Tuesday, 28 February 2023

Spiral XP - It's Been A While

No question Spiral XP have the first two Ride EPs and Whirlpool by Chapterhouse. Deja Vu (maybe that's tongue-in-cheek self-referential) is a pure vortex of crashing guitars, melodious mayhem and a thunderous call to the indie disco dancefloor. I can hear the riotous uproar of early Dinosaur Jr in there as well.

Free Thinking and The Hunger are more adventurous, hinting at a working knowledge of My Bloody Valentine's Soon - glide guitar, disorientating rhythm and ghostly atmosphere.

There's a lot of shoegaze revival (at least no one's using 'nu gaze' anymore) and most of it's pedestrian retreads of faded songs. Spiral XP, though, have stuck fireworks under old sounds and sent them into the stratosphere. Definitely ones to watch. My £5 says Sonic Cathedral are preparing an album deal for summer 2023.

Monday, 20 February 2023

Dwaal Troupe - Lucky Dog

The Chicago wing of the Elephant 6 fan club? Maybe - they share Masters of the Hemisphere's skewed pop, Apples in Stereo's narcotic bliss and Elf Power's hazy hypnosis.

But there's also anti-folk friction here - think Kimya Dawson or Adam Green solo, rich psych desolation and romantic solitude. Dwaal is Afrikaans for "a dreamy, dazed, absent-minded, or befuddled state" (thanks, Google), so full marks for self-awareness and full marks also for the brass section.

Dwaal Troupe have an especially strong knack of writing tender ballads, revealing greater depths to the all-out pop assault and suggesting there's even better and brighter things to come.

Saturday, 18 February 2023


The talk-singing reminds me of Sue Tompkins' (Life Without Buildings) antsy defiance, matched by fidgety post-punk guitars and taut sprung bass like the the first two Go-Betweens albums. You know all the other reference points - Talking Heads, The Fall and The Raincoats if you're old; Dry Cleaning, Black Country, New Road, and Display Homes if you're still paying off your student loan.

So others do it and others have done it, but Dancer are special. And not just because they rhyme "couple of glasses" with "catharsis" or have a song called Chris Whitty's Inner World. Don't ask me to explain their alchemy. Sometimes - rarely, that's the point - a band turns up, traps lightning in a jar and leaves you gaping.

All of Dancer are in other bands who you, being cooler than me, already know everything about. You'll surely agree, though, that they might just as well have a song called We're Better Than Other Bands And You Know It. They've given themselves the search engine-proof name Dancer with a self-titled release. No matter. I'm certain Domino and Rough Trade have their chequebooks open in the first round of a bidding war. Dancer are, after all, the best new band in Britain.

Wednesday, 21 December 2022

20 new songs by 20 new acts from 2022

What a year for new music! Twenty songs, then, from the 2022 vintage. All by new bands, or new to me. Or in some cases like Amateur Hour and Chronophage and Lewsberg, bands I didn't put on previous years no matter they were as excellent then as they are now.

Yes, I know now that Apollo Ghosts have been going forever, but I only found them this year when they were supporting a band I like. The moral of the story: go to gigs, watch the support bands, find a new favourite band that week.

Doe St - Pandanus

Sinaïve - Ténèbres

Taste - Passed Out In Petals

Eggs - Walking Down To The Cemetery Road

Jim Nothing - Nowhere Land

Spice World - Dying To Go

Fortitude Valley - It's The Hope That Kills You

The Martial Arts - Bethany

Beachheads - Jupiter

Fleur - Besoin De Personne

Astrel K - 'Is It It Or Is It i?'

Chronophage - Summer To Fall

Amateur Hour - Feel My Loneliness

Apollo Ghosts - I'll Be Around

Flinch - thanks Ophelia

Gonora Sounds - Wapinda Mazviri

Semi Trucks - Motorbike Riding Star

Lewsberg - In Your Hands

Green/Blue - Same Waste Of Time

Shawn Lee & The Angels Of Libra - Souvenir

Saturday, 29 October 2022

Anna Savage - Queens Rd.

Stripped back ghostly folk like Maxine Funke from the present or Sybille Baier from the past. It really could be from any time.

All spindly fragility, boldly stark and introspective. You could play this next to Flowertown for hushed emotional intimacy. Just two songs now, but as it's so high quality we need an Anna Savage album.

Wednesday, 26 October 2022

Fleur - Besoin De Personne

Four to the floor nothern soul flavour which asks the really important question: what would Serge Gainsbourg writing for France Gall in the early 80s mod revival sound like?

The answer is: amazing and irresistible. Romantics will want to buy the 7" immediately. Everyone else will knock back another drink and head straight to the dancefloor.

Tuesday, 25 October 2022

Spice World - Dying To Go

A scratch band with no expense spent and very likely no rehearsal time, Dying To Go sounds like it was made up on the spot and everything fell into place just so. Life's good like that sometimes.

They remind me of early Dick Diver (campfire acoustic pop) and Moses Campbell (ask your obscuro muso friend) and The Mountain Goats (rugged passion). They don't sound like the Spice Girls or any bands named after films except maybe They Might Be Giants.

I'm less keen on What A Pity What A Shame, which suggests lightning doesn't strike twice. There's an album next year on Tenth Court and Meritorio, which I'm looking forward to and hoping that, after all, lightning strikes several times.