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Careless Demos Cost Lives: #11

No Fly Zone, Fear of Pain CDR

Bombast. There was a time when it, and its close friends, pomposity and pretension, were flavour of the month. It was a time when lumbering monstrosities penned by Jim Kerr could cause the instantaneous ignition of more liquid fuel than a napalm raid. Lighters aloft, the serious young people of those days seemed not to realise that what Simple Minds were peddling was middle-of-the-road music for people who've grown out of listening to music. Then, before they knew it, they were middle-of-the-road people who'd grown out of listening to music and, like the fable about pulling a face when the wind changes says, they were stuck. Stuck with Alive And Kicking, stuck with Sanctify Yourself and stuck with All The Things She Said as the most memorable songs of their past. Stuck waiting for a greatest hits record three years down the line when a comeback album was contractually due, condemned forever to hate electronic music, sentenced to jump onto the dance floor, arms flailing and heart-attack imminent at wedding receptions when a sympathetic – or sadistic – DJ span Don't You (Forget About Me). It would be unfair to hang the albatross of Simple Minds around No Fly Zone's shoulders, but frankly they could really do with lightening up a bit and exploring the hints of Loop repetition and experimentation that skirt the edges of half these 6 tracks. Emiliano Santoro, Via Babbaurra, 159 93017 S. Cataldo, Italy

Solar Plexus CDR

Solar Plexus just about knock the bollocks off any other demo in this column. Superficial and lazy – okay, more superficial and lazy – commentators would lump them in with any number of Belle and Seb copyists, following the folkish path to indie record buying hearts. But the discerning listener would see that there's a naïve loveliness, a learning-to-gel sheen, an essence of self-discovery and a gentle intensity about Solar Plexus that you just don't get elsewhere. Ducksong is the pick of the three, something that wouldn't be too far out of place on my fantasy record. The one where Vashti Bunyan re-records her lost 1970s classic, Just Another Diamond Day, in my front room.

Riviera CDR

John Peel likes Riviera! They taped him on the radio introducing their Session tracks and used it on the demo! I bet they're the first band to do that! I don't think much of Riviera. They sound like you imagine Bananarama, on a serious downer, would sound if they tried to form a Buzzcocks tribute band with a drum machine and a squeaky synth.

Ex-Rental, Before They Were Famous CDR

"We're the last of the great pop groups!" trumpet Ex-Rental, as they jump around the stage. "Oofuck!" they shout, as their Klingon foreheads impact on the ceiling. They have difficulty getting through doorways as well. Not in a Laurel and Hardy ladder-scene kind of way (although alpine horn players probably encounter many such humorous situations) but because their heads are so blown out of shape by braggadocio fantasy. The "quotes" from Bowie and Morrisey on the sleeve show they can invent the talk, but can they walk the walk? Well, half the time they want to be the last great pop group. They fall a long way short – we don't need a poor-man's Pet Shop Boys. And the other half of the time? They are everything you wish synth bands were, everything Riviera wish they were. A dash of Soft Cell sleaze, dirty disco, distorted dance, aggravating acid squelches and a robotic electronic heart. Before they were famous? Maybe. Before they dump the pop pretensions and make a blinding debut album? I hope so.

The Cost of Living, CDR

The Cost of Living are like being on the dole: so few notes, so much time. It is post-rock, of course but like other talented manglers of the metal formula (see Billy Mahonie, Lazarus Clamp, most of the Bearos roster) they manage to wring something worthwhile out of essentially the same old binary oppositions: harsh/gentle, loud/soft, intense/laid-back. Three tracks to dream to, if not the most original thing you've ever heard.

The Gimp Twins, Flu CDR

"Dedend clad redurn doo Doddingam" as the blocked-up chap on the advert used to say. His solution was Tunes. It would be tempting to say Flu was shit just so I could use the gag, but unfortunately it isn't. It does lack tunes, but they're not exactly at a premium in slow, moody, psychedelic techno punctuated by the occasional cough. Flu: not to be sneezed at.

Steve Escott, Issue 2 CDR

"Cruel but fair" is Steve's opinion of our review of his Issue 1 in our Issue 12. (Cruel but fair. Is that a victory for balanced music journalism or dereliction of demo review bastard duty?) "I have no quality control," Steve goes on to say (I like quoting from letters, it allows me to give you the impression that I get a lot of mail) presumably trying to tempt me to listen to Issue 2. (It's not a great strategy.) If Issue 1 was electro nihilism, insular and solipsistic, Issue 2 is electro openness, inclusive and pluralistic. Issue 2 is Steve's emergence into the world after therapy, the old harsh textures and complicated mazy drones replaced by simple, inviting, embracing loops and jazz-edged drum'n'bass. Steve is a cured man! (And Ochre should give him a call.) 80 Hawthorne Street, Leicester, LE3 9FQ

Foxgloves TAPE

One bloke makes as little noise as possible on an acoustic guitar while the other sings. It's hardly revolutionary but there's something magical about these two atmospheric folk songs. Scratching about for comparisons, it's how I might imagine Young Marble Giants sounded if I'd only ever read old Melody Maker articles about them. Glasfryn, St George Road, Abergele, Clwyd, LL22 7HB

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