Archive posting originally published on the losing today site ….. February 2004 …..
Singled Out 30
Lust for Life: 07th February 2004
Bye Bye Baby: 15th February 2004
Dedicated as always to: Kelly and Mark (always in my waking thoughts).
Hey ho, I’ve been popping champagne corks aplenty these last few days, which is in all honesty one, daft, and two, dangerous considering the tight confines of the Losing Today pantry. Black eyes and bruising abound I look as though I’ve done three rounds with Jack ‘Basher’ White, and for what reason you might ask for all this life threatening frivolity. Well it’s finally happening. After years of pitching it up big style to such a point that I was beginning to doubt there was ever a magazine in the first place let alone a re-launch project for the magazine, we are finally on track and counting down the days to the celebrated second coming of Losing Today.
Launch date is tentatively earmarked for May and press / media packs are currently being prepared for issue at the end of February. If you’d like one please send me all your details via email@example.com and I’ll add you to the mailing list, better still if you have plaxo then insert your details onto my contact list.
No definites for possible interview subjects as yet likewise with the CD compilation. The magazine will host over 100 album reviews, a fair few interviews, old favourite that is the label overview and Singled Out’s bigger brother ‘Tales from the Attic’ and that’s just for starters. As for advertising, a few of you have been in touch already, costings still haven’t been sorted out yet but hopefully they should be finalised in time to be included in the press packs, if you need any further information again just email me.
The site will continue running to supplement the magazine with an extended MP3 platform, please get in touch if you’d like use of this facility. Same with the news and external streams, these will be open for labels, bands and pr to upload material as they see fit, however this will be controlled by a password to the site’s database via consultation with your reviews contact.
And so to the singles:
Flawed ‘Late nights and stage fright’ (Half Inch). This killer three tracker from Manchester based quartet Flawed follows hot on the tail of the bands debut ‘Pleasure Seekers’ 7” from last year, which must have escaped under our radar, damn. Moodily thumbing a lift at the metal / punk crossroads, this three pronged release features ‘Late nights and stage fright’ which by all accounts has featured prominently in their live set, a ferocious mauling of shredded buzz-saw riffs fleshed out by a gruelling hazily locked down groove that’ll drive you insane. Precociously anthemic, a bit like the Manics with big testicles going hell for leather scrapping with Steve Earle’s ‘Copperhead Road’. ‘Bruce’s Bonus’ reduces the heat considerably, a more thoughtful alternative that still blazes with aggression and agitation just when you least expect it, belying an ominously brooding aspect interspersed with moments of Floyd-esque lucidity that reveals a depth in the song writing process rather than a hit them and run ethic. Our favourite though is the irresistible and charmingly titled ‘Fucker’, lazy, lolloping and possessing a wickedly hypnotic side winding bass line. Nestling in some semi-comatose twilight, despite the titles looming promise of an all encompassing carnage fuelled theatric display it instead pensively heaves, huffs and puffs with all the majestic grace of Verve’s ‘One Way to Go’ if that is, it was redone by a collaborative off shoot featuring Radiohead and Mogwai. Recommended? I think so. http://www.flawed.com
Human Television ‘Orange’ EP (Soft Abuse). Another three-track release that’ll drive you nuts should ever you come within earshot is the debut from Human Television. ‘Orange’ EP is the first of two planned EP’s from this waywardly pop-fixated quartet this year along with a pencilled in full length. Human Television is the new combo put together by ex Werewolves main man Billy Dowling, limited to just 500 copies the ‘Orange’ EP is a deeply satisfying shot of brief albeit cleverly worked prickling melodies that kick off with the stately ‘Tell me what you want’. Clocking in shy of the classic 3-minute slot, this barbed gem manages in its short gestation time frame to exonerate itself with enough clout to have you begging for more. A maddening arrangement of dragging chime happy chords sting slyly against a heart weary minimalist bass, behind its gloom groomed exterior a sense of euphoric grandeur peeks mockingly, even if it does have a sense of New Order squabbling amongst themselves in the studio during the ‘Movement’ sessions. ‘Automobile’ pays its dues to all those C-86 bands in particular early Wedding Present circa ‘George Best’, upbeat monotone punk pop replete with all manner of jangling guitars with a taste of the Go Betweens thrown into the mix for good measure, tempting just ain’t the word for it. Finishing the set with the hand holding sunshine contentment of the racing ‘Saw you walking by’ a more muscular variant of the twee family that had us all reminiscing what if the Caretaker Race had been found dabbling with the Orchids. All mighty fine to these ears. http://www.softabuse.com
Vinyl ‘EP’ (Self Released). Vinyl. Coolest thing in Reykjavik and maybe beyond only time will tell. You decide. Proving that there is more to life in Iceland than volcanoes, dark nights, Sigur Ros and the enfant terrible, Bjork, Vinyl come strutting with this quite fetching four-track declaration of intent. This EP has been mooching around the CD player for a few weeks now, apparently only available in Iceland, its provides for a swaggering four way offering of strutting rock ‘n’ roll proving that whatever Scandinavia’s growing garage punk culture can do then Vinyl will match with a delivery bulging with attitude and an underlying sense of danger. Like a grooving version of John Spencer Blues Explosion and more so Fatima Mansions but without the acerbic sarcasm but with the same attention to snapping twisted rhythms out to roast the backsides of the Hives, Vinyl have already supported the Foo Fighters in their home territory, suited and booted and fronted by a vocalist who apparently has a knack of provoking audiences now they are set to cane the Hi-Fi with ballistic riffs and hip swerving melodies. ‘Nobody’s Fool’ opens the proceedings, subdued keyboards lurch in the background letting the throat throttling strike force of blistering guitars and untamed percussion do their damage while a seriously potent twanging bass hooks you in teasingly. ‘Who gets the blame’ edges the ante, by several streets the best track here, impeccably persistent and forceful, a vibrantly anthemic mother of a cut, hot wired riffs needle away under the skin all marinated within a pulse sapping vibe that oozes demonic cool. ‘Miss Iceland’ is infested with the kind of primal sexual tension that even got me going, squirming alarmingly between densely populated swamp like restlessness and the kind of eye watering blazing urgency that’s likely to give you whiplash. Domination beckons methinks. http://www.vinyl.is
Pitty Sing ‘Radio’ (Orr). Pardon me but my hearing isn’t what it used to be, shot through out of years in aural battle with Discharge, Black Flag and Motorhead records, (the folly of youth, ho hum) but does that man really sing ‘fuck on the radio’ or is he saying the less ear filling ‘flick on the radio, either way ‘Radio’ is a without doubt the kind of cut that has so much wrong with it that in all honesty it shouldn’t work and yet against the bounds of taste it does. I’ll warn you now that this is as implausible a release as I’ve heard in many a long year and one that nearly got slung in the dumper pretty much within five seconds of the opening until the frazzled wall of guitars kicked away what was suspiciously looking like an ill thought out boy band smoozle with its greeting card of oooh ooohs, indeed, sacrilege. No information, no warning note, not a bean, nowt, just a three track CD which will drive you to distraction with it’s overbearing cheerfulness. ‘Radio’ uses as its template Marc Almond’s ‘Tears run rings’ and after that its anybody’s guess as the razored riffs glide glibly against pirouetting keyboards and ostensibly club scene dictated dynamic, while a bizarre laboratory experiment gone wrong manages to mutate the Buggles, Dollar and the Lightning Seeds, well you did ask. A ferocious pop tart and damn infectious with it. As if to rub salt in the wounds ‘On Drugs’ (we did suspect) moulds together Ryan Paris’ ‘Dolce Vita’ and Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Hungry Heart’, yeah it sounds bad on paper, but you’ll find this unbearably irresistible, the kind of thing you feel that Brett Anderson was aiming for on ‘Coming Up’, alluring string arrangements, deliriously feel good vibes, wide screened, anthemic and as instant a hit as any syringe filled intoxicant. And if you’re confused up to this point just wait for the parting ‘Robots’, which to these ears sounds like all of Bowie’s worst recorded moments being forcibly sent through the mincer to gang up and return to haunt him with Howard Jones surveying the carnage strewn landscapes. A towering track, both menacing and torturous, hostile and demanding, twisted and gruelling, this cutie just rocks to the point of hysteria. If I didn’t know any better the single of the missive. http://www.ormusic.com
The Ga Ga’s ‘Breaking America’ (Demo). Aw hell more apologies. I’ve had this CD sitting in the pile for ages now, not gathering dust, no sir, this baby has had more than its fair share of plays but has a cleverness that has been its ultimate undoing because we’ve had so much fun with it that we forgot the point of listening to it was so that a resulting review would be forthcoming. The Ga Ga’s provide three heaving slabs of potent rock on this their debut calling card, a curdling concoction of speed licks, massively glorious hooks that purr with primal appeal and the kind of kick ass coolness that rock has for so long seemingly left behind and which has more than likely to be found lurking in a forgotten case along with all the good old fashioned wholesome tunes. ‘Breaking America’ the lead cut is a dashing display of head shredding harmonious hooks fulsomely borne out of chunky rumbling guitar licks that stand swaggering on the intersection where melodic hard rock meets pristine power pop and blessed with an overall searing sting that clouts you into submission just for the hell of it. ‘Sex’ is the pick of the pack, serrated riffs fight amid a swamp like dynamic that’s packed with more strut appeal than a Paris catwalk and with that very reminiscent of the much missed Mansun. Bringing it all to a storming close ‘The Real World’ ducks and dives with succulently fashioned zig zagging vibes, jagged leads play search and destroy as the combined forces of the cut play out world war 3 on your hi-fi. Blistering stuff from a band to watch in the future, who needs the Darkness. http://www.thegagas.com
Stained Glass Heroes ‘Rodeo’ (Genepool). Hailing from Leeds, Macclesfield and Istanbul, Stained Glass Heroes are a four piece who do the cool wave thing with such precision that you’d swear they’d stepped from the early 80’s into the present via some hitherto unseen tear in the time fabric. This is a simply stunning single, maudlin yes albeit in an aloof tongue and cheek way, but stunning with it all the same. The best way to describe the lead cut ‘Rodeo’ is to imagine an early version of the Fixx mutated with the Comsat Angels with Psychedelic Furs’ Richard Butler doing vocals and borrowing Peter Hook’s lazy matter of fact twanging bass and to go off into the distance for a spot of fun smudging Visage’s make up. It’s numbing stuff, minimalist electro pop chilled within an austere cast, swirling analogue synthesisers etch a pioneer like path through the frosted atmospherics toeing in a seriously laid back lolloping percussive underpinning. Ultimately the sound of a bedsit fridge thawing out, damn cool (pardon the pun). Flip over for the expansive and superior sounding stately solitude of ‘City’, which could have easily been the resulting sound of the sessions for Magazine’s ‘Real Life’ if Dusseldorf’s finest (Kraftwerk)had gotten their hands on the tapes. From the timid opening, like acorns, this solemn sounding ice sculpture grows steadily into a massively strapping aural monolith, ravaged by shuffling beats and smarting delicately woven chords that glaze a chillingly sinister framework that towards the end melts into what seems like the brink of warping psychosis. Eerily essential. http://www.genepoolrecords.com
Kelman ‘Shut a final door’ (Demo). You know, I like to think that things don’t get past me that easily. This particular CD-r came with a very short typed note to the effect of, we are Kelman, a new band, hope you like the demo. Okay then not very inspiring, I even checked the jiffy bag it came in just in case there was more info or maybe a wad of persuasive cash, but alas, nothing. On closer inspection however I noted the third track was entitled ‘A new career in a new town’, that sounds familiar I thought and went off scratching my head trying to remember who, what, when or where. Baptiste, of course. Needless to say ever waking minute of the day has been spent playing this cutie since, okay a little lie but at least you get the drift. For those of you without the faintest idea of what I’m on about, lets just get this straight from the start. Baptiste were one of the great-unsung heroes in recent memory, a band who could reduce stone to rubble with their trembling refrain. A handful of peerless singles and a hastily conceived debut album spilled forth onto a society who either didn’t care or where not ready for the kind of emotional hurt that Baptiste could muster at the click of a finger. And then they were gone. Kelman sees brothers Marc and Wayne return to the fray with the accompaniment of Jane Cockroft to the ranks. The formula distinctly pointing towards the earlier Baptiste sound, three sweeter tracks you’ll be hard pushed to hear all year, each pressing and tugging tenderly on the heart strings with the kind of sophisticated nimbleness of doomed romance not heard round here since those all important Tippy Toe releases by the Tindersticks. Arresting stuff indeed, the cello augmentation perfectly compliments a colourful breeze to the frailly drawn compositions which themselves wither the senses with their imparting spectral heartache. ‘Shut a final door’ opens the set superbly dipping into its box of sorrow to share traits with early Hefner and a more thoughtful Go Betweens, passionately warming yet strangely distant, all at once sensual, sublime and intimate all the time inviting you to take time out from a cruel world to lose yourself. ‘Untitled’ pitches the hurt dial a little higher, the gently roving acoustics longingly caressed by the most delicate of rain drop like arrangements this side of Spector / the Crickets make way for three minutes of tear stained grandeur. Last and by no means least the crushing ‘A new career in a new town’. Three minutes and seven seconds never sounded so good, a stripped down take of the version that passed as their debut single, tormented and trembling, sublimely treated to an array of stinging strings if you can get through this without being reduced to a gibbering wreck then you can face anything. Some things are just to good to remain a secret. An essential release. http://www.kelmanband.com
Sabiba ‘Implant’ ( Demo). Okay it’s the usual folly of apologies and being brutally honest, I really do myself no favours, but then this release did come with a detailed press release under which on the section highlighted music style, stated worryingly, grunge. Now okay there was a time when grunge meant everything to me Sub Pop and AmRep where at one point a staple listening diet all those years ago, but then ‘you know who’ made it massive and the wheels of the bandwagon abruptly came flying off. And so it was with a great deal of trepidation that this CD even managed to get on the player. Boy was I proved wrong, this is a stonking release and for those who love their Nirvana a little more ‘Bleach’ as opposed to ‘Nevermind’ and their Mudhoney a little more frayed towards the grittier late 80’s fucked up sound with copious doses of Tad thrown in for good measure then this is for you. A howling arse kicker of a CD that features three cuts though my copy does dish out five, that said one of those clocks in at over seven minutes and plays all the three choice cuts backwards (‘One more chance’ sounding particular up for it), we’ve checked and there’s no satanic messages or subliminal advertising, though strangely we did feel an overpowering urge to down several pints of Guinness to quench an undying thirst. If there’s one thing that ruins the opener ‘One more chance’ it’s the annoying Atari sound effects, other than that Essex boys Sabiba nail that classic Seattle sound to the floor with some verve, coming across like younger sibling to ‘Sliver’ it’s a calamitous show of high octane pyrotechnics delivered with such brazen venom that it literally leaps from the speakers to smack you one. Like Seattle’s favourite sons, Sabiba underpin the mix with subtle melodic twists that are not to deeply buried amid grating riffs that’ll make your eyes water and a thoroughly determined meaty bass all replete with an abundance of shrieking howls. Awesome. ‘Capoteen Lover’ writhes uneasily like a cross between ‘About a Girl’ and ‘Polly’ but with that kind of ice cool sheen that the Flaming Stars exude, more thoughtfully cut showing a more restrained nature to the band yet it’s the final cut ‘Dancing Eyes’ that we’re sold on. A love song of sorts that starts out quite sedately if only for a moment, yet where most love songs have a tendency to woo with amorous charm the focus of their lurve interest, this is more likely to have them crapping bricks big style, screeching guitars and incendric drumming of the kind that makes you feel your standing in the middle of the army’s bomb testing site. Very touching. Crucial stuff. Album due soon, you have been warned. http://www.sabiba.co.uk
The Vexers ‘Gangland ballads and the death sex set’ (Ace Fu). Yes, yes, yes, damn we love this in our bijou pantry laughingly called the Losing Today record room, which suspiciously resembles a coat cupboard. Another band we’ve managed to miss out on so far are the Vexers, who to date already have one album under their collectives belts. Those of you into the current crop of post punk revival sounds i.e. Radio 4 / Rapture et al might be best warned to keep a keen eye out for this spiffing six track EP, because LA’s the Vexers kick out a neat line in austere grooving. ‘Vexers Radio’ admittedly borrows from Joy Division’s ‘Transmission’ but loveably equips itself with the line ‘they’ll never play the Vexers on the radio’ thus ensuring that if I ever had a radio show this cutie would get plays aplenty. For reference points think Penetration crossed with the Slits (with tunes) with the vocals supplied by a genetically fused Siouxsie and Lene Lovich all played out with an insatiably twang happy guitar. ‘Vicious’ just sleazily gyrates with an edgy suggestive tension all crowned with a wickedly wayward deconstructive gloss. Best cut ‘Waiting for the Lightning’ is darkly menacing and to these ears classic ‘The Scream’ era Banshees, had that is Severin / Siouxsie had the forethought to write it in the first place. ‘Love in the 22nd Century’ is one of those titles the B-52’s might have been expected to use, blessed with a twanging riff that Man or Astro Man…must be arguing about how they missed while exchanging blows on board their intergalactic space studio, ending it all in fine fashion with the shake down antics of the double barrelled helping of ‘TKO’ which wallows in doom disco glory, a sinister Chic being bludgeoned to death by a molten 23 Skidoo meets A Certain Ratio. More please. http://www.acefu.com
Merchandise ‘Beautiful morning for a bad day’ (Album Sampler). Both dippy and classy, how could we resist. Merchandise are duo Brad Wood and Conrad Astley who hail from Bolton who some where out there have already graced the good record buying folks with an album and a smattering of singles, none of which I’ll state categorically right here and now, that I’ve never seen or heard. Perhaps on the evidence of this four-track taster for their forthcoming album I ought to investigate, because this really is delightfully airey stuff, that’s quick on the ear and, if your not careful, one of those CD’s that’ll pass you by given that it so soft and un-intrusive in texture. Merchandise’s sound is stolen from sunny days serenely idling in the shade, with the gentle trickling sound of a nearby river for company and the colourful magnificence of England’s green quilted garden for a spectacular visual feast, in terms of wayward nimbleness it’s a subdued and loving Pavement being suggestively caressed by the Boards of Canada. The parade of noodling rustic chords swan elegantly in their own daydream fashion while the rustle of shuffling beats happily kick their feet in the shallow end of the lakeside causing shimmering ripples. Best cut of the four is the dreamy candour of the lively ‘For the Shore’, reminiscent of J Xaverre being brushed by the sugary floating space pop of ‘Sound Dust’ era Stereolab yet possessing that exquisite glaze of Cinerama as though force-fed on a diet of speed. If it’s something more blissful and willowy you’re after then ‘Beautiful morning for a bad day’ might be a perfect three-minute distraction, happily trippy and so impeccably fluffy and summery you can almost smell nature’s early morning countryside scent. Remember very early innocent sounds of China Crisis and the Pale Fountains well ’14.53’ does, undulating rhythms sensually stretched by delicately arranged tinkling ivories and subtle slide guitars combine to provide a warming and timeless take on Moviola. Dare you resist, somehow I think not. http://www.cityscaperecords.co.uk
Jens Lekman ‘Maple Leaves’ EP (Secretly Canadian). I consider myself pretty honoured and humbled that I get to hear all these records, so much so that I feel obliged to pinch myself at regular intervals. The feeling of an inner glow swells all the more when I get to hear releases that catch me unexpectedly zapping me like a bolt out of the blue. ‘Maple Leaves’ is one such release. Only 22, Jens Lekman is something of a household name in his native Sweden where he records under the pseudonym Rocky Dennis and where this particular release fell just shy of a Top 10 place in the country’s charts. ‘Maple Leaves’ may sound, at first, uneven, collecting together 4 nimble cuts that seemingly cover all the relevant bases of breathless pop to swoon gently and exude a graceful touch, while nibbling away softly at a host of reference points that include, among others, the early work of the Smiths, Ashley Park, the mercurial Prefab Sprout, Leonard Cohen, Lou Reed reeling them all within a delicate fabric concocted of soothing lounge pop overtones and softly weighted teasing orchestrations. ‘Maple Leaves’ wavers sexily, summer pop at it’s most splendid all metered out with a carnival of flutes and bells, all Edwin Moses arrangements being re-jigged by Morrisey and that’s just for starters as your senses are held prisoner by the dashingly brazen wide eyed optimism that’s just as happy to whisper sweet nothings in your ear as it is to clout you around your head with its over powering pulling power. ‘Sky phenomenon’ relaxes on the pace considerably, a thoughtful piano based ballad that shows up admirably the clarity and strength of Lekman’s song writing. ‘Black Cab’ could easily be the Byrds being done by Lloyd Cole impersonating Leonard Cohen doing Johnny Cash, jangle happy needling riffs and swelling strings collide for a truly irresistible taste of warming 60’s pop. Bringing up the rear, for me personally the best offering on show, the Velvets inspired ‘Someone to share my life with’ which probably serves to encapsulate in three and a half minute ever you need to know about trembling pop, simply gorgeous. http://www.secretlycanadian.com
Jerry Fels ‘Do you wanna be my girlfriend’ (Nobody’s Favourite). Having caused medium sized waves on the old Losing Today Hi-Fi last year with his album ‘I’ve made my bed and now I’m lying in it’ Mr Fels is back with this trailer EP for his forthcoming album ‘The Short Happy Life’. Four tracks clocking in at just shy of eleven minutes make this EP in terms of length close to veering into Pink Floyd territories given that his last album was so brief it was almost over in the time it took to have a short coffee break. More positive this time around in terms of feel / texture and lyrical content no more wanton thoughts of revenge on the new boyfriends in old ex’s life or gruelling excavations and deep analysis of failed relationships. Fels provides proof enough that he is fast mastering the goofy elements of the more outer fringe stars of the Elephant 6 collective, ‘Do you wanna be my girlfriend?’ taken from his forthcoming album really has a taste of Of Montreal feuding with the Busy Signals. Both ‘I don’t know where to go’ and ‘I want love’ both have that charming amateurish lo-fi feel that pits them with Daniel Johnston yet it’s on ‘The things you need to do’ where the worth of Fels begins to peep through with future echoes of what might be, a song for cuddling up in front of a hearty open fire, delicately sparse, haunting and in all honesty, deliciously fetching. http://www.nobodysfavoriterecords.com
Kohn ‘Bruce Willis’ (Western Vinyl). The fifth instalment of what sounds like an interesting series entitled Portrait put out by Western Vinyl whereby artists are invited to select a hero / heroine and provide a portrait in the form of a drawing, photograph or painting along with at least two songs inspired by that selection. So far the series has fielded releases by Papa M, Appendix Out, Anomoanon and Bonnie Prince Billy (none of which incidentally we’ve heard, damn). Release five is masterfully taken up by Belgium’s Kohn AKA Jurgen DeBlonde who takes time out from K-RAA-K label duties for a spot of homage to the death defying talents of Bruce Willis. Six tracks are on offer giving fair warning of the frightening world of Kohn’s abstract electronica which at times get to sound like a playful Plone duetting with Mount Vernon Arts Lab being redone by Stockhausen with the results ominously shredded and blitz into submission by Pimmon. ‘Du bist Alice’ greets you with a flurry of anger-ridden guitars that threaten to weld your head to the speaker before engaging in a teasing collage of solar symphonies and eerie crackle fuelled soundscapes. Then there’s the celestial intonations of the absorbing shuffle / blip happy ‘One dark night drive’ where things take on a wide screen sheen contrasted admirably by the jerky rhythmic dynamic installed on the curiously serene ‘Remembering the flashback’. ‘Bruce Willis is my hero; he keeps saving the world’ is where everything comes together in a perfectly formed bundle, repetitive loops curdle cutely with childlike lullabies into the mix clockwork rhythms chime and click with sugary splendour to ensnare you with their effervescent happy go lucky play time charm. Future releases in the series promised from Titania’s Mike Turner. http://www.westernvinyl.com
Analog ‘Drumbeats in my head’ (Lorag). Produced by Kim Fowley of Runaways fame, Analog is known better to his mother and friends as David Garol who having already cut his teeth in a number of Irish based bands (Guava, Fuktifino and Grasshouse) has now settled for the intimate comfort of this one man electronic project. Admittedly this release has been around for a fair while now yet don’t let that detract anything from its worth as this is a really smart release that veers more towards the soul pop side of proceedings given its slick arrangements and syrupy hooks. ‘Drumbeats in my heads’ is incurably infectious, given enough radio airplay and sunnier weather this has the potential to be one of those unexpected summer night monster hits, blending reggae beats and skanking guitars with a lazy eyed gloss along with visions of far flung idyllic tropical hideaways that call to mind a more laid back version of ‘Human Racing’ era Nik Kershaw. ‘Way out West’ though not as immediate still possesses that smouldering dozy appeal fusing trip hop beats with folk-tronic textures very much with Toshack Heighay in mind, while memories of the Beloved mooch within the stately ‘Altitude’, itself nimbly evaporating into the grooving to catchy by far ‘Sing Sing’. http://www.lorag.com
Party of One ‘Snap you like a Twig’ (Fat Cat). Two thumping releases from the ever-dependable Fat Cat label, the first a welcome return of Minnesota’s Party of One. ‘Snap you like a twig’ is taken from the bands acclaimed debut full length ‘Caught in the blast’, which strangely we missed, but then you can’t have every thing, can you? Party of One are one of those ensembles that are hard to categorize, which is mighty fine by us, their sounds, even when they are acting maudlin as hinted on ‘Star Sky Sierra’, seems to border on self destruction, a more than passing element of the unpredictability and frazzled mindsets lies at the core of their approach to song writing, so apparent is it that you can feel the songs almost falling apart at the seams barely held together by some hitherto deranged invisible guiding hand. Three tracks fill out this EP, each lurch with a sense of breakdown clipped with a violent hateful undercurrent, ‘Snap you like a twig’ flinches beneath a densely mutated groove that wanes between a simmering brooding and throws off splintered vibrant hooks that that sting viciously, reference wise try a bludgeoned fusion of the Nightingales and the Fire Engines. The aforementioned ‘Star Sky Sierra’ tempers the abrasive mood replacing it with an acoustic core that is still nightmarishly cast verging on collapse even in spite of the absence of friction. Topping it all off with the parting shot of ‘Venutian Siren’ which is capped with a seriously nagging early New Order like bass groove and dusted down to appear like a more visceral version of Jad Fair getting to grips with the Shaggs. http://www.fat-cat.co.uk
The Mutts ‘Missing my devil’ (Fat Cat). Not prepared to be out done by label mates Party of One, Brighton based quartet the Mutts follow up their self released debut ‘Hostage’ with this sterling trio of brazened tuneage. ‘Missing my Devil’ swells menacingly with a taut throbbing bass line that prowls throughout leaving a needling chorus of posing riffs to stab suavely elsewhere all the time recalling the punk r’n’b strutting grind of the much missed Godfathers and the saturating coolness of early Gallon Drunk. ‘Demolition’ ups the ante considerably nicking along the way a handful of MC5 riffs, it’s flip your wig time as a ferociously drilled calling to arms bears down replete with a bloodthirsty muscular locked down groove that incessantly bludgeons away with a determined precision. Last and by no means least the gritty rawk of the charmingly titled ‘Hard on for Jesus’, snapping riffs play metal blues as the vocals howl like a deranged preacher from the pulpit of hell. Consider yourselves well and truly warned. http://www.fat-cat.co.uk
Series 7 ‘Revolt’ (Demo). Losing Today house favourites Series 7 return to the fold with this scorching 5 track EP that if anything blows crater sized holes out of their last ‘Immediate Control’ EP which in all honesty had the old Hi-Fi rocking to the point of seizure when it came kicking its way through our mail box last year. Safe to say one of THE finds of last year and seemingly carrying a bagful of tunes so punishing that they are scrapping with each other to be let out and at you. ‘Revolt’ EP as said features 5 gruelling cuts of frenzied anthemic punk rock as if the propaganda messages on the friction heavy ‘Immediate Control’EP didn’t quite sink in then this quintet are more than happy to ram the words down your throat without thought or regard for teeth or any other obstacles for that matter. This time substitute charm for dominance and don’t be surprised as we were at first with the deviations into dippy blip happy electronica especially on the deceiving ‘Prologue’ that greets each and every track shortly before the point were everything goes ballistic big time. Series 7 provide a ferocious jaw dropping display of head on punk metal grind core fusion punch drunk with melodies and arse whipped with a scathing attrition based core that’ll have those of you holding dear dreams of a supergroup packed out with members of Sink, early Leatherface, Mega City 4 and, oh yeah Killing Joke weeping thankfully like babies. ‘Revolt’ festers with all manner of twisted incredulity, a searing white-hot cauldron of volatile riffs, untamed splintered and often-spasmodic rhythms so violent you’ll consider brain surgery without anaesthetic a seriously viable option. ‘Stolen Photograph’ has all the classic bearing of a particularly deranged Killing Joke and possesses one of the best chorus hooks heard round these parts since ‘Seeing Red’. If ‘Fire in the City’ fails to kindle any urges to throw yourself around the sound system like some manic adolescent then there really is no hope, its where the band veer close to Chron Gen c. ‘Nowhere to Run’, a band held close to heart, although Series 7 take the approach as though having been on a course of steroids. Bringing the proceedings to a close, my particular favourite cut, the fucked up ear melting ‘Seroxat Suicide’ which one minute has you hand holding in some nice picturesque greenery and the next ducking for dear life from missile attacks. Dangerous, demanding and desirable to any well informed record collection. http://www.series-7.co.uk
Magoo ‘Can’t get off the ground’ (May Go O). As perfect an example as any of what happens when you take your eye of the ball for just one second. Magoo were a band held close to my heart yonks ago when a little hitherto unknown Norwich based label by the name of Noisebox where causing a fuss and cutting a dash by keeping the old vinyl record racks buzzing fiercely with high grade tunes from the top of indie pop’s feasting table with both Magoo and Crest prominent players on the wave of optimism. Both tracks featured here are tasters for the bands forthcoming long player number four entitled ‘The All Electric Amusement Ride’, and to these ears the best stuff the band have released period. ‘Can’t get off the ground’ serenely charms and shimmers as though the Trembling Blue Stars on a heavy dose of happy pills decided they wanted to be the Carpenters who themselves just to be awkward fancied being Dolly Parton aided and abetted by the Walker Brothers. Simply arresting stuff, tip toeing ascending string arrangements dreamily spar with breezy wide open lulling folk-isms. In short the sound of angels dancing around the village may pole on a crisp spring morn, irresistible. Flip over for ‘Expansion Ride’, which we’ve played at a variety of speeds none of them sounding right yet all sounding great, kind of like the Buggles teamed up with Numan both on helium doing krautrock in an ELO stylee, might sound bad from the description but it certainly did it or me, damn smart with it. All in all deputy single of the missive. http://www.thesickroom.co.uk
Ikara Colt ‘Wanna be that way’ (Fantastic Plastic). My mam always told me to stay well clear of sharp objects, accidents are better avoided than encouraged. Ikara Colt are the sharpest objects in the knife box, unrelenting, daunting, ferocious and dangerous. ‘Wanna be that way’ is lifted from the bands forthcoming sophomore full length as yet untitled and features new bassist Tracy Bellaries. A frenzied punked up assault of some measure brimming with jagged riffs and a violently insistent bass groove that at times veers close to having the effect of the Fall jamming with a particular edgy Sonic Youth with Fugazi in the background trashing the mix. Akin to having your eyes gouged out and salt rubbed in the wounds, just watch this cutie play pow wow with your Hi-Fi and God help your speakers. A winner, obviously. http://www.fantasticplastic.co.uk
The Album Leaf ‘Seal Beach’ EP (Acuarela). Those who love their sounds a little more sensitive and, dare I say it, toe curling, may very well warm to this dreamy five tracker. Not a million miles from Minotaur Shock or Manual, the Album Leaf delight in providing warming electronic symphonies laced with the merest of emotional charges, buoyant with shuffling clicks and romantic heart pulling melodies that wash idly almost locked in their own day dream states. The Album Leaf is the side project of Tristeza’s Jimmy LaValle and this EP features five exclusive cuts just ahead of the promised full length for new label Sub Pop currently being recorded at Sigur Ros’s Icelandic studios. Contrasting greatly with the often-brooding melancholia of Tristeza, LaValle manages to inject an uplifting aspect into his solo work. On the enigmatic ‘Malmo’ sophisticated glazes of stately introvert pop soon lovingly evaporate into crystalline blips and soothing electronics that thaw with a passionate though distant glee. ‘Brennivin’ is bolstered by suave violin arrangements that give it a lulling sensitive sheen that’ll have you imagine New Order’s ‘Thieves like Us’ delicate twisted, teased and moulded by ‘Andromeda’ era Paddy McAloon, sensually hurting and somewhere else imprisoned in it’s own dreaming bubble. The title track ‘Seal Beach’ follows with similar fervour, enchanting and so intimately nourishing you can almost feel its chilly touch squeezing gently on your heart strings, imagine Boards of Canada and ISAN teaming up for snowball fights. ‘Christiansands’ and the last cut ‘One Minute’ both have the guitar returning centre stage for a serious spot of emotionally distracted picturesque rustic noodling. Recommended for those who love music to swoon to. http://www.acuareladiscos.com
Early Day Miners ‘The Sonograph’ EP (Acuarela). Same label and again more sensitive souls, this time Indiana based Early Day Miners who with ‘The Senograph’ EP serve up six exquisitely hurting compositions that see the band pitted somewhere between Codeine, Black Heart Procession and Low. Possessing the power to snap the hardiest of souls in two with their nimbly executed melancholic attacks, Early Day Miners illustrate perfectly their ability to wind you in with their soberly coated slo-core dynamics, the opening ‘Albatross’ glides solemnly, masterfully tripped with the lulling breeziness of a distant harmonica found furrowing in the background while to the fore slow looping rhythmic traits do their damage to constantly push and poke beneath the skin. Oozing with a sense of erstwhile thoroughbred class, ‘Bijou’ idly skips tenderly sounding like some kind of Johnny Marr like private intermission between Smiths recordings and having a Red House Painters moment to boot, gentle and determined, a bubbling instrumental that yearns, teases and probably says more than words could ever do justice to in describing such an intimate moment in time. Best of the set though has to be the six-minute closer ‘Misrach’. Sparsely assembled noise interludes are swept aside, their place taken by monolithic treated signatures that blow like frosted gales inside a deep set extra terrestrial cavern, awesome stuff. http://www.acuareladiscos.com
That’s it for a week or so, again apologies for the delays but transmissions should resume normally just as soon as we all manage to find the right ways up for our backsides and elbows. As usual many thanks for all those who’ve made these musings possible, you know who you are, and a very special thanks to all those who’ve taken out time to tune in.
Next missive will be with you in seven days (honest) and will feature everything we promised would feature in this missive and more besides, among the roll call; the New Tellers / EEM; The Fuses; Jason and the Astronauts; Headquarters; Airport Girl; Blue Jay Way; LKWRM; Nerine and Melaleuca plus whatever else falls off the lorry between now and then.
Any comments, illicit gifts, death threats, marriage proposals and any thing else you care to throw my way will be duly considered, placed in the in tray, considered again and most probably ignored / forgotten / misunderstood (delete as appropriate).
All the best and take care of yourselves, lots of fun and hugs,
P.s. Singled Out contains no additives, colours or animal fats. Any adverse allusions of grandeur are of your own making. Singled Out may or may not cause head aches, if so, cease all actions, retire to a darkened room turn up the Hi-Fi and repeat the dosage till afflictions pass.
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