reviews june 2005

Drowsy, Growing Green (Fat Cat) CD
Finland. It's the source of some of the weirdest, scariest, furthest-out music I own. Drowsy is Finnish but his music isn't weird or scary or far-out. It's not quite right though. Which of course makes it very right indeed. The press release says Robert Wyatt and Smog and I say Drowsy would be proud to be mentioned in the same breath as them, proud to be like them but not quite right. When he scrapes across his guitar and exhales a song he's not quite right. When he sits and the piano and Saties a tune as the words sidle out, he's not quite right. And these things of course make him very right indeed.

Filip, Filip Sings Bukowski CD
The story is a good one. The story is that Filip went to a Tom Waits gig in Amsterdam. While he was there he bought a second-hand book of Bukowski poetry. Inspirational poetry. He already had a head full of melodies. And a microphone. And a battered guitar. And a dusty piano. And something old that wheezes and rumbles. And then he had a record.

So the story is a good one but the record is a better one. Filip is never out-there like Tom Waits (although I Met a Genius is almost dark enough, and the highlight of this collection), but you could imagine Waits doing justice to these tunes, doing dirty deconstructions of these bare bones, these beautiful, simple, one-take tunes and gargling the poetry that Filip sings over the top with a tremble in his voice.

The Westward Trail, Circle of Bone CDS
Daddy diamond jumpers (shirt collars outside, of course) are the first clue. Awkward. The list of bands (Talking Heads, the Notwist, Belle and Sebastian) are the second. They're trying to combine electronics and guitar. Awkward and pop. Circle of Bone errs too far on the side of the latter. Excuses tips the balance the other way. The pop is of the synth variety, so we're talking a bit of Depeche with probably more Erasure, but the awkwardness is the gorgeously pinging bass and the ticking beat and the middle eight.

The Mitford Girls, Binary Boy CDR
If The Westward Trail had bigger balls they might be more like The Mitford Girls. Binary Boy chugs along on a riff you might make up without ever having played a guitar before and a bass line to match. Trimmings come from a bunch of Dr Who (the 70s version) synths wailing away and nice electro beats The Scots vocal tops things off with a tale of XOR-ed lovers. ("He was a binary boy and she an analogue girl .. He spoke in zeroes and one. She said I fucking love it when you talk dirty.")

The Future Kings of England, The Future Kings of England (Backwater) CD
If I said Pink Floyd would you run away? How about if I said the post-Barrett Pink Floyd? Would you be able to run away? Perhaps you're starting to realise how dregs of time accumulate around the edges of your life as it flows slowly past, like silt down the banks of a river. Perhaps the inertia is becoming harder to break through? Perhaps you're just getting old? Perhaps the idea of strapping on a pair of headphones and just listening to somebody else wade slowly through their life is becoming more appealing? The Future Kings of England are here to do it for you. Never as bluesy as Floyd but never as rock as post-rock they stride out, paced by the somnolent bass, through their own accumulated time.

Junkyard Genius, The Diary of Rick Benito (Owl Head Man Music) CD
Day one The day when crazed mad musical lunatics were playing milk bottles and it all came right. Day two. Rehearsals for scores for unreleased 70s Chicago cop movies on the day the drummer couldn't stop playing the simplest beat he knew. Day three: a pipe and drum excursion. Week two - the time that the aliens landed and beat their hollow heads with sticks. Week four. Journeyed through dense jungle and tribal heartlands by night. Month two. Dove into a punk rock dive. The band couldn't play, the singer couldn't sing and the sound guy couldn't have been listening. Month six. Relaxed by the sea with folk music.

Horowitz CDR
From Trilemma's nest via Laurence at Kitchen records, a CDR of bedroom pop music. Sixties influences and Sarah influences and indie (in the old sense of the word) influences and that intangible edgy something that makes a band a band and not just some blokes playing some songs. No contact details for the band, but pester for a release soon.

Garrett CDR
The Jesus Lizard. Joy Division. Jon Carpenter. All punk rock according to the gospel of Garrett. I've been doing this for a while now so I think I know which side the bread's buttered. And it's buttered on the side that says the influences listed on a press release almost invariably bear no relationship to the bands you think of when listening to the demo. Unless the influence is Manic Street Preachers in which case you might as well sling the fucker straight in the bin. Garrett do themselves a favour by playing the old statement game. Not influences as such, just a definition of punk rock round Garrett's place. But if I had to name their tunes in one it'd be The Jesus Lizard.

Captain Polaroid, Your Mistake Is Thinking You Have Won CDR
"All of my songs are recorded at home in my bedroom as simply as possible letting the lyrics the control the outcome. I am not interested in record contracts, expensive production or being on the cover of the NME … If it's possible for the existence of talented artists with nothing to say, then is there a prospect for someone with something to say but little merit musically?" Good, even heroic, words from The Captain but he's doing himself down at the end. It might not be Mozart, but it's certainly more than a little Magoo and for us that's recommendation enough. 140 Hurst Rd, Smethwick, West Midlands, B67 6NB or download all tracks from

Oh Astro, Hello World (Illegal Art) CDS
You find your miniature self sitting on the label of a spinning record. You don't think to ask how or why. You find that there's a weird Doppler effect going on as you get closer to and then further away from the speakers, closer to and then further from, closer to and further from, closer to and further from, closer to and further from. This is complicated by the fact that there are eight speakers, each pointing at the deck at a slightly different angle and connected to the amp by extremely long of varying length cables. Closer to closer from and to and further from closer to from and further closer from. The interaction of these two proximity variables would be bad enough if it were not for the fact that the room you are in is spherical and extremely shiny. The echoes do not help. Closer er to fromom er further to and-nd-nd to from closer further from to. The record your miniature self is sitting on might be by Public Enemy. Or something from Motown. Or maybe something by Steve Reich. Your miniature self is being observed by Oh Astro and they are taking a lot of notes.

The Retro Spankees, My Sonic Driver (Kooky) CDS
If music had started in the 60s and stopped in 1986 and if someone had asked The Retro Spankees to write a song that included all the best bits of music and if the someone else had given them a bag of sulphate to help keep things lively and if The Retro Spankees had scoffed the sulphate and gone, eyes bulging, into the studio and played not just out of their skins but entirely out of their bodies and if someone had stopped the tape at 1 minute 56 seconds and if someone had posted the tape to Kooky records and if Kooky had pressed it and if Kooky were selling it today and if you could buy it.. If. If. If only. PO Box 5188, Northampton, NN1 4ZA

Birdpen, Fake Kid CDR
Fake Kid sounds like The Stone Roses in a rush, trying to be Spaceman 3. Fake or not this is a very good thing.

Napoleon IIIrd, 7" EP (Dance To The Radio) 7"
We liked the demo for the pop props holding up the scuzz skin. We like this for similar reasons. Anti Patria isn't scuzzy, but the popness is apparent beneath the simultaneously full and empty production, like a magical Olivia Tremor offcut.


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