Archive posting originally published on the losing today site …. December 2003 ……
The Xmas Bumper Missive
Stuffed and ready to go by 22nd December 2003
Recycled, regurgitated and replaced by 05th January 2004
I’m still recovering from the last epic word static three part missive, these days the old typing finger just ain’t the same these days. Before the festivities one or two slight apologies, firstly for those who were inadvertently mislead by the last Singled Out when I mentioned an end of year poll would figure in some shape or form, this alas was totally out of my hands so don’t shoot the messenger, something to do with technicals and Christmas cheer the likes of which I understand nothing about being stuck in the record shed with a quill, a pot of ink and a fast disappearing lit candle for company rambling endlessly about records. Safe to say if we’d have had a Losing Today end of year poll the results would have been something on the lines of:
Best Single: by a yard and a half the Earlies ‘Wayward Song’, catching fast on the outside the awesome Future Kings of England, quickly followed by Gold Cash Gold’s ‘Vultures’ tying for bronze with the Devastations ‘Leonne’.
Best Album: well really, there was no contest ‘Hail to the Thief’ by Radiohead was an amazing release, were prog rock became cool again and the band managed to please and upset fans in equal parts by cleverly setting up centre point between ‘OK Computer’ and ‘Amnesiac’. Second place a little tougher though I’d have to admit that Fiery Furnaces ‘Gallowsbirds Bark’ just edged it ahead of Fort Lauderdale’s ‘Pretty Monster’ with the Relict debut coming fourth in a photo finish.
Best label: no doubt here, Static Caravan floored the competition with more treats than an er, um, er..treat factory, lagging someway behind was For Us and even further down the track almost out of sight and tying for third place Bearos and Heliotone.
Best Re-issue: Estrus’ grave robbing CD re-appraisal of the Mummies, Angel Air’s immense 5 CD series of Mott the Hoople re-masters and the 3 CD anthology ‘Kiss me Deadly’ by Generation X.
Hopes for 2004: that Liverpool Football Club at some point manage to string together 3 wins on the trot and that a radio station is hard up enough (and maybe daft with it) to give me a radio show so that I can annoy you with some of the best sounds around.
On a final note all those who have sent CD albums in recent months, (as I think I’m safe in saying I’ve cleared the backlog of singles that is anything prior to the last seven days or so) if I haven’t been in touch or no review have appeared so far, then please get in touch as in the coming days I’m hoping to have a major purge of outstanding items in readiness for the new year.
Right all that leaves me to say, before we dive into the singles, is a heartfelt thanks to all the bands, labels, press reps and readers who have in, whatever way, shape or form made these Singled Out musings and in general writing about music, so worthwhile and such an honour, from the bottom of my heart I hope you all have a peaceful Christmas and New Year.
Without further ado, the singles, and what better way to kick start the festivities than with a seasonal stocking filler of top tunes from Static Caravan …..
Stags ‘At home with the Wilsons’ (Static Caravan). Opening up the year’s last missive with a single that can be yours just for merely writing and asking for one whilst enclosing the cost of postage, while stocks, that is, last. Stags are the Caravan house band and kick off the party in fine style with two shooting from the hip groovers. Opening with a cover of the Shadows ’33.45. Something’ which I have to admit never ever having heard, despite many childhood years spent rifling through my parents record collection, and who incidentally, were massive Shadows fans. Full to the brim and drenched with authentic 60’s Hammond organs, the Stags cut a fine and dandy splash across the sweating basement club floor sliding from the same direction as the Gene Drayton Unit combining twanging bass lines that twitch to funk out the laid back vibes, classy stuff. Flip over for ‘At home with the Wilsons’, if you like a homage to the Beach Boys and Jan and Dean, so warm you can feel the Californian heat bearing down on it as the Stags charge gracefully through all the Beach Boys early repertoire to pack in all the best bits in an awesome three minutes of sun fun, think ‘Surf City’ fused with ‘Dead Man’s Curve’. Brilliant.
Accrual ‘Aleph’ (Static Caravan). I’ll first openly admit that this has had slightly more than a dozen plays and that on the face of it, given that most singles here only get the cursory two plays and that’s yer lot treatment, might seem a little unfair on the competition. Yet it’s one of those lathe type things, and those with prior knowledge of lathes may well understand the exasperating need for patience, when if like me, your playing on something that barely passes for a record player with a stylus holding on for dear life by a single shred of selo-tape. Hard work I’m sure you’ll agree, but hey it’s Christmas so we’ll soldier on. Accrual as I understand it, feature members of the very excellent Marcia Blaine School for Girls whose previous Static single and appearance on the recent Expanding / Static split 10 inch picture disc (which I must add shame on you if you haven’t already acquired a copy) had us drooling for more not so long ago. This time the lazy beats and willowy clicks and crackles have been left at home as the Accrual boys usher you into their enchanted snow bound Grotto on ‘Aleph part one’ where sweetly tingling cavernous echoes glide and chill to do parade style salutes while hovering precariously atop wafer thin frosted sheets, entirely fragile. ‘Aleph part two’ continues the mini symphony; a flat-lining monotone drone imparts a solemn edge while in the distance impish courtiers weave an impeccably soothing spell of mystique as they gentle coax a chilling carnival-esque melody from the hanging ice drips. Bewitching stuff indeed.
d_rradio ‘Ice on the Path’ (Static Caravan). Again another lathe release and again more technical problems which I’m more inclined to think is more to do with me than the actual release. This clear vinyl poly carbonate record is limited to just 100 copies via mail order only, so needless to say cheques and pens at the ready because in all honesty this is a beautiful record that would charm any half decent record collection. Following their previous two outings on Static Caravan and Awkward Silence, d_rradio dust themselves down for some touching intimacy on the glorious ‘Perfect for the Fall’. One of those tracks that needs to be heard over and over again to appreciate its inner depths. Nimbly bathing itself in the kind of serene lonesome grandeur that would disarm the steeliest of hearts, pastoral chords gently flicker beneath the undulating whisps of subtle celestial atmospherics. ‘Ice on the Path’ steels itself with an air of Rothko / GSYBE, a lone guitar painfully carves out a pensively arrived at setting that could easily mark out a calm scene before the storm from a spaghetti western, under which static samples of disconnected voices and aural images play nonchalantly. Essential isn’t the word for it.
Vanishing Breed ‘The Seasons’ (Static Caravan). The final offering from Static Caravan comes in the form of a double seven inch package by Vanishing Breed or (and this is if I’ve got my facts right) Alexander Holmes as he’s better known to family and friends. Now as far as previous Static releases go this year, this one is up there with the Manual’s ‘Isares’ in that it’s one of those unassuming records, that really promises nothing, yet leaves you totally breathless in its wake. Four tracks then, as beguiling and yet, as puzzling as you’d ever imagine a quartet to sound. Beginning it all with the wonderful ‘Lovesick Snowman’ which from the initial stages is as though you find yourself watching in awe as a toy room comes to life, a daintily ringing music box pings invitingly before dissipating as a roving krautrock groove kicks in, the melodies slowly build in density charmed by clock work musical drips, imagine a stream lined version of the Meek produced Tornadoes hit ‘Telstar’ recalibrated for a solar hop. ‘Flowers open for flight of the Golden Butterfly’ initially hits in like something from ‘2001 A Space Odyssey’ before reclining to the sound of floating mind warping chord interplays, those familiar with the extended ambient sequence on Jean Michel Jarre’s ‘Magnetic Fields’ may wish to take note. Far more engaging is ‘And the woods sing with us as the trees begin to dance’ which really is a treat, moulding varying ethnic sounds from Africa and Australia into a glorious carnival-esque sound matrix, very much pertaining to the spirit of early 80’s Talking Heads with a Lou Reed like vocal yet all fluffed out with some impishly goofing electronics buzz-sawing to their hearts content, delicious stuff. Last up and certainly by no means least the incorrigible melodies within, ‘Bird at Daybreak’ is a musical free for all that manages to mix up rushing rustic delicacies, Camberwick Green and the Soup Dragon with a spot of hi hoing campfire cowboy singing before scattering to settle down to some instantly alluring lysergic pastoral pop. My copy has a bonus untitled fifth cut which in all honesty, as cuddlesome as it is sounds like Pengu in deep conversation with the Clangers on the way to a Sunday morning Church service. Highly recommended in case you needed reminding. http://www.staticcaravan.org
Selfish Cunt ‘Britain is Shit’ (Horseglue). Indeed it is, but us British do like to keep a stiff upper lip and not brag about the fact. Housed in a paper bag sleeve with a ridiculous limited pressing no doubt, Selfish Cunt were recently awarded the dubious accolade of being included in the Guardian’s list of most important British bands around today, in case you are asking they were number 40, top spot of course went to the Libertines. ‘Britain is Shit’ and for that matter it’s flip ‘Fuck the Poor’ is not going to beat a hasty dash onto daytime radio, nor for that matter will it be a firm favourite around the extended family table this Christmas, which, I’m inclined to say is a shame, because despite their wilfully off putting name, Selfish Cunt do mix up a neat sideline of the early minimalist electronics of Suicide dabbed with a touch of Throbbing Gristle but gelled with the spitting anti-establishment attitude and snarling conscience of the Pistols (especially on the flip) and the Dead Kennedy’s. Armed with only a beat box and guitar this duo don’t half make a rousing sound, ‘Fuck the Poor’ on the flip finds them pursuing a more angular and wayward direction, jutting splintered riffs roam menacingly with a volatile art rock armour that’s only pierced by the venting anger of disillusion of the part Rotten / part Marriott. Shall we settle for dangerous then? Essential but for all the wrong reasons.
Buzzcocks ‘Sick City Sickness’ (Damaged Goods). Ah the glowing sounds of punk’s own Lennon and McCartney, okay not quite but you can see where I’m coming from, Shelley always the more melodic love sick muse to Diggle’s more potently raw thrust. The Buzzcocks were always the poppier talismen amid punk’s brief flame, razor sharp hundred mile an hour punk pop love notes persistently buttress rammed the upper reaches of the charts, each single a gem and backed by, more often than not, one of Shelley’s more frayed slices of art pop, making the whole thing a veritable musical monies worth. ‘Sick City Sickness’ is taken from the bands current album ‘Buzzcocks’, I’ve not had the pleasure of hearing it yet but by all accounts it’s a corker of some measure. This track has the forty something’s kicking in with a cut to rival their best, a Diggle sung ditty pretty much in the mould of ‘Harmony in my Head’ offers up the kind of disgust that Shelley could never muster with similar conviction as Stevie boy is let loose to lambaste societies ills all measured up against a kick arse backdrop of jagged potent chords and searing riffs, classy without doubt. Flip over for an unreleased 1995 track from the pen of Mr Shelley which fleshed out with a bit more muscle could easily be a ringer for ‘Love Bites’ while tailing in the end is a live version of the smarting ‘Paradise’. All lovingly pressed on red / clear vinyl and limited to 2000 copies, as if you needed an excuse to buy it. Essential. http://www.damagedgoods.co.uk
Dan Melchior’s Broke Revue ‘It’s garage obituary’ (Troubleman Unlimited). It seems a regular thing these days I find, in that the strangest looking singles that seem to lurk ominously rather than cry out for attention are nearly always the best to be had. Case in point the latest stand off from Don Melchior’s Broke Revue, housed in a puzzling cartoon sleeve and pressed on pleasing to the eye purple swirl vinyl, this deceptive two track 7 inch cuts a neat sound between its unassuming grooves. Only 800 copies of this cutie with the promise of no re-presses, ‘Remote Control / ‘Like a Fox’ are tasters for the forthcoming second album from Brooklyn’s Broke Revue. Around for over 5 years now, this lot are friends of Billy Childlish, and like their esteemed acquaintance seem to have nailed their sound to the very roots of rock ‘n’ roll rather than merely aping poorly it’s descendants. ‘Remote Control’ sadly not the Clash favourite, has a seriously punk / new wave protest song appeal, a vocal that hits between John Cooper Clarke and Wreckless Eric doing Dylan, had that is, the pair of them had be brought up in NY all riding above a seriously stripped down boot tapping rock ‘n’ roll groove that shuffles casually like all those trademark early Sun record sounds. And to boot, addictive as hell. ‘Like a Fox’ on the flip is an instrumental that belies a teasing slinky lead riff that’s set off against stutter fire chords that when moulded together chemically react to set off a seething feedback squall that lies predator style sulking in the background falling away on the path to the finale to double back on a swooning countrified crest. As if you needed telling, recommended. http://www.troublemanunlimited.com
My Morning Jacket ‘Does Xmas fiasco style’ (Darla). And getting heart warmingly seasonal, traditional style, are the thoroughly under rated My Morning Jacket. Five tip top tunes with the feint aroma of Christmas cookies and twinkling tinsel all set to humble the heart and invigorate the soul, or at least something along those lines. Originally out in 2000, this dandy little CDEP sees the MMJ lot getting seriously sentimental in a tortured kind of way, standing around the fireplace to sing you songs that bring you to your knees by their sheer trembling stature alone, kicking it all off superbly with elegant softness of ‘Xmas Curtain’, flotillas of slide guitars breathlessly evaporate into some seizing heart tugging tip toe melodies that’ll have you glowing warmly while dabbing tears from the corner of your eyes. ‘I just wanted to say’ moves achingly, tripping with a snowfall effect that just gets emotionally denser the further it drives along, a bit like Neil Young with a serious case of the Xmas blues, again it’ll have you running for the tissues as its melancholic traits from the depths of despair take a hold and squeeze from you all the last drops of emotion like pips from a orange. ‘Xmas time is here again’ comes from a more jaunty perspective, skipping rhythms bolstered by pushing harmonies all lovingly powdered by subtle country acoustics, amid it all the haunting vocals of Jim James, whom you suspect with his hollow hurt filled timbre, would even reduce to tearful neglect a crowd of expectant children where he to open a grotto and sit as Santa. That said what they do to Nick Cave’s ‘New Morning’ is pretty amazing, retaining its sense of sophistication, MMJ endow their stately gloss to bring to play a numbing grandeur while best cut of the lot is the rousing cover of ‘Santa Claus is back in Town’ as originally done by Elvis, is treated to some sterling vintage effects and rescued from pop culture and rightfully back to it’s blues roots so much so that you’ll be double checking to make sure its not some long lost Chess label recovered nugget. Damn smart stuff. http://www.darla.com
The Unknown / Benny ‘Musical Xmas Card’ (Boss Tuneage). More Xmas gubbins this time from our favourite punkster label, Boss Tuneage. A split CD no less featuring Cleveland’s The Unknown and Benny who are at present finalising their second full length due early next year. This delicious three track CD is free for the taking for the cost of a few stamps for postage and packing. The Unknown get full of the joys of seasonal merriment to have a stab at Elvis’ ‘Blue Christmas’, everything goes according to plan until the rush of angular guitars add a spiky zap to the proceedings, try imagining Mud doing duets with the Ramones while Mr Setzer of Stray Cats fame adds some drop dead cool riffs to the mix. Benny bounce in with two cuts, ‘The Hokey Cokey’, yep that one which we’ll kind of skip not before mentioning the Toy Dolls. ‘The March of the Mods’ however is slightly more with it though annoyingly brief, an instrumental that has goofy pretensions that every so often festers up with short sharp shocks of buzzing menace, quite nifty in a daft kind of way. http://www.bosstuneage.com
Braer Rabbit / Puffinboy ‘Christmas Split’ (Foolproof Projects). And the festivities continue, again another release that can be yours gratis just by writing to the address shown below. This 3 inch CD features the return of two of the Missives favourite sons, Braer Rabbit and the irrepressibly addictive Puffinboy. Braer Rabbit kick in with some hypnotic mind shredding goof groove on ‘The Steam Roller March’, featuring guest vocals from 7 & 7 is’s Lord Nuneaton Savage. Building itself on a pulsing drone canvas, a stalking groove soon wavers in menacingly to provide a bombastic dance vibe that’s obliterated by a teasing zigzagging riff, imagine early incarnations of New Order run over by Grandmaster the remaining carcass shipped out to Malcolm McLaren for resuscitation. Continuing in similar vein is Brighton’s Puffinboy, it says on the press release, moves into the early 80’s dance revival arena with the tormenting ‘Silver Medal at the Winter Games’ and we can’t help imagining what records he’s been listening to. Still as crooked as ever, Puffinboy however does at least manage to get from start to finish without scaring the bejeezus out of us with his weird sonic meanderings, this time he simply opts for a mesmerising array of cyclical rhythms that swim invitingly all tooled up with a romping dance groove that you’d be hard pressed to resist. My copy has a third unlisted track that initially sounds like a beatbox having a seizure until it becomes clear that it’s a distorted crash, bang, walloped rejig of the Waitresses classic yuletide offering ‘Xmas Wrapping’, bloody good it is too. To get yourself a nifty slice of warping grooves just write to Foolproof Projects, 115 Whippingham Road, Brighton, BN2 3PF, England.
Pedro the Lion ‘The First Noel’ (Suicide Squeeze). As beautifully fragile as you could imagine a record this side of Low to be, and a record that’s crippled by it’s own sense of melancholia. Pedro the Lion’s sound aches with a numbing pain lifted gently by the interplay of softly woven arrangements and with that there’s even a Low cover snuggling quietly on the flip. The second in Suicide Squeeze’s Christmas series, and pressed up on snow white vinyl with a once and for all pressing of 3000 worldwide. Pedro the Lion get all seasonally nostalgia by covering Low’s ‘Long way around the Sea’. To say the least, magnificent, as PTD crush the spirits with their tortured tribune, the heart break made all the more explicit by David Bazan’s failing vocals and the daintily dusted minimalist melodic folk etches. Flip over to get the traditional Christmas Carol ‘The First Noel’ and it’s time to surrender, rendered in such heart breaking fashion that rather than rejoicing, Bazan’s interpretation make it sound like an epitaph while at the same time making artists like Will Oldham positively happy souls, that said it’s a mighty damn fine twin set. http://www.suicidesqueeze.net
Fuxa ‘We could be together’ (Great Pop Supplement). And a welcome return to the singled out fold for the Great Pop Supplement label, not one, but two excellently packaged singles. First up the very wonderful Fuxa, who to be honest we thought had given up the ghost long ago, in fact last seen here with the amazing head to head with Add N to X way back two years ago. As is the labels want, this release has a strict hand numbered pressing of 111 copies only. This time Randall Nieman finds himself accompanied by Drew Roberts and Jerry Hope on his latest solar flight into the realms of space rock. ‘We could be together’ is a real deceptive beauty, calming cosmically treated guitars furrow a silken tread of fluff filled ambient threads that are loosely tied into elegant bows by the courting rasps of warmly reclining flugelhorns, not to dissimilar it has to be said in both sound and context as Tank and their sprawling elegiac sound scapes. Over on the flip, ‘A little time alone’ provides a more colourful engagement of melody, initial reminding me of L’Augmentation, the weaving brass accompaniment adding a sense of sultry mystique against a looser backdrop of happily blessed out tripping chords that impress on you the urge to lay back and float with the moods evolving within to let the varying strands collide to an entrancing effervescent splash. Superb.
Kinski ‘I guess I’m falling in Love’ (Great Pop Supplement). Something of an oddity this one, but still delightful all the same. Again limited to 111 hand numbered copies, this acutely schizophrenic 7 inch comes wrapped in the foil that the medics apparently use to keep bodies insulated, creepy or what. Kinski are a Seattle based quartet and before you start shouting Nirvana, think again, as this lot have a nasty habit of chewing up genres and pigeon holes and spitting them out the other side without care nor thought. Currently up to their third album, the latest a collaborative head to head with Acid Mothers Temple, by there own admission their brand of instrumental electrocution encompasses many tram lines, with anything from space rock, sparse minimalism, krautrock to noise psyche filtering into the mix. ‘Guess I’m falling in love’ is a cover of the old Velvets tune, that if memory serves me right, lay gathering dust in the studio until re-discovered on the ‘Another View’ archive. A ropey bare boned treatment which gives it an almost nostalgic sheen, Kinski go garage and you’d be right to gather that they probably don’t even break into a sweat with this homage, at times leering close to nicking the riff from the Stones ‘Brown Sugar’. Still the flip side offers a much more cerebrally conducive affair. Now we have played this backwards in an attempt to locate the usual seasonal greetings from the dark one but so far all enquiries have floundered. ‘Hiding drugs in the temple’ is a puzzling cut, curious sound manipulations oscillate wildly with such vivid potency to make it appear like a theremin (or for that matter a truck load of theremins) undergoing a nervous breakdown. Dippy isn’t the word for it, too unstable to be hypnotic yet wearily odd. Try imagining the Clangers having a recreational break bouncing on an inflatable castle after a more than wise intake of speed and hallucogenics and then speaking in tongues, and that is close though not close enough I suspect to describing it. Certainly worth the effort in tracking down as soon as possible. http://www.thegreatpopsupplement.com
Repomen ‘Moonlight Driving’ EP (Repo). This lot first came to our attention for their excellent cut on the recent Slow Noir compilation ‘Sunset : False’ which found them burning up their three minute slot with the razored panache of prime time Buzzcocks. This four track CD EP is the bands fourth self-released CD since their inception in 1996, and a cracker it is too, although those expecting the same adrenalin charged treatment might be best warned in advance that this release is by and large pretty mellow in comparison. That said it does at least offer the chance to see how this lot cut it as songwriters. Opening with the boisterous ‘Moonlight Driving’, which bears more than a passing nod to the Inspiral Carpets ‘Joe’, the trademark Mancunian 60’s Hammond washes being replaced by a roving piano as the sharpened hook laden guitars and crashing drums racing backdrop act together to push up the tempo and execute their damage, all smartly rounded off by some ferocious sax playing at the finale. The first of two acoustic tracks, ‘The Finest Line’ has a longing Southern tinge that reacts joyously against the pulse racing twee dynamics that themselves suggest Orchids / Go Betweens records grace their collective vinyl collections, even sparing time for a passing nod to the Beatles. ‘Untethered’ offers a much more intimate enterprise revealing a tender side to the bands make up, softened acoustics delicate aided by the merest of strings bespoked with a lulling tear choking breezy anthemic gloss. Holding it’s own at the rear ‘Delta Blues’ with its rag time blues grit has you imagining the Pogues in drunken stupor slavishly coming to grips with a Tom Waits / Nick Cave / Gallon Drunk back catalogue, quite demonically smart really. http://www.geocities.com/repomenuk
Charmless ‘Action’ (Isota). More mirth and merriment abound in the record hutch with a new slab o’ wax from Isota, as contrasting as you can get from the last release we reviewed from this label which was by Will Oldham. Limited to just 500 copies all pressed up on brown / purplish vinyl, Charmless are an agitated bunch in deed who by the sounds of it have recorded this in a basement and haven’t suffered sound wise for the experience. ‘Action’ just spills forth like a charging army, needling riffs explode to life at various junctures making the whole thing something akin to a melodic minefield, and did we mention anthemic sounding, the sound of youthful angst bottled in it’s purest form. ‘Hot Flower’ on the flip has that sugared Mitch Easter touch nuzzling among the grooves in the initial moments of the track yet when it flares up the sound evolves into something more bitingly potent that is prone to zap like static shocks and recalls at times early Senseless Things grooving with Snuff. A bit of a corker then. http://www.isotarecords.com
Thumpermonkey ‘Alpha Romeo’ (Self Released). Thumpermonkey is none other than Michael Woodman member of the excellent Brand Violet whose ‘Alien Hive Theme’ had us all whooping and bopping around the record shed only last month, and just before you start squirming excitedly at the prospect of more surf-tastic flavours pouring forth, think again. This really is an odd release, and when I say odd, I’m talking in terms that it makes the recent Ronis Brothers album seem positively poppy, and that, believe you me, is no mean feat. So odd it is, but then odd doesn’t mean it’s bad, or does it? With titles like ‘Making bombs while listening to Leonard Cohen’ and ‘Schrodinger’s Cat’ how could we honestly resist this fractured five track CD. The former is a curious fusion of stalking menace and manic ‘Pure’ era Numan replete with all the metal Reznor hooks furiously colliding savagely amid a violent storm of rage and irritation, the attrition pausing only momentarily at various sections for some trippy spacey fluffiness at which point things get briefly daydream like. ‘Glow in the Dark’ initially recalls the rapping part of Curve’s debut ’10 little girls’ doing its stuff over a succession of confused electronics which without warning rear up to create a decidedly schizoid dance groove with what sounds like B-52’s Fred Schneider doing the distressed vocals, into the mix float dismembered segments of string arrangements and mellowed space sound bites. ‘Your Humble Savant’ is an eerie avant garde cut that has the feel of the Cravats being messed up by the Virgin Prunes about it, surreal lyrics unfold an eerie drama within, all set to a haunting backdrop of macabre wide screened gloss, uncomfortably psychotic. Going all thrash metal for the rampant ‘Schrondinger’s Cat’ sort of like an unholy union of Extreme Noise Terror, ‘Antmusic’ era Adam and the Ants and a group of passing Druids, all plugged into the mains supply by handy little clips to the genitals, a track which in all honesty needs to be heard to be believed, the work of a warped genius, or just warped. Your call. Calming down for the seemingly gentle intimacy of the piano led ‘Pets’, no shocks or things jumping from out of the corner here, just a quiet sinister-less Moby-esque finale. Recommended, without doubt, though I’d leave all the lights on and play only during sun up. http://www.thumpermonkey.com
Nebula ‘Atomic Ritual’ (Sweet Nothing). Woah, Sweet Nothing go all metal with two mighty releases from Nebula. Previously unknown to me seems these LA based noise niks have had three full lengths out already. Lifted from their current opus, ‘Atomic Ritual’ is a killer of a track and the kind of thing that so called rockers around in our midst today would wet their pants if ever they come within earshot, bad tempered stoner psyche which, if reference points are required, then try Hendrix doing lead with Mudhoney or imagine classic Woodstock strangely dropped upon Seattle now, rampant riffs ricochet with wild abandon after emerging from the hazy 60’s primordial pool that greets us at the start, a monumental track that lashes out at intervals and then recoils into the safety of its own lair getting toked up. ‘More’ is pretty much the same but more so ingrained with an up yours rock attitude, squalling guitars take on the early 70’s Stones druggy groove and give it a shot of bitching MC5, a murderous cut and with that, one of the best releases put out by Sweet Nothing so far.
Nebula / Winnebago Deal ‘Split’ (Sweet Nothing). I’ll start by saying that this split is not for the feint hearted. Winnebago Deal from Oxford go head to head with LA’s Nebula on this limited to 1500 pressings split, and what a release it is: You want riffs, you got them. You want noise, you got it. You want the kind of blistering heavy weighted grunge / psyche rock that many promise yet disappointingly fail to deliver, well this has it all in bucket loads. Winnebago Deal as with the White Stripes prove that you don’t need the traditional three / four pieces of a combo to play around with rock ‘n’ roll. After a serious of releases for Fierce Panda (damn which we haven’t heard) and on the evidence of this riotous volley the duo have proven that two is more than adequate to make incendric noise. ‘Taking care of Business’ just rattles with menacing lunges sounding as it does like classic AC / DC mixing it up with early Nirvana had they chosen to listen to Thin Lizzy rather than the Pixies, all power packed with growls, razored riffs and a thoroughbred line of wholesome rock ‘n’ roll. Nebula on the flip refuse to lie down and make up the numbers as ‘Strange Human’ twists and contorts amidst a swamp laden dynamic to create a head pounding dirty drug groove that sways without mercy, respite from the burdening intensity only coming briefly during the decadent daydream sequence whereby everything gets tinglingly spatial and wholly high before the surreal picture is trashed by fragmented forlorn memories of Hawkwind cutting a thrust towards the blazing finale. So f***ing cool.
Electric Eel Shock ‘Do the Metal’ (Mighty Atom). Time to nail down everything that moves. We’ve said it before on previous reviews of these Japanese noise bearers but if ol’ St Nick thinks he has all the best tunes, then he’d better do a quick check in the basement cos Electric Eel Shock have ranshacked the lot. In what’s been a busy year for the band, touring constantly, heck I’ve missed all their London shows, getting daft to the point that if they offered to play in the record shed, you could bet your last dollar I’d be struck down with some illness or else be called away on some must be done by yesterday task. ‘Do the Metal’ is by far the loudest single we’ve had in a long while, pure mental stuff. Two of these cuts, namely ‘Do the Metal’ and ‘Japanese meets Chinese in the USA’ can be found on their recent tour sampler ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll monster from Japan’, still sounds as scary now as it did way back in the summer when we first encountered this lot. ‘Do the Metal’ is manic noise rock done at the speed where metal begins to bend, fiery licks and jack-knifing riffs very much in the bludgeoning blues spirit of Jon Spencer Blues Band except this time shredded by the intensity of Iron Maiden at their most vicious. ‘Japan meets Chinese in USA’ is more like it; a riotous stutter groove viciously jabs painfully while an unwavering dense groove pays a passing nod to early Nirvana. Daunting stuff. Completing the set is ‘I wanna be a Black Sabbath Guy, but I should be a black bass’, don’t ask me? EES go garage and end up setting the damn thing on fire. Gritty unforgiving hooks lash out to reel your sorry ass in while the sonics are left to mash your head with a violent pastiche of, yes you guessed it, Black Sabbath and AC/DC. Electrifying stuff.
The Future Kings of England ’10:66’ (Backwater). Hold onto to your hats and wrap up well because out there in the air is a chill and it’s descending quickly from Suffolk, England. In its tread the rush of doom and despair cavort explicitly, its icy wrap, hollow, enigmatic and deadly. No I haven’t swallowed a Sherlock Holmes monologue, words like epic and masterpiece don’t at all appear appropriate when trying to sum up the three instrumental tracks lurking with intent on this, without doubt, crucial CD. Think GSYBE in full flight, Mogwai at their most awesome, Levitation at their most majestic. Then think again. This transcends all, now think of Porcupine Tree at their most potent, add to that obviously, Pink Floyd c. ‘Umma Gumma’, Tangerine Dream at their most warped, Green Milk from the Planet Orange and the mighty Acid Mothers Temple. Future Kings of England saunter magnificently amid the debris their sounds commit. Formed from the ashes of Carpet Ride last year, this debut release is limited to just 500 numbered copies in a choice of blue or grey sleeve, what I suggest is that if any of the bands named above move you, then you must have this. Call it whatever you like, subtle elements of post rock, okay agreed, but it’s the way the melodies veer towards stoner / psychedelia / progressive rock, FKOE’s dwelling symphonies engage a colourful apocalypse, sometimes rearing up fearsomely at others blissed out in a druggy haze. ‘Lilly Lockwood’ the epic sub 9 minute closer to the set flirts and teases with it’s beckoning chords, edgy but alluring, when it at last gets you the mood changes dramatically to one of spacey hypnosis, the doom laden melodies instilling a lysergic nightmare sequence. Once passed the imagery clears to the sound of calming heavenly choirs, superbly executed. ‘October Moth’, the shortest track at barely over three minutes is sweetly peppered by sugary atmospherics that burn radiantly and recalls Dreams of Tall Buildings at their most lulling. All said and done you can’t beat the stupendous ’10:66’ which opens the set. Just under 8 minutes of gliding space rocking, drugged up psyche freak outs, apocalyptic atmospherics, exquisitely drawn late 60’s vibes all twisted together to weave a mind melting psychosis. Awesome stuff. http://www.backwaterrecords.com
And with that the last of 2003’s Singled Out, managing to cover 300+ singles throughout the year, hopefully there have been things scattered about them that have changed your life and given you the urge to visit those darkened forgotten corners of specialist record shops marked vinyl.
Ending it all as always with a sincere thanks to all those who’ve made these musings possible, have yourselves a very peaceful and fun festive period.