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22nd NOV '09: Albums albums albums..

THE ANTLERS – Hospice (Frenchkiss) – The recent single had us anticipating something rather special and, yes, Hospice reveals the recent single wasn’t a one off piece of gorgeous beauty. Something rather good emerging here. The Antlers are one of those new bands that seem to be on everyone’s lips right now, they live up to it all, the word of mouth is right. The Brooklyn band have so much depth in there with their fragile restraint, restraint that now and again gives way to more of that glorious sky-touching and yes, it would be very easy to just slip in to music review cliché with Hospice, so so easy.... You see they’re not being radically different, they not re-inventing the indie alt.rock wheel here, more that they're just there inline with a lot of current things in such a gloriously beautiful and cleverly detailed and rewarding kind of way. These Antlers are just loading with tingling songs that are so alive and just so good, it’s be impossible to not just go with it all and let it flow... Alive with emotion and heart-tingling goodness, and that song Two is just better and better every time, the kind of thing you just have to grab and share with people and this all bares repeating again again and...  All open doors and ways to get through, so many ways to tell the story and so so much heart-swelling hope in here – all in here whatever the subject, Two is one of the songs of the year, has to be? Surely? Lyrics that fixate and tunes that pull you in, all kinds of glowing restrained light and shade - and always brought back to the simple beauty of hope. Just everything right and alive like the now of Efterklang or Animal Collective or... oh look, just really really good, who needs all this review nonsense? Sometimes it really is as beautifully simple as life, death, absence, guilt and all those other things -          

JOHN BLUM – In The Shade Of Sun (Ecstatic Peace) – Extremely rewarding traditional free jazz that just now is sounding, for a brief minute or two, very Stravinsky. This is excellent free jazz that just heads off in all kinds of awkwardly angular ways without ever losing the flow. Impressively difficult yes but never difficult to listen to. Relentless piano-led free jazz then never descends in to experimental no-wave areas - no hard-boiled noise here, just highly accomplished playing, classic free jazz, classic bass lines, pin-point precision, rapid forward movement, delicious drumming, intuitive jumping from one idea to the next without ever losing the flow or the thread.  Majestic, sometimes disturbing (in that brilliant Stravinsky way), relentlessly good, a constant jazz rush, alive with colour, alive with energy, just excellent structured jazz improvisation. Don’t ask me to tell you who it sounds like, I’m told there’s bits of Harlem stride, that we can hear Art Tatum, Bud Powell and such, I’m not qualified to confirm that, I know when I hear something satisfyingly good though, this is very very satisfying, this is Jazz that just really works, that hits the spot in such a satisfying way –

20th NOV '09: STRAWBERRY BLONDES – Fight Back (Not On Your Radio) - “Re-inventing the past and spitting it into the future” is what they say they’re doing... Well whatever they’re doing it they’re doing it with a bag load of old school punk rock attitude and with a touch of quality too, these Strawberry Blondes are suddenly doing things with a defiant touch of style. No real re-invention, they’re about as rancid as any shout-along Clash obsessed street-punk band could be. They’re full of energy, they’re full of sing-along fight back bluster, and importantly, this time around they got the sound, the production and the style nailed down and delivered with spot-on attitude. Musically there’s nothing original here, Strawberry Blondes win though, they win because they ooze attitude and energy in just the right proportions. This is an album packed with classic timeless rabble-rousing punk anthems. The Newport crew deliver it all with defiantly positive passion, they’re good, well on this new album they are anyway, suddenly gone up a league or two. Whole load of anger, frustration and the scars left by the miners strike and the very early childhood memories so they say. This year is the 25th anniversary of the miners strike, something you really had to live through in the working class areas of the North, Midlands and their part of Wales to really understand why it still matters so much twenty five years on. Excellent street punk, no re-inventions, just taking the tradition and doing it all just right. Great version of Rudi in there along with all the Clashisms and the occasional bits of ska and such... A UK band doing it like the best days of bands like Rancid... nice one. or

19th NOV '09:  GORGOROTH – Quantos Possunt Ad Satanitatem Trahunt (Regain) – Standard issue extreme death metal, all competent and well played and riffing and growling away with all the gusto you’d demand from yer death metal band.. Problem here is that they just bluster along without adding any kind of personality, colour, identity, they may as well be making baked beans, this is just decently played decently produced standard issue fast food extreme death metal and with so many other extreme bands doing genuinely interesting things is there really any point here...? At least curry the beans a little, add some spice, ah hell, ninety percent of extreme metal is a pointless waste of everyone’s time, we’re here for the other ten percent -

VARIOUS - ROUGH TRADE SHOPS: INDIEPOP 09 (Rough Trade) – Twenty five slices and mostly twee, mostly polite, lightweight indie pop. Gone back several times now, flicked through it all and make damn good use of the fast forward button... Gone back again and again... The only thing that really does grab anyone’s ears in any kind of positive way around here is that Sad Day For Puppets track, they’re always good. The Manhattan Love Suicides have a track called Clusterf**k but that just made us want to reach for the Butt Trumpet album, The Legends are alright on here but we really are uninspired by track twenty two... Twenty five slices all gathered together, these things work best on seven inch singles, singles are the vehicles for indie pop, singles in hand made covers, made with a smile and a bit of personality. Really don’t know if they’re all bringing each other down as they sit next each other on here... all this tweeness and lightweight nicey nice could well make a normally stable person want to shout and break things, or at least reach for something with a bit of bite... 

BULL SEE RED – A Girl Called Murder (Lockjaw) - Keep hearing little hints of things at they pick themselves up dust themselves off and get back on their horse, busy side of amore basic straightforward Muse, hints of The Jam (along with the referenced lyric lines), bits of Smashing Pumpkins, just a touch of Refused, all in there with their vibrant attack and their tuneful energy. It maybe generic punky indie guitar rock, they do have a touch of quality and a bag load of energy though - an angry bite or two in there with the melodic restraint and the sometimes rather predictable, sometimes slightly frenetic moves. They’re from the South West of England, this is their debut album, sounds like something to maybe build on... –

ISLAND THREE – Dark And Empty Spaces (Self release) – Six track debut mini album that kind of suffers in terms of production values. They cite Muse and Tool as influences, not hearing much in the way of Muse, but this Birmingham band will be of interest to those with a taste for 90’s sounding neo prog and bands like Shadowland, Arena, Jadis and such. Bit of Porcupine Tree in there. Now and again they’ll hit on a sublime neo prog guitar riff, like that gloriously anthemic start to second track Dial 51... only to have it pulled down by poor production and at times, not the greatest vocals/lyrics ever... A band for the future maybe? If they can get their sound, production and vocals together a little more - but only for those of you who like your slightly epic and rather melodic neo-prog –

17th NOV '09: CUDDLY SHARK – Cuddly Shark (Armellodie) - Head pecking head peckers... peck peck peck... Messed up heads.... here to mess with your head.... There’s been a couple of gloriously in your face and urgently raw singles blistering at us already, here comes the album... Peck peck peck peck peck, Woody Wood Pecker pecking on a tree... That pecking song is a killer... and when they’re not pecking at your head with that pecking song then they’ve got some redneck countrified working fingers to the bone for yer, and they don’t care what you do about it, standing in the kitchen going peck peck peck peck... all the way from Alabama (or maybe the backstreets of Glasgow). Work your fingers to the bone, what d’ya get? Boney fingers...  Got ‘em here typing to bone while head peckers peck... Where’s the review they yell!  We’ve told you before about kissing big cuddly sharks...ugly, kiss ‘em, kiss the glorious ‘f’kers. Glasgow hilbilly rockers with a forthright plug in and play attitude and a bag load of devious songs ‘n wired riffs and grungy stomps on your toes punk rock steamrolling chaos while they yell in your face and peck some more... Peck and drill and yell with all that “idiosyncratic lyricism and odd anti-melodies” and deadly scurge-metal Jesus Lizzard Scissormen attacks... Lonely lonely lonely lonely... f’king say something, f’king say something – the bastard f’king foul-mouth bastard sons of that b’stard Malcolm f’king Tucker... peck peck peck... The carrot and stick aproach, first ram the carrot in, then follow it with the stick... And then they remember their Scottish highland Alabama hilbilly roots again. Most of it comes at you in a furious onslaught but hey, these headpeckers are no one trick ponies and they know how to cover a Hoyt Axeton song with a touch of style... And they get away with that lonely lonely Zeppelin baiting ‘cause they know they can and shake the baby, jelly baby, got me a syndrome...  Brimming with attitude and the bastards know they’re good - they are, they got every right to be cocky about it... They got some Weezer in there, they got some Ween, some Mclusky, they can thrash about, they got a touch of Minor Threat, some early punky Nirvana, some strange comic book hero prowling the streets of Glasgow, some screaming out in constant joy, another bombshell of a song coming your way, they got loads of ‘em, hanging on to every word... proper punk rock, say something, you said you would... Carnage, and they sound like no one else but Cuddly Shark, they damn well rule and this is blistering carnage and pecking and barbed riffs and big hooks and peck peck peck peck peck scuzzy (post) punk f’kin’ rock punch-in-your-face guitar pop from Scotland. It came out yesterday, so we’re a day late, quit with yer pecking already! What goes around comes around. Love it, kiss the big cuddly shark, get out of here with yer... – or

16th NOV '09: SAMSON & DELILAH – Samson & Delilah (Little Red Rabbit) – Gorgeously rich songs, mellow tones, beautiful creations – quiet simple folk-flavoured warmth, layers of colour. Less is more piano, classical touches - melancholy, delicate euphoria, unspoken truths, room-silencing whispers. A very personal, almost private, set of songs from a duo who are partners both in terms of life and music – Sam Lench and Anna Zweck with their intertwining glow. Intriguing, warm, uplifting, quiet and all rather beautiful – or

BONAFIDE – Something’s Dripping (Black Lodge) - More than decent AC/DC flavoured no messing hard driving hard rocking hard edged melodic hard rock. How much more AC/DC could it be? The answer in none, none more AC/DC. They’re not quite in Airbourne’s league, they do it well enough though – locked and loaded, peddle to metal, pass the beer, turn it up... They’re from Sweden, not a hint of anything like an original moment anywhere near the eleven track album. They rock, we like it – melodic heavy metal –

13th NOV '09: FIRE! – You Liked Me Five Minutes Ago (Rune Grammofon) – Mats Gustafsson, he of The Thing and things, leading Fire with his Saxophones, electronics and Fender Rhodes. They’re a trio, this is the debut album, Johan Berthling is on double bass, bass, guitar and purring Hammond Organ, Andreas Werliin (he of Wildbirds and Peacedrums) in on rather colourful drums (Mariam Wallentin adds vocals to the one track that isn’t instrumental).  More improvised composition and seriously front-line experimental progressive (no-wave?) jazz. This flows in a rather satisfying way, four long pieces that are a little easier on the ear than most things Mats Gustafsson involves himself in. Still challenging, still on the hard-boiled creative side of improvised freeform jazz, there’s a pleasing solidness to this, a warm satisfying glow...  mellow noise? Hard-boiled noise with a slight hypnotic psychedelic undercurrent, something for those times when you don’t want those Flying Luttenbachers coming at your head but you still want some improvised challenge and some serious progressive jazz-art. As good as everything Mr Gustafsson is involved in or indeed anything the always excellent Rune Grammofon people put out –
12th NOV '09:  GLASS ROCK – Tall Firs meet Soft Location (Ecstatic Peace) -  Now this has a really satisfying sound, a texture to that 'boneyard’ guitar and that beautiful voice – they describes it as ‘boneyard’ – kind of raw and slightly lo-fi yet so so rich and alive and right there in the room with you. Kathy Leisen has a haunting fragile fractured voice that at the same time is so strong, so demanding of full attention. The bass lines propel things in a slow-mo rolling jazzy kind of way, the drums roll beautifully, all soothing and those guitars just drift with that wash of reverb and that pillow talk and ghostly talk of rats and you know what I mean. Think Chan Marshall, Van Morrison, think just setting up and doing it without a worry or a fuss, think soul, think warmth, think slightly psych-edged pop and Patti Smith and simple blends that don’t really sound like anything or anyone...  Try to touch it, dimensions, simple contradictions, glances, slow wings beating on a white dove. Simple, clever, words to swim in, fine fine fine, a fine blend of lush things from Brooklyn, New York... Rich things, fine fine - or

TRUE BEAT – Back To Square One (self release) – Rather decent London Ska pop, they probably kick a storm live in as back street pub with their skanking and their oi oi chants and such – these street-ska bands always do. This is a decent enough Ska album for you Madness, Specials or the bands of now - Imperial Leisure, Sonic Boom Six... nothing you haven’t heard before, decent enough band, well worth seeing live I should imagine -

MAMA KIN – In The City (Leon) – Rather decent melodic hard rock from Sweden. Think Thin Lizzy melodies/harmonies, a touch of Skid Row attitude (US glam band, not Gary Moore’s old outfit), those vocals have a touch ok Kiss about them, Paul or Gene? Can’t decide.  They look like your typical 80’s US tattoo-covered long-haired glam metal band. Harmless enough radio-friendly melodic guitar driven hard rock for those who like it that way, they're not claining to be doinganything revolutionary, just doing their thing -

PROJECT SKYWARD – Moved By Opposing Forces (Rocket Girl) – Creamy shoegazing electonica and gently washing female-voiced flow ‘n swirl. Flowing electronic textures, forward-moving wistfulness and Cocteau Twins flavours, all very pleasantly soothing and here you go – or

EVERYTHING ON RED – Rotator (Lockjaw) – God damn, another one of those tedious “uplifting” poppy indie-guitar emo rock bands who make you want to break things, what did we do to deserve this? I know, I know, we got a policy around here that involves us just ignoring these things and not taking up your time and our space. All harmonised emo-boy vocals and light-weight wimpy keyboards and let’s just turn this off now before something does get broken... And don’t get me started on this press release here that’s telling us that they’re tacking punk rock tedium... Pass me a hammer, pass me that disc, we got ways of tackling this kind of tedium. Do not send us anymore of these bed wetting emo boy band albums, go take your happy poppy preppy wannabe Americanisms and your tedious as far away for anything that resembles anything anywhere near and idea of punk rock and stuff it somewhere dark and painful. “Unique sound”? You really do take the piss with these press releases don’t you! Pass the Rat Attack album, an antidote is needed.  This might just be even worse than that dreadful Enter Shikari band - “full of massive hooks that just beg you to stand up and sing along” says the press release, yeah sure, that’s what we’ll be doing, standing up and singing along... –

12th NOV '09:  JELLO BIAFRA and the GUANTANAMO SCHOOL OF MEDICINE – The Audacity Of Hype (Alternative Tentacles) – So Jello and his new band have put a record out... The audacity of the man, doesn’t he know when to give up? Call the army, call the government, let’s have a roll call, who are these people? Jello back with a full proper band rather than the collaborations of recent times. The band features Ralph Spight (Victims Family, Freak Accident, Hellworms), Jon Weiss (Sharkbait, Horsey), Billy Gould (Faith No More) & Kimo Ball (Freak Accident, Carneyball Johnson, Mol Triffid, Griddle), Meanwhile all of the art is by Shepard Fairey – the Obey giant guy and the creator of that iconic Obama blue and red ‘Hope’ imagery that was around for the last US election.. Artwork couldn’t be better, surfing the zeitgeist and doing pretty much what you’d expect from a Jello/Fairey collaboration, true piece of album art, almost a lost art these days. 
       Let’s dive in then... flat screen flat screen on the wall, who’s the... Giving up is still not an option he yells in that distinctive voice of his. The man may have past 50 now, still kicking out with all that energy he’s always has though. Not enough? Well what the hell did you do today? All the lyrical vitriol, all the bite, all the questions, the calls to stand, to affect change, take on whoever needs the be taken on – the governments, the corporations, the corporations who run the governments - insurrection, coca cola, Nike town, forced Iraqnophobia, homeland insecurity, police states, class war.... Doing something is better than doing nothing... Nope, he’s not giving up yet, he’s not compromising in any way when he has every right to sit back and say he’s more than done his bit – he’s got the scars already. Punk rock as a political weapon? Sure, some of it might be stating the bleedin’ obvious, sometimes stating the obvious is the only option isn’t it?. A bit of obvious hey you, wake up! A bit of provocation as the majority sleepwalk through life doing pretty much nothing besides consuming what they want you to consume. You can choose what you think but not what they give you right? Ignite a little thought here and there, kick start an opinion or two, a little more that the latest punk rock hair-gel on sale at Hot Topic. Shame it takes a fifty year old man to do it, where are the new voices? 
         So you’ve got Jello raging against the machine in his usual forthright way... Raging with that oh so distinctive voice of his, a voice that makes it impossible to not compare this latest work to his classic Dead Kennedys days. That voice and all the forthright energy makes it impossible to not think of this in terms of the band that ended over twenty years ago now. And when you do, you do kind of miss that musical twist that the Dead Kens had back there, some of that early stuff was almost Cardiacs-like. This new band seem a little straight forward and lacking a little in terms of the dimensions the Dead Kennedys (or even the Jelvins) had. Nit picking here but this is pretty much straight forward no messing in terms of the music...  This is straight at you, this is fast-paced space-rock flavoured heavy punk riffage that’s almost proto-heavy metal. I guess it works as a vehicle for Jello’s non-compromising voice - his questions, his anger, his energy... Oh there is a twist here now and again, a stop for a gulp of air there, while pets eat their masters and such, need a little more from the band though...  Oh look, I’m just trying to find holes, be objective, no one ever says anything negative in a Jello review do they? It’s just not done. We all end up sounding like fawning frothing fans don’t we? And why the hell not, the man is a hero, be thankful, he’s 50 years old and still standing up there making records like this when we have no right to expect him to. Still raging, still standing there, head above the ground, throwing out the questions, being the target, when almost everyone else has long since sold out and given up. This is classic Biafra, straight at you, not a hint of compromise or growing old gracefully, more of a question throwing punk rock beast than he ever was...  Nice one, while there’s people like Jello still out there, there is still hope isn’t there? Find the album in the UK via

THE JOKERS – Big Rock & Roll Show (Top Two) – Slick hard rock from the North West on England, The Jokers touch bases with classic bands like Aerosmith or AC/DC, like Thunder, like Aerosmith again (lot of Aerosmith in here), they maybe brush with Led Zep’s more conventional hard rock moments... They have a dash of Mott The Hoople in there, a sprinkling of The Who, a hint of Uriah Heep, The Beatles (and maybe just now and again we can detect a liking for some Aerosmith in there, just a touch mind you...). Touching bases with some classic hard rock bands and doing it in a very slick very professional faultlessly good way.  If classic melodic tuneful slick hard rock be your thing, then these Jokers from Liverpool do it very very well indeed. Spot on production, slick looking artwork, slick vocals, slick everything, slick slick big rock & roll show hard rock, hit the links if you want some, we merely point signposts... or

SUBARACHNOID SPACE – Eight Bells (Crucial Blast) - First release from Portland’s Subarachnoid Space since 2005’s The Red Veil and more in that rather familiar heavy lysergic vein of theirs...  “Narcotized jamming” and big slabs of slow moving sound that, without really being that obvious about it, is somewhere in a dark moody field near Neurosis. Heavy churning guitar sculptures, big instrumental soundscapes, slow moving and graceful in their oversized monsterously psychedelic kind of way – drifting towards a reflective kind of this is The End feel and some kind of Doors-like lost up the river territory, heading way up the delta and off the map. They’re pretty much instrumental all the time here once more, they’re pretty much full on all the time, even during the quieter reflective bits and all the calm before the next all enclosing storm they’re pretty much full on. Never anything but full on with that metallic crunch and those riffs that build and build...  If you know them already then this latest line of Subarachnoid Space are pretty much in the same heavier territory as they have been now for their last few albums, they’ve got their own finger prints all over it, no one else quite like them – those sky-streaking guitars freekouts and the joyous euphoria that breaks up the paranoia and the claustrophobia. Opening with a piece called Lilith and not letting up until the closing note and that moment of silence that comes afterwards, this is serious left-field mind-moving progressive psychedelic metal – or

SPRAY HEAD (Organart 2009)11th NOV '09: On we roll, album in, album on, tell you about the good ones, ignore the ones that weren't worth our words or your time.... 

MY ROBOT FRIEND – Soft-Core (Double Feature) – Let’s not beat around the bush here, this is excellent. My Robot Friend will make you smile, they’ll make you touch your toes, make you dance – they’ll have you up all night, asleep all day, and you’ll only have yourself to blame. Silky pop alive with expansive emotion, classic 80’s synth goodness with a touch of northern soul. If Pet Shop Boys had been from New York and had a slice of Devo about them and everybody was a robot robot... Infectiously catchy and just perfect (alternative) pop.. Delicious melodies, soul, questions about relationships with technology, lush lush silky sounds and just slightly eclectic and eccentric and learn to follow those rules and be repressed and your parents will be so proud of your success – choose failure and regret, do not go off like a match with a constantly burning head... Sometimes pop music is just brilliant –

GLASS GHOST – Idol Omen (Western Vinyl) – Their debut album, fragile falsetto experimental new wave pop and something near to Animal Collective playing with the buttons on Deerhoof’s shirt while strange hip-hop influenced new wave This Heat rhythms dance by in such an efficiently modern weird-ass manner. Crafted and different, otherness in those drum and keyboards experiments that are always within the frames of songs... Sometimes fragile, sometimes magical, occasionally just a little sinister, their slightly strange crystalline musical world is well worth investigating. The two of them were once part of New York outfit Flying, now Eliot Krimsky and Mike Johnson are obviously enjoying the space and freedom this two piece set up affords  them...

9th NOV '09:  SPACE – The Best Of (Nang) - Once upon a time, in a land way before Daft Punk, lived a disco-synth band called Space. One part Kraftwerk Kraut rock, two parts hooky we are the robots Euro synth-disco. They wore spacesuits a;; the time, including those big 70’s helmets. They released four albums and sold twelve million records between 1977 and 1981, before imploding in a clinch of bitter lawsuits and holed oxygen tanks   - and you probably don’t know a thing about them do you? I bet you know Magic Fly though, you’d know it if you heard it, ah yeah, that one, that still sounds as fresh as ever here as opening track on this best of collection of 70’s futurism and robotic dancesynth. Thing is nothing can really follow Magic Fly and while some of the material here still sounds good, some of it sounds rather dated and cheesy (especially when they bring in the disco-diva vocals rather than sticking to the instrumental work). Still the good bits make this collection worth it, you’ve got those classic syn drums and those brilliant old school synth sounds, that mix of Kraut-ish electronica and funk... There’s a couple of spot on perfect bits of euro-synth plastic pop on here and Magic Fly will always be as cool as... Space were great (this Space, not the later Mid 90’s Brit pop lot), they deserve a little more recognition, a little more of place in history - and this could be where Daft Punk got most of their best ideas... Some of it is really is maybe just a little bit too cheesy though –

8th NOV '09: KATY CARR – Couquette (Deluce) - This third Katy Carr album is a delicate delight. A new album alive with gentle glowing songs, with soothing words, with little twists somewhere in there with those flighty butter wouldn’t melt lyrics and that velvety voice of hers. Not so delicate that you can’t really grab hold of it all, these are strong confident clever songs, songs you can really get catch great big strong handfuls of. Flights of fancy indeed and if we were feeling lazy and looking for shortcuts we’d talk of English folk and Kate Bush, of Sally Oldfield and Bat For Lashes, of thirties/forties night clubs, nouveau lines, a touch of Dietrich or Piaf, a hint of Beardsley, of Spitfires purring over white cliffs and art deco sunset stained glass windows, of lace fronted pillbox hats and luscious red lips. Drawing on strings, orchestral play, pulling on threads, and that innocent undercurrent of hers once more, that playful naughtiness that brings a smile, that voice that soothes so much. Ms Carr’s finest album yet, her most refined and sophisticated, and really sound like no one else, her bold folky personality is shining through now, her folk song background playing with those chamber orchestra strings. This is a confident Katy Carr, a strong album full of creativity and alive with emotion, full of soothing goodness (and an erotic day or two), Katy's finest album yet, fine flights indeed - or

VIOLET VIOLET – The City Is Full Of Beasts (NR One) – Feisty spiky goodness and a second album follow up to that all round well received debut Bitchbox. This is a step or two up, things are sounding good, on their toes from the start with those edgy duel-pronged vocals, Cheri Violet on vocals and guitars, Violet Fliss on vocals and drums, aided by a polyphonic octave generator (whatever the heck that is). The spiky spiky duo deal in pointy quirky urgent indie pop that really is rather refreshing thrilling - all juddering and biting and slightly angular and tales of c-c-c-cats and vultures and other beasts. They’re from Norwich, they’re feisty fun, this isn’t throwaway though, more than just feisty fun and DIY attitude here - this is accomplished song-making, music-playing goodness... Oh oh oh... swallow it whole... put it a locket...  put it in your pocket, it’ll break in to your head and play all day - c-c-c-cats rule, you know that. They’ll break in, they’ll get inside your head with their inventive rhythm-making and their word-trickery, their now rather strident dynamics and their smile-inducing thrill of the chase... Coming ‘round, coming ‘round – shouty spiky pop art bruts and all weak at the knees, fresh boned good... or

6th NOV '09: SENSER – How To Do Battle (Imprint) – Back for more, born again, new Senser album, does exactly what you’d expect a Senser album to do, and done with all the stylish bite and right at you attitude you’d expect from one of the finest bands of the 90’s.  Almost nostalgic, that mix of London flavoured subversion, defiance, rap and crunching metal energy, that touch of them and us activist free festival counter-culture question-throwing subversive undercurrent. Google it if you don’t recognise the reference, rhymes clash with straight lines, re-amplify, re-invent... London rap, crunching guitars, deck manipulation, extraordinary renditions, picking holes in the crossfire and that familiar (to those who were there at the time) Senser dual voice boy/girl rap-metal end of the world show in full (JVC) force again. Smoking up all that paranoia, if they’re going down they’re taking all with them. If you were there back then at those festivals or those Ozric tours, then Senser still have all that bite and energy, they’re sounding as fit and up for it as ever, they’ll bring a 90’s smile to your face, bringing that cyclone direct in to your home, that stew of metal bombs, shapes, rivers of heat...  Senser delivering the beats, that London punk attitude that came out of the squats, out of Club Dog, out of DIY free festival photocopied zine culture - thought-senders, see how your life is sucking down, tunes to illuminate the bars of your cage, if they didn’t exist you’d have to invent them, pushing on in to the next century. If you weren’t there and you don’t know then Senser are still for you, go take your first bite - grown and married but the flow still carrying, still there like that first youthful taste of Man Parrish. This is Senser sounding fresh again, more up for it than ever, Heitham and Kerstin firing words, band scratching up a storm of riffs... This is not about retro, not retracing, rock rock don’t stop, rocking those bells, nothing nostalgic here, agitating now, civilised society? Crass as hell, hush up, buckle up, they’re gonna take you for a ride, orange boiler suits on, cctv, condemnation of another terrorzone, sales of hate on the up, groomed for a new demographic - you can choose what you want but not what you’re given, no end of the world show reruns here, re-challenging minds.  Senser back and sounding better than ever, go search then out, it isn’t going to be served up to you – you can choose what you want but not what you’re given, go choose Senser - or
30th OCT '09: WHIPLASH – Unborn Again (Pulverised) - “Oh for Christ’s sake” yelled Rip “You're bloody joking!!!!? No!!!??? Surely NOT!!! These bands are like that indestructible bleedin' robot in The Terminator aren't they? They just NEVER DIE! Don't tell me, the cover art looks as if it's been daubed by a retarded baboon on a sack full of Freaky Smith's home grown mushrooms doesn't it?”
               And yes, Cruncher does have a point doesn’t he. Whiplash, cult thrash heroes from back there, born again and back for more... And sounding remarkably average and rather past their sell-by-date - if you’re gonna come back you need to come back sounding at least as good as before. Ponderous old school thrashy heavy metal that now and again slips in to the right gear and reminds us of the ticket to mayhem Whiplash once were back there. One for diehard fans only. No doubt they’ll fill their pockets at all those big European metal festivals alongside all the others next summer, they’re all at it...
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Two sartorially elegant reviews of things we’ve already reviewed, the Terry Edward album back somewhere around 1997, and the Big Sexy Noise thing a few months ago...

TERRY EDWARDS & THE SCAPEGOATS – I Didn’t Get Where I Am Today (Sartorial) – Reissue of the 1997 album with bonus tracks that appeared on singles and one previously unreleased track - a track that was left off the original album, a track ironically called Stop Trying To Sell Me Back My Past – “a song commenting on the plethora of Edwards’ contemporaries plundering rock’s back catalogue and presenting it as their own”. Well those were the days of Brit pop and Oasis and... The Scapegoats are only trying you sell us their own past, well, with help of a few familiar riffs and such with this one rather good track... You have here, for those who don’t know the album or Terry Edwards, an edgy mix of sax driven back-room jazz, scuzzy garage punk (great version of Iggy Pop’s Dog Food on here), wired low-life lurch, a touch of funk, some Archie Shepp approved warm tones, things that adventure down experimental side streets now and again, things that just explode with glorious jazz-noise. Almost mellow jazz one minute driving Stooges the next, walls of no wave freeform noise, you’re never quite sure what they’re going to hit you with next. They always manage to sound like no one but The Scapegoats, does it get a little too disjointed to really flow as one album though? Something to cherry pick depending on your mood? Whatever they’re coming at you with, they almost certainly did/do it better than most. This album just might have been ahead of time back there in 1997. Back then when the mainstream media had a stranglehold, the www hadn’t really kicked in and ideas weren’t flowing back and forth around the globe like they do now. Things flowing around the glove and the net, opening up the ears and minds of music makers/listeners to the real possibilities and the real cross-pollination that up until then was isolated and stuck in individual cities, not really escaping beyond local scenes and zines and out beyond...  Things are a lot more open now, everyone a mouse click away and who needs the music press? Time for the rest of the world to know what we’ve known here in London all along, Mr Edwards rocks. And this sounds as fresh now as it did back then, sounds like something made six months ago. If you’ve never heard Terry Edwards go check this out, if you have then you know and you probably need it for all the extra bits and that excellent plundering of rock’s back catalogue and those ‘borrowed’ riffs and who’s the eggman?

An album review we ran back in June when the beautiful thing came out on vinyl only. The album is now coming out on CD with extra tracks, including a Lynyrd Skynyrd cover.... 

LYDIA LUNCH – Lydia Lunch’s Big Sexy Noise (Sartorial) - How much does that opening vibrate your foundations? Is That how to start an album or what? Right down to the bone. That is the filthiest opening to an album since Saint Silas Intersession crashed right out the door in a hail of bruises and spilt body fluid ... Low slung dirty groove and soul-shaking blues that move everything is what we have here, big sexy noise indeed. Lydia Lunch accompanied by three slices of Gallon Drunk  - Terry Edwards, James Johnston and Ian White...  “Big Sexy noise is the primeval bump, grind and holler of White’s thuggish drums, Johnston’s moronic low-tuned riffing and Edwards’ brutal organ and sax interventions led by Lunch’s take-no-prisoners vocals” – we stole that from the press release, they explain it all so well themselves with their banging on the door. Six songs, a vinyl only album divided nicely, The Sexy Side and The Noisy Side. Four tracks written by the band, one cover of Lou Reed’s Kill Your Sons and a track called The Gospel Singer, a song that’s apparently been on the back-burner for a while, since Lydia co-wrote it with Kim Gordon during some Sonic Youth downtime. Vinyl only, unless you’re satisfied with a mere download that is... Another Man Comin’ (While The Bed Is Still Warm) is that filthy wet, warm, stained, spilt opener, Lydia in control of it all, clearly no one f**ks with Ms Lunch unless she wants them to...  beautiful filth, brutal blues, very big sexy noise, got it bad... or or

THE BANSHEE – Your Nice Habits (Suiteside) – They’re from Italy, they sound like yet another Franz or maybe another Klaxons or a mix of the two, or occasionally a not so sarcastic version of Art Brut or maybe that other band, you know, the one the NME had on their cover the other week... The Banshee sound like a lot of current (are Franz still current?) new wave flavoured indie pop things... Things that sound like a watered-down collection of bits of things current bands have borrowed from far better bands from back there, things like Wire, XTC, Devo and such. Nothing really wrong with the things The Banshee do, they do their thing well enough - decent songs, good production, good singer and things... Not hearing anything here that doesn’t sound like something we haven’t already heard somewhere sometime someplace on daytime alternative indiepop radio or late night mainstream TV or... They do it well enough, I guess they’re having fun, I guess that’s the point? I guess there’s some point in telling you all this? I guess there is? I guess that’s why someone sent it in...? I guess.... things... or

SOUND STORM – Twilight Opera (Rising) – Full on storm of cod-classical cram-everything-in histrionic operatic Euro metal. You’ve got a full on metal band with all their piercing guitars, pounding drums and everything you’d expect from a full on technical neo-prog Euro metal band, you got it all accompanied by a string ensemble and an eight-piece choir. You’ve got a concept album, you’ve got a packed-to-bursting sledgehammer-to-crack-a-nut onslaught of busy modern classical neo-prog metal that never stops. You’ve got nothing that’s anywhere near anything that could be considered subtle or progressive in the real sense, the classical angle is slick and mechanical.... Oh look, this really isn’t doing much for any ears around here, if it sounds interesting to you then go hit the link and explore the thing for yourself – or

Why are we going on about The Raincoats today? Because that first album is all that’s been playing here today in the Organ studio and we'd almost forgotten just how good it is. Why did we play two tracks from their seminal 1979 album on the radio show last Sunday?  Because We ThRee have just announced the reissue of the ‘The Raincoats’ the legendary first album by The Raincoats originally released on Rough Trade Records in 1979. “Widely acclaimed as one of the musical highlights of the post punk period  and a breakthrough moment for women in music, ‘The Raincoats’ has been commercially  unavailable for the past 10 years. We ThRee is The Raincoats' own label and will release the album on vinyl on 19 October and a special   edition digipak enhanced cd with live footage from 1979, on 9 November 2009. Kill Rock Stars will release the album on vinyl simultaneously in the USA. 

THE RAINCOATS – The Raincoats (We Three) – You know, haven’t really listened to The Raincoats properly for years... Sure it’s well documented just how influential they were back there, well documented through the 80’s/90’s – the first wave of post-punk, the Nirvana years, the Riot Grrrl days. When this debut album originally came out back in 1979 it was rightly recognised as a ground-breaking piece of post-punk feminist art. There hadn’t really been an all girl rock band quite like The Raincoats before - Girlschool were doing it in a parallel musical universe, doing their punky metal t-shirt and jeans just get out there and play with Motorhead, The Damned and the rest kind of way, besides Girlschool, there hadn’t really been a serious all girl rock band doing it all on their own terms. That’s almost a distraction though, sure there was the strong feminist statement and their stance in terms of gender politics was (and still is) important, but that is a distraction – The Raincoats were simply one of the very best post-punk bands of their time. And after all these years, this sounds as fresh and now as ever (wonder if it did five years ago? Has it all come around again?). Scratchy angular, awkwardly fluid and always demand of an ear both in terms of the music and the lyrics. Right up there with the very best post-punk bands that flowed through the door opened by the possibilities that were suddenly there – The Fall, P.I.L, the new independent labels, people doing it themselves, Rough Trade the whole brave new independent music world – a kick up the establishment in so many ways  The Raincoats really do sum the whole thing perfectly with this debut piece of work. 
       The Raincoats version of the Kinks classic Lola is a piece of genius, with all those I’d never ever kissed a woman before twists, their own songs are where they really come to life though. Hard to pick out a stand-out track, this debut album was packed with good stuff and back there in 1979 they were just about to set out influencing a whole generation of  pro-active music makers. One listen to the current crop of underground bands, bands like Vile Vile Creatures, Anarchistwood, will tell you instantly how long their influence has lasted.  The Raincoats is a classic piece of post-rock positivity that stands up as well today as it did back then when it first came out (or when we first heard it back somewhere there - The Raincoats really were one of those underground bands you just kept hearing about). If this was a new album from a new band coming out for the first time this week we’d be raving about it, fresh, timeless and important...

“I really don’t know much about The Raincoats except that they recorded some music that has affected me so much that whenever I hear it I’m reminded of a particular time in my life when I was (shall we say) extremely unhappy,  lonely and bored. If it weren’t for the luxury of putting on that scratchy copy of The Raincoats’ first record, I would have had very few moments of  peace.”   (Kurt Cobain, Nirvana, June 1993)

“It was The Raincoats I related to most. They seemed like ordinary people  playing extraordinary music. Music that was natural that made room for cohesion of personalities. They had enough confidence to be vulnerable and to be themselves without having to take on the mantle of male rock/punk rock aggresion... ...or the typical female as sex symbol avec irony or sensationalism.” (Kim Gordon, Sonic Youth,1993) 

“We just really loved what The Raincoats were doing, they were a really exciting band. I think the thing that was good about The Raincoats simply wasthat the tradition that they were playing in was their own and so they had an original voice. You couldn’t ignore them - they were undeniably fascinating - the interplay between the two voices and the sound of the group was something original and that was what was exciting about them.” (Geoff Travis, Rough Trade Records, February 2009) 

28th OCT '09:  TOM OVANS  - Get On Board (Floating World) – Rough-throated blue collar working class North American singer songwriter from the industrial side of East Austin, Texas. Recorded on organic analogue equipment. Full of real honest grit, both in the words and the music, Neil Young, Tom Petty, Steve Earl, Townes Van Zandt, Dylan... Tom Ovans fits in comfortable up there with all those names... This is his twelfth album recorded in a warehouse building he shares with a concrete fabrication shop; “It’s hard to find an edgy studio anymore” says Ovans. He certainly found enough to make a very edgy, very accomplished acoustic singer/songwriter record - an edgy, leathery, heart-felt, gritty set of songs that look at those who share his US homeland, as well as his own life, looks at it all straight on and comes out full of defiance rather than desolation you might just feel until you pay full attention –

27th OCT '09:  WHITE OUT with JIM O ROURKE and THURSTON MOORE – Senso (Ecstatic Peace!) – Double CD set, two rather long pieces of evolving experimental music on two discs. A live recording from 2004 when both O‘Rourke and Moore joined the White Out duo of Lin Cullberton and Tom Surgal on stage at the Tonic Club in New York City. Experimental avant improvisation that’s been droning and quietly screeching and scraping and jazzing and no waving and buzzing away here for what seems like days. Just two tracks over the two discs, two forty minute pieces. Not so freeform that it feels out of control or without some kind of vague structure or framework, do wonder how much of this is a case of the emperor’s clothing though. This is good, as improv sound art/no wave goes it kind of feels like a lot of things that have flowed through here many times before. Nothing too abrasive or hardboiled, just controlled, pleasant, decent, slightly jagged, No Wave contemporary improvised jazz that’s challenging and rather enjoyable without really pulling up any new trees or opening any new wounds or doing any of those abrasive thing you kind of expect from things like this. Soothing noise that breathes with elegant restraint  – or





KELLY JOHNSON (Girlschool)
KELLY JOHNSON (Girlschool)