Look what we sneaked online many years ago … transmission 1.0

Look what we sneaked online many years ago … transmission 1.0

……found on a recent archive dig……..

…. originally transmitted during 2006 via www.losingtoday.com

…. this extended archive features mentions for …..

…. Specialten, 28 costumes, cheju, tunng, strange sounds orchestra, Srefan Panczak, blood music, garden, nick Hopkin, black ramps, dressed in wires, ian page and the affair, noblesse oblige, the close ups, the climb, buddha cakes, heroes of Switzerland, boys of Switzerland, roger, the call, the slides, nfd, roebuck, Elle Milano, jim moray, scully, Meredith bragg and the terminals, Darren hayman, spraydog, the playmates, calvoon, pistols at dawn, the collectors, the innovaders, ilkietrains, the delilahs, cannonball jane, her name is calla, the snowdrops, the lucksmiths, demeter, the seal cub clubbing club, darkness, charlottefield, kelman, the rampton release date, xrayok, motel hero, kj, the big architect in the sky, chikinki, linda draper, the arm, director, uncle ray, the randoms, hafdis huld, the aeroplanes, sweatmaster, actress hands, oom, beangrowers, uncle black, six nation state, ox, heartwear process,the termites, the bloom, dead disco, monolog, 1888, tender trap….

 

Missive 90

17-03-2006

Singled Out

 

Missive 90

 

Dedicated to Kelly and Mark – missing you.

 

As per usual the first of two pretty quick fire missives….with a third to follow tomorrow – look after you lot me I do……

 

Opening this particular missive with the sad news of Ivor Cutler’s passing (83 years of age – 3rd March 2006). Listeners to the late John Peel’s and more latterly to Andy Kershaw’s show will of course need no introduction to the man once dubbed ‘Scotland’s greatest living poet‘. For over 40 years his short, partly biographical prose has been the cause of delight and puzzlement in equal measure – you either get it or you don’t was often the way with Cutler as he weaved fragmented memories of a childhood spent growing up in Glasgow during 30’s into more often than not surrealist and absurd like moments of self indulgence that even Lear may have applauded – just listen to ‘The Shapely Balloon’, ‘Egg Meat’ and ‘A strategy suit with a jelly pocket’. Armed with a wheezing harmonium Cutler crafted an unusual and sometimes unsettling collage of partly dour, sometimes off beat and other times a just plain odd collection of readings, the nonsensical nature often appealing to children strangely enough (just listen to the repetitive devices and the warming naivety applied to both ‘Cold Potato’ and ‘How to make a friend’)

– or was it really so strange after all given that the recurring theme throughout the main body of his work was deliberating with his melancholy at not having a voice or having the nerve to stand up for himself as a child. May you find that peace you were searching for Mr Cutler – God bless. For your further reading and listening pleasure if you go to http://www.ivorcutler.org you’ll find yourself awash with all manner of Cutler homeliness that includes an exhaustive list of his radio appearances for Peel / Kershaw and more besides from his debut in the late 50’s – you can listen to a wealth of selected session readings either in MP3 or WAV including the one mentioned above.

 

Another all singing all dancing (well not quite dancing more like shuffling in a grumpy graveyard like fashion – and the singing – well akin to a badly oiled croak) Singled Out – your scribe at the controls suffering much with not so much toothache but teeth ache. These last few days we’ve been partaking in enough painkillers to floor a stable of horses and several small elephants – still we ventured out to the FortDax shindig and nice it was to – though we have to admit that by the time he appeared we were feeling the effects of two hours spent clutching to the bar drinking copiously to anesthetise the pain of said teeth while reading the Wire. Be warned kids whole packets of painkillers and bottles of house beer (even despite the fact it tastes like gnats piss) and the cover to cover exploration of said reading matter does not bode well – hell I was at one point uttering words like organic, hermetic, minimal, roiling chaos (whatever that is), Shoomping, Zen, squall, squeal and Tangerine Dream.

 

What better way to wake up in the afternoon and find that the postman has delivered the brand spanking new Volcano the Bear album – ‘Classic Erasmus Fusion’ – could have happily died but then that would be daft wouldn’t it because I’d not have a chance of hearing – mmmm. But for people who take note of these small details – and I think you should in this case – it’s a double CD out on Beta Lactam Ring Records – catalogue number MT092 – damn feel like a late night do – go to http://www.blrrecords.com and while you’re there check out the rest of their goodies including the awesome albeit frankly worrying la societe des timides a la parade des oiseaux full length ‘tranches de temps jete’ – which is already leading the charge for the most off the wall and wired release of the year – consider yourselves dutifully warned.

 

And staying momentarily with all things weird and out there you might be interested to know that the Residents host their own BOGCAST over at http://residentsbogcast.blogspot.com – to date there’s been 22 postings all available for stream / download.

 

And if that weren’t enough to have your little heads a spinning wildly then check the weekly 1 hour radio pod cast from those lovely dudes over at Brainwashed – all your eclectic tastes catered for with everything from Nurse With Wound to Volcano the Bear and back. http://www.brainwashed.com – and tirelessly staying with pod casts check out http://www.thetimesonline.co.uk who have been running a series of pod cast interviews for a few weeks now – previous guests include Sparks, the Editors and the Feeling – all you’ll be glad to hear still available to download – this weeks edition features ex Blur man Graham Coxon.

 

Darn those pod casting things – those among you who like a spot of tail feather shaking then check out the very excellent Dorktones weekly pod cast which though centring on all things r’n’b, ska, rock ‘n’ roll – you know stuff easily termed as classic a bit like that ‘Shake, Rattle and Roll’ radio show hosted by Mark Lamarr only like – er -better – not just including oldies – (though pretty much in the main it does) – we spotted tracks by the Bunnymen and Brinsley Schwarz so there – oh yea and to save you time as there are 50 plus pod things on there check out the new wave special (51) which features Altered Images and the long forgotten but equally cool Theatre of Hate, while pod cast 18 is a psyche special the excellent Tyrnaround and the obligatory Floyd, Prunes and Misunderstood goodies as well as the absolutely gem like (and I feel embarrassed to say previously missed by me) White Noise and Supersister, while over at pod 37 it’s a Halloween special which should appeal to Phantom Surfers and Cramps fans alike and includes such strange gems as the Spiders, the Frantics, the Naturals, the Keytones, the Streaplers and loads more besides – hell I need a lie down…. – nah nah ne nah nah up yours….. Go to http://www.dorktones.com

 

And that comfortably leads me onto the albums – mmm yea – okay albums will be getting write ups very shortly – promise – in fact there will so many album reviews that you’ll be sick of the sods before very long – one album that has snared our flappers is the Quasi album for Touch and Go entitles ‘When the going gets dark‘ – we didn’t officially get a copy – damn but rest assured questions will be asked and a thorough investigation will be held – instead we happened across the labels website which has an ingenious streaming facility and well this baby was on there – we had a quick peek and before to long our afternoon was otherwise engaged – believe you me an album that grabs hold of both psychedelia and the rock opera by the roots of their flippin’ wigs and drags them into the 21st C into the process updating elements of Zep’s back catalogue into the bargain, raw and as wired as fuck channelling blues, folk, country – like a beaten up but trusty several times around the block Neil Young – while you are there it might also be wise to check in at a pretty smart compilation that gathers up the recorded output of Blight – http://www.touchandgorecords.com

 

And while we are on the subject of labels given that we’ve done a spot of surfing on the web quite recently we’ve accidentally unearthed a plethora of ‘net labels’ offering free downloads of albums / ep’s the quality of which in most cases has been simply breathtaking. Needless to say we’ve been long championing the wares of the ever excellent Autres Directions stable who to date have had some top drawer releases available for download (over a dozen at the last count) from amongst others melodium, depth affect, propergol y colargol, harpages and Dudley the former two currently doing the rounds with two very wonderful releases which we will in time get around to writing up about – for now check out http://www.autresdirections.net – if that wasn’t enough to get you downloading like a bad ‘un then why not check out the following similarly minded conscientious souls – US based Earstroke who to date have 25 releases to their credit dealing mainly in all things abstract electronica – check out house band World Salad and the engaging sounds of Wisp via http://www.earstroke.com – shift the dial a little further along and you get the one label http://one.dot9.ca which we may have mentioned in passing last time out having been responsible for releasing the latest Kranky star Loscil entitled ‘Stasis’ as well as outings for Jack Haberfield, Transient and colophon – elsewhere Camomille considered one of the daddies of the scene having established itself in 2002 now have a busting 91 releases to it’s name the latest being from current Static Caravan darling Cheju (Wil Bolton) entitled ‘despite all resolutions’ – dealing mainly in ambient electronica camomile has a proven pedigree that most net labels aspire to – releases so far include albums / ep’s from David Kristian, photophob and Melissa Welch – go to http://camomille.genshimedia.com for more information. Then there is the excellent Filament records at http://www.filamentrecordings.co.uk ho have just released their 10th download with ‘Ard Nev’ by Gagarin, previous outings have seen releases by Cheju (again), Lum, Poborsk and Zelada. Particular faves of ours is acrylik records at http://www.acrylik.net who apart from the obligatory Cheju release has now made available 11 downloads the latest being an EP from Delayscape. Elsewhere if you hook up with the German based 2063music you can catch the amazing ‘xgender’ EP by Fosilli as well as spending the odd free day or two investing time downloading the extensive back catalogue that this label has to offer – go to http://www.2063music.de – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg as they say – expect a Singled Out special in a few weeks where we’ll look at these labels and more in greater detail – for now enjoy.

 

Better get on with the singles before I upset anyone – huzzah! – a bumper missive this time around cos hey it’s been like a week since the last update and quite frankly we’ve a shed load of top tunes featuring a cast of all stars with melodies aplenty in which to part you and your cash in return for. Next missive due to surface in 7 – as in days not minutes, weeks, months or years – though wouldn‘t count on it – ha ha………………………….

 

Okay we start this particular missive not with a record but a DVD – or more precisely a DVD magazine. We mentioned Specialten in a recent Singled Out dispatch and promised at the time to give a more detailed review of #13 of which we had only just grabbed for ourselves. For those unaware of these things Specialten is a superbly designed DVD music / arts magazine that comes enclosed in a heavy duty A4 card sized wallet. Inside the wallet you’re treated to a limited print by a named artist – in this particular issue the featured artist being Daniel Johnston who if you don’t know by now well frankly you have to consider to yourself are you viewing the right web site. Accompanying this there’s a 24 page programme of sorts packed with stills from the DVD, artwork, photographs and a detailed listing as to what’s in store on the 120 minute long DVD. Reminiscent of the short lived 80’s cassette ‘zine SFX but without the annoying adverts and lip service paying dues to packing itself with the most obvious and otherwise vulgar personalities there was to had around – okay then you’re right there’s no similarity at all is there. The DVD makes for excellent viewing combining an assortment of (as we used to fondly term them) popular music videos that includes the Harrisons; Silver Jews; Smog; Caribou; the excellent (that’s me talking not the bands name) Presets and many many more. In addition there’s a smattering of features including a film / interview with Jody Wild goose – one time member of the long defunct Various Vegetables coming to terms with attempting to get back on the musical horse he spectacularly fell off. Elsewhere there’s a short film featuring early footage of Daniel Johnston that includes a chat with Ma and Pa Johnston an unsolicited Grandady video – a trailer for the forthcoming Cam Archer film ’Wild tigers I have known’ – all this for a measly £5 from Borders and of course it goes without saying you need it and now. http://www.specialten.com

 

28 Costumes ‘Inside / Outside’ (Spank). Damn – we are liking this a lot. Limited to 500 copies and serving as a taster for their forthcoming second full length ‘Adventure Stories’ due at all perfect pop peddling emporiums sooner rather than later, 28 Costumes are your bona fide middle finger waving anti-fashion dudes who, absurd as it might first appear to be, sound like no-one and yet sound like everyone. A band who you suspect would happily revel more in creating their own scene rather than joining someone else’s cast off’s. ‘Inside / Outside’ is three minutes of toe tapping hip grinding twisted bubblegum pop that to these ears sounds like Pulp’s ‘Disco 2000’ being mugged, kicked and battered out of recognition in a darkened Hope Street alleyway, rescued by Half Man Half Biscuit, resuscitated, cared for, weaned slowly back to health with various ’The Game’ era Will Sergeant riff appendages lovingly stitched to its tuneful torso template and (comedic music hall interlude aside) loaded up with the kind of nerve jangling array of infectiously biting angular armoury that just might have the likes of the Futureheads casting the odd worried glance over the shoulder. Flip side features a live rendition of ’Cash Advance’ recorded at the Masque last May, a skanking attrition laced slice of ferociously seething warped Mersey delta skiffle blues – a kind of three way punch up if you like between the early Zutons – as though wasted on speed, a screwball variant of the Coral and the Stairs just as they are or more precisely as they were. Corking stuff. http://www.spankrecords.com

 

Static Caravan ‘Spring 2006 Sampler’ (Static Caravan). The latest spring collection from the house of Static Caravan is temptingly revealed on this rather delightful limited to 200 copies 6 track promo CD. Featuring a feast of goodies some of which we’ve mentioned in very recent singled out dispatches – Cheju are suitably represented by the daintily dreamy frost bitten splendour of ‘Hikari’ from their recent ‘A rainy mile’ set – which is now sadly sold out from the labels shop but should be trackable at the usual Static outlets (and that‘s not an invitation but rather more a warning that you need this release pronto). Those much intrigued by Wil Bolton’s (Cheju) faraway lunar-esque electronic sound scapes should note that there are a fair few recordings available from various internet only labels which we briefly mentioned above somewhere – first up there’s the ‘transparencies’ EP on Acrylik records at http://www.acrylik.net – while the ‘negative spaces’ full length is available at filament records at http://www.filamentrecordings.co.uk and his latest release ’despite all resolutions’ gets an airing on camomille recordings whose link sadly was suspended just as we were rustling this particular missive – so anyone from camomile who’d care to get in touch this would be greatly appreciated (thanks to Wil for the additional Camomille link at http://www.archive.org/details/camomille091 ). Elsewhere the ‘Maypole Song’ as covered by Tunng is included here, now achieving near legendary status thanks to several copies of 2004’s ultra limited lathe 7” from which it featured having recently exchanged hands for in excess of £100 on eBay. No need to tell you that the song originally appeared on the cult horror flick ‘The Wicker Man’ which by all accounts is being remade as I write and due for summer screening – unfathomable as to why – the phrase ‘if it ain’t broken….’ springs to mind what next ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ redone with the lead role being subjected to a crack addled nightmare of Faustian proportions – shit that’s done it. Anyway Tunng in all their resplendent glory and quite possibly THE finest of the so-called folktronic set – quite perfect if you ask me. Tucked at the end of the 6 song set are the Strange Sounds Orchestra who are or more correctly who is Mark Brend of Farina fame. ’The Algorythm’ is taken from a limited 7” release (see review in the last missive) that serves as an accompanying partner to Mark’s recently published and much acclaimed ’Strange Sounds’ book on Backbeat Books – http://www.backbeatbooks.com. Inch Time need no introductions here – and if they do then you really haven’t been paying attention have you. ‘No need to sign your name’ is taken from the forthcoming full length for Static entitled ‘As the moon draws water’ – more lushly toned rounded beats and late evening down tempo vibes from Australian musician Srefan Panczak that sound not a million miles all said and done from those smoothed mid 90’s sounds from the likes of Biosphere and FSOL. Both the Garden and Blood Music’s inclusions are tasty little peeks at what’s to come shortly and no doubt in time becoming the latest hi-fi obsession. ’1234567’ by Garden is what Mr Peel probably would have described as ’fades in slowly’ – repetitive and beautifully so – think of a subdued Spiritualized finding themselves marooned on a far flung exotic island with both Tunng and the Earlies cultivating field recordings and loosely translated ethnic vibes and weaving them into a slow burning almost invisible to the naked eye patchwork of pastoral soft psyche pop – priceless. Last up ‘And she is the future’ from Blood Music. Described as ‘a one man band witrh many members’ Blood Music it seems have been wowing the more clued up members of the Swedish music community with their debut full length ’Sing a song fighter’ from which ’And she is the future’ is taken. Centred around the talents of Karl Jonas Winqvist this cut is a delectable and unassuming slice of lo-fi splendour will leave you speechless and emotionally drained, layer by layer building in stature it‘s easy to imagine an upbeat Daniel Johnston recovering Lou Reed’s ’Transformer’. Essential of course. http://www.staticcaravan.org

 

Nick Hopkin ’The Chaos’ EP (Self Released). Firstly many apologies to Nick who sent this CD some time back – mightily mpressed we were with it – that in our stupidity we put it down and as with these things it was foolishly mislaid (and naturally forgotten) only to be remembered when casually flicking through the latest issue of Computer Music # 98 whereupon we spied a demo review which resulted in a whole morning spent hunting down the said CD. Seven tracks feature on this home made electronic oddyssey – in many ways it’s to be viewed as a cathartic process for Nick who has suffered many years at the hands of bi-polar depression the songs each giving a telling insight into the highs and lows of the illness (claustrophobia, undue worry, obsession etc….) and the swift flight of mood changes encountered therein. Being similarly affected myself in recent times I can empathise and understand the creative spurts and the darkening lulls of which are thematically played out herein. Curiously whether by accident or done deliberately each passing composition grows in terms of refined stature and confidence as the EP progresses the moods becoming mellower, brighter and clearer as though some kind of unseen cloud has dissipated into the distance. The autobiographical ‘Pushing Further’ opens the set deploying an almost schizoid angulated art punk insularity that never lets up in terms of intensity and is braided by a bullish underpin that suggests sonics at the breaking point of overload with Nick’s hyper vocal delivery touched with a list like distracted demeanour that adds a sense of cutting urgency all finely cut with a memorably searing hook happy made to measure chorus. After the friction and roughened hue of ‘Pussing Further’ the mood changes dramatically in the presence of ‘Look Out’ – opening to an array of shyly whirling electronics and delicately drawn crunchy beats it’s takes just under a minute to transform from a fragile slice of slenderly teased glacial pop into something quite breathtakingly curvaceous that could easily be a long forgotten blueprint belonging to Ian Broudie in his Lightning Seeds guise discarded after the overwhelming success of ’Three Lions’ had dashed his creative prowess. A tearfully stained gem that has a slyly threaded returning home like anthemic fanfare that’s resplendently numbing and subtly enigmatic boasting a huge hulking emotion stripping chorus line of triumphant beats. The smouldering celestial kiss of ‘Open’ is similarly charged as such as though a distant lo-fi cousin while ’Chaos Transmission’ may well be of interest to fans of the Ochre label (who seem to have gone quiet of late or maybe they are ignoring me – must check) as it’s a brief foray into the world of abstract ambient mood music a kind of waltzing Radiophonic workshop if you like. The darkly shaded ’Separation’ belies the same icy atmospherics as found on those much loved Left Hand releases while elsewhere there’s something truly elegantly shy like and special about ’Spread your Wings’ in terms of its use of space, mellowness and frailness that suggests elements of Porcupine Tree at their most tender like and Robert Wyatt. A priceless debut release. http://www.nickhopkin.com

 

Black Ramps ‘Saucer Crash’ (STR82Tape). You may think we are either having a lazy moment and just can’t be arsed or perhaps being somewhat belligerent but we like this and we couldn’t even begin to tell you why, how or for what reason. So there. Kidding really we do know why we like it – and we like it because its fuckin good okay. Three tracks feature on this the trios second release (their first was last years ‘Shark Attack’ EP – damn damn damn another release that’s passed us by) apparently having now secured the nodding approval of those record playing people of the airwaves Sturgess and Lamacq these young guitar slinging gents are tipped for great things and who are we to argue. Black Ramps though not the first to stumble across this acquired gift have an unearthly talent for making what sounds so irregular – er – regular, okay let me put it another way making discord sound so freakin groovy that it makes the fillings in your teeth rattle. The sound is crooked and when I say crooked I mean that at any given time whether they are busying themselves doing detached spasmodic candy pop as on the hopelessly catchy ’Saucer Crash’ or creating unnerving creepily tense slo-core as on ’Speak and Destroy’ you suspect or rather more fear certain wheels are going to unhinged from their musical cart and hit you square between the eyes – detuned guitars, deliberately out of tune riffs and the kind of refusal to follow any notion of structure is what sets the Black Amps aside from the chasing pack. ’Saucer Crash’ with it’s obvious ’I love the Pixies’ badges pinned squarely on their sleeves houses a cutely infectious pop nugget that’s bursting to be set free but is restrained and pummelled to within an inch of its existence by an array of wired sonic blisters of the kind that have seemingly been hoodwinked straight from the mixing desk of Sonic Youth’s ’Experimental Jet Set’ sessions and metered out with all manner of proto punk 1977 accents – cute as fuck all said and done. The aforementioned ’Speak + Destroy’ slows the pace momentarily initially sounding like the result of a spot of DNA intercourse between Hefner and very early Pavement until at 1.40 the temperature visibly drops and what was first viewed as just an idling trip across the grooves soon blossoms into a festering display of sonic hi-jinks that for the second time this missive had us recalling the wilfully obtuse post art rock doodling of the criminally overlooked Left Hand. ’Rampenstein’ if I didn’t know any better I’d say was Guided By Voices having a mental moment revising ’Demolition Plot J-7’ era Malkmus and Co. You – Need – Go – Buy – Now. http://www.blackramps.com

 

Dressed in Wires ‘The Big Black Cock of Death’ EP (Distraction). Ought to come with a parental and medical practitioners warning this 5 track release from Dressed in Wires aside the fact that’s it’s a head splitting glitch horror show of some measure it’s so violent sounding that we swear we actually spied or hi-fi wincing with tears of pain. Dressed in Wires is Simondo Topless (you sure) who has it seems been terrorising the electronica fraternity for a fair few years now having to date released 11 equally inspired and radio unfriendly albums (which sadly have past us by – questions will be asked mind you). ‘The Big Black Cock of Death’ EP (from herein referred to as BBCD – because it’s a mouthful – boom boom – nah seriously if I write that to many times I’ll either get a warning message from AOL’s Room 101 spies or else I’ll subconsciously start signing off my emails with it) features 5 cuts and lasts a whopping 35 minutes all lovingly pressed on 12” of picture disc vinyl and features who we assume to be Simondo on the front either that or an adult sized Brains from Thunderbirds with his grooviest Trevor and Simon ’Swing your Pants’ gear on. Ho hum – said enough – the music. We’ll start by saying it’s rabid stuff especially the opening onslaught ’The Breeders’ – the kind of thing that a) will win you admiring looks from neighbours b) scare the bejeezus out of small pets, plants and ceiling plaster and c) is probably the closest thing to recreating that sound of an aural autopsy that you have in your mind’s eye as your ever gonna hear for real on vinyl. Think prime time SPK ganging up with early Front 242 to beat the living shite out of Einsturzende Neubauten. A punk ’zoid battle ground of white hot industrial beats bleeding from the inside of wired IDM structures (that’s Insane Dance Music as opposed to the Intellectual variety). Think upon it as a friendly and funkier variant of Merzbow and the likes but all the same equally punishing and ruddy scary with it. ’Proposed theme tune #4 for ’Let’s hunt and kill Billy Ray Cyrus’ has if I’m not woefully mistaken Bill Hicks samples – a screwed up hill-billy-hip-hop-abstract-scizoid-psychopathic-jaw-jarring-brain-bashing-head-fuck – think we’ve covered everything there. ‘That rarest of beasts; Hey Parabola, Crack Chikin / Nex Nine Times for Sunshine’ is well as un-fucken-friendly as you can get – obliquely grimy and gritty hip hop – Run DMC and Grandmaster it ain’t. ‘Hiroshima was a shithole anyway’ title alone will ensure the PC brigade are out with their flags picketing on the steps of DiW’s sonic bunker but then title aside what you get is some good honest wholesome lip smacking party boogying sound scapes – okay I lie unless of course all the tools in the shed have suddenly come to life to be found having acid flashbacks and decided to re-enact ‘Psycho‘, this is wickedly off the wall laptop manipulations being squeezed through a blender at pace – and is that the Chipmunks I can hear shrieking in the mix – well good riddance ya furry cute lookin’ fuckers – of course we joke – rampant, un-danceable but then what did you expect – tunes? – Well yes now you’ve come to mention it. Last up ’Blood touching glass’ is what I can only describe as the sound I often hear when I visit my local dentist except magnified a tad – under no circumstance to be played in a room adorned by moveable objects, alone and during the hours of darkness, think EAR and BBC Radiophonic Workshop in the throes of a slow painful death at the hands of a steel finger tipped Pimmon scratching down along a humungous blackboard – guaranteed to make your ears bleed, your skin crawl and your teeth grate. Consider yourselves warned enter at your own peril. http://www.distractionrecords.com

 

Ian Page and the Affair ‘Hold on to your mojo’ (Detour). More delicious Detour ear gear from ex Secret Affair front man Ian Page now firmly thawed from his prolonged hibernation and back to do business with the (not so secret) Affair. ‘Hold on to your mojo’ is an authentically classic drilled slice of floor stomping souled up blues boogie and given the sad news of the recent passing of Wilson Pickett it serves as a positive indication that the genre is as hot and essential now as it was forty years ago. ’Hold onto your mojo’ is an irresistible three and a half minutes hip jangling portion of sweating upbeat tuneage the type of which seems sadly a little thin on the ground these days, braided by an array of infectious hook laden 60’s vibes that’ll snare the most casual of ears and beset by some slinky early career Stones riffing that’s superbly upholstered by a triumphal backline of heart melting brass arrangements it makes for a sublime vintage Stax spectacle. Flip side features two Smokey Robinson and the Miracles covers the first being ’I’m growing’ which originally featured part and parcel of the song writing hit making purple patch of the early 60’s that established the Miracles as one of Detroit’s leading exports here given a well deserved update and bolstered by a breathless edge that suggests the whipper snappers of today’s in crowd may do well to sit up and take note. Trailing out with a faithful re-drill of ’Tracks of my Tears’ replete with Walker Brothers like vocals that strangely manifest into something quite Pete Wylie-ish by the close which in our book is a mighty damn to do. A treat all said and done. http://www.detour-records.co.uk

 

See ya shortly

 

Mark

X

 

Missive 91

17-03-2006

Singled Out

 

Missive 91

 

Dedicated to Kelly and Mark – missing you.

 

Noblesse Oblige ’Bitch / Quel Genre de Garcon / Remixes’ (Horseglue). Another release that we feel we owe many apologies for not reviewing sooner is this trio of releases that Sebastian and Valerie from Noblesse Oblige sent over a few months ago. Again another of those CD’s or in this case – three CD’s that somehow got stupidly mislaid. What we have here are the duo’s debut release (’Bitch’) the recent follow up (’Quel Genre de Garcon’) and a CD of mixes they’ve done for other kindred folk such as MIA and Mark Moore of S’ Express fame (or infamy depending on your viewpoint). Each release comes housed in sleeves of dubious pictorial matter (ha ha that’s pricked up your ears hasn’t it?) – with ‘Quel Genre de Garcon’ being framed in what can only be described as a spittle exchanging exercise while ‘Bitch’ looks like a candid photograph taken after what one can only assume has been a night out sampling virgin brides’ necks – that said they are still riding high in the taste chart if you compare to Crass and Throbbing Gristle. Fans of Leigh Bowery (the infamous Australian model, designer, trendsetter, performance artist, Taboo host and front man for Minty – front runners of the mid 90’s short lived Romo revival Noblesse Oblige aren’t afraid of wearing their influences pinned firmly on their nipples – it’s a curious mutation of varying elements from past and present that include strains of X-Mal Deutschland, Klaus Naomi, DAF, Front 242, SPK, Miss Kitten and Cobra Killer. But then you have to ask yourself – when exactly does the erotic become the idiotic – it’s a fine line as proven here and left to their own devices provide ample evidence of their high wire balancing skills. Their sound as you’d imagine is dirty and strangely sensual hinting at a shock factor appeal that runs to it’s very core, blistering with innuendo and desire these hip swerving cherries have a tendency to delight and make you ill at ease in the same breath, ‘Bitch’ with it’s sleazy ray gun gaze is built upon a throbbing grind happy Berlin-esque euro-disko underpin whose ensuing club floor carnage is cleverly over layered by what can only be described as a trademark ZZ Top on heat mid 80’s riff which once inside your head space claims squatters rights and refuses to budge. Contrast that with the frankly worrying and uncompromisingly ill like ’Daddy (don’t touch there)’ which is so skin crawlingly you’ll spend the rest of the day in the shower trying to rid yourself of its sickly aftertaste. Dealing principally with the behind closed doors subject of incest and you quickly begin to realise that behind that mask of bravado and performance make up that Sebastian and Valerie don’t beat about the bush in terms of making confrontational social commentary rather more preferring to meet it head on and drag it into the light kicking and screaming. The duo’s second single is a much lighter affair it has to be said – ‘Quel genre de Garcon’ (‘what kind of boy’) betrays a more softly toned pop dynamic that has you imagining a perky Kraftwerk constructing sweetly tasting candy coated slices of pastoral folktronics from the bones of Salon Boris and passing them off as cutely formed love notes – braided by the clumpish pairing of goofy sounding toy box clockworks and synthesisers it makes this teasingly jaunty lazy eyed boy / girl vocal affair craftily affecting. Flip over for the equally tasty ‘Lil Dirty’ which once the distorted feedback has dissipated into the ether shapes up to be a rather smart meeting of 60’s Francophile pop fluffiness and early 70’s krautrock nuances as though St Etienne had snuck into Tim Gane’s studio under the cover of darkness and started sprinkling a little magic dust on a few discarded Stereolab tapes. Rounding the set with a cover or should that be a re-drafting of Minty’s s&m; classic ’Useless Man’ that retains the original vocal samples of Leigh Bowery – starkly edgy stuff that chills to the bone, grittily stripped to the core almost devoid of emotion and happy to report lost none of it’s wretchedness. And when they’re not causing havoc and controversy by the minute in the studio and away from their DJ club nights (‘Caligula’) this duo can be found causing untold commotion on other artists wares. I’m not exactly sure whether the remixes CD is readily available for public consumption – but then I suppose a well aimed begging letter and the offer of remuneration of some form or other might help. Features 7 remixes as worked by the Noblesse Oblige crew – these have all – bar one (Noblesse Oblige Vs. Minty – ’Useless Man’ – a slightly shorter mix than the aforementioned b-side to ‘Quel genre de garcon’) made it into most discerning outlets and to critical acclaim to some degree. Admittedly you struggle with remixes if, as is the case here, you haven’t had the pleasure of hearing the original – MIA’s ’Galang’ is given a suitably floor throbbing funkily mooching face lift all replete with ethnic accents, gunshots and the subtle strains of ’Shaft’ which for some reason had me recalling Depth Charge from ooh – eons ago. Mark Moore’s ’Trash the Can’ which is obviously ’Can the can’ by Suzi Quattro is put through it’s ‘house’ paces also included here are retakes on Xlover’s ’Love Sucker’, Thom Revolver and two re-brandings for Tempo Shark of which ‘Little White Lie’ is a sure fire killer that needs to be heard to be believed. All in all Noblesse Oblige provide for a positively lipsmackingdirtysleazyhornynaughtyhifibuggering spectacle – dare you enter the fray? http://www.noblesseoblige.co.uk

 

The Close Ups ‘Felt pen steel shutter’ (Northern Round Square). Another welcome return this time for the Close Ups who by our reckoning should be getting their collective cartoony backsides into a studio shortly to record a whole album given that this little gem marks the third release on the bounce that has had us drooling deliriously. Regular observers of these erratic doodling affairs should need no introduction to these cute as buttons pups for those of you asleep at the back or who’ve missed out a few pages then think of a kooky candy coated effervescent sunshine pop variant of the Gorillaz with the lighter shades of Girlinky happily cavorting in the mix. ’Felt pen steel shutter’ sees our heroes getting a little, shall we say, darker in tone as though Elastica had discovered the Banshees ’Playground Twist’ before the Fall or Wire’s ’three girl rhumba’, the sound of an ominous carnival-esque waltz whirls with macabre overtones insanely burrowing deep into the psyche yet still doesn’t detract from the fact that at its core there’s a seriously wicked albeit crooked pop intent at work here that craftily pays nods to the Altered Images ‘Dead popstars’. Flip side features the cutesy sounding ‘Saturday girl in Bedworld’. A colour coded take on the mundane humdrum world as portrayed in those classic 60’s brit flick affairs (‘Saturday Night, Sunday Morning’, ‘Alfie’, ‘Georgy Girl’ and the like) brought to life and bathed in all manner of spring hued rustic chords, nakedly seductive female vocals and woven in a delicately crisp nuzzling timeless sounding briskness that smoulders to the touch. Quite fetching and pressed on red vinyl as though you needed any further prods – spoiling us isn’t the word. http://www.theclose-ups.com

 

The Climb ‘Who shot Lana Clarkson’ EP (Self Released). And we do feel that we owe these young scamps an apology given that we originally received this cute four track demo way back in the Summer – accompanied by a handwritten note from lead singer Andrea bemoaning the fact that they’d change things if they had the chance and encouragement of a label. We say don’t talk tosh – this is pretty smart stuff indeed. Across four tracks that sizzle sexily the Climb neatly reveal a penchant for harrowing hooks spliced through with a cool as you care resonance that made these eyes water, undoubtedly pop fixated but harnessing a withering sting at the core these cuts pull and tussle the locks in equal measures. What makes the Climb so unique is that you can’t immediately hear who their heroes and reference points are – No Doubt okay yes especially on the opening ’Lana’ and ’Nobody Else’ but then the former owes more to the 60’s than the 90’s sounding like a rough at the edges early Pretenders skirting with the same fascination for cutely alluring shimmering pop as displayed on the Somatics Shifty Disco debut from a few years back. ‘Nobody else’ is similarly affected fizzing and burning with a shy desire that sadly never really unfurls into quite the epic you suspect it has the potential of achieving. That said favoured cuts for me personally are those to be found happily snuggled away at the end of the CD. ‘Days like these’ with it’s sapping slide accompaniment and softly simmering introspection may seem initially to appear merely nice but try playing it at 2 in the morning or after a particularly hectic and fraught day and that self same slow curling demeanour soon mainlines into your senses expressing a soothing eye watering colourful charm. However all said and done nothing quite touches the blistering cranking up the dials ‘Lose Control’ – knee jerking stop starting shard peeling riffs crafted straight from classic New Wave affairs long gone – file under frenetic crushing pop. A band to watch methinks http://www.myspace.com/theclimb

 

The Budda Cakes ‘The Buddha Cakes’ EP (Apple Core). I’ll start off by saying that this – the debut three track release (though strangely my copy has in fact 5 tracks) from London three piece the Buddha Cakes combines more creative artistry and freewheeling melodic depth than a fair few bands currently receiving accolades and plaudits by the truck load have so far been sadly lacking despite having several singles and the odd album to their name. Getting together less than a year ago it must be something to do with the evening ambience to which this band work within (i.e. by candlelight it would seem) but they appear to have an uncanny knack at shitting tunes at will, each of these five tunes (yes there are five – it’s not my imagination) reveal a different facet of the ensembles creativity and by doing so ensures the EP never dulls or indeed out stays it welcome on the hi-fi. By far the best cut and most immediate of the set is the fraught ‘n’ tight as a gnats arse opener ‘Unnecessary’ – think upon it as a lighter styled half cousin to the Playwrights, a beast of a cut borne out of an incessant splintered grinding underpin, not so much art rock but a riot in a paint factory frantically fused with an armoury of head drilling needle like laceration inducing riffs that cut and jerk with acute angularity all fleshed over by one of the meanest down and dirty grooves you’ll hear in a fair while. ’In my arms’ tones down the mood considerably to the faintest heart beat and strangely bringing with it a chorus hook that had us thinking long and hard in to the night from where we’d heard it before until we threw it to the two local cats for a vote (and when I say cats I mean cats – furry things that go miaow – of whom it must be said for the record appear to have adopted me of late – none of that hep cat jive talk shit around here – no siree) and then deciding on Ultravox’s ‘The Hymn’. That said a lulling love note of sorts braided by the gentle allure of rustic acoustics with skeletal Beatles-esque shades of a dulling romance as conjured by McCartney coming to the fore. ‘Erections’ is odd – and by odd I mean odd in a kind of early 80’s anything goes post punk austere themed odd, utilising only vocals, handclaps and a bass it has a curious of kilter funkiness and detached ethnicity about it reminiscent in mood of early ACR meets 23 Skidoo but powdered with the oblique shiver of those initial Marc and the Mambas outings and the nakedness of those early Creatures forays. ‘Always’ is your radio friendly slice of part winsome part candy coated pop delicately brushed with a subtle glaze of west coast vibe that tightened up and brought out of its self confined shade could prove to be something of a killer. Wrapping up the set – ‘Silence’ has an unnerving knack for constantly putting you on the back foot throughout it’s duration, from an assumed starting position of being merely tasty this darling little treat soon blossoms into a quite affectionate shade of lighter waving soft rock / pop that between the grooves reveals a neat time line that joins the best of the Canvey Island pub rock circuit to the less Barrett fixated and surreal moments of Robyn Hitchcock as though in conjunction with Messrs Difford and Millbrook – all in all you might want to put alongside that recent sweetie by Camera. http://www.thebuddacakes.co.uk

 

Heroes of Switzerland ‘Disposable Fiction’ (Music to Bleed to). Music to bleed to indeed – though at a given volume I assume from the ears – and profusely so if the jaw locking opener ‘Disposable Fiction‘ is anything to go by. Heroes of Switzerland are (if you pardon the flippancy) what the press would have filed under shoe gaze / dream pop in the long and dim past, a time when it was in fact an offence to openly admit the liking of shimmering celestially intoned starry eyed pop and an apparent crime punishable by the hanging of said patrons by their long floppy fringes – so be warned Artic kids I think there is a lesson to be heeded here what’s hip today may well be hung tomorrow just ask the Darkness. Anyway back to Heroes of Switzerland – three track debut – a mighty fine it is to just wait till you hear the ‘better than Ride’ ‘Waiting’. As you’ve probably gathered from the walk in pre-amble Heroes of Switzerland are a group of like minded guitar slinging messiahs incidentally from Nottingham and not chocolate clock country, their sound or rather more accurately their sonic canvas‘ are indeed a throw back to the late 80‘s early 90‘s Hut and Creation scenes of layered feedback harmonies that these days seems to be the domain of Club AC30 – which it is rumoured this lot will shortly feature as part of a split release. Those of you expecting some sublime almost ambient like galactic pop a la Kitchens of Distinction had better buckle up and hold on to your space helmets because opener ’Disposable Fiction’ dispels quickly any notion that HoS are prepared tread cautiously – a bulldozer of a track that literally blows you off your listening perch – think upon it as a rugged and wiry volatile My Bloody Valentine resulting from enforced sleep deprivation having Dinosaur Jr trashing their studio tapes to concoct a visceral wall of distortion that trades searing skull buckling slices of intensely fraught pavement shredding dream pop the type of which the much undervalued Skywave spit out for fun or so it would seem. ’Waiting’ richly deserves the so often over used descriptions such as ‘epic’, ‘elegiac’ and ‘anthemic’ – a perfect distillation of Ride’s first two acclaimed EP’s awash in a haze of shimmering sky rocketing fumes this effects laden slice of soft kaleidoscopic psychedelia with it’s cloud piercing riffs and sublimely crippling numbed cast is enough to bring to the knees the hardiest of souls. Rounding up the set is ‘Fall’ which craftily mainlines into the cavernous atmospheric artistry of prime time Chameleons and finds them toying upon a veritable pop axis marinating their spiralling structures with a 60’s bubblegum like Spector-esque glaze with JMC overtones. Quite perfect if you ask me. http://www.heroesofswitzerland.com

 

And moving from the Heroes of Switzerland to the Boys of Scandinavia – seamless these missives….

 

Boys of Scandinavia ’Why do you love me?’ (Mate). Last time found stealing the show in these very pages with their cutely catchy split with Roger (incidentally featured next – see it‘s that seamless thing at work again). ‘Why do you love me?’ is quick to work itself under your skin, not as chirpy as the aforementioned ’Worse than a Girl’ though that shouldn’t be seen as detracting from it’s irresistible charms. A more darker affair this time around, a curdling brew of early 80’s primal new romanticism and current in vogue electro clash treatments principally tightly wound around a seriously floor throbbing low slung head numbing repetitive ‘Blue Monday’ era New Order bass underpin. ’Why do you love me?’ provides the dark heart of the cool wave scene it’s alternating personality grittily angulated and pierced with an austere death disco sting that’s good enough to be considered classic late 70’s Factory fodder and yet curiously anchored with a delectable pop heartbeat as though all the composite parts – Kraftwerk, Lydon and pre disco dolly Human League are being orchestrated by the unseen hands of ’A broken frame’ era Depeche Mode. Flip over and you get the ’slightly’ extended alternate album mix of the lead track and a reframing of the same cut by ’Major Tweaks’ which though sadly adding nothing to the table does at least smooth over some of the chill. To cool to be without and as an added bonus if you get down rather sharpish to the ensembles website at http://www.boysfromscandinavia.com you’ll find yourselves treated to a limited free exclusive track for download entitled ‘God Looking’ – can these people do no wrong we ask. http://www.materecordings.com

 

Okay staying with Mate recordings – we featured this a missive or two ago and it now seems to have gotten a proper release – so to save you arsing about trying to find the relevant Singled Out and us from re-reviewing it again – here it is in all it’s unadorned glory…….

 

Roger ‘Kids and Thieves’ (Mate). Really getting daft this – would you believe – another release found snuggling out of the daylight and with that outta our earshot. Those with reasonably long memories may just remember us nearly spontaneously combusting to the sound of Roger’s (better known to his parents, relatives and casual acquaintances as Teemu Metsala) last outing as part of a split release with the equally irresistible Boys from Scandinavia. This particular release features your standard radio edit plus four additional extended remixes which we are led to believe feature on the 12” format. The acutely addictive ‘Kids and Thieves’ mainlines into that whole early 80’s vibe, twinkling candy coated starry eyed electronics shimmer seductively with the skeletal chic of Heaven 17’s ‘Play to Win’ as though rewired by the pop super brain of Steven ‘Tintin’ Duffy. The extended 12” mix offers pretty much the same coolly coalescing club floor caressing only you get more of it and pretty much stylised authentically to mirror the way the early 80’s trend setters applied themselves to the notion of ‘the’ long mix format. Elsewhere three additional remixes bolster this stirling set – from Paris’ ANIMAL, Manchester based mystery man Sly Wink and the Sigils AKA Andy Davidsson of Cardiff’s Slow Graffiti nights fame. The former injecting a veritable sense of A Certain Ratio to the brew with his loosely executed slack strung funky lines, while Sly Wink welds onto the undercarriage a seriously vibrantly gritty Kraftwerk like space age hyper drive leaving it to the Sigils to instil perhaps the best of the three sonic face lifts with a dreamily crafted backdrop that hustles and bustles vigorously while temptingly dipping into some sublimely carved mid 70’s silken synth pop overtures. Pristine pop – you just can’t beat it. http://www.materecordings.com

 

The Call ‘Push On’ (Self Released). We here get to see so many press releases and if truth be known most are about as useful as a chocolate fire guard citing as they do for the most part the latest well worn street talk while listing the latest line of hip kids to file their latest protégés alongside with. In fact such is the need to sell, shift units and bugger off into the sunset before the dust has had a chance to settle that some go as far as to compare said young guns with acts so established and recognised that you feel the weight of expectation has already crushed them before they’ve barely had a chance to walk on their own two feet unsupported. So with that in mind it is that we get this debut platter from the Call – refreshingly un-hyped – well that is if you don’t count the obligatory XFM and Radio 1 pant pissing overtures. Unsigned it seems and probably sounding better for it, no comparisons listed here – instead one imagines the throwing down of a ‘you decide’ gauntlet. ‘Push on’ features four tracks and by our reckoning possibly provides the most unassuming release we’ve had the pleasure of hearing since that wonderful debut from the Heart Strings last year and with that one of those records that’s so out of step with current trends that it’s welcomed like a breathe of fresh air. Well drilled melodic pop I think is the best way to describe the Call’s wares, softly decorated with sumptuously airy soft country accents that flicker gently aside an ear tugging heart hanging array of crafted delicately cured driving power pop. The title track opens the proceedings and is without doubt the weakest thing here surprisingly though that doesn’t mean it’s any less loveable – it’s your standard thundering slice of earnest lighter waving slow to burn dad rock gubbins that along the way passes all manner of nods to the likes of Travis and Elbow while under its saccharine heart felt chassis there purrs a distinctly subtle west coast country pop dynamic that’s one measure of World Party and several parts of Beachwood Sparks. Once the familiarity of ’Push on’ fades the band really get to grips with the business in hand for we defy you to come up with two better gems of arresting radio melting AOR pop this year other than ‘Alone Tonight’ and ‘Let’s keep this quiet’. The latter cut a true pop gem that strangely evokes momentary recollections of Ronan Keatings early solo outings all threaded throughout with a heart pounding needling riff it invests a searing hook laden dynamic brought to bear by an ear snaring driving soft rock melody that’s braided by a breezy rush of seductive slide guitars that recalls subtly the Mayflies and the Raspberries. Classic stuff. ‘Alone Tonight’ is a glorious manifestation of late 70’s / early 80’s Rod Stewart (well it helps having a singer who has a ringer of a vocal for the one time leopard skin pant wearing Scot) solo stuff – principally ‘Young Turks’ era as though overhauled and given a streamlining power pop polish by his old sparring partners the Faces and while you might be thinking hang on a second – it really works and believe you me given the current crop of soft rock poppers – the Feeling, Orson and Keane et al then this wipes the floor with the lot of them in terms of pop sensibility and un-nerving coolness. ’You need this lie’ rounds of the set on a tear stained note all chugging guitars and breaking hearts it’s all too much I need a lie down. Single of the missive. http://www.thecall.co.uk

 

The Slides ‘Slow Bullet’ (MVine). Spotted apparently by the ordinary Joe public – yea that’s you mate – and snapped up by MVine as a result of the overwhelming affection shown by the nation at large via a public audience vote – sadly details of the actual voting membership isn’t known and any attempts at gerrymandering by Mr D Duck and Mr M Mouse have so far gone unchallenged. Joking aside a treat is what’s been unearthed in the shape of the Slides. ‘Slow Bullet’ is a wee taster for the quartet’s mini album also called ‘Slow Bullet’ which is due for release in May and a corker it is to bathed in gently lulling softening 60’s country psyche vibes that at times sounds like the Roses boogying with the Charlatans. For now ‘Soft Bullet’ is perfectly titled given that it slowly without fuss or fanfare wraps you around its fingers bathing you in a tingling wash of swirling Hammonds a la Charlatans (again – of course we are on a percentage don’t you know!) and the tentative use of effects pedals including the much underused wah wah replete with repetitively strummed guitars, a distilled and purified extraction of the best elements of the whole Madchester scene and lovingly wrapped with a sucker punch for a chorus hook to die for. Okay you’re still sitting on the fence needing a little more convincing – it’s all about what these lads do with those prime ingredients that counts here because as though by some kind of slight of hand ‘Slow Bullet’ assumes a starting point of just being merely cool and shifts daringly before your very ears and eyes to being simply jaw dropping in the space of 3 minutes – the phrase ‘will piss over the competition’ is as apt here as it was ever meant to sound. http://www.mvine.com

 

NFD ‘Light my Way’ (Jungle). Second full length ‘Dead pool rising’ waiting in the wings and due for release shortly and previously unknown to us we banged this on and the first thing I thought was ‘fuck me it’s the Fields of Nephilim’ – so imagine my delight and er – horror – to discover that this is in fact the Fields of Nephilim well if you count having both founding member Tony Pettit and drummer Simon Rippon in the ranks. ‘Light my way’ has all the trademark anthemic goth wasteland trappings that made the likes of FON and their like minded cohorts the Mission and the Sisters of Mercy such a aural treat in the mid 80’s, though many may cry that its dated and perhaps casually side step away from it there’s a lot to be said about these doom laden epic sound scapes that’s pretty much a part and parcel of everyone from Numan to Mendeed. While the radio edit of ‘Light my way’ is your standard four horsemen of the apocalypse MTV friendly rotation rock replete with needling riffs, bludgeoning grind and images of torched earth and fire raging skies it’s the tempestuous rage of the ’Fog Descends’ mix of the same cut that provides for the best moment here, not quite as brutal or self loathing as ’Pandemonium’ era Killing Joke but rather more an equally though localised puss ridden half cousin bolstered by a hugely hulking armoury of skull clobbering head hanging hooks and skin peeling riffs that sound as though they’ve been locked away forever more brooding and festering somehow releasing themselves from their shackles to inflict their disease ridden sickness. The deliciously desolate ‘Unearthed’ rounds up the set, a morbid darkly toned love song of sorts that to these ears sounds like the Bristol underground scene of the 90’s bighted by a power cut and threaded and scarred throughout with the kind of atmospheric claustrophobia and unearthly penetrative chill that enough to freeze you to the bone. Worth checking out – though consider yourself warned party music this ain’t. http://www.jungle-records.com

 

Roebeck ‘Do you remember’ (69db music). Literally had us beguiled and weeping did this cutely formed three track debut from Roebeck. ‘Do you remember’ is the first of three planned projects for duo Luke and Brett (Roebeck) which all things being well will culminate in a debut full length sometime early next year. A swirling array of succulently smouldering after hours night pop is what’s on offer that to these ears sounds not unlike the kind of stuff that Tim Lee’s Tummy Touch / Touch Tones outlet would dearly kill for. Combining softly trod down tempo chic with the stirring half woken glaze of shyly entrancing rustic accents, Roebeck’s sound doesn’t so much hit you but rather more seeps through you. The wonky jaunt of the title track which opens the set is a glorious fusion of tingling shy eyed romance and child like inquisitiveness that suggests glacially chilled elements of both J Xaverre and Minotaur Shock swapping notes in the mix and snuggled up warmly together within a hermetically sealed bubble bound for the type of lunar lounge horizons more readily associated with the bachelor space age pop designs of the cosmically groovy Stereolab upon their arrival these cute imps craftily treat Gane and Co’s ‘Miss Modular’ to an overhaul of it’s interior with a sprinkling of trippy moon dust. Given the right amount of airplay and club coverage the delicately off balanced and sophisticated sounding ‘Just wanna be loved’ featuring the guest vocals of Marxus Nexus and may just prove to be the seasons find for the lovelorn among you. Cradled beneath a gently lulling rocking chair dynamic this desirable and timidly thrust skeletal love note is suggestively accompanied by a fragile flotilla of twinkling starry eyed rustics and cocktail cabinet velour of the type that wouldn’t be found wanting in the Beloved’s abode that is if it were teased and scented throughout with the feint essence of Youssou Ndour and Neneh Cherry’s ’Seven Seconds’. ’Starry night on Emerald Bay’ wraps up the set with a rather sweet though all to brief sub 2 minute spacey sound scape that frankly does what it says on the lid and beyond that we’ve nothing more to add other than to say shift your backsides to your local record emporium and acquire a copy for yourselves immediately – failure will result in tears mark my words. http://www.roebeck.co.uk

 

Jim Moray ‘My Sweet Rose’ (Self Released). A record that we suspect will be the cause of heart failure in certain quarters is this quite sublimely arranged outing for Jim Moray entitled ‘My sweet rose‘. A soul sapping 7 minute taster for Moray‘s follow up full length (‘Jim Moray’ released in May) to 2003‘s debut ‘Sweet England‘ which by all accounts won plaudits from wherever it was heard, ’My sweet rose’ is everything the word epic was made to describe. A huge deeply textured beautiful paint bomb of crushing emotions, swirling strings, sweeping widescreen orchestrations, empirically charged classically encoded heart hanging pop that’s measured finitely right down to the merest of detail in terms of mercurial effect and stately magnificence. Reference wise think of the breathtaking elegance of Sakamoto’s ‘Forbidden Colours’ and ‘the Last Emperor’ locked in a lasting embrace with the swirl and push of nature’s elements as harnessed by Bush’s ’Hounds of Love’ rustling in the mix all converging to usher a breakdown of the senses of such colossal fortitude that it wouldn’t surprise me if by its end your hi-fi needed a re-assuring cuddle. File under delicately destructive. http://www.jimmoray.co.uk

 

Elle Milano ‘Swearing for Art students’ (Brighton Electric). Those among you who love your pop served up as wired and frenetic as can be may do well to tune into Elle Milano’s raucously hued debut four track EP. While it could be argued that this Brighton based quartet don’t have any inclination to push the envelope of pop they sure as hell do a good job of kicking several shades of brown stuff out of it, wildly energetic to the point of hysteria Elle Milano in the short and all to brief space of 10 minutes produce what perhaps Blur’s ’Blur’ might have sounded like had Albarn not rounded and smoothed all the bent out of shape bits that the skateboarding riff hooligan Coxon had deemed what the nation’s ears deserved after the tepid ’The Great Escape’. From the opening angulated throb of ’Swearing for art students’ this lot get right under your skin coursing through your veins channelling their way to your psyche to do untold wicked damage, jarring chords, shouty vocals, a highly strung freaky punch drunk dynamic and blessed with an acutely spiky attitude that you feel might reach out and throttle the shit out of you if dare stand to close to it. The skinny tied art popping ‘Men are bastards’ is, pardon the vernacular – fuckin mental and may at intervals invoke among older viewers memories of the Buzzcocks more off the wall and spicily brazen two minute fumbles in the bag of pop – jerking riffs off fly like shards of splintered glass with such an unnerving stop / start currency that it wouldn’t surprise me if it had been recorded in a studio decked out in flashing strobes – dancing to it is deemed highly unadvisable. Shades of Bogshed litter amid the rubble left in the wake of the zig – zagingly urgent and potently sharp as fuck ’Amphetamine Skyrocket’ while the psychotically challenged ’Believe your own hype. Always’ (incidentally the best thing here by a country ’house’ mile) may yet indeed prove to have far more lasting side effects than a bag of dodgy made for tripping pills. Essential of course if only to reduce your hi-fi to a heap of gibbering rubble. http://www.brightonelectriclabel.co.uk

 

The Randoms ‘Two stripe trainers’ (November). I’m actually old enough to remember 4 stripe trainers of the type you could only buy at Makro – that were made of some kind of indestructible plastic that once worn activated an odour that not only killed all living household plants in seconds flat but caused household pets to leave home looking for alternative accommodation, trainees it has to be said that defied all known attempts to destroy them a matter only resolved by hiring a priest with a big pointy stick or so it would seem. Why I mention this and indeed whether it has any relevance to the Randoms two stripe variety is debatable bordering on pointlessness. However it’s out – my conscience is clear. Where were we – ah yes the Randoms, debut single time for this Wigan based quintet who it seems have already had two of their songs picked up for use by Californian surf gear suppliers O’Neill’s and as if to add to the surrealness of all this shot the video for ‘Four Stripe Trainers’ at the Phoenix club (as in the stop my ribs are aching with laughter comedy show ‘Phoenix Nights’). With an album in the can and we assume awaiting release shortly ‘Two stripe trainers’ a tale it seems of not being happy with ones lot really does sound like Ohio band Moviola c. the criminally overlooked ‘Durable Dream’ full length as though sparring with elements of early Joe Jackson, Buffalo Springfield and the Lemonheads and cured with a dulling soft west coast vibe that’s packed throughout with delicately measured wintry hued jangling chords that have a tendency to burst open resplendently at intervals to mushroom happily filling your listening space no less. Flip side ‘Taking your best mates girl to the pictures’ is for me personally the favoured cut of the two managing as it does to take Jarvis Cocker’s kitchen sink dramatics down to the Mersey for a good ducking and whatever else you may care to say about it you can’t deny there’s trace elements about this that suggest Pulp being found doodling in the studio with the Mersey delta sound so becoming of early Coral / Zutons and wrapping it in a subtle shade of 70’s AOR pop for good measure. http://www.therandoms.com

 

See ya tomorrow

 

Take care

 

Mark

X

 

 

 

 

 

 

Missive 92

03-04-2006

‘Daddy what’s the creepy noise – I’m scared’

 

‘Don’t worry kid if you’re lucky it’s probably a huge mutha of a beast let loose from the depths of hell looking for flesh to feast on at worst it could be that devilish Singled Out ready to boogie hard with the hi-fi‘.

 

Singled Out

Missive 092

 

Dedicated to Kelly and Mark

 

‘Singled Out – guaranteed bullshit ‘n’ hype free and proud of it’

 

Does this sound bollocks Special.

 

Welcome bright things to the slightly delayed singled out – we’ve been ill again of late so hence the lack of albums and er regular missive posting – so many apologies to all concerned we will in the next fortnight or so be trying our level best to getting of our arse and sorting out the backlog of listening gems. Phew.

 

Last time out we were obsessing to a certain point with the new found – well newfound to me – culture of free net labels which we indeed promised to do a feature on at some point in the near future. Well you can now add to that the phenomenon known as pod casts – no longer the domain of I-podders these are handy extended mp3’s that pack entire radio shows that can be downloaded and burnt to CD’s for your own personal pleasure / amusement. A careful search across the internet can throw up an amazing number of excellent shows ranging (in my preferred case) from 60’s garage punk to surf though in all fairness you can with a little tweaking find anything from tripping spoon tappers to brigades of bagpipe butchering anarchists (that said – sadly we haven’t come across these as yet but wait with anticipated breath with blank CD in hand). Podcasts that have so far taken our eye (and ears) aside the aforementioned (as in last time out’s singled out) are those excellent dudes over at Dorktones playing their groovy grooves over at http://www.dorktones.com . If however like me you like your sounds a little more grittily oiled then check out the excellently tailored Garage punk kids over at http://www.garagepunk.com who not only offer a loving home to the superb ‘One cup of Coffee and a Cigarette’ pod but serve up a feast of top tuneage courtesy of ‘Florida Rocks Again‘, ‘Rock ’n’ Roll Suicide’, ‘Out of the Vaults, into your Ears’ and perhaps the grooviest fooker on the airwaves ’Flying Saucer Rock ’n’ Roll now up to it’s 2nd transmission from out there. If it’s live sessions / acoustic studio sets your after then KEXP offer perhaps the best we’ve seen so far boasting a back catalogue of performances by the Bunnymen, the Capes, Tom Vek, Magic Numbers, Mark Gardner and the Go! Team to name but a few while future treats are promised from Belle and Sebastian, Elbow, Boy least likely to and Calexico – get your backside down to http://www.kexp.org. Over on Radio Clash at http://www.mutantpop.net there’s a bunch of top mash mixes – from which we managed to re-acquaint ourselves with a certain Mark Vidler of Go Home Productions fame who it seems since we last featured in these very pages has been busily beavering away creating all sorts of aural treats – most of which can be sampled on his website at http://www.gohomeproductions.co.uk and where you will be treated to mash up’s featuring face off’s between Blondie / Doors (a fookin classic by any other name) elsewhere there’s Beastie Boys / Ian Dury; Temptations / Coldplay; Marvin Gaye / 10CC and our particular fave at the moment XTC / Sylvester – has to be heard to be believed. Last of the pods for now – a worthy mention for Dark Culture which we accidentally tripped over mainly for the fact that one of their pods featured a track by A Flock of Seagulls. Pretty much a request show by Goth-ess Cinka – covering stuff from all genres though centring mainly on the early 80’s post punk / new romantic sounds – pretty much worth hooking up for your fortnightly fix of ‘shit I know that what is it?’ pop from days past – http://www.darkculture.net

 

Albums – ha ha – yes we are working on them – please hang fire – and while on the subject of albums – am I the only person in the whole living world that thinks the Morrissey album is – well shit – sorry can’t beat about the bush – makes his last album positively crucial – it is crud, crap, lacking ambition, humour and fookin tunes we’d have been slicing open our wrists if it weren’t for the fact that we was asleep two tracks in – that said it would have made a rather nice 7” single if left to just ‘Dear God’ and ‘The Father….’ Ho Hum. I’d have braced myself for the usual flurry of irate mini mozzers emailing death theats however as no one reads this who give a flying f***. Morrissey discovering sexuality – dear me give it rest people next you’ll be telling me Orson are talented

 

Onward to the singles then…..

 

Hafdis Huld ‘Tomoko’ (M-Vine). Debut solo release from sometime Gus Gus / FC Kahuna vocalist Hafdis Huld might in time prove, that is if our ears don’t deceive us, to be the kookiest thing you’ll have the pleasure of hearing all year. Joyously childlike this perkily charmed slice of loopy pastorally inclined kindergarten candy pop impishly enters your listening space with the kind of breathtaking colour and affectionate naivety of a children’s tree house tea party. Innocent and boundless with a cutesy energy ‘Tomoko’ is blessed with the teasing tread of curious and insatiably wonky hooks aplenty made up of dippy keys and the gentle rub of ambling rustics that apart from penetrating your defences as though by slight of hand together melt lovingly to the sound of Hafdis’ irresistibly seductive vocal itself a sugar centred cross between Bjork and Cerys Matthews as though found running amok and trippily colouring in landscapes more associated with the Fence Collectives King Creosote. Once in your headspace this dinky darling will drive you to distraction. Flip side features the equally engaging ’Fucked up Mind’. Beautifully skeletal in design, this softly introspectively honed flowering bruised gem lacerates and lulls in equal measures recalling at times the softer more emotionally punishing moments from the back catalogue of Melys – crushing stuff. All in all as perfect a release as you’ll hear in a fair while. Joint single of the Missive. http://www.mvine.com

 

The Aeroplanes ‘This is my love’ (White Noise). Kate Moss alert – first it was KM turning up at Aeroplanes gigs now according to a certain website no names no pack drill (Link2Wales) there’s been press speculation connecting the cheek boned one with the bands bassist – blimey when did that happen – mind you that said I wouldn’t expect to see the model in our preferred daily read Nuts And Bolts Journal unless of course she was kitted out in oily rags wielding a spanner and a mallet (we live in hope). Okay let’s cut to the chase. The Aeroplanes are shaping up to being one of those classic bands. Cut from the same cloth that decked out Oasis who themselves borrowed cast off’s (no pun intended) left by the LA’s, there’s something of the X factor (again no pun) that attaches itself to the Aeroplanes that sets them aside from most of the chasing pack. Already much loved here at Singled Out – though their debut (‘Don’t stop me’) was a tad disappointing it was the two cuts tucked on the flip (‘Black Hole’ and ‘Somedays’) that provided the seeds of what might and could be. It was no fluke either that ’Somedays’ became something of favourite tune here last year and still to this day sends shivers up the spine (now that it’s been included on a much played album sampler that will no doubt shortly blossom into the ensembles debut full length – just wait till you hear the ‘Flowers’ era Bunnymen-esque ’Slipping Away’). Like the aforementioned LA’s and Oasis – what makes the Aeroplanes stand out from the crowd is their simplicity, there’s no fuss, effects or dicking about – just a corking understanding of the mere mechanics on how to write a memorable melody that haunts the spaces between your ears long after it’s passed and been placed back in its CD cover. Oh yeah it helps that they come from God’s country – Liverpool – a rich musical pedigree of Wah, Black, Bunnymen, LA’s, the Balcony, Cook Da Books, Half Man Half Biscuit, Coral (the list is bloody endless) and oops nearly forgot – four blokes calling themselves the Beatles – perhaps you’ve heard of them – crazy hairdos and kooky records about fields of strawberries and riding tickets – could do well. Where were we – ah yes – the Aeroplanes – new single time featuring two brand new spanking tracks that no doubt once heard will sit so deep in your psyche that you’ll require some form of trepanning treatment to remove. You get the feeling that on the thunderously bitter sweet melodic cannonball that is ’This is my love’ that this lot are barely trying yet despite that still manage to invest enough souring intensity to provide a more than veritable poke in the eye for any would be competition. Beginning slowly this bruising beast of erstwhile insensitivity (the song being about wanting to be in love without all the emotional trappings) gathers apace culminating into a searing spectacle of ear snaring hooks and breathlessly arresting harmonies. As per usual with the Aeroplanes the treats are to be found shyly tucked away on the flip side. ‘Just a Girl’ with its softly sugared gently swaying demeanour craftily undoes you from the inside before you’ve barely had a chance to blink an eye in awareness, operating to a curiously hypnotic ebb and flow dynamic it takes its roots from the LA’s ’No way out’ and seductively wraps them around the Beatles gem like ’Girl’. Beautifully decoded with a sublimely breezy almost nonchalantly laid back air this has images of sultry evening glow summer nights embedded throughout it like letters on a stick of rock. Almost perfect – take note – greatness awaits. Deputy single of the Missive. http://www.theaeroplanes.co.uk

 

Sweat master ‘God Looks, Big Deal’ (Bad Afro). Described in the press release as possessing ‘hook lines that will stay in your head for days’ and who are we to argue. ‘Good Looks, Big Deal’ is the third single to be lifted from the acclaimed (though if memory serves me right not as yet heard here) ‘Tom Tom Bullet’ full length and provides for a high voltage hip swerving, bar door busting, foot stomping crookedly delivered slice of garage groove that’s been lovingly vacuum packed and distilled into a potently brief but audacious shot lasting 142 seconds. Blessed with a chorus hook that gently tweaks at Siouxsie and the Banshees ’Love in a void’ and braided with a pummelling in your face glam rock mind set this baby chugs across the hi-fi like a speeding train with a rocket up its back end barely pausing for breath and causing untold damage to loose fitting household objects not to mention inciting a riot in your psyche. In addition you get the animated video made by award inning duo Kalle Kotila and Malakias. Spoiling us eh? I should co-co. http://www.badafro.dk

 

Actress Hands ‘Snack Horse’ (Life is Easy). With the amount of corking bands coming out of Brighton at the moment one gets to thinking that maybe there’s a market out there for bottling up whatever that hidden ingredient is and letting the rest of the nation’s pop community share in its miracle minerals. As with Liverpool, Brighton is literally pissing an enviable musical roster made to measure at will, without wanting or more truthfully being arsed to provide a never ending list (just check out recent missives or else the smattering of finely tuned youngsters in these ramblings) it’s seems not a week goes by when the Singled Out shed doesn’t have at least one Brighton postmarked parcel containing a CD dancing on it’s cute and well formed welcome mat. The latest additions vying for your affection are Actress Hands. Formed in 2002 initially as ‘a one man avantpunkrock band’ (press releases words not mine), Matt Eaton (for it is he who was the one man avantpunkband) decided to recruit similar minded bodies in order to create the ultimate live experience which to date have culminated in acclaimed reviews for all corners. With a second album due shortly for release entitled ’Cattle Grid’ (with the first full length last years ’Why the Sale?’ due for repress and re-release to) this tasty two track release provides for a tempting taste of what’s to come. The slyly effervescent ’Snack Horse’ is a honey combed toasting of good to be alive brassy fanfares shimmering resplendently beside sun shining sounds that have been reclining in the midday West Coast heat all lovingly packaged into a busting with an infectious glow three minute slice of radio trouncing hip buckling romping pop. Think of those early pop fixated moments from Jumbo’s back catalogue meeting head on the crisp but breezy bitter sweet mindset of the much missed L’Augmentation, nudge up the power pop dial that sees elements of classic Micro Disney toying with the vibrantly candy coated mixture made up of prime Go Betweens and Boo Radleys moments. Flip side features the slightly more wired and less audaciously immediate 2 minute dash that is ‘Being Sure’. Paying it’s dues in the main to Glasgow’s finest – Teenage Fan Club – in particular the ‘A Catholic Education’ era found here with its DNA seemingly cross pollinated with the spiked melodic thrust of Dinosaur Jr, this cutie possesses more than enough savvy and breathlessly swooning zest to have the most casual viewer shaking their tats to. http://www.theactresshandsmusic.co.uk

 

Oom ‘Poison’ (Series 8). And weren’t we not just mentioning the musical joys to behold emanating from Brighton of late (and you thought we were kidding). First of two releases from the Series 8 stable features the talents of Brighton based quartet Oom. Fronted by a certain Debbie Clare who has it seems is also doing a spot of vocal moonlighting with Massive Attack at present (apparently all secret and er – hush hush – no worries there then love only two people read these scribblings and one of them hates music and the other by mistake) and features on one track included on their super duper ‘Collected’ best of entitled ’Joy Luck Club’. Described in the accompanying press release as a meeting between Bjork, Aphex Twin and Nine Inch Nails – (go on admit you’re reaching for your credit card as I waffle aren’t you?) – ’Poison’ is the ensembles debut release and a mighty neat little thing it is featuring three tracks that portray the differing facets / personality of the group. ’Poison’ opens the proceedings, and for the second time this missive immediately has you thinking Melys (who by my reckoning owe us an album or three given we haven’t heard anything by them for an age – building another studio I suppose – huh

– rock ‘n’ roll – the folly of it all eh?) – delectable and sexy without even having to try or so you’d suspect, this baby squirms seductively blowing hot and cold cleverly courting that old well used chestnut – the loud and quiet dynamic on this occasion craftily cut with a stinging array of heavily hung darkly woven soul sapping atmospherics that explode into life like a shard showering catherine wheel, irresistibly catchy with hulking hooks to match kissed sensually with a ‘butter wouldn’t melt in my mouth’ delivery. ‘Coming Alive’ my preferred cut of the three if only for the fact that it cutely borrows liberally the riff from Love’s ‘My little red book’ and at points hot wires it with a guitar break ripped straight from the Shamen’s ‘Jesus loves America’ then welds on a gorgeously infectious glam groove that even Bolan would blush to only to finally gather up all the ensuing bits and bobs and have it sound like a throbbing variant of Kate Bush boogying out with Baccara which once let loose on the club floor should see a fair amount of tail feathers being set alight. Rounding up the set the delightfully loveable ‘Drive’ in all its bare naked acoustic glory slyly empties whatever emotions you still have intact leaving you a numbed husk. Contact series8@supalife.com

 

Bean growers ‘You are you are’ (Series 8). Second Series 8 offering comes from those much loved Maltese sorts the Bean growers a band who by rights should be bloody huge by now having already snared the hearts of the Yanks with two acclaimed appearances at the SXSW in 2004 and 2005 as well as gaining several critical support slots playing across Europe with the likes of Stereophonics and Elbow. Last time we had the pleasure of hearing these cute kids we were mightily impressed by their honed to near perfection needling melodies which seemed to all at once pinpoint a veritable though respectable reference map that included Belly, Tanya Donnelly, Melys (again) and PJ Harvey. Three years down the line and its nice to see that age hasn’t blunted their edge or ability to hammer out gems at the drop of an hat. ‘You are You are’ sadly isn’t the old Numan goodie of the same name to be found upping the ante on the superb and much overlooked ‘Dance’ full length. Instead this tight as a gnat’s chuff is a no nonsense heads down low slung skinny tied boogying rocker replete with an awesome frontline artillery that’s bedecked with a gnarled twang-tastic fuzz galore perspective that’s more keenly identified as coming out of parts of Detroit and Scandinavia of late and has to said of strangely had it arrived say with a sticker heralding it as the new Hives release you’d be kissing its butt drooling that it was the best thing to hit music since the birth of ears. Blessed with a seriously needling riff that’s so alarmingly infectious that one suspects you’d need at least a month in detox to ween yourself off and the kind of off track coolness that doesn’t so much rear up into view immediately but rather more like some form of delayed shock creeps up behind and clobbers the shit out of you when you least expect it. Oh yea and did we mention Alison’s femme fatale pouting throughout – let’s put it this way you wouldn’t wanna argue with her. Flipside features the enchanting and emotionally piercing ‘Waltz’ which is quite simply put – elegant and stately. An absolute gem of classically treated crushed emotions dusted with the genteel sprinkle of inspired heart clawing strings and a shadowy late 60’s appeal made up of darkly stalking chords as though the decaying verve of the Animals version of ’House of the Rising Sun’ had been transported back in time to have its life sucked out of it by the restless passion, hurt and regret of Kate Bush’s earlier Bronte inspired outings. A master class of softly stirring tempestuousness. Essential as though you needed telling. Contact series8@supalife.com

 

Uncle Black ’Smile’ (Backwater). Already emblazoned on our hearts forever by virtue of their gem like ’Clock Prison’ from the small but well formed EP ’One day, we will go there’ of a year or so ago (even now the tears trickle in fond memory), Suffolk based trio Uncle Black return to fray by planning a few live dates provisionally pencilled in for Spring / Summer as well as beginning recording of what will be the eagerly awaited follow up to 2003’s debut full length ‘1000 Origami Cranes’. In the meantime (‘Smile’ / ‘Image’) this delightful two track nugget should keep the masses satiated – hey those good things in life take time right? Though I’ve said this countless times before Uncle Black are a breath of fresh air in a world gone mad, they offer a place of sanctuary amid an attitude and age of acceptance of quick turnaround and low sub standard quality. The sound is exquisitely drawn, tendered, cut and fashioned in the old ways to such a manner that you’d suspect, and probably rightly so, that what has passed for popular music in the last 30 years or so had somehow took a wrong turn and completely missed the turning into Uncle Buck’s quaint, quiet old worldly village green. The serene sounding welcome mat that is ’Smile’ is a joyously spirit lifting jingle jangling smirking spring stepping ambling slice of impeccable country pop replete with a brisk riverbank strolling effervescence married to subtle washes of transplanted made in Nashville slide guitars that to these ears sounds not unlike the kind of timeless stuff that Moviola can be found tinkering with these days. All in all the perfect musical accompaniment for summer afternoons spent idling under the shade of an Oak tree lost in your own little world staring longingly as the clouds glide by. Flip over to be treated by the superior sounding ’Image’. In an age where there seems to be something of a revaluation of the once derided mid 70’s MOR scene at large, given the right kind of airplay exposure this slyly catchy radio friendly road cruiser may just prove to be something of a surprise hit. Combining a curious out of time pop fixated brew that sees elements of both Buffalo Springfield and Gram Parsons nuzzling just below the surface blending with the strangely alluring dash of softly vibrating mid 70’s stylised west coast dustings equipped with faintly soulful vibes you’d be forgiven for thinking that this was a long lost treasure originally sourced by World Party and recalibrated in Oddfellows Casino’s potting shed. A quite unsettlingly perfect release seven minutes of which you couldn’t better in wishing to recline in the company of – the black country never sounded so old country. http://www.backwaterrecords.com

 

Six Nation State / Ox ‘Split’ (Worst Case Scenario). Nearly slipped our net to get lost in the CD mountain this cutie did. Third release from Guildford based Worst Case Scenario records (previous releases featured splits from Midnight Juggernauts / the Coronation and Jono Mccleery / Hijera – which damn it we sadly missed out on – still excuses for a stroll to the local record emporium has never been an issue with us). First up Six Nation State who you’d suspect could make some sort of anthemic cocktail with just a tray of old empty milk bottles given the evidence provided for by ’Keep Dancing’. ’Keep Dancing’ indeed bastard’s had us jigging like a bad ’un every time it rears into earshot, wiry skinny tied new wave ska threaded by head hurting catchy as fuck needling riffs that don’t so much lay siege and squat in your headspace but have the bloody nerve to nick your booze and fags and party hard into the night. From Southampton (well someone’s got to – easy tiger) safe to say they’ll no doubt at some point in the coming months be stomping all over a personal audio system near you. Flip side edges it by the breadth of a hair from a gnat’s arse. First we had the slacker age now it’s the ‘fuck you leave me in peace’ brigade and blimey in Ox a band that sound like they’ve had the kind of dogged bad luck that follows yours truly like an unwelcome rain cloud on an invisible leash. From out of its gloomily dour self pitying cocksure indie lull this baby miraculously unfurls and changes base to blossom into a peach of softly curdling tenderised warmth that basks in the reclining glow of mid 70’s Southern state MOR infected country pop as though combining elements of a more fluffily inclined early career Neil Young and er – Blue Oyster Cult. Look – go buy, listen and see if I’m not right. Expect wonderful things. http://www.wcsrecords.com

 

Heartwear Process ‘Mean Season’ (Velocity). Debut release for Reading based quintet Heartwear Process (don’t ask us what it means) features three cutely honed nuggets that unless our ears are taking le piss sound like the result of a laboratory cock up that has inadvertently intertwined the DNA strains from both the Flaming Stars (whatever happened to them) and Gene and produced a beast with obvious unresolved issues as to life and a demented albeit crooked understanding of gnarled overpowering pop dynamics. ’Mean Season’ is a vibrant slice of hip hugging, knee buckling, skull twatting frenetically hued belching pinball pop replete with the kind of off guard hooks that many ensembles would happily die just thinking about let alone putting into practice and borne of a subtle psychopathic strutting nature that would suggest restless nights spent listening to old vinyl records by the Meteors and Guana Batz at half speed. Flip the disc for what in years to come will be heralded and featured on any number of ’unknown pleasures’ compilations the brooding nose bloodying storm warring mass that is ’Brian Jones’. A gorgeous slab of majestically bruised from the inside darkly festering 60’s inclined sonic atmospherics – all the same can’t think why it would make them ‘feel like Brian Jones’ unless of course they all sport pudding basin shaped syrups with a phobia for water – nevertheless serious booty shaking fun to be had just for the asking. Rounding up the set the achingly wounded ’The Wolf Song’ – invites you to wrap your arms around it and give it a re-assuring hug and big kiss as it moodily throbs with a shyly drawn latent intensity – still sounds like Gene at the peak of their powers no matter how you paint it which is quite dandy by us. You need this. http://www.velocityrecordings.com

 

Demeter ‘Addict’ (Post Modern). If I had to sum up this particular release in one word – it would be – seductive. Demeter features a one time member of the Droyds who you may recall released that pretty smart ‘Take me I’m yours’ single a few years back and then went on a remix odyssey that saw them rejigging sounds for among others Client, Siobhan Fahey and Armand Van Helden before going on a sabbatical in 2003 / 4. Andy Chatterley now finds himself paired with Anna Mercedes as Demeter who to date have had two releases (’Hellfire’ and ’Pleasure Island’) both annoyingly slipping under our one time reliable net. ’Addict’ collects together three cuts of pristinely crafted sweetly cured expansive emotional pop, the lead cut finding itself honed with an explicit desire infected darkly stirring sleaze that should by rights come adorned with some kind of sexual health warning given that it does things to your libido that you never thought a record could be capable of. Think of a horny as fuck variant of Garbage with Anna’s sensually charged vocals softly purring amid a sonic drapery of alluring web like sound collages made up of stalking chords and icily tipped keys. ’Venus’ tempers the pace considerably to sound like a chilled damage limited 60’s vibed Katastrophy Wife with serious emotional issues, hurting and bruised this softly treading gem stingingly shimmers with a disquieting passion at its core. The moodily noire-ish ’Under your spell’ perhaps the best thing here courts with the kind of magnetic majesty that’s more associated with Goldfrapp as though here found detouring the wilderness backwaters of the rain swept after hours Bristol underground scene of the early 90’s, monochrome atmospherics that incorporate doom laden electronic symphonies and b-movie piano solos temptingly arc and flirt with Anna’s softly drawn shy like vocal treatment, claustrophically intense yet achingly beautiful. Essential. http://www.demeter.tv

 

The Seal Cub Clubbing Club ‘EP2’ (Nomadic). Try saying that after several pints of the black stuff followed by the additional oiling of a few chasers in between – perhaps parading behind the worst band name since Dogs Die in Hot Cars there’s much to love and hate about The Seal Cub Clubbing Club from herein referred to as THESCCC. The hate bits – well yea the name though still waiting for the day when someone decides to call themselves Bathing Bouncing Babies in Battery Acid or Scrotal Defect Analysis Report – how we miss those weird and wonderful bands from out of yesteryear that we could always count on the late Mr Peel to scare the shit out of us with. Where were we – ah yes – hate – well – across 5 tracks and 18 minutes those of you expecting something resembling adolescent growing pains and spitting venom served at 200 mph may do best to turn elsewhere for kicks because we swear that each time we put this damn thing on we were hearing things that we missed first time around – in fact that feeling got so bad that we constantly double checked the CD cover to ensure the tracks hadn’t mischievously changed. The hate thing rears its head in the way you can’t exactly put your finger on what you’re hearing, opening cut ’Celine’ is wildly frenetic, not quite bonkers but then not far off the mark, a sub 4 minute car crash of discarded moments in arty avant garde pop that between the grooves don’t be to surprised if you hear the feint detail of Captain Beefheart, the Fall and Half Man Half Biscuit as though gathered together for some kind of unscripted happening orchestrated by Frank Zappa, a track that is so becoming of frightening chameleonic grace it sub evolves at the flick of an eyelid incorporating all manner of skinny tie art punk manoeuvres, fuzzy guitars that in truth sound like they were hoodwinked from Kenny Loggins and sent to Devo for detuning, dreamy Floyd-esque / Ozric moments and some of the scariest testicle crushing falsetto vocals you’ll ever hear that all said and done out Justin the nipple and lycra loving Justin Darkness. ’Drums in der night’ is a little more together principally it takes it’s cue from the West Coast and after a fond moments break passing around the crack pipe emerges from the toxic haze something more commonly associated with the crookedly frayed, frazzled and lysergic outer edges of the Elephant 6 Collective – think early Of Montreal on bad acid recalibrating an oddball psychedelic canvas with a curious glam campfire sheen. Welcome to chill world – providing the treat of the set ’World of Fashion’ with it’s repetitive funky scarred Studio 54 skeletal guitar riff and heavily hung lunar-esque keys this fried cutie has all the off centred unhinged nouse that was much a part of those crucially classic early Bunnymen flip sides from years gone by. This fraughtly sparse this wayward jamming fusion of after hours head tripping down tempo vibes is carved straight out of the same cloth that once decked out the much missed Mansun, wonderfully wired but flippantly irresistible. The dinky and weirdly interluding kaleidoscopic ’Threebie’ with its nightmarish dropping in dropping out carnival-esque dynamic is your standard dicking about with echo effects though repeat listens will no doubt rot your head and in the case of being played backwards (should that happen to be your bag) may or may not hide secret messages from the beyond (that’s the Wirral to you kid). And just when you thought it was safe to shimmy up close to the hi-fi the blighters go and spring ’(I’m gonna get that) Rabbit’ which despite it’s cutely subtle Flowered Up references under the surface displays an unsettling secret love for Whitesnake and Saxon at work – only kidding or am I? Damn fine release shame I missed that debut – darn. http://www.thesccc.co.uk

 

Charlottefield ‘Stand Up’ (Fat Cat). There are times, I’m sure you’ll understand, when I wish every attending package containing CD’s sounded like Charlottefield, that air of something not quite right, perhaps more so that feeling of agitation and the fact that if cranked up to a certain volume on the hi-fi that it’s a race between the plaster on the ceiling / walls and your general mental wellbeing to see who gives first. With a new album in the can awaiting autumn release Charlottefield offer a nice line in cerebral massaging with hot needles for fingers, these two cuts display their schizoid mind set perfectly both contrasting the extremes of their sound. ’Stand Up’ with it’s wilfully wired math rock zig zagging and puss venting stop start frenzy though reminiscent of early Touch and Go heroes Storm and Stress perhaps owes more to the unbridled spastic fury of Boys Next Door than it does to Fugazi / Jesus Lizard and the like. Deploying mutated jazz signatures into a growling fusion of noise niking spiked riffmanship that’s been blessed with a seriously obtuse bent out of shape ‘melody’ that sounds like it’s been kicked from here to there, Charlottefield infuse all manner of art rock histrionics and barbed noodling chords that even the likes of Henry Cow might well applaud for sheer audacity. File under wickedly crooked. Flip side features the much more ominous sounding ’Can’t stand up’. Less frenetic than its sister track but what it lacks in terms of agitation it more than makes up for in heaving claustrophobic brooding. Not a million miles from the sometime post rock nuances of Windsor for Derby this swollen bruiser comes replete with a flotilla of hugely hulking rumble like swamp infested head buckling mechanics that intricately interlock into a humongous self loathing slow to unfurl juggernaut. http://www.fat-cat.co.uk

 

Kelman ‘The heart is a useless ally’ (Liner). What can I say – simply the best thing they’ve committed to tape – period. Keen observers to these badly written excuses for reviews will need no introduction to Kelman – for fuck’s sake we’ve been telling you for the best part of several years that they are as the French would no doubt say ’le dog’s bollocks’. Previously Baptiste in another life, an ensemble cruelly overlooked and much undervalued (shame on you – you feel bad now don’t you buying into that ‘here one minute gone the next’ indie pop shit), Kelman are brothers Marc and Wayne Gooderham of said previous incarnation already proud owners of the superbly heart heavingly genteel ‘The Happiest Man Alive’ release from a year or so ago, they are set to release their debut full length shortly – news which in our gaff is being readily prepared for by the hanging out of the bunting (as should yours) in anticipation. For now though a little taster of things to come and limited to 500 copies via Cargo (so no excuses now). Forget your Lows, Tindersticks, Galaxie 500’s, Lee Hazlewoods – in fact empty your head of all you’ve heard so far and burn your record collection in the process and start all over again, ’The Heart is a Useless Ally’ is a rip roaring healing celebration for all those who’ve ever locked themselves away preferring to hide from the day light sun and cry into a pillow longing for a love lost, a gloriously smoking babe that inherits the quiet revolution anthem like zeal of prime time James and twists it tightly around an overpowering emotion consuming headiness more becoming of Spiritualized with Velvet Underground inclinations. Soaked in joyously church like keys this hymnally graced slice of softly stirring enigmatic pop warms to the core and as uplifting as a factory load of Prozac could ever hope to be. Flipside features the equally inspiring ‘Untitled’ which gently treads amid the footing of deftly arresting unfurling hypnotic amble like chords all heartily flanked by a parade of snow glistened twinkling bells seductively awash with an ornately delivered authentic 60’s Hammond – sounds like Christmas but hey it’s April who cares. So good it hurts. Joint single of the Missive. http://www.kelmanband.com

 

More of the same – same time tomorrow with a shed load of goodies from among others Rampton Release Date, XRAYOK, Motel Hero, KJ, Toy Heroes, the Termites, the Bloom, Death Disco, Plastic Toys and oh so much more. The usuals thanks and stuff to all who’ve made these scrawling possible – address for contact is mark@losingtoday.com and snail mail is 105 shaldon drive, morden, surrey, sm4 4bq – till tomorrow take care of y’selves – bye – mark x

 

Missive 93

05-04-2006

‘So soon – monsieur you spoil us’

 

Singled Out

Missive 93

 

Dedicated to Kelly and Mark – miss you lots.

 

Singled Out – waffling to a non existent audience

 

As promised back with another Missive quicker than you could say ‘ fuck me has he been eating magic beans or sommat’. More groovy sounds to bedeck your hi-fi with and no doubt annoy your local record retailer about. No pre-amble this time – what’s that I hear you say thank God – cheers – only to say address for contact is via the marvellous wobbly wobbly web mark@losingtoday.com – by snail mail and depending on whether Royal Mail can deliver it to the right address and in one piece – 105 shaldon drive, morden, surrey, sm4 4bq – we also have a my space presence – well I say presence – we have 1 friend and I think he dropped by by mistake, there’s nowt on there as yet though we will be sorting that – er shortly – anyway address is http://www.myspace.com/thesundayexperience – good to see you there and the first 10,000 people through the gate will get a hearty round of applause.

 

On a sadder note news has just reached us of the passing of 60’s legend Gene Pitney. Pitney, 65, had been mid way through a UK tour when he complained of illness following yesterday evenings show at Cardiff. The entertainer best remembered for the global hit ’Twenty Four Hours from Tulsa’ was found dead in his hotel room this morning. Our wishes go out to his wife and three sons.

 

The singles…………..

 

The Rampton Release Date ‘My dad’s a spastik, my life’s fucking fantastic’ (Self Released Demo). Go on admit it title alone has got you straining at the leash waiting to get at it. The crucial question you are asking is does the music inside live up to the anticipated billing – fuck yeah you shitting me or what this three track debut demo is likely to flip wigs just by staring at them and empty a room packed with dull fucking verse chorus verse pop enthusiasts faster than a bowel evacuation following a dodgy Friday night hot curry special. Wickedly crude to the point it should be illegal the Rampton Release Date are a Dudley based trio formed way back in 2005 who in their spare time devour and cannibalise a hot wiring cocktail of elements that sees everything from metal, second wave punk, early 80’s Californian punk, trash, gore, grind core and mangled psycho-billy butchered, buried and stomped on to leave a putrefying brew of hi-fi terrorising tuneage. ’I’ve been like this for years’ by far the best thing here sounds like a low grade Ministry twatting the life out of a melody made up of the disfigured limbs of by gone era classics of early career Fall and Mudhoney and then foolishly deciding to take a punt on the Mummies to studio mix them resulting in the trademark rough as a bears arse faltering and frazzled tin pot production (and that’s not a criticism – it bloody works perfectly even right down to the bits where it sounds as warped as fuck) so that what you get is a festering mutated mother of a psychotic fuzz bomb with more gnarled horse power than an F1 starting grid. ‘Hell is self made’ is a sub three minute trepanning experiment without anaesthesia, a truly head bloodying experience of fired up rampantly buckled hot rod carnage and in your face crippled anti social war baiting fervour, Reference wise think Discharge meets Slayer in a disturbed last man standing melee with Extreme Noise Terror. A fraught and unrelenting behemoth of a cut that liable to throttle the living shit out of anyone brave enough to be in earshot. Last up the drum machine spanking (which incidentally by all accounts met a premature death shortly after the recording of this) ’Damage Limitation’ sounds caustically ill, evil and austere so much so that you might consider placing it alongside those early damaged to the core outings by Killing Joke. File alongside Thumpermonkey, Levelload and the Tautologist as similarly minded sonic terrorists – never has a hi-fi been such a frightening and yet deathly alluring place to stand near. For further reading check out their newly released second demo ‘Postpone the Melody’ which if we’re good we’ve been told we’ll get a copy – which no doubt will get the necessary instant thumbs up in our humble bijou sized fun palace. Absolutely recommended. http://www.rampton.altpro.net

 

Xrayok ‘Like Life’ (Self Released). With one full length under their cllective belts with ‘Reflex’ which sadly passed beneath our usually well tuned radar – Tempe, Arizona based quartet Xrayok are set to self release this pretty nifty 6 track EP. Steeped in all manner of 80’s Brit glamour the type of which was being provided for by the likes of Beggars Banquet’s splinter label Situation 2 and the era‘s defining outlet 4AD, XRAYOK’s sound is a lushened haven of new wave chic threaded through by subtle washes of enigmatic goth like splendour. Basking beneath a colourful backdrop of alluring chill tipped austere sky piercing ornate stately like atmospheric sounds capes their melodies acquire a dulling translucent beauty that’s both brittle and bruised. ’The Luster’ opens the set a radio hugging carnival of intertwining effervescently cured jabbing riffs that share an affinity with fellow stateside ensemble Tulipomania yet unavoidably reminiscent of the likes of Gene Loves Jezebel and early career ‘Seduction’ era Danse Society. Each track here grows in confidence and with that stature, the gem like ’Fall of your eyelash’ is replete with heart hanging honeycombed riffs more associated with the more introspective moments from the back catalogues of the Fixx and Comsat Angels, a beautifully disquieting cut that breathlessly catches you off guardas it dissolves itself of its shy exterior and dreamily cartwheels lost in its own lovelorn maze – think upon it as a darker and edgier alter ego to Duran Duran’s ’Save a prayer’. The playfully infectious ’Smile’ sadly not the old Levitation classic of the same name mainlines into the current hot bed of cool wave sounds currently orbiting around the likes of Club AC30 scene, a heartstopping slice of driving skinny tied grooves spliced throughout with crystalline pop manoeuvres a la Mansun. ’lonely Souls’ and ’Sunshine’ pretty much follow in similar formation the former likely to suck out whatever emotions you hold dear while don’t be to surprised if the latter starts causing all sorts of fuss among the more clued up patrons on the college campus. That said best cut of the set is the killer ’Doesn’t matter’. a real bastard of a track that insidiously prickles and picks it’s way through your defences till you can resist no more, a booty shaking cool as fuck new wave wet dream with more crooked curves than a cloth cut by a one armed blindfolded seamstress suffering with the DT’s and possessing more hooks than a fleet of Japanese fishing trawlers. Essential – deputy single of the missive. http://www.xrayok.com

 

Motel Hero ’Alleycats’ (Self Released). Much to our horror and inexplicable embarrassment this cutie came by our way sometimes (er) last year and was founding making all manner of noise quite recently that frankly we couldn’t ignore it for one more second, had nothing to do – you understand – with the bands guitarist getting in touch via email and threatening to make dainty looking ear rings out of various bits and bobs about our person – only joking the guitarist was in fact very chilled about the whole misfortunate oversight. Frankly pissing tunes like there’s no tomorrow this is a blistering three track debut of some measure from North London based Motel Hero. ’Alleycats’ the lead in cut has the kind of dulling strut like cool that members of the current skinny tied brigade may well sit up and take note of, a rarefied cool not heard round these parts since those halcyon of the early 80’s when Setzer and Co were rampantly rocking out amid the grooves, sizzling head invading infectious riffs parade in zig zagging formations providing a veritable hot bed of swinging party on hard slyly soulful bone bouncing beat pop that’s been crafted, distilled and threaded through by an unnerving rock-a-billy chic. The porch creaking barn dancing nostalgically honed arse wiggling ’Beefheart’ (Captain perhaps or perhaps not as the case may be) invests a pretty smart country tipped grandeur to the occasion that to these ears recalls the lighter moments found on the Jello Biafra and Mojo Nixon collaboration ’Prairie Home Invasion’ while the leader of the pack for me personally is the psychotically hot wired 47 second blast of ’The Squirrel’s Song’. A charging finale to an excellent set that just might have you thinking – fuck me it’s Fatima Mansions meets Reverend Horton Heat. Fuckin’ stunning. http://www.motelhero.co.uk

 

KJ ‘Tales from the Farthing Wood’ (Self Released). Damn it – you’ve got us banged to rights – we are indeed rather fond of this. Another release that has been decorating our listening space recently in slightly seasonal shades of soft greens and cream is this darling debut demo from KJ. KJ are a Bristol based quartet who formed in 2003 and who to date, according to their press release, have over 50 songs recorded and ready for public consumption beneath their collective belts. Anything else you need to know – well now you come to ask yes despite its spots and obvious youthful bravado this particular release which serves as a brief peak into said quartets melodic potting shed is simply gorgeous. ‘Tales from Farthing Wood’ features three tracks distilled into 13 minutes all lovingly packaged, parcelled and sent out as envoys heralding good things to come. Listening to KJ is like stepping back in time – and before you start thinking that that is in someway a criticism then think again – these little gems are old school folk roots that sound like they’ve undergone some form of Charles Atlas style body workout programme and returned to the fold all muscularly toned. Crafted idle some melodies with the casual potential to blow you clean off your listening perch are what you get in return for your entrance money, opening the set with the breathtakingly bruised pop overture that is ’Come what may’ it quickly becomes apparent that these young chaps have an audacious ability for concocting what first might appear as pretty smartly executed soured nuggets of timelessly honed twee pop but stop, draw closer and scratch the surface and what becomes obvious is that what you really have are low key dusty epics in the making. ‘Come what may’ is an unsettlingly wonderful hybrid of Go Betweens and early Hefner that operates more like something akin to the effects brought on by delayed shock, this strangely abrupt yet warming ode needles softly belying a seriously seductive poppified undercurrent to catch you off balance and have you reeling. The exquisitely damaged ‘En Avant’ is similarly infected without wanting to beat about the bush best described simply as being this decades ‘Wonderwall’ with a fierce some finale strapped to its rear end. For me personally though best of the trio (if only for the fact that it’s up for it and a marked contrast to ‘En Avant’ and ‘Come what may’) is the spiky proto punk pop ‘Amanda’ – which liberally borrows from the riff to the Buzzcocks ‘Promises’ and then sets about doing unimaginable things to your hi-fi which may or may not involve loose objects pogoing before your very eyes or else the slightly more cooler kids of the parish banging on your door desperate to know what the fuck that crazy sound is. Absolutely essential. http://www.kjkj.co.uk

 

Big Architect in the Sky ‘Soul lets go’ (Self released). Another of those bugger all info type releases that we occasionally get around here that’s absolutely fucking stunning if you want my honest opinion though I will qualify that statement with one small proviso – do not – I repeat do not – as I did – happily wander onto a train at 7.30 in the morning packed with office workers, crank up the volume and press play – blimey damn well nearly blew out the windows and several weeks on I still reckon there are folk out there suffering the after effects of shock from that momentous though foolish brief moment. Now we’ve heard this a few times now and on each occasion we still can’t for the life of us believe what we are hearing. Best filed alongside that all important debut mini album set from Querelle last year, these three tracks share an affinity given that the sound isn’t easily pigeon holed but then identifiable enough for you to choose any number of combinations to include Quickspace, Sonic Youth, Led Zeppelin, Mogwai and Neil Young. ‘Soul lets go’ opens the set – a heads down no nonsense frenetic boogie borne of the kind of pummelling proportions not heard here since that colossal Mountain Men Anonymous full length entitled ‘Krkonose’ from a year or so ago. A crippling manifestation of ear shredding symphonic grandeur that restlessly manages to encapsulate all the crucial elements of rock (stoner, prog and prog) from the last 30 or so years and have it literally bleeding beautifully out of your hi-fi speakers. The crookedly hammer like ‘The lion sleeps with me’ is a viciously infectious groove laden spiked progressive rocking bulldozer that’s charged to the hilt with skull clobbering strutting seizure riddled riffs bled through by 70’s Stones street cool harmonies that takes its cue primarily dusting down and updating Mountain’s monolithic ‘Nantucket Sleighride’ of which older readers may remember was lifted and used as the theme to the current affairs show ‘Weekend World’. Bringing up the rear on an excellent set – the ravaged lo-fi bluesy ‘Schoolyard and Graveyard’ wouldn’t look to out of place on Quickspaces’ ‘Death of Quickspace’ full length given it charters similar melodic territories as though ‘Chant of the ever circling Skeletal Family’ era Bowie had somehow fallen through a rip in time to find himself exchanging notes with ‘Experimental Jet Set’ era Sonic Youth. A thoroughly recommended debut that could prove to be one of the finds of the year – more please and quickly. Single of the Missive. http://www.biga.se

 

The Termites ‘Less is More’ EP (Universal Digital). Yes I know it’s been out for ages, you’ve probably loved, used it and abused it and left it to move onto something else – meanwhile it’s probably sold out, been deleted and the band are probably languishing in the high life of world wide public affection. But then we are useless, do have a mountain of CD’s that we are still no nearer catching up on and aw hell love this to bits. No strangers to these ramblings are the Termites given we have much loved that ultra limited ‘Boltgun’ 7” (incidentally reworked and included here in all its skewed glory) from a year or so ago and its attending follow up ‘Set yourself on fire’ extended play set from last year. ‘Less is more’ features four cuts of inspired twisted genius and quite possibly the nearest thing to spontaneous combustion as sound can ever hope to get. Wilfully wonky the Termites play with such distractive disregard for structure as to have you pausing for a second to consider whether or not this is some kind of cathartic experiment conducted via a sponsored day release from the local asylum (just check out the warped ‘I stand alone’), crookedly cracked time signatures and splintered riffs suggest barbed intellects at work creating a gloriously obtuse jam jar of psychotically envisaged psychedelic meets art rock carnage that pairs up elements of the Pixies, Floyd, Elevators and the Cardiacs into an ad hoc though desirable brew and invites Supergrass to impishly conduct the ensuing drama. ‘Less is more’ opens the set a wired up fusion of urgently deranged like jabbing riffs in the throes of some kind of mental breakdown replete with a blistering cloud clearing chorus hook so good you want to kiss it while in sharp contrast the breezily off kilter and softly purring ‘Lighten the Load’ wouldn’t look to amiss sandwiched in amongst the principally Barrett informed oddball whimsicality of the highly undervalued ‘Gigglegoo’ full length by the Freed Unit. Sounding so wrong never sounded so right – approach with due care – the wearing of a tin hat is optional. http://www.terminaltermites.co.uk

 

The Bloom ‘Rinsing Boots’ (White Label). Funky as fuck and hard to resist is this debut four track offering from London based quintet the Bloom, admittedly not really our cup of tea normally but then this does possess something a little – shall we say – kooky and catchy. The plus points here are that The Bloom serve up a pretty smart line in sophisticated late night smoke filled toe tapping jazz funk culture that from initial listens sounds not unlike the Red Hot Chilli Peppers then cutely morphs into Reef before finding itself in a lo-fi like setting more readily occupied by the likes of the Fun Loving Criminals. The bad news – a minor detail albeit – but a blight all the same ‘Bless the Funk’.- one can only imagine the band had earnestly gone astray for a fag break, a tune in search of a song or should that be a song in search of a tune – admirers of the Fast Show may well wince in recollections of the OGWT / Ronnie Scott’s send up – even the perky brass can’t save it while the synth accompaniment is probably the most ill advised idea since some bastard let Chico walk into a studio. All said and done – skip track 2 and we’re away – the perky ‘Aphrodesia’ despite the fact that throughout it’s duration I had the unfathomable urge to sing Tenpole Tudor’s ‘Swords of a thousand men’ (can’t remember whether that’s good or bad – we’ll err on the latter to be safe) soon shapes up to sound not so dissimilar to those early Madness sessions for the late John Peel though obviously imbued with the funky bug while if you listen a little closely you may hear the faintly subtly strains of Count 5’s ‘Psychotic Reaction’ lost somewhere in the mix. With it’s seductive liquid like 70‘s ‘Shaft’ funkiness ’Mind those busy roads’ could if perhaps tweaked and tightened a little prove to be something of crossover pop radio slayer while the kookily catchy 60’s keys drenched ’Soup’ is sufficiently distractively infectious that it will burrow holes into your psyche and no doubt do untold damage if your not to careful. Quite smart really. http://www.thebloom.co.uk

 

Dead Disco ‘the Treatment’ (High Voltage Sounds). As cool as fuck! Those of you who take any interest in such things will have noticed the recent spate of killer all girl bands currently and quietly invading the scene – so far in the last few weeks we’ve been blown away by the awesome Leeds based ensemble the Ivories whilst not forgetting more recent that throbbing debut from Switzerland’s the Delilah’s. Seemingly running with the attitude that anything sexy that male ensembles can do (and I’m thinking here that recent Boyfriends release) the Dead Disco can do sexier. ’The Treatment’ is the quartet’s debut release and first of two quick outings that will see them put out a second one off record entitled ‘Automatic’ for the esteemed Fierce Panda in June. Think of a DNA cross match of pre ‘Plastic Letters’ era Debbie Harry and ‘Kim ‘Kids in America’ Wilde squaring up to the B-52 girls at CBGB’s with the nose bloodying hair pulling clash being refereed by Cobra Killer who themselves are getting in the odd well aimed kick for good measure. ’The Treatment’ is a rollicking affair braided with a potently nagging jab like Meteors riff and spookily kooky 60’s key trimmings and more woah oh oh’s than an early 60’s summer skulking in Spector’s studio. Audaciously addictive its main allure is the way the drums and bass seem to run a notch slower than the guitar and keys and in doing so create a seductive drag – oh why bother trying to describe it just buy the fooker. Flip side features Metronomy who you may or may not (as the case may be) remember us featuring several missives back (sadly that promised album still hasn’t reared into view – damn) doing what can only be described as Metronomy things to the lead cut. Billed here as the Metrononomy mix (shirley a typo eh?) the Metro dude strips the original to it’s bared electronic bones and in the process gives it a sleazy horn that the lead version somehow managed to overlook – will no doubt do strange (and probably illegal) things all over the coolest club floors. Joint deputy single of the missive. http://www.highvoltagesounds.co.uk

 

 

Okay that’s your lot until the weekend – perhaps before – who knows – who cares. Next missive though those promised goodies from Fuji Heavy, Plastic Heroes, Calvoon, Smell of Trees, Mandala and the Authentic that should have by rights featured here plus a killer release from This Et Al which is so good it’s had us weeping like a child, something rather tasty by Monolog, a new spanking thing by Darren Haymen, an awesome release by the Arm which believe you me flattens everything in sight, something tasty from Spraydog and whatever other goodies we happen to acquire between now and then – oh yea not forgetting the second outing for Her Name is Calla – bet ya can’t wait – I can’t and I’m ‘writing’ up the bloody thing…..till then take care of y’selves – mark x

 

 

 

 

                               

Missive 94

06-04-2006

Singled Out

 

Missive 94

 

For Kelly and Mark – missing you.

 

Singled Out – finely selected and distilled nuggets of pop home brewed to the highest specifications to be deliberated, dispatched and discussed for your discerning listening pleasure – which in in belts and whistles terminology means we receive, we play, we write about (badly) and tell you what good shit there is about…..

 

No preambles this time cos we‘re like that and anyhow we can‘t be arsed….just the rekkids…..

 

Chikinki ‘You said’ (Urban Cow). Continuing apace with their enviable track record for concocting releases that bubble, pop and resonate their way into your life, Chikinki return to the fray with their first batch of new recordings since the sessions for the acclaimed Island debut full length – 2004’s ’Lick your ticket’. A limited release put out own their own Urban Cow imprint this two track offering crawls over you in an instant like a rash, the lead cut an infectious tangle of jerky strut like sharp as knives riffs bled through with wickedly irresistible hip hugging side swerves that prick your ears, give you short sharp heart seizures and have your feet going wantonly crooked while having the skinny tied community sweating hard to arrive with a suitable reply. An intoxicating hybrid of feistily carved pop eruptions spun into an riffing angulated frenz that ultimately sounds like a spiky Joe Jackson being swarmed by the dinky uncompromising simple turn of hook lavished melody as was once the cornerstone of New Musik. Flip over for live favourite ’Nasty Side’ – again another superbly delivered slice of crooked candy pop that if we didn’t know any better we’d say was a mutant offspring resulting from a quick fumble in an after hours studio take between Fonda 500 and Girlinky – all said and done file under wonky and wildly wonderful. Expect an whole full length of similar hi-fi trouncing ear gear to arrive around Autumn time. Recommended. http://www.chikinki.co.uk

 

Monolog ‘Stick tease’ EP (Tender). Previously unknown to us, Monolog or Mads Holberg Lindren as he’s better known to family and friends alike has been operating in his own self designed hermetically sealed playroom for the best part of 5 years now. As is the case with these things every so often the door to that playroom creaks open to be bathed in the glowing aura of the real world in return a few crafted electronic gems pass through as though in payment or suggesting some kind of archaic barter system still observed. These secret escapees are diligently collected onto vinyl and have been known to be well received finding loving homes into a select ever widening community. The ’Stick Tease’ EP features 6 such gems and form what is the 6th release in the Tendertronic 12” EP series which to date has provided previous residences for Karsten Pflum, Hakan Lidbo and Mango Delight. Squelching unwholesomely fattened up beats with an unmistakable air of mid period Wagon Christ as though fused with Muslim Gaze is what you get, an aural activity set that freewheels amid abstract tenses to sample from a richly edifying smorgasbord of contrasting generic delights to provide a curious though compulsive myriad of interweaving and shape shifting dynamics that you’d feel would be right up the crooked street of BBC Radio 3’s Mixing It boffins. As said 6 tracks contained within, the first thing that becomes apparent despite the sometimes ad hoc presentation and the disturbing knack for changing direction and focus abruptly is the way the sound-scapes appear fluid in texture with the melodic manipulations at times kept a hairs breadth on the side of the pop fence though daring to orbit the more finite territories of Tigerbeat6. Lindren’s use of sound manipulations as him exploring the darker confines of jazz and blending them with lunar-esque down tempo filmic scores replete with chattering beats and alien conceived designs, the wonderfully scratched though subtly exotic ’Travelsong’ is a bloated and dulling softly treading neo funk cosmic train journey that combines a sense of motion with a deeply rooted hybrid of native memories that flicker and dissolve into the ether. ’Headflush’ has an inviting cartoonish clangers- esque air about it that soon evolves into an icy symphonic transmission from the outer reaches of the cosmos, oddly dislocated as it craftily dissolves to something more of an assemblage of musical memories with a distinctly dub like lysergic edge – wonky – deliberately distracted. ‘Prinshaglgevaer’ has all the hallmarks of an ominous evil march of the typewriters being orchestrated by Add N to X – all teasingly romanced amid a gossamer web of tripping beats and glacially sounding shyness. All said and done it’s ‘Bomb Forecast’ that provides the sets tastiest morsel. An intensely beautiful after hours laid back jam that to these ears sounds at times not unlike a rewired take on Jonas Munk (Manual) replete with Durutti schisms. Pretty smart stuff if you ask me. http://www.tender.nu

 

Linda Draper ‘Needlessly’ (Planting Seeds). A release that we have to say without reservation possesses an absolute master class of exquisitely delivered song craft. Tall words you might think but then this 6 track collection lends itself to such a seldom witnessed breathlessly at ease and inviting nature that once accepted you soon find yourself hopelessly numbed and bewitched under its becoming spell. Linda Draper for those still in the dark has to date recorded three acclaimed full lengths, toured with the likes of Sunshine Fix and Boyracer and heralded as one of the leading lights by the anti-folk scene emanating from her home town New York. ‘Needlessly’ is in a way a kind of ‘bringing the greater public at large up to speed’ exercise as it features – save for the two Pinkie remixes – cuts culled from both 2005’s ’One, Two, Three, Four’ and 2003’s ’Patchwork’ full lengths. Produced by Kramer the reference points it signposts are clear for all to see, Draper gently dips her toes in territories more associated with Mazzy Star, the Delgados, Cat Power, Suzanne Vega and less obviously so – Nick Drake. For your entrance fee you are richly awarded with an array of lovingly considered slices of drifting and dust covered soft centred fancifully frail acoustically hued candy pop. To venture into Drapers’ world is to stumble upon a tiny undiscovered and undisturbed spot so far ignored and missed by pop’s cartographers, a place that’s been left, untouched and allowed to grow as nature intended free from distraction and the pressures, promises and plundering of a cruel uncaring outside society. Here Draper finds safe haven to weave her softly cured genteel craft and bruised personality, from the moment the wistful pop nugget ’Needlessly’ rears into view with its subtle dusting of keys the unrelenting beauty of Drapers’ melodic prowess sets about its task of ensnaring you in its longing headlights. Her chief and unique attribute is her ability to sound so loud when she’s so quiet, the compositions nakedly drawn resonate with a crushing crescendo without ever seemingly needing to stir from their resting slumber and with that in turn force you to gather in closer, none more so is this special knack best exemplified than on the enchanting ‘Super Zero’ and the divine ‘Candle Opera’. ‘Candle Opera’ is a towering and tearfully forlorn colossus of heart hanging arrangements lushly decorated by a angelic vocal delivery and a wintry like aspect reposed with an arresting stately church presence (of the kind that you feel the likes of Low might take one pace back to swoon in admiration at) – the point being that as spectral and hollow as it may seem there’s a sense of lushness at work here as though someone had given over a triangle and a basic two track recorder to Van Dyke Parks and Phil Spector and goaded then to do their worst. While on the attractively crisp but flooring ’Super Zero’ Draper, so it would seem, carves you to the core slowly picking away at your defences thread by thread with a sweetly ventured cortege of sun shining partly ‘so what’ whimsical dreaminess – kind of like being subjected to the delayed effects arising from a sucker punch delivered by a giant velvet gloved fist. Add in the kooky sounding ’The Broken Muzzle’ with its tip toeing spring showered strings and the timelessly honed and hurtingly honeycombed ’A little bit goes’ and you have yourself a remarkable and quite irresistible release of some measure. http://www.plantingseedsrecords.com

 

Staying with Planting Seeds for…..

 

1888 ’Abble Goose Dam’ (Planting Seeds). A debut full length waiting in the wings and due for release later in the year ‘Abble Goose Dam’ serves as a taster of what’s to come from this creative quartet. The two tracks that make up this ‘Abble Goose Dam’ release forms the first part of the ’Abble Goose Dam : Mad Abble Goose’ EP – part 2 of which you can apparently pre-order by contacting the ensemble via their website (address at the end) One of those releases that we’d have to say best filed under ’grower’. Unlike the previously featured Planting Seeds release – Linda Draper – opening cut ’Unconscious on the Telephone’ distinguishes itself by not being the most immediate cut you’ll hear for the best part of the year instead preferring to catch you unaware on first introduction yet being savvy enough to enlist more than enough dulled hooks and delightfully crooked melodic twists about its person as to suggest that a little patient time spent in its company may well reap rewards aplenty. Described by the accompanying press release as ’Let it be’ era Beatles dabbling in countrified psychedelics with Wilco – or at least words to that effect you’d be forgiven for thinking that said press release writer had perhaps partaken of some of those self same funny fags themselves when putting together their priceless prose, but once the opening noodlesome entrance that passes for pastoral post rock-isms dissipates then something rather special begins to emerge. Feasting on 70’s soft country rock snack bites, chief songwriters Rosenberg and Driscoll set about weaving a flavoured fabric that sees Moviola’s wintry honed country pop matrix ’Durable Dream’ restructured to incorporate elements of ‘Green Mind’ era Dinosaur JR with a subtle dashing of Mercury Revs’ ’Yerself is Steam’. The resulting soft centred mixture is then whipped up for a whistle-stop tour of the early 70’s whereby the influences of country / MOR forefathers – Buffalo Springfield, the Byrds, the Band et al become ingrained. ‘In a Car’ sees the band wearing their post ‘Dark side of the moon’ Floyd influences proudly on their collective sleeves and why not when it sounds this bloody good – Porcupine Tree eat your heart out. As an additional treat two of the three tracks that featured on the quartet’s debut ‘Panda’ EP show up on the flip. First up – ’Mountain’ just needs to be heard to be believed – up there in terms of excellence with various debuts by Butterflies of Love, Homescience and For Stars, a heavenly hybrid that takes its reference point from 10CC ’I’m not in love’ and bleeds into it the tranquil dreamscapes found within Lennon’s ’Number 9 Dream’, drop in a few hallucinogenic mind bending additives, treat it to a finite blanket of scattering beats and a host of nostalgic 70’s radio memories and leave it to bake for a few hours beneath a 60’s west coast glow and you have yourself something of a tingling treasure that your hi-fi will be hard pressed to let up. ’The clubs you’ll join’ which rounds up the set is more of your slow drip dried porch reclining Floyd -isms as though on some kind of vacation in the open country replete with a stack of wood cutters songs for company all the time being serenaded by swirling soul sapping hammonds. All in all a release so deliberately out of step it could sit happily alongside that lost gem from a few years ago by the Athens ensemble the Eskimos (’Something must be transmitted somehow’) – quite perfect really. Contact the label at http://www.plantingseedsrecords.com and for the band go to http://www.eighteeneightyeight.com

 

The Arm ’He Builds Bombs’ (Speedowax). Casual observers of these pages may well remember us falling over ourselves a little while back when this lot’s debut EP ’Fortune’ reared it’s head into view. Not only was it marked by being – if memory serves – housed in a gatefold sleeve but the vinyl inside was pressed on a rather fetching twin shade of white / clear vinyl by those nice people over at Speedowax. A colossal record all said and done that married all elements from math rock / jazz and punk into a raging discordant melodic brew. Several months down the line sees the Arm returning to the killing fields tightly equipped and chomping at the bit dragging behind them a quartet of speaker melting aural assaults of the highest order – the tracks that make up the ‘He builds bombs’ EP make the aforementioned ‘Fortune’ set seem like a pleasantly casual Sunday afternoon stroll in the park. What you get is an unrelenting heads down white hot mutant of bastardised pummelling blues bruisers that maintain their frenetic post / math / jazz / punk rock seismic onslaughts only this time the dials have been set to maximum in an attempt to achieve a nose bloodying point of meltdown. A viciously unrelenting collection, both the opening ’Bombs’ and ’Anoxia’ literally tear themselves from their imprisoned grooves to throttle the living shit out of you providing an unholy heavy duty mass of overpoweringly ominous aural apparel, the former cut in particular squirms restlessly, a gruelling pit of splinter inducing simmering puss venting fury lined throughout with bone cracking serrated riffs that snarl and growl as though the result of a head buckling union between the Melvins and Fugazi while the latter, the upbeat and dare we say it – up close and personal in your face aggression of ‘Anoxia’ fraught as it is amid its head melting array of deranged skin peeling landscape flattening dynamics could easily be viewed as the demented (and spiteful for it) unloved secret offspring of a seriously wired variant of the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – rampantly discordant. ’Lang’ catches you on the back foot with its dinky warped lullaby-esque electronic intro before charging out of its blocks, this time possessing a more focused urgency and pretty much still channelling the same staccato jazz / post rock odyssey as befitting both Don Cabellero and San Lorenzo albeit in a wired high voltage schizoid way. Personally though for me it’s ’Blat’ that proves to be the unexpected treat here and in the process revealing a more intimate and introspective facet to the band as a whole. Combining the vague icy grandeur of Budd’s ’Get Carter’, this down cast austere ridden template of an apocalyptic aftermath that’s beset by clambering chamber like atmospherics provides for a strange degree of optimism and with that perhaps the kind of you’d more readily expect to find doing the business on the Ochre label. For further listening pleasure check out ‘Rats’ (from their debut EP) now to be found scattering the pack on the latest Capsule compilation entitled ’Supersonic – Treats from the Heart of England’ collated by those nice people over at Static Caravan, Little Big and the ATP festival and featuring a host of goodies including gear by Pram, Modified Toy Orchestra, Krafla, Copter, Knives and much more. As to ’He Builds Bombs’ – joint deputy single of the missive – what else? http://www.the-arm.co.uk

 

Director ‘Reconnect’ (Atlantic). A thumping debut release it has to be said from Malahide based quartet Director. The blood pounding ‘Reconnect’ mainlines straight to your core leaving you in wild disarray, think of 80’s Antipodeans Icehouse c. ‘Primitive Man’ rewiring the Pixies ‘Gauge Away’ to create a buzz sawing lovelorn radio frenzied indie / pop mutant crossover. Borne out of an unforgettably insidious hypnotically catchy circular underpin that’s muddied, scarred and bullied by nagging stalker like hooks that erupt and explode at intervals with a sexually charged impatience that resplendently unfurls into a simmering uber cool. And did we say it’s slyly horny – no – well it’s slyly horny too. Flip over for a demo reading of ’She’s saying things’ which is quite frankly ridiculously infectious, vocals reminiscent of a less spiteful Cathal Coughlan and melody wise sounding overall not a million miles from the kind of smouldering Scott Walker / enigmatic noire-ish 60’s scented softly cured storytelling pop that the likes of Rialto and the Divine Comedy used to kick out for fun. Expect a whole albums worth shortly. Recommended without question. http://www.directormusic.com

 

Tender Trap ‘Language Lessons’ EP (Matinee). Woah – damn cute if you ask us. Tender Trap have been plying their brand of teasing guitar pop since 2001, a plethora of singles later and with one album already under their belts ‘Film Molecules’ and an eagerly awaited follow up ‘6 billion people’ due to adorn the shelves of the most discerning record outlets later this year they return to the fold now that the sun is out with the dainty 4 track collection ‘Language Lessons’ EP. ‘Talking Backwards’ a taster for the aforementioned forthcoming full length is three minutes of feverishly honed sweetly turned shimmer like 60’s inflected jangle pop that sees the classic indie glamour of the Primitives curvaceously diluted and lovingly draped by the crisp, breezy Francophile la la bachelor pad mindset of Stereolab all married to an audacious good to be alive melodic thread found casually basking in the softened haze of sultry summer afternoons and garnished with the kind of rash like infectiousness that jabs should at least you’d have thought been an essential requirement. Sweeter still ‘Unputdownable’ though trimmed of its fluffiness has all the teasing shyly wrapped pout of Sleeper at their most off balanced best while ‘Friendster’ is I’m hopefully right in surmising the first homage to the web world devouring My Space – a lazy off kilter, part kooky country part bewildered Strawberry Switchblade after partaking of a few funny fags. For me though best of the set is the curtain closing ’Como te Llamas?’ which features the Pipas’ Lupe Nunez Fernandez being invited along for a spot of vocal duelling with Amelia passing out superbly for a young and seductive sounding Debbie Harry and both being pitted atop a delightfully stripped down and wonky sounding slice of fried electro candy pop – kind of irresistible if you ask me. http://www.indiepages.com/matinee

 

Meredith Bragg and the Terminals ‘The Departures’ EP (Kora). Bugger – in our typically ad hoc ramshackle state we’ve managed to separate the press release from this cutie but then no worries because the last time we had the pleasure of sampling the delights of Meredith Braggs’ song wares it was with the arrival at our gaff of his lulling debut full length ‘Volume 1’. A wonderfully frail and timeless outing that bled references as far a field as Teenage Fanclub, Go Betweens, Damon and Naomi to Archer Prewitt, Tex La Homa and J Xaverre. Several months down the line he returns with his friends the Terminals to charm us with five more sweetly curling nuggets of introspective whimsical grandeur, this time around the sound is fuller, more fleshed out – where previously the compositions though touchingly infectious appeared like pencilled sketches committed to paper for posterity this time the detail has been fully realised and the spaces dutifully coloured in, what was skeletal before has now been fleshed out with an arresting abundance of softly draped strings, Wurlitzer’s, pianos, organs and in T J Lipple’s case – vibes. Listening to Bragg all these months later I’m reminded slightly of Kevin Tihista in the main, maybe it’s that underlying ability to sweeten the bitter tasting pill of heartache and having an unnerving knack to harness a truly disquieting pop dynamic in the process, whatever it is ’The Departures’ EP is as the title suggests a collection of songs about leaving – mainly a loved one (what else – Greyhound timetables perhaps – come on get a grip). The opening perkily vibed (so that’s where the vibes come in) ‘Empty Beds’ is perhaps the most immediate and hitherto radio friendly cut of the collection that sets itself apart from the usually wretched chime of heartache following the fallout of a relationship by ushering in a deep sense of ‘what shall I do now’ selfishness that’s marked chiefly by the line ‘what shall I do for Christmas’. Superbly beset by the accompaniment of lonesome dustily treated spectral atmospherics, a sweetly souring cortege of string arrangements and a casually reticent simplicity reminiscent of a stipped bare Joe Jackson this cruise controlling slice of prickly night driving pop is as arresting as it is audaciously cheeky. Bragg’s astute development and maturity as a song writer comes to the fore on the achingly blinded with optimistic hope against hope of ‘Talk me down’ which provides a numbing example of his ability to alternate between squeezing lifeless and caressing whatever emotions are in play and distilling the effect into a finitely wholesomely alluring bitter sweet yet ever twisting pop brew. The gorgeously unsettling and near naked battle scarred ‘Let’s start over’ is a monochrome epic in the making that pulls with the kind of resigned intensity that had he still been alive you’d like to bet that Roy Orbison would have masterfully revelled in with the help of the reclaiming productive talents of Rick Rubin. Elsewhere ‘Postcard from Boston’ will literally peel your emotions layer by layer from the inside out while closing the set a near perfect re-reading of Songs: Ohio’s ‘Two blue lights’ (the original can be found on their Secretly Canadian full length ‘Didn’t it rain’) replete with the haunting, world weary grandeur still intact should quell any reservations still held as to Bragg’s undoubted ascending pedigree. http://www.thekorarecords.com

 

Darren Hayman ‘Ukulele songs from the North Devon coast’ (Static Caravan). ‘Ukulele songs from the North Devon coast’ mightn’t be one of the most inspiring in a ‘yea let me have it now’ type titles that you’ll probably be faced with all year but then don’t let that mere fact detract from the tasty-ness within. The second of four planned releases in the ‘Holiday’ series (the first of which – ‘Caravan Songs’ much to our bloody annoyance we sadly missed and is now sold out as in gone, vamoosh, no more left etc..etc…). Darren Hyman for those out of love with music or perhaps preferring to listen to shit pop radio instead of the likes of John Peel between the years 1997 and say – 2001 was the one time front man for the criminally undervalued and much overlooked Hefner, variously described as possessing the lyrical wit / sarcasm of the Soft Boys yet welded to a frame more becoming of Built to Spill, in their brief time together the trio served up three full lengths including the fans favourite ‘Fidelity Wars’ and my personal love ‘We love the city’ as well as a shed bulging load of corking singles. We suggest if you’d care to take time out catching up and into the bargain equipping yourself with the beginnings of a pretty neat record collection then the current ‘Best of Hefner’ on Fortune and Glory is as good a place as any to start – also keep the ears peeled for a promised two disc set of unreleased gear entitled ‘Catfight’ due shortly. So where were we – ah yes Mr Hayman – second release in a series of four planned EP’s for those ‘can do no wrong at the moment’ Static Caravan dudes is strictly limited to 500 copies. Four songs contained within that’ll blow your cotton socks straight off and into the bargain serve as to wave a right royal V sign to certain quarters of the press. As is typical with Hayman as evidenced with Hefner, he doesn’t like to play by the rules, as a songwriter he’s always been so out of step with the rest of the pack that you suspect there’s a fine balance at work that suggests that he’s either just sheer bloody minded or indeed so ahead of the game he’s out of sight – it’s something that’s readily brought to bear on the weakest cut of the set – the limply throwaway ‘8 Bit World’ over on the flip (a tale about technology with 8 bit specifications – no less – which sorry to say – start mentioning Commodore 64’s and other such computer-speak and I’m fast losing the will to live) you can’t escape that nagging feeling that Hayman is taking le piss and toying with you big time. Whichever of the two proves to be the case it’s done him no favours to date. With a full length currently doing the rounds for those nice people at Track and Field entitled ‘A Table for One’ this dinkily breezy four track affair kicks off with the delectable ‘Rain all summertime’ and finds Hayman treading territories more associated with early career Of Montreal and all those cutesy twee like campfire pop gems that found loving homes on the HHBTM imprint, a rickety distillation of sea faring dizziness and 70’s themed wonkily soft country psyche set upon an old ‘seen better days’ jumble sale acquired beatbox that at times sounds like a pie eyed Gilbert O’Sullivan now vacated to the West Coast attempting to disassemble Mungo Jerry’s ‘In the Summertime’ and getting hopelessly tangled up, gorgeously off balance, lilting and craftily understated with an alarmingly mercurial pop underpinning. The lovelorn ‘The only kind of light I know’ is colourfully decorated throughout with an enchanting off kilter folky calypso like demeanour that’s not to dissimilar in style and technique as Toshack Highway and the more reclining moments from Tex La Homas back catalogue all metered out in a softly lulling hypnotic weave that dips beneath your defences and under your skin to do things that even certain Scandinavian lagers wouldn’t dare consider let alone reach. Best of the set by a Devonshire mile is ‘Hardcore no more’. Imagine the effect of mistakenly taking paint thinners to an old master for a spot of cleaning and that’s ‘Hardcore no more’ in a nutshell as they say. A scratched and introspective update of the Beach Boys ‘In my room’ if you like – nakedly threadbare but beautifully encoded with a noire-ish spectral appeal that’ll lay you right out flat and in doing so marking up another notch to the post deserving of the classic song craft merit. http://www.staticcaravan.org

 

Spray dog ‘Allison Blaire’ (Nirfa). Blimey – befitting of one of those ‘thought you were dead’ spotlights that usually find there way into various publications every now and again, been a fair while since we had the chance of hanging out the bunting and doing a private jig to the sounds of Newcastle’s finest – Spray dog – but hey here it is a new single and woo bloody woo indeed because it don’t disappoint – no siree it don’t. ’Allison Blaire’ is a suitably attired collision of cruise controlled effervescently treated laid back serrated riffs and shimmering fuzzy feedback that to these ears has all the trappings of a lo-fi barely arsed but all the same still shitting on the competition in slumber ‘Goo’ era Sonic Youth swapping studio notes with Quickspace. Buried just beneath the surface wall of softly dulling distortion (a la pre ’Wake Up’ era Boo Radleys) there lies an unrealised sun-burning pop gem slyly chomping at the bit. Flip over for the equally tasty ‘Cut on Down’ all at once cruel and crucial, a throbbing baby that engages in all manner of subtle discordant twists, off kilter hooks and a melody that’ll stalk the space between your ears for days – kind of ’A Catholic Education’ era Teenage Fanclub squaring up to Gumball with Pixies pretensions – unfeasibly fucking cool and don’t the blighters just know it. http://www.spraydog.co.uk

 

The Playmates ‘Smash Hits’ (Wrath). We fuckin’ love this even despite the fact that we were nearly prepared to dismiss it as some catchy as fuck eye pokingly overt annoying yet loveable Peter and the Test Tubes Babies meets Toy Dolls cartoon punk hybrid. The Playmates are guitar wielding renegades from an era when most sub three minute puke on ya, kick you in the bollocks and run away laughing punk pop was hastily concocted among friends during a prolonged evening session partaking of the fizzy stuff and written on the back of a damp beer mat. No fuss, pack drill or secret agenda just and quick in and out fumble in the sack of pop with no strings attached. More often than not displaying the limited virtuosity of the keynote two chord jab (the Exploited), if lucky and slightly more diligent – three chords anything more was fearfully venturing progressive rock or worse still a musician. Both ’Smash Hits’ and the accompanying flip cut ’Jackie Wright’ have been honed in this nostalgic fashion, the former a spanking lesson in the forgotten art of having a good time, a barbed fuck you to a unit shifting obsessed music industry which wryly manages to name check teen rag Smash Hits though sadly redundant now given its been rightfully put down – still it makes for a suitable nail in the coffin for a periodical so seemingly responsible for the evils taking place in today’s piss poor pop culture (NME – who said that? – ha ha ha). Blessed with a vocalist who sounds like he’s spent his formative years pickling his tonsils in Jack Daniels – a kinda cross between Leatherface’s Frankie Stubbs a la ‘Razorblades and Aspirin’, Jake ’Suspect Device’ Burns and Joe ’Complete Control’ Strummer, the Playmates literally nail your head to the floor with their puss venting mistrust on the fist clenching, three chord skull twatting ’Smash Hits’ – an unholy union if you like of the Parkinson’s at their most scathing in a fist fight with early career Senselsss Things, Secret era Chron Gen and the pre ’Hersham’ street cockiness of Sham 69 – containing the immortal line ‘…playing in a shit band, sleeping with your left hand’ and home to the kind of terrace chanting chorus rediscovered thought lost in recent times by the Libertines. Flip over and you get (not literally you understand) ’Jackie Wright’ a tale of love lost to a, how shall we put this, lady of no morals which for comedic effect manages to include the words knickers and virginity several times which should guarantee apoplectic fits of sniggering from behind the bike shed from our slightly more younger listeners of the parish. Rounding up the pack with the ’Alpengeist Remix’ of ‘Smash Hits’ which debunks the original melody in favour of something that to our normally well trusted ears sounds like the Clash’s ‘English Civil War’ being fed through a wonky sound generator with a mischievous Kraftwerk at the controls only to be sabotaged by, of all people, Air. And with that and just for it’s brazen youthful exuberance and the fact that we pogoed until we were sick – joint deputy single of the missive. http://www.wrathrecords.co.uk

 

Calvoon ‘Coming on strong 2 the maximum’ (Joyrider). Oh how we so disapprove of the lazy way people have of reverting to text speak shorthand – tut tut – okay maybe it’s an age thing but…….Okay then first things first – sadly another CD that’s been out for a fair while. Quick follow up to their storming debut ‘Come On’ from early last year – admittedly not as immediate as their aforementioned debut ‘Coming on strong 2 the maximum’ still packs enough of an ear cocking groove that bands currently and undeservedly being the subject of press column inches overkill ought to be blushing profusely for failing to match. ‘Coming on strong 2 the maximum’ is a spiky futuro pop dynamo with a rail buckling rollercoaster for a chorus and frankly more cute hooks than a three minute spine tingling hair at the back of your neck raising pop song should legally possess – probably sold by the barrel load since it’s been out and hell why not – just how can you resist the sneering nasally vocals, the spacey backdrop of whirring electronics and the ever so cute three chord punk pop chorus is pretty much beyond me. Flip side is even better – the sunshine loving kooky ‘Feeling the Feeing’ is your yokels making hay in the sun type affair, a kind of farm conference between the Farmers Boys (on speed), the House martins (with tunes) and Dodgy (with grow bags) and possessing the best farm yard noises committed to recorded tape since XTC’s ‘Love on a farm boys wages’ – and if I mention farm (damn) again in the same sentence I swear I’ll contravene so age old cultural no no – so fuck it – farm, farm, farm, farm, farm and er farm. Smart – http://www.calvoon.com

 

Pistols at Dawn ‘The Reaper’ (Self Released). Unless I’ve had a very serious bang on the head or else I’ve become completely detached from my reading abilities it appears from the press release accompanying this debut self released three track CD that Pistols at Dawn are the resultant offspring of an illicit one night stand bunk up between a she-wolf and the beast who must not be named (aw for fuck’s sake we’re no good with secrets – Beelzebub). Still as odd in a ‘hey where’s that number for the local asylum gone’ way and jokes about pissing up lamp-posts and baying at the moon aside you might at this point be fearing that this is going to places you really don’t want to visit. Hmm me to. But then it does sort of make a change from the usual ‘the band formed when all 77 of us discovered our undying love for chip butties and that we all had pubic hair, bad breath and were like – dur – totally lacking in the social skills department – we thought hey let’s form a band’ added to that the fact that our ever over curious nature got the better of us and instead of flinging said disc in an Olympic discus stylee manoeuvre befitting of Hercules – we actually put the fucker on expecting the worst. Not bad at all though and we do say that with obvious provisos that warrant the setting of a few parameters. Pistols at Dawn are not your average sucking the indie bosom band, the last time we had the pleasure of hearing so similarly rock orientated, yet breathtakingly mature sounding and hitherto out of step was the debut demo by Eye. In fact Pistols at Dawn aren’t indie at all neither do they sit comfortably with any alternative / garage / post punk, rock, jazz / angular / skinny tied / white funk / soul boys or whatever other currently in favour generic descriptions that the industry sees fit to tag onto bands by way of pigeon holing them that you care to throw into the ring. Instead as evidenced by this three track debut release Pistols at Dawn are your definite article classic rock blues gunslingers, any grumbles as to the music within is more readily aimed at the production (first and foremost) and that constantly overwhelming and nagging feeling that they are for now punching way above their weight in so much that it’s plainly obvious what they are trying to achieve it’s just that sometimes it doesn’t always come off that said a sympathetic engineer will stir them in the right direction and tighten up what has all the hallmarks of a truly bastard sound – right so much for the grumbles. ‘The Reaper’ opens the set – by far the most realised cut on show, if you ignore the subtle similarity to Tenacious D’s ‘Tribute’ then be prepared to be treated to the most amazing 6 minutes of retro rock you’re likely to trip over for a fair while. As you’d rightly imagine ‘The Reaper’ is thickly resplendent in gloomy apocalyptic tension so edgy that you swear you can touch and feel its deathly breath upon you let alone cut it with a scythe, the beckoning darkness almost wrapping itself around you like an impenetrable blanket, all the time the claustrophobic calm before the storm floorshow slowly begins to unfurl with an acute majestic malevolence, think Led Zeppelin trading souls with AC/DC at the same crossroads where Robert Johnson bargained some 70 plus years since. Then as though the storm clouds have passed a moment of mellowness peaks through before the onset of a spot of some gruelling nailing down the hatches hip grinding spine tingling boogie a la Queens of the Stone Age at their most fierce some drags you screaming to an inevitable finale. In sharp contrast the downcast sounding ‘Unique’ is an altogether more considered beast, quietly bruised and battered sounding for the best part it idles gently nibbling away with its curvaceous armoury of nullifying yet tingling chords which strangely (for some reason) had me recalling a cross pollination of both Bowie’s ‘Wild is the Wind’ and ‘This is not America’ only truly sparking into life 4 minutes in when the dynamic gets, shall we say, considerable more rattled. Bringing up the rear is ‘Take the Money and Run’ which I guess benefits immeasurably by being free of the full studio ceramics and instead is stripped bare to acoustics only – think upon it as a grooving country blues tinted after hours pub jam between Aerosmith and the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. Expect an album shortly entitled ‘Night Skies and Hooded Eyes’ – well worth seeking out methinks. http://www.pistolsatdawn.co.uk

 

Complaints, comments and death threats to the usual address at mark@losingtoday.com – snail mail 105 shaldon drive, morden, surrey, SM4 4BQ, UK – also note we have a super duper my space with bugger all on it (well yet anyway) at http://www.myspace.com/thesundayexperience – please feel free to drop in – much appreciated.

 

Well that’s it then for a week or so back again with all the stuff we‘ve promised over the last two / three missives (promise) – have yourselves a great Easter break and take care of yourselves.

 

Mark

x

 

Missive 95

09-05-2006

‘They’re record reviews Jim – but not as you know them’

 

Singled Out

 

Missive 95

 

Dedicated to Mark and Kelly – missing you.

 

Singled Out – adventures in listening and inadequacy in writing

 

Welcome my dears – yes that means you Fuzzy Phil from Stoke – the only traveller to these fair pages who mistaken hit the go button thinking his world was going to be fulfilled with a glorious celebration of the English language, carefully dissected critiques on music from the outer edges of the underground and a Road to Damascus like revelatory experience of journalistic excellence – bollocks to that we say just the same old inane shit we’ve been peddling for years now with the added guarantee that no one quite writes it this badly.

 

Okay kooky people who have accidentally stumbled into this strange looking listening parlour at the underside of the glowing radiant like orb that is pop the first of two – maybe three – possibly four – (come on be honest you thought I’d been sitting on my arse twiddling my thumbs since the last Missive) – what will be – quickly assembled missives – the second a vinyl only special should hit cyberspace in about two days or more possibly sooner given that I’ve written that one up before we started on this one – yes I know it doesn’t make sense but hey no one reads this nonsense so frankly am I bothered – like no.

 

Just to prove that its not all life spent in the fast lane – in fact if I was to compare my life with a car it would be the one up on bricks gathering dust – but I’m compelled to say at this juncture that the Singled Out record shed has a new mate – a cat no less – who it seems has adopted me of late and taken to eating me out of rented house and home – frankly his musical taste is a little suspect though he did show a nod of approval when we played the new Gemma Ray Ritual single and then let himself down by shitting himself when we inadvertently cranked up the volume when playing a little something tasty by Merzbow – took three hours to coax him from the ceiling poor mite.

 

Special mention time – not that we like to blow other people’s trumpets but have you seen that Stella Artois advert – the surreal one with the tag line ‘Reassuringly Elephants’ – well we like it – sticks out like a sore thumb amid all the Fat Mac adverts where the emphasis these days appears to be lettuce -fuck me did I miss something – you are still serving coronary inducing burgers, chips and coke – but in smaller portions for the same price – mind you hats off that is a priceless piece of marketing.

 

Anyway trust you had yourselves a great Easter and May Bank Holiday break and er with that the er – singles – a later than advertised missive due in the main to that rather multi national don’t give a fuck profit making AOL who from now on in will be referred to as Always Off Line mainly for the fact these last few months I seem to have more time on the phone to their engineers than actually online – who said they would have trouble finding an arsehole in an anus factory – still to make up for it a bumper missive (stop groaning now) this time around – you (un)lucky souls which given the fact it features over 40 plus singles will more than likely arrived in cyberspace in parts (damn I’ve already said that elsewhere haven’t I?) – oh well – bollocks – I think I’m losing it big time it’s the over exposure to fine sounds and damn do we have fine sounds for you – by the fooking sack load in fact – hence the reason why you might be confused by the flurry of single of the missives and such like (is this making sense? – no – good thought not – my head aches and so should yours) – if it makes it any less confusing just add in the odd single of / and deputy single award for every 9 or so records – oh yea contact gubbins at the very end of this delightful thesis……

 

Rekkids………..and opening the set with a debut label and ensemble release no less…..

 

The Collectors ‘Trainer’ EP (Concrete Plastic). Concrete Plastic is a new Brighton based label set up by one of the guys behind the Ai and SRL outlets to focus in the main on all the sub genres to be found hiding within the electronic underground so that hopefully in coming months record racks will be filled with all manner of tasty grime and hip hop infected goodies. The Collectors are the brainchild of Iain Law (Yunx) and according to the attending press release create ’funky, acid edged electronics influenced by the 80’s AI electronics’ and with that who are we to argue. Strictly limited to just 500 copies all lovingly pressed on 12 inches of sizzling wax with the first 100 arriving complete with an ultra tasty screen print, the Collectors stretch their malleable multi generic sound system to true tantalising effect. Across these four sublime cuts the Collectors dutifully step back in time to dip into their groove bag of cross pollinated dance / electronica / house / acid DNA strains and cleverly instil a human touch to a scene that’s often considered cold, sterile and alien. The immensely muscularly bruising ’Air Max’ opens the set, a hulking 8 minute hypnotic overture of head expanding floor thrashing throb packed to the hilt with grinding rhythms, spacey underpins and bone crushing bouncing beats that has all the crucial coalescing credentials of a dream team collaboration between FSOL, Biosphere and early career 80 State – will cause sizeable carnage on all the cool club floors this summer – an absolute essential gem. ’Waffle’ opts for sleekness over power and has you imagining an e fuelled Boards of Canada losing themselves in soft folds of skittering beats and late night chilled out vibes and exerting a deliciously crafty glacial futuro funk edge to the proceedings. Things get ostensibly more manic and curiously lighter in tonality for ’Stan Smith’. Again sounding like it’s been bitten by the funky bug ’Stan Smith’ could easily be an intelligently realised updated of ‘Shaft’, a slamming sampledelic monster that thickly mushrooms from out of the grooves incorporating the elements of early 70’s blaxploitation themes principally and seductively teasing them with an array of upgraded Studio 54 cast offs, all the time immersing the textures with a velvety liquid feel that at times spiral off into down tempo realms more commonly associated with the likes of Stereo lab – worth the admission fee alone just to hear the subtle essence of Marr’s riff on Stex’s ’Still feel the rain’ filtering through the ether. Last up ’Shell Toe’ is a tasty slice of heads down, hip grinding senses numbing lunar-esque house found reconstructing for fun old skool Warp vibes being rewired amid a face off between Derrick May and Jeff Mills – quite cool if you ask me. http://www.concreteplastic.co.uk

 

The Innovaders ’Acid Reign’ (Metal Postcard). Last time out they had us in a state of frantic frenzy with that rather neat DSICO (that no talent hack) ’City Stirs’ release – this time around Metal Postcard get to walloping the hi-fi with the aid of the Innovaders. The Innovaders for those unfamiliar (such as us) are duo Rocco and Brendan who it seems like nothing more than holding to siege all the trendiest underground spots with their amorphous genre splicing goody bag of acid induced floor shaking head set humping groove. ’Acid Reign’ is the duo’s third release following ’Feetlegshead’ and 2003’s ultra rare ’Make some acid’ EP which you won‘t be to surprised to hear we somehow missed out on. Featuring 6 cuts of what we can only explicitly describe as funky little fuckers – ‘Acid Reign’ opens with the superbly and vaguely Fall-esque titled ’Bedford Ave Mulletgirl Theme’ to reveal what is in essence your side serving of standard bearing back to the 70’s retro glazed cosmic electro pop with Kraftwerk meets Jean Michel Jarre crossovers all set upon a floor throbbing robotically circular locked down mid 80’s euro disko groove. Following in quick attendance the rather liquid lush ’L’Amore et le Discotheque’ which according to our super duper (about as useful as a chocolate fire guard) google translator means ‘the amore and the discotheque’ (you don’t say – give me strength) faffs about initially fooling you into thinking you’ve suddenly mistakenly stepped half way through into some naff continental film before getting its act together for a spot of eclectically svelte sultriness and allure laden sensuality ultimately oozing with the gliding chilled out pop laced elegance of Harold Faltermayer being recalibrated by an evensong Orbital. From ‘Innovated (from the drum machine)’ onwards things finally get a whole lot deeper in ‘acid’ content, as with the previously mentioned release by the Collectors, the Innovaders take dance to a cerebral level. Drone like mind melting hypnotically intertwining melodies are the order of the day, referencing the likes of Derrick May, Jeff Mills and Luke Vibert, the Innovaders draw heavily from late 80’s / early 90’s acid / house cultures and transplant into them the streamlined elements of primal electronica from the 70’s to create a veritable brand of intoxicatingly sweaty pumping floor action that’s piped throughout by incessant club beats that translates as a tripping collage of some merit – for further reading check out the ominously Shamen like ‘You’ll never get out of this club alive’ and ‘Shell Toe Plaza’ which casually nibbling at early career Wagon Christ. Furthermore check out the duo’s my space site at http://www.myspace.com/innovaders for a chance to hear their near legendary redraft of Morrissey’s ’Everyday is like Sunday’ which by all accounts is doing near illegal things at all the hippest underground joints across New York. http://www.metal-postcard.com

 

I Like Trains ‘ Terra Nova’ (Fierce Panda). You love trains too indeed so do we especially those of the Richard Branson Virgin type who think that departure at 1949 is the same as departure at 1947 – yea instead of flying balloons you bearded oaf you ought to sort out the fuckwits who run your train company. Sorry how did we get onto that – oh yeah Trains as in I love Trains, those thinking that this lot are a gagool wearing notepad and pencils standing at Crewe station type collective think again (but then perhaps they are bless ’em). ‘Terra Nova’ is the Leeds ensembles third single following the acclaimed and long sold out ’Before the curtain closes’ and ’A rook house for Bobby’ releases. Awash with reference sign posts from Chameleons right through to Mogwai, Workhouse and Longwave ’Terra Nova’ is as draining as it is epic, a monumental tearjerker that all at once chills to the core with abject despair and yet warms the heart with an unflinching sense of optimism. Bitter sweet in texture ‘Terra Nova’ greets you with a luxuriant glow of cascading chorus’ of softly unfurling chiming guitars that arc and shimmer suggestively teasing and taunting in spectacular wave formations colourfully decorating the sky lit ceiling that they seek to pierce. All the time solemnly tearing itself apart beneath the crystalline floorshow Morrissey like vocals smother themselves in their despairing resignation. Simply sublime. Flip over for the soul destroying ’Fram’ and feast your eyes upon your emotions as they slowly wither and buckle under the strain of each torn chord. Naked and stripped of the sonic dexterity of it’s flip partner ‘Fram’ is longingly slow – pensive, poised and quite possibly the most perfect thing never recorded by Arab Strap or Low for that matter. Joint deputy single of the missive. Album ‘Progress, Reform’ due end of June. http://www.fiercepanda.co.uk

 

The Delilahs ‘Let’s Tango’ (Jexed). We were going to wax lyrical about the fact that this second outing from Swiss all girl trio the Delilahs was a tad disappointing given the undying affection afforded to their gob smacking debut from a month or so ago entitled ‘This is it’ – how wrong we were – takes a few plays mind to shake the pangs of expectation but once it’s posited itself in your psyche ‘Let’s Tango’ starts doing strange things. Think of the surly allure of a super pop charged variant of Sleeper firing on all cylinders collaborating with the purring attitude of Elastica at their most brazen together mining for nuggets from indie’s deepest seams and striking pop gold. This Go Go’s gone street wise hussy is a fertile brew of softened spiked feline twists and cute coyness that’s charmed with sexy as fuck ear warming hooks aplenty. On the CD format you also get the (now mandatory) additional lead cut remix this time courtesy of Beole who strip the original of its flirtatious pretensions and braid it with a seriously sadistic yet utterly seductive electroid respray. For me personally the vote winner is to be found on the Breeders-esque by any other name flip cut ‘One nil at home’ – replete with cherry picked chugging chords, splintered riffs and a heads down middle section that soars wickedly cruising perilously between the extremes of being near shambolic and fearlessly sublime – so good I could happily die. Check out the bands website for a shed load of freely downloadable cuts that includes the nifty ‘the wind keeps blowing (and I keep falling)’ and ‘Trouble with Mondays’ which if tightened and smoothed of its raw shell by a sympathetic production has all the makings of a gem in waiting. http://www.thedelilahs.com

 

Cannon Ball Jane ‘Take it to Fantastic’ (Fortuna Pop). Try as you might you can never fault the ever reliable ears of those dudes at Fortuna Pop and the persistent knack at uncovering pop gold from the unlikeliest places. And with that we welcome you to the secret world of Sharon Hagopian, by day your nothing out of the ordinary primary school teacher – by night under her guise as Cannon Ball Jane one of the most talked about and acclaimed starlets to emerge from the Brooklyn underground scene in recent years. One album -‘Street Vernacular’ already tucked up her chalk dusted top which was greeted by fevered press as one of the finds of the year as well as featuring in many end of year polls and you can understand why because this double A side single is an immense treat. As with the Go! Team’s and last years Shortwave Set debuts there always arrives at some point a release that heralds the coming of summer and ‘Slumber Party’ is it. Lifted from the aforementioned album this immediately infectious babe is carved and crafted from bargain basement home made recordings of such calibre that you can’t help thinking (and chuckling to yourself) how much shame they steep on many of the high grade so called technically superior and financially richer recordings that these days pass for chart art. Decorating your listening space in a vibrant glow of fluorescent colours there’s a sense of child like adventure seeping throughout this divinely conceived cut, clearly on a similar wavelength as the Go! Team in terms of sounds, cultural mediums and style though at differing entry points, where Parton and Co opt for 70’s kid culture (spangles, ‘the Hustle’ and ‘the Double Deckers’) meets early 80’s street cool (McLaren’s buffalo girls, early hip hop, scratchin’ and inner city graffiti) Hagopian operates within a wider spectrum investing in an array of influences like some kind of generic chameleon and in doing so creating a smoking canvas that draws elements of salsa, Latino and lounge – simply put think Mo wax meets Stereolab and then some more. ‘Take it to fantastic’ is an exclusive cut a perfect partner to the Assemblers exquisite ‘Strung Up’ release (featured at missive 96), flirtatiously sultry and utterly yummy this booty shaking babe nibbles at Edwyn Collins’ ‘A girl like you’ – again only a side step and a skip ‘n’ hop away from the Go! Team but alluring for the fact it sumptuously folds the continental 60’s shimmer of St Etienne around a delicious array of sizzle like off centred down tempo manoeuvres. Absolutely gem like. Joint single of the Missive. http://www.fortunapop.com

 

Her Name is Calla ‘The white and the skin’ (Negotiation Music). We feel quite embarrassed here because we have had this release for a fair while and really based on how much we loved the ensembles debut release ‘Paraplegia’ (see Singled Out – Missive 75) – the scars of which through listening we still bear by the way – we should have already packed it up and bade it farewell with a sizeable amounts of appreciative wise words for you dear listener / reader to take on board, consider, digest and hopefully as a result purchase as your own. But then in the Losing Today record shed CD’s have a curiously knack of acquiring legs and scampering off to play with other CD’s in the process getting mislaid and temporarily lost – maybe it’s time for a spot of electronic tagging who knows – mind you it could be due to the fact that we are lazy bastards here – yep that’s the bunny. For those of you that aren’t familiar then a crash course introduction of sorts – Her Name is Calla are a Nottingham based trio who in their words play ‘acoustic progressive post folk’, have had one previously self financed release – the aforementioned three track calling card ‘Paraplegia’ – something which all good record collections should own. There’s an album currently in the mix and due shortly entitled ‘The Quiet Lamb’ as well as (that is if I’ve got this right) their official debut release ’Hideous Box’ (a track which incidentally featured on the aforementioned debut – getting confusing now this) later this month for the newly set up Negotiation Music imprint. Now to the single – features two cuts – ’the White and the Skin’ and ’Nylon’. As said previously what makes Her Name is Calla stand out from the chasing pack can be put down to three things – the vocals (which howl and swoop between differing degrees of desperation, anxiety and intensity – making you think the owner has been cursed with carrying the woes of the world on his back), the sparse darkly beset backdrops that they create and the atmospheric resonance they manage to concoct from what is an acoustic delivery which most sonically equipped ensembles you‘d imagine would find difficulty indeed replicating. Out of the recent pack of releases we’ve been fortunate enough to hear, HNIC share similar bruised wastelands as the Gemma Ray Ritual (whose current single features next missive) and Fire’s the Virgin Passages who similarly work to creating soured ravaged spectacles of sublime skeletal beauty. Though scratch a little deeper and it becomes apparent that they provide a direct link to both Tim Buckley and Tim Hardin while following Radiohead into pastures of unflinching psyche / prog despair (as ever more realised on the darker moments found on ‘Hail to the Thief’) though daring to continue the trail to territories that even Yorke would consider reckless and unmalleable. The naked sounding ‘The White and the Skin’ is an open wound, painfully exposed and weeping, through the desolate imagery conjured a scarred beauty steers to the fore slowly crystallising to evolve into a dust storm ravaged psyche Western of sorts with all the epic climatic grace of a bare boned Morricone / GSYBE. The Montreal sound and Latino / spaghetti western references continue into the gem like ‘Nylon’ – Set Fire to Flames being called to mind principally, intimate, hushed, solemn and bleak it provides for a magnificent canvas upon which a sense of futile longing presides, the nimbly worked almost flat lining acoustics reminiscent in the main to the more considered moments found on Neil Young’s ’Eldorado’ full length only serve to heighten the sense of hopelessness. Joint deputy single of the missive. http://www.hernameiscalla.co.uk

 

The Snowdrops ’Sleepydust’ EP (Matinee). More well crafted Matinee ear wear and reason indeed for snuggling up safe and sound under the duvet comes in the shape of the second single from the Snowdrops. Described by the accompanying press blurb (which was here one minute and now absconded the next) as an ’occasional collaboration of indie legends’ who between them have appeared one time or another in Lovejoy, Beaumont, the Pines, Glo Worm, and Blueboy amongst others which I suppose on that list alone accounts for their immense pedigree if not anything else. Five tracks feature here provide adequate evidence of the ensembles ability to tweak at your emotions from differing perspectives, all are carved with that timid and timeless shy eyed appeal and hitherto innocence that we’ve all come to expect from the Matinee pop stable. Two versions of ’Sleepydust’ here, your bog standard radio edit affair and a pretty nifty 12” mix which together sound overall like a laid back take on New Orders’ ’Run 2’ with the added accompaniment of a particular chilled Pet Shop Boys on hand to sprinkle their mercurial laced coffee table pop authority upon. The resulting thread work a softly curdling shimmer like slice of numbing hand holding gracefulness that glides seductively from the grooves into your headspace in the blink of an eye with all the crafted charm f the Field Mice at their most alluring found swapping notes with Fosca. ’Too cold to snow’ is – well brief and quite beautiful more than that we can’t really say other than to point to the title get you to imagine what you think you’ll hear and then have you play it and be blown away by the glacial magnificence of it all. ’The boy with the hummingbird eyes’ is, once you’ve got passed the obvious urge to sing out loud ’Boy with the thorn in his side’, quite a corker, vocals piercing from the ether this lunar-esque musical odyssey could easily be Australian David Bridie doing nimbly effecting covers of classic House of Love gems from yesteryear. Perhaps a taste of things to come whatever yet for what it’s worth our favoured cut is the fragile ’Teddy Dragons’ which despite it’s almost invisible blink and its gone 45 second duration is a dreamy cocktail of Yellow 6 and Vini Reilly sky colouring aural loveliness which in our gaff is mightily welcomed and indeed recommended – more please. http://www.indiepages.com/matinee

 

The Lucksmiths ’A hiccup in your happiness’ (Matinee). And staying with the Matinee label for the Lucksmiths, who seem to have been around forever ploughing the path of perfect pop. Again another release that seems to have become separated from its accompanying press blurb – but hey never mind because if our ears don’t deceive us and based on the handful of releases we’ve had the fortune of hearing this four track affair could well be their finest and most focused moment to date. Backed by three new tracks, the curvaceous ’A hiccup in your happiness’ is the second cut to be lifted from last years acclaimed ’Warmer Corners’ full length and sounds if truth be known not unlike a more mellowed variant of Hefner being coaxed and comforted by a sympathetic sounding Housemartins, a perfect antidote for all those hiding and hurting as a result of nursing a broken heart all peppered teasingly with a life affirming array of exquisitely sugared Motown derived seductive soul pop string motifs and sunshine beckoning brass fanfares – just how can you resist – pop doesn’t get much better. The theme of optimism in the face of adversity continues in the form of the nimble and simply breathtaking ’From Macaulay Station’. A tribute of sorts to one of ’the more unlovelier stops on the Melbourne rail network’ – acoustically drawn and braided by a lazy viola this baby hurts with such intensity that you feel inclined to embrace and smother it with reassuring kisses. And while your busy picking up jaw from the floor along comes the charming and sprightly sounding idle some ’Rue Something’ with it’s Gaelic folkiness to blow you away. Rounding up an excellent set ’To absent votes’ which has harmonicas aplenty – need I say more. Absolutely essential. http://www.iniepages.com/matinee

 

Uncle Ray ‘Miss you’ (Singer). Time for something that’s a bit of what can only be described as a really odd treat. Now we will openly admit from the outset that normally this kind of stuff isn’t really our bag apart from the odd Panda Gang release that ekes it’s way through our defences. Uncle Ray is none other than Ray Singer a 60’s teenage pop star turned producer (Average White Band, Easybeats, Peter Sarstedt, Child, Japan to name but a few). One album under his belt, ’In line with Mr Jimmy’ is a full length dedicated to his mentor the late Jimmy Miller the man responsible for culturing the sound of the Stones finest body of work [1968 – 1972] from ’Beggars Banquet’ to ’Exile on Main St.’ (who incidentally had earmarked the aforementioned Panda Gang for treatment though sadly this never happened due to the producers untimely death). With the Stones undergoing something of a critical renaissance with their latest album ‘A bigger bang’ its fitting time indeed to have some of their nuggets from yesteryear re-appraised. Bringing on board soul diva Imaani on vocals and Mel Collins the legendary saxophonist featured on the original ‘Miss You’ sessions, Singer does the almost impossible and reinvents two classic Stones cuts and into the bargain not only breathing new life into them but developing them from an opposing perspective. Stripped of its funk meets Studio 54 disco strut Singer stretches the mix and in doing so gives it an unnerving late night warmth and sophistication that‘s sublimely braided with a seriously hollowed yet infectiously chilled out arabesque sugar soaked string treatment all enhanced exquisitely by the sound of haunting spectral echoes over which Imaani seductively works her vocal magic to glide and caress whilst not forgetting the stupendous sax solo which trounces the original in terms of dirtiness. Flipside sees the team tangle themselves up in ’Off the Hook’. This oft overlooked nugget initially appeared on the flip of the Stones’ second UK number 1 ’Little Red Roster’ way back in ’64, Singer supplants the original Chuck Berry-esque beat pop accents with a cutely soft sizzling and horny off centred late night groove to tasty effect that by rights should see the coolest club floors falling over themselves in deep adoration. http://www.singerrecords.com

 

Scully ‘Who’s the Terrorist now?’ (Dust Up). Ah the spirit of punk lives on. Dishing out a right royal kicking to any would be stereo is the debut release from Deptford based trio Scully. This two track affair packs more hook laden muscle than an all star premier team featuring most of the current indie inkie luvvies put together. ’Who’s the terrorist now?’ is a boot stomping bastard of a track that throbs, rattles and blisters its way beneath your skin to fester gloriously. Replete with a sneeringly delivered pointed lyricism that packs an simmering edge rarely heard since the sarcastic and pained bearing everyman wordplays of a certain young Paul Weller, Scully assume the cocksure mantle of being the streetwise voice of the silent majority less so in the Clash type way (were they ever strictly working class?) but more sharing in the essence of the Ruts and early Angelic Upstarts. Offset with an insidiously mutated dance floor snarl and a subtle punkish reggae underpin ’Who’s the terrorist now?’ is a blood pumping blazing battle cry permeated throughout with a spiked sneer like arrogant strut that pickpockets your defences, ransacks your headspace and gets you into a dark alley to beat you into submission. Flip over for the equally rollicking ‘In good time’ – a prickling pogoing bastard of a cut that rewires old Wreckless Eric riffs and scars them through with such a serious pub like mentality that you swear you can smell the ale and just when you think you are getting the measure of it all the lighters pack in a chorus hook that ricochets around the space between your ears to claim squatters rights – an absolute killer of a debut – and with that joint single of the missive. http://www.scullyofficial.com

 

Back again shortly – take care of yourselves

 

Mark

X

 

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