reviews march 2007

Horowitz, Tracyanne  (Cloudberry) 3” CDR
A smile inducing mini confection from top cartoon strip popsters. The title track’s a yearning valentine to a certain indie-pop pin-up girl who sings for Camera Obscura. The second song, Animal Soup, is a Terrible Claws cover which  brings a change of pace and the high point of a delight that closes with the rallying call to popkids of the world urging them to unite. Sticky, sweet and you know you want it – just the right size for that sugar-rush we all need sometimes. (Laurence)

The Shirley Rolls, I Got Nothin’ b/w Busted 7”
These Los Angeles folk don’t mess around do they? Both songs have a pared-down, garage-psych feel, welding tunes to a lean ’60s chassis, and hammering them together with eager, urgent drumming. This creates a nifty vehicle for singer Tom’s voice - a kind of Reed/Verlaine hybrid - and things ton along with sufficient momentum to damage several residential properties in the Lyme Regis area.

Which is something of a shame because these houses, built in the post-war period, were homely and well-maintained. But so bloody what, you yelp, emboldened by the Shirley Rolls’ gritty vigour. This is rock ‘n’ roll – with the stress emphatically on the latter half of that formula. Roll by name, roll by nature, see? It’s the bit that keeps things moving along, the part invented by Bo Diddley which makes for a buzzy, amphetamine-sprinkled feeling of perpetual motion (‘I started hoping...I remember walking around’).

It’s perhaps no surprise then that lyrically the emphasis is on positivity (‘I’m feeling so, so good now’), although there’s a weirdly elusive sense of purpose too - as evinced in the opening line “I went looking for a new game to play.” Seek and ye shall grind. So yeah, these songs really do roll along, and consequently your mind, heart, ass and - yes - aorta are propelled onwards in an urgent, and compellingly insistent manner.

Of course, analytical Robots readers (are there any other kind?!?) will compare these songs to the Shirley Rolls offering on the Blue Minnow sampler (The Joy of Incompetence vol. I, free with r+eb #14)  and when they do, they’ll find that these two vinyl tracks are tighter, punchier and a good deal more assertive in every sense. Best of all though, Tom is making this single available free to those r+eb readers who contact him at the Shirley Rolls website (be quick though – be *very* quick). (Rodney Stuka Windsor)

Slow Down Tallahassee, So Much For Love (The Sheffield Phonographic Corporation) 7”
The Ying? Breezy 80’s girl pop tinged with heart-tugging sadness, certain to be one of this year’s best releases. The Yang? Having seen this lot live I know they’re one of a select few bands capable of producing an utterly brilliant pop record. In this case perhaps awkwardness and quirky individuality have been exchanged for polish and thoroughbred poise. Oh well, if this is in any way a disappointment it is a very special one. (Laurence)

The Butterflies Of Love, Famous Problems (Fortuna Pop) CD
Ah that tricky third album conumdrum. A quarter of a century ago John Peel was aghast when his beloved Undertones struck out in a brave new artistic direction for their album number three, the summary of his woe being that if you’re onto a winner it’s best to stick with it. The Butterflies Of Love know better than to meddle with a successful formula and serve up more beautifully polished and carefully crafted songs, like a subterranean Dire Straits perhaps. And that’s a recommendation. (Laurence)

Airport Girl, Slow Light (Fortuna Pop) CD
Road weary and dusty Americana from…um, England. One of those records that gets better with each play, one of those unheralded releases that you congratulate yourself for chancing upon. (Laurence)

The Loves, Technicolour (Fortuna Pop) CD
Late 60’s and early 70’s grooviness combined with timeless indie popiness, yes summer is definitely on its way. This little delight will help make sure you’re ready for it when it arrives. (Laurence)

Birdengine, I Fed Thee Rabbit Water (Drift Records) CDS
Simple brilliance. Distinctive songs and distinctive voice. Hard to find references which might help describe, the true mark of originality and individuality? (Laurence)

Debunk #4
8 pages of CD reviews, 2 pages of ‘zine reviews and an interview with King Blues – that’s the musical related content. Most of this issue’s 40 pages are given over to articles from various contributors and deal with a range of topics ranging from why Burger King is even worse than McDonalds to the danger that lurks within a barely submerged munitions ship off Sheerness. There’s a vein of laddish humour running through this well constructed citizen of ‘zineworld. (Laurence)

Empty Playground #5
If Metal’s your thing, Empty Playground will be very much your thing. And very polished and classy with it too, move of an A5 magazine than a ‘zine. Comes with a free CD featuring 18 tracks that could crack the thickest of skulls. (Laurence)

Vanity Project #21
We sat together drinking coffee from plastic cups, not saying much as there was so much to say. Suddenly her train arrived and this was it, a brief kiss and tight sad smiles as we waved weakly at each other through the glass of the carriage window. I turned and walked away to ensure I didn’t succumb to madness and jump on the train myself, perhaps hoping desperately to hear light hurrying footsteps approaching from behind as sign of a last minute change of mind. It was not to be, of course. So now it’s the last issue of this dear old friend and no matter how I may wish it wasn’t so, it is. Life’s like that, and this constant little treasure will be much missed. (Laurence)

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