singles by choice
(albums when it's necessary)
28 July 2023
listening through speakersAvid Acutus
Benz Micro LP-S
Linn Klimax DS (Renew)
TEAD Mastergroove Mk 2
TEAD Vibe Phoenix / Pulse 2
TEAD Linear A mk 2
TEAD Model One

First up, Pipedream, whoever they were. Canadian, by the look of it. Nice black and white sleeve with a painting of an old naval battle in which, for some reason, is involved a hot air balloon fashioned after a large fish, and also after Zippy from Rainbow.

Setting the Snare is a four-bar descending chord sequence over and over again, starting from a nice filter-swept synth and a riff which never ends, and gently introducing layers of soft drones, whooshing, don’t-wake-the-baby drums (don’t worry about it – they sleep through anything), and possibly feedback. It’s extremely agreeable, not least the drawn-out, phased-noise end. (Which pushes it into 33rpm territory.)

On the ‘b’, A Narrow Light in the Dark ploughs a similar furrow, though it manages to halve the chord count.

Excellent record, topped off by a nice insert print of a shark. You can’t say fairer than a shark. A quid, that cost.


Should be “four”, not “4”, because small numbers you write out in words. At least, according to some style guide or other. I love a style guide. The Guardian one is very good. Go and have a read of that; it’s much better than this. And much better than The Guardian.

For anyone still here, four is the only number whose English name has the number of letters counted by the number. If you see what I mean. I did a painting about it once, called Four is a Four Letter Word, but it was rubbish.

Back When I Was 4 tells an imagined whole-life biography with fifty years of neurosis and loneliness, followed by happiness and content. I’ve just turned fifty, so fingers crossed, eh? I’m not getting a dog though, which Jeff does here. The last thing the world needs is another bloody dog. Or two. We’ve got one child, one small car between us, and I think “We’re doing our bit for the world”, you know? And everywhere I look everyone else has three kids, two dogs, and a car the size of a Ford Transit. We’re not going to make it, are we? People, I mean.

One of the ‘b’s is a Strokes cover: The Modern Age, which is the ‘b’ of one of the two Strokes records I have, but I’m not sure which. The vocals appear to have been picked up by the mic they used for the guitar. It’s a pretty good song though. Maybe I’ll dig out the original later. (Editor’s note: he didn’t.)


Another visit to the Earworm archives. The sleeve tells us “do not launder”, which reminds me of the bottle of Creme de Menthe I had with “do not microwave” on it. I didn’t. It wouldn’t fit.

Neither of the songs are called what I think is the title of the record, which is pleasingly perverse. Hope that Doesn’t Rock the Boat is a rattling jazz-tinged affair which slightly reminds me of Ui or Four Tet. It’s long, but good enough not to be too long. (I learned the other day what a “four tet” is. I never even knew it was a thing up to then.)

Eurosports 4, which you may know from the Mosconi Cup, is more that monged-out Hawkwindy space-rock kind of thing that stinks of gear. Not so much my bag. It’s long, and not good enough not to be too long.


Any fool knows that Mike Post is to TV themes what John Williams is to film themes, or Richard Devine is to music that sounds like a bag of marbles in a washing machine. That is, The King. Though, both songs here are co-authored and -produced with some feller called Peter Carpenter, of whom I’ve never heard. So is Mike Post truly The King? You can’t have co-kings. That wouldn’t work. Remember when we had that coalition government? The only good thing that came out of that was the “Alien vs Predator” joke in The Thick of It.

First off, that’s a killer synth lead. Killer. And when the harmonica goes up and the chords go down: well, you find my anything in the canon of music that’s better. Go on. I’ll wait.

No? Thought not.

I expected this to be the thirty seconds or so you heard on the telly repeated over and over again, but it’s a proper song, albeit a short one. I loved the stoppy-starty bit, and I loved the brass replacing the synth. I loved it all.

The ‘b’ is Dixie Lullaby, which I guess means it’s racist, even though it’s an instrumental.


Back in my teens I was mildly obsessed with Hunkpapa. At the time it was the oddest record I had, and I sucked the marrow out of every bit of its freewheeling spikiness, especially Mania, which my poor old mum and dad must have been heartily sick of.

Dizzy is the easy one on Hunkpapa, a straight pop song adroitly performed, redolent of heat and asphalt. “You got me hotter’n Georgia asphalt”. There’s something about the rhythm and scansion of the “I need your dark skin to sit beside me in my car” that I find indescribably delicious. Ditto “Make sure the daaaaawg remembers me”. God, I love it.

Have you read Kristin Hersh’s book? Do. It’s brilliant. Miki Berenyi’s is too, despite being written about the past in the present tense. Don’t bother with Kim Gordon’s though: it’s rubbish. I haven’t read Thurston Moore’s.


It doesn’t give surnames, but the first Ted and Ray I can think of are Ted Robbins and Ray Clemence, so let’s assume it’s them. They’d look good in a band, I reckon. One plays some nice guitar (probably Ray), while the other (Ted, by elimination) does some squelchy synth. Some irritating up-and-down percussive thing almost ruins it, BUT NOT QUITE. Excellent end.

That reminds me. Rhinestone Cowboy was on the radio the other day, and it has the worst ending ever, It just repeats the chorus and fades out half way through. Shocking. I don’t like that “compromisin’ / horizon” line either; it’s very forced. But I love the rest. We’re getting sidetracked aren’t we.

Our ‘a’ is called 3 2 1, and our ‘b’ 1 2 3. The two do very similar things, but the latter brings in weird electronic sheep- and cow-type noises.


I like this because it makes me smile. It reminds me of Alan Parker, Urban Warrior, and the radio show he had. He used to do this thing where he’d play a short burst of a record, and respond to the lyric. So, a quick blast of the hook from When Will I Be Famous followed up with “1989. Briefly”. Or “WAR! What is it good for?” / “Stopping the spread of international fascism in 1940s Europe”. And there was that joke Stewart Lee did about transporting animals in crates, observing that “these are the lucky ones, as every year millions of animals are forced into the unbelievably cramped conditions on the insides of pies”. It’s better when he does it.

Anyway, there was some ongoing joke using the hook from this, but I can’t remember what it was. It’s a good song though, and silly. Pop music’s all too serious now isn’t it? They’re all too cool for Christmas. Taylor Swift doesn’t take herself seriously, even though she’s more right to than any of the rest of them.

On the ‘b’ they’re complaining/boasting about not being allowed into America.


I bought this with another split single which I already had, and I keep getting a feeling I’ve got this one too. I love Junior Varsity, here doing two of their standard semi-competent, fully-committed, eighty-second, 1950s pep-rally rock jobs. I feel like there should be inserts, but perhaps not, as one of Junior Varsity (Kim, I think) reads out their PO Box as track three.

Panther make Junior Varsity sound like King Crimson. They are magnificent.

On Ngoo, complete with Japanese fax number. I bet they still use faxes in Japan, it being that strange technological mix of the future and the past. Do people still wear suits for work in Japan? I hope so. I mourn the decline of the suit.


When I bought this I wasn’t paying full attention and I got mixed up with Love Shine a Light, which I absolutely love. I still like this though, plenty. You couldn’t not like this could you? Honestly, it’s bloody brilliant.

‘b’ is Going Down to Liverpool, which I think The Bangles did. It talks about going to Liverpool and doing nothing, which is the sort of thing dickhead Manchester United fans might sing. I didn’t really like it.


Is AMP Studio the same as AMP? They were alright, I think.

Nice translucent sleeve and clear vinyl, single sided. Sounds like someone doing a Rubik cube whilst listening to one of those “white noise” apps people need help them go to sleep, because the modern world has fried their brains.


The Minders are, excepting “funny” stuff like Music Tapes or Major Organ and The Adding Machine, one of my less-favoured Elephant 6 and-relateds. I don’t dislike them, by any means. They’re usually perfectly agreeable but they’re not Apples in Stereo, or of Montreal.

I have quite a few Minders records, but I haven’t kept up-to-date, partly because their last couple of albums have been cassette-only. In my previous hi-fi life, I knew some Cassette People, and though they were all very nice, they were all a bit odd. I imagine they’re all still at it, having little bake-offs, tracking down NOS TEAC pinch wheels or Nakamichi belts, and obsessing over bias. I didn’t find it a very appealing world twenty years ago, but I prefer its deep-but-honest nerdiness to the current tape-head “vinyl is so mainstream”, cooler-than-thou-ness. Anyway, my stereo already needs eight 13A plugs and five sets of RCA interconnects to make sound come out, and there’s a point at which you should say “enough”.

I always had this pipe dream of The Second System, in some other room, made of gorgeous 80s/90s Japanese stuff with soft glowing lights and loads of knobs. Pioneer amp with tone controls; auto-reverse Yamaha tape deck; Accuphase tuner with big grippy knob and softly glowing display, maybe with a hole drilled in the wall for an external antenna; Sony CD player with seven-segment amber LED; Technics direct-drive turntable undersmoked cover. Maybe even a big Marantz EQ like Patrick Bateman’s. You used to be able to get that stuff for change, but it’s all expensive now, because what isn’t?

Without, obviously, wanting to be That Guy, I loved Dressy Bessy’s early stuff. The first few singles, and the first couple of albums (especially Sound Go Round) were brilliant. Then they swapped their nerdy indieness for power-pop, got Tammy’s vocals in tune, and it all went kind of ordinary. Every subsequent album had a cracker or two on it, but they were generally one-dimensional, weary affairs. I sold all the later LPs when I had my 12” clearout last year.

Here they sound very US ’60s (I don’t know enough to name names), and stay just the right side of the confident slickness that put me off them in the past. Catchy, energetic, and with a Good End. They’ve probably always been a singles band.

Oh, I forgot to say: The Minders did a perfectly agreeable Elephant 6 style song which I quite enjoyed.


A makeweight for a quid because I was already paying the postage on the Dressy Bessy record. On Rocket Girl (indicator of quality) but also on Sub Pop (indicator of dreary indie rock). Nice sleeve, nice minty green vinyl, and starts off like an interesting Rocket Girl synth thing, but quickly metamorphoses into dreary Sub Pop indie rock with an absolutely terrible finish.

The ‘b’ sounds like a D-50 demo, and is considerably better.