Trash Kit are probably one of my favourite bands that have emerged over the past few months. They first caught my attention at one of the east London fleapit venues. And ever since I’ve been looking forward to their debut LP which is released now on Upset The Rhythm. Indeed they’re holding a release shindig at The Trinity in Dalston this coming Saturday (24th April).
I found the LP the other day on Emusic to download. Nothing like sneaking a preview before getting my mitts on a physical copy of the LP. Live you get a trio of face painted ladies and a bucketful of energy. And some killer tunes. And luckily all but the face painting has transferred across to their debut record. The band are obviously influenced by a whole bunch of post punk trailblazers – think The Slits and some of the more awkward rhythmed mid 80s counterparts – maybe even a dash of Adam Ant or Bow Wow Wow with the hypnotic drums. This tribal near funk punk is anything but dated. Songs come and go often in short rapid bursts of noise with little obvious pop structure – but it is the incessant rhythms that pull you in from the off and then some writhing guitars take hold and before you know you are hooked.
The LP sounds fresh and exciting and it’s easily going to feature in many year end top lists. Well, it will in mine, for sure. And I am sure others will pick up on Trash Kit and their dizzying sound. I like.
Listening to Marc Riley today, he played a song from The European. As you do when half paying attention to the radio – I didn’t catch it all. But by the end of the song (In a Very Real Sense Now) I was scrambling onto google to see what more I can find out about the band. It turns out a New LP (debut?) has just been released on Stolen Recordings. I couldn’t wait so got the songs from iTunes, with a vinyl order to arrive in due course too. I haven’t been able to find out much about The European apart from what is written on the Stolen Recordings web page:
THE EUROPEAN is a new solo project from musician, artist and software designer Simon Break (formerly of ICEBREAKER INTERNATIONAL and PIANO MAGIC). Influenced by classic pop, computer music, seventies minimalism and vintage blues and folk, THE EUROPEAN rejects the staple pop subject matter of romance and facile self-actualisation in favour of themes of compromise, frustration, psychosexual angst and cultural confusion.
And who am I to disagree. Stolen have good taste and this LP is rather wonderful. Sparse electronic pop with a warm heartbeat. I’ve only played it once through and it sounds like a lot of things – but no one influence looms large. If that makes sense. It’s rather hypnotic and quite wonderful. You can hear the electronic pop of Kraftwerk (and a host of others that followed in Kraftwerks wake in the early 80s) and classic pop leanings of bands like The Magnetic Fields. But this doesn’t actually sound like either of those bands – but you can hear their influence below the surface. That’s not to mention the feeling on the album closer ‘Tearaway’ you are listening to an out-there version of Abba. Like I said, this is just a wonderful album and it’s sure to be getting a lot of plays around these parts for the foreseeable future.
As some people may know, my old label, released their debut LP back at the start of 2009 (which is nearly sold out, fact fans).
Fast forward 18 months and the band have a full length vinyl LP released on Make A Mess Records. The template is similar to what has gone before; with a smattering of addictive choruses mixed with buzzy guitars and some top notch lo-fi pop. A few of the songs sound a little fuller than they did on the old Lostmusic release but that doesn’t signal a huge change of direction, more of a progression from what has come before. And it probably nods at the fact that this record is more of a combined effort between band members Kevin Alvir and Chris Balla than the first record, which from my understanding was more of a Kevin solo kinda thing. Either way, as progressions go I like it and it is really good to finally hear Knight School blasting out from a nice slab of vinyl. Some of the songs are little more low key this time around – but this more strummy jangle pop is working really well for me.
The album has only had a few spins but it was something of an instant hit to these ears.
Someone should get this band over to the UK because I really, and I mean REALLY wanna see them play live.
The whole world and his wife has fallen in love with The Noyelle Beat (which came out this week) over the past few months as the promo copies have gained some rather grand reviews. It’s not difficult to hear why. Standard Fare are a marvellous band. I’ve had my copy of the LP for more than a few weeks. And I’ve been very careful with it, not wanting to over listen to it in advance of it coming out. And this gentle approach has worked well. Giving the LP another spin today has brought the beauty of ‘The Noyelle Beat’ sharply back into focus. ‘Philadelphia’, ‘Fifteen’, ‘Dancing’ and ‘Love Doesn’t Just Stop’ – darn it, nearly every song here is vital, essential, life affirming pop music.
I can’t believe it’s only been a year since I first saw the band in a now closed boozer in Stoke. Talk about a band gaining momentum and fulfilling their promise.
Standard Fare have big wide eyed grins for songs. They’re so much more than nearly every band I have heard this past year or so. They kinda of transcend conventional musical descriptors like ‘indiepop’ or ‘rock’ or ‘whatever’. The thrill they give me is like when I first heard The Delgados many many moons ago, before they got weighed down with expectation and string arrangements.
So yes, Standard Fare have made a great album. Where do they go from here? If there was justice in the pop world they’d be selling out massive venues and getting NME cover shots. I have little faith in the music world. But I still hope that the band get all the success that they deserve. I think they might just pull it off.
I first found Yo La Tengo in the mid 90s. They connected with me at a time when I was only just rediscovery my earlier love for fractured guitar sounds. As a band they had sonic edge which was often built around really good pop songs. At some point about 6 or 7 years I lost Yo La Tengo. I think it was the album ‘Summer Sun’ that did for me. They, for me, had become one of those meandering bands that had lost the spark and they were for me in comfortable mode. I’ve not heard ‘Summer Sun’ in years and I’ve not paid attention to anything they released since.
I was browsing on eMusic and decided to take a chance on their latest offering. I wasn’t expecting much but ‘Popular Songs’ is something of a revelation. Admittedly the sheer guitars are at a minimum here – but tellingly the pop song seems to be back in vogue. Sure there is still a melancholy undertow to these songs. But there is a warmth that I thought the band had lost. There are catchy hooks littered throughout the LP and although they are still interspersed with some of their avant garde meanderings. But these meanderings don’t detract from the listening experience. This is mature record by a band that have been doing their own thing for more years than they probably care to remember. And that’s more than ok. I think I might have to revisit the bands more recent LPs. Sometimes it’s just the right time to re-fall in love with a band who you may have drifted away from. ‘Popular Songs’ has restored my faith in Yo La Tengo. Nice work.
Earlier this week a package from the fab Workerbee Records arrived. And amongst the CDs and badges was this compilation. 24 Songs and barely a mis-step amongst them. How can you fail to love the wonky pop of The Magic Words? Or the Mary Chain guitar inflections of the Death Valley Sleepers? or the low key trashy stomp of The Ex-boogeymen. This compilation is a vibrant reflections of the wonderful music that is out there if you take the time to look. and listen. There are also some songs from recent finds Thunder Bunny, THE ViGNETTES and Monkey V Robot nestled amongst the new discoveries.
This LP is available for just $5 delivered from the US. You’d be really dumb to not to chance your arm. I am glad I did. This is the sort of compilation that restores my faith in DIY labels and taking a punt on a CD that contains mainly unknown bands that serve up many flavours of guitar pop from lo-fi garage monsters to shimmering indiepop meets punk gems. Wonderful Stuff.
Here is the full track listing:
1. Lil Daggers – Hungry
2. Puffy Shoes – Lazy Seventeen
3. Murder Mystery – Kremlin
4. Crappy Dracula – Secrets of the Powerful Textbook Lobby
5. Brown Ghosts – Silver Hands
6. The Ex-Boogeymen – If You Love Me (Let Me Go)
7. The Magic Words – Don’t Ask Me Why (early 4-track demo version)
8. Death Valley Sleepers – Let Heaven Know
9. Thunder Bunny – Lollipop
10. No Cars – 123456
11. The Super Vacations- Moss
12. Monkey V. Robot – You Can’t Help Me
13. PAGEANTS – Crushin’ Diamonds With Her Teeth
14. (the) Snot Rags – Daydream
15. The Ornitheologian – Your Kisses Are Going To Waste
16. THE ViGNETTES – Comic Book Heroes 3.0
17. Slow Human Escape – We Belong To Satan
18. Wild Zeros – I Want You
19. the Japanese-Lovers – Happy Now
20. The Pneumonias – Somethin’ to Do
21. Two Tears – Wiggle Like A Worm
22. Thee Fine Lines – “I’ve Got My Eye On You” (new version)
23. Waylon Thornton and the Heavy Hands – Sheddin’ My Skin
24. Velma and the Happy Campers – Parking Lot #3 AKA The Parkinglot is Doomed
Underused Records is a new label based in London. Their motto is simply stated as ‘A home for good songs’ and ‘No Shouting’. ‘Old Happiness’ by A Singer of Songs certainly meets both criteria with aplomb. I first knew ‘A Singer Of Songs’ as a song that appeared as a song on the Unearthed boxset recorded by Johnny Cash. In my book any singer that takes this songs name is a brave man as that song is one of my favourite Johnny Cash moments.
The singer of these songs easily recalls the melancholy style of late singers St Thomas or Vic Chesnutt. There is also something of Johnny Cash himself at his most introspective. The songs that make up ‘Old Happiness’ are sparse acoustic strums that are as enchanting as they are simple. But don’t let the simplicity detract from the power that these songs offer. The words that bubble to the surface (‘gasps of air like cold rocks in my chest’) on lead song ‘Old Happiness’ add weight to the recordings. This is beautiful music with a huge beating heart.
A number of guest back up vocal appearances from Tiny Ruins, Craven Canary and Ana Franco add a smidgen of light amongst the shade. But rest assured, this light, flickers just briefly before you return to the comforting shade. The last record that I loved that sounded this bleak was Tompaulins master work ‘Into The Black’.
I think Johnny Cash would have been proud to hear this singer sing these songs.
‘Magick Carcass Ride’ is a woozy yet perfectly formed nine song LP by Land of Blood and Sunshine, a duo from Marshalltown, Iowa. Over the course of the nine songs you are taken on a trip through all that is exciting about good pop music. Songs swhirl and flutter and a darkness seems to hover just beneath the surface on many of the songs here. All this swhirling and fluttering is propelled by proper songs that you could hum along too.
I’ve only had ‘Magick Carcass Ride’ for a little less than a day and it’s one of those records that starts off in a rather low key manner. The songs seem to be floating by, in the background, and only just pricking the surface of your attention. But somewhere in that first listen a spell is cast and ‘Magick Carcass Ride’ is one of those records you want to play again the second it comes to an end. These repeated listens are what reveals the pop treasures within. If I was forced to offer a glib description of the sound that LOBAS make – I’d call it off kilter pop music. Moods swing from serene to panicked. Beats mingle with delicate guitars and fuzzed up vocals to delicate vocals with fuzzed guitars and gentle electronic sounds. The closest recent find that I could compare LOBAS too would be Jumbling Towers. This LP stands up all on it’s own. The magick that the band manage to conjure on songs like ‘Tale of a Tapeworm’ and ‘Depth of Charm’ is that of purest kind. This is a captivating album.
Cloud Nothings is for recording purposes one man. That man is Dylan Baldi. ‘Turning On’ is the first release by Cloud Nothings that I have stumbled upon and it’s released on the rather wonderful CDr/Tape label, Bridgetown Records. Cloud Nothings are a quintessential lo-fi bedroom recording dream. Super sharp songs are given a woozy lo-fi treatment. Everything about the record is just out of focus. I can similarities with another lo-fi charmer, So Cow, in these recordings. I am sure Cloud Nothings have probably never heard So Cow before. But both ‘projects’ are shooting from the same place – armed with killer songs and a headful of great ideas.
This whole CD comes in at a little over 25 minutes. And the 8 songs veer from the uber catchy ‘Can’t Stay Awake’ to the slightly trippy ‘Hey Cool Kid’ – but the whole thing is under pinned by some rather fine songs. Bridgetown Records releases tend to be very limited so it’s worth snapping up a copy before they’re all gone. I think this release comes on Cassette as well as CD.
Wizzard Sleeve have just released their debut LP ‘Make The World Go Away’. The band are from Alabama in the United States. This could explain the swampy feel that permeates throughout the LP. ‘Make The World Go Away’ is a dark trawl through rock’n'roll and doom laden psychedelia. Some might call that the place where ‘Goth Rock’ kicked in during the early 80s. And that’s not a bad reference point. As this LP is chock full of riffs and some rather gloomy, yet grand songs.
As always with records that are heavy on the guitar – the louder I push the volume the better LP starts to sound. Songs like ‘Pterodactyl Meltdown’ have suitably daft gurgling noises punctuating the swampy guitars to take the edge of the overtly doomy sound. Space rockers like Hawkwind and early Black Sabbath are probably another touching point for the band and it’s hard to get ‘Silver Machine’ out of my head the more I play this record. I don’t think they’ve got a song as good as that one on this record, but it sure seems to be some sort of launch pad for the sound that the band are rather good at making. This is out now on Hozac Records.