singles by choice
(albums when it's necessary)
21 May 2018
(listening through speakers)Avid Acutus
Funk F·XRII
Benz Micro LP-S
Linn Kilmax DS (Renew)
TEAD Mastergroove Mk 2
TEAD Vibe Phoenix / Pulse 2
TEAD Linear A mk 2
TEAD Model One

First of a few Shrags tonight. They’re good. They’re smart and they’re funny and they’re pithy.

Talk to the Left exemplifies this perfectly. The “scenario”, as Glenn Hoddle might call it, is pretty much that bit in Nathan Barley where he’s in bed with Claire and he’s rapping. “You drift off/I’ll have a scoff”. Musically it’s a bit electro and a bit sleazy, and it’s genuinely brilliant.

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A lovely tour split between mighty Shrag and similarly mighty Tunabunny, released jointly on the mighty Fortuna Pop! and equally mighty Happy Happy Birthday to Me labels. It has a four-colour screenprinted sleeve, and inserts, and it’s a very nice thing indeed.

Both bands fulfill their own stereotypes. Shrag’s song is driving, shouty, catchy, and typically hard to pin down. Everyone has a shout, which is great. Something about down on all fours with the muscles of a racehorse. I do wish they’d write their lyrics down for you.

Tunabunny’s song is even less straightforward, echoey, enigmatic. It just misses the mark for me.

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Luke Haines, god love him. I’ve just read his second book, and though it’s not quite so good as the first, I enjoyed it enormously. I don’t think he’s as calculated or arch as some do. I think he explores every idea to its fullest extent, and shies away from the obvious and the expected. The result is that everything he does is sincere, but, well, odd. But then, we live in strange times. Juliana Hatfield’s just made an album of Olivia Newton-John covers. And it’s thirty quid.

There was a lot to love about Black Box Recorder. The white suits. The way Sarah Nixey says “give me little bass make me wind out me waist” in that cover of Uptown Top Ranking. Calling their compilation record The Worst of Black Box Recorder. Wall-to-wall doing-it-right.

The Art of Driving is standard Black Box Recorder. That is, a vaguely cinematic ’60s French talky thing fronted by Lady Penelope.

The ‘b’ gives us a supposed remix of their Big Hit, The Facts of Life. “A family car. A disused coal mine.” You know. It’s a fantastic song with one of the great vocal performances. I called it a “supposed” remix because as far as I can tell it’s the original with some samples played over it by dreary old Jarvis Cocker, giving it his usual grim sex shtick.

Good sleeve too, with the band looking unconvincingly dazed and damaged in a very shitty car that’s supposed to have crashed, but clearly hasn’t.

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As I said, we live in strange times. Here, Kevin Shields from out of off of The My Bloody Valentines remixes a thirty-seven year old Undertones song. The Undertones were pretty good I reckon. Far too good to be lumped in with all that punk/post-punk rubbish. They were a pop band with guitars, because that’s what pop bands had then. And oh my God! Did you know that, like, Teenage Kicks was like John Peel’s favourite song and that, he like LAHVED the Undertones? Yeah. And I know he married a 15 year old, but you don’t hear that quite so often.

The remix isn’t that much of a remix. I had to dig out the original to compare, and all he’s done is turn up the guitars. Like when he did that Lush remix, and it was the same record but with a sort of “whump” noise every couple of bars. It’s good though, sounding a bit more raw and real than the original did. Turning up the guitars is always good.

A couple of old Undertones songs on the ‘b’, so no complaints there but, well, it all seems rather superfluous. What an odd little record.

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In which Eggsy, Maggot, Mike Balls et al explore the societal impact of the Blair government’s introduction of all-day licensing, with particular attention to violent and antisocial behaviour in young women.

The work is collaborative; each author outlining through empirical observation and broadly qualitative reportage, reasons why their friend’s “missus” is, in fact, “a nutter”.

Sadly, this version doesn’t elide the swearing. Cussing, in my opinion, has no place in a record. If you’re a good writer you can say what you need to without using it, and if you’re trying to be funny (which, I believe, GLC generally were) fading or – even better – bleeping it out is much funnier.

The swearing was self-censored when Your Missus is a Nutter was, mind-bogglingly, performed as pre-match entertainment at an international football match. They dedicated it to David Beckham, and the Welsh FA had to apologize.

The ‘b’ is called Adam Hussein’s Got What You Need. Unless he’s got a replacement handle for a 30m Claber hose reel, which I doubt, this statement is false. Adam, according to the lyrics, will “put you in a panic/Like Kate Winslet’s tits in that film Titanic”.

They don’t write them like that any more.

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For some years now, WIAIWYA have been doing a singles-club thing of seven seven inches. Called 7777777. (Or, in vi, 7a7, which I shall be doing from now on), they’re less a vehicle for music, more an exercise in citing every reference of the number seven known to man or woman. It’s fun at first, but it gets a tad wearing.

Leaving the novelty element aside, there’s been some good music on the various 7a7s. (There will be seven series, of seven, and they release them on the 7th of the month. Each is limited to 777, which I think is a bit of a cop-out, It should be 49, or 7777777, though it’s probably not easy to shift that many copies of a Trick Mammoth single.

Here, the excellently titled ‘a’ has Helen and Steph from Shrag, and the excellently titled ‘b’ – Don’t Go Crazy Before I Do – is a duet with Jenny Dee, who the film-poster style insert suggests is a name I should recognize, but I don’t. I enjoyed the ‘b’ particularly, but, as I’ve said many times before, I’m an absolute sucker for a boy/girl duet.

Both songs are breezy and cynically fun, and remind me vaguely of Bill Pritchard. So, good then.

Nice objects too, with a die-cut sleeve, and glossy inserts.

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Another in the same 7777777 series as the last one, the also-mighty Sourpatch, doing their usual Sourpatchy thing. The world needs more Sourpatch.

I’d love to tell you I’m not going to end up spending a fortune filling in the gaps in all seven of these series, but we both know that would be wrong.

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Drawing together tonight’s twin themes of Shrag and 7777777, with a Shrag single in a different 7777777 series. Genius, eh? I already have a few from this series: I recognize the not-particularly-nice sleeve art. (Seven colours of the rainbow, in seven stripes.)

This series has sleeve notes. 777 words. (Like I said, you can go too far with these things.) The one in here is maths-y, and shows us two (why not seven?) ways to estimate the distance “travelled” by a stylus in the playing of a seven-inch single.

Music? We love Shrag. Of course we do. But I found this one disappointingly middling.

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The insert calls it “dreampop” but I wouldn’t. It’s classic singer-songwriter, and it rather reminds me of something from my childhood, perhaps Gilbert O’Sullivan, or Leo Sayer. They’re lovely songs, beautifully sung and played. And, as is usual for a Box Bedroom Rebels record, remarkably well mastered and pressed, sounding remarkably good for a 33rpm 7-inch.

It’s great when you find a label that you trust. I wouldn’t normally buy a record like this. It’s not, I think, “my kind of thing”. But I bought it because BBR pretty much never misses. The label has made me listen to something I wouldn’t have, and I’m better for it. A beautiful record.

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