Vichy Government, Carrion Camping/Whores in Taxis (both Filthy Little
First album first lines. The Beastie Boys got it right for a young Possession
on Licenced to Ill: "Because mutiny on the Bounty's what we're all
about." Pointless rebellion, getting pissed and being mates with
Run DMC. Ten or so years later, SMASH's Self Abused put his carefree student
life in into perspective with angry, claw-handed guitars and angrier words:
"Back to where my friend died, not to the scene of his ugly suicide."
decade further on and The Vichy Government are here with a couple of albums
from the cynical side of the street. The Possession who now resides in
the world of work, not renowned for his optimism, for whom the glass is
neither half empty nor half full but certain to be knocked over before
he can drink out of it, finds it suits today's mood.
first lines go, "All language is fascist and so am I" just about
trumps any other and reflects the media, and the complicity with which
it engages its subjects, perfectly. I Control Discourse ends abruptly
with the words "I Am God" just under a couple of minutes later.
In that time a monologue on the symbols, syntax and semiotics of propaganda
and manipulation rips past, closely followed by a horribly addictive horrible
screeching in lieu of a synth riff and a beat from page one of the manual.
are not sexy." Barely pausing for breath, theirs or ours, they race
into The Protestant Work Ethic II. Politically scathing, simultaneously
distant and too close, ironic, clever, arch, basic. Soft Cell, if Oscar
Wilde had been Gene Pitney. If Marc Almond hadn't begun to try to sing.
If he could have looked outwards not inwards. If it had been Belfast,
not Blackpool. If Dave Ball had made his music even less complex. More
isn't a Sex Dwarf on Carrion Camping. Or a Tainted Love. There is a track
called Arranged Marriage and one called Orange Disorder that begins "Fuck
You, Northern Ireland." Make Love to the Camera is delivered as if
there's a turd taped to the mic, disgust and loathing to the fore: "Seduce
your target audience/ Stop complaining/ You'll get your gram of coke/
And a lollipop/ Now there's a good girl." The modern music business
in a moment.
world-weary older Possession listened to Carrion Camping once and ordered
Whores In Taxis. He wasn't disappointed. Life Should Mean Life simultaneously
appeals on a superficial level to its targets, readers of The Daily Mail
or The Sun and other blinkered voyeurs, while spearing them for their
apathy and troglodyte logic. Society, or the stupid portions of it, is
on the receiving end again as the knife is stuck into plastic surgery
on The Immortals. Plastic surgery and society's gullibility and a dash
of bile ends with a glorious couplet: "The silicone melts and.. drips
out of their arse."
wouldn't like to live under The Vichy Government but round here they rule.
President, Electric President (Morr) LP
Magical. Wait! Not long grey beards, invisibility cloaks and rutting
unicorns magical. No - we're talking about the melodic and lyrical magic
of Ben Cooper. Ben is Electric President's main brain, and plate-spins
numerous projects (including Radical Face - which keen-eyed Robots subscribers
may remember from issue 14's Blue Minnow sampler). Since then he's been
busy with Electric President, creating this debut LP. And what a well-crafted
and highly detailed thing it is. Of course, you don't have to concern
yourself with its tiny cogs and mechanisms - the ears of the ADD sufferer
will be greeted by a load of surface-level tunes. But when you get drawn
in more deeply, you'll find many other layers, each one inspired by its
own sense of wonder. On Some Crap About the Future, it's like a trainee
angel has thrown his hand in: "I turn and brush the birds from off
my shoulders/ And cross sidewalks with an earful of white noise."
Against the odds, the ex-seraph finds a friend, and they elope away from
the city's insanity and violence to "an old dirt road, where the
sun doesn't look like such a waste." At least, I think that's what
when I follow it more closely, I start to wonder if Ben is both of these
characters; the lost and the found, the electronic robot brain and the
heavy-hearted romantic, or just simply the stoic and the escapist. This
and other narrative strands are threaded throughout the record, each one
delivered in Ben's sweet, seductive style, and it's these thoughtful words
and the carefully constructed tunes that set this debut LP apart. (Rodney
Hope Your Wounds Heal (Fire) CD
A long time ago, we said of their previous band "Delicate AWOL
provide a fluid version of the academic kraut formula .. jumble of Pram,
Tarwater and jangle pop .. if I had to label Delicate AWOL, I'd put them
on Kitty Yo." As Tells, Jim Version and Caroline Ross have gentled
what was never a harsh formula, stripping back the layers of wash and
Brownian flow. At the folkier end, it's like the press release says, Caroline's
voice binding emotions into music from an update of the Wicker Man. When
things start to motor(ik), it's Caroline's voice and not completely repetitive
repetition working off each other. And when things turn jazzier, it's
Caroline's voice and not completely muso musos, like the best bits of
Pickled Egg. If I had to label Tells, Fire would be a good place, or classic
From Uranus, Wild Moogimals (Strange Lights) 7"
In the kind of world where it's possible to play a gig to a paying
audience by standing in front of a turntable, a Theremin, a collection
of boxes competing for the Most Switches And/Or Dials On A Box trophy
and enough cables to rig out a Portuguese Man'o'war, the Man From Uranus
would do well. But that's not good enough for this interplanetary traveller.
He has to go one more. Up to 11, figuratively speaking. He plays gigs
to a paying audience by standing in front of a turntable, a Theremin,
a collection of boxes competing for the Most Switches And/Or Dials On
A Box trophy and enough cables to rig out a Portuguese Man'o'war, sure,
but wearing a pair of children's wellington boots. On his hands.
released a 70-track debut album (or was it 100 tracks? Or 1000?) I honestly
did listen to it. All the way through. It was like sticking your head
into an audio kaleidoscope being turned by an anxious St Vitus' Dance
sufferer. This Strange Lights 7" is less frenetic but still manages
to force 8 tunes onto the black wax. Tunes in a pretty loose sense, some
would say. Tunes in a sometimes strange sense, I'll admit. Tunes formed
from the mind's desire to make order in some cases. But tunes nonetheless.
Tunes conjured out of electronic manipulation and translation. The pick
of these moogimals? Satellite Link to Sun Ra and Wild Animals Ate My Mother
both marry data transmission and confusion.
Strange Sounds Orchestra, Strange Sense of Liberty (Static Caravan) 7"
Ironically, given that this is a companion to Mark Brend's excellent
Strange Sounds book on unusual instruments in pop music, this is not pop
music. Also ironically, given that the book observes that today's pop
music is sonically extremely adventurous in terms of what sounds are considered
acceptable to sample as instruments, this is not sonically adventurous
or even slightly strange. What it is is a wonderfully warm instrumental
from the Stereolab top drawer played entirely on real, if unusual, instruments
like mountain dulcimer, test oscillator, kalimba and omnichord.
John Adams, This Is A Six Track EP (Kabuikore) 7"
Keith wants to know your inconsequential thoughts. He loves you. He
tells you this in the form of a song that lurches like a one-legged man
with a broken leg, that clatters like a one-man band with attention deficit
disorder and a toy xylophone, that's delivered like a one-track mind with
an important piece of information to impart. Keith is a pocket Cardiacs
and he's infatuated with you. I'd find that a tough combination to resist.
One, The Long Awaited Mega EP (Soultheft) 12"
Uncomplicated hip hop (the best kind) at a nice lazy pace with some
nice lazy wordplay ("I like pot/ Obvious, is it not?") and a
sense of humour. Unusual jerks Tom Jones into a beat, turning It's Not
Unusual around, braggadocio without the normal dick-clutching clichés.
A three-tracker over from Sweden clutching a scrap of paper that's
a kind of press release written in the main in such good English that
you've got to believe what it says is what it means. But try this: "Think-box
.. got their shit together and started shitting gold" and "mixing
a smooth cocktail of genres ..punk .. uncontrolled forms of blues, kraut
country, soul etc." I don't know about you, but the fecal thing is
a bit too circular to be pleasant, whatever scrap of truth may be at its
root. It doesn't do much for expectations of the reliability of the genre
cocktail thing. Expectations are confirmed. This is not smooth and I don't
detect much blues, country or soul, but Think-box do scratch out a punkrauty
sound beloved of blokes with fringes, tight trousers and that dance where
one leg bounces up and down while they stand on the spot and wish it was
Hot Puppies, The Girl Who Was Too Beautiful (Fierce Panda) CDS
This band are superb and their first single was scarily brilliant.
This next episode, while very good, is just too sophisticated. Yes, the
smart lyrics from an arresting, yearning female voice; cinematic depth;
grit and urgency are still there. But an 80's power-pop gloss oils the
production where before was exciting murk, and the determination to sweep
the listener along feels steely. ("How many sudden stops, harmonic
twists and honeyed choruses can we load in?") Track two's almost
repellent in its pursuit of pop blast-off, a queasy melange of key-changes
and mood-switches with the tune secondary and the edges tamed. Even so,
they've still got that hyper-real, romantic desperation vibe; when it
works, as in Under The Crooked Moon and (most of) the title track, it
packs a killer mink punch. (Greville Wizzard)
Jane, Street Vernacular (Fortuna Pop) CD
Phil Spector meets the astral forces of the Velvet Underground high
above the summer gulfs of NYC. They listen to the multi-ethnic music-bursts
marinating the air and weave a luminous retro-future hiphop ghost noise
out of the ether. There's spindly fuzz guitar, some seriously mouldy samples
and keyboards (you can almost see the grimy keys being hit on an old PC),
girl-group choirs and sparkling arpeggios. It dreams across the sky with
home-baked breakbeats, rap and handclaps, and noise-washes worthy of prime
Aphex. Bonus: the tunes are structured, engaging and grabby. (Greville
demo CD #3
I feel I'm turning into this band's unofficial PR and it's got to
stop. If only they weren't so prolific. Only kidding - this is another
unsettling, brilliant shock. It opens in coiled fury - no distortion,
no pretensions, the super-tight rhythms pushing a razor-sharp weave of
fast chords. How do they make something this bleached-out and simple sound
so fresh, threatening almost? Mood pieces, twin-thump kickdrums and ratcheting
intensity; frantic headbanging, but austere as a martial tattoo. Actually,
with the crisp drumming and long spoken-word un-rap interludes, it's approaching
tone poetry nowadays, in the best sense: "the Devil on one side and
Phil Collins on the other
" They sound increasingly confident
and marginally more smoothly-recorded, guitars less scratchy, drums fuller,
vocals clearer and closer; but they haven't lost that cold, bracing snap.
Mid Carson Coalition, Bring Me The Ashes, demo CD
I like this: over-excitable youth music that sounds like Iron Maiden
trapped in a crack-fuelled video game. Flanges and brain-fried sounds
ripple the guitars, and on As One they hit a huge unified pummel and weird
scree that melds these disparate elements (hair metal and sonic extremism)
in a truly impressive blast. Equally imposing is Set My Signet on the
Biter, its stealthy beginning an atonal cats-cradle of guitar lines and
wobbles - burst apart by robotic, barking guitar farts and math-rock bass.
It's a weird mash-up, but obviously deliberate rather than amateur flailing
- the sound of a band reaching for something new - getting it - losing
it - then getting it back. They have youth, energy and perverse music
on their side, so give 'em the goddam ashes.(Greville Wizzard)
The Fall of Mary (Fortuna Pop) CD
I love this album so much it's taken me about two months to get round
to writing about it, because I've been playing it all that time and couldn't
stop. I really, really love this album. Which is rare. In fact there's
not a lot I can say that doesn't seem trite and limp.
goes: it's the best, most hypnotic, moving, engaging, skewed, lo-fi, glittering,
colourful, concise, inventive guitar record of 2006. Rad Wagon, Tread
on Flowers Pt. 1, Mary IV, Hanging Crowd, Conan: The College Years, Phantasmagoria
It's like other experimental pop bands' greatest hits collections, as
each of these songs is a stone-cold classic. In all seriousness, I'm speechless
and with no hyperbole: you need to hear this. You need to hear it RIGHT
NOW. (Greville Wizzard)