Monday 28 October 2013

Performer [Uncredited] – Lou Reed

Me (aged 16): Dad, do you hear a woman on this?
Dad: No, why?
Me: I heard there was a Lou Reed on it.

I was listening to the 7" of "This Is Your Land" by Simple Minds - then at their most hideously pompous - I'd just bought in the local John Menzies after having heard it on the radio.  Not the coolest route into the sometimes astonishing work of Lou Reed but it was my route.  Coincidentally, I was just talking about that 7" earlier today - just hours before I heard that he had passed away - when I confessed that it currently resides in my lowest-of-the-low 7" box: a cut-down Rice Crispies packet alongside the 25p Ned's Atomic Dustbin single etc..  It's the only record I have to feature Lou Reed to have met such an ignominous fate; all The Velvet Underground records I own are totally treasured, especially the Sundazed Records singles boxset which is, of course, nigh on untouchable.  I choose to overlook the headless guitars and the Simple Minds collaborations and think of him as the young man who sang this:

Thanks, Lou.

Friday 18 October 2013

The Wharves/The Rosy Crucifixion split LP (Soft Power)

A couple of weeks ago I heard a test pressing of the forthcoming split record by The Rosy Crucifixion and The Wharves (Soft Power Records).  I was played it at skull wrecking volume in a suburban living room and it sounded completely glorious.  As with Palms (see yesterday's posting), The Rosy Crucifixion are from Glasgow and contributed memorably to the Some Songs Side-By-Side box. Like Palms, witnessing their live show is a must.  Emily is a brilliant, brilliant guitarist who, despite her mastery, knows the value of a cleansing dose of feedback - check the intro to the deliciously snarly "Hot In Your Head":

Their The Gun Club/Thee Oh Sees informed garage rock has a pleasing bounce to it.  It's hard not to curl your top lip as you nod along to "Lose Yourself" (a live favourite) or strut around all sassy to "Sinners".  There's not a whisper of a weak track and their side ends with the skewed, leopard skin jacket stomp of "Night of the Wailers", a song that in a fair world would be hastening brothel-creepered feet to limbo lounge dance-floors up and down the land:

The Wharves are from London and I've only seen them once (the night Andy Murray won Wimbledon so I was in decidedly good cheer!) and they were exceptional.  I admired their ability to meld influences as mutually exclusive as, say, Pentangle, Black Sabbath and classic harmony-driven girl-group pop into a sort of pagan post-punk that, well, worked.  It felt brave and, much as I love straight-up, empty-headed garage rock or winsome, jangling pop, it was encouraging to hear a group forging a new sound.  If it alienates the hispters all well and good.  Who needs those duds anyway?  While they're sucking their cheeks in I'll have pupils the size of saucers from the sheer wired-ness of "Unhand Me" and the groovy, metallic sway of "Woodchip".  I can't think of any other group past or present who sound like The Wharves.  All credit to Soft Power for backing them.

Stream the whole record at the Soft Power Records bandcamp page then wait excitedly for it to be released on vinyl on 25th November!

Thursday 17 October 2013

Moscow Olympics "Reprise"

Whenever Moscow Olympics emerge with a new record, it's invariably worth making a point of seeking it out and their new single "Reprise" (Beko), is no exception.  It's the best example of that hazy, sun-bleached mix of prime Sarah Records/Factory Records I've heard since Korallreven's heart-stopping "The Truest Faith":

Groups like Beach Fossils, who mine similar sources, may have a slightly higher profile but Moscow Olympics do it best.  There's a certain wrongness - possibly the over-eagerness of the beats? - to "Reprise" that stops it from being too precious and makes it all the more enjoyable.  I'll never tire of records like this; never be the one to cry "derivative!" - they're too pretty for that.     

Brits: Pebble Records has copies for a sensible price.

Palms "Wolf" (Watts of Goodwill/Re:peater)

Palms have long been one of my favourite Glasgow groups. Whenever they play, I try to be there as their PJ Harvey by way of Babes In Toyland brand of creeping ferocity is always exhilarating, always welcome. Until now, their recorded output has been modest: a split cassette with Aggi Doom and some wonderful tracks on the lush Some Songs Side-By-Side box. Thankfully, the astute Watts of Goodwill Records and RE:PEATER Records - both of whom do sterling work in documenting Glasgow's current vibrant music scene - just added to that slim list by releasing their debut 7”, “Wolf”. As expected, it’s another catchy but ominous smash.  It’s not quite as wild as, say, “Blood” from the box but it still has considerable bite.  There's an unmixed demo of it here. "Ghosts I've Known" on the flip is a menacing creeper (there's a live version here) with a great rusty guitar sound that churns you up inside.  Fabulous!

At present, I don't believe"Wolf" has distribution so your options for getting a copy are:

1. In person from Monorail Records in Glasgow
2. In person or via mailorder from Rough Trade (London)
3. Direct from Watts of Goodwill (6 pounds post paid in the UK) 

The recent launch gig at Mono for "Wolf" was a tremendous affair.  The sound was clear and trebly and the group played with a triumphant glint in their eyes.  It was on a Friday night and it felt like everyone was in a good mood and willing Palms to do well so it was so great that they did.  It was a timely reminder that Sinead is a wonderfully versatile singer who can go from sweet to snarling in an instant.  It was a reminder, too, that their outrageously good drummer, Julia, has the most animated, charismatic hairdo in the whole of Glasgow!

Saturday 5 October 2013

Fuzz Filled Dreams

There aren't many folks around with a better handle on what makes a truly great garage tune than Kris from Record Turnover.  When he recommended this yesterday I knew to get on it straight away:

Holy smokes what a shredder!!!  The keyboard player is called Gravel.  That's all you need to know.  This group has Neanderthal blood coursing through its veins!  I just received the 'Order Update' email from No Hit Records to say that my copy has been released into the wilds of the postal system.  When it arrives there's gonna be frenzied tearing and the fevered turning up of the volume knob.  Until then, I'll have to make do with hearing it this afternoon when Kris DJs at the Double Sight Weekender (Mchuills, 5pm, FREE!).  "Fuzz Field Dreams" just scorched my brain and I'll never be the same.  Such savage thrills!

Friday 4 October 2013

The Easybeats "Land of Make Believe"

Initial copies of Veronica Falls' majestic "Waithing For Something To Happen" sold through Monorail came with a cd-r compiled, I think, by James Hoare from the group.  It was almost entirely great but the song which pinned itself to my heart was The Easybeats' "Land of Make Believe".  The Easybeats are one of those 60s acts who I've always vaguely liked but never truly loved.  Sure, I get a little frisson when Brian Matthew plays "Friday On My Mind" on Sounds of the Sixties  and I've danced cheerfully to a few of their other songs over the years but nothing has come close to hitting me as hard as "Land of Make Believe" has.  Its intro and first 2 lines are so plaintive and brilliant:

In the land of make believe you are all mine
In the land of make believe I'm doin' fine

The melody is to die for, too.  Some of the details in the production shouldn't work but do such as the rippling piano, for instance; ordinarily I'd hate that.  The Italian 7" of "The Land of Make Believe" I bought recently features a slightly different arrangement with some dramatic strings added that slightly diminish the impact of the chugging guitar bit towards the end (~2mins 12secs) for me.  It's still a topper but the (album?) version on James Hoare's compilation is somehow the more romantic and hence better version.

A Scene In Between Launch at Mono this Monday

(click to enlarge!)


I wonder who the 'special guests' could be...

Update 06/10/2013: The 'special guests' are: