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Archive for October, 2005

LOS TROMOS – Booooo (Rundevilrun, RDR001)

Posted: October 5th, 2005, by Crayola

I actually read a press release!
I read it from beginning to end and everything.
What I found out is that Los Tromos are a Greek band influenced by The Ramones and 50’s B-Movies.
This all sounded promising and, after appreciating the lovely packaging – Gatefold card slipcase about an inch bigger than it should be. Almost 7″ single size in fact – I put the CD into the machine.
Immediately I heard something that unsettled me.
Let me try and explain.
I spent a while living in Italy and visited various places around Europe duting my time there. What I found was far too many people being overly ‘serious’ about music.
You know, a kind of mindset that says you can’t be in a band unless you can play guitar solos at 300 MPH and reading from a score.
The songs on this album are actually neat little punker riffs with the odd garage-surf number thrown in. Unfortunately they suffer from being far far far too precise.
Too musicianly.
Inserting a note perfect guitar solo into a 2 minute, 3 chord workout just kills the essence of the music the band are making.
Sadly it reminds me of this anecdote from my time in Italy:
A friend came over for dinner and I played him a bunch of records.
He was particularly taken by a Jim O’Rourke album.
A couple weeks later I was at his place for a meal when he said, “I just have to play you something. You’ll LOVE it!”.
While he went to find the CD I got excited thinking I might be about to discover some Italian underground genius.
He returned from his bedroom and put the CD on.
It was Led Zeppelin 4.

VASHTI BUNYAN – Lookaftering (FatCat)

Posted: October 5th, 2005, by Simon Proffitt

If you thought the Stone Roses took a long time to deliver their second album (Stone Roses to Second Coming in 5 years), or maybe bleep pioneers LFO (Frequencies to Advance also in 5 years), then take a look at folk legend Vashti Bunyan. It’s a fascinating story: kicked out of art college in 1964 for writing songs instead of making art, Vashti released a couple of unheralded singles in the mid 60s and then set off for the Isle Of Skye in a horse drawn cart in order to get out of the city and hang out with likeminded people. Her first album, Just Another Diamond Day, was released in 1969 with little commercial success and she subsequently disappeared. Fast forward 30 years or so, and say hello to our old friend the Google vanity search. Vashti, to her surprise, discovers that she’s a highly respected cult figure and that the 21st century is clamouring for more. Diamond Day gets a reissue, and offers of work roll in. The next thing she knows she’s recording with the Animal Collective and recording material for her ‘difficult second album’. Fortunately, it’s another gem.

Just Another Diamond Day was/is a beautiful record: delicate, whimsical, deeply personal and totally refreshing. It was a hard act to follow. And the slightly underwhelming, syrupy and polished opener of Lookaftering, Lately, might suggest that it hasn’t been followed too successfully. Sure, Vashti’s voice is still exquisite, vulnerable and sweetly innocent, but the tastefully lush string and woodwind arrangements sound a little, um, Radio 2. And I’m a bit worried that this is way things will continue – straightforward, faintly nondescript 21st century radio friendly over-produced folk-lite. It’s kinda stupid to expect more of exactly the same, but still…I hope that she hasn’t lost the plot. But the gently lilting melodies and warmth of the arrangements soon eat away at my doubts, and around halfway through I realise that I’m really loving what I’m hearing. It’s a grower, for sure, and we have to wait until track 6 (Turning Backs) for the first genuine moment of spine tingling, stellar beauty – a haunting piano line, honeyed vocals and a sunburst of hammered dulcimers. In fact the second (and third) plays grow even more, and I’m even now feeling mean for having mentioned Radio 2.

It’s a brave and brilliant move by FatCat – had this been released on a less hip label, perhaps one dedicated to contemporary folk music, it might have slipped under the radar – filed away quietly and unjustly in Borders next to Kate Rusby and Eliza Carthy, and only being detected by those in the know. But Lookaftering deserves much more, and certainly deserves to be heard by more people than are currently hearing Jamie C*ll*m and Jim Moray, two current darlings of paid-for-by-the-marketing-meatheads daytime-TV spots. FatCat don’t necessarily have the power to put Vashti on the National Lottery show, but they’re certainly allowing a whole new generation of appreciative music fans to hear something wonderful. Plus, in these times when Finnish rural psychedelia is becoming so ubiquitous, it’s a breath of fresh air for the songs not to be buried under 100dB of tape hiss.

So, then: marvellous. Let’s just hope we don’t have to wait another 30 years for album number 3.

Vashti Bunyan
FatCat Records

More ATP

Posted: October 4th, 2005, by Marceline Smith

Blimey. Just spotted the announcement for two more All Tomorrow’s Parties weekends for next May curated by Mudhoney, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Special Guests one weekend and The Shins, Sleater Kinney and Ween the next. I’m still noticing a lack of electronic stuff here which disappoints me. I think I am officially bored of indie rock.

MISTY’S BIG ADVENTURE – The Black Hole (SL Records)

Posted: October 4th, 2005, by Fraser Campbell

If you are looking for a madcap amalgam of The Walker Brothers, Neil Hannon and The Rezillos (and lets face it, who isn’t?) then Misty’s Big Adventure are the band for you.

Full of enthusiasm and humour, this is an album full of great lyrics, strong songs and killer arrangements, with an obvious grand vision at play.

Featuring serveral obvious singles like “The Story Of Love” with its Boo Radleys style radio-friendly perkiness, simple verse and killer hooks, the more overt tracks are blended very well with much more interesting stuff like the glorious, Wire-esque “Smart Guys Wear Ties”, “Evil” and the intoxicating “It’s Not That Important”.

“Never Stops, Never Rests, Never Sleeps” features some hilarious battle scratching effects at the beginning while blending Jacques Brel and The Divine Comedy and along the rest of the way there are hints of Johnathan Richman, The Kinks, Julian Cope and The Polyphonic Spree, while strong references to the glory days of Cud and The Frank and Walters also abound.

A lot will depend on whether you enjoy the voice and humour of vocalist Grandmaster Gareth (not a moniker to conjure much confidence I know) but if you do, you’ll find “The Black Hole” delivers a more than diverting experience.

Misty’s Big Adventure

Things I Like

Posted: October 1st, 2005, by Marceline Smith


Crazy Boys – The best song on the new Rachel Stevens album and that really is saying something. I have listened to this about 14 times today and have had to copy the album on to CD so my Last.fm stats don’t get completely ridiculous (and so I can listen to it even louder and run around the room).

Fighting Boys – I will kick your ass, and enjoy it too.

del.icio.us – Nothing (much) to do with boys but a super-helpful mishmash of bookmarks, RSS and blogging that is pretty much acting as my online memory and to-do list. I will make a diskant group collaboration one soon. It’s the future!

Howl’s Moving Castle anticipation – It’s been out a whole week but I’m finally going tomorrow and I’m so excited I can’t even eat my free cake.


Rocktober – If it’s October it must be time for 700 bands you like to come and play in your town all in the same week. And charge you £9 a ticket. What’s so great about live music again?

My TV – Why why why do you have to hate Channel 4? Why not Channel 5 or ITV? WHY?

Telephone Spam – Every time I answer the phone it’s one of those recorded messages (about what I have yet to find out), some guy trying to sell me something or this woman who keeps calling and then saying she has the wrong number. And then my mother phones and she wonders why I sound so aggressive.

Over-ambitious zine making – see comments.