archiv – singled out – missive 100…

originally appeared online at losing today in September 2006……this edition featured…..

beesewax, and what will be left of them, the little explorer, donderdag, clearlake, open mouth, musetta, keyboard rebel, supreme vagabond craftsman, will tang, fade to sepia, the deodates, parka, mr fogg, bauer, the yearning, from the shards of comets, godlike and electric, veldt, Wilder Gonzalez Agreda,Yellow 6, regina spector, birdpen, om, six organs of admittance, DJ Methodist vs. Joan AP Shap, ruby tombs, kista, the clerks….

Missive 100 – part 4
Beezewax ‘When you stood up’ (Reveal). I’ve probably said this more times than I care to mention or count, but I consider myself much privileged doing these little musings especially when something as wonderful as this little two track teaser from Beezewax comes into view on the over used hi-fi. Those bemoaning the state of music in general obviously have their dial set to the wrong frequency – each passing week or more rightly as is the case sometimes, each passing day something arrives that instantly tunes into our senses and gives us much heart and hope that there is more to the big money over advertised major label sh*te currently masquerading as fashionable pop accessories to be found in return for a spot of digging around and turning up your blinkers to the vast swathes of hype. This release is the first of two featured outings for the fledging Derby based label Reveal, handsomely packaged things they are – coloured vinyl 7”’s housed in sturdy card sleeves accompanied by a dinky 3” cd featuring the same cuts replicated – one assumes for the benefit of those without hi-fi’s though alternatively it could be for hardened audiophiles without cd players. Whatever the reason it’s such an obvious and simple idea you wonder why it took so long for anyone to think of it. It’s hard to believe that Norwegian quartet Beezewax are this year celebrating their 10th anniversary who have to date have three full lengths under their belt with a fourth entitled ‘Who to salute’ due for UK release imminently – an album which we do freely admit to being much smitten by. In a nutshell this lot piss pristine power pop like its fast going out of circulation. ‘When you stood up’ lifted from the aforementioned forthcoming long player is a treasure is succulently carved with the silken strains of power pop prowess an equal if there could ever be one in terms of sensitivity and majesty as the Velvet Crush’s classic ‘Ash and Earth’ as though put through a 70’s MOR blender – softly alluring and blessed with an undeniably tenacious hook line that could have easily have been ripped from Chris Stamey’s secret stash of catchy chord sequences. Flip over for the equally gem like ‘Take any life’ in whose company you feel strangely compelled to keep peeking out of the window to make sure its not snowing given that it has a veritable Xmas feel to it so much that you swear it could in fact be the work of a strange marriage between East 17 and the Dream Academy, nevertheless a single suitably equipped to soundtrack any summer.

The Little Explorer ‘Chair Legs’ (Reveal). Second featured release from the Reveal stable comes courtesy of Derby based quartet The Little Explorer. This time pressed up on snow white vinyl this lot last featured in these pages ages ago (Missive 77 to be precise) with that ultra limited and rather tasty looking debut release for Time Travel Opportunities entitled ‘Sun’ / ‘Moon’ which if you haven’t gotten a copy of by now then shame on you. With an album currently at the finishing stages and due for release towards the end of the year – a gift so befitting the top of a Xmas wants list if ever there was one this nifty twin set serves as a taster of what’s to come. The Ltttle Explorer are you bonafide post / math / hardcore rock noodling stalwarts and before you all start groaning and switching off in droves this lot infuse the usually tiresome and restrictive formulaic process offered by the genre and invest into it a seriously catchy as f*ck template. No longer the van guard of chin stroking muso’s – math rock in their capable hands becomes a vibrant and oddly bent out off shape pop psychotic, amid the frantic intertwining jazz bespoked zig zagging rhythms, stop start loud quiet dynamics and serrated riffing that obtusely filter throughout ‘Chair Legs’ lies a soaring though muted effervescent tug that strangely recalls Mega City 4 being lightly peppered by melodically crisp buckshot. ’Air! Displace this smoke’ over on the flip is more of the same, though on this occasion channelling a more loosely honed dislocated edge that’s arguably cured by a quite serene underpin that plays a momentary home to intervals of spiked intensity. Does it for us anyway and goes without saying – heartily recommended stuff.

And what will be left of them? ‘Wet week in July’ (Little Hellfire). Been out for a week or three but still no reason to ignore this baby and pester your local record emporium for (though according to the press release it’s a free download affair to mark the launch of the Little Hellfire Club label – fuck me gratis and this good none of your lame cast offs). Admittedly we have been caning this killer three track since it shoulder charged its way into our life. Emerging straight from the epicentre of rock ‘n’ roll’s universe – that being Worcester – what’s that you say Worcester isn’t the epicentre – bollocks – own up who lied and fagged up the research then – you just can’t get the staff these days, And what will be left of them? Are a quintet who it appears sh*t wickedly infectious ear pricking pogo punk pop for fun – ’Wet week in July’ being the the ensembles third outing following sizeable interest with their ’Hi-Fi Low Life’ and ’Dance, Damn you dance’ releases not to mention capping off last year by appearing on the well received Filthy Little Angels freebie Xmas download compilation. The three tracks featured here (including two live cuts) make for a rampant affair – for us geriatric post punks this cutie is gonna sound like a wet dream of sorts – picture a mutant Bis blistered with attitude, venom and locked away in the dark for a few weeks with nothing to listen to but old Peel shows from the 79 / 80 – the result -’Wet week in July’. An absolute bitch of a record that lurches from the same well informed scene that has seen the likes of Controller Controller, the Organ and the Vibration getting their first taste of UK action via those ever clued up chaps over at Sink and Stove. Utilising a repetitively meaty backline, jabbing chords and a deliciously edgy strut this purring babe prowls menacingly with an undercurrent of psychotic seductiveness that’s one minute alluring the next alarming. Vicious but beautiful with it and totally wired for sure. ‘Calling all cars’ here recorded live sounds like a ska vs. new wave face off between the Specials and Selector on one side and X Ray Spex on the other, a highly infectious riot of blood pumping mayhem bourn out of quickly drilled set to lacerate spasmodic chords, kooky keyboards and a rhythm section that for all the world sounds like its having a serious seizure. Unstoppable stuff. ‘Jesus’ again another live cut rounds up the set in fine style and sounds not to dissimilar in style to early Chumbawumbe, amid all this the sweetly curdled prickly pop intonations give this a second generation punk flavour reminiscent of the Ejected but with tunes. Stirling stuff all said and done. Crucial albeit ramshackle and well worth keeping a watchful eye for.

Donderdag ‘Saturday’ (Self Released). Yes yes yes – this is just what the doctor ordered – as cute as f*ck and catchy and sexy with it. ‘Saturday’ is the debut release from London based quartet Donderdag and a little belter it is. Priceless sugary feel good pop subtly sweetened with elements of softly cured breezy 60’s west coast psychedelia and filleted throughout with audaciously effervescent jangling guitars and honeycombed harmonies. As to reference points sift out the essential ingredients from the Primitives, Strawberry Switchblade, Adult Net, Darling Buds and Lush (minus the wall of sound guitars) and install the Boo Radleys at the controls. The result pristine dayglo pop – hopelessly loveable. Damn I love them already.

Clearlake ‘It’s getting light outside’/ ‘Neon’ / Good Clean Fun’ Extended mixes (Domino). Not certain how widely available these babies are but it might be worth pestering your local record emporium because they really are worth calling your own. Three 12” white labels all housed in custom die cut stickered sleeves and each featuring extended remixes of Clearlake’s last three releases by the likes of Long Throw, Backstage Sluts and Chicken Lips. First up the ‘Long Throw Specialist’ in all its full glory sees Brighton’s finest sons being remoulded as club floor cruisers, glacially disco-fied and blessed with a locked down cosmic grind this babe adds the key quotient that the original cut lacked by stretching the template and giving it space to flirt and flicker – not to dissimilar in terms of structure and design to those clean shaven Cure extensions c. ‘Let’s go to bed’. Flip side is the instrumental version of the same remould – superbly catchy and sexy – what more can we say. Next up ‘Neon’ the second track to be lifted from the acclaimed ‘Amber’ set is re-crafted – now cleaned up and put through the psychotropic blender at the hands of both Long Range and the Backstage Sluts and similarly emerging from out of the other side smoothed of its roughened exterior as was a feature of the original mix. In many ways both mixes appear as though separated at birth, the ’Long Range’ mix providing a salacious robotic like buzzing bass underpin that rumbles upwards through your torso sending your hips into spasms and your head space into a colourful night-time cosmic trip while the Backstage Sluts ’No Pass No Ass’ retread adopts a dirty electroid house spirit that strangely courts an ominous edge and to some passing viewers may have you recalling a bad boy Duran Duran that its pretty cool to like. The ’Good clean fun’ set features not two but four additional mixes which I suspect (I say suspect because I can’t lay my hands on the original at present) most if not all have appeared in some shape or form for public consumption on some additional CD package. In its original form perhaps the most brazen and certainly most contagiously accessible thing they’ve put out to date. Now finding itself up on the inspection blocks and being tinkered about with by Chicken Lips its pure pop dynamo is recalibrated and replaced by a seriously heady chilled out trippy feel that fans of both the Stone Roses and the Monkees may do well to check out. You can find the same lysergic re-drill given a classy ’Dub Deluxe Mix’ courtesy of the Chicken Lips crew that while they last provides for a suitable soundtrack for these intermittent sultry nights. Flip the disc for both the ’Nobody’ and ’Caribou’ reinterpretations – the former gritted by a sheet of sonic sandpaper and braided with splintered wah wah’s makes for a cool as f*ck shade wearing aural accessory that sounds like its taken one acid trip to make and fell through a rip in time straight from the late 60’s. Best of the set though the rampantly unfeasible mutated ’Caribou’ remould floats spectrally between the worlds of Simon and Garfunkel and no nonsense down and dirty skull crunching space rock boogie, has to be heard to be truly believed – a crunching mind warping psychedelic bastard of a cut.

Open Mouth ‘Castle Keep’ (Self Released). This four track CD arrived without fanfare or indeed a press release or jacket, instead wrapped in an A4 missive announcing the last Miss Black America gig for 2006. Now stupid as we are it took us a while to realise the obvious connection – like Open Mouth is the solo project of Seymour Glass – Seymour Glass the one and the same Seymour Glass who happens to be front man to Miss Black America. Now I suspect at this point there will be much snarling and gnashing of teeth in the disbelief that such is my knowledge sadly lacking of all things Miss Black America and that I should be so intimately familiar with the quartet that they should telephone me each time one of them goes for a sh*t. Alas the truth of the matter is we kinda lost track of their stuff after the initial flurry of, one suspects by now, those eagerly sought after early singles – which I hasten to add we loved dearly – just one of those things – so many records so many bands sadly there is always going to be a casualty that gives cause for a sense of regret. The quartet are on a sabbatical at the moment each member pursuing extra curricula activities (for further information check out for the relevant links). Open Mouth apparently started as an accident, and as all accidents took on a life of its life only to blossom some months down the line into this rather tasty four track teaser for what will be (if all things go according to plan) the first of two proposed solo full lengths between now and next year. Those expecting MBA stylising here think again for this is Glass in mellow moods revealing a mature song craft at work. Featuring an inspired stripped to the bone and faithful retread of Shocking Blue’s ’Love Buzz’ which as you all know was dragged from obscurity by Nirvana for their debut Sub Pop outing. With Glass’ capable steering ’Love Buzz’ keeps its soured intensity in check yet assumes a more rounded edge, the raw as a bear arse fuzz induced riffing of Cobain replaced by a guitar sound that sounds like its been fermenting in Will ’Bunnymen’ Sergeant’s potting shed the result of which turns the once grouchy pre slacker anthem on its side and bathes it in a spectral soft psyche induced eastern mantra glow. Elsewhere ’Summer of Love – Pt.2’ which wraps up the set is honed with a deliciously faraway naked rustic charm that recalls in equal parts the pastoral majesty of Page and the mercurial numbed artistry of Marr. ’Castle Keep’ which opens proceedings is stunning to say the least and literally knocks you off your listening pedestal mainly for the fact that given MBA‘s back catalogue such sensitivity and attention to the most finite detail is something previously un-thought of, pisses over what passes for the current public at large infatuation with cloying singer / songwriters and per square inch of groove packs more measured beauty, intensity, hurt and disarming grace than all the major league, money pumped, over marketed paled imitators could ever hope to muster and with the right kind of media plugging could elevate Glass as a songwriter to a different level. The acoustically driven ’Drink your milk’ only serves to confirm the intent and despite its frail and primal setting manages to court with a widescreen resonance reminiscent in the main to the sparsely beset early career catalogue of Porcupine Tree. All in all a richly unexpected treat.

Musetta ‘Musetta EP’ (Self Released). Simply exquisite and needs to be heard to be believed. Best served played in the still of the night preferably while soaking in a hot bath by candlelight with your favoured tipple to hand. This release is seriously something else. Background wise Musetta are Italian duo Matteo Curcio and Marinella Mastrosimone who have intermittently been working together on various projects / bands since the late 90’s that have included Giobia and Sunscape. The ‘Musetta’ EP is the duo’s first recorded work as Musetta and acts as a tasty introduction ahead of their near completed forthcoming debut full length. Comprised of six deliciously crafted cuts Musetta bequeath a broad spectrum of textures, moods and styles to their musical canon, principally the noire-ish spectrality of the early 90’s Bristol scene – Portishead, Massive Attack et al (particularly the fragile ‘Catch 22’) being blended by the obscurest cabaret dark pop of Gold Rapp (none more so than on the pulse raising subtly buzzing sexy as hell lo-fi robotic clockwork dance groove of ’Red Star’) and seductively dry spun with shades of smoky jazz and down tempo for alarming effect. Sophisticated doesn’t come into it – Marinella purrs sensually throughout an array of rich intricately honed chamber like exotically electro cured torch backdrops, ‘Ophelia’s Song’ opens the set it’s roots shaped as though cut from the fluffy cosmic cloth of a spaced out bliss laden Stereolab being found colluding with Pram. Beautifully beset with some sleekly delicious 60’s references and peppered with a beguiling chilled out lunar pop dynamic this alluring nugget is both a mesmerising and softly curdling slice of sumptuous after hours amore. If ‘We will fade out’ arrived packaged as the latest labour of love from Broadcast the press would be falling over themselves to out do each other with column stealing hyperbole, sparsely measured, this ethereal out there gem pirouettes in heavenly climes formed deceptively from warmly radiating glacially cavernous effects that tenderly tip toe to leave lasting imprints within your headspace as though softly trodden footprints on freshly laid snow. The EP’s centrepiece without doubt is the irresistibly daunting grandeur of ‘Some thoughts are hard to die’, wonderfully cultured and drawn from Barry-esque Bond like treatments that have been sugar dipped in a hopelessly romance laden lounge environment stirred softly by an arresting cortege of strings and milky Stereo lab ’Cobra’ era unworldliness. The breezily paced ’Standing by my side’ wraps up the set with finger snapping sophistication while as an added treat if you redirect yourself to the bands website you’ll be able to hook up with a plethora of fine retreads of ’Ophelia’s Song’ – resistance is pretty damn useless.

Keyboard Rebel ‘My Lordship’ (Slick Nine). Smoking stuff indeed. So loose and fetchingly contagious it’s a wonder it doesn’t come adorned with a World Health Organisation warning sticker. This little cutie from Manchester’s fashionable in crowd is so darn groovy that the most reticent stalwarts of the two left feet brigade will discover slinky gyrating hips to go. Keyboard Rebel are, I think I’m right in saying, the sometimes backing band for the very excellent John Stammers – so yep we are already loving them much. So with this borne in mind I’m thinking and not unrealistically expecting some really tasty rustic folk gems to start flowing from the speakers of the hi-fi. Ha ha – how wrong we were instead a funky little number of the highest order comes shuffling and shaking its bits seductively filling the air with a highly dizzying and infectious feel good vibe. Having already seen fit to flee the safe confines of the Twisted Nerve coup and set up their own camp under the guise of Slick Nine, Keyboard Rebel have to date managed to fry the hi-fi’s of the local clued up cognoscenti with one previous release (‘Northern Sherpa’) and a compilation appearance. ’My Lordship’ sees them returning to the fray armed with a foxy little number which aside being disturbingly compared in passing by a friend as if top tosspot Jamiroquai had been twisting away the night on mirrored floors with Fun Loving Criminals recording the event for posterity – which aside the dread vision it placed in my head I have to admit I tended to grudgingly concur as such – is all said and done the sassiest thing here outside the Scissors for Lefty orbit range. Starting ominously with a spot of impishness (well it never did anyone any harm) this babe soon blossoms into a colourful cortege of studio 54 derived white funk riffola a la Marr‘s snazzy fretwork found on Stex‘s ‘I still fell the rain‘, chunky bass grooves so thickly fat that they sound like they’ve been gorging themselves ready for the festive season, kooky 60’s soul’d up keys, vocals so catchy you’ll need industrial strength solvents with which to peel your ears away from that gathered together are all superbly off set with a clumpish albeit memorable slacker styled dynamic. Absolute class in other words. Flip the disc and you get the wintry hued heartbreakingly prickled perfection of ’Whirlwind’, stripped away for the best part so that only a piano and vocal remain, this heavy hearted shyly drawn tear jerker is equipped with the kind of fabric that crushes defences with a single stare which with the introduction of a sweetly stirring brass arrangement serves only to leave you numb at the beautifully morose spectacle of it all. Greatness awaits.

Supreme Vagabond Craftsman ‘Check out my rifle range’ (Analogue Catalogue / Invisible Spies). More ex Twisted Nerve reprobates this time in the shape of Will Goddard’s alter ego Supreme Vagabond Craftsman of whom those of you with very distant memories will recall featured in these very pages many, many, many moons ago with his rather tasty 5 rack ten inch debut ’A cloud punched me’. Since then he’s managed a whole albums worth of material entitled ’Twice as Nude’ released by those nice people over at Invisible Spies – a label which he is coincidentally a founding member and the same label who were mentioned quite recently in singled out dispatches via that excellent Chips for the Poor release. Pulled from his forthcoming long player ‘Just you, me and the baby’ (scheduled for the streets in October) and limited to just 400 copies ’Check out my rifle range’ starts out like the theme from ’Hawaii 5-O’ before temporarily assuming a Hook-y era Joy Division like grind from therein things go slightly awry – that’ll be awry in a good way, punk folk pop with strings, nonsensical lyrics and a barking see saw like melodic rhythm that believe you me once inside your head will no doubt start re-arranging things and then doss down for a few weeks with a serious case of attitude and acne for company. The lysergically enhanced ’Offices in Anglesey’ over on the flip is much more to our liking, this cutie is so skewed that we pulled it from the turntable on more than one occasion to make sure it wasn’t warped, think Ariel Pink and the Animal Collective fed mind altering substances doing their interpretations of Love’s classic back catalogue in a seriously wonky Elephant 6 stylee with the Busy Signals customising the resulting tapes. Very tasty indeed.

Will Tang ‘Your love bites’ (Zen). First there was Keyboard Rebel, then Supreme Vagabond Craftsman and now Andy Votel – seems to me that this is fast turning into a Twisted Nerve re-union party of sorts – though to be honest that’s strictly not true given that TN head honcho appears here doing radical remixes duties on two Tang cuts that originally appeared on his ‘The other side‘ full length. Rochdale based Tang is something of an enigma having cut his teeth and achieved a degree of fame in Hong Kong where apparently he’s considered something of a household name with a handful of well received albums tucked sweetly under his belt. In the hands of Votel, Tang’s dusty (and often typically raw yet muddy for an authentic blues sound) production is cleaned and revitalised, the arrangements sharpened and brought to the fore to be fixed with a clarity previously, one assumes, not given any form of consideration. Yet that said Votel stays faithful to the original vision and by breaking up the arrangements and make use of the space brought by his installing of rhythmic pauses has arguably made both cuts more bluesy sounding in the process. ’Your love bites’ emerges from the garage blocks hooked up with a subtle yet potent horny as hell trim, Tang’s original dust track loitering, bourbon swilling Plant-esque dirty blues gem is suited ‘n’ booted and given a smoking cool as f*ck manicure, attired with stuttered rhythms, shaking bootylicious beats and a grind so delirious and infectious you’ll wish you had a spare pair of dancing feet to change into. ’Travellin’ Man’ gets my personal vote, the original a harmonica soaked crossroads meeting between Tom Waits and a young Steve Earle is now blessed with an enhanced rootsy old country feel that’s threaded throughout by an alluring snaking groove that sounds to these ears like its been filleted from beneath the nose of Ry Cooder – now how cool is that? Recommended of course – just in case you might have wondered.

Fade to Sepia ‘Situation hopeless but not serious’ (Self Released). It’s always wise to choose your words carefully and with that hands on our heart we’ve laboured and wrestled with ourselves over this four track debut recording and yet each time we hear it we cannot help but be drawn to the belief that this is the nearest thing you are ever going to get to hearing something that sounds like a collaboration of sorts between the Dead Kennedy’s and Joy Division or more rightly – Warsaw. There I’ve said it and bugger me if the complaints don’t start flying in. Admittedly rough as a bear’s arse in terms of recording quality but then I suspect its done deliberately so and if not then it strangely alludes to the ensembles seemingly austerely drawn primal effect. Aside the obvious fact that we f*cking love this to bits mainly for the fact that it transported me right back to the days of spending my hard earned pennies on the latest local second generation DIY punked up noise-niks with guitars, attitude and little else – it’s the second release this particular missive that our hi-fi has seemingly refused to entertain scowling back at us with a withering ’f*ck this for a lark’ glare. Hailing from Stratford Upon Avon the trio have been together since last year creating a buzz on the local live circuit with support slots for the likes of the superb Noisettes, the Cazals and the Suffrajets. As previously mentioned ’Situation hopeless but not serious’ features four cuts of blistering primitive rawness all nailed down into a neat 12 minute package – and a more relevant 12 minute slice of fraught curmudgeon ear gear (that strangely enough makes you feel as though you’ve somehow been transported back in time and found yourself listening to a Peel festive 50 run down from 1979) that we’d like to think you’ll not hear the better or likes of for the rest of the year. ’Word Association’ opens the account, menacing in a word is what it is, stab you in the back stalking riffs that sound like they’ve been pilfered from the ’Fresh fruit for rotten vegetables’ sessions and a self same Biafra like controlled part psychotic part paranoiac vocal delivery give this cut a distinctly schizoid and eerie edge that see saws ominously one minute appearing possessed of a doom laden icy countenance only to quickly rear up into a chillingly frenzied split persona with dark intentions in mind. The spitefully agitated take no prisoners ethic of ’Leave these memories’ despite its brutally unforgiving demeanour calls to mind a wired early incarnation of Sisters of Mercy – fear not that’ll be the Sisters of Mercy shorn of their latter career goth idealisms and ridiculously and, I hasten to add, painfully unwatchable 80’s videos pop kids. The proto post punk ‘Old problem’ is beset with a seriously tormented and claustrophobic tenseness much reminiscent of early Killing Joke though on this occasion appearing for all intent and purposes like a two way face off between a particular f*cked off Ruts and an embryonic sounding Magazine. Best of the set has to be the totally wired antics of ‘Solvent Jitterbug’. Braided with a bent out of shape bludgeon like bass driven boogie this curdling slice of angulated mutant dance accessorising is a bastardised update of the Ramones’ ‘Blitzkrieg Bop’ conceived after a pub get together between an impish Mark E Smith and John Cooper Clarke who after getting suitably mullered have proceeded outside to kick several shades out of said mutation with Martin Hannett on hand as a referee. A corking debut and a much warranted addition to any well ordered record collection.

The Deodates ‘The Deodates’ EP (self released). It’s been a fair old while since a CD got such hammering on our hi-fi – that I can tell you. That said don’t you just love when bands list their key influences and then proceed to sound nothing like them. Case in point Salford duo the Deodates who proudly cite a spot of hero worshipping for – Prince, Jeff Buckley, White Stripes (I suppose this was pretty obvious), Jimi Hendrix, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and er – the Police. Fascinating stuff I’m sure you agree and I warrant a fair few people reading that celebrated stellar cast of superstars will be undergoing a rigorous spot of hand rubbing in the expectancy of said named individuals materialising in one shape, form or other amid these three cuts. Well tough titty kids – seems Gaz and Thomas (for it is they who are The Deodates) have left their hearts sewn jumper in the wash basket. ‘SR / SS’ the lead track from this three track debut outing from the Deodates is frankly so bloody good that I suspect in certain territories its illegal – blessed with such animal nakedness and searing soulfulness (yes you read right the first time) this baby rattles around with an untoward menacing desire that burns and blisters upon your psyche as though you’ve been tattooed by a branding iron and inflicted with scarring love bites. A gnarled haze of angulated jabbing riffs braced and buttoned down by a punishing percussive backline that aligned together see saw ominously as though they are about to spontaneously combust at any given moment amid this is wired an audacious array of hooks the size of skyscrapers and a vocal chorus line that sounds literally like its reaching inside your chest plate to squeeze the living crap out of your heart. And all this done with such a dizzying pop sensibility that you suspect many bands may consider this lot more of a threat than a punter pulling support slot luxury. Unliveable stuff. Both ‘The Lady is a Killer’ and ‘Year One’ the attending cuts featured here sadly pale into the shadows of their lead counterpart though nevertheless kick enough ass to make the most self respected peers green with envy. The former endowing a bruising stature that listened to unguarded has the power to literally reduce to you to rubble, similarly cast with a fractured texture this cutie belies a mellower undertow revealing the duo’s more tender side marked aside by Gary Hope’s richly resonating bluesy vocals. The latter cut adopts a curious blend of quickly tempered math meets art rock dynamic, some seriously life threatens vocal gymnastics and strangely irresistible smoky romance that at times had me recalling with much affection the much undervalued Panda Gang. Those doubting their blues credentials can download the dark and strangely erotic sounding (or maybe that’s just me) ‘LA Hayfever’ via – a real boot shaking swamp like Led Zeppelin thing. Consider yourselves well and truly one’s to watch out for.

Parka /Mr Fogg ‘Split’ (Worst Case Scenario). Ridiculously essential single from Guildford’s Worst Case Scenario label as part of their ongoing split release series which was previously featured here with that corking double header between Ox and Six Nation State. This time it’s the welcome return of Mr Fogg who for those who care and actually read these incomprehensible scribbles (so that’ll be you three over in the corner – stop chatting now and pay attention) previously appeared in these very pages with his gem like three track ‘Giving In’ release (see missive 85). Mr Fogg is of course Berkshire based musician Phil Barry and here he finds himself slightly outnumbered in terms of personnel and playing David to Glasgow / London based quintet Parka’s Goliath or so it would seem. Returning from an appearance at the Reading festival Mr Fogg sweetly shuffles into our listening space with ‘Seciov’, more beautifully bruised frailty crafted from the workshop of Mr Barry who it seems has something of a talent for sculpturing tenaciously timid pop that attaches to the senses and immediately has the nerve endings going weak at the knees – a kind of aural sugar rush or chocolate overdose if you like. Immediately affectionate in its softly stealth like approach, looping harmonies overlap creating a perky backdrop over which Barry teasingly deploys his delicately demurring brand of twinkling shy eyed pop which seemingly takes it cue cleverly from the Cure’s ‘Let’s go to Bed’ in terms of its stripped down near naked delivery – may possibly require counselling once heard or indeed a brick sized bar of chocolate – a gem in other words. By contrast Parka are straight up and at you close and personal from the word go. ’Disco Dancer’ is ferociously infectious, braided by your now obligatory pop art rock angular chord work that here finds itself welded onto a blood pumping frantic disco beat with what sounds like the brass section from the Dexy’s c. ’Searching for the young soul rebels’ sneaking out from the sessions for a crafty smoke and a spot of moonlighting without so much as by your leave from Mr Rowlands – impossible to dance to unless wired to the mains. Top stuff.

Bauer ‘Bauer’ EP (Naz Recordings). A hopelessly gorgeous debut release from Bauer which we suspect in the coming weeks will be the cause of much airplay damage at a radio near you. Following hot on the heels of prestigious support slots for the likes of Stephen Fretwell and Snow Patrol and with the all important approval of Alan McGee along with production duties provided for by Steven Power (Kylie, Williams, Cocker, Feeder, James et al) Bauer have crafted a teasing and near faultless 4 track gem of some pop magnitude. All at once inspired and infectious, Bauer immerse their song craft with a deliciously seductive jet streaming pop tug that’s bathed in such a head spinning array of ear snaring hooks that you’d swear they’d cornered the market as their own. ‘Connected’ opens the set, a honey dripped effervescent chime happy pop cutie that takes its cue from the Hollow Men’s early 90’s indie classic ‘Pink Panther’ and moulds into its melodic matrix subtle elements of the Lightning Seeds ‘Pure’ the result a svelte softly shimmering anthem inclined orgasmic rollercoaster pop gem of some measure.
The yearning ‘Don’t you move’ succulently tip toes amid a bed of simmer like jangling guitars built upon a chassis so frail and bruised the compulsion to throw comforting arms around it is undeniably hard to resist. The overtly sensual sounding ‘Indian sign’ opts to tone the mood considerably for a spot of sophisticated smooze like romance, sweetly spectral in texture in its quieter moments it recalls the lulling resonance of Chris Isaak though its Greg Matthews unworldly angelic vocals soaring to falsetto scales that make this cut something to behold. Bringing up the rear so to speak, ‘Gone’ with its silky saccharine feel and made for radio charm (a la the Cutting Crew) is sure to be a favourite among the lovelorn sections of the population. Exquisite pop indeed.

From the Shards of Comets! ‘Less magic, more mechanics’ (Collateral Music). Immense stuff indeed. The swell and fall of gyrating guitars is like being atop the crest of a sonic wave, intoxicating yet intense, serene yet destructive, crushing yet euphoric. We could go on but I think you get the general idea – those guessing chaps with guitars take a pew at the top of the class those mistakenly believing you’ve wandered into Bronte country dab thy furrowed brow and look elsewhere because there may be some seldom used anglo saxon phrases to follow. Like Ireland’s God is an Astronaut (reviewed elsewhere), Nottingham based five piece From the Shards of Comets create evocate sky soaring sonic figurines that furrow a projected path similar to the buzzing scene currently evolving from the Club AC30 set. The tear soaked ‘Less magic, more mechanics’ their two track limited to just 500 copies debut is all at once emotionally scarring and laced with an unnerving glacial grandeur that tugs heavily on the heartstrings. Led by the gently sensitive sound of resigned piano keys FTSOC harness at will the very elements of nature to create a crushing dustbowl of sapping intensity reminiscent in the main of the earlier outings of the mighty GYBE, all the time crafting a sense of classicism to the proceedings that with the introduction of some seriously bolted down regimental drumming adds to the spectacle a torturous bleak urgency to which the twinned siren like riffs imprisoned in the starry void arc, caress and embrace to shield each other from the apocalyptic unravelling at play beneath them. Majestic in a word. ’Postcards to Nowhere’ is equally if not more punishing a spectacle, recoiling initially to a austere chill swept hypnotic groove and feeding off early New Order c. ’Movement’ / Joy Division c. ‘Unknown Pleasures’ accents, this solemnly sweetly bruised cutie restlessly kicks and squirms with a controlled menace that reminded us of a more muscularly inclined Workhouse. For further well honed dreamscapes check out the bands web site for a chance to download the simply unreal ’One hand clapping’.

Godlike and Electric ‘Godlike and Electric EP’ (Godlike and Electric). Just 350 copies of this two track babe in the whole world so expect much eBay action over the forthcoming months. Being clueless about the whole dance culture mallarky as I am, I’m led to believe that Godlike and Electric are in fact Nottingham based duo Bent who it seems for too long now have been re-arranging people’s heads and record collections alike with their FX fixated e-drills. As said this cutie features two cuts ’Godlike’ and (obviously) ’Electric’ – the former once passing into clear view from its initial Arabic meets prog rock smokiness is set to be a club floor decimating growler of some note we’d like to think sounding as it does like some illicit bastard offspring of a three way orgy between Chic, early Electronic and the Pet Shop Boys that’s been conceived out of an unhealthy fascination for all things mid 70’s Studio 54, sexy as hell and blistered with a demonic funk groove so booty shaking your hips, legs and various other bits may well suffer RSI through the rampant grinding. Flipside cut ’Electric’ features more smoking sophistication, an unnamed guest vocalist in tow who sounds not unlike a young Tina Turner and a pulsing heads down no nonsense electro grind that once finding its way past your defences and into your psyche will undoubtedly party hard at 4am while the rest of your nervous system is crying out for a spot of shut eye. Mighty fine stuff.

Veldt ‘Walking in Silence’ (Outstanding). So beautiful a record that the urge to weep each time it plays is irresistible and a release that we can confidently say with qualification you’ll find no equal for a fair while in terms of the way it sucks out your emotions with such mercurial grandeur, prove indeed that some records are literally bigger than others. With an recently released full length ‘The Cause The Effect‘ firmly tucked under their collective belts and doing sizeable damage in our record shed, Brighton based Veldt are the authors of the kind of melancholically majestic pop that sadly these days seems very think on the ground. ‘Walking in Silence‘ is the ensembles second release and as the press release some indelibly has it (and with justified cause to) they sound like Scott Walker being mugged by Portishead with weapons supplied by Lee Hazlewood – couldn‘t have put it better myself. An absolutely divine listening event it has to be said replete with melodic curveballs that suggestively arc and tantalise aside a procession of sweeping strings that hazily pirouette seemingly lost in their own glazed beauty amid haunting atmospherics and a powerfully affecting pop grandeur that’s all at once tragic and euphoric, 60‘s woven kitchen sink dramas don‘t come any more colossal than this – think Mick Harvey rethreading the essential elements of Left Banke and endowing them in a richly brooding context with the spectral sensitivity of early China Crisis flickering in the shadows. ’Play for Today’ over on the flip is better still beginning with its faux John Barry-esque opening providing as it does a ringer for the best theme tune to ever grace the goggle box – the Persuaders. From therein this honey combed gem blossoms into a seductive array of shimmering chords and softly yearning string arrangements the type of which for a momentary spell during the whole Brit Pop scene of the mid 90’s kindred souls such as Rialto, Terry Hall, Mick Harvey and Divine Comedy among others broke formation to craft a marriage of melody informed by late 60’s Francophile candy pop that was imbued with sophisticated charisma, elegance and classicism. Simply peerless and perfect.

Wilder Gonzalez Agreda / Yellow 6 ‘Split’ (Superspace). Ultra limited split – and when I say ultra limited I mean ultra ruddy limited – just 30 – yes thirty copies of this little beauty – as rare as hens teeth but well worth taking the time to try and track down. Pairing together Singled Out favourite Jon Atwood or as he’s better known to the musical community at large Yellow 6 with Peruvian pioneering electronic whiz-kid Wilder Gonzalez Agreda for a spot of am orphic aural atmospherics. Sadly no information on Wilder Gonzalez Agreda though I’d like to hazard a guess that the more in-tuned among the electronic fraternity will no doubt already be on to this and more besides like a rash. ’Overdose of Pills’ is a desolately landscaped spectacle of obtusely abstract modular rhythms, a fluid yet sparse droning suite of long travelled intergalactic transmissions whose origin has since been forgotten and whose sender since lost to extinction, both alien in design and cold in texture it takes its cue from the early career outings of Pimmon and the Radiophonic meets noise manipulation inspired EAR, all at once unsettling yet strangely calming this measured slice of hypnotic diode chattering and circuitry conversation bleached through with hazed interference slowly terra-forms across its 12 minute aural cycle sounding towards the close like an army of crickets partying hard beneath the thickening quilt of the summer nights – kettles, toasters and other household electronic appliances will be suitably aroused and no doubt smitten by it all. Yellow 6 by contrast does what Yellow 6 does best – that being carving out monolithic slabs of desolate magnificence. ’Red’ for the most part recalls the quieter calm before the storm moments of Roy Montgomery’s 1999 set ‘True’. The theme provided here is that of seclusion, Atwood bathes ’Red’ with his trademark cavernous craft, atop the barren widescreen backdrops of droning keys, delicately drawn chords sombrely marshal the voids below over a setting of stilled splendour and beauty, glacial in texture and spatially knowing no bounds or limits ‘Red’ filters as though through a small frozen element of time and space stretching and expanding that brief minute moment transforming it forevermore in a state of elegiac suspense. Quite beautiful.

Regina Spektor ‘On the Radio’ ( Sire). I’m sure that by now that you have all gotten yourselves a copy of Ms Spektor’s current career breaking full length ’Begin to Hope’ and have been suitably smitten and held spellbound by its contents to the extent that I really need not go into any kind of brief pre-history. If of course you haven’t then you are, believe me, missing out on a truly certifiable treat, for armed with just her voice, a piano and a lush wide screen production Spektor manages to sound as ever more intimate (to such a point she could be sitting opposite you) as she’s ever appeared on her previous work embodied as were on her three previous albums. In terms of development in respect to style and technique Spektor has blossomed into an accomplished songwriter of such finite grace and beauty, without it seems an equal, having cut her teeth as one of the leading lights on the East Village café / anti – folk scene (damn I that description) at the turn of the decade her reputation has grown with stealth among the chattering classes following support slots for the Strokes. The snowy sounding classically treated lulling pop gem ’On the Radio’ is lifted from the aforementioned full length provides ample evidence of her ability to woo, bewitch and sooth the would be listener, lightly tip toeing melodies shimmer softly to the seductive arc of her vocal as it motions through the scales while elsewhere the subtlest usage of New York street culture is threaded throughout that provides ultimately a part provocative part ethereal glow to which the softness that pervades this union is fleetingly delicate and utterly disarming to the point that failure to be touched by the spectacle could be attributed to not only a loss of taste but emotion. Flip side features a live rendition of ’20 years of snow’ recorded at London’s Shepherds Bush Empire in February this year and hints at the suggestion that perhaps in essence Spektor has more in common with both Bjork and Suzanne Vega than most people readily give her credit. For further listening if you manage to lay your hands on part 1 of the limited two part vinyl set you get to be treated by ’Ain’t no cover’ which original appeared in this form via the ’Live at Bull Moose’ EP from last year – sadly our copy – despite our attempts to mutilate said vinyl with a pen will not sit happily on the turntable spindle – just can’t get the staff these days don’t you find?

Birdpen ‘Be Yourself’ (Self released). We here at the Singled Out coffee and sympathy record shed do indeed love these rather loveable Birdpen people (Mike and Dave) – over the course of two years they’ve dotted our listening space with some smartly crafted low key and, dare I say, lo fi gems (‘Discussing Robots’ / ‘Fake Kid’) that have transcended the usual cross cultured electrified rustic ambient enhanced grooves that we sometimes get to hear. Each passing release has seen the band growing in stature both creatively and spatially (that’s not to say they’ve gotten fatter – rather more learnt how to colour in all the spacey bits on their aural axis – bollocks – beginning to sound like a Jill and John version of Wire now). Third release ‘Be Yourself’ features three more suitably caved pearls of melody and again another set that’s not afraid to flex it’s muscles and dip into the ever widening and disparate generic pool of pop whilst averting the all to disabling peril of being pigeon holed. Admittedly tonally darker than previous releases ‘Be Yourself’ is nonetheless absorbing with the principle stand out track (as is usually the case with these guys) being the closing cut ’Sunlight Darkening’ a maddening repetitively looping procession of kraut rock grooves cut to widescreen scaling while no doubt financed on the equivalent of an art house experimental monochrome budget. Swirling sparse spacey atmospherics whirr frostily in the voids which in all honesty strangely had us recalling Pete Wylie’s more fractured early career outings as the uber cool Wah! Heat before quickly getting down and dirty for some rampant no nonsense head welding metronomic hip grinding work out that weirdly enough called to mind Cabaret Voltaire kicking the sh*t out of the Normal – clever little bastards wouldn’t you say. ‘Be Yourself’ opens the set in what’s now becoming their typically trademark building with stealth chilled ambient funk bitten by the groove bug that sees its roots matured in all things early Factory era A Certain Ratio and Heaven 17 c. ‘Penthouse and Pavement’ with the multi talented Beta Band spreading their magic dust while at the mixing desk. Brace yourself time for the painfully aching ’Slow’ – which is just that, as frail and fragile as it is in texture its delivers in monolithic proportions, bruised and brooding in terms of mood a very distant cousin of the Bad Seeds ’Mercy Seat’ scored throughout with a disabling slow burning intensity that blossoms with subtle Arabic accents towards its finale bathing it in a an alluring emotion sucking soft hypnotic psyche sheen. An album worth of Birdpen ditties must surely be looming on the horizon – eh lads? Joint deputy single of the missive.

DJ Methodist vs. Joan AP Shap ‘Sirens‘ (Post Office). Those among you with not to distant memories may well recall us a whooping and a hollering at DJ Methodists’ (David Handford to his parents) faithful re-branding of Joy Divisions’ ’Digital’ a little while back. Now after what seems like an unfeasibly lengthy sabbatical ’Sirens’ marks the first of what’s promised to be a series of singles that’ll hit all the most knowing turntables in the run up to the ’Seven Nights’ full length which is tentatively pencilled for release next year. ‘Sirens’ is dirty, sexy and filleted with a groove so tenacious it does things so strange to your nervous system that you’d be forgiven for thinking they’d started marketing some kind of vinyl Viagra. Simultaneously tapping into the more seductively laced elements of electro clash and cool wave to subtly decode them with a liberal sprinkling of mid 80’s accents via Propaganda and Art of Noise this makes Primal Scream’s recent flirting with Kate Moss seem positively impotent. In fact its so damn salacious you’ll need a bucket of cold water to prise the bugger from the hi-fi – club floors beware. Flip side features ‘Market Street 3am’ which if I didn’t know any better I’d say has all the trappings of a collaboration between a poppified inclined Pimmon and a wonky Wagon Christ who after a night out supping beer and discussing world domination tactics have unwittingly returned to the studio only to find Gerry Anderson’s Mysterons and Robert the Robot have taken up residence to dick about with the mixing desk. Top stuff as though you needed telling and in case you needed further prodding limited to just 500 copies. Consider yourself warned.

OM /Six Organs of Admittance ‘Split’ (Holy Mountain). So damn limited we’re led to believe that families have been put up on various auction sites in the failing hope of a swap plus cash deal. An almighty split outing that frankly makes descriptions like immense and awesome seem pretty pissy. San Franciscans OM have by all accounts have been receiving admiring press notices from the likes of Current 93 and deranged head druid Julian Cope of late. Formed out of the ashes of doom disciples Sleep, OM have to date cut an acclaimed full length in the shape of ’Conference of the Birds’ (which we will be nailing as our own shortly) as well as a (one would assume) desirable 10” split with the aforementioned David Tibet (Current 93). ’Bedouin’s Vigil’ is a heaving swamp borne grinding bastard of a cut that rather than glide across the turntable seems for all the world to slide menacingly as though wading through torrents of sludge. Beset with a fierce some head melting hypnotic grind this mantra-cised stoner psyche bruiser is the kind of thing religious cults are founded on and built upon an impenetrable fuzzed out wall of sound that if we were told was motored by Boeing 747 we’d damn well believe. Six Organs of Admittance feature on the flip of the split with ’Assyrian Blood’. Not a band as such but rather more Ben Chasny who it seems since the latter half of the 90’s has been peppering the more clued in head sets with his exhaustive exploration of the guitar – think Richard Youngs in a face off with Bill Horist. This slab of disorientating sonics initially ventures out like the OM flip with a chime led mantra like resonance crafted throughout with a mesmerising drone underpin before that is the ear splitting squalls of feedback kick in with ominous abandon, from therein a wonderfully unnatural marinating of dark and light forces is woven to cast an oddly alluring spectacle of Gregorian chants being spliced with by the majestic floorshow of guitar pyrotechnics. All said and done – absolutely ruddy essential eargear.

Ruby Tombs ‘Those who can’t’ (Art Goes Pop). Sincerest apologies to all at the Leeds based Art Goes Pop label who kindly sent over their first three releases which, in our now legendary ineptness, we managed to mislay. Ho hum. First up something of an agitated pogo pleasing no wave anti pop gem from Yorkshire based trio Ruby Tombs who describe their primitive sounds as creep beat and appear to harbour a more than unhealthy obsession with Vengeance era Cramps. Splicing elements of psycho-billy with primal trash and new wave / punk accents that finds its roots in early ’Scream’ era Banshees, X-Ray Spex and Vice Squad, ’Those who can’t’ is all at once obtuse, angular, fraught, wired and wonderfully sexy with it. A molten mass of tribal rhythms, fuzzed up riffs and a demented fuck you vocal that gnaws, grates and gyrates to fester like sharpened splinters under your skin to pump its infection. Flip over for the equally unloving and bleached white hot paranoia of ’Tattletale’ which finds itself separated at birth (though not in sound) to the Banshees ‘Playground Twist’, edgy to the extent your skin begins to crawl and replete with a scar inducing swamped fuzz grind and some briefly appearing kooky keys for good measure that glued together make for devilishly evil listening and as its limited to just 500 copies as good a reason as any to harass your local record emporium for.

Kista ‘Talk with God’ (Art Goes Pop). Second featured release from the Art Goes Pop crew comes courtesy of East Coast hip hop artist Kista – and for the eagle eyed among you that‘ll be east coast as in Scarborough. ’Talk with God’ sees the in demand producer, DJ and sometime graffiti artist team up with New York’s Tableek. Given that we don’t in all fairness get much in the way of hip hop here, we can tell a smoking cut from the next when we hear it. ‘Talk with God’ strangely curdles two polar opposites together, those being the darkness and gritted underbelly of urban disquiet as retold by Tableek conjuring up bleak images atop a blankly carefree hypnotically soft curdling rhythm braided with gently funky beats. Flip side features two additional cuts – Tableek makes another guest appearance on the gritty ‘Evolution’ though our favoured track is the seriously sassy sounding ’Pushin to the top’ which craftily blends creole soul / gospel samples to decidedly warped honky tonk vibed keys that no matter what speed we play them at still manage to sound goofily warped. Clever.

The Clerks ’The Dissidents’ (Art Goes Pop). Third featured release for Art Goes Pop comes courtesy of old Singled Out favourites the Clerks. ’The Dissidents’ provides the hotly tipped Manchester via Paris based quartet with their official debut release following the much critically acclaimed and much circulated ’demo’ EP from last year – which incidentally featured said cut and had us all a lather (see missive 77 – One year on and they still seem like the coolest thing on the circuit at present, ‘The Dissidents’ with its locked down head bludgeoning Quickspace like hypnotic robotic groove is bled through with an incessant though infectious mantra that combined emerge into an unstoppable austere tinged juggernaut that happily hammers away without due care forcing you into submission. That said our favoured cut is to the flip of the disc. The driving melodically honed ‘Still’ features a Max and Alexandra duet and into the bargain adds something of a candy coated pop buzz to the proceedings that apart from snagging you off guard on its uber sexy hook laden edges possesses the kind of slow to burn mercurial prowess that given the chance could ransack radio airplay schedules and as an afterthought tattoo itself on your psyche. Absolutely gorgeous stuff and as I’ve said previously not only the coolest but sexiest thing on eight legs. As with previous Art Goes Pop releases strictly limited to 500 copies and no doubt selling by the truckload.

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