- The Sky Is Too High (Transcopic)
I really love this. Its wayward and jerky and from a reformed Colchester
son. Its the three noise tracks that really stand out with album opener
Thats All I Wanna Do turning Bardo Pond-esqe out of nowhere, I Wish
turning god knows what out of nowhere and Who The Fuck? being a nasty
punk grooove, only noisier. The remainder of the album is twinkly,
almost post rock audition, and joyful reminding of Blur's most sensual
moments. It doesn't always work but its never far from doing so, either
when it fails. It also makes you realise why Damon is the singer of
Blur and instead of Graham, in the best possible way.
- In An Expression Of The Inexpressible (Touch And Go)
This is a much slower record than Fake Can Be... I have to say I was
initially surprised and a little disappointed at first, however once
you take the record from a fresh context there is so much else within.
I'm currently using the word disorientating too much but I can't describe
this album without using it. Get this record and go straight to the
title track, that will definitely shock you. Its chock full of repetition
that completely grabs and then stabs you in the arse with a probe.
The frenetic This Is For Me... stands out for its urgency and destruction.
And Justin Joyous is probably the best name for a song ever.
Black Emperor - f#a#oo (Kranky/Constellation)
This is a very slow paced affair. On the whole it has been pushed
into the post rock genre and tarred with that brush. That case is
probably so but this really does reflect the pinnacle of that lazy
genre. For me it all runs closer to modern chamber music performed
by talented punk musicians harbouring a bleak outlook, not too interested
in the welfare of those sharing the nightmare with them. The spoken
parts share a knowledge that was gained from experience. A guitar
breaks in the distance evoking the same sounds and smells of the climatic
scenes of Repo Man, this release sharing an explained element as that
movie. This is an evil sounding record. The three pieces (you can't
call them songs) produce mini epics within the perimeters. This is
the sound of a Lynch film put to CD. Its starts with a voice-over
describing the end of the world, how it currently is. It starts out
very much a bleak spoken word piece becoming something totally atmospheric,
almost orchestral. All roads lead to something Ennio Morricone-like.
This is music aching for a visual to accompany it.
Unwound - Challenge
For A Civilised Society (Kill Rock Stars and Matador)
In a time when everything seems headed to anti-rock and album of dynamics
as displayed here are so gratefully accepted. The explosive opener
Data is how all records should start. It slams like Eska's Last Man
with a flight path. Unwound possess on the fiercest rhythm sections
I have ever heard which beside an exceptional set of sounds and effects
spewing from the guitar make for a frightenly exciting combination.
There is a lot of build up attached to the majority of their arrangements
and mainly the expected hard shot to the head does come. Usually.
This is a record though about starting and closing. This first tracks
of the nine (ten) are blistering and magnificent but by the end of
the album, they are less so impressive. The main is hamper is songs
being overlong and testing. Fuck it though, the good stuff is breathtaking.
Laugh Track could be described as jarring math I guess. It's certainly
calculated, coming on like moments from End Hits. Meet The Plastics
features a wandering bass line, repetitive guitars and bellow vocals,
very much like hot Unsane except superior. The World Is Flat, once
painful repetition at the start is done and out of the way, features
sound dynamics. And then it gets painful in parts. At times sinister
but also sadly dull. Side Effects.. opens like old GVSB but goes all
experimental for a climax. This is love/hate at its most hurtful.
Bob Mould -
The Last Dog And Pony Show (Creation)
Here is evidence that Bob still has a lot to offer. His vocals sound
as great as ever, always appearing to float, as his guitar also sounds
like its hovering and without relenting once. And then Megamanic offers
more with programmed machine drums hammering Bob's point. Of the familiar
Taking Everything holds most, encapsulating all things great about
Bob and Bob songs.
- Hello Nasty (Grand Royal)
This is yet to grow on me but also so was Ill Communication to start
with, which too a long time to click. I can safely state that this
is not the best Beastie Boys album, in so far as it is not as good
as Check Your Head or Ill Communication. That's not to say it isn't
very good, only... Its easy to pick out amazing songs in Remote Control,
Body Movin' and Intergalactic. This is very much about the exploration
of new areas, attempting something fresh and accomplishing it. Still
without punkers, rockers or a Sabotage song its tough to go mental
to these tunes. I have just watched Beastie-ography on MTV and it
was so fucking inspiring.
Seam - The
Pace Is Glacial (Touch And Go)
Hushed, whispery vocals mix with highly melodic guests of songs. The
fast paced songs are obviously more up my dark alley. There is such
an overwhelming urgency to these songs, like somebody being trapped
and wanting to get out. In The Sun really builds into something furious.
Each song seems to change direction and tempo at least once during
its existence. And there is a track called Wig. Also there is another
that's named Get Higher which manages to excel everytime.
- Moments Away (Trance Syndicate)
This is more cohesive and accessible, less experimental than I have
heard previously. It very often resembles and reminds me of the music
that is to be found on the back of Wu songs. However instead of being
fronted by an Old Dirty Bastard by someone more seductive. Its very
dubby and I thank my stars I'm listening to this on a good stereo.
As I said once before, often this is how Garbage want to sound and
think they sound but just plain don't. Almost the musical equivalent
of having a pillow pushed in your face with tracks like Strange New
World being the sound of struggling to get free.
- Songs For Polar Bears (Jeepster)
There's enough to like with this. The band were called Polar Bear
until the man told them to change their name thus the album title.
And the opening track is named Downhill From Here, which itself is
very good and appropriately named with an almost stinging guitar sound
and fuzzy as fuck bassline. Its pretty diverse, often nodding its
head towards many a different genre. It contains the occasional blooper
(NYC, 100 Things You Should Have Done In Bed) but then they're followed
by the fantastic Little Hide. The singer worringly sounds a lot like
Bush's Gavin Rip-off but I'm sure those similarities go no further.
There are some treasures to be discovered here.
Pixies - Live
At The BBC (4AD)
I've recently discovered Doolittle a childhood too late. This is good
food too but not as great. It does sail by very smoothly, with the
highlight being the astonishing version of Wave Of Mutilation. The
cover versions are crazy and come a close second for the world title
of album highlight with both Wild Honey Pie and (In Heaven) being
unrecognisable to the originals which only makes them much better.
The album has been released cheapskie, so it only contains limited
Various - Television's
Greatest Hits 7 - Cable Ready (TVT)
What a treat. I ordered this off the internet ($20 and $15 p&p sir!)
but it was worth it for 65 themes of American TV shows. The number
one reason for this is because its the only place you can get the
theme to The Adventures Of Pete & Pete, Hey Sandy by Polaris (aka
Miracle Legion). Similarly the theme to The Kids In The Hall is on
here, which is Having An Average Weekend by Shadowy Men On A Shadowy
Planet. Music wise the best, other than those above, is the theme
to America's Most Wanted, which is pure evil and begging to sampled.
And the singalonga Garry Shandling's Show theme. Tell jokes as the
theme to Seinfeld burps in the background. Rock out to Saved By The
Bell, act senile to the Cosby Show theme, be a fake arse rapper to
the Fresh Prince Of Bel Air and na na na to the signature of Clarissa
Explains It All. Additionally enjoy a trauma and crisis (or both!)
to the theme of My So Called Life, learn to read with Barney And Friends,
get fat to Roseanne and dig the beats and bongo to Ren And Stimpy.
Like Dougal and his sound effects record. Nice moving cover also.
Sound System - Out Of Your Mind (K)
I'm currently in love with dub, its the saving grace of not only disco
but Rancid also. This record hits the spot immediately with Wicked
Bad. Calvin has a one-off voice, so suited to everything it touches
and interrupts. A right thinking world would be dancing to this right
now as opposed to the latest Fun Lovin Criminals slice of cheese.
They may be Barry White but this is James Brown. At times it goes
into an extended jam mode but still remains a party of a record (Belly
Warmer being the guilty party).
- Rise Up (Atavistic/Truckstop)
If you move in the right circles sooner or later you'll hear about
Bobby Conn. From there you will get the story of his Continuous Cash
Flow System and his religious clout. Then you will finally hear one
of his records, which will turn out to be the most frightening experience
of all. The entire album is the journey and conquest of one man force-feeding
you classic rock, in the mission of making you dance. Whether it is
for real or not really need not be an issue when you having such genuinely
good songwriting, capped with diversity. And the spiel is like the
cherry atop of the money cake.
Mogwai - Kicking
A Dead Pig (eye q)
I was afraid to give this one a spin. The Mogwai Fear Satan remixes
didn't sit too comfortably with me. Moments of this album repeat that
(non) sensation but the other remixes hold much more steam. The Hood
and Alec Empire remixes of Like Herod are damn near essential, as
is the unrecognisable battering of Helicon 2 and the latest treatment
of/to Summer. All good. It's Mogwai but not as we know it Jim.
Various - Give
'Em The Boot (Hellcat)
This is a 20 track sampler put out by Rancid's label Hellcat. The
Rancid track here, The Brothels, is one of their better ones. Also
present here is what is supposed to be the next big thing: Dropkick
Murphys. The track begins with bagpipes, demonstrating that they're
down with the Irish thing! It kicks in soon after but I'm not sold
on them. The Business and Voodoo Glow Skulls appear also.
- Push The Button (Mo Wax)
I was pretty disappointed in this. I got a five song sampler through
the post, all of which was fantastic, but the full blown 18 tracker
doesn't quite cut it or hold/maintain my full attention. At times
it reminds me of The Beatles. Go figure. The singles are still king
though. And so are the music videos that go with them.
- Scraps At Midnight (Sub Pop and Beggars Banquet)
Here is a survivor. This is almost definitely the most amazing voice
to emerge from America this century. Him and Axl Rose. Its very Cohen-esqe
to me. It is also beneficial to look behind the man and take in the
music, appropriately suited and very imagination sparking. Perhaps
even more so than the sometimes too trad Screaming Trees. Nothing
unnatural considering how blues and country drenched this is and it
never turns to cheese at any important, something very important with
this music and a trick that Lanegan is expert at avoiding. Featuring
J Mascis, Tad Doyle and Lanegan solo mainstay Mike Johnson. Not as
popular as Will Oldham though.
Unsane - Occupational
This is devastating and pummelling Unsane. They feel trimmed and as
a result free from prior plodding with was a little anchoring. Their
vocals reign unique, deranged and absurd, as the rest of the song
sounds a blood splattered affair. Unsane provide the soundtrack to
a tick burrowing its way under your skin, its relentless feelers battling
for your attention. This sensation comes via the bass sound. It all
happens immediately with opener Committed but really reaches total
heights with the track Smells Like Rain.
Twisty twisty music. At one stage its announced that "there is an
escape from the Planet of the Apes". Er, the planet or the movie?
It fits right in place. Cornelius has put something together beyond
eclectic. I'm struggling to make a decision as to at what hour this
music would be best suited. My best (considered) suggestion would
be on a Sunday morning, without a hangover, this music requires that
you are alert. There are a hundred and one western references here,
Disney, Clash, Magoo and 2010 and very cheekily tracks named God Only
Knows and Thank You For The Music, that don't resemble their namesakes.
Solex - Solex
Vs The Hitmeister (Matador)
Herein lies many tracks featuring one Elisabeth Esselink (Solex) singing
over numerous drum and jazz loops coupled with strange recurring noises.
This reminds me so much of Bjork's unplugged set, echoing the Sneaker
Pimps left and right. Much of it feels long and drawn out but then
again I am listening to it with a migraine. It all surely means something
to someone. Their is an air of melancholy attached which prevents
you from loving it in full, especially present on the track Solex
In A Slipshod Style. And the album finds itself becoming most frisky
and energetic on the tracks There's A Solex On The Run, Solex All
Licketyspit and When Solex Just Stood There. Good beats.
Jepp - Jepp
I was asked to check this out. It seems she's being aimed towards
the Alanis market. It contains some nasty country tinges. Its not
as blatant as Miss Canadian blowjob but it is way over produced. The
lyrics appear to mean more but comparing this to Natalie Merchant
doesn't quite fit.
Rancid - Life
Won't Wait (Epitaph)
I picked this up because it was initially mid price in an attempted
Dischord/non-commercial punk manner. Rancid are cartoon punks and
because of this are looked down upon too harshly in my opinion. Recorded
in Jamaica (oh yes) the climate and surroundings have obviously influenced
the very dub reggae sound, making many moments a music form above
ska. I'll long argue in defence of Tim Armstrong's voice, gruff not
Dick Van Dyke. "Shine your shoes guv'ner?".
- Close Encounters Of The Bump And Grind (Too Pure)
This was a really pleasant surprise. Its nothing revolutionary but
something to listen to without worry. It is mostly a trip hop kind
of thing. Occasionally female vocals drop in slightly changing the
mood but often not enough to ruin the flow. Left and right some real
strange samples are employed in the form of obscure films, people
and video games.
Jesus & Mary
Chain - Munki (Creation and Sub Pop)
This is being put out in America by Sub Pop. So if its good enough
for them, its gotta be good, right? Actually I already had bought
it before finding that out, purchasing it on the strength of the cracking
Cracking Up alone and the promise of a potential repeat of past glories.
Supertramp is basically Tomorrow Never Knows with new lyrics, updated
for the nineties, just like Setting Sun did too. It all ends with
the blistering new version of I Hate Rock n Roll. Some of its a drag
but on the whole it keeps up being distorted and recognisable Mary
- What Burns Never Returns (Touch And Go)
An album that contains mucho heavy jazz drumming, seemingly constructed
by improv and breaking down by improv. As a result it naturally strikes
many expanding angles keeping the listener transfixed, holding on
the for next change in tempo and/or direction. It often reaches the
point of frenzied distraction before calming down again. Delivering
Groceries... sees the band most experimenting with noise distortion
and volume. Honestly exciting.
Artificial Horizon (Dischord)
Lungfish sound towering from the start. The instrumentals sound very
different to the songs with vocals, the vocals definitely do change
the meaning, intention and pattern of each song they touch. The record
often reminds me of the heady heights reached by Bardo Pond when in
laid-back mode and perhaps Satchel crossed with something like the
Beatoffs - Self Titled (Skingraft)
Here is the sound from inside of the mind of a crazed madman. If you're
quiet and listen real hard you could hear this record coming from
me like a fart in the winter. This is a real mystery.
Ganger - Hammock
This is delicate and repetitive. Sometimes wonderful and sometimes
boring. I'm sure these moments when piled on live may thrill but at
home some moments fail to trigger much of a response. The album opener
is a fine Aerial M-esqe moment. Almost whispered female vocals drop
in and out as the train carries along. The next magic moment comes
during the drone of First Thing In The Morning. More pleasant than
- Accelerator (Domino)
This begins with I'm Ready. That song reminds me of License To Ill
for some reason, probably down to the shameless guitar riff and brash
delivery. The rest is just as crazy. Kinda Blues Explosion, kinda
hip hop bump and grind with a tad Gospel Yeh Yeh sound. The highlights
are the thumping Juicy Juicy Juice and Liar and also Banana Question
that can't help but make any participant move. And how on Earth do
they get away with sounding like Elt John and Billy Joe L on closer
Stevie and still sound awesome? Soul. Tonnes.
Happy Go Licky
- Happy Go Licky (Peterbilt/Dischord)
This has been out for a while now but I only recently discovered it.
This is a live album of Rites Of Spring (featuring Guy Picciotto)
going by another name. The sound quality leaves a little bit to be
desired but its still a fine noise record. I listened to this as I
rode the train to London to see Sonic Youth and it all made complete
sense. More than once does noise just spew out and the occasional
funked up bass recalls GvsB in times gone by tangling with Gang Of
Four in times before that. All said and done though it seems a little
worrying that this is over ten years old and sounds more modern and
exciting than those that would be their current peers. An album of
- Even In Silence (Kranky)
Here female vocals drift and whisper over the top of an underlining,
pulse flavoured drone and random but regular guitar strums as provided
by Mr Low. It sounds like a person in pain and reminds me a tad of
Woodbine. By the end it is overwhelming.
Various - Selector
Dub Narcotic (K)
The choice of stuff recorded at Dub Narcotic studios. I pick The Panties
first for the awesome sound of girls rocking out. Black Anger Movement
follow soon after with amazing hip hop and then Miranda July just
manages to freak out on record and then you get what you expect from
the Blues Explosion in attendance. Elsewhere Dub Narcotic appear thrice
as do Beck and Make Up once.
Pram - The
North Pole Radio Station (Domino)
This recalls (for me) blissed out moments from Bjork (sans cockney
alien vocals) and plenty of Broadcast, when sounding interesting and
- A Thousand Leaves (Geffen Schmeffen)
Who'd dare diss Sonic Youth. This is a very good summer album as a
soundtrack to just lying down and enduring the heat to. I keep referring
to Sonic Tooth as abstract more and more these days. I wish they still
sounded angry. I love(d) them when they're raging, when they sound
vicious, a real underground force. This is at times too mellow. I
guess that suggests a sign of ageing. There is also further proof
here to suggest that they're our Velvets. It does at times overrun
but who can fault the perfect descending route of French Tickler.
Finally I would like thank Universal for fucking up with empty promises.
Various - P101
This is the 26 track CD that comes with the fanzine of the same name.
It features tracks with Man Or Astroman?, Milencolin, Refused, J Church,
King Prawn, China Drum, Goober Patrol and The Business. The standouts
being Pinto, Mock, Panic, Four Letter Word and The Business' "Southgate
(Euro 96)", echoing emotions and sentiments that I still, to this
- He Got Game (Def Jam)
This issue, when I grow up I want to be Chuck D. And my friend can
be Flavor Flav. The Arab Strap gig really inspired me to go out and
rediscover Public Enemy and fortunately at the very same time this
new PE record came along. Public Enemy for me are the greatest hip
hop band ever to exist. For starters no other hip hop act has had
their staying power and in doing so they reveal the majority of other
rap stars to be the pieces of cheese that they are. The awesome thing
about Public Enemy is that they can be so fucking intense but Chuck
D remains eloquent and intelligent enough to make sense. This Spike
Lee soundtrack doesn't quite make it to the heights of works from
years past but it does still produce a profit. The title track grabs
your attention, wheeling in/out Stephen Stills (now about 80 years
old) without taking the piss (too much). There are more notable guest
appearances from quarters of the Wu and KRS One. The track Sneaker
Pimps..... speaks volumes on those trainers spoilt mugs pay over the
odds for and Meat Beat Manifesto really deliver on Go Cat Go.
Various - Into
The Kiltmakers (Glass Cow)
Here's a CD full of bands from Glasgow. There's allsorts on here,
and they're not strictly from the famous bands of musicians. The undisputed
highlight is the El Hombre Trajeado, which quite frankly make the
collection worth having. A Slippery Man On A Slidier Surface is a
cooking pot of Slint, Minutemen and Arab Strap sounds. Also present
here are Pink Kross, Space Kittens, PH Family and the Newtown Grunts.