I was in Cardiff last Sunday. I got to see the final show on the Ace Bushy Striptease and The Middle Ones tour. It was obviously a happy/sad time for the bands as they had enjoyed the tour so much and were sad that it was the last night of the tour. I can see why. I love both bands. I really do. And I picked up The Middle Ones debut album from the band. And I am playing it now and it’s making me feel all funny. It’s beautiful. It’s fragile. It sounds simple but it isn’t. Anna and Grace have made a record that really gets underneath your skin. In a good way I might add. Delicate arrangements and soaring vocals, with delightful harmonies lingering on and on. This is going to be one of the records I play most this year. I love it.
Apparently there will be another full length album out this year too. I am not impatient and I can wait for it because I will treasure these lovely recordings first. I suggest you do the same.
So, yes. I’ve been quiet. Not sure why as I’ve had more time on my hands lately. But here I am, back again. Here’s what music has been setting off fireworks for me lately (i.e. expect sporadic ramblings about records I’ve been liking these past few months).
Sometime in February I found ‘Little Joy‘ on Emusic. That’s the new LP from My Disco. Yes they are influenced by Shellac and Big Black. But this little beauty is grinding beast of a record built on repetition and some fierce bass/drum action. In these austere times I’ve only managed to track down the mp3s for this release. For now, that is. These Australians have been known to tour with one time Londoners Skul Hazzards (now back in their native Australia, too). A shame I missed them because this record is the sort of thing I like. A lot. It scares the neighbours and makes my speakers shake. All is right with the world when my speakers shake.
Seems I’ve forgotten how to write lots of words about records. This return could be painful.
I always liked The Lovely Eggs. I mean who could fail to love their quirky pop tunes that they first appeared with. But after getting my mitts on ‘Cob Dominos’ I’ve gotta say the band have hit another level this time around and I think I love them just a little bit more now. Yes they are still as daft as fuck. Yes this record darts around like a hyperactive kid with a penchant for ODing on e number additives. But with songs like ‘Watermelons’, ‘Don’t Look At Me (I Don’t Like It)’ and ‘Fuck It’ the band made their mad cap off beat pop even better. This album is littered with pop hooks, noise wig outs and surreal lyrical turns. Out now on Cherryade, I am sure this record is gonna notch a lot of plays this year. The Lovely Eggs, not only are they lovely, they’re pretty fucking amazing too.
Here’s the video for lead single ‘Don’t Look At Me (I Don’t Like It)’
This début record came out in September 2009 on Siltbreeze. I only heard it this week. More fool me, I say. The Mantles are a four piece from San Francisco. This record is a real gem. It’s a powerful mix of full on guitar pop with nods at garage rock and a hint of Neil Young at his most belligerent on the guitars that scrape and scream when songs go into overload – especially the set closer ‘The Reminder’. The are plenty of modern comparisons – the soon to be hip Harlem spring to mind as do the little known garage combo The Shrugs (from New Zealand) and possibly a more controlled take on the garage stomps fired off by Box Elders too. I have to say after just 5 or 6 listens I am wondering why I haven’t picked up on The Mantles before as their mix of pop music, rawkus guitars and nods to the 60s is just about perfect for me.
They’ve release a couple of 7″ singles. I imagine they’re gonna be a bitch to track down, too. And they’ve got a new 12″ EP out ‘Pink Information’ which for reasons best known to Mexican Summer (the label that released it) retails for about £17. I think it’s an EP. It could be an LP. But at that price I doubt I am going to be finding out any time soon.
Grass Widow are good. Past Time is possibly their 2nd LP. It’s out now on Kill Rock Stars. I first heard the band a while back via the excellent ‘To Where’ song. They’ve had previous records released on Make A Mess and Captured Tracks.
Reference points: a slightly more rock take on the Dum Dum Girls sound – or possibly a less rock take on the Riot Grrrl sound that had the likes of Bikini Kill straining their vocal cords to get heard over their guitar goodness. So yes, Grass Widows sound lives somewhere inbetween those. With maybe hints of The Raincoats too.
They are a three piece from San Francisco. They’re coming to the UK at the end of this month. Grab a ticket for a show. I think they’re gonna sell out. The shows that is. There is nothing on this LP that has hit me as hard as ‘To Where’ and ‘LuLu Lips’ from previous releases. But after a few listens ‘Past Time’ is doing good things to me. The sound is a little cleaner but that’s not a bad thing, this time around.
There are things in this world that just makes sense. Ramones are one them: in the mid 1970′s 4 leather clad punk kids kicking out 2 minute blast of pop punk was about as close to perfection as you’d ever get. The idea to get a whole host of contemporary indiepop types doing covers of their songs is another of those, der, why hasn’t anyone done this before kinda moments.
Luckily, for I really don’t go for straight up covers as they’re always pointless, the 16 songs on offer here don’t take that tack. All of the songs here are given makeovers from the heart with more than a dose of imagination and you can tell that these acts all love the Ramones. Acts like Allo Darlin’ (‘I Wanna Be Sedated’), Pete Green (‘Blitzkrieg Bop’), The Just Joans (‘Questioningly’) and The Motifs (‘Sheena Is A Punk Rocker’) strip the songs back – removing the punk fizz and replacing it with a lo-fi pop charm and it’s then that you are reminded that there was always a pop heart beating within the brudders! Elsewhere a couple of bands twist the volume knob to fuzz overload with The Pains of Being Pure at Heart getting all treble heavy on ‘Don’t Go’ and Horowitz decide to beat ‘Judy Is A Punk’ into shape via a feedback shit storm. It’s a lot of fun.
This compilation has been pressed in a limited run. And the artwork by Andy Hart is to die for, too, which is a beautiful take on the ‘End Of The Century’ cover featuring girls and Ramones. Get one. Get one now.
The Specific Heats are something of a hidden treasure. They’ve picked up a core of followers from successive summers crossing the Atlantic to thrill the crowds at Indietracks and associated warm up shows.
After playing ‘Cursed’ all the way through it is clear to me that the Specific Heats are one of those bands that has somehow fallen into the indiepop world. And the indiepop world is a better place for them falling through the cracks. There isn’t much that I’d actively call indiepop on show here – but that doesn’t stop the record being an absolute belter. As ‘Cursed’ whirls and spins the sounds coming out of the stereo is all swirling psychedelia meets 60s R&B goodness with a dash of surf guitar thrown in for good measure. Not that I am complaining as this kinda fuzzed 60s pop is hitting all my sweet spots this week. And I reckon it’ll be settling near the top of the pile come years end, too. A splendid little record from a rather fab band. Cursed? Nah, Blessed, is closer to the truth.
‘Constellations’ is the latest album from Antartica Takes It! and it is released on How Does It Feel To Be Loved? And as you’d expect from the HDIF stable this is delicate indiepop – that nods at Belle and Sebastian, Motown and Chamber Pop. It’s also the follow up to 2008′s The Penguin League (also released on HDIF). Confession time: I really didn’t get along with that LP and I found it a real mish mash of lo-fi sounds without having anything to draw me in.
So popping ‘Constellations’ on play the other day was done with little expectation. This should be a rule of thumb for all LPs, I think, because I’ve found myself pleasantly surprised by it.
The LP is a million times better than it’s predecessor – the pop music on show here is clever and clear – the closest sister LP I can think of at the moment is the one I’ve just released by One Happy Island. Admittedly Antarctica Takes It! pop sound definetely carries more of a 60′s swing to it’s step. But after only a few plays I am falling more and more for the pop charms on offer here. Highly recommended.
Dance Magic Dance have put on some fine bands in London over the past 18 months or so. They have now released their first (I think) compilation cassette. And what a great noisy thing it is. This is a lo-fi fuzz fest of guitar goodness that ranges from the sub New York sound of La LA Vasquez to the punk rock racket of the, er The Racket. Elsewhere are my recent garage rock discoveries Sex Beet and always wonderful French Kissing pop up. And that’s just side one. Flip the cassette over and we get the London surf mob One Fathom Down and doomy punkrock sounds of Bo Ningen, to name just two. Like I said, it’s all awesome stuff, really. And this little cassette is just £3. Bargain.
They are having a launch show at The Old Blue Last in London on Saturday 3rd July, too. I think I might well be there, for that.
Kid Canaveral have been away, for what seems the longest time. But they’ve not been idly wasting time over the past 12 months the band have been recording their debut LP ‘Shouting At Wildlife’.
It’s a pleasant relief to hear that the band still have the knack of kicking out killer tunes which are instant indie classics (or they should be, if the world would start paying attention). Their début single ‘Smash Hits’ reappears to remind me of why I first fell for the band. But this isn’t all dumb pop hooks and dance floor fillers (although they have those by what seems to be the bucket load, too) because elsewhere the band have broadened their sound a little. The scope on ‘Shouting At Wildlife runs from pop romps to brooding ballads and back to some pop epics. The Delgados at their prime (early on, then) is a fair comparison. ‘Shouting At Wildlife’ is set to be one of my LPs of the year. There are very few current British bands that are getting me this excited.
The band have a single out now, too – ‘You Only Went Out To Get Drunk Last Night’ which can be bought over on bandcamp. The album hits the shops on 5th July and can be pre-ordered from their website now.