singles by choice
(albums when it's necessary)
3 November 2016
(listening through speakers)Avid Acutus
Funk F·XRII
Linn Kilmax DS (Renew)
TEAD Mastergroove
TEAD Vibe 1.5 / Pulse 2
TEAD Linear A
TEAD Model One

You know when a band you like is touring? You’ve seen them before, and they’re rubbish live, but you decide to go anyway. They’re playing in another town, miles from the station, and no one wants to come, so you have to go on your own, and drive. You pay a fortune for the ticket, the place is a shed and you stand against the back wall with your warm flat Coke. The sound is terrible, and everyone talks all the way through.

That’s this album.

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The rest of tonight’s stuff is a little haul of not-too-insanely-overpriced Box Bedroom Rebels records I managed to get hold of.

First up, and putting in a strong bid for “the most Manchester looking band ever”, The Watchmakers present four songs (and two locked grooves) in lavish psychedelic packaging. We get stickers. We get badges. We get confetti. We get drug capsules in a branded DEA baggie. We get the picture.

The Watchmakers would not have been out of place as a mid-era Great Pop Supplement band. They are deliberately and deeply mining the 60s psych scene. Backwards reverb, slapback echo, a guitar that sounds like a sitar, vaguely “head”-ey lyrics. It’s harder and heavier than the GPS bands though. The Watchmakers can play, and they get stuck in. This sounds like Serious Music, but it’s the right side of Too Serious. They have a great drum sound too.

I didn’t like the record much the first time I heard it, but I trust the label, gave it a couple more chances, and it turned out to be a real grower. The digital download gives you an extra track of birdsong-backed rural folkiness.

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After The Watchmakers, SUR hurl us twenty years into the future, with Fox M sounding a bit like one of those early 4AD bands whose name you can’t remember. The second track’s similar, then they go all Polvo-meets-Beachbuggy-meets-air-raid-siren on Southern Boy.

This is perhaps the first BBR record I haven’t particularly connected with. Just doesn’t tickle my fancy. But, there must be something positive, right? How about the packaging? Of course, the packaging! Because you know when Westlife used to say “it’s all about the music”, they were wrong. (They were wrong in many ways, but we’re trying to be positive aren’t we?)

So, this one has a gorgeous ochre screen printed sleeve, and inside we find a postcard with which to correspond with the label (informing you to “step away from the computer”; advice which seems wiser every day); inserts describing the music and the label’s reason for being; the customary confetti (this time in the shape of crosses) and TEMPORARY LOVE AND HATE TATTOOES! There’s an extra track on the digital download too!

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This time our inserts tell us how to start our own BBR-style label (boy, it’s tempting, and if only all of us could do it so well!), and we get scratch-and-sniff chocolate stickers, more label origin story and, as will all of these records, a download token which entitles us not only to proper FLACs, but to more songs than you get on the record. It’s almost criminal isn’t it?

Mini Dresses (the band) make me think of the Aislers Set, the better end of Sarah Records, and rough-round-the-edges Cocteau Twins. Mini Dresses (the clothes) make me think of lovely girls in my young, carefree summers. All of these things are wonderful. This record, accordingly, is wonderful. If you see a copy, it’ll likely be expensive, but it’ll definitely be worth it.

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Half the bands on BBR have “tape” in the name. Tapes are supposed to be cool or something. I dunno.

Our inserts this time are a nice seasidey print with lyrics on the other side. Savannah Rusher is credited for the excellent sleeve art, and sleeve art accreditation always wins you points round here. We also get a tiny little notebook. It’s almost too wee. Then, of course, there’s the confetti and the download code which lets us get PROPER FLACs. Please, everyone, PROPER FLACs. We can make MP3s from them if we want them. (Which we don’t.)

Tape Waves do not sound entirely unlike Mini Dresses, trading some of the reverb for a bit of multitracked harmony. They’re less diverse, giving us four tracks on a similar, prettily melancholic theme. Agreeable, but slightly backgroundy. The title pretty much sums it up, and I like self-documentation in any form.

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