Category Archives: 7″ Singles

Mazzy Star – Fade Into You – Covers and Feeling Bad

So here’s a weird post. It’s kind of about music, it’s kind of about stress and anxiety and trying to find a bit of a marriage between the two through various guises of one song. I think. You might take something else from this, feel free to let me know if you do.

I recently got a beautiful 7″ single of J. Mascis covering Mazzy Star’s ‘Fade Into You’. It’s one of my favourite songs ever and I love Mazzy Star. Have a listen, you might well know this one, it’s a pretty famous song. It’s also a very sad sounding song but it doesn’t make me feel sad, quite the opposite. Around the same time Mazzy Star started posting various different cover versions of ‘Fade Into You’ through her Facebook page. Type the song title into Soundcloud and there’s literally dozens of different covers of this. It’s amazing how many different ways people have interpreted this song and been inspired to do their own thing with it.

It’s a year since I stopped working due to struggles with stress and anxiety. As mentioned before on this blog, i used the time off to work pretty hard at getting better and I did a good job of it. I went back to work temporarily for a few months last year and it was great. My temporary employers (Republic of Media) knew my situation and absolutely trusted me to come in and help them out with the complete understanding that if I struggled it wouldn’t be a problem. I never struggled, not once.

In January I had a few potential recruitment things happening. One company interviewed me 3 times (that’s over 3 hours worth of interviews) only to decide I was over qualified. Hmmm. They said if I wanted more feedback I was to call them so I did. Twice. Left voicemails. Sent them and email. I’ve still never heard back. I was disappointed I didn’t get the job but now I think I’ve dodged a bullet.

Another company approached me and asked if i’d like to work for them. Very nice people too, I’ve known them a long time. It’s a job that would pretty much put me right back in amongst the same environment where I had my recent struggles. My rational brain knows that would be fine. I’m popular (i think!) with the people in that environment. I could probably do the job without any huge difficulty (I know I was really good at my old job but confidence in my ability becomes a problem). Then the irrational brain takes over and the anxiety starts to build. I can’t do anything but worry about whether to take this job or not for a week or so. It’s horrible.

I do calm down eventually and go for a few days without really thinking much about it (or so i thought). Then last week I’m at the shops in town and I feel tears coming. For a good hour I can tell I’m going to start crying and I try and try to stop it but it’s impossible. The same thing happens the following day. Again, I’m in town with my family. I guess some people get angry when they’re anxious, others get tired, some get sick, some just close down. I cry. I absolutely HATE it when it happens. It’s mortifying standing in public with tears rolling down your face but it seems physically impossible to do anything to stop it.

I then decided to politely decline the job and immediately felt better. It’s weird. You might think I should just get involved, face it head on etc. etc. It didn’t feel right though and I’m convinced I made the right decision. I’ll keep applying for other jobs, something will come up and I’ll feel good about it in the same way as I felt good about the 3 interview job I was rejected for.

This wee two day episode of tears was the first time this has happened in about a year. That’s fine, it’s ok to feel bad sometimes and generally speaking I’m 99% a happy, laid back person. What I’m getting at is that there’s different versions of everybody. If this kind of thing is going to affect me from time to time I can accept that and I know that nobody in my life looks down on me because of it. Nobody should ever look down on anybody because of any mental issues. I read on twitter this morning that asking someone what they’re depressed about is like asking someone what they’re diabetic about. I’d obviously prefer it never to happen again because it feels horrific but if it does I know I’ll be able to deal with it and quickly get back to ‘normal’.

So back to Mazzy Star. All this completely different music stems from the one place. Everyone will have their own preference, a style they identify with, a lyric that means something to them, a memory the song might trigger, a bit that makes them laugh or cry. It’s the same with people, we all have different versions of ourselves, some we no doubt prefer to others but it’s extremely important not to get down on yourself too often. Trust yourself to do the right thing.When I feel bad I get annoyed with myself too easily and put myself down when it’s not at all necessary. It’s not got anything to do with Mazzy Star really, it could be anything, but it’s a good example for me.

For the record, the Cookie Monster version below probably isn’t my favourite but it’ll make you smile.

TOPS – It’s a 7″ Single, but not as we know it – Keep in Touch

The worst thing about this record is that I can’t post those lovely little round pictures I normally like to include of records in this post. Sound strange? Well, it is a little I suppose.The best thing about this record is pretty much everything else.

I subscribed to the Keep in Touch (KIT) singles series a couple of months ago. It’s easy to understand why a vinyl villain like me was pretty easily persuaded by their product. A monthly singles club featuring bands like Girlpool, Speedy Ortiz, Big Ups and Cloud Nothings would’ve sealed the deal easy. However, it gets a bit more interesting than that…

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Each monthly single is a postcard rather than a vinyl record. It’s a piece of card with a playable groove. The image is designed by that months band. The subscription series has only 450 spots available so we’re dealing in pretty strictly limited numbers.

My first postcard popped through the door and i’m pretty chuffed with it. For some reason I was expecting it to be made of flimsy plastic like the old flex-discs that would occasionally come free with a music magazine or stuck to a box of cereal in the 80s. It’s simply a piece of card as the word ‘postcard’ would, of course, suggest.

This one features a song from TOPS which is rather wonderful. Slow and dreamy. Smooth as silk. The card ‘record’ plays rather well but I’m not planning to spin it too often. It comes with a download code anyway so I can always listen whenever my digital need arises.

So there’s another 11 of these to come. Actually, maybe 12 more as KIT seem to be promising a birthday treat for each subscriber. If you’re a vinyl lover you’re probably going to love this idea even though it’s not vinyl. It’s certainly going to be a nice wee unique product series to enhance anyone’s collection. Reminisce in the good old days of postcards, you know you want to.

Note – You can read the news article I wrote about this for Overblown here http://overblown.co.uk/keep-touch-singles-series-first-postcard-record-lands/

The below instructions come with the record – for more info do what the picture tells you!
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2014 – A Personal Summary of the Year in Music

It’s been a strange year, definitely a good one but strange nonetheless. The strange part has been the personal side of it. I gave up my job at the end of 2013 to focus on sorting out my health issues after a lot of stress and anxiety troubles and I’ve worked really hard at that with good results. I’m miles better off now than I was this time last year. I think music plays a big part in the process of getting better. Listening to music I’ve loved for years, discovering new bands and, as a vinyl lover, getting my hands on some amazing records. I only started writing this blog a couple of months ago and that too was a deliberate part of the getting better process, it’s important to have something to concentrate on that you can really enjoy and writing about music / records has been great fun. I’m always amazed people actually read this stuff but they do. Admittedly I’ve not written as much here as I’d have liked because I’ve got involved with a great new music website called Overblown so much of my writing time has been dedicated to that recently. Please do go and check the site out, like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.

Rather than any sort of definitive lists I thought I’d just write through a summary of 2014 and talk about my favourite albums, singles and festivals. It’ll probably be quite long so just read the bits you want to hear about and listen to some of the great music 2014 has brought us.

ALBUMS

Without doubt my favourite and most played album of 2014 was Here and Nowhere Else by Cloud Nothings. It’s a powerful record, just 8 songs and half an hour long but it never drops in intensity for a second. It’s loud, seriously loud, with layer over layer of distorted guitar and one of the most impressive screaming vocal performances I’ve heard in years. Just when you think it can’t rock any harder it does. Every second of this album is brilliant.

Somewhat predictably I loved the new bis album Data Panik etc which was released on gorgeous white vinyl for Record Store Day. The songs themselves weren’t new but they were unreleased and they’re so much fun. I’ve never come across another band anywhere that packs so much enthusiasm into their songwriting. Can’t wait to see them play again in early 2015.

I loved the chill and classic songwriting of Atlas by Real Estate along with the beautiful packaging from Domino. A really pleasant surprise was the return of Mary Timony with her new band Ex Hex and their fantastic debut album Rips, it’s so much fun. I surprised myself by loving Too True by Dum Dum Girls, at first listen I had pretty much dismissed this album but it’s pop somehow stuck in my brain and it’s been played many times now. Lost in the Dream by War on Drugs is seriously impressive and provided more great packaging, this time from Secretly Canadian.

I loved the rock of Annabelle Dream Reader, the debut album from The Wytches. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart‘s Abandon Days was a great indie pop record. The screaming punk of Say Yes to Love by Perfect Pussy was a highlight and in Meredith Graves they have the most amazing performer, her blog writings and interviews are always worth paying extra attention to. Other favourites are Glasgow’s own Paws Youth Culture Forever and the debut from HoneybloodParquet Courts Sunbathing Animal, Teeth Dreams by the Hold Steady and Burn Your Fire For No Witness by Angel Olsen. I’ve probably missed a few and there’ll be many others I haven’t got round to buying yet but hey, I can’t cover everything on my own…

SINGLES & EPs

I’ve bought so many great singles this year and heard so many others that it’s hard to know where to start. My opinion could change tomorrow but I’ll start with what feels like my favourite right at this moment.

‘Gustave’ by Post War Glamour Girls was released as part of the Too Pure monthly singles club. Lovely artwork, sweet coloured vinyl and a corking song. Quite different to what I’d usually listen to (I think) but this is a spectacularly good single. It’s the blistering vocal delivery that drew me in, imaginative storytelling lyrics and a great bass sound. Excellent.

Many of my favourite singles have already been written about on this blog so go have a look around for more in-depth thoughts. Joanna Gruesome released a couple of great singles but the biggest thrill from them came in discovering  the excellent Tyrannosaurus Dead and Trust Fund who they shared records with. I’m sure I’ll love the split Joanna Gruesome / Perfect Pussy single but as of writing I’m still waiting for it to drop through the letterbox.

Speedy Ortiz released the Real Hair EP, four great new songs, particularly ‘American Horror’. Mazzy Star did what Mazzy Star does best with the beautiful Record Store Day single ‘I’m Less Here’. The For the Feel 7″ by Bleached was a punk pop blast. Girl Band released a couple of great singles in ‘Lawman’ and ‘De Bom Bom’. They’re just signed to Rough Trade so it’ll be great to hear what they do next. I absolutely love The Death Set, what an incredible racket they make and they delivered the goods with their King Babies EP early this year. The charming indie pop of Deers made a great single with ‘Castigadas En El Garnero’. Menace Beach display endless promise on their Lowtalker EP and ‘Tennis Court’ 7″. Another great Record Store Day (that was clearly a good day) purchase was the Brightside 7″ by the Julie Ruin. Again, I’m only scratching the surface but suffice to say it was a great year for singles.

 

FESTIVALS

It’s May, it’s Barcelona, it must be the annual pilgrimage to Primavera Sound. This years PS was definitely one of the best yet. It’s an amazing festival. Every year without fail they have the best line up. It’s always a great mix of bands I already love, bands I’m already interested in and dozens of other bands to go and discover. It’s an endurance test trying to squeeze as many shows as possible in but it’s so worth it.

This year we saw Arcade Fire, Buzzcocks, Cloud Nothings, Real Estate, Girl Band, Dum Dum Girls, The National, Neutral Milk Hotel, Speedy Ortiz, Courtney Barnett, Twilight Sad, Helen Love, The Pixies, Queens of the Stone Age and  Slowdive among others. There are loads of bands I’m gutted I missed but it’s impossible to catch everything. Just about ever set we watched was excellent but my personal highlight was dancing like mad to Helen Love‘s crazy pogo punk set. Her crowd were so happy and friendly and completely determined to have a brilliant time. Tickets are already bought for PS 15.

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From massive to absolutely tiny. The Iona Village Hall Music Festival was one of those perfect summer weekends. Iona is a tiny island off the west coast of Mull and this festival was put together by Idlewild (Roddy lives on Iona) and featured many Idlewild related artists as well as some guests such as King Creosote and Alexi Murdoch. It’s the most beautiful setting, amazing beaches, wild landscapes and  two ferries just to get there. Add in friends (old and new), sunshine, drinks and great music and you can imagine the rest. The music was great. An acoustic set from Idlewild is always lovely (I’ve seen a lot of them) but my personal highlight was a great set in the village hall from the elusive Alexi Murdoch whose bittersweet personal music is perfect in this setting. If you’re unfamiliar start with his soundtrack to the film Away We Go. The weekend finished off with a ceilidh. The pitch black stagger back to the campsite through all the sheep was pretty unforgettable. We didn’t want to leave Iona. No idea if this festival will be a one off but hopefully not, we’d love to do it all over again.

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Third and last festival of this year was Beacons near Skipton in the Yorkshire Dales. Kimberly and I need very little excuse for a fancy dress party so off we went with tents and penguin costumes in tow (Fancy dress theme was Empires and yes, we thought we were clever). We were attracted to Beacons because of it’s great line up for guitar bands, most of whom we’d already seen this year but we can’t get enough. Beacons has a seriously impressive electronic / dance line up too if that’s more your thing.

The festival was great fun. It’s a lovely setting, a nice size and there’s loads of arty tents, stalls, great food and stuff happening all the time. A hilarious dance-off kick started the fun, some dancers were seriously impressive, some seriously funny but the star of the show was the toddler who wandered into the action and tried to copy everyone’s moves.

Music wise we saw great sets from Post War Glamour Girls, Menace Beach, Girl Band, Speedy Ortiz, Daughter, The Wytches, Metz, Cheatahs, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, DZ Deathrays, Action Bronson and Joanna Gruesome. We danced to Optimo (yeah, all the way from Glasgow to dance in a field to Optimo), hung out in the Belgrave Tent, drank a lot of Kopperberg and generally had a brilliant time. We somehow managed to miss Hookworms and Eagulls. Oh well. Horrendous weather on the final day meant we headed home a bit earlier than planned but it didn’t spoil the weekend.  Hopefully Beacons can come up with another killer line-up in 2015.

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And Moving On…

2015 is already shaping up very nicely. January will get off to a great start as we’re off to see bis in Glasgow and Leeds. Other gigs already lined up include Ex Hex, Idlewild and Sleater-Kinney. I’m particularly excited about seeing Sleater-Kinney again and can’t wait to hear their new album. The two songs they’ve shared so far are as brilliant as you’d expect. There’s a lot of new music to look forward to. Menace Beach release their debut album, Trust Fund sound very exciting and their album is out in February. I’m hoping there’ll be new stuff from Metz, Speedy Ortiz and Deers amongst many many others. Kimberly and I will be in Barcelona for Primavera Sound again (The Strokes and Ride already announced) and hopefully we’ll be able to fit one or two other festivals in as well. We’ll just wait and see where the mood takes us.

What is guaranteed is that I’ll be buying plenty more records and writing about them here and hopefully I’ll keep on writing for Overblown too, it’ll be fun to see that site grow as we get more and more great content on there.

Have a great Christmas and a Happy New Year everyone. Happy listening!!

 

 

The PeeChees – Vinyl Played to Death

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Remember life before the internet? For music lovers the web turned the world inside out. Where did you go to check out new music before you bought it? In fact I know I’m part of a huge minority that still does go and buy the physical product. I’m being dramatic, this wasn’t quite pre-internet days and I could get online at university by visiting the computer room in my building. Yes, there was one room with about eight computers in it for a department of about 300 students. Dial-up. Searches took forever. Searching for the PeeChees didn’t result in many hits and if I wanted to actually listen online I’d probably still be waiting. Still though, I wanted information on who these people making this incredible racket were and if I remember correctly the Kill Rockstars website was the only place I could find anything.

Back in the olden days I’d often just take a chance on a record. Do the Math, the first album by the PeeChees (or the PeeChee All-Season Sensations to give them their Sunday name) was one such record. I’d seen it on the shelves of Glasgow’s Missing record store a few times . I liked the band name although I had know idea what a Peechee was. The cover appealed to me, simple,  a real cut and paste look even though it was printed with a nice glossy finish. I particularly liked the monochrome faces. Molly Drums Vocals. Carlos Guitar. Rop Bass. Christopher Vocals. No messing about, it looks like a band that will get straight to the point. I also knew the record label and would’ve been happy to take a chance on anything on Kill Rock Stars.

The PeeChees formed in California in 1994 when Chris Applegren and Molly Neuman, who co-owned Lookout Records, got together with Carlos Canedo and Rop Vasquez. All four had played in various bands previously, the best known of which was highly influential Riot Grrrl band Bratmobile who Molly played with (Incidently, the first Bratmobile album, Pottymouth, is being reissued on pink vinyl right about now on Kill Rock Stars).

 

First spin of the unknown record. What on earth have I bought? The album kicks off with a muffled, distorted, chewed up riff and even messier vocal. I love it now but my first reaction was that it’s almost unlistenable.  However, a few seconds later and the first song kicks in properly. It’s still a chewed up racket but it’s no longer muffled and it comes screaming out of the speakers. The guitar sound is as raw as  I’ve ever heard, like you’re in the studio with your head taped to the amp and you can’t get away. The bass and drums pound unceremoniously while the guitar tries to keep up. Then there’s the vocals, coarse as sandpaper, sneering, spitting and snapping over the music. I’m hooked after a minute and there’s still a whole album to go. This sounds perfect. This is what I always thought punk rock should sound like.

Do the Math is one of my all time favourite records. It’s a relentless blast of energy. Songs like Pepper,  I Could Have Loved You and Slick’s Living It Up are stand outs but there isn’t a weak song on there.  I would imagine the vocals may be an acquired taste for some but hey, it’s a punk record, it’s not meant to be soothing.

These days it’s easy to know everything about a band by clicking a button or two. In 1996 it wasn’t quite that simple. One of the most exciting things about finding a new band was finding out what else they’d been up to. I couldn’t find anything else in Glasgow but got lucky by finding three 7″ singles on a record shopping spree in London. These were the Cup of Glory 7″ on Kill Rock Stars, The Scented Gum EP on Lookout records and Radio Disappears on G.I.Productions.

The Radio Disappears single was particularly special. This was a split 7″ with garage punk band The Drags where each band covers one song of the others. The PeeChees cover of Well Worth Talkin’ About is one of their finest moments. The bass and drums intro is backed by the screaming feedback of a guitar that sounds desperate to explode into action which it soon does. The vocals are frantic and it’s perfectly topped off with Molly’s “Hey Hey” backing. Also well worth a listen is The Drags cover of the PeeChees Slick’s Living it Up, a great rocky cover and a bit more accessible than most of this bands other recordings.

These singles did nothing to diminish my appetite for this band and I wanted more. Shortly after that I got lucky when a friend gave me the Love Moods 7″ on Rugger Bugger Records, a single I must have played thousands of times. I’m amazed it still plays at all. This single featured two songs, New Moscow Woman and Quadruple Heart Bypass. In my humble opinion New Moscow Woman is one of the best punk rock blasts ever recorded. There’s an almost false start with vocals only before the band crashes in and tears through one minute and twenty seconds of high energy racket. The vocals sound desperate and bitter all the way through right to the cruel ending “you don’t impress me, you don’t astound me, you don’t arouse me, you’re just around me”.  The band come to a clattering halt and it’s over almost as soon as it’s begun. Breathless from beginning to end.

 

A second album called Games People Play was released in 1997 and to say I was disappointed was an understatement. I grew to like it more over time but never felt it came close to living up to the debut album. The songs were fine (New Moscow Woman was one of them but re-recorded from the aforementioned version) but the production really lacked the punch of the first album and it left the record feeling short of energy. A real shame.

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Thankfully there was better to come in the form of another couple of singles. Sing Like Me was a 7″ picture disc released on Damaged Goods in 1997 and  Dallas was released the following year as part of the Sub Pop monthly singles club.  A compilation album called Life was released jointly between Damaged Goods and Kill Rock Stars in 1998 which collected all the various material recorded and released as singles across various labels over the short few years the band was active. By this time the Peechees were no more.

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I was lucky enough to see the PeeChees when they played Glasgow’s 13th Note basement in May 1998, not too long before they broke up. I don’t remember the gig in as vivid detail as I’d like. It was deafeningly loud, the music was even faster than you could imagine, you couldn’t make out a word that was being said or sung and I think half of my view was a pillar, the other half being Molly drumming and a bass player I never knew (someone from Comet Gain I think, possibly Rop had had visa problems and couldn’t tour). I loved every second of it. I’d like to tell you more and show you the photos but nobody had a camera phone in those days, nobody even had a phone at all. I also had a PeeChees t-shirt that I wore until there were only threads left. My friends band were touring the states and playing with the PeeChees somewhere in California. I was eternally jealous but made them promise to bring me back a souvenir. They came through, as all good friends do.

 

So it was all fairly short lived for this band. There’s the odd video clip of live performances on YouTube that sound pretty awful but do occasionally capture the energy and spirit of the band in action. The best bit is having the records to treasure and there’s a split single with a band called Long Hind Legs that I’ve yet to track down, I’ll need to get that sorted. All in all it probably only amounts to an hour or so of music. Thirty or so songs but good enough to keep me listening right up into 2014 and undoubtably we’ll beyond that.

  •  Cup of Glory – 7″ single on Kill Rock Stars 1994
  • Spend Some Time With – Split 7″ with Long Hind Legs on Skinnie Girl Records 1995
  • Scented Gum – 7″ single on Lookout! Records
  • Radio Disappears – Split 7″ with The Drags on G.I.Productions 1996
  • Do The Math – Album on Kill Rock Stars 1996
  • Love Moods – 7″ Single on Rugger Bugger Records 1997
  • Antarticists – 7″ single on Roxy 1997
  • Games People Play – Album on Kill Rock Stars 1997
  • Dallas / If You Don’t Know – 7″ on coloured vinyl – Sub Pop Singles Club Nov 1997
  • The PeeChee All Season Sensations – 7″ Picture Disc on Damaged Goods 1998
  • Life – Compilation Album on Damaged Goods (Vinyl) and Kill Rock Stars (CD) 1998

 

 

Menace Beach – Heading towards Ratworld

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Easily excited? Yes, definitely. Easily pleased? Not so much so. Hearing just 30 seconds or so of a song can be enough to get me excited about a band, excited enough to find out who they are, check out other songs, find their records, see where they’re playing. It really doesn’t take much for a song to sound instant or  intriguing and grab you by the scruff of the neck to go and find out more. That’s pretty much exactly what happened when I first heard Fortune Teller by Menace Beach.

Menace Beach are a Leeds based band (yep, yet another one. What is it with that city?) who are made up of members of various other bands (Sky Larkin, Hookworms, Pulled Apart by Horses etc.). Due to this they’ll get the phrase Supergroup banded at them but that’s a weird  term as it kind of insinuates that the other bands they’ve come from aren’t super. Not true.

Thus far Menace Beach have only released four records (well, three and a cassette if you’re being picky) ahead of their debut album Ratworld which is due for release on the excellent Memphis Industries label early next year. I have two of these records, The Lowtalker 12″ EP and the Tennis Court 7″ both on Memphis Industries. Prior to that the band had released the Dream Out EP ( 100 copies only for Cassette Store Day) on Desire Records and the Drop Outs 7″ as part of the Too Pure singles club (500 copies for the subscription based singles series – I’ve not got a copy of this, you can sense the emptiness I feel, I’ll track one down somewhere!).

Lowtalker EP 12" Front Cover
Lowtalker EP 12″ Front Cover

So why did I get hooked? Fortune Teller is the first track on the Lowtalker EP and it kicks of with an incredible looping, swirling, dizzying keyboard over guitars that instantly lodged in my skull. It’s got a disorientating off-kilter feel to it and sounds slightly, well, menacing I suppose. It’s a fabulous song.  The remaining four songs are also excellent. Honolulu is rockier, more guitar and feedback heavy. Where I Come From and Nervous follow this rock pattern and sound very like the best bits from the last couple of Wavves albums. Last song Cheerleader is a little slower and more like Fortune Teller in style. The record is filled with hooks, scuzzy buzzing guitars, feedback, great vocals and backing vocals and melodies that fizz around your brain. This music is very much of the early 90’s US indie rock variety albeit via Yorkshire and with plenty pop charm added in to the mix.

 

Tennis Court / Lowtalkin 7" Front Cover
Tennis Court / Lowtalkin 7″ Front Cover

The more recent Tennis Court 7″ single follows in a similar fashion. Side A is Tennis Court which gets off to a mid-paced start with nice melodies sung over the lead vocal. The fuzz kicks in with the chorus and band friend Alana from Joanna Gruesome lends a hand with backing vocals / shouting. The B-side, Lowtalkin’, is the fastest, noisiest example of Menace Beach I’ve heard yet. It’s sprints through it’s 1 min 50 secs like it’s desperately trying to escape from the turntable and it’s refrain of “Lowtalkin'” constantly yelled over and over in the background is breathless and brilliant.

All this points towards a really exciting debut album Ratworld which will be released on Memphis Industries on 19th January 2015. Four of it’s twelve tracks have already appeared in the two records I’ve discussed. I’m not sure if they’re re-recorded but I suspect they will be. The cover artwork looks great and continues the theme of images over scribbled, wavy lines. It looks like a Ray Bans Never Hide poster. There’s so much promise over the first few records that all point towards Ratworld being full of great ideas and fuzzy tunes. I’m really looking forward to getting my hands on a copy.

I caught Menace Beach live earlier this year at the Beacons Festival which cemented my excitement about them. I’m heading along to catch them at Stereo in Glasgow this Saturday 22nd Nov in support to Pulled Apart by Horses. Can’t beat a gig on a Saturday night. Add Menace Beach to your life as soon as you get a chance.

  • Label – Memphis Industries http://www.memphis-industries.com
  • Lowtalker EP – 12″ on black vinyl released January 2014
  • Tennis Court / Lowtalkin’ – 7″ on clear vinyl released September 2014 (Ltd Edition – no idea how many copies were pressed)
  • Ratworld is released 19th January 2015 on Memphis Industries. You can pre-order it here http://www.memphis-industries.com/release/ratworld/
  • Menace Beach are on tour from 21st to 28th November with Pulled Apart by Horses

 

 

Tyrannosaurus Dead / Joanna Gruesome Split 7″

This excellent split single on Odd Box Records is the first time I’ve come across Tyrannosaurus Dead (excellent name) but definitely not the first time I’ve come across the wonderful Joanna Gruesome (Will post a review of their new split 12″ with Trust Fund soon).

Post Holiday Dead Song is the offering from Tyrannosaurus Dead here and I’m instantly hooked. We’ve got great fuzzy double guitar attack right from the outset. Upbeat, bright and sharp sounding. Very reminiscent of 90s American indie rock, particularly Dinosaur Jr who I know a lot of bands get compared to but that can’t be a bad thing.

Particularly pleasing is the cutting back and forth between the male / female vocals. The two voices are actually fairly similar and complement each other really well, especially when singing together. This is not the bands first single so there’s plenty else for me to go and discover. As good timing has it their debut album will be released on Odd Box Records on 11th November. If it’s a strong as this single i can sense a lot of listens ahead.

The Joanna Gruesome track here is Anti-Parent Cowboy Killers, the song that opens their brilliant album Weird Sister. It scorches through it’s two-and-a-half minutes and is a perfect introduction to this band. We’ve got the pop hooks crossed with crushing indie-rock and  the switch from singing in verses to yelling and great boy/girl vocals in the chorus. Joanna Gruesome have tunes all over the place and the music should please anyone who loves a bit of melody twisted with some ferociousness. If you get a chance to go see JG play live don’t miss it.

Well Played to Odd Box Records for giving each band one side of the cover for the sleeve of this single. That doesn’t happen enough on split singles for my liking but it’s great when it does!

Girl Band – De Bom Bom 7″

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Girl Band are astonishingly impressive to see live. I’ve been lucky enough to catch them twice in 2014, first in Barcelona and then somewhere in a field in Yorkshire. Even more impressively they seem completely capable of transferring the controlled chaos of their live performances onto record.

De Bom Bom is the latest in a series of singles from Girl Band on Any Other City records. It’s the only one I’ve actually been able to get my hands on (their Record Store Day single Cha Cha Cha only had 100 copies pressed) and I’m so pleased I did. It’s not that their music is hard to get hold of, their singles are available as free downloads from their bandcamp page so go get ’em.

De Bom Bom fizzes and crackles like an electric shock. The drums pulse along keeping a frantic dizzying beat whilst the guitars and bass sound like they’re winning a fight with a chainsaw. There’s no hook here like the catch of the bass line from their earlier Lawman single. Just power and electrical energy crackling and pounding through disintegrating speakers. The vocals range from polite, if slightly lazy sounding charm to maniacal screaming and yelling. It doesn’t feel like it all fits together in one place, how can any of this be planned? It does fit though, perfectly.

Side B is a cover of I Love You by Beat Happening. I’ll not pretend to know the original but we’re treated to more noise over a hypnotic bass line and what occasionally sounds like a broken lawnmower plugged into an amp. I’ll need to go and check out the original to see how much of the Girl Band treatment this has been given, I suspect a lot. Either way it doesn’t really matter. It’s excellent.

The single comes in a really simple white sleeve with De Bom Bom stamped on it and it’s hand numbered on the back (mine is number 32). The white sleeve is wrapped in card, again with the band name simply stamped on and the song titles stamped on the back. Pleasingly the vinyl is also hand numbered. It’s all straightforward to look at and feels like a really special package, very much DIY.

Deers – Barn 7″

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Having heard this on the radio a couple of times recently I was delighted to pick up a copy of the 7″ single. I wasn’t so delighted to discover that this isn’t the first single by Deers meaning I’ve missed the boat to get my hands on the Demo 7″ that they released earlier in the year. Ah well, can’t get them all, I’ll go download it soon no doubt.

The Barns single has two tracks. First up on Side-A is Castigadas en el Granero (apparently this loosely translates as “Grounded in the Barn” if that helps at all – probably not). This is such a friendly track, not in a polite shake-your-hand way but in an instant let’s-be-best-friends-right-now excitable way. It’s rough and ready and happy to please. This is indie pop having a good time. The band sound extremely enthusiastic and I’m guessing when they play live they’ll probably be having just as much fun as the audience.

On the flip-side is Between Cans, a little bit slower paced than the a-side but equally infectious. The guitar intro strongly reminds me of Beach House minus the dreamy sound and production. Similarities end there though, the vocals kick in and it’s sounding more like a 60s girl group. It’s pop all over. The voices sound great together (Spanish accents always sound so good) whether singing or almost shouting (but shouting in tune of course).

 

Back Cover - nice intro to the band
Back Cover – nice intro to the band

The recording and production on both tracks is rough to say the least. It sounds like we’re sitting in a room above their Madrid practice space listening to the band playing live below. It suits the songs perfectly and sounds all the more charming for it. Really looking forward to hearing more from Deers, debut album out in 2015 so i’ll be keeping an eye out for that. I’m also hoping to catch them playing Glasgow at the end of November.

  • Label – Lucky Number  http://www.luckynumbermusic.com (and Mom + Pop Records in USA)
  • Format – 7″ Single on black vinyl (Limited to 500 copies) available at
  • Released 3rd Nov 2014

Owl & Mouse – Somewhere To Go EP

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It’s not everyday you discover a band by watching them play a gig on a moving steam train. That’s the wonderful Indietracks Festival for you and that’s where I first came across Owl & Mouse in 2013. It was hot and seriously sweaty on that packed train carriage, I couldn’t really see the band but could hear them, if only just. Just was enough though and I sought out their CD at the merchandise tent which came complete with a hand drawn cover. I also got given a 7″ picture disc of this band for free (I tried to pay for it but they wouldn’t take any money) which I believe was the only “official” Owl & Mouse release before the Somewhere To Go EP.

The hand-drawn CD Cover
The hand-drawn CD Cover

Owl & Mouse seem to be the perfect fit for a label like Fika Recordings with their love on indie pop and all things nice. Owl & Mouse are 100% nice so if nice isn’t your thing then look away now. Me? I like nice. It’s nice to be nice.

The Somewhere To Go EP offers four songs (aren’t EPs just great?) and the formula is very simple. This is heart-felt folky pop, usually just a ukelele strumming a gentle chord pattern at a gentle pace. Hannah Botting’s singing melts across the songs. Her tone is beautiful, it’s like a voice that’s kept wrapped up in a blanket and only let out for special occasions.

Opening song Don & Anna starts with the lyric “You made my day before it started, I thought of you ’til dawn” and we’re off to a warm start. This is where Owl & Mouse songs get intriguing. The music and the vocals are dreamy, sweet and almost always sombre. However, the lyrics can be surprising. Often pleasant, often sad and almost always very personal. Don’t Read the Classics, the 3rd track on this record, is the perfect example with lyrics so personal you can feel the hurt and heartbreak so much it can be uncomfortable. It’s devastating and powerful stuff but yet it couldn’t possibly be any softer on the ears.

Track 2, Western Skies, offers a bit of a change with a male voice but other than that it’s all exactly what you’d expect from this band. These 4 songs do present a bit of a development from some of the bands earlier songs with additional instrumentation and vocals. It definitely feels like a bit more of a band rather than a girl and her songs. It’s bittersweet from start to finish and it sounds perfect when lying in the dark if you need or want to relax.

The record itself is very well presented by Fika Recordings. There’s the label’s trademark brown cardboard sleeve and nice hand-drawn artwork (by Paul Rains of Allo Darlin I believe) with one simple colour. It looks as good as it sounds. The record itself is pressed on blue vinyl to match the colour on the sleeve.

  • Label – Fika Recordings http://fikarecordings.com
  • Format – 7″ blue vinyl Limited to 300 copies (still a few left i believe, go buy one)
  • Released – May 2014 (roughly!)

Bleached – For The Feel EP

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Front Cover

So it’s late October in Glasgow and it’s been unseasonably warm of late but all of a sudden today it’s freezing. Let’s face it, we’ll be freezing here until at least April. As soon as this record starts it’s summer again and you’re dancing with friends at a festival just as the sun sets to end a warm day.

Bleached’s For the Feel 7″ EP on Dead Oceans Records has 3 tracks. The title song is on side-A and side-B contains two cover versions, Poison Ivy by The Coasters and Born To Kill by The Damned. This EP follows on from the bands’ excellent 2013 album Ride Your Heart. Originally released as a download in July 2015 the EP was put into a physical format just recently.

Lead track For The Feel bubbles with optimism. This is straightforward rock n’roll punk being played and sung with a smile and it’s catchy as hell. The guitars jangle through their three chords backed up by a bass line that adds the roll to the rock. The vocal harmonies at the chorus add some more sunshine. This is fun from start to finish.

There’s a real vintage feel to the Poison Ivy cover. The main guitar part surfs along, the vocals catch that doo-wop spirit of the original artist and it all adds up to Bleached sounding like they’re loving making this great song their own.

back cover
back cover

Born to Kill is the noisiest and fastest of this 3 song collection and that’s no surprise given it’s a song by The Damned. This is more punk sounding than most Bleached songs I’ve known previously and it’s a sound that suits the band really well. This punk aspect is what makes this my favourite song of these 3. It’s just as much fun as the other two tracks but deserves to have the  volume notched that wee bit higher.

If you love your music to be fast, fun, uplifting and carefree go and check out Bleached.

  • Label – Dead Oceans http://www.scdistribution.com/release.html?catalog=DOC094
  • Format – 7″ Limited Edition (I’ve no idea how many copies it’s limited to)
  • Released – September 2014