Archive posting originally published on the losing today site ….. August 2004 …..
‘Holy shit Batman, what is that sound, it’s hurting my head…’
‘Shut the fuck up Robin, don’t you know it’s the all new swanky Singled Out, superhero tunes for a superhero guy, and while we are at it, why has my Sonic Youth t-shirt got nipples, have you been wearing it again?
Dedicated to Kelly and Mark missing you lots and lots.
The joy, we’ve discovered brackets, yes brackets as in (these type brackets) and as a mark of respect (and joy at our discovery) this weeks singled out will be bulging with words (and brackets). Next time out, the, mysteries, of….punctuation!!! explained, . (?) !
Okay a kind of very quick Singled Out before we check out for a week or two to clear the decks of what is beginning to look like a mountain range for a CD album pile.
Our thanks to the people responsible for the latest issue of the Word (Issue 19). Not only did they hit us with a cover mounted CD that features the God like genius of Robyn Hitchcock teamed up on this occasion with Gillian Welch and David Rawlings but delighted us with an observant and highly readable appraisal of Undead looking Jack and the diminutive (but gorgeous with it) Meg better known (as if you didn’t know) as the White Stripes. But the best was yet to come, as though making it seem like all my Christmas’s had come on the same day albeit four months early they threw in a highly entertaining and memory jerking 5 page salute to the greatest band in their own tea break that the Beatles wanted to be (had they of course not split up five years earlier or else formed 15 years later), the Rutles, we salute you Neil Innes.
Quote of the week comes via a spot of casual twilight internet surfing where we happened across God like Genius number two, Julian Cope. When asked by a fan via his sites message board:
‘Would you ever do another Teardrop Explodes gig?’
Our intrepid Space Druid resplendent in the art of one-line put-downs replied:
‘Would you ever return to having your mother wipe your asshole?’
So we’ll take that as a firm NO then Jules?! For more spleen ripping moments aplenty check out http://www.headheritage.co.uk/drude/qa/brain_donor.php
Sad news indeed reached us this week that the self styled super freak and King of Punk Funk Rick James passed away in his sleep on 6th August 2004 at his LA home. The multi million selling artists performances shocked and astounded audiences in equal measures when his ‘Street Songs’ album brought him to the attention of the music world at large. As well as being a musician in his own right and proficient with at least five instruments, he also wrote songs for other artists including Teena Marie and the Temptations and was often sampled, perhaps most famously on MC Hammer’s ‘U can’t touch this’ which included ‘Super Freak’. James (real name James Johnson) was born February 1st 1948 a nephew of Temptations vocalist Melvin Franklin he founded his first band the Mynah Birds after going AWOL from the Navy, a band whose members would later go their separate ways and form legends Steppenwolf (Goldie McJohn) and Buffalo Springfield (Bruce Palmer and Neil Young). Following his subsequent arrest for draft dodging he relocated to Britain and formed funk combo Main Line. Returning to the States permanently in the late 70’s he assembled together a group of musicians called the Stone City Band with the aim of creating a more progressive and rock orientated take on the whole funk genre or as James put it ‘funk ‘n’ roll’ taking elements of Sly Stone, George Clinton but with the kick of early Rolling Stones and fusing it with outsider streetwise attitude of sex and drugs (note the veiled references on ‘Mary Jane’ which was dropped from radio airplay). Having earned sizeable sales for both the ‘Come get it’ and ‘Bustin out of L Seven’ James took to the road accompanied by the Mary Jane Girls and a then unknown artist, Prince. The quintessential ‘Street Songs’ was released in 1981 having already seen James corner the disco market with the contagious ‘Super Freak’ and ‘Give it to me baby’ hits. Never quite able to top the success of ‘Street Songs’ James slowly withdrew to more ballad-esque laid back soul as the 80’s progressed mainly born from being irritated at the constant comparisons to, the now established, Prince and his apparent turnaround of attitude towards drugs. Leaving Motown in the mid 80’s he joined Reprise were he was to score a number one hit ‘Loosey’s Rap’ with Roxanne Shanty. Yet the spectre of drugs returned with vicious abandon culminating in his being imprisoned in 1991 and serving 5 years. One thing that can never be denied or taken away from James was that he was a visionary who single handedly took a genre by the scruff of its neck and dragged it kicking and screaming towards its next logical evolution. At the time of his death James was finalising work on a new album due for release next year and had recently been seen duetting with Teena Marie at the BET awards were they performed ‘Fire and Desire’. The cause of death was thought to be coronary related. His is survived by his 3 children. Our thoughts and deepest sympathies go out to his family and fiends.
On the magazine front the long awaited Losing Today in print is still somewhere about but fear not a crack squad of sniff it out tracker dogs have been let loose with express orders to find the errant publication and bring it home to the loving arms of its over anxious parent like staff, I have just today seen the first finished copies and it looks, without blowing our own trumpet right fuckin’ awesome in the age old tradition of front to back it features: !!!, Lali Puna, Fierce Panda, Jet, Fiery Furnaces, the Veils, Franz Ferdinand, cover stars Blonde Redhead, a feature on everything you should know about the Canadian music scene, Nitrada, Tales from the Attic (the older and wiser sibling of this here Singled Out), Fiel Garvie, Mum, 22 pages of album reviews, Gen X and a handy bite sized essential CD featuring 14 foot stomping tracks from artists that your record collection is begging to say hello to.
……..……..NB Losing Today magazine will be out and available in Borders later this week……………
As previously we are still accepting submissions for the next cover mounted CD details as outlined on the last Singled Out as can the address for submissions to these pages and any general gifts you wish to unload yourselves with (all graciously received of course) please note that though advising me of hot new MP3’s is very much encouraged I still like having the sounds in my hand whether it be on vinyl (preferred especially in hand drawn wrap around sleeves with stacks of inserts), CD’s, floppy discs and even cassettes.
And when you are fed up playing CD’s and records then take some time out and have a listen in on other people playing CD’s and records on that old fangled contraption called the radio…highlights……
Mixing It on BBC Radio 3 http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio3/mixingit Friday 22.15 – 23.30. Radio at its most eclectic, hell they even play stuff we’d give the odd spare limb for. Presented by Mark Russell and Robert Sandall, those with PC’s can play catch up and re-listen to Bjork’s interview on the 20th August show, while treats in store next week include a session from Los Angeles ambient acoustic musician Tom Heasley.
John Peel on BBC Radio 1 http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio1/johnpeel still in my view the only DJ worth listening to on Auntie Beeb’s flagship radio station despite them continually dicking about with his programme schedules. Next week sees the Deerhoof locking swords 26/08 while the night before (25/08) sees he of the velveteen electronic symphonies Darren Durham better known as Fort Dax stepping out for what should be one of the sessions of the year and which will feature (in his words not mine) a slightly more realised mix of ‘Wolf’ (his forthcoming single on the ever dandy Static Caravan) and a less emphatic version of ‘Beverley’. The following week has Graham Coxon dropping by on the 01/09 and the daunting Trencher which we recommend hard hats at the ready and all moveable objects glued down or at least removed from the vicinity of the radio / PC (02/09). As previously advertised those with PC’s can relive moments from the Fall’s 24th Peel session, not to missed or sniffed at unless of course you have a bad cold and a note from your mum to excuse you.
Meanwhile erstwhile Mancunian bad boy of early 90’s graveyard radio Mark Radcliffe can now be heard without hapless side kick Marc Riley in tow on, what is the new Radio 1, Radio 2 for four nights a week, not a patch on the anarchic Hit the North and sounding like a less anally sarcastic Out on Blue 6 but then you can’t have everything. http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio2/markradcliffe
Talking of Marc Riley he’s now divorced from his radio partner of 15 years and now happily lives on BBC 6 where he presses dainty flowers and scares the birds out of the trees with his bag of musical gems as part of his show Saturday afternoon Rocket Science broadcasts. Again those with PC’s may like to recheck the 21/08 show where the absolutely wonderful Anna Kashfi clock in for an acoustic session. http://www.bbc.co.uk/6music
Album wise the current batch of long players to send us spinning till we are sick and dizzy…..
Tangiers ‘Never bring you pleasure’ (Sonic Unyon)
The Violettes ‘The Violettes’ (Violette Music)
The Go! Team ‘Thunder Lightning Strike’ (Memphis Industries).
Hedaya ‘Another brave act, like leaving’ (Clever Bedsit)
Charlie Parr ‘King Earl’ (Misplaced Music)
For Against ‘Echelons’ (Words on Music)
Argentine ‘In other fictions’ (Self Released)
The Fairways ‘This is Farewell’ (Matinee)
Kate Bush ‘Lionheart’ (EMI)
Gabriel Minnikin ‘Hard Feelings’ (Self Released) we can’t recommend this one enough…..
Onward to this times all conquering singles among the pile awaiting the to go under the knife the following:
Hood / Themselves; Myrakaru; Bauri; Oceansize; Michael Shelley; Greenland; Ali McQueen; Meow Meow, Truckee Brothers; Emerald Ocean; Thee Jenerators; Broadway Project, the Hot Puppies, Small World, the Projects and 100 bullets back.
Hood / Themselves ‘Split’ (Rocket Racer). An absolutely spiffing release that pairs together the eminent Hood with Themselves. This release is the third instalment of Rocket Racers 7” picture disc series which has so far seen (not by us we sadly hasten to add) outings featuring the absolutely awesome Blackheart Procession and a head to head between Styrofoam and Dntel. These releases are limited to a 1000 copies of which there are a further 100 specially designed artwork versions kicking about housed in dinky Braille sleeves (of which ours is one) which look mighty damn nifty. Hood no introductions needed really, our only complaint is that we haven’t heard nearly enough of the releases they’ve put out over the last few years. They’ve been mooching around the music scene from the comfort of their Leeds based bunker for over 10 years now originally coming to prominence in the jet stream that followed Flying Saucer Attack’s introduction upon the ears of the underground, but where both ensembles fuzz laden pop connected them initially FSA would mature into more folk realms while Hood would shift ever more into the uncertain and creatively wide open left field arenas. It’s a busy time ahead for the Hood dudes what with a new single slated for October release entitled ‘The Lost You’ and an album as yet untitled due early next year. As an appetiser this split features the first new Hood material in two years and gorgeous it is to, woozy daydreaming soft centred psychedelia fused by the blending of electronics and acoustics that have the overall impression of a melody eerily slipping in and out of consciousness. Laid back and trippingly docile, think Animal Collective at their most sedately out there being hot-wired by the drifting sophistication of ‘Spirit of Eden’ era Talk Talk, simply magnificent. Flip over for an interpretation of a Hood composition by Anticon stable mates Themselves who are basically duo Dose One of cloudead fame and Jel. Not prepared to play second fiddle Themselves work their own unique brand of magic to create an equally fuzzy dream like spectacle. Slightly less together than Hood whose wisp like dream scapes have you running through fields of oddly coloured talking poppies Themselves on the other hand help you relive those odd fragmented surrealist dreams where objects not normally known for their conversational techniques chatter endlessly about the meaning of life in places where the sky is the ground, clouds are marshmallows and the sea is a big tub of yum yum yoghurt (or is it only me that has dreams like this then?). Skipping beats, vocoder vocals and all manner of strange toy-tronic sounds waltz about in confused delight to upset your otherwise well ordered life. And as though it was going to be anything other, the Single of the Missive. http://www.rocketracer.us
Myrakura ‘Klutic Reso’ (Expanding). Okay the latest instalments in the eclectic series of seven inches from London’s premier electronic label, Expanding brings onboard latest signings Myrakaru. You know the deal by now, 400-coloured vinyl pressings only all housed in a heavy duty PVC that smells of gabardine. This particular release comes in a lovely shade of sherbet yellow in case you were wondering. Estonian duo Indrek and Joel have been plying their art now since 2000, initially operating within break beat mediums their sound has now coalesced and harmonised since those heady chaotic days into what will shortly be their soon to be released debut album ‘Tammetoru’ again on Expanding (an album which from a few sly cursory listens we highly recommend). In the meantime and acting as something of a taster is this delightful two track offering which sees the pairing of the delightfully sensitive sounding ‘Klutic Reso’ with the softly toned (though inclined to spit on occasions) enchantment of ‘Kimalnu’ (taken from the aforementioned long player). Slender, fluffy and very heart warming, ‘Klutic Reso’ lovingly peeps about from behind a dainty clockwork dynamic that’s scrumptiously moulded onto a dozing calypso like melody that could easily pass itself off as a holiday brochure for two weeks bathing in some extra terrestrial seaside beneath the tropical eyes of twin suns. Though darker ‘Kimalnu’ is equally tempting, squelches and tripping beats flutter in the background while all elsewhere seek a more heaven bound plateau on which to play, the duo absorb the ebb and flow of sensual ghost like drones to woo you and it works well drawing you into a hypnotic slumber where the serene landscapes only pierced by the impromptu bursts of jungle-esque friction. File under melting. http://www.expandingrecords.com
Bauri ‘Have no fear’ (Expanding). The fifth instalment of the Expanding Seven inch series (and for the note takers among you this time pressed on sky blue vinyl) features two cuts from Martin Abrahamson AKA Bauri. Shamed as I am to admit but I haven’t really had the pleasure of hearing anything by Bauri other than his tasty remix of Yellow 6’s ‘Leitmotiv 3’ which appeared on Enraptured ‘Source : Remix’ album of 2002 so it comes as an understandable surprise to find that Mr Abrahamson has appeared in one form or another on releases for among others Awkward Silence, Jonathon Whiskey, New Speak, Toast and Jam and City Centre Office to name but five from an ever growing list that goes back to his 1999 debut ‘Sassafras Flip’. ‘Have no fear’ is slyly ear catching, built around a sparse mesmerising mould that incorporates a determined trip hop beat and a thunderous floor rumbling grooving bass under carriage, like Myrakaru’s ‘Klutic Reso’ there lies the merest trace of a sublimely exotic thread that’s caught floating unmoored in the ether romantically entwined with the tingling spacey overtures that flicker and shimmer throughout. Flip over for the toy box lullaby like sweetness of the lilting ‘Hugs’ if ever ISAN and Plone sought to collaborate this would be the sound they’d make, dreamy, innocent, childlike, frosty though deceptively warm trembling pop. Absolutely beautiful stuff. http://www.expandingrecords.com
The Projects ‘Ulysses in the Supermarket’ (Track and Field). Now this has superb stamped all over it and don’t let the older boys and girls with bad excuses for record collections tell you other wise. The Projects are a London based quintet who formed in 2001 released a debut single in the shape of ‘Entertainment’ (which sadly passed us by) and then disappeared for a few years to plan world domination the seeds of which can be heard on this two-track single and the ensuing debut long player ‘Let’s get static’ due any day soon. As is our whim the flip side ‘Nancy Garcia’ gets the first mention mainly for the fact those of you out there who’ve ever laid awake at night wondering what a chance meeting in the studio between Honey Bane and Ian Curtis would sound like with both Postcard’s finest Josef K and Orange Juice doing a tellingly edgy post punk makeover with (the as where Human League’s) Craig and Marsh adding the futuristic swirls on an old rickety synth (so it’s just me then eh?) then worry no more. Dangerously cool shadowy stuff. As if to add insult to injury ‘Ulysses in the Supermarket’ is even better, more of that machine rock stuff that we love so much here but this time cursed with an inventiveness that few groups operating in the same medium seem to sadly lack the grasp of. Sounding like a new age Stereolab tinkering about with a punk / krautrock hybrid and sneakily tapping into Quickspace’s catalogue for source material while their backs are turned, ‘Ulysses in the Supermarket’ is blessed with a striking blank aloofness and a pulsating throb that literally stalks menacingly from start to finish not to mention being home to one of the best bits of pop this year at 1.21 where everything goes spacily light-headed. Neu romantics anyone? Deputy single of the Missive. http://www.trackandfield.org.uk
The Hot Puppies ‘Green Eyeliner’ (Purr). Another record so catchy you get splinters in your ear is the second outing for Aberystwyth five piece the Hot Puppies. Available on heavy duty vinyl and CD from Bath’s most crucial underground label Purr, who for those among you keeping notes may be all to aware haven’t featured in these pages for a fair while we are sad to say, between our last acquaintance (Aqua Vista way back in 2002) and now the blighters have managed to sneak a further nine releases beneath our ever watchful radar. Anyway enough of the bleating back to the Hot Puppies (what a name, eh?), three slabs of poke you in the eye and knock you straight out indie pop, these kids operate in the same retro world as the very wonderful Brand Violet sharing further common ground in that they have a lead singer, Becky Newman, whom you feel could cutely purr her way out of any imminent danger with a mocking ‘is that your best shot?’ retort. ‘Green Eyeliner’ ricochets around your head like a rubber bullet in a confined space, prime time Shadows 60’s twang meets the exuberant pop rush of classic Darling Buds after a catfight with Transvision Vamp all metered out against Beth Gibson’s creamy keyboard swirls and Newman’s enticing quiver like vocals, simply un-missable stuff. ‘All we’ve got to do is kiss’ comes across like a more crushing younger sibling of Catatonia, all softly tender on the outside while hiding away a cauldron of heart racing throbbing lustful desire (way hey…sorry must be the heat!). Sandwiched in between is what can only be described as the swooning twists of Phil Spector and Roy Wood howling gloriously in earth shaking wide screened grandeur, easily the best cut here if only for the underlying sinister sense of simmering bitterness brooding away against the unabashed innocence of the ornamental saccharine laced melodies fluttering happily beneath. And with that, pretty much another of those essential type purchases we think. http://www.purr.org.uk
Thee Jenerators ‘Burn the house down’ (Twist). The absolute dogs bollocks this. The welcome return of Guernsey’s premier arse kicking garage howlers Thee Jenerators who following last years raring to go ‘Jenerator X’ album can’t, in our eyes, do anything wrong. Limited to 500 copies only and featuring three songs 6 minutes in length and 6 minutes we couldn’t begin to imagine being better filled, well we can but what do you do for the other five and half minutes (only joking). Recorded as always at North London’s (now famous thanks to those Stripes dudes) Toe Rag studios. The accompanying blurb says of ‘Burn the house down’ we quote ‘blasts like the Meteors on acid out of your speakers’ and to honest we couldn’t put it better other than to add that this’ll cause you to swing your pants at such velocity that they’ll spontaneously combust. A devilish bar room knuckle boogie that forces through the blender some well sliced prime cuts of not only the Meteors, but the Guana Batz, the Turbines and early primitive Vengeance era Cramps (without the witch craft obsessions of course) the resulting blend gathered up for what can only be described as a riotous recipe of lip curling addictive foot stomping psycho-billy fun that’ll give you a number 2 flat-top just for daring to listen. ‘French Disco’ not on this occasion the old Stereolab number from a few years back (which was spelt with a k anyway) but a tale of a stag do in France and which if my ears don’t deceive rattles around almost in homage to the Small Faces Steve Marriott with Wreckless Eric overtones and houses the immortal line; ‘please mister bouncer don’t say no, you wouldn’t let us in to your casino, we pissed on your car but you don’t know…..’. Last up one of those Confederates Vs. the Union odes ‘The day I let the Union fall’ trades with the heart felt sentiments of a would be a deserter delivered with the rolling train like country acoustics of those early essential Johnny Cash Sun issues. Recommended without hesitation but then you probably gathered that all by yourselves. http://www.theejenerators.com
Meow Meow ‘Sick Fixation’ (Devil in the Woods / Integrity). A quick return to these pages for Los Angeles based Meow Meow following their highly infectious Earlies / Spiritualized meets head on at full speed Jesus and Mary Chain debut ‘Cracked’. With a long player waiting feverishly in the shadows slated for release next month time enough for this 3-track taster to pull in a few wandering souls. ‘Sick Fixation’ is one of those cuts that grows with each attendant listen, not as immediate as ‘Cracked’ it has to said but still packing a brutal West Coast punch. Slacker pop for the beach kids, ‘Sick Fixation’ is so laid back its horizontal, tingling fuzzing guitars with Wilson brothers sun kissed harmonies craftily reminiscent of Husker Du as though tamed and lulled by the Mayflies and Velvet Crush. Better still is the kooky heat stroked ‘Breathe Easy’ with its trace fumes of Elephant 6’s finest breezing in the stratosphere and without a shadow of doubt housing some of the most comatose guitar riffs you are ever likely to hear for the rest of the year. Bringing up the rear in a strangely odd fashion is the decidedly creak and off balanced ‘Rewind’ which is sort of a acoustic lullaby and then not a acoustic lullaby if you get my drift, imagine the characters from the Magic Roundabout sleeping off a real bad night on the ale with Dylan much to wired to fall into slumber trying to sing himself to sleep. You know you want it. http://www.integrityrecords.co.uk
Small World ‘Seaside town in the Rain’ (Detour). Another of those (what seem like) rare outings these days for the UK’s premier mod label Detour into the singles market, yet when they do you can always be assured it’ll be a gem and this particular release is no exception. Having already recently coaxed back into circulation members of Secret Affair (Ian Page who incidentally releases his second single via Detour very shortly) those Detour dudes have now uncovered the much-missed Small World. For those wondering what the fuss is about Barking based mods Small World where set for happening things way back in the early 80’s, two singles quickly appeared ‘Love is dead’ on the hugely collectable Whaam! followed by ‘First Impressions’ on their own Valid imprint aside a few mail order demos, compilation appearances and a retrospective entitled ‘Slight Detour’ it was all but over until now. Now back with the original line up they’ve recently been seen sharing the stage with Paul Weller for a Ronnie Lane tribute. ‘Seaside town in the rain’ has more zip than a Vespa and easier on the ear to boot, smarter and sharper than a showroom stocked with retro lined Ben Sherman clothing and built around a spirit that harks subtly back to Morrissey’s ‘Everyday is like Sunday’ and blessed with an anthemic brass fanfared melody that those Stereophonics kids have nightly wet dreams about writing. ‘Don’t make me feel’ loosens on the ante slightly deliciously bathed in 60’s Booker T keyboards but its left to the deceptive power popping ‘Birds’ to provide the best cut of the set with what sounds like the original rhythm section from the Pretenders kicking happily in the back ground scoring of old Americana tinged Who riffs with the sparing washes of Latino brass arrangements curdling the overall mix. Damn cool if you ask me. http://www.detour-records.co.uk
Broadway Project ‘Autumn Breaks’ (Memphis Industries). Last years album ‘The Vessel’ was a delicious mutation of curving down tempo seduction melting breathlessly with gentle jazz overtones, amid its alluring floor show Berridge deftly injected a hybrid fix that saw Harrison’s eastern tablatures swirling as one with the lounge like language of Laswell. ‘Autumn Breaks’ marks Berridge’s first recorded works since that album and perhaps gives indication of what may come on Broadway Projects third long player. This 5 track baby comes pressed on twelve inches of wax only, and be warned is strictly limited to 2500 pressings. This collection serves as something of a trade off between Berridge’s early career Broadway Project releases and last years ‘The Vessel’, opening cut ‘From the Treetops’ finds the Eastern obsession continuing. This time without the foil of Richard Palmer’s vocals to arc his melodies around a wider canvas now needs to be filled, and filled admirably it is utilising rustling beats beneath a bed of souring symphonic touches, Berridge imbues the composition with the obligatory trademark cinematics from whereupon a sense of tender drama unfolds under which a delicate sultry haze of mystique weaves her alluring web. ‘Linear 7s’ follows in similar pursuit with wisping Eastern influences being stretched apart by a sleek though serious chilled jazz motif while on the superior floating dynamics found within ‘Raga 4’ Berridge revisits old Laswell stomping grounds for a spot of intoxicating tripped out Sitar laced space dub grooving. In addition you get the stately sounding semi conscious ‘Solar Lunar’ and the curiously shy like fizz ‘n’ beats-esque ‘Fragments’ and with it all the signs that a forthcoming Broadway Project long player will be a most desirable addition to the top of any shopping list. http://www.memphis-industries.com
Oceansize ‘Music for Nurses’ EP (Beggars Banquet). You know how it is, there’s just too many bands out there in the big wide world, much to many records for one person and his trusty hanging by a thread Hi-Fi to feasibly keep abreast of, and consequently because of this dilemma some bands fall beneath the radar much to my given annoyance. One such band is Manchester five piece Oceansize who aside from hearing their storming debut for Errol Records a wee while back haven’t so far (we missed their debut album and Beggars released singles) managed to cause any out break of neighbourhood panic around our gaff, until that is this little honey pie dropped onto our mats. Though evidently not like Radiohead in the slightest way shape or form, Oceansize do share with Yorke and Co that self same spirit, perhaps sense of warring angst / agitation while at the same time making the whole concept of progressive rock something plausible instead of laughable. Kindred spirits of the awesome Immune both of whom have a habit of honing their sounds to form a myriad of mood swings one minute decidedly gentle and lulling the next brutal and fiercesome, one thing you can be certain of is the growing uncertainty as to which route their compositions will take, its an effect that can be pretty much replicated by standing outside for the duration of a violent storm. ‘Music for Nurses’ EP then, five tracks opening with the blistering ‘One out of none’ has the quintet sorting out the men from the boys pretty early on in the scheme of things, opening to the sound of fuzzing guitars being fired up this caustic baby soon rattles into a fractured groove that changes vantage point so often you’d be lucky not to get whiplash. Oceansize make full use of their arsenal of three guitarists, seesawing precariously between moments of relative calm to torturous skull bashing hate venting industrial ferocity which, though housing the obvious Nine Inch Nails comparisons, also sounds like both Foo Fighters and the Pixies have gate crashed to wreck the party. In a curious about turn the next handful of tracks ease of the friction considerably, as much as it spits and gloomily wallows away ‘Paper Champion’ takes the slow burn option intensely and steadily mutating from brooding to simmering. On the other hand ‘Drag the ‘Nal’ cloaks itself from prying eyes with a remarkably serene Church like quality that slowly bleeds into ‘Dead dogs and all sorts’ whereupon a spot of Floyd (which never did anyone any harm) is enacted to the proceedings before venturing into what is the EP’s best moment, the turbulent finale that is ‘As the smoke clears’. Seven minutes of muscular sonic pyrotechnics upon which progressive rock gets bludgeoned by grind core while floating amid all the carnage some tastily crafted moments of celestial trimmed noodle rock, not bad at all. http://www.beggars.com
Greenland ‘The Prisons of Language’ (Gizeh). Having already delivered the monumental debut from Leeds based Immune earlier this year (a release which we thoroughly recommend you check out if you haven’t already done so) now comes the equally impressive debut from Australian 3 piece Greenland. Like fellow country men Silver Ray, Greenland prove that you don’t need a roomful of guitarists in order to craft out what can one minute be dream like spiralling symphonies and the next hypnotic displays of torrential intensity. Honing their craft in the best tradition of Mogwai and Constellation’s finest Greenland are fully fluent in what it takes to create glacial texts and carve impressively towards that goal using post rock tools and cinematic sheens and okay what they may lack in as much as Godspeed’s ability to stir up epic melodramas at the flip off a hat they more than admirably acquit themselves in terms of concocting immediately accessible sonic overtures that are direct, unobtrusive and not so over elaborate as to make them generically tied. On the opening ‘The amps have eyes’ they toy playfully dipping into Floyd-ist realms drawing you in deceptively in fact, almost daringly, to an unseen point of collapse which of course never happens though buried beneath a blizzard of locked down intense groove the threat always seems a realistic possibility. On the sadly tinged ‘Cowboys in Atlantis’ the trio are haunted by the spectre of the Shadows at their most potent and touching (elegantly and faintly snaring that repose between ‘Wonderful Land’ and ‘Deer Hunter’). Cruising melancholia cast like some cinematic moment on which a film turns on its heels to a point where the hero, caught in a moment of reflective introspection, leaves the path he has travelled to follow a route that’ll ultimately be the making of him. In sharp contrast ‘Secret rat and the bag of happiness’ zigzags superbly between shades of light and dark though beneath always instilling that scuffing of oppressive tenseness that suggests something untoward is looming large around the next corner. For me though it’s on the irresistibly sublime ‘Alicia’ where the band blossom in full glorious technicolor. Measured and all at once tranquil and hurtfully heartbreaking, Greenland work amid the same given magical environs that lie elegantly frosted between the reaches of earth and the heavens above, a place more commonly associated with Workhouse and Yellow 6. Chords seductively shimmer in shy formations arcing gracefully whispering a language of mournful romance to enchant and seduce in equal measures. Damn it’s quite perfect. http://www.gizehrecords.com
The Truckee Brothers ‘Wall to Wall’ (Popluxe). Now if I had to own up and admit to saying what release came as the biggest surprise from this assembled Singled Out crowd, then this 6 track EP from the Truckee Brothers would win hands down, initially up for review last time out and again I’d have to admit that the temptation to sneak it away in the pile of heard and done CD’s without a review was overwhelming, yet there was something there, maybe an extra week would solve the mystery. Point of fact is the Truckee Brothers are one of those acts that you simply can’t hear reference points, well not immediately anyway. The blurb attached describes them as being an evil Everly Brothers from a negative parallel universe which to be honest isn’t far off the mark especially on the closing ‘Ashes and Stashes’, but then their undoubted charm is borne out of the fact that they find such ease at dipping into not only Americas rich musical history (to which they tip on its head) but Britain’s too, amid these six tracks don’t be surprised to find the clever weaving of psychedelia, campfire blues and Beefheart / Zappa edits aplenty. Add to that the liner notes, which describe the roles of the duo as ‘prancing about’ and ‘voodoo’, which should put you on your guard immediately that all is not quite right in the house of the Brothers Truckee. The superbly titled ‘Death Vulcan Grip’ has an off centre rockabilly edge to it that’s strangely more in tune, if anything, with the Violent Femmes than Stray Cats while mutating a cow punk dynamic with the lighter elements of Gallon Drunk’s illustrious back catalogue. ‘Road kill constant’ is blessed with a seriously infectious hip grinding side winding riff that subtly points to the Knack doing early 70’s street cool Stones licks for fun while both ‘Ooh, ooh, ooh, Chicken Pot Pie’ and ‘Imperial Nightclub Waltz’ see the duo fall through the cracks of reality into the weird and wonderful world of the Dawn of the Replicants, the latter cut obliquely surreal and alarmingly eerie in a way that only early Black Heart Procession ever achieved with a degree of aplomb, think Bowie’s reading of ‘Alabama Song’ redone by an in macabre acoustic moods Radiohead. A certifiable gem of a record though you’ll be left scratching your head wondering why exactly. http://www.populuxerecords.com
Michael Shelley ‘Little Things’ (Heliotone). And it seems like ages since we’ve been able to jump up and down around the room at the news of an impending release from Heliotone but here it is and imagine our surprise and overwhelming sense of joy to find that it features six tracks from New Yorker Michael Shelley of whom in our humble opinion we feel that no discerning record collection is complete without at least one his recordings mooching happily about its confines. Again as with previous releases an extremely limited outing of only 50 copies all pressed on 8 inches of clear polycarbonate vinyl, you have been warned. My first introduction to Michael Shelley came via the ever excellent Shoeshine label (a label run by Francis MacDonald erstwhile tub thumper for Teenage Fanclub and BMX Bandits and while you are about it check out the splinter label Spit ‘n’ Polish and get yourself some decent musical taste by checking out among other the extremely talented Laura Cantrell) way back about 4 / 5 years ago in the form of ‘Half Empty’ his debut (he’s since released ‘Too many movies’ which we sadly missed). There’s no great mystery to Shelley, the magic lies in the simplicity of his songs whether they be the dumbed down little love notes he sketches or the heart breaking tales of deception and hurt that litter his catalogue all made the better for the soft sprinkle of pop dust he coats them in. One of those rare artists with an eye for making the most obvious taken for granted every day situations and building an upliftingly cute drama around them. This six-track release features a selection of unreleased material, covers and outtakes and acts as a perfect starting point to this uniquely wistful talent. Opening with an exclusive Bobby Goldsboro cover of ‘Little Things’ whereupon you are immediately drawn into Shelley’s un-fussed world, it’s a snappy inoffensive cut that has a soft saccharine taste not a million miles from Kevin Tihista. ‘Don’t’ initially appeared on ‘Half Empty’ a hurting ballad with brooding twangs and drifting harmonicas all packaged around a damn smart lazy country trimming, think of ‘Almost Blue’ era Elvis Costello collaborating with ‘Look Sharp’ era Joe Jackson. ‘Julie’ is a cover of the old Bobby Fuller Four which originally appeared on the bands second long player ‘I fought the law’ (yes kids the album from whence the Sonny Curtis penned title track of which would later be covered by the Clash came) this time lifted from a Japanese Fuller tribute album on #9 records and finds Shelley getting very cool and catchy in a Holly-esque / Everly Brothers kinda way. Then as if to show off his versatility a corking cover of Madness’s rock steady ska classic ‘One Step Beyond’ is thrown in for good measure ending it all with the simply breath taking touch of ‘Baby’s in a bad mood’ from his ‘Too many movies’ album, all lightly tendered with a sublime Gospel meets Nashville like keyboard treatment while possessing that soft sadness of a maturing Squeeze and the numbing is that so delivery of Dean Friedman. All in all a quite special thing and another Heliotone winner. http://www.onoffonoff.org/heliotone
Emerald Ocean ‘Oceanography’ (H.A.T. Music). Like the aforementioned Truckee Brothers release, another CD that was due to be reviewed last time out though it was decided last minute to spend a couple of more days in its company not that that mere fact should be read as meaning it was somehow under the same threat of consignment to the ‘done’ pile as TB nearly were, no siree. Instead Emerald Ocean are a little more direct in their approach. A trio based in Andover, this is the ensembles debut release and a little corker it is too, five tracks that reveal a maturity that, and not meaning to label them for all time, has an air of that multi lingual rock / pop currency that the Manic Street Preachers (check out ‘What is mine’) assuredly tinkered with on ‘Gold against the soul’ and reached a logical conclusion by the time of ‘Everything must go’ that said Emerald Ocean’s strength seems to lie in their ability to craft straight forward, un-fussed hook laden melodic rock that after repeat listens sounds evermore apparent that they share an affinity with Pearl Jam (as though with Tom Petty in the band especially on the college rock radio friendly ‘Tell it like it is’) in that these cuts have a serious commercial appeal in fact practically all the tracks here would test the resolve of a fair few of the so called stadium bands kicking around the circuit today. In Mike Herbert they have a vocalist cut from the finest tradition of rock singers who has the ability to take the compositions by the scruff off the neck imparting upon them a deep ingrained passion is admirable to say the least. Live wise you can imagine these five cuts taking on a life of their own to simply soar such is the underlying radiance of emotion, passion and electricity that pours from them. ‘Quicksand’ the opening cut is blessed with a nagging stutter like riff that just mercilessly hunts you down, a real contagious tour de force of pop / rock attrition with a full on cruising anthemic chassis and a deftly delivered side winding strut housing a deceptive euphoric rush that you can’t but toe tap to. ‘I don’t wanna say’ is a much darker affair, opening to the tones of icily atmospheric fractured reverb riffs the dynamic soon thaws and shifts perspective at the blink of an eye to something altogether quite grandly unfurls magnificently recalling at times the subtle crossing of paths with U2’s ‘October’ and Big Country’s ‘Steeltown’. With the dreamily undulating ‘Media’ rounding up the pack perfectly I’ve a distinct feeling that given the right kind of break this lot will soon be household names and deservedly so. http://www.emeraldocean.co.uk
Ali MacQueen ‘Red Lights’ (Hope Recordings). And it has to be said we are not ones for believing everything we read especially when it’s the by product of an accompanying press release, sometimes such is the disbelieving amount of fawning and citing of reference markers that you wonder whether the writer was actually listening to the right record or at the very least whether it’s a carefully set out piece of wishful thinking. Happily in MacQueen’s case this isn’t so. One time member of Nottingham band Autoplan ups sticks relocates Southwards to London and goes it alone to be quite possibly, if our ears don’t deceive, one of the finds of the year. Limited to just 500 meagre copies and with an album in the can ready to get out and about to play with the public’s affections, Ali MacQueen’s debut 2 track 7” oozes potential and passion by the bucket load while providing overwhelming evidence that along with artists like Daniel Rachel and Roddy Hart, (to name but two), there is at present a growing increase of solo singer / songwriters out there and about worthy of the time and patience seeking them out. The lead cut ‘Red lights’ opens the proceedings and its soon made obvious that its an almost male take on that burning edginess that was so often prevalent at the root of PJ Harvey’s early ‘Dry’ era work made all the more inspired at the way the jostling elements of skewed folk and the subtle wrappings of the blues amble along like pissed buddies after a night’s session with an almost matter of fact slumber that at times threatens to wobble off the grooves, an end of term report would probably read along the lines of ‘would be Beck if at all arsed’. My favourite of the two is the flip cut ‘Miss Whiskey’ and yes the Ryan Adams references may well be apt here although I’d have difficulty trying to recall straight off the top of my head the last time an Adams composition sucked me emotionally dry. Not being one it seems to romance or woo the listener, MacQueen prefers instead to wear you down, this neat happily unhappy tearjerker stumbles along bleary eyed in painfully introspective fashion and yet for all its telling melancholy its cast amid a slyly jaunty acoustic delivery that’ll breathlessly blow most away. A diamond of a debut.
100 bullets back ‘I know’ (Velocity). Literally dropping onto our mats not two hours ago, so good is this second outing from Oxford trio 100 bullets back, we couldn’t contain our over bound joy of it till the next Singled Out. The accompanying press release makes several mentions to Franz Ferdinand and while I personally may not be of the club that believes FF to be the saviours of alternative rock I’m not so stupid or for that matter, to ignorant to see why they are lauded so, yet while Glasgow’s finest are very much tuned into the Postcard tradition 100 bullets back instead have spent endless nights perfecting their own revisionist slant, though their slightly wonky Tardis control panel has seemingly sent them over shooting ever so slightly into a 1979 – 1981 timeline. Both ‘I know’ and the attendant flip side ‘Bangkok (Everybody needs somebody to love)’ are up there as some of the most infectious trappings of electro-pop / post punk / dance crossover we’ve had the pleasure of hearing all year. Not your usual gloom / austere riddled tunes that most operating in this field seem so happily at churning out, this lot instead draw upon that sense of coldness and splice it with an almost get up and go charge that’s immediately loveable and more importantly as catchy as fuck. Imagine this, Depeche Mode before they got hair, tattoos, heroin and various band members dressing up in their sisters gear, in other words when they where still four skinny smartly dressed albeit real bad dancing blokes from Basildon, one day do the old posing routine on the way to the studio with a shiny bag of brand new tunes (one of which is ‘Just can’t get enough’) and get ambushed by those Human League drop outs Heaven 17, who are still mightily miffed at being replaced by two dancing dollies (who also happen to be bad dancers) quickly take a peak at the tunes and decide to mess around with the chord sequence and add their prototype ‘(We don’t need this) Fascist Groove Thang’ sheen to the proceedings. That pretty much sums up the strutting aloofness of ‘I Know’ and damn smart with it especially the Mark E Smith like accentuated vocals, this seasons verified dance floor accessory. Flip over and things get much better on the artfully uber cool ‘Bangkok (everybody needs somebody to love)’ which to these ears sounds as though it could easily sneak onto the Human League’s ‘Reproduction’ album without so much as a sniff or a by your leave. Infectious isn’t in it, with post punk electro credentials intact dinky synths bounce sparkily threaded all the time by a delirious roving bass line and some of the slinkiest guitar riffs to have ever fallen out of Studio 54. Be warned, the sound of (in) crowd. http://www.100bulletsback.co.uk
As usual my heartfelt thanks to all those who’ve made this senile gibberish possible, no names you know who you are while not forgetting you for taking the time out to actual suffer it. As always comments, death threats and other such like heartily welcomed. We haven’t a clue what’s gonna feature in the next Singled Out but you can bet your arse it’ll be great (I hope).
And if you really can’t wait for the next Singled Out may we suggest you check out Phil and Brian’s recommendations as to what you should / should not have in your record shopping trolley with their weekly reviews of all the latest albums / singles from their vast mail order catalogue, tell ‘em we sent you. http://www.normanrecords.com
All that leaves me to do is to hope you have a happy time record hunting and that you all take care of yourselves.
See you in about, ooh, say 14 and remember kids I talk bullshit so you don’t have to.
‘may the groove be with you’
Lots of love and stuff,
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