This blog has been fairly neglected over the past 12 months or so. I can’t really explain why, because my appetite for music is as strong as ever. Maybe it’s easier to tweet about new music I like. I don’t think blog reviews serve much purpose these days. The internet has kinda moved on from the idea that one chap in his bedroom can write anything about stuff that people can easily hear themselves. Why bother reading the post? And I know we still need pointers and there are many fine blogs out there still doing this. But the people doing the good blogs can actually write, to a reasonable standard. I am not sure I was ever the sharpest reviewer. So. Is this the end? I don’t know. I think I still want a place to share things that I find exciting. But whether I think I can add anything with a cruddy review is another matter. Time will tell.
Anyways, here is what I have been listening to the past year. This is culled from my last.fm account, so misses a lot of vinyl plays and all that. But here you go:
01 Ace Bushy Striptease (341)
02 Sarandon (267)
03 The Notes (209)
04 The Blanche Hudson Weekend (152)
05 The Lovely Eggs (149)
06 Dignan Porch (138)
07 Johnny Cash (128)
08 The Jesus and Mary Chain (124)
09 Clinic (101)
10 The Magnetic Fields (99)
11 The Middle Ones (97)
12 Trash Kit (89)
13 Milky Wimpshake (87)
14 Ducktails (79)
One Happy Island (79)
Personal and the Pizzas (79)
17 The Hairs (77)
18 Urinals (76)
The Beets (76)
20 The Smiths (74)
22 Subtle Turnhips (72)
23 The Humms (68)
The Happy Thoughts (68)
25 Weekend (67)
Cause Co-motion (67)
27 King Tubby (65)
28 Sourpatch (64)
29 Gold-Bears (61)
Anguish Sandwich (61)
So there you have it, some new things and a smattering of old favourites. Surprised that somethings haven’t made the Top 30. But I guess they’ve been played on the iPod (which doesn’t want to scrobble to last.fm these days) or vinyl. Ah well. Charts were never an accurate reflection of anything anyway, were they?
After a nice 3 week break, a long weekend at ATP and then 2 weeks in New York/Boston/New Haven for New York popfest and other assorted pop shows means I have a mountain of stuff to blog about. I came back from the USA with what felt like a suitcase full of CDs/7″‘s and LPs. I aim to post up on the good and great of these over the next week or so. If that wasn’t enough another pack from the ever reliable Hozac Records arrived this morning.
But I’ll start with a video, one of the finds of Popfest for me, was Gold-Bears, from Atlanta, Georgia. I took one video of their show it was their closing song. I’ve got no clue what it’s called but I do know that it is superb. Enjoy!
Prolapse are a band that I keep coming back to. About 4 years ago, I wrote a little piece for a Lostmusic paper fanzine about Prolapse and I always thought they were ripe for rediscovery and indeed they still have a cult following to this day. I’m just surprised that they are not remembered by more people. Odd Box has kicked off a plan to put together a ‘tribute’ LP. The words ‘tribute album’ strikes dread into my heart – but I think Prolapse were such a unique band the idea of current bands taking a slant on their songs would make for a really fantastic album.
Interest has already been expressed by MJ Hibbett and The Validators, The Mai 68s, Magoo, Leaf Library, The Chemistry Experiment along with current Odd Box bands The Wednesday Club and The Humms. But we need more bands to get this little album off the ground. So spread the word, contact me and we’ll see if we can get this album to be something extra special.
Here for those, that have not read it, is the wee fanzine article on Prolapse:
Prolapse came from Leicester in England. They formed in 1991. I first became aware of the band sometime in the mid 90s after hearing the band on John Peel. As always, I searched out the LP that was currently out. As it happens it was 1997′s ‘The Italian Flag’. I was hooked. I then found as much of their back catalogue as possible. But what did Prolapse sound like?
Initially I was drawn to the band by the mix of male and female vocals. The gruff male vocals came from one Mick Derrick. Who wasn’t from Leicester at all. He’s Scottish. And you can tell when you hear Prolapse. The softer female voice was supplied by Linda Steelyard. The contrast between their voices is strangely hypnotic. But that doesn’t tell the whole story of Prolapse and their sound. Ferocious guitars and tight rhythms combined to produce a cacophony of sound. Add to this the band’s desire to do more than 3 minute pop songs – you had a recipe for a
band that had a fairly unique sound – but oddly not having a sound that was always the same. They had a range to their sound. If you want comparisons with other bands – The Fall, Sonic Youth, Joy Division and ‘French Disko’ era Stereolab spring to mind. But Prolapse will always be something a little different to the sum of their influences. They really are one of the great ‘lost’ bands. There was an intelligence to the band and the words that they sung. Prolapse were one of those rare breed of bands that were instantly recognisable as themselves. No one else could sound like this.
As I have already mentioned I started with the bands most critically and commercially successful LP – ‘The Italian Flag’. To this day it remains one of my all time favourite records. It has melody. It has noise. It has tunes. It also has a desire to dare. It’s not an LP of verse chorus verse. Although there are times when Prolapse can do the straight forward like on the single ‘Autocade’ for one. But the beauty of the LP for me is clash between songs and noise and the way the band use tension, aggression and softness in equal measure. Guitars are used to dispense shattering bursts of noise. But they are also used to keep the songs tuneful.
After falling in love with the Prolapse sound in 1997 I was lucky enough to see the band play a shitty little music festival in Swansea. They were a compelling live band – the difference between the tall Mick and the small Linda only heightened the tension that their vocal duels created. It was a shame this was mid afternoon and most of the crowd were waiting for the latest indie darlings. I was transfixed. By this time I had already got my hands on their older CDs – ‘Pointless Walks To Dismal Places’ (1994) and ‘Back Saturday’ (1995). Both of these are interesting CDs. It’s nowhere near the finished article that came later on. There were more experimental soundscapes and a little less ‘production’ – but I came to love these CDs nearly as much as I did ‘The Italian Flag’ .
After I discovered the band they only released one more LP – ‘Ghosts Of Dead Aeroplanes’ in 1999. Initially I was underwhelmed by the record and it was soon filed in the CD shelves and forgotten. Well not forgotten, just, y’know if I got the urge to hear Prolapse I’d play one of the earlier CDs. But that’s changed over the past few years – as it became apparent that the band were no more – I returned to their final LP. And it is a less violent sounding release than ‘The Italian Flag’ but it has a beauty and other-worldly feel to it – that draws me into the sound. It’s certainly a return to longer songs and soundscapes that came before.
I’ve done it in the past and I am sure I will do it again. Looking back, re-assessing and listing my favourite music of the passing year.
December is the month that the blog world goes poll/list crazy. The best of songs, LPs, liveshows, dog farts, you name it, they list it. What with it being the end of noughties, it seems this listing mania has hit even harder with best LPs of the decade lists appearing everywhere. But this year I don’t want to look back. I don’t want to put together my favourite LPs of the past 10 years or this year. I just don’t have the urge to do it. I’ve been guilty in the past and even with my best intentions I am sure I will be guilty again. But not this year, not this time around.
There is good music, every year, every month, every damn week. That’s what Odd Box is going to focus on.
“The Blanche Hudson Weekend is here, featuring Caroline and Darren (ex-Manhattan Love Suicides) along with a bunch of other Weekenders, and bringing to you all kinds of noise, fuzz, melody, dissonance, rawness, killer tunes and buzzsaw pop. Take a bit of 1960′s girl group sounds, mix with Girls in The Garage typr ramshackle production, add some gun slugging guitars and sugar sweet vocals with a keen ear for a great hook, then lock the doors, bolt the windows, switch off the phone, kill the lights, turn up the volume to ear splitting levels and enjoy The Blanche Hudson Weekend”
Debut single expected at the end of November. The My Space page is here.
London Gigs is a site that has sprung up recently. At it’s core it seems to be a just a listings site for shows in London. Timeout does something similar, but their online presence is really poor. Ian at How Does It Feel does a listing thing as well for indiepop type shows. But this London Gigs feels a little more like it could be the start of something a bit more substantial. As someone who has promoted a few shows over the past few years getting your shows listed was always a tough nut to crack. The Guardian Guide? Pah, they’d rarely take the time to list small DIY shows. Same goes for The Fly. Both of those are paper based, as well and I always thought there was a need for a site like London Gigs.
I am so glad that someone has finally had the gumption to get up and do something. Sites like Last.fm and Songkick are great for people to add shows they plan to attend – but as a listings site they fall short. There is always a gap. A show missing. No site is going to be perfect – but if you are in a band, run a label or promote nights – I think London Gigs could grow into a worthwhile resource for promoters and gig goers alike. As always with these things – it’s getting the word out that’s the toughest thing to do – so good luck London gigs!
This apparently appeared on the bands My Space page (it isn’t there now, from what I can tell)*:
After 3 years, 1 album, 6 singles, a 27 track compilation CD and a DVD, plus more hit and run, feedback and noise drenched 20 minute gigs than we can remember… The Manhattan Love Suicides have decided to split.
The reason? Quite simple really: We’d made our point.
Some bands form, and they keep going for many years. The Manhattan Love Suicides were never about that. We were never career driven; we just wanted to make an impact, like 4 sticks of dynamite thrown into a stale music scene. And in our own way, we did what we set out to do.
The music remains, and that is the most important thing. We’re all very proud of how much we did in the short time we existed. The last thing we ever wanted was to become stale. End it while it’s still fresh, while it’s still vital. While it still counts.
So, thanks to everyone who came to see us , to everyone who appreciated the music and to everyone who supported us. This is not the end: it’s just a new beginning. Adam and Rachel have formed The Medusa Snare and the debut album will be released by Squirrel Records soon, Caroline and Darren are contributing vocals and guitar respectively to Ailsa Craig, as well as working on new material together which will be released later in the year.
So, it’s official. I’d got wind of this a few days before setting off for the Indietracks Festival. There was still a chance that it wasn’t true – but after speaking with Darren from the band I knew that the these chances were slim and so it was, on a packed train, Adam, with Rachel in attendance, announced that The Manhattan Love Suicides had split up. This tiny steam train carriage was full to bursting and the news was greeted with some shock. Adam, Rachel and a friend (Steve?) – played an acoustic set – as The Medusa Snare – which threw in a few Manhattan Love Suicides songs.
So, that was The Manhattan Love Suicides. I just want to put on record what an amazing bunch of people this band are (were?). Their single released on Lostmusic is one of the reasons I still want to run a record label. This band became my favourite over past 3 years (well, it’s nearly 3 years I guess). The band have left behind a of whole bunch of songs that they should be immensely proud of. These records will continue to fill my world with pleasure, for that I am thankful. The sadness comes from knowing that I’ll never hear a blistering ‘new’ 7″ by them. And the real kick, is, I will never get to see the four of them kicking up an unholy racket on stage ever again. They were a special band. I’m gonna miss them.
The Pete Green Corporate Juggernaut have just ‘released’ ‘Hey Dr Beeching’ as an mp3 download. It’s free to download the song but Pete is asking everyone who does to consider making a small donation to the Lincolnshire Wolds Railway which is a small heritage line near where Pete grew up, which is on a section of the former main line closed as a result of the Beeching report.
The song features not only yer obligatory train noises and onomatopoeic drums but also samples of Dr Beeching himself, speaking in 1963 about his disastrous plans to ‘reshape’ Britain’s railways. If you go to sparklemotion.co.uk/beeching to download the song and donate to help turn back the Beeching Axe!
You can also still buy Pete’s last 7″ EP ‘Platform Zero’ which came out on my former label Lostmusic – here. Pete Green and his corporate Juggernaut will be appearing at this year’s Indietracks festival over the weekend of 24th-26th July.
I was lucky enough to catch this live show back in February of this year. So it was a real surprise to learn of this super limited (300 copies) released live 12″ LP. Available exclusively through Rough Trade Records – this is 8 song set from their biggest show (at the time) to date show cases the ramble shackle punk rock band at their best, it includes their cover of ‘Roadrunner’ and ‘Wipeout’. This is a no frills release. A basic white sleeve with a stamped black ink print in the middle, unmarked white label inner and a simple copied white sheet of information inside. Which looks like it was bashed out on a typewriter.
Listening back to a live show you were at can often be a weird experience. Does the recording capture the energy of the show that you remember? Can the singer actually deliver? Do the guitars sound as loud as you remember them? Luckily in this case – the recording is a good one and the band sound like I remember. Loud, tight and ramshackle at the same time. I really like this band. So glad I learnt about this release in time to pick up a copy – it’s only £4.99 in store and £6.99 delivered, limited to one copy per order. A bargain and a cracking document of an energetic live performance from Titus Andronicus.
The Manhattan Love Suicides have re-issued their debut LP. Available on CD in UK and Europe officially for the first time. But this no ordinary re-issue. This is Longer. This is Louder. The longer part collects up their singles that have been released since their 27 song single catch-all collection ‘Burnt Out Landscapes’ that came out last year. So you get some of their best ever recordings – Kessler Syndrome, Don’t Leave Me Dying, Veronica and 10th Victim along with a clutch of unreleased songs – the super scuzzy ‘Dirty Knives’ being an instant kick of adrenalin. As for Louder. You get their debut self titled LP. Remastered. The fuzz hums with a bigger kick. The bass pounds at the heart of the recordings. One of my favourite records just got better. Phew.
If that wasn’t enough – you get a bonus DVD collecting together 11 promo videos. Some of which have been specially made for this collection. Others are for singles like ‘Keep It Coming’ ‘Clusterfuck’ and ‘Heat and Panic’. All in all, having watched the videos back it’s a testament to the bands vision – that the visuals match the music perfectly. The band have a definite aesthetic that they are proud of. The videos slash and shock – much in the same way as the band does when they blast out their 6 song machine gun fire live sets.
Deluxe Edition – Longer and Loud is out now on Squirrel Records.