Thursday, May 31, 2007

"we jump around" - a play-off final victory celebration mixtape

we are now just about back from orbit. this tape is dedicated to jim gannon, without whom who knows.

1. pocketbooks "cross the line" (4:00) (7" on atomic beat records)

because, at some point during those five minutes of injury time, sammy igoe's 40-yard grasscutter did - eventually - cross the line to seal the thing and hurl bristol rovers f.c. (1883) back to the rarified atmosphere of league one, where the black arabs will get to tussle with forest and leeds for the first time in a while, and in love with these times, in spite of these times will get to renew its auld acquaintance with roots hall, the new den and brisbane road amongst other shrines.

in other news, say it softly, but 2007 could yet become the first year for quite a while when indie-pop corners the market for the best tunes: this great little single, with clever lyrical flourishes, lovely vocal interplay and a fizzingly unforgettable hook played out between organ and piano, was the highlight of the pocketbooks' set in norf london the other night, even outranking the 12 bar blues-type number earlier on that sounded a bit like chas and dave. yes the ambition perhaps outstrips the recording quality, but in our book music should always be that way round.

2. roll deep "celebrate" (jme remix) (3:25) (from "celebrate" white label 12")

one of roll deep's best for ages, thankfully abt 93 million miles from the feeble "heartache avenue": the ever-vital skepta features, berating those of us who had no idea that he was in roll deep at all and explaining that he's just often a bit too busy to hang out with them, because he's north and they're east, or something. anyway, all the mc spots are as tight as the pirates' back four all season: and the jme remix on the b-side, with super-bouncey garage styling and a slightly more politically correct chorus lyric, just outpunches the original.

3. horowitz "i was the son of a teenage comic book superhero's sidekick" (2:27) (from "honey, the dog's home" complilation on the international lo-fi underground)

they were all heroes on saturday, natch. anyway, horowitz, and indeed the international lo-fi crew, are doing their bit to help pocketbooks and a few others mentioned on these pages bring indie pop back from the brink. you should obviously buy this compilation simply because the profits go to a very deserving cause namely the dogs homes of bristol - there are no end of muppets in that otherwise fine city currently doing their worst for our canine (and, some press articles would suggest, feline) friends.

unlike many other charidee compilations though, it would actually be worth shelling out a meagre few pounds on this one just for the music: as well as the tracks mentioned here, you get local heroes the beatniks and forest giants, plus new-to-our-ears types such as chronicity (the ace pete dale's new punk band, in fall-esque mode), ghouqueu (kind of lower-fi arab strap), the healthy home (a superwarming americana sound, imagine the caroline know covering pavement's "here") and the happy go lucky noise-fuzzing of the girl from headquarters and ghosts of pasha.

while it will be ever a shame that the ace mobstar and 555 v/a comps of yore are no longer on the production line, there is enough here both to recall the spirit of those halcyon days and to save us the endless myspace surfing for new harmonic pleasures that we, sadly, simply never have time to do.

4. benny bizzie "we're moving" (2:43) (from "the business vol 2" mixtape)

like rovers at the moment (ha!) bizzie is obsessed with upward mobility: "moving at a fast pace", "we're moving" and "many moves" being three of at least half a dozen blazing freestyles, a little in the mould of kano's "p's and q's" 12" before the latter broke big, even if the rhymes are delivered over occasionally cheap-sounding keyboards. like derek asamoah, a thorn in our side all afternoon, the boy has real speed - on a words per minute basis, we think he could outspit any other mc mentioned in this post.

plus, nothing - nothing save reliving the moment when sammy made it 3-1 - is capable of making us right now quite like bonus track "kushbu", where bizzie and the ever-fabulous skepta recount tales of derring-do on meridian walk n17. grime's not dead.

5. my sad captains "bad decisions" (2:49) (7" on fortuna pop!)

the sad captain was richard hope of shrewsbury town, obviously, especially as STFC saw fit to bin him afterwards - while from rovers' point of view, a few defensive misjudgments, luckily unpunished thanks to the endeavours of the two steves phillips and elliott (darren ferguson, leave them alone), were probably as close as the game got to bad decisions.

acting as an inspiration for the newer kids on the block (like atomic beat records), the veteran mega-corporation that is fortuna pop! must be praised for perservering with 7" singles. as for what lies within the grooves, it's fair to say that camera obscura and butcher boy have laid down some markers this year for marginally polished indie-pop jangle, but my sad captains go for the jugular in ba-ba-ba terms and profit accordingly. any sarah comparisons are, on this occasion, justified - this is fortuna pop!'s "if it kills me and it will".

6. tinchy stryder "breakaway" (3:27) (12" on total entertainment records)

the stripped-down b-side "not like me" grabbed us first, as it's three minutes no-nonsense pure tinchy styling, plundering rhyme, riddim and song from the likes of his two boy better know mixtapes last yr: there's a touch of fellow ruff sqwadster slix's great "background" to it, we think anyway. but its the a-side of which we are increasingly fond: davinche produces, rather more lushly, while tinchy's beau laments that they can't "break away", because the streets are all he knows, and tinchy readily agrees in his instantly-recognisable, ever-warming way: "it's a standard ting / that i keep it ghetto".

the breakaway of the day, of course, was courtesy of sammy igoe - tho' the whole team had got in a fair bit of practice at sincil bank in that ludicrously entertaining semi-final second leg against lincoln.

7. pete green "the ballad of phil jevons" (2:04) (from "everything i do is gonna be sparkly" 7" on atomic beat records)

first thing we would do on ever achieving high office would be to issue a diktat(we've already typed it, just in case there's an imminent putsch that could be taken advantage of) that 99 in a hundred acoustic singer / songwriters should be immediately culled, or at the very least shunted out to permanent busking pastures. yet pete green is the exception, the one-man band who should be saved for the nation.

at the buffalo bars last friday night, he (pete green, not phil jevons) was frankly great: here's hoping that perhaps one day soon his beloved GTFC may get to experience the same highs that rovers did at the weekend. this tune stands out for dealing sensitively with a form of emotional travail (betrayal by lower division journeyman) that is not tackled enough on record, yet afflicts no little proportion of the population: so yes, one of the best songs about our national sport for a while.

8. i, ludicrous "we stand around" (5:56) (from "20 years in show business" 2x cd on sanctuary)

but this, of course, remains the greatest ever song about football. even we, often accused (hello neil) of being their biggest fans, are fairly amazed that a smartly packaged i, ludicrous double-cd "best of" has hit the proper record shelves, especially as the band themselves were having to just resort to lowkey cd-r reissues of many of their greatest yet wrongly-unobtainable musical moments for their flickering cabal of a fanbase. still, there should be no looking this particular gift-horse in the mouth, because "20 years..." is worthy testament to a combo whose occasional forays onto the distant edges of the radar have always been at least diverting, and often completely inspired.

and while we readily genuflect to the winningly uptempo jangliness of indie classics like "carter - they're unstoppable", "manifesto", peel favourite "preposterous tales" or the catchphrase-riddled, shouty-yet-tender "my favourite records" it is with "we stand around" that the croydon duo best managed to slow things down and fuse their biting observational satire with very dark self-introspection. the portrait of the real matchday experience painted by this song is on the button: it's still the truest, bleakest terrace anthem yet. and it helps explain how when things do go right, as they did for us on saturday, it tastes so much sweeter.

9. ed 209 featuring cappo "the majestic" (3:05) (from "the stay ex static ep (pt.3)", 12" on vrd)

as majestic, indeed, as richard walker's two-first half finishes. cappo, the babyfaced notts rapper who teamed up with the p brothers for 2003's stunning "spaz the world" album, spat out a couple of stunning subsequent eps, one of which was our favourite record of '04, and then seemed to go underground, has happily and handily resurfaced on this ep from leicester's ed 209. both this and "inside your mind" are exhilarating fare, as cappo, hardly pausing for breath, manages to wrest control of 209's hectic candi staton and public enemy-sampling accompaniment.

the ep also has well-worthwhile contributions from manchester's konny kon (with whom cappo collaborated on the exhilarating "capkon entertainment" on skullsnap a few yrs back) and notts' own c-mone, whose "the great godz" sees her whisper set - to grand effect - to some very sparse backing from 209. it provides a powerful contrast from the claustrophobic frenzy of the cappo tunes and rounds off what is, overall, a big big single.

10. frisco "back wid a bang" (2:56) (from "back 2 da lab volume 2" mixtape)

so frisco, like rovers, is BACK. while we'd struggle to say that volume 2 can quite match its predecessor, at least it purports to stay grimey, not least with a number of promising guest mc slots (like layz and cookie) and some top notch production (check the ratchet-produced "sometimes", or the work ofsem). "back wid a bang", though, is a return of the big hitters - frisco teaming up with skepta and flowdan. as such, it keeps our postmatch adrenalin pumping.

11. forest giants "tour of the future" (2:52) (from "things we do when we're bored" cd on the international lo-fi underground)

the future is blue and white. possibly. and the forest giants won't have been too sad with the play-off result either. we want to highlight "things we do..." to you: it's an imposing, confident-sounding collection, far away from the minor-league neuroses of the crackling with promise, but lower-fi "in sequence" which first launched them into the upper tiers of the pop stratosphere. "tour of the future" is one of the songs on it ("at the dog track" and "tina's child" are others) that really scream "SINGLE!": 1988-ish indie stylings full of catchy, ear-friendly pop wiles to match any key platter even from that era.

much of the album mixes good ol' dean wareham-ish lyrical vulnerability with increasingly-trademark, in yer face swirls of soaring guitar: "leave" best showcases the way that the more slightlydelic numbers have a touch of late-period 14 iced bears, as the 6-string takes to the skies and performs gentle loop-the loops above the bassline that drives the song forward. even "pick up the pieces", which seemed so out of place and throwaway on their "planes fly overhead" ep, suddenly seems to make absolute sense, with its snarling, shouty pocket fallishness.

elsewhere, things get more reflective on the slower tunes than was managed by the bulk of "welcome to the mid-west": in particular, christmas classic "the life i have" is welcomely rescued from the obscurity of only having previously been available as a download from the cherryade records website.

12. scorcher "line up" (2:05) (from "leader of the new school" mixtape)

and the line up was: phillips, carruthers, green, elliott, anthony, campbell,
disley, igoe, haldane (sub: rigg), walker, lambert. heroes all.

unlike them, scorcher has somehow dropped off the pace - for whereas his "simply the best" mixtape only last year was raw and vibrant, much of "leader of the new school" (no obvious tullycraft connection sadly) again slips into all-too-mainstream hip-hop mannerisms. "line up" is a welcome exception, skating on wiley eski beats for a couple of thrilling minutes.

13. bracken "heathens" (4:18) (from "we know about the need" lp on anticon)

normally, of course, it's hard not to feel a little sorry for the team that just
misses out on the automatic promotion places and which inevitably then gets shunted out of the final shake-up by teams that finished about a million points below them. however, in league two in 2006/2007, the team that just missed out was the aberration, the abomination, that is milton keynes "dons" fc and as such we can but smile at their despair. we do, however, offer both sympathy and thanks to shrewsbury town, who were tough opponents and who had previously done us all the service of tumbling milton keynes out of the reckoning.

ahem. it's difficult to divorce c. adams' new project, bracken, too much from hood, not least because "we know about the need" handily fills a hood-shaped gap in our lives - at least annually, we need an album of fractured, introspective beauty which throws violins, guitars and trills of dub against adams' angst-filled, urgent voice. like hood's much under-rated (even where highly-rated) "outside closer" lp, the bracken debut is less than instant (and unlike "outside closer", there is no single piledriving highlight quite like "the negatives..."), but fairly swiftly you will find it clinging to yr i-pod and yr soul. these songs sound almost designed as soundtracks, but to so many things: to slow-motion filming of flowers in bloom, to telegraph poles and pylons from a train window, to the unprepossessing brown-brick blocks and houses that frame our walk home on bright but humid evenings. if "we know about the need" was a new hood album, it would represent, as ever, a single, super-subtle further step to the true greatness they have always been heading for, a greatness unlikely to be recognised for many a year. as it is, it is simply a record that keeps us going, dreaming, believing.

anyway, "heathens" (come on, could there be a better word to describe the mk dons ?) was the preliminary single and is therefore our main fixation... coffee table music maybe, but for people whose coffee tables lie abandoned and askew and strewn in debris and doubt ("we never really taught ourselves to dream", adams sings, and as ever the way he does it fair brings a lump to the throat)... as if to pretend to be happy could only be idiocy. powerful stuff.

14. kano "is this grimey enough ?" (4:16) (from "kano mixtape" cd)

er, well the pitch was certainly cutting up a bit, what with the grim(e)y
weather. kano, on the other hand, is not cutting up rough enough - "is this grimey enough ?" is one of only very few songs on the new mixtape that are sufficiently murky. too many of the rest are sadly the sound of a young english talent increasingly in thrall to new york, specifically jay-z. that's why right now it's probably best to look to benny bizzie for new garage-rooted rhyming.

and notwithstanding a brand spanking new stadium, wembley the place is just as grim(e)y as it always was: so the new structure still stands in less than splendid isolation, overlooking the unloved supreme ugliness of north west london, while wembley way remains flanked by concrete eyesores and planning mistakes. we can't help feeling that the national stadium should never have been (re)built here, however convenient it was for the likes of us, returning to zone 2...

15. boyracer "80s nottingham grindcore scene" (1:13) (from "honey, the dog's home" complilation on the international lo-fi underground)

actually, we won't even attempt to link (however tenuously) this title to the match. suffice it to say this is typical boyracer in all the best ways - punchy, powerful, cutting and brief, with stewart racer recalling "all that's grim about nottingham": it has to be said that when i lived there, the answer usually felt like quite a lot. still, only boyracer can make such lyrical subject matter sound so joyous - another reason to buy this comp.

16. hoodz underground "where ya from" (5:14) (from "bringin' it back" album on trackshicker)

where they're from, of course, is straight outta sheffield (like neil warnock). and so the (very) long awaited hoodz album is finally here - it almost has the feel of a retrospective, given the age of some of its component parts, but at least this song gives us a chance to hear joni atcha and co on the same beat as birmingham's towering moorish delta 7, and long-gone notts stars outdaville. just hearing the sound of da ville's sadly-retired scor-zay-zee on the mic brings back the smiles: as indeed does the whole hoodz album, which fair brims and bounces with brass and horns.

17. slow down tallahassee "u r grace u r" (2:21) (from "so much for love" 7" on thee sheffield phonographic corporation)

staying in sheffield, please don't let yourselves think for a moment that, being southerners and all, we think anything other than that sheff united were robbed by l'affaire tevez. everyone in football knows that west ham got off lightly and the f.a. bottled it (just read the transcript of their 'reasoning', if in any doubt) and yes wigan or sheffield united would have had the book thrown at them.

but, given that justice simply ain't gonna happen, take some solace in the meantime from the sweetness of all three tracks on this the first (we think) slow down tallahassee single. the darling buds did not die in vain.

18. wretch 32 featuring bigz, danny b, calibar, heady, frisco, scorcher and romain "gully flossing" (5:50) (from "teacher training day" mixtape)

"i'll leave you by the lakeside / and i don't mean up in thurrock" is the best line of english hip-hop menace we've heard for a while: this is the extended posse cut on "teacher training day", and it veritably swings.

wretch now has a young son, which makes his lyrics more thoughtful and interesting, but yet again too much of the music seems to be getting sucked into an essex-flat kind of hip-hop, when his previous mixtape had hinted that there could be so much more.

as for what gully flossing might have to do with the league two play-off final, we must level with you and aver that we have not one clue.

19. forest giants "genius" (1:18) (from "more things we do when we're bored" bonus cd on the international lo-fi underground)

on early copies at least of the giants' "things we do..." lp (q.v.) is a bonus disc of rarities and out-takes: nascent versions of some of their hits, barbed wire kisses from the past few years of forest giantism. this pounding opener, a boyracerish short blast of fractious noise pop, should properly floor any sentient listener.

also, the early version of the ever-memorable smash single "postcards" later on in the cd is worth hearing simply for the way it ends in a clattering minute and a half or so of trebly chords and slamming drums that remind us of the rough-edged post-weddoes brilliance of white town's "white town" single on satya all those years ago. splendid.

20. beatnik filmstars "seeing stars" (1:15) (from "shenaniganism - tape hiss and other imperfections" album on the international lo-fi underground)

and let's stay in bristol to finish, with a song that's itself a bus-top parade of superior quality buzzing lo-fi pop, plucked from the 19 of them that constitute "shenaniganism". "seeing stars" is an encouragement to look up, up, up the divisions, to stop settling for less.

"you gotta take a moment to expand your horizons..." oh yes. and at least another album and another ep are allegedly to follow shortly, as the beatniks try to be the only entity capable of releasing cds as frequently as wiley...

but more on them, and him, no doubt shortly. for now, goodnight. irene.

2 comments:

Pete said...

Thanks for the kind words, and well done you Gasheads. I still think Stuart Campbell is rubbish though!

useless said...

gosh, thanks for posting! The record is great, I am less sure about Jevons.

Shared your opinion of Campbell for some time, but giving him the captaincy seems to have sorted him... we're even warming to Craig Disley - no longer a "luxury player" (i.e. rubbish), but proving he's got an engine on him too...

Roll on next season. And 20th will do just fine in div 3.