Archive posting originally published on the losing today web site ….. April 2004 …..
Dedicated to Kelly and Mark, always in my thoughts….
Spanking and ready to kick big botty 17th April 2004
Woah like it was only five minutes since the last Singled Out, and blimey our kid it was, we love you so much that the losing today record shed has been a rocking-a-plenty to the grooving tunes of the kids with the tatty hair, suspect pants and odd complexions. By way of an apology for being awol there will be a flood of missives in the next day or two, all lovingly prepared and thoughtfully written and I hasten to add for no spondoolies, ha ha pay peanuts get monkeys that’s what I sooo-aaa-aa-oooo-eee—kakakaka…….me I’m wasted, rescue me someone……please?
Mice Cars ‘Gewgaw Tunes’ (Self Released). We haven’t a clue who what where this lot are about, except that they are Italian and may be a duo, so much for investigative journalism then you might credibly ask. One thing I can say is that the 5 tracks (which incidentally are available as a free download on their website) found holed up on ‘Gewgaw Tunes’ are pretty damn smart. Think of something loosely based on the twisted fusion of the more distant aspects of Blur (especially on the blissful ‘Broken Shoulders’ which comes replete with harmonicas), the less volatile nature of the Pixies and vague elements of Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci you will find yourself getting warm. Admittedly it takes a few listens to bed itself in, its not overly immediate but once rooted they blossom magnificently, a subtle collection of lazily woven vibes imbuing a sense of pop sparseness and icy frailty that only shifts elsewhere for the perky opener ‘Mihil is the Quest’, a fully fledged new wave spiky pop tart that has vocals that wander between classic agitated Furs Richard Butler and an angst ridden Jam head boy Mr Weller and the kind of muscularly developed stalking riffs that snag you with their potent hooks to fling you unmercillously around the room, now that’s neat (neat neat). ‘Hulk Hogan’ we unquestionably own up to loving to bits mainly because it sounds like a ringer for ‘Hey’ by the Pixies possessing that same clawing nag like guitar thread that manages to fizz and crackle its way in all the right places into your consciousness, irresistible if you ask me. Closing the set to the frenetic effects of the razor riffs set for stun ‘Americans’ and you have a tasty little nugget of a release that you’d be foolish to pass on. http://www.micecars.org
Kimonophonic ‘Electric Handstyles’ EP (Heliotone). The latest addition to the stable of the very tasty Manchester based Heliotone label, (previously Emma’s House) who so far have had us (still) reeling with some well-executed releases by the Bear Quartet, Anthony Alexander and Mundane Music. All these releases are extremely limited to just 50 copies, all lovingly pressed on 8 inches of lathe cut clear polycarbonate vinyl. Release numero four features a welcome return for electro whiz kid Justin Armstrong AKA Kimonophonic. Four delectable cuts of dreaming electronic pop to swell the head and take the inner spirit on some far flung vacation to the ends of the mind in between all that revealing both the light and dark pastel shades that readily make up Kimonophonics melodic fabric. From the soothing whirly pop of the opening ‘Comin’ with the mad style’ where amid the fluffy textures thankful nods to Cornelius are made, a reclining beauty that floats and hovers in the ether dispatching warming tastefully conceived morsels of lullaby-esque stuttering hip hop derived groove-tronics. Equally chirpy is ‘Like a rabbit’ tenderised beats and glitches skip joyfully across chiming droned interweaves filling the listening space with a vague Oriental wash to sound not unlike ISAN had they decided to do minimalist electronics Eastern style. ‘Draw the Curtain: Pink Cheque’ explores a similar melodic framework only this time utilising an erstwhile heavy bearing grittier core, the drone sequences filtered into wave cycles to enhance the fragmented states. ‘Japanese Crows’ ends the set on a frantic note, not quite Atari Teenage Riot but a riot all the same, punk-tronics at its most persuasive, head popping zig zagging arrangements wheel crazily about to manically perform robotic pogoing in your head, both caustic and tense, and, if truth be known, the collections stand out track. http://www.onoffonoff.org
Mum ‘Nightly Cares’ (Fat Cat). Listening to Iceland’s Mum it’s hard to imagine anything befitting the description frail, fragile and beautiful as are their collages of trembling quiet pop, in fact you’d almost be conjoled into believing that the words were created with their future visitations in mind. Mum are not your usual musical beast, their melodies come and go leaving no definable trace except for maybe a memory, it’s almost as though being visited by a spirit. On the surface their tiny enchanting whispering melodies seem cold and lonely but beneath, warm and snoozing. ‘Nightly Cares’ is taken from their forthcoming album ‘Summer make good’ their third in fact and sees their sound evolving ever more intrinsically into something you could only ever regard as Mum’s, their tantalising glacial pop is metered out perfectly on ‘Nightly Cares’ as it pirouettes gently with the wild abandon of an impish sprite, lullaby-esque, childlike and deeply touching stuff. Flip to the more muscular and dare we say moodist throes of the vibrant ‘Once a shiny morning puddle’ and things get a little fraught. What starts tranquil enough with the sound of breezy brass arrangements is soon stripped bare by impatient guitars and tempestuous blips all pounded together by insistent clattering beats, perhaps safe to say the nearest you’ll ever get to hearing Mum doing a freak out. http://www.fat-cat.co.uk
Adam Snyder ‘Leaves of Grass’ (HTI). Oh yes, something else to warm the cockles of the heart is this tempting cut from Mercury Rev’s ex keyboardist Adam Snyder. Taken from his debut album ‘Across the Pond’ as was his last release, the wonderfully nimble like ‘Two Moons’, ‘Leaves of Grass’ is the sound of country pop cooked just right and to the point where you’d swear you could smell the aroma of the Southern plains as the sun packed its toothbrush away for the night while your left lazing on the rickety porch rocking away while sipping chilled home made lemonade. Referencing elements of Buffalo Springfield, Jonathan Richman, Kevin Tihista and a lighter more upbeat variation of Gram Parsons among others, ‘Leaves of grass’ replete with steel guitars and a breezy nature it fizzles with effervescence and the kind of crispness as to make you reach for the repeat button time and time again.
The Ordinary Boys ‘Week in week out’ (WEA). More young men brandishing guitars and a bag full of hook laden tunes to get the youth of today singing and dancing in the streets. Described in passing as the Clash meet the Jam, well tall acts indeed to follow and maybe a little on the optimistic side for a band so young and still early in their career, to these ears they summon up the hazy summer chemistry and the understanding of an immediate melody that imagines Dodgy, Teenage Fanclub and Micro Disney all within spitting distance in a studio exchanging pop notes. With an album in the can and due for release later in the year, ‘Week in Week out’ is the ensembles second single and reveals a penchant for laying down cutely formed ear candy that’s energetically worked and proves something of a demon in the foot tapping stakes.
Dogs die in Hot Cars ‘Godhopping’ (V2). Third single from Dogs Die in Hot Cars following on from their quickly sold out previous outings, and it has to be said a band who are fast proving that whatever they do, doing it wrong is something they don’t do. ‘Godhopping’ is the bands first single for their newly signed paymasters V2 a furious hook laden gem of a track that manages to capture perfectly the very essence of classic (any) era XTC notably ‘English Settlement’ and spoon feeds it with a devilish Dexy’s underpin that harness’ a melody to weep for and builds around an erratic tempo that literally hunts you down. Flip over for the live favourite ‘Who shot the baby?’ a monstrously unruly beast with a front charge that resembles ‘Kimono my House’ era Sparks having a bare knuckle fight among themselves, quick step operatics, dizzying arrangements and a chorus line that literally clubs you into submission, another hit then lads? Still an awful name for a band though it has to be said.
Carina Round ‘Lacuna’ (Dehische). Certainly one of the most striking and for that matter scariest record sleeves to be put our way last year was the sophomore album ‘The Disconnection’ by Wolverhampton based Carina Round, without doubt one of the most open wounded accounts that I’d had the pleasure of hearing and certainly one of the most intensely fraught full lengths to come from a British female song writer since PJ Harvey’s ‘Dry’ (just check out the violently evocative ‘Shoot’) and at last offering for once someone who in time could provide an answer to Patti Smith. This release takes five live acoustic tracks from that exquisite set and in so provides a clear snap shot for the uninitiated as to the depth and intensity of this creative female songwriter. Not for her the whimsical fates of flowers and ribbons, hers is the grittier, darker underside of life. ‘Lacuna’ is probably the easiest point at which to familiarise yourself, arrangement wise upbeat and spontaneous, zig zagging in its grooving dynamic betraying an almost tantalising waltzing air, lyrically shaded and primal very much recalling the nagging off centre attraction of Harvey’s ‘Sheela Na Gig’, all the time Carina weaves an alluring web so enticing to ensnare you within. ‘Motel 74’ continues the intensity only more fragmented, naked and abandoned it festers between resolute brooding and sharpened edginess. Elsewhere the hollowed ‘Elegy’ is one of those cuts that causes the hairs to stand and the tingle in the spine to start, well rounded but Steps this isn’t instead it points to Bush’s early tempestuous outing, block by block increasing in mass and density until you can do nothing other than to be swept into its storm. Greatness beckons. http://www.carinaround.com
Delta Chi ‘Second Hand Glory’ (Self Released). And it’s always a good idea to open your lead out track (‘Secondhand Glory’) getting it to sound like Generation’s X ‘King Rocker’ though I suspect the band themselves are neither aware or for that matter care, still, it secured an instant play round our gaff. Okay Delta Chi are a Cardiff / London based quartet formed in the main from the remnants of Peppermint Lounge. Now we do love this it’s like home made cooking, takes ages and best left to cook slowly on a low heat to curdle and mature. Delta Chi source the darker elements of the Dylans, Paris Angels, Perfume and even very early Turin Breaks for inspiration. It’s all jagging riffs and edgy arrangements (especially on ‘Delta Chi’) that insistently gnaw away in an attempt to lodge into the psyche. ‘Second Hand Gory’ is the first of three recordings found here making their shy introduction into the big bad world of pop, a tasty off centre moodist rocker that sparkles and shimmers to recall early Moose replete with ‘Yellow’ like Coldplay choral vocals which normally we’d be forced to say, no not on this hi-fi mate, but on this occasion we’ll forgive them, just this once mind. Put to the sword so to speak my money goes to the closing track ‘Come Down’ as the favoured cut, achingly morose and hurt, very much damaged goods with a longing gallows like atmospheric that starts timidly to the sound of a gentle piano and rises crushingly to a breathtaking finale leaving you wasted, empty and a thoroughly hollowed for the experience so much so that those left standing after it finishes are either lying or deaf. http://www.deltachi.co.uk
Thread ‘Done got died’ (Static Caravan). Literally just hot off the presses that we haven’t got the title of the flip track. A total shift of perspective for the Static boys, how this barnstormer got through the normal quality control checks is anybody’s guess, perhaps a tot or two of hard pop has made the usual tinkers of tiny terrific tunes a bit more malleable than usual. Thread kick in with their second single, the first being last years debut for the very wonderful Victory Garden label. The scenario is still the same, walloping good time tunes of the spiked pop variety that culminate in a furious crash that brings together a supergroup made up of Wall of Voodoo and Television being fronted by a particularly coolly sneering Iggy Pop doing tunes arranged by the Fall. ‘Done got died’ is all meaty twanging bass lines that dig deep and twist unmercillously, snagging riffs and wearily packed with hooks that not only pick you off with their razor sharp teeth but rather take it up themselves to mushroom and envelop your whole listening space, the new wave of old new wave starts here, or should that be the new old new wave, whatever, the warning that its a throbbing humdinger of a single is all you need concern yourself with. Flip the disc for, what we’ll call ‘Untitled’ for now, mmm worrying stuff, campfire blues that those of a certain age dragged up listening to ‘Paint your Wagon’ soundtracks might really swoon with nostalgic fondness too. A few short verses, some nimbly played guitar chords and before you know the sausages are done. In a real and perfect world a hit. http://www.staticcaravan.org
Brand Violet ‘Head’ (Riverside)
Brand Violet ‘Sputnik Bride’ (Brand Violet). Two releases from Losing Today house favourites Brand Violet who will feature in the next issue to such an extent you’ll be sick to death come the end of the year. To set the scene, the keen eyed among you will probably remember us salivating about their last release the unfeasibly infectious ‘Alien Hive Theme’ which if you don’t own yet then we suggest you get your backside and other body parts straight onto their website now to hear. London based quartet, three guys who look like extras from Reservoir Dogs moonlighting as Insurance Salesmen with a love for all things Link Wray / Pixies / twanging guitars / horror sci-fi and ‘Barbarella’, one lead singer, blonde, cat suited with the kind of feline prowess that’ll turn women to stone let alone the male of the species, vocals that dips between Mely’s Andrea and Clare Grogan (without the girly shrieks) after 6 months intensive training at knowing how to purr and be menacing at the drop of a hat. Both ‘Head’ and ‘Soul Patch’ feature on the bands debut full length ‘Retrovision Coma USA’ (see elsewhere for review), the former a maddening hip swinging fully paid up pop bruiser that harnesses a devilish retro glazed dragster undercarriage over which Sally Anne seductively pouts, imagine the best elements of Tranvision Vamp / Man or Astro Man flinching to the cool hooks of the Stray Cats. ‘Soul Patch’ lowers the tempo to critical heartbreak levels, both delicate and soul eating, taking its cue from Chris Isaac’s ‘Wicked Game’ the slow unfurling fingering delay hooks wrap sympathetically around the despair ridden vocals to create a chilling detached edge to the proceedings. Elsewhere on the CD there’s a short film featuring live footage from Brighton’s Concorde 2. Can’t say fairer than that.
The ‘Sputnik Bride’ EP is quite literally hot off the press, not due out for a wee while and features three brand new cuts that reveal the darker side to Brand Violet’s psyche. Opening to the spacey carnival-esque ‘Catnip’ a brooding cut that sees them shying away from the usual poppified format in favour of a more edgy dynamic, still sounds like the Bride of Frankenstein crossing swords with ‘Money’ era Space with the eeriness of ‘Earth VS the Flying Saucers’ / ‘They Live’ b-movie backdrops bleeding into the mix, too damn cool for its own good. ‘The Caged Ones’ kicks off with a tasty little spaghetti western aperitif before going all Pixies caught red-handed hoodwinking a copy of B-52’s ‘Planet Claire’. Leaving the best till last, the brooding menace of the dislocated ‘Sputnik Bride’, needling riffs, dragging doom laden chords navigate a cautiously grinding groove that’s pitted in shadows and oppression and just when your at your least aware it rears its potently tipped tail sting to render you paralysed, charmed I’m sure. http://www.brandviolet.com
Old Man Malcolm ‘Pride in my product’ (Frank Wobbly and Sons). The first of several releases from the inspired splinter label Frank Wobbly and Sons to be dispatched from the bigger brother Milwaukee based Wobblyhead. Limited to just 250 copies with no repress in sight, this series stretches to just six releases and has so far had us whooping it up big time on our web sister Singled Out broadcast with releases from Paul B.Davis, Cash Bishop and the immense Innerstance Beatbox, we’ve managed to get our mits on five of the six with the Signal Drift and Nudge split instalment being the elusive one. Admired it seems by Kid Kaola for his turntable dexterity, (Old Man) Malcolm this time opts not to flex his table skills instead favouring to treating us to some deliciously grooving down tempo sexiness. ‘Pride in my product’ kinda just trips out and searches for you rather than you it, steeped with a serious chilled lounge aura it takes its cue most notably from Prince’s ‘Paisley Park’ and runs with it, this is after all lo tempo late night groove at its most alluring. Flip over for the horny funked out ‘Eye Contact’, again Prince like but this time hooked up with a minimalistic sounding Herbie Hancock in tow, you sexy thing.
Magic Arrows / String Theory ‘Split’ (Frank Wobbly and Sons). Staying with the same label, the second of three featured releases finds Magic Arrows sharing the vinyl with String Theory. And it probably needs to be said at this point the finest twin-set of the series, Magic Arrows provide some dashing to die for late night exotic drunk funk smooze on ‘Yaphet Koto’ that’s slyly down tempo and impossibly cool, all in all lingering, lush and very, very loving. Flip over to find the String Theory getting all moodily groovy on the delicious ‘Honey-top’, shuffling beats and whirling clicks, warming lullaby like backdrops peppered by chilly electronic doodles that wander atmospherically to create a curious digital babble while deceivingly tugging on your heart strings. Quite sweet really.
Praveen ‘Circle Song’ (Expanding). And while we are on the subject of records that tug at the heart strings along pops, as if by magic, this faintly disguised treasure from Praveen. The third in the limited second series of 9 seven inches from what is getting to be one of our favourite labels, Expanding. Each release is a limited pressing of 400 copies on coloured vinyl, this being on red wax, and all housed in a heavy duty PVC envelope. ‘Circle Song’ is Praveen’s debut release, a multi talented New York artist who runs an electronic / hip hop radio show in his home town called ‘Percussion Lab’. ‘Circle Song’ is tastefully minimalist, scratchy clicks wander hither tither, elsewhere the longingly sensual shimmering blips map out a skyline onto which mallowy electronic drones float as though imprisoned in the ether to wander ghost like. ‘Nameless’ on the flip side is slightly more muscular, parading around a clockwork dynamic, erratic beats skip and stutter to create an unusually jagged foundation that focuses the listeners mind towards the percussion techniques as opposed to the delicately forming backdrops which become all to present towards the end and at one point has a taste of the fairy tale lurches of a certain fort dax, smart or what? http://www.expandingrecords.com
Audra Kabat ‘Georgia’ (Times Beach). Audra’s recent album ‘Million year old sand’ had us cooing from the tree tops with joy, one of the highlights of the year so far, Kubat swooned with the same wholesome perfection of Cantrell, Orton and Mitchell while flirting with the very disquieting essence that makes Nick Drake’s timid intimacy so resonant and lasting. ‘Georgia’ is taken from that very album and in my humble opinion one of the collections key tracks if not centrepiece revealing an artist so adept in her artistry as to have fully realised and understood the pull of a perfectly penned composition. In terms of construction ‘Georgia’ opines to the Beatles mid career work in juxtaposing the light with the dark, it’s a crushing thing as we are gently taken by the hand to skip along the rustic tranquillity of the countryside to share in mourning the hidden sadness that lies within our protagonist, the combination of sorrow and erstwhile flawed beauty never so contrasting. ‘Since I fell in love music’ on the flip side courts with a spectral charge that vaguely recalls Mary Hopkins ‘Those where the days’ only less optimistic, softly detached and hitherto moody, the ghost of Drake still hangs as does the tender caress of a very young Kate Bush. Not bad then eh? Pressed on clear as though you needed any further prods. Nobody ever said perfection was an easy thing. http://www.timesbeachrecords.com
Deadstring Brothers ‘Twenty seven hours’ (Times Beach). Fellow Times Beach-ers Deadstring Brothers hurt like hell, those with feint dispositions may care to tread carefully as ‘Twenty Seven Hours’ is a real emotion shredder, steel guitars waver melancholically throughout like a sandstorm stripping you to the core to cause your heart to stop and the hairs you never knew you had to stand to attention. Both tender and cruel, the Deadstring Brothers equip themselves with such weeping precision as to have you begging for mercy. Cut from the finest casks of old time country that have been left to mature and gather dust, the echoes of classic Young, Parsons and the Stones spring forth to pay homage to Perkins and Williams. Hopelessly gorgeous. ‘The Ballad of Wendy Case’ is like wow, imagine the grit of Detroit garage fed with the groove of Motown and taken for a short vacation to Nashville, an ass-shaking babe of a track take it from me. And as though to smother you in treats, pressed on tangerine vinyl. http://www.timesbeachrecords.com
Casino Versus Japan / am-boy ‘Split’ (Frank Wobbly and Sons). The third and final release this missive for the Wobblyhead splinter label. As usual we know absolutely diddly about any of these artists except that Casino Versus Japan is really Milwaukee resident and producer Erik Kowalski whom it seems has a penchant for techno, baroque, haunting melodies and trip hop beats and who on ‘Silver and Gold’ kinda mixes them all up into an intoxicating paste to arrive at something that can only be described as cosmik-dub, so good it is that I reckon within one casual earful you’ll be hooked begging for more, think ‘Screamadelica’ era Primal rucking with ‘Lazer’ era Spiritualized. Flip over for something a little more kooky and dare we say, weird from am-boy. ’64 Colors’ pretty much usurps the Go Team’s ‘Get it together’ in the 70’s children’s television tune stakes, bizarrely my copy sounds warped but knowing this lot its probably meant to sound like that, squishy, bouncy, fluffy, odd, sort of like Nellie the Elephant goes walkabout down Sesame Street. Worried? You should be. Alas, recommended. http://www.wobblyhead.com
Missive 35 beckons, bye for now…..