singles by choice
(albums when it's necessary)
23 December 2019
(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

A Clawfist singles club thing from years ago, where each band covered the other’s song. I don’t think I know Smashing Orange or The Sunflowers, but they’re both alright. I’m bought it because I have others in the series somewhere.

Smashing Orange are pleasingly slack and lo-fi. On their side of the cover they have superimposed someone else’s faces onto the bodies of KISS. The Sunflowers choose a very beautiful ’80s looking lady for their side of the sleeve, and a bit of a post-punk vibe up until the point where it all goes unnecessary rock guitar solo, then finishes.

Disappointingly tame. I expected more of a racket from Clawfist.

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Rothko doing usual repeated motif changing subtly thing. It sounds too fast at 45 and too slow at 33. The label says 45 and who am I to argue? Though there was a feeling of a thumbnail sketch or demo about them, I liked both sides, particularly Winter in the Oceans. It’s winter now, nearly Christmas, and we’ve had a fair bit of rain. I keep thinking “it’d be snowing know if we hadn’t broken the weather”. It’s all just too upsetting to think about isn’t it? Kill everything so you can ride round like a big idle prick in your 4x4, sneaking through the red light and doing 40 in the 20mph zone because it doesn’t mean you.

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Sissy Space Echo is from out of off of Girl One and the Grease Guns. I think it’s on the same label they were, and has the same photocopy / zip-loc sleeve thing their records always had. It comes with a CD, but I don’t have a CD player any more, and I can’t rip it because I moved my computer to OmniOS and I need to rebuild all the software I had that rips stuff, and I want to do it properly which means IPS packaging it all, which means learning how to use the OmniOS build framework, which is currently undocumented and which I volunteered to write some docs for but that means really working out properly how to use it and that means properly understanding how package mogrification works and I do like to make life complicated don’t I.

A sticker on the CD jacket says “check your reflection here”. I didn’t bother because I don’t give two squirts what I look like any more. You may wish to constantly inspect yourself in a mirror or a computer screen, but I’d be very happy never have to see my own stupid face again. I have this sense that there’s some inverse proportion between how much you look at yourself and how secure you feel. It’s not natural and if it’s not natural it’s not healthy. Making the huge (and false) assumption that nature has a plan, nature never really intended for us to look at our own faces. Rarely, at least. Maybe just now and again, in water, as a childish novelty.

Sissy does a folk-tinged early Velvets thing, and The Edible Eyes have a messy take on early 80s synth pop. Both very good.

4

It wasn’t cheap, but the sticker on it said “Electronic Finnish shoegaze”, so I bought it. It isn’t, and I probably shouldn’t have. It’s not bad though, and I like the fold-out sleeve. It has a dozen or so felt-tip portraits credited to “unknown ticketsalesperson at KFZ Marburg 1999”.

‘b’ is a live track. Recorded in Cologne in 1999, it pre-empts pretty much everything on Ghost Box.

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You could say things like “what did you expect?” in 1994. Now, that’s victim blaming.

I only have the first couple of Archers of Loaf records, and by the sound of it they got their act together a bit in later years. This is more polished and indie-rock-ie than I remember them. Also more mathsy. ‘b’ is rougher and better for it. Still a bit indie-rock though. I think they were probably always a bit indie-rock. Web in Front is great though. Can’t argue with that.

2

I already have volume 2. It’s a 10” and will be written about elsewhere in these pages, should you care, which you don’t. I’ve never heard of anyone on it. 33rpm, so drop it down a cog.

Postalowa have a child’s 80s Casio keyboard marking time whilst a quiet drone piece gradually morphs into something that reminds me of the more laid-back end of Tortoise. Then Baby Doll tell us, by way of a sample, that Pepsi Cola is cool. I heard the other day that black people drink Pepsi and white people drink Coke. I have no idea if this is (broadly) true, but I’m white and I probably favour Coke, so on a sample size of one, it’s proven. Postalowa take the lion’s share of the grooves, but Baby Doll lock theirs, so they win on duration. Or not, depending on when you lift the needle.

Kensuke Kimachi is/are trashy (in a good way) lo-fi. The Lo Moto do a slightly psychedelic pop song about an ice cream van and the ice cream man needing a lollipop lady.

Varied and excellent throughout. A quid, that cost!

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Kelly ClarksonUnderneath the Tree
on the radio, constantly

Most of the Christmas songs I like are not the mainstream ones, but I love, deeply, Christmas Wrapping and, of course, Mariah.

Underneath the Tree sounds like a Christmas song put together by AI, but if AI actually worked. It’s got everything a modern Christmas song should have, from the obvious (sleigh bells, tinkly piano intro, dum-da-dum launch pad, no mention of religion at all) to mega-piped belting at the end, via the Phil-Spector-lite sax break and plenty of ‘oohs’. The lot. Lyrically it ticks off the tropes quicker than a slasher film on fast-forward. Presents. Trees. You being all I need. You being here or not being here (I can’t quite work out which.)

So Mariah can go cram it with walnuts, or whatever people do these days, because until I get as sick of it as I am of Last Christmas and Fairytale of New York, I have a new Queen of Christmas. Whoever the heck she is.

5

Originally on DB records, like the original release of Rock Lobster, this is some 40th anniversary RSD reissue bullshit on red middle-less vinyl. (Why the heck didn’t they do that with Rock Lobster?) Pylon have always been on the periphery of my musical knowledge, via their Athens/B-52 association, but I don’t think I’ve ever actually listened to them.

Cool is.

Dub is a mantra.

A chorused, tribal, totem that sounds not much like anything now or then.

4

Sometimes, for reasons I don’t understand, I read Pitchfork. Then when I do my little write ups I feel silly because I write things like “sad piano with electronics” or “like Erasure covering Sonic Youth” and call it a day, whereas on Pitchfork they’d do 4,500 words on how the same thing melds the 21st century migrant experience with social media’s trans identity crisis as seen through the filter of the gig economy and Kendrick Lamarr.

So: sad piano with electronics.

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The CooliesUh-Oh! It's...
six FLACs off Bandcamp

For reasons I forget, I found myself on Bandcamp, and whatever it was that took me there suggested I might like this. Normally I’m quite prepared to cut my nose off to spite my face and avoid any sort of algorithmic recommendation, but something about The Coolies made me click, and I loved it. Really loved it.

No one on eBay or Discogs had a copy for sale, so I bought it from Bandcamp. And I paid more than the suggested price, because profits go to ALS (motor neurone) research, and that’s cool. What’s not cool is that The Coolies’ main man was Kim Shuttock from off of out of The Muffs (and the post-relevant Pixies, I think) and motor neurone disease killed her.

So go and buy this piece of irresistible, ass-kicking brilliance and chuck some money to the people standing in the way of a horrible, terminal condition. And play it loud and drink in every glorious second and be happy it exists.

5

We must also, especially at this time of year, be happy for the continued presence among us of the sainted William Shatner.

I still haven’t managed to get all the way through that Major Tom box set he did a few years ago, but that didn’t stop me paying I-can’t-bring-myself-to-tell-you how-many quid for this little clear-green beauty.

On the ‘a’ Shat drawls through a punk-ish version of Jingle Bells, sounding like someone who’s had John Lydon explained to him but hasn’t actually heard him. He shares vocal responsibility with Henry Effing Rollins, who is also knocking on a bit now, but could still definitely kick your ass if he wanted to.

On the ‘b’ Shat gets close up to the mic and breathes the words to Silent Night as if to Spock through the quarantine glass. Vocal duties here are split A/B/A/B with the venerable, and presumably shirtless, Ignatious Popmaster. It’s impossible to tell whether either one is being serious, and they probably steal Bowie and Bing’s crown of unlikeliest Christmas duet pairing ever, at least until John Cale and A.L.F. release that cover of Fairytale of New York that I keep hearing about.

There’s a full album of this, which I have on order. It’s called Shatner Claus. Of course it is.

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