Sunday 25 October 2009

Shake Your Bones - The Millipedes (Oddbox Records)

‘Shake Your Bones’ sets its cards on the table from the off, opening with the galumphing, dumb-cluck garage of ‘Make Something Happen’. If you want sophisticated or experimental, you’re outta luck chum. If you want rip-snortingly gleeful frugadelic beat tunes, then step right up.

The Millipedes play monster raving groovy mondo mongo trashcan rock ‘n’ roll complete with Girls In The Garage vocals courtesy of the splendidly-named Dolly Grip (who Sheffield pop lovers may know better as Reenie). Their album is excellent beat-fuelled fun.

‘Married To The Wolfman’ is riddled with “Awhooo’ howls and creepy crawly organ. ‘Shake Your Bones’ will get you doing just that - handclappin’, twistin’ and shoutin’, quiff a quiver. ‘Hey Boy’ sounds like The Temptations' ‘Get Ready’ got speeded up and fuck-witted. ‘Ooh-Wee’ thunders along on a rumbling organ riff, sounding dense in both senses of the word. Then just to prove it’s not all fast, furious and boggle-eyed there’s ‘Never Wanted To Go’. A sweetly sultry swingin’ sway-along slow one.

Oddbox Records, living up to the name, are releasing this album as a series of seven inch E.P.s. Collect all three as a box set that comes with artwork by
Oliver Allchin. A CD of all the seven inch songs comes with an additional track, a crazed bumblebee fuzz cover of The Eyes’ ‘You’re Too Much’. How could you resist? Get wrigglin’ to The Millipedes.

Wednesday 14 October 2009

World International John Peel-Day, 10 October 2009 - Bloomsbury Bowling Lanes

A girl dressed in a vaguely ‘alternative’ style is jerking about on the dance floor like a loon. Two boys are rolling on the icky carpet, enjoying a spot of fake wrestling. The soundtrack is ‘Never Stop’ by Echo And The Bunnymen. I sip my triple vodka (gifted by the barman as an apology for the extended wait to be served), gaze at the ridiculous scene before me and realise I know all the words to this song. I’m in the student union bar circa 1983. No I’m not, it just looks that way. This is World International John Peel-Day at Bloomsbury Bowling Lanes and at the moment it looks exactly like the kind of scene our beloved JP would have beheld when ferrying his ‘Roadshow’ around the nation.
The plan here is for ‘a united front of disparate London promoters and d.j.s to celebrate groundbreaking music and the man we owe our passion for music to.’ It’s a sweet act of remembrance, plus proceeds go to charity. Throughout the evening I hear loads of songs that I initially taped off Peel’s show, then went on to cherish on vinyl (yay! to Rocker playing The Groove Farm’s ‘Nancy Sinatra’). Home-taping didn’t kill music did it? Wonder if illegal downloading will?

We chance upon Kogumaza in the middle of some colossal effects-drenched drone-wibble. A girl plays sparse drumbeats, whilst two blokes (who apparently have played with Glenn Branca’s orchestra, so they should know what’s what) coax out hypnotic wails and sighs and shudders from their guitars. ‘Tis fab. In the audience, a funny little man dances non-stop crazy style. Another funny man sits mournfully peering through a be-feathered mask – the kind you’d wear to a burlesque ball. This isn’t a burlesque ball by a long shot.

Downstairs in the Karaoke room (people hire this room out to do karaoke in??!) Allo Darlin are tinkering with songs not destined for their ‘full band’ set. Even though the full band is here. Elizabeth Darling plays (Darren Hayman’s) ukulele and sings wistfully. The rest of the band add guitar bits and gentle drumbeats and it’s all very lovely indeed. Then I have a coughing fit (probably ‘cos I’m sitting on the gruesome carpet) until tears course down my cheeks and it looks like I’m unbearably moved by the beauty of it all.

Maggie8 feature a banjo, a trumpet and a man out of Hood and play jovial, exhilarating psychy pop but with ululating Indian swirls and skittering English folk elements stirred in. Another interesting find.This is great, there’s not a dud band here tonight.

Beatnik Filmstars say that John Peel is the only person who ever paid any attention to their band. There must be dozens, nay hundreds of bands that could say that. Sniff! The BFs are entertaining and personable and play a lot of songs that are apparently about death. The last time I saw them they were kind of high speed and garagey. This time they are country-tinged and melancholy (that’ll be the death songs). Until they play a rousing version of T.Rex’s ‘Deborah’, a joyful thing.

Amelia from Tender Trap says she feels sorry for the people who came here to bowl (there are plenty of ‘normal’ punters in, who’ve come here for crazy Saturday night bowling lane based kicks) and have to put up with the bands making a racket. It certainly is a funny old set-up, bowlers somewhat rudely walk across the side of the stage as bands are mid-song. Later, Golden Animals reverse the situation when Tommy plants himself across the front of a lane to crank out some scritchy guitar noise, temporarily halting a game.

Amelia is wearing another excellent dress with a pattern reminiscent of those Spacemen 3 circles. Tender Trap are shiny and poptastic, buzzing through a clutch of songs that include fab newies that are sounding better on every outing they get (e.g. single ‘Fireworks’), and oldie faves like ‘Talking Backwards’ that make us jiggle excitedly. They are fizzbombs for the ears (a lot better than chewing-gum for the eyes), Elizabeth Allo Darlin providing a sparky guitar-waving, harmony-belting foil to Amelia and her joyous vocals whilst Katrina knocks it all into place with bolshy stand-up drumming.

Downstairs, Golden Animals play a mesmerising set of sublime garage cranks and psychedelic nose-dives. Behind them, Saturday night bowlers revel and a screen shows ‘The Big Lebowski’ – it’s kind of odd, but props to the band for soldiering on, weaving mystical desert mojo in the middle of Bloomsbury.

Lasties, it’s Allo Darlin playing a proper band set. They are chirpy ‘n’ cheery and play the kind of winsomely heartachey tunes you’d expect to hear in a quirky indie flick. Elizabeth – on her third set of the night – is still full of energy, jumping up and down with her ukulele, her voice kind of like Camera Obscura’s Traceyanne. Her band, culled from various indie places, e.g. Darren Hayman’s band, seem to be enjoying themselves too, bunny-hopping through a set that warms the cockles.

Sunday 11 October 2009

Fireworks – Tender Trap (Fortuna Pop!)

We once used to worship various indiepopsters only slightly older than ourselves as our true pop heroes, albeit with at least a smidgen of irony (full-on popstar adoration going to greater gods like the Reid Brothers). Now, these ageing popsters are being discovered by the kids and venerated as (kind of) legends. It’s all very sweet and kind of amusing.

Arguably the legendy-ist of the 80s indie gang is Amelia Fletcher, eternally girlish totem of all things jangly and spangly and proper punk rock. And here she is back! back!! back!!! with the latest incarnation of Tender Trap, the band now complete with extra lady band members to add more fantastic feisty girlishness to the equation.

The two tracks here are everything you’d hope for from Amelia and chums. It’s no mean feat to sound this fresh and ready for pop action when you’re a super city economics whizz and a mother of two. ‘Fireworks’ shows off the band’s new! guitarrier sound – ching, ching ching! they go over tambourine-topped stand-up drumbeats. Amelia's voice slides and glides around, whilst thanks to new member Elizabeth Darling there are lovely twinklingly harmonious ‘ba ba bas’, and perhaps a hint of 60s girl groupishness to the chorus. Woo!

The slower, jerkier beat tune ‘Grand National’ – already familiar from live shows - has an addictive chorus that does that swoopy thing to your stomach whenever it comes around, like you're on a fairground ride or have just seen someone you fancy. It is therefore the mostest.

Available as a download only from Fortuna Pop!

Thursday 8 October 2009

I’ll always think of you whenever I smell cider. Fave Tunes July/August 2009

Welcome To Lunar Industries (Three Year Stretch...) - Clint Mansell Melancholy/soothing/hypnotising theme from excellent retro futurist film 'Moon'. Written by him what was in Pop Will It Eat Itself - lunacy!

Sit And Cry - The Specific Heats Sweetly lilting, jangling lullaby

Back Thru Thyme – The Specific Heats Indiepop garage genius

Cuffern - Wyrdstone A WHOLE album of serenly spooky, weird-folk skirling and pie-eyed pastoral psych goodness.

Sumer Is A-Cumen In – Circulus Just noticed how the tune of this sounds like the ‘We Will Fix It’ mice song in Bagpuss. Maybe Oliver Postgate was a fan of ‘The Wicker Man’?

Are You Dead? - The Humms Comic-book horror garage, mmm reverb-y!

I Need Direction – Teenage Fanclub at Indietracks Aaah, dancing about on a hillock to the Fannies encoring with this = perfect festival ending

What Do We Do Now – The Just Joans Unofficial Indietracks 2009 anthem – and they weren’t even on the bill

Jesus Was A Cross Maker - Judee Sill Listening to the ‘Judee Sill’ album on an empty bus as it hurtles through a deserted City of London on a sunny Saturday morning almost makes the journey to work a transcendental experience.

International Velvet – Crash Been listening to Crash’s album from 1986 a lot again recently. It’s all great, but this song is so dustily dreamy and the first verse is obviously influenced by my favourite ever picture caption (from ‘Popism : the Warhol ‘60s’) under a picture of International Velvet herself: ‘Susan would spend hours stroking on her Fabulash’

Saturday 3 October 2009

Brocken Spectre - Annalogue (Atol Records)

Oh the joy of having a free Saturday morning. Time to sort through the teetering piles of CDs on the living room floor and have a listen to neglected discs. Amongst the bargs from Fopp and the stuff from the beardy man at work, there’s stuff to review. Hmm… none of it detains me for long until I get to ‘Brocken Spectre’ by Annalogue on Atol Records (vinyl-only offshoot of Ankst). This is Ann Matthews of Ectogram (and once of Welsh legends Fflaps) doing solo stuff; spookily beautiful, soothingly creepy, avant eerie stuff. Songs unfurl and glimmer, crawl out of corners, sprout unexpected wings, circle lazily and pounce.

The songs are sparse but richly textured. There are very few actual drum-beats here, percussion is formed from drips and taps, clicks and snaps. Indeed, ‘Corn Curl’ is built on two rocks being clacked together and a Biro clicking on and off. ‘Tony Wilson’ ticks and chimes along curlicued with trills of clarinet, ‘Sudden Desert’ ebbs and wooshes, Ann’s voice woven through the swell of sound. The album drifts in and engulfs you in a shivering fog, an unexpected otherworldly trip on a Saturday morning.