Friday, 15 January 2010



This is the kind of lost album lost band you could expect to appear on a Quentin Tarantino soundtrack.  That or poker party music.  There is a ragged joy in the aged sound here that rides a fine line between cheesy and credible.  Released in 1970 the sound of Ambergris has remained stationary in the meantime modern acts have caught up.

Perhaps now best known for housing cover artwork later vandalised and adapted by Pavement, Ambergris was part of a horn rock movement in the late 60s/early 70s.   Boasting a line-up of ten players this album was produced by Steve Cropper so there is a slight Blues Brothers before Blues Brothers tone (as opposed to a Booker T vibe).  However it has been said since that Cropper did not know what to do with the band at the time.

Often functional and generic you sense this record was not necessarily consumed with the best of aims and intention.  Sometimes there is only surface.  Earnest and often with its heart on its sleeve these are love songs to a fault.  The hidden sleaze lacks substance and a thinly veiled guise.  This is the flattering to deceive approach to romance.  God only knows what specifically is meant by “Chocolate Pudding” (apparently it was the band’s anti-drug statement).

That said it is difficult to dislike this record.  The most likely reaction is resounding indifference but housed here is the work is the dense tone of jobbing.

On vocals and conga is Jimmy Maeulen who in places found himself described as an acquired taste.  There something whiny in his lengthy drawl and something equally sad in his inability to co-exist with a horn section that plants him straight in the corner.

There is a lot going on in this record.  Many directions are being ploughed all at once.  Strings meander, horns blast everything out of sight, bass goes ghetto while guitars noodle.  You sense keeping everyone happy was quite the contest.  At times tracks sound like a different band when placed against next to others.

Select choices include the funky swagger of “Play On Player” being near narrative driven while housing a huge smart hook.  The aforementioned “Chocolate Pudding” boasts some amazing bass player along with a nice line about insulin and diabetes.  The energetic “Home Groan” scores points for the clever wordplay of the title.  And I actually appreciate the workout that is closing track “Endless Night”.  The air is left appropriate.

On the downside at the commercial end single “Forget It, I Got It” opens with a “Soul Man” intro rip off before housing a heavily unsuitable hook which destroys all credibility while elsewhere their clear attempt at a pop ballad “Sunday Lady” is just yucky and wet.

Ambergris is actually a type of shit that comes from sperm-whales.  It is flammable and traditionally used for perfume.

This is devoid of irony.

Thesaurus moment: fragrant.

Thursday, 14 January 2010



Whether or not this band was purposely named after one of the weirdest TV shows in recent memory regardless the music coming from this single is some of the wickedly spikiest guitar stuff I have heard in a long time. For once here is a post punk band that actually sounds sinister and at home in possession of records by Wire and Gang Of Four.

Scratchy to the point of being disorientating, “Over Time” reminds me a lot of These New Puritans and Liars, which is a pretty decent prospect considering how the post punk direction can also be seen to turn bands into sounding like The Editors as well these days. Its all about being successful purveyors of the spastic jerk time sequences, of unleashing and delivering it in a stand out manner that ideally transmits straight into the portion of the listeners mind that will cause their heart to pulse and legs to move.

I’m not really sure as to where this band and song are able to fit into my everyday existence and wellbeing, this isn’t the first time a band has sounded like this and most definitely it won’t be the last but in a climate such as the current this is a sound and trait that manages to stand out over the rest of the bands that are making it into the few remaining music magazines.

Its all going to be downhill from here.

Thesaurus moment: optimism

Wild Palms

Wednesday, 13 January 2010



Released in October 1993 No Alternative was the alternative rock contribution to the much-respected Red Hot series of the AIDS relief compilations.  This release sat between Red Hot + Dance and Red Hot + Country.  In subsequent years it has become best known as being the home of “Verse Chorus Verse” by Nirvana that originally appeared on the album as a hidden track.  In the 90s every album seemed to have a hidden entry at the end of the CD.

This is a well intentioned but strange selection of acts.  Just about arriving pre-Kurt committing suicide, these acts (nineteen in all) were more the major label, signed side of college rock rather than actual indie acts.  That’s not to say it is immediately bad, just that the intentions maybe were not as earnest or pure as some of the better acts of the era.  Essentially this was more MTV than Sub Pop.  Also its left leaning without courting anyone acting controversial.

In addition to Nirvana, representing grunge and punk rock were Soundgarden, Bob Mould, The Breeders, Pavement and Smashing Pumpkins in addition to that old warhorse Patti Smith appearing at the end.  Then expanding the scene slightly Buffalo Tom and Urge Overkill comfortably sit in as genre credentials stretched to acts such as Soul Asylum and Goo Goo Dolls.  Also with one foot safely in rap and the other in rock the Beastie Boys qualified mostly from being designers of the music zeitgeist.

In many ways the first track on the album perfectly captures the vibe and intention of the project and time.  “Superdeformed” by Matthew Sweet is a rocking fuzzed up track with explicitly self-depreciating lyrics and a cap that perfectly fit the generation.  Sweet was never a big gun during the 120 Minutes era but he carved out a career with perhaps a perfect trajectory and balance that keep him just the right side of the rock radar.  This is a big sounding song with big hooks.  And for many that was enough.

Being a tribute album a number of acts took the opportunity to do cover versions and the results are mixed.  The generally embarrassing Soul Asylum comes off worst with their shameful cover of “Sexual Healing” by Marvin Gaye.  It was a cheesy song in the first place but now semi gormless stoners with a range of hairstyles were making apparent promises they could never keep.  Surprisingly more respectable is the Goo Goo Dolls rocking take on “Bitch” by the Rolling Stones which is surprisingly solid while the Uncle Tupelo version of “Effigy” by Creedence Clearwater Revival is very Crazy Horse.

So dividing the heavyweights and the lightweights: Soundgarden chip in with the passable “Show Me” which at times almost sounds like Guns N’ Roses.  In contrast Bob Mould does what he does best with “Can’t Fight It” which is getting to the fucking point in the most magnificent manner possible.

The threesome of live tracks is a mixed bag.  Patti Smith’s live acapella rendition of “Memorial Song” dedicated to Robert Mapplethorpe is middling while The Breeders performance of “Iris” from Pod is sweeping and wonderful very much like the studio version.  And the Beastie Boys “It’s The New Style” is appropriately energetic if not ecstatic.

If it is funny to note the Smashing Pumpkins sat next to Pavement considering the apparent feud/cross words penned by Stephen Malkmus on their single “Range Life”.  Contribution wise Billy Corgan offers a chilled, delicate dose of drifting melancholia in “Glynis” while Pavement drop explicit dedication to REM via “The Unseen Power Of The Picket Fence”.

Additionally playing into the formula Urge Overkill rock out with a strange hybrid of Live, Led Zep and Eddie Vedder in “Take A Walk” while Buffalo Tom appear achingly restrained in their swirling distribution of “For All To See” which seeps/screams Bob Mould in influence.

Of the rest there is almost a sense of making up the numbers.  American Music Club exhibits a unique swagger akin to Soul Coughing/Morphine/Cake that works well situated here but others such as Straitjacket Fits and The Verlaines are not quite necessary while Barbara Manning and Sarah McLachlan are just a bit too normal for this show.

So how about that Nirvana track?  Its In Utero era Kurt Cobain.  It’s flighty and bombastic with heavy drums and big guitars.  The hook is huge and Kurt’s voice clear in a song previously oft bootlegged in demo form under the names “Another Rule” and “Sappy”.  Later to further complicate things another Nirvana song wound up possessing the title “Verse Chorus Verse”, which at one point I believe also was a suggested album name ahead of In Utero.  No wonder it is unlisted in the running order.

In the end the album just needed REM (and maybe Sonic Youth).

Thesaurus moment: betoken.


Tuesday, 12 January 2010



Recently I received a spam email from the Mean Fiddler Group updating me of how many more copies The Cribs were selling of their fourth album than the near 50 year old Beatles reissue albums.  Way to beat up your rich grandparents!  However I’ll let that one slide.

Instead I found myself drawn to the quote/comment at the bottom from “Johnny Marr, fourth member of The Cribs.”  Yes, that Johnny Marr the guy that had the whole music world by the balls with The Smiths and then gave it away as, barring a few decent New Order-esqe songs with Electronic, he has done absolutely nothing with his career since.  You may say “what about Modest Mouse?” and I may say “yeah rat fans.”

The incriminating quote reads as: “The Cribs possess the brains of The Buzzcocks, the guts of Nirvana, the fizz of the Ramones.”  Firstly it is quite poor form to describe your band’s album in the third person, as if you are reviewing it for the Observer Music Monthly or something.  Worst however is the actual bands he is choosing to compare The Cribs to and against.  Johnny, we have heard the record you know.

Ultimately the sad reality is that the only times this band nudges my interest are the times that they are sounding like S*M*A*S*H so in essence what we kind of possess here is some kind of throwback to the NWONW scene it would seem.  I bet you had long since thought you would never be seeing that term again.

This is the kind of Brit indie that Americans fucking love.

This band stinks.  It has no fangs, no claws, it sounds like Shed Seven.  I don’t get the point or their intended purpose.  The look doesn’t reconcile with the sound but looking at the bowl haircuts that it possibly a good thing.

Making a genuine attempt to find something I like I must concede I do think the song title “We Were Aborted” is funny.  The initial feedback and slow gestures in “City Of Bugs” is dense but this soon passes.  “Emasculate Me” has a beat and “Nothing” has a riff but neither of these bases get built on.  “We Share The Same Skies” sounds like the Lightning Seeds and “Ignore The Ignorant” stabs at The Smiths.  However at the end of it these parts do not make a sufficient sum.

Imagine Art Brut devoid of humour and original ideas papering over the cracks with stupid Johnny Ramone haircuts that actually just make them look like redundant monks.  Its not a good thing.

I once saw Ryan Jarman on the tube.  I didn’t like it.

At the end of the day I only bought this album because it was the limited The Roses Edition version box set exclusively for Yorkshire, Lancashire and Portland, Oregon selling in Fopp for £5 offering the bonus of a live album (Live from The Ritz in Manchester) and DVD (a Making Of documentary).  Despite the intended geography I bought it in Bloomsbury, London.  Quite frankly this music couldn’t be more discounted.

I guess I’m the ignorant.

Thesaurus moment: what.

Monday, 11 January 2010



For the tenth interpretation of their tracks, LDWR has again looked towards Australia for their mechanic.  Susan Hawkins is a composer that used to be one half of Imaginationandmymother who were an incredibly unique avant garde partnership seemingly intend on disturbing people passing by.  With this work she is “primarily concerned with exploring the conspiratorial relationship between sound, music and image in creating a platform for thought and reflection.”

Her interpretation opens with classic orchestration before what sounds like the menacing rattle of snakes begins to enter proceedings and disrupt things.  It opens like a symphony, albeit one being distracted and attacked by insects.  Then it seems to submerge.

Track two occurs equally nocturnal sounding like the dark of night as first an electronic howl calls in the distance before a popping sound of fake footsteps makes way for a random beacon of pleasure and hope.  It feels like a dark optimism taking shape.  That and perculation.

Huge haunting piano notes massively amplified welcome in a series of frenzied whispers into track three as the glistening accompaniment of the original track caresses the motion and offers up baby like (Christ like) visions of harmony and beauty that equally could resemble death.  Its all the same thing reflected.

Similarly the final track echoes equally juvenile sentiments sounding like a toy and rendering the listener a child playing on the floor in their room.  For seventy seconds it is a magical thing.

Then with that Hawkins is done.  She genuinely weaves a wicked sense of magic over the piece and raises the bar of the project to a new level of slanted beauty.

Thesaurus moment: bouncer.

Front And Follow

Sunday, 10 January 2010



It is unlikely there will be a more intense album opener this year than the orchestrated rant of Pastor Jeremiah Wright on “Blessed Are They Who Bash Your Children’s Head Against A Rock”.  The track is only eighty four seconds long but it manages to pack in more punch than most things heard either side of explosions orchestrated or otherwise.  This is not a track designed to welcome the listener to any easier life, its intention is to inform and unnerve, to slap some sense into humanity.  Essentially this record constitutes the ultimate soundtrack to a breakdown both social and mental and as its grinding drone drills into souls.

This is a futuristic sounding album as the atonal collision of slow heavy beats, industrial sounds and Krautrock motions exists on the verge of collapse or snapping through the sheer intensity of the barely audible accompanying MC.  The backing is not so much beats, its tremors.  As ever it could have been a horrible mess were it not for the brute determination held within, as it looks to stagger the listener and unease with observation and oral/aural snaps.

Without missing a beat “No Question” chews up the scenery as MC Dalek finally arrives on the scene and opens with mouth with rasping instruction.  Like a well oiled machine it rolls out punches with a pulsing beat.  Even though it sounds like Armageddon you can still dance along.

As ever it is business as usual as keeping people happy is far from on the agenda.  In execution it is a unique and majestic thing with lyrical content based on urban decay.  The result is something genuinely hypnotic in the way that public transport is mesmerising.

Motion maintains as “Armed With Krylon” drifts in like a hovering drone sounding like the future erupting above.  There is no sanctuary here.  Then almost as a gesture of realising such threat “Who Medgar Evers Was” looms for eight moments methodically and mechanically dropping bombs.

“A Collection Of Miserable Thoughts Laced With Wit” feels an appropriate title for a song conjured up in this environment.  One of the calmer, slower offerings it serves a moment of reflection.

The record never relents as it grinds away to the climax of “2012 (The Pillage)” and “Atypical Stereotype” refusing to break character and change face.

I’m really not sure where such an act or album sits in the hip-hop landscape.  This is expansive and far reaching stuff not necessarily accessible or conducive to party.  Imagine the sound of Gil Scott-Heron and Mike Tyson behind the wheel of a tank.


Thesaurus moment: stoic.

Saturday, 9 January 2010



Expressing “why bother?” is one of the great verbal resignations of life.  Its an aural shrug, a sonic snap, a blow to the target and recipient alike.  Incorporating such a gesture into everyday existence is bottled anguish coupled with emotional steam like relief.  What is on the surface negative can behind the scenes be quite positive.

Whenever I say “why bother?” you can be assured that it is born from the frustrating of failure in the face of effort.  Being passive aggressive seldom feels so good.  Two words later and I am absolved of responsibility.

The BBC radio series Why Bother? from 1994 was the dream collaboration of two satirical heavyweights producing a series of five ten minute interviews.  With Chris Morris at the helm as interviewer and producer, Peter Cook posed as Sir Arthur Streeb-Greebling a character dating back to Not Only…But Also from 1965.  In typical Cook style Streeb-Greebling was a rich, doddery, out of touch aristocrat commenting without qualification on the world and his absurd adventures within it.  With only Cook receiving a writing credit you sense the struggle in creation existed in as much not corpsing as the actual authoring.  Morris later commented on the unique style of improvisation involved complimenting/championing the manner with which Cook both served up solid punchlines while also steering the next setup, a feat even more unexpected considering his washed up, alcoholic public perception towards the end of his life.  In contrast Morris described the performance of Cook being to “skip mentally with the agility of a grasshopper”.

Originally broadcast on 10 January 1994 to 14 January 1994 on BBC3 I bought this collection on cassette back when the BBC would release radio shows as spoken word titles which would mostly be available in bookshops rather than record stores.  The five episodes are:

Eels, Love And Guns
The first interview arrives with an introduction and Morris asking Streeb-Greebling if he has done anything similar previously.  On his CV is Face-To-Face with John Freeman and The Tube.  Nothing in between.  With that Morris apologises for not listening and then they are off discussing his interest in eels, of course involving Betty Grable.  Very soon it is subtly revolting as he describes surreal situations and broken variations.  Now a man at odds with eels he speaks of a broken hearted past.  And somehow it transpires that Eric Clapton was a great comfort to him at this time.  As things move onto Los Angeles it turns out Streeb-Greebling was a friend of Rodney King and attempted to mediate the 1992 riots.  Finally he got away with murder teaching tennis to Tatum O’Neal.  At the end it is established that he is participating in these interviews to get things off his chest and onto other peoples’.

The second interview begins with discussion of suffering strokes and death.  It is revealed that his inheritance is to be placed into a trust as Morris doubles over laughing at his demise.  Moving on they begin discussing Streeb-Greebling’s report on prisons due the following morning which it turns out was heavily influenced on experiences with his father placing him in prison as a youth.  In such troubling circumstances character was formed becoming prematurely old and a smoker at the age of four years old.  Then at the age of six he joined the Foreign Legion fighting alongside Rex Harrison.  Eventually winding up stood naked on a frozen Lake Ontario he found himself trudging through a forest to Toronto negotiating with bears.

Arriving late to the interview Morris exhibits attitude as Streeb-Greebling remains keen to discuss his beekeeping.  Quickly it is revealed that tomorrow the fossilised remains of the infant Christ (nine months) are to be presented by Streeb-Greebling.  Delving into the implications of such a discovery it is explained this was one of a number of resurrection practice runs.  It transpires at one such run seventeen practice Christs were resurrected.  Speaking to the Vatican word is that they’re thrilled with the discovery but that is before the intention to clone has been discussed (an intention funded by Honda).  As the conversation continues Morris expresses concerns at Streeb-Greebling’s real intentions as he attempts to distract/derail discussion with Oprah Winfrey.  Eventually it turns out that the future is in the tiny Christ business.  Batteries not included.

Prisoner Of War
With their relationship now flourishing the next interview begins with the rattling of a teacup and saucer followed by the request from Streeb-Greebling to have a boy called Gavin from Camden Town do his hair while the interview takes place.  Finally Gavin is sent away with an apology from Streeb-Greebling having misled him.  With this the interview properly begins with Morris stating it is 50 years (“50 years to the day”) since Streeb-Greebling returned from a Japan and a prisoner of war camp.  It transpires he was originally captured when he led a unit of mostly dead soldiers into a concentration camp.  Now held as prisoners they were involved in the building of a railway although Streeb-Greebling didn’t waste a single calorie in its construction.  Not a traditional prisoner, he got on rather well with his Japanese captors.  Attempts at escape fell short as insanity in troops arrived off the back of mental cruelty such as posing as wives back home.  In the end Streeb-Greebling required severe coaxing to leave the camp as expansion plans were in place.  Towards the end Morris begins accusing his subject of telling lies.  Their relationship breaks down.  The answer is “no”.

Drugs Etc
The final exchange begins on a rough not as Streeb-Greebling reveals that he has lost his voice.  Thankfully one thump later and it has returned.  From here the conversation opens with the anecdote of when his life was saved by a Puff Adder.  It was a convoluted turn of events born of an attempt on his life.  It was almost murder.  Such unpleasant scenes were seldom seen in Fortnum And Mason.  When Leon Brittan copied it, he was just attention seeking.  Their relationship was a playful one it transpires.  Moving on wrestling with Michael Heseltine was introduced, a man who had an advantage having practice bouts with Rudy The Giant Vacuum Cleaner from the WWF.  Everything in life is about appearances and these interviews are revealed as Streeb-Greebling’s only media appearances of the year.  It is then revealed that television was not an option because he would not be able to conceal his crack pipe.  The pitiful story of his drug affliction is then revealed in depth including a disastrous talk show appearance with Joan Rivers.  And it is at the seven minute mark of this episode Streeb-Greebling is to be heard sucking it up piping away.  On drugs he is heard to comment “the downside of this is you feel awful but the upside is that you feel terrific”.  Now back on track it is revealed that it is well known in court circles that the Queen is fond of dancing naked in the nude prior to formal speaking engagements.  This is done listening to Thin Lizzy.  Finally it is inevitably reduced to legal threats and an episode with Frank Sinatra.  It ends with confusion over whether the tape is running and question of whether it “was done for purely artist reasons?  Exactly”.

Considering the broadcast of these programmes was almost exactly one year before Cook passed away (on 9 January 1995), coupled with the sublime four character appearance on Clive Anderson Talks Back these were the last great Peter Cook performances.

I used to have an accounts tutor that looked like Peter Cook.  He wasn’t very funny (although he thought so) but he liked the ladies.

Thesaurus moment: egress.

Friday, 8 January 2010



Atari Teenage Riot records were not common place when this album came out.  In a time before downloads but not expensive compact discs, this was an already legendary band you would read about the weeklies but seldom hear due to the somewhat prickly content of their material and disposition.  And it all gave them dark and sinister eminence.

The Future Of War is the second album by Atari Teenage Riot.  This was the scary sound of Berlin and a futuristic technological scene that felt terrifying to an outsider/observer.  The wall hadn’t been down a decade yet and this was the cyberpunk afterbirth.

Alec Empire was not fucking about.  He was royally pushing the sound of electronic music with Digital Hardcore and whenever one of his acts or remixes would appear on the John Peel radio show (about the only place you would hear them) it was always obvious who it was.  Empire had a sound that was trademark; his distinct gabba was genuinely unique.

This is horrible music.

I procured my copy from a homosexual.  He was the bass player in a band I was working with and one late Sunday morning when I went around his with the latest news he was still lounging in bed at which point he said I could borrow then keep his double vinyl copy of this album.  From a person with a temperament to match the music it resembled quite the rejection (quite the shun).

The record wastes no time in establishing its mood as the tone of “Get Up While You Can” is the punishing alarm call of energised individuals shouting the listener into action and to attention.  The repetition of both the beats and the words drills into the inhabitant’s soul.  You are now on board.

Borrowing chunks of guitar from some uncompromising acts as Slayer and Bad Brains, the samples clash with some of fastest, hardest beats in the history of smash.  At a time when acts would fetishize over their beats per minute, here Empire harnessed the turn and flipped it on its head.

While the listener is still catching their breath from the opener “Fuck All!” follows as another nihilistic slap as Hanin Elias supplies shredding Riot Grrrl like vocals in explicit fashion.

The mood never subsides as song titles such as “Deutschland (Has Gotta Die)” and “Redefine The Enemy” point fingers while “Sick To Death” and “You Can’t Hold Us Back” express their direction.

A rare groove is attained on the stand out track “Destroy 2000 Years Of Culture” as the loops are bold and a cycle found.  Built on a Slayer, Empire sounds no snottier spitting burnt verse ahead of settling into a heavy hook and genuine chorus.  When he sings “Love is a wonderful thing” you can’t imagine such sentiments ever being delivered in more sarcastic fashion.  And by the end his point is made.

As things near an end they feel resoundingly science fiction in a pre-post-apocalyptic style as first “Redefine The Enemy” serves as some kind of warning while “Death Star” in its sinister fuzzed up command/demand and ugly persuasion lives up to its Star Wars inspired moniker.  It doesn’t assault, it only suggests.

Remaining relentless to the end closing track “The Future Of War” offers a relentless conclusion arriving as gabba as anything.  And with that the dust settles and you are no longer listening for your life.

Five years after release the album found itself placed on an index in Germany which prevented it from being advertised or sold to minors further cementing its anti establishment sentiment.

Broken biscuits.

Thesaurus moment: amelioration.

Thursday, 7 January 2010



The Drums are a funny band, they remind me of The Cure (without the taste of Goth) in the most unoriginal of ways. This is a throwback to eighties indie that does not necessary serve anybody or anyone involved very well.

I feel I have to question the mentality behind this band and just why “the kids” are tapping into this music at this time. As I close my eyes and envisage a stupid skinny kid in a cardigan wearing large coloured glasses and sporting a fringe that reaches his chin I can’t help but think this is not the future solution to the woes of the world.

Do I actually have anything good to say about this record? I can’t help but feel the record arrived dead on arrival for me, why would a band call a song “I Felt Stupid” while displaying such front and egging on such a response from a listener such as mine? I felt stupid? You look fucking stupid.

Flipping over and flipping out I begin to feel nauseous as it appears I am now being mocked as “Down By The Water” is not a cover of the PJ Harvey song but instead some kind of feeble emotional outpouring of a future gang rape victim in a modern doo wop style.

And to think these people get their end away more than me.

Thesaurus moment: snare.

The Drums

Wednesday, 6 January 2010



Have we really reached the stage where it has become acceptable and expected that we now shell out £10 for a double seven inch single? At least its environment crushing heavy vinyl.

Working on the premise of something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue this marriage of songs makes for a solid declaration of how wonderful the music of Deerhoof can be. This is a band then feels unique, difficult sound but still very digestible that does not sacrifice fun in the name of exploration.

The release opens with an alternate take of “The Tears And Music Of Love” which actually sounds like a song title straight out of the Blonde Redhead songbook but is actually a track that sounds like a frenetic toddler clapping. Originally found on “Offend Maggie” this version is a rough and ready take on events that lends a lot of energy and real boost to the tablet. This more resembles the live version and dare I say the song sounding at its best. Eventually it culminates with calamitous drums marking the climax of proceedings.

Flipping over the “something new” arrives in the form of a piano and vocal version of “Makko Shobu”. This does not necessarily sound like Deerhoof, indeed with a neon video it could pass for real J-Pop. It is a gorgeous and delicate romp that reminds me of snowflakes and Christmas. Satomi might be singing about toilets but in my mind this stuff serves to make me happy.

Moving onto the second seven inch the “something borrowed” element arrives in the form of a remix by Germlin of “Rrrrrrright” which the band invited to deconstruct and reassemble on their website a few years ago. I even did a DJGRAM remix of the track that essentially just combined the culmination (and birth of Darth Vader) from Star Wars III: Revenge Of The Sith. It was lazy but amusing. This remix is altogether far more considered as it adds an element of chiptune to proceedings, almost retaining an android theme. It is a swift reworking that would definitely be at home on some crazy video in a scuzzy amusement arcade either side of the Atlantic.

The collection concludes with a full band version of “Blue Cash” which actually makes me think of “My Valuable Hunting Knife” by Guided By Voice if it were being played on the beach in a Hawaiian shirt. Its sweetness.

In many ways the best band around. Shame about the artwork

Thesaurus moment: savant.


Tuesday, 5 January 2010



Now this along with Delphic appears to be what is going for fresh new alternative music at the beginning of 2010 and this illustrious last decade of man.

If I’m to be nice I will commend, comment and concentrate on the fat pop hooks of the record, of how the band appear very able to produce a catchy tune that actually remains in the memory after the record has finished. Its all down to the chorus and the removal of difficult long words in preference to making animal noises.

You feel like this record should come accompanied by a sachet of shower gel as it is so clean, so devoid of acne and fresh faced. Now this shouldn’t be.

So who on earth are The Temper Trap? They are actually from Australia and as far as I am concerned they can fuck off back to Australia. Apparently they are noted for “their atmospheric sound featuring grand guitars set to pulsating rhythms.” Yes, where to start with this. Surely an atmospheric sound would suggest some kind of presence, some kind of volume that serves to move me (the listener) into experiencing some kind of emotional reaction. Likewise if there are grand guitars on this record then I ain’t hearing them. And as to pulsating rhythms, surely you need a pulse in the first place. With these guys I just don’t feel it.

So salient, so dull.

Move on there is nothing to be heard here.

Thesaurus moment: wrong.

The Temper Trap

Monday, 4 January 2010



Not exactly pissing my pants with excitement at the reality of having an autographed picture disc copy of this record this is Delphic and Delphic are very 2010. Unfortunately.

Alternative music nudging the mainstream is currently taking on a very cleansed outlook on life and proceedings. Like some kind of horrible nightmare I appear to have been transported back to the eighties Back To The Future style.

There is nothing new in this record, it only survives on possessing a large hook at the chorus in order to accommodate the stupid haircuts that their audience are only all too happy to accept and be exploited by. Finally I am truly beginning to feel too old for music, for anything that anyone beneath the age of 25 finds entertaining or invigorating.

With this and The Temper Trap to will on the middle class masses the time is ripe for invasion, for a real power and entity to grab and take control of our country because there sure as fuck is nothing here to defend our rights and liberties. Quite frankly this is the alternative music equivalent of a child ripe for bullying.

I blame Coldplay.

Thesaurus moment: transparent

Chimeric Records

Sunday, 3 January 2010



The Hold Steady arrived firing on all cylinders from the word go.  They came box fresh having earned their stripes in various apprentice acts ahead of ascending on the show.  In Craig Finn they house a killer front man and amazing orator owning a crushing way with words as by his side is a loose and fuzzy set of effective musicians playing pop hard.  Initially/originally label mates of Les Savy Fav there is a common thread in these early blunt gestures and prickly approach with eventually would give way to bigger hooks and happier sensibilities.  But on Almost Killed Me here is an act playing as if their life depends on it.

That said Almost Killed Me is something of a party album.  Being slightly older and more experience having already once been through the indie rock wringer, at such an early stage in a band’s career its player were able to bring a knowing approach to proceedings.

The cover features punk splashed photos of indulgence and hedonism with the eyes of the participants blocked out by black bars.  This without doubt is done to protect the innocent.  And there isn’t much innocent about this album.

Sounding like the record The Replacements might have made were they from New York, the narrative vocal style of Finn makes him something of a storyteller and thus the album has a concept.  In exposing earned bruises and scars there is high value in the execution of these despatches.

Like a good book the album begins with quite the intro and declaration of “Positive Jam”.  As a vocal history lesson occurs eventually the band catches up and kicks in as Finn sends command to the audience (“to all you snivelling indie kids, hold steady”).  It is quite the address, heavy and lurching summoning much surrender.

From here the pace seriously picks up stepping up a gear with “The Swish” and more bar room anecdotes of past and present.  The hooks come hard and heavy as the words explain existing in excess and the places it takes you.

God love a band that says its own name in songs.

As the structure of the stories progress so does the confidence of the band and its playing becomes bolder.  In other words here is a band not afraid of a solo be it guitar as on “Most People Are DJs” or the Clarence Clemons-esqe Springsteen saxophone of “Hostile, Mass”.

Rolling with the punches the record features frequent appearances by a mysterious character called Charlemagne offering some kind of Last Exit To Brooklyn attitude and intrigue to proceedings.

It is on “Knuckles” that things become ferociously first person.  There appears to be an identity trying to be attained.  Missing the point it reminds me of George Costanza trying to get the office to call him T-Bone in addition to my own successful effort to establish my own nickname as JGRAM.  This however is an altogether different proposition, by being called Freddie Knuckles a badge of street honour is looking to be owned.  And it just isn’t being attained.  When drugs are involved any experiment is dicey and the key thing is that the individual be a survivor.  With that achieved street platitudes follow.

As with the clear intro there is a clear outro in the postscript of “Killer Parties” with a drawn out jam of pining nostalgia.  In words it is the sound of growing old and winding down with one eye looking back on better days.  It is the sound of maturity mutating momentarily.

Remember when indie rocks became stupid and started celebrating Bruce Springsteen?  This notes for them.  It might almost kill you too.

Thesaurus moment: outlast.