Thursday, 18 June 2020

The Reds, Pinks & Purples - I Should Have Helped You

This 4-track 7” is a sort of greatest hits from The Reds, Pinks & Purples’ wonderfully prolific digital outpouring of Fisher-Price psychedelia by way of TVPs Mummy Your Not Watching Me and kitchen-sink romantic desolation by way of The Field Mice, perhaps most closely If You Need Someone.

Pressing these songs on vinyl is a statement that they’re worth preserving after enjoying them. The mighty I Dischi Del Barone label has created a lovely artefact - thick card sleeve, full colour postcard image, hand-stamped labels - because these things matter.

And because when you return to this record in 5 or 10 or 15 years’ time, having played it to death first time around, you get to enjoy its majesty anew in all its glory.

Or, you know, just go to their bandcamp and buy some songs. You can’t go wrong with any of them.


Tuesday, 16 June 2020

Pash - Demonstration

Shoplifting is one of the year’s best pop songs - simple, sugary, addictive. A sustained haze of slo-mo guitar fuzz, naggingly ragged biss and instant pop gratification, kind of like My Bloody Valentine before they went supernova or the best of those bands with girls in their name, say Dum Dum Girls. Or the Shop Assistants, who all those bands with girls in their name wanted to be. It’s that good.

Double Date, Pash’s other song, isn’t as good as Shoplifting because very few songs are (although its intense muffled rumblings remind me a little of McCarthy's classic Frans Hals), but it still hints at great things to come. Keep an eye on this band. They’re already pretty special.

There's a tape of Demonstration (fill in your own Dolly Mixture reference) or buy the download.


Thursday, 28 May 2020

Loopsel

Melancholy hauntology, like Broadcast and the Focus Group’s Witch Cults or a subdued Boards of Canada. The Spiral was recorded for a video installation in Copenhagen last year but it could have been recorded to soundtrack a 4AD fan slowly drowning.

Loopsel is Elin Engström from Monokultur and Skiftande Enhete, and this is closer to Monokultur’s motorik dub meets early 80s electronic ambience, only it’s less chilled out and more eerily chilled to the bone.

Better still is the 4-track 7”, the first release on Elin and JJ Ulius’s new label Mammas Mysteriska Jukebox, a field recording covered in analogue cobwebs, innocence and creepy organs. Both records are beautifully packaged and will change hands for a small fortune in the future.


Saturday, 16 May 2020

The Great Divides - Face The World, Again

There’s a side to the Australian underground that gets overlooked: the sense of longing magnified by distance. It’s what happens when the sound of the suburbs is amplified by being nowhere near anything.

It’s the tenets of indie music swelled to bursting, imagining the only way love will ever find you is by washing up in a message in a bottle. But you’re nearer to the desert than the ocean.

It’s why, recently, we’ve had Interstate Forever by Dick Diver, Nullarboor by Lower Plenty and Mainland by Foxy Morons.

And it’s why nature is closer to the Australian songwriter’s spirit. The Great Divides “hear the sound of galahs in the morning”. This feeling never leaves some Australian musicians. Like Grant McLennan, writing Bye Bye Pride in London:

A white moon appears
Like a hole in the sky
The mangroves go quiet

Or David McComb, whose Wide Open Road is a metaphor for the isolation of his now empty bed. The Great Divide’s Let Them In plays a similar musical trick to The Triffids by bending American country rock into Australia’s brutal tropical heat with cavernous resonance.

Mainly, though, The Great Divides play jangly indiepop with strong, playful basslines like Jeanines or The Lucksmiths (you know, their name might be a play on the Luckies song The Great Dividing Range, or riffing on Australian geography and loneliness). Whichever way you look at it, this is a really strong debut and The Great Divides are a band to watch.


Friday, 15 May 2020

Dummy

Angel’s Gear is a swirl of organs and a mess of guitars like when Rocketship stamp their feet on the pedals and set the fx variously to ‘fuzzy’, ‘dreamlike’ and ‘stratospheric’.

Dummy clearly share an aesthetic - and a record collection - with Stereolab: motorik beats, quicksilver keyboards, guitar hypnosis, ultra-styled minimalism.

Some bands have brilliantly taken bits of that aesthetic in recent years - let’s hear it one more time for Le SuperHomard, The Prophet Hens, Ulrika Spacek, Whyte Horses, Small Reactions - but Dummy remind you that Stereolab haven’t made a record in a decade and not one as good as this for longer.

You know the drill, you’ve heard it before, but you haven’t heard it done this well in years.


Friday, 17 April 2020

More Magic, More Magic - Kevin Hairs

Or more drugs for the ears for the lonely with holes in their hearts. Tangled, tune-laden guitars (think The Verlaines without Graeme Downes’ music PhD) that sound like they recorded in a tin shed while the rain hammered down.

Trebly, adenoidal noise like the Real Numbers’ recent hits, short, sharp and punchy like Buzzcocks (check that guitar solo on Subdued at the VCU) and - you know what’s coming - Television Personalities for crippled emotional jangle.

Levity or maybe self-awareness or perhaps a depressive fog lifts in The Day I Became A Dick. These songs break no new ground. They don’t try to. That’s sort of the point. You’ll get them right away. It’s pop music. And that’s what matters.



Sunday, 5 April 2020

Portabella

Guided By Voices have a 25th anniversary edition of Alien Lanes coming out. There is of course no point to this other than record company profit margins.

Alien Lanes opens with the immortal lyric: “The new drunk drivers have hoisted the flag.” It was a triumphant line celebrating the new. So forgive me but I’m far more excited about a new band hoisting the flag for GBV’s ‘4 Ps’ - pop, punk, prog, psych - than I am about a reissue.

The irresponsible reprobates driving the tour van into uncharted terrain this week are Portabella, brothers from South Carolina, who have apparently “been making music in some form for the last 20 years with a rotating cast of friends popping in”. Sounds like code for sniffing glue in their mum’s garage while failing to find full-time employment.

And their 15 songs sound like a lot of happy accidents, short, sharp songs, blurring genre lines, no compromise, frantically manic. They brilliantly show ingenuity, perseverance and extreme individualism.They have no restraints. Or anniversary reissue plans.