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


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.

Thursday 2 April 2020

Bond themes by Hacia Dos Veranos and Red Red Eyes

Red Red Eyes specialise in a very English electronic vision - think Delia Derbyshire’s enigmatic precision, Broadcast’s Tears In The Typing Pool, Kraftwerk in Paddington Bear duffel coats.

They’ve taken The Pretenders’ Where Has Everybody Gone? and created a paranoid trip through the suburbs where memories are locked in boxes, bodies buried under the floorboards and fairies seen at the end of the garden.

Hacia Dos Veranos make sense of the anomalous, combining as they do the fury of Mogwai’s post-rock with the delicate classicism of the Durutti Column and Argentine rhythmic flair.

We Have All The Time In The Word finds them taking a melancholic approach to understand that sadness is not a disorder but the natural state. This is the first time they’ve sung on a track. They remain one of my favourite bands.

The WIAIWYA label has been releasing covers of Bond themes for 5 years. These new offerings represent my favourites so far. Label boss John Jervis wasn’t a young man when he started this project. Had he been, his obsession with the number 7 and James Bond would certainly have seen him committed to sessions with a counsellor so he could talk through his feelings with hand puppets. We are, however, fortunate to have these eccentric and essential releases right now.