Archiv – Singled Out – Missive 40 …..

Archive posting originally published on the losing today site ……August 2004 …..

Missive 40
Singled Out

Missive 40

‘sounds to mess up your hair and give your hi-fi seizures’

Dedicated as always to Kelly and Mark missing you so much.

Ha ha well surprise surprise we didn’t manage to keep our promise of weekly-ish Singled Out broadcasts from the desk in the Losing Today attic without a ceiling, (that’s a roof to some of you bright young things). We did try though believe you me us, but what with the sun, the faltering PC, even more faltering health, so faltering in fact that we’ve been told by the GP to cease from all the good things in life like smoking, the occasional tipple, bacon butties, coffee etc….which kinda leaves me just with breathing, though we suspect that they forgot to mention cutting out that one. Still we have our Kylie DVD’s and may they never stop and the hope that another Kate Bush album may one day see the light of day to keep us somewhat sane through all the madness, still it could be worse I could be the Edge, of whom its been reported has lost the master CD-r of U2’s recent recorded opus which must surely come as a relief / relief / relief (delete where applicable) to the most discerning record buying lovers among you, better still Justin ‘i’m just a poor boy nobody loves me’ Darkness has been bemoaning the fact that due to the rigours of being a rock star that the band don’t have anything in the can (the can). Kids there is a God after all.

On the magazine front, the European / American version of Losing Today is chomping at the bit at the printers however the Italian version is out at a special introductory price. See the last Singled Out for further details. We are also collating tracks for the next cover CD compilation so if you are interested then get in touch with either myself or Andrea

Now I’m a little weary about doing this but the address for submissions to these musings is (for now); 54 Garendon Road, Morden, Surrey, SM4 6LY.

Further to the last missive I am as yet unable to review the forthcoming Fort Dax single as the mix hasn’t been confirmed but we can tell you that he has been invited as a session guest on the esteemed John Peel wing-ding, broadcast date is August 25th between 23.00 – 01.00 those without radios check out for info. Up and coming sessions from the French, Graham Coxon and the Deerhoof and if your quick about it a chance to catch up on last week’s guests the Fall for what was their 24th appearance and something not to be missed. Also no sign of those Great Pop Supplement singles which either suggests that they’re not out yet or we’ve fallen of the promo sheet, ho hum. In their place though a dandy crew of top notch gear that more than adequately gives you an excuse or seven to make that well earned trip to the local record emporium to part with your spondoolies, included in the parade of all stars a trio of heart stopping releases from last missives AWOL stars Static Caravan, albeit one of them has already been reviewed in these pages, ooh aeons ago and the other two being those polycarbonate lathe dudes kinda things that our resident hi-fi simply loves to bits. Enough chit chat the singles…..

Aberfeldy ‘Heliopolis by Night’ (Rough Trade). Opening the charge in a truly spectacular way is this delicious summer loving butt mover from young Scotland. Taken from their forthcoming long player debut ‘Young Forever’, ‘Heliopolis by Night’ has apparently already seen the light of day as a fully fledged single a few years back when head honcho Riley Briggs masqueraded as combo Firestone: Legend of the Hawk who we swear to owning a copy of but as always with these things can we lay our hands on the blighter, needless to say our crack squad of elite search and (not) destroy troops have been deployed to survey the recesses of losing today’s dusty shed. Utilising trade secrets only known to honorary members of the magic circle Aberfeldy cleverly swarm you with their deceptive ghost like melodies that to these ears have the feel of a love sick REM c. ‘Green’ smooching up to Damon and Naomi to string up heart piercing bows on red sky nights and pay homage to the Mamas and the Papes. To describe it as beautiful is to faintly scratch at its unfurling glow.

The Clientele ‘Lacewings’ (Unpopular). The first fruits from Exeter based Unpopular records. Growing up to the sounds of Sarah, Summershine, Bus Stop and Johnny Kane and in awe of the vanguards of vinyl pop Postcard and Creation to name but two, Unpopular wear their wax seven-inch hearts on their sleeve. Each release will be limited to 500 pressings each arriving housed in specially commissioned artist designed sleeves, no genre specific codes just an underlying aim to put out quality releases. Judging by the first three releases we’d like to bet in time Unpopular could be your new favourite label. The debut outing stars the Clientele who regrettably we don’t get to hear enough of here other than on those very rare occasions when we accidentally come across their releases in the local record boutique whispering gently in our ears to take them home, but then if we did I bet before to long you’d be bored with us falling over ourselves in awe of them. The Clientele are simply from another time, their sound is perfectly pristine; lilting and loving; softly spectral and above all carved from the finest of song writing traditions. The two tracks featured here have both been culled from their live performance at Bush Hall, London in May 2003. The dreaming ‘Lacewings’ will appeal to all those who still recoil to the comfort and safety zones of those early Tindersticks and Clock Strikes 13 releases. Yet it doesn’t end there, the Clientele pick away gently within a hazy 60’s aura imagining some heavenly super group formed from the meeting of Dylan, Walker, Cohen and the Velvets. Delicately spun the Clientele weave a kind of curdling magic as to suggest that time literally stands still when they play. Slow burning and feint but with a heavy heart, the Clientele are masters at creating the most numbing of pop melodies that wrap tightly around your heart and toy with your emotional threads to play aching symphonies and ‘Lacewings’ is no exception as it sucks and picks away until your broken from inside to out. ‘Policeman getting lost’ is equally crushing, bathed in an autumnal glaze its gently cascading chords upend the frail vocals of MacLean of whom throughout the duration you fear will simply fall beneath the weight of melancholy he carries upon his shoulders. Perfection in slow motion.

Lovejoy ‘Strike a Pose’ (Unpopular). Release numero two from Unpopular is this deceiving gem from Lovejoy and before you ask, no it isn’t the bronzed foppish buffoon with an eye for Antiques from the BBC show of the same name from years gone by, no this lot are a Brighton based quartet who’ve already set alight the indie world with their ‘Who wants to be a millionaire’ album for the ever dependable Matinee Records. This two track 7” reveals two distinct sides to our would be heroes psyche. ‘Strike a Pose’ enlists bubbling synth back drops that bobble around with a sly down tempo glee and have that edge as though Hacienda’s favourite sons New Order and ‘Good Together’ era A Certain Ratio loving it up in the corner blessed out on e’s doing something vaguely off road Dubstar. Flip over to be treated to a delicious cover of the Television Personalities often overlooked ‘Someone to share my life with’ originally found brooding lonesome on the bands fourth album ‘The Painted Word’ and if memory serves me right proving something of a sensitive side to a combo previous seen only as an waywardly arty retro obsessed mod / psych / punk pop band with an ever bulging suitcase of frazzled underground classics just waiting to leap out. Lovejoy take to the challenge with gusto and guile following down similar well trodden paths as label mates the Clientele, keeping in check the sensitivity and bequeathing the whole process with a magical feast of lazy summer afternoons spent idled away sitting beneath the shades of old Oak trees sipping pop to watch a rushing and oblivious world fade into a blurring distance. A perfect summer companion.

The Playwrights ‘Dislocated’ (Unpopular). Third release from Unpopular throws the spotlight upon Bristol’s worst kept secret. The Playwrights, what can we say, firm favourites of these pages there’s little they can do wrong in our eyes, one album under their belts and a second due shortly on the ever cool Sink and Stove label. Intelligent, sharp and a perfect acquisition for any well ordered record collection with a wish to being considered ultra cool, the Playwrights sit at the forefront of a growing scene inspired by the early 80’s art / industrial / post punk crossover that includes such notables as the awesome Culture Industry (see elsewhere) and Art Brut to name but two of the leading lights. ‘Dislocated’ features on the cover mounted compilation of the UK / US version of Losing Today which should be around any day now, while the flip side, ‘Welcome to the Middle Ages’ can be found doing sizeable damage on that damn fine compilation ‘The Hospital Request List (Volume 2)’ put out by those nice people Sink and Stove and which we hasten to add any self respecting record buyer ought to have by law. It might seem churlish or not churlish as the case may be for us to review something we’ve already cast an eye over (check out Missive 29) safe to say though that fans of Wire, the Fire Engines and austere tipped brutalised white funk will not be found wanting on the cutting ‘Dislocated’, while flip cut ‘Middle Ages’ gives the Stranglers ‘Nuclear Device’ a brass accompaniment and a rogering to within an inch of its life, crucial as though you needed telling, fuck what the NME tell you, you need this band in your life now. Check out our MP3 platform for a peak of their forthcoming single ‘Guy Debord is really dead’. All releases via

The Vibration ‘Ear to the Ground’ EP (Sink and Stove). Seamless link time. Weren’t we just mentioning those bright young things of Sink and Stove, lo and behold as if by magic release number (unlucky for some) thirteen features the latest pre season signings to Bristol’s finest, the Vibration. Now we don’t really want to drop ourselves in it, but we’d like to think that by the time this New York based combos debut album is due (sometime next year) you’ll literally be climbing the walls in fevered anticipation and into the bargain they’ll be the coolest all girl band on the underground scene. This baby of a release originally saw the light of day Stateside last year on BC records and by all accounts caused a bit of a stir among those in the know selling out faster that it takes Klark Kent to whip off his three piece and get into his Super Sunday best, now given a second lease of life it’s the turn of UK and Europe to be entranced by the Vibration. As the press release so rightly admits the Vibration are not easy to categorize, over the course of the five tracks that make up this EP you’ll hear the austere landscapes of post punk rubbing shoulders with the dark atmospherics of the more gifted disciples of the goth scene in the mid 80’s (March Violets, Skeletal Family, Throwing Muses), along with some delicate nudges of math rock (Slint, mid 90’s Touch and Go) and maybe a dash of the Breeders (in particular on the semi-searing wounded ‘Badge’) and a pinch of Sleater Kinney for good measure. Yet though all these variants are true and apparent in abundance, for me the quartet nail that fictional dream meeting between prime time Television, Sonic Youth, early PJ Harvey and pre McGeoch Siouxsie and the Banshees minus the psychosis especially given that in Ann Fitzgerald they have a vocalist who encapsulates that icy paranoia so symptomatic of Siouxsie and a guitarist Randie Williams who plays McKay-esque chopping riffs oozing with subtle dark psychedelia for fun or so it seems. Playing to awkwardly fractured time signatures initial listens to the Vibration are dutifully unsettling, the sounds seemingly appear without any rudimentary structure flipping and twisting constantly in a way that impresses an edgy feel that’s enhanced by their use slow to cantering rhythmic speeds. ‘No Eyeliner’ is perhaps the best starting point, evolving as it were as though from two separate songs, regimental drum licks and campfire musings soon begin to blister and fester amid washes of feedback like a baby sister version of ‘Mirage’ poking pins into the eyeballs of ‘Switch’. ‘Vibration’ loosens up the intensity momentarily but even then its primed to the teeth in looming jarring riffs that side wind sniper like waiting to sting and ambush while ‘Begin Again’ is the evil twin sisters of the Bangles dragged kicking and screaming from a parallel universe, cruelly gorgeous and emotionally punishing with it. Best of the lot though is the beautifully unfurling sense of menace on the opening ‘Sweet Oil’. Shaded 60’s motifs scratch and stab into an ever darkening swamp haze of overpoweringly bewitching mantras and brooding storm calling spell making to slyly consume and intoxicate you before you even have the faintest glimmer or notion your under the influence. Deceivingly cool just don’t come crying to us when they go massive and we won’t have to tell you we told you so.

Eye ‘Eye’ EP (Eyemusic). Another release that’s had us shaking our thang is this scorching 6 track self release from London based quartet Eye. Take one Finnish singer / guitarist, a drummer from Sardinia, a Swedish guitarist and an English bass player, the brief to create moving atmospheric rock in the vein of Interpol, U2 and Sonic Youth, the best part of 2003 spent getting to know each other and sharing ideas playing to each others strengths culminating in this their debut recording. A powerful baby it is, Eye perfectly harness and utilise that whole loud / quiet dynamic, and before you switch off thinking ‘not another one’ just check out the crunching finale ‘No more idols’ which in its 6 minute duration has everything an adolescents listening space should be filled with: bitterness, hopelessness, hurt and anger just to name four in passing. But then this EP is more than mere adding casually to the clutter of an ever bulging alternative scene, it is a beast of a calling card. The storming opener ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll song’ is the kind of cut that would make most bands established bands on the circuit these days proud as punch to call their own, a ferocious back side kicking mass of raging strutting aloofness and alarming swagger that frankly shits twisting hooks and falsettos for a laugh, think of Placebo with big bollocks and then think a bit more, a demonic bastard of a track. But if you think it ends there, think again. ‘Runaway’ has the unique attribute of having you imagine Radiohead collaborating with the likes of Baby Woodrose, ostensibly 60’s dark psych in mood and texture but ferociously blessed with the emotion shredding turbulence of ‘The Bends’ era Yorke and Co, we kid you not. And still they come, ‘Girl’ without doubt is the killer of the pack, walk away from this without either shedding a tear or feeling as though someone or something has just torn a hole where your heart used to be then frankly you are made of stone. Call us romantic fools, a love song no less very much in the best tradition of those very early Verve b-sides, gently it picks away softly undoing you from the inside, slowly drawing you close and just when you are so far in and lost within its spell the ground opens up and all hell is let loose, we foresee future St Valentine days spent in casualty as hapless beaus sit in vigil over loved ones having suffered seizures at its heart stopping crescendo as a result of having it played to them. And don’t be fooled into thinking that both ‘Victim’ and ‘Beyond my reach’ are mere fillers, what the former may hold back on in intensity it more than makes up for with deliciously stinging summer pop mechanics while the latter’s drive happy cascading chords point to a band more than able to plug the gap left by the Manics. Certainly a band to watch for, a muted second EP is now complete check out their site for samples. Joint single of the missive.

Kid Carpet ‘Shit Dope’ EP (Slow Graffiti). Very nearly winning the coveted Single of the Missive if only by default this crooked debut from Kid Carpet is sure to split the Sunday lunch table into two halves and into the bargain possibly cause a bout of fisticuffs for good measure. Selflessly described as shit hop there’s no denying that there’s something adorable to be found on this debut four-track EP even though it does strike at the heart of the bizarre and child like. Coming across like a deranged younger sibling of Mike Skinner you have to award gold stars for the way he enthusiastically tackles Van Halen’s ‘Jump’ before giving up the ghost and later deciding to give it a well deserved kicking just for the hell of it, Reeves and Mortimer would be proud as punch. Likewise on ‘Blind Boy’ there’s a spot of tomfoolery as our intrepid hero armed with bag of toy electronics takes the classic ‘I’d rather go blind’ down to the seaside for a candy floss over dose and an action packed fun time afternoon of donkey rides before trying to drown it in a shallow pool of salty water. Unrepentant and like an accident waiting to happen Kid Carpet opens the proceedings with ‘Special’ which in all honesty is the Trumpton Fire Brigade pissed as farts and looking for a spot of argy bargy before lunging into ‘Nelson Street Space Invaders’ which imagines the resultant noise had anyone been brave enough to lock the Happy Mondays in a room full of seen better days bargain basement synthesisers and fed them copious amounts of speed. Not quite the full shilling though appreciably a star on the rise even though that star might be slightly at the end of its days and sitting in the shade getting wellied while flicking V signs at passers by.

The Knife ‘Heartbeats’ (Rabid). The return of Sweden’s kookiest duo the devilishly talented brother and sister combo the Knife. Having already floored us earlier this year with their eponymous debut EP and album, ‘Heartbeats’ acts as a trailer for their imminent ‘Deep Cuts’ long player which if earlier releases are anything to go by should keep the old hi-fi shaking its backside until it drops. This CD features three versions of ‘Heartbeats’ plus the bonus cut ‘Afraid of You’, get the twelve-inch and you are treated to an additional mix of the lead track by Style of Eye. ‘Heartbeats’ is as irresistible as it is child like operating on a similar template as used by McLaren on his ‘Madame Butterfly’ release, its bathed in a curious off centre Oriental glow with an ostensible 80’s twist in the tail. What makes the Knife such an alluring listening experience are Karin’s wandering vocals which manage all at once to encapsulate the cloaked tempestuousness of Kate Bush, the dramatics of Lene Lovich and the barking waywardness of Bjork, align them to Olof’s slyly infectious zig zagging off balanced funked up electro dance grooves and you have a recipe for something both disturbing and utterly enchanting. Imagine if you like a more earth bound Pop Off Tuesday (if you can that is). Left in the hands of Rex the Dog ‘Heartbeats’ is given a dandy New Order-ish muscular cast as though caught in a street brawl with Front 242 while the ‘Techno Remix’ bites hard at the heart of the electro-clash scene as was (is) and should ensure total destruction on the dance floor. Last and by no means least the rather curious and dare we say loveable ‘Afraid of You’ which finds our terrible twosome veering at one point perilously close towards frontiers occupied alone by Laurie Anderson before settling down for a spot of sinister bed time lullabies that have all the veiled nightmare quotient of those slightly worrying early 70’s cartoons from the Eastern bloc. Genius whichever way you paint it.

Halflight ‘Subside’ EP (My First Records). Damn this is gorgeous; I’d almost forgotten what it was like to fall head over heels in love with a record. Now its not often that you get a CD that simply forces you to stand in awe muttering wooaa, but then not many records are like this debut outing from Halflight. Halflight are a Cardiff based quartet who were recently voted the best new band in Wales after topping the A&R; panels in the 200 band competition Shout Out. Led by singer songwriter Sarah Howells who in a previous life was a member of Jylt who signed to Ugly Man Records the label responsible for putting out the exceptional ‘To You’ by I am Kloot, released one single ‘Surrender’ and then disappeared of the radar. Now refreshed and back with a vengeance, this dainty four track EP houses some of the most crushing moments we’ve had oozing their way from our hi-fi’s speakers in such a long time. References to Tanya Donelly and Kirsten Hersh are not offered likely neither are the subtle pointers to the Delgados and Sweeder’s ‘Swallowed by the Sun’ debut (especially on the up tempo opener ‘where the pins drop’) as Halflight teeter that fine line between beauty and cruelty. Like Singled Out favourites Anna Kashfi, Halflight have in their ranks a vocalist in Howells whose softening tones hold a lifetime of scars and bruises borne out of regret and loss that far exceed her youth. Complimented by a lone acoustic guitar, a cello and the gentle trace of drums don’t for one second be fooled into thinking that sparse means empty, again like Anna Kashfi, Halflight are adept at creating an exquisite line in melody that’s deep in emotion and rich in vibrancy. Tales of regret and deep introspection pave the way here, harrowingly intimate and so explicit you can almost touch the wounds, the crushing ‘Treading Water’ must surely rank as one of the most haunting and openly candid compositions ever committed to tape, enchanting and hurt it kisses gently to leave an everlasting bruise ensuring its fading glimmer is locked away in a secret dark place forever in your psyche. The elegant strings within ‘Sixfour’ exude a delicate spellbinding ghostly texture that would not be found wanting or out of place where it sat on Kate Bush’s ‘The Kick Inside’ while the sorrowfully parting ‘Photos’ is racked with the kind of resigned fate of helplessness as to make you either seethe with anger wanting to know the culprit responsible for the pain is so you can have a gentle word or else have you crying bucket loads from now until Christmas. And with that the esteemed Joint single of the Missive, nuff said.

Dive Dive ‘Good Show’ (Diablo). Damn us and our elephantine memory. We’ve had this one-track promo burning holes in the side of our head for a week or two now. Convinced we’d heard it before, each listen we kept thinking Dive Dive, did we imagine hearing that name around. A little routine digging around the losing today shed and bingo, turns out this baby originally crawled from the wreckage of its own making towards the middle of last year on Idle, a whopper of a cut and still is. Just to recap Dive Dive used to be Dustball in another life, impish noise-pop-niks who for a short while ripped up sizeable patches of the underground scene with releases for Oxford’s leading label of love Shifty Disco before going on a quest to use up all the available band names in sight (only joking). ‘Good Show’ is being re-released by their new label Diablo to act as a taster for their debut album due later this year and continues to show the ensembles delight at concocting the kind of tuneage that literally jumps out and throttles the listener. Out of the traps and running you can’t help feeling the need to dive (dive) for cover as though besieged by the hail of fire that this lot unload, all in all a spanking debut primed with enough well placed effervescent pop hooks and meaty carnage to have the most reticent of listeners reaching for their air guitar.

Bone Machine ‘Another Day Over’ (Hackpen). Seamless links abound (again), now this is getting daft. Previous record by Dive Dive used to be Dustball who were on Shifty Disco. Shifty Disco used to run a singles club, and mighty damn fine it was it has to be said. Mounting costs, deadlines etc….forced them to re-consider options a so the mp3 club was born, where for a small-ish fee you can gain access to weekly or quarterly downloads, your choice. Current goodies available to have as your own are new releases from Monkey (reviewed here last missive), the Black Madonnas, Trademark and Chris McMath. This particular release sees the mindset of Bone Machine put to the sword on two exclusive remixes along with the album edit of ‘Sleepy from a bad dream’. Remix number one features the Sigue Sigue Sputnik pitting their might against SI Heartfield. Sigue Sigue Sputnik to be honest need no introductions, and if they do, are you really sure your looking at the right website? A band who these days are rightly acknowledged as being ahead of their time by a least a decade, yet in the mid 80’s for a brief period their use of samples (though not revolutionary it has to be said at the time) aligned to art, fashion, sound tracks and a psuedo violent apocalyptic view of the future certainly put many of the music execs of the time on a back foot. On this occasion SSS are augmented by the percussive bleep talents of SI Heartfield (Binary Nation / Geushky fame) and pretty much keep close to maintaining the originals down tempo cast and welding to it a seriously mind expanding tripped out groove that should by rights see the club scene taking it to their bosom. Southampton duo Mike Spall and Luke Taplin better known to scenesters as NA get to grips with Bone Machine’s ‘Sleepy from a bad dream’. So impressed with the results where Bone Machine that they now use this version as part of their live set and a wonderful thing it is to, head expanding up tempo hypnotic bass heavy grooves morph delectably into becalmed dream like ambient washes to create a curiously disorientated vibe that’s as much sublime as it is sensual. Ending it all with the album edit of the same cut, a cinematic treat of blockbuster like symphonic waves pierced by swollen space dub grinds grooving intoxicated to the soaring sensually humid middle Eastern motifs found filtering throughout, alluring to say the least.

Three Man Amp ‘Harbour’ (Demo). Super fast return for ex-Concrete Dog trio Three Man Amp and one would have to say a visibly marked improvement on their last outing ‘Best Dress’ which we checked out a missive or three ago and admitted at the time to being fair done stupefied by the whole experience and if memory serves me right cries of Nirvana’s ‘Bleach’ and early career Manics where summoned together in one sentence alone. A tough call to top but they manage it admirably. This time around the trio up the ante splendidly with three more slices of heaving muscular rock to get your appetites worked into a lather, although annoyingly we nearly lost the blighter when it decided to take up residency in the PC’s CD drive and refused to come out, it’s a wonderful thing what sense of power and intimated threat to a CD’s livelihood the mere holding of a big hammer and rusty old screw driver can do. Opening the set with the title track ‘Harbour’ itself a heavy bearing beast of a cut filled to the brim with swollen hooks and the kind of looming post rock and creeping grunge like atmospherics that initially recall some kind of bastard offspring resulting from an illicit drunken meeting between Jon Spencer Blues Explosion and Jesus Lizard. The anthemic ‘Lounge’ proves to be the surprise cut of the pack finding the Three Amp kids in mellow moods and dare we say it toying with a slow chilled out back room at the bar boogie that’s fitted out superbly with an ear candy off kilter lazy smoulder within which the delicately spun nuances of that old loud / quiet dynamic are tastily woven just ever so lightly. That said best of the set is the insane ‘Mechanical Monkey Eyes’ steeped in angular riffs and pulse quickening signatures so sharp that they snare and snag dragging you into the inevitable blistering panic ridden frenetic implosion that lies in wait cooking up a storm mid way through and which proceeds therein to yank by the hair kicking and screaming to its logical conclusion. Damn those kids and their corking tunes, desirable stuff.

My Pet Junkie ‘Overhanging’ (Riverrun). Now this cute little three track CD has been the cause of much consternation in the losing today record shed since it landed on our doormat. London based trio My Pet Junkie are mischief makers, of that there’s no doubt, the accompanying blurb states the band are fuelled by heartbreak and hangovers with influences ranging from pop, progressive rock to jazz. Yeah you think maintaining a sceptical viewpoint. So you put on the CD thinking ‘give it a whirl’ no harm done. Hell, like, were we fooled big time. ‘Overhanging’ is dangerous, daft and deranged and that’s just half the story. My Pet Junkie play with a contagious fun time filled brew of whiplash invoking pogoing pyrotechnic pop at break neck speed, ‘Overhanging’ finds itself bolting off at the blink of an eye into worlds more associated by the Dickies, Peter and the Test Tube Babies and the Toy Dolls. But then don’t be fooled into thinking that this is purely an exercise in novelty pop, no siree, in its two minute time line when not beating you about the head playing unfeasibly fast guitar solos their bludgeoning you with brief blood thirsty detours in demonic grind core. ‘Particle’ is so infectious you swear the description was made for it, a spot of wholesale ransacking of Pistols riffs never did any one any harm we agree but then to turn it back on the listener in a Neds Atomic Dustbin type stylee as though their collective arses where on fire is admirable to say the least. All said and done though best cut by far is the teasing ‘Breathing without living’ revealing to all that amid the frenetic chaos there lies three sensitive souls with the power to bring you to your knees in tears. An acoustic gem with more stings than a porcupine, delectably twee in stature and so softly bruised and understandably hurt that you just want to throw your arms around it in protection. Recommended as if you needed telling.

Loose Canon ‘What comes next?’ (Akoustik Anarkhy). It’s strange how these missives manage to work out, take the last time that we had the opportunity to review anything by Loose Canon. For those with memories not stretching that far it was way back at the tail end of 2002 when we were treated to their debut ‘Out to Lunch’. During the course of the same missive the Clientele featured, who I’m pretty certain haven’t appeared since until that is in this particular rambling and as though to stretch the coincidence factor to breaking point a little known band by the name of Sancho Panza appeared and disappeared sharpishly until that is recently with when out of the blue their debut album materialised though with their name now pared down to Sancho. More kids with their feet in the present day but with their hearts and heads poking rudely in the late 70’s / early 80’s. This two track release is raw and primal and caustically so, angular riffs, dirty hooks and housing a real biting sense of the austere. If there’s any complaint to be had about it, its just that its there and then its not, enough to get your teeth into but then not more than enough to chew on but then I suppose those Akoustik Anarkhy kids don’t want to spoil us too much. ‘What comes next?’ the lead track imagines some kind of parallel universe where the 101ers with Strummer in attendance do early rough n’ ready Clash covers for kicks and coolly coming strutting and sneering from out of the other side sounding like a late night fisticuffs between Eddie and the Hot Roads and Subway Sect, sharp stuff if you ask us. Flip over for our favoured cut ‘Take these eyes’. Taking you back to Manchester 1979. Imagine the scene, bleak Northern town, high unemployment even higher hi-rise monstrosities. Like neighbours Liverpool a small but crucial music scene is beginning to develop with the early Anthony Wilson funded Factory records finding the scenes pulse. A rain drenched night brings together a studio confrontation of the varying disciples of the Beefheart / Can / Krautrock namely the Fall, Cabaret Voltaire, Joy Division and A Certain Ratio, a jamming session of sorts ensues, the result ‘Take these Eyes’. Dark, scruffy, brooding and bloody brilliant. Nuff said our kid.

Aaron Short ‘My World’ (Self Released). Debut release time and mighty fine it is to. Aaron Short is a young singer songwriter whose done the whole busking on the London Underground to headlining sell out gigs in Chicago and can be found keeping himself busy on the live circuit who when not found performing solo can be seen out and about as part of the quartet the Bluejacks or else hooking up with duo Itchy and Scatchy (and no kids not the famous gore and splatter two some from the best TV show on Earth the Simpsons, or at least we think not though it would be an interesting spectacle if it were). Anyway back to the music, ‘My World’ as said is Aaron’s debut release revealing a songwriter of some note. Sadly it has to be said not the old Secret Affair number but a self penned ditty presented here in three variants: the full on glossy pop cut, an acoustic mix and an instrumental version thus ensuring that once over this baby will be pinging around your head like an overactive pinball. ‘My World’ is slyly jubilant almost effervescent, built around a swaggering MOR chassis that subtly nicks that snagging riff from Tom Petty’s ‘Running down a Dream’ it’s a deceptive blighter that’s all at once brazen and bashful, lovers of World Party and perhaps Crowded House will be particular smitten by it softly winding countrified dynamics, drifting pedal steel treatments and lazy eyed laid back easy pop simplicity. The acoustic mix adds a delicate brush of ethnic drums to the picture to curiously end up sounding vaguely like a cross between those post Bickers stripped down House of Love overtures and those oh so rare slow burn anthemic gems that Pete Wylie occasionally steps up to do when the muse strikes him. A bit of a winner if you ask me and quite possibly the beginning of a rare talent.

Santo El Diablo ‘The Santo 7 Ride’ EP (Self Released). Featured stars of the last missives whereupon their ‘Santos Vs. the Flying Saucers’ EP had us all a cock-a-hoop and whooping up a storm in our otherwise dreary confines of the losing today record shed. We moaned and whinged about not having heard their debut disc and lo and behold lying upon the doormat ready to do the business on the failing house hi-fi was that errant disc in all its glory. Originally released at the fag end of last year and still available via the bands web site it’s a seven track feast of softly drifting surrealist psychedelia that we here strongly recommend you nail down and treat your record collection to. Having heard this EP several times now it won’t come as any surprise to us if in the very near future this trio are hailed as the British version of They Might be Giants with Pixies inclinations (best served on the sleepy eyed ‘Computer Gears’ with its softly smouldering brushes of ‘Flowers’ era Will Sergeant-esque ice dripped shimmering collages which make this by far the EP’s best cut). Opening cut ‘Santos are El Diablo’ has had the honour of being picked up by Smalltown America ( as part of their series of compilations entitled ‘Public Service Broadcast’ on which the Santo trio appear on Volume 4 rubbing shoulders with Holland’s (can do no wrong) Seedling and 21 other bands who we haven’t previously heard of but will spend our idling hours hunting down, of that you can be certain. Back to the EP though, Santo El Diablo craftily cram your air space with wonky slightly off kilter melodies that sound strangely out of focus and hazily tripping, one minute shyly ambling in a mix of bluesy folk psychedelia via the opener ‘Santos are El Diablo’ the next all bathed in a tangy lysergic hue as though the Summer Hymns were doing prime time Beach Boys as ventured on the aching ‘Lemon Citric’. Just when you think you have the measure of them they throw you off orbit by adding a few well aimed gritty cuts just to keep you on the edge of your seat, ‘Staring into the Floyd’ perhaps provides the clearest indication of the bands true guiding spirits in terms of reference points as it feverishly dips into both ‘Saucerful of Secrets’ and ‘Ummagumma’ and twists and flexes elements of ‘Set the controls’ and ‘Careful with that Axe, Eugene’ with a ‘Trompe le Monde’ era Pixies glee which just begs to be heard. Elsewhere the Black Francis and Co homage continues on the very wonderful ‘Opportunity’ where the neo Latin devices employed in the main throughout ‘Doolittle’ come clattering to the fore in a rather special kind of way culminating in a middle section that’s so Dawn of the Replicants we nearly swooned in admiration. A stunning release make no mistake.

Daniel Rachel ‘Dear Friend’ (Dust). We could gush for hours about this second release from Daniel Rachel and still wouldn’t be able to summon up the right words to do it justice. Responsible for without doubt one of the sweetest records we had the fortune of hearing last year in the debut single ‘Burned by the Wire’ which over spilled with all manner of colourful references to Dylan, Springsteen and Wylie (probably the first and last time you’ll ever see these three names together in one sentence). It was a release that hinted at special things to come and on this new two track single Rachel hasn’t betrayed the faith we placed upon him. Literally having just taken delivery we were tempted to shelve it until the next Singled Out missive but so good it is we were busting at the seams to spread the word. The spirit of George Harrison breezes lovingly throughout the reflective landscape of ‘Dear Friend’ toeing by the hand the memories of Tilbrook and Difford’s finest moments to venture upon the pastures of the Beatles ‘Revolver’. A delicate yet articulately colourful composition acoustically delivered where regret, hope, fondness and sadness are vie for centre stage and blessed with juxtaposing moods born from hooks that one minute soar skywards only to tumble magnificently into a melancholic descent a la ‘Eleanor Rigby’. Flip over for the bitterly sarcastic ‘An Englishman Abroad’, which in our humble opinion just edges the lead cut. Fans of classic Robyn Hitchcock will lap this up, the irony of the xenophobic disease that we Brits hold dear to our hearts without even realising it is all to evident. That whole mentality about going to a restaurant offering French cuisine and then sitting there sulking because they don’t do Eggs and Chips, none of that flag waving nonsense like that pitifully executed by Morrissey from the safety of his LA confines. Eccentric and woundingly observant like only Hitchcock and Ray Davies could ever be and fitted out within an irresistibly catchy melody that dips between Soft Boys type psychedelia as though tripped out with terrace charged soft glam, irrefutably English in an XTC kind of way. Essential and we hasten to add, simply perfect.

Culture Industry ‘dj ascetic loves himself badly’ (Static Caravan). And just in time for the new season the latest signing to the Static Caravan All Stars. We reviewed this beauty way back in Singled Out 37 when we had a CD-r to work from, good news is that it out of the pressing plant and waiting to do mucho damage on any willing Hi-Fi’s it can find. So without the wish to repeat ourselves it might be best referring back to just in case you have any lingering doubts as to how good it is. Safe to say limited to 500 copies and guaranteed to shift faster than shit from a hot shovel on a frosty morning and with that a totally essential acquisition to any half decent self-respecting cool record collection. You know it makes sense.

And sticking with the Static brothers for two ultra limited lathe cut polycarbonate clear vinyl 7” releases which as regular readers to these pages are more than aware have this knack of causing us mucho headaches given that our cheapo portable homemade stand in record deck (which it has to said by and large does us proud) really cannot cope with these fragile though, admittedly, beautiful looking releases.

The Young Barons ‘Richard and the Ghost Train’ (Static Caravan). First up comes from duo Matt Price and Rich Whitelaw who masquerade around the nighttime streets of Birmingham scaring would be passers by with their bag of spooky tunes as the Young Barons. Ultra limited to 100 pressings which by all accounts according to the Static site is now sold out but never fear a spot of ingenuity and a bit of hard detective graft work should see the most determined souls being able to secure a copy (best bet being a quick visit to Normans at ‘Richard and the Ghost Train’ is exactly as the title suggests, Richard Whitelaw on the ghost train, honest, that simple. Now I don’t know about you but I find the kids who go on these rides much scarier than the laughable Munster-esque (oh I wish) back drops within, all toothless grins and wired expressions with the added charm of being out of their kites on additives. Still doesn’t deter dear old Richard who armed with a tape recorder takes account of his over in the blink of an eye no thrills even less spills ordeal passing the results over to Matt who with his bag of archaic analogue toy shop keyboards weaves the whole thing in a decidedly spooky albeit wonky electronic ditty. Think Abbott and Costello teamed up with Scooby Doo and Co on a murder weekend with Lon Chaney Jnr playing all your B movie horror heroes. Still, better than those torturous end of ride photos you get, who knows this kind of thing could catch on. ‘The Golden Palace’ on the flip is even more surreal, the duo having borrowed ISAN’s ice cream van (without permission) park it up an alley at the back of Molineux football ground home of the once mighty soccer side Wolverhampton Wanderers to partake in a spot of dozing plinkety plonk lullaby loving electro pop, the dreamy faraway ambience fractured ever so slightly by the (recorded for posterity) distant memories of a truly misspent Saturday afternoon as the home side entertain Wimbledon, we are inclined to say akin to a watching paint dry experience being had by all but then being a Liverpool supporter it’s pretty much a case of hello pot hello kettle. Like candy floss, sweet, light, fluffy and leaving you wanting more.

Ward ‘De Furnius’ (Static Caravan). Last time we featured those Ward kids Richard and David was when they knocked us bandy with their debut Static release from about 18 months ago entitled ‘Sesquipadelian Origins’ and before you ask, no we haven’t a clue either but you can bet your life savings it doesn’t go well with chips and ketchup. Since that time they’ve squeezed out an album for Loca Records called ‘It’s not necessarily your height it could be your feet’ which we somehow missed but will no doubt add to our never ending wish list of releases we won’t sleep until we have. Again as with the Young Barons release another lathe cut clear vinyl polycarbonate thingummyjig type er…thing (huh and they say the art of the English language is going for a burden). Ward step in with two tracks of such contrasting calibre that you’ll either be gently lulled to sleep or frankly to scared witless to close both your eyes at the same time ever again. ‘De Furnius’ is creepy, in fact so creepy that we reckon it’ll ensure that you’ll be leaving on all the household lights and nervously checking behind doors, under beds and behind sofas. Casting an eerie eye; in fact the same eerie eye as those belonging to the one eyed alien invaders with a predilection (not) to influenza from War of the Worlds, sparse manipulated sounds are the order of the day, impossible to dance to we’ve tried believe it or not, though don’t be surprised if various electronic appliances start acting up strangely. If you want my honest opinion I swear its one of those pornographic sex lines for toasters but in binary code. Flip over and things get a little more playful on ‘Armonica or Something’ in fact so playful that you swear the Ward duo have discovered the enchanted land were all the old children’s TV themes go to when they’ve been discarded and forgotten. Amid the gentle scratchy toy box chimes the fleeting memories of Jamie and his Magic Torch, the Clangers, those surreal Charley Says adverts from the 70’s and a positive who’s who of BBC Radiophonic incidental pieces found lying around on the Tardis floor come out into the daylight for a spot of off ground tick. Very cute indeed and well worth annoying your local record emporium owner about. While your there also check out the latest line from the Static Summer Collection by Tuung (limited lathe cut): a delicious cork sleeved Maps and Diagram CD strictly limited to just 100 pressings and a split featuring the Static boys in a face off with those eminent dudes from north of the border, Fence.

Spectrum 311 ‘Lying Eyes’ (162a). Apparently to be found doing some serious business on the club scene is this grinding 5-track debut from North London trio Spectrum 311. The accompanying press release describes their sound as a lip smacking ‘culture clash of hip hop, soul and ska’ with everything from Dr Dre to the Specials flooding the mixes and though we’d be inclined to partially agree we’d prefer to offer up the early 90’s work of Dreadzone as being closer brothers in arms especially on the catchy space dub treatments of the mooching ‘Supersonic Raygun’. ‘Lying Eyes’ is all at once slinky and sexy, imagine a seriously tripped out Orb churning out irresistibly cool dub vibes with the noire-ish edge of Barry Adamson as though drafted in to collaborate on a sinister though ostensibly floor friendly grinder with ‘Ghost Town’ as its template. If that wasn’t enough tagged on the end for good measure are an additional three mixes of the title cut. Aside the superbly stripped down Juan Maclean retread with its bare boned dynamic milking the original for all its worth you get Mish Mash’s Oscar Fullone servicing it with a wicked early 80’s groove that’s not a million miles away from some dream collaboration between Yello and Heaven 17. Best mix of the set though is the Simian Mobile Disco rehash who rev up the Eastern atmospherics and cleverly weld onto the chassis a stinging 80’s white funk gloss in the best tradition of 23 Skidoo and Brilliant. Pretty much essential if you ask me.

And to end things on a slightly strange note, big spotters badge to Nigel of Pickled Egg records who was in touch puzzling over the disappearance of the infamous Zukanican review from earlier in the year, ‘he’s trying it on’ we thought and so rechecked for the would be lost musing only to find by jiminy he was right. Somewhere along the line, some hitherto unexplained glitch to the mighty wibbly wobbly web world at Losing Today HQ had rendered Singled Out Missive 37 incomplete (hurrah I hear some of you shout) and with that offered an incomprehensible (what’s new come the cries from the back of the gallery) write up on the excellent Flannelmouth CD as well as missing completely not only Zukanican, but Pearl, The Playwrights (again) and the almighty Series 7. So without further ado and apologies to all concerned a second bite at the apple so to speak for our erstwhile MIA’s…..

Flannelmouth ‘(What a) comeback’ (Grid). Once upon a time the airwaves of late night radio chimed to the tender tones of carefree sensitive indie pop, like-minded couples cuddled tearfully to the sounds of now long forgotten ensembles such as the Caretaker Race and the Triffids, labels popped up in droves, enterprises founded with the aim of fans and bands alike at sharing these lovesick odes to one and all. Nothing hurts quite like a well-aimed stinging hook line and Flannelmouth know this. Flannelmouth are a Finnish ensemble who’ve had the distinction of being the only Scandinavian band to win the coveted In the City best unsigned band award, and believe you me that’s no mean feat. ‘(What a) comeback’ has those tender shots, the stinging hook the euphoric rise and fall and a to die for melody all welded to a rush of strummed jangling guitars that belies a nod to early Wedding Present while managing to sit up prettily reminiscing Weather Prophets ‘Almost Prayed’, all in all combining to hurt and hunt you until in tearful states you can’t resist any longer. In total contrast ‘Bravado’ on the flip is thoroughly more dramatic so much so you can feel the tension rising through your very veins during its duration, chunky guitars whipped up in frenzied doom laden desperation, think of a tighter and more anxious Chameleons being prepped, primed and pulled apart by an early career Comsat Angels, simply stunning stuff.

Zukanican ‘E 5number’ (Pickled Egg). While the Coral / Stands and to a lesser extent preserve the Liverpudlian heritage of princely pop, somewhere in the hazy fog up yonder a strange brew is taking shape where the arguments are not over the merits of the Moptops but over who is the worthier: Floyd or Beefheart, the latter winning hands down in this veiled but crafted modern day exposition of ‘Trout mask replica’ as we go flip yer wig time across 6 tracks of head-melting frenetic gamesmanship from Scouse space cadets Zukanican who by our reckoning exist in a different dimension than normal folk. Brought to you by the Living Brain Collective, yep the same motley dudes that reaked upon us the warped psychedelia that was ‘Bad Present Day’ a few years ago. Since that time the collective has sprouted to produce offspring notably Zukanican and the Hand Museum, and like all offspring ‘E 5number’ has all the worrying signs of warring growing pains in the camp. Highly lysergic stuff, ostensibly out there and out of sight and running Zukanican create eerily tripping stoner down tempo kraut jazz rock, part Ozric Tentacles after having raided their greenhouse and consumed their stash of magic mushrooms in one bloated session while listening to Sun Ra and part Bablicon doing a Coltrane / Reich crossover appreciation with a thoroughly out of it Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band adding the backing with the space dub aesthetic of Bill Laswell floating perilously in the ether and imprisoned for all eternity by the wired lunatic fringe of the Clangers especially on the wacked out ‘Lack of Signage’. Alarming stuff, across six tracks Zukanican take you to places you’ve only briefly visited in nightmares, so unreal and warping that you are forced to keep checking out of the window for re-assurance that your still within pinching distance of reality. ‘Pay never’ offers the most viable route to sanity but even that’s fraught with crooked cul de sacs and impending shift shaping obstacles a far cry from the barking ‘Dust from a Goose’ which is so erratic that you feel your mind slowly ebbing away to the place where the plot was first lost. Though it’s on the extraordinarily loose chilled out vibe throbbing throughout ‘Medallion’ were most will feel a sense of blissful union with their inner karma. Daunting but delightfully deranged.

Pearl ‘I wanna love you’ (Longlostbrother). Could be the single of summer that’s for you to decide but one things for sure they don’t get much better than this trailer track from Pearl’s forthcoming album a positive Factor 10 on the phwoah scale. Brought to us by the label who picked up the tab for the second Repairman single last year and excellent it was to, Pearl was once a member of 90’s Brit-poppers Powder who after delivering a few tasty singles abruptly fell off the radar. ‘I wanna love you’ smoulders and really that’s about all you really need to know. But then a review wouldn’t be a review would it if it were down to just one word (unless it was Darkness…cack [Ed]). How about sultry, summery, sensual, slightly off centre lounge pop sophisticatedly arranged as potent as Venus’ tipped bow and as inwardly invigorating as a crystal clear summer morn in the countryside with the call of dawn being ushered in by chorusing birds nearby. Is the picture painted fully enough yet? Well imagine the infectious pop exterior of Dodgy smooching with the elegance of Edwin Moses and subtly nibbling at the riff from the Chiffons ‘He’s so fine’ all drenched by aching Hammonds to create the kind of summer cool that the Style Council hinted at with Pearl’s husky vocals causing the temperatures to rise. Perfect. Flip over for the equally tempting ‘Lotta Love’ which to be honest has all the sublime grace of those immortal 60’s girl bands and the smoochy warmth of early Smokey Robinson (I kid you not) and you have yourself an irresistible cocktail.

The Playwrights ‘Guy Debord is really dead’ (Sink and Stove). And did we mention the Playwrights earlier? Seamless stuff these missives, you think I just throw them together and hope for the best, okay to be honest I do, but still looks good dunnit. Typical with these things I’ve lost the press release, no matter, nobody can tell me anything about this lot that I haven’t already heard for myself. Perhaps one of the best bands currently to be found on the circuit right now, with a soon to be released second album awaiting release this three track taster finds the Playwrights sound evolving in massive leaps. Their still awkwardly angular with the compositions themselves sharp enough to give you cuts just listening to them, yet on two cuts here, notably the energetic double jointed ‘Bridge Burning Co-operative’ and the spasmodic ‘Knock yourself out’ (where the disjointed rhythms you may be surprised to hear curiously appear not as far removed from the pop world as first thought being distantly related to a roughened ‘Sat in your Lap’ by Kate Bush) the regimental rigidity of the caustic bodywork is found somewhat loosened and made malleable by a sly funky grain lurking at their hearts. The Playwrights contort and manoeuvre intelligently to a crafted half-breed mutation of art math rock that’s intense and demanding as exemplified perfectly on ‘Guy Debord is really dead’. The cue being taken from a fragmented ringer like concoction of spare parts from early 80’s stalwarts the Fire Engines and the Nightingales, the assembled bits hammered together by an agitated groove evoking memories of the Gang of Four and the splintered riffs of the likes of Fugazi all given a fulsome body by billowing brass arrangements. The real new order of cerebral rock begins here, the rest are only pretending.

Series 7 ‘Revolt’ EP (Miscreant). Saving the best till last. If there’s anything Series 7 can do wrong we’d like to hear it. This blistering 5-track baby finally gets an official release (on Miscreant home of ILOVEUFO) having previously been doing Hi-Fi damage as a very limited self released demo (see full review at Missive 30). Without doubt the most abrasively powerful band we’ve had on the decks in a long time who in our humble opinion are probably THE band to watch currently to be found trading blows on the circuit at the moment. Series 7’s sound is unrelenting, rampaging and without doubt the most threatening thing you’ll hear all year, such is the sonic arsenal they utilise you’d be forgiven for thinking you were under siege from a Panzer attack. Fist clenching punk rock at its most potent and direct possessing the no nonsense hammer like astuteness of early Leatherhead and the melodic undercarriage of both Sink and Mega City 4 while paying its dues to the classic era Killing Joke grind. Best cut of the set ‘Seroxat Suicide’ a ferocious fatalistic feast of schizophrenic seizures, slow / fast, loud / quiet dynamics all colliding into a searingly intense bloodbath. An awesome display pent up aggression with unarguable attitude. As essential as the air you breathe, no decent record collection should be found wanting.

And that kids is pretty much it for about a week, and I promise it will be a week, okay maybe 10 days. Next time out we’ll tune into the latest tunes from the awesome Australian combo Greenland: a superb second single from the Projects: an ultra limited Hood / Themselves split on Rocket Racer but which was sent to us by Misplaced Music who it should be worth noting have a stunning new CD out by Charlie Parr and an excellent compilation raising funds for the Animal / Dog rescue services, please check out for further information; also the latest from Guernsey’s premier garage rock band Thee Jenerators; the debut release for both artist Ali MacQueen and label Hope Recordings; the latest brace of instalments from that crucial Expanding singles club featuring Myrakaru and Bauri; the next single from Heliotone records which features the very talented Michael Shelley of Shoeshine fame; guaranteed spots for both Broadway Project and Emerald Ocean (I know we promised last time out but…..), the new single from Meow Meow and whatever else we manage to pick up between now and the next 7 or so days.

All that leaves me to do is to thank all those record labels, bands and press agents for making these musings possible, no names no pack drill you know who you are and of course to you for taking time out to decipher these garbled thoughts. Feedback always appreciated whether it’s just to say hello or simply to abuse and criticise, and remember, death threats given pride of place on the gallery. For submissions to these pages, should you be daft enough, please check the address somewhere at the start of this thesis like excuse for writing.

See you in 7 – 10 and happy hunting with the records and most important of all, take care of yourselves.

‘may the groove be with you’

Lots of love and stuff,



Singled Out is made from natural sources and a highly limited intelligence and selected using the finest natural idiot known to mankind.

Singled Out contains no additives, nuts, animal fats or chemical derivitatives. Any abnormal effects are purely of your own making. If irregular symptoms do occur, retire to a darkened room and repeat the dose at an increased volume. If symptoms persist seek your independent record store for advice and reassurance.

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