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Archive for October, 2006

MY CHEMICAL ROMANCE – Welcome To The Black Parade (Reprise records)

Posted: October 6th, 2006, by Alasdair R

I love this track. I’ve been playing on repeat on my ipod for the last couple of weeks and it almost makes me cry each time. I’m not sure if that makes me a bit ’emo’ but as I haven’t bought any nail polish yet, I think I’m safe for now.

If you haven’t heard it is MCR’s defining song: it is the song they’ve been trying to record right from when they started. It has broken world records for the number of tracks that were ‘laid down’ for it, there is everything from a marching band to a school choir in the mix. Something about it all reminds of Buffy The Vampire Slayer and that can never be a bad thing in my book. It is a big theatrical monument of a record that is a beautiful meeting of style and substance and I think it is brilliant.

I sound like a right fan-girl but nevermind.


BOYRACER – A punch up the bracket (CD) / Punker than you since ’92 (2CD) / BEATNIK FILMSTARS – In great shape (CD)

Posted: October 3rd, 2006, by Simon Minter

I’m mentioning these three releases in one go here, as in my mind Boyracer and Beatnik Filmstars are irreconcilably connected. They were two of the bands that throughout the early to mid-nineties helped to develop my musical listening into directions away from the pure indie-pop I was obsessing about beforehand. Both bands have their roots very firmly in indie-pop; Beatnik Filmstars springing from the ashes of the dearly missed Groove Farm, and Boyracer being a mainstay of the fanzine/cassette scene that was so healthy at the time. And both bands are still producing music now, albeit with a more ‘relaxed’ frequency of releases.

Beatnik Filmstars’ ‘In great shape’ is their first album in seven years and continues in their familiar, but effortlessly enjoyable style of previous releases. Lo-fi guitar sounds, sardonic-sounding lyrics and the odd (and unfortunately, slightly dated-sounding) samples are smashed together with an unquestionable sense of melody and pop perfection. This is a band that have gone through a variety of phases in their career – from the early shoegazing of ‘Maharishi’, through the angrified ‘Laid back and English’ and the bizarro ‘Astronaut house’ to the current reversion to pop simplicity of this album. It’s almost the Groove Farm played through a slightly bitter, slightly experienced filter – quick glimpses of songs flit by in the 23 tracks here, interspersed with more reflective moments and the odd foray into lo-fi dance irony. Whilst there’s a lot to take in here, and I feel that some of the more throwaway tracks could have been, well, thrown away, it’s hard not to like Beatnik Filmstars at their fizzing best. Fortunately there’s still enough of that here to make me happy.

Boyracer’s musical trajectory started with noise-drenched pop songs, the feedback and scream-drenched days of their early singles calming down into a gliding style (yet still covered in feedback) as on ‘More songs about frustration and self-hate’, then experimenting a little in their own way before maturing into a pure, modern-style indie-pop band. ‘A punch up the bracket’ solidifies Boyracer’s status as an international pop band – rushing through 21 tracks that take in the American-style pop often released on labels like Slumberland and the band’s own 555, cutesy Japanopop with cutesy synths and squawked, girly vocals, and what used to be known as ‘perfect pop’ when it was coming out of France, Bristol, Scotland and indeed everywhere some years ago. Like with the Beatnik Filmstars, it’s all held together with an undeniable charm and a distinctive style.

Both albums are a welcome respite from the RAGE and ANGER that seems so connected with modern independent music these days…

555 Recordings
Beatnik Filmstars

Footnote one: I’m erasing the memory of a recent Beatnik Filmstars Oxford show from my mind, lest in damages my long-held love of the band. Seeing them looking tired and bored whilst dragging themselves through a short set in front of ten people isn’t, perhaps, the best way to experience them.

Footnote two: The 75-track compilation (75 tracks!) ‘Punker than you since ’92’ is somewhat essential to me, being in equal doses an enormous hit of nostalgia – with all of the songs on those old 7″s and flexis that I rarely dig out these days – and an impressive overview of a band that’s managed to keep it together for more than fifteen years.

Who wants a Blood Red Shoes 7"

Posted: October 3rd, 2006, by Marceline Smith

Their record label have manage to misunderstand my perfectly clear (so I thought) instructions and have sent me two copies of the rather awesome ADHD by Blood Red Shoes on 7″ instead of one copy plus a Foals 7″. I really can’t be bothered trying to return it so if anyone wants to trade me something cool for it email me or leave a comment.

In other news, I just purchased an original Jay Ryan print from Art Prostitute and am rather excited.

Independent Record Shops

Posted: October 2nd, 2006, by Marceline Smith

Nice article in The Guardian today profiling the best 20 independent record shops in the UK. I’ve shopped in 8 of them, I’m proud to say.

Risky Quizzness

Posted: October 2nd, 2006, by Alex McChesney

First record you bought and do you still own it?

“Hits 6”, part of a short-lived compilation series that rivalled the “Now That’s What I Call Music” behemoth. Purchased on cassette from John Menzies in Paisley and played through my tinny little tape recorder that was normally used for loading Spectrum games. Side 1 Track 1 was Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)”, making it the very first song I purchased with my own money. I think I still have it in a cardboard box somewhere.

Last record you bought

Three at once out of Fopp:
1. “Dreamt for Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain” by Sparklehorse. Disappointing.
2. “Remixes” by Four Tet. Patchy but good in places.
3. “I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Kick Your Ass” by Yo La Tengo. It’s ace.

Last song you downloaded

I don’t tend to download much music. The only downloaded music I’ve ever paid for is the iTunes-only “Bam Thwok” by the Pixies. The concept of paying for a piece of music with DRM embedded to tell me what I can and can’t do with it makes me blind with rage. If only all online music stores were like Warp’s Bleep. I still prefer to buy CDs, however, even if the first thing I do is rip them to MP3.

Last song/record you went to enormous lengths to find

Sadly I am too lazy to go to enormous lengths for anything much.

Most elaborately packaged record you own

Probably something on Constellation records. It takes me about ten minutes to extract one of their CDs from the packaging.

Last song you listened to

“Savage Composition” by Don Caballero.

Favourite mixtape someone made you that you still listen to

I no longer have any cassette-playing apparatus, and nobody’s made me a CD in ages.

What records are you going to buy next?

I heard a bit of “Expert Knob Twiddlers” by Mike and Rich (aka Mike “µ-ziq” Paradinas and Richard D. “Aphex Twin” James) the other day, and it sounded very good indeed, so it’s on the list.

What are your top 10 most listened to songs on iTunes/last.fm/whatever

From iTunes:

10. Xylin Room – Autechre
9. Hallo – Astrobotnia
8. Lightworks – Astrobotnia
7. Pin – Yeah Yeah Yeahs
6. Dahlem – To Rococo Rot
5. Blown – LFO
4. Thomas the Muthafuckin Tank Engine – Datashat
3. Tascel_7 – Arovane
2. Nonlin.R – Arovane
1. City Girl – Kevin Shields

Things I like

Wind-up robots


Not enough sleep
The evil robots from that really tricky level in Ouendan.

Ten worst/most unlistenable songs in your collection?

Ten? Since I don’t have all day, I’ll do you five.

Du Du Du – Du Du Du by Half Japanese
I love Half Japanese. Even the really early stuff, recorded in Jad and David Fair’s parent’s basement. They knew they wanted to be the best rock’n’roll band in the world, and they weren’t going to let a complete lack of technical ability get in the way of achieving that goal. Most of that first album, “Half Gentlemen, Not Beasts” is hard to listen to, but the spirit of it shines through. However, not even the staunchest advocate of outsider music can deny that much of it, such as this 7-minute long recording of a single bass note played over and over again, is pretty mince.

Stutter Rap (No Sleep ‘Til Bedtime) by Morris Minor and the Majors.
It crept onto my iTunes somehow.

Ventolin – Aphex Twin
That high-pitched whine is allegedly the sound Richard D. James heard when having an asthma attack as a child, and it’s about as pleasurable to listen to.

Scooby Doo – The Pubs.
Me and a friend covering the theme to Scooby Doo in my parent’s garage, when we were both old enough to know better. An embaressment that comes out with alarming regularity when I have drank to excess.

I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me) – Whitney Houston