singles by choice
(albums when it's necessary)
7 August 2006
(listening through speakers)Linn LP12
Linn Ittok LVII
Linn Arkiv
TAG McLaren CDT20R / Chord DAC64
TEAD Microgroove Plus
Linn Kairn
Linn LK140 (x3)
Linn Espek

Wow, there’s a lot going on here. TV on the Radio are a clever band with almost more talent than they know what to do with, but I find I can appreciate them more than I can enjoy them.

Every time I listen I half expect (and hope) that this time, I’m going to get TV on the radio, and they’ll knock my socks off. This is engaging, entertaining, great tune, full of great sound, good singing, well recorded, I can’t think of anything bad to say about it, but still it leaves me, if not cold, lukewarm.

3

I already have this on CD, but it was going for nothing on seven, so I bought it. It’s one of those things that really only belongs on seven inch.

There was a whole slew of these bands back in the early nineties, off the top of my head I’m thinking of Fluffy, Echobelly, Daisy Chainsaw, Fuzzy, Veruca Salt and Sleeper, and they all had exactly one good song. Steve Lamacq probably has this on his iPod, and I bet he plays it all the time.

The b-side is rubbish, and I imagine they all have low status jobs in media by now, but you’ll never take away from these people the fact that, for three minutes in the nineties, they were ace.

4

I am uncool enough to know what a TX81Z is, or was. Back when I was about thirteen, I really wanted one. I wanted to be Chris Lowe, and an eight-voice multitimbral rack-mount FM tone generator seemed to be the best way to do it.

At times this sounds like a far less imaginative TV on the Radio, at other times it’s just boring. So far as I can tell no eighties four-operator synthesis was used in the making of this record.

2

Reminds me of a slightly Ladytronic version of Toxic, which is no bad thing. Slightly too long, and I don’t much like the b-side.

3

On a shade of blue vinyl which I don’t recall seeing before. Duck egg, perhaps. I think there’s a Helen Love one that’s similar, but different. Strummy, bouncy, poppy, clappy. The b-side makes me think of Backwater.

3

More blue vinyl, though this is a far stronger, cerulean hue. I’m not sure which is the a-side and which is the b, so apologies if I have them the wrong way round.

I gave Science top billing, because I think science gets too much bad press these days. Also, Happiness has a last track, end-of-the night feel to it. They’re a local band I’ve heard a lot about and they’re starting to grow on me. At first I thought they were a bit boring, but that’s not fair at all. You put a bit in, you get a lot out. I think I like this.

3

Riot grrrl without the “tits” and “power”. To my jaded ears this sounds as dated as the Powder single from earlier, but that, at least, was of its time. The lazy reviewer will mention Katherine Hanna, the kind reviewer will suggest that perhaps the engineer hasn’t captured their live energy. More Period Pains than Le Tigre.

2

This is on Transgressive, so it’s bound to be completely awesome and worth 25 quid on anyone’s eBay account, right? Nah. It’s just middle of the road student music. Sounds like when you get to a gig at a Union too early, and you catch the band who are on before the billed support and get a better reaction because all their “mates” are there. The early nineties no-hopes this reminds me of is The Sweeney.

2

Wolfgang Tillmans is a German artist. There are loads of amazing German artists, especially painters. I don’t know why. It must just be important over there or something. Tillmanns are a Swedish band. There are loads of amazing Swedish bands, especially pop bands. I don’t know why. It must just be important over there or something.

Maybe it’s the long nights, but your Swede knows how great pop music can be, and sometimes they let us in on the secret. This isn’t typically Swedish sounding. It’s all a bit retro in fact, though of a slightly older vintage than most of today’s flippant comparisons. There’s a lot of C86 in here. Jangly chorus-pedalled arpeggios, that early Cocteau Twins bass sound. Pre-Creation-era MBV style “hoover” guitar. Vocals buried in the mix, and, one would suppose, faces hidden behind fringes. We all know there’s nothing new under the sun, so the smart thing to do is take bits from the past; from a past you really understand; and make it your own. The Essex Green, who are very popular in Sweden, are great at this, and it’s what Tillmanns do. Yes, it sounds like other bands, but it doesn’t sound like any of them.

3

On that most ill-advised format: the triple seven inch.

Before it even hits the Sondek it’s a lovely affair, double gatefold, saturated in intricate artwork, and we get three colours of beautifully heavy vinyl; a clear red, slightly muted orange, and white.

Red Sparrowes do a very nice Mogwai-ish instrumental, then Battle of Mice come long and get a bit earnest. Made out of Babies pick up the earnest baton and run with it, straight towards the black heart of emo. Oh dear. There’s a lot of shouting and screaming, it lasts an age and, at my age it all sounds a bit daft. They can play though, give them that. Maybe if I was like totally pissed cos my goddam fascist asshole fascist Dad won’t lend me his goddam car, I’d enjoy it more.

This gets two points: one for Red Sparrowes, the other for being on three different colours of vinyl.

2