Thursday, 31 May 2007

THE GOSSIP – STANDING IN THE WAY OF CONTROL (BACK YARD RECORDINGS)


THE GOSSIP – STANDING IN THE WAY OF CONTROL (BACK YARD RECORDINGS)

This is the second of the two seven inches that accompany the 2007 UK release of Standing In The Way Of Control, a released highly assisted by it’s soundtrack usage in UK television series Skins.

I have to admit for a very long time I did not think The Gossip were the band that everyone seemed to think that they were, indeed rather than being the latest torch carriers of the Riot Grrrl crown I fully bought into the cynical train of thought that has Beth Ditto down as being the new Bonnie Tyler in her warble with something of a passing resemblance to Divine.

However, being a victim of daytime Radio One gradually overkill of Standing In The Way Of Control really rubbed off on me and every time those poorly recorded drums hit the radio airwaves the realisation that a Kill Rock Stars record was overwhelming mainstream radio became something of a small, verging on major, victory. Even more satisfying is the knowing nod that this record was recorded by Guy Picciotto of Fugazi and suddenly it feels like these are high times for the punk rock community (or at least those happy not to write The Gossip off as having sold out). From a personal perspective I would dare to even suggest that this record has the same kind of effect and impact that Smells Like Teen Spirit had – it all adds up to a genuine breakthrough for US underground rock for me, one I am very excited to be enjoying. Seriously at times for me it feels like some kind of another cultural phenomenon.

This seven inch contains the remix by the much missed (at least by me) Le Tigre and veers towards that land of eighties-esqe electroclash sound that seemed to be threatening to take over a couple of years. With a heightened bass sound, random keyboard score and amusing vocal echoes this is very much club time aimed at dolphins and seals. For me it does sap much of the power and energy from the song but it is all very well done and valuable in its own entity.

The b-side is a live version of Standing In The Way Of Control recorded at the 100 Club and another example/reminder of how bastardised the song can become when played live. Preferable to the efforts of the version on the a-side it illustrates at just how tight the band are in a live setting and how the whole show is run by the ringleader that is Beth Ditto, not least when she is seemingly egged on by the crowd to holler for all she is worth. When this is what’s heading the charts, is there any remaining requirement for rebellion? I blame you.

The Gossip
Kill Rock Stars
Back Yard Recordings

WOMAN – SILVER WOLF DOG (SEA RECORDS)


WOMAN – SILVER WOLF DOG (SEA RECORDS)

I understand that Woman hate being compared to Deerhoof which is quite a useful emotional gesture as they are not as good as them. Fortunately Woman are a fantastic band in their own right and happen to touch many of the exact right buttons with yours truly. In many ways it reminds of a loud guitar and maxed out version of Frank Chickens, a recent personal discovery of a great lost band from the eighties.

Sequel to the equally fantastic Das Hexer (which was in many ways the perfect album with seven songs clocking in at eleven minutes), Silver Wolf Dog tears in similar manner, this time running at six songs in eleven minutes. With a bizarre disco-esqe guitar sound accompanied by a polarised Japanese vocal of repetitive strains, Woman strikes a blow for endeavour. Lyrics are generally incoherent and hidden as the vocals are delivered in a manual loop of lunacy to match the short sharp bursts of calamity rock the band unleash behind it.

The album opens with the bubbly guitar sound of humping wah, starting proceedings in the correct manner and by the time “Beat Kids” takes the reigns the sound is akin to some kind of warped nursery rhyme of roughness. “Margarine Tree” is where the true pounding bounce rules supreme, seeing the album at its most energetic. The record closes with “Fever”, the true epic/opus of Woman, a track that almost takes up half the capacity of the release.

Words fail as to how much I enjoy, treasure and adore bands like this, brief but not curt, energetic but not obnoxious, childish but not ridiculous – on a good day this is exactly the soundtrack to my life. By executing the “less is more” tactic with the length of the release, the strategy is most definitely a success as I find myself baying for more music from Woman.

Thesaurus: merriment.

Woman

VARIOUS – CAN BUY ME LOVE 3 (DIGITAL VOMIT)


VARIOUS – CAN BUY ME LOVE 3 (DIGITAL VOMIT)

Tapping into the current Wrongmusic scene, this 27 track DIY compilation covers the spread across the board and consists of some truly inspiring dirty beats, enough truly sick gestures of sampling and sheer white noise that could well see anyone possessing and enjoying it, finding themselves locked into something heinous.

The line-up reads of established heroes, local legends and non-personas starring for just one night in the sickest Matthew Kelly style. Featuring an album opener by Junkshop Coyote (no, me neither) the initial sounds resemble Chewbacca “singing” with the KLF covering a Philip Glass song, in a suitably confusing and disorientating manner, which really sets the tone for the remainder.

Following is the first turn by one of the real “stars” of the compilation as the criminally underrated Scorpio Scorpio, direct from Australia, delivers a contribution that sadly seems more of a cut off, nowhere near representative of his frenetic live shows and general aura of danger. On the flipside, long time Ipswich hero Cats Against The Bomb supplies one of its strongest cuts to date, a cybernetic cover of “Pump It Up” that I am sure Elvis Costello will not be seeing a penny out of, a cover complete with a guitar sound Big Black would feel fitting. Not too many tracks afterwards his brother Big In Albania arrives with an electronic concoction of a bad Joy Division cover spliced with 2 Unlimited in a seemingly unabashed dig at “indie rock felching sessions”.

In the midst of so much squealing noise it comes down to the adrenalin thrash of Massive Hospitalisation to blow away the most cobwebs and sanction the most impressive appearance of the collection with its machine gun grind and casualty themed trilogy (and when I say theme I really mean Casualty theme).

The show continues with Mixomatosis sampling over immature sex noises, Rank Sinatra doing his warped distortion croon over a song I should recognise and the legendary V/Vm supplying something akin to a strip tease and/or helium fuelled Bond theme. And then the compilation ends with The Abs, a pointless and disposable Pogues-esqe drawl.

Just as people such as Digital Hardcore once predicted, this is the sound of DIY 2007, bedroom noise devoid of the overheads of such pains as recording studios and even instruments, cyberpunk is yet again very now. As the onslaught of cyber drum n bass becomes repetitive, does it serve a purpose?

Thesaurus moment: attainment.

Digital Vomit

RUP – RUP ON ZEBRA (ZEBRA TRAFFIC)


RUP – RUP ON ZEBRA (ZEBRA TRAFFIC)

I once played a variety of Rup tracks to a music publisher that looks like Danny Devito to the result of much ambivalence and disdain – had the guy liked them, that would have been the time to worry.

Shortening his name from originally Rup The Cunt and released on Brighton’s Zebra Traffic label, Rup is a genuinely talented wordsmith tapping into circa: now culture with his references in ways I have not previously seen or heard. There remains a real stigma about being a white boy rapper, and for the most part it is a very insincere form of “flattery” but when there is such substance to the whole package, it becomes a more than relevant entity in itself. This is the record Mike Skinner can only dream about accomplishing.

Rup’s debut record is more a compilation of cuts with various producers, many of which have previously seen the light of day as compilation appearances and singles. As a result a slight lack of coherence represents as a successfully diverse selection is served.

Early on subtle Jello Biafra samples on the first few cuts display where the record is coming from and a different kind of knowledge is executed, one very rarely expounded on a hip-hop release. Later when Rup describes himself as “heavy as The Melvins” there is much evidence of an indie/punk background being combined with DIY rap. Within one minute of the record Rup has told you that he “comes on rougher than wanking with sandpaper”, which is something I doubt you’ll hear any other rapper, either end of the spectrum saying. Upon hearing this proclamation the listener will either laugh or groan as it establishes the vibe and humour of proceedings and generally whether this CD is going to hated or loved.

The references and language within the delivery is of a context so wonderfully British, there is a true freshness in the mere reality of its sincerity and an aversion to just being a down streetwise wigger. With further lines such as “I drop lines like David James drops crosses” this is stuff only our generation should appreciation and decode. By the third track (“Timequake”) the composition and arrangements are to die for, switching from thumping bass driven numbers, to string samples, which as a track is subsequently followed by “Step” with tracking straight out of the John Carpenter sound book. When the record arrives at “King Cnut” (previously released as a twelve inch on Hear Today Records) there is little in the way to stop the momentum. The pace of the record reaches a pinnacle with “Rollin” and its truly sick bass loop. And before the album is quits there is still time for a return to Rup’s past with the telling and downbeat “Wilderness Kids” created with the masterful TM Juke (which previously featured on potent “Maps From The Wilderness” record by TM Juke).

Words fail me in my attempts to do justice to how stunning and refreshing this record sounds.

Thesaurus moment: charismatic.

Rup
Zebra Traffic

THE EMERGENCY – DOO-LANG DOO-LANG (SELF RELEASED)


THE EMERGENCY – DOO-LANG DOO-LANG (SELF RELEASED)

Worryingly the immediate strokes of this album present me with some of the cleanest (plainest) sounding guitar I have heard in a very long time combined with a “riff” that sounds as if it were lifted directly out of a Who songbook. And the attention from this is only taken away by the unintentionally piercing cymbal sound. I am sure the band themselves would be first to admit the production values leave a little (lot) to be desired.

I experience my own emergency as I listen to this record with a judgemental hat as I fail to find one single positive thing to say about it whilst being in full knowledge that a hell of a lot of time and effort has been squeezed into these sixteen songs.

As I stated at the beginning, contained within this record are some of the loudest sounding cymbals ever recorded and it really is an overwhelming aspect of a lot of the album (Albini drums these are not). By the end of the record I don’t know where the sound fits or where it is intended to fit – was it purposely recorded badly? With ideas lifted straight out of the indie pop book of songs, the tracks are delivered with competency but seldom do they rock or hook.

Opening with those “Who-esqe riffs”, the album kicks off in an upbeat manner but it is a positive manner akin to a pub or covers band. Gradually as the album moves on it begins to reach out and attempt to become a bit more expansive but with wayward recording and a vocal delivery that could make a person drown kittens, fairly decent stabs at tunes entering a field around Teenage Fanclub and/or Guided By Voices just become bogged down and disappointing. For some reason I thought they were Scottish and it is at this point that I realise they are not.

I’m really saddened to say that there truly is not much I find I can take from this record, a song called “Hey Whoopy Cat” only achieves the same kind of reaction from me that the Proclaimers attain while “Pictures On The Wall” feels painfully dated as it exists reminiscent of The Wonder Stuff. Ironically the song with the strongest hook is called “Get A Job” – good advice.

Thesaurus moment: unimaginative.

The Emergency

PISKIE SITS – THE SECRET SICKLINESS (WRATH RECORDS)


PISKIE SITS – THE SECRET SICKLINESS (WRATH RECORDS)

I always wondered sometimes if the “lo” in lo-fi to a large extent was also a short indicator for “low self esteem”, as my suspicions are raised with this record. Veering more towards the Trumans Water/Pavement noise side of lo-fi rather than the song based side of lo-fi, this is the kind of purposeful music that was all part of the “scene” at the turn of the century but seems less so on the agenda these days.

With their fake American accents and badly recorded drums, the Piskie Sits plunder through eleven tracks of heavily Pavement influenced ditties complete with leanings towards country rock tendencies without fully turning Americana. Likewise the backing “vocals” resemble the shrieks of a drunkard just released from the hole that morning. Plus points all. During proceedings I also find myself thinking of Magoo, the great lost Chemikal Underground band, and the much missed Ligament (before they mutated Hulk-like into Part Chimp). At times, with the way they hold their influences so heavily on their sleeves, more than once I think of the Brian Jonestown Massacre also.

The pick of the tracks here really is “Good To Eat” (great song titles all) which plays on the album at a point where it really begins to reach its stride, battling and winning the war over the poor production values as the songwriting prevails and the nuances touch my right nerve. “El Capo” is the track that has the hooks with the album having sailed the eye of the storm and by the time “Lotta Bad Things” arrives with its screaming killer chorus of intent and awkward tempo changes I am feeling an enormous sense of lo accomplishment.

As an album the record is somewhat all over the show, experiencing natural flaws, and the quality of the songs are spread across the board but there is enough personality and potent (in this music climate) to carry the effort further than most new efforts around that I am hearing currently.

I really thought the lo-fi thing was long over, this indicates a return to good times.

Thesaurus moment: sanguine.

Piskie Sits
Wrath Records

UNSANE – VISQUEEN (IPECAC RECORDINGS)


UNSANE – VISQUEEN (IPECAC RECORDINGS)

I think it is unlikely that there will be a nastier sounding record released in 2007 than Visqueen, the 6th album by New York’s Unsane. Featuring an album cover that features a dead body wrapped in cellophane and dumped in a New Jersey swamp (supposedly), it is a suitably blood splattered affair that keeps in line with both previous album covers and the sheer weight and sound of an Unsane record.

With a track record that includes deceased ex-band members (unlike the Dwarves), acceptance into the heart of the skate punk community and a support slot with Slayer amongst their achievements, Unsane are a band that have managed to hold onto their indie credibility whilst maintaining crossover respect and remaining a serious proposition being one of the original gnarly (and remaining) propositions to come from the AmpRep legacy (once almost a genre in itself).

Following up the, in my opinion, career best album “Blood Run” this is most definitely an Unsane album, a sound pretty unique to themselves that I cannot delude myself when I would have to make the admission that it is a record tough to distinguish from the remainder of the Unsane back catalogue. And this is perhaps what explains the lack of fanfare attached to this release.

Unsane circa now though I feel really finds them at the height of their powers. Better than ever the recorded sound captures their power than all their original indie albums combined. The pulsing intimidating rhythms have always been present but now more so than ever does it represent an emotion/soundtrack to what I would imagine the sensation of riding a New York subway at the height of intimidation and unease. And as ever Chris Spencer delivers his terrifying wail in the style of Noddy Holder distorted on a killing spree, busking a dustcart sound of a guitar in accompaniment. The jolt of energy and emotion I experience when listening to Unsane easily matches that of many, more respected noises in the general vicinity of The Jesus Lizard and other true American noise heroes, often far surpassing the fraudulent feeble latecomers to the scene.

Of the tracks on offer here the opener “Against The Grain” sets the tone perfectly with a menacing noir while the sound effect driven “East Broadway” bookends the album in a typically Unsane cinematically way. In between tracks with titles such as “Last Man Standing”, “Disdain” and “Only Pain” perfectly describe the horror on offer while “This Stops At The River” sees the record at its snarling best. This is a proposition that could produce depression, migraine and nausea out of the best of us.

Thesaurus moment: coercion.

Unsane

SATELLITE STATE – DEMO


SATELLITE STATE – DEMO

Here’s a demo from a new breed you generally expect the Myspace page came before the physical demo. I have to say initially listening to this three track disc I cannot tell/distinguish whether this is actually a solo work or a band. Upon closer investigation of the press release it is a band, probably from the Woking area as there is a local press quote on there from that area (further investigation sees it is actually Guildford).

Taking their name from a political term, these is something very well intentioned about these songs (and the band in general) but ultimately I can’t get away from the gut reaction that what I am listening to is something rather died in the wood, sounding worryingly like acts/bands I sense the Satellite State would spit on me for comparing them to.

The expansive guitar sound of the demo opener taps into something rather Thurston Moore in lofty and laidback mode (whether this is intentional is open for debate) it unfortunately it becomes a little trite like, dare I say, Travis when the vocals kick in, a combination of sounds which ultimately nod towards a sound I would compare to Snow Patrol.

Any band whose press release/point sheet quotes the Wikipedia entry to explain its meaning is one that should really suffer questioning with a raised eyebrow of the most judgemental of kind. Well I visited that webpage and I partly suspect the political mentality of this act is that they would have ideally preferred to calm themselves “Palestine” with one eye to subverting the mainstream with bland guitars. I just don’t understand!

Thesaurus moment: feigned.

Satellite State

Wednesday, 30 May 2007

THE PHARCYDE – RUNNIN’ (GO! BEAT/DELICIOUS VINYL)


THE PHARCYDE – RUNNIN’ (GO! BEAT/DELICIOUS VINYL)

If ever there was a song guaranteed to recall an amazing moment in time and serve to make a person feel young and fresh then it is the guilt trip of “Runnin’” by The Pharcyde.

I have to concede and admit that I had thought of this song for a couple of years until an episode of Entourage (“Return Of The King”) that played it over the closing credits and almost immediately with the opening bars my being felt lifted as I filled with positive nostalgia and goosebumps thinking about a bright time in my past when everything felt cool. Or so I tell myself through rose tinted glasses and distorted reminisces.

Despite my demeanour though there is no doubting or questioning the quality of this single. In its delivery it manages to evoke a rare commodity in hip hop: it is haunting. It plays on the senses and almost installs a sense of guilt and conscience in the listener. The word are warning in almost parental and passive way perfectly syncing with the underlying beats delivery the ideal pitch and tone in the process.

“Runnin’” illustrates the aural pallet of a troubled mind, serving as a refresher course and distraction from the meat of disparagement in mind. The subtle beats ultimately prevail as a summery flow offers a happy resolution that ends with a true dose of optimism.

Curiously released on Go! Beat in the UK meaning that it shared with label mates such as David Holmes and Portishead amongst the remix b-sides a real hidden gem appears in the form of an extended vocal version of “Drop”, perhaps one of the best known tunes in The Pharcyde cannon.

Originally appearing on the Labcabcalifornica album, a few years later the cut would also feature in the movie 8 Mile before (as I said above) most recently turning up on the closing credits of the “Return Of The King” episode of Entourage perfectly positioned at the end of a climatic scene serving as a timely reminder of the greatness of this song.

Thesaurus moment: abscond.

The Pharcyde
Go! Beat

Tuesday, 29 May 2007

VARIOUS – ALL APOLOGIES (UNIVERSAL JAPAN)



VARIOUS – ALL APOLOGIES (UNIVERSAL JAPAN)

In theory this is the dream ticket for me – Nirvana songs as covered by Japanese rock (J-rock) bands! In theory it is. I was not sure when specifically this compilation came (being an accidental Soulseek find) but the results are most definitely something interesting, if not exactly as desired. Fortunately as most Nirvana cover versions tend to be metalised abortions of classic songs, these versions actually appear to tap into spirit of the band. And dare I mention that I had never noticed before the sheer amount of words Kurt Cobain used beginning with the letters “L” and/or “R”, causing in these examples often several unintentional cultural quirks (eg “Lape Me” anybody?)

It all begins really well with a storming cover of “All Apologies” by Lunkhead, not too dissimilar to the original musically if I am honest but with bass sound several times more brooding than Krist Novoselic was ever allowed. The real early treat comes in the sheer enthusiasm of Mo’some Tonebender’s version of “Very Ape” in which they repeat another chorus adding another third to the song just because you sense they are enjoying playing so much. As mentioned above, the sting of “Rape Me” is taken out of the song as a lady sounding like Lydia Lunch in lounge mode in the guise of detroit7 inadvertently renames the song “Lape Me”.

The more experimental side of proceedings provide the most joys as HIGE’s demented attempt at “Scentless Apprentice” sounds akin to a countrified, delta blues Ween might call a cover version. Semi Shigure manage to whip “Molly’s Lips” into an even poppier state akin to the Lilys before B-Dash sing “Smells Like Teen Spirit” in a far too upbeat manner dragging it into Lemonheads and Mega City Four territory. And the less said about Yoshii Kazya turning “Polly” into “Porry” the better.

In a happy turn of events Miyavi ends the record with perhaps the best tribute of the batch as he chips in with a speedy, acoustic version of “Blew” in a pleasingly gruff and gravely manner.

Something of a strange concept but ultimately a very fun reality, this is key example and reminder of how much meaning and energy were in the songs of Kurt Cobain and just how many hidden gems there are tucked away on Soulseek (and other file sharing sites) that would otherwise go unheard by a genuinely appreciative and subtly baying enthusiastic audience.

Thesaurus moment: 楽しみ

CD Japan

Monday, 28 May 2007

POLARIS – MUSIC FROM THE ADVENTURE OF PETE AND PETE (THE MEZZOTINT LABEL)


POLARIS – MUSIC FROM THE ADVENTURE OF PETE AND PETE (THE MEZZOTINT LABEL)

Quite frankly I am ashamed and embarrassed by the fact that my old record label released a substandard album by another band called Polaris. We should have been sued.

One day I will write about how good the kids had it in the early nineties and how smart shows such as The Adventures Of Pete And Pete were ever allowed to exist in the first place. This was a show so ahead of the game that it was probably enjoyed more by knowing adults than the actual kids it was aimed towards.

The real Polaris of course was Mark Mulcahy’s baby. The band was actually pretty much Miracle Legion under a fresh alias missing a member/organ spewing out a beautiful collect of jangly guitar pop songs full of bubblegum joy many of which would pop up in the aforementioned TV show.

The most recognisable song is obviously the theme to the show called “Hey Sandy” which appears here in a longer form with addition verses. With it the song can only but conjure up one imagine: that of a band playing in a garden on the greenest of grass, on the brightest of summer days as a small dog runs around a sprinkler. In many ways this album is a celebration of the glory of suburbia crossed with the euphoria of the summer holidays.

Away from the TV show influencing a trend/theme onto proceedings the album with its constellation reference comes dedicated to “Astrochimp Ham and Spacedog Laika” has something of its own agenda in its apparent exploration of retro space race themes and the raygun gothic. In other words much like an old science fiction show from the black and white era this record is simple fun at the expense of nobody.

For anyone that watched The Adventures Of Pete And Pete back in the day many of these songs will be immediately recognisable not least for “She Is Staggering” which was often used in the closing credits and seemed aimed at and designed for Big Pete’s on/off girlfriend Ellen. It is a beautiful piece, a perfect example of a love song for naïve affection and failed consummation. The song drops in breezily but as it carries through and Mulcahy finds his crush questioned the track takes a subtle dark twist. This is the song writing equivalent of crying in resignation.

Elsewhere harmonicas drop in and out as the simple feel of the songs act perfectly suited for kids TV and a day away from worrying.

Later the record delivers “Summerbaby” which is a subdued version of the song that Little Pete once sang for almost an entire episode just so that he would not forget it. Great memories, I was around.

Stick around for the bonus at the end.

Can do!

Thesaurus moment: superior

Polaris

Sunday, 27 May 2007

JILL CUNNIFF – CITY BEACH (THE MILITIA GROUP)


JILL CUNNIFF – CITY BEACH (THE MILITIA GROUP)

I feel this summer our indie world is primed for something of a Grand Royal revival to counteract the grime, geekiness and general lack of fun that appears to be prevailing circa now. Money Mark has a new record out, Deerhoof fit the mold of exotic experiemental cool and a new Beastie Boys record itself is on its way along with an Ad-Rock produced Bad Brains record as a bonus. And to capture the summer breeze, Jill Cunniff is back from motherhood with her first solo record to accompany (and promote) a greatest hits compilation for Luscious Jackson (they had hits?). And by the end of the year, there may even be the threatened nursery rhyme/lullaby Luscious Jackson record itself.

It should come as no surprise that this record sounds very similar to the sparkly bright sounds that used to be Luscious Jackson. Also though, as I write this today the first solo efforts of Mutya Buena have also been unveiled and I have to say listening to those tracks and these, often the dynamics and general form of the songs are rather interchangeable even if the separate looks and personas appear to be from different planets.

The album flows into full swing with the lead promo track (which formerly would have been a first single but are now known as MP3 samples) “Lazy Girls”. You could be forgiven for thinking that this is a track from the Luscious Jackson compilation (or their last album) itself as it glides smoothly. The pace sadly does not maintain as the songs flounder between slow tempo trip hop attempts onto funk lite pop songs and efforts that resemble both the best and worst (more so the latter) of female pop songs. The low point comes with “Future Call” and stomping cheesy guitars that sound straight out of an Atari ST being delivered by the cheesiest of one hit girl bands, a sound several light years from the band sound of Luscious Jackson.

Jill Cunniff still has the sweetest of voices and harmonies to die for but this album has neither the hooks nor the songs. Maybe by the end of the summer the potential breezy charm will have me captivated but for the moment I’m just not feeling it. I’m not really sure what audience this record is being aimed at and neither who is actually going to buy it. A real missed opportunity.

Thesaurus moment: unaccompanied.

Jill Cunniff
The Militia Group

THE HELLPHONES – THIS IS HOW (SHEER MUSIC)


THE HELLPHONES – THIS IS HOW (SHEER MUSIC)

In an alternative universal, lets say South Africa, here is a band that could possibly be seen in a similar light to The Hold Steady. This music is unabashed straight ahead rock by people with silly names who dress like The Hives. If there is any originality in this CD, I am determined to squeeze it out in an attempt to prove my very own self worth.

There is no lack in confidence in the delivery and you can most definitely imagine the vocalist, a chap by the sole name of “Fredriguez” (just like Pele) moving about a stage with a lot of gusto and charisma, something of an accomplishment for a person when they so resemble Justin Lee Collins. In these troubled times however of sexual diseases, such advances and ego are somewhat frowned upon where there is the merest of hints that the persona is being delivered without even the slightest hint of irony, such as with here. By three tracks in I’m confused, trying to work out what kind of Elvis Costello/Bruce Springsteen hybrid I am listening to.

Although I enjoy the artwork I don’t like the music. A short story: I currently work with a person that featured on Big Brother in South Africa and the sheer unphased confidence I experience from her I find worryingly echoes in what I hear here. That old chestnut and stereotype of hard rocking and bigotry is hinted at in such song titles as “Amsterdam Bang”, “Stealing The Feeling”, “Dirty Minds”, “Sick Leave” and “Shake It” all seemingly delivered without a shred of humour (yeah, that’ll tell ‘em Granddad).

With a name that suggests a direct line to blaspheme, a desired musical jihad might sensibly be angled in their direction as the music very much represents the kind that might be played through my telephone if a most hateful cleric put me on hold.

Thesaurus moment: gauche.

The Hellphones
Sheer Music

THESE NEW PURITANS – NOW! PLUVIAL EP (ANGULAR)


THESE NEW PURITANS – NOW! PLUVIAL EP (ANGULAR)

I discovered this band by accident last year as the sound of their Myspace page came ear bleedingly pounding up from downstairs in the publishing department of my workplace. My gut reaction was that this was the sound of The Jesus Lizard jamming and crashing into Einsturzende Neubauten, I had not heard a better band in five years. Apparently.

With further inspection of these true children of the Myspace age I found more delight in the fact that these kids hail from Southend in Essex (my heart my Essex) and their photo shots just made them look ugly, reminding me visually of My Bloody Valentine at their best/worst. This truly looked the perfect package. Whether long term parking will see such a buzz maintain is another question but for now I am happy to feast on what I think I have found, I have found like.

Correct me if I am wrong but this is their first venture into a proper release and obviously it is on the most defiant of formats: the seven inch single. I wish I could say releasing records on vinyl was the sure fire method of keeping your tracks off Soulseek but I have to admit before I had bought this single, I had downloaded the tracks as MP3s. Even today when I put this release into an Ebay search to see how much of an investment the record has become, all I find it a “DJ copy” – aka a plain CD of these three tracks.

And these are three tracks of a purposely awkward kind. Who can fault a band whose opening track is called “Elvis” and features distorted vocals Mark E. Smith would be impressed by. The bass led ritual is as dirty as middle class kids can afford to come, distorting the truth of their apparent dysfunction, there is a lot of solace to be taken from these times. “C16th” follows as a typically difficultly titled song tapping into the post-punk jerk sound that has maintained its hype over the past few years, the redeeming difference here being the way the drums manage to dictate proceedings. Track BB “En Papier” is the death defying song that originally captured my attention with it’s end of the world exploits as it plainly just sounds like kids being tortured and kicked to death by musical instruments in the most angular and disorientating fashion of recent memory whilst still remaining coherent. If this is the kind of intensity and inventiveness the band can maintain we have a major new band to admire.

Thesaurus moment: convincing.

These New Puritans
Angular Records

Saturday, 26 May 2007

SHONEN KNIFE – RIDING ON THE ROCKET (AUGUST RECORDS)


SHONEN KNIFE – RIDING ON THE ROCKET (AUGUST RECORDS)

Quite possibly the greatest song that the Ramones never wrote Osaka’s Shonen Knife will forever be one of the brightest shining bands ever in rock music history. Taking the best cues out of many music worlds from 60s girl pop through metal with a tinge of grunge fuzz and finishing off with Bowery CBGB punk this band always looked great and sounded fantastic. This is pop perfection.

Without doubt the rocket that Shonen Knife are riding is the one to Russia that Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee and Tommy always talking about boarding but never quite got there. This is what charisma sounds like, a rare example in music of pure charm that easily eclipses any potential wrinkles that may exist in the delivery.

This was the song the band performed on The Word back in the day. When they appeared on screen it was like they were from a different planet instead of just a different country. What on earth was a band as cutely delicate as this doing on such a thuggish and moronic TV show? What they were doing was winning the day, not compromising, not changing just doing exactly what they wanted to in a manner that was all theirs and capturing the hearts of anybody sober enough to be sold.

No question this is a great single by a great band.

Thesaurus moment: affirming.

Shonen Knife
August Records

Friday, 25 May 2007

VARIOUS – FRITZ THE CAT & HEAVY TRAFFIC ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK RECORDINGS (FANTASY RECORDS)


VARIOUS – FRITZ THE CAT & HEAVY TRAFFIC ORIGINAL SOUNDTRACK RECORDINGS (FANTASY RECORDS)

At the risk of fawning too much (and falling into commercial promotion) I really have made some exciting finds for just £5 in the extensive Fopp soundtracks section in recent months. I have to admit these days more and more I find myself buying DVDs instead of CDs and soundtracks instead of albums.

If anyone remembers the feature length cartoon Fritz The Cat, they will probably recall an over-reaching attempt at greatness, a narrative with many messages that unfortunately often fall wide of the mark rather than making their point. After watching the movie it comes as no surprise when you discover that R Crumb disowned the movie. At the same time however it is not a bad experience by any means, visually fun if not arresting and mildly informative if not educating. And it was always one of those movies to which there were amazing songs I wish I was able to own.

The backdrop of the movie is the political spectrum of sixties America where people were acting as if they had invented politic and protest but by the end of the period the savvy were becoming cynical while many were clinging onto the final threads of the lifestyle as the wise became resigned to having accomplished little change. As a result there is something of a beaten tone to the community which is heavily reflected in the sounds emitting from my stereo as this album plays. If you remember from the movie, Fritz The Cat was to some extent rallying against the heavy themes of the movie, being playful with his winning charade. In amongst the level headed themes around this score, often darting in is such a devilish influence/element. This was a truly great era for music.

The CD spreads over 27 tracks, 13 for Fritz The Cat and 14 for Heavy Traffic and if I’m honest I only stick around for the Fritz tunes. And in amongst the suave instrumentals of heavy Hammond organ that is the kind of music Bukowski would drink, some real heavyweights feature in the form of Bo Diddley and Billie Holiday chip in with cuts. Indeed Billie Holiday’s “Yesterdays” is the kind of song that could stop traffic, a track that thoroughly captures the pain of nostalgia and longing for the past. And juxtaposed next to that track comes righteous gospel celebrations from the Watson Sisters, quite probably an act that I will never hear a song by for the remainder of my days. The music generally is the kind that you would play poker too, genuine lounge than reminds me of output from such alt rock heroes as Golden and the Denison Kimball Trio. Indeed by the second you are faced by literal funk, utilising percussion in ways that Tortoise could only dream of, seldom does the xylophone being used as a lead instrument sound so good. For me, this is just the stuff of genuine greatness.

As the album slips onto the Heavy Traffic soundtrack there is a marked change in pace, not least represented by the reality that the first two tracks are variations on Scarborough Fair. Again the soundtrack is represented by some true heavyweights with Sergio Mendes, the Isley Brothers, Dave Brubek and Chuck Berry. Beyond an excruciatingly cringeworthy version of “Twist And Shout” by the Isley Brothers, a strange version of the ever reliable “Take Five” appears as the Heavy Traffic portion of the CD set provides its own worthy atmospherics.

There is nothing new nor necessarily cutting edge about this CD but it does serve as an example of a great hidden gem of a release that can be found in the most high street of stores with view to creating a perfect pseudo-boho ambience and a genuinely relaxing record.

Thesaurus moment: streetwise, urbane.

Fritz The Cat
Heavy Traffic
Fantasy Records

LOREN SCOTT – SECULAR ETHINCS (RAISING AGENT)


LOREN SCOTT – SECULAR ETHICS (RAISING AGENT)
With cheesy cover artwork, intended to shock and offend, and a cod political album title which both only serve to roll eyes and put a person off, before the CD is even slipped out of the packaging I find myself out of love with this release. And even when I get around to removing the disc, I find myself confronted in the inlay with the bare chest of Miss Scott I believe (complete with hefty tattoo on her arm). I can only ask myself, what have I been given to listen to? At this point, the only way I feel this record could be salvaged would be were Loren Scott a Muslim.

I brave listening to the CD to be confronted by subtle feedback and electronic beeps before a pulsing beat akin to an eighties moves the song forward until the more standard drum beat takes over and the expected lyrics sail in. There is a strange air of nonchalance coupled with trying too hard feel to this record. By track four the band (?) are singing how they “create a scene because I’ve never been seen”, something I find neither believable nor relieving. One song later and the band sound very similar to the current flavour of the month Ghosts so have perhaps tapped into something the music industry is currently buying into in its droves, if not those of us with something of a rebellious streak or musical taste buds for that matter. Likewise, imagine Richard Ashcroft if he were feminine sounding and The Verve actually could not play/write whilst leaning into Belle And Sebastian, perhaps this is something of a misleading description as it actually suggests something good.

The further I delve into the record, the more confused and disillusioned I find myself becoming. Gone are my judgements of the music as I return to the reality that this is a solo project and not a whole band’s efforts, more than ever do my efforts to find fruit and coherence feel pointless and futile. When I finally realise Loren Scott is just a butch female, Loren Scott ain’t Lauryn Hill, not that there is any suggestion she claims to be, just take that diss at face value. Having now squeezed out 300 words about this CD I decide I will never give it any thought ever again in the safe comfort zone of knowing that I don’t need to.

Thesaurus moment: Detritus.

Loren Scott

Thursday, 24 May 2007

BLUR – SONG 2 (FOOD)


BLUR – SONG 2 (FOOD)

With “Song 2” I have always felt Blur managed to tap into the sound and vibe of Nirvana more than any of British band. In the way that Bush appeared to completely miss the point (blinded by dollar signs and pound notes) of the jagged pop sound of Cobain, here Coxon nailed it.

That said it is something of a travesty that this remains one of the most recognised songs in the Blur arsenal as in essence it is only really a plundering, direct track resembling more a burst of energy than an actual piece of songwriting.

What this song probably represents is a band in transition, in flux looking to mess with its audience, taking in casualties and scoring points along the way. To think this is the song that almost broke Blur in America by taking on sports bar connotations and the appearance of an alpha male macho jock persona.

In some ways it is a natural sequel to “Popscene” but for a band that has also produced songs such as “For Tomorrow” et al, for such a rapery burst of energy you would hope that the hedonism of the music be coupled with smart and intelligent lyrics such as displayed on “Charmless Man.”

This was the Blur equivalent of a bottle of alcopop. Wicked.

Thesaurus moment: bustle.

Blur
Food

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

MUDHONEY – YOU GOT IT (SUB POP)


MUDHONEY – YOU GOT IT (SUB POP)

The pace of the product was as much about the sound of grunge as anything but key to the success of being a good sounding grunge bad was to occupy a sneering, deep dark sense of comedy/humour and thrust it straight through the heart of proceedings.

With “You Got It (Keep It Outta My Face)” Mudhoney deliver a seemingly resentful message to the scene, the sound of the rejected oath plundering onto his next destination (victim) but not before drunkenly berating the rotten apple of his eye first. Mark Arm’s vocals tumble into proceedings with a guarded nonchalance.

In many ways this record is perfect. It is a keenly observed social critique of the people inhabiting their inner and outer surroundings and for such an early effort at this point for the band everyone is playing their part as if truly on fire. It also sounds as if it is being performed by a band that is drunk.

Turning over “Burn It Clean” witnesses the band on full cycle (psycho) spin but also operating at a leisurely pace before indulging in a classic Mudhoney wig out for the chorus established by Dan Peters’ simple but effective lump licks.

The Stooges only seldom got this good.

Thesaurus moment: misprize.

Mudhoney
Sub Pop

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

THE SMITHS – THIS CHARMING MAN (ROUGH TRADE)


THE SMITHS – THIS CHARMING MAN (ROUGH TRADE)

Possessing perhaps the greatest strange first line of a popular song ever (“punctured bicycle on a hillside”) the second single from The Smiths opens at a blistering pace, all coded for the cool kids in crappy clothing.

As with much of The Smiths catalogue it feels hard/difficult to imagine this song quite capturing the imagination of the music nation now as it did upon its release in 1983. From the perspective of a normal seeing set of eyes and ears The Smiths are just so strange a proposition to swallow and with this song of sexual exploration containing lines such as “bet he’ll make a man of me yet” it is difficult not to imagine a nation throwing up into a bucket in the process. Perhaps the eighties were more forward thinking than we give them credit for.

Thought of in some circles as the more sensitive antidote to the overproduced, over hyped alpha male Frankie Goes To Hollywood, The Smiths serve to “corrupt” the youth in a much more subtle and substantive manner. In Morrissey truly was a frontman that was unique and genuinely strange. Wearing his heart most visibly on his sleeve their songs were as unnerving as they were classic. Obviously they weren’t for everyone but for a person looking for a way to find something positive in a whole lot of negative and depression the seemingly inclusive words of Morrissey provided the ultimate in relief for anyone brave enough to invest.

At this point I should concede that it was absolutely years before I realised that Morrissey was homosexual but surely (surely!) I should have picked up a clue or two from “This Charming Man.” In such a case then just what was it I was hearing in the song for all those years? How was I able to swallow such a drippy (and even dreary) singing voice? Was it Marr’s guitar playing? I doubt it being a person raised on loud hulking grunge guitars.

I think what it was the hook in the chorus. That strange scream and the enforced dip in proceedings that somehow felt so natural. That and the line about not having “a stitch to wear.” You and me both Morrissey. It never even occurred to me that the charming man might be gay/homosexual, which was never my world. A jumped up country boy myself I was as naïve as this song perversely sounds.

It’s a beautiful world we live in.

Thesaurus moment: misconstrue.

The Smiths
Rough Trade

Monday, 21 May 2007

VINCENT GALLO – WHEN (WARP)


VINCENT GALLO – WHEN (WARP)

As a professional arsehole for a living I have long admired Vincent Gallo in his many roles and personas and I can only come to the conclusion that there is an underlying passion, energy and sincerity deep down that serves to accompany and enhance the talent he is not so modest about. Indeed I believe there are tribes in Africa that will expound the genius of his talent. OK, I made up that last part.

At time often sounding more like a confession than a music album, as crazy wave after crazy wave of looped instruments set out to service the contents of his mind and carpet his lyrical expressions, you can’t help but feel that this is Gallo’s idea fun, fun had at everybody else’s expense.

I cannot decide whether there is true grace and ingenuity to this record or if it is the modern day equivalent of that guy sat on the stairs during the party in Animal House crooning badly trying to impress ladies waiting for this generation’s John Belushi to grab his guitar and smash it against the wall.

Plainly high maintenance and an attention seeker when Gallo eventually gets around to opening his mouth the tone that comes from it sounds almost female. Hard female.

Listened to from one perspective this sounds like a loud of old self indulgence crap, especially the seemingly self pitying lyrical content aimed at stupid girls he appears to be hoping to coerce into fellatio.

Personally though I really admire and appreciate this album and most importantly I like it. Having been a huge fan of the Buffalo 66 soundtrack (and obviously the movie itself) when I bought this record on the day of release I pretty much knew just what I was getting it was only in what form and degree that was the unknown quantity. By track three (“My Beautiful Dog”) as things turn trip hop it becomes reassuringly apparent that Gallo is not the spent force that some might have you believe.

There is a place and purpose for this music and record but it is a very exclusive and personal place that requires a heavy dose of patience and the necessity to indulge the author.

Thesaurus moment: vainglory.

Vincent Gallo
Warp

Sunday, 20 May 2007

MY BLOODY VALENTINE – ISN’T EVERYTHING (CREATION RECORDS)


MY BLOODY VALENTINE – ISN’T EVERYTHING (CREATION RECORDS)

Opening with drums that sound like a person pounding on a door Isn’t Everything begins sounding like it is being played backwards as large movements of sound grind against a gorgeous series of declarations and suggestions with all in all gives off the impression that the band is floating. The pay off is immediate with this record.

It is often forgotten just how delicate and subtle My Bloody Valentine were able to be but sonically and spoken. The dream like qualities that emit from the sound of this record feel unique and plausible containing an originality and generous genuity seldom found in other bands of the noise or even post-rock ilk. There was a wait/weight but you can’t help but concede it was worth it.

The sheer name of the album suggests some kind of resented resignation, suggesting boredom and some kind of conclusion that everything is the same, everything has been done. Likewise coupled with the band’s name and identity it serves to take some heat off the expectations of the band themselves as a potentially defacing and self depreciating safety/security defence measure.

The hinted/suggested vulnerable continues as a theme with the lovelorn “Cupid Comes” which delivers the first real human, non ugly moment of the record. Three songs in here comes the first hook of the day as on a rare occasion the lyric content of the songwriting process takes precedent over the sonic exploration (racket).

Following closely behind comes “(When You Wake) You’re Still In A Dream” which is as fast paced as a My Bloody Valentine song gets, again serving/dishing out clear vocals and clear intentions, benefiting from strangely huge riffs and hooks. As the versus leaving the song hanging in the air there is a youthful optimism attached to proceedings with invariably falls apart along with the song towards the climax.

“No More Sorry” and “All I Need” then display the suffocating sonically driven side of the band’s act and does not necessarily serve them or this record well.

It is surprising to note just how “indie” the band sounds on this record when they are at their most coherent, something that would most definitely be missing by the time they came to producing/releasing Loveless. In many ways these are the songs that make Isn’t Everything the exciting proposition that it is and is able to steer the listener away from Loveless and back to this album.

Of all the songs on display it is “Nothing Much To Lose” that feels as if it has most to offer these days working as something of a happy compromise and managing most successfully on this record to blend the poppier moments with the more jagged daggers of noise workouts.

This is a record I could foist upon/onto anybody.

Thesaurus moment: composite.

My Bloody Valentine

Saturday, 19 May 2007

RAMONES – IT’S ALIVE (SIRE RECORDS)


RAMONES – IT’S ALIVE (SIRE RECORDS)

This was my first Ramones album and I would say if you need to get somebody into the Ramones fast this is the perfect starting place/point for any newbie.

Recorded live at the Rainbow in London on New Year’s Eve 1977 (heading into 1978) this is the classic Ramones line-up with Joey and Johnny being joined by Dee Dee and bass and Tommy on drums. This was long before the rot set in and was probably as good as it got with the Bruvvers.

The album is 28 songs long and it doesn’t even make the one hour mark, this is what it sounded like to live fast in 1977. Almost every Ramones song you could ever want to hear is present.

Opening with the threesome of “Rockaway Beach”, “Teenage Lobotomy” and “Blitzkrieg Bop” rarely in the history of rock music has there ever been such a frenetic first six minutes. Here were the definite roots of hardcore several years before the pills kicked in.

For a band that released so many live albums over the years this truly was the king of all those releases even though it was probably recorded on the least expensive equipment. Ultimately it was the organic feel of a band at their best overriding any potential limitations that technology might set them. Then again just how much in the way of intricate recording would four men sharing a surname really require?

In recent years the latest generations of alternative rock audiences haven’t really managed to appreciate the Ramones quite in the way that their elders did previously but with hooks so fat, large and wide the reality is that it takes more effort to not indulge in the fun to be had from these songs.

As things step up their version of “Surfin’ Bird” by The Trashmen improves on the original and with “Havana Affair” and “Commando” and their new kind of kicks the band display a lot more to their consciousness than their goofy, dark humour songs might suggest.

By the time you reach the “gabba gabba hey” mantra of “Pinhead” you realise that this record still packs enough punch to piss off the neighbours and make you seem like a weirdo in their eyes, ears and mind. Mission accomplished.

It all ends with “We’re A Happy Family” which history has served to demonstrate just was not true but at this time maybe, seemingly with the world their oyster and at their feet, this was when they were happy.

Thesaurus moment: dynasty.

Ramones

Friday, 18 May 2007

FUDGE TUNNEL – SEX MAMMOTH (PIGBOY)


FUDGE TUNNEL – SEX MAMMOTH (PIGBOY)

Even this long after the event there is still a real stigma and odour attached to ever having been into a band called Fudge Tunnel.

Hailing from Nottingham and fronted by Alex Newport Fudge Tunnel were always part of that more respectable face of metal, a nasty snarling hybrid of dense and horrific guitars but also possessing an alternative, almost knowing attitude towards proceedings. They were a band that looked normal but did not act it and could never comfortably fit within the cosy confines of full on indie rock. Another such band to resemble this persona and attitude was always Unsane, a band that like Fudge Tunnel would always produce what sounded like the score to something nasty happening.

As a result of such awkward/uncomfortable pigeon holing there was always something really grand and exciting about Fudge Tunnel that made the listening feel uneasy whilst also thrilled and exhilarated. The band closest to compare to them during the period for crossover appliance would be the early recordings of Therapy? that remained disturbing until “Nurse” at which point fame found them (and not Fudge Tunnel) and thus the jagged edges were smoothed out. Something that never happened to Fudge Tunnel.

Metal never sounded so good.

Thesaurus moment: bovine.

Fudge Tunnel

Thursday, 17 May 2007

JEFF BUCKLEY – LAST GOODBYE (COLUMBIA)


JEFF BUCKLEY – LAST GOODBYE (COLUMBIA)

I remember the day I purchased this CD single. I was working at Texas Homecare in Clacton and whenever I had a lunch hour I would go and bug the guy at the covered market with the record stall.

It was beautiful Saturday during the summer and I was working on the garden centre section of the store, as was the direction my career appeared to be headed at the time. During lunchtime I saw this record for sale and having heard the buzz of Jeff Buckley (still alive and kicking at the time) I quickly snapped it up.

That evening when I returned home after my shift ended at 8PM I settled into another lonely bright Saturday evening alone and from this record I heard the sweetest tones and strangely most optimistic messages as despite the track being a breakup song Jeff Buckley only served to display the most beautiful elements of the pain involved therewith. By the time “Last Goodbye” reaches the chorus and he twisted his voice in that magical way that at the time seemed/felt only exclusive to him the trajectory of the listener’s mind was set to future riches and a beautiful place.

This was a typical CD single, part one of a two part set that I never completed. Instead the three tracks on this disc were all “Last Goodbye” delivered in the form of the edit version, the album version and a live and acoustic in Japan version. This was how singles were treated in the nineties and how such a beautiful could be mass produced and diluted for the masses.

Eventually I got a copy of “Grace” by hiring it out of the Clacton library and with this song and the further Jeff Buckley tracks that came with his only album my horizons, both musical and spiritual, were expanded and enlightened.

For once here was a hype for an artist that was justified.

Thesaurus moment: lifting.

Jeff Buckley
Columbia

Wednesday, 16 May 2007

BEASTIE BOYS – GET IT TOGETHER/SABOTAGE (CAPITOL)


BEASTIE BOYS – GET IT TOGETHER/SABOTAGE (CAPITOL)

The lead single from “Ill Communication” is/was a real barnstormer of split sickness. Packaged as if the future is (was) now, in many ways this bold delivery was the epitome of Grand Royal culture.

With the accomplished rhymes of “Get It Together” it marks one of the sweetest Beastie Boys collaborations as Q-Tip subtly rules to the roost and steals the song without the listener even knowing until the realization kicks/sets in and he has long since scarpered back to his tribe giggling. Nobody anywhere has ever said “one two one two” with the smoothness as Kamaal on this string tinged happening.

With “Sabotage” the Beastie Boys rocketed into a whole new vortex. Obviously the song would not have been what it is without the Spike Jonze video but the utter brattiness and sheer volume of the song serves to make it the benchmark in booming and thunderous sound designed to annoy parents and old people alike.

Caked in authority tickling humour “Sabotage” is the pinnacle of the Beastie Boys’ reinvention as alternative heroes. Long abandoned by the pop fans and now strange Jew boys at the gathering of a mostly black hip hop party from a band nearly pronounced dead a few years earlier this came as the release equivalent of being smacked around the head by Jim Duggan’s 2 x 4.

At the close of proceedings “Sabotage” hands you your ass.

Filling out the four songs comes a remix of “Get It Together” that sees a whole new head of steam attached to MCA’s bass contribution which it many ways helps it manoeuvre more verve and accomplishment while eventually closing the deal comes the aptly christened “Resolution Time” a plundering and distorted assault on the senses. This works.

Thesaurus moment: marauding.

Beastie Boys
Grand Royal
Capitol

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

THE STOOGES – I WANNA BE YOUR DOG (ELEKTRA)


This is the nastiest sounding of all The Stooges canon. The Christmas bells only serve to make it sound more disgusting and warped than the actual sentiments of the cunnilingus adventure occurring around the jaw area of a frisky Iggy Pop.

I once was caught out dancing my arse off to this song in private, caught out and mocked by my friend Metal Dan who proceeded to snigger his way through the remainder of our meeting. He was into metal though, his head was out with the fairies, he could never understand or appreciate the full ramifications of a song and statement such as this.

The relentless motion of this song is born from the kind of grotesque guitar loop that could make the hardest of individuals feel queasy and peculiar. Nothing about this is tantric.

On the flipside is the none too subtle persuasion of “Real Cool Time” and its psychedelic wah distortion of both the mind and the senses. Would you believe the promises of a man such as ’69 Iggy Pop? Ladies?

This particular seven inch was released to coincide with the extended and remastered two disc edition of The Stooges that surfaced a few years prior to the full blown Stooges reunion and eventual mixed bag that was The Weirdness. The versions of the songs on this release were the John Cale mixes that felt as if they brought something jagged and difficult to swallow to the table. Whether that was his intention is another but certainly with it thankfully he was able to bring a new edge to the songs.

Here is a song with the ability to make you feel drunk.

Thesaurus moment: canine.

The Stooges
Elektra

Monday, 14 May 2007

ROTHKO – A PERSONAL ACCOUNT OF CONFLICT (BAD HAND RECORDS)


ROTHKO – A PERSONAL ACCOUNT OF CONFLICT (BAD HAND RECORDS)

With a title that comes not suggesting the best of times Rothko surge through another triumphant and flattening release with this three song offering marking new adventures into sonic exploration and a new side of ambient drone that is eventually pierced by the classic Rothko bass orchestration.

It starts out sounding like a Far Eastern tinged cover of the opening of Alien, the creeping scary unveiling and lifting of life in space where nobody can hear you scream and the atmosphere is so thick that it can crush your skull. This sound is the personification of an argument proving how apt the title of the release is. A little violin and bass drops later the song still has not eased off in the least.

There is a darkly slow industrial and futuristic feel to this collection, not in any horrible goth or Nine Inch Nails sense more in the towering atmospherics that accompanied the fractured skyline of Blade Runner. It feels like a real departure and shock to the senses compared to the usual bass heavy assault that usually accompanies a Rothko release.

With a sound that echoes as if recorded under sea this is akin to the musical equivalent of stepping into a sensory deprivation tank.

Thesaurus: whale.

Rothko
Rothko interview
Rothko live

Sunday, 13 May 2007

PAVEMENT – FATHER TO A SISTER OF THOUGHT (BIG CAT)


PAVEMENT – FATHER TO A SISTER OF THOUGHT (BIG CAT)

I once crashed my first car while listening to “Father To A Sister Of Thought” on the stereo. I mean totally smashed the fucking thing up. In the end it came within a cunt’s hair of being written off and for years I found myself unable to listen to “Wowee Zowee” in the/a car.

The accident occurred one week before Christmas as I sped up town to meet up with a girl called Jackie for some kind of feeble date. It had been a few months since I had last seen her and to be honest neither of us really wanted to see each other although times were desperate and as things quickly head to the festive season I couldn’t imagine anything better than to have snagged a girlfriend just in time to gain an “in” on various seasonal happenings.

Despite smashing my car to smithereens due to a lack of brake pads that I had been ensured would “see you through” I still headed into town to meet up with Jackie. Feeling stunned and scared, meeting up with her should/would hopefully serve to make things feel/sense better and put them into perspective. As I waited outside the dodgy nightclub on Colchester High Street she never arrived, never turned up. These were the days before mobile phones and I wasn’t able to call her up and ask her where she was. She had already blown me out the previous year for a date to go see Forrest Gump and once again history was repeating itself. As I sunk and fell low the only person I had to speak to was the guy at our local record store who in his distinct state of arrested development was only able to lend minimal input onto proceedings. From there I got into my wrecked car and carefully drove the death-trap home. For this in a way I had Pavement to blame.

“Father To A Sister Of Thought” is a beautiful song, the real centrepiece of a wickedly fantastic album (“Wowee Zowee”), which is easily the best in their catalogue. The lyrics are so immediate and I swear after a couple of listens they are imprinted on your mind and soul making it an infinitely simple song to sing along to and fall in love with. Who needs girls to blow you out when there are songs such as this in your life?

This is the pinnacle of the country tinged Pavement songs. A real departure from the fuzzy Fall-esqe noise fests of their initial output it remains a mystery to me as to why other bands aping the country genre just cannot pull songs of this standard off. Perhaps they are too earnest, especially when considering the incoherent lack of concern that is apparent in these words. Also despite being country (tinged) it remains slacker to the end.

By the end of the song things begin to get philosophical as thoughts battle against a slide guitar it adds a real melancholic sense of nostalgia to the climax.

Backing the main track comes “Kris Kraft” and “Muscle Rock (Is A Horse In Transition)” two more (dare I say) generic Pavement recordings high on noodles and heavy on the plod with a playful air to proceedings. Even though they are b-sides and throwaways they are so indicative of a time and place for a specific moment of music when it felt like you could triumph without necessarily trying.

Thesaurus moment: concrete.

Pavement
Big Cat

Saturday, 12 May 2007

THE JESUS LIZARD – GOAT (TOUCH & GO)


THE JESUS LIZARD – GOAT (TOUCH & GO)

In the movie “Amateur” by Hal Hartley there is a scene where Damien Young has lost his mind at the hands of accountants carrying guns. In an effort to find his way home he pulls a woman from a phone box to try and get help but instead finds himself getting arrested for being nasty. The soundtrack for this entire scene is “Then Comes Dudley” which opens this masterful record from The Jesus Lizard. And quite possibly such an act/gesture came from the summoning of the spirit of David Yow.

This is where it all comes together for The Jesus Lizard; spread over nine nasty tracks there is little in the way of flab on the record. Every instrument sounds punishing in both the method it is being played and the way it has been recorded (by Steve Albini obviously).

Released in 1991, this is/was the second album and easily the best selection of The Jesus Lizard songs to be found in the same place.

With “Then Comes Dudley” out of the way the album immediately storms into “Mouth Breather” with its stabbing and stuttering jagged guitars and Yow shout mumbling something about him “being a nice guy”. As the guitar drops out the trademark Albini drum sound and intricate bassline only serves to disorientate and empower proceedings tenfold.

On “Seasick” Yow demonstrates some of the most contained but also extreme bouts of screaming ever heard in rock history serving to prove just what a powerful and unique vocalist he will always be, confirmation that in another life at a different time he could have been like Iggy. Coupled with “Monkey Trick” the mid part of the album is a true example of terrified desperation and fear, very claustrophobic and truly unhinging. This is the soundtrack to the scene of a crime, the kind that has a history of appearing on Unsane album covers.

If ever there was an album designed to anger neighbours and infuriate parents it was this one.

Thesaurus moment: nonpareil.

The Jesus Lizard

Friday, 11 May 2007

DEVO – (I CAN’T GET ME NO) SATISFACTION (STIFF RECORDS)


DEVO – (I CAN’T GET ME NO) SATISFACTION (STIFF RECORDS)

If you search through music for a thousand years you are probably unlikely to ever come across a more accomplished and adept retuning of a song as cover version than you will Devo’s retooling of the Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction.”

Barely recognisable from the original all the frills and showbiz fluff have been removed from the texture and the laughable sexual suggestions get rendered suddenly plausible as the delivery pays a lot of credit to the external lyrical content of the number and now it seems the listener is better placed to actually understand the weight and true meaning of the song, the true root cause of (the) man’s frustration.

Musically this is also a real departure from Devo as they act upon their most playful of urges and not only deconstruct the song but their instruments with it. Keef never had it so good.

In the long run circa now this is actually probably the more recognised version of the song as pop audiences and fanatics move on but music fans and experts continue place more value onto the musical explorations of Devo as opposed to the one track mindset of the Rolling Stones and their eternal efforts to shag the planet (the female half) and milk the cashcow dry. Just who had it better?

Released on the wonderful Stiff Records (and Booji Boy Records) in 1978 this single version of the song was a different recording to that what would eventually end up on their first album recorded by Brian Eno.

Featuring on the b-side is “Sloppy (I Saw My Baby Getting)” another song that would feature on their debut album in a different form. With its gigantic pop hook this could easily have been the a-side demonstrating all the elements that make a Devo song amazing.

The run out groove is inscribed with the legend “money talks people mumble” which you can take to the bank.

The subgenius salute you.

Thesaurus moment: panegyric.

DEVO
Stiff Records

Thursday, 10 May 2007

DINOSAUR JR – FEEL THE PAIN (BLANCO Y NEGRO)


DINOSAUR JR – FEEL THE PAIN (BLANCO Y NEGRO)

In some quarters unfortunately because of the Spike Jonze music video attached to this single and the MTV airplay to a certain generation of alternative rock fans, the ones that missed the point and boat, this is the best known Dinosaur song. And while it is not a bad Dinosaur song at the same it is not a great Dinosaur song.

As it chunders along there is something of a lethargic ice cream van music feel attached to the slow guitar picking from J. he drawls in his trademark tone about “feeling the pain of everyone” sounding sarcastic in his apparent concern. When he then concedes that he “feels nothing” you can’t help but think he is taking the piss out of the touchy feely sensibilities of the caring alt rock icons of grunge and generation. The fact that he is now playing (urban) golf in the video can only serve to display how things move on. From one perspective it feels very lazy but at the same time the idle opening serves as an ideal route to the blistering turn about of face for the chorus. If nothing else you know and have memorised this song in minutes.

With Mike Johnson once more on board but Murph now gone “Feel The Pain” serves incredibly well as the opening (and only) single from “Without A Sound” also serving as the first song on the album.

Backing up on the CD single are “Get Out Of This” (no words just solo) and an acoustic solo version of “Repulsion” by J. himself recorded at CBGBs with the former being a plodder and the latter being a trudger. Actually this statement is slightly harsh about the version of “Repulsion” as J. puts in his best turn/effort at being Neil Young when really his voice sounds amazing, emotional and distinguished in its own way making it unnecessary for him to be aping anyone, although it does fall apart at the end. This is a true hidden gem buried on a crap format.

Finally hats off for the cover and a pretty literal example of feeling the pain.

Thesaurus moment: ripened.

Dinosaur Jr
Blanco Y Negro

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

FAITH NO MORE – FROM OUT OF NOWHERE (LONDON/SLASH)


FAITH NO MORE – FROM OUT OF NOWHERE (LONDON/SLASH)

When I won this seven inch single on Ebay it was in good faith but alas it arrived snapped but thankfully still intact and amazingly playable. Despite suffering a real hump/skip in the vinyl proceedings quite possibly the song never sounded better to me.

From Out Of Nowhere is easily one of the strongest songs in the Faith No More cannon/arsenal and a very smart/wise choice for album opener on The Real Thing. The lyrical content is relatively simple and basic and in the wrong hands could quite possibly have sounded cheesy but under such frenetic circumstances and a truly exciting and pulsing baseline you cannot help but get carried away with on the ride. There is little sign of the darkness that would eventually follow on the Patton led Faith No More instead here is an exuberant blast of energy that can serve to make even the most grey bearded granddad feel young and excited once again. Fifteen plus years later it remains fresh every time.

In the hands of someone else this track could easily have been rendered cheesy and without point but being perfectly pitched in almost Day-Glo funk Mike Patton truly had arrived at the helm in a way that Chuck Moseley or even Courtney Love never could. With his vocals so crisp and distinct exhibited here was a true progression in the ranks from the spinning circle of a band that had made Introduce Yourself and We Care A Lot. Sure they all look silly on the cover of the single, still metal and very goofy (and obviously taken by Ross Halfin) but this was only temporary, things were well on their way to change.

The single was released in 1990, a year before Nevermind and two years before alternative music finally would have an acceptable face/representation in the mainstream straight world. Sure Faith No More got to perform this song on Saturday Night Live but it was just too upbeat and timed too early to make that big impact on the world that certain grunge bands would be accomplishing not too long afterwards.

On the flipside are iffy live recordings of “Woodpecker From Mars” and “Epic” which are curious in just how poor they sound despite having been recorded for the old BBC Rock Show. Go figure.

Thesaurus moment: stealth.

Faith No More
London Records
Slash Records

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

FUGAZI – THE ARGUMENT (DISCHORD)


FUGAZI – THE ARGUMENT (DISCHORD)

It would look like for the best that this is/was the final Fugazi album and one that I always felt saw as something of a hic-cup in proceedings considering that the previous two studio albums (Red Medicine and End Hits) saw the band at their absolute pinnacle of their powers.

Perhaps the politics took over and the craft moved to more focused on the lyrics than the music (as with what would eventually be depressingly bland The Evens). After something of a revitalisation in the “scene” as Nirvana and grunge became a distant memory and this brand of alternative music returned cleansed, maybe the expectations were too high as a fresher and wider audience began to expect more.

It is not until “Full Disclosure”, three tracks in, that you feel the powers have be have even woken up. One song later however the record feels as if it is faltering once more.

I remembering heading into town from work at lunchtime on the day of release of the record very excited. This was before internet leaks and after I stopped receiving promos from Southern. When I finally got it home I was presented with something that was sedate, bordering on weak, when I was expecting something to rock my world, to spring me up into action to do something to improve the world and myself.

The record was released in Oct 2001 which represented a tough period for me as early into counselling (including a dream about seeing Guy beat up a fan onstage during a gig) I was sailing out the final days of some kind of relationship with a future lesbian and my increasing lack of involvement in my own record label (Gringo Records). So perhaps the record was received into the environment of the time and as a result personally judged by me on merit based on poor reasoning. That said though, at a time when feeling angry at the world and desiring and requiring some kind of outlet, there is very little overt anger, energy or aggression to this album as it seldom lets loose and gives the listener little opportunity to act out in response.

The saving graces of the record come too late in the form of half of “Oh” (the latter half ruined by Mackaye’s appearance on vocals) and Blonde Redhead-esqe “Ex-Spectator”.

Eventually it came to represent the Fugazi record I have listened to least even despite the fact for ingenuity it probably betters the early records. The band officially jumped the shark when someone decided it was a good idea to include whistling into a song.

Thank you for the memories.

Thesaurus moment: adieu

Fugazi
Fugazi interview
Fugazi live
Dischord

Monday, 7 May 2007

NIRVANA - INCESTICIDE (DGC)


NIRVANA – INCESTICIDE (DGC)

With hindsight this is a very well put together collection/compilation, especially when compared to the horrible mess that was the With The Lights Out boxset.

Considered by many to be something of a Christmas cash in upon release in 1992, with no follow up to Nevermind on the horizon, and indeed a lot of threat/worry of the band actually splitting up being rumoured/murmured, with a surprisingly large wealth of recorded tracks to choose from, this was something of an attempt to stem the tide of all the bootleggers releasing the unreleased tracks and win back some money otherwise going into the pockets of industrious music entrepreneurs. At the time Nirvana was hot.

The first time I heard of Incesticide was when John Peel played “Mexican Seafood” one Friday night when I casually came across his radio show waiting for The Word and other such moronic nineties Friday night TV shows (that actually were ten times superior to the current crop of subtly left propaganda). For a moment there I thought all of Peel’s radio shows sounded this good.

The cover artwork was always startling to me, too close to the cover of the Lithium single with Cobain indulging once more in his melted and charred doll fetish. Perhaps he should have been a chef in some capacity, especially in the light of being not only an expert in chargrilling babies but also cooking toxic substances.

My original copy of this was on cassette. It was a Christmas gift to me in 1992 and being a cassette it would often get chewed up in my yellow boombox. The warping of the intro of “Dive” was a sound both horrific and interesting to me.

There was some disappointment attached to the UK release of the record as it lacked the inflammatory liner notes that the weekly music papers reported so wildly. As a result of this when I went to America (Florida) the following May getting a copy of the US version of Incesticide was at the top of my retail agenda.

Musically the album is a lot more solid than it is remembered for. The fifteen tracks tend to be the ones with the highest production values of the tracks available, not least the ones that were recorded at the BBC for various sessions for various DJs (John Peel AND Mark Goodier?).

The aforementioned “Mexican Seafood” is easily one of the highlights with its cute fuzzy pop hooks while in the process just about failing to reach the two-minute mark. The two Vaselines covers are so frighteningly similar but equally scarily catchy and instantly memorable and served as many people’s favourite numbers from the collection, people without any idea who The Vaselines were and probably still do not.

With “Aneurysm” already being a solid staple of the live set it provided the perfect album closer with which to send the album on a high note (it is notable that there is a distinct lack of acoustic meanders on the record). A ace up the sleeve was to be found in the proceeding tracks before the closer as the lumbering “Aero Zeppelin” and “Hairspray Queen” saw the band at their heaviest almost veering off into some kind of psychedelic direction while apparently indulging into rock clichés that were never too much for these tunes.

Compared to the studio records Incesticide really holds up strongly against the more famous Nirvana releases and towers head and shoulders above the boxset and the elements of dross that have spewed there from. This record still tops 99% of any guitar music released since.

Thesaurus moment: underdog

Nirvana
DGC

Saturday, 5 May 2007

NO PICTURES 9 ALBUM REVIEWS

RECORD REVIEWS, EVERYBODY


Graham Coxon - The Sky Is Too High (Transcopic)
I really love this. Its wayward and jerky and from a reformed Colchester son. Its the three noise tracks that really stand out with album opener Thats All I Wanna Do turning Bardo Pond-esqe out of nowhere, I Wish turning god knows what out of nowhere and Who The Fuck? being a nasty punk grooove, only noisier. The remainder of the album is twinkly, almost post rock audition, and joyful reminding of Blur's most sensual moments. It doesn't always work but its never far from doing so, either when it fails. It also makes you realise why Damon is the singer of Blur and instead of Graham, in the best possible way.

Blonde Redhead - In An Expression Of The Inexpressible (Touch And Go)
This is a much slower record than Fake Can Be... I have to say I was initially surprised and a little disappointed at first, however once you take the record from a fresh context there is so much else within. I'm currently using the word disorientating too much but I can't describe this album without using it. Get this record and go straight to the title track, that will definitely shock you. Its chock full of repitition that completely grabs and then stabs you in the arse with a probe. The frenetic This Is For Me... stands out for its urgency and destruction. And Justin Joyous is probably the best name for a song ever.

Godspeed You Black Emperor - f#a#oo (Kranky/Constellation)
This is a very slow paced affair. On the whole it has been pushed into the post rock genre and tarred with that brush. That case is probably so but this really does reflect the pinnacle of that lazy genre. For me it all runs closer to modern chamber music performed by talented punk musicians harbouring a bleak outlook, not too interested in the welfare of those sharing the nightmare with them. The spoken parts share a knowledge that was gained from experience. A guitar breaks in the distance evoking the same sounds and smells of the climatic scenes of Repo Man, this release sharing an explained element as that movie. This is an evil sounding record. The three pieces (you can't call them songs) produce mini epics within the perimiters. This is the sound of a Lynch film put to CD. Its starts with a voiceover describing the end of the world, how it currently is. It starts out very much a bleak spoken word piece becoming something totally atmospheric, almost orchestral. All roads lead to something Ennio Morricone-like. This is music aching for a visual to accompany it.

Unwound - Challenge For A Civilised Society (Kill Rock Stars and Matador)
In a time when everything seems headed to anti-rock and album of dynamics as displayed here are so gratefully accepted. The explosive opener Data is how all records should start. It slams like Eska's Last Man with a flight path. Unwound possess on the fiercest rhythm sections I have ever heard which beside an exceptional set of sounds and effects spewing from the guitar make for a frightenly exciting combination. There is a lot of build up attached to the majority of their arangements and mainly the expected hard shot to the head does come. Usually. This is a record though about starting and closing. This first tracks of the nine (ten) are blistering and magnificent but by the end of the album, they are less so impressive. The main is hamper is songs being overlong and testing. Fuck it though, the good stuff is breathtaking. Laugh Track could be described as jarring math I guess. It's certainly calculated, coming on like moments from End Hits. Meet The Plastics features a wandering bass line, repetitive guitars and bellow vocals, very much like hot Unsane except superior. The World Is Flat, once painful repition at the start is done and out of the way, features sound dynamics. And then it gets painful in parts. At times sinister but also sadly dull. Side Effects.. opens like old GVSB but goes all expermintal for a climax. This is love/hate at its most hurtful.

Bob Mould - The Last Dog And Pony Show (Creation)
Here is evidence that Bob still has a lot to offer. His vocals sound as great as ever, always appearing to float, as his guitar also sounds like its hovering and without relenting once. And then Megamanic offers more with programmed machine drums hammering Bob's point. Of the familiar Taking Everything holds most, encapsulating all things great about Bob and Bob songs.

Beastie Boys - Hello Nasty (Grand Royal)
This is yet to grow on me but also so was Ill Communication to start with, which too a long time to click. I can safely state that this is not the best Beastie Boys album, in so far as it is not as good as Check Your Head or Ill Communication. That's not to say it isn't very good, only... Its easy to pick out amazing songs in Remote Control, Body Movin' and Intergalactic. This is very much about the exploration of new areas, attempting something fresh and accomplishing it. Still without punkers, rockers or a Sabotage song its tough to go mental to these tunes. I have just watched Beastie-ography on MTV and it was so fucking inspiring.

Seam - The Pace Is Glacial (Touch And Go)
Hushed, whispery vocals mix with highly melodic guests of songs. The fast paced songs are obviously more up my dark alley. There is such an overwhelming urgency to these songs, like somebody being trapped and wanting to get out. In The Sun really builds into something furious. Each song seems to change direction and tempo at least once during its existence. And there is a track called Wig. Also there is another thats named Get Higher which manages to excell everytime.

Furry Things - Moments Away (Trance Syndicate)
This is more cohessive and accessible, less experimental than I have heard previously. It very often resembles and reminds me of the music that is to be found on the back of Wu songs. However instead of being fronted by an Old Dirty Bastard by someone more seductive. Its very dubby and I thank my stars I'm listening to this on a good stereo. As I said once before, often this is how Garbage want to sound and think they sound but just plain don't. Almost the musical equivilent of having a pillow pushed in your face with tracks like Strange New World being the sound of struggling to get free.

Snow Patrol - Songs For Polar Bears (Jeepster)
Theres enough to like with this. The band were called Polar Bear until the man told them to change their name thus the album title. And the opening track is named Downhill From Here, which itself is very good and appropriately named with an almost stinging guitar sound and fuzzy as fuck bassline. Its pretty diverse, often nodding its head towards many a different genre. It contains the occassional blooper (NYC, 100 Things You Should Have Done In Bed) but then they're followed by the fantastic Little Hide. The singer worringly sounds a lot like Bush's Gavin Ripoff but I'm sure those similarities go no further. There are some treasures to be discoverd here.

Pixies - Live At The BBC (4AD)
I've recently discovered Doolittle a childhood too late. This is good food too but not as great. It does sail by very smoothly, with the highlight being the astonishing version of Wave Of Mutilation. The cover versions are crazy and come a close second for the world title of album highlight with both Wild Honey Pie and (In Heaven) being unrecognisable to the originals which only makes them much better. The album has been released cheapskie, so it only contains limited risk.

Various - Television's Greatest Hits 7 - Cable Ready (TVT)
What a treat. I ordered this off the internet ($20 and $15 p&p sir!) but it was worth it for 65 themes of American TV shows. The number one reason for this is because its the only place you can get the theme to The Adventures Of Pete & Pete, Hey Sandy by Polaris (aka Miracle Legion). Similarly the theme to The Kids In The Hall is on here, which is Having An Average Weekend by Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet. Music wise the best, other than those above, is the theme to America's Most Wanted, which is pure evil and begging to sampled. And the singalonga Garry Shandling's Show theme. Tell jokes as the theme to Seinfeld burps in the background. Rock out to Saved By The Bell, act senile to the Cosby Show theme, be a fake arse rapper to the Fresh Prince Of Bel Air and na na na to the signature of Clarissa Explains It All. Additionally enjoy a trauma and crisis (or both!) to the theme of My So Called Life, learn to read with Barney And Friends, get fat to Roseanne and dig the beats and bongo to Ren And Stimpy. Like Dougal and his sound effects record. Nice moving cover also. Bargain!

Dub Narcotic Sound System - Out Of Your Mind (K)
I'm currently in love with dub, its the saving grace of not only disco but Rancid also. This record hits the spot immediately with Wicked Bad. Calvin has a one-off voice, so suited to everything it touchs and interrupts. A right thinking world would be dancing to this right now as opposed to the latest Fun Lovin Criminals slice of cheese. They may be Barry White but this is James Brown. At times it goes into an extended jam mode but still remains a party of a record (Belly Warmer being the guilty party).

Bobby Conn - Rise Up (Atavistic/Truckstop)
If you move in the right circles sooner or later you'll hear about Bobby Conn. From there you will get the story of his Continuous Cash Flow System and his religious clout. Then you will finally hear one of his records, which will turn out to be the most frightening experience of all. The entire album is the journey and conquest of one man forcefeeding you classic rock, in the mission of making you dance. Whether it is for real or not really need not be an issue when you having such genuinely good songwriting, capped with diversity. And the spiel is like the cherry atop of the money cake.

Mogwai - Kicking A Dead Pig (eye q)
I was afraid to give this one a spin. The Mogwai Fear Satan remixes didn't sit too comfortably with me. Moments of this album repeat that (non) sensation but the other remixes hold much more steam. The Hood and Alec Empire remixes of Like Herod are damn near essential, as is the unrecognisable battering of Helicon 2 and the latest treatment of/to Summer. All good. It's Mogwai but not as we know it Jim.

Various - Give 'Em The Boot (Hellcat)
This is a 20 track sampler put out by Rancid's label Hellcat. The Rancid track here, The Brothels, is one of their better ones. Also present here is what is supposed to be the next big thing: Dropkick Murphys. The track begins with bagpipes, demonstrating that they're down with the Irish thing! It kicks in soon after but I'm not sold on them. The Business and Voodoo Glow Skulls appear also.

Money Mark - Push The Button (Mo Wax)
I was pretty disappointed in this. I got a five song sampler through the post, all of which was fantastic, but the full blown 18 tracker doesn't quite cut it or hold/maintain my full attention. At times it reminds me of The Beatles. Go figure. The singles are still king though. And so are the music videos that go with them.

Mark Lanegan - Scraps At Midnight (Sub Pop and Beggars Banquet)
Here is a survivor. This is almost definitely the most amazing voice to emerge from America this century. Him and Axl Rose. Its very Cohen-esqe to me. It is also beneficial to look behind the man and take in the music, appropriately suited and very imagination sparking. Perhaps even more so than the sometimes too trad Screaming Trees. Nothing unnatural considering how blues and country drenched this is and it never turns to cheese at any important, something very important with this music and a trick that Lanegan is expert at avoiding. Featuring J Mascis, Tad Doyle and Lanegan solo mainstay Mike Johnson. Not as popular as Will Oldham though.

Unsane - Occupational Hazard (Lockjaw)
This is devastating and pummeling Unsane. They feeled trimmed and as a result free from prior plodding with was a little anchoring. Their vocals reign unique, deranged and absurd, as the rest of the song sounds a blood splattered affair. Unsane provide the soundtrack to a tick burrowing its way under your skin, its relentless feelers battling for your attention. This sensation comes via the bass sound. It all happens immediately with opener Committed but really reaches total heights with the track Smells Like Rain.

Cornelius - Fantasma (Matador)
Twisty twisty music. At one stage its announced that "there is an escape from the Planet of the Apes". Er, the planet or the movie? It fits right in place. Cornelius has put something together beyond eclectic. I'm struggling to make a decision as to at what hour this music would be best suited. My best (considered) suggestion would be on a Sunday morning, without a hangover, this music requires that you are alert. There are a hundred and one western references here, Disney, Clash, Magoo and 2010 and very cheekily tracks named God Only Knows and Thank You For The Music, that don't resemble their namesakes. Biggun.

Solex - Solex Vs The Hitmeister (Matador)
Herein lies many tracks featuring one Elisabeth Esselink (Solex) singing over numerous drum and jazz loops coupled with strange recurring noises. This reminds me so much of Bjork's unplugged set, echoing the Sneaker Pimps left and right. Much of it feels long and drawn out but then again I am listening to it with a migraine. It all surely means something to someone. Their is an air of melancholy attached which prevents you from loving it in full, especially present on the track Solex In A Slipshod Style. And the album finds itself becoming most frisky and energetic on the tracks There's A Solex On The Run, Solex All Licketyspit and When Solex Just Stood There. Good beats.

Jepp - Jepp (Hut)
I was asked to check this out. It seems she's being aimed towards the Alanis market. It contains some nasty country tinges. Its not as blatant as Miss Canadian blowjob but it is way over produced. The lyrics appear to mean more but comparing this to Natalie Merchant doesn't quite fit.

Rancid - Life Won't Wait (Epitaph)
I picked this up because it was intially mid price in an attempted Dischord/non-commercial punk manner. Rancid are cartoon punks and because of this are looked down upon too harshly in my opinion. Recorded in Jamaica (oh yes) the climate and surroundings have obviously influenced the very dub reggare sound, making many moments a music form above ska. I'll long argue in defense of Tim Armstrong's voice, gruff not Dick Van Dyke. "Shine your shoes guv'ner?".

Volume All*Star - Close Encounters Of The Bump And Grind (Too Pure)
This was a really pleasant surprise. Its nothing revolutionary but something to listen to without worry. It is mostly a trip hop kind of thing. Occasionally female vocals drop in slightly changing the mood but often not enough to ruin the flow. Left and right some real strange samples are employed in the form of obscure films, people and video games.

Jesus & Mary Chain - Munki (Creation and Sub Pop)
This is being put out in America by Sub Pop. So if its good enough for them, its gotta be good, right? Actually I already had bought it before finding that out, purchasing it on the strength of the cracking Cracking Up alone and the promise of a potential repeat of past glories. Supertramp is basically Tomorrow Never Knows with new lyrics, updated for the nineties, just like Setting Sun did too. It all ends with the blistering new version of I Hate Rock n Roll. Some of its a drag but on the whole it keeps up being distorted and recognisable Mary Chain.

Don Caballero - What Burns Never Returns (Touch And Go)
An album that contains mucho heavy jazz drumming, seemingly constructed by improv and breaking down by improv. As a result it naturally strikes many expanding angles keeping the listener transfixed, holding on the for next change in tempo and/or direction. It often reaches the point of frenzied distraction before calming down again. Delivering Groceries... sees the band most experimenting with noise distortion and volume. Honestly exciting.

Lungfish - Artificial Horizon (Dischord)
Lungfish sound towering from the start. The instrumentals sound very different to the songs with vocals, the vocals definitely do change the meaning, intention and pattern of each song they touch. The record often reminds me of the heady heights reached by Bardo Pond when in laidback mode and perhaps Satchel crossed with something like the Pogues.

Strangulated Beatoffs - Self Titled (Skingraft)
Here is the sound from inside of the mind of a crazed madman. If you're quiet and listen real hard you could hear this record coming from me like a fart in the winter. This is a real mystery.

Ganger - Hammock Style (Domino)
This is delicate and repetitive. Sometimes wonderful and sometimes boring. I'm sure these moments when piled on live may thrill but at home some moments fail to trigger much of a response. The album opener is a fine Aerial M-esqe moment. Almost whispered female vocals drop in and out as the train carries along. The next magic moment comes during the drone of First Thing In The Morning. More pleasant than expected.



Royal Trux - Accelerator (Domino)
This begins with I'm Ready. That song reminds me of License To Ill for some reason, probably down to the shameless guitar riff and brash delivery. The rest is just as crazy. Kinda Blues Explosion, kinda hip hop bump and grind with a tad Gospel Yeh Yeh sound. The highlights are the thumping Juicy Juicy Juice and Liar and also Banana Question that can't help but make any participant move. And how on Earth do they get away with sounding like Elt John and Billy Joe L on closer Stevie and still sound awesome? Soul. Tonnes.

Happy Go Licky - Happy Go Licky (Peterbilt/Dischord)
This has been out for a while now but I only recently discovered it. This is a live album of Rites Of Spring (featuring Guy Picciotto) going by another name. The sound quality leaves a little bit to be desired but its still a fine noise record. I listened to this as I rode the train to London to see Sonic Youth and it all made complete sense. More than once does noise just spew out and the occassional funked up bass recalls GvsB in times gone by tangling with Gang Of Four in times before that. All said and done though it seems a little worrying that this is over ten years old and sounds more modern and exciting than those that would be their current peers. An album of innovation.

Jessica Bailiff - Even In Silence (Kranky)
Here female vocals drift and whisper over the top of an underlining, pulse flavoured drone and random but regular guitar strums as provided by Mr Low. It sounds like a person in pain and reminds me a tad of Woodbine. By the end it is overwhelming.

Various - Selector Dub Narcotic (K)
The choice of stuff recorded at Dub Narcotic studios. I pick The Panties first for the awesome sound of girls rocking out. Black Anger Movement follow soon after with amazing hip hop and then Miranda July just manages to freak out on record and then you get what you expect from the Blues Explosion in attendence. Elsewhere Dub Narcotic appear thrice as do Beck and Make Up once.

Pram - The North Pole Radio Station (Domino)
This recalls (for me) blissed out moments from Bjork (sans cockney alien vocals) and plenty of Broadcast, when sounding interesting and interested.

Sonic Youth - A Thousand Leaves (Geffen Schmeffen)
Who'd dare diss Sonic Youth. This is a very good summer album as a soundtrack to just lying down and enduring the heat to. I keep referring to Sonic Tooth as abstract more and more these days. I wish they still sounded angry. I love(d) them when they're raging, when they sound vicious, a real underground force. This is at times too mellow. I guess that suggests a sign of ageing. There is also further proof here to suggest that they're our Velvets. It does at times overrun but who can fault the perfect descending route of French Tickler. Finally I would like thank Universal for fucking up with empty promises.

Various - P101 vol 4
This is the 26 track CD that comes with the fanzine of the same name. It features tracks with Man Or Astroman?, Milencolin, Refused, J Church, King Prawn, China Drum, Goober Patrol and The Business. The standouts being Pinto, Mock, Panic, Four Letter Word and The Business' "Southgate (Euro 96)", echoing emotions and sentiments that I still, to this day, share.

Public Enemy - He Got Game (Def Jam)
This issue, when I grow up I want to be Chuck D. And my friend can be Flavor Flav. The Arab Strap gig really inspired me to go out and rediscover Public Enemy and fortunately at the very same time this new PE record came along. Public Enemy for me are the greatest hip hop band ever to exist. For starters no other hip hop act has had their staying power and in doing so they reveal the majority of other rap stars to be the pieces of cheese that they are. The awesome thing about Public Enemy is that they can be so fucking intense but Chuck D remains eloquent and intelligent enough to make sense. This Spike Lee soundtrack doesn't quite make it to the heights of works from years past but it does still produce a profit. The title track grabs your attention, wheeling in/out Stephen Stills (now about 80 years old) without taking the piss (too much). There are more notable guest appearences from quarters of the Wu and KRS One. The track Sneaker Pimps..... speaks volumes on those trainers spoilt mugs pay over the odds for and Meat Beat Manifesto really deliver on Go Cat Go.

Various - Into The Kiltmakers (Glass Cow)
Heres a CD full of bands from Glasgow. There's allsorts on here, and they're not strictly from the famous bands of musicians. The undisputed highlight is the El Hombre Trajeado, which quite frankly make the collection worth having. A Slippery Man On A Slidier Surface is a cooking pot of Slint, Minutemen and Arab Strap sounds. Also present here are Pink Kross, Space Kittens, PH Family and the Newtown Grunts.


Jason Graham (taken from No Pictures 9)