singles by choice
(albums when it's necessary)
9 September 2020
(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

Most of tonight’s stuff is cheap. These cheapfests usually don’t turn up a great deal of great stuff, but fingers crossed, eh?

On Moshi Moshi!, which isn’t a label I like all that much, so I’m not altogether sure why I bought this.

Surprisingly, it’s some form of reggae. Though I like it well enough, I’m not very clued-up on reggae, so I can’t give you many reference points. It’s very enjoyable though.

Oh, hang on, this is Laetitia Sadier. That explains why I bought it. She sings the ‘b’, which still marries a reggae feel with Plone or Pram synthage, a couple of quite Stereolabbish (Stereolabial?) chord changes, and a very Stereolabbish singer. And a bassoon. So you’re getting your money’s worth here. And speaking of money, I don’t think this one was in the sale.

Now I can read the label I can tell you the singer on the ‘a’ is Kwamie Liv, who, based on that showing, is a great singer. Nix, presumably, are big fans of the functional DSL.

Sleeve is plain white. No artwork.

4

My food pyramid these days goes, bottom to top, bread, nebbiolo, red burgundy, white burgundy, rye. This Food Pyramid goes thud-thud, dugga-dugga-dugga, whaaaap, kkkkreeeeee. It sounds exactly how you’d expect something on a label called Moon Glyph to sound. Slightly too slick 2011-mostly-electronic-kosmiche. A weekend Eat Lights Become Lights.

Kontraband start off sounding like Echoes in a Shallow Bay, which leads to some overly proficient bass then – and I’m sorry to have to tell you this – a saxophone. No need. Actually it might be a keyboard that sounds like one, but it’s close enough to put me off. They have an arpeggiator too, but it’s a bit bland. Have you head the Sequential Pro 3? The sequencer on that thing: oh my word. I want one so much, but I can’t have one. (I also don’t deserve one because I can’t play for shit.)

I really enjoyed the first couple of minutes of this one, then it was downhill all the way.

Sleeve reminds me of Elite.

2

A collaboration between… well… I’ve no idea who either of them are. But it’s on V/Vm Test, which obviously means it’s not going to be straightforward.

Surprisingly, it’s some kind of ROCK, a genre with which I am not familiar. It’s alright. Good guitar sounds, great bass. My only rock/metal reference points are Spinal Tap and Steel Panther, and with lyrics like “She’s a pandemic dealing strictly in VD”, this isn’t a million miles away from either.

Sleeve is like a Jack Daniel’s label. I always though Jack Daniel’s was rubbish, but it turns out they make some really nice stuff as well as the rammel that Skid Row drank.

Not bad, but I expected it to be a lot weirder.

3

I don’t know what the difference is between Dub Narcotic, Dub Narcotic Selector, Dub Narcotic Sound System, or whatever other variants there are. I also don’t know if Bobby Birdman is a band or a person. (i.e. Birdman, Bobby.)

Bobby Birdman sound(s) like if Jonathan Richman had invented garage rock in the ’50s. The ‘b’ is the ‘a’ without the vocal, but with Calvin mumbling through a delay pedal. Score!

Sleeve is plain white paper with two ‘B’s cut out and some faint but proper printing.

4

I have a weird thumb. Something’s happened to the nail bed so I get this ridge running down it, and it always breaks. It’s the bane of my life. You can get an operation where they take it off and graft on one of your toenails. Pretty cool eh? I don’t know if the toenail grows back or not.

Librarian are a little bit “wacky”, which is bad, but they just about get away with it on the ‘a’: a sort of smooth Ten Benson. ‘b’ is a remix, therefore it’s not much good. It also strays closer to “wacky” than the ‘a’ did.

Sleeve is a collage. It’s not a great one, but I like a collage.

I once applied for a job in a library. I never heard back.

2

The first second sounds like the first second of Still the One by Shania Twain. The rest, sadly, does not.

I don’t know who Jel or Joashino is or are, but I can tell you (because it says on the back) that the ‘b’ is made by Jel out of Joashino’s loops, then remixed by Odd Nosdom. (With whose work I have a passing familiarity.)

The ‘a’ is loose and slack, with an out-of-tune piano. The ‘b’ is tight and electronic, and all the better for it. A good remix! Hurrah!

Sleeve looks like it should be for something on Kranky.

3

Nay nay nay Mister Wilks.

One of those one-man-band type things. I reckon either call yourself by your name (or a made-up person-type name) or properly pretend you’re a real band. Or be mysterious.

I liked it better when bands were mysterious. Any information was hard to come by, so your imagination filled in the gaps. When I was 18 or 19 my favourite band was Cocteau Twins, and I had one magazine in which they were interviewed. I must have read it a hundred times. I liked very much how Robin Guthrie didn’t talk about “writing” songs, but about “making them up”. He said “I made this one up when we were in the studio”. I loved, and still love, the lack of pretension in that. Now, we’ve moved through people “writing” music like they’re JS frikkin’ Bach, and Pitchfork talks about how people “build” songs. (No doubt on a Macbook Pro kept in a vegan calfskin messenger bag.)

Time was, I’d read Pitchfork and it would just make me hate Pitchfork. Now when I read it, it makes me hate all music, and most people. So I try not to read it. They always call one-man-band things by the one-man-band name. So they wouldn’t talk about Annie Clarke, they’d talk about St Vincent, even though it sounds stupid. Because that would be, like, deadnaming or something yeah?

I wasn’t that impressed by Naytronix. The ‘a’ was decent enough, a bit sixties futurist, putting me in mind of the Soundcarriers and their ilk. The ‘b’ was sort of like Tame Impala, another one-man-band thing that bores me.

Sleeve is okay.

2

When I was a teenager and I was out and I needed picking up, I’d give my mum and dad three rings, then put the phone down. You didn’t need to put money in a payphone until the other person picked up, so you saved ten pee. It was practically phreaking. Smashing the system even then. For fun and profit. I remember the smell of phone boxes so clearly.

Ice Choir do an ’80s pop thing, and they do it quite well. I wish people would put the gear on sleeves. It just says “synthesizers”, but I want to know if they’ve got proper ones. Do they have a Poly 800, or a DX-11, or a CZ-101, or are they copping out with some modern reface, clone, or even softsynth? DAW or proper sequencer?

The ‘b’ is a theme song. The Ice Choir. It’s better than the ‘a’, but still not the kind of thing you’d punch your granny in the face for. Not Madder Rose or The Banana Splits.

Sleeve is dominated by a heavily stylised logo as ’80s as a DX-7. I can’t see many people drawing this one on their rucksack with biro though.

3

The first, and hopefully last 33rpm-er of the night. Sounds very good though.

First up is Soap. Back in the day I took a job on a very high profile, badly failing project. In my first week I was in a tense, angry war room trying to get to the bottom of a failing authentication process. Debugging had shown that clients’ SOAP requests were not making it to the service which processed them. Someone properly went off on one, ranting and raving, and in the awkward silence that followed, I couldn’t help saying “where’s the soap”? I thought they were going to sack me. You probably had to be there.

I have no idea who LOVELIVES are, or why I bought this, because I think it was quite expensive. But I’m happy I did, because it’s great. Reminds me a bit of a Melodie du Kronk album I used to play a lot. Catchy, repetitive, rhythmic instrumentals with clean guitars and analog synthesizers. (Again, we aren’t told which ones.)

Sleeve is just text, with four colours slightly offset. Looks good, and suits the record pretty well.

4

Two of the four most over-rated things in music (Record Store Day and John Peel) bring us an Illumination-era curiosity.

On the ‘a’, Katrina and Stephen sing the best Silver Jews song. Katrina ain’t the world’s best singer, but in Pastels terms she’s Liz Fraser/Nina Simone/Karen Carpenter rolled into one.

Turn over, and Aggi sings Ship to Shore, which I don’t think I’ve ever heard before. I thought, given the longstanding K relationship, and the fact the ‘a’ is a cover, that it might be the Dub Narcotic song of the same name, but it’s not. That was a pointless digression wasn’t it. Like someone telling you about a dream they had, or an accident they almost had, or that time they nearly got themselves the sack. Very dull.

Both sides are decent enough, with that lovely, hamfistedly fragile Pastels touch, but like pretty much all RSD releases, it feels pretty pointless.

Sleeve is by Aggi, of course, and is (predictably) gorgeous.

3

Sleeve is a photo of a man who appears to not know he’s having his photo taken. Of all the awful things people have done, equipping every prick in the world with a camera which lets them take an infinite number of pictures and videos at no expense, instantaneously presenting them to the world in a way that once they escape they can never be recaptured, is one of the most egregious. Any time I see someone with a phone out (i.e. any time I leave my house) it puts me on edge. Are they filming me? Have I got my fly undone or toothpaste round my mouth and are idiots now making smart-arsed remarks about me on some Facebook group? Fortunately I’m an ugly old bloke, and no one cares about me, but the fact any random piece of shit can video anyone, any time he wants, and do anything he likes with that video, disgusts me. It doesn’t take many awful people it takes to make the whole world feel awful.

People feel threatened by “government surveillance”. I’m far more worried some kid will video me snoring on the train and laugh about it with his mates. Don’t worry about the government. David Byrne knew that. The government, as someone else said, “couldn’t get laid in a whorehouse with $100 bills stapled to its dick”.

One of them from out of off of Hiking was also in Bipolar Bear, which is one of the worst band names I have ever heard; right up there with Vegetrouble. Hiking are alright. Somewhere on the border of indie rock and shoegaze, without fully committing to either.

3

On Alone Together. An expression I hate because it doesn’t make sense. But it’s fine for a record label name, which doesn’t have to make sense at all, and it’s doubly alright because the lovely printed insert talks about the contradictory nonsense.

‘a’ is hard to pin down. There’s a catchy pop song in there somewhere, but the delivery is much more avant garde. The singer is really good.

‘b’ is pretty much just noise.

Sleeve is very tasteful, but doesn’t capture what’s inside.

Good record.

4

Back to the eighties or, as people on YouTube would probably put it, “back to the amazing 80’ies”.

People love to tell you how great the 1980s were. Especially if they were “a child of the ’80s”. (That is, born in October ‘89.) Life was so much simpler then. Everything was better. It was amazing.

What I remember of the 1980s: the cold war and its constant threat of nuclear extinction; massive unemployment; nothing to do; AIDS; leaving school and going on the dole at 16; nutcase teachers who’d been in the war; your hair and clothes stinking of fags even though you didn’t smoke; football violence; Chris de Burgh; power ballads; Bros; piss-stinking payphones (see above); cars that went rusty and broke down all the time; Rat Rappin’; Afghanistan; the National Front; I could go on.

When people say the 1980s were amazing, and simple times, what they mean is either “I like this song”, or “I liked being young and shielded from the world”. The problem isn’t that the world has got worse; it’s how much you know about the world these days. Get rid of the phone. Concentrate on what’s in front of you. You’ll be happier.

So, the Vaselines and the Pooh Sticks both do the Vaselines’ Dying for It. Obviously the Vaselines do it better, but the Pooh Sticks do it well enough. I’ve never been the biggest Pooh Sticks fan.

Sleeve is Eugene and Frances wrapped in “old glory” on the front and them two from out of off of the Pooh Sticks wrapped in “old glory” on the back.

4

I don’t know what the hell this is, other than that it’s pretty obnoxious.

Sleeve is as weird and crude as the music.

2

I don’t like their name, and I don’t know who Jordi Rosen is, who apparently features. But I do like their reverbed-to-shit cheap-trash shoegaze. On Air makes me think of On the Air. Underrated, that. And probably so is this.

Sleeve is plain black with a sticker, so not much to talk about there.

4

Sleeve is initially hidden by a falling-apart paper bag, but turns out to be full-colour printed job with hand lettering and a collage. You’d think I’d like that, wouldn’t you? But contrary me doesn’t particularly, because it’s all a bit ker-aaay-zeeee!!!!11!!. The collage includes Prince Charles’ adult head on a child’s body, which I do like because it reminds me of Gatwick, Russell Brand’s doll friend from back when he was just a harmless nutter doing MTV links.

I expected the music to be sillier than it is too. It’s just Ms David singing, sometimes in a bit of a musical theatre style, whilst accompanying herself on an old Moog MG1. Yes! Finally! Someone says what the gear is! 10/10.

If I’d seen this in a rack I wouldn’t have bought it because of the minor wackaging, obvious effing and jeffing, and a song called Bad Sandwich. But I’d have missed out, because it’s a nice little record.

3

Last one tonight and it’s Astrel K on, of all things, Duophonic Super 45s! I’d pretty much given up on them.

On the ‘a’ Astrel K mix smooth vocal stylings with clean guitars and some crazy analogue monophonic portamento. The Pro 3 is paraphonic. We’ve got all the ‘phonics in tonight. (Except the Stereophonics, obviously. That would be awful.)

The ‘b’ is pretty different, with Broadcastish tick-tocky bass, and lyrics in a language I cannot identify. Possibly Scandinavian. Higgle o mota dem, jeg heter Sara Palmer. (With apologies to all Norwegians.)

Sleeve is white card with stamps of the band name, the number (with superfluous leading zeroes) and Cliff! Yes, Cliff. Cliff, it’s so nice to have you back.

4