singles by choice
(albums when it's necessary)
26 January 2012
(listening through speakers)Avid Acutus
Funk F·XRII
Linn Akurate DS
TEAD Groove Anniversary
TEAD Vibe / Pulse 2
TEAD Linear A
TEAD Model One

I have a lot of ten inch records. They’re not in order, many haven’t been listened to and, worst of all, they haven’t been cleaned. So, this is an exercise in completeness. I shall clean, and listen to, each one of them, whether I’ve heard it before or not, and whether I like it or not. After a worldwide search I finally have a shipment to 10” antistatic sleeves, and we can begin.

Most of these were done over a couple of nights, but as new ones come in, I add them here.

Though I know Pod is supposed to be the best Breeders record, I can’t find much love for it, and Last Splash is easily my favourite of their albums. Divine Hammer might not be the best track on it (Invisible Man anyone?) but it’s a sweet enough confection and rattles along nicely enough without ever really going anywhere or saying anything. The “badump” at the end is cute though, and on we lurch into the raw, lumpy sore-throat of Hoverin’ with its big fat dirty arse of a guitar riff. B-side. I Can’t Help it if I’m Still in Love With You: Hank Williams classic. Read the lyrics if you aren’t able to listen to it. Then, Do You Love Me Now Jr. Again, I go against the grain of public opinion by being of the opinion that anything touched by the hand or, more particularly, the voice, of J Mascis, is shit. Listen to that embarrassing affected croak and pine for the phenomenal version on Safari.

2

Jean-creamingly “now” (“then”?) 90s US indie compilation. One pink disc, one yellow, featuring luminaries of the class of Polvo, Grifters, Versus and Wingtip Sloat. It ought to be great but, if memory serves, it isn’t. The sub-Keith Haring sleeve art hasn’t aged well and judging by the eminently forgettable opener by Sleepyhead, the music may not have either. Next, The Dambuilders do a good song, hilariously produced by “Butch Pig” – take THAT, Nirvana – which just sort of fails and gives up half-way through. I liked that one. Then it goes a bit Swirlies courtesy of Small Factory who call their song “Yeah”, possibly because it’s the only word that manages to cut through the mix. Lovably half-arsed. Versus were a quite good band weren’t they? Their song suggests so, despite its very odd mix, where one guitar is louder than everything else put together, and the singing apparently was done in a room other than the one which contained the microphones.

Side two, and I’m enjoying this record far more than I expected to. Oh yeah, that’ll be Polvo then. You know the drill, the funny rhythm, it stops, goes “nyarrhhhrrr”, then does a totally different funny rhythm, changes tempo and goes nyarrrhhhhrrr again. Good stuff, and endearingly difficult-on-purpose. Monsterland tell us on the sleeve that this was originally released in the UK as Peanut Butter Karma 7” b-side. Somehow I missed that one, so it’s great to be able to fill in the gap. They also invite us to reach out and tell them they suck. Well, it’s a bit late, but they pretty much suck. Reminds me a little bit of Monster Magnet, though that’s probably because they’ve both got “Monster” in their name. I seem to remember Wingtip Sloat being a bit of a big deal. It’s a shoe, isn’t it? They’re extremely rough and ready here, and their song sounds a bit like something you’d do in rehearsal, if you were one of those lame-ass precious “rehearsing” kind of bands. I quite liked it.

The pink disc goes into its fresh new antistatic sleeve and the yellow one goes on the platter and under the clamp. Who do we have here? Helium. Doing a well recorded but again oddly mixed song about having a head under the bed. Goes on a bit. Ruby Falls sound like Madder Rose when they weren’t doing one of those amazing slow songs but you wished they were. Also goes on a bit. Twig’s song is better, probably because it has handclaps.

Onto the home straight, with a Dinosaur Jr style (i.e. boring) cover of 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover. Kudgel give us a ramen recipe. Not an actual Japanese ramen recipe, some kind of ersatz American thing. Their song is two chords and some shouting: always a recipe for success round these parts. Grifters close things off; they’re another band I’ve never got, being too indie rock for me, though they do have a nice guitar sound here, which brings to mind someone hitting a hot water tank with a kitchen knife.

3

I bought this because it had the Apples in Stereo on it, singing a song you couldn’t at the time get elsewhere. It’s quite a nice little five tracker; indie-pop with varying degrees or earnestness.

2

A Prince “tribute” record, which, though I get the reference, should to be called “If I Were Prince”, and it kicks off with Hefner doing Controversy at about half the speed of the original. Are there multiple Hefners, because this sure as heck doesn’t sound like Hymn for the Cigarettes. It’s good, but then, it’s going to be isn’t it? Whoever’s singing it, it’s still Controversy. I don’t know who the hell Fort Lauderdale were, but their version of Annie Christian is pleasingly odd and disjointed. Reminds me a bit of The Normal or something. Word to the wise - if you want a totally great cover of something off Controversy, hunt down Pansy Division’s reading of Jack U Off.

It takes a bit of bottle to tackle anything off Purple Rain, but The Beautiful Ones is probably the least well known song on there. Misty Dixon (who did a great cover of Dolly/Wendy Craig’s Love is Like a Butterfly) have a stab at it, making it sound kind of lullaby-like at first, and letting it grow and grow into something huge. Really good. His ability as a performer sometimes blinds you to how phenomenally brilliant a songwriter Prince is.

3

I’m not aware of owning Volume 1, but it wouldn’t surprise me if I did. Track one is totally brilliant, with samples of a girl talking about what she most likes about dogs, over a shoddy electronic backing track and rhythmic samples of dogs barking. One day all records will be made this way.

Obviously there’s no following that, but MOtel (their capitals) do a spare, beguiling, not remotely mental track. The other two songs are okay, but a bit long. Frankly nothing stood a chance against the might of I Love Dogs. Personally, I hate dogs, but that’s the kind of propaganda that might turn me. Who remembers Propaghandi? Best. Name. Ever. The sleeve art looks a bit like Yashimoto Nara paintings, and all the songs are on one side, the other being grooveless. So obviously an all round great package.

3

HoL are one of a number of bands I always wanted to like more than I did. They did some great songs though, and I think this is one of them. There were three 10”s released off Babe Rainbow; this, Feel, and You Don’t Understand. The magnificent The Girl With the Loneliest Eyes somehow only got put on a nasty, thin 12” with a terrible sleeve. This is fantastic. Subtle, layered, and of far higher fidelity than most of the rubbish that’s been on so far tonight. The second song, about marrying the maid in the blue, always irritated me, and still does. It also irritated me how many songs were just called Love or similar. Love 10 is on this, and sounds like a whole bunch of other things, but is no worse for it. He went on a lot about things shining too, didn’t he? Great EP

4

I’m from the country, so I hate motorbikes. If it’s not perforated eardrums from them tearing past your house at 120mph it’s the inconvenience of closed roads while they pick one out of the grill of a lorry that was coming the other way round a blind bend on the correct side of the road.

This is a beautiful record in a rich orange-yellow vinyl. The Dakota Oak do, as they always did, a couple of interesting textured things, but Sirconical and Andy Votel’s track is the stand-out. A big rhythmic mash of stuff. Mum and Dad (remember that incredibly filthy sex thing they did?) do something weird that may or may not be a sample, then Badly Drawn Boy turns up and is boring. Fin.

3

If you’ve ever heard the Azusa Plane, then you know the score. A drone, a guitar, a lot of echo. Should be rubbish, but never is. Should always be the same, but never is. Nothing much to say other than that it’s typical of the work, a little bit eerie, and gorgeous. It works as ambient music – put it on and forget about it – but if it catches you in the right mood, it’ll pull you right in and hold you. Good sleeve art and lovely green vinyl. Lot of coloured vinyl in this style of music. LOT of coloured vinyl.

4

Clear vinyl, but that crappy “white” kind of not-quite-clear vinyl. Hang on, I’m making the classic schoolboy error of saying “clear” when I mean “colourless”. The best thing about the packaging is that on the label, the songs are identified by their waveform rather than by their name. The music’s not all that spacey or timey, certainly not after you’ve just listened to Azusa Plane, who were far out among the stars. That said, it does kind of remind me of the Brian Eno Apollo record in places, though it’s obviously nowhere near as good. Appliance were definitely a fringe player on the monged-out space-rock scene. I need to listen to more Neu! (What do we want? / More krautrock in Northern Ireland / When do we want it? / Neu!)

3

I like this record a lot. It’s raw, fast, loud, full on. Sounds like it was made in twenty minutes, and is all the better for it. I prefer the version of The Freed Pig to the original (it’s pretty much the only Sebadoh song I like. Oh, Ocean, that’s good) and the version of Saints on here kicks the arse of the one on Last Splash. Belter.

5
ElasticaStutter
10" single

Stutter is brilliant.

5
House of LoveFeel
10" single

Not “The” House of Love, which I’m sure they were to start with. The title track is fantastic, but the other tracks smack a little bit of “third single off the album”, with a couple of pretty boring guitar-hero covers on the b-side. Feel is great though. 5 for the ‘a’, 1 for the ‘b’.

3
LushFor Love
10" single

I liked Lush a lot, and I don’t think I like anything they did much more than For Love. It’s pretty much a perfect pop song, and this is the definitive version, a little rougher round the edges than the one on Spooky, and substantially more engaging. Numbered ten inch with a different version of the song to the one on the album. That’s the way to do it. 4AD were great with the four track singles – Cocteau Twins – so much great music not on albums. There’s a respectable cover of Outdoor Miner on the flipside. I think pretty much everyone covered Wire in those days, or at least ripped them off wholesale. (See above.) Actually, wasn’t there an album just of covers of Outdoor Miner? Never quite got Wire myself. Ooh, look Half Man Half Biscut fans: on the inner sleeve “they call their fan club an information service”!

4

Melt-Banana kick off. Track one is mad piano and heavy heavy drums, with Yasuko making what may or may not be cat noises, but probably aren’t. Then we’re into the astonishing Sweeper. It’s MxBx at their most accessible and commercial, so if you’re looking for a place to start with them, this might be it. It’s amazing. I’ve never heard this through my new amp and speakers before, and it’s even better than I thought now I can hear how every part fits together, and feel (as my next-door neighbours are out) the full-force assault of the chorus. The final track is way more abstract and overbearing. Shit-tons of noise through shit-tons of effects pedals. Physically disorienting at this volume. Just one of the best bands ever.

Chung, whose side of the record plays at 33rpm, are your fairly standard melodic hardcore band with a bit of electronics thrown in. They’re okay. 5 for MxBx, 3 for Chung.

4

On semi-legendary Great Pop Supplement, so we’re probably expecting some folky chin-strokery at some point. I’ve accidentally put the b-side on first, so The Laughing Widows kick off with what sounds like a car alarm, but then becomes riff-based folky something. Shady Bard then come along and do what Shady Bard do. Lovely.

Now to the A-side, and good old Tunng. Their song is called Peanuts and I was hoping it would be a cover of the one George Dawes did on Shooting Stars, but it isn’t. Shame. It’s good though, in a fairly typical Tunng old vs new stylee. Clicky, folky, big-fat-bassy. Good gear. “Pea-nats!”

Woodcraft Folk do a good song, not entirely dissimilar to Tunng in style, but soporifically relaxing. Good record with, as you expect from GPS, excellent artwork.

4

Th’ Faith Healers kick off with bordering on novelty Coffee Commercial Couples. It makes me think of The Ace of Spades crossed with something by Minty. Possibly That’s Nice!. Wasn’t there a connection between Th’ Faith Healers and Quickspace? They sound like Quickspace here. I bloody loved Quickspace, and I like this too. I don’t think I have any more of their records. I’ll get some.

Stereolab do a great version of Super-Electric, but the other three tracks are nothing special, at least not by their standards. Changer’s a bit of a plodder isn’t it? Doubt says everything it has to say within the first thirty seconds. I might be in a minority, but I generally prefer “The Lab”’s later output - post Dots and Loops. There’s some great stuff in the early records, but there’s a lot of dullness too.

Peej is another artist whose music I’d like to like more than I do. I love Sheela Na Gig and Dress, and everything else is kind of okay. I absolutely couldn’t get the fuss about Let England Shake for instance. At this point I think P.J. Harvey still referred to the band, so would be filed under ‘P’. How about the tracks? Well, Sheela Na Gig is brilliant, and the others are okay.

3

Possibly one of a series, I’m not sure. It’s standard Bardo Pond fare, with slow, heavy drums and bass, squalls of feedback and drone. Smell the tie-dye. I played the first half at the wrong speed, but it didn’t matter.

Side two is by Pre, who I’ve never heard of, and begins with a spiky math-type riff with some pretty enthusiastic shouty singing, then goes into what feels like an age of at times physically uncomfortable feedback and some sampled speech, presumably about some form of medication. Several minutes later it returns to the riff and ends. I have a headache.

3

Subtitled A West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band Covers E.P., which pretty much tells you what it is. The cling tells me it’s never been out of the sleeve before. The only band I know on here is The Clientele, who I’m not particularly keen on; and I’ve never listened to the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band. I can only assume I bought it because it’s on Earworm, a label I used to slightly collect.

It all sounds like what it is: songs from ’60s California. Not entirely my cup of tea. The Clientele sound exactly like they always do, so I guess WCPAEB must have been a big influence.

2

Enough droning and art. Let’s go disco! We want childish shouting, drum machines, and overexcitable fun, and we want it now. I think this was supposed to launch Bis on the American market, picking and choosing as it does from a number of 7” singles, sometimes with re-recorded songs. Kill Your Boyfriend is fantastic, though I think the version on that brown-sleeved seven inch is better. And Kandy Pop? What a classic cut. Kids today don’t know what proper music sounds like. I feel privileged to have lived in an era which produced art like Kandy Pop. Side ichi and side ni eh? Sugoi. This is Fake DIY seems dated, as today the consumers are more fake than the producers. In ‘96 is was rich major labels pretending to be penniless indies to sell cheap records (the heyday of the 99p single), now it’s rich hipsters pretending to be penniless but buying overpriced records they can’t even play. Chumps.

5

Looking like something off Sarah with its plain pastel blue sleeve, there’s precious little information, so pretty much all I can tell you is that it’s on Guided Missile, and contains four well-recorded tracks of generally quite laid back (almost) instrumental post-rock of the kind that Tortoise might make if they pulled their collective head out of their collective ass. (I like Tortoise as much as the next man, but you know what I mean.)

3

They were all the rage for a while weren’t they? I liked Aisha, but the rest of the album didn’t do a huge amount for me. This is a one-sided single, the other side has a picture of cover star (Clare Durkin, of Models One, we are helpfully informed) pressed, not entirely successfully into the vinyl. The perplexingly overrated Bobby Gillepsie goes “yeah yeah yeah” a couple of times near then end, which somehow adds even less than that might make you expect. Who was it that said “Bobby Gillepsie? Yeah, how did he dance before the stroke?”. Always makes me laugh that. Actually it sounds like Primal Scream. Crap.

1
CrackerLow
10" single

Great single, fantastic exploding pink vinyl. If you haven’t heard it, hear it. I’m still not sure what Americans mean by Eurotrash. They don’t mean the classic 90s TV programme with Antoine, Jean-Paul, Pee-Pee and Po-Po, and all their Breetish Schooms do they?

4
The BreedersOff You
10" single

Very different from the other two Breeders singles above. Close-miked, dry, raw, quiet, intimate even. Sad. Brilliant. The AA side tracks are great too. I’m not sure I’ve ever played this before, and it’s superb. That’s the point of the exercise after all.

5
ComeString
10" single

Were they one of those bands that Thurston Moore said was good, then were immediately on the front of the NME? It would explain why I bought it. Fairly uninspiring indie rock, though at times there are hints of Codeine and Madder Rose, and Venus in Furs, and it gets momentarily interesting. White vinyl.

1
Throwing MusesDizzy
10" single

One of the Muses easiest, poppiest songs on the A- side, but don’t worry, because Mania’s on the other side, which is as nuts as anything they ever did. The Real Ramona is one of my favourite records, but I tend to forget about Hunkpapa, which I shouldn’t, because as this little sampler of it shows, it’s a fantastic album. The b-side is all recorded live, and shows what a scarily good performer Kristin Hersh is. (The rest of the band are right on the money too.)

4
CrackerGet Off This
10" single

On a beautiful intense orange vinyl, I’m fond of the title track; it’s a good car singalong with a smart nicely cynical, 100% correct, lyric. Could probably be a minute shorter, but it’ll do as it is. Whatever happened to the “radio edit”? I have strong opinions on song lengths, and I think if you’re going to go past 3:00, you should have very firm plans for at least the next four minutes. I can get behind 20 minutes of Jenny Ondioline or Sister Ray, but a four minute pop song is TOO LONG. Steve’s Hornpipe takes us back to the CVB days with balalaika (?) and fiddle, before we flip the disc and get two 4’+ slabs of pleasant, if slightly plodding, country. David Lowery writes great lyrics just made for country songs - he’s so good at complaining, and isn’t that what country’s all about?

4

If I had to list my favourite bands ever, the Mary Chain would be in the list. But, the only truly great album they made, in my opinion, is Honey’s Dead (Psychocandy has some amazing songs, but it’s one idea repeated many times. How often do you honestly want to listen to it all the way through?)

Think about the singles though: Upside Down, Never Understand, Reverence, Sidewalking, Blues from a Gun, Head On, You Trip Me Up, Sometimes Always, and this largely forgotten cracker.

I like this record not only because it’s totally bloody brilliant, but because it always reminds me of seeing them perform it live. William sings of course, and he was doing the mad feedback freakout in the middle, down on his knees among the monitors, giving it hell, hair all over, white strobe lights, chaos, noise, and as the band would up for the “rock and roll hates me” bit he was still down there, in his own world of squealing squalling annihilation. I can’t describe the way he at the last possible moment stood, slowly, turned, pulled the mic to him and delivered the line. But it was, and still is, the single coolest thing I’ve ever seen. The look, the timing, the nonchalance, the sunglasses. Unforgettable. I miss them.

4
QuickspaceRise
10" single

As I’ve said before, at length, I love Quickspace. Rise is them at their most measured. The whole thing is like a ticking metronome, locking parts shifting, repeating and turning. It seems never to change the whole way through, yet somehow also seems never to repeat itself. But this is Quickspace, and you can’t expect that attitude to last. They try, bless them, on Docile, but you can feel things starting to come loose and unravel. Then they decide to have another go at Rise, and it’s the more usual blizzard of distortion and sloppiness. They were like this live: hell of a thing.

4

Bit more Mary Chain, this time doing some slightly dirty, but summery, pop. I’m a sucker for boy/girl duet, and Jim’s dry croak goes so well with Hope’s honey-sweet drawl. The “now you’re ba-aa-aa-aa-aack” bit is as perfect as piece of pop music ever could be. Three more great songs, even a revisit of Drop make this a great EP.

5

I’m not very keen on Darklands, but Happy When it Rains is one of the less boring cuts on it. It’s okay. Shake is an odd attempt at the blues with a lot of growling and that reverb they were particularly fond of at this time. Weird. Not bad, but I still can’t get over my Darklands mental block I’m afraid.

3
LushSpooky
10" album

This ought to have been a great album. The singles either side of it were superb, Scar was a great record, and some of the songs, For Love, Monochrome, Untogether are top-notch. But, the whole thing just doesn’t work, and I don’t know why. Maybe the problem is that it all sounds exactly the same. A couple of songs (Fantasy and Ocean kick off with drums that make you think it’s going to be interesting and different, then lapse into exactly the same sound as everything else. I wanted to like it, but I honestly don’t think it’s a very good record. Now Split, that’s a different story.

2

The ten inch format always suited Stereolab. Wilfully perverse and obscure, it’s an old idea which somehow still seems novel. No wonder then that the majority of their early catalogue was of five inch radius.

The lead track is a great song, though sadly unchanged from the LP version. Then they kick their way through Heavy Denim, a big stomping slab of up-tempo krautrock aggravation. Is it okay to say that? When Alan Hansen practically got crucified for lamenting prejudices still held against “coloured” footballers, it’s odd we’re still allowed to say “krautrock”. Either way, I don’t care. I don’t get upset when Australians talk about whingeing poms, which they haven’t been doing much lately, given the last two Ashes. I’m getting off track here aren’t I?

I’ve typed all this during the odd three-parter, Nihilist Assault Group, which is a nice drone, then an irritating drone then finally gets all Black Flag on your ass. Narco Martenot sounds like one of those old wind-up soldier toys that beats a drum crossed with some motorised industrial process. It reminds me of Christmas.

3

Why the hell did Kim Gordon decide to stop playing bass for Sonic Youth, thereby forfeiting the privilege of playing this huge, amazing fuzzed up belter of a bass line if they ever dug the track out live? Making that noise must feel so good.

A nice off-white disc holds the “clean-ex” version of the title track, which seems to have the vocals re-recorded, minus the swearing, but still featuring the slightly incongruous use of the word “twerp”; its first outing since the novels of PG Wodehouse. A huge, glorious noise of a record with a stirring lyric. Should have been number one. B-side gives us a version of Purr recorded for a “Mark Goodybags” Radio One session, and it sounds great, stripped down and open. Then we round off with the proper, sweary version of Youth Against Fascism. Hell, why not. Put it on three times for all I care.

5

This record seems to be better known as French Disco, which is actually the B-side. The title track is a cut-down version of the twenty minute wonder on Transient Random Noise Bursts. It lacks all the noisy “this is out of phase” part, but it’s still an absolute cracker. Fruition is the weird haunted house one, and Golden Ball is one of their better two-chord meditations.

I used to think French Disco (or French Disko depending whether you believe the front or the back of the record) was the best song ever. I no longer hold that view, but I can see where I got it from. It’s so full-on, relentless, single-minded. And the chorus is only half a bar long. You’ve got to take your hat off to that. Oh, and this is easily the best version.

5

Ssh, don’t tell anyone, but sometimes I think Dirty is my favourite Sonic Youth album. I know you’re supposed to say Daydream Nation or Sister, or be cooler-than-thou and like Murray Street best because it’s got Karen Revisited on it, but come on, be honest, Dirty is great. Packed with accessible pop songs, seasoned with just enough wigged-out noise, and all beautifully recorded, it’s a lot of fun. Sugar Kane’s not my favourite track on there, but it’s still a pretty good one. It’s the b-sides that make this lovely clear-blue EP though, with Kim moaning and croaking on Is it My Body?, and the throwaway cover of Personality Crisis: one of my favourite things they’ve done. I love how loving but ramshackle it is; I love the totally needless woo-woooooo-wowowowowow bit in the middle, but most of all I love the crazy, loudest-ever ending. Gold.

5

The third of the trilogy of ten inches I mentioned earlier. Apparently it was all the rage 92-93ish, going on the Sonic Youth and Stereolab singles we’ve just had out. Bands didn’t half have to turn some material out in those days, as here we’ve got four singles off Babe Rainbow (that’s including The Girl With the Loneliest Eyes, which was a 12” so isn’t here) all with four songs on them. Quality’s going to suffer and on here we get a couple of fairly nondescript efforts and a slower version of the title track with different words.

3

Remember when Chris Sievey died and anyone and everyone was suddenly Frank’s biggest fan? Well, I don’t remember seeing many celebs packing out the gigs I went to in the early 90s. If you don’t know who does Jimmy Hill’s laundry, you’re not entitled to an opinion.

He was great live, back in the day, but the new material gradually slowed down until every gig was exactly the same, and felt a rather forced affair. You could see the influence of the booze sometimes too.

But this is a relic from happier times. Kicking off (pun intended) with an instrumental march of Guess Who’s Been on Match of the Day (seven or eight times by the end I think, even though he was banned from being Altringham’s mascot because he was “a jinx”) then seguing beautifully into a Bros Medley which even includes Silent Night (“all is silent, all is night”).

Next, live favourite Twist ‘n’ Shout (how many people still think the Beatles wrote it?), and the wonderful, definitive, Kevin Bignell cover of Planet Earth. The sleeve helpfully informs us that “Kevin is 5’9” and works at Radio Highcroft”.

Little Frank’s cover of Tommy is all about his best friend, Breville Toaster, who Frank operated by the magic of string puppetry. (One string attached to the lid.) Flip over and we get the stone-cold classic Timperley Blues, which, in case you didn’t know, features the best lyric in music. Frank’s taking his puppets “to the US of A”, so he tells us: “I sent Little Frank to get me a visa / He came back an hour later with a pepperoni pizza / I said ‘you stupid stupid, stupid puppet’ / He said ‘I’d like to help you Frank, but I’m cardboard’”. And that, my friends, is genius.

This being “medium play” (there really was such a thing - Decca released them and presumably expected you to play them with their weird cartridges) there isn’t the usual protracted chat, and one side plays at 34rpm, the other at 32. The Acutus allows me to fine-tune the speed to exactly those rates, but I didn’t bother. It didn’t seem that one was a little too fast and the other too slow.

The sleeve art is, of course, brilliant. You get to see the inside of Frank’s shed, Little Frank in his famously banned Beastie Puppets get-up, and Little Denise before her head got stolen. There’s also The Great Big Hat (in the colours of red and black), Little Buzz Aldrin, and a sumptuously coloured-in promo photo of Tim Grundy.

The record closes with his Elvis Medley (“wise men say / some very very wise things” etc.). The parallels, of course, are striking. The uniqueness, the downward path of the career, the dependencies, the smooth hair.

Do not go gentle into that good night, Pumpkin-Headed Bard of Timperley.

5

Experimental Jet Set is a criminally underrated record. I don’t think I know anyone else who even has it, never mind who likes it. It’s kind of an exercise in doing everything with a guitar that it’s possible to do. But the star of this understated little gem is Steve’s drumming. Great song, and the Go Team cover’s not bad either. B-sides are quiet acoustic curiosity Razor Blade, and Thurston singing Doctor’s Orders. (Kim sings it on the LP, and I think I prefer this take.)

4
Sonic Youth100%
10" single

Because you can’t have too much Sonic Youth can you? That’s a fact.

This is on a beautiful dark orange vinyl, and concentric grooved. So, with two songs on each side, you have a 50/50 chance of getting the one you want. First drop I get Creme Brulee, the rather half-arsed, chaotic rambler off Dirty. Second drop -boom - 100%. That’s the first thing that’s gone right for me all day. (Eight hours trying to work out why metaset always says no such file or directory on one node of a production cluster.)

This is an amazing song. Steve’s such a great drummer, even when he’s just doing a simple “bum-tish” job like he does here he almost steals it. Side two now, and either Genetic or Hendrix Necro, oh, Lee just said “genetic”. It’s an arse-kicking rocker that sounds like it might have fitted nicely into Daydream Nation. Hendrix Necro is Kim complaining, I think, about sexism, which she is right to do. What a bloody amazing band.

4
StereolabLow Fi
10" single

I used to love the old drony Farfisa Stereolab, and couldn’t get on with the funny percussiony stuff that started with Dots and Loops. But last year, when I decided to listen to all the band’s LPs in order, I found the early ones bored me a little, and I loved the later ones. (Except Dots and Loops, I just can’t click with that one.) So, I approach Lo Fi as a bit of a chore and now, nearing the end of side one, my mood hasn’t much changed. I find the early songs quite interchangeable. Oh, I always think this is a locked groove; the noise bit at the end of (Varoom!). Nothing much to say about side B. The title track’s good, but that’s about it.

2
SlintUntitled
10" single

This is the one with no writing anywhere on it. Did you know that you have to have writing in a book to get an ISBN number - only pictures isn’t good enough. Both songs are instrumental, so if you’re looking for any kind of verbiage, you’ve come to the wrong place.

Although these were recorded, I think, in the Spiderland sessions, I can see why they weren’t on the album: the songs are stylistically close to Tweez. I don’t think Tweez gets enough love. Not that Spiderland doesn’t deserve all the plaudits it gets, but Tweez should get a bit more. The side with the human/octopus chimera on is a slightly sinister, deftly performed piece that never stops moving, but never leaves where it started. Triangle side is one of the songs off Tweez with a slightly lighter touch in the first half, and thoroughly wigged-out finish. “I may not be John Lennon, but these boys play better than the Beatles.” Words? Who needs them?

5

Of course, the game here is to point out exactly which band each track sounds like, but that’s to miss the point. They’re a good band with a great sound and good tunes. Highlight for me is Just You: imagine Broadcast, Fennesz, and a detuned short-wave radio covering the song James, Maddie and Donna sing in Twin Peaks.

Originality? Overrated. Remember kids, it ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it, and Ringo Deathstarr do it well.

4

Possibly the un-coolest band in the world, but I gave up caring about things like that years ago. When they first came along they were exciting. I still like the first album, and the EP with Little Miss Kingmaker on is great, but they were all about live, and a fantastic turn. I never understood why the music press decided to destroy them. Or Slowdive. (I’m currently obsessed with Machine Gun.) I know Loz Hardy blames Chrysalis’s obsession with “formatting” for the band’s decline, and listening to this it’s easy to see his point. The A-side’s not that great a song .It certainly wouldn’t have made it onto the previous album - the sax break (played by the guy who did the sax for Level 42?) doesn’t help, The b-sides are three uncharacteristically lacklustre live recordings. Level 42 could, and did, do better.

Two top pop facts to close. Steve Nieve plays the keyboards on this – which must have been quite a coup at the time – and I once leaned on Justine from Elastica most of the way through a Kingmaker gig. Oh yeah. I was a player back then.

2

Much like Ringo Deathstarr, Leichtenstein have a rubbish name, sound a lot like a lot of bands from another scene in another era, and are excellent. This time the scene is C86, and your reference points are Girls at Our Best, Talulah Gosh, Aislers Set and on White Dress, someone else I irritatingly can’t put my finger on. Once again I’ll state that to complain about something sounding like something else is to completely miss the point. Good record.

4

I think the only midnight showing I’ve ever been to was The Exorcist. I only very recently found out that what I’d always thought was “the theme tune from The Exorcist” is actually Tubular Bells, which I thought I’d never heard. I am teh sux. I do, however, recognize the style of the artwork, and the sleeve confirms it’s House@Intro, who did those beautiful Broadcast sleeves.

For some reason the first song reminds me of a radio-friendly version of those Bette Davis and the Balconettes type bands that were around in the 90s. Like if they grew up and learnt to play. I’ve not idea where I got that from. Or maybe Bettie Serveert. Probably something with “Bette” in the name, and definitely something from the 90s. It’s on Emperor Norton. I always struggle to remember how to spell “Emperor” for some reason, and the only other band I remember from that label was The Virgin Whore Complex, who I liked a lot. (Check out Unrequited Love if you don’t know it. Or Succumb.) Onto the B-side now, and it sounds like Stereolab sound when they play live. Rock and roll! Then, they finish off with a short song with only an acoustic guitar and a beautiful-voiced lady singing. I’d like to hear more Midnight Movies.

4

The ‘a’ is, of course a stone-cold classic which needs no explanation, so let’s look at the ‘b’.

Spock’s Brain is a spoken word assessment of Spock’s character based around a line from what is commonly accepted to be the worst episode of TOS. Not great and quite racist by today’s standards. The fact that Vulcan isn’t a real race is neither here nor there: I call it hate crime.

Three English Football Grounds is just that. We get a brief description, the nearest station, and a one word assessment of the beer. “Two pounds fifty to get in”? Blimey, I’m surprised this record isn’t on shellac. A-side brilliant, b-sides not, hence the average score.

3
Madder RoseCar Song
10" single

A band I had a great deal of time for back in the day. To me they’re the aural equivalent of a long hot bath. All the energy drains out of me, replaced by utter torpor, but in a good way. They were never quite so good at the fast songs, but those slow, soporific, nar-nar-nar guitar ones, like this, were something special. I love Mary Lorson’s voice, an unusual mix of strength and frailty that was perfectly complemented by the way the band played. I heard they were all a bit too fond of the old heroin, which is why it all fell apart, but I have no idea if that was true or not. Probably not, because most things you hear aren’t. I don’t think they ever made anything that got close to the first album, but this is still a good EP.

4
LambWonder
10" single

I can recall where a worrying majority of my records came from, but I have no idea when or why I bought this. It’s good though, well recorded and pressed. Me, I’d have mixed it differently, lower the vocals, more bass. Trans-fatty Acid is the b-side, and how can a song fail with a name like that?

3

That’s their lack of apostrophes, not mine. I used to buy a lot of stuff on Che in the early 90s. They released some excellent records, but this isn’t one of them. A dull, meandering thing, and I dislike the singer’s voice.

1

Yet another band I’ve always wanted to like more than I probably do. I think it’s called Cold Water as that’s the title of the first song, but it might be an untitled EP like that Slint one. Anyway. Cold Water is freaking awesome, it’s typically fast and tight, but more straightforward than most Jesus Lizard songs, with that incredible rhythm section sticking to one pattern for the entire song. I loved it. The rest of the EP goes more downbeat. Valentine on side two is a post-rocky instrumental, and Jim O’Rourke’s remix of Needles for Teeth doesn’t do a lot for me. I’m still waiting to hear the remix that improves the original.

3
MogwaiZidane
10" single

Zidane - a 21st Century Portrait was a grossly pretentious piece of work by pretentious Scottish artist Douglas Gordon. So, who better to soundtrack it than grossly pretentious Scottish post-rock revisionists, Mogwai?

I’m not sure why I bought this because it irritates me for so many reasons. First, Bill Viola and Tacita Dean excepted, I just plain don’t like video art. Second, I really, really, hate the modern middle-class liberal view of football as an art form. I also detest the bullshit that goes with football today, from the handshake of harmony to the postmodern deification of David Beckham. Third, the only Mogwai record I particularly like is Summer (the 2nd 7” I think) yet their unplayed albums take up about two inches of my shelf space.

But how about the record? Stripping away all the aforementioned horse-shit, it’s a pretty good slab of drone. It’s nothing you haven’t heard before of course – Brian Eno was doing this 25 years ago – but whatever they might think, you don’t listen to Mogwai for originality, you listen because they make a nice noise. Half Time just drones with some gentle piano, and is 6’41 long. Half time today lasts fifteen minutes, which is five minutes more than it used to be, and five minutes too long. Black Spider (I played the sides the wrong way round by mistake) is good if you like Tortoise, which I do.

So, for me this record is just like a game of Premier League football. Taken for what it is, I enjoyed it, but it comes with a shit-ton of up-its-own-arse pseudo-intellectual baggage.

4

I see the music of Daniel Johnston a bit like you might see an old girlfriend. Once upon a time I was crazy about it. Now, on the odd occasion when it crosses my path, I look at it and say to myself “what on earth was I thinking?”.

I haven’t been looking forward to this one. Seventeen songs of, presumably, squawking, mithering, and self-pity. Okay. Deep breath and here we go.

Oh jeez, it sounds like it’s been recorded down the telephone (all of it, not just the vocals like on Speeding Motorcycle), the piano needs tuning, and the guitar needs throwing in the bin. It’s like listening to a shellac on an old Victrola, or Al Duvall.

There are one or two decent songs on Respect I suppose, but, as usual, Daniel badly needs an editor. The spoken word piece Dream is genuinely affecting, and easily the highlight for me. A Little Bit of Soap is nowhere near as good as Showaddywaddy’s version, and Heartbreak Hotel is certainly not in the same league as Tap’s graveside barbershop ragga interpretation.

The sleeve art isn’t great, with only a few of what I presume are Daniel’s drawings under the text. We do, however, get a list of supposed forthcoming releases on the label, including “Yeah-Yeah-Yeah-Yeah” by Jon Spencer, and Thurston Moore Plays the Who, which made me smile.

I think seeing The Devil and Daniel Johnston put me off him. Until I saw that I didn’t realize how damaged he was, how exploited, and how naive. The main thing though was finding out that “Laurie” barely even knew who he was, and suddenly all those unrequited love songs felt like something written by a ten year old. I began to listen far more critically, and it all fell apart - everything sounded like it was written by a child. Or a man-child. Like a lot of “outsider art”, there’s no depth and no technical skill to sustain the interest. It’s closer to Wesley Willis than Bob Dylan; sometimes he stumbles on a line you can connect with, but there seems to be little insight or intelligence to the songs. Honesty, yes, but that’s not enough for me.

In CBT they sometimes ask you to write down how you feel when you feel bad. Then, reading it when you don’t feel bad, you see how trivial what made you feel bad really was, and it helps you regain your sense of perspective. That’s what these songs are like. Someone else’s CBT. And CBT never fixes anything.

This is simply a recording of a man entertaining himself with a piano and a guitar. It’s not for listening to, and was most likely never intended to be.

1

Sounding quite astonishing after the last piece of sonic filth, I think this is one of the more interesting efforts by a band I generally consider kind of dull. Full of great guitar sounds, but there’s something about GVSB that doesn’t ring true for me. It’s hard to define, but they seem to lack the “authenticity” that, say, the Jesus Lizard or Band of Susans had. Art vs product? I dunno. I quite like some of the songs, but don’t particularly like the band.

3

I liked Los Campesinos exclamation mark when they first came along, doing their updated C86 thing, but as they got a bit more serious, they kind of lost me. This is quite serious and yeah, you know, it’s a good record, but I find the snarled delivery and constant negative sentiment wearing. Romance is great; complaining is boring.

2
Le TetsuoYour Elbow
10" single

Nice white vinyl. I have no idea what this is. I don’t think I’ve ever played it. I think Le Tetsuo is the band because that’s written on the front, and I think Your Elbow is the title of the EP because that’s written on the spine. Opener is Chicken Shack. Let’s go.

Not what I expected, whatever that was. The sleeve made me think “electronic”, some of the titles made me think “Jawbone”, but it’s kind of punky, kind of soft-hardcore. (Which I guess is just “core”?) I’m not sure the band has the technical skill to play the kind of music they perhaps want to play, but the slight sloppiness of the rhythm section makes it all work. I’ll listen to this again, for sure.

3

I’m not sure what to make of this band. Their music is beautiful, well played and atmospheric, but they vocals and lyrics border on - and sometimes stray into - the absurd.

This, unsurprisingly, is about Spencer Perceval who, as far as I know, is the only prime minister to have been assassinated. (At the time of writing.) When you think what some of the others have been like, you have to wonder what he did. (I’m not very well up on prime ministers, or politics in general.)

Without the vocals, this would just sound like Mogwai, and I’ve already complained about their lack of originality. So, iLiKETRaiNS (pretentious - moi?) should probably be complemented on their slightly batty historical angle. I had to look up John Bellingham, who is mentioned on the inner sleeve and, if you didn’t know, he was the man who shot Perceval. Side b is called I am Murdered. Who’s murdered? Perceval or Bellingham. They both were in the end.

4
HardvarkFawn
10" single

A record, I’m sure, bought purely because I wanted to own something by Hardvark. It’s on white vinyl and it’s quite ernest indie rock. I didn’t particularly enjoy it, or the sleeve art. Sort of a rubbish, more polished, Archers of Loaf.

2

Back in ‘93 we were getting so desperate for new My Bloody Valentine material (“the new album will definitely be out later this year” etc) that we started buying records by Rollerskate Skinny purely because Kevin Shields’ brother played guitar for them. Nearly twenty years later, out of the shadow of MBV, this sounds great. Rough, raw, clanking, and celebrating all of that by pushing the guitars to the front and the vocals to the back. It’s great, and kudos for having a proper painting on the front, with the painter credited on the back.

4
Madder RosePanic On
10" single

As I said earlier, I liked Madder Rose in their early, heroin miserablist phase. This is their second, sunny pop phase, and they sound like Sixpence None the Richer. Pretty dull, and I don’t think Mary Lorson’s voice suits this style of song. The b-sides are a bit better, but still nowhere near the glory of the first LP. I think this was the last record of theirs I bought, and I can see why.

2

As a Stereolab fan with a pretty amorphous body, this should be right up my alley, but, I’ve never really got on with it. Spinning it now, it sounds great, with the light summeriness of, say Ping Pong but with a more French colouring than most of the other stuff. It’s short too. Too short in fact. Every song could do with being a bit longer, and the whole thing is over almost before it’s begun.

4
StereolabPing Pong
10" single

You know this, I’m sure. All the b-sides are great too, even the slight filler of a live rendering of Transona Five that illustrates how the ‘Lab sound exactly the same live as they do on record.

4

When most people think of Sarah they think of amazing indie-pop guitar bands like Heavenly, and Talulah Gosh, who weren’t even on Sarah. Truth is (I think) most of the label’s output wasn’t all that great, and here are The Field Mice to prove the point.

God this is wet. I’m listening to it with a ten month old baby, who having rocked out to Stereolab, is now lying prone on the floor and looking bored. She, apparently, needs something with a bit more crunch. Okay, now I’m irritated less by the wetness, more by the use of “you and I” where it should be “you and me”.

1

Helen Love. File under ‘H’, or file under ‘L’? I’ve never been sure. Everyone knows Joey Ramoney of course, but there were other great singles too. This, however, is just boring, paint-by-numbers, with none of the charm or over-enthusiasm that made Does You Heart Go Boom or Long Live the UK Music Scene so exciting. Nice Wham Bar coloured vinyl though, which makes my teeth hurt just looking at it. I was astonished to find they’re still going.

2
Sonic YouthUntitled Bootleg
10" live bootleg

I went through a phase of buying Sonic Youth bootlegs in the early 90s, until I realized they were pretty much always unlistenable. This sounds like it’s been recorded with a phone.

“Hang on”, you say, “you couldn’t record things on a phone in the early ’90s”. Good point friend, but that’s not what I meant. I meant that someone at the gig phoned up a friend, who put his telephone receiver near the condenser mic of a mono portable cassette recorder and captured it that way.

It was cool how friendly SY were to the bootleg scene, but I can’t imagine anyone ever made any money off these things. This has a proper full colour sleeve with reasonable design, and is on decent quality clear red vinyl. There couldn’t have been many copies, and it can’t have been cheap to make, so I think the people who made (the majority) of these records must have been nutcase fans who wanted to share the live SY experience. I presume the huge amount of bootlegs are the reason why they never did a proper live album. Either that or they know that live albums are always crap. (And yes, I know a couple of the SYR records are live, as is most of Dirty Boots.)

We get mostly Daydream Nation stuff here, like Kissability, Candle, and the awesomely-titled Non Metal Dude Wearing Metal Tee. (Don’t you hate people who walk round in Ramones T-shirts but evidently wouldn’t know Rocket to Russia if it shot up their arse?) A large chunk of side 2 is Americans whooping in that awful way they always do, and which people in this country have picked up on, along with other US horseshit like ‘proms’, teeth-whitening, mis-pronouncing ‘schedule’, and a crippling over-sensitivity to any issues tenuously related to race. They don’t half do Silver Rocket justice though. Not the best recording, but one of the very, very best bands, live or in the studio.

4

Holly made some cool records on her own and with Thee Headcoatees. This is straight, old-fashioned garagey bluesy stuff. I honestly don’t know how to categorize it, because it’s not a style of music I particularly enjoy, and therefore know nothing about. I thought that, it being a mono record, it’d be a good way to check my system, as everything should be right in the middle of the speakers. Turns out the hole’s not quite in the middle, so everything keeps drifting slightly to the left. Actually, it’s a bloody mile off, I can see the cartridge going left and right from here. I think I got my money back on this record, but Chris told me to keep it anyway. It’s probably buggering my cantilever with every revolution. (It’s boron, so it won’t bend, but it might not do the suspension much good.)

Holly is a bloody great singer, which I say as a person who realizes that being a great singer, at least in the broad spectrum of pop/rock/etc, is nothing to do with range, or holding a note, or warbling up and down, bending forward with your eyes closed, and everything to do with style, charm, and understanding your music, which Holly unquestionably has in spades.

Maybe not my bag, but certainly not bad.

3
Sun RayBaby Honey
10" single

I’ve never understood why bands cover someone else’s well-known song, and play it in exactly the same way as the original. I understanding bringing something obscure to wider knowledge, or completely reinterpreting something, but this, well, just listen to the original. It’s not even that great a Pastels song in my opinion, and this really goes on. Then we get another song, which is five minutes more of almost exactly the same thing. Maybe this works in a dark room above a pub, low-ceilinged and full of strobe-lit smoke, but in my living room, it’s about as entertaining as listening to the hoover. Side two has an okay acoustic folky type thing, followed by a backwards-type sixties psyche instrumental that the Stone Roses did so much better. And, Guernica aside, it was pretty crap when they did it.

I dunno. I don’t get bands like this. They wear their hearts, and influences, on their sleeves alright, and though I like The Pastels and Simon and Garfunkel, if I want to listen to that kind of music, I’ll listen to the originals. There’s nothing new here, nothing different, nothing done better than any other band might do it. It’s not for me.

1
Boss HogGirl+
10" EP

Back in the day I was well into the Pussy Galore and Related category, scraping together all sorts of x-times-removed stuff like Loudspeaker and The Honeymoon Killers.

Boss Hog at their best were pretty, well, boss, I suppose. Front cover is Cristina, looking fit as the proverbial, natch. What was up with all those 90s indie-kid virgins simpering over her from the bloody Sundays? Cristina and the drummer from Fluffy, that was where it was at.

Boss Hog always had higher fi-er aspirations than most of the other Pussy Galore and Related crew, and this sounds great. Kick-ass brass and a killer bass sound, especially on The Black Better. In fact, this as all-round excellent recording, catching the energy and all general sexiness of a sexy band. And why not? After all, what’s wrong with being sexy?

If we’re frank, we must accept that Boss Hog were well known for two reasons: Jon Spencer, and a fit bird who got her gear off. That’s a shame, because they were plenty good enough to make it on the strength of their records. If you don’t know them, this is a great place to start.

4
FurSt Petersburg
10" single

This sort of record depresses me. It’s so ordinary and unambitious. People criticize Ringo Deathstarr because they want to be My Bloody Valentine and the Mary Chain. Well, a second-class version of any of those is still a pretty bloody good band: you’re aiming for the stars. St Petersburg, however, seemed only to aspire to be Buffalo Tom. Now, Tailights Fade was a decent single, but it wasn’t exactly Loveless was it?

Great records have something about them where you can hear people pouring all their heart, their soul, their craft, or their life into the music. This just feels like something a load of IT guys did on a couple of weekends. It’s got nothing going for it. Not exactly bad, but not good either. Sorry.

2

I used to love The Rev. He played a mean guitar and wore a fine suit of clothes.

This is a one-take live-in-the-studio job, that perfectly illustrates what a bottom-kicking turn Jim and the boys were. Marijuana drags a little, but hey, there’s nothing like marijuana to make people boring, and it’s immaterial when Bad Reputation and Love Whip, come along and clear the air – both are as good as anything the band ever did.

As a whole it’s not as good as Full Custom Gospel Sounds, but that’s a hell of a standard to come up to. On cowhide coloured vinyl, and the longest song on it is about steak. What’s not to like?

5

Earlier we did Pussy Galore and Related; now we’re into Stereolab and Related. You’ve got the left-wing politics you’d expect from someone off of out of McCarthy, you’ve got Cliff on the label, and, fortunately, you’ve got some decent tunes.

Having complained that St Petersburg didn’t get unnecessary enough, I must say this is a fairly “academic” record: restrained and studied, it feels more like the work of an artist. The kind of thing to be applauded politely rather than jumped around to. Me, I’d rather applaud than jump around anyway. This is a very good record, and it has a harpsichord on it.

4

There’s a great line in Twin Peaks where Special Agent Cooper is whittling a piece of wood. Sheriff Truman asks him why, and he says something along the lines of “because that’s what you do in a town where a yellow light still means slow down, not speed up.”. I love to stop at amber lights, especially when I know the twat behind me doesn’t want me to. Amber means stop. Look it up.

Gorky’s were always an interesting band, though I have a feeling this may be the only record of theirs I own. Lucy’s Hamper is a lovely, quite uncategorised song; Heart of Kentucky is a country song by numbers, but with a couple of lush filter sweeps, and which suddenly turns into something that sounds like The Sweet covering early Stereolab with the theme from Star Wars (literally) in the background. See, I said they were interesting. Side two has something in Welsh, then a crazy ragtime piano/cockney mash up in a haunted church.

It’s a nice sounding record too, so ‘nuff ‘spect to Kevin Metcalfe and the Townhouse. These people don’t get the credit they deserve. Supposedly amber vinyl, but really it’s orange. Truly amber coloured vinyl tends to get called “gold”.

4

Not sure why I bought this, because, Ban Marriage excepted, I’m not a big Hidden Cameras fan. It’s standard fare, lo-fi, jogging along in that way all Hidden Cameras songs do, with the usual religious and sexual angst. I’m not religious or sexually anxious. Nothing much to shout about up until the final track, which is great. Sometimes it just works.

2
The KnifeKino
10" single

There was a lot of fuss about these a few years ago, which presumably is why I bought this. It bores me. I love sound, which is why I liked early electronic music. But it seems to me that most electronics people paint from a very unimaginative and limited palette. Sonically, I find this as dull as the two-colour sleeve. Some people, I’m sure, would like that minimalism but it doesn’t work for me here. One man’s minimal is another man’s boring I suppose. This man says “boring”. Final track is okay. Good bass sound.

2

This is also minimal, but this presses all my buttons. For my money, these are the best two tracks off the best Labradford album, and they make a hell of a single. The box is ticking…

5

Chemikal Underground bores correct me if I’m wrong, but I think this is one of Mogwai and one of Arab Strap, and they’re doing something which doesn’t much sound like either of those bands. Side one is long, softish, repetitive, and good. Side two is similar, but with a kind of north African feel to it. Reminds me of a Christopher Fowler short story I once read.

4
HammerheadEvil Twin
10" single

Amphetamine Reptile, so you probably know where this is going. Yes, it sounds like you think. A less complicated Jesus Lizard; a less insane Cows; a less undefinable Butthole Surfers. Nice bright yellow vinyl, and the sleeve features evil twins (natch), some text about a boy being disrespectful to his mother, and what may or may not be ECC83 valves. I’m on EL84s here of course.

My friends have just had twins, but I think it’s too early to tell which is the evil one.

3
Yeah Yeah YeahsMaps
10" single

One of those bands who I think can be amazing, but usually aren’t. I’m not that into Karen O and her vocal stylings, but those two dudes are something else. I won’t add to the tower of guff that’s already been written about Maps – you know it’s brilliant, I know it’s brilliant, let’s leave it at that. What makes it such an amazing record for me is that I’ve rarely heard anyone play anything the way they play those last few bars and mean it quite so much. Incredible. The other two “exclusive” tracks (remember when we used to take it for granted that the other tracks on a single hadn’t already been released?) sound like some boring heavy rock thing to me. I don’t like heavy rock. Just don’t get it. The vinyl is the same colour as my tonearm. (Red.)

3

I’m sure I have two of these, so this could get repetitive. And really, how much can you say about twangy, space-themed surf guitar? As always with MoAM? it’s nicely packaged. A gatefold double 10” on clear vinyl with splodges of colour, in a sci-fi slip case.

The song titles can’t pass without mention. One is called a trapezium. Not the words “a trapezium”, an actual trapezium. One is called Spectrograph Reading of the Varying Phantom Frequencies of Chronic, Incurable Tinnitus. Another is called Multi-Variational Stimuli of Sub-Turgid Foci Covering Cross Evaluative Techniques for Cognitive Analyses of Hypersignificant Graph Peaks Following Those Intersubjective Modules Having Biodegradable Seepage, and also happens to be completely unlistenable.

No tracks have vocals. Most tracks have noise. One has a gong. Some tracks have no tonality or rhythm. Some have samples. It’s all very avant-garde, and they probably think they’re being very clever. But hey kids, this is on Epitaph, so you’d better be making noise, and fortunately, much of side four sounds like the cantilever’s come off. When they choose to play though, MoAM? can really play, and as usual they sound fantastic with spring reverbs and beefy drums; hard edged and with just the right amount of dirt.

Stand-out track, and, according to the sleeve, “international smash hit” A Simple Text File is performed entirely on, or by, what I think is a tractor-feed dot matrix printer. You never see those any more. Even Makro use some shitty inkjet thing now, the sell-outs. Didn’t some dude do a symphony entirely on printers? Google that for

3
To Rococo RotTelema
10" single

Back in the late 90s I made electronic music. It was self indulgent, not very interesting or difficult to make, and ultimately unfulfilling. It was this without the hype.

1

Ooh, that name, tres provocative. Shitty synths and drum machines with talking over the top. Some of the writing is good, but some of it is excruciatingly bad teenage cliched shock-seeking that would make Darren Hayman wince.

2

I’ve never liked The The, and I’m not sure why I bought this. I think I thought the cover of the title track was a lot better than it was. The name’s just irritating too. Like Therapy?. The last track, There’s No Room in My Heart for the Blues is good.

2

If I wasn’t sure why I bought The The, I’ve no bloody idea how this one ended up in the collection. If memory serves, they were from Sheffield and all about ten. Nice red vinyl and a very heavy impasto painting on the front don’t do enough to make up for the very terrible band name. They sound like a more boorish Kingmaker without the good drummer. Rubbish.

1

I’ve never liked “Thee” bands. Trying too hard. They were (are?) a Japanese garage band with quite a deft touch, and less wilfully derivative than most of the stuff Damaged Goods were putting out at this time (2000AD). Listening to it now, I’m quite enjoying it, but I’ll probably never play it again. They were probably amazing live, but now all work for a Yokohama maritime insurance corporation or something. Killer Beach is the standout track for me, pretty dirgey, but with a great hooky melody. Cisco is surfy fun, and hopefully an homage to the Catalyst series. Finally, a decent record!

4

Drop the Acutus to 33rpm and put the clamp on, this is liable to be “proper” music made by serious people with beards, for serious people with beards.

Great Pop Supplement don’t release a lot you can dance to, and you ain’t dancing to this. It’s the kind of music you might hear played by English people in twattish hats with twattish beards in the back room of a refurbished pub that does craft ale and artisan pork pie served on a slate. You know, the kind of disgusting shit that Dermot O’Leary plays on Saturday on Radio 2. Except this is Wooden Wand, so it’s the real deal: odd, out there, so old and traditional, yet at the same time not quite like anything you’ve heard before. The lyrics tell stories, strange stories of strange strangeness that hold your attention. Great voices too. Class. But then, isn’t everything on GPS?

4

Another night, another stack of freshly cleaned, probably never played, probably crap, 10 inch records. Let’s ease into it with some Royal Trux. Probably best known for unlistenable “classic” Twin Infinitives, the Trux mellowed severely, and here they sound like a mix of Kim Gordon, Boss Hog, and Lynrd Skynrd. But mostly Lynrd Skynrd. The B-side has a BBC session track featuring some pretty nice rock drumming but, honestly, I think I preferred it when they banged on metal pipes and shouted into a dictaphone. Can I use your dictaphone?

2

I’ve been putting this one off for ages, because it just looks shit. Bad sleeve, faux indie label (Almo: really Polydor). The only question is which flavour of shitty nineties indie guitar wank will it be?

Track one is dreary sub-Buffalo Tom with an unsavoury Beatles twist.

Track two goes indie rock: I can’t give you any analogies, because I hate indie rock and never listened to it. I wanted this to be good, I promise, an undiscovered gem I never knew I had, but it’s exactly what I expected.

We’re onto track three and it’s about space. All songs about space are shit. That’s a fact. Don’t come the Space Oddity with me, that’s not about space, it’s about isolation.

Now, ticking all the mid-90s indie boxes, they’re doing the “unexpected” cover. This ain’t no China Drum Wuthering Heights though, this is The Archies/Jonathan King’s Sugar Sugar, and it might have gone down a storm at their gigs, which were all attended only by their stupid mates, but it’s not cutting much ice in my living room 18 years later. Checking the sleeve, I just realized that it does not correspond with the record on my turntable. It’s the same band, but a different record. Hey ho.

1

I was pleasantly surprised by the other Rollerskate Skinny record I had, so fingers crossed this will be another winner. The first track is a “remix”, but this is from 1994, when “remix” meant the track was mixed slightly differently, rather than a 15 minute drum loop with the odd snippet of sampled vocal. Again, this is a pretty good record. There’s a lot going on; interesting sounds, textures, and spaces between things. It sounds like a well-worked, well thought-out record, made by people who cared what they were doing. Track two, Entropy makes me think of a better recorded Quickspace; it’s layered, odd, textured, and quite beguiling. I’m starting to think Rollerskate Skinny were a very underrated band. Onto side b and it’s gone a bit poppy, which I don’t think works as well. Still not bad though.

3

When I was little my parents had an old radiogram with a four-band radio. I loved VHF (AKA FM) because it sounded so good (and started my obsession with hi-fi) but I loved playing with the short-wave tunings late at night. I even got a big old valve radio from somewhere so I could better play at tuning in and out of exotic foreign languages and half-heard snippets of music.

This record has a nice mock-fifties sleeve. My uncle had a load of old shellac records, and when we were kids my cousin and I smashed them up with a belt. God, I feel awful just thinking about that. My Uncle didn’t care – they were just so much junk to him – but, well, it was records.

Some of those records had sleeves a little like this one, though mainly they were plain paper. Slingshot is good, chilled, a little detached and dreamy. Side two starts with something that sounds a little like short-wave static, then a crude guitar and a lovely bit of singing. Here’s a band very comfortable mixing the old and the new, and the music here is original, with depth, and a lot of creativity. I should get the album.

4

I liked shoegaze the first time round, and 20 years later, when it came back round, I liked it all over again. This is red-raw, filthy noise, recalling the most overloaded and clipped Swirlies. If the people who made my record player knew I was using it to play stuff like this, they’d probably make me give it back. Side two sounds more like the energetic parts of Isn’t Anything, until the final track, which, recorded in 2004, uncannily pre-empts M B V. Orobourus.

4

“Scout” played everything on this record. She’s just fine with the guitar and the singing bowl, but she should have got someone in to do the drums. The record has eight songs, all on a single 33rpm side. They’re mostly singing with single instrument accompaniment - a couple have some overdubbed percussion, and most of the songs are very – in some cases blissfully – short. Rimsky to the Rescue is a proper song, and a very good one. Should have been a 7” with just that on. What a very strange record.

2

Sarah. Where to start. For every Heavenly there was a St Christopher. For every Pristine Christine there was some crap by Blueboy. If you imagine the stereotypical Sarah record, you’re pretty close to this. The weedy/nerdy boy singing about girls and regrets over a clean electric guitar and a double-time drumbeat and the odd weak-ass synth wash. Thing is, I’m a sucker for this crap. Side two now, and it’s got even weaker. The guitar is acoustic, and the singer’s been listening to way too much Felt. Nice.

3
SeefeelFaults
10" EP

Their 2010 “comeback” record. A band that I think were under a lot of people’s radar back in the 90s, but whose music was very influential. And very good.

The opener has the repetitiveness you’d expect, the textures you’d expect, and some vocals you might not. It reminds me a bit of that Flat Eric song from the jeans advert. Like maybe if Brian Eno had produced it.

When I complained before about boring electronic music, it’s this kind of thing I was comparing against. This is chock-full of creativity and thought, and it makes so much music of a similar style seem like superficial crap. You know when people hear electronic music and say they could do that? Listening to this makes me think that a lot of the time they’re right, because this is so much more sophisticated than the usual fayre that it makes it seem simplistic and boring. The final track is more abstract, a little like the more accessible end of Fennesz maybe. Great sleeve too, and it sounds great. You can’t go far wrong with Warp can you?

4

I wish I could say I’ve been saving this until the end, but the truth is that I’ve been putting it off. Every time it’s been in the pile to listen to, the double-10” of tweeness has been left alone, something else picked instead. This is dated 2004, and I know I’ve never played it, so one has to wonder why I bought it. It does have a nice sleeve, with a watercolour on the front by a chap called Robert Pritchard. Remember Bill Pritchard? He had some good songs. See, I’m putting it off again aren’t I? I don’t know why I’m so frightened of this.

Yes, obviously, it’s a bit Sarah-ey, (Sarish?) but that’s understandable, forgivable, and fine. The songs are very strong, the kind of thing Q would call “finely crafted” or something, by which I mean they sound “right”, without ever being too familiar or too strange. There are more electronics than I expected, but then, I suppose the Field Mice were a bit like that, and we’re not talking Squarepusher, just some nice soft pads in place of the jangly guitar you might expect. There is a bit of glitchy Fennesz type noise in the background of One Prayer Answered, which I think is the best song here.

Good record.

3

A red vinyl five-tracker is the first 10” I’ve bought since i played all my existing ones. It’s slightly raw, rough around the edges, neurotic indiepop

3

I’d say “coconut”, but I would say “colours”, so the spelling pedant in me isn’t sure what to make of this. It’s a very pleasant record though. Summery yet melancholic 60s pop including a harpsichord, so obviously you think “Left Banke”. Also think The Zombies, GPS bands like the See See, and whoever the Stone Roses were ripping off when they did Sally Cinnamon.

3

This is, if memory serves, a collection of a couple of clutches of seven-inch singles. Because they’re Stereolab, I have them, and because of The Rules, I’ve listened to them. (No single goes on the shelf without having been cleaned and played. I’m not quite so strict on albums because they take much longer to listen to.) However, I don’t recall being mad about these records, so I’m not overly familiar with them.

I don’t remember being all that blown away by the singles this album pulls together, and hearing them again, I haven’t much changed my opinion. The title irritates me because it sounds like it ought to be a pun, but I don’t get it.

3
The PrimitivesCrash
10" single

I’ve got a stack of 10” antistatic sleeves in a drawer, and it bothers me that they might never get used. So, I buy tatty 10” copies of stuff I already have just so I can use one up. If you don’t know this one, you shouldn’t be here, so I won’t go into what it’s like. Crash is one of the first “indie” type things I ever got really excited about, though I’m not absolutely sure whether or not I bought it back in ‘88. I think I did, but I know enough not to trust my memory. I never believe those Six-Music “the first record I ever bought was a Japanese import of Sandinista!” types. If the first record you bought wasn’t something like Ghostbusters or Save all Your Kisses for Me, then you either started far too late (not cool), are lying to yourself (not cool) or were just copying your older brother (not cool.)

Anyway. Crash has aged well, and still sounds at least as good as anything else they ever did, hook after hook fits together like a Swiss watch, and the echoey bit in the second verse still makes me smile every time I hear it.

With an a-side as good as Crash, what do you put on the b-side? Crash, obviously. A “live in the studio” version, which is pleasantly crunchy, but lacks the clever arrangement and dynamics of the proper version. It’s still a winner though.

5

I love this kind of thing at the moment. That peculiarly English, largely or completely instrumental, futuristic folk music that reminds you of 70s schools programmes and which normally comes on Ghost Box. This is on Static Caravan, which is the only caravan you’ll ever find associated with me.

My favourite track is the repetitive, rhythmic Walk Along It, but all three are excellent.

4

I have been aware of this record for many years, since I saw it proudly displayed in Frank Sidebottom’s shed on the gatefold of that double LP he did. What we have is the music from the Gerry Anderson (I nearly said Gerry Adams then) Super-Marionation shows of the 60s (though the record is from the 80s.) So, we’ve got the main themes from Thunderbirds (stone-cold classic, even without the countdown Tim Simenon nicked and apparently never gave back); Captain Scarlet (fantastically slinky and of its time); Stingray (exciting in the instrumental parts, less so in the sung bits, would have been better with the “anything can happen in the next half hour” bit); and Joe 90 (the best thing Joe Meek never did).

We also get Aqua Marina, the closing theme from Stingray which always irratated me when I was a child, but now sounds to like a better version of that Matt Monroe thing from the start of The Italian Job. Marina was very beautiful, but I never quite understood where she came from, why she fitted in, or why they kept her around. I am certain there are websites which would explain that, but as ever I’m proud of my ignorance.

Filler material comes from sub-Bond theme Hijacked, The Mysterons Theme, which sounds a lot like Broadcast and would sit happily on anything ever released on Ghost Box, and Parker Well Done, sung by Lady Penelope, who is easily the most attractive puppet I have ever seen, or ever expect to.

Sleeve art is completely dominated by Thunderbirds, with Scott Tracey in TB1 on the front, and a long-lens black and white shot of Thunderbird 5 on the back. I always liked the Mole best, but you can hardly expect that to be on there.

5

Say what you like about Anton Newcombe (and a lot of people enjoy doing just that), but he means what he does. Whether you think he’s a great artist, a rip-off merchant, a fraud, whatever, he doesn’t care. He utterly, completely believes in what he does and, more importantly, a deep love and understanding of music is at the heart of all of it. Nothing anyone says or writes is going to shake or change that.

What you have here is fairly typical BJM fayre. It kind of sounds like lots of things, but you can’t pin down exactly what, because it isn’t quite like anything else. The three songs here are stripped right back. It’s so simple: everything you hear must be there, and everything non-essential has been left out. Sounds easy but, of course, making something sound easy is always the hardest trick to pull off.

Stand-out for me is b-side Reconstruction, but all three tracks are excellent. My wife’s out all day tomorrow, and I’m already planning to get a couple of BJM albums out and crank it way up. If you like music, listen to what Anton is doing, and listen to what he is saying. He gets it.

4

There seems to be a growing trend for sleevenotes. I like sleevenotes in general, and in some cases they’re essential to give a record context. This, the sleevenotes explain, is a record by the only all-ski musical ensemble. They explain the connection to the Church of the SubGenius, Wesleyans, and the Javanese gamelan. It’s complicated stuff, and it’s experimental music in the purest sense. That is, it posits the question, “can we make music just with skis”, then tries to determine the answer empirically.

The obvious question for music made on skis is, of course, “can you dance to it?”. The (equally obvious) answer, is “no”.

2