ‘hounds of love’ – here recoded as ‘HNDZOLV’ – a truly amazing journey into Bush’s imagined dark psych, analysed and rethreaded through his Roadside Picnic eye Wiggan has dissembled the original and reconstructed it by way of his own impish appreciation, what could have gone horribly wrong is instead resuscitated anew to fall succinctly between lengthening trademark passages steeled in disquieting eeriness and moments of tranquil beauty. Some thirty years since its emergence the enchanted landscapes carved out by Ms Bush have grown wild and feral, a ghostly aura presides over Wiggan’s aural safari, the textures and motifs of the original are found subsumed, more so cannibalised into a hugely listenable albeit dislocated 60 minute weird stew that lifts to moments of delicately dinked radiance down to chill tweaked intervals of desolation and detachment. Here found sounds, sonic manipulation trickery, native calls, spliced loops and white noise dialogues terra form these lands anew, the recognisable sound of ‘running up that hill’ appears rephrased as a slow sorrowful dronal tide while the author hones in to extrapolate and enhance ‘the ninth wave’ suite with most notably ‘hello earth’, ‘and dream of sheep’ and ‘waking the witch’ interweaved and coalesced to forge the re-appraisals building blocks.

As a mark of respect celebrating 10 years passing here’s that John Peel bloke and his desert island discs…..

that Peel bloke again this time his appearance on Room 101…..

summer passes and the season of death and renewal is upon us as we pass through the Autumn solstice with Samhain fast approaching, what better way to wrap up for the hibernation than with an hour’s worth of wyrd folk recitals courtesy of ‘a minstrel came out of the meadow’ podcast. Gathered here are some of the finest purveyors of musical magicalia scored in ancient dialects, 18 sacrificial sonic lambs for the winter harvest feature within, some known and familiar others as mysterious as the mosaics they murmur. Bewitchment and beguilement await beyond the twilight veil, for here you’ll encounter the frankly near perfect the hare and the moon with the spellcrafting ghostly pagan folk posy ‘the rolling of the stones’ and  the heavenly choral recitals of ‘the call’ by Mervyn Williams with Apollo 5 performing while at the other end of the sonic table lurks Keith Seatman whose frankly odd and decidedly disorientating ‘into the well’ peaks into the back of the Radiophonic cupboard to eke out something much reminiscent of the ghostly desolation once committed to wax by the much missed Stylus for the mighty Ochre imprint albeit here as though tweaked by a super chilled Wagon Christ. Somewhere else Concretism whose debut full length should be with us any day soon, serves up ‘rabies warning’ and with that very much traverses into Zombi / Steve Moore horizons. moments of sheer serene beauty as on Wyrdstone’s spring heeled finitely plucked rustic fancy ‘lost at ty canol’ which aside having us much minded of Fahey chimes deliciously to a deceptively dreamy artistry that recalls that sound sculpture David A Jaycock. Moving further along the dial and sounding not unlike a youthfully bliss kissed flying saucer attack transmitting love note motifs across the lunar voids perches lost trail’s ‘black clearcut forest of damaged polaroids’ while quite something is Emily Jones’ ‘little ghost’ – a forest dwelling fantasia of succulently jubilant flutterby’s crystal tipped in woozy folk mosaics – an utterly beguiling listening experience which among this impressive call to arms figures as the best moment here. Admirers of Dubstar at their most vulnerable will do well not to resist the lunar pop charms of the purring ‘the bailor’ by  frost tipped electro poppers Kid Moxie which acts as a perfect partner for the divinely tear trimmed cosmicalia of the soulless party’s ‘death of an astronaut’.


incoming from the inflexion imprint and taken from self titled debut full length platter, Dolman – who feature amid their ranks members of DROKK and Malachai – are set to release ‘the rainbow’ which if you haven’t heard thus far on your travels we suggest is ripe for kerchiefs at the ready for a hollowing beauty it be, dark noir classicism softly purring  like something emerging from an underground Bristol scene of the early 90’s, this quietly seductive slice of spectral soul comes ached and bruised in a distressed vulnerability so crushed you feel duty bound to offer a consoling arm. Also included is a simply divine remix by Hypersync which sets the original into lunar orbit to align with the sepia stirred soul cool of Musetta.

Best get ready to strap yourselves in, don your space helmets and affix your visor shades for here’s something truly special and dare we say mind bending. A mammoth 62 minute head trip featuring a studio head to heading deep psych summit meeting gathering together Russian kosmiche-nauts the legendary flower punk and dvory – the former featuring amid their ranks members of Organic is Orgasmic and Grand Astoria. Entitled ‘the time, the place’ this hulking dream trip has, as you’d rightly imagine being afforded a 62 minute workspace, time to get – shall we agree to say – a little loose and woozy, draped in dream weaved finery the opening passages float, dissolve and dissipate like some tripped out Ariel Kalma meditation albeit flavoured in Bill Laswell essences, dissolving dub dialects and trip toned tableaus have you much recalling a stoned out and reclining Green Milk from the Planet Orange getting high and wasted on Amon Duul mantras, genteel and serenely dreamy. Twenty minutes in and things begin get a lot darker, fog bound fanfares usher in the onset of dronal tides wherein matters get a little Roy Montgomery in terms of feel, mood and atmospherics before returning full circle heading home upon – as were – woozy astral glides stopping of briefly to daub your head space in a momentary flash of dust draped Tibetan mysticism. One for Embryo purists we suspect.

One of the finest releases to appear on the adored Hidden Shoal imprint in recent times – and believe you me there have been many to choose from – was a rather beguiled outing from the Kramies entitled ‘wooden heart’ – a six track EP no less which is being made available for a very limited time for free to download – and we suggest you do just that. Why should I you might rightly question – well simply because amid these six delicately demurred treats there’s a sense of finite craftsmanship and a peerless pop brain at work here that’s metered out to a song vocabulary that’s steeled in sensitivity and cradled in tenderness, in addition though we’d find it hard to believe you needed further encouragement, the EP features a rare guest appearance by Grandaddy man Jason Lytle. As to the sounds within, simply something else, statuesque, fragile and deeply touching, here you’ll find  the dream dipped porcelain poise lushly serenading ‘wooden heart’ spirits together the collective artistry of both the Crimea and Mirror Mirror while the fragile yearnful crush of ‘sea otter cottage’ mines deep the heartbreak of Julian Lennon’s ‘saltwater’. Somewhere else ‘upon the northern isles’ is gracefully wrapped in a sepia trimmed spectral gauzing all delicately hollowed in an ethereal carefree hush all framed in a humbling and stilled widescreen aspect. All said dreamy, demurring and emotionally destroying. You can download the EP from here –

While in case you missed them first time of asking – those previous Kramies mentions in these pages…..

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

For archives and other happening gubbins –

For email –

Networking –

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

As ever take care of yourselves…..xx

All rights reserved – Marklosingtoday ©




Ghost stories corner…….

A view from a hill…….

Whistle and I’ll come for you – a televisual adaption of the MR James tome, this one from ’68 stars Michael Hordern……..

John Bowen’s ‘the ice house’…….

‘the tractate middoth’ …..

A little comedy methinks, a gem from the BBC vaults, from ’56 this is the classic Hancock’s Half Hour team – Hancock, James, Williams, Kerr and Jacques in one of only three surviving Christmas specials….

A brace of Cocteau carols…..

Perfection from Low – a little something from a few years back……..

The best Christmas song this year……incidentally by Low…..

Bet this gets pulled as soon as its posted, BBC – Christmas ’72 – this was the BeeB’s chosen ghost story for TV airing that year, by Nigel Kneale it provides both writing and screen visual adaption at its very best, still chills 40 plus years on…….

Another of the sadly fallen with a classic Christmas tune to boot……rest in peace Greg Lake…..

And finally the best Christmas song ever……

Kate Bush with the Drake-ish ‘December will be magic’

Anyhow have yourselves a great holiday period, coming soon a 20 part ‘look what we sneaked online while you were busy sleeping’ – an exhaustive gathering of all the reviews we’ve posted this year – mainly to clear the decks anew for 2017 and because we are feeling lazy………if we can be bothered that is……

As ever many thanks for all your comments, support and kindness during the last 12 months, keep the records coming is all we can say……contact details as follows….

EM –

FB –

Twitter – it might be marklosingtoday – can’t remember – email us and we’ll check

Yer actual real life losing today sound shed…. 46 Webster Avenue, BOOTLE, Merseyside, L20 9JF, UK

Take care of yourselves and wishing you all a peaceful and prosperous 2017……

Mark x  

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