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

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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

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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

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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.

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Archiv – Singled Out – Missive 31 ….

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

Missive 31
18-02-2004
Singled Out 31

Mam….he’s playing them records again….17th February 2004
Need new input……………………………..21st February 2004

Dedicated to (as always) Kelly and Mark (always missing you, but never forgetting).

No news this week, well no that’s a lie, there was, of course there was news, otherwise there wouldn’t be papers and things, no I just can’t be bothered being bothered. No the fact of the matter is that the ever decreasing Losing Today (what was a shed, now a cloak room) record playing room has been beset by sub zero temperatures, in fact so cold is it that a family of squatting penguins have upped sticks and flipped their flipper things in search of more warming climbs, now if I didn’t know better I’d say our landlord had moved everything in to a reasonably sized fridge, which thinking about it might explain why the light goes on every time someone opens the door.

As you’ve probably gathered I’m kinda up to date with this missive, so make the most of this new found attention to making promises that I’ve managed to keep as this is bound to be a first and last, but we’ll see ye of little faith.

Okay magazine developments, well same as last week so if you’re a little mystified or might have missed something please feel free to check out the preamble to the last missive, although I have to say that I’ve seen experimental proofs and everything looks ring ding doodly doo, whatever that may mean. As always drop me a line at mark@losingtoday.com or Andrea at andrea@losingtoday.com. As said previously considerations for the cover CD are still being accepted so if you’d like to put yourself forward then please get in touch ASAP to either of us as we are collating material for the end of the month.

Currently setting the hi-fi on fire album wise are the new releases by left hand (their third long player no less and a killer it is too), merzbow (which incidentally comes with a lead lined helmet, or at least should do), space (remember them, Tommy and Co are back after a long weekend following the World Cup, 1998’s that is), two albums from the Purple Hearts (remember them, mods who were so cool that punks liked them), the Stands (who count as their biggest fan, a certain Noel Gallagher), Broadzilla (the female equivalent of Electric Eel Shock who are caning all and sundry within earshot of Detroit) and last but not least, Tacoma Radar (whose album is so beautiful we’ve been literally struck dumb). Also those Smiths completists among you could do yourselves no wrong by investing in the brand spanking new Matinee compilation entitled ‘Romantic and Square is Hip and Aware’ which collects together 12 swooning cover versions of old Marr / Morrissey favourites by some of the catchiest dudes around and featuring among other the delightful Pines, the Lucksmiths, Simpatico and the Liberty Ship, believe you will not be disappointed.

Okay without further ado the singles this is the first of two quick fire Singled Out’s the next is due first thing Saturday and then it’s a week or so off, starting just to be awkward with a magazine very close to our hearts…….

Ptolemaic Terrascope ‘Issue 34’. Now I’m a big kid at heart, aside wearing short pants and loitering around sweet shops reading comics nothing gets me excited more than the prospect of holding a spanking new copy of the very wonderful Ptolemaic Terrascope, without doubt the only thing you need when it comes to all things psyche and folk. The old Terra boys have been pitching their keen eyed observations in the form of well written, nay educational, articles for well over a decade now whilst managing to hang by their teeth juggling records and fending off the wolves at the door to provide the best ‘illustrated occasional’ that a shoestring budget can provide. This particular edition has features and interviews with Electric Prunes, Lazily Spun, Steve Wynn plus much, much more within the heaving contents of it’s 76 pages. Even if your not convinced the cheeky blighters even throw in a 14 track CD that includes two unreleased cuts from the criminally under-rated Bevis Frond and as though that’s not spoiling you enough three ultra rare live rehearsal tracks from 60’s San Franciscans Country Weather the latter of which ‘I am getting closer’ is a real bonafide corker, all this even before you get to considering the uplifting splendour of the spacey pastoral echoes of Jennifer Gentle’s ‘Verde Mostro’, divine is not a word strong enough to describe it’s beauty, alone worth the admission price. Available at all the hippest record emporiums, buy and help save an institution. http://www.terrascope.org

Depth Affect ‘Mesquin’ EP (Autres Directions in music). Okay this is the third release, or at least the third release that we are aware of, for the Nantes based internet label Autres Directions in Music, the previous releases in case you were wondering being a pair of wonderful albums from former Static Caravan stars Melodium and Dudley, reviews of which will be forthcoming shortly. All releases are downloadable gratis from the site or they can, for a very small fee, save you the job and do it for you, and let’s face it you can’t argue with that, almost like owning a gift horse let alone looking it in the eye.
Depth Affect the subject artists of the third release are French duo Remy Charrier and David Bideau and this delightful four track EP is their debut release having previously graced the electronic world with their remix of Melodium’s ‘Terminus’. Depth Affect’s approach to this ever evolving genre is to wrap electronic elements around hip hop beats, that may sound disturbing on paper, agreed, but it works perfectly as these quartet of cuts bear testament to. Opening with the dreaming collage ‘Mesquin Eye’ a lullaby-esque feast of twinkling celestial symphonies dusted and gently prized by bustling beats, initially shuffling icily with ISAN appeal it soon manoeuvres elegantly with verve into Yello territories, shimmeringly sweet. ‘Dialect’ provides a more tarnished edge to the equation; still belying nimble milky electronics, though this time forceful beats and the inclusion of rapping vocals take centre stage to instil a muscular presence to the proceedings. ‘Not Forgotten’ which is included on the CD in its audio and video form toys gently with an Arthur Baker / New Order vibe as though done by Boards of Canada being helped out by Plaid while the parting shot ‘Mesquin Eye’ as remixed by Vertigo imparts a superbly sheened take on KLF’s ‘Last train to Transcentral’ and imagines both Aphex Twin and Jean Michel Jarre in a studio face off. Certainly worth investigating. http://www.autresdirections.net/inmusic

New Tellers / EEM ‘Split’ (Static Caravan). Not content with being the most consistent label of last year, those Static dudes just don’t let up, refusing to give the competition a chance to draw breath they bound in not with one top of the drawer release but two, and damn their genius, both are housed on the same piece of wax, and pressed on red vinyl. Can we ask for more? Continuing the split series, Static deliver up the best double-barrelled pop fix heard round these parts in many a long year. The New Tellers described by Geoff Static as the ‘Soft Bulletin led by Gram Parsons’ is an assessment that isn’t far of the mark, it’s a warming vision of simplistic softened tones that breathe a timeless charm to floor and confound the listener. In short ‘No Control’ will dump you on the seat of your pants, ingenious stuff wafting in on a summer breeze conjuring a dizzying concoction of hazy mid 70’s American dreams while lazily snoozing heavily induced on the aroma of tingling high grade psych pop, think of a streetwise Supertramp doing ‘LA’ era Beach Boys. EEM or Electric Eye Machine to give them their full name aren’t content to sit quietly on the flip playing support slot. ‘Flashback Panic Attack’ is an admirable portrayal of sweetly tear stained melancholia. Recalling the magnificent and oozing grandeur of the Dream Academy as though on this occasion being left on slow cook by Lenola with Toshack Heighway in the background left working out exactly what sauce goes with such a smouldering dish, ‘Flashback’ is heavy on emotion and instant on the senses, a veritable slice of soothing ear candy. Strictly limited to 500 copies and pressed on blood red wax, as if you need any further persuasion. Deputy single of the missive. http://www.staticcaravan.org

Airport Girl ‘Salinger Wrote’ (Where it’s at is where you are). If we had our way Airport Girl would by law be forced to release a record every week, as it is we have to idly sit around counting the days between releases while pestering post men and such like. Airport Girl hail from Nottingham and hark back to the days of sensitive meaningful pop, their last EP ‘Do you dream in colour’ was such an emotionally breaking release that doctors up and down the country are still treating patrons suffering from the after shocks. This time around things are grittier, leaving behind the comforts of trembling pop the Airport kids seek out producer Rob Ferrier known for his work with Clinic, ‘Salinger Wrote’ starts out quite serene but soon mutates into a riotous collage of restless angular riffs and heart racing dynamics that are belted and hammered into shape by a soaring wall of sound backdrop, wounded and bitter and to these ears recalling a younger and roughed up sibling of Moose’s ‘Boy’. Flip over for dub-tastic ‘Emmaweg House’ and before you ask, no we don’t know what it means either. By far the superior side, mainly because it’s totally unexpected, imagine Dreadzone squaring up to the Modern Lovers and the Zutons to retread ‘Egyptian Reggae’ in the process leaving the Camels and Fez’s behind and instead instilling upon it a bass line so meaty it can be heard from here to Zanzibar. Rollicking good fun, essential as if you needed telling. http://www.wiaiwya.com

Headquarters ‘Let’s solve some crime’ (Unlabel). Limited to just 200 copies and by all accounts going fast with the first 50 pressings coming included with a personalised embossed metal plate, (don’t ask). Those of you who like your tunes a little more dislocated and detached would do well to find anything currently kicking around to top this damaged debut. Headquarters are a chirpy quartet from Tunbridge Wells and this two-track calling card is a certifiable bruiser of some measure. Blending, or should that be bleeding, a caustic solution that encompasses a gruelling math rock facet, ‘Let’s solve some crime’ is a fearsome cut bedevilled by a tensely drawn out dynamic, unfriendly and uncomfortable and courting with a seriously frayed stop start process that would give many of their peers operating within the same genre a massive seizure and that’s before we get round to mentioning the seriously edgy lead guitar thread that mooches ominously in the shadows. Flip over for the preferred cut the stinging ‘Surfin USSR’ which wallows in it’s own spiteful agitation, crooked arrangements rub coarsely against sparsely woven lulls endowing a friction based undercurrent that comes across not a million miles from Storm and Stress or maybe a more passive Shellac, a band to watch without doubt. http://www.unlabel.net

Jason and the Astronauts ‘Burn down the boys school’ (Unlabel). Again as with the Headquarters single this is strictly limited to 200 pressings each one comes with a unique band photograph showing the Astronaut kids out and about in their hometown of Tunbridge Wells. Currently finishing off their debut album. You probably won’t be to surprised to learn that we here know absolutely diddly squat about Jason and the Astronauts but then do you really have to know all a bands ins and outs, the record usually suffices, mind you that said its probably a good thing as we’d probably be inclined to kidnap them and have them do impromptu street concerts round our gaff in the wee small hours of the morning. ‘Burn down the boys school’ is math rock yes, well of a sort, ripped, twisted and hammered into submission math rock, imagine 5style kicked into touch by a particularly un-playful Fugazi and then scared shitless by the Cravats, close but then even that doesn’t get to the true heart of the Astronauts sound, (totally) wired and deranged I think we’ll settle on, oh yeah with malicious guitars to boot. Flip the disc and you get the daunting and cheerfully titled ‘Nice night for a knife fight’ kinda cheese and port party space jazz with Mark E Smith for the best part until someone realises they haven’t cranked up the guitars and then all hell breaks loose, troubled stuff indeed, but loveable with it. Best cut of the lot though is the spacey ‘Shuffle’ which furrows a similar austere post punk path as the very excellent Playwrights and which sounds to these ears like the naughty gremlins breaking in to Tubeway Army’s ‘Replicas’ sessions to cut a mean groove with the aid of XTC’s front line. Another for the perfect record collection methinks. http://www.unlabel.net

Stuffy / the Fuses ‘Evel Knievel’ (May Go Zero). A quick return for the label that thrilled us to pieces with the new Magoo single featured in these very pages last time out. This time it’s the turn of the equally effervescent Stuffy and the Fuses who mould pop soft centres to hardcore brittle shells, a killer of a single, ‘Evel Knievel’ rumbles into action with a bass line swiped from beneath the Pixies noses and then just runs in all directions all at once shedding fragments of Placebo and Bowie which hide cowering amid the almighty storm gathering that bubbles and pops throughout the songs duration, a dashing display of discordant events that’s likely to have the hi-fi smouldering and you the listener suffering from whiplash. Over on the flip side things get mellower by comparison with the brooding ‘In the River’ swelling with emotional turbulence it trashes both Travis and Coldplay in the loud / quiet stakes sounding as it does like a particularly intimately revealing ‘Sleeping Pills’ era Brett Anderson, quite beautiful all said and done. Both tracks will feature on the forthcoming debut album entitled ‘Join me or Die’ due out on Wrath records. http://www.maygozero.co.uk

Blue Jay Way ‘The Non-International’ EP (Electric Breeze). One of those kind of releases that simply fizzes and pops with each passing play. Blue Jay Way you feel place quality song writing over fashion statements which is fine by us, so it’s no hardcore, no post punk, no revivalist electro pop, no garage (punk or otherwise), so what are we left with now the cupboards bare, well good old fashioned songs that’s what, and before you start groaning just let me tell you that this is packed full of subtly honed jangling guitars that point visibly to very early Trashcan Sinatras / The High and okay maybe the more thoughtful moment from the LA’s superb canon with a spot of Aztec Camera thrown in for good measure. Formed at the start of 2002 and taking their name from a Beatles track, Blue Jay Way court with a timeless framework that has simplistic breezy pop marrying itself to feel good country folk rock, loaded with hooks galore this Hampshire based quartet certainly have a keen ear for a well paced tune. Leading off with ‘Non international nobody’ primed with skipping melodies that swerve and dip wave like and yet maintains a lazy eyed focus. Personally it’s on ‘How love should be’ that the band come into their own, Byrds-esque softness greets the start of the track laying a reclining summery edge that’s soon pulled apart as the pace hottens, lulling clipped 60’s vibes that recall the more sedate moments found looming large on old Stone Roses b-sides. Best of the set though is the run out cut ‘Wasted’ short sharpened chords rustle relentlessly reminiscent of the more visceral elements of the Sarah related stable in particular Hey Paulette / the Orchids and the Caretaker Race, one for the tender starry eyed lovers. http://www.bluejayway.org.uk

LKWRM ‘Thirty years of Concentrated Thought’ (Self Released). Described by the band themselves as ‘noisepostpoprockish’ and yes we know it was probably said with their tongues firmly in their collective cheeks, but all said and done there not far from the mark. To date this lot have managed to sneak onto the recent Claire records compilation ‘Several bands galore’ Volume 2 with a song called ‘Mogwai fear Lukewarm’ (chuckle you may but they could be right) as well as releasing a four track EP entitled ‘First little LKWRM in the world’ which hopefully is still floating in the ether otherwise I’m going to be mightily pissed for missing it. Add to that a prestigious call up to open for the mighty Einsturzende Neubauten next month in Copenhagen and before you’ve even heard any of the four tracks lurking on this EP, you instinctively know there’s something special here. LKWRM are based in Sweden, Malmo to be precise, and while it seems to the outside world as though everyone in a band from Scandinavia are doing garage punk to varying degrees of ability, this happy little lot trot out with their My Bloody Valentine hearts firmly on show and proud with it. The sounds as you can imagine are caustic, and yes, poppy, poppy that is if you patiently persist and scratch below the surface. To say this release is awesome is to call Everest a bit hilly, this is after all 23 minutes of unadulterated sonic pop that shimmers, screeches and gazes longingly shoe wise. ‘How about art?’ takes what seems like an age to appear, the distant sounds of drone waves usher in with an expectant guile before the rush of swarming guitars kick in to create a compelling and immovable wall of sound. Taking their cue from the Boo Radleys circa ‘Every Heaven’ LKWRM suffocate gently lulling pop motifs with sand blast effect feedback to teeter perilously by the thinnest of threads between safety and chaos. ‘Die, Satan, Die’ a title befitting bands with spandex aspirations, follows in similar pursuit perfect pop detuned, bleached and polluted amid rains of searing white noise, if anything this has a feel of Dinosaur Jr’s ‘Green Mind’ and provides if anything a more muscular and, dare I say it, grooving element to the bands artistry. ‘THMG’ provides a moment of calm amid all the angular attrition found elsewhere, a numbing droned out instrumental that acts as brief respite before the challenging noise core of the engaging and thoroughly demonic ‘Radiation is not the cause of the mutation’ flies in to flatten into submission whatever’s still standing. Without doubt the EP’s best moment as the LKWRM boys take the epic high ground to conjure up something that dips between the majesty of Led Zeppelin but with Kevin Shield’s sticky fingers all over it. All in all a scorching release. http://www.lkwrm.com

The Knife ‘Kino’ (Rabid). And the Swedish backlash continues to gather pace and time to dig out those swoon mats while your there. Just when you think it’s safe to play records again along comes this little curio. The Knife are Swedish brother and sister duo Karin and Olof Dreijer, who’ve been described elsewhere as creators of ‘emotional electronic punk pop’. This mighty damn fine 4 track 10-inch is their first foray outside their native homeland and acts as a taster for their eponymous debut album to be released next month. A deeply satisfying and sometimes unsettling array of wayward arrangements with an unhinged pop pretext, sometimes dippy, sometimes haunting yet overall beguiling, the Knife plough the abstract linear margins of pop’s over-mined grotto, notable in the main for Karin’s engaging breathless vocals which wispily float above the melodies imparting a charm pitted between madness and magical and acting as a centre point between Kate Bush and a particularly animated Bjork. ‘Kino’ is deeply set with an Far Eastern vibe that sounds like the Frank Chickens exchanging blows with Pop Off Tuesday over a soundtrack borne out of a cross mutation of Anneka’s ‘Japanese Boy’ and McLaren’s ‘Madam Butterfly’ with the brothers Mael creased up in the corner stifling an overwhelming desire to laugh themselves to death, as bad as it might sound on paper this dippy ditty soon manifests into the best slice of Euro disco put to tape since Front 242’s ‘Masterhit’, a devil of a track all said and done. ‘Bird’ is another cut of oddball electronica that swerves and dives glazed by a deftly plucked lead guitar itself found grazing serenely above a minimalist rumba drum machine beat which leaves Karin’s vocals to chatter surreal babble. ‘N.Y. Hotel’ if pressed, with a pistol to my head, I would have to admit is my favourite cut, an all to brief haunting ode that features by the sounds of things, the much under used theremin which admittedly always goes down well at our gaff and supplemented by a Nico-ish vocal, testy and tasty stuff. Essential as though you didn’t gather and with that the Single of the Missive. http://www.rabidrecords.com

Paul B. Davis ‘Enter the Mystical Faggot’ (Frank Wobbly and Sons). Following the curious with the quite frankly bizarre. This is release number three for the newly formed splinter project from Wobblyhead records. Six 7-inch singles are planned for this short and brief series, each limited to 250 pressings only and housed in generic company die cut sleeves. Paul B. Davis takes time out from 8 bit construction set to go playing with his Atari and Melodica and returns from the playroom with this exotic platter entitled ‘Enter the Mystical Faggot’ a soothing, albeit warped and loopy appraisal of early 70’s lift music, okay that’s unfair, shall we settle for lounge electronica wherein the memories of the soundtracks that used to accompany the old television test-card are re-run and endowed with a jazzy space vibe that’d make Stereolab weep and which for all intents and purposes sounds like Raymond Scott locked in Gerry Anderson’s toy cupboard. Delightfully eerie though keep an ear out for the speeded up nod to Heaven 17’s ‘We don’t need this fascist groove thing’. And just when you thought music couldn’t have you scurrying for the safety that the back off the sofa could offer flip over for the menacing ‘The mystical faggot shops organic’ which has the presence of Penguin Café Orchestra being hunted in the night by the Cybermen doing daring dance moves to a soundtrack that has all the resonance and grit of Add N to X struck down by the groove bug. Purchase on sight. http://www.wobblyhead.com

Innerstance Beatbox / Cash Bishop ‘Split’ (Frank Wobbly and Sons). Release number 4 in the same series features a split between Innerstance Beatbox and Cash Bishop. IB kick in with ‘I am a truck’ and when I say that those of you with kids under the age of five years old should beat a hasty path to track this down because the little ones will lap this up, then I do not mean that derogatory. Incorporating scratch techniques and underpinning the whole set with the most bouncing rumble not heard round these parts since the infamous circus escape of Nellie the Elephant, the IB boys get under way with a bit of playground sampling and find Mr Ed moonlighting as a talking truck, daft as it may seem but its addictive as hell. A modicum of normality returns on the flip side where lurk Cash Bishop who on ‘Promise’ treat us to some stuttering hip hop rhythms and 80’s Art of Noise-isms with the Belle Stars and McLaren’s ‘Buffalo Girls’ caught haunting the mix, a bit of grower to be honest. http://www.wobblyhead.com

The Pony’s ‘Prosthetic Head’ (In the Red). More kids with guitars except in this instance one of them has managed to remember soul. The Pony’s hail from Chicago and could just be, I say, could just be the best Detroit sounding band not actually from Detroit. With an album in the pipe line produced by the eminent Jim Diamond and due any day entitled ‘Laced with Romance’ along with two well received singles for Contaminated and Big Neck under their belts (both of which we’ll have to track down) the Pony’s whip up the ante several notches with this double barrelled killer of a single (both tracks incidentally not on the forthcoming long player). ‘Prosthetic Head’ starts out with a snaking guitar that’s more at home in the Sun Studios backed by what appears to be Roy Rodgers sound effects, this cutie just kicks ass for the fun of it, nasal vocals that veer from calmly spoken to a manic screech at the drop of a hat, drenched in swirling 60’s fairground keyboards and fuzzing guitars and marking itself under the bracket of agitated pop serrated to pieces by jabbing new wave hooks, kinda like Richard Hell doing the Cars or maybe the Motors only better and clipped with the type of monumental hooks that just scream play me again. The far superior ‘How does it taste?’ on the flip sneers and snags like prime time Bunnymen losing the plot big style, part ‘Monkeys’ being spliced with ‘Rollercoaster’, a coarse angular distillation of head shredding psych pop at it’s most splendid. What your hi-fi been crying for. http://www.intheredrecords.com

Textile Ranch ‘Girl with numbered heart’ (Lykill Records). The first of two releases for French label Lykill Records who return after a more than reasonable sabbatical, the other being by Swiss ensemble Velma, which boo hoo hoo we haven’t got. Still we managed to secure our copy of the latest offering from Piano Magic founder Glenn Johnson’s off shoot project, Textile Ranch, and a nifty thing it is to. Pressed on snow white vinyl and almost certainly limited, to how many who knows, but if you aren’t setting currency aside for its imminent purchase right now as we speak, then shame on you. ‘Girl with numbered heart’ unless my copy has an unlisted track, is split into two movements, both are splendidly affecting electronic instrumentals, the former at times to these ears sounds like a triumphal baroque re-tread of Add N to X’s menacing ‘The Regent is Dead’, all elegantly woven into a superbly executed processional like sheen, while not to be out done movement two incorporates a vibrantly buzzing dippy edge, alarmingly happy stuff that waltzes non-chalantly in it’s own Prozac fuelled haze, quite delicious. ‘Boys climbing skull’ over on the flip chills as much as it soothes, a bit like a grooving ISAN with winter warmers that soon morphs as if by magic into lullaby-esque territories with child-like glee, disarming to say the least and irresistible with it. http://www.lykill.com

Vessel ‘Fold’ (Expanding). Fresh from his last appearance in these pages as part of the acclaimed ‘ExpStatic’ compilation which saw both Static Caravan and Expanding going head to head and doing their stuff on a rather fetching 10-inch picture disc towards the tail end of last year, Gavin Toomey AKA Vessel returns with three more slices of delectable electronic minimalism as part of release number two in Expanding’s second series of the 7” singles club. Pressed on heavy duty blue vinyl and housed in a thick luxurious clear gabardine plastic wallet and limited to just 400 copies, Vessel plies us with three more delicately charmed mood swells, a world apart from the hustle and bustle of loud guitars and being tagged this weeks latest fashion accessory, Toomey orbits a genre that so often touches briefly, lives so adapted and pressed for everyday existence, offering a safe passage, a passing moment in which to recline and absorb, momentarily, the fleeting romance that these enchanting sound-scapes convey, ‘Fold’ mooches dreamily, subtle beats flicker and pop as the tempting ethereal melodies float wispily encouraging the listener to settle back a drift amid their longing spoils. ‘Crowd Control’ over on the flip side is a short composition that snoozes goofily, however it’s ‘Kerna’ that offers the releases finest moment, dwelling on the same austere chill that so admirably graced the ‘Wall Street’ soundtrack, Toomey toys with an ominous wide screened presence chopped and underpinned by prowling trip hop beats, the haunting vibes forced to rub at odds with warming electronic chimes, rather special if you ask me. http://www.expandingrecords.com

The Dudley Corporation ‘What a human does’ (Scientific Laboratories). The Dudley Corporation are a three piece based in Dublin, Ireland who describe their music ‘as romantic rock songs that encourage weak knees to shake with abandon’, couldn’t have put it better myself and to be fair to them they don’t lie either. The Dudley Corporation provide intimately set personalise dramas, it’s almost as if your snooping, a strange feeling is to be had from observing as an outsider another person’s outpourings of frustration and erstwhile contentment. This three track CD EP was released sometime last year as a limited ‘available only for a week’ kinda thing that we’ve only just managed to get our thankful mitts on now. Leading out with the title track ‘What a human does’ a racing pop fuelled heart-acher that fuses briskly snapping hooks and stuttering melodic heavy math rock dynamics, one of those cuts that simply overtakes your space dragging you close rather than politely inviting you in, for reference points take a ‘George Best’ era Wedding Present doing strum happy tear fillers in a twee stylee while underneath itching just to let rip. ‘Count me in’ oozes tragedy, coming across like a seriously morose Radiohead, that is when Radiohead used to play straight songs, well straight by their standards anyway. Utilising loud / quiet dynamics superbly with the inference on the quiet, the longer this goes on the more your aware of the fact that your normally steely complexion is beginning to fall away and the old bottom lip is becoming a quivering mess. A scarred love song no less. Capping it off with the delicately withering ‘Aliens’, slowly wrapping brooding swells with slow core mechanics reminiscent of an eerie Codeine being slowly teased by Archer Prewitt, brief, beautiful and beguiling. A thoroughly wounded release. http://www.scientificlaboratories.com

Thread ‘Done got died’ (Static Caravan). Literally just hot off the presses and soon to be one of those releases in months to come that we’ll snigger smugly and say we told you so. Not out for a while, though I’d be heavily inclined to start firing off those email orders now. 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. http://www.staticcaravan.org

Okay that’s it for a day or two, next Singled Out will be ready, pressed and looking sharp as a new pin and waiting eagerly for Saturday online duty. As usual thank you to all the labels, press reps and pluggers who’ve made these musings possible and a really big thank you for you for reading these ramblings.

Next Singled Out will feature the Barbs; Special Needs; the Stills; Nerine; Indofrumbah; the Features; Fiery Furnaces; Bessetti; Sixty Mile Smile; Along Came Man; Harvest of Souls; Melaleuca; Silver Ray; Surferosa; Dogs die in Hot Cars; Riley; Scarling and Carina Round.

Goes without saying any comments, threats or general chit chat readily welcome and as always, take care of yourselves and have fun

Mark
X

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Archiv – Singled Out – Missive 30 ….

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

Missive 30
08-02-2004
Singled Out 30

Lust for Life: 07th February 2004
Bye Bye Baby: 15th February 2004

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

Hey ho, I’ve been popping champagne corks aplenty these last few days, which is in all honesty one, daft, and two, dangerous considering the tight confines of the Losing Today pantry. Black eyes and bruising abound I look as though I’ve done three rounds with Jack ‘Basher’ White, and for what reason you might ask for all this life threatening frivolity. Well it’s finally happening. After years of pitching it up big style to such a point that I was beginning to doubt there was ever a magazine in the first place let alone a re-launch project for the magazine, we are finally on track and counting down the days to the celebrated second coming of Losing Today.

Launch date is tentatively earmarked for May and press / media packs are currently being prepared for issue at the end of February. If you’d like one please send me all your details via mark@losingtoday.com and I’ll add you to the mailing list, better still if you have plaxo then insert your details onto my contact list.

No definites for possible interview subjects as yet likewise with the CD compilation. The magazine will host over 100 album reviews, a fair few interviews, old favourite that is the label overview and Singled Out’s bigger brother ‘Tales from the Attic’ and that’s just for starters. As for advertising, a few of you have been in touch already, costings still haven’t been sorted out yet but hopefully they should be finalised in time to be included in the press packs, if you need any further information again just email me.

The site will continue running to supplement the magazine with an extended MP3 platform, please get in touch if you’d like use of this facility. Same with the news and external streams, these will be open for labels, bands and pr to upload material as they see fit, however this will be controlled by a password to the site’s database via consultation with your reviews contact.

And so to the singles:

Flawed ‘Late nights and stage fright’ (Half Inch). This killer three tracker from Manchester based quartet Flawed follows hot on the tail of the bands debut ‘Pleasure Seekers’ 7” from last year, which must have escaped under our radar, damn. Moodily thumbing a lift at the metal / punk crossroads, this three pronged release features ‘Late nights and stage fright’ which by all accounts has featured prominently in their live set, a ferocious mauling of shredded buzz-saw riffs fleshed out by a gruelling hazily locked down groove that’ll drive you insane. Precociously anthemic, a bit like the Manics with big testicles going hell for leather scrapping with Steve Earle’s ‘Copperhead Road’. ‘Bruce’s Bonus’ reduces the heat considerably, a more thoughtful alternative that still blazes with aggression and agitation just when you least expect it, belying an ominously brooding aspect interspersed with moments of Floyd-esque lucidity that reveals a depth in the song writing process rather than a hit them and run ethic. Our favourite though is the irresistible and charmingly titled ‘Fucker’, lazy, lolloping and possessing a wickedly hypnotic side winding bass line. Nestling in some semi-comatose twilight, despite the titles looming promise of an all encompassing carnage fuelled theatric display it instead pensively heaves, huffs and puffs with all the majestic grace of Verve’s ‘One Way to Go’ if that is, it was redone by a collaborative off shoot featuring Radiohead and Mogwai. Recommended? I think so. http://www.flawed.com

Human Television ‘Orange’ EP (Soft Abuse). Another three-track release that’ll drive you nuts should ever you come within earshot is the debut from Human Television. ‘Orange’ EP is the first of two planned EP’s from this waywardly pop-fixated quartet this year along with a pencilled in full length. Human Television is the new combo put together by ex Werewolves main man Billy Dowling, limited to just 500 copies the ‘Orange’ EP is a deeply satisfying shot of brief albeit cleverly worked prickling melodies that kick off with the stately ‘Tell me what you want’. Clocking in shy of the classic 3-minute slot, this barbed gem manages in its short gestation time frame to exonerate itself with enough clout to have you begging for more. A maddening arrangement of dragging chime happy chords sting slyly against a heart weary minimalist bass, behind its gloom groomed exterior a sense of euphoric grandeur peeks mockingly, even if it does have a sense of New Order squabbling amongst themselves in the studio during the ‘Movement’ sessions. ‘Automobile’ pays its dues to all those C-86 bands in particular early Wedding Present circa ‘George Best’, upbeat monotone punk pop replete with all manner of jangling guitars with a taste of the Go Betweens thrown into the mix for good measure, tempting just ain’t the word for it. Finishing the set with the hand holding sunshine contentment of the racing ‘Saw you walking by’ a more muscular variant of the twee family that had us all reminiscing what if the Caretaker Race had been found dabbling with the Orchids. All mighty fine to these ears. http://www.softabuse.com

Vinyl ‘EP’ (Self Released). Vinyl. Coolest thing in Reykjavik and maybe beyond only time will tell. You decide. Proving that there is more to life in Iceland than volcanoes, dark nights, Sigur Ros and the enfant terrible, Bjork, Vinyl come strutting with this quite fetching four-track declaration of intent. This EP has been mooching around the CD player for a few weeks now, apparently only available in Iceland, its provides for a swaggering four way offering of strutting rock ‘n’ roll proving that whatever Scandinavia’s growing garage punk culture can do then Vinyl will match with a delivery bulging with attitude and an underlying sense of danger. Like a grooving version of John Spencer Blues Explosion and more so Fatima Mansions but without the acerbic sarcasm but with the same attention to snapping twisted rhythms out to roast the backsides of the Hives, Vinyl have already supported the Foo Fighters in their home territory, suited and booted and fronted by a vocalist who apparently has a knack of provoking audiences now they are set to cane the Hi-Fi with ballistic riffs and hip swerving melodies. ‘Nobody’s Fool’ opens the proceedings, subdued keyboards lurch in the background letting the throat throttling strike force of blistering guitars and untamed percussion do their damage while a seriously potent twanging bass hooks you in teasingly. ‘Who gets the blame’ edges the ante, by several streets the best track here, impeccably persistent and forceful, a vibrantly anthemic mother of a cut, hot wired riffs needle away under the skin all marinated within a pulse sapping vibe that oozes demonic cool. ‘Miss Iceland’ is infested with the kind of primal sexual tension that even got me going, squirming alarmingly between densely populated swamp like restlessness and the kind of eye watering blazing urgency that’s likely to give you whiplash. Domination beckons methinks. http://www.vinyl.is

Pitty Sing ‘Radio’ (Orr). Pardon me but my hearing isn’t what it used to be, shot through out of years in aural battle with Discharge, Black Flag and Motorhead records, (the folly of youth, ho hum) but does that man really sing ‘fuck on the radio’ or is he saying the less ear filling ‘flick on the radio, either way ‘Radio’ is a without doubt the kind of cut that has so much wrong with it that in all honesty it shouldn’t work and yet against the bounds of taste it does. I’ll warn you now that this is as implausible a release as I’ve heard in many a long year and one that nearly got slung in the dumper pretty much within five seconds of the opening until the frazzled wall of guitars kicked away what was suspiciously looking like an ill thought out boy band smoozle with its greeting card of oooh ooohs, indeed, sacrilege. No information, no warning note, not a bean, nowt, just a three track CD which will drive you to distraction with it’s overbearing cheerfulness. ‘Radio’ uses as its template Marc Almond’s ‘Tears run rings’ and after that its anybody’s guess as the razored riffs glide glibly against pirouetting keyboards and ostensibly club scene dictated dynamic, while a bizarre laboratory experiment gone wrong manages to mutate the Buggles, Dollar and the Lightning Seeds, well you did ask. A ferocious pop tart and damn infectious with it. As if to rub salt in the wounds ‘On Drugs’ (we did suspect) moulds together Ryan Paris’ ‘Dolce Vita’ and Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Hungry Heart’, yeah it sounds bad on paper, but you’ll find this unbearably irresistible, the kind of thing you feel that Brett Anderson was aiming for on ‘Coming Up’, alluring string arrangements, deliriously feel good vibes, wide screened, anthemic and as instant a hit as any syringe filled intoxicant. And if you’re confused up to this point just wait for the parting ‘Robots’, which to these ears sounds like all of Bowie’s worst recorded moments being forcibly sent through the mincer to gang up and return to haunt him with Howard Jones surveying the carnage strewn landscapes. A towering track, both menacing and torturous, hostile and demanding, twisted and gruelling, this cutie just rocks to the point of hysteria. If I didn’t know any better the single of the missive. http://www.ormusic.com

The Ga Ga’s ‘Breaking America’ (Demo). Aw hell more apologies. I’ve had this CD sitting in the pile for ages now, not gathering dust, no sir, this baby has had more than its fair share of plays but has a cleverness that has been its ultimate undoing because we’ve had so much fun with it that we forgot the point of listening to it was so that a resulting review would be forthcoming. The Ga Ga’s provide three heaving slabs of potent rock on this their debut calling card, a curdling concoction of speed licks, massively glorious hooks that purr with primal appeal and the kind of kick ass coolness that rock has for so long seemingly left behind and which has more than likely to be found lurking in a forgotten case along with all the good old fashioned wholesome tunes. ‘Breaking America’ the lead cut is a dashing display of head shredding harmonious hooks fulsomely borne out of chunky rumbling guitar licks that stand swaggering on the intersection where melodic hard rock meets pristine power pop and blessed with an overall searing sting that clouts you into submission just for the hell of it. ‘Sex’ is the pick of the pack, serrated riffs fight amid a swamp like dynamic that’s packed with more strut appeal than a Paris catwalk and with that very reminiscent of the much missed Mansun. Bringing it all to a storming close ‘The Real World’ ducks and dives with succulently fashioned zig zagging vibes, jagged leads play search and destroy as the combined forces of the cut play out world war 3 on your hi-fi. Blistering stuff from a band to watch in the future, who needs the Darkness. http://www.thegagas.com

Stained Glass Heroes ‘Rodeo’ (Genepool). Hailing from Leeds, Macclesfield and Istanbul, Stained Glass Heroes are a four piece who do the cool wave thing with such precision that you’d swear they’d stepped from the early 80’s into the present via some hitherto unseen tear in the time fabric. This is a simply stunning single, maudlin yes albeit in an aloof tongue and cheek way, but stunning with it all the same. The best way to describe the lead cut ‘Rodeo’ is to imagine an early version of the Fixx mutated with the Comsat Angels with Psychedelic Furs’ Richard Butler doing vocals and borrowing Peter Hook’s lazy matter of fact twanging bass and to go off into the distance for a spot of fun smudging Visage’s make up. It’s numbing stuff, minimalist electro pop chilled within an austere cast, swirling analogue synthesisers etch a pioneer like path through the frosted atmospherics toeing in a seriously laid back lolloping percussive underpinning. Ultimately the sound of a bedsit fridge thawing out, damn cool (pardon the pun). Flip over for the expansive and superior sounding stately solitude of ‘City’, which could have easily been the resulting sound of the sessions for Magazine’s ‘Real Life’ if Dusseldorf’s finest (Kraftwerk)had gotten their hands on the tapes. From the timid opening, like acorns, this solemn sounding ice sculpture grows steadily into a massively strapping aural monolith, ravaged by shuffling beats and smarting delicately woven chords that glaze a chillingly sinister framework that towards the end melts into what seems like the brink of warping psychosis. Eerily essential. http://www.genepoolrecords.com

Kelman ‘Shut a final door’ (Demo). You know, I like to think that things don’t get past me that easily. This particular CD-r came with a very short typed note to the effect of, we are Kelman, a new band, hope you like the demo. Okay then not very inspiring, I even checked the jiffy bag it came in just in case there was more info or maybe a wad of persuasive cash, but alas, nothing. On closer inspection however I noted the third track was entitled ‘A new career in a new town’, that sounds familiar I thought and went off scratching my head trying to remember who, what, when or where. Baptiste, of course. Needless to say ever waking minute of the day has been spent playing this cutie since, okay a little lie but at least you get the drift. For those of you without the faintest idea of what I’m on about, lets just get this straight from the start. Baptiste were one of the great-unsung heroes in recent memory, a band who could reduce stone to rubble with their trembling refrain. A handful of peerless singles and a hastily conceived debut album spilled forth onto a society who either didn’t care or where not ready for the kind of emotional hurt that Baptiste could muster at the click of a finger. And then they were gone. Kelman sees brothers Marc and Wayne return to the fray with the accompaniment of Jane Cockroft to the ranks. The formula distinctly pointing towards the earlier Baptiste sound, three sweeter tracks you’ll be hard pushed to hear all year, each pressing and tugging tenderly on the heart strings with the kind of sophisticated nimbleness of doomed romance not heard round here since those all important Tippy Toe releases by the Tindersticks. Arresting stuff indeed, the cello augmentation perfectly compliments a colourful breeze to the frailly drawn compositions which themselves wither the senses with their imparting spectral heartache. ‘Shut a final door’ opens the set superbly dipping into its box of sorrow to share traits with early Hefner and a more thoughtful Go Betweens, passionately warming yet strangely distant, all at once sensual, sublime and intimate all the time inviting you to take time out from a cruel world to lose yourself. ‘Untitled’ pitches the hurt dial a little higher, the gently roving acoustics longingly caressed by the most delicate of rain drop like arrangements this side of Spector / the Crickets make way for three minutes of tear stained grandeur. Last and by no means least the crushing ‘A new career in a new town’. Three minutes and seven seconds never sounded so good, a stripped down take of the version that passed as their debut single, tormented and trembling, sublimely treated to an array of stinging strings if you can get through this without being reduced to a gibbering wreck then you can face anything. Some things are just to good to remain a secret. An essential release. http://www.kelmanband.com

Sabiba ‘Implant’ ( Demo). Okay it’s the usual folly of apologies and being brutally honest, I really do myself no favours, but then this release did come with a detailed press release under which on the section highlighted music style, stated worryingly, grunge. Now okay there was a time when grunge meant everything to me Sub Pop and AmRep where at one point a staple listening diet all those years ago, but then ‘you know who’ made it massive and the wheels of the bandwagon abruptly came flying off. And so it was with a great deal of trepidation that this CD even managed to get on the player. Boy was I proved wrong, this is a stonking release and for those who love their Nirvana a little more ‘Bleach’ as opposed to ‘Nevermind’ and their Mudhoney a little more frayed towards the grittier late 80’s fucked up sound with copious doses of Tad thrown in for good measure then this is for you. A howling arse kicker of a CD that features three cuts though my copy does dish out five, that said one of those clocks in at over seven minutes and plays all the three choice cuts backwards (‘One more chance’ sounding particular up for it), we’ve checked and there’s no satanic messages or subliminal advertising, though strangely we did feel an overpowering urge to down several pints of Guinness to quench an undying thirst. If there’s one thing that ruins the opener ‘One more chance’ it’s the annoying Atari sound effects, other than that Essex boys Sabiba nail that classic Seattle sound to the floor with some verve, coming across like younger sibling to ‘Sliver’ it’s a calamitous show of high octane pyrotechnics delivered with such brazen venom that it literally leaps from the speakers to smack you one. Like Seattle’s favourite sons, Sabiba underpin the mix with subtle melodic twists that are not to deeply buried amid grating riffs that’ll make your eyes water and a thoroughly determined meaty bass all replete with an abundance of shrieking howls. Awesome. ‘Capoteen Lover’ writhes uneasily like a cross between ‘About a Girl’ and ‘Polly’ but with that kind of ice cool sheen that the Flaming Stars exude, more thoughtfully cut showing a more restrained nature to the band yet it’s the final cut ‘Dancing Eyes’ that we’re sold on. A love song of sorts that starts out quite sedately if only for a moment, yet where most love songs have a tendency to woo with amorous charm the focus of their lurve interest, this is more likely to have them crapping bricks big style, screeching guitars and incendric drumming of the kind that makes you feel your standing in the middle of the army’s bomb testing site. Very touching. Crucial stuff. Album due soon, you have been warned. http://www.sabiba.co.uk

The Vexers ‘Gangland ballads and the death sex set’ (Ace Fu). Yes, yes, yes, damn we love this in our bijou pantry laughingly called the Losing Today record room, which suspiciously resembles a coat cupboard. Another band we’ve managed to miss out on so far are the Vexers, who to date already have one album under their collectives belts. Those of you into the current crop of post punk revival sounds i.e. Radio 4 / Rapture et al might be best warned to keep a keen eye out for this spiffing six track EP, because LA’s the Vexers kick out a neat line in austere grooving. ‘Vexers Radio’ admittedly borrows from Joy Division’s ‘Transmission’ but loveably equips itself with the line ‘they’ll never play the Vexers on the radio’ thus ensuring that if I ever had a radio show this cutie would get plays aplenty. For reference points think Penetration crossed with the Slits (with tunes) with the vocals supplied by a genetically fused Siouxsie and Lene Lovich all played out with an insatiably twang happy guitar. ‘Vicious’ just sleazily gyrates with an edgy suggestive tension all crowned with a wickedly wayward deconstructive gloss. Best cut ‘Waiting for the Lightning’ is darkly menacing and to these ears classic ‘The Scream’ era Banshees, had that is Severin / Siouxsie had the forethought to write it in the first place. ‘Love in the 22nd Century’ is one of those titles the B-52’s might have been expected to use, blessed with a twanging riff that Man or Astro Man…must be arguing about how they missed while exchanging blows on board their intergalactic space studio, ending it all in fine fashion with the shake down antics of the double barrelled helping of ‘TKO’ which wallows in doom disco glory, a sinister Chic being bludgeoned to death by a molten 23 Skidoo meets A Certain Ratio. More please. http://www.acefu.com

Merchandise ‘Beautiful morning for a bad day’ (Album Sampler). Both dippy and classy, how could we resist. Merchandise are duo Brad Wood and Conrad Astley who hail from Bolton who some where out there have already graced the good record buying folks with an album and a smattering of singles, none of which I’ll state categorically right here and now, that I’ve never seen or heard. Perhaps on the evidence of this four-track taster for their forthcoming album I ought to investigate, because this really is delightfully airey stuff, that’s quick on the ear and, if your not careful, one of those CD’s that’ll pass you by given that it so soft and un-intrusive in texture. Merchandise’s sound is stolen from sunny days serenely idling in the shade, with the gentle trickling sound of a nearby river for company and the colourful magnificence of England’s green quilted garden for a spectacular visual feast, in terms of wayward nimbleness it’s a subdued and loving Pavement being suggestively caressed by the Boards of Canada. The parade of noodling rustic chords swan elegantly in their own daydream fashion while the rustle of shuffling beats happily kick their feet in the shallow end of the lakeside causing shimmering ripples. Best cut of the four is the dreamy candour of the lively ‘For the Shore’, reminiscent of J Xaverre being brushed by the sugary floating space pop of ‘Sound Dust’ era Stereolab yet possessing that exquisite glaze of Cinerama as though force-fed on a diet of speed. If it’s something more blissful and willowy you’re after then ‘Beautiful morning for a bad day’ might be a perfect three-minute distraction, happily trippy and so impeccably fluffy and summery you can almost smell nature’s early morning countryside scent. Remember very early innocent sounds of China Crisis and the Pale Fountains well ’14.53’ does, undulating rhythms sensually stretched by delicately arranged tinkling ivories and subtle slide guitars combine to provide a warming and timeless take on Moviola. Dare you resist, somehow I think not. http://www.cityscaperecords.co.uk

Jens Lekman ‘Maple Leaves’ EP (Secretly Canadian). I consider myself pretty honoured and humbled that I get to hear all these records, so much so that I feel obliged to pinch myself at regular intervals. The feeling of an inner glow swells all the more when I get to hear releases that catch me unexpectedly zapping me like a bolt out of the blue. ‘Maple Leaves’ is one such release. Only 22, Jens Lekman is something of a household name in his native Sweden where he records under the pseudonym Rocky Dennis and where this particular release fell just shy of a Top 10 place in the country’s charts. ‘Maple Leaves’ may sound, at first, uneven, collecting together 4 nimble cuts that seemingly cover all the relevant bases of breathless pop to swoon gently and exude a graceful touch, while nibbling away softly at a host of reference points that include, among others, the early work of the Smiths, Ashley Park, the mercurial Prefab Sprout, Leonard Cohen, Lou Reed reeling them all within a delicate fabric concocted of soothing lounge pop overtones and softly weighted teasing orchestrations. ‘Maple Leaves’ wavers sexily, summer pop at it’s most splendid all metered out with a carnival of flutes and bells, all Edwin Moses arrangements being re-jigged by Morrisey and that’s just for starters as your senses are held prisoner by the dashingly brazen wide eyed optimism that’s just as happy to whisper sweet nothings in your ear as it is to clout you around your head with its over powering pulling power. ‘Sky phenomenon’ relaxes on the pace considerably, a thoughtful piano based ballad that shows up admirably the clarity and strength of Lekman’s song writing. ‘Black Cab’ could easily be the Byrds being done by Lloyd Cole impersonating Leonard Cohen doing Johnny Cash, jangle happy needling riffs and swelling strings collide for a truly irresistible taste of warming 60’s pop. Bringing up the rear, for me personally the best offering on show, the Velvets inspired ‘Someone to share my life with’ which probably serves to encapsulate in three and a half minute ever you need to know about trembling pop, simply gorgeous. http://www.secretlycanadian.com

Jerry Fels ‘Do you wanna be my girlfriend’ (Nobody’s Favourite). Having caused medium sized waves on the old Losing Today Hi-Fi last year with his album ‘I’ve made my bed and now I’m lying in it’ Mr Fels is back with this trailer EP for his forthcoming album ‘The Short Happy Life’. Four tracks clocking in at just shy of eleven minutes make this EP in terms of length close to veering into Pink Floyd territories given that his last album was so brief it was almost over in the time it took to have a short coffee break. More positive this time around in terms of feel / texture and lyrical content no more wanton thoughts of revenge on the new boyfriends in old ex’s life or gruelling excavations and deep analysis of failed relationships. Fels provides proof enough that he is fast mastering the goofy elements of the more outer fringe stars of the Elephant 6 collective, ‘Do you wanna be my girlfriend?’ taken from his forthcoming album really has a taste of Of Montreal feuding with the Busy Signals. Both ‘I don’t know where to go’ and ‘I want love’ both have that charming amateurish lo-fi feel that pits them with Daniel Johnston yet it’s on ‘The things you need to do’ where the worth of Fels begins to peep through with future echoes of what might be, a song for cuddling up in front of a hearty open fire, delicately sparse, haunting and in all honesty, deliciously fetching. http://www.nobodysfavoriterecords.com

Kohn ‘Bruce Willis’ (Western Vinyl). The fifth instalment of what sounds like an interesting series entitled Portrait put out by Western Vinyl whereby artists are invited to select a hero / heroine and provide a portrait in the form of a drawing, photograph or painting along with at least two songs inspired by that selection. So far the series has fielded releases by Papa M, Appendix Out, Anomoanon and Bonnie Prince Billy (none of which incidentally we’ve heard, damn). Release five is masterfully taken up by Belgium’s Kohn AKA Jurgen DeBlonde who takes time out from K-RAA-K label duties for a spot of homage to the death defying talents of Bruce Willis. Six tracks are on offer giving fair warning of the frightening world of Kohn’s abstract electronica which at times get to sound like a playful Plone duetting with Mount Vernon Arts Lab being redone by Stockhausen with the results ominously shredded and blitz into submission by Pimmon. ‘Du bist Alice’ greets you with a flurry of anger-ridden guitars that threaten to weld your head to the speaker before engaging in a teasing collage of solar symphonies and eerie crackle fuelled soundscapes. Then there’s the celestial intonations of the absorbing shuffle / blip happy ‘One dark night drive’ where things take on a wide screen sheen contrasted admirably by the jerky rhythmic dynamic installed on the curiously serene ‘Remembering the flashback’. ‘Bruce Willis is my hero; he keeps saving the world’ is where everything comes together in a perfectly formed bundle, repetitive loops curdle cutely with childlike lullabies into the mix clockwork rhythms chime and click with sugary splendour to ensnare you with their effervescent happy go lucky play time charm. Future releases in the series promised from Titania’s Mike Turner. http://www.westernvinyl.com

Analog ‘Drumbeats in my head’ (Lorag). Produced by Kim Fowley of Runaways fame, Analog is known better to his mother and friends as David Garol who having already cut his teeth in a number of Irish based bands (Guava, Fuktifino and Grasshouse) has now settled for the intimate comfort of this one man electronic project. Admittedly this release has been around for a fair while now yet don’t let that detract anything from its worth as this is a really smart release that veers more towards the soul pop side of proceedings given its slick arrangements and syrupy hooks. ‘Drumbeats in my heads’ is incurably infectious, given enough radio airplay and sunnier weather this has the potential to be one of those unexpected summer night monster hits, blending reggae beats and skanking guitars with a lazy eyed gloss along with visions of far flung idyllic tropical hideaways that call to mind a more laid back version of ‘Human Racing’ era Nik Kershaw. ‘Way out West’ though not as immediate still possesses that smouldering dozy appeal fusing trip hop beats with folk-tronic textures very much with Toshack Heighay in mind, while memories of the Beloved mooch within the stately ‘Altitude’, itself nimbly evaporating into the grooving to catchy by far ‘Sing Sing’. http://www.lorag.com

Party of One ‘Snap you like a Twig’ (Fat Cat). Two thumping releases from the ever-dependable Fat Cat label, the first a welcome return of Minnesota’s Party of One. ‘Snap you like a twig’ is taken from the bands acclaimed debut full length ‘Caught in the blast’, which strangely we missed, but then you can’t have every thing, can you? Party of One are one of those ensembles that are hard to categorize, which is mighty fine by us, their sounds, even when they are acting maudlin as hinted on ‘Star Sky Sierra’, seems to border on self destruction, a more than passing element of the unpredictability and frazzled mindsets lies at the core of their approach to song writing, so apparent is it that you can feel the songs almost falling apart at the seams barely held together by some hitherto deranged invisible guiding hand. Three tracks fill out this EP, each lurch with a sense of breakdown clipped with a violent hateful undercurrent, ‘Snap you like a twig’ flinches beneath a densely mutated groove that wanes between a simmering brooding and throws off splintered vibrant hooks that that sting viciously, reference wise try a bludgeoned fusion of the Nightingales and the Fire Engines. The aforementioned ‘Star Sky Sierra’ tempers the abrasive mood replacing it with an acoustic core that is still nightmarishly cast verging on collapse even in spite of the absence of friction. Topping it all off with the parting shot of ‘Venutian Siren’ which is capped with a seriously nagging early New Order like bass groove and dusted down to appear like a more visceral version of Jad Fair getting to grips with the Shaggs. http://www.fat-cat.co.uk

The Mutts ‘Missing my devil’ (Fat Cat). Not prepared to be out done by label mates Party of One, Brighton based quartet the Mutts follow up their self released debut ‘Hostage’ with this sterling trio of brazened tuneage. ‘Missing my Devil’ swells menacingly with a taut throbbing bass line that prowls throughout leaving a needling chorus of posing riffs to stab suavely elsewhere all the time recalling the punk r’n’b strutting grind of the much missed Godfathers and the saturating coolness of early Gallon Drunk. ‘Demolition’ ups the ante considerably nicking along the way a handful of MC5 riffs, it’s flip your wig time as a ferociously drilled calling to arms bears down replete with a bloodthirsty muscular locked down groove that incessantly bludgeons away with a determined precision. Last and by no means least the gritty rawk of the charmingly titled ‘Hard on for Jesus’, snapping riffs play metal blues as the vocals howl like a deranged preacher from the pulpit of hell. Consider yourselves well and truly warned. http://www.fat-cat.co.uk

Series 7 ‘Revolt’ (Demo). Losing Today house favourites Series 7 return to the fold with this scorching 5 track EP that if anything blows crater sized holes out of their last ‘Immediate Control’ EP which in all honesty had the old Hi-Fi rocking to the point of seizure when it came kicking its way through our mail box last year. Safe to say one of THE finds of last year and seemingly carrying a bagful of tunes so punishing that they are scrapping with each other to be let out and at you. ‘Revolt’ EP as said features 5 gruelling cuts of frenzied anthemic punk rock as if the propaganda messages on the friction heavy ‘Immediate Control’EP didn’t quite sink in then this quintet are more than happy to ram the words down your throat without thought or regard for teeth or any other obstacles for that matter. This time substitute charm for dominance and don’t be surprised as we were at first with the deviations into dippy blip happy electronica especially on the deceiving ‘Prologue’ that greets each and every track shortly before the point were everything goes ballistic big time. Series 7 provide a ferocious jaw dropping display of head on punk metal grind core fusion punch drunk with melodies and arse whipped with a scathing attrition based core that’ll have those of you holding dear dreams of a supergroup packed out with members of Sink, early Leatherface, Mega City 4 and, oh yeah Killing Joke weeping thankfully like babies. ‘Revolt’ festers with all manner of twisted incredulity, a searing white-hot cauldron of volatile riffs, untamed splintered and often-spasmodic rhythms so violent you’ll consider brain surgery without anaesthetic a seriously viable option. ‘Stolen Photograph’ has all the classic bearing of a particularly deranged Killing Joke and possesses one of the best chorus hooks heard round these parts since ‘Seeing Red’. If ‘Fire in the City’ fails to kindle any urges to throw yourself around the sound system like some manic adolescent then there really is no hope, its where the band veer close to Chron Gen c. ‘Nowhere to Run’, a band held close to heart, although Series 7 take the approach as though having been on a course of steroids. Bringing the proceedings to a close, my particular favourite cut, the fucked up ear melting ‘Seroxat Suicide’ which one minute has you hand holding in some nice picturesque greenery and the next ducking for dear life from missile attacks. Dangerous, demanding and desirable to any well informed record collection. http://www.series-7.co.uk

Magoo ‘Can’t get off the ground’ (May Go O). As perfect an example as any of what happens when you take your eye of the ball for just one second. Magoo were a band held close to my heart yonks ago when a little hitherto unknown Norwich based label by the name of Noisebox where causing a fuss and cutting a dash by keeping the old vinyl record racks buzzing fiercely with high grade tunes from the top of indie pop’s feasting table with both Magoo and Crest prominent players on the wave of optimism. Both tracks featured here are tasters for the bands forthcoming long player number four entitled ‘The All Electric Amusement Ride’, and to these ears the best stuff the band have released period. ‘Can’t get off the ground’ serenely charms and shimmers as though the Trembling Blue Stars on a heavy dose of happy pills decided they wanted to be the Carpenters who themselves just to be awkward fancied being Dolly Parton aided and abetted by the Walker Brothers. Simply arresting stuff, tip toeing ascending string arrangements dreamily spar with breezy wide open lulling folk-isms. In short the sound of angels dancing around the village may pole on a crisp spring morn, irresistible. Flip over for ‘Expansion Ride’, which we’ve played at a variety of speeds none of them sounding right yet all sounding great, kind of like the Buggles teamed up with Numan both on helium doing krautrock in an ELO stylee, might sound bad from the description but it certainly did it or me, damn smart with it. All in all deputy single of the missive. http://www.thesickroom.co.uk

Ikara Colt ‘Wanna be that way’ (Fantastic Plastic). My mam always told me to stay well clear of sharp objects, accidents are better avoided than encouraged. Ikara Colt are the sharpest objects in the knife box, unrelenting, daunting, ferocious and dangerous. ‘Wanna be that way’ is lifted from the bands forthcoming sophomore full length as yet untitled and features new bassist Tracy Bellaries. A frenzied punked up assault of some measure brimming with jagged riffs and a violently insistent bass groove that at times veers close to having the effect of the Fall jamming with a particular edgy Sonic Youth with Fugazi in the background trashing the mix. Akin to having your eyes gouged out and salt rubbed in the wounds, just watch this cutie play pow wow with your Hi-Fi and God help your speakers. A winner, obviously. http://www.fantasticplastic.co.uk

The Album Leaf ‘Seal Beach’ EP (Acuarela). Those who love their sounds a little more sensitive and, dare I say it, toe curling, may very well warm to this dreamy five tracker. Not a million miles from Minotaur Shock or Manual, the Album Leaf delight in providing warming electronic symphonies laced with the merest of emotional charges, buoyant with shuffling clicks and romantic heart pulling melodies that wash idly almost locked in their own day dream states. The Album Leaf is the side project of Tristeza’s Jimmy LaValle and this EP features five exclusive cuts just ahead of the promised full length for new label Sub Pop currently being recorded at Sigur Ros’s Icelandic studios. Contrasting greatly with the often-brooding melancholia of Tristeza, LaValle manages to inject an uplifting aspect into his solo work. On the enigmatic ‘Malmo’ sophisticated glazes of stately introvert pop soon lovingly evaporate into crystalline blips and soothing electronics that thaw with a passionate though distant glee. ‘Brennivin’ is bolstered by suave violin arrangements that give it a lulling sensitive sheen that’ll have you imagine New Order’s ‘Thieves like Us’ delicate twisted, teased and moulded by ‘Andromeda’ era Paddy McAloon, sensually hurting and somewhere else imprisoned in it’s own dreaming bubble. The title track ‘Seal Beach’ follows with similar fervour, enchanting and so intimately nourishing you can almost feel its chilly touch squeezing gently on your heart strings, imagine Boards of Canada and ISAN teaming up for snowball fights. ‘Christiansands’ and the last cut ‘One Minute’ both have the guitar returning centre stage for a serious spot of emotionally distracted picturesque rustic noodling. Recommended for those who love music to swoon to. http://www.acuareladiscos.com

Early Day Miners ‘The Sonograph’ EP (Acuarela). Same label and again more sensitive souls, this time Indiana based Early Day Miners who with ‘The Senograph’ EP serve up six exquisitely hurting compositions that see the band pitted somewhere between Codeine, Black Heart Procession and Low. Possessing the power to snap the hardiest of souls in two with their nimbly executed melancholic attacks, Early Day Miners illustrate perfectly their ability to wind you in with their soberly coated slo-core dynamics, the opening ‘Albatross’ glides solemnly, masterfully tripped with the lulling breeziness of a distant harmonica found furrowing in the background while to the fore slow looping rhythmic traits do their damage to constantly push and poke beneath the skin. Oozing with a sense of erstwhile thoroughbred class, ‘Bijou’ idly skips tenderly sounding like some kind of Johnny Marr like private intermission between Smiths recordings and having a Red House Painters moment to boot, gentle and determined, a bubbling instrumental that yearns, teases and probably says more than words could ever do justice to in describing such an intimate moment in time. Best of the set though has to be the six-minute closer ‘Misrach’. Sparsely assembled noise interludes are swept aside, their place taken by monolithic treated signatures that blow like frosted gales inside a deep set extra terrestrial cavern, awesome stuff. http://www.acuareladiscos.com

That’s it for a week or so, again apologies for the delays but transmissions should resume normally just as soon as we all manage to find the right ways up for our backsides and elbows. As usual many thanks for all those who’ve made these musings possible, you know who you are, and a very special thanks to all those who’ve taken out time to tune in.

Next missive will be with you in seven days (honest) and will feature everything we promised would feature in this missive and more besides, among the roll call; the New Tellers / EEM; The Fuses; Jason and the Astronauts; Headquarters; Airport Girl; Blue Jay Way; LKWRM; Nerine and Melaleuca plus whatever else falls off the lorry between now and then.

Any comments, illicit gifts, death threats, marriage proposals and any thing else you care to throw my way will be duly considered, placed in the in tray, considered again and most probably ignored / forgotten / misunderstood (delete as appropriate).

All the best and take care of yourselves, lots of fun and hugs,

Mark
X

P.s. Singled Out contains no additives, colours or animal fats. Any adverse allusions of grandeur are of your own making. Singled Out may or may not cause head aches, if so, cease all actions, retire to a darkened room turn up the Hi-Fi and repeat the dosage till afflictions pass.

Singled Out is a trademark presentation and registered by those wonderful people at ‘So you are nicking our f***ing ideas then. We’ll see. LTD’.

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Archiv – Singled Out – Missive 29 ….

Archive posting originally postedcon the losing today site …… January 2004 …..

Missive 29
17-01-2004
Singled Out 29

Alive and Kicking 18th January 2004
Pushing up the Daisies 25th January 2004

Dedicated to Kelly and Mark.

Christmas bah, humbug. So how did yours go, hopefully you all had a great time and are now suitably refreshed and ready to face another year of mirth, madness and top drawer tuneage. The record shed has been bulging with all manner of releases these last few weeks most of which you’ll find carefully dissected below. I am going to attempt to make this a weekly slot, but forgive me if it doesn’t pan out like that as some of us do have to sleep eat and socialise, though the latter I can now barely spell let alone do.

Some good news at last on the magazine front. The pencilled in street date projection is May. Now those of you who meticulously read these ramblings have probably noted that these last two years have proved an ever-increasing source of frustration to yours truly, but I can now say without fear of ridicule and reprisals that the magazine WILL be out very shortly. It will be worth the wait. Media packs are currently being designed and should be sent out sometime next month, those on my contact list will get a detailed email in a day or two explaining changes to the site and general information about the magazine. All I can say is thank you kindly for all your patience and continued support.

Okay time to shut up and put up, without further ado, the singles…

And what better way to kick off the proceedings than with some nerve jangling cinematic pop…

Drunk with Joy ‘I say Goodbye’ (Maze). This, I’ll start by saying, is quite superb. Drunk with Joy are duo Mila Oshin (vox) and Kris Jager (music) and ‘I say Goodbye’ is the duos debut release and a belter it is to, propelled by raging emotions and crisply arranged chilling atmospherics, evolving a hybrid template that cleverly cherry picks the best bits of All About Eve, Goldfrapp, Portishead and early Transglobal Underground and weaves the resulting chemical nutrients into a fabric of sound that invites the unassuming spectator into a world of darkly lit electronic foreplays. Drunk with Joy smother the listener beneath a twisting symphony of sophisticated beats and icily aloof backdrops, both cerebral and sensual each of the three tracks belies a shadowy grain and desolate underbelly. Okay there are no moving of the musical goalposts here, that’s pretty much accepted, but Drunk with Joy set themselves apart by mixing the smooth with the abrasive like a more rounded variant of the rejuvenated Gary Numan sound, emotionally pricking electronics liberally filter throughout, rushing their warming intoxicants with heart breaking glee to spar with the stinging industrial dynamics that pepper the orchestrations, all the while the oozing appeal of Oshin’s passionate vocals stands out like a shining beacon amid the turbulent synthetic waves. ‘I say Goodbye’ is turbo fitted with a predatorial hunting beat, in terms of feel and texture very much in the spirit of Goldfrapp’s ‘Utopia’, elegant and glacial. ‘Nothing like you’ treats itself to some massively executed trip hop beats and utilises a compelling dub dynamic and bells lifted straight from Chic’s ‘I want your Love’, think of a more dance orientated Clash being refitted by Barry Adamson. Best cut off the set though is the parting ‘The Lucky Ones’, pensively saturated with sombre strings and a jiggling grooved out underpinning, Oshin’s vocals flutter angelically across Jager’s (for once) neutered and minimalistic score recalling early Sinead O’Connor. Thoroughly recommended. http://www.drunkwithjoy.com

Boogie Pimps ‘Somebody to Love’ (Data). This is probably flying up the charts as I write not that I’d know as I’m well passed the age where the latest fifteen minutes of fame finger of fate becomes a thing of consequence and sleepless nights. Okay the Boogie Pimps set about giving Jefferson Airplane’s ‘Somebody to Love’ the house treatment and hell despite the fact I stopped listening to chart music way back when you had to wind up the record player to get any assemblage of sound, this is quite good, both my left feet where tapping wildly. My copy has 5 variants of the same song, though the ‘Radio Edit’ stands loud and proud we can still appreciate the appeal of the Ibiza-esque deconstruction of the ‘Ian Knowles Remix’ and best of all psyche mind melting hypnotics of the superior ‘DJ Flex and Sandy Wilhelm Executive Mix’. http://www.ministryofsound.com

And staying with chart contenders for just a little while longer….

Tube and Berger featuring Chrissie Hynde ‘Straight Ahead’ (Direction). Stands to reason I was always going to like this merely for the fact it has Ms Hynde on it, since hearing the Pretenders do ‘Kid’ at a formative age she’s always had one of those vocals that just does it for me, husky and sexy with that kind of held back ‘so what are you gonna do about it’ attitude. Tube and Berger enter Kylie world, a frightening place where the Antipodean Princess of Pop rules with a very small hand as she attempts to vanquish the opposition and develop her master plan to swamp the world with Kylie clones and have every male with a pulse at her beck and call, oh yeah and to make sure she never appears in the same continent at the same time as the demonic Danni. If life was that simple. T & B go in armed to the teeth with all manner of club tricks, neat grooves, devious spins, alluring melodies and the same maddening clockwork rhythm that made ‘Can’t get you out of my head’ a hit and even having the gall to take Kylie’s songwriter hostage on their travels. Still they have to rely on Ms Hynde to kick the butt of the Kult of Kylie in order to save the day. Hip, hip, hooray.

Razorcuts ‘A is for Alphabet’ EP (Matinee). The first of several featured releases that dropped through the mailbox prior to Xmas from those lovely people at the Santa Barbara based Matinee Records. Following their recent retrospective album (‘R is for Razorcuts’) honouring the much missed Razorcuts, Matinee have managed to persuade the powers that be to relinquish their grip on five more cuts from the vaults, of which two are never before heard demo rarities. Formed in the mid 80’s, the Razorcuts sound was among the crop of wide eyed melodically prickly traffic that acted as a precursor to the whole Sarah label template, jangling guitars, innocent sunny side guitar pop for the more passionately distracted souls of the time. The Razorcuts sound could be traced back directly to the more sprightly canon of the Byrds, effervescently swelling with hope and layered with a wholesome thread of tantalising hooks and driving melodies charged with a veritable feel good factor. Though the band split in 1989, various members going on to form Heavenly, the ensembles two key players, Webster and Vass, did collaborate under the pseudonym Forever People for a one off single for Sarah in ’92. Listening to these five tracks it’s easy to see that this lot were slightly ahead of the game, alighting from the same musical station as the Go Betweens, Razorcuts as evidenced here always had that extra tang, take for instance the glowing ‘First Day’, originally appearing on the flip of their third single, now if anyone tells me that’s not classic Stone Roses a whole year before Manchester’s favourite sons blossomed from Goths to 60’s darlings then I’ll consider myself struck dumb. Lovers of the Clientele and Clock Strikes 13 likewise will not be found wanting with this release especially on the heartbreaking demo cut of ‘For Always’ which takes a steely interior to walk away from without shedding a tear, and that’s even before we get a chance to mention ‘A is for Alphabet’ a spangly variant of the Weather Prophets. Just to cool for its own good.

The Young Tradition ‘Californian Morning’ EP (Matinee). A remarkably breezy debut release that’ll simply take your breath away. The Young Tradition happened as a result of a collaboration via transatlantic post between ex Skypark man Brent Kenji and Swedish musician Erik Hanspers. Three tracks that invite you to imagine a dippy meeting between Damon and Naomi and the Mommas and the Poppas. Elegantly willowy, there’s something so trembling fragile about this trio of songs that just makes you want to cuddle them, poignant, hurting and above all magical. Opening with the timeless tones of ‘California Morning’ a crafted gem of perfectly woven 60’s folk pop braided by a brief visitation of a lonesome trumpet, the delicately cared for melodies perfectly complimented by Kenji’s lulling soft vocals. ‘All up to me’ canters with a subtle Francophile twist that imagines what Stereolab might sound like if Paddy McAloon was invited to sit in on the writing process, quite exquisite. Finishing with a cover of Poundsign’s ‘Isolation’ which in all honesty I‘d never previously heard, longing and sugary with a faraway kind of feel that just gets you tingling, thoroughly irresistible of course. The duo are currently working on material for an album to be released later in the year.

Pale Sunday ‘A weekend with Jane’ (Matinee). A trio from Brazil playing perfectly toned English pop, now let’s face it that don’t happen that often so time to make merry while it lasts. A debut release that on first hearing sounds nice, and yes I do mean that in a tad derogatory manner until that is the third track ‘Today’ where upon something magical happens and forces you to reconsider your initial gut feelings. Pale Sunday, a name quite fitting as their songs do have a strange chemistry that marries upbeat pop to downcast storylines making it ultimately appear as though the band permanently walk beneath gloomy clouds or ride off in search of storms to annoy. Again like the Razorcuts it’s by and large all about jangly guitars with the prevalent air of C-86 shimmering brightly throughout. ‘Today’ wrapped in sugary string arrangements all set off over a seriously twisting bass line takes a laid back teasingly sophisticated approach that overall gives it then edge among the quartet of tunes on offer. That said ‘the girl with sunny smile’ points to rainy afternoons stuck indoors watching the days drift away listening to old Bus Stop, Sarah and Summershine records, ostensibly American sounding, very much with a plural hint of Chris Stamey, the Mayflies and a more pop orientated Moviola, fizzing guitars and jabbing hook lines and very tasty with it, while ‘Go Ahead’ has that same emotionally stinging resonance as Another Sunny Day. Leave the disc playing a little longer after the closing track to hear a bonus un-credited cut recorded onto a female friends answer machine, stripped down and pretty much in the BMX Bandits / Speedboat scheme of things, in other words quite dandy.

Simpatico ‘Club Life’ (Matinee). Another peerless release from Santa Barbara’s finest label comes courtesy of Australia’s Simpatico and proving to be their most accomplished batch of songs yet. Simpatico is the musical alter ego of Jason Sweeney and these five tracks represent the first recorded fruits since last years ‘Difference between alone and lonely’ album. Opening to swathes of electronic grandeur on the title track ‘Club Life’ with its driving dynamic which had me recalling Its Immaterial from the mid 80’s switching emotionally into full reverse for the longing hurt of the sensitively challenging ‘Inseparable’ which in terms of moods isn’t a million miles away from Human League’s ‘Louise’. Sweeney peddles an intimate dusty path, tear filled tales half spoken are honed to sweetly digestible 80’s synth back drops themselves locked onto skipping rhythms, the overall effect inherently chilly and distant but providing brief glimpses of upbeat euphoria. If anything this EP gets better the further in you get to explore, it’s melodies and soft intertwining textures implicitly invite you to sit back and float away as the seemingly simplistic arrangements wash over, reference points, if indeed it counts, could arguably cite the more serene moments of Electronic and Pet Shop Boys, after all this is neatly executed thoughtful pop. Best cut of the EP is ‘Garden Greene’, all at once the flurries of strummed chords and electronic orchestrations sting the listener in their tracks, captivating with its faraway yearning, it’s like imagining a super group made up of New Order and the Cure auditioning for a release on Sarah, literally heart stopping stuff. Then there’s the wonderfully fluffy ‘First and Last Warning’ with it’s ricocheting spacey ceramics, tenderised laid back groove and hypnotically swirling melodies, pretty much a similar sentiment to J Xaverre and the current crop of folk-tronic. Lush pop never sounded so lonely.

The Pines ‘True Love Waits Volume Two’ EP (Matinee). A welcome return to these pages for the Pines who if memory serves correctly last appeared here knocking us flat on our faces with the divine ‘Please don’t get Married’ single from what seems like ages ago. ‘True love waits’, yum yum. Fresh from her guest slot on last year’s very excellent Relict album, (which if you haven’t bought now, then shame on you, your record collection is screaming for it or don’t you care?) Pam Berry resumes her partnership with Joe Brooker as the pop franchise The Pines. Five more smouldering counts of deliciously served quintessential folk pop, The Pines will never rock your world but they’ll sure as hell make you swoon till your dizzy with their coaxing harmonies and cautiously nimble arrangements. If anything ‘True love waits’ hints vaguely at early Belle and Sebastian non more so than on the dreamy ‘Marie Claire’ where upon the duo take a gentle detour to play the pristine pop card, complimenting boy / girl vocals ooze, tenderly sparring against the cascading drifting like chord weaves. Nothing quite prepares for the numbing ‘Familiar’ as it gracefully flutters hazily like as though it’s just fell off the back of the Smiths debut album, tumbling chords very much with that classic cavernous Marr touch gently caress Berry’s breathlessly angelic vocals. That said it’s the opening track ‘Ungrammatical’ that holds out for the plaudits, with a cappella delivery it has that sophisticated touch of Christmas carolling about it as Berry delivers a humorous tale of a boyfriends badly written love letters. Simply gorgeous as if you needed telling.

The Liberty Ship ‘Northern Angel’ (Matinee). The last release in this Matinee round up comes from Nottingham based quartet the Liberty Ship and one of those records that takes a few listens before its charm starts to kick in. The first thing that strikes you about the Liberty Ship sound is that it doesn’t lend itself to the rigours of day times jostling, instead it comes into its own beneath the shade of a lonely oak tree watching the outside world slowly drift away while time stands still. Admittedly it’s easy to get suckered in by the opening track ‘Northern Angel’ for what first appears like a sweet piece of tuneage going nowhere, like ensembles from the past and I’m talking elements of Caretaker Race / Orchids / Hey Paulette here, it snaffles you up in it’s spring time neutered anthemic flow, by the end a tune that’s damn near impossible to get out of your head, and if that weren’t enough it’s got some bracing harmonicas on it, well I’m sold anyway. Every thing calms down to a near stand still with the thoughtfully milky hue of ‘This World’ but its the loveably engaging ‘Final Kick’ that gets my vote as the best cut here and sees Rachel Eyres taking up lead vocal duties, summery chords and that same wistful appeal of any number of classic Sarah releases you’d care to mention, simply put, beautiful. Concluding it all with the day dreaming sultriness of ‘Small Lives’, safe to say a record for sensitive souls to snuggle up to. http://www.indiepages.com/matinee

The Bear Quartet ‘Selected’ (Heliotone). Don’t time fly when you are having fun. Third release for Manchester’s Heliotone label and what an inspired choice it is, the same drill as the previous two releases, extremely limited edition pressing on eight inches of lathe cut polycarbonate, and when I say limited I mean limited, like 50 copies and that’s your lot. This time Sweden’s the Bear Quartet get to stand centre stage for this four song compilation of sorts. Safe to say a band who are pretty much unknown outside their native land despite having been together since the late 80’s, the Bear Quartet are one of life’s little mysteries, while the Soundtrack of our Lives get all the plaudits, and yes rightly so as it may be, the Bear Quartet (a far superior band by the way) have always succumbed to the realisation that they might be one of the great never beens and in some small way this release is intended to change all that. With over 200 songs under their belt the Bear Quartet have never lost the faith as this brief selection proves by culling tracks from their debut album ‘Cosy Den’ (‘Suits on for Sandi’); ‘Bad on the Halo’ from their acclaimed ‘Moby Dick’ full length; ‘Load it’ from 2001’s ‘Gay Icon’ album and finally ending things pretty much up to date with ‘All your Life’ culled from their latest opus ‘Angry Brigade’. Phew! A smart selection but by no means perfect as ‘My Vag’ is un-represented, but then that’s another story. First up ‘Suits on for Sandi’, which if memory serves me right was one of the albums more sedate moments, listening now all these years on you can’t help but being struck by the aching solitude that it vests upon the listener, sulking within a wintry caste, to hear such hopeless restlessness you’d have to dig out those early Moviola albums to get a realistic view as to how classy they were even way back all those years ago. ‘Bad on the Halo’ is a much more upbeat proposition, subtle references to the Smiths ‘Big mouth strikes again’ aside as the see sawing strummed chords kick in, a bouncing bomb of adrenalin rushing pop taken from the masterful ‘Moby Dick’ album which found the bands influential glare fully focused on the UK. ‘Load it’ originally a single, is a certifiable schizophrenic pop record of some measure, one minute your drowning in fuzzed up back drops giving the impression of a more brittle Velvet Crush the next goaded and mesmerised by honey honed harmonies and sub Velvets pastoral elegance. Closing with the Dinosaur Jnr scrapping with Teenage Fanclub inspired ‘All your Life’ a song thats guaranteed to get inside your head like ‘The Wagon’ and set up camp in a small vacant corner for life. The dog’s bollocks of a release, if you don’t get this then there really is no hope for your record collection. http://www.onoffonoff.org/heliotone

Earsugar ‘Guitar Splinters’ (Earsugar). Those among you with distant memories may remember me falling over myself with this lots debut release ‘So far, alright’ a little while back. Back again with another nifty two-track release, this time pressed on ten inches of cool vinyl. By far the most delicious release for this particular missive and defying the impossible by bettering their previous release by some distance. Graduating from the same school of elegantly layered electronics as those other missives favourites the Earlies, both bands operate and toy with the Spiritualised template and work it to it’s next logical step, Earsugar adding the extra dimension of honing a hybrid Sonic Boom pop dynamic. ‘Guitar Splinters’ comes on like something you’d expect to find on the Static Caravan label, shuffling beats, playful goofy like lullaby-esque rhythms all chilled within a refined porcelain states of grace, spellbound by the swirling allure of the minutely sugared dramas unfolding within that insistently invite the listener to bath beneath their celestial blanket for warmth. Enchanting to say the least. Equally teasing is cosmic ‘Faust Chick’ on the flip, part Vangelis doing space pop locked in a lunar capsule with Kraftwerk for companions while sensualised vocoder chat drifts in the hypnotic waves set for cerebral scramble. A worthwhile reason to visit the local record emporium then, as if you needed reminding. http://www.earsugar.com

The Tyde ‘Look back in Anger’ (For Us). First release of the year for Rough Trade’s imprint For Us. Limited to just 500 copies, the Tyde get the RT seal of approval this time round and return the favour by dishing up two spanking covers. Those of you who thought this lot were a little to soft psyche pop for the palette will be blown away by this pair of upbeat stompers. One of the Holy Grail’s of punk’s potted history Modern Lovers ‘Roadrunner’ is given a reverential retread and finitely tuned workout replete with swirling keyboards, so faithfully done that you’d be forgiven to give it a double quick take. That said the main baby can be found sitting proudly on the lead side as LA’s finest get chopping on Television Personalities mod classic ‘Don’t look back in Anger’. Originally featured on their debut album ’And don’t the kids just love it’ way back in the early 80’s, Television Personalities where one of THE great abstract punk psychedelists, a band so far ahead of the their time in terms of wit and crafted vision that most of their contempories gave up the chase years ago. Faced with such an act to take on, the Tyde work it admirably to give it a rocking West Coast dayglo gloss with more than a passing nod to the Who, and with that a curiously warming sun shine glow given that we are in the middle of a particularly bracing January. A winner in case you weren’t paying attention. forus@roughtrade.com

The Playwrights ‘Dislocated’ (Sink and Stove). From a personal perspective it’s been a particular enjoyable roster of singles on this first missive of the new year made all the better for the return of another old favourite to the singled out pages, Bristol’s Playwrights. Not wishing to labour the point to much but this lot are perhaps one of this country’s finest ensembles. This little CD-R is not an official release as such but rather a two-track promo billed as ‘recent works’. Currently putting the final touches to their sophomore album ‘When I lived in the Modern World’ to be released at some point this year on the eminent Sink and Stove label, this limited release gives a sneak preview of the forthcoming single plus a chance to hear the opening track from the aforementioned long player. It’s one of those situations that jangles the nerves, having delivered a near perfect debut album with last year’s ‘Good beneath the Radar’ you are left in a quandary that splits between wanting to hear new stuff with the fervour of an excited child at the promise of a reward, yet equally wanting things just to stay as they are fearing that expectations will be shattered. So being the ultimate pessimist I‘ve admittedly held back on this for as long as possible. What a fool. If anything these two tracks see a matured muscular development of sound within the Playwrights ranks, the caustic austere template is still the primary key, ‘Dislocated’ is as perfect a title as you can get as all the contributing parts combine tensely to ride roughshod, crooked white funk frenetically detached, try imagining a super group made up from members of Wire and the Fire Engines, you can’t help admiring the swollen needle like hooks that grab you gently before swinging you menacingly around the room. ‘Welcome to the Middle Ages’ the touted opener for the forthcoming album looms threateningly with a taste and the zeal of the Stranglers ‘Nuclear Device’, a complicated web of sharply disenfranchised chords zig zag furiously within the densely populated melodic matrix peppered by the sounds of breezy brass segments. Time indeed to dance your ass off. Stunning stuff. http://www.sinkandstove.co.uk

The Rebel ‘Bums on a Rock’ (Flitwick). Ah Milton Keynes’ Flitwick Records. Chances are you haven’t heard about this lot. This handy little label provide their wares gratis and while you are sitting there thinking, yeah like for nowt it must be crap, think again as this is the label who at one time put out a release by the Fall, okay bad choice as an example as it seems that everyone and their pet dog are putting out Fall records of late. But at least you get my drift. Currently out there in consumer-ville the label have a neat little compilation doing the rounds called, not surprisingly, ‘the Flitwick Records Compilation LP’ which will in due course get a glowing review as it features among others Kling Klang, 4 treck and Keith John Adams whose debut album ‘Sunshine Loft’ is a bit of a corker. Okay enough of that and to the Rebel, or at least I think it’s the Rebel as there’s no information to accompany the release or for that matter any indication of rpm speed which has led to much amusement here at the losing today record shed as we’ve gotten jiggy at 45 rpm and demonically scary at 78rpm, settling for the safe option of 33rpm. As said no information, but ‘Bums on a rock’ we all swear is Stephen Jones AKA Baby Bird doing a rather inebriated impersonation of the late Johnny Cash, we could be wrong, either way it’s a superbly mawkishly clumsy track that depending on your mental fragility could either be viewed a bizarrely wayward or positively nightmarish, and with that we love it. Things get a little deranged on the flip side; ‘Nurse’ checks out at fruitcake central and straight into barn pot heights, sounding like some macabre dope infested variant on the lysergic 70’s children’s TV show ‘Bagpuss’ with noises that sound like carolling cats on helium, very creepy indeed. Things don’t get any more lucid on the calamitous ‘Black’, ad hoc rhythms and vocals that sound like an army of Van Vliets passed through a jam jar. Ending it all with ‘Brite Yn’s Cnut’, a tumultuous collision of crashing electronics on melt down alert. Absolutely recommended if only for the fact that it’s so distracted. http://www.flitwickrecords.co.uk

The Sirens ‘Chez Maximes’ (Wiped Out). Is everyone who lives in Detroit in a band, I only ask because not a week goes by that I don’t get a record of some description with the Detroit citation somewhere upon it. Hell I’m not complaining, hell no not when it sounds as good as this. The Sirens are an all girl rock band who you suspect have secret urges to be Joan Jett and the Black Hearts. Currently finishing on material for their Jim Diamond produced debut album to be released on Get Hip sometime this year, these five feisty females seem content to plunder rock’s vaults of the early 70’s to deliver up a potent mix of teen punk pop and glam as evidenced by these three lip smacking covers, could they be the feminine equivalent of the Black Halos, only time will tell. For now teetering precariously on their unfeasibly huge platform boots the Sirens dish it out rough and raw, starting out with a rollicking cover of the Hollywood Brats ‘Chez Maximes’ as good a time as any to start nailing down moveable objects as they set about laying waste to the surrounding scenery with their infectious canon of hooks. Next up a cover of an old Suzi Quatro cut from way back in 1973. Suzi Q the original rock chic has one of her best-known rockers ‘Glycerine Queen’ trashed up in fine style as the Sirens impart on it a toxic anthemic edge. Best track of the lot though is the storming cover of Slade’s ‘Gudbuy t’Jane’ providing full on howler replete with handclaps and seriously fuzzed up guitars, like the 70’s never went away. Contact Yannick.valet@hospvd.ch

Swimmer One ‘Come on, let’s go’ (Biphonic). And it just gets better, another old missive favourite back in the fold. ‘Come on, let’s go’ is the delayed follow up to the wonderful ‘We just make music for ourselves’ debut from 2002 (which had us, okay well just me, speechless) from Glasgow based duo Hamish and Andy who occasionally prefer to be known as Swimmer One and who are currently working on their debut full length to be released later this year. Not a million miles in sound and attitude from fellow Scots Hoboken although minus the attention to vaudeville and in its place an impish fix on the more abstract elements of pop. ‘Come on, let’s go’ belies a delightfully sly dance beat that recalls the Associates had they gate crashed club land with Kraftwerk, insidiously catchy, it’s almost thrown down with a casual matter of fact attitude, perky rhythms bounce and jostle with a spacey mellowness, a fluffy and fiercely consuming electro pop gem. ‘Lake Tahoe’ unless my memory is playing tricks featured on the debut single, billed as ‘a bedtime story for people who work for a living’, maybe so if your bag is deranged nightmares, featuring a range of treated vocals that at times sound like Radio 1‘s Mark Radcliffe doing one of his comedic alter egos from the good old days when the graveyard slot ruled the wireless. Packing their bags for an early bath the duo kick in with the sultry ‘How could something like that be love’ which has guest vocals by Cora Bissett who in the past has been known to put her tuppence worth on releases by Arab Strap and Mogwai. Well it’s elegantly slick and sophisticated more Beloved than Moby retreating the more cool passages of Heaven 17’s back catalogue and instilling a soulful edge to the proceedings, the end result, sensually hypnotic wrapped in a darkly lit mindset. You have been warned, essential. Contact http://www.biphonic.co.uk

Why? ‘The Early Whitney’ EP (Anticon). Okay if there’s one release featured in this particular missive which if forced at gunpoint to shout loudly from the roof tops advising you to buy as though your very life depended on it, then this odd little 6 track EP from Why? would without hesitation get the vote. We’ve had them all passing through these pages over the last few years carrying their four track home produced lo-fi material Bright Eyes, Badly Drawn Boy and so on and so on, and though we’ve loved them all in our own special way, none, and I say none have ever quiet come near to Jonathan Wolf or WHY? as he’s known to the authorities. Finding time between his other recorded projects, cLOUDHEAD and Odd Nosdam, Wolf has managed to secure time and space to record a positively gem like release which manages to cover as many of pop’s bases as is humanly possible. From the effectual drifting folk of the opening cut ‘Early Whitney’ itself ushering in a gently wrapping wintry breeze, you know instinctively you are in the midst of something quite special as it curtly blossoms with a unique reaction of lilting haziness and resistant annoyance, ultimately not a million miles from Death Cab for Cutie. Then there’s the willowy click pop of ‘Ladyfingerz’, ethereal pop sounds, fragile and angelic in texture with a deeply radiant touch brought on by the seductive interweaving vocals plucked from the heavens which neatly sets the stage perfectly for the shyly nimble ‘Point Blank’. ‘Darla’ comes across like one of those waywardly odd abstractly tingling guitar abstract that Of Montreal and the whole Elephant 6 Collective are more associated. Best of the lot though is the final track the lysergic off the wall ‘The Crest’ equally tense and haunting, it belies a psyche trippiness that’d make even Mr Barrett glow with pride, sensitive strings and ominous key changes collectively charge this with a nightmarish acid flashback appeal. Stunning stuff. http://www.anticon.com

And that’s pretty much it for this missive for seven days, among the goodies next week a spanking release from the excellent Series 7; a killer three tracker from the hotly tipped Ga Ga’s; a crunching demo from Flawed; a brace of Acuerela releases from the Album Leaf and the Early Day Miners; the unusual sounds of the Vexers; the mercurial Mice Parade; a slice of sizzling retro electronica from the awesome Stained Glass Heroes plus a few delectable releases from Vinyl, Along came a Spider, Indofrumbah and Analog plus whatever else we pick up in the course of the week.

As always thanks for tuning much appreciated, and a massive thanks to all those labels, bands and pr reps that have made these musings such an enjoyable experience.

Take care of yourselves and have fun,

Mark
X

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nadia reid

Love the way this refuses to be demanding, one of those tracks that you could easily pass over, but with luck, patience and a need to stop by, something you’ll find yourself rewarded by with a welcoming unfussed warmth. A kind of internal decluttering,might be the best way to describe this becoming gem, which the press release rightly notes is ghosted with a gospel toning which I dare say you could add, a spiritual release, this be Nadia Reid with ‘get the devil out’ a track lifted from her second full length ‘out of my province’ heading out of Spacebomb early March time. A wonderfully crafted slice of personal conversation, traced in close intimacy that’s smokily touched with a
crisp Southern cuddle and an alluring prairie purring. Any qustions?

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Archiv – Singled Out – Missive 28 ….

Archive posting originally published on the losing today site …. December 2003 ……

Missive 28
24-12-2003
The Xmas Bumper Missive

Stuffed and ready to go by 22nd December 2003
Recycled, regurgitated and replaced by 05th January 2004

I’m still recovering from the last epic word static three part missive, these days the old typing finger just ain’t the same these days. Before the festivities one or two slight apologies, firstly for those who were inadvertently mislead by the last Singled Out when I mentioned an end of year poll would figure in some shape or form, this alas was totally out of my hands so don’t shoot the messenger, something to do with technicals and Christmas cheer the likes of which I understand nothing about being stuck in the record shed with a quill, a pot of ink and a fast disappearing lit candle for company rambling endlessly about records. Safe to say if we’d have had a Losing Today end of year poll the results would have been something on the lines of:

Best Single: by a yard and a half the Earlies ‘Wayward Song’, catching fast on the outside the awesome Future Kings of England, quickly followed by Gold Cash Gold’s ‘Vultures’ tying for bronze with the Devastations ‘Leonne’.

Best Album: well really, there was no contest ‘Hail to the Thief’ by Radiohead was an amazing release, were prog rock became cool again and the band managed to please and upset fans in equal parts by cleverly setting up centre point between ‘OK Computer’ and ‘Amnesiac’. Second place a little tougher though I’d have to admit that Fiery Furnaces ‘Gallowsbirds Bark’ just edged it ahead of Fort Lauderdale’s ‘Pretty Monster’ with the Relict debut coming fourth in a photo finish.

Best label: no doubt here, Static Caravan floored the competition with more treats than an er, um, er..treat factory, lagging someway behind was For Us and even further down the track almost out of sight and tying for third place Bearos and Heliotone.

Best Re-issue: Estrus’ grave robbing CD re-appraisal of the Mummies, Angel Air’s immense 5 CD series of Mott the Hoople re-masters and the 3 CD anthology ‘Kiss me Deadly’ by Generation X.

Hopes for 2004: that Liverpool Football Club at some point manage to string together 3 wins on the trot and that a radio station is hard up enough (and maybe daft with it) to give me a radio show so that I can annoy you with some of the best sounds around.

On a final note all those who have sent CD albums in recent months, (as I think I’m safe in saying I’ve cleared the backlog of singles that is anything prior to the last seven days or so) if I haven’t been in touch or no review have appeared so far, then please get in touch as in the coming days I’m hoping to have a major purge of outstanding items in readiness for the new year.

Right all that leaves me to say, before we dive into the singles, is a heartfelt thanks to all the bands, labels, press reps and readers who have in, whatever way, shape or form made these Singled Out musings and in general writing about music, so worthwhile and such an honour, from the bottom of my heart I hope you all have a peaceful Christmas and New Year.

Without further ado, the singles, and what better way to kick start the festivities than with a seasonal stocking filler of top tunes from Static Caravan …..

Stags ‘At home with the Wilsons’ (Static Caravan). Opening up the year’s last missive with a single that can be yours just for merely writing and asking for one whilst enclosing the cost of postage, while stocks, that is, last. Stags are the Caravan house band and kick off the party in fine style with two shooting from the hip groovers. Opening with a cover of the Shadows ’33.45. Something’ which I have to admit never ever having heard, despite many childhood years spent rifling through my parents record collection, and who incidentally, were massive Shadows fans. Full to the brim and drenched with authentic 60’s Hammond organs, the Stags cut a fine and dandy splash across the sweating basement club floor sliding from the same direction as the Gene Drayton Unit combining twanging bass lines that twitch to funk out the laid back vibes, classy stuff. Flip over for ‘At home with the Wilsons’, if you like a homage to the Beach Boys and Jan and Dean, so warm you can feel the Californian heat bearing down on it as the Stags charge gracefully through all the Beach Boys early repertoire to pack in all the best bits in an awesome three minutes of sun fun, think ‘Surf City’ fused with ‘Dead Man’s Curve’. Brilliant.

Accrual ‘Aleph’ (Static Caravan). I’ll first openly admit that this has had slightly more than a dozen plays and that on the face of it, given that most singles here only get the cursory two plays and that’s yer lot treatment, might seem a little unfair on the competition. Yet it’s one of those lathe type things, and those with prior knowledge of lathes may well understand the exasperating need for patience, when if like me, your playing on something that barely passes for a record player with a stylus holding on for dear life by a single shred of selo-tape. Hard work I’m sure you’ll agree, but hey it’s Christmas so we’ll soldier on. Accrual as I understand it, feature members of the very excellent Marcia Blaine School for Girls whose previous Static single and appearance on the recent Expanding / Static split 10 inch picture disc (which I must add shame on you if you haven’t already acquired a copy) had us drooling for more not so long ago. This time the lazy beats and willowy clicks and crackles have been left at home as the Accrual boys usher you into their enchanted snow bound Grotto on ‘Aleph part one’ where sweetly tingling cavernous echoes glide and chill to do parade style salutes while hovering precariously atop wafer thin frosted sheets, entirely fragile. ‘Aleph part two’ continues the mini symphony; a flat-lining monotone drone imparts a solemn edge while in the distance impish courtiers weave an impeccably soothing spell of mystique as they gentle coax a chilling carnival-esque melody from the hanging ice drips. Bewitching stuff indeed.

d_rradio ‘Ice on the Path’ (Static Caravan). Again another lathe release and again more technical problems which I’m more inclined to think is more to do with me than the actual release. This clear vinyl poly carbonate record is limited to just 100 copies via mail order only, so needless to say cheques and pens at the ready because in all honesty this is a beautiful record that would charm any half decent record collection. Following their previous two outings on Static Caravan and Awkward Silence, d_rradio dust themselves down for some touching intimacy on the glorious ‘Perfect for the Fall’. One of those tracks that needs to be heard over and over again to appreciate its inner depths. Nimbly bathing itself in the kind of serene lonesome grandeur that would disarm the steeliest of hearts, pastoral chords gently flicker beneath the undulating whisps of subtle celestial atmospherics. ‘Ice on the Path’ steels itself with an air of Rothko / GSYBE, a lone guitar painfully carves out a pensively arrived at setting that could easily mark out a calm scene before the storm from a spaghetti western, under which static samples of disconnected voices and aural images play nonchalantly. Essential isn’t the word for it.

Vanishing Breed ‘The Seasons’ (Static Caravan). The final offering from Static Caravan comes in the form of a double seven inch package by Vanishing Breed or (and this is if I’ve got my facts right) Alexander Holmes as he’s better known to family and friends. Now as far as previous Static releases go this year, this one is up there with the Manual’s ‘Isares’ in that it’s one of those unassuming records, that really promises nothing, yet leaves you totally breathless in its wake. Four tracks then, as beguiling and yet, as puzzling as you’d ever imagine a quartet to sound. Beginning it all with the wonderful ‘Lovesick Snowman’ which from the initial stages is as though you find yourself watching in awe as a toy room comes to life, a daintily ringing music box pings invitingly before dissipating as a roving krautrock groove kicks in, the melodies slowly build in density charmed by clock work musical drips, imagine a stream lined version of the Meek produced Tornadoes hit ‘Telstar’ recalibrated for a solar hop. ‘Flowers open for flight of the Golden Butterfly’ initially hits in like something from ‘2001 A Space Odyssey’ before reclining to the sound of floating mind warping chord interplays, those familiar with the extended ambient sequence on Jean Michel Jarre’s ‘Magnetic Fields’ may wish to take note. Far more engaging is ‘And the woods sing with us as the trees begin to dance’ which really is a treat, moulding varying ethnic sounds from Africa and Australia into a glorious carnival-esque sound matrix, very much pertaining to the spirit of early 80’s Talking Heads with a Lou Reed like vocal yet all fluffed out with some impishly goofing electronics buzz-sawing to their hearts content, delicious stuff. Last up and certainly by no means least the incorrigible melodies within, ‘Bird at Daybreak’ is a musical free for all that manages to mix up rushing rustic delicacies, Camberwick Green and the Soup Dragon with a spot of hi hoing campfire cowboy singing before scattering to settle down to some instantly alluring lysergic pastoral pop. My copy has a bonus untitled fifth cut which in all honesty, as cuddlesome as it is sounds like Pengu in deep conversation with the Clangers on the way to a Sunday morning Church service. Highly recommended in case you needed reminding. http://www.staticcaravan.org

Selfish Cunt ‘Britain is Shit’ (Horseglue). Indeed it is, but us British do like to keep a stiff upper lip and not brag about the fact. Housed in a paper bag sleeve with a ridiculous limited pressing no doubt, Selfish Cunt were recently awarded the dubious accolade of being included in the Guardian’s list of most important British bands around today, in case you are asking they were number 40, top spot of course went to the Libertines. ‘Britain is Shit’ and for that matter it’s flip ‘Fuck the Poor’ is not going to beat a hasty dash onto daytime radio, nor for that matter will it be a firm favourite around the extended family table this Christmas, which, I’m inclined to say is a shame, because despite their wilfully off putting name, Selfish Cunt do mix up a neat sideline of the early minimalist electronics of Suicide dabbed with a touch of Throbbing Gristle but gelled with the spitting anti-establishment attitude and snarling conscience of the Pistols (especially on the flip) and the Dead Kennedy’s. Armed with only a beat box and guitar this duo don’t half make a rousing sound, ‘Fuck the Poor’ on the flip finds them pursuing a more angular and wayward direction, jutting splintered riffs roam menacingly with a volatile art rock armour that’s only pierced by the venting anger of disillusion of the part Rotten / part Marriott. Shall we settle for dangerous then? Essential but for all the wrong reasons.

Buzzcocks ‘Sick City Sickness’ (Damaged Goods). Ah the glowing sounds of punk’s own Lennon and McCartney, okay not quite but you can see where I’m coming from, Shelley always the more melodic love sick muse to Diggle’s more potently raw thrust. The Buzzcocks were always the poppier talismen amid punk’s brief flame, razor sharp hundred mile an hour punk pop love notes persistently buttress rammed the upper reaches of the charts, each single a gem and backed by, more often than not, one of Shelley’s more frayed slices of art pop, making the whole thing a veritable musical monies worth. ‘Sick City Sickness’ is taken from the bands current album ‘Buzzcocks’, I’ve not had the pleasure of hearing it yet but by all accounts it’s a corker of some measure. This track has the forty something’s kicking in with a cut to rival their best, a Diggle sung ditty pretty much in the mould of ‘Harmony in my Head’ offers up the kind of disgust that Shelley could never muster with similar conviction as Stevie boy is let loose to lambaste societies ills all measured up against a kick arse backdrop of jagged potent chords and searing riffs, classy without doubt. Flip over for an unreleased 1995 track from the pen of Mr Shelley which fleshed out with a bit more muscle could easily be a ringer for ‘Love Bites’ while tailing in the end is a live version of the smarting ‘Paradise’. All lovingly pressed on red / clear vinyl and limited to 2000 copies, as if you needed an excuse to buy it. Essential. http://www.damagedgoods.co.uk

Dan Melchior’s Broke Revue ‘It’s garage obituary’ (Troubleman Unlimited). It seems a regular thing these days I find, in that the strangest looking singles that seem to lurk ominously rather than cry out for attention are nearly always the best to be had. Case in point the latest stand off from Don Melchior’s Broke Revue, housed in a puzzling cartoon sleeve and pressed on pleasing to the eye purple swirl vinyl, this deceptive two track 7 inch cuts a neat sound between its unassuming grooves. Only 800 copies of this cutie with the promise of no re-presses, ‘Remote Control / ‘Like a Fox’ are tasters for the forthcoming second album from Brooklyn’s Broke Revue. Around for over 5 years now, this lot are friends of Billy Childlish, and like their esteemed acquaintance seem to have nailed their sound to the very roots of rock ‘n’ roll rather than merely aping poorly it’s descendants. ‘Remote Control’ sadly not the Clash favourite, has a seriously punk / new wave protest song appeal, a vocal that hits between John Cooper Clarke and Wreckless Eric doing Dylan, had that is, the pair of them had be brought up in NY all riding above a seriously stripped down boot tapping rock ‘n’ roll groove that shuffles casually like all those trademark early Sun record sounds. And to boot, addictive as hell. ‘Like a Fox’ on the flip is an instrumental that belies a teasing slinky lead riff that’s set off against stutter fire chords that when moulded together chemically react to set off a seething feedback squall that lies predator style sulking in the background falling away on the path to the finale to double back on a swooning countrified crest. As if you needed telling, recommended. http://www.troublemanunlimited.com

My Morning Jacket ‘Does Xmas fiasco style’ (Darla). And getting heart warmingly seasonal, traditional style, are the thoroughly under rated My Morning Jacket. Five tip top tunes with the feint aroma of Christmas cookies and twinkling tinsel all set to humble the heart and invigorate the soul, or at least something along those lines. Originally out in 2000, this dandy little CDEP sees the MMJ lot getting seriously sentimental in a tortured kind of way, standing around the fireplace to sing you songs that bring you to your knees by their sheer trembling stature alone, kicking it all off superbly with elegant softness of ‘Xmas Curtain’, flotillas of slide guitars breathlessly evaporate into some seizing heart tugging tip toe melodies that’ll have you glowing warmly while dabbing tears from the corner of your eyes. ‘I just wanted to say’ moves achingly, tripping with a snowfall effect that just gets emotionally denser the further it drives along, a bit like Neil Young with a serious case of the Xmas blues, again it’ll have you running for the tissues as its melancholic traits from the depths of despair take a hold and squeeze from you all the last drops of emotion like pips from a orange. ‘Xmas time is here again’ comes from a more jaunty perspective, skipping rhythms bolstered by pushing harmonies all lovingly powdered by subtle country acoustics, amid it all the haunting vocals of Jim James, whom you suspect with his hollow hurt filled timbre, would even reduce to tearful neglect a crowd of expectant children where he to open a grotto and sit as Santa. That said what they do to Nick Cave’s ‘New Morning’ is pretty amazing, retaining its sense of sophistication, MMJ endow their stately gloss to bring to play a numbing grandeur while best cut of the lot is the rousing cover of ‘Santa Claus is back in Town’ as originally done by Elvis, is treated to some sterling vintage effects and rescued from pop culture and rightfully back to it’s blues roots so much so that you’ll be double checking to make sure its not some long lost Chess label recovered nugget. Damn smart stuff. http://www.darla.com

The Unknown / Benny ‘Musical Xmas Card’ (Boss Tuneage). More Xmas gubbins this time from our favourite punkster label, Boss Tuneage. A split CD no less featuring Cleveland’s The Unknown and Benny who are at present finalising their second full length due early next year. This delicious three track CD is free for the taking for the cost of a few stamps for postage and packing. The Unknown get full of the joys of seasonal merriment to have a stab at Elvis’ ‘Blue Christmas’, everything goes according to plan until the rush of angular guitars add a spiky zap to the proceedings, try imagining Mud doing duets with the Ramones while Mr Setzer of Stray Cats fame adds some drop dead cool riffs to the mix. Benny bounce in with two cuts, ‘The Hokey Cokey’, yep that one which we’ll kind of skip not before mentioning the Toy Dolls. ‘The March of the Mods’ however is slightly more with it though annoyingly brief, an instrumental that has goofy pretensions that every so often festers up with short sharp shocks of buzzing menace, quite nifty in a daft kind of way. http://www.bosstuneage.com

Braer Rabbit / Puffinboy ‘Christmas Split’ (Foolproof Projects). And the festivities continue, again another release that can be yours gratis just by writing to the address shown below. This 3 inch CD features the return of two of the Missives favourite sons, Braer Rabbit and the irrepressibly addictive Puffinboy. Braer Rabbit kick in with some hypnotic mind shredding goof groove on ‘The Steam Roller March’, featuring guest vocals from 7 & 7 is’s Lord Nuneaton Savage. Building itself on a pulsing drone canvas, a stalking groove soon wavers in menacingly to provide a bombastic dance vibe that’s obliterated by a teasing zigzagging riff, imagine early incarnations of New Order run over by Grandmaster the remaining carcass shipped out to Malcolm McLaren for resuscitation. Continuing in similar vein is Brighton’s Puffinboy, it says on the press release, moves into the early 80’s dance revival arena with the tormenting ‘Silver Medal at the Winter Games’ and we can’t help imagining what records he’s been listening to. Still as crooked as ever, Puffinboy however does at least manage to get from start to finish without scaring the bejeezus out of us with his weird sonic meanderings, this time he simply opts for a mesmerising array of cyclical rhythms that swim invitingly all tooled up with a romping dance groove that you’d be hard pressed to resist. My copy has a third unlisted track that initially sounds like a beatbox having a seizure until it becomes clear that it’s a distorted crash, bang, walloped rejig of the Waitresses classic yuletide offering ‘Xmas Wrapping’, bloody good it is too. To get yourself a nifty slice of warping grooves just write to Foolproof Projects, 115 Whippingham Road, Brighton, BN2 3PF, England.

Pedro the Lion ‘The First Noel’ (Suicide Squeeze). As beautifully fragile as you could imagine a record this side of Low to be, and a record that’s crippled by it’s own sense of melancholia. Pedro the Lion’s sound aches with a numbing pain lifted gently by the interplay of softly woven arrangements and with that there’s even a Low cover snuggling quietly on the flip. The second in Suicide Squeeze’s Christmas series, and pressed up on snow white vinyl with a once and for all pressing of 3000 worldwide. Pedro the Lion get all seasonally nostalgia by covering Low’s ‘Long way around the Sea’. To say the least, magnificent, as PTD crush the spirits with their tortured tribune, the heart break made all the more explicit by David Bazan’s failing vocals and the daintily dusted minimalist melodic folk etches. Flip over to get the traditional Christmas Carol ‘The First Noel’ and it’s time to surrender, rendered in such heart breaking fashion that rather than rejoicing, Bazan’s interpretation make it sound like an epitaph while at the same time making artists like Will Oldham positively happy souls, that said it’s a mighty damn fine twin set. http://www.suicidesqueeze.net

Fuxa ‘We could be together’ (Great Pop Supplement). And a welcome return to the singled out fold for the Great Pop Supplement label, not one, but two excellently packaged singles. First up the very wonderful Fuxa, who to be honest we thought had given up the ghost long ago, in fact last seen here with the amazing head to head with Add N to X way back two years ago. As is the labels want, this release has a strict hand numbered pressing of 111 copies only. This time Randall Nieman finds himself accompanied by Drew Roberts and Jerry Hope on his latest solar flight into the realms of space rock. ‘We could be together’ is a real deceptive beauty, calming cosmically treated guitars furrow a silken tread of fluff filled ambient threads that are loosely tied into elegant bows by the courting rasps of warmly reclining flugelhorns, not to dissimilar it has to be said in both sound and context as Tank and their sprawling elegiac sound scapes. Over on the flip, ‘A little time alone’ provides a more colourful engagement of melody, initial reminding me of L’Augmentation, the weaving brass accompaniment adding a sense of sultry mystique against a looser backdrop of happily blessed out tripping chords that impress on you the urge to lay back and float with the moods evolving within to let the varying strands collide to an entrancing effervescent splash. Superb.

Kinski ‘I guess I’m falling in Love’ (Great Pop Supplement). Something of an oddity this one, but still delightful all the same. Again limited to 111 hand numbered copies, this acutely schizophrenic 7 inch comes wrapped in the foil that the medics apparently use to keep bodies insulated, creepy or what. Kinski are a Seattle based quartet and before you start shouting Nirvana, think again, as this lot have a nasty habit of chewing up genres and pigeon holes and spitting them out the other side without care nor thought. Currently up to their third album, the latest a collaborative head to head with Acid Mothers Temple, by there own admission their brand of instrumental electrocution encompasses many tram lines, with anything from space rock, sparse minimalism, krautrock to noise psyche filtering into the mix. ‘Guess I’m falling in love’ is a cover of the old Velvets tune, that if memory serves me right, lay gathering dust in the studio until re-discovered on the ‘Another View’ archive. A ropey bare boned treatment which gives it an almost nostalgic sheen, Kinski go garage and you’d be right to gather that they probably don’t even break into a sweat with this homage, at times leering close to nicking the riff from the Stones ‘Brown Sugar’. Still the flip side offers a much more cerebrally conducive affair. Now we have played this backwards in an attempt to locate the usual seasonal greetings from the dark one but so far all enquiries have floundered. ‘Hiding drugs in the temple’ is a puzzling cut, curious sound manipulations oscillate wildly with such vivid potency to make it appear like a theremin (or for that matter a truck load of theremins) undergoing a nervous breakdown. Dippy isn’t the word for it, too unstable to be hypnotic yet wearily odd. Try imagining the Clangers having a recreational break bouncing on an inflatable castle after a more than wise intake of speed and hallucogenics and then speaking in tongues, and that is close though not close enough I suspect to describing it. Certainly worth the effort in tracking down as soon as possible. http://www.thegreatpopsupplement.com

Repomen ‘Moonlight Driving’ EP (Repo). This lot first came to our attention for their excellent cut on the recent Slow Noir compilation ‘Sunset : False’ which found them burning up their three minute slot with the razored panache of prime time Buzzcocks. This four track CD EP is the bands fourth self-released CD since their inception in 1996, and a cracker it is too, although those expecting the same adrenalin charged treatment might be best warned in advance that this release is by and large pretty mellow in comparison. That said it does at least offer the chance to see how this lot cut it as songwriters. Opening with the boisterous ‘Moonlight Driving’, which bears more than a passing nod to the Inspiral Carpets ‘Joe’, the trademark Mancunian 60’s Hammond washes being replaced by a roving piano as the sharpened hook laden guitars and crashing drums racing backdrop act together to push up the tempo and execute their damage, all smartly rounded off by some ferocious sax playing at the finale. The first of two acoustic tracks, ‘The Finest Line’ has a longing Southern tinge that reacts joyously against the pulse racing twee dynamics that themselves suggest Orchids / Go Betweens records grace their collective vinyl collections, even sparing time for a passing nod to the Beatles. ‘Untethered’ offers a much more intimate enterprise revealing a tender side to the bands make up, softened acoustics delicate aided by the merest of strings bespoked with a lulling tear choking breezy anthemic gloss. Holding it’s own at the rear ‘Delta Blues’ with its rag time blues grit has you imagining the Pogues in drunken stupor slavishly coming to grips with a Tom Waits / Nick Cave / Gallon Drunk back catalogue, quite demonically smart really. http://www.geocities.com/repomenuk

Charmless ‘Action’ (Isota). More mirth and merriment abound in the record hutch with a new slab o’ wax from Isota, as contrasting as you can get from the last release we reviewed from this label which was by Will Oldham. Limited to just 500 copies all pressed up on brown / purplish vinyl, Charmless are an agitated bunch in deed who by the sounds of it have recorded this in a basement and haven’t suffered sound wise for the experience. ‘Action’ just spills forth like a charging army, needling riffs explode to life at various junctures making the whole thing something akin to a melodic minefield, and did we mention anthemic sounding, the sound of youthful angst bottled in it’s purest form. ‘Hot Flower’ on the flip has that sugared Mitch Easter touch nuzzling among the grooves in the initial moments of the track yet when it flares up the sound evolves into something more bitingly potent that is prone to zap like static shocks and recalls at times early Senseless Things grooving with Snuff. A bit of a corker then. http://www.isotarecords.com

Thumpermonkey ‘Alpha Romeo’ (Self Released). Thumpermonkey is none other than Michael Woodman member of the excellent Brand Violet whose ‘Alien Hive Theme’ had us all whooping and bopping around the record shed only last month, and just before you start squirming excitedly at the prospect of more surf-tastic flavours pouring forth, think again. This really is an odd release, and when I say odd, I’m talking in terms that it makes the recent Ronis Brothers album seem positively poppy, and that, believe you me, is no mean feat. So odd it is, but then odd doesn’t mean it’s bad, or does it? With titles like ‘Making bombs while listening to Leonard Cohen’ and ‘Schrodinger’s Cat’ how could we honestly resist this fractured five track CD. The former is a curious fusion of stalking menace and manic ‘Pure’ era Numan replete with all the metal Reznor hooks furiously colliding savagely amid a violent storm of rage and irritation, the attrition pausing only momentarily at various sections for some trippy spacey fluffiness at which point things get briefly daydream like. ‘Glow in the Dark’ initially recalls the rapping part of Curve’s debut ’10 little girls’ doing its stuff over a succession of confused electronics which without warning rear up to create a decidedly schizoid dance groove with what sounds like B-52’s Fred Schneider doing the distressed vocals, into the mix float dismembered segments of string arrangements and mellowed space sound bites. ‘Your Humble Savant’ is an eerie avant garde cut that has the feel of the Cravats being messed up by the Virgin Prunes about it, surreal lyrics unfold an eerie drama within, all set to a haunting backdrop of macabre wide screened gloss, uncomfortably psychotic. Going all thrash metal for the rampant ‘Schrondinger’s Cat’ sort of like an unholy union of Extreme Noise Terror, ‘Antmusic’ era Adam and the Ants and a group of passing Druids, all plugged into the mains supply by handy little clips to the genitals, a track which in all honesty needs to be heard to be believed, the work of a warped genius, or just warped. Your call. Calming down for the seemingly gentle intimacy of the piano led ‘Pets’, no shocks or things jumping from out of the corner here, just a quiet sinister-less Moby-esque finale. Recommended, without doubt, though I’d leave all the lights on and play only during sun up. http://www.thumpermonkey.com

Nebula ‘Atomic Ritual’ (Sweet Nothing). Woah, Sweet Nothing go all metal with two mighty releases from Nebula. Previously unknown to me seems these LA based noise niks have had three full lengths out already. Lifted from their current opus, ‘Atomic Ritual’ is a killer of a track and the kind of thing that so called rockers around in our midst today would wet their pants if ever they come within earshot, bad tempered stoner psyche which, if reference points are required, then try Hendrix doing lead with Mudhoney or imagine classic Woodstock strangely dropped upon Seattle now, rampant riffs ricochet with wild abandon after emerging from the hazy 60’s primordial pool that greets us at the start, a monumental track that lashes out at intervals and then recoils into the safety of its own lair getting toked up. ‘More’ is pretty much the same but more so ingrained with an up yours rock attitude, squalling guitars take on the early 70’s Stones druggy groove and give it a shot of bitching MC5, a murderous cut and with that, one of the best releases put out by Sweet Nothing so far.

Nebula / Winnebago Deal ‘Split’ (Sweet Nothing). I’ll start by saying that this split is not for the feint hearted. Winnebago Deal from Oxford go head to head with LA’s Nebula on this limited to 1500 pressings split, and what a release it is: You want riffs, you got them. You want noise, you got it. You want the kind of blistering heavy weighted grunge / psyche rock that many promise yet disappointingly fail to deliver, well this has it all in bucket loads. Winnebago Deal as with the White Stripes prove that you don’t need the traditional three / four pieces of a combo to play around with rock ‘n’ roll. After a serious of releases for Fierce Panda (damn which we haven’t heard) and on the evidence of this riotous volley the duo have proven that two is more than adequate to make incendric noise. ‘Taking care of Business’ just rattles with menacing lunges sounding as it does like classic AC / DC mixing it up with early Nirvana had they chosen to listen to Thin Lizzy rather than the Pixies, all power packed with growls, razored riffs and a thoroughbred line of wholesome rock ‘n’ roll. Nebula on the flip refuse to lie down and make up the numbers as ‘Strange Human’ twists and contorts amidst a swamp laden dynamic to create a head pounding dirty drug groove that sways without mercy, respite from the burdening intensity only coming briefly during the decadent daydream sequence whereby everything gets tinglingly spatial and wholly high before the surreal picture is trashed by fragmented forlorn memories of Hawkwind cutting a thrust towards the blazing finale. So f***ing cool.

Electric Eel Shock ‘Do the Metal’ (Mighty Atom). Time to nail down everything that moves. We’ve said it before on previous reviews of these Japanese noise bearers but if ol’ St Nick thinks he has all the best tunes, then he’d better do a quick check in the basement cos Electric Eel Shock have ranshacked the lot. In what’s been a busy year for the band, touring constantly, heck I’ve missed all their London shows, getting daft to the point that if they offered to play in the record shed, you could bet your last dollar I’d be struck down with some illness or else be called away on some must be done by yesterday task. ‘Do the Metal’ is by far the loudest single we’ve had in a long while, pure mental stuff. Two of these cuts, namely ‘Do the Metal’ and ‘Japanese meets Chinese in the USA’ can be found on their recent tour sampler ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll monster from Japan’, still sounds as scary now as it did way back in the summer when we first encountered this lot. ‘Do the Metal’ is manic noise rock done at the speed where metal begins to bend, fiery licks and jack-knifing riffs very much in the bludgeoning blues spirit of Jon Spencer Blues Band except this time shredded by the intensity of Iron Maiden at their most vicious. ‘Japan meets Chinese in USA’ is more like it; a riotous stutter groove viciously jabs painfully while an unwavering dense groove pays a passing nod to early Nirvana. Daunting stuff. Completing the set is ‘I wanna be a Black Sabbath Guy, but I should be a black bass’, don’t ask me? EES go garage and end up setting the damn thing on fire. Gritty unforgiving hooks lash out to reel your sorry ass in while the sonics are left to mash your head with a violent pastiche of, yes you guessed it, Black Sabbath and AC/DC. Electrifying stuff.

The Future Kings of England ’10:66’ (Backwater). Hold onto to your hats and wrap up well because out there in the air is a chill and it’s descending quickly from Suffolk, England. In its tread the rush of doom and despair cavort explicitly, its icy wrap, hollow, enigmatic and deadly. No I haven’t swallowed a Sherlock Holmes monologue, words like epic and masterpiece don’t at all appear appropriate when trying to sum up the three instrumental tracks lurking with intent on this, without doubt, crucial CD. Think GSYBE in full flight, Mogwai at their most awesome, Levitation at their most majestic. Then think again. This transcends all, now think of Porcupine Tree at their most potent, add to that obviously, Pink Floyd c. ‘Umma Gumma’, Tangerine Dream at their most warped, Green Milk from the Planet Orange and the mighty Acid Mothers Temple. Future Kings of England saunter magnificently amid the debris their sounds commit. Formed from the ashes of Carpet Ride last year, this debut release is limited to just 500 numbered copies in a choice of blue or grey sleeve, what I suggest is that if any of the bands named above move you, then you must have this. Call it whatever you like, subtle elements of post rock, okay agreed, but it’s the way the melodies veer towards stoner / psychedelia / progressive rock, FKOE’s dwelling symphonies engage a colourful apocalypse, sometimes rearing up fearsomely at others blissed out in a druggy haze. ‘Lilly Lockwood’ the epic sub 9 minute closer to the set flirts and teases with it’s beckoning chords, edgy but alluring, when it at last gets you the mood changes dramatically to one of spacey hypnosis, the doom laden melodies instilling a lysergic nightmare sequence. Once passed the imagery clears to the sound of calming heavenly choirs, superbly executed. ‘October Moth’, the shortest track at barely over three minutes is sweetly peppered by sugary atmospherics that burn radiantly and recalls Dreams of Tall Buildings at their most lulling. All said and done you can’t beat the stupendous ’10:66’ which opens the set. Just under 8 minutes of gliding space rocking, drugged up psyche freak outs, apocalyptic atmospherics, exquisitely drawn late 60’s vibes all twisted together to weave a mind melting psychosis. Awesome stuff. http://www.backwaterrecords.com

And with that the last of 2003’s Singled Out, managing to cover 300+ singles throughout the year, hopefully there have been things scattered about them that have changed your life and given you the urge to visit those darkened forgotten corners of specialist record shops marked vinyl.

Ending it all as always with a sincere thanks to all those who’ve made these musings possible, have yourselves a very peaceful and fun festive period.

Take care,

Mark
x

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Archiv – Singled Out – Missive 27 ……

Archive posting originally published on the losing today site ….. November 2003 …..

Missive 27
28-11-2003
Part 3.

At last the final part of this particularly set to trilogy proportions Singled Out, cutting a long story short Singled Out 25 as is has been divided into 3 neatly bundled bits because, basically, it was too long. First part was posted 24th, second Wednesday and the third, well er, like here now, though admittedly day late due to being kept behind at class checking the spelling.

Okay for all the usual gory details as to the magazine and other house rules / requests please refer to
Wednesday’s Singled Out (Missive 26).

No real mad introductions as is the norm here you’ll be glad to hear except to say I’d like to mention my sense of loss with the very excellent web site DOT-BANDS going under due to lack of resources and public support, admittedly I was a little late to the site which offered a brilliant platform for unsigned bands to get their demos into the public domain, we wish Paul all the best in whatever he does in the future. If any of the bands who featured happen to be reading this please get in touch with at mark@losingtoday.com

If your in a band, a manager of a band, a label etc….I’m also looking for MP3’s for the site, if you could either send me a CD-R or a web link to the MP3 I’ll give the track a listen and incorporate a review on a future Singled Out. Those of you who may have already done this at some at some point in time, please contact me again at mark@losingtoday.com as for one, my outlook had been playing up quite recently and secondly I may have inadvertently over looked it, so either way apologies.

Furthermore as you’ll notice on the site we’ve got a features section for interviews, now I’ll admit I’ve been lax on this so far due to time constraints, however for new upcoming bands I’m prepared to give you 10 random questions, some serious some not so, I’d also need a biog and a discography if there are releases around, just general info like photos, you know the drill. Also if you could send a sample of music, whether on vinyl, CD, tape or web links at the usual email address and I’ll endeavour to get something on there about you. Can’t say fairer than that can I?

Lastly for this missive, I’d like to run an end of year poll, top three singles, top three albums and best band of 2003 and tip for 2004. Quite short and simple, we’ll cobble together all the votes and manufacture a chart to appear on the website just in time for Xmas. All entries to be marked for yours truly, multiple voting will be thoroughly encouraged.

Before we dive headlong into the final batch of singles, might be a good idea to list all the bands featured in this three-part missive. So then:

Missive 25 featured- the Buffseeds, 22-20’s, Daniel Johnston, Plastic Heroes, Raising the Fawn, Three Litre, Sigliosi, Belasco, Gold Cash Gold, Brand Violet, Milkwood and finally Surferosa.

Missive 26 goes like this- Girlinky, Sunburned Hand of the Man, the Happy Couple, Ambulance LTD, the Golden Virgins, the Boggs, the Greenhornes, the Hunches, the Dirtbombs, the Mooney Suzuki, the Kings have Long Arms with Phil Oakey, the Broken Family Band, Knife in the Water, Chikinki, the Keys, Eastern Lane, the Scratch, the Killers, the Dirty, the Stands and finally Le Motta.

Missive 27 below should read something like this- Mundane Music, Yellow 6, Portal, Kinky Disco, J Xaverre, Le Danger, Serenity, Amigo, the Koreans, Stars of Aviation, the Riders, Daniel Rachel and last but not least, the Earlies.

So without further ado…..

Mundane Music ‘A place in Mind’ (Heliotone). Second release from Manchester’s Heliotone label who, for those with short memories, had their first release by Anthony Atkinson reviewed amid much excitement in these very pages. Again the format is the same, limited to just 50 copies and pressed on 8 inches of lathe cut clear polycarbonate, on looks alone the packaging of the labels first release was something to behold. Mancunian Mundane Music serves up six tracks that prove to be anything but mundane. As crisp as an early autumns morn, curdling dreamy samples and rickety pastoral parochialisms are prised apart by gentle darting beats, at the heart of these six tender morsels lies a weighty lucky bag of sweet mouth watering succulence. The press release points a common touch with Four Tet and maybe that’s so but sprinkled ever so lightly with 4 treck. Mundane Music utilises a variation of rhythmic techniques, moods and cultures. On ‘Who’s talking to me OK?’ he fools around with an popping up-tempo disco led framework that puts you in mind of Stereolab jamming with Spyra Gyra and unexpectedly mutates craftily into a lovingly lazy slice of daydreaming rustic chords. ‘A place in mind’ with it curious mix of frozen refined elegance and idyllic funked up tropical chants is an aural equivalent of a basking palm tree lined oasis appearing outside igloo HQ, whereas ‘Sleep is a wonderful thing’ moulds together a dusty laid back framework with a frosted plink plonk lullaby underpinned by roaming beats. Quite delicious if you ask me. Future label happenings from Kimonophonic, The Love Letter Band and the Bear Quartet who will be next up. http://www.onoffonoff.org/heliotone

J Xaverre / Le Danger ‘Split’ (Static Caravan). This cute twin set isn’t officially out until the New Year but it might be worth dropping those dudes at Static HQ a quick line to secure a copy and while your at it enquiring about the extremely limited lathe cuts by Ward and d_rradio, which will be reviewed in all their ‘as nature intended’ glory in the next singled out. This release is part of the ongoing split series that has already seen Maps and Diagrams, Vector Lovers, Alkin Engineering and Naked Casino paired off to battle it out in the minimal electronic boxing ring. This time round it’s the turn of J Xaverre fresh from his sojourn along pop’s well-lit promenade with the recent long-playing debut ‘These Acid Stars’. The two tracks on offer here see a more homely and mercurial side to Mr Xaverre, the gorgeous cosmic fairground sound of ‘Skip’s Love Theme’ is romantically fluffy, a delicate music box charm liberally sprinkled with fairy dust, a bit like a frosty love sick ISAN. ‘Puget Sound’ retreads the lonesome life path so visibly detected on his debut album debut album, a very distant half cousin of ‘Saturday’, tripped with an evening song feel envisaging rocking idly on a cooling porch watching the sun disappear over the horizon. Le Danger on the flip I know absolutely nothing about but boy can they pack a smart electronic punch. ‘Days of our Eyes’ at it’s core rejigs masterfully, Tubeway Army’s ‘When the machines rock’ and shakes it up with a mean kraut rock armour while the overhead search light synthesisers survey the wasteland below picking off all life forms. ‘Milligan’ perfectly nails the austere fabric and paranoiac doom laden spirit of the early new wave / electronic scene in particular The Normal, Grace Jones or a more malevolent version of early Depeche Mode and beefs it up with an angular texture, unrelenting keyboards bludgeon out an insistently hostile flat-lined groove that appears hypnotically locked amid a monotone melody that takes refuses to take prisoners. Another winner then for the Static first team. http://www.staticcaravan.org

Kinky Disco ‘Disco Assassinator’ (Kinky Disco). And I’d have to openly admit that I’ve been smittened by three one-sided vinyl 7-inch discs that dropped through our mailbox from Kinky Disco in the last week or so. Absolutely no information at all other than a photo which I take to be them, one boy / one girl, and three pages of what should be a press release but reads like Raymond Chandlers dark detective Marlowe finding and losing a love interest. The music well, on a lesser note its simplistic, it doesn’t push the envelope to far in any direction, in fact it doesn’t have an envelope to push in the first place, however, on the plus side its an annoyingly irresistible mutation of electro disco gritted by an angular punk attitude. ‘Disco Assassinator’ adds a sprinkle of sensuality to the robotic sleaze pop of Add N to X and the Fat Truckers, oozing aloof cool it struts with a locked rock groove that sits watchfully nursing a determined monolithic machine rhythm over which femme fatale vocals that lie somewhere between Lene Lovich and Louise Werner snare you in. Pressed on red vinyl in case you were wondering. Pressed on marmalade vinyl is the doom laden electro beat pop of ‘Hanging by a Rope’, stark, minimal and eerily foreboding clipped with a mutated funk underscore this grim futuro ditty delicately balances elements of Joy Division / early New Order with even earlier versions of Human League and Cabaret Voltaire, quite splendid if you ask me. Last up and the best of the bunch, pressed on green vinyl the agitated heavy propelling electro psych of ‘Runaway Together’. Mind bending white-hot friction dynamics coalesce with spacey waves of hypnotic drones creating a truly schizoid fabric that at times wants to be an abandoned bubblegum pop song but instead is content to mess with your head with it’s wayward grooves. Essential. http://www.kinkydisco.net

The Riders ‘One more time’ (Kitchen). Now I’ll start off by saying that this is without doubt the strangest release we’ve had in a long while, and I’d have to admit, one of the sweetest. Seven frail and fragile home spun tunes recorded by the sounds of it on a rickety battered junk store guitar and a bruised and broken beatbox held together by the merest of gaffa tape strips and a distracted vocal that sounds deeply uninterested in the whole process. Unfair you might hasten to comment but in all honesty that’s what you get, and that is what makes this release so inviting, in fact so inviting you feel compelled to throw your arms around it and give it a squeeze. The Riders are duo Amy from America and Martin from Sweden, Martin was previously in By Coastal Café who released a handful of singles and one corker for Pickled Egg. The set ups pretty much the same short bursts, in fact so short they barely pass the one minute mark, delightful day dreaming lo-fi folk with an almost child like charm pinched by a shower of bristling beats, sound wise there’s a feint association to bands like Dear Nora and Lunchbox yet without the full on sound accompaniment, opening with the decidedly off centre ‘One more time’ itself possessing an oddly arresting hillbilly vibe that’s spent the best part of the day supping moonshine in Dixie land, quickly followed by the bubbling twee-dom of ‘Dirty Dog’ with its faintly sunny disposition. On the flip side the duo attain a more visceral element and come from behind their backdrops especially on the wonderful ‘Spider’ with its mooching deep-set groove that could easily pass for ‘Sunday Morning’ era Velvet Underground. Then there’s the oddball goofyness of ‘Oh my pretty woodchip’, which veers close to the Shaggs. Best of the set though is the clockwork like ‘Best One’ in which you can almost feel the spirit of Windy Miller, PC McGarry and the rest of the Candlewick Green folk going about their daily business. A puzzling but intriguing release. kitchensounds@aol.com

Stars of Aviation ‘Snow on Snow’ (Kitchen). And sticking with Lancashire’s Kitchen Records for the superbly glowing sounds of Stars of Aviation, a quartet who to date have supported the Clientele and Jet Johnson. Opening with the moving ‘Snow on Snow’ ambling frailly amid wintry landscapes, this sparkling gem oozes with a mixture of melancholia and romance, what first appears as a delightfully gentle folk smoulder quickly catches fire and splutters into a beautifully woven anthem of heart aching grandeur. ‘Illuminated’ shuffles in next, teasingly raw, nimbly calls up the lonely spirits that so eloquently breeze in and out of Relict’s occasional releases before twisting unexpectedly harnessing a curious sea shanty interior with the subtle brushing of mellow psyche. ‘Stars of Aviation are singing about summer, but is it going to be sunny, Carol?’ sees the foursome getting happier, and yes, sunnier. Full of little twisting melodic dramas, it takes to its fold varying elements of the wayward qualities of Elephant 6 collectives West Coast spirit and marries it to a glowing blend of rustic pop and idle carefreeness, its like imagining a playground setting with the Summer Hymns collaborating with Plastic Mastery. Ending with the dusty echoes of countrified pop and carnival-esque spiralling keyboards, ‘Love is only in your mind’ bring the set to a bubbling happy note end. Exquisite.

Daniel Rachel ‘Burned by the Wire’ (Dust). Another debut release, and an amazing release at that, with Christmas fast approaching this is one of those homely nerve jangling classic anthem that invites you to get spirited up with ample doses of fire water and emerge hours later misty eyed and thankful that you’ll live to see another sunrise. Daniel Rachel was one time member of Rachel’s Basement, a band we feel obliged though disinclined to admit we’d never heard of, I know don’t worry we’ve been sticking ourselves with pins all day to make up for the oversight. In 2002 he released his self financed debut solo album (the pins are getting bigger) and ‘Burned by the Wire’ is his debut single following on from support slots with such luminaries as Wreckless Eric and Billy Bragg. What can we say, tempestuous stuff. On the evidence of these two tracks Rachel shows a depth of confidence in his skills and song writing artistry, ‘Burned by the Wire’ is massive sounding with the same kind of euphoric glaze that Wylie achieves on his occasional forays to the studio, in between elements of Dylan mingle teasingly with Springsteen, a piano led tale about the dawning reality of adult life on child hood dreams, maybe you’ll shed a tear in agreement and a drink or three in nodding commiseration. Flip over for ‘Driving ‘round the bend’, and did we say Springsteen earlier, more so applicable here as Rachel kicks it up at the 50’s hop, tongue in cheek cockney barraboy vocals ala Steve Harley of Cockney Rebel, all rocking good humoured fun if you ask me even if it does veer closely to Meatloaf’s ‘Deadringer for Love’. Top stuff, recommended geeza. dustrecords@btopenworld.com

Portal / Yellow 6 ‘Split’ (Make Mine Music). Two artists who share and hover in the same ethereal tailspin of half-light where the earth ends and the heavens begin are Scott Sinfield (Portal) and Jon Attwood (Yellow 6), each known for their tingling frost tipped atmospheric voyages, here together at last on the same CD. Two tracks apiece followed by four collaborative works, now really they are spoiling us but then both delight in capturing sly snap shots of the ordinary things, things we take for granted, things we never bother to stop and think about, empty spaces that fit between the things we are going to do and the things we’ve just done, those momentary pauses, just expanded on an magnified scale. Cathedral-esque, personal, intimate, inward are descriptive words that would plausibly apply to both artists. Portal’s twin set begins with the moving translucence of the tear forming ‘Hold’, floating elegantly, a lone guitar sends out distress calls into the ether with the lovingly fragile vocals of Rachel Hughes responding to the panic, committing a caressing calm. ‘The first breathe of Winter’ softly wraps your emotions around its spindling fingers stretching them to snapping point, beautifully elegiac though hurtfully hollow and lonely as the delicate washes of a tortured symphony glide in the black void. Yellow 6 offers little in the way of un-tempo boogie on down happiness, ‘Threefold’ is deepset with a contemplative mood, culling a slowly weaving spy theme dynamic, it could easily appear on the credits soundtrack for a tragic detective hero whose character is deliberately incomplete, potted with darkened shadows and a sense of being at the edge. ‘The Sinking Sun’ is something of directional shift for Mr Attwood, his compositions more often than not have a cavernous almost inhuman texture, this time it’s as though he has left the bunker to sample the light, delicately bright, the chilling drone soundscapes are nullified by a gentle piano creeping with optimistic glee at the eye of the brewing ethereal sonic storm. The four collaborations begin with the prelude like ‘#2’ 4 minutes of delicately touching wave like spacey drones, tenderly testing the water, imagine the Clangers caught snoozing. ‘#5’ almost continues in the same frail way, carefully adding elements to the mix as though slowly waking from slumber, the hypnotic veneer almost inviting you to recline and drift away into an inner space. ‘#4’ the best cut of the collection basks in its own frosted splendour, chilly atmospherics usher in the ghostly apparitions themselves locked in states of suspended animation. ‘#3’ the final offering is the most precariously volatile of the four, a simmering duel of drone overlaps war against each other causing an edgy dynamic that imagines a bar room confrontation between godspeed, Roy Montgomery and Flying Saucer Attack, very neat indeed. An exquisite release all in all. Future releases for the label will see Portal, July Skies and the very wonderful Schengen coming out to play after the festive season. http://www.makeminemusic.co.uk

The Koreans ‘How does it feel?’ (Chlorine). Barely only a few missives back we were raving about this lots debut ‘Machine Code’. Now back again to quicken the pulses with their brand of android punk rock or as they themselves describe it, space rokk, the two tracks here gently nudge up the ante on the whole cold wave movement currently fist fighting with garage punk for supremacy as the latest retro fad. The Koreans sound bristles with electricity, feisty hooks and crooked twists regale throughout ‘How does it feel?’ as it smoothly darts with the borderline bravado of a boy band playing at indie rock and an arty ensemble playing the fashion card with powering panache. Whatever your personal viewpoint it there’s no doubt that ‘How does it feel?’ possesses a lunging bite and the kind of sharpened intensity that all the best three minute pop songs strive for. Flip over for the icy charm of superior slowed groove of ‘Talking to myself’ which rejigs about with Duran Duran’s ‘Sing blue Silver’ in fine style. Top stuff.

Amigo ‘Deep water / Shallow moment’ (Demo). And those of you who love your indie rock a little less diluted will fall over yourselves with this tasty little three track release from Bolton based quartet Amigo. Now I’ve played this a few times now and sure you can trace a few reference points from today’s fashionable crowd, yet dig a little deeper and the sounds of missing in action Manchester heroes from old the High spring to mind, and it’s the attention to melody that counts here. These three songs are all tiny little gems and each portray the bands depth and versatility, the acoustic ‘Road with Cyprus and Star’ is a crushing track that lies between the more introspective and lazy moments of the Manics, Alarm and Cast, tumbling rustic chords roll beneath the impassioned vocals to provide a heart breaking landscape. ‘Flame’ although not living up to its name, which lets face it title alone suggests that they are going to tear it up in fine style, instead what you get is a slice of smouldering sunny West Coast smoothness that traces within its sizzling tones the spirit of classic Velvet Crush, the Mayflies USA and Chris Stamey, arguably the sets best track. Last and by no means least the opener, ‘Deep water / Shallow Moment’, three minutes of tear soaked crucial driving guitar pop that stings as much as it warms and with that a pretty smartish demo that’s more than a match for most bands eliciting press column inches in the music monthlies. Contact http://www.amigoonline.co.uk

Serenity ‘The Wave’ (Demo). Now this really is a rocking two-track demo that has frankly had us cock-a-hoop in the losing today record shed. Serenity are a Plymouth based trio who so far have managed to secure hometown slots opening the likes of Muse and the Lost Prophets and proclaim that they are basically a hardcore act who’ve cherry picked elements of punk, funk, grunge and less frightening aspects of heavy metal, by that I take it they mean the hair and scary spandex, and fused it all together, and they don’t lie, okay there are a million other bands doing this at present, some great most not so, but Serenity bring a little something extra to the table in that they never forget the power of a melodic thread. Okay ‘The Wave’ with it’s serrated Killing Joke chords and doom-laden chill is a grinding assault that veers a little too much towards American rock for my liking, but it still rescues enough to bow out with a devilish kick. That said ‘Runnin’ is a totally different beast and by far the best cut here, again the principle is pretty much the same, a stalking laid back serrated KJ riff slices away at an almost, in places, metal funk groove that’s treated to a superb AC/DC soundalike vocal, further down the line the sound mutating briefly into a sleazy blues brawl, reference wise imagine Slayer slugging it out with Zeppelin with the merest trace of Green River floating in the dye, classy. http://www.serenityquarantine.com

And last but certainly not least, if we had a brass band we’d be giving it the old fanfare mullarky, so to save on the expense just pause a second and whistle one for the best release this missive by a very long margin….

The Earlies ‘EP4’ (Names). Aah the elusive Earlies, likened to some rare natural phenomena that maybe we should get David Attenborough on their case for they wake from their doze and peek all misty eyed from their hibernation every six months and bear grand gifts in finite quantities before sneaking back to the warmth of their hermetically sealed space. And this being about the right time for a wake up call they’ve left one almighty humdinger of a gift. I was sorely tempted to leave this until the annual bumper Xmas Singled Out Missive, aw but this is just too gorgeous to keep under wraps. The fourth EP from Manchester / Texas based The Earlies, of whom it has to be said, have brought such a joy to these musings this year with their epic sounding ’25 Easy Pieces’ and ‘Morning Wonder’ releases, and just when you thought they couldn’t get any better along come four more bouncing barnstormers to ward off the winter chill. ‘EP4’, (and okay this may smack of indulgence), houses four tracks any of which would for most bands be the pinnacle recording of their careers and that is not said likely, in a era of mass produced disposable pop the Earlies prefer to idly observe the scrambling traffic of commercialism from afar, existing in their own ethereal space creating miniature miracles of sophisticated sound. Beginning with the chilly ‘Wayward Song’, the collections centrepiece, finds the Earlies tip toeing gently upon freshly snowed paths, almost hymnal this aching gem is simply soul crushing it’s like an idyllic Christmas card scene or a child’s fairy tale book transforming to life, bristling frosted orchestrations bob and weave playfully amid the warmth of serenading flutes and lilting pianos happily tugging at the sapping strings, imagine Dream Academy’s ‘Life in a Northern Town’ being stripped gently and reworked by Spiritualised and a particularly festive feeling Beach Boys lavishing it with a homely nativity gloss. ‘Slowman’s Dream’ draws inspiration from elements of the Beatles ‘Across the Universe’ and retreads it with a pulsing processional spacey drone dynamic, ethereal and chilly don’t figure, this comes with it’s own pre-packed stalactites and stalagmites. ‘Sunday Morning’ starts out with a chiming sequence slowly unfolding into an intoxicating milky twisting cosmic groove with the elegiac motorik romance of early Kraftwerk and all replete with waves of brass adding a frisky spice. ‘Bring it back again’ comforts itself with a teasingly subtle psyche / kraut rock edge that underpins an unfurling lullaby-esque melody distracted by the sounds of distressed flutes and brass that all collectively fuse into a stupendous rollicking triumphant rocker. All in all without doubt the most heart warmingly brittle release you’ll hear all year, imagine all the classic bits of timeless songs from yesteryear all threaded delicately into one magnificent tear choking symphony, in its twenty-minute duration ‘EP4’ will, like a feel good cinematic masterpiece, entrance you, make you giggle, empathise and in the end happily weep with exhaustive relief, the hardest of souls will be turned to mush. Plain and simple, if there is one release you buy this week, this year, this life make sure its this, you’ll understand why the second you hear it, awesome is not strong enough a word. Contact http://www.roughtraderecords.com

And with that it’s time to bid farewell. As said previously I doubt there will be another Singled Out before the bumper Xmas write up, though I wouldn’t hold your breath as there might just be a sneaky quickie. The Xmas special should land on the site around the 17th December, I’ve no idea as yet as to what it’ll feature but you can bet it’ll be worth the wait, there will be a fair few Static releases that I can guarantee, plus a very special Yellow 6 release, Electric Eel Shock (a release which frankly has been scaring the cats in the neighbourhood, can’t think why), Lockdown Project, the Ga Ga’s, Indofrumbah, Analog, a belting demo from a Welsh trio by the name of Along Came Man, Why?, Flawed, The Future Kings of England and that’s just the leading pack.

Tune in again in about three weeks for the unmissable hair raising adventures of Singled Out as the record shed bows out with a belt busting bumper missive, as usual thanks to all those who’ve made this possible, no names you know who you are. Not forgetting a heart felt thank you to you, yes you, for reading this and spreading the word.

Complaints and things to the usual email address mark@losingtoday.com have yourselves a great few weeks and don’t forget to vote or at least mail me with your end of the year thingies….
Happy hunting, take care,

Mark
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