Saturday 30 November 2013

A Postcard Records Catalogue

Or "catalogh", if you will. This comes from May 1993 with it own catalogue number, Dubh 9310. It's basically an A3 poster: on one side reviews, soundbites and slogans cut and pasted in punk-rock fanzine collage style; on the other, the catalogue itself with invective, vituperation and a declaration: "This is not an independent record label. This is a secret organisation."

Best of all is the history and mnifeso, The Virtuosos of unspecific anger

Postcard ran for just over a year on an explosive fuel of anger, ego, hysteria and everyday insanity. Chaos! Although it can't have been total chaos, 'cause we got a lot done. Decisions would be based on an emotional repose rather than business calculation or hadn't you guessed? We were very young and made it up as we went. You see, there were no ground rules then. We were inventing the rules.

It was a pretty perverse vision and it was important not to let anyone's reality impinge. It seemed to me integral to maintain an almost fascist approach. Edwyn still accuses me of setting up as the arbiter of taste! We were quite wonderfully arrogant, anti-RockBiz, anti-FalseModesty - the trappings of a Scottish Presbyterian upbringing. fuck the Church, Fuck the Government. Fuck Fuck Fuck teh Fuck - y'know the sort of thing you go through it. Actually. I think I got stuck at that bit. Oh dear!

So anyway, it was an instant success. Knickerbocker Glorys every day! But with the sugar came pressure - those awful feelings of responsibility. And the opportunists arrive. And the internal bickering just went on and on. Such is life the the Young and Mental. Self-destruct time!

I sort of came out of the fog later in the eighties., like a hangover that went on ofr a year or so. And then were was Live Aid,. Gay Disco became the chart music. There was lots of 'corporate rock'. Everything was easy-listening, then a grungey new punk type thing run by the multi-nationals and lots of recycling.

It was all sort of nothing. If it wasn't for CDs it would have been over by now.

(extract from radio interview with Alan Horne)

Well, that's that. No more oldes or unreleased stuff. Fin! Now I am free. Free to go forward, a birght new future in an off-world colony, a chance to begin again. I will dance! I will laugh, every day will be the first day of spring. I think I'll get myself one of those computers I've heard so much about.

Lord I am ready, lead me on.

Tuesday 19 November 2013

First Base album

Robert Forster reckons you can get a fairly good fix on a person by knowing how early they stopped buying Ramones records. Something similar could be said for bands. If they've got just the first 5 Ramones studio albums, then they can play bubblegum pop punk with a maximum of pizazz, a minimum of fuss and - crucially - know when to quit.

First Base blast through 12 songs in half an hour like their Ramones collection runs from the debut to End of the Century. This album is good-time guitar pop with the simplicity of doo wop that really couldn't be any simpler and clearer in its intentions - the songs are pretty much all about girls and summer (ok, the lyrics to I Don't Wanna Be Your Dog might suggest something darker).

I imagine that next to the Ramones their favourite records are Denis by Blondie and the Grease soundtrack. If you ever get bored of this record, some other band will have a go using the same formula. Chances are they won't have quite the flair and vitality as First Base, so enjoy this one while it's fresh out the box.

Thursday 14 November 2013

The Creases: I Won't Wait

I Won't Wait wants to fly as high as The Byrds and jangle like The Beatles' If I Needed Someone. It kind of does, you know, but no more than, say, Relax by fellow Australians Chook Race.

Fun To Lose on the b-side is a noisy garage buzz, sort of like Teenage Fanclub when they took the nagging, insistent riffs of grunge's forefathers to classic pop.

The Creases' Rough Trade deal will get them more coverage than any of the other equally deserving brilliant Australian bands. I hope that Bitch Prefect and Scott & Charlene's Wedding, who likewise trade in superior Feelies-style punky jangle and ramshackle noise, get a bit more notice if The Creases blow up.

Make no mistake, this is great and a reminder that in the past couple of years the Australian underground has had no equal.


We've been treated to some ace new powerpop from Canada (The White Wires), New Zealand (The Eversons) and the USA (The Happy Thoughts) recently. Now add Martha from Durham, England to that list. They've got hooks, big bass lines and classic power chords.

There's the quiet bit/loud bit on Sycamore (so maybe they've got some Mogwai records) but just in case you didn't get that the pop's in equal measure to the power, on Lost Without You they lift that line from Orange Juice about just like The Four Tops I can't help myself, after referencing The Isley Brothers' This Old Heart Of Mine.

Maybe Martha are having their own take on Orange Juice's declaration to combine classic soul with snappy Buzzcocks punk. Whatever they're doing is irresistible: both sides of this 7" are knockout pop hits.

The OddBox 7" sold out straight away - sometimes, the record-buying public gets it right - and has just been reissued on Discount Horse.

Saturday 2 November 2013

Robert Scott: The Professor and the Team

Rumour maintains that Robert Scott has hundreds of unreleased home-recorded albums. If you took the lucky-dip approach to these home recordings, you might hope for something between the 1987 release of The Bats' Daddy's Highway (agony and ecstasy in 12 pop songs) and the 1989 recording of The Clean's Vehicle (the key and gate to the international pop underground from 1990 onwards).

The Professor and the Team is from 1988, the same year that The Bats' 1990 album The Law of Things was recorded. You can hear echoes of that album's Cliff Edge and Nine Days in these archival recordings, but really they don't have that much in common with late 80s Bats or Clean.

More accurately, these songs look forward to the spare folk styling of The Magick Heads' Before We Go Under and cast an eye backwards to the simpler approach of The Bats' And Here Is 'Music for the Fireside'.

This tape is very obviously the work of Robert Scott during his most fertile period. It's a Bats album without Paul Kean's thumping, melodic bass; it's denuded pop songs in newly intimate settings; and it's something that any fan could file happily with their other Bats albums or next to classic backwoods Americana like Bonnie Prince Billy's I See A Darkness.

You can buy this tape direct from Selection Records (excellent customer service). Distros really should email Steve there.

Friday 1 November 2013

Run Run Run​/​MalesMalesMales

This collection captures, over 9 songs, Males’ first 12 months. It’s released as 2 EPs on one LP, the new recordings on one side and last year’s songs on the other.

Males are putting distance between their older songs - punchy, literate college rock, drawing from a 1980s tradition - and their newer songs, which have a certain complexity and artistic rawness in common with the 1990s American underground (I’m thinking late Throwing Muses especially).

Despite the gulf Males see between themselves in 2012 and 2013, the spirit of their early recordings continues untamed in their newer songs. Truly, though, there’s no great disconnect between these EPs.

Weakness - from where the “run run run” lyric gives the new EP its title - has the type of anthemic riff and rising melody that energises their 2012 songs. You could pair it with Over and Out from the MalesMalesMales EP and think they were written in the same session.

I’m certain that in 6 months’ time Males will in turn distance themselves from Run Run Run. I’ve also a strong feeling that this record is a calling card for a bigger label, maybe a one-way ticket to America. The production by Chills keyboardist Oli Wilson is polished enough to open doors at the bigger labels and radio stations.

If Males can shake off their self-criticism and self-analysis - both sides of this record are equal partners and it sounds like a cohesive album - and go with their instincts then we’ll see their name in lights. If not, they’ll blow a big-label advance on 3 years of studio time in a vicious circle of perfection and paranoia.