Linn Ittok LVII
TAG McLaren CDT20R / Chord DAC64
TEAD Microgroove Plus
Linn LK140 (x3)
Today is hot and oppressive. It makes me feel very lazy, and I can’t stir my brain to try and sum this up. Side one’s like a messy Polvo, side 2 is indulgent.
I’ve long been, and am increasingly, troubled by my steadily advancing age and my love for new music. Many of my friends have already given up. Some still listen to whatever was out in 1991; some only seem to like people who aren’t alive any more; and most seem to not particularly bother at all.
There’s a degree of dignity to all those approaches. I remember being 17, and sneering at men in suits flicking through the import 7”s in Warp. Now, that’s me. (Although I only wear a suit on special occasions, and Warp has long gone.) Is it better to let the music go, unsubscribe from the mailing lists and stick with what you know, or is it better to be fat, bald, old, and down the front at Agoraphobic Nosebleed?
More troubling still is the fact that, not only am I getting older, but so are the people I like. Fortunately, most of my favourite bands are long dissolved, but a few of my heroes soldier on. When I was 18, music made by people in their forties meant Paul McCartney, Chris Rea, or Phil Collins. Now it means Robert Schneider, Kevin Shields, and Amelia Fletcher.
I’ve so loved Amelia Fletcher’s stuff for so long. If I had heroes, she’d be one, and I was thrilled when I saw she had a new LP out. But it’s a disappointment. She still writes sharp, astute, literate lyrics, but the music sounds, well, grown up. And washed out. Where her tunes were once catchy and snappy, and her backing energetic and exciting, now the melodies ramble, and the music is flat. It sounds old. Like no one had any fun making it, and I never thought I’d say that.
Yes, that Hand on Your Heart. Lacking the evil, nasal whine of the original it reveals itself as a lovely little song. A bit of a novelty, but a pleasant one.
I believe I have bought every single they’ve released, but I don’t have the album. This is a lot more gentle than usual. In fact, it doesn’t even sound like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. We have Be Your Own Pet to do that now, so it doesn’t matter so much. It’s more about melody and sound than about rhythm and noise. Karen’s so damn cool, and those two blokes can’t half play. The b-side is Maps, an astonishing record beautifully taken to pieces then ruined by whooping Americans. Why must America whoop?
The a-side’s a bit easier on the ear than Dang Blues, but the b is as rough and ready as ever. I don’t know if the blues really sounds like this, but I doubt it.
This is more fun than I expected. There’s something kind of 1980s about the music. The girl who sings is cool. Dead good and poppy and a bit mad. From Sweden, which is your guarantee of quality.
Christ alive, this is insane. Trencher make utter, total noise. Kind of like Bastard Noise or Target Shoppers. It’s sort of like listening to someone fast-forwarding a Locust tape, through a ring modulator. They also do that choppy-uppy noise thing, like V/Vm in their more extreme moments. Yes, imagine V/Vm butchering something by Tourettes Lautrec. The final track sounds like four laser printers simultaneously running out of paper.
I once saw The Phil Collins 3. They were dressed as parrots. I have this thing about parrots. It’s complicated, but to cut a long story short, they weird me out a bit. TPC3’s (if I may be so familiar) first track here is a thrash metal cockerney knees up, with Vincent Price popping in at the end. Their other song is like that daft bit from Bohemian Rhapsody over the top of some pretty capable hardcore. I’ll bet you anything that they all work in IT.
There are half-a-dozen Belle and Sebastian songs that I love, but on the whole I can’t really say I like them. There’s something about them, and that Belle and Sebastian Picnic didn’t help. Anyway, they do good pop, and this sounds like something from the seventies with big farty synth, and, more importantly, seventies melodies. This is hard to describe, but you’ll know it when you hear it. I’m no expert, but is this the usual singer? Doesn’t matter to me. The middle of the record uses the Only Fools and Horses typeface, which can only be a good thing.
No, it’s not on the wrong speed. Yes, it sounds like Bis. No, it doesn’t. Yes, it sounds like Dweeb. No, hang on, this song’s totally different. Yes, it will get on most people’s nerves. No, it doesn’t get on mine. Yes, we like this, it’s crackers. No need for the sweary run-out groove.
I’ve heard a lot of good things about Tunng, so I thought I’d give them a go. They aren’t what I expected. This record is cerebral, acoustic, and quite beautiful. I get some kind of northern woodland vibe off it. I don’t know how to talk about this kind of music; it’s so much easier to talk about crackpot stuff like Trencher and Best Fwends. I like this, but I know I won’t play it much, even the pretty cool Viva Voce remix.
The insert says this is the special 14th anniversary edition of something from 1992. I says “C86ish, but slightly dull”.
Speaking of C86ish, it’s only The bloody The Loft! All the issues from the Tender Trap discussion are here, along with the even more complicated business of bands reforming. I only really liked Up the Hill and Down the Slope, but I thought I’d give this a go because it’s on the impeccable Static Caravan. It’s a little bit dull, but okay. Not a waste of money, but not something that’s going to spend a lot of time on the turntable.
The sleeve is a painting, and the artist is credited, so we like Quack Quack already. They also have a stupid name, so we like them even more. The a-side is a kind of lo-tech electronic sounding affair, all bleeps and blurts and one of those “classic” Roland drum machine. Hey, and an organ! It’s not one of those huge squelching Quintron things, but it sounds good to me!
This is why I keep buying stuff I’ve never heard of. Every now and again something comes along that’s genuinely original, interesting and fun to listen to. The b-side has two drummers, one in each channel, but isn’t as entertaining as the ‘a’.
There’s something classy about a twelve inch single. Two tracks on a side looks great, and there’s a kind of lavish indulgence about them. I’d pretty much given up on both halves of Duophonic - it seems so long since we heard from them. This is high quality laid-back electronic pop. A bit eighties in places, but none the worse for it.
Snatching the Best Name title from The Phil Collins 3 moments before the final whistle, some old-school Sub-Pop rubbish. Side a plods, side b sounds a bit like pre-death-hoax Dwarves. Cat’s Butt would eat these guys for breakfast.