Archive posting originally published on the losing today site ….. November 2003 …..
At last the final part of this particularly set to trilogy proportions Singled Out, cutting a long story short Singled Out 25 as is has been divided into 3 neatly bundled bits because, basically, it was too long. First part was posted 24th, second Wednesday and the third, well er, like here now, though admittedly day late due to being kept behind at class checking the spelling.
Okay for all the usual gory details as to the magazine and other house rules / requests please refer to
Wednesday’s Singled Out (Missive 26).
No real mad introductions as is the norm here you’ll be glad to hear except to say I’d like to mention my sense of loss with the very excellent web site DOT-BANDS going under due to lack of resources and public support, admittedly I was a little late to the site which offered a brilliant platform for unsigned bands to get their demos into the public domain, we wish Paul all the best in whatever he does in the future. If any of the bands who featured happen to be reading this please get in touch with at firstname.lastname@example.org
If your in a band, a manager of a band, a label etc….I’m also looking for MP3’s for the site, if you could either send me a CD-R or a web link to the MP3 I’ll give the track a listen and incorporate a review on a future Singled Out. Those of you who may have already done this at some at some point in time, please contact me again at email@example.com as for one, my outlook had been playing up quite recently and secondly I may have inadvertently over looked it, so either way apologies.
Furthermore as you’ll notice on the site we’ve got a features section for interviews, now I’ll admit I’ve been lax on this so far due to time constraints, however for new upcoming bands I’m prepared to give you 10 random questions, some serious some not so, I’d also need a biog and a discography if there are releases around, just general info like photos, you know the drill. Also if you could send a sample of music, whether on vinyl, CD, tape or web links at the usual email address and I’ll endeavour to get something on there about you. Can’t say fairer than that can I?
Lastly for this missive, I’d like to run an end of year poll, top three singles, top three albums and best band of 2003 and tip for 2004. Quite short and simple, we’ll cobble together all the votes and manufacture a chart to appear on the website just in time for Xmas. All entries to be marked for yours truly, multiple voting will be thoroughly encouraged.
Before we dive headlong into the final batch of singles, might be a good idea to list all the bands featured in this three-part missive. So then:
Missive 25 featured- the Buffseeds, 22-20’s, Daniel Johnston, Plastic Heroes, Raising the Fawn, Three Litre, Sigliosi, Belasco, Gold Cash Gold, Brand Violet, Milkwood and finally Surferosa.
Missive 26 goes like this- Girlinky, Sunburned Hand of the Man, the Happy Couple, Ambulance LTD, the Golden Virgins, the Boggs, the Greenhornes, the Hunches, the Dirtbombs, the Mooney Suzuki, the Kings have Long Arms with Phil Oakey, the Broken Family Band, Knife in the Water, Chikinki, the Keys, Eastern Lane, the Scratch, the Killers, the Dirty, the Stands and finally Le Motta.
Missive 27 below should read something like this- Mundane Music, Yellow 6, Portal, Kinky Disco, J Xaverre, Le Danger, Serenity, Amigo, the Koreans, Stars of Aviation, the Riders, Daniel Rachel and last but not least, the Earlies.
So without further ado…..
Mundane Music ‘A place in Mind’ (Heliotone). Second release from Manchester’s Heliotone label who, for those with short memories, had their first release by Anthony Atkinson reviewed amid much excitement in these very pages. Again the format is the same, limited to just 50 copies and pressed on 8 inches of lathe cut clear polycarbonate, on looks alone the packaging of the labels first release was something to behold. Mancunian Mundane Music serves up six tracks that prove to be anything but mundane. As crisp as an early autumns morn, curdling dreamy samples and rickety pastoral parochialisms are prised apart by gentle darting beats, at the heart of these six tender morsels lies a weighty lucky bag of sweet mouth watering succulence. The press release points a common touch with Four Tet and maybe that’s so but sprinkled ever so lightly with 4 treck. Mundane Music utilises a variation of rhythmic techniques, moods and cultures. On ‘Who’s talking to me OK?’ he fools around with an popping up-tempo disco led framework that puts you in mind of Stereolab jamming with Spyra Gyra and unexpectedly mutates craftily into a lovingly lazy slice of daydreaming rustic chords. ‘A place in mind’ with it curious mix of frozen refined elegance and idyllic funked up tropical chants is an aural equivalent of a basking palm tree lined oasis appearing outside igloo HQ, whereas ‘Sleep is a wonderful thing’ moulds together a dusty laid back framework with a frosted plink plonk lullaby underpinned by roaming beats. Quite delicious if you ask me. Future label happenings from Kimonophonic, The Love Letter Band and the Bear Quartet who will be next up. http://www.onoffonoff.org/heliotone
J Xaverre / Le Danger ‘Split’ (Static Caravan). This cute twin set isn’t officially out until the New Year but it might be worth dropping those dudes at Static HQ a quick line to secure a copy and while your at it enquiring about the extremely limited lathe cuts by Ward and d_rradio, which will be reviewed in all their ‘as nature intended’ glory in the next singled out. This release is part of the ongoing split series that has already seen Maps and Diagrams, Vector Lovers, Alkin Engineering and Naked Casino paired off to battle it out in the minimal electronic boxing ring. This time round it’s the turn of J Xaverre fresh from his sojourn along pop’s well-lit promenade with the recent long-playing debut ‘These Acid Stars’. The two tracks on offer here see a more homely and mercurial side to Mr Xaverre, the gorgeous cosmic fairground sound of ‘Skip’s Love Theme’ is romantically fluffy, a delicate music box charm liberally sprinkled with fairy dust, a bit like a frosty love sick ISAN. ‘Puget Sound’ retreads the lonesome life path so visibly detected on his debut album debut album, a very distant half cousin of ‘Saturday’, tripped with an evening song feel envisaging rocking idly on a cooling porch watching the sun disappear over the horizon. Le Danger on the flip I know absolutely nothing about but boy can they pack a smart electronic punch. ‘Days of our Eyes’ at it’s core rejigs masterfully, Tubeway Army’s ‘When the machines rock’ and shakes it up with a mean kraut rock armour while the overhead search light synthesisers survey the wasteland below picking off all life forms. ‘Milligan’ perfectly nails the austere fabric and paranoiac doom laden spirit of the early new wave / electronic scene in particular The Normal, Grace Jones or a more malevolent version of early Depeche Mode and beefs it up with an angular texture, unrelenting keyboards bludgeon out an insistently hostile flat-lined groove that appears hypnotically locked amid a monotone melody that takes refuses to take prisoners. Another winner then for the Static first team. http://www.staticcaravan.org
Kinky Disco ‘Disco Assassinator’ (Kinky Disco). And I’d have to openly admit that I’ve been smittened by three one-sided vinyl 7-inch discs that dropped through our mailbox from Kinky Disco in the last week or so. Absolutely no information at all other than a photo which I take to be them, one boy / one girl, and three pages of what should be a press release but reads like Raymond Chandlers dark detective Marlowe finding and losing a love interest. The music well, on a lesser note its simplistic, it doesn’t push the envelope to far in any direction, in fact it doesn’t have an envelope to push in the first place, however, on the plus side its an annoyingly irresistible mutation of electro disco gritted by an angular punk attitude. ‘Disco Assassinator’ adds a sprinkle of sensuality to the robotic sleaze pop of Add N to X and the Fat Truckers, oozing aloof cool it struts with a locked rock groove that sits watchfully nursing a determined monolithic machine rhythm over which femme fatale vocals that lie somewhere between Lene Lovich and Louise Werner snare you in. Pressed on red vinyl in case you were wondering. Pressed on marmalade vinyl is the doom laden electro beat pop of ‘Hanging by a Rope’, stark, minimal and eerily foreboding clipped with a mutated funk underscore this grim futuro ditty delicately balances elements of Joy Division / early New Order with even earlier versions of Human League and Cabaret Voltaire, quite splendid if you ask me. Last up and the best of the bunch, pressed on green vinyl the agitated heavy propelling electro psych of ‘Runaway Together’. Mind bending white-hot friction dynamics coalesce with spacey waves of hypnotic drones creating a truly schizoid fabric that at times wants to be an abandoned bubblegum pop song but instead is content to mess with your head with it’s wayward grooves. Essential. http://www.kinkydisco.net
The Riders ‘One more time’ (Kitchen). Now I’ll start off by saying that this is without doubt the strangest release we’ve had in a long while, and I’d have to admit, one of the sweetest. Seven frail and fragile home spun tunes recorded by the sounds of it on a rickety battered junk store guitar and a bruised and broken beatbox held together by the merest of gaffa tape strips and a distracted vocal that sounds deeply uninterested in the whole process. Unfair you might hasten to comment but in all honesty that’s what you get, and that is what makes this release so inviting, in fact so inviting you feel compelled to throw your arms around it and give it a squeeze. The Riders are duo Amy from America and Martin from Sweden, Martin was previously in By Coastal Café who released a handful of singles and one corker for Pickled Egg. The set ups pretty much the same short bursts, in fact so short they barely pass the one minute mark, delightful day dreaming lo-fi folk with an almost child like charm pinched by a shower of bristling beats, sound wise there’s a feint association to bands like Dear Nora and Lunchbox yet without the full on sound accompaniment, opening with the decidedly off centre ‘One more time’ itself possessing an oddly arresting hillbilly vibe that’s spent the best part of the day supping moonshine in Dixie land, quickly followed by the bubbling twee-dom of ‘Dirty Dog’ with its faintly sunny disposition. On the flip side the duo attain a more visceral element and come from behind their backdrops especially on the wonderful ‘Spider’ with its mooching deep-set groove that could easily pass for ‘Sunday Morning’ era Velvet Underground. Then there’s the oddball goofyness of ‘Oh my pretty woodchip’, which veers close to the Shaggs. Best of the set though is the clockwork like ‘Best One’ in which you can almost feel the spirit of Windy Miller, PC McGarry and the rest of the Candlewick Green folk going about their daily business. A puzzling but intriguing release. firstname.lastname@example.org
Stars of Aviation ‘Snow on Snow’ (Kitchen). And sticking with Lancashire’s Kitchen Records for the superbly glowing sounds of Stars of Aviation, a quartet who to date have supported the Clientele and Jet Johnson. Opening with the moving ‘Snow on Snow’ ambling frailly amid wintry landscapes, this sparkling gem oozes with a mixture of melancholia and romance, what first appears as a delightfully gentle folk smoulder quickly catches fire and splutters into a beautifully woven anthem of heart aching grandeur. ‘Illuminated’ shuffles in next, teasingly raw, nimbly calls up the lonely spirits that so eloquently breeze in and out of Relict’s occasional releases before twisting unexpectedly harnessing a curious sea shanty interior with the subtle brushing of mellow psyche. ‘Stars of Aviation are singing about summer, but is it going to be sunny, Carol?’ sees the foursome getting happier, and yes, sunnier. Full of little twisting melodic dramas, it takes to its fold varying elements of the wayward qualities of Elephant 6 collectives West Coast spirit and marries it to a glowing blend of rustic pop and idle carefreeness, its like imagining a playground setting with the Summer Hymns collaborating with Plastic Mastery. Ending with the dusty echoes of countrified pop and carnival-esque spiralling keyboards, ‘Love is only in your mind’ bring the set to a bubbling happy note end. Exquisite.
Daniel Rachel ‘Burned by the Wire’ (Dust). Another debut release, and an amazing release at that, with Christmas fast approaching this is one of those homely nerve jangling classic anthem that invites you to get spirited up with ample doses of fire water and emerge hours later misty eyed and thankful that you’ll live to see another sunrise. Daniel Rachel was one time member of Rachel’s Basement, a band we feel obliged though disinclined to admit we’d never heard of, I know don’t worry we’ve been sticking ourselves with pins all day to make up for the oversight. In 2002 he released his self financed debut solo album (the pins are getting bigger) and ‘Burned by the Wire’ is his debut single following on from support slots with such luminaries as Wreckless Eric and Billy Bragg. What can we say, tempestuous stuff. On the evidence of these two tracks Rachel shows a depth of confidence in his skills and song writing artistry, ‘Burned by the Wire’ is massive sounding with the same kind of euphoric glaze that Wylie achieves on his occasional forays to the studio, in between elements of Dylan mingle teasingly with Springsteen, a piano led tale about the dawning reality of adult life on child hood dreams, maybe you’ll shed a tear in agreement and a drink or three in nodding commiseration. Flip over for ‘Driving ‘round the bend’, and did we say Springsteen earlier, more so applicable here as Rachel kicks it up at the 50’s hop, tongue in cheek cockney barraboy vocals ala Steve Harley of Cockney Rebel, all rocking good humoured fun if you ask me even if it does veer closely to Meatloaf’s ‘Deadringer for Love’. Top stuff, recommended geeza. email@example.com
Portal / Yellow 6 ‘Split’ (Make Mine Music). Two artists who share and hover in the same ethereal tailspin of half-light where the earth ends and the heavens begin are Scott Sinfield (Portal) and Jon Attwood (Yellow 6), each known for their tingling frost tipped atmospheric voyages, here together at last on the same CD. Two tracks apiece followed by four collaborative works, now really they are spoiling us but then both delight in capturing sly snap shots of the ordinary things, things we take for granted, things we never bother to stop and think about, empty spaces that fit between the things we are going to do and the things we’ve just done, those momentary pauses, just expanded on an magnified scale. Cathedral-esque, personal, intimate, inward are descriptive words that would plausibly apply to both artists. Portal’s twin set begins with the moving translucence of the tear forming ‘Hold’, floating elegantly, a lone guitar sends out distress calls into the ether with the lovingly fragile vocals of Rachel Hughes responding to the panic, committing a caressing calm. ‘The first breathe of Winter’ softly wraps your emotions around its spindling fingers stretching them to snapping point, beautifully elegiac though hurtfully hollow and lonely as the delicate washes of a tortured symphony glide in the black void. Yellow 6 offers little in the way of un-tempo boogie on down happiness, ‘Threefold’ is deepset with a contemplative mood, culling a slowly weaving spy theme dynamic, it could easily appear on the credits soundtrack for a tragic detective hero whose character is deliberately incomplete, potted with darkened shadows and a sense of being at the edge. ‘The Sinking Sun’ is something of directional shift for Mr Attwood, his compositions more often than not have a cavernous almost inhuman texture, this time it’s as though he has left the bunker to sample the light, delicately bright, the chilling drone soundscapes are nullified by a gentle piano creeping with optimistic glee at the eye of the brewing ethereal sonic storm. The four collaborations begin with the prelude like ‘#2’ 4 minutes of delicately touching wave like spacey drones, tenderly testing the water, imagine the Clangers caught snoozing. ‘#5’ almost continues in the same frail way, carefully adding elements to the mix as though slowly waking from slumber, the hypnotic veneer almost inviting you to recline and drift away into an inner space. ‘#4’ the best cut of the collection basks in its own frosted splendour, chilly atmospherics usher in the ghostly apparitions themselves locked in states of suspended animation. ‘#3’ the final offering is the most precariously volatile of the four, a simmering duel of drone overlaps war against each other causing an edgy dynamic that imagines a bar room confrontation between godspeed, Roy Montgomery and Flying Saucer Attack, very neat indeed. An exquisite release all in all. Future releases for the label will see Portal, July Skies and the very wonderful Schengen coming out to play after the festive season. http://www.makeminemusic.co.uk
The Koreans ‘How does it feel?’ (Chlorine). Barely only a few missives back we were raving about this lots debut ‘Machine Code’. Now back again to quicken the pulses with their brand of android punk rock or as they themselves describe it, space rokk, the two tracks here gently nudge up the ante on the whole cold wave movement currently fist fighting with garage punk for supremacy as the latest retro fad. The Koreans sound bristles with electricity, feisty hooks and crooked twists regale throughout ‘How does it feel?’ as it smoothly darts with the borderline bravado of a boy band playing at indie rock and an arty ensemble playing the fashion card with powering panache. Whatever your personal viewpoint it there’s no doubt that ‘How does it feel?’ possesses a lunging bite and the kind of sharpened intensity that all the best three minute pop songs strive for. Flip over for the icy charm of superior slowed groove of ‘Talking to myself’ which rejigs about with Duran Duran’s ‘Sing blue Silver’ in fine style. Top stuff.
Amigo ‘Deep water / Shallow moment’ (Demo). And those of you who love your indie rock a little less diluted will fall over yourselves with this tasty little three track release from Bolton based quartet Amigo. Now I’ve played this a few times now and sure you can trace a few reference points from today’s fashionable crowd, yet dig a little deeper and the sounds of missing in action Manchester heroes from old the High spring to mind, and it’s the attention to melody that counts here. These three songs are all tiny little gems and each portray the bands depth and versatility, the acoustic ‘Road with Cyprus and Star’ is a crushing track that lies between the more introspective and lazy moments of the Manics, Alarm and Cast, tumbling rustic chords roll beneath the impassioned vocals to provide a heart breaking landscape. ‘Flame’ although not living up to its name, which lets face it title alone suggests that they are going to tear it up in fine style, instead what you get is a slice of smouldering sunny West Coast smoothness that traces within its sizzling tones the spirit of classic Velvet Crush, the Mayflies USA and Chris Stamey, arguably the sets best track. Last and by no means least the opener, ‘Deep water / Shallow Moment’, three minutes of tear soaked crucial driving guitar pop that stings as much as it warms and with that a pretty smartish demo that’s more than a match for most bands eliciting press column inches in the music monthlies. Contact http://www.amigoonline.co.uk
Serenity ‘The Wave’ (Demo). Now this really is a rocking two-track demo that has frankly had us cock-a-hoop in the losing today record shed. Serenity are a Plymouth based trio who so far have managed to secure hometown slots opening the likes of Muse and the Lost Prophets and proclaim that they are basically a hardcore act who’ve cherry picked elements of punk, funk, grunge and less frightening aspects of heavy metal, by that I take it they mean the hair and scary spandex, and fused it all together, and they don’t lie, okay there are a million other bands doing this at present, some great most not so, but Serenity bring a little something extra to the table in that they never forget the power of a melodic thread. Okay ‘The Wave’ with it’s serrated Killing Joke chords and doom-laden chill is a grinding assault that veers a little too much towards American rock for my liking, but it still rescues enough to bow out with a devilish kick. That said ‘Runnin’ is a totally different beast and by far the best cut here, again the principle is pretty much the same, a stalking laid back serrated KJ riff slices away at an almost, in places, metal funk groove that’s treated to a superb AC/DC soundalike vocal, further down the line the sound mutating briefly into a sleazy blues brawl, reference wise imagine Slayer slugging it out with Zeppelin with the merest trace of Green River floating in the dye, classy. http://www.serenityquarantine.com
And last but certainly not least, if we had a brass band we’d be giving it the old fanfare mullarky, so to save on the expense just pause a second and whistle one for the best release this missive by a very long margin….
The Earlies ‘EP4’ (Names). Aah the elusive Earlies, likened to some rare natural phenomena that maybe we should get David Attenborough on their case for they wake from their doze and peek all misty eyed from their hibernation every six months and bear grand gifts in finite quantities before sneaking back to the warmth of their hermetically sealed space. And this being about the right time for a wake up call they’ve left one almighty humdinger of a gift. I was sorely tempted to leave this until the annual bumper Xmas Singled Out Missive, aw but this is just too gorgeous to keep under wraps. The fourth EP from Manchester / Texas based The Earlies, of whom it has to be said, have brought such a joy to these musings this year with their epic sounding ’25 Easy Pieces’ and ‘Morning Wonder’ releases, and just when you thought they couldn’t get any better along come four more bouncing barnstormers to ward off the winter chill. ‘EP4’, (and okay this may smack of indulgence), houses four tracks any of which would for most bands be the pinnacle recording of their careers and that is not said likely, in a era of mass produced disposable pop the Earlies prefer to idly observe the scrambling traffic of commercialism from afar, existing in their own ethereal space creating miniature miracles of sophisticated sound. Beginning with the chilly ‘Wayward Song’, the collections centrepiece, finds the Earlies tip toeing gently upon freshly snowed paths, almost hymnal this aching gem is simply soul crushing it’s like an idyllic Christmas card scene or a child’s fairy tale book transforming to life, bristling frosted orchestrations bob and weave playfully amid the warmth of serenading flutes and lilting pianos happily tugging at the sapping strings, imagine Dream Academy’s ‘Life in a Northern Town’ being stripped gently and reworked by Spiritualised and a particularly festive feeling Beach Boys lavishing it with a homely nativity gloss. ‘Slowman’s Dream’ draws inspiration from elements of the Beatles ‘Across the Universe’ and retreads it with a pulsing processional spacey drone dynamic, ethereal and chilly don’t figure, this comes with it’s own pre-packed stalactites and stalagmites. ‘Sunday Morning’ starts out with a chiming sequence slowly unfolding into an intoxicating milky twisting cosmic groove with the elegiac motorik romance of early Kraftwerk and all replete with waves of brass adding a frisky spice. ‘Bring it back again’ comforts itself with a teasingly subtle psyche / kraut rock edge that underpins an unfurling lullaby-esque melody distracted by the sounds of distressed flutes and brass that all collectively fuse into a stupendous rollicking triumphant rocker. All in all without doubt the most heart warmingly brittle release you’ll hear all year, imagine all the classic bits of timeless songs from yesteryear all threaded delicately into one magnificent tear choking symphony, in its twenty-minute duration ‘EP4’ will, like a feel good cinematic masterpiece, entrance you, make you giggle, empathise and in the end happily weep with exhaustive relief, the hardest of souls will be turned to mush. Plain and simple, if there is one release you buy this week, this year, this life make sure its this, you’ll understand why the second you hear it, awesome is not strong enough a word. Contact http://www.roughtraderecords.com
And with that it’s time to bid farewell. As said previously I doubt there will be another Singled Out before the bumper Xmas write up, though I wouldn’t hold your breath as there might just be a sneaky quickie. The Xmas special should land on the site around the 17th December, I’ve no idea as yet as to what it’ll feature but you can bet it’ll be worth the wait, there will be a fair few Static releases that I can guarantee, plus a very special Yellow 6 release, Electric Eel Shock (a release which frankly has been scaring the cats in the neighbourhood, can’t think why), Lockdown Project, the Ga Ga’s, Indofrumbah, Analog, a belting demo from a Welsh trio by the name of Along Came Man, Why?, Flawed, The Future Kings of England and that’s just the leading pack.
Tune in again in about three weeks for the unmissable hair raising adventures of Singled Out as the record shed bows out with a belt busting bumper missive, as usual thanks to all those who’ve made this possible, no names you know who you are. Not forgetting a heart felt thank you to you, yes you, for reading this and spreading the word.
Complaints and things to the usual email address firstname.lastname@example.org have yourselves a great few weeks and don’t forget to vote or at least mail me with your end of the year thingies….
Happy hunting, take care,