singles by choice
(albums when it's necessary)
22 November 2018
(listening with headphones)Avid Acutus
Funk F·XRII
Benz Micro LP-S
Linn Kilmax DS (Renew)
TEAD Mastergroove Mk 2
TEAD Vibe Phoenix / Pulse 2
Luxman P-1u
Sennheiser HD800

Anyone who doesn’t like Daphne and Celeste can leave now. Smart, self-aware, lovers of pop music who don’t give two you-know-whats what anyone might think about them or what they’re doing. The world needs more Daphnes and more Celestes. And more Daphne and Celeste.

The lead track doesn’t, honestly, do a lot for me. It might be a grower, but it’s had a few spins now and I still find it a bit muddled and forgettable. But don’t worry, because the ‘b’ is a not-very high-fidelity cover of Hi Fidelity from out of off of The Kids from Fame, and it’s one of those Eric Cartman/Poker Face style covers, which nukes the original. Imagine how a Daphne and Celeste cover of a song from Fame song should be, and that’s what it is. Really, actually, that good.

Nice sleeve art too, somewhat reminiscent of GCSE coursework. And they credit the artist. Of course they do. Because they’re ace.

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Quintron hasn’t released that many singles, but most of the ones he has put out have been Jamskate. I think this is the third different impression of it that I’ve found, and the first on the larger format.

Jamskate, for those who haven’t got three versions in their living room, is a toe-tapper/head nodder, with its TR808 (or whatever) woodblocky rhythm and octave bass. The instrumental isn’t just the singing version with the singing taken off (like the baffling Instrumental half of Elysium) but fleshed out with a bit of melody and lots of lovely Drum Buddy warblings.

The sleeve is pleasingly DIY. Plain white board with photocopies glued to it. The front picture is a little frightening, being a silhouette of some long-hair with a great big knife.

I don’t know who exactly “the Violent Hordes of Nature” are, but they – of course – include the delectable Miss Pussycat, who contributes typically enthusiastic vocal stylings to Drug Problem. This is a cover (you can tell that because Quintron numbers his songs in the order he writes them, with ones he hasn’t written always being 000, and this is a 000) of a song the sleeve helpfully tells us was originally by Kajun SS. No? Me neither. It’s pretty good though.

Jamskate was song 072, and 074 is Wild West. That’s a belter, with its lovely fat analogue bass and relentless tambourine (too precise for Miss P, who I think I hear on her usual maraca duty, buried in the left channel). We don’t know what 073 is. I’d have made Wild West the ‘a’.

Rounding off is Mobile Float Skit which details some kind of armed assault on the New Orleans Mardi Gras, involving repurposed donkeys. It’s not as good as that raccoon fighting thing off Too Thirsty for Love.

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This jumped out at me because it looks like it came from the same Rough Trade series as the first Moldy Peaches single. I like Jeffrey Lewis. There’s a lot to relate to in this long, funny, wise poem.

Jeffrey Lewis may not have Leonard Cohen’s voice or gravitas, but he has similar soul, and a similarly sharp turn of phrase.

“Usually women, right off the bat, don’t find me that great”.

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If ever a record were made for me, this would be it. Seven inch. Split. White vinyl. Numbered. Enraptured. Christmas. There aren’t many boxes left to tick. They couldn’t even be arsed to put anything on the label, so the sleeve gives us “Bells/Chimes side” (Windy and Carl), and “Fade in side” (Grimble Grumble). I landed on “Fade in side” first.

I don’t remember Grimble Grumble having a singer at all, but here they appear to have two. One (female) sings a lethargic melody over a guitar riff of pure torpor, whilst a second (male) voice half-arsedly moans a weak attempt at harmony. The music gradually grows with the usual feedbacky swells, on-the-beat ride cymbal, and root-note bass. I love it. Towards the end the tremolo pedal kicks in, and the drummer’s ambition slightly outstrips his ability. Beautiful.

Windy and Carl are special. They do indeed have bells/chimes, and they also have that guitar sound, and way too many pedals, and magic.

The sleeve gives us a couple of PO boxes, reminding us that back in the day we could write letters to bands we liked. It took some effort to do that, and on the few occasions I did it, I felt the recipients appreciated it. Usually you’d get a letter back, and probably some stickers, or even records. If you didn’t like a band, you’d probably just not bother writing to them, rather than going on Twitter and telling them you hope their kids get cancer.

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This was a cheapo that I bought because the more records I bought, the more it seemed worth getting wet-through trekking to Soho. I do quite like Spearmint though, and I also like Julie Christie. I think my cousin was named after her, but I wouldn’t swear to it.

The ‘a’ is pretty standard Spearmint fayre, and as swinging-sixties tinged as you’d hope a song called Julie Christie! would be. (Even though it’s not about her, but about having a hopeless crush on girl who looks like her.) I think it namechecks Felt in the middle, so extra points for that.

The ‘b’s are both strong, and give us the full journey of love: falling-in, to being-in, to lost, in about eight minutes. This is also illustrated, literally (can you literally illustrate? Sounds wrong, that) by the three heart icons on the front cover. Don’t we love it when the sleeve pairs with the music?

3

Here comes the strange one. I don’t know who or what Milk Kan is, or are, but I’ve got a couple of his/its/their records, and I like them. This is pretty well described by the title. There is, I hope, a special place in hell for those people who write “does what it says on the tin” as internet reviews, so, like Maltloaf, I won’t do that.

My Baby’s Gone Viral on the Brain is slow, almost subsonic, with clattering drum machine, time-stretched talky bits, a genuine country melody, and a vocal performance that reminds me of Adam Ant after he went novelty.

Nikes and Nandos is more country still, with its lap steel, and oddly Christmassy. Hell, why not. God knows what any of this is meant to be. I am pleased that I am not the only person who thinks Nikes still rhymes with bikes rather than Lookey-Likeys.

The melody of Brixton Hill Revisited is what I imagine Leadbelly sounds like. Bear in mind I have never knowingly heard Leadbelly.

The Loman Blues is more of the same. Dirty electronics (I’d actually like the whole record to be more glitchy), country melody and words.

The sleeve is straight outta Textile Street, yeah? I know I keep saying it, but what the hell is this thing? Even the format is weird. 33rpm four-track 12”. You should get this, it’s good.

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