Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Two Sevens Clash



Nights out spent with Milky Wimpshake. Dancing silly at the Windmill. Thrilled skinny at the Bull and Gate. A perfect lovers' (not fighters) tryst at the Water Rats, one Valentine's Day. Endless guitar runs, swoonsome bass grooves, punchy indie-punk. So many times where falling for them so completely was involuntary, where our bashful, doe-eyed band-worship had to be forgivable.

Evenings in listening to Milky Wimpshake. "Dialling Tone", "Home Is Where The Hate Is", "Popshaped", "I Wanna Be Seen In Public With You". THE. DEVIANCY. AMPLIFICATION. SPIRAL. Kissing and cuddling with the Buzzcocks and the Undertones. So many essential records. And now a new EP, courtesy of Streatham's 'new and untouchable' Fortuna Pop!

Now MW don't mess about. They may have been going fifteen years (so still remembering Razorblade Smile so fondly makes us feel waaaaay old!!) but one of the secrets of their success is that they always keep it fresh. So soaraway lead track "One Good Use For My Heart" goes straight for vertical take-off, making it a Harrier jump-jet of a spangly pop song: two minutes of sheer, instant, concentrated joy and, like Julie Ocean, nothing extraneous. "(Show Me The Way To) Anarchy" is more thoughtful, expansive, ebbing and flowing, the regulation 'grower', its charm defined as Pete Dale sings "I love the way you skip their fist / it's confrontation with a twist / they don't know which / to laugh or cry"; "Milky Cliche" a powerhouse from the live set transported to vinyl, all nursery-rhyme simple words and typically blissful hooks, even as Pete admits, "This is a b-side / Under a bushel I'm going to hide / All my good ideas". Trust us, it's another case of B-Side Wins Again.

Not content with the three originals, this value-added EP also boasts a double cover version bonus: a respectful jangle-tribute to the Isley Brothers' (rather wonderful, for a pre-1976 tune) "This Old Heart Of Mine (Is Weak For You)": and fellow ex-Slamptees the Yummy Fur's "Policeman", maybe the best song about police ever that hadn't already been written by NWA, MDC, Body Count or Smiley Culture. The Wimpshake treatment of it - as a brilliantly idiosyncratic "medley" with "If You Want To Know The Time, Ask A Policeman" (a line once sung by George Formby in the seminal "On The Beat", fact fans, although the actual cover is apparently an unrelated music hall staple) - kinda makes so little sense that it makes perfect sense (y'know, the same kind of alchemy that made the TVPs "All The Young Children On Crack" such a copper-bottomed classic). And the upshot of all of this, we guess, is that you can still sleep soundly in your beds tonight with the sure knowledge that Milky Wimpshake - despite having seemingly decided to bin the keyboards - are still the bees'.

And as we at once reel from, and raise a glass to, the 'Shake's incessant, sparky poptabulousness, we dimly recall that we once promised Suge (sorry, Sean) that one day we'd get round to posting up the Pete Dale / Akhenaton / Ant Wilson piece we'd got 3/4 through, a stream of consciousness thing from a moment in February '06 when we were equally enthralled by newies from all three of them. And if we ever find all the post-it notes and backs of till receipts on which we scrawled it, I promise we will.

Ahem. There's more strange alchemy brewing with Cause Co-Motion!'s 3-track 7", "I Lie Awake", on another indie powerhouse, Slumberland Records of Oakland, CA. What with being more off-the-pace than a footballer on Hackney Marshes who's just had to run all the way to the road to collect the ball for a throw-in, we haven't encountered the Brooklyn quartet before, but if "I Lie Awake" is anything to go by, they're the sound of the McTells colliding with Beat Happening! and in the case of the title track here, the result is a kooky, compelling 90 seconds of spirited, super-skewed indie pop that would have fitted very nicely amongst the early 14 Iced Bears demos we got a glimpse of on that band's "In The Beginning" comp (also on Slumberland). The other tunes are similarly brilliant, if also uncompromisingly early-Pastels raw: "You Don't Say" sounds like the vocalist is singing a slightly different song from that the band are playing (in our book, this makes it an added-value 2 for 1), while "Cry For Attention" slows it down - this time there's only one, v. delicate song, but one seemingly played, and winningly, at a variety of occasionally overlapping tempos. There's something really exciting about the all-too few bands who can combine such vulnerability with a spirit of experimentation and enterprise, and that's exactly what CCM's mosaic of DIY melodies achieves. Incidentally, if you're wondering why Slumberland are so on fire right about now, maybe it's the sheer quality of the records that inspire them: there's a patchwork quilt of classic LP sleeves on their myspace page, and from BDP right thru to the essential Wolfhounds, there's not a single record on it that we wouldn't commend to high heaven...

So there you go. Two sevens, on two formidable labels. And of course, they don't clash at all, just complement one another. But they are part of a happy pattern, a continuing flow of cracking vinyl singles this year, from Boyracer to MLS, from Atomic Beat to Slumberland, to another cracker we'll mention in a week or two, all of which show there'll be plenty of use for our battered 7" boxes for a little while yet.