Thursday 27 March 2014

Small Factory

Can we talk about Small Factory? About one of the very best singles bands of the early 90s? Their records are joyously frantic. They're electric-acoustic and frenzied like The Clean, even though they'd never heard The Clean. They're about love, because that was what mattered most.

There was a flexi in 1991 with Honeybunch and The Bachelor Pad because they kept good company. The next year they came to the UK and toured with Heavenly. A few days after their London gig I sat on a bus for 5-and-a-half hours so I could see them again. The day after that I got another bus to see them again. They were that good live.

Milky Way fanzine

A year later, their album I Do Not Love You didn't cut it for me. No matter. They were a perfect singles band. The only other band whose singles I played as much back then was Velocity Girl. I moved on from them, too. That's pop music. You fall in love, then your head gets turned by something newer and shinier. You move on. Eventually you come back.

Small Factory came up, accidentally, in late 1997. Jeffrey Borchardt of the Honeybunch played a low-key London gig on his honeymoon. I asked him to play Hey Blue Sky! He declined because that was about someone else and he was with his new wife. I later found out that Blue Sky is Phoebe Summersquash of Small Factory.

I came back to Small Factory this week because a Record Collector review of the brilliant new Trick Mammoth single compares them to Small Factory. Can't hear the connection, but I can hear the brilliance.

Sunday 23 March 2014

Norma and the Heartaches

Hot Pants (Gonna Get You In Trouble) is the finest in Philly funk. It's both good-time party crossover soul and cautionary tale. Music seldom gets more infectious and fun than this.

I think Hot Pants was 1971. You can get the reissue (an exact 45 repro) easily. Here's the b-side, Hot Pants Dance, from my scratchy original (you'll want your own copy, not least for the amazing vocal version).

Now you can get another Norma and the Heartaches 7", Nice and Slow:

Almost inevitably, the label describes it as 'more obscure and superior'. I'll disagree about the superior bit, but it's some record nonetheless.

I really urge you to go to Funkadelphia, my favourite boutique soul reissue label the past decade, and buy The Philly Sound You Never Heard - Philly Soul Girls Volume Two, which features Hot Pants, and pick up some other albums while you're there.

Saturday 22 March 2014

Web of Sunsets: Room of Monsters

These 9 songs have an eerie, glassy brilliance. There's an incorporeal atmosphere like Mazzy Star, a downhome twang like Scud Mountain Boys and a soft psychedelia like the sound of California, 1967. They call it "acid-country", which reminds me of Judee Sill describing her music as "country-cult-baroque".

It's no surprise this album was recorded in a day - the cumulative effect is a sustained reverie. There's no knockout pop song like Fool's Melodies, their first single and one of 2013's stand-out debuts, which is no bad thing because you're meant to take Room of Monsters whole in its intricate pattern of tender and uncompromising glory.

Thursday 6 March 2014

Eyelids - Seagulls Into Submission

Fuck yeah! What a riff, what a noise - guitars played with dirt under the fingernails and a sweet tune in all that noise. You could probably sing along (Dinosaur Jr's version of) Just Like Heaven to this, and there's a helping of the Rain Parade's What's She Done To Your Mind. So what? It reminds me of great songs because it's a great song.

Monday 3 March 2014

The Hundredth Anniversary - Wreckers

These are good times for fans of enigmatic female vocals and delirious guitar pop: Fear of Men, Flowers, Heaven's Gate, Little Big League and Butter The Children.

This very welcome trend, to which The Hundredth Anniversary's new EP is the latest addition, owes something to MBV's disembodied vocals over gales of feedback and something else to The Sundays' spectral atmosphere.

Wreckers is 5 tracks of strange wonder. It had me reaching for The Catchers' Mute again after far too long and that, as anyone who knows it, is recommendation indeed.

Only 100 copies of these so don't sleep.