singles by choice
(albums when it's necessary)
9 March 2017
(listening with headphones)Avid Acutus
Funk F·XRII
Linn Kilmax DS (Renew)
TEAD Mastergroove
TEAD Vibe 1.5 / Pulse 2
Lehmann Black Cube Linear
Sennheiser HD800

I tend to avoid reissues, particularly overpriced coloured 7”s of things that have been released a dozen times before (I’m looking at you, RSD). But, I’m a big Elefant fan (which sounds like the punchline to a half-remembered joke) and this is some sort of anniversary thing they’re doing, so let’s cut them a little slack. I’m also kindly disposed to Underachievers Please Try Harder-era Camera Obscura as I had a mild fixation on that album at the time I met my wife, so it makes me happy to hear any part of it. At my secondary school they operated a name-and-shame “underachievers list”, which was pinned on a wall in the common area. I was the first name on it from the day it went up to the day I left. They were right, and I didn’t care until I was working in a factory while everyone I knew was at University.

Apart from having one of the best titles ever (remind me one day to tell you the others), Underachievers has a pretty much perfect ‘A’ side, a third of which is represented here with Keep it Clean and the mighty Suspended from Class. Why not A Sister’s Social Agony? I don’t know. Maybe that’s just too good. People can only cope with so much good-ness.

The other tracks are new to me, I think. We get an up-tempo pop toe-tapper, and that dude who sang (they were never as good when that dude who sang left) singing something in Spanish, with wood-blocks. I love wood-blocks. You don’t hear them enough. You don’t hear Camera Obscura enough. Tracyanne Campbell is something special, and should be celebrated at every opportunity, so I’ll not just forgive, but celebrate this re-issue.

5

I know of Horsebeach because their Box Bedroom Rebels single fetches utterly insane prices, and I want a copy. I’ve never heard them, but I’m one of those awful label completists. I don’t know who The Pheromoans are, and I’m torn over whether their name is great (e.g. The Sarcastic Bitch) or awful (e.g. The Beatles).

So, now I’m a little wiser. The Pheromoans (I’m leaning towards “bad” on the name) have a singer who sounds a bit like Lawrence from Felt might have sounded if Lawrence from Felt could sing. They do a confident, slightly moody take on indie, in the old not-a-dirty-word definition. It’s not bad but like Los Campesinos!, they’re maybe a little arch for me.

After three sides tonight at 33 1/3 (it’s tempting to call it one side at 100) Horsebeach step things up to 45rpm, immediately getting me on-side. 33rpm has no right being anywhere near the 7” single. If you need more grooves, get a bigger record! Horsebeach have a 1980s synthesizer and chorus pedal, so they sound quite a bit like those early indiepop bands who were in Smash Hits when Smash Hits was still good. Their song is excellently dreamy, and that guitar sound sure is easy on the ear. Much my preferred of the two sides.

3

Three bands with good-to-excellent names and a sleeve with what I think is a bad drawing of Austin Powers. I don’t particularly rate those films, though “Alotta Fagina” always makes me smile. Bond is rubbish. All of it. Take that, Accepted Wisdom, you don’t scare me.

I loved the Thin Lips song before the record had made a single full revolution. It has a great opening, and I love the singer’s voice. It’s a proper dance-round-your-bedroom job, which sadly I can’t do because my wife is asleep in there, and she has to get up in a few hours. Otherwise I would. It’s a slippery number too, never seeming to exactly repeat itself, just throwing hooks and twists as if it has an infinite supply. Winner.

The inner sleeve (it’s a very posh 7”, this one) made me worry that Modern Baseball might be “wacky”. Their song is called This Song is Gonna Buy Brendan Lukens a New Pair of Socks, and they shout-out to a burrito sauce. But don’t worry, they’re not “wacky”, they’re good.

The Superweaks make me think of something to do with physics. Perhaps it’s the weak force, I dunno. It’s very late and I’ve had a busy week. They follow the record’s trend, by doing a really good indie-ish song with a good tune and nice stoppy-startiness. I’m getting vague aren’t I. I need to go to bed.

Thin Lips win for me. They have the best song, and they get thanked by both the other bands, which makes me think they were perhaps responsible for this record happening. And that is an excellent thing to have done. I’m leaving this out to play again tomorrow.

5

Oooh, Pye Corner Audio. Oooh, Polytechnic Youth. This is the vinyl equivalent of a gilt. Something to be bought, kept for a week or two, then moved on for profit. But not for me. Records are for playing, like wine is for drinking. If you can get your hands on the rarer types of either, enjoy them. This is pretty damn easy to enjoy. I don’t know who or what Faten Kanaan is, but perhaps it’s the woman who talks on side 1, over a pulsing, undulating, fairly typical slice of Pye. (Sorry.)

Lots of people are making music like this at the moment, but no one does it quite as well. I have no idea what it is about Pye Corner Audio, but he’s absolutely nailed this low-budget-80s-dystopian-near-future-science-fiction vibe in a way no one else has. Side 1 is a killer. Really.

4