reviews january 2007

Adjagas, Mun Ja Mun (Ever) 7"
What I'm thinking of is two dusty chaps, wearing dusty chaps, sitting beside a small fire that is the only light visible in any direction across the dark darkness of the dusty plains but for the distant stars and sliver of moon in the cathedral ceiling sky. They are not companions except in the sense that they share this space for this night. They do not know each other except in the way that men of the earth and of the outside and of the horse know each other. They share no language beyond that of the gently-plucked banjo and quietly-strummed acoustic guitar. This does not prevent them from sharing a moment of beauty, of calm calmness and enveloping peace plucked from the air and the instruments and embellished by lyrics of pure emotion sung without words.

Forms Forms Forms, demo CDR
Concise, direct, bracingly smart stuff, bright and colourful as an explosion in a neon factory. The basic guitar-pop template isn't so much expanded as flash-fried; supremely assured vocals (with neat drone harmonies), pole-vaultingly agile bass and popcorn splatter drums, all harnessed to a beguiling murk. This last could be the low-rent recording, but the clever bleeders make it work for them - atmospheric indeed. The tunes are grabby enough to complement the mood of wired excitement, with a triumphant, surging quality that carries all before it; add a bug-eyed abruptitude that kills any stadium anthem tendencies and you're onto a winner. Pop art, dad! (Greville Wizzard)

Flat Four #7
A single double-sided piece of A4 for the princely sum of 10p. Doesn't sound very promising, does it? Quite an amount of care and invention has been invested in this charming little despatch which contains mini-interviews and mini-reviews along with mini-musings from the Flat Four Radio people, all imaginatively folded. Sure to cause a smile or two over a leisurely cuppa. (Laurence)

A simple and rather beautiful idea from the Flat Four Radio people; they sent out one hundred postcards to various people requesting their return once they'd been customised by the recipients to their own individual liking. The range of responses was very interesting, going from simple sketches or jokes to quite elaborate communiqués. These are now collected in this 'zine for our pleasure, a wonderfully daft idea carried off wonderfully well. (Laurence)

Brechdan Tywod #10
Uncomprehendingly scanning this publication I find myself thinking that it's just as well that the number of Welsh speakers is on the increase, there will be more potential readers for this than before. When I reflect that probably most Robots readers wouldn't be able to read this 'zine either I start pondering.

Are they publishing in Welsh to exclude non Welsh speakers or are they promoting a culture, a groups of artists that belong to it and a once endangered but now reviving language? Is it the synthetic preservation of a fossil and the self imposed exile into a self created cultural ghetto? If language can create barriers can music really overcome these? Do I need to lighten up a bit, perhaps?

There's a CDR with this issue from Radio Amgen by various artists, all who sing in Welsh. It sounds brilliant. I wonder whether my local college do night classes in Welsh? (Laurence)

Vanity Project #19
A reassuring rock in the shifting sands of time. Simple unchanging format with unswerving focus on the real matter in hand - the music! A plethora of well written laconic reviews and in this issue - interviews with the Gas Man and Zukanican. Every issue is a must have, every issue comes free - we love it. (Laurence)

Unsigned #2
Impressively glossy cover with mounted 19 track CD showcasing various bands. A rather professional affair that favours the "rock" end of things, but then there's an interview with electro-duo Nadine and Charlie and even one with the Zutons bass player; so it covers a range of sounds. Based in Stoke with a nationwide outlook and an impressive list of contributors, it contains a lot of high quality photos and heaps of reviews. Definitely worth a look. (Laurence)

Beat Motel #6
A rather hefty A5 'zine with staples. Sixty plus pages of highly variable content including four pages of 'zine reviews, eight pages of live reviews, and a dozen pages of record reviews. It concerns itself with a range of sounds and has a bit of humour running throughout it. Items such as the little piece about why being British isn't so great, or the article by Richard Hell about CBGB's lifted from the New York Times caught your reviewer's attention. Editor Andrew Culture isn't shy about taking centre stage on occasion, but then it is his 'zine. The humour's a bit hit or miss and a lot of the reviews are very negative, which makes you wonder what the point is in taking the time and effort to review something that is only ever going to be trashed. This aside, a lot of effort has obviously been invested in this 'zine and has something of interest for just about everybody. (Laurence)

The Poppycocks, Lovebirds/Tender Hooks (Drift Records) 7"
Released at the onset of winter, this is really a summer record - perhaps even a summer hit. Warm jangling guitars, lovely melodies, and that good natured arch-ness that only the English can ever really pull off properly. An all year round delight. (Laurence)

Various Artists, The Kids At The Club (How Does It Feel To Be Loved?) CD
A rather classy collection brought to us by the people behind the How Does It Feel To Be Loved? club nights in London. Having listened to last year's C-86 twentieth anniversary eulogies, it strikes your elderly reviewer that this little compilation might be talked about in years to come in similar terms. Now though it seems that it requires a lot more than a fuzzy guitar and floppy fringe to make waves and a whole raft of computers, strings, and brass and woodwind make their contribution to the polished sounds that keep to a consistently high standard. Nineteen bands are show-cased here and it's Voxtrot, Irene, Saturday Looks Good To Me, Tender Trap, Stars of Aviation, Pocketbooks, and Suburban Kids With Biblical Names that show the greatest promise for future greatness; but everyone will have their own favourites. (Laurence)

Beef, Showers and Sunshine (Sparticus Stargazer) 10"
Apparently this is the valedictory release from this most singular of labels, a sad event indeed. Even by it's own quixotic standards this is a quixotic note to bid farewell upon. Whilst some previous releases have been as far "out there" as you could just about go, this one pushes a little further and finds itself coming back around to the most basic simplicity of ten a capella songs sung wistfully by mystery crooner Beef. One side of "Shower" songs and one of "Sunshine" from a dizzying array of eras and writers/composers - some obscure, some rather famous. A fitting farewell perhaps to a label that's nobly wandered through places that others wouldn't even dare consider going. (Laurence)


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