Maybe it’s the tension in the effort of stopping everything morphing into a sub Primal Scream splurge in favour of just being an actual song that makes it so attractive. Who knows?
Song, By Toad have a knack of putting out good guitar records, and this is no exception. This one is an interesting conceit, three “EP’s” combine to make a long player, (quaintly named split 12” by the label), the music coming from four different acts; all of whom record their tracks in Mr Toad’s house, a fact that somehow gives the music a fair bit of edge. That the LP includes band du jour, Paws is neither here nor there as, smashing act though they are, this release isn’t all about them: there are some (often) unlikely gems scattered throughout.
On first listen this is a difficult record to navigate, not for any reason of inaccessibility. Underground guitar bands knocking out their own take on that garage thrash is something of a staple diet amongst many - and boy, you should all see my collection of German beat group recordings from ’66… It’s more because a lot of tracks operate in a sort of warm and fuzzy soup of mid tones and slurred lyrics; which means you do miss a lot first time around. In this seemingly never ending blur of yowling vocals and tremolo soaked riffs, the opener Gay Marriage (from Sex Hands) stands out; the laconic vocal and obsessive guitar patterns (like some kind of high speed knitting pattern made music) combining to both set the template for the LP and post the most noticeable track early on; its latent C86-isms are kept rigorously in check. Maybe it’s the tension in the effort of stopping everything morphing into a sub Primal Scream splurge in favour of just being an actual song that makes it so attractive. Who knows? Two fuzzy diatribes from Paws and Dolfinz follow and then we get the affecting plod known as So-So from Waiters, again a good full stop and breathing space.
Sex Hands’ jangle, The One Where the Stripper Cries comes on like some long lost track by the Loft, whereas Dolfinz’ remarkable attempt at essaying forth without a steady beat (known here as Kitsch Craft) somehow makes a lot of sense. It shouldn’t and I’m sure I’ll rack up unwanted twee points by liking it, but there you go. Waiters give us another aural take on stumbling shyly through the buttercups with Vacillate Wildly, (the track doesn’t by the way, it plods along bashfully, let us be clear), and then Paws come crashing in like some big dirty puppy with the gambolling cover of Big Deal’s Chair, turning the original’s soul-searching angst upside down with a tremendously upbeat interpretation: this is their finest track on here. Chandler in The Box by Sex Hands seems to be channelling Will Sergeant’s guitar, albeit on a very tinny frequency – it’s as close to some weird 60’s East German sound as you’re likely to get from a bunch of young shavers. What else? Well, Lacquer by Waiters is a sort of gleefully amateur mantra – the sort of noise that should be confined to scout huts, and Dolfinz’ Teenage Bloom is a moping, sullen excursion that cranks up the reverb to glorious effect. Paws wrap things up with the stentorian Cherry Blossom, a killer ending that sounds like a shock of static, and content to slope around at its own pace.
Who says it’s different for domeheads, eh?