Linn Ittok LVII
TAG McLaren CDT20R / Chord DAC64
TEAD Microgroove Plus
Linn LK140 (x3)
The Dears sound a lot like Morrissey. Now we’ve got that out of the way, we can talk about whether this is any good or not. On first listen I’m disappointed. I liked The Death of all the Romance, but that’s a duet, and I’m a sucker for a duet. This one’s still a good song, good solid tunes, good singer, good words, good bright blue vinyl. We’ve been through this before, I know, but sounding like someone doesn’t really matter one way or the other. Surely anyone who’s a real fan of music, not of knowing trends, judges everything on whether or not they like it. Ultimately, of course, everything sounds like something else, to someone’s ears at least, so it’s really not worth bothering about. You can sound like Moz and be great, or you can sound like Moz and be crap.
The first or second single by one of the most fantabulous hit-and-miss bands ever. NBT’s were a very loose kind of setup, with differing line-ups, different songwriters, and a half-arsed, ramshackle, but still kind of tight, sound. This record perfectly exemplifies the good and the bad of this approach. Let Her Stay and Clique Town are perfect lo-fi pop. There’s a catchiness Xenomania would kill for, a sound so scratchy and bad that it can’t be anything other than credible. On the other hand, Robin Hood and Chewbacca are verging on unlistenable.
I play Freewheel and decide they were the best band ever. I play Society and decide they weren’t that good at all. This gets a top rating just for Let Her Stay, which I think is one of the best pop songs I’ve ever heard.
“No you flaming clot! Pick up the phone!”. Hmmm. Indeed. Inspired by Ring a Ding Ding, which I love, I picked up a couple of other Brakes singles. All Night Disco Party, which is pretty good, and this one. What I initially liked about the Brakes was that they did short, snappy songs. The title track on here is about thirty seconds long, which makes it about ten times longer than the closer, Cheney. Good kind of mad, off centre stuff. They also have consistently themed sleeve art in a Stone Roses stylee, which is excellent. It rather reminds me of a drilled, vented disc brake. I don’t know if it’s supposed to.
I liked their last single (can’t remember the name, has Durer’s rhinoceros on the front), so I was pretty much looking forward to this one. If the Brakes are off centre, The Envelopes are falling off the edge. There’s a card in the sleeve bearing the quote (from my friendly neighbourhood record dealer no less!) to the effect that “this is the wonkiest record ever”. As a fan of Melt Banana, Cassetteboy, and Plouf!, I wouldn’t go that far, but it’s really fresh, inventive, and also well recorded. The lyrics to Sister in Love, The Nicotines and It is the Law are, “is your sister in love?” “The Nicotines, oooh” and “it is the law yeah” respectively. You have to admire that level of conciseness
I used to buy a lot of this kind of music. Droney, monotonous, atmospheric, space-rock, whatever you want to call it. It was made by and for people who were in the process of enjoying the effects of herbs or chemicals which make the body slow down and the mind, supposedly, expand. Unfortunately, this kind of music tended to come on (coloured) seven inch singles, which meant that the average hour would be spent listening to one track followed by fifty-five minutes of run-out groove. It’s hard to say which was better. Hydroplane differed from the norm in that they had a very good singer, with a beautifully atmospheric voice. This, like much of their other stuff, grips splendidly, filling the room and holding the attention. Not quite as good as their astonishing version of We Crossed the Atlantic but still far too good to be wasted on the deeply monged out.
I know a bit about astronomy, and two things I really hate are people referring to it as “astrology”, and thinking it’s funny to pronounce Uranus as “your anus”. No doubt the Man from Uranus wishes us to do the latter, but we’re too cool for that, right? RIGHT? The record? Pleasant synthesizer tuneage and bleepage. I’d be surprised if it’s all done on Moogs.
Not, as I hoped, some kind of follow-up to One for Sorrow, but instead something a little bit Stereolab, a little bit Quickspace, a little bit ace. The 33rpm b-side is a long instrumental which goes very nicely with a cup of tea. I like their name, which is like a cross between electricity and Windowlene, two things which never fail to impress me. I generally go for band names which an “Electr” prefix. Is there a band called Electrocity? Or Electrosaurus?
On that gayest of formats, the CD single. (At least cassingles had a stupid name.) There’s a fair bit of My Bloody Valentiney tremolo stuff on the lead track, but with a belting tune and a cool sounding girl singer. Mmmmmmmmmmmm! The second track is a bit boring though, with that going-nowhere Sundays kind of feel to it, then track three goes all Madder Rose on your ass, but limply. The rating is purely for track one. It’s a single, right, so two and three don’t even count.
Better than average indie-rock with good guitar and drum sounds, b/w tweeish indie-pop. Purple vinyl.
I’d love to love The Chalets. They have a daft name, a great look, and a lot of style. So far though, their records are falling just short of what I want. They’re good, but not great. Kind of reminds me of Girlfrendo, who one day, out of the blue, made an amazing single. This isn’t. Quite.