Tag Archives: EP

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

 

 

Trust Fund / Joanna Gruesome – Split 12″ EP

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Had I not already been very familiar with Joanna Gruesome this record could’ve caused me some fun confusion. On my copy the labels on the vinyl are the wrong way round so the side that says Trust Fund plays JG’s songs and vice-versa. Are the records all like that or just mine? I don’t suppose it matters one little bit. Great songs are great songs regardless of who’s playing them and I’d doubt either of these bands would mind their songs getting confused for the others too much. Anyway, I digress…

Trust Fund are new to me which (as I’ve no doubt previously mentioned) is part of the joy of split records. Their first track on here is called Reading the Wrappers and is pretty much exactly half gentle indie pop and half fuzzy indie pop. Melody wise it’s bright and breezy but there’s definite melancholy in the vocal delivery. It seems to be about (I could be wrong) that feeling of knowing someone you love is upset by something but they’re not saying what and all you want to do is make everything better for them. It sums up that feeling perfectly.

 

Their second track Scared is much more of an upbeat and immediate choice with choppy guitars. It’s catchier than an oversize baseball mitt and would be fun on any indie rock dance floor. There’s still that feeling of edginess here though, a certain anxiety about the song but i think that’s more down to the lyrics than the music.

Third track No Pressure slows the pace down and is beautifully effective. It floats by in such a relaxed, doleful manner with the great double vocals reacting perfectly with the minor chords. Again it all sounds very melancholic but this song leaves me feeling optimistic, I’m not sure why. I think it’s optimism for hearing more from this band, all very exciting.

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The Joanna Gruesome side kicks of with Jerome (Liar) which is a sub-two minute romp of punk pop that JG do so so well. I’ve no idea what Alanna is screaming in this song but i’m glad that she is.

Up next is Satan (Desire Edition) which is a reworked version of the song that closes their debut album. It’s a slow and sweetly sung ballad (can that really be the right word?) but there’s a squealing guitar feeding back in the background the entire way through. It’s a little longer than the original version and the addition of the extra vocal definitely improves on the original. That feed-backing guitar runs continuously into the next song Coffee Implosion which completes JG’s side of this EP and is almost somewhere between the two previous songs. Not as punchy and punky as the first, rockier than the second. On each song there’s a lot of emphasis on having two vocals and it sounds ace. It’s not that they’ve not used this approach before, possibly the male vocal is just a little louder in the mix this time.

Overall across all six songs i think that these are two bands that go really well together. There’s a perfect stand-off between mournful and joyful on this record, sometimes all in the same song!

The product itself is a gem from Reeks of Effort and much appreciated by vinyl geeks like myself. It comes on clear 12″ vinyl and inside a beautifully printed white card sleeve. It looks as impressive as it sounds.

 

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