September Girls "Wanting More" (Matinée Recordings): The Spook School "Here We Go" (Cloudberry Records)
All those artists that we've loved for the last 25 years or so are all very well, are really very well, but given that no less than *nine* of our last ten posts have laboured our collective century and a half of full-on amour for
the Wake, Andrew Jarrett, Julian Henry, Fletcher & Pursey, the Sugargliders and Public Enemy (well, Public Enemy bar Flavor Flav), perhaps it's time to rep the new school...
But we don't lump these two shiny new 7" singles together merely *because* they're nu-skool, nor because we think they sound particularly alike (they don't), nor because we have any desire to detract from their all-round standalone aceness. It's more that they both prod us toward that same giddy realisation, the one we got from the remarkable recent Hobbes Fanclub platter, that yes, there *are* new bands out there, right now, making the kind of music we feared people didn't want to make any more... and they remind us that as well as our old heroes, we should all crave and covet new heroes too, else life would becomes barely more than a procession of shuffling nostalgia, en route to the inevitable zimmer frame.
So. While there's a surfeit of spiky garage-pop doing the rounds at the mo, Dubliners September Girls pretty much slay all opposition with their three track 7", "Wanting More". It's a perfect rush-hour blur of motor city soul and modern pop noise, topped with swirling keyboards and draped louchely in the reverb that is so de rigeur right now: it just *tugs* at our heartstrings, the same heartstrings once plucked by kindred spirit supernovae like Slumber Party or the Aislers' Set. In a sense, the five-piece take their cue from the Jesus and Mary Chain's thrilling subversion of the language of pop: these are flames of romance soundtracked by a fuzzing throb, undercurrents of longing hiding beneath frissons of feedback.
The lead tune powers along so gloriously that it's easy not to notice those undercurrents of longing initially ('til it concludes with a pleading "take me back to where the / summer lasts forever"), but once you do they simply wash over you, cleansing your soul of all its workaday cynicism. Second song "Hells Bells" is possibly even better, as thudding drums compete for space in the mix over the screes of blissful noise, as if Black Tambourine were jamming selections from "Isn't Anything". By the time we get to instrumental closer "Man Chats", one of the most raucous things ever released on Matinée (imagine Girlschool covering Thrilled Skinny's "Slap A Ban!" whilst someone clawhammers an organ to bits in the background), we're sold completely. There's a certain pizazz to this EP which we don't personally get from the more fêted NYC bands who operate in similar territory, and we have a feeling that may be because September Girls are patently playing what they want to play, aren't "trying to be" anything, and *that's* what helps fill these tracks with such sheer joy.
Um, we haven't mentioned Cloudberry Records for waaaaay too long, so it's great to welcome the Spook School, from Edinburgh, to that munificent roster. And if you had to capture the Spookies' début single "Here We Go" in a single word, it would be this: *infectious*. This is raw and supercharged tastebud-tickling indie-pop, not too far from the bouncing jangle of their earlier standout tune "History", as if the early Wedding Present had TWOCked the first Beat Happening! LP and driven it around the streets of Bearsden with Stephen Pastel as a hostage. It's a rollicking rollerskate ride of a song - embellished by a nagging, insistent guitar line - that starts sweetly, continues sweetly and finishes sweetly YET towards the end decides to initiate a gradual and skilful amping-up of background feedback and noise which means that you end up with a rattling crescendo and a certain semi-drunken dizziness, as if you'd stayed on the park roundabout ten seconds too long. (For those of us with now-greying temples, there are shades of the way that BMX Bandits' "Sad?" ran itself excitedly into a racing finish, before collapsing exhaustedly across the line). Drawing a line 'twixt Spook School and "Glasgow School", there's also a lyrical reference to Orange Juice, which is mildly surprising given that the Spooks seem far too young to have heard of OJ: perhaps they've just been raiding their grandparents' record collections...
Anyway, so they sing "meet me at the station / at around 5 o'clock", and in a way that makes us really wish we could, just as we once *so* wanted to meet Davey Woodward "on Tuesday at 8 o'clock", long before the Spook School were even born. Oh, the Spook School's brand of "sheer joy" feels more callow, and might yet prove more ephemeral, than the September Girls' confident, miasmic barrage: but be in no doubt that it's just as vibrant and that - right here, in the flickering, raindrop-flecked, bottom-of-the-fourth Division NOW - it raises our flagging spirits just as much.