Archiv – Singled Out – Missive 38 …..

Archive posting originally published on the Losing Today site …… July 2004….

A truly excellent micro label based in Italy who uses to issue their releases on cassette …. I mean who’d have thought it – an insane idea …. ha ha

Missive 38 (Best Kept Secret)
10-07-2004
It’s been just over two years since we first received our initial parcel packed full of goodies courtesy of Italy’s Best Kept Secret. Since that time they’ve provided us with a constant flow of top class releases keeping us in tune with the newest and most crucial sounds in the world of indie pop.

By way of our gratitude and more so a return on the unflinching patience we thought it was high time to play catch up on the last dozen or so releases and to share with you why exactly this tiny Italian label ought to be by rights at the top of your shopping list.

The label is the brainchild of Alessandro Crestani, a small cassette only label yes you heard right, cassettes. In an age where it seems the music industry sees fit to have us all fooled into thinking that with each new medium we buy into our total listening experience will be made all the better and into the bargain sells back to us our record collections over and over again, then isn’t it re-assuring to us troglodytes and purists that labels like this still exist, so up yours with your fancy SA-CD’s (though admittedly they do look quite cute!).

On entering the website the first thing that greets you is the immortal banner proclaiming ‘D.I.Y. sounds for the lonesome and broken hearted’ and really that perfectly describes what BKS aspire to. Having recently released their 82nd tape (the Shifties), market wise Best Kept Secret operates to the left of centre of labels such as Red Square, HHBTM and the like whose love of the label greats such as Sarah and Bus Stop is all to apparent, yet that said BKS is not genre specific so that amid the usual flux of strum happy wide eyed kids from indie-ville, there have been memorable space rock / shoe gaze moments (Skywave), the ethereal (Nanook of the North), non conformist whirly pop (the Rotating Stars) not to mention the why get out of bed when someone out there searches for the best sounds on the underground for me ongoing series ‘We are not Alone’ (now up to its seventh instalment).

So in a nutshell hats off to one of the finest plunderers of the seams of indie pop’s rich mines and your ever reliable seeker of the tastiest morsels currently around and shyly hiding out of sight from commercial view. So in the immortal words of one Stan Lee, ‘nuff said……..

Girlinky ‘High kicks beat low punches’ [LIE074]. And what better way to open than with Girlinky welcome regulars and house favourites of these Missives. This adorable 3 track cassette features hot off the press demo material in readiness for their forthcoming second album ‘It’s the sugar rush’ due any day now. This provides Girlinky’s strongest work to date given that it reveals the bands growing maturity in terms of song writing attested perfectly by their recent b-sides which have all shown a willingness to extend beyond their normal cut ’n’ thrust trash twee as proven by the curvy ‘Danger of Death’. Still wickedly barmy coming across like an impish distant relative of Winterbrief and still proudly wearing their BiS t-shirts and streets ahead of those Surferosa dudes the schizoid ‘Let’s have a fight’ with it’s rowdy ramshackle rollercoasting vibe gives you an insight of what Sonic Youth might come up with given a project to produce something in style of early Sebadoh meeting latter era B-52’s on the set of Battlestar Galactica with the restriction of being only able to use Ataris and two chords for instruments. Throw in the dinky ‘It’s the sugar rush’, quite possibly the best thing they’ve done to date, why it reminds us of Dean Friedman’s ‘Lucky Star’ is beyond all comprehension, but there we’ve said it. Boy / girl vocals, ear bending hooks, spacey backdrops all indelibly cut from the kind of precious melody which not before to long you’ll be able to charge rent as it takes up residence in your head. A mighty fine starting point for getting familiar with the Best Kept Secret catalogue. http://www.girlinky.com

Cabrini ‘Cabrini’ [LIE 069]. Previously known as Project Cabrini the Californian duo Austin Bean and Kory Ross have recently been breaking hearts and receiving warm reviews for their debut long player for Red Square entitled ‘show offs get hurt’ (which has sadly passed by our radar…hint, hint). This tape release pre-dates those recordings and finds the Cabrini sound at its most frail and intimate. Not a million miles from the early work of Death Cab for Cutie yet possessing that same wide-eyed naivety as displayed by the likes of Orchids and Field Mice, Cabrini’s flair for creating soft centred pop treats is admirable. Simplistically set around harmonies and an acoustic guitar Bean and Kory delight in creating unassuming nuggets that happily skip about lost in their own infectious sunshiney appeal. Strangely the main pull of ‘Cabrini’ is found on the cassette’s first three tracks. ‘UNA red’ is deliciously catchy, strangely off centre but playfully tingling while in sharp contrast ‘Fearlessly waiting’ (the best cut here) is reflectively tinged sitting thoughtfully looking out from the comfort of a shelter at the summer afternoon showers. Then there’s the lullaby-esque spookiness of ‘He switched on the’ a real thing of beauty, which holds to its heart elements of Archer Prewitt re-appraising the Beach Boys more intimate moments with Animal Collective sabotaging the resulting master tapes. Elsewhere it might be worth peaking in on ‘Dramatized’ which subtly recalls early career Go Betweens being fused with the Pale Fountains and prototype era China Crisis. A more wonderful way to spend 30 minutes we’d be hard pushed to find. http://www.projectcabrini.com

Clare ‘Womb Fantasy’ [LIE 046]. Clare have the honour of being the first of two Japanese bands (so far) to grace the Best Kept Secret catalogue. Essentially a duo, though this time expanded to a quartet, these particular recordings date back to 1999 and we defy anyone who on listening to these 8 tracks aren’t in someway sufficiently moved to replay the album again and again to re-assure themselves that what they thought they’d heard, they had heard. If there is one fault or gripe to be aimed at this collection it’s just that it’s so dislocated in terms of style, but then curiously that’s its endearing charm. Clare create intoxicatingly saccharine based ethereal twee pop hinting subtle references to Dubstar and St Etienne at its heart and ranges from the elegantly statue-esque ‘As you think’ (which sounds like the Cocteau Twins caught in a fluffy space bubble created by a particular laid back Stereolab) to the aching scratch happy chocolate box hypnotic atmospheric scapes of ‘Edge of the Top’. Elsewhere the dreamy spectral haze of ‘Doze’ ushers in the set sweetly before mutating to cross-pollinate varying genres so that the goofy oddball waywardness of the folk 60’s orientated ‘Distorted Moon’ dissolves sensually into the delectable heartbreaking pop motifs of the bruising ‘Winged Angel’ with it’s sensitively arranged piano accompaniment. Add into the overall mix the irrefutably sense of romance best served on the hurting ‘Here I am’ and you have quite a shy gem on your hands and with the promise of three albums being worked on at present how can you resist. http://www.ismusic.ne.jp/clare

Girls in my Pocket ‘Girls in my pocket’ [LIE 075]. And in case you were wondering about the other Japanese band currently gracing Best Kept Secret’s roster then wonder no more. Girls in my Pocket are a quartet who so far have released three singles and this debut for BKS is their first full length. Not a million miles sound wise from 63 Crayons (who incidentally we love) while having serious Teenage Fanclub flashbacks (just listen to ‘Northern Star’ for further proof), and again another band adept on creating memorable slices of naively crafted lo-fi pop that neatly dips between summery 60’s tinged pop (‘Dizzy’ with craftily veers towards New Order’s ‘Run 2’ at times), homely soft psyche as though having members of JMC / Ramones doing West Coast (‘We look at a shooting star’) and hazy off centre spangly fuzz pop (‘December’) which in addition harbours a slow curling glam dynamic that cleverly pays a nod to the Beatles ‘A day in the life’ right at the close. Our favourite though is the cutesy twee pop-isms of the jangly ‘Hello’, breathlessly innocent and perfect for the beach party portable cassette player while the wintry rush of ‘My Blue Star’ takes several leaves out of the songbooks of the Plastic Mastery and the Mayflies and wraps them up as an irresistible homage to Blake and Co. And just when you thought you had the measure of these kids, as brief as it is ‘Carp Metal’ reveals that their not so bad at doing a spot of ENT for fun. All said and done a promising debut. http://www.003.upp.so~net.ne.jp/girls

The Sharp Things ‘Here comes the Sharp Things’ [LIE 068]. Fed up with egos, abusive lifestyles and the brain numbing snobbery of the whole rock scene, Perry Serpa sought solace away from the speed-fuelled buzz to a back to basics paced approach. As a duo with long time friend Steven Gonzalez, the relaxed environs enabled Serpa to ‘get close to the music’ and so the Sharp Things came into being, conceived as a reactionary anti band orchestral collective it’s been known for its fluid membership numbering anything upwards to 12 members at any one time. Several years down the line and here we have the collective’s debut 11 track full length ‘Here comes the Sharp Things’. Quite possibly the most unusual and hitherto best release put out by BKS to date. The Sharp Things aren’t your average indie rock tearaways, their sounds are more laboured, expressive, deeply colourful and above all romantically dramatic. Not an immediate hit to the senses, the Sharp Things are more concerned with making a lasting impression than offering a quick fix, channelling into the same waters as a fused animal from the parts of Polyphonic Spree / Big Eyes and Elvis Costello (c. ‘Almost Blue’) yet only maintaining a kindred spirit in so far as they seem so out of step with what is / was considered contemporary pop. ‘Boys club’ for instance is strangely MOR in texture, part Velvets doing soft early 70’s commercial friendly countrified CS&N.; In a flash it’s gone and what becomes more and more apparent as the album proceeds is that this lot don’t let being pigeonholed so easily, ‘Vacationing’ soothes and swoons, the haunting strains of the strings are teased and lightened by the wintry wraps of brass arrangements yet the clever part is the way the composition swans from imparting elegant love notes to smoky filled jazz realms which overall bear resemblance to not only Black Heart Procession but to Set Fire to Flames. Elsewhere ‘It took forever to get home tonight’ is a monumentally festive like homecoming that swaggers with the same kind of that sounds like a tender take of the Earlies in Prefab Sprout moods skipping happily about in the final scene of ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’. Track a little further for the intensely spiritual (or so it seems) wash of ‘Demon of Love’ which as audacious as it is finds itself eclipsed by the bitter sweet overtures of the grandiose ‘Lies about you and I’. And just when you think things can’t get any better the blighters go and tuck in a little heartbreaking gem like ‘Lament / A million things’ which oozes the same kind of refreshing classicism as so often delivered by Southport’s much under valued Panda Gang and spins in the same kind of untouchable bubble as does hold Edwin Moses and Lefte Banke. An impeccable release and we didn’t even get to mention ‘Lonesome for the man’ but then we don’t want to spoil the fun, heartbreak has never sounded so good. http://www.thesharpthings.com

The Shifties ‘The Apartment / Factory Songs’ [LIE 082]. The latest addition to the BKS catalogue is this tingling 10-track album from Chicago based five-piece ensemble the Shifties made up of various demos recorded in 2001 bolstered by a smattering of live takes and the cut ‘Lonely Christmas’ which they donated to the Red Cross benefit CD for 9/11 victims. Now we’ve played this a few times now, more perhaps, if truth be told, than we usually allow for most releases. Why I hear you ask. Well simply because the Shifties sound twists, hops and disappears out of view when you least expect it, one minute you feel you are settling down to a Sebadoh like lo-fi feast of three chord fun as hinted on ‘Fat Shirley’s’ and the punky tones of ‘Whelmed’ then they are off spinning towards the 60’s to do shadowy kaleidoscopic West Coast psyche pop on ‘Insomniac’ where the unlikely pairing of Donovan and Barrett meet head on. Dare we use the word, but ‘The Apartment’ is quite mellow, opening with the warming pastoral soft folk feel of ‘Tell me why’ and really that’s the key to the whole Shifties sound, there’s a spring hue cast that ring fences the melodies, themselves cutely docile in their own acoustically driven daydream way take for instance the lysergic rustic touch found on ‘Foot out of Door’ which veers ever so close to Elephant 6’s more goofily arranged around the campfire brethren. Best of the lot though are the final two cuts, the infectious ‘Can’t go on’ which sounds like Jan and Dean all tooled trying to pick the bones from Blondie’s ‘Plastic Letters’ and the Ramones ‘End of the Century’ and coming up with an irresistible power pop ditty with more hooks than an Angler’s Club and ‘Instrumental’ which as the title implies is an instrumental (no way) and sees the ensemble getting stuck into some seriously grinding post rock noodling as though Billy Mahonie was auditioning for Costello’s ‘Detectives’ Attractions. Pretty smart stuff we say. http://www.theshifties.com

And Academy ‘Her and Hurt, Hearts’ [LIE 057]. Another superb release from an ensemble based in Wichita, US and who unbeknownst to us have been putting out release after release since 1998, most of which are sadly out of print and from the evidence of this album cassette all (probably) top-drawer gear. When their not creating intricate sonic bubble-scapes like the storm lashed ‘Red wine walls and silk’ with it’s armoury of lush like swirling melodies, And Academy do a neat ethereal take on the Cure as though Smith and Co had been drip fed Prozac and forced against will to sit out in the sunshine as ‘Miracle dare devil’ so ably proves while all the time being booted into shape by the faintest of Spector-esque handy work diligently pulling the strings from the background. Still not convinced, then maybe the dream like inducing cosmically bound up curvaceous chords that cascade throughout ‘Zero plus zero plus zero’ might just make you swoon or the wax and wane like dynamics that softly permeate throughout ‘Swim, bike’. Flip over to side two and things get a little more angst ridden, dislocated, angular and dare we say in our humble opinion better. Unusual time signatures become the byword as And Academy attempt to throw you off the scent, from the almost clumsy moodist mechanics of ‘Warmer dead cold’ which splutters out impatiently almost as if its tripping itself up on its own haste to reach you. ‘Lovers and Daughters’ really is something else as it cleverly manages to thread progressive rock templates with a gritty shoe gaze under carriage and emerges from the fusion with wind swept magnicence. Best of the set though is the uncharacteristically breezily lilting ‘Barbara killed Roger’. Softly basking under clear extra terrestrial skies its what the words smooth and tender were made for, imagine Stereolab at their most serenely carefree making the Pale Saints hearts break. Another essential release I’m afraid. http://www.andacademy.com

Blurred Images ‘On the Horizon’ [LIE 063]. As the inlay card so aptly states ‘music for contemplating and dreaming’. We could put it any better. Eight absorbing prime slices of undulating guitar based dream-scapes is what you get on this solo effort from 20 year old Jose Banuelos AKA Blurred Images. Overall the experience that ‘On the Horizon’ imparts can only be likened to stand on a beach shore at night watching the sea waves ebbing and flowing exacting their calming almost hypnotic effect, except in Blurred Images case those seas would belong to some far flung exotic moon, the night sky lit by the presence of twin suns bathing the waves in an eerie though nevertheless breath taking translucent glow. Banuelos takes his cue from Yellow 6’s more intricately layered sonic symphonies, the melodies glide rather than soar as captured on the heavenly lull of the chorus of hanging chords found within ‘Passive and Paralysed’. Throughout the set Banuelos delicately weaves his spidery chords to curve and bend sensually in celestial formations to wrap around each other to create a brightly coloured canvas that serenely finds the centre point between shoe gaze and chilled out ambience. The driving snowbound contours of the opening ‘Look inside’ betrays a respectful nod to Durruti Column while ‘the world through a window’ invites you to take flight into hidden dream worlds you never knew existed. For us though ‘Outside’ stands head and shoulders amid the chasing pack, treasures unearthed within cavern-esque textures make you think you feel as though you’ve hit upon the entrance to a glorious enchanted grotto frozen and untouched since time immemorial where sounds of echoes tip toe like chilled chatter. Beautiful stuff. http://www.geocities.com/blurredsound

Soda Jerk ‘Pop On’ [LIE 078]. The first of two releases featuring the talents of a certain Ryan Marquez (the other being Apple Orchard). Those who love their pop slightly more powered and spikey will swoon to this, drop-dead hooks aplenty and to die for uh-hoo harmonies and if the mere mention of Velvet Crush, Jags, Teenage Fanclub (especially on the wonderful ‘the things you say’), BMX Bandits (so cute there’s even a cover of the BMX’S ‘Extraordinary’) and the Raspberries gets the pulses quickening then we advise you seek this out immediately. Nine tracks including two lives cuts from a radio session for the Fridge see Ryan and the boys mixing up the ingredients of pop’s rich larder to bake a cake so deliciously feel good you’d swear in the current musical climate of post everything that it was illegal to have so much fun. The curious thing about this release is that despite the obvious homage to all things West Coast pop Soda Jerk subtly underscore the compositions with delicate 50’s bubblegum-esque wraps take for instance the opening ‘Heartcrusher’ which is invested with a neat nostalgic snagging rock blues riff while the summery breeze of the chiming countrified contours of ‘Dead Stopper’ is pure hood down wind in the hair open road drive music. ‘There’s a place for you’ changes tact ever so slightly bringing the pace to a more tranquil level though dims in the presence of the simply beautiful and sparsely touched ‘Extraordinary’ which sits strangely between oddball and Beatle-esque as Soda Jerk wrestle it from the BMX kids to make it their own.

Apple Orchard ‘Paris was a Daydream’ [LIE 076]. And just in case you were wondering about Ryan Marquez’s other band, Apple Orchard. Essentially a stripped down affair, Apple Orchard are duo Ryan and Dale and this slender release features seven home recordings of succulent bitter sweet acoustic pop that to these ears sounds not unlike a chirpier version of the Red House Painters. Obviously the work of people whose youthful nights were spent falling in love and cataloguing various Sarah label related records while scanning the airwaves hoping to hear the latest C-86 hopefuls being played by John Peel. Compared to Soda Jerk, Apple Orchard are a more intimate affair, slow unfurling dozing pop motifs with the merest of melancholic sheens from the opening ‘(When everything is) safer’ the duo slyly hold your emotions to ransom. On the casio tutored ‘Midnight stars and kisses’ the racing heartbeat of the Lightning Seeds ‘Pure’ is slowed to the merest of murmurs but for us it’s the trio of hand holding twee induced tracks awaiting on Side B that are the most likely to have you suffering from swooning episodes especially the playfully tranquil ‘Scenes from the sky’. A brief but beautiful release. http://www.appleorchardpop.tk

The Cellophane Sky ‘Sunset Shadows’ [LIE 061]. The Cellophane Sky is / are essentially Brian Pennington (head honcho of Sandcastle Records) with the appearance and disappearance of friends. These days found focussing on his other project the Plastic Hearts, this cassette collects together twelve home recordings made over a two year period in 1999 and 2000 which we can only describe as teasing curios given that they have a charming thread bare sheen about them as well as the kind of child like softness that makes them unobtrusive or so it seemed with the initial flight of the first couple of tracks where the order of the day was jaunty piano routines (‘Callie Road’) and seductive spacey electro manoeuvres (‘Saint Alia of the Knife’) but then without warning the vaguely haunting ‘Follow the Leader’ (sadly not the Killing Joke classic from yesteryear) comes into view carrying what sounds like a blueprint for a face off between the Orb ( who are allowed only their sample box of tricks) and the Normal. Dipping between a slightly warmer Arab Strap / Rooney, ‘Momentos’ courts with a spoken word collage drifting above a gently gliding melody lost in its own romantic space similarly so to does ‘Getting Acquainted’ where the use of beats and nimbly utilised electronic backdrops have the feel of Cabaret Voltaire mucking about with old New Order tape loops found languishing on the studio room cutting floor. On Side 2 things get a little more focussed, the compositions still bare all the same but endowed with a visible pattern where spacey moods come to the fore and the dynamic shifts from awkward to ethereal. ‘Various modes of travel’ with its exotic brushes of atmospherics and tingling late summer’s day blissfulness will melt the coldest of hearts while the haunting ‘No advice for the unprepared’ has the vocals uncannily sounding like a young Edwyn Collins (Orange Juice). Inspired stuff indeed.

Various Artists ‘We are not alone’ (volume 5)[LIE 032]. One of the label’s ever-present features has been the regular appearance of the ‘We are not Alone’ series of compilations. This fifth instalment features 18 cuts from the world of indie / dream pop. What makes this series so special is the wealth and diversity of the bands that BKS seek out and bring to you, its not your average lazy compilation, its apparent to the most casual spectator that these collections have been meticulously threaded together. As with Volume 7 (reviewed elsewhere) more bands that we are shamed to admit to never hearing of except maybe only Fotomoto (who with ‘Monster and Belle’ serve up some uncharacteristically haunting middle eastern / dub fuelled atmospherics that to these ears sounds like a less wayward version of Scandinavia’s the Knife) and the Burnside Project who here have a crack at Lisa Germano’s ‘If I think I’m love’ and turn it into a click / scratch happy down tempo with a lullaby-esque of sorts dynamic. Ready for a spot of aching autumn hued melancholic pop then the spectrally charged ‘Several moons to you’ by Tarmac should hit the spot perfectly while ‘All my love’ by The Reds, Pinks and Purples sounds like 10CC’s ‘I’m not in love’ left out in the open to be drenched by April showers. If you survive that then you still need to confront the tenderly stripped down introspective elegance of History’s ‘Life’, which should floor most within earshot distance. Flip over to the second side for the skewed pop vision of Australia’s strangely named Hi God People Vs. Huon whose ‘Polo Song’ displays an unsettling aura sounding like a group of people a version of Donovan’s ‘Hurdy Gurdy Man’ in the spirit of the Butthole Surfers but all reading from different pages of the songbook. Better still Pangs ‘Chronic Flashlight’ is suitably addictive fuzz pop that comes across like a detuned glammed up Glitter doing Ramones licks for kicks though admittedly upstaged by the Breeders / Donnelly kick up the seat of the pants pop punk of Tizzy’s ‘Pushing Positive’ who themselves are undone by fellow label mates the Mitchells whose XTC / Wire post punk mutation ventured on ‘Flashlight Hunter’ is dragged screaming from angular pop heaven. But hands on heart things don’t get much better than Pangloss’s ‘Taste the Sun’ (again from the same label as is home to the Mitchells and Tizzy, are they breeding them or something?) who sound like the Go Go’s doing Lush covers with Sonic Youth in charge of mixing desk duties. And if you ever wondered what Pavement might have sounded like had they ended up in the studio sharing ideas with They Might be Giants then wonder no more as the Mines decidedly off centre ‘False Sense’ neatly does the job for you. Ending it all in the safe loveable hands of San Francisco’s very able the Skygreen Leopards whose ‘Take good care of yourself, Sally Orchid’ is blessed with chiming guitars that have been cutely lifted from the Will Seargent oeuvre c. ‘Ocean Rain’ and gathered together for this amazing shot of Eastern vibed West Coast psyche pop.

Various Artists ‘We are not alone’ Volume 7 [LIE 052]. The seventh addition to the ‘We are not alone’ series features 18 more waiting to be found nuggets from the cosy underworld of indie-ville. Clocking up more air miles than a Virgin airline, this collection calls in at the UK, Australia, all corners of the US for its contributions wrapping up things to sun itself in Argentina and Brazil, while not forgetting to mention that in its midst its home to a former UK chart topper, Whitetown whose splendidly fluffy candy floss ‘No more times’ has a distinct Spector-esque vs the Walker Brothers the last waltz vibe running throughout. Now we’d have to admit that this particular release is quite scrumptious opening perfectly to the sounds of the slow drip seduction of Marine Time Keepers (a duo based in Stoke, Jason and Sam). Their offering ‘Paper Moon’ is as sweet as anything we’ve heard all year, frail, ethereal and utterly disarming as the gentle wave like atmospherics arc around Sam’s drifting romance laden vocals. Other than that no contact details or anything that could be construed as clues which is a great shame, ho hum. Despite suffering soundwise The Condiments summer fuzz-tastic ‘4 and 20’ dips slyly between Brighter and the Shaggs, while Denver’s ‘the prettiest eyes you will ever see’ strikes a personal chord because I used to know someone with the prettiest eyes but that, as they say, is another story. Think of a laid back JMC collaborating with prime era China Crisis, crushing stuff. Those hand holding indie love hearts among might like to check out Magic Crayon’s ‘Scanit’ which in it’s three minute life span deliciously swings from lulling Sarah like summer pop to C-86 Weddoes inspired strum heaven. Elsewhere Australia’s Ashtray Boy nudges into your affections with the vaguely Josef K-esque sounding ‘Room 50 at the Fez’. Flip over the cassette to be greeted by the timeless angelic rustic moods of Jason Smart on the graceful ‘Sleeping Sickness’, while the simply delicious ‘Gael’ by the Spanish Armada if our ears aren’t deceiving us sounds like the Weather Prophets fronted by a vocalist who resembles a mutation between Joe Strummer and Shane MacGowan. The Sharp Things (reviewed elsewhere in this missive) serve up the rather tastily docile ‘Boy’s Club’ and lovers of the Charlatans c. ‘Tellin’ Stories’ might be more than satiated by ‘Una mujer amabile’ by Argentina’s the Mundys. On the evidence of Twelve 24’s perfect pop mutation of the Sunday’s with the Bangles on ‘All too nice’ it might also be time to check out Australia’s Steady Cam Records as they seem to be nurturing nuggets of rarified pop not yet known to the greater public at large, then I suppose the same can be said for Morella’s Forest whose ‘the sand and the sea’ cutely fires its little love arrows hitting the target time and time again.

Tyko ‘Further Transmissions from the Biosphere’ [LIE 072]. Aw now this is getting a bit daft, more pristine space pop this time traversing all the way from Arkansas. Tyko are a quartet and for those who might want to check further have their third album ‘A long way from zero to one’ awaiting release on the ever-dependable Blisscent Records and I can tell you now that we wont sleep until a copy is firmly placed in our mits. This particular cassette is essentially the bands second album ’Transmissions into the Biosphere’ (in its entirety on Side A) with an additional dozen or so previously unreleased lo-fi tracks creating all manner of spacey squiggles over on Side B. Dreampop, yes. Tyko delight in serving up Cathedral-esque motifs threaded by all manner of loops and searing guitars, the nearest reference point would be to imagine the resultant evolution of New Order’s sound (listen out midway through on ‘Central Image’ for the ‘Ceremony’ like nod) had they not met Arthur Baker and decided to leave their sequencers at home to explore mesmerising interstellar bound atmospherics and welded the resulting effects onto the Cranberries (just check out the soothing sensitivity of ‘Floating’). Tyko’s mix of droning synth backdrops washed with layered feedback mightn’t be anything new but then it’s how they utilise the dynamics with the result that the compositions aren’t confined simply to the time honoured tradition of the usual space gaze cadets of bleached out symphonies but are instead spiced and sprinkled with an alluring pop heart (‘Kids in the Biosphere’). Floating seductively almost cosmically induced ‘Elastic Brain’ perhaps the stand out cut here, though having an 80’s vibe manages to sound like Hazel O’Connor being re-worked by ‘Pearl’ era Chapterhouse, then there’s the adorable ‘Summertime comeback’ buried beneath a blanket of dreamy haze and sounding not unlike a blissed out version of the Primitives. Looking for some shake your booty action then ‘Saturn 5’ with its sublime candy glossed pop friction should provide a tangy quick fix. Side 2 reveals the band in more stripped down acoustic settings the summery jangle pop of ‘Pills for a dream’ and the near perfect ‘My front lawn is a landing strip’ providing the lead, then there’s the New Order-ish fuzz pop of ‘Portrait in Letters’ and the down tempo space lushness of ‘Communication laser # 17’. All said and done they all pale into the shadows beneath the shimmering glow of the punky ‘Northern Sky’. A mighty fine release. http://www.tykomusic.com

Chelsea’s Corner ‘When they gain they fall’ [LIE 065]. More space cadets with an obvious taste for huge rollicking power pop hooks are Swedish quintet Chelsea’s Corner led by one Tom Hanning, any information up and beyond that we aren’t privy to as this lot seem to be something of a mystery. Sixteen tracks make up ‘When they gain they fall’ and we’d be inclined to advise lovers of the Stills to hop aboard pretty sharpish because this lot share a fondness for creating epic hook galore melancholia. Chelsea’s Corner are an odd beast, initial listening has full on blistering riffs swarming your listening space, it’s easy to fall into the trap of recalling Gumball and Dinosaur Jnr (especially on the frenetic ‘Beaten’ and ‘Indie Kills’), whereas into the mix traces of Ride and elements of Fugazi occasionally clutter the centre stage for attention (just check out the autumnal glaze quickly evolving to destructive ‘Supertransformation’). Yet repeated listens reveal that maybe, just maybe Snares and Kites’ lost gem ‘Tricks of Trapping’ might have graced the rehearsal room Hi-Fi on the odd occasion, either that or Hanning is a great admirer of Chris Brockaw, which I hasten to add isn’t a bad thing especially when you are treated to slices of prime heart stopping underground rock as found on the likes of the awesome ‘Motion State’ and the fearless ‘How actions pass: zero gone mad’. Elsewhere Chelsea’s Corner expertly duck and dive between punked up shoe gaze that’s be pre-disposed to a mutation of lightly coated grunge and wired post rock that’s packed with enough melody frayed turbulence to keep you keenly tuned in. And as though to prove that they can play the sensitive card when called upon the delicate ‘I’m the million dollar man’ and the simply elegant thrill of ‘Stacy’ are thrown into the mix to leave you in awe. A tremendous debut. http://www.chelseascorner.cjb.net

Pants Yell! ‘Our Horse Calls’ [LIE 070]. This release predates the current album ‘Songs for Siblings’ which is should be presently wowing all the hip kids in indie-ville. Boston based Pants Yell! Are a clever bunch of bastards. ‘Our Horse Calls’ is so out of step and waywardly crooked you begin to question your own ears. What makes matters worse is that even before they’ve been allowed to play a note on the old Hi-Fi you’ve already clocked some of the song titles eg ‘Rou Leed Indeed’ and ‘electroclash is the noose around my neck’ and your now in a state of quandary wondering whether this might be a good idea to pursue. Well in a word, YES, things mightn’t be quite right in the Pants Yell household but let’s face it the song titles alone burn into your head that enquiring desire to check further just for curiosity sake. And yes you are right, you knew you would be, Pants Yell! are not your full shilling for their creaky compositions are wonky and fragile things held together with moments of hurt and combining 99% hope and 1% industry. On first listening Pants Yell remind me in a lot of ways of Pavement, not the Pavement we all grew up to love but the Pavement of those early years and the singles they did for Drag City where despite them being faintly oddball with their sparse dislocated melodies you knew that something special was beginning to smoulder under the surface just check out ‘the gate’s open, we’re going in’ and ‘mic check’. Pants Yell! take the blueprint sideways then up one step and then down three levels, in all honesty their brand of warped folk twee pop shouldn’t by rights really work, elements of the goofier side to the Elephant 6 Collective flicker in and out into their world of child like naivety, compositions so ridiculously arranged as to catch you on the back foot time and time again, and yet that’s the great thing about them, they never tire you. As with Black Heart Procession, another band they share a mutuality with in terms of essence, PY have a knack of making misery sound so jaunty as proven on the inescapable sombre edge of the lolloping casio enhanced ‘song for architect’ though one listen to the fragmented wits end tones of ‘don’t feel bad for being my girl’ might make you think otherwise. Dig a little deeper for ’83 in 03 (for Alan Magee)’, which sees them, veering into Pooh Sticks territories. Strange stuff indeed but cute with it. http://www.asaurus.org/records

And that’s about it for this particular missive, with many thanks to Alessandro for the constant supply of top tuneage and to all the bands featured may you all carry on upstaging the big players. Best Kept Secret can be contacted at Best Kept Secret c/o Alessandro Crestani, via Biron di Sotto, 101 – 36100 Vicenza, Italy or check their website http://www.indiepages.com/bestkeptsecret

Next missive in seven days will feature amongst others a truly awesome release from Croydon’s new secret weapon Ten foot Nun; something equally special from Monkey; a new must have double 7” pack from those Fierce Panda dudes featuring current press darlings Razorlight, the immense Rocks and the Souls plus three more; a dandy little dig into the past history of the very excellent Merchandise; a sterling demo from Penny Red; the latest from house favourites Broadway Project and whatever else we manage to pick up between now and then.

Have fun and as always take care of y’selves,

Mark
X

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Archiv – Singled Out – Missive 37….

Archive posting originally published on thr losing today site …. June 2004 …. apologies in advance as this one appears annoyingly truncatedat the end …..

Missive 37
26-06-2004
Singled Out 37

Dedicated as always to Kelly and Mark, never far from my waking thoughts.

Blimey how fast these Singled Out’s seem to come these days, doesn’t seem so long since we showered the old inbox with pretty much 4 on the bounce, of course I was joking. Many apologies for the delays on this particular Singled Out but it was due for reasons out of my control. That said an extended Singled Out which in all fairness could be legitimately counted as four, maybe five Missives rolled into one and by our reckoning the biggest Singled Out we’ve done to date, well you deserve it don’t you.

As per usual a wealth of classy releases to be getting on with among the charging pack a few old friends (Braer Rabbit, Series 7, the Playwrights) and a few even older friends (Melys). Next Singled Out due in about a week or so will be as previously advertised devoted solely to Italy’s Best Kept Secret label who in the nick of time for the impending jamboree have weighed in with four more releases to set the hearts gushing and record collections begging for.

Current albums wowing the Losing Today record shed are (in no particular order) the much-rumoured return of Bark Psychosis, which in my humble opinion has to be one of the albums of the year. Another mighty return in the form of They might be giants, the sterling hectic English pop of Dogs die in hot cars and the quite simply splendid d_rradio debut.

Reading wise, a slight departure from the usual music related stuff, a thoroughly recommended read from Bill Bryson entitled ‘A Short History of Everything’ for all those wishing to steel a step on the smart arses a handy everything you should know about who we are, why we are and where we are but were to afraid to ask. A kind of Hitchhikers Guide to the Guide Galaxy meets school textbook Science in a Nutshell.

Also worth catching is the latest Uncut magazine with an excellent interview with Mr Paul McCartney, who at last comes from behind the shadows to tell it how it is and for once stands up to be counted as the ultimate Beatle, included is a version of the much overlooked ‘Temporary Secretary’ from way back in 1980 on the freebie CD just to prove his solo stuff wasn’t all frogs, mulls and peace thereafter. So now Paul about that experimental stuff…

Without, as they say, further ado, the singles (40 plus of them…see we don’t slack here, haven’t got the time…..)

Kicking off in spectacular style with the walloping…..

The Boss Tuneage Instant Singles Collection Volume 2 (Boss Tuneage). Six bands, twenty three tracks and boy those Boss Tuneage dudes don’t do things by halves. This jaw dropping compilation CD housed in a seven-inch sleeve retails for the same price as your average limp wristed 3 track single, originally intended as 6 EP releases but gathered up into one easily digestible portable butt-kicking scorcher. Sadly opening ensemble Rope and Beauty School Dropout have since disbanded leaving us with pogo to the delights of their final recordings. On the evidence of Rope’s three parting cuts, it shouldn’t be too long before they re-emerge in some shape or form in the not to distant future, a blistering cocktail of as cool as you like melodic three chord anthemic punk pop that gives several nods in the direction of the Senseless Things, best cut of the set the razored ‘Welcome to my world’ which pairs up a match made in heaven featuring ‘Thunder’ era New Model Army with Mega City 4. Japan’s Baby Little Tablets perhaps offer up the compilations perkiest moments, an inferno charged mix of unrelenting power charged old / new skool punk possessing the killer pop hooks of the Buzzcocks and sounding along the way like a particularly wired Stiff Little Fingers being trashed by Sink, pop so raucous it’s guaranteed to mess up your head and get your feet stomping right out of your boots just check out the adrenalin infected ‘Our technology is improving but we don’t know how to use it’, bombastic, blistering and blood thirsty. Nice to see Belgium’s punk rock is in good hands courtesy of the formidable Innerface who serve up four potent cuts of serrated head crushing pop that includes the simply irresistible storming re-branding of ‘Hanging on the Telephone’ as once upon a time done by Blondie while seducing us to a tender spot reflective tuneage in the shape of ‘All about eve’. Just ahead of their soon to be released debut full length, East Coast kool kids Skeeter could plug that overlong gap left by Husker Du and early 80’s era Elvis Costello / Joe Jackson and elements of Chris Brockaw / Moviola (so yes, as you can imagine, superb), combining meaty chords with succulent hooks that weave a curious yet intoxicating fabric of soft MOR pop rock that nibbles away under the skin to bask you beneath glowing skies and the tender chill of introspective solitude, best track ‘In my Amp’. Beauty School Dropout, as mentioned earlier have since split and can now be found plying their individual trades in Barefoot and The Day I Snapped. These five tracks are the last recordings as BSD, try imagining Placebo with less make up and angst having sneaked under the cover of darkness to raid Steve Diggle’s home of his notebook containing the secrets to pristine pop punk hooks and nicking his Ramones collection into the bargain, nuff said our kid, check out the awesome ‘Passing Thru’. Last up and by no means least Canada’s In Harm’s Way kick in with four exclusive ditties just ahead of their debut release for Boss Tuneage, more than able to kick backside among such daunting company, the crunching ‘Train Stations and Airports’ acts as testament to that yet its on ‘Tennessee Whiskey and Elvis’, asides being two of my favourite things, it shows the band have a serious angle on the whole classic era Faces malarkey. Well worth keeping an eye out for.

Boss Tuneage May 2004 Sampler (Boss Tuneage). Staying with the Boss Tuneage dudes for a little while longer, ask them nicely and throw in a few quid for postage and you may be able to get your hands on this neat 25 track window shopping CD which features selected cuts and rarities released / to be released / never to be released from the bulging BT catalogue. Featuring in no order of preference though we have to admit to being smitten by Finland’s I Walk the Line whose debut album we’ve been murdering along the way, ‘Demons are Forever’ combines elements of latter era Clash with the Pogues, instantly loveable stuff be warned. Elsewhere the very wonderful Lukestar from Spain who will put everyone on their back foot I promise; hardcore fun from Stoke’s All one Word here serving up a demo version of the track that’ll be going head to head with Barefoot on a forthcoming split; something quite simply crucial from Textbook; more teasers from soon to be your favourite band, Skeeter and something quite simply dippy as Camblewick Green meets Half Man Half Biscuit in the form of the charmingly named Anal Beard. 25 cuts of good time head crunching fun and thoroughly recommended.

The Milwaukees ‘Angel with a Knife’ (Boss Tuneage). And so to the last of the Boss Tuneage releases for this particular missive. New Jersey based quartet the Milwaukees perfectly combine classic rock dynamics to indie sensibilities, rooted in a thickening heavy sound that shies short of being totally metal and yet is potent enough to sting the lug holes and devilishly groovily enhanced to have the most casual listener licking their lips. This EP features two cuts from last years ‘This is a stick up’ full length and includes the stinging melodically twisting ‘Lighthouse Signals’ which teasingly showcases a reassuring sensitive maturity to the bands canon, it’s a trait that’s repeated to a greater or lesser extent on the shyly invigorating ‘Academy Awards’ which aches lovingly nuzzling beneath your skin to the point where you can’t resist its softening charms before changing tact to clobber you within an inch of your life with its storm lashed finale. Best of the lot though is the nimble acoustic gloss of the hurting ‘When they attack’ getting to the end without shedding a tear is a testament to strength and willpower. All releases via http://www.bosstuneage.com

Atone ‘un Jour’ EP (Autres Directions in Music). Another label well worth your time and investigation is the French based Internet resource Autres Directions in Music. All releases are freely downloadable, even the artwork and if you can’t find the time to manage that then for a feebly small fee they’ll do the job for you. What makes this label so special is that each and everyone of the releases so far has been straight from the top drawer of electronica pop. Release numero six welcomes five nimble slices of dreamy lullabies from Atone (to you and I, Antoine Monzonis-Calvet to his parents). Think of a seriously chilled out ISAN under sedation (if that was at all possible) or the more frosted electronics that we have come to love and expect from the eminent Static Caravan label and here I’m thinking Ampop, Charles Atlas and Marcia Blaine. Call it funky chamber pop but it does it for me especially on the lunatic ‘Two Marimbas’ where you are set upon by the rush of what seems like a host of bargain basement synthesisers having a collective blip seizures before realising that it’s groovy core of the Clangers on vacation to the North Pole, subtle elements of the Penguin Café Orchestra and the nursery symphonies of Raymond Scott tussle and tease with the senses all the time pirouetting delicately lost in their own sweet incantations. ‘Balneaire’ moves apace to more celestial realms, still as cute as a big shiny button, tenderly shuffling beats navigate daintily skip and scratch over the surface of lonesome signatures forming frail angelic arcs to seductively sedate you though the EP’s finest point comes to fruition on the closing ‘qobac sine’, detached and less playful than what’s gone before, its reveals are darker tone that’s melancholic yet magnificent and all at once statue-esque and numbingly captivating like a lost Budd-esque score for some sinister thriller as though remixed by Carpenter with Satie pretensions. Excellent.

Harpages ‘Simple Visions’ (Autres Directions in Music). Staying with Autres Directions for release numero 4, this time showcasing the sublime talents of the electronic minimalist duo Harpages. ‘Simple Visions’ is a 28-minute musical installation that was originally debuted at the Rencontres Audiovisuelles festival in Lille in 2003. Covering pretty much every base Harpages temptingly weave together elements of drone musique concrete electronics, pensive acoustic arrangements with gently undulating frosted melodies to create a continuous flow, which keeps you keenly interested and spellbound. What first appears reminiscent of Windy and Carl et al soon begins to blossom and evolve, the drone waves though never too distant from the central core of the work wane in focus from foreground to background, one minute housed as cathedral-esque swathes the next to mind warping cyclical rhythms, all the time fading in and out. At times your reminded of Jean Michel Jarre’s elongated ‘Magnetic Fields’ as though overhauled by Sonic Boom or an early period Pimmon into some head tripping experience. As with the Atone release Harpages seek to lull and draw the listener, the sounds are likewise sedate in texture though from an altogether darker perspective. Slowly unfurling, structure wise it’s reminiscent of Moondog, each change, dip and shift in texture is slight and subtle only at the 7 minute interval do we first get any indication of life amid the barren landscapes, a lone guitar calls out from the darkness, almost like a ship lost in the thickening fog, from therein the musical shapes become somewhat less shadowy and more colourfully pliable, playful and hypnotically enhanced taking on momentarily, an almost Latino feel before fusing perfectly to lead us out to the final movement in which stately processional marches are washed away by moments of controlled bleached white noise and all manner of unhinged hijinx. Quite splendid if you ask me. http://www.autresdirections.net/inmusic

Kim Hiorthey ‘Hopeness’ (Smalltown Supersound). Now I’d be lying if I said this was good because in truth it’s awesome. As befitting all perfect releases it’s naive, sensual and playful, like some kind of intricate abstract painting refreshingly illuminating with each ventured viewing so to then are the five tracks housed here, each repeated listen reveals a little more, continually catching you off guard and yet proving more colourful under further exposure. Based in Berlin, Kim has so far released two albums to wide acclaim (‘Hei’ from 2000 and the remix and oddities project ‘Melke’ in 2001). This EP is a taster for his forthcoming proper second full length due fairly soon, often compared to Four Tet and Matmos though I’d be inclined to say it has more in common with Manual, and its easy to see why as across these five tracks Hiorthey toys with elegant soundscapes that dip between leftfield electronic appreciation and sunny childlike realms. It’s a release that lends itself to being best enjoyed in the wee small hours when everything is still, ‘Soligna dagens slappiga trosor’ in particular has a lazy late night down tempo edge that can only be truly appreciated when it has your complete undivided attention, imagine Kraftwerk’s calculator pop taken out for a night out to an exclusive underground jazz bar to breathe in the thickening haze and getting jiggy and intoxicated on the potent aroma of cigarettes, sweat and booze. Both ‘Mandarinerna’ and the gorgeous ‘Alt maste bli anorlunda’have that air of early plink plonk pop that was so perfectly executed by Plone, the former touched by the sophisticated shy eyed softness of Mum and stapled together longingly by muscular hip hop beats while the latter courts with numbing enchantment, frozen lullaby like pop, the breathless toy-box tones alert a curious fusion of melancholia and warming safety all set upon a bed of scattering beats. Perhaps the EP’s best moment can be found on 11 minute funsome ‘You know the score’, uptempo and in your face, here Hiorthey brings the sounds of the sunny Caribbean to sit alongside the Oriental, there they duel sensually to the wired and wacky rhythmic arrangements that trip and act as fools like some kind of lunatic comedy troop. Parting with the sorely elegant ‘Ek, Bok, Tistel, Apple’ brief, beautiful and beguiling, not a lot more to be said. Recommended as though you haven’t already guessed. http://www.smalltownsupersound.com

Blue States ‘Across the Wire’ (Memphis Industries). The first cut to be taken from their third album, the immensely wonderful ‘The Soundings’, and perhaps one of the best tracks to grace not only that full length but also our hi-fi this year. Belying its fair share of ‘Coming Up’ era Suede-isms though cleverly fused with the memorable overtones of classic radio pop pre ‘Spirit of Eden’ Talk Talk. Now settled as a trio, the Blue States sound has evolved to the point where they can produce pop that channels and switches at the drop of a hat feelings of euphoria and heartbreak, priceless, powerful and enigmatic ‘Across the Wire’ hits you like a sledgehammer face on, an instant fix of anthemic pop that descriptions such as classic are well founded. Both haunting and hopeful it’s draining though devilishly delicious, resist it at your peril. ‘Hundred Weight’ over on the flip flirts with some tasty rustic finery reminiscent of Porcupine Tree in mellower moods and possessing that same sapping grace as we’ve come to expect from the likes of Candidate. Thinking that maybe you’ve got through the worst of it then the homecoming tribunes of ‘Atomic 79’ come to the fore to clobber whatever emotions still lurk. Strange as it may seem with the sun shining outside, ‘Atomic 79’ has a seriously yuletide feel to it, spectral and yet hearteningly warming, kind of ‘Mind Games’ era Lennon and ‘Life in a Northern Town’ era Dream Academy mashed together and given the old heart string pulled taut symphonic sheen by ELO. Simply perfect. http://www.memphis-industries.com

The AM ‘Utopia’ (Storm). Oh so retro and sultry, so dirty and down with it you’ll feel you’ll need a shower. The AM is taken from their acclaimed debut full length released at the tail end of 2003. ‘Utopia’ is crooked, sleazy and infectious with a capital I, think mid 70’s Bowie ‘John, I’m only dancing’ meets Robert Palmer’s ‘Some guys have all the luck’ meets Prince’s ‘Alphabet Street’ with Pavements ‘Crooked Rain’ tagging along for the fun of it all sneering and strutting their stuff in some deadly cool underground 70’s copyist come Studio 54 dance floor. Mind blowing stuff. Similarly infectious is the snaking groove that threads throughout the hot throbbing ‘Shower’, coming from the same direction as the excellent Eskimos, The AM concoct a gagging for it anthem that even a seriously wired Marc Bolan would be forced to applaud and grind happily to. Parting with ‘Palisades of Love’ which gives you time to draw breathe, eerily disconnected in sound albeit brief, I blame the Flaming Lips y’know. Essential. http://www.storm-music.com

Meow Meow ‘Cracked’ (Integrity). Another Stateside band bitten by the groove bug and high on lysergic substances. ‘Cracked’ is a taster for their forthcoming full length ‘Snow Gas Bones’ due later in the year. Shades of the Earlies and Spiritualised bubble to the surface and that my friends is not a bad thing, one of those tracks where the description ‘losing it’ is so apt, Meow Meow do country laced shades ‘n’ leather psyche to sonic meltdown in the flick of an effects pedal or three as though someone had thought it’d be a fantastic weaze to tape together the sonic ferocity of Jesus and Mary Chain’s ‘Never Understand’ to the strum happy serenity of ‘Some Candy Talking’ to create something that’s all at once vicious and beautiful, gets my vote any way. ‘Not worth recovering’ just ups the ante, dangerously trippy, 60’s summer of love harmonies left out in the baking hot heat to suffer from intense heat stroke, imagine the Beatles c. ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ pissing off Brian Wilson big time doing perfect Californian pop yet being fool hardy enough to have the garage land trash happy lo-fi two chord wonder kids the Mummies backing them but the savvy to include the Oddfellows Casino on hand and sending the resulting tapes off to Atari Teenage Riot to dissect and inevitably slaughter. Wayward hallucogenic carnage at it’s most potent. Last up the skittish ambling nowhere pop of ‘Nature is a machine’ takes several pot shots at the now defunct Elephant 6 collective before turning their sights on the Velvets winning the argument hands down with hooks as big as skyscrapers married to some blatantly administered sonic nuking that makes Concorde sound like a wasp trapped in a beer can. Deputy single of the Missive. http://www.integrityrecords.co.uk

Culture Industry ‘DJ ascetic loves himself badly’ (Static Caravan). As with the recent Thread single, a massive departure from the usual electronic minimalism for Midland’s finest sons, the eminent Static Caravan. Like the Playwrights and Left Hand, Culture Industry could for all intents and purposes come from a different time zone chiefly the period where the austere showers that was to be post punk took root following the fall out left in the wake of punk’s first detonation. Their brand of agit anti pop is awash with caustic fervour, both dense and intense so much so that you can literally feel the hairs on the back off your neck rise to attention. Tipped by head Static boy as the band to watch this year, he wasn’t kidding. This two track debut is extremely limited to 500 copies and will sure as hell fly out the racks faster than bottled water from a hastily set up corner shop in the middle of the Sahara. Brutal and foreboding, Culture Industries legacy owes much to PIL and early grind Killing Joke as it they do to the thickening hardcore groove of Big Black, ‘DJ ascetic loves himself badly’ oozes in its own wretchedness, dark, unloved and uncaring yet distractively engaging enough to set the pulses racing and the inner rage simmering coolly. ‘The recognitions’ over on the flip equally toys with darkly spun textures, underpinned by a subtle dub core groove to its bosom around which uneasily fits a splintered angular art rock dynamic that at times veers towards the more macabre moments from Bauhaus’ back catalogue festering hurtfully with the stalking glee of a serial killer closing on their next victim, in other words, its rather smart. Another winner for the Caravan set.

Maps and Diagrams ‘Ooganon’ (Static Caravan). More wonderful stuff from Static HQ, well we say wonderful, in the certain hope that it is wonderful, but going on previous releases by Maps and Diagrams we can honestly say it is a wonderful experience to behold. See this is what happens when you get lathe cuts to review and find that your turntable which incidentally, is made by the same people who specialise in making learning toys for pre school infants, just can’t hack it. Well it stands to reason that we are gonna be buggered before we’ve begun. Looks lovely and skips spectacularly on my 11p sound system, pressed on 5 inches of polycarbonate vinyl and strictly limited to just 100 copies of which, last heard, stocks where running low so get pestering them Caravan dudes, like now. While your there also check out another limited CD- r release by M+D again limited to just 100 copies. http://www.staticcaravan.org

Katastrophy Wife ‘Blue Valient’ (Integrity). Without doubt two of the best tracks to feature on the recently released ‘All Kneel’ sophomore by Kat Bjelland’s new venture Katastrophy Wife, all said and done one of the most engagingly brutal albums we’ve heard all year as it finds Ms Bjelland rounding up the posse for her best and most frantic outing since the early days of Babes In Toyland. ‘Emit Time’ is fraught with danger, sounding like a wired Johnny Rotten under going paranoiac flashbacks all the time underpinned by the vicious blood letting of the jagged onslaught skin piercing riff shards. Unmerciful stuff. Yet it’s on the awesome ‘Blue Valient’ that the nerves are set a jangling and the teeth on edge, featuring a guest appearance spot from Carina Round, easily the albums best track mainly for the fact that it kicks against the grain of the overall histrionic template. Smoothly bathed in soft 60’s psychedelic codas, darkly passionate and hitherto ablaze with sexual tension, Bjelland and Carina Round like the fabled sirens draw you close before unleashing their deadly sting, imagine some loveless storm drenched witching hour rendezvous between the Go Go’s / Autumn Leaves with Macbeth’s unworldly allies. Last and by no means least ‘Window’ as originally featured on the ‘Amusia’ full length here captured live for Radio K in all its withering gruelling glory. Did we say essential? http://www.integrityrecords.co.uk

Girlinky ‘Newspaper Round’ (Dedear). Taken from their current album, the spasmodic candy pop classic ‘I want the Tsunami’ and just ahead of returning to the studio for the expectant follow up, ‘Newspaper Round’ shows off the bands tender boy / girl bitter sweet lo-fi perky pop side, screwball electronics flicker erratically jostling for centre stage showering would be listener with a feel good summer vibe that begs for factor 5 protection, passing the obvious nods to the Bis sound it ultimately comes across like a less wilful Winterbrief, and that’s fine by us. Better still ‘Heavy hitter club’ is slinky and full on hand holding pop revealing a bunch of individuals having wiled away their formative years dreaming happily to the soft spangly sounds provided by Bus Stop / Summershine record labels and early career Go Betweens. The old saying from small acorns grow huge Oaks is something that could be easily applied to ‘It’s not cold in the snowglobe’, portraying a growing sense of confidence and maturity, what initially ventures out as a quite serene albeit noodly display of frosted bleep pop soon manifests to consume the entire listening space in a swirling frantic cacophony of electronics undergoing meltdown, pure gratuitous fun. http://www.girlinky.com

Serotonin ‘Jenny takes the line’ (Demo). Just where all these bands are coming from is beyond me, another grade A demo to add to the already bulging list I’ve had the pleasure of hearing this year. Serotonin is the body’s natural brain chemical which depending on whether or not it wants to come out to play can induce depression in states of suppression or elation and well being when cranked up full pelt. There so that’s the comedy medical lesson for beginners over and done with. Serotonin hail from Hampshire, yeah get that A and R reps, Hampshire not London, and have apparently been favourably compared to Idlewild and Seafood, exalted company I’m sure you’ll agree and it’s easy to see why because this trio make an unholy melodic racket that you feel would see off a fair portion of any would be competition should they be fool enough to share the stage, mixing irresistible hook laden lines with a head expanding crunch, these three tracks serve as stark warning that hardcore pop actually works a treat given thought over its construction. Opening with ‘Jenny takes the line’ chomping at the bit to fly out of the stalls it swoons, dips and soars with malicious intent to screw up your head even having the audacity to veer towards a 60’s moment of Floyd-ist trippy bliss at the mid section before bearing down to corner you into submission. ‘Intent’ ups the ante several notches in both terms of power and pop, unerringly muscular like some hastily convened supergroup featuring the might of the Foo Fighters with a turbo charge of a spangly Teenage Fanclub adding the gem like heart stopping swerves and slight of hand shimmies. Completing the trio, ‘Intent’ grinds within a thickly set swampy groove to create a curious wigged out kaleidoscopic haze that’s all at once funky and crushing featuring one part Hendrix, one part Smashing Pumpkins and one match to light the blue touch paper and then boom. Storming stuff. tagd@ntlworld.com

Melys ‘Eyeliner’ (Sylem). I‘d almost feared the worst for Melys following their tepid difficult third full length ‘Casting Pearls’, not that the album was anything approaching bad, more just lacking the sparkle that ‘Kamikaze’ hinted at. ‘Eyeliner’ provides a dramatic return to form and reveals an invigorated newfound edge, in simplistic terms it adopts a back to basics approach where old traits are replaced by a fuller and more considered dynamic. No trickery here just good to honest kick ass pop tuneage, heavy bearing grooves surround Andrea’s pixie like cutesy butter wouldn’t melt in my mouth vocals bolted onto to a sexy as hell dirty riff while elsewhere the vaguely glam / spacey treatments are subtly arranged so as not to smoke out the overall seductive feminine stylising. Backed by two new cuts, keeping with their by now trademark obligatory Welsh language track, ‘Disgyn’ provides perhaps the EP’s best moment, spangly guitars freely roam folky pastures tripped by a soft psychedelic edge, at times dipping into more arresting lysergic moods of the Bunnymen’s ‘Flowers’ album, and is that a banjo we can hear magically rooting about in the background, all tripped off by a barn storming euphoric finale that’ll leave you aching for more and wondering how such a harmless nugget could cause such emotional chaos. ‘I can’t stop this (even if I wanted to)’ temptingly packs you off into the night, gentle and alluring until that is the waves of coalescing looped harmonies and buttress like impenetrable melodic defences rally together rain upon your head. Melys’ finest hour until the next one that is. http://www.melys.co.uk

The Features ‘There’s a million way to sing the blues’ (Temptation). A quick return for missive favourites the Features. Third single, and those of you wondering where all those classic sub three minute indie pop tunes to bop till you drop to have all gone, my guess is that this lot have raided the grotto and stashed them under their beds. Infectious isn’t in it ‘There’s a million ways to sing the blues’ swaggers cocksure from the word go, courting the same kind of cool panache as early Dexy’s, Hammonds flaunt gracefully across an irresistible melodic thread that wickedly takes up squatting rights in your psyche to party long through the night, so addictive it should be classified. http://www.islandrecords.co.uk

L Pierre ‘Total Horizontal (Part 1 / 2)’ (Melodic). More moments of refined beauty from those Mancunian dudes at Melodic. It’s been a fair old while since we’ve had anything barely related to Arab Strap’s Aidan Moffat and what a way to return. Just ahead of the forthcoming long player ‘Touchpool’ this delightful twin set swims our way to test the waters. Essentially the albums longest cut split in two and revealing both the old and new sides to the L Pierre (previous Lucky Pierre) sound. ‘Part 1’ has all the stately characteristics that we’ve comes to know and love, fluttering breathlessly suggestive, gentle hypnotic down tempo grooves seek to woo and caress the senses like some kind of chilled out epic plucked from the night lights, repetitive looped beats and sophisticated sampled melodies are the order of the day as they weigh in to cause you to surrender your emotions. ‘Part 2’ is slightly more textured and somewhat organic, the same cut in essence though accompanied this time by the breezy chill of a lone trumpet and the soothing procession of delicately spun flickering chords that weave an erstwhile tantalising aural landscape with which to lose yourself in. Gorgeous stuff. http://www.melodic.co.uk

Nothing ‘EP One’ (Marowak). I’ve probably said this more times than I care to remember, but the great thing about doing these musings is the wealth of top-drawer records you get to hear. Not wishing to inflate the egos of a band so young, but this four track EP has to be one of the best releases I’ve heard in a long time. One of those CD’s where you can’t for certain pin down the influences but instinctively know from what direction they are coming. Nothing are a rock band. Brighton based. Brighton based trio to be precise, and a band who given the support they richly deserve may yet in time develop into a lasting thorn in the side of the limp wristed rock scene currently masquerading within the music industry. Four tracks make up this their debut EP which by all accounts is the first of three planned for release this year. Nothing share a spiritual common ground with Nirvana c. ‘In Utero’, their sounds are heavily laden with a dark unloving sheen that surprisingly benefits from a curiously distracted uplifting undercurrent in particular ‘Will it hurt’ which possesses a wicked off centre groove, soaring pop melodies appear unexpectedly just when you least expect them like snipers in the bush while their ability to sleekly change gear leaves your head spinning. Sound wise they owe a lot to the hardcore rock scene utilising perfectly the loud / quiet dynamic while the riffs and time signatures you feel are deliberately left crooked, that said the aftertaste of Husker Du, or more specifically, Sugar and the Replacements are deeply prevalent check out the opening ‘Dark White’ for further proof where the latent essence of a grinding Wire festers. Difficult to pick a best cut though if pressed the freewheeling ‘Rant’ edges it mainly for the fact its just egging for a reaction, oh yeah and it houses the most potent swerving hook lines we’ve heard in a fair old while. And so as not to leave it feeling left out the concluding ‘You all ignore us’ deserves a mention, replacing the grind with something a little more considered until that is the head bursting finale comes into view to rain down upon you without mercy. Absolutely recommended but be warned limited to 1000 pressings. http://www.marowakrecords.co.uk

Dogs die in hot cars ‘I love you cause I have to’ (V2). Ah Singled Out house favourites Dogs die in hot cars. Disproving the rumours that we are to snobbish to review fully signed up chart acts. We’ve repeatedly warned you about this lot, and well, without placing to fine a point on things I was right and you was wrong. Okay? With an album (‘Please describe yourself’) to be released sometime in the next week or three and a beautiful little thing it is having been found tormenting our poor old hi-fi and giving it a run for its money, the band have been let out of the clutches of record company to come out to play for a re-release of sorts of ‘I love you cause I have to’ from last year. An enhanced CD that features the video to the recent ‘Godhopping’ single and which if you watch carefully proves our long held theory that they are the bastard offspring of some kind of laboratory cloning exercise that took XTC, Talking Heads (c. ‘Stop making Sense’) and Kevin Rowland’s’ vocals as their template on which to work on. Now you don’t need me to tell you that ‘I love you cause I have to’ is a corker of a single, frantically catchy, alarmingly addictive and above all as highly-strung as a child after a hefty intake of e numbers. In short we dare you stay motionless with this blasting full pelt out of the radio, can’t be done. Though the recently deceased and those with their feet nailed to the floor might be excused on production of a doctor’s certificate. ‘Please describe yourself’ on the flip really does sound like ‘English Settlement’ era XTC re-jigging about with Velvet Crush’s ‘Ash and Earth’ all tripped with a curious psychedelic 60’s pastoral touch that nods amusingly towards classic Small Faces. Another hit as if you didn’t already know. http://www.v2music.com

Dopamine ‘A lesson in dying’ (Self Released). Now for a release that really stings the ear and one you’d do well to nail down any loose bits of furniture. ‘A lesson in dying’ is the latest four-track release from Dopamine following hot on the heels of two well-received EP’s, which sadly passed us by. Now we are not really to well up when it comes to the old metal stuff but we can safely recognise the odd Guns ‘N Roses / Iron Maiden licks a decibel or ten away, yet before you all start shying away in panic the main trick up the sleeve that Dopamine possess is their ability to cleverly dip subtly into emo territories while carving out memorable slices of melodic mayhem that many of you might see a vague Ned’s Atomic Dustbin vibe running throughout (especially on the awesome ‘Dead wood floats’). Four tracks then, what can only be described as a stormy roller coaster of a ride, pitted with drama, menace, slow drip pop tuneage and the odd short sharp shock treatment delivered occasionally by brief guitar solos. The shining beacon amid all the tuneful carnage is the malignant rocker ‘Beauty Queens and blood baths’ which is blessed with the same chunky grind that made those early 80’s Killing Joke cuts such a lasting treat, melodic grind core no less packed to the brim with serrated riffs that tear and drag you into submission, that is, when their not swinging you recklessly around the room. Elsewhere the opening ‘One last breath’ is, well, breathless, made of the kind of perky punk pop fluff so beloved by MTV and tigerish enough to catch the channel surfers while ‘Destroy something beautiful’ just gnaws drill like into your psyche to play havoc with your head. Overall an ear bending display intricate sonic pyrotechnics and damn fine with it. http://www.doaminemusic.com

Bone Machine ‘Another day over’ (Hackpen). You wonder what’s left in the Bone Machine tank given that they can let loose this diamond of a release as their debut release. A taster for their forthcoming full length ‘Vent’ due next month, and if this release is anything to go by it’d be well worth making enquiries now. Bone Machine are a Portsmouth based quartet who indulge in darkly spun down tempo electronic sophistication, in part not a million miles away from those colourful wide screened epics ventured so often by those Memphis Industry kids Blue States and the lush classicism of the Broadway Project while on the other hand cutely culling a late night sleazy chill factor that brings together the more shadowy elements of Goldfrapp being tutored by Barry Adamson. ‘Another day over’ is all at once haunting and slinky, Bone Machine glide coolly amid statuesque Middle Eastern feel backdrops, bristling beats all underpinned by a bass line that Mick Karn would envy. There’s also an additional ‘Piano version’ of the same track where they uncannily sound like Radiohead doing an impression of a Mercury sensitively tinkling the ivories Queen. Proving its no fluke that’s caught us off guard ‘This Oceans Angry’ sees them changing tact and personality admirably, still primed with the seductive beats but the dynamics a lot more pliable, sparse atmospherics wrap around the blend of a grooving native score that’s spliced by an intoxicating spacey dub-esque texture. ‘What happens now?’ subtly re-visits the tenseness found on the Shamen’s ‘In Gorbachev we trust’ as though fused with the Primals spaced out ‘Screamadelica’ and given the Happy Mondays trademark drugged up lazy cool to contend itself with. Early hours bliss for insomniacs and night owls. Quietly outstanding. http://www.hackpenrecords.com

AKO ‘The Last Goodbye’ (Naked Ambition). More hardcore fun to scare the shite out of you and again another record for which the press release has disappeared into what we can only assume is some kind of black hole emanating cheekily in the losing today record shed, hang on I’ll turn the lights out so that we can see better. Nope sorry kids, the AKO press release has officially left the building in an unofficial way. Okay AKO, been here before, late last year where they were given the LT seal of approval, so like this one track CD is gonna change our mind. Not a chance. Entertainment at the kind of speed, volume and intensity that makes buildings collapse, sounding like some apocalyptic messenger venturing upon a scene of total devastation, sort of Slayer meets Iron Maiden for some pre-ordained storm lashed witching hour rendezvous, powerful, passionate and punishing. http://www.ako-music.com

The Stills ‘Changes are no good’ (679). Lifted from the bands current debut full length, the very excellent ‘Logic will break your heart’ and quite possibly the most rounded cut off the album showing the Stills with a finely tuned ear for a curvaceous tear soaked hook laden melody. Reference wise ‘Changes are no good’ is not unlike a mid 80’s New Order emotionally bled dry, devilishly alluring and pulling tightly on the heartstrings. Not content with hitting you once with the same, after all what’s the point of having a good tune when you can’t ram it home in style, and style is what you get. The ‘Grand National Remix’ adds an oriental dance charm to the arsenal, effect wise reminiscent to the Lol and Fat Bob redraft of ‘Let’s go to bed’ on the extended version and proving to be a class above the original mix. Not done yet the ‘Demo’ version adds a gritty and stripped down perspective to the whole process proving that even in its naked form it can still clout most of the competition. Tagged at the end the glorious sonic symphonic inferno that is ‘Lola Stars and Stripes’ which alone is all the proof you’ll ever need to see this lot’s worth. Get your hands on CD2 and you get the treat of having the demo version of ‘Let’s roll’ tripping mightily across the hi-fi in all its anthemic glory. http://www.679recordings.com

M J Hibbert and the Validators ‘Shed Anthems’ (Sorted / Artists Against Success). I can only blame the hot weather. Time to hide behind the sofa because something wacked comes this way, and fast. The accompanying press release would have us believe that the Validators debut album from last year was elected record of the year by the esteemed Rolling Stone. So it must be good / bad then eh? For those not privy to hearing that album (me included) this little six track EP is meant to shake the tree, and shake the tree it does, roots an’ all. How can I describe it. Barking. Yeah we’ll start with barking. Firstly bang the CD into the PC and lo and behold an additional 35 tracks come into view on which Mr Hibbert and his cohorts cover every imaginable aspect of pop in their own unique twisted fashion from the last 40 or so years with the exception of soul and er, gay proletarian street electronic thrash pop. All in all its skittish, worrying and head spinning. Now don’t get to scared but on repeat listens elements of the esteemed and oft overlooked Half Man Half Biscuit (whose inspired song title book has a leaf taken out of for the comedically named ‘the primal rhythms of the Bolivian nose flautist’) spring to mind, along with the lunacy of the Cuban Boys while not forgetting a more often than not nod to the lo-fi campfire pop of the Elephant 6 collective (especially on the warped ‘Elmer’ Olivia Tremor Control in the land of the blue meanies doing jackanory excerpts) and the occasional trip into Go Team 70’s children’s TV territories. Throw into the mix the light folk fuzz of the Freed Unit (‘Not’), the music hall Englishness of the Kinks, Irish folk (‘Billy Jones is Dead’) and you have a potentially warming brew that’ll have you laughing in the aisles while scratching your head puzzlingly. The EP also features the unofficial Euro 2004 anthem, ‘The Fair Play Trophy (again)’ sparkling with all manner of pint swilling jollity finding a middle ground between 78’s ‘Ally’s Tartan Army’, Chas ‘n’ Dave and Baddiel / Skinner and Broudie. Elsewhere Altered Images fans might do well to check out ‘Clare’, a loopy ode to the pixie like Ms Grogan with easy sing-a-long lyrics and an impersonation of Scotland’s favourite lass that sounds more like Mrs Doubtfire than anything else all submerged amid what can only be described as a Baron Knights like dig at the White Stripes stripped down dynamic. Alternatively there’s the infectious Weddoes like summer jangle of ‘Things’ll be different (when I’m in charge)’, oh what the hell, go out and treat yourself to something quite splendidly over the edge. http://www.sorted-records.org.uk http://www.artistsagainstsuccess.com

Hypo Psycho ‘Public Enemy No.1’ (Snapper). And staying with records left out a tad too long in the baking sun, the debut from Hypo Psycho who, if tales reaching us are to believed, recently had their lead vocalist, Mikey, left out stone cold after a freak Anthea Turner swinging microphone incident. Is there no end to this woman’s talents we ask? ‘Public Enemy No.1’ is so infectious we are certain its illegal. Crooked, cheeky and sure to put a smile on the face. Sounding like some frantic cross mutation between the Bad Manners and early career Madness with the Lightning Seeds doing production duties, Hypo Psycho provide an edible family friendly slant on the old punk / ska / skateboard malarkey to slam in with three audacious shots of adrenalin laced tuneage (who at the back said Busted?). A heart stoppingly energetic mash of bitching brass fanfares, skanking riffs and rumbling bass lines all tied up and up in your face even sneakily taking a brief time out for a spot of ‘Leader of the Pack’ style bubblegum dreaminess. Flip over for the equally bustin’ ‘Stereotypical’, though be forgiven for thinking Musical Youth wired around a less sombre Specials. Ending with a live cut, ‘Bored’ at least gives it a bit stick and reveals vague hardcore punk pretensions, initially like a comedy Iggy Pop but boy when it kicks in, it kicks in getting seriously down and dirty at the close, not bad at all. http://www.snappermusic.com

Centrifuge ‘Carved In Stone’ (Self Released). More kids with blistering tunes and chomping at the bit sonic armaments and again more apologies I’m afraid as it’s another CD that somehow went walking around the losing today record shed without warning or permission. And hell are we glad we found it because as with so many of these demos / self released records that pass our way, another certified gem of a release. Formed in 2001 this quartet have already chalked up support slots with the much touted Agent Blue, Oceansize and the quite excellent Flamingo 50, and on this four track CD show themselves of as being one of the classier acts in the already overly subscribed melodic punk rock genre. If we tell you that across these tracks bits of the Ruts, Nirvana and the Mega City 4 come flying sharper and faster than glass from a car crash, then be warned. Centrifuge dally between punk and metal keeping the whole package neatly hook ladenly friendly enough so as not to be found pigeonholed into either of the generic stables. Opening with the tense ‘Stand in Line’, dynamics as tight as a gnat’s arse with a seriously gnawing hanged dog resolve to contend with that flare up like explosives tripped on a minefield, scorching stutter fire like serrated riffs jab and spar in a gritty fast / slow rhythm that’s superbly set within a memorable tune that’s sure to prick your ears. ‘Reality’ ups the ante a notch, restlessly pushing all the time revealing a slightly more poppy personality yet it’s on the vengeful ‘Eye for an Eye’ where the sparks really fly and the ensembles true depth of compositional mastery comes to the fore. Relying on awkward time signatures that first appear like a brooding slow burning exposition of lighter waving anthem pop soon rears its head into a festering sonic meltdown with a nonsense take no prisoners mentality. Last up the equally bruised ‘Bricks, Stone, Ashes, Bone’ fuses together an unholy cocktail of grind core / hardcore and math rock like Iron Maiden trying to write the first meaningful anthem for a post apocalyptic age. Damn fine stuff. Recommended. http://www.centrifuge1.co.uk

Three Man Amp ‘Best Dress’ (Self Released). And one suspects another release that you should spend several hours of your life ensuring you track down, another top grade demo would you believe. This band have really been through it and it’s no wonder it’s only been through gritted determination and never say die resolve that their still around today. Originally known as Concrete Dog a bright future was promised until the label they were signed to went under leading to protracted legal arguments. Move to the present day one name change and a bag full of tunes to wow audiences with this current three track CD being a taster of things to come. Songs with the word dress in the title have more often than not been damn cool, three that spring to mind immediately being the Weddoes ‘My favourite dress’, PJ Harvey’s ‘Dress’ and Madonna’s ‘Dress you up’, okay we’ll skip the latter, one bad song in about a thousand from Madge ain’t anything to be scoffed at. And so to ‘Best Dress’ the lead track by Three Man Amp, now we’d be daft to deny that it has the kind of stinging swagger that would easily see it sitting on Nirvana’s ‘Bleach’ if that is it wasn’t for the early career Manics medley running through it which however alarming / clever it is (you choose) doesn’t detract from the fact that this is a devilishly tempestuous cut that lurks ominously waiting to inflict its fatal bite. ‘I won’t play around’ is blessed with the kind of melody that plays pinball inside your head while ‘Kelvin’ pulls in the reigns on the exuberance and chooses to cut between lazy summer afternoons idly lazing watching clouds drift and head pounding all hands to the pumps menace, ‘fraid its another of those recommended things. http://www.threemanamp.co.uk

Ortonomy ‘Hard Lines’ (Self Released). Those of you mourning the serious lack of rock bands currently kicking around may do well to tune into this five-track release. Already the proud parents of two well received EP’s released last year (sadly we ain’t heard), Ortonomy are a North East based quartet with a definable Thin Lizzy thing going on amid their ranks especially on the opening whiplash inducing ‘Going Down’ where the scorched bluesy staccato riffs and vocals have the appeal of Lynott and Moore with Led Zeppelin aspirations, repeated again on the harrowing storm lashed ‘Citizen’s Radio’. Memories of 80’s chart rockers Def Leppard come to mind on the heart breaking lighter waving soft centred radio friendly ‘Life on the line’ which given the strength of the cuts elsewhere seems like short change when compared to the awesome finale ‘You, me, us and them’ a thickening fusion of swamped late 60’s blues and mind numbing stoner rock which masterfully dips between both the Who and early cutting edge AC / DC. Too cool by far. http://www.ortonomy.co.uk

Jesus Jones ‘Culture Vulture’ (Mi5 recordings). Yes you read right first time, the return of Jesus Jones who for a brief period in the 90’s cleverly adapted their brand of snappy indie punk with a cool dance floor aesthetic to sterling effect. This is the bands first material in seven years and if you get the CD a chance to mix your own version of ‘Culture Vulture’ given that it provides all the audio file tools needed for you to try your hand at being the next Fatboy Slim on the block, or maybe not as the case may be. Now signed up to the label that recently brought us the excellent Riley EP a month or two ago, Jesus Jones’ supposed extended absence is soon to made feeling like they just popped to the paper shop for a packet of fags stopping off for a swift pint at the local. In other words its like they never went away in the first place. Okay ‘Culture Vulture’ takes a few plays to really kick in; it’s edgier than anything previously in all honestly sounding like the Cult (is this allowed?) smooching with Primal Scream but still maintaining that alluring magic that much of their hit parade work of yesteryear possessed, packed to the brim with sleazy chunky fuzz laden guitars, swirling spacey electronics and an in your face American college rock radio appeal. Flip over and the temperatures rise to boiling point on the head melting hypnotic groove of ‘Find the Dial’ while old skool Jesus Jones meets new skool on the hectic ‘Head in the Sand’. Momentary dreamy electro lullaby-esque sound-scapes are torn and teased by sly riotous rumbling licks that playfully shift shape and density between hip swerving sexiness and mind-blowing head on destruction. ‘Halfway House’ brings up the rear, just when you think its safe to come out they twist the emotional screw to bathe you in a sensitive glow while bruising you slowly but surely with the crippling sounds of the scarred melodies within, without doubt the best cut of the set and just what the doctor ordered. http://www.mi5recordings.co.uk

Braer Rabbit ‘Fat Content : Trace’ (Foolproof). There aren’t many things better in life than taking delivery of a new Foolproof release that’s for sure. Over the course of the last two years Brighton’s Foolproof have invaded these missives on numerous occasions to our much delight. Now slimmed to a duo (Puffinboy and Tiny Hunter) three more slabs to get the Hi-Fi drooling and the neighbourhood down and dirty shaking its ass. ‘Fat Content : Trace’ is the latest in a long line of storming dance funk mutations that leads out with the head warping hypnotic chill of the Dave Liteyear Full Fat No Content mix, a whopping feast that combines off centre grooves, interlocking drone waves and an inherently audacious white funk underpin. Imagine if you can an all star studio gathering between Baker steered New Order, Shamen, Cabaret Voltaire and EAR all collaborating on a humungous soundtrack for mind trip beyond reality. Flip over for the equally head expanding mind maze ‘Leon’s left feet’ where the familiar stutter like abrasive collision funk dynamics return to mess with your hair, reminiscent of the early 80’s gear put out by Afrika Bambaataa and Herbie Hancock as though putting Kraftwerk through some electric blender to cause a them to fly off into a tail spin. Last up and certainly not by any stretch of the imagination the least the original mix of ‘Fat Content : Trace’ on which we swear we can hear the strains of Sparks ‘Beat the Clock’ pounding loudly at the backdoor for what is ostensibly a touch of the Moroder school of infectious head numbing dance floor robotics. Smart dare we remind you. http://www.foolproofprojects.co.uk

Verra Cruz ‘Soul Collides’ (Crazeltown). Now pardon me, but not wishing to offend the patrons of St Albans, but the last place you’d expect to unearth rock’s next big thing, (and when I say big thing we are talking a huge hulking mass of razor sharp riffs and to die for ditties), is the local village sports hall. But then rock ‘n’ pop has never been snobbish when it comes to birthing classics, take Memphis as the prime example. ‘Soul Collider’ is an immense track, one of those cuts that hits immediately and faster than a junkie’s syringe at that. Produced by Jason Corsaso whose previously control duties include Soundgarden, and really that’s all you need to know, because this is a UK based band doing to the Yanks what they’ve been doing to us for far too long, pissing over our parade. ‘Soul Collider’ struts and jabs with the venom and sleek perfection of a prizefighter, as cool as Ash with the finely tuned turbulence of Idlewild. And while its US college rock that’s primarily under threat Verra Cruz on the evidence of the two additional cuts included here (‘Air that I breathe’ and ‘Rise’) are not content to let it rest there, the former cut taking liberal chunks out of the AOR / soft metal scene, (and more importantly leaving out the over sensitive chocolate box sentimentality), notably Whitesnake while the latter, a slowly unfurling colossus of an anthem (arguably the best cut here), might in time prove to give a certain Mr Springsteen restless nights. An awesome debut with future greatness beckoning. http://www.verracruz.com

Indogo ‘Prend Moi’ (Self Released). You won’t be to surprised when I say that this is another release rescued from the obscurity of the CD mountain. Now when we say that this is an exceptional release we are perhaps underplaying how good it really is. Indogo is essentially Amanda Taylor whose recent claim to fame was appearing on the UK TV show ‘Stars in their Eyes’ performing as Hazel O’Connor but don’t let that cloud your judgement. Nearest comparisons would suggest Bjork, not in terms of sound but spiritual essence mainly for the fact that there’s an unerring fluidity to the three compositions on show, that element of anything can and will happen as she manoeuvres ghost like amid the late night fusion of sophisticated down tempo chills / trip hop dynamics and elegant smoked filled jazz hall entertainment. Bearing a common association with the 90’s Bristol scene (Massive Attack / Portishead) Taylor’s use of vocal scales is extraordinary, wrapping themselves delicately yet masterfully around the disjointed rhythms under foot almost reminiscent of the middle ground between Eartha Kitt, Peggy Lee and Sinead O’Connor, in fact the opening track ‘Prend Moi’ could easily be a modern day appreciation of the classic ‘Fever’ sharing the same traits of being all at once darkly primal and teasingly sensual. Best cut of the set the ethereal and decidedly sparse sounding ‘Not So’ which cleverly dips amongst the icy wide-screen folds found Goldfrapp’s ‘Felt Mountain’ while managing to impart an coolly lounge like veneer throughout. Quite splendid if you ask me. http://www.indogo.karoo.net/indogo.htm

Septembre ‘Rule 3: Conceal your intentions’ EP (Sugar Shack). Now I’ll admit that this little diamond of a release has been doing considerable damage on the old Hi-Fi and we know the neighbours love it because we’ve heard them banging on the walls in approval. September are the newly assembled ensemble by ex Vex Red man Terry Abbott, another band who somehow passed by our radar. ‘I am weightless’ goes straight for the throat from the word go like a version of a Hundred Reasons bitten by the melody bug, calamitous pop rock that when not administering head crunching cracks is busy doling out painful body blows with its bombastic hook laden swerves. Things get more friction worthy on the tender quickly turning to fiercesome ‘Always’ yet it’s on ‘Happy’ where the EP’s real kudo’s lie. Sounding not unlike a laboratory fusion of the Breeders and Archer Prewitt (I kid you not) where highly infectious swollen riffs are married to an ever expanding melody that mushrooms into a towering epic and at times sounds strangely like Tin Tin Duffy’s ‘Kiss Me’. Those with a sensitive side and lovers of Porcupine Tree in their more mellower soaring to celestial might do well to check out the dreamy ‘[Face]’ which goes to prove that there’s more to this lot than sonic assaults and riff-tastic pyrotechnics while giving the likes of Explosions in the Sky and Oceansize a few things to think about. http://www.septembremusic.com

Autodrone ’02-18-04’ (Self released). Just gets better. Those of you with not to distant memories might recall us falling over ourselves on hearing the last demo from New York based kraut / shoe gaze rockers Autodrone. Well time to nail down all the belonging and to find some form of shelter because they are back again sounding stronger than ever. Venturing from the same loosely kindred scene as the likes of Highspire and A Northern Chorus, Autodrone wear their My Bloody Valentine / Ride / Slowdive allegiances on their sleeve for all to see, yet what sets them apart is the raging undercurrent that smothers their compositions where elements of a locked down Sonic Youth like punked up groove add body and muscle to an already brimming over fusion of aural atmospherics. Five (though my CD appears to have 6) brand new spanking tracks from your soon to be new favourite quintet that reveal a more frenetic and darkly agitated personality to the ensembles mind set that literally holds you under siege from the word go. The darkly supernatural opener ‘Forward Fever’ shares similar traits with the ever wonderful Space Team Electra (as does ‘For Now’) in terms of impending drama and nail biting gripping to the edge of your seat, all the time the storm like dynamics are pushed to speeds in which metal warps to leave vocalist Susanna sitting calmly at the centre doing her best Nico-esque matter of fact delivery (hat’s tainted by a presence of Patricia Morrison) while surveying the carnage around her. The brooding ‘Blue Mind’ has the air of a friction based jamming session that’s strangely blessed by a stinging bloodthirsty groove. By far the best of the set is ‘For Now’, the mood lightened; swirling atmospherics are put on cruise control to shimmer behind Chameleons like pedal effects that collectively combine to create a colourful tapestry of frenzied feedback white out. Elsewhere the March Violets and Skeletal Family are recalled on the doomy grind of the razor sharp ‘XO’ as it provides 4 and a half minutes of grated grooving menace that just leaves you drooling for more. Will someone sign this band! http://www.autodrone.com

Seldon Crisis ‘Honey’ (Lorag). From the same nice people who brought us the wonderful Analog release late last year. This is the second release for the Irish based label Lorag who proudly question on their website ‘Where does music live?’ Well if this tasty five track EP is anything to go by then we be inclined to say in Ireland’s Sun Studios when Seldon Crisis are in residence. Quite a smart release it has to be said that really justifies repeat listens if only to let the melodies soak ‘n’ shine and for the breadth of styles to seep through. Take ‘Shaded’ and ‘God Damn’ for instance. Tracks three and four, by now you are beginning to see a thread evolving then up rears these eye popping stripped down grunge psych punk nuggets to throw you off balance and have you re-adjusting your viewpoint. Recalling the Wipers as covered by Nirvana with subtle MC5 (as though fronted by Iggy) touches oiling the under carriage, ‘God Damn’ is a blistering tour de force to say the least matched equally in terms of grit and aggression by the fuzzing bruised throb of ‘Shaded’ itself housing what sounds like the motors of a DC10 and taking several side swipes at the hallowed Seattle sound into the bargain. Yet the clever thing here is to let the foot off the gas and follow it with something sedately and lyrically biting as ‘Fashionable’. Elsewhere the driving chorus’ of jangling riffs on the opening radio friendly ‘Honey’ tips a hat across the Irish sea to the mercurial Mersey scene and pick pockets Lee Mavers sketch book of perfect pop annotations, a real nifty release well worth the time chasing. http://www.lorag.com

Twenty Twenty Vision ‘The Wonderfully Titled E.P.’ (Self Released). Even before we started we had problems with this. First the note that it came with went AWOL, when that was located the actual CD-r went on a tour of the Losing Today with the note stopping off amiss everywhere except the CD player. In a last ditch attempt to hear it a last resort effort to email Stockport based Adrian Lomas (for it is he who is Twenty Twenty Vision) only we lost his contact address. Things were not looking good. But then out of the blue they all appeared as if by magic. Now for something to put us through such an ordeal had, we thought, better be worth the effort, and, it is. This is such a beautiful record. Like Flannelmouth (later), Twenty Twenty Vision (who by name alone sound like some tooled up militia based rock group with bad tattoos) yearn for the days when frail lovesick records ruled the airwaves of late night radio where it would serve as refuge for bands like the Field Mice and the Orchids to softly lull and comfort broken hearts. Three tracks here that are so timid and gentle that you just want to throw a protective arm around them and whisper re-assurances, a perfect harvest of fragile melodies shivering and shimmering in their own shy nature to dipping dozily amid the lilting sounds of the Pale Fountains, Go Betweens and early Belle and Sebastian. If you love perkily cascading spring time jangling chords all sensitively delivered then this is for you both ‘Adequately Marvellous’ and ‘In you I hide’ are things to rekindle hope in perfect song writing yet the jewel in the crown is the dreamily spun ‘Complication’ swooning prickly pop of the highest order just what the word pristine was thought up for and with that in the face of stiff competition from the Playwrights, Autodrone, Melys and Meow Meow the rare accolade of being the Single of the Missive. http://www.twentytwentyvision.net

Liszt ‘Sampler’ (Foundry). Time to have the tissues on stand by to dab, what we reckon, will be a short spell of weeping in the company of Liszt. Three tracks that on one hand have you feeling frail and vulnerable while on the other have you bopping happily in the aisles. Confused? Then read on. Liszt have been around for little over three years now, a quartet who so far have two self released tucked under their collective belts as well as their current ‘Avalanche’ EP for Foundry. Liszt’s main ability seems to be their knack of arranging well-crafted heart stopping nuggets carved from the very essence of pristine pop. ‘I’ve been here before’ slowly reels you in tender and softly does it upon melodramatic emotional tides, all the time the tension and tempo of pianos and guitar arc and jostle around each other to ebb and flow gaining velocity until you are all but overwhelmed by the serene soar as the melodies take full flight. ‘She walks away’ has a feel of a muscular Squeeze as though collaborating with Ride doing their take on a less frenzied Pixies (seriously), stealth like chords are torn apart by aural booby traps laced with piercing riffs that lie hiding around each corner eager to be sprung into life. Best cut of the set though is ‘Avalanche’ which just comes over you like a rash. From the opening hum of feedback you are instantly reminded of the High and their knack of sowing together from almost nothing the most graceful and memorable of tunes, and so to likewise does ‘Avalanche’ easing itself gently and harmfully cantering along and just when you begin to lull almost hypnotically amid the calm they rear up to give you a well aimed kick up the seat of your pants. More please. http://www.foundrycrew.net

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

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Archiv – Singled Out – Missive 36 …..

Archive posting originally published on the losing today site ……April 2004 …

Missive 36
25-04-2004
Singled Out

Missive 36

Packed fresh to hold in those lushened lush-y things 24th April 2004
Those where the days old friend by 08th May 2004

Dedicated as always to Kelly and Mark, a day never goes by without me thinking about you.

Damn those pesky varmints stuffing up my mailing box with those grooving toons that my make my feet stomp wildly, my hips shake from a side to side and does fun things to my hair, my head is an aching with it all, I’m a feels like I’m as itchy as a fuzzy tree. Them there’s naughty folk are messing with my brain, I’m a wondering sometimes whether I’m a going backward, forwards, this way that way any way welcome to another trawl through the latest release that no one else wants to review (only joking), as fine and dandy a collection of records that has been our pleasure to have parading one of these missives if of course you don’t count the amazing selection from Missive 9 and Missive 23, and quite possibly Missives, 7, 3, 15 and 29, and now that I come to think of it how could we forget Missives 31, 2, 10 and 23 (so good we had to mention it twice) or 4, 8, 27, 24, 19, 17 and 14 and really we could go on without remembering 1, 20, 5, 32, 21 or shame on us 12 and 13.

And to whit we start off this well tuned missive with the sad news that Westlife have split up, we in the Losing Today shoebox laughingly called a bijou living space, have wept like babies since hearing the sad news, no more will we hear the dulcet tones of the bum fluff five (or is it six, three, might be seven possibly four), no more we will ever have the joy of hearing the such sweet classics as ‘Back for Good’, ‘Stay another day’, ‘Love me for a reason’, ‘Sweet surrender’, ‘Wannabe’ or the entire canon of the Bee Gees and Bazza Manilow, we love you so much, missing you already. Hey kids there is a God after all.

The Losing Today dispatch riders have been going ballistic lately, news of our impending magazine re-launch has meant that we’ve expanded in size at Singled Out HQ and in keeping with our ‘we mean business’ policy we’ve acquired a posse, however I still need convincing as to the somewhat merits, value and input that an elastic band, one piece of corrugated cardboard, a used stamp (2nd class) and a cockroach (which I was led to believe was a rare midget black tortoise) can bestow upon our heaving schedule, so it’s over to you roachie dear……%$&*() &*( $*&%$$….see what I mean could take a wee while yet.

And before we venture into the lumbago inducing sack of sounds an email just received mentioning the ground breaking missives 6, 11, 16, 18, 22, 25, 26, 28 and 30 which we somehow managed to overlook, tut tut tut.

Can’t remember how we got here, for that matter from where we came to get here, but now that were here where not there. Confused, well join the Losing Today record shed, we here are indeedy slightly bemused and for why we can’t think, so cutting the waffle and the excess fat straight to the smorgasbord of wonderful wecords and when I say wonderful I mean without doubt in my humbled opinion the best assortment of must have records ever stood side by side in a missive…….

Tuung ‘Tale from the black’ (Static Caravan). After what seems like months of no releases from the Static music laboratory we, my friend, were getting just a little worried. Apparently it’s to be blamed on the great vinyl shortage dilemma which has resulted in the rationing of wax to record labels. Tuung are a duo and this is their debut release, 400 pressings and all on snow white vinyl and described in passing by the lads at the Lab as the sound of the Beta Band doing the Wicker Man, can’t go wrong can it. No siree, Tuung do not disappoint and live up to the billing admirably. Instantly loveable in a timeless tune kind of way ‘Tale from the black’ smoulders amid click happy beats that duck, dive and undulate beneath a tempting off centre lysergic groove that meekly recalls Candidate being warped by Lemon Jelly who’ve both met on the local village green to compete in the great bubble blowing contest atop McCartney’s Fools Hill, wired world-weary lunar folk for you and your boats to float lovingly to. As if to ram home the point ‘Pool beneath the pond’ has that same kind of naked Far Eastern ethnic mysticism that Japan’s ‘Tin Drum’ so moodily flexed itself within, crooked, cute and crucial to any cool collection of curious vinyl, buy now to avoid having the neighbourhood curtains twitching, your peers whispering behind your back and more than likely the whole damn roof and several bits of heavy duty masonry crashing through your world. http://www.staticcaravan.org

Exit 52 ‘Dandelion’ EP (Pronoia). Twanging guitars, theramins and shadowy atmospherics, almost as though these kids have purposely gone out of their way to make a single with all the ingredients (bar a blast of a harmonica here and there) to suggest that this is right up my street. Okay nothing known about this band which is pretty much something that by now you are probably well used to (investigative journalists we are not but then you gathered that). Four tracks, and let me say here at this point, four tracks that are excellent, yes, but, as the tracks progress through from start to finish they appear to get ever more disconnected. So that you get on the opening cut ‘Dandelion’ (the most together pop nugget here) something that sounds like a menacing Baby Bird exiled on the film set of Forbidden Planet with the Bad Seeds and Black Heart Procession for company. ‘Nineteen Eighty Three’ has (obviously) an air of 1983 about it, chillingly austere, sort of New Order / Depeche Mode / Chris Isaac doing musical backdrops for adverts selling seaside package deals on Mars, replete with that same hypnotic circular bass line that Kylie (allegedly) made famous and stalking riffs that collide with hostile intent. Eerie as it is ‘Meow’ is the preferred cut, waywardly homely, mysterious and distant, with vocals that sound like Morrissey on helium, it bobs and weaves between acoustic drunkenness and ethereal atmospherics to swerve about seductively, which leaves the very odd ‘Twelve Bar’ to round up the set, imagine a very sparse Radiohead without the trickery doing late night down tempo arty musical collages with David McAlmont doing guest vocals, strangely sublime if you ask me. http://www.exit52.com

Le Concorde ‘Le Concorde’ EP (Space Kitty). This cutie has several things going for it even before it’s been put on the CD player. Firstly it features the production credits of Epicycle (brothers Ellis and Tom Clark) who left a lasting impression with their ‘Swirl’ album a year or so ago (which if you don’t own now then our deepest sympathies go to your record collection). Add to that it features ex members of the Psychedelic Furs and if that isn’t enough to wet the appetite then maybe the fact that it all centres around the talents of ex Post Office mainman Stephen Becker who lavished us with the dB’s Chris Stamey produced ‘Fables in Slang’ way back when we were all a little younger and more carefree. To good to be true then, though as my granddad would say ‘good breeding stock’. Six tracks of sublime sun-shining perfect pop is what you get from the sugary McCartney like meets Gilbert O’Sullivan helped by Ben Folds Five sweetness of ‘Parallel Lives’ which gently nuzzles its way into your chest with its curvaceous love sick motifs to the anthemic foot stomping fuzzy pop greatness of early Sparks meets Nirvana on ‘It’s the minor chords that kill you’. Put up against the wall and tickled to death with a giant feather I’d have to say ‘The sound of your name’ just edges the competition, classic ‘Pure’ era Lightning Seeds being remixed by Roy Wood’s Wizard with Mr Spector in the shadows sprinkling lavish amounts of the old magic dust and how those tingling hooks cut so deep, a gigantic festive pop tart in spring (surely that can’t be right?!). And for those still longing for the days when Prefab Sprout still made the most heart-aching sounds from the barest of arrangements then ‘People Mover’ ought to re-affirm your belief that out there somewhere the art of pop classicism hasn’t quite gone out of fashion just yet. All in all an irresistible release of some measure. http://www.leconcorde.org

Immune ‘Elek’ EP (Gizeh). A hulking debut release from Leeds based quintet Immune with which I’ll start off by saying that I’m not so naive as to realise that the mere mention of the words ‘progressive’ and ‘Radiohead’ in the same sentence will send a large proportion of you running for the cover of the nearest hill. If I was to say that this is one the best things I’ve heard in a long while then you’ll get the inkling that we are quite fond of this, and yes the Radiohead comparisons are well placed on this occasion in so far as this lot manage to perfectly tap into the core essence of Yorke and Co so by making it something more than merely copyist. But really the fact that this release is so important doesn’t stop with referencing Radiohead. Immune occupy the hazily shaded fuzzy folds that lie between the outer reaches of rock and the ethereal oblivion of the atmospheric wide screen soundtrack. The three tracks here summon up a wealth of vaguely spun influences as to have your head spinning, that aligned to their ability to wrap together a wealth of conflicting genres into something so unsettling that it makes for compulsive listening is an awesome feat of creative practicality. Sound wise it’s akin to an impending storm, heightened tensions, heaving dynamics and the dread chill of an imminent threat. Not a million miles from the austere dynamics found on Left Hand’s debut ‘Minus 8’ Immune meter out an eerily sparse caste with the complicated so perfectly that you are presented with threads of Portishead like trip hop atmospherics biting chunks away at Tool / NIN / ‘Pure’ era Numan like industrial gloss especially on the alarmingly frazzled ‘2 stranger’ where the sense of edgy mood swells and darkly disconnected atmospheric arrangements jar and scrape awkwardly like ill fitting jigsaw pieces. Pick of the set is the crudely spasmodic art rock / avant garde math tendencies of ‘Hindsight’ which despite it stuttered sequences and its penchant for running in to its own self created space without word or warning ultimately serves as the closest you get to rule book rock presentation. Alternatively you could always dirty your hands and be coaxed home down dark alleyways and lonesome paths as ‘Elek’ seems to invitingly suggest only to be subjected to the odd savage beating as the fragmented complex densely swept textures so readily seem equipped to meter out. Without doubt a band to watch for and God help the competition. http://www.gizehrecords.com

100th monkey syndrome ‘Kick, spastics!’ (Demo). Okay those with a tender disposition avert eyes now, this is f***ing awesome, we aren’t known for dishing out the old single of the missives to often but in an action packed singled out such as this is we’ve dusted and buffed it up, 100th monkey syndrome win it by several short hairs breadths. A release that is so recklessly violent it kicked our speakers to pieces and nearly threatened the record shed into meltdown. This lot are a Birmingham based quartet whose sound is a torture theatre of mangled dynamics, unrelenting, unforgiving and unliveable, opening with crushing ‘kick, spastics!’ (a great Fall title by the way) which leaps rather than lunges with untold menace, imagine T’ Faith Healers being cooked alive by the Pixies at their most tormenting, in essence veering close to the latter’s ‘Dead’ with a seriously wired Sonic Youth addiction scored throughout, as scary as hell and perfect with it. The caustic ‘rhr’ sounds like the Buzzcocks ‘Everybody’s happy nowadays’ after having been stretched, flogged and starved by classic doom laden Killing Joke, rumbling heavy bearing bass lines and marauding riffs that viciously strut looking for potential targets to sting recalling Dinosaur Jnr at their most potent. Completing the set, ‘spies’ in comparison is pretty laid back, an obsessive love song no less (and no this ain’t ‘Every breathe you take’) that does it’s best to sound poppy but still ends up like something that’d give the Reid Brothers endless nightmares. All in all a killer of a release seek out now for maximum cool. http://www.100thmonkeysyndrome.co.uk

Jamie Says ‘Down to the debauchuary’ (Sorted). Lo-fi hip swinging austere bubblegum pop, yep you read it right first time. One of those records blessed with two sharp as a knife tunes plastered either side of a piece of wax, determined to stand up, do its stuff with the minimum of fuss or wastage and then get outta Dodge as fast as it arrived. Jamie Says is the latest vehicle for Kyle Hill formerly of Circa 1983 and the Abandoned. ‘Down to the debauchuary’ (incidentally spelt as it says) combines the cool shades and leather demeanour of early Sisters of Mercy and riddles it with the added spice of a throbbing Joy Division like bass line and a needling post punk guitar riff that joins the hands of classic Fall with the Fire Engines topped off by a healthy quotient of Wreckless Eric for something as cool and as infectious as f***. ‘Rebecca’ on the flip is classically moulded, drawing from the very essence of those early must have Stiff releases and giving it a lick of the Velvet Underground had they of course had a certain Mr Dylan in the ranks. Pretty damn smart if you ask me. http://www.sorted-records.org.uk

Inch Blue ‘Walking Backwards’ (Demo). Those with long memories may remember us raving about this lots last EP release ‘Three songs about dreams, lovers and the sea’ which provided for a trio of storm lashed classics carved from the stars that hurt and soothed in equal measures. We’ve had it on good authority that rather than sit back smugly the trio have been busy pulling out the stops refining their sound and laying down tracks of such sublime beauty that you feel it’s only a matter of time before the words ‘next’, ‘big’ and ‘thing’ coming kicking in their studio door. This tasty morsel has been burning impatiently on the old Hi Fi for a week or two now and though we realise we should wait for a proper release (as this will, assuming my facts are right, feature on the bands forthcoming split with the mighty Workhouse on the equally eminent Bearos records fairly soon) we just couldn’t rest until we told someone. ‘Walking backwards’ is an arse-kicking baby of a track, turbulent, mightily atmospheric and above all monolithic. Harnessing a brooding inner core its akin to standing in the wide open during a torrential electrical storm with the winds painfully stinging from all sides, the rain metering down like bullets as you bear witness to the spectacle of nature having an almighty tantrum, and yet throughout all this you smile in the knowledge that its good to alive. Think of the Chameleons with a groovily punked edge being marshalled by a throbbing unrelenting New Model Army underpin sublimely fusing the dark with the light and the crushing with the caressing. Crucial stuff. Joint single of the Missive. http://www.inchblue.co.uk

aPAtT ‘aPAtT’ EP (aPehAt). Those preferring their sounds a little more irregular, viscerally challenging and against the flow may feel obliged to check out the debut release from Liverpool’s aPAtT. Described to me in passing as ‘a release that the band thought I’d be doing everyone a favour by hearing’ with the added proviso ‘sounds like nothing from Liverpool’, (or for that matter a several plays), like nothing in the world. APAtT it seems forego the usual subtleties of trying to woo the listener and win them over, instead they arguably provide more questions than answers with their awkwardly channelled fusion of out there art rock, drone montages, film samples, hip hop (as evidenced on the streetwise sample menace of ‘My nuns door theme’), mallowy electronics and bleached psyche folk (though I’d hastily add not all at the same time). This particular EP is the bands debut with a new batch of songs eagerly waiting in the wings for a release date. Occupying the shadowy sub divide that vaguely links the curious netherworlds of Volcano the Bear and the new age travelling doom drone friction folk of the Sunburned Hand of the Man with the oddball melodic anarchy of Zappa especially on the hauntingly numb ‘Loneley’ and the parting shot ‘a passing’ and yet shows their willingness to lead the viewer into a guessing game, their sounds bounce erratically from the odd to the eerie to the devastating without no heed or attention to form or principle, at times its reminiscent of a freeform jam, maybe a tuning up session whatever you may call it there’s no denying that there is an explosion of ideas at large within which ultimately means that just when you think you have the measure of them they spice up the mix to throw you off the scent. The dreamy ‘Nice II’ prickles softly like some kind of drunken space symphony, equally ethereal and warped, either that or Satie having chemically assisted flashbacks, and if you get over the monastic moment, probably the most together cut here. Elsewhere the aforementioned ‘Loneley’ belies a subtle film noir cast that invites you to check, not only under the bed but also under the stairs, behind the door, in the closet and is perhaps best resolved by listening to it in the hours of daylight outside preferably somewhere where there are plenty of people about. ‘Idi’ is strangely up tempo and jiggly with it while grindcore meets thrash meets Melt Banana surfaces on ‘broken elbow’ only to be laced with all manner of menacing head melting psychotic overtones. Consider yourselves well and truly warned. Deeply deranged and cleverly obtuse to be filed under strange species pop. http://www.geocities.com/itsapatt

Matra ‘Mechanics’ EP (Unlabel). Pressed on 10 inches of heavy duty vinyl and ultra limited to 100 copies (of which we have on good authority only about 50 still remain), this release features the welcoming debut offering from Kent based electronica trio Matra to the Unlabel fold. As shiny as a brand new button, (in fact five brand new buttons if you like), Matra entwine loveable tripping folds of lullaby-esque plink plonk pop that has one eye on Boards of Canada to add to the warming sub textures being developed throughout especially on the toy electronics versus enchanted fairy tale pop opener ‘Warming up the machines’ which perfectly sets the table for the lulling ‘Camblewick Green’ like sophisticated drifting sweetness of ‘The Engineer’ which itself shrouds itself in a delightfully haunting mystique that’s nonetheless desperately lonesome especially with the inclusion of double tracked vocals floating their dream like disconnected mantras, heart warming stuff. Flip over and you get the same sounds played backwards and fittingly titled ‘Reverse Engineering’ (obviously). Matra provide for an arresting collage of techniques and moods mixing and matching the sultry and the dreamy with the stark and cold all the time the emphasis being placed on laid back numbness none more so than on the EP’s final brace of cuts ‘this old Patagonian express’ and ‘mechanics’, the former capturing a full bodied claustrophobic off centre funky middle eastern core that at times drifts closely to Blur’s ‘Out of Time’ and the parched glumness of Radiohead’s more together moments on ‘Hail to the Thief’ while the latter with it’s unsettling down tempo groove as playfully curvaceous as it may seem still manages to purvey a disconnected fracture like base that creeps like an austere AR Kane, beguiling and beautiful all the same though. Recommended as though you hadn’t already guessed. http://www.unlabel.net

Part Chimp / Joeyfat ‘Split’ (Awkward Silence). Technically staying with the Unlabel roster as Awkward Silence are part of their extended family and are principally responsible for addressing the more eclectic electronic concerns over the years. Not any more, for those expecting tranquil robotics may do well to start nailing down all moveable household objects for this frenzied all out twin pronged bludgeon attack. Part Chimp are formed from the various limbs and body parts of Penthouse, Scarfo and Ligament so those familiar with any of these ensembles will rightly assume immediately that this isn’t going to make for a leisurely Sunday morning walk in the park. ‘Crash the high octave’ is a gruelling festering monster of a track that’s so loud you’ll find people from different postcodes complaining that you to turn it down, even with the volume at zero you can still feel this baby rumbling restlessly, imagine a more moody Big Black sparring with a toxic sounding Carcass, in short the foolish equivalent of standing at the foot of a rocket launch at Cape Canaveral only louder and groovier. Flip the disc for the return of Joeyfat now fully re-invigorated from their five-year hiatus having returned to the fold with last years immense ‘the house of the fat’ long-player. Joeyfat arm themselves with a post rock dynamic that splutters and stutters with the kind of agitated erratic groove that was so prevalent on Talking Heads ‘Remain in Light’, partly oppressive and setting the teeth on edge ‘Five minute watch’ crookedly navigates awkwardly creating a strangely unsettling gritty fabric into which overlapping sub texts collide caustically to map out a complicated and decidedly intense patchwork of sound. Dare you enter? http://www.awkwardsilencerecordings.com

That’s pretty much your lot for now, not a bad deal eh four missives on the bounce, I’m now off to rest the typing finger, which is looking a strange shade of blue and green just now. Back in about two weeks when there’ll no doubt be more than enough tasty records to have you bouncing from the ceilings to the floor and walls, among the goodies, hopefully a release or two from Great Pop Supplement and a new Earlies release, but we’ll see. After that we’ll have a singled out special dedicated solely to the Best Kept Secret tape label as I feel we’ve been doing them an injustice of late, by my reckoning about 7/8 releases to feast yourselves over and every one of them a gem.

As is the usual gratitude and mucho thank yous to all the bands, labels and press reps who’ve made these musings possible no names but you know who you are and with that all it leaves me to say is tara for now and have yourselves a great time.

Take Care,

Mark
X

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Archiv – Singled Out – Missive 35 ….

Archive posting originally posted on the losing today web site …. April 2004 …..

Missive 35
18-04-2004
Singled Out

Missive 35

Dedicated to Kelly and Mark as always in my waking thoughts.

Honorary dedications to both Kurt Cobain and lest we forget Dr Feelgood mainman, Lee Brilleaux, both 10 years gone and a moment of silence for the passing of one of the best exponents of the guitar to emerge in the last 25 years, John McGeoch, we salute you.

Cooked and prepared for your delight (condiments optional) 18th April 2004

Bet your sick of these Singled Out missives now aren’t you, like London transport you wait for hours no buses in sight then three come at once, except in this instance its four (the fourth is at present is held up in traffic but I’m reliably informed will be here very shortly, once that is I have regained the feeling in my typing finger, such is life, it’s a lonely one for me…boo hoo..boo hoo boo boo hoo hoo).

Okay as with all the others less chat more tunes so without further (agg) ado the records you should have…….

Black Wire ‘Attack Attack Attack’ (Wrong Crowd). Pretty much crawling from the same primordial ooze as was Whirlwind Heat before they hit pay dirt though the more well read of you may prefer to compare it favourably alongside a more playful sounding Chromatics or the much loved Futureheads and if you like throw in a little ‘Fresh Fruit’ era Dead Kennedy’s for safe measure. Black Wire hail from Leeds, courting a sound that has been described as ‘glam-tronic punk rock’ ‘Attack Attack Attack’ their debut single pretty much nicks the whole Suicide routine, chews it up and regurgitates all the wired elements into something approaching three minutes, partly tame and partly toxic and thread through with an austere sounding discordant post punk edge that has more to do with the early 80’s underground sound than many of the pointless pretenders choosing to band wagon jump these days. Flip over for the arresting nostalgic sounds of the potent ‘Very Gun’ which for me edges the ante ever so gently, imagine Gun Club mixing it up with ‘Alice’ era Sisters of Mercy with early SPK mopping up the remains of the carnage, wired, dangerous and very infectious. Be warned. http://www.blackwire.tk

The Scratch ‘X-Ray Eyes’ (Ponyland). And staying with the retro angle, the welcome return of The Scratch. ‘X-ray eyes’ is the bands second release following on from their stupendous debut ‘I relax to spiral scratch’ late last year, with an album ‘DIY’ in the can and due for release any day soon this two track affair pressed up on 10 inches of wax has the band flexing their collective influential muscles to reveal a wicked grooving genius in their midst. Whereas ‘Scratch’ capped them as renegade punksters ‘X-Ray eyes’ sees them cocking a snook at the dance floor crowd, an unrelenting beauty that channels the grittier elements of the Gang of Four’s trademark grind and marries it to the dub / disco crossover that Strummer and Co aimed for on the often overlooked ‘Sandinista’ throw in for good measure Big Audio Dynamite, a taster of Pigbag a few sly Ry Cooder sliding hooks and you have something of a dirty disco assassin that Bobby Gillespie you’d imagine would be happy to be caught in the line of fire of. Flip over for the mooching ‘Brainwashed’ which hazily throbs with laid back darkly lit druggy vibes floating in the distance, not a million miles from the Shamen before they discovered E had they decided of course to remould the whole of Happy Mondays back catalogue and dispatch the baggy scene for their own, but all you want to hear at the end of the day is that it sounds like Duran Duran and the good news is that yes it sort of does had they of course ever been fed bad pills and suffered psychotic reactions, wore shades and instead of listening to Japan and Bowie in their formative years chose to listen to Japan and the Velvets. Pretty damn essential. http://www.ponylandrecords.co.uk

Yeah Yeah Yeahs ‘Maps’ (Interscope). I blame the wilful child in me but I always have this maddening urge to say no no no when I hear the name Yeah Yeah Yeahs, I know its sad but some of us have to get by on whatever minutely frivolous cheap laughs that we can wage upon ourselves. This cutie is pressed up on a handsome looking red vinyl 10 inch, apparently ultra limited, marketing ploys I’m a sucker for it, hell that never stopped me buying ‘D-D-Dance’ by the Lambrettas with the hint that the smart looking picture disc edition was virtually non existent and later found that even the geek down the street whose record taste stretched from novelty Christmas records to tasteless comedy songs (remember ‘Arthur Daley (E’s alright)’ get the picture) had a copy, swines the lot of them. Which neatly brings me back to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs not that their swines you understand, ‘Maps’ best track on the ‘Fever to Tell’ album take it from me, the one where everything is tautly kept at bay, a curdling hotpotch of twisting arty punk rock shrouded in claustrophobic hysteria nullified to the point that it insidiously nuzzles beneath the skin to sit jabbing its intoxicating stings, one of those hold your enemies close moments as Karen O weaves her menacing magic upon the proceedings, one to hide under the blankets for like Siouxsie’s ‘Drop Dead’. Flip the disc for two exclusive cuts that find the Siouxsie infatuations getting a little unreal, not that we are complaining no siree, ‘Countdown’ struts and spits like some arrogant psychobilly bitch, raucous, rough and rocking. While ‘Miles Away’ which initially featured on the bands debut EP is found here kicking the daylights outta the John Peel show, this session version trashes the original, boogying guitars fuzz up with all the subtle of a Panzer attack and did we mention that its reminiscent of a more together Birthday Party being done a wrong ‘un by the Meteors, well it is, okay! Cool. http://www.yeahyeahyeahs.com

The Hellacopters / The Datsuns / The Flaming Sideburns / The Casanovas ‘Split’ (Butchers Hook). This raging four-track arse kicker you will find in the vinyl racks under ‘St Valentines Killers’. Pitching together and blazing shot of incendiary ridden potency, this is probably the meanest grouping of souls since that fateful day that war, conquest, famine and death all meant by chance at a water spot, exchanged how do’s and polite comments about each others horse grooming skills before getting seriously rat arsed and deciding to join forces to maraude the lands a trash everything in sight. This 12” is limited to just 2000 copies and features four of the biggest players on the current garage punk / rock scene kicking seven bells out of an assortment of covers, so that for your entertainment you get Sweden’s finest the Hellacopters setting aflame Smokey Robinson’s ‘Little Miss Sweetness’ and into the bargain giving it a stinging 60’s bulging beat pop re-tread. The Datsuns get to do all manner of deranged damage to the Fun Things ‘I ain’t got time for love’ and come out the other side sounding like prime time Dead Boys. Flip over to find house favourites the Flaming Sideburns decidedly laid back and bluesing out with an uncharacteristic seedy groove while tangling themselves up in Lou Reed’s ‘Leave me alone’, last but by no means least the Casanovas are found lacing Ted Nugent’s ‘Just what the doctor ordered’ with dynamite laughing as they run off in the dark waiting for the whole thing to kick off, think early AC / DC rumbling alongside the pub blues of Dr Feelgood, real neat stuff.

The Dead Calm ‘The lost tapes’ (Arc). Things get stranger still. With a press release that reads like ‘War and Peace’ and yet manages to give little away in terms as to who this lot are and with word reaching us that future tape / vinyl and CD releases will be allocated on the basis of a high scoring reply to a questionnaire supplied by the band (now didn’t I warn you that they were strange) you have to ask yourself is this band for real. The Dead Calm could be the band that most mourning the supposed death of anything of real substance or interest will embrace with a new found glee, let’s put it this way this lot will be the top of everyone’s shopping list come the end of the year. It’s hard to tell whether its all an elaborate hoax or whether this lot are in for the coup of the year, publicity alone it whiffs of the Residents, sounds like PIL and as out there as Pluto. This release precedes their ‘the lost CD’ collection which was pressed on a cassette, this obviously being ‘the lost tapes’ is, how did you guess, on CD. The Dead Calm’s sound is shapeless yet it evolves at will to mirror moods, none of the 13 tracks on show here give any hint as to reference points, depending on your perspective it’s as hard a listening experience as you want to make it yet maintains an alluring curiosity from the word go to its closing gasp. Recently reformed, they were previously known as the Iconoclasts (among their many band names), releasing a body of ultra limited releases in the 80’s they split after a parting of the waves to find the same waves meeting again just under two years ago where they’ve since been holed up wherever they ‘could find peace and quiet’ to set about laying down some 100 plus tracks of which the first fruits can be heard on these two releases. Quite where you begin with this quartet is anyone’s guess, ‘Symphony at the beginning’ is everything from hypnotically soothing to perilously destructive, a feast of Jeckyl and Hyde pop while the absorbent psychedelic pop thrust of ‘At the bottom of the hill looking up’ is literally so lysergic you feel dizzy beneath its weaving spell. Love comes (in spurts – ED…sic) to a poignant crescendo and sense of finality on the entrancing epic like shredder ‘The distance between us measured in heartbeats’ while unbridled lunacy is the order of the day on the hilariously spasmodic ‘Remember the sunny afternoon when the village folk turned to Zombies (Part 1)’. Though if its good wholesome inches from death by the seat of your pants antics your after, then cast a reluctant ear over the vicious ‘Everywhere I’ve never been is where I want to be’. Up next according to the accompanying terms of ‘musical’ engagement will be a triple CD entitled ‘A secret history (Volume 1)’ which will, in their words, ‘disturb the dust on the archive vaults that have remained secret and still for over 20 years’, whatever that means. Worth looking out for. Contact mlacdaedeht@aol.com

Various ‘Times Beach Sampler 2004’ (Times Beach). Those dudes over in Detroit, Times Beach Records, not content with wooing us with the almighty Gold Cash Gold, the arresting Audra Kubat and stars in waiting the Deadstring Brothers have compiled a 10 track label sampler that showcases their wares for all to see. Five artists showcasing two tracks. Audra Kubat’s beautifully haunting ‘Georgia’ (featured in these very pages last time out) taken from her recent album is worth the entrance fee alone. House favourites Gold Cash Gold kick in with the sublime ‘Vultures’ and ‘The World in my head’ while the soon to be your favourite band, Deadstring Brothers are represented perfectly by the awesomely heavy hearted ’27 hours’ (again featured in the last missive, a truly exceptional release). Also included for your aural entertainment two artists who are new are new to us, the much touted MAN Incorporated and Ethan Daniel Davidson. On the evidence of the brace of cuts from Davidson taken from his current album ‘Don Quixote de Suburbia’ he’ll be a formidable force to be reckoned with given time, the best of his offerings being ‘Only one world blues’ which sees the ghosts of Guthrie and Dylan squaring up to Cave for a bout of conscience pricking folk punk. MAN Incorporated is on the other hand an altogether more brutal beast, in essence just one man, Matt McGuire who armed with a bass drum, guitar and an amplifier sets about torching his personal hates to the backdrop of fuzz happy aggression think of Black Flag firing on one cylinder but still looming large with unbridled menace. http://www.timesbeachrecords.com

Gold Cash Gold ‘Damaged’ (Times Beach). And staying with those dudes from Detroit, one methinks that’s best noted in the old diary as it’s not out for a fair few weeks, the new release from Gold Cash Gold. ‘Damaged’ is part of a twin-set that will be available as a free download on the 14th June. The band have recently welcomed to their ranks ex Distillers guitarist Rose Mazzola. Taken from their current debut album ‘Paradise Pawned’, ‘Damaged’ is a real lazy eyed blues beauty, spiced with all manner of ‘Exile’ era Stones grooving with the classicism of ‘Toys’ era Aerosmith it’s provides one of the albums centrepieces that’ll literally blow you away. As an added extra ‘Back in the Universe’ is a new track, again keeping with that lazy vibe but this time lacing it with a lysergic edge that to these ears recalls Mott the Hoople as done by the Eskimos, one of those tracks that invites you to lie down in a wide open park space and just watch the world flicker by in a blur while your head slowly dissolves. Cool as fuck if you ask me. http://www.timesbeachrecords.com

The Reverse ‘Downtime’ EP (Self Released). Just to prove we don’t throw these things together, in the last missive we mentioned a certain Carina Round who it seems feature a certain Nathan within their ranks who kindly rendered his services to provide backing vocals on the aforementioned ensembles ‘The Disconnection’ album. Natham’s full time interest is with the quite tasty North London quartet the Reverse who in the course of the next few months will be putting out releases on the Kabukikore label as well as featuring along such souls as the very excellent Richard Youngs and the awesome Melt Banana on a compilation entitled ‘There is no hidden meaning’. ‘Downtime’ features four tracks of such elegant poise as to have your head spinning in a swoon, not immediate it has to be said but stay with this and the rewards will payback in kind. The Reverse flirt with all manner of melancholic etchings and moodist swings that are fuelled with emotional rages that are cleverly kept at bay, they play a guessing game drawing you to the point where an expectant crescendo and torrential storm threatens and yet never occurs so that you are left breathless and drained, at times it recalls the numbing eccentricities of Radiohead especially on the tortured semantics of ‘The Game’ but scratch a little deeper and the essence of the well crafted compositions come to the fore especially on the Candidate like ‘Take a deep breath’ which sweetly ambles to the sound of cascading acoustics and deviously longing hooks. ‘Broken roads’ gracefully sizzles sombrely, gentle and punishing, a more withering track you’ll struggle to hear all year, the sound of heartbreak extracted, encapsulated and magnified into a potent fix that edges just below four minutes. Leaving the best until last, ‘Falling Behind’ mooches sophisticatedly embracing an almost secretive charm, haunting piano threads navigate a choppy path for the blurry eyed accompaniment to crawl and stumble to just below simmering point, a crushing parting shot all said and done. http://www.thereverse.co.uk

Cousin Luke ‘Cousin Luke’ (Self Released). Oi, oi, oi, okay not quite then, Cousin Luke are without doubt the noisiest band in this particular missive by several streets and the odd overloaded amp and who by their youthful exuberance and revved up ear candy alone near blew off the losing today record shed roof. A hardcore emo punk three piece from East London who’ve been crafting their skills for five years now and in the process have built up a fiercesome reputation on the live circuit. As with the term emo punk the obvious Offspring and Green Day comparisons are mentioned and quickly dispatched (thankfully), courting a mix that throws up elements of Mega City 4, early Senseless Things and Sink, Cousin Luke have that same razor sharp melodic jangle that made early Buzzcocks and SLF records so loveably catchy, except this time played at 100mph and equipped with pleading vocals that through out all the wanton inclinations to pogo make you swallow back hard on the lump developing in the throat. Favoured cut is the mental ‘Taking Heat’, stuttered serrated riffs that swing you by the neck around your listening space with adolescent fervour not that we are overlooking the merits of the chord crunch happy ‘Everybody’ a galloping bruiser of the highest order or for that matter the spiked ‘Six Weeks’, high adrenaline gems the lot of them. http://www.cousinluke.co.uk

Mohair ‘Brown eyes blue’ (M1). If it’s something a little more poppified and tranquil your looking for then I have to admit that this tasty little debut from Mohair should satiate the hardiest pangs of hunger for good wholesome melodies. Arrangements that are saturated in Hammond’s and breezing guitars peppered and enhanced
by a brass core that’s all undercut by breathless harmonies, Mohair conjure with vibrantly colourful washes to lure you in and it works wonderfully. Initially sounding like the Waterboys (I kid you not), Mohair don’t really adhere to any restrictive pigeon holing instead they subtly pick and mix at various stylings that call to account anything from Hurrah!, the Daintees, Boo Radley’s, the Times, Divine Comedy and believe it or not Right Said Fred (now that’s got you running for the hills), admittedly all these influences manifest into the highly infectious bristling summer warmth of the catchy 60’s Brit Pop feel good vibe on ‘Something to remember’ a damn fine corker of a track that’ll drive you to distraction. ‘Brown eyes blue’ is slightly more quirky centring on the joys of failed relationships yet the pick of the bunch is the elegiac ‘Getaway Car’ which rounds up the set. Imagine Nick Drake doing sensitive duets with Porcupine Tree to haunting folk lined backdrops that appear to pirouette in space, a beautiful teaser it is. M1records@ntlworld.com

Flotel ‘Bowd’ (Expanding). Deliberate maybe, but I couldn’t find a better way to end these particular musings than with this snoozing gem to tenderly tuck you to bed with. Again like the Praveen release reviewed in the last missive, this is part of the seven-inch series (in fact release number 1), on this occasion pressed on snow-white wax. Flotel is Nottingham based musician Leigh Toro and one suspects somebody who you’ll be hearing a great more of shortly now that his debut album ‘Whispering City’ is in the can and due imminently on Expanding. For now though treat yourself to a momentary period of calm as ‘Bowd’ sighs and nuzzles into you to lavish you with its lilting electronics and sleepyhead symphonies, reminiscent of a dozing ISAN who strangely enough appear on the flip for a spot of remix duties on the said track. Incorporating their toy box dynamics and ice ream van waltzes ISAN redecorate the sleepy hollow scenery with freshly fallen snow and impart a cutely innocent facet to the whole enterprise. Enchanting. http://www.expandingrecords.com

And that’s pretty much it for this Missive, keep your eyes peeled for another quick fire Missive (36) which will be landing on the site very, very, very shortly, like in a day or two.

Until then have fun and take care of yourselves….and sweet dreams…

Mark
X

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Archiv – Singled Out – Missive 34 ….

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

Missive 34
16-04-2004
Missive 34

Dedicated to Kelly and Mark, always in my thoughts….

Spanking and ready to kick big botty 17th April 2004

Woah like it was only five minutes since the last Singled Out, and blimey our kid it was, we love you so much that the losing today record shed has been a rocking-a-plenty to the grooving tunes of the kids with the tatty hair, suspect pants and odd complexions. By way of an apology for being awol there will be a flood of missives in the next day or two, all lovingly prepared and thoughtfully written and I hasten to add for no spondoolies, ha ha pay peanuts get monkeys that’s what I sooo-aaa-aa-oooo-eee—kakakaka…….me I’m wasted, rescue me someone……please?

Mice Cars ‘Gewgaw Tunes’ (Self Released). We haven’t a clue who what where this lot are about, except that they are Italian and may be a duo, so much for investigative journalism then you might credibly ask. One thing I can say is that the 5 tracks (which incidentally are available as a free download on their website) found holed up on ‘Gewgaw Tunes’ are pretty damn smart. Think of something loosely based on the twisted fusion of the more distant aspects of Blur (especially on the blissful ‘Broken Shoulders’ which comes replete with harmonicas), the less volatile nature of the Pixies and vague elements of Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci you will find yourself getting warm. Admittedly it takes a few listens to bed itself in, its not overly immediate but once rooted they blossom magnificently, a subtle collection of lazily woven vibes imbuing a sense of pop sparseness and icy frailty that only shifts elsewhere for the perky opener ‘Mihil is the Quest’, a fully fledged new wave spiky pop tart that has vocals that wander between classic agitated Furs Richard Butler and an angst ridden Jam head boy Mr Weller and the kind of muscularly developed stalking riffs that snag you with their potent hooks to fling you unmercillously around the room, now that’s neat (neat neat). ‘Hulk Hogan’ we unquestionably own up to loving to bits mainly because it sounds like a ringer for ‘Hey’ by the Pixies possessing that same clawing nag like guitar thread that manages to fizz and crackle its way in all the right places into your consciousness, irresistible if you ask me. Closing the set to the frenetic effects of the razor riffs set for stun ‘Americans’ and you have a tasty little nugget of a release that you’d be foolish to pass on. http://www.micecars.org

Kimonophonic ‘Electric Handstyles’ EP (Heliotone). The latest addition to the stable of the very tasty Manchester based Heliotone label, (previously Emma’s House) who so far have had us (still) reeling with some well-executed releases by the Bear Quartet, Anthony Alexander and Mundane Music. All these releases are extremely limited to just 50 copies, all lovingly pressed on 8 inches of lathe cut clear polycarbonate vinyl. Release numero four features a welcome return for electro whiz kid Justin Armstrong AKA Kimonophonic. Four delectable cuts of dreaming electronic pop to swell the head and take the inner spirit on some far flung vacation to the ends of the mind in between all that revealing both the light and dark pastel shades that readily make up Kimonophonics melodic fabric. From the soothing whirly pop of the opening ‘Comin’ with the mad style’ where amid the fluffy textures thankful nods to Cornelius are made, a reclining beauty that floats and hovers in the ether dispatching warming tastefully conceived morsels of lullaby-esque stuttering hip hop derived groove-tronics. Equally chirpy is ‘Like a rabbit’ tenderised beats and glitches skip joyfully across chiming droned interweaves filling the listening space with a vague Oriental wash to sound not unlike ISAN had they decided to do minimalist electronics Eastern style. ‘Draw the Curtain: Pink Cheque’ explores a similar melodic framework only this time utilising an erstwhile heavy bearing grittier core, the drone sequences filtered into wave cycles to enhance the fragmented states. ‘Japanese Crows’ ends the set on a frantic note, not quite Atari Teenage Riot but a riot all the same, punk-tronics at its most persuasive, head popping zig zagging arrangements wheel crazily about to manically perform robotic pogoing in your head, both caustic and tense, and, if truth be known, the collections stand out track. http://www.onoffonoff.org

Mum ‘Nightly Cares’ (Fat Cat). Listening to Iceland’s Mum it’s hard to imagine anything befitting the description frail, fragile and beautiful as are their collages of trembling quiet pop, in fact you’d almost be conjoled into believing that the words were created with their future visitations in mind. Mum are not your usual musical beast, their melodies come and go leaving no definable trace except for maybe a memory, it’s almost as though being visited by a spirit. On the surface their tiny enchanting whispering melodies seem cold and lonely but beneath, warm and snoozing. ‘Nightly Cares’ is taken from their forthcoming album ‘Summer make good’ their third in fact and sees their sound evolving ever more intrinsically into something you could only ever regard as Mum’s, their tantalising glacial pop is metered out perfectly on ‘Nightly Cares’ as it pirouettes gently with the wild abandon of an impish sprite, lullaby-esque, childlike and deeply touching stuff. Flip to the more muscular and dare we say moodist throes of the vibrant ‘Once a shiny morning puddle’ and things get a little fraught. What starts tranquil enough with the sound of breezy brass arrangements is soon stripped bare by impatient guitars and tempestuous blips all pounded together by insistent clattering beats, perhaps safe to say the nearest you’ll ever get to hearing Mum doing a freak out. http://www.fat-cat.co.uk

Adam Snyder ‘Leaves of Grass’ (HTI). Oh yes, something else to warm the cockles of the heart is this tempting cut from Mercury Rev’s ex keyboardist Adam Snyder. Taken from his debut album ‘Across the Pond’ as was his last release, the wonderfully nimble like ‘Two Moons’, ‘Leaves of Grass’ is the sound of country pop cooked just right and to the point where you’d swear you could smell the aroma of the Southern plains as the sun packed its toothbrush away for the night while your left lazing on the rickety porch rocking away while sipping chilled home made lemonade. Referencing elements of Buffalo Springfield, Jonathan Richman, Kevin Tihista and a lighter more upbeat variation of Gram Parsons among others, ‘Leaves of grass’ replete with steel guitars and a breezy nature it fizzles with effervescence and the kind of crispness as to make you reach for the repeat button time and time again.

The Ordinary Boys ‘Week in week out’ (WEA). More young men brandishing guitars and a bag full of hook laden tunes to get the youth of today singing and dancing in the streets. Described in passing as the Clash meet the Jam, well tall acts indeed to follow and maybe a little on the optimistic side for a band so young and still early in their career, to these ears they summon up the hazy summer chemistry and the understanding of an immediate melody that imagines Dodgy, Teenage Fanclub and Micro Disney all within spitting distance in a studio exchanging pop notes. With an album in the can and due for release later in the year, ‘Week in Week out’ is the ensembles second single and reveals a penchant for laying down cutely formed ear candy that’s energetically worked and proves something of a demon in the foot tapping stakes.

Dogs die in Hot Cars ‘Godhopping’ (V2). Third single from Dogs Die in Hot Cars following on from their quickly sold out previous outings, and it has to be said a band who are fast proving that whatever they do, doing it wrong is something they don’t do. ‘Godhopping’ is the bands first single for their newly signed paymasters V2 a furious hook laden gem of a track that manages to capture perfectly the very essence of classic (any) era XTC notably ‘English Settlement’ and spoon feeds it with a devilish Dexy’s underpin that harness’ a melody to weep for and builds around an erratic tempo that literally hunts you down. Flip over for the live favourite ‘Who shot the baby?’ a monstrously unruly beast with a front charge that resembles ‘Kimono my House’ era Sparks having a bare knuckle fight among themselves, quick step operatics, dizzying arrangements and a chorus line that literally clubs you into submission, another hit then lads? Still an awful name for a band though it has to be said.

Carina Round ‘Lacuna’ (Dehische). Certainly one of the most striking and for that matter scariest record sleeves to be put our way last year was the sophomore album ‘The Disconnection’ by Wolverhampton based Carina Round, without doubt one of the most open wounded accounts that I’d had the pleasure of hearing and certainly one of the most intensely fraught full lengths to come from a British female song writer since PJ Harvey’s ‘Dry’ (just check out the violently evocative ‘Shoot’) and at last offering for once someone who in time could provide an answer to Patti Smith. This release takes five live acoustic tracks from that exquisite set and in so provides a clear snap shot for the uninitiated as to the depth and intensity of this creative female songwriter. Not for her the whimsical fates of flowers and ribbons, hers is the grittier, darker underside of life. ‘Lacuna’ is probably the easiest point at which to familiarise yourself, arrangement wise upbeat and spontaneous, zig zagging in its grooving dynamic betraying an almost tantalising waltzing air, lyrically shaded and primal very much recalling the nagging off centre attraction of Harvey’s ‘Sheela Na Gig’, all the time Carina weaves an alluring web so enticing to ensnare you within. ‘Motel 74’ continues the intensity only more fragmented, naked and abandoned it festers between resolute brooding and sharpened edginess. Elsewhere the hollowed ‘Elegy’ is one of those cuts that causes the hairs to stand and the tingle in the spine to start, well rounded but Steps this isn’t instead it points to Bush’s early tempestuous outing, block by block increasing in mass and density until you can do nothing other than to be swept into its storm. Greatness beckons. http://www.carinaround.com

Delta Chi ‘Second Hand Glory’ (Self Released). And it’s always a good idea to open your lead out track (‘Secondhand Glory’) getting it to sound like Generation’s X ‘King Rocker’ though I suspect the band themselves are neither aware or for that matter care, still, it secured an instant play round our gaff. Okay Delta Chi are a Cardiff / London based quartet formed in the main from the remnants of Peppermint Lounge. Now we do love this it’s like home made cooking, takes ages and best left to cook slowly on a low heat to curdle and mature. Delta Chi source the darker elements of the Dylans, Paris Angels, Perfume and even very early Turin Breaks for inspiration. It’s all jagging riffs and edgy arrangements (especially on ‘Delta Chi’) that insistently gnaw away in an attempt to lodge into the psyche. ‘Second Hand Gory’ is the first of three recordings found here making their shy introduction into the big bad world of pop, a tasty off centre moodist rocker that sparkles and shimmers to recall early Moose replete with ‘Yellow’ like Coldplay choral vocals which normally we’d be forced to say, no not on this hi-fi mate, but on this occasion we’ll forgive them, just this once mind. Put to the sword so to speak my money goes to the closing track ‘Come Down’ as the favoured cut, achingly morose and hurt, very much damaged goods with a longing gallows like atmospheric that starts timidly to the sound of a gentle piano and rises crushingly to a breathtaking finale leaving you wasted, empty and a thoroughly hollowed for the experience so much so that those left standing after it finishes are either lying or deaf. http://www.deltachi.co.uk

Thread ‘Done got died’ (Static Caravan). Literally just hot off the presses that we haven’t got the title of the flip track. A total shift of perspective for the Static boys, how this barnstormer got through the normal quality control checks is anybody’s guess, perhaps a tot or two of hard pop has made the usual tinkers of tiny terrific tunes a bit more malleable than usual. Thread kick in with their second single, the first being last years debut for the very wonderful Victory Garden label. The scenario is still the same, walloping good time tunes of the spiked pop variety that culminate in a furious crash that brings together a supergroup made up of Wall of Voodoo and Television being fronted by a particularly coolly sneering Iggy Pop doing tunes arranged by the Fall. ‘Done got died’ is all meaty twanging bass lines that dig deep and twist unmercillously, snagging riffs and wearily packed with hooks that not only pick you off with their razor sharp teeth but rather take it up themselves to mushroom and envelop your whole listening space, the new wave of old new wave starts here, or should that be the new old new wave, whatever, the warning that its a throbbing humdinger of a single is all you need concern yourself with. Flip the disc for, what we’ll call ‘Untitled’ for now, mmm worrying stuff, campfire blues that those of a certain age dragged up listening to ‘Paint your Wagon’ soundtracks might really swoon with nostalgic fondness too. A few short verses, some nimbly played guitar chords and before you know the sausages are done. In a real and perfect world a hit. http://www.staticcaravan.org

Brand Violet ‘Head’ (Riverside)
Brand Violet ‘Sputnik Bride’ (Brand Violet). Two releases from Losing Today house favourites Brand Violet who will feature in the next issue to such an extent you’ll be sick to death come the end of the year. To set the scene, the keen eyed among you will probably remember us salivating about their last release the unfeasibly infectious ‘Alien Hive Theme’ which if you don’t own yet then we suggest you get your backside and other body parts straight onto their website now to hear. London based quartet, three guys who look like extras from Reservoir Dogs moonlighting as Insurance Salesmen with a love for all things Link Wray / Pixies / twanging guitars / horror sci-fi and ‘Barbarella’, one lead singer, blonde, cat suited with the kind of feline prowess that’ll turn women to stone let alone the male of the species, vocals that dips between Mely’s Andrea and Clare Grogan (without the girly shrieks) after 6 months intensive training at knowing how to purr and be menacing at the drop of a hat. Both ‘Head’ and ‘Soul Patch’ feature on the bands debut full length ‘Retrovision Coma USA’ (see elsewhere for review), the former a maddening hip swinging fully paid up pop bruiser that harnesses a devilish retro glazed dragster undercarriage over which Sally Anne seductively pouts, imagine the best elements of Tranvision Vamp / Man or Astro Man flinching to the cool hooks of the Stray Cats. ‘Soul Patch’ lowers the tempo to critical heartbreak levels, both delicate and soul eating, taking its cue from Chris Isaac’s ‘Wicked Game’ the slow unfurling fingering delay hooks wrap sympathetically around the despair ridden vocals to create a chilling detached edge to the proceedings. Elsewhere on the CD there’s a short film featuring live footage from Brighton’s Concorde 2. Can’t say fairer than that.

The ‘Sputnik Bride’ EP is quite literally hot off the press, not due out for a wee while and features three brand new cuts that reveal the darker side to Brand Violet’s psyche. Opening to the spacey carnival-esque ‘Catnip’ a brooding cut that sees them shying away from the usual poppified format in favour of a more edgy dynamic, still sounds like the Bride of Frankenstein crossing swords with ‘Money’ era Space with the eeriness of ‘Earth VS the Flying Saucers’ / ‘They Live’ b-movie backdrops bleeding into the mix, too damn cool for its own good. ‘The Caged Ones’ kicks off with a tasty little spaghetti western aperitif before going all Pixies caught red-handed hoodwinking a copy of B-52’s ‘Planet Claire’. Leaving the best till last, the brooding menace of the dislocated ‘Sputnik Bride’, needling riffs, dragging doom laden chords navigate a cautiously grinding groove that’s pitted in shadows and oppression and just when your at your least aware it rears its potently tipped tail sting to render you paralysed, charmed I’m sure. http://www.brandviolet.com

Old Man Malcolm ‘Pride in my product’ (Frank Wobbly and Sons). The first of several releases from the inspired splinter label Frank Wobbly and Sons to be dispatched from the bigger brother Milwaukee based Wobblyhead. Limited to just 250 copies with no repress in sight, this series stretches to just six releases and has so far had us whooping it up big time on our web sister Singled Out broadcast with releases from Paul B.Davis, Cash Bishop and the immense Innerstance Beatbox, we’ve managed to get our mits on five of the six with the Signal Drift and Nudge split instalment being the elusive one. Admired it seems by Kid Kaola for his turntable dexterity, (Old Man) Malcolm this time opts not to flex his table skills instead favouring to treating us to some deliciously grooving down tempo sexiness. ‘Pride in my product’ kinda just trips out and searches for you rather than you it, steeped with a serious chilled lounge aura it takes its cue most notably from Prince’s ‘Paisley Park’ and runs with it, this is after all lo tempo late night groove at its most alluring. Flip over for the horny funked out ‘Eye Contact’, again Prince like but this time hooked up with a minimalistic sounding Herbie Hancock in tow, you sexy thing.

Magic Arrows / String Theory ‘Split’ (Frank Wobbly and Sons). Staying with the same label, the second of three featured releases finds Magic Arrows sharing the vinyl with String Theory. And it probably needs to be said at this point the finest twin-set of the series, Magic Arrows provide some dashing to die for late night exotic drunk funk smooze on ‘Yaphet Koto’ that’s slyly down tempo and impossibly cool, all in all lingering, lush and very, very loving. Flip over to find the String Theory getting all moodily groovy on the delicious ‘Honey-top’, shuffling beats and whirling clicks, warming lullaby like backdrops peppered by chilly electronic doodles that wander atmospherically to create a curious digital babble while deceivingly tugging on your heart strings. Quite sweet really.

Praveen ‘Circle Song’ (Expanding). And while we are on the subject of records that tug at the heart strings along pops, as if by magic, this faintly disguised treasure from Praveen. The third in the limited second series of 9 seven inches from what is getting to be one of our favourite labels, Expanding. Each release is a limited pressing of 400 copies on coloured vinyl, this being on red wax, and all housed in a heavy duty PVC envelope. ‘Circle Song’ is Praveen’s debut release, a multi talented New York artist who runs an electronic / hip hop radio show in his home town called ‘Percussion Lab’. ‘Circle Song’ is tastefully minimalist, scratchy clicks wander hither tither, elsewhere the longingly sensual shimmering blips map out a skyline onto which mallowy electronic drones float as though imprisoned in the ether to wander ghost like. ‘Nameless’ on the flip side is slightly more muscular, parading around a clockwork dynamic, erratic beats skip and stutter to create an unusually jagged foundation that focuses the listeners mind towards the percussion techniques as opposed to the delicately forming backdrops which become all to present towards the end and at one point has a taste of the fairy tale lurches of a certain fort dax, smart or what? http://www.expandingrecords.com

Audra Kabat ‘Georgia’ (Times Beach). Audra’s recent album ‘Million year old sand’ had us cooing from the tree tops with joy, one of the highlights of the year so far, Kubat swooned with the same wholesome perfection of Cantrell, Orton and Mitchell while flirting with the very disquieting essence that makes Nick Drake’s timid intimacy so resonant and lasting. ‘Georgia’ is taken from that very album and in my humble opinion one of the collections key tracks if not centrepiece revealing an artist so adept in her artistry as to have fully realised and understood the pull of a perfectly penned composition. In terms of construction ‘Georgia’ opines to the Beatles mid career work in juxtaposing the light with the dark, it’s a crushing thing as we are gently taken by the hand to skip along the rustic tranquillity of the countryside to share in mourning the hidden sadness that lies within our protagonist, the combination of sorrow and erstwhile flawed beauty never so contrasting. ‘Since I fell in love music’ on the flip side courts with a spectral charge that vaguely recalls Mary Hopkins ‘Those where the days’ only less optimistic, softly detached and hitherto moody, the ghost of Drake still hangs as does the tender caress of a very young Kate Bush. Not bad then eh? Pressed on clear as though you needed any further prods. Nobody ever said perfection was an easy thing. http://www.timesbeachrecords.com

Deadstring Brothers ‘Twenty seven hours’ (Times Beach). Fellow Times Beach-ers Deadstring Brothers hurt like hell, those with feint dispositions may care to tread carefully as ‘Twenty Seven Hours’ is a real emotion shredder, steel guitars waver melancholically throughout like a sandstorm stripping you to the core to cause your heart to stop and the hairs you never knew you had to stand to attention. Both tender and cruel, the Deadstring Brothers equip themselves with such weeping precision as to have you begging for mercy. Cut from the finest casks of old time country that have been left to mature and gather dust, the echoes of classic Young, Parsons and the Stones spring forth to pay homage to Perkins and Williams. Hopelessly gorgeous. ‘The Ballad of Wendy Case’ is like wow, imagine the grit of Detroit garage fed with the groove of Motown and taken for a short vacation to Nashville, an ass-shaking babe of a track take it from me. And as though to smother you in treats, pressed on tangerine vinyl. http://www.timesbeachrecords.com

Casino Versus Japan / am-boy ‘Split’ (Frank Wobbly and Sons). The third and final release this missive for the Wobblyhead splinter label. As usual we know absolutely diddly about any of these artists except that Casino Versus Japan is really Milwaukee resident and producer Erik Kowalski whom it seems has a penchant for techno, baroque, haunting melodies and trip hop beats and who on ‘Silver and Gold’ kinda mixes them all up into an intoxicating paste to arrive at something that can only be described as cosmik-dub, so good it is that I reckon within one casual earful you’ll be hooked begging for more, think ‘Screamadelica’ era Primal rucking with ‘Lazer’ era Spiritualized. Flip over for something a little more kooky and dare we say, weird from am-boy. ’64 Colors’ pretty much usurps the Go Team’s ‘Get it together’ in the 70’s children’s television tune stakes, bizarrely my copy sounds warped but knowing this lot its probably meant to sound like that, squishy, bouncy, fluffy, odd, sort of like Nellie the Elephant goes walkabout down Sesame Street. Worried? You should be. Alas, recommended. http://www.wobblyhead.com

Missive 35 beckons, bye for now…..

Mark
x

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Archiv – Singled Out – Missive 33 ….

Archive posting originally published on thr losing today web site …. April 2004 …..

Missive 33
16-04-2004
Singled Out

Missive 33

Dedicated as always to Kelly and Mark

Packed with loving care 17th April 2004

Okay the first of, quite possibly, three quick fire Singled Out’s that in some way are like an apology for going off the radar for a few weeks. So without any more fannying about the grooving tunes for your considered delight……

Jens Lekman ‘Rocky Dennis’ E.P. (Secretly Canadian). A better way to start these ramblings I can’t imagine, ‘Rocky Dennis’ EP is the second of three planned quick fire releases for this remarkable Scandinavian talent. Following quickly on the heels of the effervescent ‘Maple Leaves’ release earlier this year which invited us to witness the pangs of perfected 60’s shimmer pop smoothly colliding with alluring summer swept arrangements, it was a remarkable release of such withering elegance that this particular writer thought would be a beast of an effort to follow. How wrong I was, on the four tracks that make up ‘Rocky Dennis’, Lekman seeks to prise away at your emotions and get under your skin, it’s a darker affair this time around, hollowed and aching yet nevertheless overpowering. Opening with a succulent feast of shuffling beats and soft as snow sweeping strings, ‘Rocky Dennis farewell song to the blind girl’ is a dreamily saccharine affair, like Scott Walker doing Tony Bennett and longingly stapled together with the same laid back orchestral smoothness of Ashley Park’s ‘Town and Country’ and prodded by enough elegant streaks of lullaby-esque charms and harps as to make you fall desperately spellbound. ‘Jens Lekman’s farewell song to Rocky Dennis’ fuses together elements of Bruce Hornsby’s ‘The way it is’ and adds to it a distinctly downcast Morrisey-esque numbness from the more intimate moments wallowing on ‘The Queen is Dead’ though its on the final cut ‘If you ever need a stranger’ that Lekman comes into his own. With piano led arrangements that are barely audible this frail and delicately drawn lovelorn gem belies amid its simplicity the power to move not only mountains but to shake the very essence of the soul to a weeping mass of jelly, affectionate to, I should hasten to add. http://www.secretlycanadian.com

The Fades ‘Social Misfit’ (Genepool). Boogieing with a similar chord progression to the Monkees ‘(I’m not your) Steppin’ Stone’ there’s really nothing that can go wrong with this spiked pop tart from The Fades, and so we pogoed to our hearts content with the sound of festering sharp as knives riffs ringing in our ears like the spirit of the late 70’s never went away and just when our heads couldn’t take it anymore we played it once again just for the road you see. ‘Social Misfit’ is taken from the bands forthcoming mini album entitled er….’Social Misfits’, an arse whipping mess of ‘glammed up punk’ blues that manages to sound all at once like the Ruts teamed with Dr Feelgood and running the sword through the Small Faces, the Faces and the Stones while strutting with the cock sure aloofness of a seriously wired T-Rex. http://www.genepoolrecords.com

Isobel Campbell ‘Time is just the same’ (Snowstorm). With a debut album ‘Amorino’, which we are yet to hear already out and about and garnering favourable feedback, Isobel Campbell finally, steps from behind the shadows of her side project Gentle Waves. Now free from her participation within Belle and Sebastian following their amicable divorce a while back, the ‘Time is just the same’ EP is quite simply one of the most beautifully full bodied releases we’ve heard in a long while. Within its grooves it manages to evoke everything from romance, folk, aching ballads, decay, 60’s Francophile pop and mean streets jazz landscapes which all makes for a superior sounding release that oozes classicism as though its fast going out of fashion. Those perhaps missing the delicate charms of Le Mans would do well to fast forward straight to the closing cut, a live rendition of the Morricone penned composition ‘Argomenti’ treated to a Latino retread. Opening to the drifting string tinged tripping spring hued folk sheen of the title track, rustic rhythms skipping blissfully as Eugene Kelly and Isobel do their best hopelessly shy take on Lee and Nancy a re-occurring theme it seems throughout before moving onto territories more associated with Tom Waits especially on the bleakly shaded backdrops that dimly light the rain swept jazzy core of ‘Bordello Queen’ while guest vocalist, former Screaming Trees and of late Queens of the Stone Age, Mark Lanegan does his own gritty impression of the great man on the hurting ‘Why does my head hurt so?’. Throw in a pretty damn smart reverse roles cover of Sonny Bono’s ‘Bang Bang’ and you are left with the EP’s finest moment the hauntingly elegant ‘The breeze whispered your name’. Partly managing to manifest into an alluringly potent brew that takes equal measures of Nick Drake’s grace and Paddy McAloon’s attentive ear for Gershwin and Porter and the more moving elements of frail arrangements on a slow burning grand style, it’ll simply blow away the more fragile romantics out there, quite simply breathless. http://www.snowstormrecords.com

Jamie Clements ‘Sleep Creases’ (Backwater). Damn those dudes at Backwater HQ they’ve only gone and done it again, not content with scaring us witless with their last release, the colossal soundscapes of the mighty Future Kings of England they about turn from the epic to the frail for this the debut release by Jamie Clements, and a corker it is to. Now if I tell you that the similarities to a certain Daniel Johnston are not only limited to the sound but also to the art work that adorns this release then you’ll know exactly from what direction this nimble four tracker comes and at this juncture can I be allowed to say that it’s a thing to warm the cockles of the heart to know that out there somewhere amid the go-getting rat race culture that there are still kindred souls idly lazing in an idyllic picturesque spot wide open to natures blossoming elements writing and composing odes for their own amusement secretly hoping that others will be entranced by their simplistic beauty. On the surface Clements work displays all the childlike characteristics of a less wayward Mr Johnston but scratch softly and the very essence of Drake (especially on the arresting Gaelic folk of ‘A small black sock’), Loudon Wainwright III (‘A silver wrapper’) and Denver come to pass, unfussy, uncomplicated and tantalisingly tranquil the tumbling chords gently wax and wane as Clements take you by the hand along the village green foot paths of his minds eye. http://www.backwaterrecords.com

Ant ‘Floating on a breeze’ (Homesleep). Last seen around our gaff with the heart achingly frail budget pop that was the ‘Cures for broken hearts’ mini album. Ant is Anthony Harding former drummer from the much loved and we should say missed Hefner as were before they all decided to take a sabbatical with some re-emerging as the French. Firstly I’ll hold my hands up and freely admit that this is a year or so old, but then in my defence I only recently got passed a copy and anyway good tunes just don’t lie down especially if they are of the calibre of these 6 perfectly formed nuggets of trembling pop. Featuring violins, melodicas and xylophones to fill out the nakedness of the gentle acoustic guitar that made the earlier releases so endearing, Ant now moves from the realms of cute tweeness to creating minutiae shyly loveable heart tugging symphonies on the budget of a string-less shoe, fail to be moved by the weeping beauty that is ‘Floating on the Breeze’ and you’d have to question as to whether you had an emotional bone in your body. Simplistic it may be but daydream pop doesn’t really get any tastier, from the cutely ambling stroll of ‘The silence has broken’, the irresistibly humbling perky concern of the delectable ‘Cry your little eyes out’ fleshed out by a drifting harmonica which we have to admit is always a winner for us or the longing intimacy of the love sick ‘White Swans on the Water’, does it for me anyway. http://www.homesleep.it

Viva Stereo ‘The surface has been scratched’ (Much better). Another release that’s been doing a fair amount of damage on the old hi-fi is the fourth EP from Viva Stereo, whatever happened to the previous three releases now that its been firmly established they have escaped beneath our radar is something for our hit squad of bitching quality controllers to sort out. I will firstly warn any of you out there who might have a tendency to feel dizzy and sickly at the sound of a seriously chilled out TARDIS that’s had a few whiffs of the magic tobacco that on track 2 (‘Severed Head’) there is what sounds like a seriously chilled out TARDIS that’s had more than a few whiffs of er…magic tobacco. Okay now that that’s cleared up we can move on, ‘The surface has been scratched’ is a storming release and pretty much nails to the floor the variant aspects of Viva Stereo’s sound, ‘Jesus Son’ the most malignant of the four opens the set a version of which is set to appear on the bands near completed debut album ‘Optimism is not a curse’ due for release later this year, a strutting mass of sneering proto punk / psyche robotics replete with grind like menacing electronics and heavy duty fearsome hook laden riffs, think ‘Darklands’ era Jesus and Mary Chain being fucked over by Primal Scream c. ‘Swastika Eyes’, unflinching, unrelenting and unreal, so cool you need shades to nullify the glare from its glowing aloofness. ‘Severed Head’ is our favourite, Sonic Boom / BBC Radiophonic Workshop quietly chilling in the corner sipping cocktails in some fondly conceived retro-esque baggy discothèque for astral planers, mind melting stuff indeed. ‘One last cigarette, one last call’ finds the ensemble getting more down and mellow, like some kind of rustic spectral re-treatment of Bowie’s ‘Space Oddity’ as envisaged by the likes of a more than laid back Billy Mahonie and sprinkled with the most subtle of sophisticated string underpinning, quite a beautiful way to spend four and a half minutes if you ask me. Closing the set with tripping folk of ‘Junk’ goofy, lazy and somewhere out there, like a marshmallow version of a fried Flowered Up, damn groovy with it. http://www.muchbetterrecords.co.uk

The Slides ‘Can you feel it?’ (Logjam Records). Perhaps set for big things who knows, though if the evidence provided by this sterling two tracker is anything to go by I’m down to the bookmakers right now to put my money where my mouth is. The Slides depending on who you ask are either from London or quite possibly from Liverpool, if there not from Liverpool they ought to be because this shaking baby bears all the melodic finesse as to make the LA’s weep in admiration, no press release with this to guide us (not that we ever read them anyway) just the CD pressed in our mits with the cry of ‘you’ll like this one’. Reference point wise the Slides lie somewhere between the Zombies and the Stairs, and okay admittedly there’s a lot of ground to be ploughed there I know but there is a real authentic retro vibe rooting about here what with all the Hammonds and beat pop sounds emanating from this brace of goodies you’d swear you were among the hippie chic set wearing the beads and polo necks in the mid 60’s, and yes there are bands all over the shop doing similar things but trust me on this one this is quite special. ‘Can you feel it?’ starts of quite niftily with the same kind of scouse pop twang that was so enviably the LA’s done to a tee before unexpectedly rearing up and mushrooming into a catchy nugget that’s hook laden and on repeated listens kicks the same glorious melodic ass as Winwood era Spencer Davis Group, classy or what. Equally dandy is the slow burning flip side ‘Here comes the night’ drenched in swampy lazing riffs, decadent sixties charmed organs and coy tension it kinda has you thinking Booker T and MG’s doing an Easy Rider / Woodstock bliss out cross over. Damn smart if you ask me. http://www.logjamrecords.com

The Black Heart Procession / Solbakken ‘In the Fish Tank’ (Konkurrent). It’s a eerie and wonderful thing that music can consort to touch the deepest and darkest depths of the soul, between the opening ‘Voiture en Rouge’ to the salutary finale that is ‘Your Cave’ the canvas upon which both artists fill out portray places so dark and fraught with shadows and the chill of death’s step that most of us are fortunate enough to never have to witness for real, where desperation and hopelessness are part of the cycle for daily existence for life’s less fortunate souls. Morose, macabre and magnificent, but then what did you expect from something with the hand of Black Heart Procession in the mix, streamers and party balloons? The latest addition to the ‘In the Fishtank’ series, a venture whereby invited artists are given two days of studio time to do whatever they like musically in order to nurture and inspire expression and experimentalism and which in the past has treated us along the way to collaborations between Low and the Dirty Three; Sonic Youth and the Ex to name but two perhaps achieves its high point on its eleventh instalment with San Diego’s masters of melodrama the Black Heart Procession sparring with Holland’s prog rockers Solbakken. Undeniably BHP in presence, yet across these 6 cuts they come across unusually sunnier side up, opening to the aching musings of the stately ‘Voiture En Rouge’, Solbakken bring to bear a reign upon BHP’s often bleak horizons, think of the grand portent more associated with Morricone’s dust swept overtures being harnessed and wooed by the poignant classicism of John Barry. Taking you to the very extreme of your emotional tolerance, ‘Voiture’ insidiously takes you prisoner, the enchantress like vocals of Rachael Rose whose hushed French tones unravel their withering sensual claws to juxtapose perfectly Pall’s almost solemn caste, all the time supported by the ever changing tides of the melodic cycles that curve and sooth on the outer edge perimeters. ‘Nervous Persian’ cloaks itself in Eastern mysticism, the overpowering sense of claustrophobia, curling strings, haunting backdrops that suck the emotions dry, like a variant of Zeppelin’s ‘Kashmir’ being face lifted and having its very essence torn to brooding shreds by Sackville, quite a heart string tugger. Upping the tempo to the realms of almost being a happily jiggly pop song comes the lightly tip toeing ‘A taste of you’ impatient piano chords push and shove the usually oppressive BHP into sounding not a million miles from Aloof’s ‘One night stand’. Closing superbly with the finality of the darkly epic ‘Your Cave’ kerchiefs on stand by for a whopper of a tearjerker, how will you cope? All in all akin to vultures circling the remains of a carcass, superbly poised, inevitable and patiently graceful. http://www.konkurrent.nl

Black Dice ‘Miles of Smiles’ (Fat Cat). Mmmm electronic art rock pop just what you need after hours of listening to sub three-minute formulaic ear candy. The chameleon like Black Dice, now so removed from the Boys Next Door like bleeding and festering howl rock that they pricked our ears with last time heard in this gaff many, many years ago when residing on Troubleman. ‘Miles of Smiles’ comprises of two exclusive elongated suites that are all at once disturbing, curious and crafted, a kind of unsettling taster for their second full length ‘Creature Comforts’ due shortly for both DFA and Fat Cat. Those among you familiar with the Sunburned Hand of Man and Animal Collective may well warm to ‘Miles of Smiles’ with an instant affection as it neatly dips between the shadowy recesses of both bands more off the rail work and don’t feel guilty if throughout your listening pleasure you keep hearing the immortal Rolf Harris saying in your head ‘can you guess what it is yet?’ Black Dice are not here to make your life easy, both cuts are deliberately abstract and potently awkward, they free form and evolve with no heed to any logically pattern or rulebook. Originally conceived to accompany a Japanese gallery installation, ‘Miles’ twists and shifts, starting at point A and arriving at point Z without you realising (and you’d expect the band too) or knowing how it got from there to here, a macabre hallucogenic trip where the imagery is splintered and the messages are deliberately confused. Opening quietly the use of zoo noises or the evening song of the jungle perhaps, unexpectedly greet the listener at the entrance, crickets, purring big cats, vague faraway tribal sounds that manifest into military like parades, soon a slow developing exotic collage unfurls across a mind bending backdrop of electronic hypnotics before abruptly ceasing without warning switching to the sounds of rattles and sweets being shaken and so to the process of the drone rebuild begins again majoring to an impromptu burst of dislocated art rock that sounds like Muslim Gauze being manipulated and recalibrated by Henry Cow. ‘Trip dude delay’ on the flip side is a lot more defined and dare I say, rudimentary, but nonetheless equally puzzling, imagine Laurie Anderson pairing up with Sonic Boom’s E.A.R. both hiding under the shadow of nightfall to process recordings of a stormy night at Strawberry Fields where a band of dwarf druids high on toxic toadstools had relocated the sacred pillars of Stonehenge to have a ritual, in their midst Volcano the Bear tagging along to provide the musical accompaniment, and then maybe not. http://www.fat-cat.co.uk

Seafood ‘Good Reason’ (Cooking Vinyl). Ouch angry stuff indeed. The welcome return of Seafood, who I’d honestly thought had split and gone to the place where all the great bands who never got the break they deserved all reminisce about lost chances and the cruel hand of fate. A teasing taster for their forthcoming long-player ‘As the cry flows’ which we are proud to say we’ve just received today. One time Fierce Panda starlets, ‘Good Reason’ marks a distinct shift in the Seafood sound described by main man David Line ‘previously we hid our songs behind the noise, now we hide the noise behind the song’, accompanied by a very Cure-esque / Tim Pope video which sees the band playing from beneath the sheets of David’s sick bed, a rip roaring vitriolic blast that clocks in at just over 2 and a half minutes and sounds to these ears like Sonic Youth and the Pixies deciding to front up as the last great pop band with Quickspace sitting in the wings curating the hooks and the moves. Curdling with shot through riffs sharper than anything found in a tool shed, Seafood bludgeon you with their full on caustic backlash to drag you by the hair screaming and kicking, a ferocious slice of panic pop. ‘Last outpost’ drops the tempo considerably, a roving needle like exercise in gently noodling pop that makes best use of the quiet / loud dynamic as it builds in both velocity and drama. And just when you are bruised and emotionally vanquished along comes ‘Sold Up’ to pamper you to death, personally (as if these things count) my preferred cut, Caroline takes up the lead vocals for something so sweetly hollow you’ll be crushed beneath its combined weight of frail nimble like haunting tremors, deceptively perfect. File under sweet but cruel. http://www.cookingvinyl.com

Baikonour ‘Hot Milk’ EP (Melodic). Latest addition to the roster of the impeccable electronic house that is Manchester’s Melodic Records is this very tempting remix release. Baikonour is Brighton based electro whiz kid Jean-Emmanuel Kreiger, these tracks originally surfaced some 18 months previous in one form or another finding themselves going loving homes tenderly cared for and cherished in particular by four equally minded craftsmen of funky lines and all things classically grooved, so much so was their fondness that each has committed to tape their own translation on a chosen track. So what do you get, well four delectable prime sliced cuts of tripping electronica with by a short nose and a hairs breadth Topo Gigio’s re-reading of ‘Calimero Renegade’ just nudges it for the collections top spot. All whirling electro backdrops, tripping down tempo flotation atmospherics that touches base briefly with 70’s groovers Space’s ‘Magic Fly’, one of those rare cuts that’ll turn club floors to a sea of hypnotic doey eyed mush and in the course of which will nestle below the skin and navigate its way to the head to take up squatters rights and how right too. Elsewhere Imitation Electric Piano from Brighton get all loved up initially while sounding like the Velvets tripping through Beatles backwaters but then morphing into an irresistibly zippy Baroque fusion of Momus and the Free Design, delightfully crisp and dustily pastoral, hits the spot for this particular writer regardless of what you might think. Amon Tobin gets to grips with ‘Coca Sun’ to create a multi genre crossover that blends skittish stuttering arrangements with a purposeful kraut rock underpin, in between all manner of surrealist art fragments drift in and out to whip up an alarming tense grooved out effect to the whole process. Last and by no means least, Gavouna imparts a sense of sophistication to ‘Oben Beg’ with the use of subtle classically styled strings to float over fluffy spacey 70’s disco textures that together eke out a blissfully soft sensual patchwork that just oozes sexily. http://www.melodic.co.uk

Go Home Productions ‘Pistol Whipped’ (Half Inch). A release that works on all fronts. Firstly it’s ultra limited, secondly its probably the best looking release within these musings pressed as it is on pink / white splatter vinyl and thirdly it features a mash up stand off between the kings of punk (apparently) and the queen of pop (really…Ed.). Go Home Productions is the much in demand bootlegging mix-masher Mark Vidler, with over a 100 bootlegs under his belt nobody it seems has managed to escape his watchful eye, a mash up between S Club 7’s ‘Don’t Stop’ and Paul Weller’s ‘Changing Man’ entitled ‘Don’t stop changing’ is currently setting the losing today record shed alit and is currently doing the rounds as a free download. Recently commissioned by EMI to remix a brace of Bowie tracks including ‘Fame’ and with strong play-list support from not only XFM in London but MTV worldwide, pretty much over night Vidler has become a house hold name on the fastest growing musical trend currently about, booked to dj this July at Denmark’s prestigious Roskilde Music Festival he now turns his sights on the Sex Pistols to give them a much needed repress and dusting down for the youth of today to belch to. On this five-track release you’ll find the Pistols admirably admirably staged to kick seven bells out of Madonna (a draw), Electric 6 (a winner on points) and Cher (knockout). ‘Ray of Gob’ as its tastefully called culls snatches of live Pistols / the infamous Grundy session / Sid’s ‘My Way’ and bits of ‘Friggin in the Riggin’, essentially a face off between Madge’s ‘Ray of Light’ and the Pistols ‘Pretty Vacant / God Save the Queen’, what sounds on paper implausible festers magnificently on the decks. Quite rightly so Electric 6’s ‘Gay Bar’ gets the rodgering of its life by being re-fitted by Johnny and Co’s ‘Problems’ while unfeasible as it may first appear Cher’s ‘Believe’ goes up in estimation being trounced by ‘No Feelings’. Flip over for the far superior extended swear version of ‘Ray of Gob’ while rounding on the pack to bring everything to a conclusion ‘Submusic’ which marries together her Majesties ‘Music’ with er…’Submission’ like what else was it going to be? One to annoy the purists and the pop pragmatists, two birds with one stone. Now for that much warranted execution of the ‘Chicken Song’ by the thrash attack of Nepalm Death with Anal Beard slopping up the left overs, any chance?

Boxstep ‘By now even trees’ (Homesleep). And we do our very best to bring you some of the best and dare we say most talented bands around, so without further hesitation step forward Pittsburgh’s Boxstep. Now we ain’t going to pretend to know anything about this lot except to say that they are an eight piece and that the five tracks found snuggled with ‘By now even trees’ are the first we’ve heard and boy do they grip. Boxstep on the evidence available like their music to terra form, it constantly shifts, just when you think you’ve got it nailed it finds another corner to duck down to disappear leaving you in desperation finding it. Keywords here might be stormy, tremendous, withering and elegant, for Boxstep have a curious knack of managing to touch so many bases as is unfeasible. ‘Fortune Cookies’ for instance, is all at once tempestuous and tranquil, one minute slowly unfurling with shimmering glee the next muscularly daunting utilising the same stop start classical arrangements as you’d expect to find in some monolithic progressive rocker yet subdued with a gently entwining psychedelic tinge that needles away like Godspeed trapped on Bronte’s unforgiving moors. ‘French Architecture’ is a lot more curvaceous, brooding and beguiling, the soft lull of the tiptoeing strings coalescing to create an alluring Gaelic tempter elsewhere ‘How I learned to sleep’ creeps and groans with an almost inhaling and exhaling dynamic pierced with an eerie intent that has you imagining Sackville getting to grips with the more textured elements of Barrett era Pink Floyd but holding dear to its bosom a curiously countrified twang. Favoured cut though has to be ‘The tenting effect’ which summons up all the elements, you can feel the drama coursing throughout before it erupts, in a nutshell macabre, dense and very, very elegant. Bailing out with ‘Western Exit’ sophisticated and soothing with folk like ambitions, just what you need after all the draining intensity. http://www.homesleep.it

The Streets ‘Fit but you know it’ (679 Recordings). Ha ha ha, I nearly choked on my cornflakes when I heard this, thought it was Danny Baker doing the vocals. The lure of music hall I see just hasn’t died quite yet. Taken from his current album ‘A grand don’t come for free’, ‘Fit but you know it’ is the first laddish taster from what is Mike Skinner’s first new material since 2002’s ‘Original Pirate Material’ appeared and caught us off guard. Fun and indeed infectious, ‘Fit’ is a laboratory cloning experiment gone wrong that in piecemeal fashion takes all the wrong bits from John Cooper Clarke, Wreckless Eric, early Squeeze and Ian Dury mixes up the DNA results and sends the resultant offspring on a cheap package holiday to Margate replete with handkerchief on head for a portion of cockles and whelks and a sit in the rain only to return home singing a hybrid version of Blur’s ‘Parklife’ and ‘Girls and Boys’. You’ll find it annoying though arguably essential. http://www.679recordings.com

Pure Reason Revolution ‘Apprentice of the Universe’ (Poptones). Debut release from London based quintet Pure Reason Revolution. ‘Apprentice of the Universe’ is, despite it’s oh so cumbersome 70’s ‘let’s go into the enchanted woods said the pixie to the elf to see the magic wizard’ / Rick Wakeman connotations, one of those cuts that once heard always loved, this will literally send you reeling, almost like cherry picking the very best of early ELO and 10CC in terms of sublime dream like arrangements and augmenting it to the pristine ear for harmonies that both the classic era Bee Gees and the Beach Boys are tentatively aware of. Start with something that sounds like the atmospherics from an advertisement for a leading mobile company add in a few swirling bubbly bits of spacey electronics, a beep here and a bloop there, cut glass harmonies and the kind of hook line that you wish every record you ever bought had been blessed with. By far the tastiest piece of ear candy since the Earlies crept onto our hi-fi with ’25 easy pieces’ and blew us all away, and that dear people was a feat thought nigh on impossible to match. On t’other side ‘Nimos and Tambos’ celestially charged as it is has the same magical air of the Mommas and Pappas and scarily to these ears like the Mael brothers in a electro prog rock freak out with (again) ELO, are we serious here, works of course though it shouldn’t. Highly recommended. http://www.poptones.co.uk

Ninotchka ‘EP2’ (Self Released). I’ll say right from the word go that this is as sexy as things get for these particular musings. Ninotchka hover between the line of fire that sees Stereolab at one end and Pizzicato 5 at the other, well at least that’s what the opener ‘Sunday Gangster’ sounds like. A duo, one boy one girl, formed in 2001 and ex members of Molotova. They describe their music as progressive candy pop – between sugar and experimentation, and we really couldn’t have put it better. This is the bands second demo release a third is currently nearing completion. Lightly whimsical and that’s not meant to be derogatory, Ninotchka just flutter, its an amazing thing to behold, but how else could you describe what they do. Strictly happy pop for happy people, dreamy, fluffy and above all, catchy. ‘Sunday Gangster’ (originally titled ‘Little Wanker’ this lot have a devilish sense of humour especially when you notice their music is registered under the name Chinky Frog Music geddit, one Chinese lady and one French male), has you recalling the bubblier exotic moments of Stereolab’s ‘Sound Dust’ except mixed with the sultry down tempo edge that Vanessa Paradis’ ‘Joe le Taxi’ possessed, wickedly crooked pop that you gather would dozily mooch across a late night dance floor rather than strut. ‘Queen of London’ is tigerishly tender, imagine ‘Gregory’s Girl’ / Altered Images in agony aunt mould and those broken hearted picture story boards that would appear in old time girl’s comics all weaved together and set to the sound of an accordion, dippy, dizzy and weepy, in theory it shouldn’t work but damn them they are good. Ending it all with a slice of tripping 80’s ‘Pretty in Pink’ style twee girly love pop, ‘Don’t turn your eyes on me’ is one of those cuts that you’d probably feel embarrassed to play real loud in the company of friends but in the safety of head phones intact you’d secretly love to bits pretending to passers by you were listening to Radiohead’s latest intellectual intones. Cute all said and done. http://www.ninotchka.co.uk

Okay you good good people see you in Missive 34……

Mark
X

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Archiv – Singled Out – Missive 32 ….

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

Missive 32
22-02-2004
Singled Out 32

“The further chronicles of the deranged ramblings of a dithering death as a post dilettante…”

Just who is that masked man?…….delivered on 21st February 2004
Hi Ho Silver……………..…….gone, gone, gone by 08th March 2004

Dedicated….to Kelly and Mark (never a minute passes).

As previously advertised the quick return of Singled Out, two in one week can’t be bad. Okay no chitchat except to say I have the AD Rates for the magazine, if you haven’t heard from either myself or any of the rest of the Losing Today team then please get in touch with me.

Still open for tracks for consideration on the cover mounted CD so if you can get mp3’s to me via mark@losingtoday.com or Andrea at andrea@losingtoday.com that’d be much appreciated. Projected street date for the magazine is May with deadlines pencilled for the beginning of April.

And in case these things make any difference (except for the neighbours whose persistent knocking on the walls shows some kind of passing interest, obviously) the albums that are currently hogging the well punished Hi-Fi….in no particular order or preference:

Juniper (a beautiful debut album); Tacoma Radar (another beauty of some measure); The Stands (the current Scouse new breed backlash continues with these friends of the Zutons and Hokum Clones…think Summer Hymns grooving with Dylan and ‘Rubber Soul’ Beatles); Electric Eel Shock (un-mastered cuts from their forthcoming album, each raised in Hell and baying for blood); Blue States and the Go Team (Memphis Industries seasonal collection, again un-mastered cuts from forthcoming long players); 50hz (teaser of their mooted forthcoming single, probably their best yet); Space (more scousers this time the old brigade back to show the new breed how it’s done); Baby Bird (just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, a best off); Nutron Stars (as barmy as hell and unrepentant with it); Fat Cat Split Series Compilation (Brighton’s, and for that matter, the undergrounds most eclectic label go, if anything, experimental big time with this best of); d_rradio (those Static boys just keep doing it…debut full length from the impeccable northern crew who manage to stuff in every thing from Morricone to Piano Magic and still have space to groove frantically); Silver Ray (Aussie instrumental group who make Mogwai / Explosions / Godspeed sound like chancers) and that’s just the tip of the ice bun, and you wonder why I don’t have time for gigs or sleep for that matter….ha ha ha.

And to this missives veritable slice of vivacious vinyl (aw come on who writes this stuff for Pete’s sake?…’You’…good innit….)….(cue fanfares being blown by oneself….)…

The Barbs ‘The importance of being evil’ (Mother Tongue). Woah hellish stuff indeed. Second outing for this spiked quartet following last years debut release ‘Massive Crush’ (which infuriatingly escaped beneath our radar). ‘The importance of being evil’ is a taster for the bands debut full length due soon and what a howling fest of spine snapping carnage it is and one of those records where the nailing down of everything that moves is deemed a damn good idea. Blessed with the kind of wanton tuneage that finds you before you find it, like a heat seeker this lock on at full throttle and pretty much houses everything you’d rightly expect from a razor sharp quotient of three minute hit ‘em and run aggression; frantic boy / girl vocals, tortured hooks, heart stopping prowling choke happy chord play and sounding like a seriously aggressive Penetration. Flip over and things get markedly better. ‘Alien Abduction’ cradles a devilish surf groove that manages to hone in on ‘Surfer Rosa’ era Pixies as though being fried alive by the Reverend Horton Heat, damaging stuff and well worth tracking down. Currently touring these fair isles with the equally deviant sounding The Rocks and Special Needs. Need we say more? http://www.mothertongue.tv

And did we just mention Special Needs, I’m sure people think I just throw these things together without any attention to thought or detail, so as if by magic so to speak…..

Special Needs ‘Sylvia’ (Twinstar Revolution). One of those records where you’re left wondering throughout where is it going, and that’s not meant disparagingly either. Both ‘Sylvia’ and the accompanying double A-sider ‘Tarts’ amble in without any kind of defined authority almost as though timid and scared of what you may think of them. Well really, they needn’t worry themselves sensitive souls as they are because both cuts are serious foot tappers well worth a cocking of the ear to. ‘Sylvia’ howls discordantly but when it settles boy those memories of all those classic Stiff releases and neatly hones in on the Modern Lovers ‘Roadrunner’ as though done by Vic Godard and the Subway Sect, cool or what. ‘Tarts’ well what can I say, sly soul that been nicked wholesale from beneath Kevin Rowland’s first incarnation of the Dexy’s noses and fused with elements of the Housemartins ‘Happy Hour’ and set packing with some seductively frayed riffing action. http://www.twinstarrevolution.com

The Stills ‘Lola stars and stripes’ (679). A taster for the soon to be released debut full length ‘Logic will break your heart’ and something of a welcome return following their ‘Rememberese’ EP debut last year which, it has to be said, had us whooping it up big time. ‘Lola stars and stripes’ packs in more urgent sounding guitars than many would consider wise in the short space of three minutes and will be a certifiable layer to waste of dance floors in time, pinned to the wall as we were by the velocity the Stills arm themselves to the teeth with a blitzing chime happy wall of feedback sound that had us harking back to the days of the Comsat Angels, several listens down the line though and I’m convinced that this is the nearest we are ever going to get at having Morrissey fronting classic Chameleons. Unmissable. http://www.679recordings.com

Nerine ‘Shallow’ EP (Self Released). The first thing your immediately drawn and made aware of when initially hearing the latest four track CD release from Nerine is the emotional turmoil bubbling just below the surface of lead singer James Stamp’s vocals, it’s such a distinctive sound and could serve as a key in time to setting Nerine apart from the growing pack of youthful rockers currently swelling the ranks of this already over subscribed genre. And while the vocals might prove to be the key one shouldn’t forget the melodic accompaniment which vacillates between high-octane wide screen dramas and impassioned power grooves that ultimately provide for an overtly professional sheen that probably befits ensembles deemed several leagues ahead of them by the majors. Nerine are by rock standards the full shilling, often compared to Pearl Jam and something which is well levelled and borne out by their set, they serve up darkly lit arrangements which when not erupting simply growl, ‘Shallow’ softens up the listener with its spidery chimes before festering up into a brooding blaze of hateful licks that might go some way to galvanizing opinions that the UK rock is doing the American sound better than the Americans themselves these days. ‘Blind’ has the effect of being caught outside amid a torrential storm lost and trying to find your way home through ever changing harrowing apocalyptic landscape, a daunting maelstrom of windswept war scarred planes. ‘Voices’ is pretty much a power ballad of the kind Whitesnake were so often apt to flick out with such seeming ease but with a hardened attitude skin, doom laden and hurting, rising to peaks of sophistication and dipping to depths of despair in the blink of an eye. Finishing up with comparatively sparse ‘Lost Alone’ which for me is the best cut of the set mainly because it’s pretty much a scorching upbeat rocker that loosens itself from the trademark dense dynamics and just goes hell for leather. All said and done a pretty nifty release and well worth seeking out. http://www.nerineweb.co.uk

Indofrumbah ‘Thank me know, I tell you later’ (Demo). A real mixed bag is what you’ll find on this 6 track demo, one thing is for certain you’ll be hooked after a couple of plays. Indofrumbah are a trio based in Winnetka, California who on the evidence of this debut demo release haven’t quite decided what they want to be, so as a result what you get is a pretty wide ranging collection of tunes that dip from some blissful sultry 70’s soul on the opening pop fest ‘Karie Owes Me’ to skanking reggae with a distinct prospect of somewhere or other lurking about an almost calypso styled take on the Vaselines ‘Molly’s Lips’ on ‘Sean’ which neatly manifests mid way through into a particularly lysergic take on They might be Giants. You already like the sound of it I can tell and why not. This EP will appeal to those lovers of the Two Tone Ska revival mixing curiously as it does a large quotient of the Beat, especially on ‘Hands on U’ with bits and bobs from current day skateboard punk and throwing in, curiously, the looser elements of the Clash’s ‘Sandinista’ for good measure on the reggae based ‘Indofrumbah’ while the punky pub rocker ‘Got a Reason’ is a ringer for the Knack doing Dr Feelgood while if your not totally convinced as to the merits of the wayward stature catch a sneak peak of the scratching wanna be hardcore-isms of ‘Eye Brew’ which even cheekily manages to coax within its fabric a brief spot of ELP. Quite smart all said and done. http://www.indofrumbah.com

The Features ‘The way it’s meant to be’ (Fierce Panda). Weee, cli-click-cli-click, woaaaeeee, bang, bang, bang, boom, boom, boom, can you guess what it is yet? See it’s not that easy playing the word version of ‘Never mind the Buzzcocks’ spot the tune is it? Welcome to the Features, the quick fire follow up to last years debut ‘The Beginning’ and for once a record that hits all the right buttons simultaneously, not content just to smack you between the eyes with one bouncing barnstormer but having the audacity, nay temerity to sweep you off your feet with three scrumptiously prepared feasts of prime pop. ‘The way it’s meant to be’ indeed as the title so rightly screams, is nothing less than pure, infectious, direct and straight to the point razor sharp punk pop rock that’s distilled into the classic formulaic package that slams an eagerly potent two minutes and four seconds of high-octane petulance to make early Supergrass outings seem like ever expanding progressive rock dramas. No sooner has the smoke cleared and in kicks the wayward ‘Someway, somehow’ which could easily be mistaken for Pavement after a few tokes, whirring electronics and Southern American blissfulness soon spontaneously combusts as they go ‘Pump it Up’ Attractions big time. Ending it all with the best cut, the goof like ‘Buffalo Head’ which manages to fuse together the best bits of Garlic with Cockney Rebel and the Faces into something remarkably dozy, daft and delicious. http://www.fiercepanda.co.uk

The Fiery Furnaces ‘Tropical Ice-Land’ (Rough Trade). One of the best songs from last year to be found vanquished to the realms of obscurity that is fondly called the b-side was ‘Cousin Chris’ over on the flip side to the Fiery Furnaces debut release ‘Crystal Clear’, an awkward fusion of tripped out psychedelia and abstract absurdities, it gave a glimpse as to sense of wicked darkening humour that lurking at the core of brother and sister Matt and Eleanor. ‘Gallowsbird’s Bark’ their full-length debut didn’t disappoint either, it revealed a daring originality so often found wanting these days, fraught with angular departures into punk and beyond it was a chemistry experiment dangerously teetering to the point of overspill, whereby everything of use from 30 years of rock pop was scooped up, crudely mixed with the resulting concoction left sitting and smiling on the work bench with a menacing glint of pop overtones and potent ‘avant’ new wave attitude. ‘Tropical Ice-Land’ was one of those rare moments where the pop overtone scheme of things shone through. This version is a re-recording and finds the New York duo casually taking Blondie’s ‘The Tide is High’ on a sunshine vacation for a fortnight on the beach, only burying it to its neck in the sand to let the night time tides do their damage, backward loops, warming breezes hell this could be a massive summer hit given enough radio play and this still being winter, the summer brought forward sharpishly. Oh yeah and it sounds like the Barracudas covering Cornershop’s ‘Brimful of Asha’, can’t fail can it?! What do you mean you’ve never heard of the Barracudas, some people…A hit, in a perfect world. http://www.roughtraderecords.com

Bussetti ‘The Itch’ (Realise). In need of something a little special, something a little sophisticated perhaps even a little sensual, then you wouldn’t be doing yourself any harm in investing a little time in this beautifully realised release. Bussetti are a London based 7 piece who have on occasion been favourably compared to the likes of Red Snapper, Lamb and the simply awesome Cinematic Orchestra. Not officially out for a few weeks ‘The Itch’ is a smouldering number that oozes an air of stately refinement, in truth the kind of sound-scapes that Goldfrapp probably would have progressed to had ‘Felt Mountain’ not become such a heavy chain around their collective necks. An intoxicating mix of late illicit in crowd smoky jazz clubs built upon a platform of sophisticated classically arranged Bond-esque back drops, casually engaging tempos that’s armed with a seriously sleazy partying sax and all finished off with the inviting allure of Nico-esque torn by a particularly husky Kate Bush vocal. ‘Debussetti’ turns things on their head to a greater extent, utilising splintered cut ups from both classical arrangements and old Kung Fu movies that combine to shove and push restlessly to give an awkward bullish sheen while endowing the whole mix with a goofy undertow onto which Charlie Miller gets to get up and personal with his in your face rapping, dangerous, groovy and eerie all at once. ‘Softly’ which rounds up the set is just, mmm, dirty. http://www.bussetti.org

Sixty Mile Smile ‘Our World’ (Sch!zo). Could have sworn that we’d featured this lot previously but I’ll be damned if I can find the review or for that matter lay my hands on the CD, not to worry. Okay Sixty Mile Smile are a trio hailing from Essex who are part of the ever growing tide of slam happy punked up young men who seem to be coming out of the woodwork all over the show lately all wielding guitars like they mean to do you serious damage. Sixty Mile Smile like so few in the same generic stable at least remember melodies. Reared up on a lineal descent that can be traced back past Green Day and Offspring to the much missed Mega City 4 but with a more muscular exterior and an angulated ticking bomb heart, SMS serve up a frenetic pogo happy trouncing of breakneck buzzing punk pop that recalls a less threatening early incarnation of Leatherface having open heart surgery performed on it by the melodic nouse of Ned’s Atomic Dustbin. http://www.sixtymilesmile.co.uk

Along came man ‘Short’ EP (Self released Demo). The sound of young Wales may well be in good hands if this three-track release is anything to go by, that is if the band hadn’t sadly decided to call it a day not long after I received this release, which in all honesty is a great shame because Along came man are or where a young trio who certainly know a thing or two about cutting a mean rocking ditty. Currently to be found making appearances on compilation albums for Never Gonna Make It and Openfire records, Along came man kick in with this tightly wound three track demo that has all the trimmings of very, very early Alarm and dusted with the same melodic pull of Mega City 4 c.‘Tranzophobia’, power punk pop dished out with rapid fire execution, just check out the youthfully energetic hook happy ‘Feel the Sound’ which kicks and slams about with a mischievous wide eyed spirit, while ‘Back Breaker’ is an acoustic cut taken from a radio session for The Wave on 96.4FM and to these ears has a distinct Stiff Little Fingers c. ‘Now Then’ influence about its edgy frame. That said it’s the lead cut ‘HOBO’ which rules the roost, good wholesome kick ass fun, melody packed punk rock metered out with sly grooves and so addictive you’ll be haunted by it rattling around in your head for days. Get this now and prove them wrong. http://www.alongcameman.tk

Melaleuca ‘Mid Air Collision’ (Self Released). Just how we like it, sharp and caustic. Melaleuca (pronounced I guess MELA LUCHA, who said you don’t learn anything around here, fountain of knowledge that’s me, not, furthermore according to my bumper ‘big words for playing scrabble with’ compendium there is no such word) hail all the way from Farnborough, Hampshire. ‘Mid Air Collision’ is the trio’s fifth release to date and what a roaring corker it. Primed with power packed riffs that swerve, jostle and move with unpredictable swiftness. Opening with the cranium crunching ‘Pocket Capulet’ a bludgeoning head on crash of stuttering math rock hardcore that fuses together to wallop the life out of a barely audible but nevertheless stubbornly present melody, a punishing calling card of aggressive no holds barred agitation, ‘Gone Driving’ is less subtle in approach going for the throat from the word go, a storm whipping slice of Killing Joke emo style. ‘Five Sundays’ on the other hand courts with a darkly dense dynamic, jerking rhythms that bleed with a volatile fast / slow / fast grind, gruelling stuff. Bringing up the rear, ‘End Communication’ the best cut of the quartet, seemingly takes the best elements from the three accompanying tracks and throws them into a melting pot, the resulting chemical reaction a frenzied apocalyptic howler that’s toxically charged, a bit like putting your head in a spinner with half a hundred weight of rocks, raging stuff indeed. http://www.melaleuca-uk.co.uk

Surfer Rosa ‘Lucky Lipstick’ (Versity). A quick return for Norway’s electro punk poppers following their debut EP ‘Neon Commando’ released at the tail end last year. Acting as a taster for their soon to be released full length ‘Shanghai my Heart’, Surferosa are the happy pill popping shrill antidote for all the usual sombre / maudlin grey brigade. This time round three new cuts that kick their debut into touch, its still squirmingly poppy but hey who cares. ‘Lucky Lipstick’ is annoyingly infectious so much so that don’t be surprised if you find yourself going into impromptu sing songs when you least expect or need it, lashings of 80’s synth action that’s more Kim Wilde and Cyndi Lauper bullying or being bullied in the cloakroom by Nena at a mid 80’s Eurovision re-union party, which if anything makes a change from the usual New Romantic re-hashes currently to be found kicking around, no matter how much you hate it and you probably will, you just can’t resist tapping them feet. ‘Long Lust’ has Mariann doing her best breathless purring impersonation of Wendy James being Clare Grogan routine, which is fine by us because when all eyes are on her the rest of the band have snuck out through the back door to nick themselves a few Sex Pistols riffs, damn neat if you ask me. Ending the set with a live cut ‘Bim Bam Boom’ which is ‘Pinky Blue’ updated and pitched with the scariest keyboard sound since Van Halen’s ‘Jump’, damn don’t you just hate catchy records? http://www.surferosa.no

Dogs Die in Hot Cars ‘Man bites Man’ (V2). We warned you about this lot last year when their debut single ‘I love you ‘cause I have to’ sent us all in a bit of frenzied dither. Now signed to V2 ‘Man bites Man’ is one of those singles perfectly made for radio, if Special Needs are Dexy’s c. ‘Searching for the Young Soul Rebels’ then Dogs die in hot cars (atrocious name for a band by the way) are Rowland and Co c. ‘Too-Rye-Ay’ dragging XTC’s ‘Senses Working Overtime’ for a countryside stroll with bits of Joe Jackson and a particularly frenetic sounding Howard Jones joining the parade. My personal favourite though is the rustic oddness of ‘The Queen of the Pumpkin Plukes’ which has all the idyllic soft psychedelia of the variety found on Partridge and Co’s ‘Mummer’ though found here as though executed by the Boomtown Rats who unbeknownst to the producer have brought along Radio 2’s Cliff Adams Singers to do a spot of uplifting la la la la’s, divine stuff. More daintily dreamy stuff with ‘Nobody teaches life anything’ how very true, reverse loops and plenty of pastoral teasing to be had, while the up tempo heart racing ‘Pastimes and Lifestyles’ skips the set to a merry conclusion, did someone say Talking Heads, no, right…Limited to 1000 copies you’d be a fool to miss out again. http://www.v2music.com

Owsley Sunshine ‘Somoer Day’ (Demo). Remember Top, Liverpool band early 90’s, rose from the ashes of the legendary Wild Swans, had a cult baggy classic with ‘Number One Dominator’ well take two parts of them add in some seriously stoned Stone Roses and lashings of Hammonds with a vibe of Charlatans ‘The only one I know’ and that’s pretty much ‘Somoer Day’. Okay there’s a little more, but you get the general idea. Owsley Sunshine are based in Lincolnshire which according to their press release is something of a music industry black hole, well stands to reason really if it can’t be reached via London Underground then you really are pushing your luck. Shame really because this is a damn smart single, the kind of thing Radio 1’s Mark and Lard would have hammered you into submission with in the good old days of pre-play-lists and late night fun broadcasting. At 6 minutes in length ‘Somoer Day’ is hazily anthemic, the perfect early Summer evening festival track that breathes a magical, nay, an intoxicating odour of chilled out 60’s hippy chic and drugged out blissfulness with coolly wasted psychedelic trimmings while passing off subtly guarded Beatles references to ‘A Day in the Life’, simply stunning. ‘I’m fine’ is a little more sedate by comparison, more loving like a classically tripped with softening reclining edges, as though both the Roses and Spacemen 3 had met in secret to collaborate, jammed a little, smoked a little and then exchanged numbers forgetting the whole incident. Turn it up and turn on. Several puffs of magic baccy ahead of the pack, a close call, but single of the missive. http://www.foundrycrew.net

The Tone Def Amigos ‘S-Bends’ (Demo). Scenester mates of Owsley Sunshine, the Tone Def Amigos run their buddies close to the wire. Two tracks on offer show a sophisticated and dare I say elegant approach to song writing. Relying on moods and offering a curvaceous edge to their sound, on the willowy ‘S-Bends’ TTDA gently guide the unsuspecting listener by the hand to enchanted realms, cascading chords melt delicately into one another while falsetto vocals lightly brush ghost like overhead providing for an intimate setting where lulling psychedelia is caressed by snoozing dream like classicism that’s only momentarily interrupted by a brief foray into space rock improvisations coming out the other side with the feint vibe of the Manics ‘If you tolerate this your children will be next’ in tow. ‘Evolution’ rounds things of nicely, breezy acoustics blend seductively with looped samples and chilled out rustic grooves, kind of like Ozric Tentacles partying with a seriously mellowed Happy Mondays to the sounds of those intimate Beatles moments penned by McCartney, damn smart if you ask me. http://www.foundrycrew.net

The New Shapes ‘Electric Shock’ (Demo). And do we like this or do we like this, yes sir. The New Shapes are a young quartet based in Well End who it seems (while every one else has been snaffling up either old garage punk favourites from the 60’s, new romantics relics from the 80’s or immersing themselves in the know how’s of post punk), have been doing a spot of research themselves visiting record shops and quietly investing in a few well chosen classics from 1976-1978. So here we have 3 tracks that simply ooze potential and pour forth subtle elements of the much loved (well in our gaff anyway) Flamin’ Groovies, a spot of raw friction courtesy of ‘White Music / Go 2’ era XTC, ‘Another music in a different kitchen’ era Buzzcocks and some neatly worked CBGB’s style art house proto punk which with a very big stick have all been thoroughly mixed to serve up a curious art rock come punk rock come pub rock blend as evidenced perfectly on the agit groove of ‘Electric Shock’ whose austere claws dig deeply into the psyche. ‘Just Paranoid’ barely kicks in shy of the 2 and a half minute mark and sounds like ‘Orgasm Addict’ as though re-written by the Groovies and performed by the Dead Boys but it’s on the potently nihilistic ‘I’m waiting for the Man’ in a gruesome head on collision with ‘Love comes in Spurts’ fusion within ‘Waiting for a God’ that spiked our ears, simply stunning and a release that all decent record collections should be gagging for. http://www.thenewshapes.com

Detwiije ‘Six is better than Eight’ (Self Released). Literally just taken delivery of this four track EP, so good it is I felt it couldn’t wait till the next missive, however that said a word of warning to the wise, just the kind of record you need when you think that your life has just fallen through the floor, as mine has several times in the last few weeks. ‘Bee’ in the space of 4 minutes and fifty eight seconds conveys every element and inner turbulence that those feelings evoke, a furious flux of anger, hate, confusion, bewilderment, hurt, loneliness and soul destroying despair all masterfully contained in one slice of storm baiting instrumental classicism. Gruelling sound-scapes delicately held together by sympathetic string arrangements map out a war torn terrain where upon the white hot caustic measure of early Mogwai finds itself tamed, harnessed and out gunned by the brooding overbearance of godspeed you black emperor’s full tilt atmospheric horror. Cinematically charged, this is Morricone tooled up to the eyeballs at the last chance saloon, violently awesome. ‘La Guerre des mondes’ (‘War of the Worlds’) no not the Jeff Wayne score, but nevertheless equally intriguing and chillingly apocalyptic and one assumes thematically centred around H G Wells classic novel. Notable for the UFO ray gun guitar sound effects, though an instrumental the quintet perfectly choreograph and give such vivid account that you can literally feel, smell and taste the unfolding confrontation as though actually there. Think of a doom laden Ride, feedback blazing, squaring up to My Bloody Valentine and tripped off with a seismic symphonic sheen. Brooding, elegantly delivered numbness is the order of the day for the wounded ‘Six is better than eight’ which lurches bruised for the best part of 2 minutes before revealing a harrowing sting in the tail and which leaves the epically serene ‘Waltz’ to pick up the pieces and clear the emotional debris, noodling post rock in the vein of Rothko and Billy Mahonie and priceless with it. An awesome release. Plans for the near future will see the 5-piece touring France and the UK this year with a gig at the Hope and Anchor, Islington, London on March 13th (which I strongly recommend you get your backsides along to) as well as the issue of an ‘experimental’ collection recorded in an industrial silo in Hull entitled ‘Would you rather be followed by forty ducks for the rest of your life’ which on title alone will ensure it gets top of the class treatment in our gaff. http://www.detwiije.com

Scarling. ‘Band Aid covers the Bullet Hole’ (Sympathy for the Record Industry). Okay admittedly a little late with this one, but hell sometimes you just can’t keep a good tune or three down. Currently to be found doing sizeable damage on the ‘Blisscent 2’ compilation from Blisscent Records and holding its own among a welter weight of gliding guitar ensembles most notably the Meeting Places, A Northern Chorus and the storm chasing Skywave, ‘Band Aid covers a bullet hole’ is the debut release from LA’s Scarling. a knuckle rapping taster for their recently released full length ‘Sweet Heart Dealer’. Scarling. are the latest in a long line of melody based noise niks currently setting alight Stateside, formed out of a chance meeting between guitarist Christian Hejnal and ex Jack off Jill vocalist Jessicka, this quintet (who incidentally look like the bastard offspring of John Cale with fully signed up membership cards to the local Jean Paul Sartre existentialist debating society) cleverly marinate varying degrees of goth and shoegaze with a hammer like noise attrition that appears all at once threatening, hostile and yet curiously beguiling. Pressed on red vinyl and housed in a sleeve depicting artist Mark Ryden’s ‘Wounds’ painting, ‘Band Aid covers a bullet hole’ is a chime happy bruiser with bite, a bit like opening a brightly wrapped present on Christmas day and finding you’ve just unlocked a Pandora’s box letting loose onto the world a scheming array of mischievous sprites and delinquent demons. Taking their cue from the likes of Lush, Bang Bang Machine and Curve, Scarling. offer up an alluring bait and like the fly to the spider your drawn instantly into their colourfully woven web, Jessicka’s almost child like naive vocals cutting loose deceptively from angelic invitations to sinister mockery perfect act as a foil for the dreamy wash of cascading melodies themselves routed by barking bursts of fuzz and life sapping fury. ‘H/C’ is a little more direct in intention, a curdling mix of locked down heavy bearing grooves, claustrophobic vibes and grinding swamp like menace that exudes such a wretched feel you’ll be itching for days. If you get the CD version you get the added treat of a cover of Radiohead’s ‘Creep’ which if anything ups the self loathing factor by a considerable margin to spine tingling extremes and has the band giving a commendable chilling account of themselves. Essential, as if it was going to be anything less. http://www.scarling.com or http://www.sympathyrecords.com

Harvest of Souls ‘Who’ (Self Released). And with a name like Harvest of Souls I think it’s fairly safe to assume that this lot don’t write ‘strolling into the sun holding hands’ kind of songs not unless of course the sun in question is at the point of imploding into a red giant and the hand holding couple are the soon to be dead victors walking amid a landscape of destruction following a Revelations type conquest. Harvest of Souls are pretty much your archetypical hard rock outfit done with a gruel and groove make-over, never failing to waver or for that matter flinch, HoS don’t so much bludgeon you with out and out violent sonics but rather pensively insinuate and pull you apart from the inside. In Brian Sutor the trio have a vocalist who powerfully veers between Plant, Coverdale, Scott and Cornell and who is more than ably equipped to ride out the punishing slavish like emotional tides that the band undertake to grind out. Dipping cleverly to unify varying strands of rock’s ever evolving personality, HoS blend visceral elements of grind core / grunge and lighten the heaving equation with the merest of melodic dabs that are then themselves gathered together a fitted out with rumbling doom laden storm like atmospherics, the resulting sounds offer visions of bleak wastelands battered into submission by the cruellest of nature’s seizures, from the harrowing introspective open sores found stinging on ‘Who’ the bands collective surge literally pins you to the wall with its serrated claustrophobic hooks. ‘Love me hate me’ my personal favourite, gently unfurls hinting at a brooding epic in the making, classically etched with Whitesnake pretensions and gifted with some superbly scored harmonies. ‘Born to Heaven born to Hell’ can only be described as a funky Slayer playing Russian roulette with a grooving AC/DC with Jon Spencer loading the barrels, quite neat if you ask me. http://www.harvestofsouls.net

Riley ‘Sit Up’ (MI5). And just before I do the off something tasty with which to send this particular missive happily to bed. One of those records that could so easily have slipped the net but we caught it, and a release that given the right kind of airplay and word of mouth mutterings will see it flying out of the racks in no time to find itself in loving homes. Admittedly this is one of the most unassuming releases I’ve had the pleasure of hearing during the course of these missives for a fair old while, and don’t, I repeat don’t, be put off by the initial greeting of sound-a-like Travis / Coldplay colloquialisms, not that I’ve a problem with those bands in particular, far from it though safe to say that their mere mention give certain quarters the screaming ab-dabs, oh yeah and don’t be surprised if in the opening bits of the lead cut ‘Sit Up’ your found whistling Status Quo’s ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll’. This is a crushing four track EP, the lead track itself housing a bruising left hook that Ali would be proud of, ‘Sit Up’ has enough of a flag waving feel good demeanour to match James’ ‘Sit Down’ ambling as it does gorgeously lost in it’s own daydreaming candour until from nowhere showered by an in invigorating chorus line of drop dead cool chiming guitars. A monster of a track. The tear stained ‘Forgiven’ just hurts and carries on hurting, a song of self realisation which swings from end of the pier mellowing sadness to salutary ‘indie’ magnificence. Porcupine Tree as though given a metallic sheen doing a toned down take on Led Zeppelin peak through on ‘Belief within the End’ yet it’s the parting ‘We’ll be fine’ that gets our nodding approval, snaking chords, melancholic pianos and an over feel so trembling you’ll be reduced to jelly. Consider yourself told. Deputy single of the missive. http://www.rileyofficial.co.uk

That’s pretty much for the time being for, shall we agree on say, 14 days? Okay fine. Haven’t a clue what’ll be in the next Missive safe to say we’ll dig around to bring you some of the best releases around to ensure that you have a record collection resembling something to be envied by the neighbourhood.

As always my eternal thanks for all those that have made these mumbling musings possible, too many to name, but you know who you are. Goes without saying a big thank you to you, yes you for at least stopping by and taking time out to read it, always appreciated.

So with that it’s farewell until next time, take good care of yourselves and be sure to mail me your comments or whatever, this cupboard don’t ‘alf get lonely these days.

Have fun and stuff,

Mark

X

Singled Out is prepared from the finest ingredients known to man, no animals were used in the process. Dosage. Take several times a day, if dizziness or any adverse effects should arise, withdraw to a darkened room, turn up the volume and repeat process.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment