Sunday, 18 February 2018

Thigh Master versus Dag

Thigh Master's debut ep Head of the Witch was one of 2014's standout records. None of their subsequent records have come close. These 2 new songs, though, match their debut for snarl, vim and snap. I can imagine Exodus being used as the walk-on music for an executioner.

Dag's Benefits of Solitude album last year had very few rivals. These new songs are countrified maudlin, the soundtrack to a party where no one was invited. Possibly because you've got no friends. Warning: the delicate desolation of Comfort Zone might ruin you.

If this is a fight, then it's a split decision. I'm leaning towards Thigh Master now because it's the more immediate, but maybe Dag will last longer. These things don't matter. 4 songs, all great, 1 7". You know what to do.

Friday, 16 February 2018

The Estimations - Let Me Go/Can’t Do This To Me

This is the business, both sides. Don’t ask ‘which is the a-side?’ Pick your own favourite. They're both modern classics.

Can’t Do This To Me is a strut on the soul side through Spanish Harlem in 1968. If you cherish those Big City Soul Sounds albums on Kent, then this down-on-your-knees pleading is just what you need.

Let Me Go pulls out the church organ, reaches for the gospel songbook and quite rightly elevates heartbreak to religious martyrdom. These smooth and gritty 4 minutes take the listener back to the USA, 1964. Sam Cooke is still alive.

This is the first release on Kimberlite Records of Canada.

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Salad Boys - This Is Glue

This is Glue doesn’t exactly hide the fact that the Salad Boys have listened to The Clean. This in itself isn’t odd - a lot of bands in the last decade have set their compass by The Clean - but given that their debut Metalmania looked to the psychedelic folk rock of Real Estate and Twerps, it seems an odd leap.

What’s really happening, I think, is Salad Boys are aiming higher and that means going back to the source, rather than looking to where the Dunedin Sound has travelled to in recent years.

They open with Blown Up, powerful waves of krautrock by way of Peter Gutterridge. Then there’s Hatred, which really does sound like The Clean, or more accurately David Kilgour - trebly, sharp, clanging.

By aiming higher, Salad Boys’ reference points are broader. Sure, they sound a bit like The Clean at times, but there’s a lot more going on.

Right Time is a trip to 1967 - hazy like the West Coast Pop Art Experimental band and addictive like The Mamas & the Papas. Then there’s Dogged Out, which blinks bewildering at pyschedelia’s possibilities and grabs its chance, like Teardrop Explodes did.

Salad Boys now hit harder. They make better songs that they used to. And I really like the songs they used to make.

Saturday, 3 February 2018

Traffic Island Sound with P.P. Rebel - All Aboard

All Aboard is library music where the library is stocked with Slavic fairy tales and the music is inspired by Eastern Bloc animation. It's the sound of The Go! Team trying not to have a hit and Whyte Horses deciding their arcane influences aren't quite obscure enough.

Traffic Island Sound is Zak Olsen from the Hierophants, but the true genius may come from P.P. Rebel because whatever magic dust they sprinkle on All Aboard makes it an out-there, eccentric, ghoulish wonder. Can someone release a P.P. Rebel record? It's genuinely amazing music.

In the meantime, there are 100 copies of this 7". The packaging is beautiful. Buy it.

Tuesday, 23 January 2018

The Hit Parade - Oh Honey I...

This blog prides itself on its integrity and prescience. Eight weeks ago it blew its research budget (£9 inc postage) on the new single by Acton's Tycoons of Teen, The Hit Parade.

Today, another copy of the single arrived, telling me it's released on 19 January with a note from The Hit Parade's nom de normale, Julian Henry, suggesting, correctly as it turns out, that I might like it.

Oh Honey I... sees The Hit Parade switch on their home recording studio after listening to Phil Spector's Back To Mono, waiting until all the needles are on red and then increasing the emotions to breaking point.

This 7" represents no stylistic or lyrical leap. The song might be inspired by Shelagh Delaney's A Taste Of Honey, but really, after our Jules sings "If love has all the answers then how did I become so hopelessly lopsided and helplessly undone" it's clear the old milksop is singing from his own romantic misadventures.

Maybe after 34 years in the game Julian's right to acknowledge ruefully: "As Edwyn said I'm simply thrilled to play my guitar and talk to you through a dead medium like this."

There's a new album called Still Julian (of course it's called that) coming later this year.

Any friends in London want a copy? I don't need 2 copies. And I don't want to go to the post office.

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Bill Direen & The Bilders ‎– Chrysanthemum Storm

One of the upsides of the vinyl revival is reissues of rare underground records. Bill Direen's releases in various guises - Bill Direen & Friends, Bill Direen & The HAT, Builders, Six Impossible Things, Vacuum, an album under his own name which was Flying Nun's first long player - have been prised from under the floorboards. They're all worth your time, none more so than 2008's Chrysanthemum Storm, originally a CD only, which I rate as among his finest works.

Even though Direen is a true one-off, the influences here are most obviously Lou Reed's Transformer (two of these songs aren't far off Perfect Day) and Bowie's Berlin trilogy. But imagine, if you will, mixing those with Roxy Music busking on second-hand electronic equipment, Tom Waits' mongrel blues and the tormented rage of those early Microdisney singles.

The lyrics, too, are a joy, not least if you take pleasure in bleakness and black humour. There's life and death in Try Again In Ten Minutes, which is a dismal rumble through the queues at the maternity ward and the cemetery, and the elliptical "he was unfocused, she was into hocus pocus".

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

20 new songs from 2017

All new songs, pretty much all new acts, in what used to be the annual compilation I made for friends who have more important things to spend their money on than new records, or just not enough time.

"Used to be" because I'm not making CDs of this one, unless you fulfil the unlikely criteria of wanting a CD, I used to give you an annual compilation and you're reading this. Really? Get in touch.

I'm making no claims on this compilation's authority - I know, brilliant records by The Stroppies, Suggested Friends, The Love-Birds and Swiftumz, for example, aren't included - but I'll brook no argument on its quality.

Mental Haven - Hater

Malibu Entropy - Rips

Heart Paste - RVG

Know Where to Go - Dag

What Time Is It In Portland? - Bonny Doon

Go On Down - Snails

The Isle Of Arran - Loyle Carner

Samantha - Dave & J Hus

Figure It Out - Sprinters

Stupid Things - Girl Ray

Oh Well - Wurld Series

My God Has A Telephone - The Flying Stars Of Brooklyn, NY

How Quickly Your Heart Mends - Courtney Marie Andrews

Big School - Mo Troper

Old Time Feeling - Mope Grooves

Washing Machine - Marble Gods

Say Sue Me - Good For Some Reason

Climate Change - Display Homes

Latent Teenage Fantasy - The Whooperups

Secret - Honey Harper