Thursday, March 31, 2011

That time of the month already? The 21-track, more than an hour and a half long (admittedly aided by two tracks of ten minutes plus duration) best of March in our part-indie world:

STN March 2011

Tracklist: Hiatus - Insurrection

This is one of those late night smoky tracks that Mary Ann Hobbs used to play in the pre-dubstep frenzy days of the Breeze Block on Radio 1 where the atmospherics suggest laying back while the sentiment acts as a sharp pin prick to the senses. Hiatus is half-Iranian, Dorset born, Brixton resident downtempo producer Cyrus Shahrad, whose soundscapes touch on trip-hop's discombobulatingly chilled menace as much as dubstep's sub-bass. Spoken vocals come from the great Linton Kwesi Johnson, the longstanding politicised dub reggae poet, reinterpreting his own The Great Insurrection reaction to the SE5 race riots of thirty years ago marked in the video and hence its reflections in the modern protests etc etc.

Hiatus: Insurrection (Radio Edit) 11 April 2011 by AMP Publicity

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Tracklist Extra: Johnny Foreigner - What Drummers Get

You know who they are. No sooner had the social cartographers of splintered Digbeth found another revenue source in European Disco - Collected B​-​sides and Remixes, 2008​-​10, a useful filler for your collection at a fiver, then we have a proper new release. It's a frisbee.

A frisbee with music on, somehow, but still. A frisbee.

Ours always got scratched up on beaches. This had better not be an adaptable 12".

Certain Songs Are Cursed - also half a concept of a Hold Steady song and the whole concept of an issue of Phonogram - is a four track EP out on April 18th via Alcopop. Let them explain:

One of the most cool and weirdly fulfilling things about being in a band is hearing stories from strangers about how your music has soundtracked various important moments in their lives; how your sounds are forever intimately tied into someone else's most awesome memories; their perfect summers, legendary roadtrips, first kisses with future lovers. We're flattered by both chance and choice. It's these happy stories of synchronicity that are sure to warm our hearts long after we lose whatever skillsets we have and the bayliffs kick the door in. Certain songs tho, are forever cursed. Think of your own; perhaps by chance it spoilt an otherwise perfect moment 10 years ago and still repeatedly pops up to remind you. Maybe you selected it yourself, to frame an event that never transpired. Maybe it just pure shits on your ears, and every radio play, or advert sync, or mentions by random girls about how the way he sings is like, so sexy tho, feels like god laughing as he punches you in the face. Whatever, calm down. you'd never select it again but it's out there, public property for ever, and permanently fused to that kiss that didn't, or that night you shouldn't have, or that awful time you...

Bailiffs, Alexei. No 'y'.

The frisbee is limited to 250 from Alcopop's shop, from where the downloads are also orderable, but be warned at least half of them sold out in the first two hours of sales. This is the first track. It starts with a moment of pure machine tooled blog-R&B-ese, suggesting backup to Alexei's boast that the new material was going to divide people. After a few seconds it turns into a Johnny Foreigner song, and you know what we think of those. At the end, proving their capacity for self-reference is infinite, is a bit that sounds almost precisely like the breakdown from Yr All Just Jealous played backwards.

What Drummers Get by johnny foreigner

Have we posted the April tour dates before? Ah, sod it. Take your sacred offerings of gin and weed to these places:

18 Wakefield The Hop
19 Aberdeen Cafe Drummonds
20 Glasgow Nice'n'Sleazy
22 Nottingham Bodega
23 Preston Mad Ferret
24 Milton Keynes Sno Bar
26 Birmingham Hare & Hounds
27 Liverpool Shipping Forecast
28 Manchester Night & Day
29 Stoke Underground

Tracklist: Young Adults - Let Us Out

Just outside Boston trio Young Adults occupy much the same space that's been keeping No Age in earplugs business these last couple of albums - lots of distortion and feedback, thumping drums, vocals recorded down a corridor, that sort of thing. A cut from an album that quietly came out in a limited run through a Czech label last year, Black Hole, what makes them stand out is the forcefulness of their enterprise, all mini-Mascis guitar noise, raggedly defined for all the wall of guitar lo-fi noise and confusion.

YOUNG ADULTS - "Let Us Out" from YOUNG ADULTS on Vimeo.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Tracklist: The Birthday Kiss - Can You Keep A Secret

So whatever did become of Wakefield's poppy-scrappiest, The Research? Well, here's Sarah Williams of minimal drumkit fame, sounding a bit like like Sophie Ellis-Bextor when she was in Theaudience and teaming up with the central trio of Leeds' cult indiepop concern The Lodger to produce something that sounds like C86-inflected bubblegum strychnine, classic pop that neither demands attention nor cares what you make of their cool as long as you're willing to swoon in a way that you thought only Swedish bands could make you feel.

Can You Keep A Secret by thebirthdaykiss

(EDIT: turns out they're playing their first gig at the ace sounding Long Division festival in Wakefield on 11th June. Also playing are Los Campesinos!, Napoleon IIIrd, Emmy The Great, The Wedding Present, The Lovely Eggs, The Wind-Up Birds and assorted other bands that seem to have been booked with the express purpose of getting us up there. Save us a place)

Monday, March 28, 2011

Relief work

There are, as you'd expect, no end of Japanese relief fundraising ideas making the rounds, but let's highlight a couple of Bandcamp compilations that provide much musical goodness for a good cause. Audio Antihero's Bob Hope Would is pay what you like as long as it's at least £3.99 for offcuts, demos and rarities from Nosferatu D2, Meursault, Darren Hayman, The Victorian English Gentlemens Club, Paul Hawkins & The Awkward Silences, Shoes & Socks Off, Stagecoach, My First Tooth, Benjamin Shaw, Jack Hayter, Le Reno Amps and others. Proceeds are split between Japan Society, Shelterbox, Red Cross, Save The Children and The Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund. Meanwhile Tasukete (Help) only benefits the Japanese Red Cross, but is £5 for 36 tracks encompassing Three Trapped Tigers, Gallops, Dark Dark Horse, Minnaars, Tall Ships and Bastions. Any Japan relief benefits appropriate for a STN audience that you know of, leave a comment.

Tracklist: The Angry Years - The Depressing Resurgence Of One-Liner Comedy

Unless something spectacular turns up on the usual streams, the next week's worth of stroke-of-midnight posts will see Tracklist introduce nine artists (two a day over next weekend) we've never written about on STN before, most because they're too new to have anything to write about them before now. For starters, we pretty much know about as much as you do about The Angry Years (assuming you're not in or friends with them, obviously) - London trio, have a neat way with a song title, influence claimed from These New Puritans, Yeah Yeah Yeahs (early), QOTSA, DOOM and De Stijl (the Dutch artist movement of abstract simplification, not the White Stripes album). They come across as fairly direct and relatively simplistic too, a seemingly bassless strut leaving plenty of space for some social unease from the mixed gender dual vocalists which breaks itself down halfway through and re-emerges brandishing a flick-knife. With this and accompanying track Dress Yourself As Someone Dead it seems here is a band willing to do things at their own speed and in their own coiled snake headspace.

The Depressing Resurgence of One-liner Comedy by The Angry Years

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Tracklist: Jesca Hoop - City Bird

The Mancunian air doesn't seem quite to have done Jesca Hoop down yet, going on this cut from the Snowglobe EP released on 4th April, even as it sketches out a dark urban underbelly riddled with lonely souls gone and resident bleakness, the title apparently referring to low flying helicopters. Both fragile and sumptuous, Hoop's storytelling of a woman raising a glass to the ghosts in her house is given a sympathetic close-miked treatment, only added to - cello, subtle brass, mulitracked Jesca armies - when absolutely necessary to enhance the mood. Much as she argues against it, you're temped to ask why the subject does it to herself. LA production duo Filmatics provide the stop-motion.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Tracklist: The Wind-Up Birds - In A Yorkshire Call Centre I Knelt Down And Wept

Only recently discovered this despite it coming out at the end of December - well, y'know, someone should have said something earlier - but they're a band whose northern bloody-mindedness endears itself to our ultimately pointlessly angered nature. Paul Ackroyd sounds much like Paul Hawkins of Thee Awkward Silences clearly-nowhere-near-fame (unless you read and digest every word of STN), his band sound like Art Brut stripped of the guitarists' desire to be in a hair metal band instead. Set against a good circling organ sound, finding a personal brick wall in dead end job hell leading to mental disintegration has never seemed more appealing.

The Wind-Up Birds - In a Yorkshire Call Centre I Knelt Down and Wept by Sturdy Records

Friday, March 25, 2011

Tracklist: Sondre Lerche - Domino

As with his prime influence Elvis Costello, you never quite know which Lerche is going to turn up - the power-pop maestro, the pained singer-songwriter, the jazzbo - but you know there'll be hooks, intelligence and interesting song construction whatever. This first taste from his seventh, self-titled (don't you hate it when artists not on their debut do that?) album out in June, the budget Randy Newman fading into a part-acoustic jazz-pop swing leading into a grandstanding bedroom chorus and a breakdown of fingerpicking and synthesised heartbeat. All with a little charm and a lot of style.

Sondre Lerche - "Domino" by Yep Roc Music Group

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Tracklist: Her Name Is Calla - Maw

Busy time for Her Name Is Calla, previewing their forthcoming tour with a free sampler and a limited edition 10" EP. The lead and title track from that EP... well, it's not the HNIC you may know, even when the dramatic trombone blasts come in halfway through. It's three and a half minutes and delves into some dirty mid-west Americana insistency, a grimy overdriven guitar sound parked just above sludge level, like Sonic Youth warming up without the heroics/histrionics and if they were packed together much tighter within silt. It's not post-rock or the wracked longeurs of The Quiet Lamb, but it's not strictly cathartic noise either. It's people who, as ever, know precisely what they're doing.

This video contains flashing images

HNIC have dates all over Europe over the coming weeks, of which these are the British leg:

27/3 Leeds Left Bank
28/3 Glasgow 13th Note
29/3 Leicester Firebug
14/4 London Rhythm Factory
15/4 Brighton The Green Door Store
16/4 London Union Chapel (free midday show)
16/4 Bristol Croft
17/4 York Duchess

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Tracklist Extra: Marques Toliver - White Sails

Well, in an unusual turn of events, the track that was posted this morning for Tracklist, one we wanted to get on the blog ASAP, has been taken down. Obviously, nobody pointed this out to us or even noticed until we had an apologetic email from Toliver's press person, which shows how popular this blog is for all the effort we put into it. For the record, here's what we wrote about Charter Magic:

Now based in London, Toliver has one of those backstories that ensures great press before anyone hears his music, discovered by Kyp Malone of TV On The Radio busking around Central Park and going on to collaborate with Grizzly Bear and Bat for Lashes as well as TVOTR before signing to mark of distinction Bella Union and Transgressive's management arm. Excellent spot, Kyp - Toliver has a classy soul voice that picks up just about anywhere on the register and makes comparisons to Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder not that far wide of the mark while explaining why Adele was calling him "my new favourite artist... I just heard of this guy about two hours ago and I'm obsessed already" a full eighteen months ago. Yet he's also responsible for the violin plucks and glissandos - look, here he is doing it live at last year's Great Escape - that take it into the Owen Pallett territory where soulful pop melody meets baroque neo-classical arrangement, with extra gospel tuition. This astounding piece is the first fruit from the Butterflies Are Not Free EP, released April 25th.

That's what this isn't, but it is what he is. In its stead, here's a demo of White Sails and a video of him doing it on Jools last November.

Marques Toliver - White Sails (Demo) by MarquesToliver

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tracklist: Matthew C H Tong - Present And Correct

Chee Hung, it says here. Having kept busy contributing to Banjo Or Freakout's album and making skew-whiff sunbleached Hollies covers, it's time to give the drummer some, a project from a Bloc Party member that isn't in hock to late 80s club beats. No, possibly set for a split single with Wet Paint some time, oh, whenever (eBay's friend Record Store Day, possibly), is in hock to early 90s shoegaze noise, sprawling Isn't Anything guitars and windtunnel vocals a speciality. Sounds a touch like a McCarthy influence underneath to us too.

Present and Correct by Matthew C H Tong

Monday, March 21, 2011

Tracklist: Liechtenstein - Meantime

Gothenburg's all girl fantastia Liechtenstein have always been fairly hit and miss, but you rarely fail to hit with as simple yet awkward a stew as handclap percussion, spy theme guitar, Motown bass and a naggingly familiar melody. There's a certain disjointed while still comfortably on the same page Falling And Laughing (as in Orange Juice song, not band or Kidnapper Bell song recently featured here - oh, this crossreferencing is getting too complicated) air to it, very Swedish indiepop in its clipped Girls At Our Best!/Marine Girls/Delta 5 fem-indiepop joy.

Liechtenstein - Meantime by Liechtenstein

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Tracklist: Explosions In The Sky - Trembling Hands

Uber-propulsive instrumental post-rock that isn't really post-rock because it lacks in longeurs what it makes up for in pounding, stratospheric intricate guitar riffs? If Explosions In The Sky didn't invent this shit they were first to leg it down the patent office. Trembling Hands is almost commercial by their standards, letting go and folding itself into endless MC Escher chord guides over Squiddly Diddly drums as usual but within three and a half minutes and with some subtle additions - the O Superman vocal sample loop and the gleeful headrush in the middle, to name two. Don't worry, they still eat most quiet-loud dynamic riders for breakfast.

Explosions In The Sky - Trembling Hands by Bella Union

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Tracklist: Guillemots - The Basket

As with Kriss Kross from Red, it should be warned that this first taste isn't at all indicative of the general sound of Guillemots' forthcoming third album Walk The River, which trades in the kind of wroughtly inclusive adult balladry that last album manoevured the band into, albeit without so many George Michael moments. The Basket opens with a fuzzy riff which subsides into the kind of rush associated with film stock of young American women leaning out of the window of big cars rocketing down straight desert roads. From there, think We're Here being attacked by analogue keyboards.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Comedy songs

Our first old chart rundown in a while is taken from w/b 23rd March 1986, the emergence into popular culture of Comic Relief, the 2011 running of which is unfolding as we type. Yeah, we considered The Stonk just so we could point out The Mary Whitehouse Experience's out of place cameo, and we resolved to go nowhere near Love Can Build A Bridge or any of the witless recent ones, but we had to go to the primary material.

Firstly, let's skip over Made In England And Ray Dorset, Psychic TV And The Angels Of Light and, remarkably, Half Man Half Biscuit's Trumpton Riots in the 92-99 region and glance at the top 75 debut weeks of two colossi of female singing, Janet Jackson's What Have You Done For Me Lately? at 52 and of course Sinitta, now only ever the surely disappointing to Simon's choices regular X Factor mentor. So Macho was the first charting single on Cowell's Fanfare Records and in fact pretty much the only success the label ever had bar Yell!'s all too literal moment in the sun.

40 Bronski Beat - C'mon! C'mon!
The post-Somerville version with one John Foster singing. You'll know Bronski v2.0 for Hit That Perfect Beat, which is fortunate.

39 The Pogues - Poguetry In Motion EP
Very much a Dave Robinson title, that. London-Irish pathos abound on an EP featuring, none as lead track, Pogues standard Rainy Night In Soho, The Wire favourite The Body Of An American and instrumental Planxty Noel Hill, the title a reference to the nominative trad Irish musician who'd described the Pogues as a "terrible abortion".

38 Survivor - Burning Heart
Nothing says 'late night ITV advertised hard rock compilation, mail or phone order only' more.

37 Mike And The Mechanics - Silent Running (On Dangerous Ground)
MOR titans of studio sheen's debut single, actually from a film called On Dangerous Ground (Choke Canyon in the US), featuring nobody you've ever heard of and about nothing of explicable interest.

36 Paul Hardcastle - Don't Waste My Time
Fairlight soul before the post-Whitney glut, featuring vocals by Carol Kenyon off Heaven 17's Temptation. One of the three most famous things about Yorkshire, apparently.

35 Viola Wills - Dare To Dream/Both Sides Now
Oddly named disco-soul mid-ranker whose official biography claims her three singles "would land Viola in the Guiness Book of Records for the UK." Well, we're not going to dissuade her from the notion, and not just because she's dead.

34 Big Audio Dynamite - E=MC2
Nic Roeg tribute stew staring Mick Jones, winging it Don Letts and three people who went on to form Dreadzone. Have reformed, like everyone.

33 Tippa Irie - Hello Darling
Reggae tribute to Ed Stewart. Perhaps.

32 Electric Light Orchestra - Calling America
More synths! Even more synths! Well, Jeff Lynne was never someone keen on the concept of subtle minimalism, although getting rid of the actual orchestral bit - ELO were a trio at this point - surely devalues the currency.

31 Whitney Houston - How Will I Know
Second hit and the first where she really opens the pipes on those vocal chords. Very much in the Pointer Sisters idiom.

30 New Order - Shellshock
Is it sacrilege that, despite the ageing nature of some of those keyboard settings (synth trumpets!) we prefer this in New Order Go Detroit terms to all the Arthur Baker stuff?

29 Tavares - Heaven Must Be Missing An Angel
The Tavares brothers, in fact, whose nicknames - Ralph, Pooch, Chubby, Butch and Tiny - all make them sound like cartoon dogs.

28 Alexander O'Neal - If You Were Here Tonight
The sort of entry you don't need to hear to know exactly how it sounds.

27 Falco - Rock Me Amadeus
I love legitimate theatre.

26 Freddie Jackson - Rock Me Tonight (For Old Time's Sake)
See 28, but with gated snares.

25 Stevie Wonder - Overjoyed
Like an anti-McCartney, Wonder's prime age is starting to come back into its own these days when weighed against the big hit 80s schlock that affected his public standing for ages. Actually this one's quite good, largely because it turns out to have been written in the late 70s, and features ear catching "environmental percussion" - crickets, birds, water, that sort of Hexstatic-precursing thing.

24 Atlantic Starr - Secret Lovers
At least he didn't fall victim to the Linn drum soul treatment too.

23 Billy Ocean - When The Going Gets Tough (The Tough Get Going)
A future Comic Relief single itself, of course, with Adam & Joe in the video, not that they mention it much now for some reason.

22 Frank Sinatra - Theme From New York, New York
Only six years old at this point, originally written for Liza Minelli, and yet by the mid to late 90s it was already established as the only way to end a wedding reception disco. Sinatra recorded it for his concept album Trilogy: Past Present Future, one disc of standards, one of pop hits, one a freeform six track, nearly 40 minutes long experimental suite containing tracks called What Time Does The Next Miracle Leave? and World War None! This is old stager Chairman Of The Board Frank Sinatra, remember.

21 Hipsway - The Honeythief
Sole top 40 single for poor man's Blow Monkeys, what Johnny McElhone did between Altered Images and Texas. Our brother had the lyric page from Smash Hits for this sellotaped up in his bedroom.

20 Howard Jones - No One Is To Blame
Peter Powell reckoned Jones would be "one of the big new names to emerge in 1984", odd wording given he'd had two top three singles in 1983. By 1986 it was all over, this his last top 20 single.

19 Pet Shop Boys - Love Comes Quickly
Whatever can Neil mean?

18 Huey Lewis And The News - Power Of Love/Do You Believe In Love
If the former seems out of place, that's because it is - it'd reached number 10 in October 1985 but reared back up the charts and settled at 9 in March. No idea why. Video release wasn't that quick, was it?

17 Sigue Sigue Sputnik - Love Missile F1-11
"Hi-tech sex, designer violence, and the fifth generation of rock 'n' roll". Or, as everyone not Tony James called them, silly hair and sampledelic electropunk nobody needed, and now nothing is more 1986. Still, this had a vim with its Chuck Berry riffs, and the TOTP appearance with the explosions and flagrant disregard for mic technique or how wrong vocals with loads of echo come across is quite somethin. The director's trying, bless him. Whatever happened to Magenta Devine?

16 Queen - A Kind Of Magic
Look, no 'It's'. Freddie in big cloak summons backing singers in neon colours.

15 Whistle - (Nothing Serious) Just Buggin'
We know nothing else about them apart from what's on Wikipedia, which claims they were Jazzy Jazz (self-explanatory, surely?), Kool Doobie and DJ Silver Spinner. But yeah, how great in the annals of stupid early crossover rap is this? Includes one of those voice sampling keyboards. Heavily.

14 The Rolling Stones - Harlem Shuffle
Bob & Earl's original none more going to a go-go R&B groove (with opening horns sampled on Jump Around) ridden over by a coach and horses by men in pastel colours.

13 Blow Monkeys - Digging Your Scene
The quality side of 80s Brit jazz-soul - that is, 'not Matt Bianco' - Thatcher-baiting floppy quiffed emoter Dr Robert says this is about the initial spread of AIDS amid the gay clubbing community. Future Radio 1 nondescription merchant Dixie Peach on backing vocals, it says here.

12 Art Of Noise Featuring Duane Eddy - Peter Gunn
Even Paul Morley would have had trouble writing up the manifesto for this one.

11 Mr Mister - Kyrie
Now clap above your heads! Classic drivetime man-in-wide-suit-playing-keyboards-on-either-side AOR with a liturgical bent.

10 Culture Club - Move Away
Junkie George was still three months away from having eight weeks to live, but something was definitely slipping away already, this the band's last top 10 single except for a reformation semi-fluke in 1998. With that all in mind it's no wonder the big single from their new album From Luxury To Heartache (yeah, we see) was basically Fairlight-friendly anaemia.

9 Prince - Kiss
Fuck you, Jones, you've never half understood why this was so stunning at the time, and to an extent still is.

8 The Bangles - Manic Monday
Prince on writing credits here too, although in Greenwich Village summer pop mode. Rebecca Black missed out Idon'thavetorunday.

7 Jim Diamond - Hi Ho Silver
The synth horn stab favouring theme to Boon, the series that claimed Michael Elphick as a private investigator and gave Neil Morrissey a career.

6 The Real Thing - You To Me Are Everything (The Decade Remix 76/86)
You wouldn't associate it with the type of globe straddling hit that needed a tenth anniversary revival, but such is wine bar soul.

5 Sam Cooke - Wonderful World
It was on an advert.

4 Samantha Fox - Touch Me (I Want Your Body)
Easy to forget how famous Page 3 made Sam, particularly at a time when legions of glamour models appear in first name terms only on a whole shelf of weeklies and monthlies and outside that little ecosystem have no name recognition at all. Anything could have made her a chart star first time out as long as City boys on Friday nights out could dance to it and it contained lyrical allusions to sex, and that's pretty much the case. "Like a tramp in the night I was begging for you to treat my body like you wanted to"? The East End homeless must be more forward than in most places.

3 David Bowie - Absolute Beginners
The theme from a hopeless box office flop, doing so badly it brought down the company that put out Chariots Of Fire and Gandhi less than five years earlier. Well, that's what happens if you make it a Patsy Kensit star vehicle. A minor rejuvenation after a poor few years musically for Bowie, though, not to mention his getting to arse about on a big typewriter, and both Rick Wakeman and Steve Nieve on keyboards.

2 Diana Ross - Chain Reaction
Gibb provided, Steps bastardised monochrome Motown nostalgia that seemed to be around the top end of the charts forever. Phil King, bassist from Lush and at some point the Jesus & Mary Chain, is supposedly in the video. Now used to sell insurance comparison, if you can sell the concept of comparison.

1 Cliff Richard And The Young Ones - Living Doll
Pop music, let's go! Comic Relief was officially launched on Christmas Day 1985 but this was its first physical sortie, three years before the first telethon, and some argue the first sign that 'alternative comedy', as only Jim Bowen still calls it, was usurping the traditional state. Inspired by Rick's adoration of the man, of course, and Cliff's first team-up with Hank Marvin in more than a decade, though when they did it live at that year's first Comic Relief night Cliff refused permission for it to be included on the following VHS. The studio and video versions are different, which got us at the time (the "which instruments do you want us to break?" bit is fleshed out). The B-side, (All The Little Flowers Are) Happy, is quite something for the time, though Ade Edmondson in full Vyvyan flight is difficult on the unsuspecting.

Tracklist: Oupa - Forget

Oupa is the solo project of Daniel Blumberg, formerly trading in this form as Yu(c)k, so presumably now his band are taking off he wanted a proper name for his airy, fragile piano outings to properly differentiate when he's not being all slacker. This first outing from June's mini-album of the same name suggests Blumberg has spent good time with the Perfume Genius album, all slightly detuned piano and meaningful falsetto, but at least he proves he has the vocal chops, heading around and about his range. It may be moot how much actual pain there is in it, but the reflective heartbreak leaps off the page/waveform.

Forget by oupa

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Tracklist: 2:54 - On A Wire

Polly, Siouxsie, this is the world you've created. Seductive to the point of entrapment, slithering like something can't be suppressed, the two London sisters who are 2:54 are not to be messed about. Coming on at first like Curve without the electronics it could equally come from shoegaze and gothic revivals, quite the win double these days we're told, this debut single proper, out on something called House Anxiety on the 28th, settles as much as anything like this does settle into an unsettled creep around in the dark shadows of post-grunge. The menacing growl of the bassline, and the guitar, and the vocals, and the central line "I will find you", don't exactly make things sweetness and light all round, but it'd suit a decent smoke machine and a comfortably agitated state of mind.

2:54 - On A Wire by houseanxiety

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Tracklist: Sarandon - Big Trev

Sarandon might be the last of the truly wayward agit-noise-indie bands, collapsible DIY spiritual flame holders from mid-80s antiheroes Bogshed, the Membranes and bIG fLAME, one of the latter's original number now being in this band. They've recorded with the June Brides' Phil Wilson and their last album was called Kill Twee Pop! (exclamation mark a necessity, one feels) Their new album is called Sarandon's Age Of Reason, co-issued by Odd Box and US indiepop giant Slumberland (POBPAH, Crystal Stilts), and is a concept album about the titular Big Trev which features guest appearances by the Nightingales' Robert Lloyd and bedroom cassette label legend The Shend. A cask and bottled beer has been brewed in its honour. The advance taster? Scratchy razorwire guitars, pothole strewn rhythms, something approximating the right notes, all good things.

Big Trev - Sarandon by Odd Box Records

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Tracklist: Clock Opera - Belongings

The song that grows and grows from understated beginnings into a roar of the masses is a favourite trick of the ambitious, but it seems much more impressive if, as Guy Connolly does on this mighty new single out 9th May via Moshi Moshi's Singles Club, it doesn't go over the red limiter as much as gain depth, layers and texture. Clock Opera's 'chop-pop' is here put to use on something that begins life as a plaintive piano ballad and steadily adds shimmering, tinkling and glimmers of full orchestral score. Then, round about three minutes in, the drums break for the border and the melody and cut-up samples build and push against the wall before crashing through into something to emotively raise the roof without ever losing the thread. Stunning stuff.

Belongings by moshi moshi music

Monday, March 14, 2011

Tracklist: David Thomas Broughton - Ain't Got No Sole

In what seems like a match made in singular solo performer/independent label combination heaven, Otley's oddest, a man who has supposedly spent some time recently living in North Korea, is finally releasing the much promised album Outbreeding on 23rd May having signed to Brainlove Records (his signature being a great looping recursive squiggle, shortly before he got up on the table and started interfering with the light socket) We've had a listen and the emotive quality of Broughton's we-still-think-he-sounds-like-Jake Thackray-even-if-nobody-else-does baritone against the raw pathos-laden imagery and darkly humorous offbeat moments, drones and loops driving a gleeful coach and horses through sometimes even upbeat acoustic pop-folk balladry, shines through perhaps better, certainly more directly approachable, than he's managed on record before. This is his most flagrantly poppish moment, even with the accordion in the mix and the lyric "I felt like one of those mental bastards - I lost my shoe". No, actually, especially with those.

Ain't Got No Sole from BROWN BREAD FILMS on Vimeo.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Tracklist: Singing Adams - Bird On The Wing

Those of you hoping Steven Adams' new project might be a slight return to the caustic country of the best Broken Family Band moments, hard luck. Singing Adams is a more traditional rock'n'roll enterprise but not in the grease/leathers/lo-fi meaning of the term so prevalent today at all. The guitars shimmer, the pivot is poised, the mood is emotional. There are castanets. The subliminal optimism against the darker thoughts of the narrator puts it somewhere near New Pornographers territory of classic AM radio pop that they'd never playlist on AM radio, breathing life into the case study. The album Everyone Friends Now is out on 4th April.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Tracklist: Girls Names - Seánce On A Wet Afternoon

One day the world will rise up against fuzzy lo-fi beat boom-recalling guitar bands. Not just yet, though, as Belfast trio Girls Names are doing it particularly well. Reportedly one of the highlights of London Popfest at the end of February, and with appropriate supports for Calvin Johnson and Wavves under their belts, they have an album out on Slumberland at the end of April and no end of Orange Juice/Felt scratchy guitars, repurposed surf rock riffs, ghostly reverb over most things and upbeat jangle around less positive words. The video is directed by Paddy Power - no, the one who oversaw the repurposed Summer Camp clips - and is quite, quite disturbing.

Girls Names - Seánce on a Wet Afternoon by Slumberland Records

GIRLS NAMES - Séance on a Wet Afternoon from Paddy Power on Vimeo.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Tracklist: The Victorian English Gentlemens Club - A Conversation

Ah, ver TVEGC. Cardiff's most abtruse trio have promised May's third album Bag Of Meat will be heavier, darker and more industrial, citing Wire's 154, Liars, Grinderman, PiL's Flowers Of Romance, Godflesh and, um, Paul Daniels (well, there is a track called Card Trick With A Chimp) as influences and claiming songs about "Africa, pissing in the snow, car crashes and cutting off heads." This is regards the latter, a conversation pre-execution that sounds like it's been ripped from the power supply of the haunted fairground as an articulated lorry hurtles out of control through the rusty gates, guitar and mandolin heavily treated, never quite being able to ascertain 100% which one is Adam and which Louise of the vocals. Plus, stylophone outro.

The Victorian English Gentlemens Club - A Conversation by thisisfakediy

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Tracklist: Admiral Fallow - Squealing Pigs

This has been around for a while - first came out last April, in fact - but it's just been added to 6 Music's playlist so presumably it's getting a renewed single push ahead of the new version of album Boots Met My Face release at the end of the month. More to the point it's the sort of young people with folk and delusions of storming the barn dance that the majors will be all over this year but will usually end up applying the sledgehammer to the banjo nut (evening, Dry The River). Glaswegian six-piece Admiral Fallow have the kind of all in it together interplay the best acoustic-led parties thrive on and that made you like Mumford & Sons at first YES YOU DID but with the sort of rough hewn, loosely pessimistic storytelling their former tour partners Frightened Rabbit would recognise. Plus a clarinet solo.

Admiral Fallow / Squealing Pigs by

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Things have been happening

Tracklist is now backed up for three weeks, but artists will keep releasing things. Okkervil River, for instance, have a new album, I Am Very Far (a sentence which we can never not hear in Vic Reeves' voice), out on May 9th/10th, and for the cost of some band-appropriate spam you can immediately hear Wake And Be Fine. It's in waltz time.

You know Let England Shake is great, obviously, but The Glorious Land as a single? There's your standalone mixed message. And here's her video, directed by Seamus Murphy in Dorset around October.

Now, the following may take some reading and not a little willingness to go with it.

Dr Martin Austwick has been across the STN radar before with his fine The Sound Of The Ladies project. He also has a PhD in physics from Oxford, and in these post-Brian Cox days pop science is Britain's biggest growth area. So we come to Austwick's Songs From The Scientific Cabaret, released tomorrow to coincide with the start of Geek Pop, a free online music festival featuring a good range of input from artists inspired by science. The launch is also tomorrow at Wilton's Music Hall, Graces Alley, London, and all that is followed on Friday by the mini-album Geek Like Me, which also includes a collaboration between sometime STN contributors MJ Hibbett and Vom Vorton.

Tracklist: The Megaphonic Thrift - Talks Like A Weed King

That Norway's The Megaphonic Thrift take their cues from Sonic Youth isn't exactly hidden, especially not if you see them live where the singer even does Thurston's divebombing guitar move thing. Still, they're a tricky band to take off and get right, and even if the detail goes right down to the mid-section quieter breakdown and catastrophic climax the serrated guitar sound, metronomically pounding drums and squalls of feedback and pedal noise are properly enthralling.

Talks like a weed king by user2519056

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Tracklist: Well Wisher - Babe Issues

You might have seen this on our Twitter to a good reception over the weekend but it's far too good not to share with a permanent audience. Well Wisher are from Manchester and sound like both Johnny Foreigner - it's all in the yelp - and all those Chicago bands (apart from Wilco) Alexei always goes on about, chiefly involving the Kinsella family. Spidery guitars, collapsible rhythms, strident vocals with emotive self-regard. This is on a split 7" with Polina, of whom we know nothing, on A Mountain Far/L’Oeil Du Tigre soon. You don't need many words, just the song's pure wracked corkscrew excellence.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Tracklist: His Clancyness - Like A Champ

The first new missive from Jonathan Clancy this year is the closest his solo project has got to his triumph of the collective will A Classic Education. Drenched in warm vibes, slowly seeping into a circular stew of Shins melody and mesmerising layers of blissfulness, it redirects the halting, slightly off-tuning dreampop co-ordinates of his previous work under this nametowards chiming East Coast expansiveness, wooziness deeply embedded. This is on a limited edition 7" out in April on Sixteen Tambourines Records, available for preorder

His Clancyness - Like a Champ by Sixteen Tambourines Recs

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Tracklist: Pris - Crying After Kennedy

Accelerating across the poposphere - is there such a word? There is now - "car crash Blondie drunk on Lambrini" (band's own description) Pris are the natural successors to the lineage of Dolly Mixture, Transvision Vamp and Shampoo through to the Chalets and early Long Blondes of big ol' trashy leopardskin print, bubblegum, spunk (no, not that definition, the metaphorical one) and secretly crying in the fizzbomb pop rain over girl group compilations and Debbie Harry posters. Of course, unlike those bands, the self described, and the caps lock is important here, "HORMONAL GUTTER POP/POST-PUNK" kids have a direct outlet for their wind-up quoteability, but otherwise everything is as it should be right down to lyrical references to make-up, Manics support, Everett True salivation and there being four of them but the drummer's male so he doesn't appear in the publicity shots. So yeah, a Tens Kenickie, and while we always argue that band were far smarter and emotionally complex then they'd ever let on to Select magazine journalists we can't pretend there wouldn't be a hefty overlap and the suspicion that underneath a Facebook influences list that shouts "SHORT SKIRTS & HOTPANTS", "HATE", "FANZINES", "KNEE HIGH BOOTS", "MADONNA WHEN SHE WAS YOUNG", "BRET EASTON ELLIS" and a Bukowski quote is much, much more waiting to be unlocked.

Crying After Kennedy by I Love Pris

Saturday, March 05, 2011

Tracklist: Wintercoats - Spend This Day

James Wallace, who is Wintercoats, understands that given the sonic space of the recording studio it's imperative to find the difference between filling every last track on the console/screen and doing something with the smallest details. Beginning as a glacial lament, it's the bits that emerge in between - glockenspiel melodies, marching drums, looped calls in the distance - that make the song as much as the burbling below and the airy multitracked vocal above, eventually finding its epilogue in piano and the peace of the morning light. As well as this track there's a Wintercoats EP for free download, Cathedral.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Tracklist: Standard Fare - Suitcase

It was always going to take a special band to become the first to clock up two Tracklist appearances, and in their own jangly kitchen sink rom-dram way Standard Fare are that band, landing the honour with a between albums single out on Monday. Like any good indiepop band it's clearly time to break out the Motown bassline over the rousing, Field Mice-like forceful set to summer guitar line, while Emma Kupa's little girl lost in her conflicted thoughts vocal seems to be preoccupied with preparation for nuclear fallout. Presumably it's a metaphor. Also, guitar solo mini-heroics. See them tonight at the Lexington or next week in Cambridge, Nottingham and Leicester - check local press.

Suitcase by Melodic Records

Standard Fare - 'Suitcase' from Melodic on Vimeo.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Reeling In The Years: 2008

by Femi Oshatogbe

Youthmovies - If You'd Seen a Battlefield
Earth - Engine of Ruin
Rolo Tomassi - Nine
Grouper - Heavy Water/I'd Rather Be Sleeping
No Age - Eraser
This Will Destroy You - A Three-Legged Workhorse
Charlottefield - Pacifically
Rose Kemp - Vacancies
Fuck Buttons - Okay, Let's Talk About Magic
Deerhunter - Twilight At Carbon Lake

Master list

Tracklist: Golden Grrrls - Date It

Like Veronica Falls, Golden Grrrls have come here from Glasgow bearing the kind of directionless, fuzzy indiepop with distortion to go that would once have been called 'shambling' and still drives many a strong man into thoughts of seppuku. But, y'know, fuck them. Golden Grrrls have guitars that reverberate, harmonies that aren't, male/female duelling vocals in the best Vaselines traditions and a glorious rush of energy flash, noise and near enough confusion. We don't know offhand if this is a double A side with or the B-side of Beaches, either way being out on 7" this week, but it's our preferred track.

Date It by Golden Grrrls

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Tracklist: Johnny Foreigner - A Kings Heath Story

Certain bands, as we're sure regular readers are long aware, merely have to cough and we offer them life insurance. Johnny Foreigner, presumably partly still due to that shortfall in US tour support, have released There When You Need It, seven tracks issued in dribs and drabs over 2010, including two remixes and a Christmas song (in March!), plus a tour to work up the material for the third album proper - dates after the embed. The one purely fresh song, debuted in stripped down form for GoldFlakePaint last year, is a jaunty acoustic plus bits of Junior's electronics kit work, referencing companionship in the dead of winter, containing peculiar poetry ("from the outside looking in, the glow of the TV and the frosted glass and a shiver that won't last") and references to being in Birmingham, as per. It sounds a bit like Lou Barlow and a bit like acoustic LC! and is, of course, splendid.


7/3 Birmingham Custard Factory (some sort of free show sponsored by Topman and headlined by Frankie & the Heartstrings - text CTRL5 to 83338 for admission, or something)
2-3/4 Edinburgh Haddowfest (some sort of Edinburgh city-wide thing headlined by Razorlight. This isn't the most promising of starts, is it? Don't worry, the rest are all part of a proper tour)
19/4 Aberdeen Cafe Drummonds
20/4 Glasgow Nice n Sleazy
22/4 Nottingham Bodega
23/4 Preston Mad Ferret
24/4 Milton Keynes Sno Bar
26/4 Birmingham Hare and Hounds
27/4 Liverpool Shipping Forecast
28/4 Manchester Night and Day
29/4 Stoke Underground
30/4 Wimbledon Grove Tavern
1/5 London Camden Crawl

We now fully expect to be emailed in the next few days by someone asking if we could publicise the Johnny Foreigner tour dates.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

The second monthly STN playlist is now published, the best of February (plus obligatory retrospective-topical closer) taking up 14 tracks and 48 minutes.

STN February 2011

Tracklist: The Wave Pictures - Little Surprise

This is officially the quadrillionth album of David Tattersall songs to have been released in the last five years, so well done to him on that achievement. More than that, it's their third for Moshi Moshi and following 'the electric properly studio recorded one' and 'the acoustic recorded in downtime while David was writing songs for someone else one' comes 'the one musically somewhere in the middle recorded in Darren Hayman's kitchen'. Because it was, all in one day/take and often sounding like they were all hanging on to each other making it up on the spot. Beer In The Breakers is out on April 18th. This first offering kind of sounds like a louche over-read indie trio, because that's what they are all the time, and seems quite dark against the relatively jaunty and almost jangly backing. Don't worry, Tattersall still finds room for some twiddly guitar heroics at the end.

The Wave Pictures - Little Surprise by moshi moshi music