Wednesday, 4 April 2007

Shop What You’re Doing: i’ve got the Elm Street Blues

Hi my name is Thomas, i love Dalston Oxfam Shop and, i might as well admit now, i’m about to rip off their idea. Even though i don’t have any cassette-to-mp3 facilities just now. Sorry.

i’ve been travelling the country visiting my family for the past few days, which also doubles up as the chance to pick up a few long-unheard CDs and vinyls. My record collection is divided amongst various residences on the South coast of England, you see, with a few hundred in my Dad’s loft in Southampton, a few hundred more in my mother’s study in Bournemouth and a handful here in my room in Sussex. So, in order to make sure i had some choice cuts to upload soon (for variation) i’ve lugged home a delightful bunch of songs to play and a load of tapes in case my technological incompetence is eliminated to the extent i can put some of the various Peel sessions, Lamacq Live and tracks and festival coverage recordings up on here. i’m afraid that, as i looked upon all the compact discs teetering in mountainous towers as i unloaded them from plastic crates to read the tracklistings, i wanted to play most of them to you. So. We’ll all just have to wait.

[Edit: You remember, for instance, i said i’d play you ‘£1500 And A Bus Apology’ by Kid Carpet if i had it on me? Well now i do, so:

Kid Carpet - £1500 And A Bus Apology

Hope it was worth the wait.]

Anyway. As well as getting to see my family and the larger part of my record collection, i also got to see some of my hometown and find out how it’s changed. When i left Southampton two years ago one of the local independent record shops, Essential Music, was threatening to close down. Once a Fopp had opened at the top of the road, the faeces smashed into the fan with tremendous force and now they’ve been replaced by a Save The Children charity shop. And their selection of second-hand CDs is, i feel, rather great, considering that the stuff i left included a load of promos by the likes of Help! She Can’t Swim and Cranebuilders. So i’ll play some of what i picked up for you here, if that’s okay?

The Sinking Citizenship – Last Minute Intervention

Whoever donated the bulk of the promotional singles and EPs in this shop must have been in good contact with Fantastic Plastic considering the sheer volume of artists present on their label, such as The Sinking Citizenship. i’d not heard this lot before but it’s quite good and petulant, at times a bit Cooper Temple Clause-y and a little Mansun-like, plus it’s always a treat to have that FP logo on a disc in your hands.

Vive La FĂȘte – Petite Putain

Vive La Fete are a group from Belgium that i recognised the name of because it was one of the names Peelie used to say (and play) a lot, they even made the 2003 Festive Fifty with their track ‘Noir Desir’. Part of the reason i’d not looked for them sooner is i wasn’t really sure what he was saying, even though i studied French and could have worked it out by translating the English ‘Long Live The Party’. i’m just a bit dim like that i suppose.

Jeremy Warmsley – 5 Verses

i’ve only seen Jeremy Warmsley live twice now, and i’m not really sure they count because one was an instore for Resident and the other was flanking Emmy The Great, so essentially i’ve only seen an acoustic set. But anyway live he is mesmerising, especially in the pin-drop atmosphere that his astounding voice often creates, but recorded he goes into intriguing electronic excursions that incorporate his bold harmonies and weepy storytelling. There was a copy of the ‘5 Interesting Lies EP’ which, happily, contains five great tracks.

Reuben – Freddy Kreuger

There also fantastically happened to be two copies of the promotional sampler for ‘Racecar Is Racecar Backwards’, the debut album from Reuben (so hurry up and you might be able to buy the other one). Ah, Reuben. Have i got some stories about Reuben. Yes actually i have (thank you for asking), seeing as they were the favourite band of two of my best friends in college. On one occasion, around about the time they’d just released ‘Let’s Stop Hanging Out’, my mate Wellie had begged her mother to drive us to Portsmouth to see them headline an outdoor one-day ‘festival’, which was essentially a handful of screamo (snort!) bands throwing themselves about in a park near the docks. The forecast was for rain and, with clouds looming, it all seemed quite surreal really, sitting on a grassy bank watching local bands shout embarrassing Americanisms as cruise liners floated away behind them. The penultimate band, who i did review but completely forget the name of now, were halfway through their set when the rain suddenly became torrential and the organisers had to rush plastic sheeting over the equipment while the audience rushed to their cars. i remember returning back as the rain cleared slightly, watching said band risking electrocution to play their final, quite haunting song under circling clouds, as lightning forked on the horizon. It was really quite beautiful, until one of the promoters came out, pushed them off stage and then did a comedic fist-fight with the sky for pissing on their parade. We did get to speak to Reuben though, which was nice, and ask when the hell their album was going to be ready. i think ‘Freddy Kreuger’ came out about a year later, and i’m still unsure how you spell it. i’m also still unsure whether there really is a member of Junkplanet in the video or whether i just imagined it.

Hoggboy – So Young

Har! This find made me more elated than probably necessary, but still, i think Hoggboy were BRILLIANT! For those of you not chuckling into your keyboards, Hoggboy were one of those bands tipped for international indie-rock stardom and yet, despite the promise, languished outside the Top 40 continuously and prevailed as the support act in the Flapper & Firkin for the rest of eternity. i even remember running to the local newsagent one Wednesday during school lunch-break, finding that ver Hogg were front page in NME’s ‘On’ section (yes i feel a bit old now) and reading in the interview that the group said, “we aren’t like other bands”. To which the journalist with them added, “Then again, other bands are shit.” They were to The Vines what Terris were to Coldplay (only two years later) and, considering the Antipodean’s progress since, that’s saying something. It’s a shame really, because i think they would have fitted in well as the more melodic contemporaries of, say, The Horrors or Xerox Teens of now. When the aforementioned Lamacq was broadcasting his final Lamacq Live programme he played ‘So Young’ and said that they were just ahead of their time - which may or may not be much solace to a band lumped into a scene (with No Name) that included the much more successful/revered Mclusky and Eighties Matchbox B-Line Disaster. [i’ve just found out the single is now deleted too, so download while you can i guess.]

i was at this point going to leave you with a track by Lifting Gear Engineer (primarily, i should confess, because of the title), from a compilation that i also picked up at the STC shop called ‘A Step In The Left Direction’ on Boobytrap Records but the CD won’t upload onto my computer. Oh well. All it leaves for me to say then is remember to support charitable thriftiness.

…Unless you want to stay here and watch the new Von Sudenfed video instead? Okay!

Tuesday, 3 April 2007

Put on my ravin' shoes...

Sorry we’re not about much. We miss you.

So anyway, we know New Rave (or is it Nu Rave now? i can’t keep up with the kids nowadays. i’d rather it wasn’t because Nu automatically makes me think of Nu Metal and frankly i’d rather not) is only just managing to stagger about on its feeble mashed-out legs, but there are still people wanting explanation. Basically, then, the Klaxons stuck a few keyboard sound effects onto their guitar-centric song(s) and it’s been the basis for a whole ‘movement’ ever since. Not that this, in itself, irritates me. No. It’s that, only a few hours ago, i heard someone say that new rave is better than the original Rave movement.

Now, this is the bit where i succumb to my creeping elderly fuddy-dudiness, and admit that i don’t understand the youth of today (as if i ever did). i’ll state that i’m sure Shitdisco are probably nice people but it’s “not my type of thing”, call the dog to fetch my slippers and let the grandchildren huddle ‘round me so i can regale them with tales of lost times, like when CD singles with remixes lasted half and hour and the entire male population was fighting over Justine Frischmann. But i mean, really…new wave versus old rave, and new rave wins?! i know the Klacks put on a decent performance but it’s hardly turning your biggest hit into a machine gun-wielding thrash metal number, dumping a dead sheep at the entrance of the after-party and burning a million quid to celebrate. Heck, it’s not even furiously looping ‘Cloudbusting’ over an euphoric piano/acidic beat. i know i expected the rave revival about as much as i expected Steve Lamacq to move to Radio 2, but they’re not even trying. Which is why i not only feel old, but also feel the need to say embarrassingly lectural in-my-day-lad bollocks like that. But as soon as any of the young whippersnappers deliver something as downright thrilling as the opening cry of “Who loves you, and WHO DO YOU LOVE?!?!?!” at the beginning of ‘Temple of Dreams’, i’ll eat my words without ketchup. Unless it's anything by the newly resurrected Kicks Like A Mule, which doesn't count. Anyway.

Let the music do the talking i guess, step forward old guard:

Utah Saints - ‘Something Good’

The Prodigy - ‘No Good (Start The Dance)’

Messiah - ‘There Is No Law’ (original mix)

The KLF feat. The Children of the Revolution - ‘America: What Time Is Love?’

We got bored, so we ate it

In response to a request from top quality mixtape maker and fellow Sri Erotic Volvo fan Rik, today i present to you my ridiculously unpatented recipe for Chocolate Spaghetti Cake. Please note that the measurements of each ingredient are to the maker’s discretion.

Assemble: spaghetti; rice; cooking chocolate; milkshake powder; prepared cake flan; whipped cream; digestive biscuits; banana; chocolate drops; hundreds and thousands.
Cook the spaghetti and rice together for a few minutes longer than recommended on the packet to ensure softness and fork until fluffy (avoid stodginess). Drain if excess water remains. Mix in the cooking chocolate while the mixture is still hot and the milkshake powder (or syrup like Crusha for moistness if you prefer). Once thoroughly mixed allow to cool. Form in a mound on the flan until sturdy enough to slice and cover with the cream, then arrange the bananas, chocolate drops, digestives and hundreds/thousands. Party ‘til you puke.

i couldn’t really think of any cake-based songs to put with this, so here’s something to wash it down with.

Gwenno – Lime Chordial

We’ve been a bit late in picking up on the solo efforts from Gwenno, one of the three pleasant ones from that Bananarama tribute act we mentioned earlier. Those on the wrong side of the Pips debate – i.e. the people who don’t like them – should note that Gwenno in her own words likens the songs to both Ace of Base and The Postal Service, but i think even that’s doing her a disservice. Looking forward to the album. Thanks to Simon for sending the track.