Tuesday, July 27, 2004

prevailing wisdom seems to have it that the streets > dizzee rascal > wiley > more fire.

this, is in fact, exactly the wrong way round.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

various artists "the sound of leamington spa, volume 4" (firestation / bilberry / clarendon)

while one may consider there is an upper limit to the joy to be gleaned from the 61st to 80th obscure mid-eighties guitar tunes (any desperate need to hear an old submarines b-side, anyone ?) to have been dredged up by this audophile-baiting series, ours was immediately inspired by seeing our great mate paul mowat's "my secret world" in the collage of fanzines that bedecks this cd's sleeve - yes, we were back there in the day, flogging the zine in the playground and wearing our golden dawn badges with teenage pride. and, while the very nature of this peculiar retrospective series means that, in most cases, there is a very good reason why the world never got to hear of most of the bands within, the compilers have still unearthed some gems.

the nivens, for example, were obviously quite brilliant, as their jangly-as-fcuk first single "yesterday" shows (even - especially - with its scratched from-vinyl remastering, reminding us of how good the subsequent withdrawn 7" ep "dialect drug" was, too). they are the ample proof that - as now - for every 10 terrible, pathetic, rubbish, dishwater-dull indie pop bands adored by narrow-minded cliquey scenesters, there was one band, usually marooned on the margins, that made it all worthwhile and then some. the clouds' single on subway, "get out of my dream", will require no introduction to the indie kid class of '86: for the rest of you, it is not-far from irresistible shambling fare, recalling a slowed-down buzzcocks with its unashamed poppiness. longtime favourites the candy darlings also only ever released one 7", "that's where caroline lives", on tea time: the title track, their best, is also here. and the fabulous church grims - well, they didn't even manage a single as far as we can discern, but having recently found the egg 12" "a lighthouse in a desert" and the fine "mr watt said", this cd adds the even better "plaster saint", an effortless marriage of june brides and close lobsters and at least as good as that sounds.

inamongst these  classics are a number of tunes plucked seemingly entirely randomly from an infinite wishlist of anybody who was anybody (or, in many cases, anybody who was nobody) back in the days when thatcher's iron hand was still ruling the land. but while we can be sceptical as to the compilers' midas touch, the tunes mentioned above - are well worth the entrance alone, even since the discovery of every genre under the sun since the first time we heard them.
various artists "how soon is now ? the songs of the smiths" (sorepoint)

in which a dozen kerrang!-friendly alternative-indie-grunge-sport-rock types cover the songs of the greatest band ever. but not only is this far from the carnage you would anticipate, (you can imagine all the bands on it are at their happiest donning hoodies, black tracksuit bottoms and going skateboarding round barbican, rather than hanging round muncipal cemeteries foppishly devouring all things joycean) but it is really rather good, and not just from "name" home bankers like million dead or hundred reasons.

much as i love matinee recordings (and i so do), and even acknowledging the glorious trilogy of songs by pipas, lovejoy and the would-be-goods on their recent morrissey / marr tribute, i have to say this is possibly the best smiths covers album so far... just compare garrison's "panic" with the guild league's version, for example, or hear the real menace in lomax's "handsome devil". a wicked surprise.

Friday, July 23, 2004

in case you were wondering, if ilwtt.org was still going, these would be their list of their favourite singles of 2004 so far. in those days, they'd probably have all been reviewed, too...

1. forest giants "postcards" (invisible hands, 7")

"... a winner from the first listen, from the first bar. we can't tell you how happy we are that records like this are being released in these times - it's what the kids have wanted for years, being a pop song (fab tune, guitar hooks, pulses, new order-ish guitar lines) but recorded in authentic indie stylee, and reminding us most markedly of the likes of the flatmates, korova milkbar and the wedding present - oh, and caked in lyrics of longing and regret sung with a plain, awkward boy-next-door air that makes you want to reach out and try and hug them through your speakers. then, after delicious, contemplative verses, it ends up in a feast of layered guitars..."

2. hoodz underground ft. big critz and ricochet klashnekoff "how do you feel" (trackshicker, 12")
3. tempa ft. ricochet klashnekoff and mr 45 "ya get me" / "whatcha gonna do ?" (sureshot, 12")
4. psychic phenomena "psychic phenom" (ancient, 12")

"... 'psychic phenom' is absolutely amazing. they are from clapham but u would not know it. r/bly understated, quietly confident UKHH that shows there is much more to sw4 than trustafarian muppet squads and st.george-waving chinlesses. much respec / yaaay".

5. airport girl "salinger wrote" (where it's at is where you are, 7")

"... even more feral than "the foolishness that we create through love is the closest that we come to greatness", the single that plunged us headlong into our own tangled affair with airport girl, "salinger wrote" distils the wedding present at their most slacker-americano with, vividly, the frantic rush of blueboy's "imipramine", and is therefore fuzzy, scuzzy and - like all good pop songs should be - palpably uptight, like a young hood at their most anxious. they even manage to get a piledriving cod-metal shakedown and a derailing violin in there without offending the blurry loveliness of it all, rob price blurting out protestations like "i was holding out for blue sky" with the voice of a lover whose dreams have been fairly comprehensively dashed..."

6. p brothers ft imam T.H.U.G. / cappo "across the planet / crazy man" (heavy bronx, 12")
7. skinnyman "i'll be surprised" (lowlife)
8. styly cee ft. scor-zay-zee "want whats yours" (son, 7")
9. pipas "bitter club" (matinee recordings)
10. estelle "1980" (v2)
11. universal soldiers "life's like a movie" (tongue tied, 12")
12. lady sovereign "ch ching (cheque 1-2)" (casual london, 12")
13. wiley "wot do u call it ?" (xl)
14. tender trap "cómo te llamas ? (tell me your name)" (elefant)

"... with bassist / programmer dj downfall's skillz very much in evidence following the pop thrillz of his own solo ep, this bilingual singual (sorry) is firmly of the electro-pop lineage of the trap's own "face of 73", pipas' beguiling brews, the lighter, fluffier fosca and even the peerless early bis who we once saw supporting amelia's heavenly in '96 - and all harnessed by a catchy chorus (said chorus inevitably being repeated to fade). before that fade, amelia and lupe of course trade verbal jousts and languages with the expected vim..."

15. beastie boys "ch-check it out" (capitol)
16. morrissey "first of the gang to die" (attack)
17. blade vs. million dead "pop idol" (691 influential, 12")
18. gang starr ft. big and 2pac "ownerz (remix)" (white label recordings, 12")
19. the fall "theme from sparta fc" (action records)
20. salvo "uncontained rage" (last minute, 12")

the frenchmen, pipas, the cut-outs - the betsey trotwood, farringdon, 21 july 2004

on an overcast but warm london night, indie kids of a certain age, armed to the teeth with hairslides and stripey fashions, collide, ready to descend upon the betsey's crowded basement as they attempt to recapture the elixir of their youth. everyone is here - gregory, amelia, rob, dj downfall, harvey, rachel fosca and even a brace of city lawyers in suits. an extortionate-seeming £6 secured our place in the grip of summer indie-pop fever: we can exclusively report that a good time was had by all.

first up, the cut-outs shamateured their way with endearing tunelessness thru a clutch of numbers to grip close to yr heart, an ex-fat tulip leading the way as keyboards, maracas and spangly old-skool sha-la-la chords ricocheted around the sweaty room. they didn't do that tune that reminded us of the rosehips though. compact popsters pipas followed, and were marginally less disorganised than on their last outing here - lupe and mark coralling the drum machine and sequencer nicely with the live guitars and keyboard to produce a half-karaoke compilation of short, sweet and sudden delights. the thing that strikes us immediately is that they have the songs - "rock and / or roll", "bitter club" and the super-winsome "jean c" all stand out - and tonight the normal aching void between pipas on record (louche, classy, cute) and pipas live (nervous, collapsing, cute) is ever so slightly less pronounced than usual. and then with the third set of the evening come headliners the frenchmen, still riding the crest of the wave produced by their "powdered blue" 7" but now promoting a new album: turning up the guitar noise and introducing welcome hints of feedback, they ransack the fat tulips / talulah gosh songbook with some aplomb - indeed, they are the only band of the evening whose skillz could really wear the epithet "tight" - before dissolving in a haze of banter.

and suddenly, a few pints in, £2 per band really doesn't seem extortionate after all.
um, yes, kisschase. NOT (just) a reference to heavenly's "k-klass" pursuit. NOT (just) some kind of aching attempt at pop romanticism. NOT (at all) the dating agency of the same name. BUT (just) a recognition that, especially amidst the chaos of the playground, the thrill of the chase can outstrip even the tender victory of... a lip lifted from a lip.

plus, that doing a "proper" website attracted more heartbreak, opprobrium and disappointment than any relationship you could imagine.