Saturday, 27 March 2010



Perhaps not with the smartest of reasoning I am finding myself these days purchasing a lot of seven inch singles just based on their artwork. As the format becomes sadly rarer by the week, this growing personal throwback for me presents itself more as a piece of art rather than a salient music format. This single is a very good example of this. I really hate the way the world of the single has gone now, the Sunday charts are so pathetic it is unreal and there is no way in hell that a band selling an MP3 or two on a given date will or should constitute a single release. The idea of doing an “MP3 single” is one so redundant to me. The other day I heard a pretty decent song by a band from Liverpool and I decided to check out the release date of the song I found myself faced with a two week wait to buy it from iTunes etc. I promptly laughed my fucking arse off as I found the song on seconds via Hype MP3. It is what they deserve.

This release however is the polar opposite of such backwards management. For me passion oozes from the tangibility of the release. So who the hell are The Dustaphonics? I have no idea what their music sounds like but what I do know is that they come with amazing artwork.

Looking at the sleeve alone you get the impression it is going to be dirty, like something you might find in a John Waters or Russ Meyer movie. Yes, music from a better time. The cover features a golden age comic beauty, shameless and suggestive.

Having already reviewed the record before even playing the record finally upon hearing it I find myself introduced to something that sounds akin to The Cramps fronted by Lisa from the BellRays. It is slow paced and dripping in swagger with dirty sax spewed sporadically over proceedings. This is very fun stuff.

The writing credit includes the name “T.L. Satana” which indeed does turn out to be Tura Satana, most famously the star of Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! which lends another exciting aspect to the record as it transpires that she is indeed responsible for some of the lyrics/words in some capacity (although perhaps she didn’t realise it).

Perhaps the less said about the b-side (a cover of The Jiants “Tornado”) the better.

Thesaurus moment: pine.

The Dustaphonics
Dirty Water Records

Thursday, 18 March 2010



When I was 17 I claimed I was having a midlife crisis.  I genuinely thought I was experiencing what the crisis was all about.  Also it was a rousing prediction that I was set to die at the age of 34.  It was a cry for help.  So how annoying then that I am now mere weeks away from arriving at that age.  I know shit.

“Midlife Crisis” was the first Faith No More song that grabbed me.  It was the vocal gymnastics of Mike Patton that blew me away and the band name Faith No More actually caused me slight embarrassment.  Anything with the word “faith” in it was surely related to religion or at least some kind presentation of it.  And the last thing I ever needed in my life was faith or religion.

Faith No More benefited from the grunge ticket and the alternative rock explosion.  Even though they were heavy, they weren’t strictly metallers, this was music far more intricate and intelligent than that.  And this was a good time as the world was suddenly listening and open to suggestion.

The moment I clicked with this song was during an MTV News piece featuring the band on tour supporting Guns N’ Roses.  Seeing Patton perform the song live and smoothly switch between vocal styles was a revelation.  I had never seen anything like it before.  And the next opportunity I got, I bought the cassette single which came in a weird little fag packet type box entitled the “Crisis Cassette”.

With its Russian soldiers stood in Red Square cover there was something quite military about the band at this moment in addition to the general faith thing as mentioned above.  With only a small picture of the band to interrogate, it wasn’t sure whether those faces had been superimposed or not.  At this point, for all I knew, the band could be Russian.

“Midlife Crisis” is supposedly a song about Madonna, about a person entertaining press/publicity saturation in a manner that would make them appear desperate.  Its all about other people’s crisis (“I’m a perfectionist, my perfection is a scam”).

Released ahead of Angel Dust the additional songs are album tracks in the form of “Jizzlobber” and “Crack Hitler” which are two very heavy duty propositions which are anything but filler.  This single just flattened me.

On the road to victory.

Thesaurus moment: propitious.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010



It is without doubt that the world is a better place for having Lady Gaga in it than it would be without her.  Within her little minx exterior appears to be a truly troubled space cadet, partially playing the game and partially thinking that it is all real.

Of course the fact that I even know more than five Lady Gaga songs is truly wrong and borderline weird.  This is not my music; I should not be coming or going here/there.  Everything about her is phoney.  She’s a fraud.  Its not about the music, it’s about the costumes, the persona, the act.  It’s theatre, its pop music, not high art.

“Telephone” is the big Lady Gaga song with the Beyonce guest appearance.  Beyonce is a better singer than Lady Gaga.  She is also sexier, produces better songs, is probably younger and is definitely female.  When she drops into the track she also drops a huge dollop of class onto proceedings that helps us turn a blind eye and deaf ear to the weird effects the studio have inserted into the piece with all the subtly of a sledgehammer.

It feels stupid to pretend that I am reviewing this song from the picture disc seven inch.  Who the hell am I kidding?  It is from the music video set in a prison that was launched with much hype and even more disappointment.  Within it there are lesbian overtones and a non to Kill Bill but beyond that not quite enough to paper over the cracks.  Still, people lap this up as art and who am I to belittle other people’s tastes.  Lady Gaga is just a force of nature you can only embrace and hope she does not ruin too many brain cells in the process.  Regardless of the weirdness and dress up this is not up there with Madonna in her prime.

Why I bought this record I do not know.  This is not my era and this is not my chosen style of music to listen to.  Occasionally you can masturbate to her pop videos, just not this one.

Thesaurus moment: ersatz.

Monday, 15 March 2010



Featuring a band line-up photograph that would suggest medieval music, my initial concerns and reservations are soon put aside as The Vermin Poets turn out to be a much more charging rock proposition than I was expecting.  This band features Billy Childish after all.

Away from the usual Childish take on garage rock this record is something of a sumptuous hybrid of almost British Invasion bands exhibiting snide mannerisms and looping sensibilities.  In other words, individuals that dabbled in punk rock.

Fronted by his long time cohort and former Fire Dept member Neil Palmer this album sees Childish taking something of a back seat, taking on the bass duties rather than guitar, focusing more on the vocal message of proceedings, the poetry of the piece.

It is certainly a tough time to be a poet.  I cannot possibly imagine a time where derision could be any higher for artists of the form while equally the reputation of the form has been tarnished irrecoverably.  These guys truly have their work cut out for them.

The cover reads:

“Heirs of glory,
Heroes of unwritten story,
Rise like lions after slumber,
In unvanquishable number,”

And all in all that pretty sums up the attitude attached to the outfit, one where its tongue is firmly lodged in its cheek.  It’s a lark; it’s a fucking lark.  A lark with a purpose.

The twelve track album opens with “Spartan Dregg”, which already appears to be a new and forthcoming music persona for the group.  This is an act proud to be Spartan.

As the record progresses the highlights are “Baby Booming Bastards”, which is a casual rant and tirade aimed someone (the targets are never necessarily clear).  Later the flighty “She’s Got Ears” seals the deal with its subtly glorious hook and infectious glow.

Eventually the track “Vermin Poets” attempts to introduce and explain what the outfit is all about.  The facts remain clear as mud.

All in all with the injection of Palmer, this is the liveliest and most adventurous Billy Childish rock release in a long time.


Thesaurus moment: bard.

Saturday, 13 March 2010



Spool Ensemble come from North Carolina were they operate in the realms of improvised music.  In the past the group has acted as something of a collective taking in over a dozen musicians to “achieve its aim”.  Currently for this release the ensemble sees Aaron Bachelder and Matt Smith on software and Michael Thomas Jackson on hardware.  Its laboratory stuff.

For this project Spool Ensemble often sound like an old school arcade video machine coupled with a slinky as a storm is whipped up in the exterior.  It is the stuff of juvenile nightmares, threats of energy cuts and being left alone with darken parimeters.  In many ways this is subtly horrific stuff insinuating menace and the moving of mental furniture.

What Spool Ensemble brings to the party is an almost Hitchcock degree of heightened tension.  Indeed their efforts seem to physically lift the pieces/compositions like an orchestra blowing flat out/full on.  The engine motoring this process is not one necessarily fuelled on joy.

As the distinct malfunction continues extended elements of technology emit flawed progress that sonically resemble a droid burning up and fizzing out.  The results sound alien, a language with hidden meaning and feasibly unpleasant thoughts.  I find myself no longer able to take this noise at face value instead reading far too deeply into long game.

A final dose of disorientation closes the EP as the vehicle appears to lose motion and vividly echoes modern failing.  The piece is blunt and difficult to pick at.  Snap.  Put it in the bin.

Thesaurus moment: decline.

Front And Follow

Tuesday, 9 March 2010



In a rare moment of happiness Tindersticks manage to put down a relatively upbeat tune championing the after affects of being blown out (shot down).  With it comes a pulsing and almost euphoric take on proceedings where Staples’ delivery occasionally reminds of Lou Reed’s barbed vocal method where lines sound like statements and accusations thrown out amongst the bitterness.

The Tindersticks aren’t necessarily a singles band.  Years ago Mark And Lard did a skit where they posed as the band releasing a Christmas album of pub sing-along to which the joke was not very well received.  And in many ways rightfully so as this is a band plainly with a vision and intent, a message that is pure and need not mockery as their own humility offers enough self depreciation alone.

As the protagonist talks about going to the river you begin to wonder for the wellbeing of the narrator.  The black smoke in question sounds poisonous stuff, stuff that I can very much identify with.  As the river in the story changes meaning a new degree of urgency and betrayal appears offered to the track and it begins galloping to the defeat line.  If the Velvet Underground had been from Nottingham the city would still have been a shit hole.

Towards the end as Staples tells of “making love in the afternoon” the saxophones take over adding a strange air to proceedings.  And then it is all over.  It’s a mucky mucky world that we live in.  It is not necessarily Coltrane.

On the other side of proceedings “Just Drifting” offers up the Tindersticks take on Psychic TV.  I am positive the Genesis version never sounded as silky as this.

This is the world we live in.

Thesaurus moment: burnt.

Monday, 8 March 2010



There is a real sense of fear and reservation attached to approaching this record. For years now the vaults have been raped as the reputation of Jimi Hendrix has been kicked to death by greeding associates in the music industry skimming off any piece of work that he scratched out during his career, be it in his sleep or at the top of his game. It is going to be weird now for me to watch people from my era get treated in such a way, people such as Kurt Cobain whose career has already gone through the ringer but not to the point (yet) that 40 plus year recordings (such as this) have emerged.

At the end of the day though Hendrix was Hendrix and what that meant was here lay one of the most innovative players in the history of guitar music.

For once though his legacy (or rather scraps thereof) have been treated with a decent degree of respect, packaged in a way fitting of his talent and influence. From a hot looking record sleeve through to a decent sound actually coming from the stereo this happily for once does not feel like some kind of cynical cash in (even though at the end of the day it is).

“Bleeding Heart” is a cover of an old Elmore James number that Hendrix unsurprisingly makes his own almost immediately which he then carries for over six minutes in a beautiful fashion with his legendary warm playing and underrated vocal talents. And boy does it sound good on vinyl. Often the bluesy moments were the ones that created least ripples for Hendrix but when he got in right he had the ability the make the sun shine brighter even if it made the listener feel bleaker.

Released for the collectors and not necessarily with view of snagging anyone new into the fold “Peace In Mississippi” is a more the classic, expected fare of Hendrix, a pounding exploration into the heights of sounds that his guitar was able to bring. With Redding and Mitchell backing him up these were the moments you sensed he lived for, the spring to satisfy his artist curiosity and needs with the ability to feed and thrill the listener along the way. To see and feel this music live must have been to touch base with a higher being.

Why is it than anybody else attempting this stuff can only ever fuck it all up? Class screams right through.

Thesaurus moment: learn.

Jimi Hendrix
Sony Music

Monday, 1 March 2010



It took me years to be kind about Joanna Newsom.  There was always something very conceited in her listenership, which led to what I regard as Morrissey fan syndrome and the emotion of disliking an artist because of their following and fanbase instead of their actual output and content.  I know, my bad.

On that note, Have One On Me is not the most crisp of releases.  I genuinely believe now that the novelty element of her appeal has gone her original audience feels a bit lost.  She is just no longer indie.  So how does she respond to this?  She releases a triple album.  There’s no lack of ambition in this lady.

I guess maturity is the key for Newsom now.  I have always argued that her voice be best suited to a Disney soundtrack rather than a sweaty gig and from the off here I can’t help but feel vindicated and proved right.

There is no question that her sound remains unique and thus there is a lot to grip onto, it’s just about placing.  And thus it only works at a certain time.  As I have always said about music: I want the music to put me in the right mood, I don’t want to have to be in the right mood to be into the music.

I will now negotiate the record in one go.

She sets here stall out early with a new found string section on “Easy”.  I can’t help but envisage some combination of Kate Bush and Belle from Beauty And The Beast.  Now I am sure this appeals to many people on many levels but a cynical hating the world punker is not going to find his edges softened by such an orchestral and overblown set of proceedings.

Then arrives the title track clocking in at just over eleven minutes.  There is to be no patience spared with this record.  This is the person going out with Lonely Island?  Quite the contrast.

By this stage my room has experienced a weird kind of aura.  I fear that at some point a person (a neighbour or loved one) my burst in to find me sat here listening to these songs semi knackered in my tatty white bathrobe that smells.  See, even I cannot taint the supposed beauty of proceedings.

Have One On Me is a term that I would more expect from Chan Marshall.  It’s a boozy title that suggests a willingness to give rather than take.  And yet it’s a fucking triple album!

Ultimately ambition outweighs execution as tedium arrives before the end of the first disc.  By now listening to this record has become a test of endurance I am not quite sure I can withstand.  Keep saying to yourself: “its just a record, its just a record”.

Eventually things meander onto the second disc where still there appears no hooks and no choruses.  Just what am I looking for in this?  Somehow she manages to make a track that lasts one minute and forty eight seconds feel like five.

Still I continue my search for a moment when Newsom strips back the arrangements (such as on “In California”) they begin work but overall you just wish she were being me economic with things.

Finally we there is a hook on “Jackrabbits” by which stage Newsom has taken on something of a Joni Mitchell approach to proceedings.

By disc three I have long since had my fill.  On “Soft As Chalk” it sounds as if she started tap dancing.  Is that really appropriate behaviour?

At the eleventh hour “Kingfisher” arrives as the staring track of the release but it’s just far too late to save the day.  Life is just too short to lose yourself in such a vast and indulgent project.  What are people seeing and hearing in this?

You have to be really happy to enjoy this record.  I am not.

Thesaurus moment: obese.