Monday, 25 May 2009



Delivered on banana yellow vinyl, upon the first few listens of this song on FM radio it immediately struck me as being the kind of record that stops traffic. It certainly pulled me away from the reality of what I was doing at the time at work.

It is the chorus that slays the listener by design. Filled with words to crush a person’s heart in a really rare gesture of needing to know, the voice of the song reeks of desperation. This has been one of those rare songs that has found me rewinding and listening to it immediately again afterwards and repeating this process for six or seven turns. It has also seen me looking/grabbing for the lyrics eager and desperate to work out a specific interpretation, searching for the source of the meaning of the apparent pain. This is a song it appears touches a nerve and serves solidly to empathise with and spread/share the sadness.

It is tough to gauge just what really Empire Of The Sun are about. The sound is very Australian and retro eighties as the artwork once more pays a major nod to retro fantasy art from the eighties appealing those with disposable income who were fans of Labyrinth, Legend and the Neverending Story. This really is a package that should not be liked.

I wonder if JG Ballard would approve of such usage of his title? I can’t imagine Christian Bale does.

Escapism seldom tastes so bright and shiny.

Thesaurus moment: glossy.

Empire Of The Sun
Virgin Records

Wednesday, 20 May 2009



Over the course of “Set ‘Em Wild, Set ‘Em Free” the Akron/Family manage to execute an exuberant mish mash of classic left field joints whilst making their spontaneous and schizophrenic sound very much a flavour of their own.

With “Everyone Is Guilty” starting off the show it bounces in sounding like some euphoric combination of Tortoise and Battles before the vocals and accusations that come with kick in the audience’s experience and adds an element of unease.

In addition to being very creative and playful musically the songwriting lyrically is also very emotionally explicit not necessarily accompanied with a smile.

The album (and band) is something of a two headed monster. It is in the moments that record descends too far down into folk/country territory that holds the collection back, folk/country being a sound/genre that is seldom able to lift itself out of cliché and cheese.

As my life continues to turn into a surreal shell of its former existence the more whimsical moments of this record such as “Many Ghosts” helps the Akron Family to provide a kind of twisted Disney breakdown score to proceedings.

Away from the noisefest of “MBF” the stand out track on the album for me is “Creatures.” Opening as if sounding like an almost acoustic take on drum and bass it couples with Dr Seuss nursery rhyme type lyrics of affection to provide a perfect backdrop to feeling young. By the time the song reaches the chorus the wind instruments have made a cameo appearance and a light feel dominates proceedings and a person listening can only begin to feel mesmerised as they fall in love with the process at the exact point the “up and down, down down down” mini mantra kicks in. Right now the sun is shining for a reason.

A rare and a good thing this is an indie rock album that sounds like attendance at a campfire.

Thesaurus moment: milieu.

Crammed Discs
Dead Oceans

Tuesday, 19 May 2009



Everyone learns a version of “Louie Louie” by The Kingsmen when they first get a guitar.  In theory it is the easiest song in the world to play and if you slow it down slightly you can also pass yourself off as playing “Smoke On The Water”.  This is a song for cheats.

At school for the longest time my friend Chris Wright and I were obsessed by this song.  You have to bear in mind this was the 90s and music was only available on physical formats and with that came limited selection.  We knew “Louie Louie” from the movies, mainly the trailer to Coupe De Ville and the party scene in Animal House, but could not procure the track anywhere.  Apparently it was on the soundtrack to Quadrophenia but that was Mod shit, stuff our parents and retro losers listened to.  We were not going to buy into that.  Also it was a double album, too expensive for our coffers.  Eventually I would finally own the track via a cheesy compilation entitled This Is…Son Of Cult Fiction but in many ways it was too late for that period of my life.  Before this I had purchased the Animal House soundtrack while on holiday in Florida after seeing “Louie Louie” in the tracklisting but in my misguided disappointment I emerged gutted that the version there was by John Belushi and not The Kingsmen.

By the time I got into Black Flag I was a much different person to who I was at school.  It would probably have benefited me to be into punk at school but better late than never during what I describe as my “wilderness years” between education and career I was now fostering a snide attitude which was not necessarily endearing me to my surroundings even though it was amusing it.

The Black Flag take on “Louie Louie” is unique and crushing.  No other band has delivered it in quite this way and indeed it was used in Old School as a direct and updated homage/recognition to Animal House.  When sung by these punkers with fresh bite the words still hold and fit – punkers fall in love too.  “You know the pain in my heart, it just shows I’m not very smart” is a line born to be used by dumb punk types as lyrically the band overhauls the tone and sentiments.  Later the line “who needs love when you’ve got a gun, who needs love to have any fun” shreds any soppy sensation before “screw it Louie” is screamed ahead of a destructive Ginn solo making the song his own.  Black Flag were officially well on the road to reconstructing rock and roll.

On the other side is an early version of “Damaged I” which would later become the theme and centre piece of their finest studio album of the same name.  Longer, slower and more measured than most of their material to date it exhibits a new heavy side of their personality dealing with danger and internal frustration.  This was the band moving onto progressive punk, inhabiting sludge and loving it.  Described as “wallowing trauma” it taps into our inner worst thoughts and hangs them like a Picasso.  In other words “as comforting as the screams that relieve pain”.

For years a copy of this seven inch sat in the racks of my local record store Time Records in Colchester.  It was the only Black Flag release I could see anywhere.  Unfortunately being old it was a collector’s piece and came with an inflated collector’s price tag which went against punk ethos but perhaps tapped into Ginn’s.  It went against the ethos and busted my brains, ignited my imagination as I needed to know what this legendary band sounded like.  Once heard I never went back.

Take the horrible and make it worse.

Thesaurus moment: wrench.

Monday, 18 May 2009



Boy do I feel like a fucking chump for buying this record when thinking that it was something else.

What it is is a horribly chunky riff-tastic piece of heavyset pop punk metal that is really written and recorded with all bulls eyes and focus set on angst ridden and tetchy teenagers and the money that their parents give them.

This is a particularly bad piece of teen angst exploitation as the subject matter of the record gives of the apparent impression that it is about the inclusion of the listener into some kind of bat crypt movement these (probably) eyeliner wearing punks are part of. Ultimately though the Misfits this is not. It’s just all too serious.

Painfully with the kids signing in the background on the chorus rather than some great SST or even Epitaph band from the ages instead all the hoop and holler actually reminds me of the po-faced seriousness of the music moments of The Lost Boys. I wonder if fangs come with this record.

So yeah, this isn’t good, this isn’t rebellion, this isn’t what the future captains of industry will be listening to once they have grown up. Bankers might like to listen to it while snorting coke and fucking prostitutes but only in that depressing athletic way where haircuts possess more value than iPods. What the fuck am I talking about?

Hats off for calling the b-side “Pastor Of Muppets” though.

They’re Welsh?

Thesaurus moment: no.

The Blackout

Friday, 15 May 2009



I bought this on twelve inch from the Time Records stall in the covered market of Clacton-on-Sea.  It sat as a rare righteous release in a bin of dross vinyl.  Obviously I would have preferred on CD but I just wanted some Pavement.  And it’s a track so long that it takes up an entire side of twelve inch vinyl.

Some people I know dismissed this as country rock.  I guess there is where you will find people out on the range.  However beyond the rinky dinky playing, the words of Steve Malkmus sat bitched very much in the now of alternative rock.

This feels like a song about being on tour.  It sounds weary and as a result feels tiring as the desire of the words do not necessarily convince.  Some might say this is actually the yearn of a young man soughting early retirement.  “Range Life” could easily be a Neil Young song.

Of course the song is also best known for its vocal/verbal dismiss of Stone Temple Pilots and Smashing Pumpkins.  Malkmus describes the first band as “elegant bachelors” while stating the second “don’t have no function” concluding “I don’t understand what they mean and I could really give a fuck”.  Somebody had to say it.

Upping the assault “Raft” offers tuneful distortion on the flipside.  The complaint is “stop criticising me” in the knowledge that “I’m on a raft, can’t turn back”.  It’s a laidback titanic which exhibits occasionally lapses in operation as it overdrives off a cliff.  “Coolin’ By Sound” is less stressed mumbling affair that glides and glows in twinkling fashion.  Pavement warmth.

You want it, you got it.

Thesaurus moment: traverse.

Saturday, 2 May 2009



The second instalment of the Long Division With Remainders project comes from Roman Bezdyk who is otherwise known as Sone Institute.  Sone Institute is an act known for its shapeshifting sounds, for collecting and foraging collages like an audio magnet.  And his interpretations of the four tracks here are no different in execution.

Today his work begins with a ringing bell and hard beats as a dizzying array of sonic heart punches unroll in the listeners mind.  The resulting collision is one of a retro futuristic passion.  Sound the alarm.

The sounds from the workshop continue with frequency manipulation and reworking seemingly born with the intention of torturing pets.  It is said that as married couples grow old the frequency/pitch of their hearing changes and it is this that enables them to co-exist without killing each other.  This statement/philosophy certainly also rings true with the crushed up happenings occurring on the Long Division With Remainders project.  It feels like swimming in a sea of digitalism.

By track 3 things are turned resoundingly big band as huge jazz chops clash with warped distortion and interference while the sound of horns are bent and turned into frightful cries of something uniquely fresh and individual.  It’s a seedy and dirty treatment of a form that previous generations would have regarded as the most solid accompaniment/entertainment.

It all concludes with a dense summons of bass and various wretched broken bits of brutality in noise with a protruding guitar adding something of a sonic spaghetti feel.  The track almost whistles in its desire to shape build and end proceedings on a distorted high.  And with this Sone Institute rides off into a brutal sunset.  Angular.

Thesaurus moment: duality.

Front And Follow