Friday, October 23, 2009

The Sixth Difference

1. One these bands is new and has released an album on In the Red, one of the best of the year.

2. Pitchfork has found one of them worth writing about, even though describing them as "charmingly antiquated".

3. One of them actually knows how to play their instruments well.

4. One of them has covered The Beach Boys, while the other has settled for reworking "Be My Baby".

5. One of them has covered Radiohead. The other hasn't (yet).

Other than that it's not much that sets Christmas Island and Heartworms apart. Christmas Island has definitely been helped by the current hip-factor of ramshackle guitars and would most likely have been dismissed as 'twee' in 1994 when Heartworms debuted with the smashing "Thanks For the Headache". Both Christmas Island's music and lyrics are very simple, but very addictive. Take "My Baby" for example, strummed chords over thumping drums and the chorus "my baby, I miss you, in my dreams I still kiss you". All you need for a perfect pop song! I'm buying Blackout Summer now.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Painter Without Motive Convicted

Everyone in London should go see Leaving Mornington Crescent tonight. It's at HDIF Presents at Jamm in Brixton, it's free and also playing are Tender Trap and MJ Hibbett! I just saw the two members of LMC in Gothenburg and they were very excited. I witnessed their first gig at So Tough! So Cute! a few months ago (with Harvey Williams playing too) and they were great. They were kind enough to give me their eps yesterday, so here's a song for you to listen to. It's from the Corners ep released by a label called Susy. I maintain my opinion that they're the best new Swedish band this year! They're playing in Malmö again next week, on Tuesday, together with Horowitz at Don't Die On My Doorstep.

How come I was in Gothenburg then? Well, I was playing records at Don't Tell Me That! (playlist here), where the promising new Swedish band with the dubious name Youngfuck (might it be a direct translation of a Swedish word, that means something completely different?) did their first gig. They were sounded even better than this, and two of them were previously in bands you might have heard of, like Signed Papercuts and Second-Hand Furniture. It was great to be in Gothenburg again - first time in what feels like ages!

CLOUD 105 Leaving Mornington Crescent - Seventeen

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Magic ATM

I got the new Close Lobsters compilation, and it sounds fantastic! The remastering is pretty good overall and it's great to have all the singles on one cd. It actually includes almost everything that wasn't on their two albums, apart from some compilation tracks, and the Caff 7" (but that version of "Just Too Bloody Stupid" is featured on CD86 however).

I got even more excited about the first Spectrals single when I saw that the b-side was a completely new, and not at all the song I thought would be there. The German Measles ep doesn't disappoint either, with 6 new strong tracks, out of which the best are the giddy punk hit "What Are You Going to Do" and the party anthem "Wild Weekend".

While I'm posting anyway, here are my favourite singles and eps of the year so far:

1. The Cave Weddings "Bring Your Love"
2. Spectrals "Leave Me Be"
3. The Magic Kids "Hey Boy"
4. Brilliant Colors "Brilliant Colors"
5. Very Truly Yours "Reminders"
6. German Measles "Wild"
7. The Specfic Heats "Back Through Tyme"
8. Standard Fare "Dancing"
9. Liechtenstein "Everything's For Sale"
10. The Sea Lions "Groove"
11. The Cavalcade "Meet You In the Rain"
12. Wake the President/Je Suis Animal split
13. Dum Dum Girls "Yours Alone"

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Carnival Headache

No one really mentions the Wolfhounds compilation The Essential Wolfhounds, which came out on September already in 1988. It contains some of their best songs, from singles and their first album. The liner notes (courtesy of glassdarkly.com) tell us that "they were born in East London in 1985. After years of working in a wool warehouse, a laboratory, a plastics factory and a coffee bar their first record 'Cut The Cake', was published in 1986. Since then they have written many songs on philosophy, the occult, crime and sexual deviance plus a host of successful songs which have won them an international reputation. Their work has been translated into Spanish, French, Swedish, Dutch, Welsh, Arabic, Urdu, Japanese, German, Finnish and Hebrew." Why then may I ask, are their albums not available on cd? All there is, is the compilation Lost But Happy on Cherry Red (who own the rights to all their songs). And if you're lucky you might find the reissue of The Essential Wolfhounds that Midnight did.

Anyway, I just got to hear it, and after some scouring of online sources I was able to find pretty much all the band's songs. With a few exceptions: "Whale On the Beach" from the 12" version of Cruelty, the b-sides to Son of Nothing, the Happy Shopper 12" and their cover of "I'm Not Like Everybody Else". Who's got these?

One of the best songs I hadn't had the pleasure of hearing before is "Cold Shoulder", from The Anti-Midas Touch released on the Pink Label in 1986.

CLOUD 104 The Wolfhounds - Cold Shoulder

Saturday, October 17, 2009

HIAYH#13

I have spent a couple of days last week listening fervently to bands like The Cave Weddings, The Magic Kids, Woven Bones, Ganglians, Surf City, Thee Oh Sees, Coachwhips, Real Estate, The Fresh & Onlys, Pens, The Intelligence, Weave!, The Mantles, The Drums, Nodzzz, P.S. Eliot, Ty Segall, Black Time and Christmas Island. There's so much to check out, so much that is great, but it feels like eventually people will tire of the ever increasing number of bands following in the wake of Vivian Girls, Wavves and Times New Viking. The fact that Dum Dum Girls have been signed to Sub Pop could be one sign. Perhaps the Captured Tracks/Woodsist festival was the climax? But at the moment I still think it is exciting, and if nothing else, I am glad I've listened to all of it if only for the discovery of The Mantles and Christmas Island!

I've ended up with so many songs I have to do something with, that I can't play them all at my club night, so I decided to just make a new podcast out of them. Even though it's not a proper one with spoken links, I hope you will enjoy the mix of sounds and the sequence of the tracks! (It is #13 since I haven't yet finished #12 that I am making for Slumberland.)
Captured Tracks are still winning the year's label race, with more fantastic releases than anyone could have hoped for (or afforded). Just recently a new batch was released, including The Spectrals' first 7" that I've raved about enough already, but also the first proper German Measles release, a Christmas Island 7" and Ganglians best post-Brian Wilson work yet! But they're followed closely by HoZac, Woodsist and In the Red, and as usual Siltbreeze have proven reliable.

Here are some notes about the included songs.

Afternoon Naps - Bubblegum 45
What better way to start off than with a hymn to bubblegum pop from Afternoon Naps, whose second album has been massively anticipated (by me) since succumbing to the masterpiece that was Sunbeamed. Them and Brown Recluse are unique on the US pop scene for putting the ray of sunshine back into pop. Parade (out on HHBTM) became a favourite of this year already upon first listen.
The Magic Kids - Good to Be
The b-side of their first 7" (Goner Records) that came completely out of the blue for me. Perhaps the best emulation of The Beach Boys in an indiepop context ever? The flip is bit more mellow, but still charming.
The Cave Weddings - Let's Drive
HoZac's best release yet? The b-side of this American band's first single is a great as the a-side, and prompted me to use my limited funds to order this and the new Girls At Dawn single from the label. They also have a homemade ep you can order from their Myspace.
The Intelligence - Universal Babysitter
A fantastic post-something band that has been around almost 10 years longer than anyone else. I've listened to three of their albums so far and I have to say this year's Fake Surfing on In the Red is their best so far. They even afford themselves calling a song "Fuck Eat Skull" (apparently one of them is in that band too) which is almost as good a title as Jay Reatard's recent "Blank Blogs". Great band name too!
German Measles - Monkey Me, Monkey You
Simply ingenious track from their demo cassette on Captured Tracks. Their first 12" had just been released, and was recorded by Gary Olson, just like the caUSE co-MOTION! singles (a band that shares members with the Measles).
Pens - 1-2
The album is finally here! It was as great as I expected, the best thing of its kind I have heard since Finally Punk. Out on De Stijl on both cd and vinyl. The split with Crocodiles, Dum Dum Girls and Graffiti Island is out of stock at the moment, but will soon be available again from Art Fag.
Bette Davis and the Balconettes - Big Pussy Sound
Finally heard more than their self-titled ep on Slampt!. This is the best of the bunch, among this Manchester group's recordings, from a 1998 7" on Damaged Goods.
Coachwhips - I Drank What
Yes, why have I never really listened to this band before? Their first album doesn't impress me as much as does their last, from 2003. As noisy as Forbidden Tigers, and it makes me want to check out the intervening albums as well. Dwight is now in Thee Oh Sees, and many other bands.
Woven Bones - Janie
Another great garage group on HoZac! They've released three singles so far, and this track is from one on Needless. An album is in the works, also for HoZac.
Gas - Speak No More
Siltbreeze has set about releasing some old gems, including an ep by Christchurch group Gas, who were around in the late 90s apparently. But even more I'd like to hear The McGoohans, which was an 80s group, some of whom moved on to Gas. Or so I've read! Anyone have The McGoohan Sound lp?
The Terrorways - She's a Mod
A punk compilation I felt compelled to listen to recently is AK79, including bands from the first wave of Auckland punk groups (including Toy Love, of course). This is one of my favourites on it, landing somewhere between punk and mod-revival! A cover of Ray Columbus & the Invaders' hit.
The Castels - Save a Chance
You won't escape the usual dose of 60's jangle. This particular track can be found on a Misty Lane compilation called Leave It All Behind. It was originally released by Wildfire in 1965.
Mary Sawrey - A Lover's Plea
Found this on a cd called Del-Fi Girl Groups: Gee Baby Gee. Compiling female artists of that label, this single from 1961 is the best of the set.
The Jet Set - The Jet Set
You might be familiar with the 80s group The Jetset and the pre-Byrds group of course, but this is a sassy girl group track found on Girls Will Be Girls Vol. 1. Hard to find the original release info, because of the name of the group and song!
Mytty Archer - The Life You Wanna Live
New group started by Jen from Boyracer, including the usual suspects. Their first album is here, and judging from this track - available for free on the 555 sampler - it is worth a fair percentage of your income.
Christmas Island - Bed Island
I heard this band thanks to the cool 8th volume of The World's Lousy With Ideas, which together with the Yeti 7 compilation was what started last week's listening spree. This song is from their upcoming first album on In the Red. At the moment they a have a split-7" with Le Jonathan Reilly and a new single on Captured Tracks out. Maybe they will soon have one of the best albums this year too.
Black Time - You Don't Love Me
This British group continue to release fantastic, ear-spliting pop - this song is from a recent split-lp with Ty Segall - and they continue to stay out of Sweden, unfortunately.
DNA - Lionel
An old one, from the 1978 compilation No New York. One the same record you'll find some tracks by the next band.
Teenage Jesus & the Jerks - Less of Me
Lydia Lunch and James Chance in the same band can only mean one thing, noise and popular music coming together in a promising union (at least for 1979). This was the b-side of their first single, by which time Chance had already left.
Weave! - Man He Can
A new San Fracisco group who sound a bit like The Slits and Delta 5. With minimal inclusion of guitar, they've already recorded a great ep. This track is their best yet and is the first we've got to hear from the upcoming full-length.
Sado-Nation - Gimme You
The quest for Neo Boys led me to another punk compilation: History of Portland Punk Vol. 1 (no sequels as far as I know). The second best band on it (no, not Wipers) is this group, also featuring female members. There is a retrospective of their whole output called Future Past, Present, Tense if you're interested.
The Fresh & Onlys - Peacock and Wing
This group have already released their second album of the year, on top of a slew of singles. I've only heard the first, self-titled record in full so far, but it's definitely destined for the top 20 of the year. Great SF garage!
The Mantles - Burden
This is from what will definitely be the best album of the year for me, unless Pants Yell! cook up something that outdoes Alison Statton... The album is out on Siltbreeze and builds on two previous 7"s, with a superior sound and simply brilliant songs with one stylus on Nuggets and the other on an 80s indiepop single I've never even heard of.
Present - I Know
Another jangly present from the 60s. Ugly Things tell us this group was from New York, and released a single in 1967. Google won't tell us that much, even.
The Field Twins - We Were Lovers
I really love this girl group from Australia, who only cut two singles I think. One is from 1966, so I guess this one must be from around the same time. The singing isn't great, but I can't stop playing it!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Woman, the Hope of Men

How come no one talks about this? Well I think I know why, but this first single from Brooklyn's The Girls At Dawn is actually great. As usual on HoZac, they care about their vinyl, and the first 200 copies are on orange transparent vinyl. Both "Never Enough" and "Every Night" are fuzzy Shangri-Las lo-fi and you should look out for a 12" on Captured Tracks.

While you're ordering from HoZac you have to pick up The Cave Weddings' first single too - probably the best single I've heard this year and I mean both sides! You can also get the songs plus three more as a cdep, directly from them.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The World Ain't Round, It's Square!

It's more than time to announce that my favourite album of the year will no doubt be the debut longplayer from San Francisco's The Mantles. Together, SF and LA have by now caught up with Brooklyn, being the homes of groups like Dum Dum Girls and The Fresh & Onlys (more about them later) and perhaps best exemplified by the Part Time Punks festival which is on right now. Like a more fun-packed equivalent to the Captured Tracks/Woodsist fest, the line-up includes bands like The Raincoats, Section 25, The Jazz Butcher, The Intelligence and locals Weave!. And let's not forget The Smell.

But The Mantles self-titled lp on Siltbreeze is, to my ears, the first record landing exactly between the otherwise widely separated worlds of indiepop and 60s garage. Other people have mentioned the similarity to Flying Nun bands and the Paisley Underground scene of early 80s San Francisco (two things that are suddenly hip again). But I think the garage element of their sound goes right back to Golden Dawn and The Mantles' Californian predecessors The Seeds and The Chocolate Watchband. It's a perfectly produced album and every song knocks me out. It sounds very simple and I bet the rest of the American punk-pop bands are regretting all the time they spent disfiguring and tweaking their guitar sounds. Like the very few garage-revival bands who actually achieved a pure 60s sound in spite of the despicable production values of the 80s (LA's The Last come to mind of course!), songs like "What We Do Matters" and "Yesterday's Gone" give me the same thrill as a crackly 45 from 1967. "Samantha" makes me think of The Summer Suns (who have song called the same thing) and the 12-string-laden "Don't Lie" and "Burden" sound like a mix of them, Dom Mariani's other group The Someloves and "Misty Lane" by The Chocolate Watchband. "Disappering Act" kicks off the record, just like the equally 60s-influenced Biff Bang Pow!, with it's frantic strumming. "James" is the most blantant pop offering, and crashes along like The Wedding Present or This Poison!, before stopping just shy of the 2-minute mark.

I can't see myself tiring of this album in the foreseeable future.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Middle-Sized Mind

Although half of what I listen to is from the 60s, it's not something usually apparent here. But today I felt like recommending some albums and reissues that all have something in common, somewhere.

3's a Crowd were sunshine pop / folk-rock group who not only released several topnotch singles, but a whole album. They are included on compilation series like Fading Yellow and Soft Sounds For Gentle People, but their 1968 album Christopher's Movie Matinée is well worth a listen! There are no reissues, but you will be able to find it online, and if you want some background history there is a beefy article on Garage Hangover.

Also shamefully lacking a re-release (Sundazed, what are you doing?) is the magnificent only album by another number group: The Eighth Day. On the Eighth Day was released in the same year and holds eleven great tunes. It is among the best sunshine albums I have heard, right up there with The Inner Dialogue and the best of The Sunshine Company. Like 3's a Crowd, they employ a healthy dose of 12-string picking

The Enfields were a jangly garage group from... Enfield, Delaware. I first heard them on a compilation called What a Way to Day, but recently heard this cd released by Get Hip! in 1993. You might still be able to find a copy, but it also exists online. The group was fronted by Ted Munda who later formed a band called Friends of the Family, who sound a lot like late era Love or even Montage. A Bomp list post calls him a white Arthur Lee, and it's easy to see why. A track by Friends of the Family is on a volume of Fading Yellow but I doubt it is the same band as that song sounds very different.

Cicadelic doesn't have much on Sundazed or Rev-Ola when it comes to reissues, but they've just dropped a great retrospective on The JuJus, known from Pebbles and Teenage Shutdown and many other comps. I love all the songs I have heard this band, so I'm going to pick it up soon as my wallet allows.

While you're checking out Cicadelic it might also be worth taking a look at The Kreeg cd. It's not available from them anymore, but can still be found on mailorders. The title-track is known from Garage Beat '66 and is one of my fave 60s songs, both jangly and forceful. The cd contains both more gentle and folky cuts and fuzzy garage rock stomp, all of it pretty much in a Revolver-era Beatles vein.

I was disappointed to say the least that this cd is no longer available. The Heart Beats is one of those groups on Girls In the Garage that tend to pass you by. But now I think "Cryin' Inside" is a great track! What changed my mind was this amazing performance of "Time Won't Let Me". Those Texas girl look like they are about 14 and must have had a hip manager, seeing as they're obviously sponsored by Vox and are playing a song by The Outsiders! The best song by far I've heard by them though, is their take on "Little Latin Lupe Lu". It's on volume five of Garage Beat '66, but for some reason the download I had of that was lacking this and another track right at the end. It's been amended now, and I will definitely play this somewhere in the near future.