There’s even a song called Mustache In Your Face. Jesu H. But my all-time fave is Jaded’s The King Was. Far fucking out, that ditty. What is it all about?
Arseholed off mild at the bingo the night before, and feeling the after effects of the Chartreuse chasers like a 5.9 shell-sized hole in my forehead, I slowly pick myself up off the kitchen floor and look in despair for a cup that doesn’t contain linseed oil or bike oil. Surrendering to the inevitable, I crack an egg and eat it raw. I get the remnants of the chip supper out of my hair and run some of the linseed oil through my scalp in a futile attempt to bring some moisture to my dandruff-ridden scalp. The meter is fucked and only takes silver half-crowns. I only have the post-1947 ones on me in any case. There is a pie stain on my breeks which looked like a map of Newfoundland. It is going to be a long day. Best do some reviews then.
Local Customs - Cavern Sound
(Numero Group) http://www.konkurent.nl
This sounds too good to be true; some longhairs go into a disused mine in the late 60s and early 70s and start recording bands? I quote the blurb – “Local Customs: Cavern Sound covers six years lost in the deranging darkness of Independence, Missouri’s Pixley limestone mine, where a team of misfit engineers captured the reverberating echoes of Kansas City’s rock ‘n’ roll blasting cap.” OK I will suspend disbelief and enjoy this regardless; as if it is a piss take it’s a fucking marvellous and very well thought out one. Listening into this is as good as getting your Nuggets or Pebbles comps out. I mean how good is the Big Star-style strut/funk of Sheriff’s I Don’t Really Love You, or the brilliant Pictures of Matchstick Men rip/soul carcrash of American Sound Limited’s Aunt Marie. Or Mulligan’s ur-Traffic/Faces standoff, Think Before You Leave. Or the killer fuzz attack of The Reactions’ In My Grave. There’s even a song called Mustache In Your Face. Jesu H. But my all-time fave is Jaded’s The King Was. Far fucking out, that ditty. What is it all about?
The spirits of Alex Chilton, Stevie Winwood, and Arthur Lee hang over a lot of these tracks; to the point where some of the tracks sound suspiciously familiar. In fact so familiar that you’d think it’s a long lost Nuggets compilation at times. But that’s the 60s/70s garage scene for you. The slowies are belters too; thoughtful workouts which can stand up on their own two feet and have this raga sway to them. The gloriously named Bulbous Creation’s End of the Page is one example and Jaded’s Lovin You Blues is another. Bloody marvellous. It’s all too much, as George said. And when all’s said and done, it’s a fucking banging record full of soul and fuzz and garage.
Bell Gardens – Slow Dawns for Lost Conclusions
(Rocket Girl) http://www.konkurent.nl
Wow this sounds impressive. I mean the band name (Bell Gardens is pretty cool huh?), the song titles (Darker Side of Sunshine, She’s Stuck in the Endless Loop of Her Decline), even the musicians, they all sound impressive, mature, smart, and capable. The leader of Bell Gardens, Kenneth James Gibson, sounds like someone who should have invented steam traction in the 1850s, rather than making this rich, woozy ambulance chaser. I’m glad he did this mind, as it’s a really, really charming record, occasionally brilliant, and blessed with a patience and wit that means you keep on giving it a spin. At times, it’s redolent of Hats or Walk Across the Rooftops, or Nothing Lasts Forever albeit with a fucking massive orchestra behind it all. Highlights are many but we’d be failing in our duty if we didn’t point out that there are some brilliant melodies on this record, ones that often catch you out unawares. Silent Prayer kicks up a gear without your permission, and She’s Stuck in the Endless Loop of Her Decline is a monster, an emperor, a cathedral of melancholy; overloaded with the most bittersweet chord changes, and weepy harmonies you can imagine.
There are also some moments that float off into outer space such as Trust Lost Trust* and Joan’s Ambulance, and some attempts at ‘pop’ (for light relief) with She Does; which is a bit like a full-on, orchestral take on the Quo’s Pictures of Matchstick Men. The last track, Take Us Away, is a superb cod-‘happy ending’ sing-along, too. Beat that. No, you can’t.
(*I clock the Bunnymen reference, band. I demand my prize.)
Les Sins – Michael
(Company Records) http://www.konkurent.nl
‘Talk about your newest record’, says the droopy girl’s voice at the beginning of Talk About. Okay then. This is a marvelously uncomplicated dance record; and one that revels in this gonzo, good time attitude, driven by some very direct breaks and sprightly beats. Les Sins is another moniker for yer man from Toro Y Moi. And judging by Michael, he’s bored to the back teeth of making the sort of Chillwave / RnB sounds he’s known for. This new release comes across as an impish, direct, and sometimes psychedelic dance record, that also boasts (as a side order) a sort of pepped up, fruity take on RnB. At times (with Why, or Bother) it sounds like the sort of good time C21st soul-disco Mylo or Lindstrøm make. Tracks like Sticky, Toy and Bellow are incredibly playful cuts, and throw around all sorts of ideas and fancies; even summoning up the shades of Clinton, Worrell et al. Elsewhere we get straight-pressed d.a.n.c.e. music with Minato and Call. But best of all it’s just fun to listen to.
The cover sports this smiley face which somehow says everything. Fancy a dance?
Little Tornados – We Are Divine
This is a smasher, very much informed by that Left Bank groove that Stereolab’s Laetitia Sadier has had down pat this last 20 years. In fact we shouldn’t be surprised as Sadier is the bassist on We Are Divine and her vocals are very much part of the fabric here. The record has consequently got that faux-intellectual edge to it; you know, that ‘wow we’d better get our copies of Georges Perec down cos Laetitia’s singing in French about summat heavy’ vibe. For all I know she’s probably reading her shopping list out. But still, that stuff has never been anything but fun. Most of all We Are Divine is a STONER record; shit is horizontal from the start. The laconic vocals on Space Liner are urging you (in a laconic way of course) to skin up; I’m sure of it. The combination of strummy guitars, dropsical keys and Fried-era Cope guitar chiming is a dangerously moreish one, too. How Many is a whacked out mix of a seedy, suburban take on ‘pastoralism’ and the melancholy feel you’d get watching Charlie Brown cartoons. It’s all falling apart at the seams, all of the time. In fact, whilst listening to this record (especially stuff like In The Garden) I’m reminded of Church of Anthrax, a ‘so pissed we can’t play’ take on Benni Hemm Hemm, and that woozy magic knocked out by The Serpents. All at once. At times things get close to a folk-punk take on Gram Parsons (check Unicorn, sonic students). We even get kids’ voices over woozy breaks. Blimey.
Plastics – Eaux
Ooooh I do like a bit of pop now and again. Hence me enjoying Plastics’ newie, Eaux, which is ridiculously affirmative synth pop for all the family; lunch packed or gift wrapped; your choice. The opener Head is one of those warm openers that envelop you like a cosy blanket. How can shit go wrong in this life, you ask? This record is also good at leading you on, or creating moods; but nothing more. Movers and Shakers and Pressure Points are the sorts of tracks that sound important and big and ‘zeitgeisty’ whilst not really telling you what’s wrong; preferring instead to make a nice noise you can nod moodily to. And at every point where you think things could get dissonant or different, or pushy (like the marvellous Blue Tunnel and Sleeper), Plastics switch over to this melodic cruise control, allowing washes of modulated and harmonic banks of synth to engulf you and soothe you. Ach, it’s nice, you know? In the end it’s all good pop fun, despite the big, moody sound and important titles like The LIght Falls Through Itself. And it’s pop in a supercharged, Depeche/ Propaganda way; upgraded for the digital age, and ready to ensnare a new crop of 15 year old bedroom dwellers. I think if I listened to this all the time it’d do my nut, mind.
Nots – We Are Nots
Noise. Punk rackets. Slagging shit off using 3 chords. Yeah man what’s wrong with that? Nowt. And Nots do it really well. Simply put there is absolutely nothing new or original about Nots; and that is their great strength; on the evidence of We Are Nots at least. Harpy squawks and shrieks, a thick impasto of guitar smeared everywhere (like a 5 year old given free rein with a pot of jam) and reedy, Una Bainesy synths doing that Bingo Masters Break Out coda on repeat. I love it; it’s a record that is BURSTING with spirit and attitude. Just listen to Reactor, or Get Along, or White Noise. There are some cracking songs here; Strange Rage somehow channels the Elevators at full throttle (yes the weird jug-style noises help) and Televangelist is a superb lofi glitter stomp. Not much more to add really, apart from give this a listen if you’re feeling abrasive.
King Tuff – Black Moon Spell
(Sub Pop) http://www.konkurent.nl
Yeah millions are writing about how good this is. And we are Incendiary, we write about stuff that’s left to rot in cupboards, or left to float off like a hot air balloon, into cyber nothingness. We don’t really do ‘popular’ or ‘the crowd’. But this is… well, something fucking great. I’m writing about it here because it IS JUST REALLY, REALLY GOOD and somehow I have – despite myself, after months of blasting it out – an urge to tell you how good, how spangled, how glittery, how sleazy, how shiningly toupee’d this record is. In his autobiography Head On (still the greatest rock book ever published) Julian Cope describes Lydia Lunch’s come on line to him after a Teardrops’ show in the US. ‘Watching you’, said La Lunch, ‘was like masturbation’. Whilst not a High Priest of Onan nor one to boast about Vilenesses Various with the pink oboe, I kinda get Lunch’s drift whilst listening into Black Moon Spell. It’s the sex. Fucking hell look at the track titles; I Love You Ugly, Sick Mind, Head Banger… And you know what? They are all rip off/Poundshop classics in the VERY BEST SENSE of the idea; with attitudes a mile high and riffs that can saw through wood. We all need some of this, if only to stop us listening to the radio, or believing miserable, life-sapping things about detox or the economy, or ISIS. Somehow this is a record that offers you a portal to get hold of your own headspace, get your shit together. This is a proper rock record. And I’d venture to say the best thing Sub Pop have done in a decade.
Richard Dawson – Nothing Important
(Weird World) http://www.konkurent.nl
This could drive you mad and isn’t an easy listen. But it’s a remarkable one. The bloke is truly remarkable, and his record is a wonder. Listening to Nothing Important is like going back in time and finding that Tommy on the Bridge was a paid up, badge wearing punk. For this is a folk-punk meandering of some distinction. A Flaneur made sound. In some ways it should have user instructions with it; as you can be filleted by the opener Judas Iscariot. And rendered speechless by the opening line on Nothing Important. Here, Dawson yowls ‘I am born by Caesarian Section’ and proceeds to tell us about where he was born in Newcastle upon Tyne, and his experiences of watching Peter Beardsley play football. Instantly you know this is a record of utter genius and one that should, by rights, be on the curriculum. That it will drive some people mad (due to its meandering structure, driven it seems by the infinitesimal changes of mood, or sonic enlightenment that Mister Dawson experiences mid song) is of no concern to me, daddy-oh. This is timeless music and one that reignites the odd psych- folk beacon.
Wow, reviewer’s hyperbole; spread thick, and glutinous, like horse muck on my leek bed. And richly deserved in this case.
Secret Chiefs 3 – Book of Souls Folio A
(Web of Mimicry) http://www.konkurent.nl
Oh heck, a cover with SYMBOLS on it. But fear not, as it’s a Secret Chiefs platter. If you know about Secret Chiefs you’ll know that symbols are part of their scene, and that Book of Souls Folio A is full of the maddest sounds around, borrowing from anywhere and everywhere. It’s taken me a year to dig this, a YEAR of listening. Still, it took them ages to make it, so there’s some karma there I suppose. Be warned this is an overwhelming record; it’s so bloody Gnomic and daft and overachieving (in the sense that the Pont du Gard is overachieving) it’s something that needs a bit of time to gestate. Those who have heard their previous efforts should not be surprised to learn that this one has a lot of Middle Eastern stuff and show tune stuff and film score stuff and operatic stuff and metal stuff and pysch stuff and synth stuff all over it. So; it’s a mad concoction of everything and sounds like it’s been made by aliens who have been watching over us for years, studying our habits. As such it’s a bit Erich von Däniken, or a bit Brave New World (actually this music is very Huxleyan, and could probably be proscribed as a pill). And it has NO vibe whatsoever. Mad, brilliant, off putting and deeply worrying.
Seirom – And The Light Swallowed Everything
(Burning World) http://www.konkurent.nl
Golly mick this is some listen. Dramatic, wide-eyed, rich (in fact as rich, and as inviting as the most massive of massive chocolate cakes) and rolling over you like a wave, the latest Seirom LP doesn’t give you much room to move, or think. Listen to Exalted... And nor should you. Your role is to take it all in, surrendering yourself to the crashes and swells of harmonic noise. It’s a very, very beautiful listen, let’s say that right now, and I’ve often found myself sticking it on at the end of the day and sinking ever deeper into its harmonic fug. A sonic duvet for the overheated senses. The record is redolent of a load of sweeping, starry-eyed things, but most of all Mercury Rev without the annoyingly cloyingly nasal ‘look at that raccoon isn’t he beautiful?’ bits, or a sort of MDMA’d bug eyed Mazzy Star (or Lisa Germano come to think of it). Bits come on like some Sigur Ros; and if you dig that sort of sleepwalking sound, then a track like I’m So Glad to Have Been a Part of You is a killer moment ; a floating amplified dream that just sucks you in and spits you out. Just think this fella (Maurice de Jong) also makes blackest of black metal too, with bands like Gnaw Your Tongues. It’s like saying Johan Cruijf collects stamps.