archiv – singled out missive 100…..

originally posted on losing today in 2006, this is the first part of an extended 5 part 100th milestone special……

features…….

joe boyd, trevor dann, Mick Middles and Lindsay Reade, michael gray, ensemble, rank deluxe, the common redstarts, vwf, the kull, dirty little faces, dreams of tall buildings, rotating leslie, zombi, Matthew Rozeik, YLID windmill, the loft, ellis island sound, god is an astronaut, sunday international, snowfight in the city centre, pissed jeans, shellac, fortune drive, the rifles, long blondes, lily allen

Missive 100
17-09-2006
Singled Out
Missive 100
Part 1

Dedicated as always to Kelly and Mark.

Now available in wide screen translucent Technicolor at http://www.myspace.com/thesundayexperience turn up, drop in and chill out a while.

Firstly many apologies for the massive delay on this missive I’ve had work issues in my proper job to deal with which has caused me to take my eye off the ball so to speak. As you can probably gather I hate taking time off from these reviews mainly for the fact, and this is going to sound daft and quite possibly the most piss poor excuse since cave blokes started absconding from the duty of providing dinosaur steaks for the family evening meal to duck in for a swift pint or three with their loin clothed mates at the local watering hole, but seriously I stress over forgetting how to write reviews wondering if I’ll ever be able to do it again – the writing of reviews that is. Though there will of course be a few cruel types out there who’ll maintain they’ve been waiting for me to write a proper review for five years – and I thank you from the bottom of my curly toed shoe for that vote of confidence.

Blimey who’d have thought it our 100th official missive type thing. Hard to believe that we’ve been doing this now for nearly 5 years come September, in that time we’ve had the pleasure of hearing some real top notch records, demos and downloads, our record collection has swelled immensely as has – or so we’d like to think – our taste in music. In fact in case you want to be specific about these things it’s the 110th missive to be precise given we’ve had cause to split various missives up either because 1) the server won’t accept 20,000 wd documents without feeling the need to chop it down to size 2) sometimes we felt like doing that or 3) which in truth is probably nearer the mark it made sure that I didn’t do a bunk for a few months knowing that I’d promised an additional instalment. In that time we hazard a guess that we’ve featured coming on for about a thousand releases all reported, reviewed in the now infamously inimitable rambling style you’ve come to love and hate which incidentally must have topped the half a million word count by now – so a pat on the back for yours truly and one for you for putting up with this piss poor excuse at writing proper joined words type sentence things. As said Singled Out started way back in September 2001, originally conceived as a web update for Tales from the Attic itself a printed text covering singles reviews and other odds and ends, it was meant to be regularly updated at fortnightly intervals though keen observers who’ve been with us since day one couldn’t have failed to notice that though we do try we are in fact feckin’ inept at keeping deadlines and barring one or two instances were we actually got it right have pretty much failed totally to adhere to the game plan in any way, shape or form – that said a quick spot of mental arithmetic would have 5 years X 26 missives a year = 130 missives and given we are up to 110 well then expect 20 of the blighters between now and September just so that we can smugly wave our index finger while screaming nah nah ne nah nah (of course given that we‘ve got an enviable track record at being useless at these things and that looking on my super duper Liverpool FC calandar I’ve just noticed its near August end – then worry not the next Singled Out probably won’t rear its mushed head at least 2008).

Anyhow the idea or at least the template, and not a lot of people know this, was partly nicked from the ever perfect Ptolemaic Terrascope’s ‘rumbles’ section (and just as infrequent you might say), Terrascope as you all know should be on the top of your essential reading list (which regrettably I’ll have to put my hand up by saying I’ve woefully let the side down having not seen an issue for two years or more – this I will do my level best to compensate for in the near future). The whole point of Singled Out was to create a bandwagon free resource and try to point regular viewers in the general direction of some pretty nifty tunes which, if they were causing my world to wobble momentarily on its axis, then surely they’d have the same effect on someone else. Refusing to be genre specific, I’d like to think Singled Out has achieved its original keynote aim of proving that varying (and often at odds styles of music) can in fact co-exist in the same listening space while providing unlimited evidence that the underground scene (in particular the home based fledging shoestring budget labels) are probably as strong today as they’ve ever been offering a fertile wealth of talent, imagination ands creativity. Furthermore recent times have seen the rise of my space, for all the criticism that can be justifiable levelled at it, it has proven to be, all said and done, an excellent resource for young and established bands alike for tapping into their audience direct without the need to rely on costly and often unsympathetic middle men and so bypassing the whole industry mechanism – it is after all the whole ethos of the late 60’s hippy ideal and mid 70’s punk / DIY dream come full circle. (Singled Out has earmarked a my space special in the near future – so watch this space).Equally important and again another planned featurette will be the internet only label boom – and here we are talking the freebie ones, which all things being well, was advertised to feature in this very spot but will now relocate to Missive 102 – which if I’ve got my numbers right will be the next written up type waffle thing – time of arrival sometime next week.

Damn I’m rambling now – but at least it’s another 1000 words on the type post – good job I’m not getting pages per word for this otherwise I’d have – ooh – 13p.

Okay as you can imagine – absent for a month or so – (in that time both Syd Barrett, Arthur Lee – and as we were putting the final touches to this Missive the news of Anthony Ogden – lead singer of the much missed World of Twist have all passed on – so respect due and a moments silence) and the CD single mountain grows, in fact grown has it to such an extent that I have now moved in with our adopted cat in the garden under the bush on the left, the cats not to impressed but needs must and what with the weather being so good hell it makes sense – it is however a bit of a bastard trying to switch channels via the remote control though seems like the whole neighbourhood wants to watch what I want – how strange.

Reading wise three books that are heartily recommended and should be considered essential tomes for any well ordered music related book shelf –

Joe Boyd – ‘White Bicycles’ (Serpents Tail). Long overdue autobiography by the legendary producer who’s little black book reads like a to die for who’s who of artists from the 60’s and early 70’s. ‘White Bicycles’ chronicles not only his own career from his discovery of jazz and blues in the early 50’s as a young teenager up to his departure for the States in 1971 following mounting debts and the continual strained relations with Fairport Convention but provides not only the inside track on the early careers of Dylan, Floyd and the English folk scene but the true unreported heritage of rock ‘n’ roll and principally what passes for popular music today. A wonderfully written tome that for all his success and reputation that ensued Boyd still writes it like a fan. It’s because of that small detail that this book appears filled with warmth, readily refusing to get bogged down in detail or for that matter start preaching in a ‘look at me, look what I did’ style which arguably he so could have easily done – Boyd instead is generous, disarming and almost casual in his recollections. From his early days distributing independent blues and folk labels, to staging appearances by Sleepy John Estes, Big Joe Williams, Jesse Fuller, Reverend Gary Davis and bringing Muddy Waters across the pond to the UK – Boyd with dizzying grace gives a pitted history of the 60’s that only until recently was largely ignored. His partnership involving the setting up and running of the legendary psychedelic UFO club – home to such luminaries of the day as Floyd, Hendrix, Move and Tomorrow, being the stage manager at the infamous Dylan electric show, his enviable list of production credits – Clapton, Vashti Bunyan, Floyd, Nico and Dr Strangely Strange and of course his management roles with the Incredible String Band and Nick Drake – in fact asides his early obsession and undoubted love for the lost black blues artists he so keenly persuaded to play for small coffee shop audiences (often at a loss it should be said) Boyd never speaks with such depth of intimacy and fondness than when he talks of Drake, ISB and Sandy Denny – the fate of both Drake and Denny in particular you feel having left lasting scars on what is an unblemished career. An essential read by one of the music’s key behind the scenes movers.

Trevor Dann ‘Darker than the Deepest Sea – the search for Nick Drake’ (Portrait) . Just what Nicholas Rodney Drake would have made of his long overdue elevation from (not so much) obscurity (but rather more non existence) to providing the modern day benchmark for elegantly crafted folk blues is alas a matter for both bar and common room conjecture. The shy, lone and stooped figure as depicted in photographs and record sleeves that we’ve grown to know and love would, had he lived, have been 58. Part dandy and apart from the world and landscape about him and yet strangely something both from a time long passed and a time not yet arrived, those images, tiny slices of poignant portraits if you like, cast the subject with the air of a person transfixed and deep in contemplation perhaps lost to the world around him and lost to a family upbringing where expectancy of success where taken for granted. Drake of course died before his star had had a chance to rise let alone shine, a promising career laid to ruins in a swell of bitterness at the hand of its author, a talent discovered perhaps a little to soon by Joe Boyd where upon in reflection maybe a few years of getting his hands dirty and cutting his teeth the hard way may well have proven more beneficial rather than the expectancy brought to bear by Boyd’s obvious unnerving reputation at so tender an age. As to the actual person (separated as where) from the artist – Drake has proved to be a mass of contradictions – was he gay / straight; was it suicide / or as most tend to believe a cry for help gone wrong; was he shy and retiring (as his songs lend testimony) or was he an arrogant, aloof, privileged upper middle class brat who expected fame as a right – all these subject matters are discussed within – from the high’s of playing for the Stones on meeting them in Marrekech to the lows and the abject sense of rejection following Boyd’s departure to the States. Then there’s Drake’s overuse of weed (and occasionally folly with heroin) lends itself to the belief that he was in fact a border line schizophrenic in serious need of help and that it was the resulting waxen and waning of moods that ultimately fuelled his decline. As with all artists who die young there’s a dark and disturbed romance that attaches, there’s the sympathy element that forevermore stifles any critical analysis of their work, forgiving lapses of quality as mere periods of their personal struggle into the void whether by their own hand or by that of fate. The immortality that arrives in its wake and perhaps most importantly in terms of youth kudos the fact that they will never grow old forever young and to a degree perfect albeit in most cases as perfect as damaged goods can be, never will they disappoint us, theirs will always be a thing of what ifs and what might have been. For Drake this romance is different from the average, there was no real fan base to mourn his passing his records didn’t suddenly start vacating shop shelves – he was still relatively unknown, no fanfares or detailed obituaries in the music press instead his lasting legacy has been built chiefly by word of mouth, slowly emerging in the mid 80’s and growing apace since. ‘Darker than the deepest sea’ is an engagingly easy read, its surprising how fast you find yourself drawn in and before to long find you’ve consumed several chapters without a second thought. Albeit slow to start in respect to Dann’s pitch, he takes a chapter or two to settle, his style distractive, at times a little to courteous almost fawning of the subject though this is counteracted by the vivid accounts drawn from witness’ and friends who are cleverly set out in such a way as to usher in a balance. What sets Dann’s tome apart from the usual biographical approach is that it’s very even handed, of course he’s a fan and he wants to demystify the Drake legend – but he’s subjective with it, he doesn’t preach or force the issue rather more opens it up for personal choice. It would be safe to say that nobody knew Drake, his family – especially his sister Gabrielle, his friends, his fans, his record label – perhaps not even Nick himself. ’Darker than the deepest sea’ hints at this fact without ever getting to the point of saying it outright – through interviews and accounts you get the impression that Drake was different things to everyone yet never the same Nick twice. With that the legacy left is (not counting the multitude of compilations) just three albums – three albums that in some way reveal the cycle of Drake’s muse from the spring with memories of the passing winter ‘Five leaves left’, the summer turning autumnal ’Bryter Layter’ and the starkly beautiful winter tread of ’Pink Moon’ – three albums that sound as unworldly and out of step now as they did when they first appeared nearly 4 decades ago – a body of work as contrasting as their authors moods – from the dark almost claustrophobic intensity of ’Black Eyed Dog’ to the beautiful caress of ’Made to love magic’, ’At the Chime of the City Clock’ and ’Northern Sky’ of the latter has there ever been a more perfectly descriptive song about a blossoming love affair – somehow I think not.

Mick Middles and Lindsay Reade ‘Torn Apart – the Life of Ian Curtis’ (Omnibus). One of those books that dares to be put down, an absolute compulsive read and a detailed and authoritative evaluation of one of the icons of the post punk era, made ever more relevant as it includes in depth accounts and insights by way of letters and diary entries provided by Annik Honore who previous to this publication has remained silent throughout the 25 years since Curtis’ death and by doing such once and for all redresses the balance that arguably (and perhaps understandably) Deborah Curtis’ ’Touching from a distance’ failed to account for. Diligently researched to include a complete detailed Joy Division discography, concert and tv / media appearances as well as studio dates even going as far as to publish extracts from unpublished manuscripts written by Ian’s father Kevin. Fond memories of both Rob Gretton and Martin Hannett are numerous as are the comical spats with the music press at large. ’Torn Apart’ provides not only a sympathetic and truly definitive portrayal of Curtis (not the sullen argumentative bastard as portrayed in ’24 hour party people’ then but rather more a sensitive loner check mated by his own sense of guilt and duty) but reveals and recounts in vivid detail possibly the most important period music wise in Manchester’s history – name checking fellow Mancs Section 25, ACR and the Buzzcocks along the way. A truly important and without question – essential read.

Michael Gray ‘The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia’ (Continuum). I’ve literally just taken delivery of this publication without any time to read it any depth but what I can say without question is that it is not only highly essential for Dylan obsessive but equally recommended for the most casual of viewers. An immensely researched tome spanning the 45 year career of the modern day post war cultural icon that is Bob Dylan and evaluated and written by the recognised leading authority into all things Bobness – Michael Gray. Having already scaled the heights of literary endeavour with his essential and in depth critique ’Song and Dance Man III, The Art of Bob Dylan’ you’d assume that there was nothing else that Gray could possibly offer in terms of relevance and insight to the Bob Dylan legend. Think again. As the description suggests this exhaustive 700 plus page reference manual is perhaps (for now) the final word on Dylan, meticulously pieced together it provides a vast wealth of detail on one of popular music’s true legends all diligently and painstakingly .

Onward to the singles…….this being the 100th Missive how else other than featuring 100 releases could I best celebrate it – seemed so damn tediously obvious and ridiculously simple an idea (stop groaning out there)……..that we opted to ignore that plan and just for the hell of it cram as many singled into one missive as we could – still haven’t made a dent on the CD single pile alas – for those who don’t want to get lost trawling through the debris there’s a list of featured records at the foot of this missive…..

Ensemble ’Disown, Delete’ (Fat Cat). Taken from the forthcoming and dare we say rather wonderfully eponymous titled full length, ’Disown, Delete’ sees Olivier Alary (for it is he who is Ensemble) enlist the vocal duties of Cat Power’s Chan Marshall for a spot of delectably sophisticated and sultry after hours inspired folk un-worldliness Intimate and lushly drawn, ’Disown, Delete’ is bathed in lightly fluorescent spectral shades of willowy pastoral ness that has been seemingly lassoed from the heavens and anchored earthbound to weave their captivating spell. The setting is perfectly complimented by Marshall’s almost sleepy eyed seductiveness to which end collected together offers up a deeply sultry and enigmatic slice of masterfully realised exquisite pop you’d be hard pushed to find an equal all year. Elsewhere the same track is reworked in the dependable hands of Alien 8’s Tim Hecker who seizes on the ambient potential within and extenuates its spectral nature to the fore to craft a deeply engaging though eerily textured canvas of cosmic chamber pop. Tamar Amir provides the vocal duties on both ’Carmine’ and ’Their Lines’. The former a beautifully dream like collage of softly disorienting psychedelic shimmers blended with what could easily be decoded translations of long lost musical suites used to accompany Martian gondola rides – if its references you need think of a refined Broadcast. The latter cut ’Their Lines’ is a perfectly formed and fragile piano led nugget that belies a disarming wintry aspect that fans of Oddfellows Casino and Robert Wyatt may well feel compelled to take one step back in admiration of. Quite perfect. http://www.fat-cat.co.uk

And staying with Fat Cat for a wee spell……

Rank Deluxe ‘Style’ (Fat Cat). Those with not so long memories may well remember us jumping wildly like bad un’s on hearing the debut release (‘Doll Queue’) from South East London based working class quartet Rank Deluxe. At the time those Fat Cat dudes promised us two more 7“ singles from the band before the term was out and true to their word here they are. ’Style’ is liable to snag your attention quicker than a well aimed swift poke in the eye Suitably snotty sounding without being a piss poor punk parody and recorded in one live studio take to capture the bands vibrancy and edge ’Style’ finds its roots paying nods to the much missed Parkinsons while tracing them back further still to prime time pre ’Hersham’ Sham 69 though on this occasion sounding like Pursey and Co being thrown in a blender with an early incarnation of the Tom Robinson Band having a row with a Diggle fronted Buzz cocks (hell even the riff is a mutated take on the unusually discordant ’Harmony in my Head’). Possessing more strut than a Saturday afternoon on the King’s Road and more hooks than a butchers walk in freezer this two finger waving slab of urchin pop is very ’So it goes’. Flipside ’What do you want’ – sadly not the old Gen X nugget – is a punishing beast of a cut with the volume cranked up that flickers in the blink of an eye between skanking ska workouts and bruised frenetic before shifting up a gear or three for a white hot finale. Essential stuff.

Rank Deluxe ’Poor man’s cab’ (Fat Cat). Final instalment of the promised trio from Deptford’s finest comes courtesy of ’Poor Man’s Cab’. Possibly the most wired of all the three lead cuts, this frenzied pogoing viciously unchecked slab of urban night life is fraught, frantic and beset with a momentary nursery rhyme detour giving ample evidence that this lot really don’t give a fuck and given that they seem to literally piss top tunes for fun who can blame them – think Stump having the crap kicked out of them by the Scars with a strangely mutant sounding Turbines vibe running throughout the core. Over on the flip the by now trademark reggae fuelled attendant cut. ’End in Mind’ is a twisted love song no less that pricked our ears for the fact that for the most part it had us recalling ’Nowhere Fast’ era Chron Gen which in our books makes it the dogs bollocks. Nuff said our kid. http://www.fat-cat.co.uk

The Common Redstarts ‘Save it for your friends’ (Seeca). The subject of much hullabaloo it seems north of the border at present having recently laid down 15 cuts that will in some shape or other form the basis of their debut full length slated for release later in the year. The Common Redstarts have the benefit of either a rather savvy PR or management team given that this summer babe has already been doing the rounds on ads previewed on Sky Sports as well as making a brief appearance on TV’s Eastenders’ jukebox. Kicking out to sound like a wired take on the Elvis Vegas years ’Save it for your friends’ is a romping toe tapping road blues vibed radio humping in your face unstoppably infectious as hell well drilled pop tart of the sort the Charlatans nearly made (think of a more muscular ’North Country Boy’) and Oasis should be making for fun (though secretly you suspect they will once they find their muse – it’s behind the sofa lads). This beaut is blessed with a seriously contagious sunshine laced feel good factor that once inside your headspace will ping around like a demented pinball. Beyond that not a lot I can tell you besides buy the blighter. http://www.seeca.co.uk

VWF ‘I won’t do you any harm’ (Sidewalk 7). Those with vaguely long memories may well remember us falling over ourselves in praise of this lots self released debut ‘5 minutes to live’ (those without memories at all – retune your mouse to missive 75). Released just ahead of the bands debut full length ‘Where you there?’ slated for September and which incidentally was recorded live in front on an invitation only crowd. ‘I won’t do you any harm’ is a floor throbbing brassed up growler that could in time, given the right amount of exposure, prove to be as contagious (or annoying – depending on which side of the fence you sit with these things) as the Wild bunch’s (or more commonly known – Electric 6) ’Danger, High Voltage’. This infectiously down and dirty funky blighter is the undeniable marriage of indie and club land seductively harmonising elsewhere between the grooves a momentarily flash of a prime time line dancing ZZ Top can be heard begging the question ‘is there anything that this beauty hasn’t included apart from the odd kitchen sink?’ http://www.vwfband.com

The Kull ’God knows how? (City Silenced). Okay it’s not exactly life changing stuff that’s for sure but then there can be no doubt that between the beginning and finish of this twin sets allotted 6 minute time frame that our very existences axis we swear momentarily wobbled. ’God knows how?’ the follow up to the bands debut ‘Tic Tac Toe’ (which we grumpily missed) is a glorious cacophony of sound that blisters and bruises throughout. Rabidly rampant it has an almost reptilian appeal as though its just crawled out of a swampland wearing shades, gauged by fuzz fuelled riffs this viciously infectious slab of gruelling glam grunge sounds like a seriously fucked off ‘Sliver‘ era Nirvana with Albini in the wings kicking seven shades and ultimately mutating Zeppelin‘s ‘Kashmir‘ as their own. In turn the kind of record that’ll beat up your hi-fi just for daring to look at it. Flip over for the equally de-harmonised ’Luck wait, die’ which bears down on you like an insane trucker looking to score road kill, raw as fuck blistered blues that sounds like John Spencer Blues Explosion meeting Queen of the Stone Ages ’Feel good hit of the summer’ head on. Resistance isn’t so much useless and pointless. Seek out. http://www.thekull.com

Dreams of Tall Buildings ‘Supersonic 04’ (Bearos). In the best tradition of previous doTb releases this babe is limited to just 75 copies, a dinky little thing it is to pressed up on 3”s of cd-r and housed in a cute little plastic pass holder replete with clip on clip type thing. This 23 minute performance taken from last years Supersonic spot at Birmingham’s Custard Factory provides perhaps their most together and focussed outing to date. Never ones for joining the club so to speak doTb’s sound collages have existed somewhere else far from the pop madden crowd, shyly tucked away in the more shadowy less easy to categorize confines of somewhere else pop. No two releases have been the same – or more rightly have been conceived the same way – depending on who is around on hand (the ensemble is a fluid collective) at any given time when they see fit to record or rarer still appear in person – its pretty much a lucky bag as to which doTb you’ll get – whether it’s the seriously abstract minimalist electronics, walls upon walls of squalling feedback, string arrangements, ballistic brass or doomed psychedelic – or as the case is sometimes all this and more – in many ways quite reminiscent of the much missed Freed Unit who at various intervals would hook up under their Inside ov a…..guise to scare and bewilder in equal measures those (un)fortunate enough to hear the ensuing results – nevertheless compulsive listening even if it does keep you on your expectant toes. ‘Supersonic 04’ once it plays that is, believe you me with tried this on so many mediums – first it plays then it doesn’t – it can be bloody frustrating – but we are never ones to be beaten no sir. After some brief drone like introductions doTb set about their stall in a menacing fashion with some raw as you like bleached out feedback laced stoner rock (that near literally lifted the veneer from our poor besieged speakers) and then proceed to filter this through a myriad of white hot out there distortion the type of which would give even the mighty Acid Mothers a acute (though admiring) headache. Then its back to the drone – though this time somewhat evermore gloomy and darker in texture – a kind of building up of a chain reaction if you like which after a brief spell mutates into something not unlike New Order’s psychotic ’Murder’ though on this occasion with the skin spiking intensity dial notched to maximum and after another brief interval of sound manipulating the whole lot bleeds together superbly into a metronomic wig flipping hypnotic odyssey of mind bending psychedelic sonic pyrotechnics that seems to ingest, modify and spit out everything of any consequence between the period 1968 and 1975 – which frankly if we had our way we’d make it law that they cut to tape and ship to us to scramble our hi-fi with on a weekly basis. Scary – yes, crude – perhaps, essential – of course. http://www.bearos.co.uk or check out the band my space site at http://www.myspace.com/gonweb

Dirty Little Faces ‘Piccadilly’ (Fierce Panda). Bang fuckin bang drop dead gorgeous follow up to their ’Finding it hard’ debut from a few months ago (another record we annoying missed out on to much gnashing of teeth). Both ’Piccadilly’ and its attending flip side ’Lose Win Lose’ are made of the stuff that press all your buttons at once, the former a sharply suited and honed slice of sterling beat pop mod that literally crawls over you like a contagious rash. This twin set assault could easily be the coolest thing on the block right now, music aside there’s an energy and sense of arrogance that peels from this beauty which recalls in the main a youthful Jam. – there I’ve said it the hat is in the ring. This babe is a real three chord bruiser with a hook laden melody and chest beating anthemic chorus to match which moves at such pace its easy to feel a tad punch drunk through each attending listen, reminiscent of the much missed Parkinsons, Dirty Little Faces prove themselves more than ably adept at strutting with the finest, this crunching fuck you love epitaph craftily nibbles away at the Small Faces ’All or Nothing’ and sets about creating a riot on your hi-fi – simply unavoidable and ruddy essential if you ask me. Things get better with ‘Lose win lose’ over on the flip, a bastardised face off between a lean, mean and stripped down Godfathers up close and personal to Department S, twanging chords and phased vocals delivered with sinew snapping intensity – need we say more – cool as f**k by our b**k. Joint deputy single of the missive did you really think it could be anything but. http://www.fiercepanda.co.uk

Rotating Leslie ’ Fire Fire’ (Self released). More kick botty high grade pop that’s sure to lay siege to your hi-fi in the coming weeks comes courtesy of East London trio – Rotating Leslie. Last time out was their debut ‘No Requests’ which much to our growing annoyance our usually reliable radar totally missed leaving us again for the second release on the bounce in a state of much gnashing of teeth. ‘Fire Fire’ is killer stuff and should by rights come with a suitably adorned warning sticker given that it romps at such a fierce some pace you fear whiplash just for sitting in its company. Packed to the rafters with running on the spot jarring riffs and blessed with an unfeasibly infectious chorus hook – you’d rightly suspect that somewhere out there exists a prescribed medication to counteract its dizzying effects. Better still – though it beggars belief the flip cut ‘Piss in the disco’ is deadly stuff, a seriously sassy as a fuck mutant growler that once out in the open will decimate the coolest club floors, sexier than the studio room results of a recorded meeting of Scissors Sisters, Primal and the Mondays. Given the right kind of exposure this could go on to be as massive as the Underworld’s ’Born Slippy’ – by wiring in the riff strut of INXS’ ’Need you tonight’ on an incessant loop into a huge ever growing mind melting spongy house vibe and leading out with what sounds like the casual handiwork of Johnny Marr c. Stex / Electronic as though trying out for ’Doolittle’ era Pixies. So good you could make a career out of hating them. Absolutely gem like. http://www.rotatingleslie.co.uk

Zombi ‘Digitalis’ (Static Caravan). Pardoning the vernacular but I shit you not when I say that we absconded from work early – you know the drill weather beautifully hot the only thought in my head the image of me sitting in the garden bedecked with my trusted fags, an ice cool glass of alcoholic fizzy pop and a stack of CD’s with which to spend the afternoon listening and hopefully pontificating on their undoubted merits. Isn’t it always the case that sometimes things just don’t work out as planned. A small but well formed package from Static Caravan HQ waiting on our door step was to blame kids, inside out popped the summer seasons fashionable headset accessories among which was, the much tooted UK licence of Zombi’s recent US tour CD. In the shops shortly, though between me and you I suspect this babe will sell out before its had a chance to leave the pressing plant, and arriving pressed on 12 inches of clear wax, and with and despite that fact might equally prove to be Static Caravan’s finest release to date and the one that splits the ranks of old school label fans. Duo Zombi have been the subject of much conversation among the chattering classes of the underground across the pond. With two full length’s to their name (the latest being ‘Surface to Air’ both of which we‘ve since managed to acquire – and both of whom we freely admit have been much hogging the hi-fi of late) as well as a plethora of ultra limited releases and an enviable body of soundtrack work to boot, Zombi are a multi generic colossus that refuse easy categorisation. Incorporating in the main elements of progressive rock finitely honed with sub specie variances of ambient house, euro disko, kraut electronica – the duo – Steve Moore and A E Paterra carve out the kinda of epic electronic elegance that most artists dare to dream of let alone consider, forging a template that sees its feet primarily rooted in an past musical fashion for many years much maligned and discredited. Zombi are the bastard offspring of a one off alliance between Goblin (see ’Suspira’ et al) and John Capenter, ’Digitalis’ provides their first official UK release and features three cuts two of which are previously unreleased with the lead track being nabbed from the aforementioned ’Surface to Air’ full length. An alluring spectacle it is that never ceases to tire, each passing listen revealing a little more of itself. ’Digitalis’ harks backs to the primitive days of electronica, a bleakly drawn hollowed glimpse of a future to be recalling all at once the repetitive chill down the spine encapsulated by the celluloid sci fi backdrops provided for by ’Assault on Precinct 13’, ’They live’ and ’Terminator’ as though on this occasion being recalibrated by the twinned collaboration of ‘Oxygene‘ era Jarre and ‘Autobahn‘ era Kraftwerk – night time drive music for androids. ’Sapphire’ just peaking short of the nine minute mark is no doubt the EP’s centrepiece, beautifully moulded and fluid in texture it provides a warm contrast to ’Digitalis’s futile nakedness, flirtatious and upbeat within its grooves it plays host to an almost veritable who’s who and what’s what of artists, styles and fashions that have threaded themselves into the pop consciousness over the last 30 plus years. Here you’ll find the trademark Goblin / Carpenter signposts rubbing shoulders with classic Tangerine Dream, Jarre, Moroder yet scratch a little deeper to reveal the much criminally overrated Front 242 in a head on fusion with Yello’s ’you gotta say yes to another excess’ with the end result being carefully dissected, smoothed and polished by the collective genius of Propaganda and Colourbox. And as though to dispel the theory that based on the evidence of both ‘Digitalis’ and ‘Sapphire’ this lot are mere pop puppets check out the doom laden, fitfully eerie and macabre magnificence of ‘Siberia’ (my personally preferred cut of the three). As you’d rightly come to expect of a track titled as such it’s a stripped down affair, bleakly unflinching marked by a solitary floor shacking drum beat that presides over swathes of drone intersections. Cathedral like and stately in presence, this icily fractured sonic sculpture cuts to the core, edgy, tense and suggestively epic, a cosmic foreboding with neo religious intonations its roots veering towards orbits more commonly associated with the likes of Coil, Clock DVA, Dead Can Dance and the like. Irresistibly creepy. Joint deputy single of the missive. http://www.staticcaravan.org

Matthew Rozeik and YLID ‘Split’ (Static Caravan). More essential Static Caravan goodies – in fact so many here that we could have easily done a Singled Out entirely made up of Static Caravan releases. A split release of sorts with both Matthew Rozeik and YLID contributing two tracks apiece. Strictly limited to just 200 copies – and by way of having the Static Caravan badge of honour adorning it sure to sell out in the blink of an eye. Still much loving of that recent freebie download of ‘Oh Lord give me another brain’ which was made available via those nice people at High Point Low Life and was essentially reinterpretations of Rozeik’s work by such luminaries as Maps + Diagrams, d_rradio, YLID and Bauri, Mr Rozeik has been honing his musical finesse for a fair few years now, sculpturing classically carved scores for short films as well as releasing an enviable body of work for labels such as Awkward Silence and Cactus Island. ‘How do I find you’ and ‘Community Service’ see Rozeik marinating his love for classical treated guitar arrangements sumptuously to the wiles of electronica to create a decidedly disarming and unworldly sonic hybrid that gently nibbles between the outer spherical folds of dream like rustic pop and the ornately glacial sparseness proffered by the minimalist engagement of electronics. The former providing a hollowed spectacle of lunatic charm the latter a whirling cortege like squelching ice trodden delicatessen of surreal hijacks more associated with the Animal Collective as though on the set of Camberwick Green. YLID is better known to both kith and kin as Bristol based musician Rob Lyon whose releases for Awkward Silence, Cactus Island and Sutemos have secured him a place as one of the finest exponents amid the electronica underground. ’I stole you’ the second of his two offerings has to be heard to be believed, achingly beautiful it scars the emotions with its heavily hung demeanour, spectral arpeggios flicker and flirt amid stealth like chattering beats together they assume a dream like dynamic that softly shimmers teasingly close ands yet forlornly far all the time threading itself through your defences burrowing deep in your psyche like some bewitched spell. In sharp contrast ’Wet Faces’ appears to gallop at some pace towards some unseen given point, on first hearing a fractured canvas of oddly ill fitting strummed guitar loops and distracting sound manipulations that strangely begin to take root and make weird sense several listens in and like Rozeik’s ’Community Service’ paying an undoubted nod of debt to NY’s Animal Collective. Of course goes without saying it’s all utterly essential. http://www.staticcaravan.org

Windmill ‘Racing’ (Static Caravan). Sure to shift from record racks (if it makes it that far that is) faster than you can ‘what the f*ck was that’ and already a collectors item before its released by way of the fact that Melodic (the home of all things rather tasty such as Isles, Harrisons, Department of Eagles et al) have secured their signatures and are already locked away in a secret bunker somewhere in Manchester plotting world domination. Pressed on red vinyl and strictly limited to just 500 copies Windmill is the solo guise of Matt Dillon, no not that Matt Dillon but THE Matt Dillon from Newport Pagnell and ‘Racing’ is his debut release and a killer kooky kut it is to. Windmill carves out deliciously homely fractured sugar pop that’s not unlike a less wayward and insular Daniel Johnston trying out for the Animal Collective with the spirit of Elliott Smith hovering in the mix, slinky yet strangely frail the piano led ‘Racing’ on more than one occasion sounds as though at any given point its going to fall apart, ebbing in and out of focus its makes for a disorientating aural spectacle and in so doing gives it an abstract aura, part spectral part lysergic the kaleidoscopic melodies ricochet around the confines of your headspace like a demented ‘shroomed up imp – stand by it to long and your sure to get an oddly fetching fluorescent tan. ‘Tokyo Moon’ on the flip is an equally infectious and hitherto immediate slice of heart melting song craft though on this occasion finding itself courting with a distinctly souring underpin that braids the jauntily warped rhythmic canter with a regretful tear evoking edge. Quite sweet really and disturbingly good. http://www.staticcaravan.org

The Loft ‘Model Village’ (Static Caravan). The Static Caravan autumn jamboree continues apace and what better way of shoving two rigid fingers up to the competition as though to taunt them to better that then a spanking brand new release from – the Loft. Yes you saw right – the Loft – the four original members together for the first time in some twenty ears – God I could weep with joy. Fed up with the puerile piss poor imitations that these days pass for quality indie pop, the kind of pop that is forgotten as fast as it takes the stylus arm of the record player to return to its cradle, indie pop that has no hope of a resonating past its sell by date. Well get this space cadets – the legacy left by the original Loft (originally the Living Room ad one presumes had they gone any longer in such a upward household manner ma well have become the Chimney or Aerial at some point in time) extended to just two singles for the then fledging Creation label (latter to play home to Primal Scream, House of Love and of course – Oasis) – and with those singles ’Up the hill and down the slope’ in particular (which we here still to this day occasionally dust down for its annual taste of the hi-fi), they helped shape and define the Creation sound before splitting before their time. The resulting ripples from the fall out saw far reaching consequences – in its wake the formation of the Weather Prophets (whose ’Almost Prayed’ is still today the benchmark of underground pop at its very finest), the often forgotten Caretaker Race and the Wishing Stones came and went. Following the implosion of the Weather Prophets in the late 80’s Astor recorded two low key solo full lengths before momentarily disappearing from the scene only to return armed with Atari‘s and 8 track recorders for the highly acclaimed Wisdom of Harry project. Releases via some of the hippest labels of the day – Wurlitzer Jukebox, Lissy’s and Motorway kept him in the critical gaze as well as a flurry of side projects including Ellis Island Sound which maintains today (see next). The extraordinary ‘Hal’s Egg’ full length via Static and released some 18 months ago is something that just has to be heard. So that’s the potted pre-history done with. Featuring the guest appearance on organ of Hefner‘s Darren Hayman ‘Model Village’ is strictly limited to just 400 pressings on 7” and while arguably you’d be right to say it could never match up to the finite body of work left by the Loft as they were all those years ago there’s more than enough here to suggest that the magic is still there and the rich legacy intact. Something of a summery countrified gem that reveals Astor still hasn’t lost his obsession with Byrds evidence provided by the softly cured lilt of pop jangles throughout, this radio friendly nibbler instantly works its way beneath the skin and into the psyche, airy and breezy it floats with such unassuming ease and seeming melodic finesse you’d be forgiven for thinking that the subsequent 21 year gap had suddenly ebbed away into nothing. ’Rickety Frame’ over on the flip is better still and offers up a less obvious perspective to the Loft sound, not to dissimilar at key intervals to a honed Wall of Voodoo replete with dusty 60’s inflections and braided throughout with mooching riffs which near the finale rear up to provide a disarming spectacle of controlled fractured spiked jangle some psychosis. All in all classy stuff indeed and a suitable bedfellow for those recently released tunes by the re-activated House of Love. http://www.staticcaravan.org

Ellis Island Sound ’Gene Pool’ (Static Caravan). Sadly as we are led to believe this ultra limited edition 150 pressing is completely sold out at source so if you want one we suggest you try alternative outlets – perhaps Norman (www.normanrecords.com) or Piccadilly records (www.piccadillyrecords.com) -failing that eBay. Packaging alone it deserves to called your own being that it’s a 5 rack CD housed in a hard plastic sealed wallet with a rather playful ejector button that once pressed spring the said CD into view – cute as hell – well we here do need something to while away the days amusing ourselves what with our small minds etc etc……Okay as you should already be aware Ellis Island Sound is the joint ambient electronics project of Pete Astor (the Loft – see elsewhere) and David Shepperd. The pair met in the mid 90’s and forged a recording alliance that has seen a fulsome body of work sprout to the fore as well as an enviable CV of remix work (Manics and Two Lone Swordsmen springing readily to mind). Ten years on and a plethora of releases under their collective belt that has seen the warping of heads of all those lucky to have heard them the latest addition to their aural vocabulary ’Gene Pool’ features five similarly crafted slices of mind altering guitar / electronic ambient hybrids and in doing so perhaps provides their most fluid release to date. ’Sunroof’ opens the set, a mesmeric electroid odyssey of whirling loops, intergalactic frostiness and nimbly curdling keys that zigzags sonically terra-forming to utilise repetitive threads and just for a moment a subtle though nonetheless deeply alluring aboriginal rhythmic effect. The exquisite ’Pan American’ cues itself up next, sparsely drawn with a hollowed beauty and sultry sounding this seductively tranquil affair recalls both old school Stylus, Durutti Column and 90 Degrees South, delicately picked guitar chords pine into hitherto alien cosmic skies carving colourful figurines in the distant heavens to endow a deliciously becalming sensation upon any would be listener. The succulent and sensitive sounding ‘Susuma Yakota’ with its willowy dreamlike chord interplays is the sets centrepiece, wonderfully spectral in design its built upon a lilting almost Oriental musical box like clockwork pastoral frame that’s teasingly showered at intervals by what sounds like ornate iced droplets. The same cut is revisited again at the close of proceedings in reprise like fashion – just in case you couldn’t get enough of it first time around. ‘Baby Ford’ on the other hand changes perspective coming across with a floor rumbling spongy funky house vibe that sound to these ears like it was conceived under water. Essential in a word. http://www.staticcaravan.org

God is an Astronaut ‘A moment of Stillness’ (Rocket Girl). Blimey just where are all these top tunes coming from, and the first smart arse to say “through the letterbox Chief” gets to sit at the back off a class and wear the Eton John comedy wig for an hour. What better way to follow a review of the latest Ellis Island Sound outing than with this quite simply breathtaking 5 track treat. First and foremost for purists of stratospheric guitars and celestial atmospherics, we’d be buggered if we didn’t say that this (especially the opening cut – ’Frozen Twilight’) exquisitely colourful canvas of gargantuan tear evoking glaciality is the most touching thing we’ve heard since Sigur Ros’ marker placing debut full length melted our hi-fi causing it to seek endless months of carefully sympathetic counselling. Akin to the equivalent of a sonic black hole, the melodies here suck away at the listening space growing ever more magnificent in stature the further it evolves. Irish in origin God is an Astronaut already have one self released full length under the waistband of their collective gravity belt with a second entitled ‘All is violent, All is bright’ looming on the horizon and due to enter orbit any day soon. ’A moment of stillness’ features five heart stopping heaven bound gems with the opening ’Frozen Twilight’ proving to be the centrepiece. To describe it is to liken it to being softly cocooned in a stately cosmic Cathedral surrounded by a throng of Angels, delicately layered chords arc and weave hurting gossamer lined threads slowly but surely drawing you in as they seductively pirouette colourfully bathing the voids in a glowing aura, all the time slowly gathering in intensity and momentum towards an unseen point in the distance as though a would be calm before a storm until finally the harnesses snap and the true sonic splendour within is set free. Quite awesome stuff. From therein everything pales in comparison though that’s not to say the foursome that lie in wait are irrelevant anything but. Title cut ’A moment of stillness’ reveals a beautifully coded cortege of deliciously lulling spiral like crystalline fret work that for the best part recalls a more romantically inclined Chameleons. Elsewhere there’s the disarmingly panoramic and divine ’Forever Lost’ lost in its own dream pop jet stream while the earthbound ’Elysian Fields’ with its cavernous folds and textures creates a sense numb evoking abandoned stillness. Rounding up the set superbly albeit very briefly ’Crystal Canyon’ is what you’d come to expect of a track so titled – sparse, foreboding and bloody magnificent. Colossal stuff and with that another top class release from the becoming Rocket Girl stable. http://www.rocketgirl.co.uk

Sunday International ‘So calm’ (Future Butterfly). Debut release for both band and label alike comes in the shape of this rather tasty heavy duty white vinyl limited to 500 copies twin set from Stockport based quintet Sunday International. ’So calm’ is solemn stuff indeed. Assuming an insular deadpan charm of its own, this fraughtly austere slice of dour late 70’s proto post industrial new wave solitude comes buckled up with raincoats of grey to deliver a numbing portion of part bliss part bruised fuelled fuzzed up feedback that had us recalling fondly the bleak beauty of the Passage as though infecting early career Moose / Chapterhouse with the seriously down cast and under foot as though fed on horse tranquilisers ’Sea Monsters’ era Wedding Present wiling away in the shadows. The flip side in stark contrast is the remarkably uplifting ’the Salad bar and other toys’, well we say uplifting if, that is, you can manage to navigate it’s almost piecemeal dislocated myriad of evaporating pop portions and deliberately abstract antics even if they are craftily unsettling albeit near non existent. Well worth pursuit. http://www.futurebutterfly.co.uk

Snowfight in the City Centre ’No light left’ (High Voltage). Debut outing from the excellently named Manchester sextet Snowfight in the City Centre who in a previous incarnation used to be Lisa Brown – confused already worry not my fine fair weathered friend. ‘No light left’ is a near perfect portion of pristine sky piercing pop that comes courtesy of the same folk who put out that unfeasibly cool and with it, must have debut by Dead Disco. Braided by a cortege of honey dripped chiming riffs, ’No light left’ immediately wires into your senses quickly undoing your defences, both epic and ethereal this celestial borne sweetly honed cosmic cruise tenderly caresses and flirts with such an unnerving precision the manner of which you’d long given up hope of a pop record ever replicating – think upon it as a sugar rushing Lotus Eaters infused with the svelte elegance of Kitchens of Distinction – hopelessly romantic stuff. Set swoon control for stun ’My saving grace’ over on the flip sounds like its fell off the back of one of those classically drilled 60’s gospel / soul compilations put out with alarming regularity by the likes of Rhino / Chess and re-invigorated at the hands of the entwined mindset of the Earlies and Spiritualized which we’ll be damned we’ve played so much we’ve worn away the grooves. Utterly essential as though you were thinking anything but. http://www.highvoltge.org.uk

Pissed Jeans ’Don’t need smoke to make myself disappear’ (Sub Pop). Been so long since we had a chance of hanging out the bunting to celebrate the arrival in our gaff of a Sub Pop release in any shape, format or form that we seriously suspect there must be a legal ruling outlawing it. ’Don’t need smoke to disappear’ is just what the macabre melody medic ordered, a wired fuck up with which what it lacks in terms of pace and attrition more than makes up for in puss pouring brooding intensity and stark skin crawling detachment. Reminiscent – well to these ears – of early Black Dice in possession of a blood line tracing back to UK Decay, these Pennsylvania based punked up noise niks have already set down their markers of intent with a full length and a single for Parts Unknown. Now firmly tucked under the watchful eye of Seattle’s finest on their label debut ‘Don’t need smoke to disappear’ they carve out thick impenetrable slabs of sinew tingling low grade scarring squall with all the pessimistic pride and sadistic precision of a serial killer gouging out eyeballs, this frayed molten hued mutant blues is just what hiding behind sofas is all about – brutal, bent out of shape and strangely becoming stuff. Is that the punk thrashing psychedelic psychosis of the Buttholes we hear mooching menacingly about the flip cut ’Love Clown’ – we’d like to think it is, over in the blink of a eye but what a blink – fast, furious, scathing and raucously abrupt teeth kicking head mashing mayhem that we feel deserves immediate attention – though remember to take your tin hat as a precaution. http://www.subpop.com

Shellac ’Pack of Three’ (Kamikaze Kid). A better way to follow Pissed Jeans we’d be hard pressed to think of if it weren’t for the fact that a Shellac release sits brooding menacingly in the record pile. This ultra limited repressed three track 7” vinyl release comes courtesy of Hamburg’s Kamikaze Kid and is already doing brisk business on a few of the internet auction sites featuring as it does three of the most sought after cuts from the Shellac recorded canon – ’Agostino’ originally appearing as a split freebie with Dutch magazine ’Barbaraal’ and ’Billardspielerlied’ / ’Mantel’ both recorded live and issued as a gig freebie at their shown in Bremen, Germany in Aug 1995. Shellac are a band apart, no peers, no movement, no equals – formed by Steve Albini in the wake of Big Black’s implosion they’ve carved for themselves a formidable body of work – with a new full length tentatively mooted by Touch and Go to be expected next year. ’Billardspielerlied’ is an ominously fracture paced intricately drawn splintered metallic gnarled blues gem, a bastardised half way house of buckled math rock ravaged and icily picked throughout with a sparsely intense brutalised stop start edge that doesn’t so much woo you into submission but rather more has you clawing in a darkened confined space accompanied by a baseball bat wielding maniac who depending on his whim twats you over the head just when you are least expecting it. Flip over for both ‘Agostino’ and ‘Mantel’ – the former sees Shellac in an almost ominous refined and laid back glow while the latter offers a spot of squabbling audience interaction in the main with a brief burst of sonic pyrotechnics to boot.

Fortune Drive ‘My girlfriends an arsonist’ (Shy). Another of those ultra limited slices of hi-fi booty this time turned out as a one track one sided diamond housed in a singed die cut card sleeve and showing signs of lips tip traces. Forget all the sheep baying press that say anything escaping to the UK from the 20 mile exclusion zone of New York City is so crucially hip that failure to buy into it wholesale will leave you ostracised and feeling like the village fool and into the bargain affect your sex life and give you the kind of acne that industrial strength skin cream won’t dent. Fortune Drive are not from New York. Nor Detroit, London, Manchester or anywhere else you’d care to mention – rather more Bristol and all you really need to know about this release (aside the small detail that you should own it) is that it rocks to f*ck. ‘My girlfriends an arsonist’ punches holes in your hi-fi like no other, a rampant melody infested hulking strutting bastard of a cut with licks, looks and a cocksure arrogant petulance of the like that aside being admirable simply oozes from the grooves. Packed tight with a floor shaking percussion, spiked 60’s MC5 riffs and buried in the recesses some deliciously vintage keys this baby snarls with such style that you feel compelled to invite the ‘girlfriend’ in question around to your gaff to burn the rest of your record collection. Combustible stuff. Check out the bands site for links to their my space page where you can three other ‘new’ cuts including the heads down no nonsense bourbon soaked bruiser ‘Let it go’ replete with its down and dirty swamp infested Link Wray groove. http://www.fortunedrive.com

The Rifles ‘She’s got standards’ (Red Ink). Quite frankly so good it’s stupid. Second visit to these very pages for the Rifles following their pretty nifty Blow Up release ’Peace and Quiet’ which had us all agog in a state of jaw dropped numbness to which even to this day we still pose and strut about revealing the scars it inflicted on our headspace all for the princely sum of a pint of Ireland’s finest nectar. Since then and now they’ve released a brace of much sought after singles including recently delivering upon an unsuspecting public at large their debut full length (all to which I regret to say have somewhat passed us by – tut tut). ’She’s got standards’ lifted from that said debut arrives in two limited 7” formats each featuring exclusive flip sides with one pressed on your obligatory black wax the other on candy floss pink vinyl. The lead cut provides for a searing slice of boot stomping, hip swaggering preening spiked soulful ska’d up new wave / mod pop replete with the kind of sharpened riffs that could frankly cut through metal and braided with the type of blood pumping adrenalin agitating demeanour that played outside of a controlled environment may well cause serious seizures. All said and done this beaut had us recalling Cockney Rebel being subjected to a back alley beating by the Secret Affair – nuff said then. Flip over the pink version and you get the added treat of an acoustic retread of the same track though for our money our preferred cut of the set is the black vinyl flip side ‘Hard to say’ – here in its demo form and sounding for all the world not a million miles from the late 70‘s ‘Killing an Arab’ era Cure though here finding their DNA cross matched and fused with the Specials – does it for us anyway. Now for that album……www.redinkmusic.com

The Long Blondes ‘Weekend without Make up’ (Rough Trade). Debut Rough Trade release for the hotly tipped Long Blondes comes available via two 7” formats each housing an exclusive flip side. ‘Weekend without make up’ had us recalling the purring feline 50’s inspired sugar pop of the much undervalued Brand Violets minus the sci-fi b-movie obsessing, in the blink of an eye made noteworthy by a horny as hell seductive vocal that morphs at will to incorporate fleeting memories of Hazel O’Connor, Debbie Harry and Wendy James. Sensually honed ‘Weekend without make up’ sadly lacks the kind of secret ingredient harnessed by the likes of the Delilah’s and Dead Disco nevertheless still shimmers with a veritable persuasive pop pulse that’s teasingly tangy enough to beat off with a big stick most of the oncoming competition and with that is cut of the kind of cloth that radio’s where made to play – though that’ll be the radio in the kitchen just by the sink. Those perhaps questioning the Long Blondes pedigree may well be advised to road test the two exclusive b-sides, though arguably less immediate in intent ‘Last night on northgate street’ is a sweetly simmering throwaway summer warming nugget that pays selective nods to both the more memorable back catalogue of both Brit Pop fall guys (gals) Echobelly and Sleeper though if pinned up against a wall and forced to choose I’ll wager that the lazy like ‘Platitudes’ may well get some much deserved turntable hammering. Built upon (darn it I can never remember which is which) a simple rumba (or is a bossanova) keyboard setting which, itself gives it a calypso like vibe, and scratched with the merest of feedback whines that endow it with an odd creaking come rickety demeanour leaving Kate Jackson to sexily saunter to trade hushed whispers and wrap you spellbound – all you need now is a grass skirt, a coconut, a maraca, a sand pit and a homemade cocktail containing something sweetly nasty like Malibu or Tia ruddy Marie and you’d swear you were in Torquay. http://www.roughtraderecords.com

Lily Allen ‘Smile’ (Regal). Admittedly I’ve bollixed up here in previously ignoring the musical charms of Lily Allen. I think you could put it down to being shot by one’s own petard given that I always bang on about the virtues of paying no heed to the press- I suspect in some small degree I’ve done just that myself because I swear I’ve seen press notices aplenty comparing Ms Allen to the Streets that I naturally assumed this would be cack, not that I’m saying for a second that the Streets are cack – well in a way I just have haven’t I – oh bugger it you get where I’m coming from hopefully. Armed with this in mind you can imagine I was expecting the worst with ’Smile’ – in fact there was I having a crafty fag in the garden picking out a potentially viable target in my line of vision and in my mind’s eye seeing said ‘Smile’ single hurtling into the distance as a result of my meagre attempt of an Olympic throw that even Hercules would swoon in admiration at. Well we can all be wrong once in a while – I stress the ONCE of course in my particular case. Another of those my space phenomena’s that seem to be gracing the charts and radio with such alarming and hitherto deserved regularity – that is if you don’t count that atrocious ‘punk rock’ thing from Tooting – so bad that if I hear it again I’ll probably gnaw my own hand off. Admittedly ‘Smile’ is normally the kind of thing we ere stray from, a little to nice for our pallet you could say, this version coming pressed on 7” of solid jukebox styled wax features your standard stuff on one side and a damned sexy ‘Gutter Mix’ of the original on the flip. Braided with a pure reggae pop underpin that’s sees Jackie Mittoo’s ‘Free Soul’ liberally flirting about in the mix, this summer shining spot of wholesomely skanking fun kind of had us recalling the Belle Stars shimmying up to the Bodysnatchers, so warmly fetching the glow literally peels from the vinyl imbuing a seriously becalming feel good vibe that frankly should be bottled up and given out on prescription. On the flip you’ll find the aforementioned and dare we say distracting and dislocated ’Gutter Mix’ of the same cut doing all sorts of mental things as it ricochets about in such unnerving fashion, casually sparse and dare we say pretty abstract as though all those sampling, scratching and whatever other techniques that we’d come to know and love emanating from, primarily the arena of, dance culture had bee caning it at the local club bar the night before and somehow stumbled out into the chilled night air in the early hours headlong into a cement mixer for a rugged tumble. So good in fact that we here are kicking our selves into miserablism for passing up the chance to own that limited heavy duty vinyl issue of her debut full length ’Alright Still’. Bugger.

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