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diskant rewind: Etch-a-Sketch Yr Fear of AIDS #1

Posted: December 26th, 2008, by Dave Stockwell

(Originally posted February 2003)

Etch-a-Sketch Yr Fear of AIDS by Dave Stockwell

Introductions? Pah! You’ll get no introductions here. Or explanations, for that matter.

Instead, I’ll break into full-flow about a rather dandy 7″ EP by Fonda 500, entitled ‘The Colours and the Birdsongs.’ Though it’s a donkey-flogging second single from their third album, it’s another engagingly quirky and mildly endearing release from the band. Which is always nice. Like a particularly lively Attention Deficit Disorder-suffering infant, it wobbles and gurgles all over the place, rarely stopping on one idea for more than thirty seconds. All mildly silly instrumentation and occasionally indecipherable vocals, there’s identifiably an ‘indie band’ hidden beneath the plethora of vocoders, Casio keyboards and crappy drum machines, but don’t let that put you off. Moreover, there’s seven “tracks” in the space of fourteen minutes, so little room for baggage on this decidedly rickety yet incredibly comfortable and familiar cart. Decidedly lovable then, all wibble-and-burble-y, and it all far from outstays its welcome. The words woo and yay are rarely more appropriate in such a cutesy setting.

Continuing the “damn you all to hell, we like stupidity and we like it pop” ethos, Grandpa Records‘ own Stars of Aviation (okay, so it’s their own label) are looking for someone to release their music, you insensitive tripe. They used to be called Florence y’see, under which banner they got played by the John Peel man who dares spin records on airwaves reserved for music you’ve already heard a thousand times, and also released an EP too. For some inexplicable reason, they decided to abandon all that momentum and become another band with stars in their name (see Stars on the Water, Stars of the Lid, Trembling Blue Stars, Planes mistaken for Stars, yawn…)… and for what reason? We know not. Oh well, names matter little when you’ve discovered the magic Grandaddy trick of arpeggiated keyboard chords, which instantly makes any song a heady mix of lovely pop lullaby and heart-aching slow depression. Just as well that they’ve got a whole bunch of other good things in their little bags of songsmithery to keep you distracted.

Now then, The Broken Family Band. They feature ex-members of Hofman and Gwei-Lo, don’t you know, and recently released a debut mini-album called ‘The King Will Build A Disco.’ You’ve got to admire a band started as a country music project for a semi-serious laugh but then got approached to release records and everything. They even extended the joke to a bunch of live dates last year, and are threatening to release a proper album and whatnot before we reach the halfway point of 2003. This seven-track introduction to the band reveals cynical approaches to heartfelt feelings and heartfelt approaches to cynical feelings, incorporating some pleasant guitar strumming and some nice touches of unintrusive musical incongruity. It all feels completely natural, and it’s obvious that the people behind this ‘project’ are genuinely enjoying themselves, so why not continue? Admittedly, they make me wish that Half Man Half Biscuit would do some country tunes just to show these young whippersnappers what for, but I guess this’ll do for now.

One more for now – let brevity count in your favour when ingratiating oneself to others, they say. Which is a nice sentiment for this compilation sitting in front of me: the folks at (quirk) have put together a nineteen-track compilation CD of eighteen bands from around the UK and one from the USA. All the featured bands are “independently minded,” and a fair few find themselves making their recorded debuts on this here CD. With a project of this scale, you’re inevitably going to have to take the chaff with the wheat, so if you can manage to ignore a couple of the cruder ska-punk and nu-metal daubs, you should find some fairly rewarding material from artists with a lot of promise. There’s certainly something approaching a full gamut of genres and styles popular with the middle-class white indie kids these days, and it’s all impressively played and recorded. Available online only from www.indiecent-exposure.com (I haven’t stopped groaning yet), go now and you too can check out a whole bunch of bands that you’ve barely/never heard of. And all for the princely sum of four pounds and ninety-nine pence only, go DIY, yeah!

That’ll do for now. I was going to mention Tears in X-ray Eyes and their EP ‘my strange love’, but it came out in August 2002, so it’s hardly relevant. Instead, you should go listen to Black Dice‘s first “album” lasting more than twenty-five minutes, ‘Beaches & Canyons.’ This one has a grand total of five tracks in the space of an hour, allowing the band to really stretch their muscles and create some incredible soundscapes of noise loops, found sound, incoherent yelling and tribal drumming – hooray! It’s easily their finest hour to date. Despite the band having zero profile in these sunny UK shores, FatCat have chosen to release the damn thing over here at the end of February, presumable for no reason other than they like it as much as me. Roll on the UK tour…

You should also note that the kind folks at Tsk! Tsk! released Erase Errata‘s debut album ‘Other Animals’ over here fairly recently. Walter Weasel did his own new mix of the whole thing for this release only, so you know you should be grateful. There’s been a fair amount of hype about Erase Errata in the last few months, but their album actually sounds good *and* you can dance to it *and* oh, all sorts of good things. Fifteen tracks in less than half an hour? Oh, go on then.

Further Information
Fonda 500
Stars of Aviation
The Broken Family Band
Indiecent Exposure
Tears in X-ray Eyes
Black Dice
Erase Errata

Dave Stockwell

David can always be relied on to end his e-mails with one of those 'np: blah blah' things in order to remind us of how much more music he listens to every day than anybody else. His interests include rockin ' out in a major style as guitarist in Souvaris, throwing frisbees from tall buildings "just to see what happens" and simply kickin' back with his bitches in a gold-plated jacuzzi.


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