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Archive for April, 2010

TODDLERS – 2 (CD-R, self-released)

Posted: April 24th, 2010, by Simon Minter

Toddlers are based in the glorious Berkshire hellhole that is Reading: in the past, my home for over a decade, fact fans. This is their second self-released set of songs, and if you can get past the patchy, fuzzy recording quality you might find yourself with a band that at least hints at being capable of interesting things. They have five songs here, each of which approximates a buzzing, gloomy take on angled post-grunge-rock from a slightly different perspective. Largely instrumental, their songs are constructed around the repeated deployment of a bluesy riff, augmented by some pretty fine drum rolls and flutters and an interest in experimenting with odd sounds and timing. They could perhaps benefit from laying off on even the scant vocal intrusions that are displayed here – ‘I didn’t get where I am today’ particularly suffers from being dragged into an amateurish sound that seems half joke and half noncommittal box-ticking. However, when Toddlers decide to more confidently go in a direction that could become their own, it can really work. ‘Preston’ falls into a Krautrockesque repetition of a single melodic line (à la Quickspace), and ‘World of men’ takes the blueprint of Nirvana’s angry, buzzing Bleach and slows it down to a creepy, threatening Melvins pace. These two songs hint at some kind of grunge-gone-weird sound that could one day see Toddlers contributing to a line of bands like, or at least influenced by, Melvins, Butthole Surfers or Karp. At present they’re not displaying the chops or focus to do that, but one never knows…

Toddlers on Myspace

FOALS – Spanish Sahara (7″, Warner Music Ltd)

Posted: April 23rd, 2010, by JGRAM

I once saw Foals play live at Latitude Festival and unfortunately it was one of the most feeble sets I have ever witnessed from a band with such clout being pumped into and put behind them.

Its not all hate from me honestly I have genuinely liked a number of their singles but sometimes you just have to shrug and concede “I don’t get it.”  I remember when I worked at the studio and how the A&R (A&E) lady was raving about in the context of all this nu-rave gimmick stuff.  At this point I genuinely thought there was more to them.  Then Sub Pop signed them in the US so surely there must be something there to grab hold of.  So with nice looking artwork on Record Store Day as all the limited edition releases I actually want have gone to pushier individuals than myself here is me giving them another chance.

On that note I’ll be fucked if I know what they are doing on this single.  For starters it is so fucking quiet and subdued.  Why is this?  What point are they trying to make?  Is this them sounding mature?  Sounding as if operating on a knife edge?  Am I playing the record at the wrong speed again? (no to that last one).

So well done, once again the kids have been let down by a band claiming so much and delivering so little.  How the fuck can Warners be justified in supporting this?  Why are they wasting the earth’s resources on such dross?

Eventually the song crawls out of its stupor only to resemble some eighties sports television soundtrack.  Can the bar be actually lowered any further?

Thesaurus moment: spoon


Warners Music Ltd

SHE & HIM – In The Sun (7″, Domino)

Posted: April 20th, 2010, by JGRAM

For the longest time on Record Store Day 2010 I found myself wandering around with just this seven inch in my hand.  Truly people were swarming all over limited edition stuff in the style of Sex And The City wannabes at a Next sale.  For a moment I felt panic, I wanted out of the record shop but there was no escape.  So instead I found myself just standing in a corner breathing heavily hoping to bide my time until the real goodies hidden behind the counter were to be unveiled for the patient mannered types such as myself.  It didn’t happen.  As I saw somebody carry off their vinyl version of the Sonic Youth Starbucks compilation for the eleventh time I knew my She & Him seven inch would not be alone in order to maintain cred as I approached the counter.  From here when I finally approached the checkout with my pile of potentially mediocre vinyl, including my £6 She & Him seven inch, my pain was justified as the man smiling behind the till handed me a cloth tote bag that came exclusively with this release.  Had my pain in one foul swoop suddenly been justified?  I had only been in the store almost two hours by this point.  Was it worth it?  For £41.42 I got my record store rush.

I just dropped this record.  Literally and physically, I haven’t even got around to listening to it and the corner of the spine is now already bent.  The value has just gone from mint to just very good.  Suddenly it doesn’t feel worth it.

She & Him feel like flavour of the month right now, which is not necessarily a band thing because Zooey Deschanel has a high level of cred right from back when she was a scene stealer in The Good Girl.  That said actresses taking up indie rock has something of jaded history (Juliette Lewis and Scarlett Johansson a dubious list begins with you).

In a sad way Deschanel’s efforts remind me a bit of Reese Witherspoon in Walk The Line and as such make them DOA.  In John Peel style I begin listening to the seven inch at the wrong speed (listening to it after the Factory limited edition ten inch I also got at Record Store Day).  Dare I even suggest that it may sound better at such a speed (I’m down with the kids and their chopped and screwed).

I was given to believe that this would be a full on country assault but instead it is a far more sprightly affair.  Her voice reminds me a lot of Tanya Donnelly, Shannon Wright and Sarah Shannon from Velocity Girl (all fantastic vocalists) but strangely the most striking aspect that grabs me is the piano line courtesy of M Ward that reminds me of the “Self Preservation Society” theme song from The Italian Job and thus it all comes full circle and the selection never escapes Hollywood.

Thesaurus moment: wrap.

She & Him


LOS CAMPESINOS! – Romance Is Boring (7″, Wichita Records)

Posted: April 2nd, 2010, by JGRAM

This is something of a refreshing throwback to spiky and scratchy lo-fi DIY bands from a few years ago, the ones that pushed forward an idea that my own generation were able to attempt and succeed at in producing on the proviso that there was something more to it than the desire to be a star.  For this a sardonic wit always felt essential, necessary with view to confuse and sometimes abuse anyone around looking to be of a discerning nature.

The most obvious reference for a single such as this is Art Brut along with the early boy girl dynamics of the Delgados before they discovered strings and bloated arrangements.  In this it is obvious just where the appeal comes from, in the desire and need for the listener to hear nasty yet tuneful guitar music that doesn’t sink and drown in cliché.

Hailing from Cardiff (although without being Welsh) it is strange how so many bands are emerging from Wales at the moment.  They are not necessarily all good but it does suggest something about the way boredom is being dealt with in places away from the supposed centre of the universe (London).

“Romance Is Boring” is a great sentiment, one that points at something away from Care Bears and daydreams.  As ever I sense I am arriving late to the party with my enjoyment of this band but giving them the benefit of my doubts of try hard this is the kind of fun explosive indie guitar song that sadly feels rare these days.

“Too Many Flesh Suppers” on the flipside is an altogether more angular and confused state of affairs, less directed and suggestive of their appreciation/fondness for Broken Social Scene.  To some ears this will sound like a mess but to others it will be gold.  Sadly though it is a song that never lives up to its great title.

This won’t help me recapture my youth, nothing will.

Thesaurus moment: bellow.

Los Campesinos!

Wichita Recordings