Archive posting originally published on the losing today site ……April 2004 …
Packed fresh to hold in those lushened lush-y things 24th April 2004
Those where the days old friend by 08th May 2004
Dedicated as always to Kelly and Mark, a day never goes by without me thinking about you.
Damn those pesky varmints stuffing up my mailing box with those grooving toons that my make my feet stomp wildly, my hips shake from a side to side and does fun things to my hair, my head is an aching with it all, I’m a feels like I’m as itchy as a fuzzy tree. Them there’s naughty folk are messing with my brain, I’m a wondering sometimes whether I’m a going backward, forwards, this way that way any way welcome to another trawl through the latest release that no one else wants to review (only joking), as fine and dandy a collection of records that has been our pleasure to have parading one of these missives if of course you don’t count the amazing selection from Missive 9 and Missive 23, and quite possibly Missives, 7, 3, 15 and 29, and now that I come to think of it how could we forget Missives 31, 2, 10 and 23 (so good we had to mention it twice) or 4, 8, 27, 24, 19, 17 and 14 and really we could go on without remembering 1, 20, 5, 32, 21 or shame on us 12 and 13.
And to whit we start off this well tuned missive with the sad news that Westlife have split up, we in the Losing Today shoebox laughingly called a bijou living space, have wept like babies since hearing the sad news, no more will we hear the dulcet tones of the bum fluff five (or is it six, three, might be seven possibly four), no more we will ever have the joy of hearing the such sweet classics as ‘Back for Good’, ‘Stay another day’, ‘Love me for a reason’, ‘Sweet surrender’, ‘Wannabe’ or the entire canon of the Bee Gees and Bazza Manilow, we love you so much, missing you already. Hey kids there is a God after all.
The Losing Today dispatch riders have been going ballistic lately, news of our impending magazine re-launch has meant that we’ve expanded in size at Singled Out HQ and in keeping with our ‘we mean business’ policy we’ve acquired a posse, however I still need convincing as to the somewhat merits, value and input that an elastic band, one piece of corrugated cardboard, a used stamp (2nd class) and a cockroach (which I was led to believe was a rare midget black tortoise) can bestow upon our heaving schedule, so it’s over to you roachie dear……%$&*() &*( $*&%$$….see what I mean could take a wee while yet.
And before we venture into the lumbago inducing sack of sounds an email just received mentioning the ground breaking missives 6, 11, 16, 18, 22, 25, 26, 28 and 30 which we somehow managed to overlook, tut tut tut.
Can’t remember how we got here, for that matter from where we came to get here, but now that were here where not there. Confused, well join the Losing Today record shed, we here are indeedy slightly bemused and for why we can’t think, so cutting the waffle and the excess fat straight to the smorgasbord of wonderful wecords and when I say wonderful I mean without doubt in my humbled opinion the best assortment of must have records ever stood side by side in a missive…….
Tuung ‘Tale from the black’ (Static Caravan). After what seems like months of no releases from the Static music laboratory we, my friend, were getting just a little worried. Apparently it’s to be blamed on the great vinyl shortage dilemma which has resulted in the rationing of wax to record labels. Tuung are a duo and this is their debut release, 400 pressings and all on snow white vinyl and described in passing by the lads at the Lab as the sound of the Beta Band doing the Wicker Man, can’t go wrong can it. No siree, Tuung do not disappoint and live up to the billing admirably. Instantly loveable in a timeless tune kind of way ‘Tale from the black’ smoulders amid click happy beats that duck, dive and undulate beneath a tempting off centre lysergic groove that meekly recalls Candidate being warped by Lemon Jelly who’ve both met on the local village green to compete in the great bubble blowing contest atop McCartney’s Fools Hill, wired world-weary lunar folk for you and your boats to float lovingly to. As if to ram home the point ‘Pool beneath the pond’ has that same kind of naked Far Eastern ethnic mysticism that Japan’s ‘Tin Drum’ so moodily flexed itself within, crooked, cute and crucial to any cool collection of curious vinyl, buy now to avoid having the neighbourhood curtains twitching, your peers whispering behind your back and more than likely the whole damn roof and several bits of heavy duty masonry crashing through your world. http://www.staticcaravan.org
Exit 52 ‘Dandelion’ EP (Pronoia). Twanging guitars, theramins and shadowy atmospherics, almost as though these kids have purposely gone out of their way to make a single with all the ingredients (bar a blast of a harmonica here and there) to suggest that this is right up my street. Okay nothing known about this band which is pretty much something that by now you are probably well used to (investigative journalists we are not but then you gathered that). Four tracks, and let me say here at this point, four tracks that are excellent, yes, but, as the tracks progress through from start to finish they appear to get ever more disconnected. So that you get on the opening cut ‘Dandelion’ (the most together pop nugget here) something that sounds like a menacing Baby Bird exiled on the film set of Forbidden Planet with the Bad Seeds and Black Heart Procession for company. ‘Nineteen Eighty Three’ has (obviously) an air of 1983 about it, chillingly austere, sort of New Order / Depeche Mode / Chris Isaac doing musical backdrops for adverts selling seaside package deals on Mars, replete with that same hypnotic circular bass line that Kylie (allegedly) made famous and stalking riffs that collide with hostile intent. Eerie as it is ‘Meow’ is the preferred cut, waywardly homely, mysterious and distant, with vocals that sound like Morrissey on helium, it bobs and weaves between acoustic drunkenness and ethereal atmospherics to swerve about seductively, which leaves the very odd ‘Twelve Bar’ to round up the set, imagine a very sparse Radiohead without the trickery doing late night down tempo arty musical collages with David McAlmont doing guest vocals, strangely sublime if you ask me. http://www.exit52.com
Le Concorde ‘Le Concorde’ EP (Space Kitty). This cutie has several things going for it even before it’s been put on the CD player. Firstly it features the production credits of Epicycle (brothers Ellis and Tom Clark) who left a lasting impression with their ‘Swirl’ album a year or so ago (which if you don’t own now then our deepest sympathies go to your record collection). Add to that it features ex members of the Psychedelic Furs and if that isn’t enough to wet the appetite then maybe the fact that it all centres around the talents of ex Post Office mainman Stephen Becker who lavished us with the dB’s Chris Stamey produced ‘Fables in Slang’ way back when we were all a little younger and more carefree. To good to be true then, though as my granddad would say ‘good breeding stock’. Six tracks of sublime sun-shining perfect pop is what you get from the sugary McCartney like meets Gilbert O’Sullivan helped by Ben Folds Five sweetness of ‘Parallel Lives’ which gently nuzzles its way into your chest with its curvaceous love sick motifs to the anthemic foot stomping fuzzy pop greatness of early Sparks meets Nirvana on ‘It’s the minor chords that kill you’. Put up against the wall and tickled to death with a giant feather I’d have to say ‘The sound of your name’ just edges the competition, classic ‘Pure’ era Lightning Seeds being remixed by Roy Wood’s Wizard with Mr Spector in the shadows sprinkling lavish amounts of the old magic dust and how those tingling hooks cut so deep, a gigantic festive pop tart in spring (surely that can’t be right?!). And for those still longing for the days when Prefab Sprout still made the most heart-aching sounds from the barest of arrangements then ‘People Mover’ ought to re-affirm your belief that out there somewhere the art of pop classicism hasn’t quite gone out of fashion just yet. All in all an irresistible release of some measure. http://www.leconcorde.org
Immune ‘Elek’ EP (Gizeh). A hulking debut release from Leeds based quintet Immune with which I’ll start off by saying that I’m not so naive as to realise that the mere mention of the words ‘progressive’ and ‘Radiohead’ in the same sentence will send a large proportion of you running for the cover of the nearest hill. If I was to say that this is one the best things I’ve heard in a long while then you’ll get the inkling that we are quite fond of this, and yes the Radiohead comparisons are well placed on this occasion in so far as this lot manage to perfectly tap into the core essence of Yorke and Co so by making it something more than merely copyist. But really the fact that this release is so important doesn’t stop with referencing Radiohead. Immune occupy the hazily shaded fuzzy folds that lie between the outer reaches of rock and the ethereal oblivion of the atmospheric wide screen soundtrack. The three tracks here summon up a wealth of vaguely spun influences as to have your head spinning, that aligned to their ability to wrap together a wealth of conflicting genres into something so unsettling that it makes for compulsive listening is an awesome feat of creative practicality. Sound wise it’s akin to an impending storm, heightened tensions, heaving dynamics and the dread chill of an imminent threat. Not a million miles from the austere dynamics found on Left Hand’s debut ‘Minus 8’ Immune meter out an eerily sparse caste with the complicated so perfectly that you are presented with threads of Portishead like trip hop atmospherics biting chunks away at Tool / NIN / ‘Pure’ era Numan like industrial gloss especially on the alarmingly frazzled ‘2 stranger’ where the sense of edgy mood swells and darkly disconnected atmospheric arrangements jar and scrape awkwardly like ill fitting jigsaw pieces. Pick of the set is the crudely spasmodic art rock / avant garde math tendencies of ‘Hindsight’ which despite it stuttered sequences and its penchant for running in to its own self created space without word or warning ultimately serves as the closest you get to rule book rock presentation. Alternatively you could always dirty your hands and be coaxed home down dark alleyways and lonesome paths as ‘Elek’ seems to invitingly suggest only to be subjected to the odd savage beating as the fragmented complex densely swept textures so readily seem equipped to meter out. Without doubt a band to watch for and God help the competition. http://www.gizehrecords.com
100th monkey syndrome ‘Kick, spastics!’ (Demo). Okay those with a tender disposition avert eyes now, this is f***ing awesome, we aren’t known for dishing out the old single of the missives to often but in an action packed singled out such as this is we’ve dusted and buffed it up, 100th monkey syndrome win it by several short hairs breadths. A release that is so recklessly violent it kicked our speakers to pieces and nearly threatened the record shed into meltdown. This lot are a Birmingham based quartet whose sound is a torture theatre of mangled dynamics, unrelenting, unforgiving and unliveable, opening with crushing ‘kick, spastics!’ (a great Fall title by the way) which leaps rather than lunges with untold menace, imagine T’ Faith Healers being cooked alive by the Pixies at their most tormenting, in essence veering close to the latter’s ‘Dead’ with a seriously wired Sonic Youth addiction scored throughout, as scary as hell and perfect with it. The caustic ‘rhr’ sounds like the Buzzcocks ‘Everybody’s happy nowadays’ after having been stretched, flogged and starved by classic doom laden Killing Joke, rumbling heavy bearing bass lines and marauding riffs that viciously strut looking for potential targets to sting recalling Dinosaur Jnr at their most potent. Completing the set, ‘spies’ in comparison is pretty laid back, an obsessive love song no less (and no this ain’t ‘Every breathe you take’) that does it’s best to sound poppy but still ends up like something that’d give the Reid Brothers endless nightmares. All in all a killer of a release seek out now for maximum cool. http://www.100thmonkeysyndrome.co.uk
Jamie Says ‘Down to the debauchuary’ (Sorted). Lo-fi hip swinging austere bubblegum pop, yep you read it right first time. One of those records blessed with two sharp as a knife tunes plastered either side of a piece of wax, determined to stand up, do its stuff with the minimum of fuss or wastage and then get outta Dodge as fast as it arrived. Jamie Says is the latest vehicle for Kyle Hill formerly of Circa 1983 and the Abandoned. ‘Down to the debauchuary’ (incidentally spelt as it says) combines the cool shades and leather demeanour of early Sisters of Mercy and riddles it with the added spice of a throbbing Joy Division like bass line and a needling post punk guitar riff that joins the hands of classic Fall with the Fire Engines topped off by a healthy quotient of Wreckless Eric for something as cool and as infectious as f***. ‘Rebecca’ on the flip is classically moulded, drawing from the very essence of those early must have Stiff releases and giving it a lick of the Velvet Underground had they of course had a certain Mr Dylan in the ranks. Pretty damn smart if you ask me. http://www.sorted-records.org.uk
Inch Blue ‘Walking Backwards’ (Demo). Those with long memories may remember us raving about this lots last EP release ‘Three songs about dreams, lovers and the sea’ which provided for a trio of storm lashed classics carved from the stars that hurt and soothed in equal measures. We’ve had it on good authority that rather than sit back smugly the trio have been busy pulling out the stops refining their sound and laying down tracks of such sublime beauty that you feel it’s only a matter of time before the words ‘next’, ‘big’ and ‘thing’ coming kicking in their studio door. This tasty morsel has been burning impatiently on the old Hi Fi for a week or two now and though we realise we should wait for a proper release (as this will, assuming my facts are right, feature on the bands forthcoming split with the mighty Workhouse on the equally eminent Bearos records fairly soon) we just couldn’t rest until we told someone. ‘Walking backwards’ is an arse-kicking baby of a track, turbulent, mightily atmospheric and above all monolithic. Harnessing a brooding inner core its akin to standing in the wide open during a torrential electrical storm with the winds painfully stinging from all sides, the rain metering down like bullets as you bear witness to the spectacle of nature having an almighty tantrum, and yet throughout all this you smile in the knowledge that its good to alive. Think of the Chameleons with a groovily punked edge being marshalled by a throbbing unrelenting New Model Army underpin sublimely fusing the dark with the light and the crushing with the caressing. Crucial stuff. Joint single of the Missive. http://www.inchblue.co.uk
aPAtT ‘aPAtT’ EP (aPehAt). Those preferring their sounds a little more irregular, viscerally challenging and against the flow may feel obliged to check out the debut release from Liverpool’s aPAtT. Described to me in passing as ‘a release that the band thought I’d be doing everyone a favour by hearing’ with the added proviso ‘sounds like nothing from Liverpool’, (or for that matter a several plays), like nothing in the world. APAtT it seems forego the usual subtleties of trying to woo the listener and win them over, instead they arguably provide more questions than answers with their awkwardly channelled fusion of out there art rock, drone montages, film samples, hip hop (as evidenced on the streetwise sample menace of ‘My nuns door theme’), mallowy electronics and bleached psyche folk (though I’d hastily add not all at the same time). This particular EP is the bands debut with a new batch of songs eagerly waiting in the wings for a release date. Occupying the shadowy sub divide that vaguely links the curious netherworlds of Volcano the Bear and the new age travelling doom drone friction folk of the Sunburned Hand of the Man with the oddball melodic anarchy of Zappa especially on the hauntingly numb ‘Loneley’ and the parting shot ‘a passing’ and yet shows their willingness to lead the viewer into a guessing game, their sounds bounce erratically from the odd to the eerie to the devastating without no heed or attention to form or principle, at times its reminiscent of a freeform jam, maybe a tuning up session whatever you may call it there’s no denying that there is an explosion of ideas at large within which ultimately means that just when you think you have the measure of them they spice up the mix to throw you off the scent. The dreamy ‘Nice II’ prickles softly like some kind of drunken space symphony, equally ethereal and warped, either that or Satie having chemically assisted flashbacks, and if you get over the monastic moment, probably the most together cut here. Elsewhere the aforementioned ‘Loneley’ belies a subtle film noir cast that invites you to check, not only under the bed but also under the stairs, behind the door, in the closet and is perhaps best resolved by listening to it in the hours of daylight outside preferably somewhere where there are plenty of people about. ‘Idi’ is strangely up tempo and jiggly with it while grindcore meets thrash meets Melt Banana surfaces on ‘broken elbow’ only to be laced with all manner of menacing head melting psychotic overtones. Consider yourselves well and truly warned. Deeply deranged and cleverly obtuse to be filed under strange species pop. http://www.geocities.com/itsapatt
Matra ‘Mechanics’ EP (Unlabel). Pressed on 10 inches of heavy duty vinyl and ultra limited to 100 copies (of which we have on good authority only about 50 still remain), this release features the welcoming debut offering from Kent based electronica trio Matra to the Unlabel fold. As shiny as a brand new button, (in fact five brand new buttons if you like), Matra entwine loveable tripping folds of lullaby-esque plink plonk pop that has one eye on Boards of Canada to add to the warming sub textures being developed throughout especially on the toy electronics versus enchanted fairy tale pop opener ‘Warming up the machines’ which perfectly sets the table for the lulling ‘Camblewick Green’ like sophisticated drifting sweetness of ‘The Engineer’ which itself shrouds itself in a delightfully haunting mystique that’s nonetheless desperately lonesome especially with the inclusion of double tracked vocals floating their dream like disconnected mantras, heart warming stuff. Flip over and you get the same sounds played backwards and fittingly titled ‘Reverse Engineering’ (obviously). Matra provide for an arresting collage of techniques and moods mixing and matching the sultry and the dreamy with the stark and cold all the time the emphasis being placed on laid back numbness none more so than on the EP’s final brace of cuts ‘this old Patagonian express’ and ‘mechanics’, the former capturing a full bodied claustrophobic off centre funky middle eastern core that at times drifts closely to Blur’s ‘Out of Time’ and the parched glumness of Radiohead’s more together moments on ‘Hail to the Thief’ while the latter with it’s unsettling down tempo groove as playfully curvaceous as it may seem still manages to purvey a disconnected fracture like base that creeps like an austere AR Kane, beguiling and beautiful all the same though. Recommended as though you hadn’t already guessed. http://www.unlabel.net
Part Chimp / Joeyfat ‘Split’ (Awkward Silence). Technically staying with the Unlabel roster as Awkward Silence are part of their extended family and are principally responsible for addressing the more eclectic electronic concerns over the years. Not any more, for those expecting tranquil robotics may do well to start nailing down all moveable household objects for this frenzied all out twin pronged bludgeon attack. Part Chimp are formed from the various limbs and body parts of Penthouse, Scarfo and Ligament so those familiar with any of these ensembles will rightly assume immediately that this isn’t going to make for a leisurely Sunday morning walk in the park. ‘Crash the high octave’ is a gruelling festering monster of a track that’s so loud you’ll find people from different postcodes complaining that you to turn it down, even with the volume at zero you can still feel this baby rumbling restlessly, imagine a more moody Big Black sparring with a toxic sounding Carcass, in short the foolish equivalent of standing at the foot of a rocket launch at Cape Canaveral only louder and groovier. Flip the disc for the return of Joeyfat now fully re-invigorated from their five-year hiatus having returned to the fold with last years immense ‘the house of the fat’ long-player. Joeyfat arm themselves with a post rock dynamic that splutters and stutters with the kind of agitated erratic groove that was so prevalent on Talking Heads ‘Remain in Light’, partly oppressive and setting the teeth on edge ‘Five minute watch’ crookedly navigates awkwardly creating a strangely unsettling gritty fabric into which overlapping sub texts collide caustically to map out a complicated and decidedly intense patchwork of sound. Dare you enter? http://www.awkwardsilencerecordings.com
That’s pretty much your lot for now, not a bad deal eh four missives on the bounce, I’m now off to rest the typing finger, which is looking a strange shade of blue and green just now. Back in about two weeks when there’ll no doubt be more than enough tasty records to have you bouncing from the ceilings to the floor and walls, among the goodies, hopefully a release or two from Great Pop Supplement and a new Earlies release, but we’ll see. After that we’ll have a singled out special dedicated solely to the Best Kept Secret tape label as I feel we’ve been doing them an injustice of late, by my reckoning about 7/8 releases to feast yourselves over and every one of them a gem.
As is the usual gratitude and mucho thank yous to all the bands, labels and press reps who’ve made these musings possible no names but you know who you are and with that all it leaves me to say is tara for now and have yourselves a great time.