reviews february 2000

Mount Florida, Storm EP (Matador) 12"

Glaswegian scenesters Twitch and MP Lancaster making eclectic and engaging music that skirts the edges of dance, ambient and nouveau rock. Ganger and violinist Ian Robbie are sampled on the motorik "Celebrate Life" while "Roc the Bukowski" slices into Iggy & The Stooges. Best, though, is the Mount Florida's own "Flame On" which feeds the Doors and Isaac Hayes through a rusty mincer at high speed.

Knee High, Matchbox Heroes (Clear) CDS

I remember when they were just Knee High to a Grandaddy. It was about 3 minutes ago, actually, when that insistently catchy---but horrendously cheap---synthesizer punctuation squeaked into this Scouse alt-country tune. Knee High are less prone to bombast than the bearded Americans, however, and also less clued-up on when to end a song but they do know how to slip in a budget Spiritualised chorus which makes this low-key affair shambling great, if overlong.

54 Nude Honeys, Hot Generation (Mademoiselle) 7"

Played, not by half a hundred naked sexbombs, but by five rubber- and leather-clad Japanese "kickass girls," "Hot Generation" is little more than a spunky chorus, a heavy pinch of sass and a dirty fuzz break played with one foot on the monitor and the other in the faces of the front row. But what more do you want from two minutes of garage punk rock? PO Box 19049, London N7 7WU

The Diaboliks, Never Thought You'd Leave Me (Mademoiselle) 7"

Proudly wearing the Mono flash on its label, this jukebox 7" from the same label is also a bunch of Japanese ladies with distinctly garage tendencies. "Never Thought You'd Leave Me" is booming British Invasion reaction psychobilly where echo and sludge mixing do little to hamper the spirit of a song which neatly twists your expectations when "..alone" is added to the title. On the other side, "I Can't Sleep at Night" is hewn from the same rock (punk, that is) and is, if anything, slightly better. Address as above. I'm about to order the Lulu's Marble 7" which promises a track called "Jack The Lipper": humour or naivete? I'll let you know.

Lazarus Clamp, Left-handed (Bearos) 7"

Or cack-handed as they'd say round our way. But not cack. Fresh from the release of "Such as You Are and Still Not Seeming To Mind," the debut album (reviewed elsewhere if I ever get to the bottom of this pile of reviews), The Clamp revisit their Slintier moments, give them a good working over, and emerge grasping a tune that fairly cracks along, compressing all the elongated beauty of something like "Good Morning Captain" into a thrill-packed zig-zag of a song. PO Box 7179, Birmingham B29 6RA

Accelera Deck, 7ep (English Muffin) 7"

Scruffy beats and ambient synths make up "Eject," a classy specimen of the new school of indie. That's the one where instead of slouching around behind long fringes in groups of 4 or 5 (the potential band) comparing notes on the Dinosaur Jr. bootlegs or Talulah Gosh fanzine interviews, the protagonists sit at home alone (no band required) behind 4-track and PC sending emails to like-minded souls about the latest Steward 7" or Aphex Twin pseudonym. This one comes on clear red vinyl and is absorbingly minimal as it nods along. Very nice. 39 Skehan #2, Somerville, Mass 02143, USA

Gary Burt, Meeting Someone/Electrical Cells (both Rice Pudding) both CDS

There's ore in every rock liberated from the Rice Pudding quarry. By which flawed metaphor I mean that of every four tracks Gary Burt commits to tape, one will be an absolute blinder. On "Electrical Cells" it's the title track (mysteriously appearing second on the disc). A kind of musique concrete mixer, it features various power tools and household appliances making noise over a selections of loops while Trillion from The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy reads out their technical specifications. Gary says it's a play on "Tubular Bells". I say it sounds like he spends too much time at Do It All. On "Meeting Someone" the plum in the pie is "Maybe," a jug band lollop of skiffle scratchiness and scalp scratching over the Nativity story. PO Box 135, Totton, SO40 2ZN

Max Tundra, Cakes (Domino) 7"

It's a stitch-up. Well, with a title like "Cakes" it was never going to be some intricately-plotted intellectual thriller was it? Actually, the stitching here is of bits and bytes and the needle is Tundra's catholic sampler which manages to make a kind of Blue Peter Lounge record out of Mom and Dad's record collection and some double-sided sticky tape. Much better, and on the underside, is "The Gradual Disappearance..." where, for the second time this week, the sound of a ZX Spectrum loading provides the basis for a corking track. This one's a creaking mini-drum'n'bass fizzer filled out by the addition of a funk underlay about a third of the way in.

The Starries/Jameson, After the Strap/Heroes of Hi-Fi (Bearos) 7"

Jameson's side whips back and forth like a snake trapped under a forked stick, lashing this way and that with the rage of a distressed, and poisonous, animal. The noise that accompanies this blurs the quirkiness of Pavement into the greasy perv-blues of early Groop Dogdrill. On the other side one of The Starries gargles petrol while the others try to flatten out a Gag tune with little success. PO Box 7179, Birmingham B29 6RA

Grover, Like a Bunny (Bearos) 7"

I was young, I was free, I kept my teeth relatively clean and was just discovering the world of deodorants and shaving paraphernalia. Ah, they were the days and I used to spend them watching the Sandkings (amongst others) play around Birmingham all the time. Jaz Man hadn't quite developed the mystical one-hit wander personality he later cultivated but was already something of a spaced-out man. He had enough nous, though, to see the electric brilliance of Drop, The Sandkings' regular support band. Drop released a short succession of 12" singles ("Ambience," "Reflections") and a mini-LP ("Within and Beyond") on the Chapter 22 label before disappearing into a fog of indifference leaving only a heavily effected shimmer of guitar haze as their legacy. Now, ten years later, Grover---completely unrelated to Drop---are making records with the same effervescent qualities, the same drone sensibility, the same latent pop dynamic and very similar results if "Like a Bunny" is any guide. The difference is that where Drop showed very clear genealogical links to Spaceman 3, Grover's take on the thing is more incisive and informed by the recent reverence for Slint (who hadn't released "Spiderland" at the time Drop were mesmerising a young Possession) although without ever dropping into post-rock formulae. This is officially a splendid record. PO Box 7179, Birmingham B29 6RA.

Southall Riot, A Warp In My Dreams (Earworm) 7"

Split with George but, trust me, you'll only be wearing out one side of this vinyl. The dream in question involves the Mary Chain's "Upside Down" without quite so much distortion, a more obvious Brian Wilson fetish, a super huge fuzz bass and a super reverb vocal. And the warp, of course. This is catchier than Chinese Flu. 29 Deeside Rd, London, SW17 0PH.

Montana Pete, An Outreach Program (Po-Homo) 7"

Toss Cable and the jaggedy-jag of early Wire into a clunky, dirty guitar salad and you have the recipe for this lovely noise from Montana Pete. The singer screams, the music chugs, he stops, it twists around on itself, stutters and stomps off elsewhere. PO Box 24356, Tooting, London SW17 9FE.

Milky Wimpshake, Dialling Tone (Ferric Mordant) 7"

Daniel Johnston's got a new album coming out on Pickled Egg soon. In the meantime, though, investigate The Wimpshake's cover of "True Love Will Find You In The End" which buzzes immaculately like the Weddoes did immediately post-"Seamonsters" and somehow manages to absorb "Don't Let Our Youth Go To Waste" into a kind of bleed-out middle-8. On the other side, "Dialling Tone" reconfirms what we already knew about Pete Dale's willingness to go for the obvious in pursuit of the perfect guitar pop tune. Once again, he succeeds. PO Box 54, Heaton, Newcastle-U-Tyne, NE56 5YW.

The Various Artists, Lo-Tech Toy Noise TAPE

Not to be confused with Various Artists, the German electricians, or Various Artists, the BBC Christmas edit-fest single for charity, this The Various Artists are a strictly bedroom proposition. They do, however, favour Krauty tones and the odd cut-n-paste moment. They're literalists, too, as the title (a few of my favourite things, incidentally) demonstrates by describing the tape with admirable economy. "There Was a Revolution (We Weren't Invited)" sticks Neu synth in amongst broken beats for a lesser-fi Lali Puna sound: hum'n'space, perhaps. Elsewhere, the hi-pitched whistle of a Spectrum slowly filling its 16k memory from cassette careers into chattering robotic beats and burbles, the frantic mantra of the repeated phrase ("All we really want is a beautiful day") and beatbox rhythms from page 1 of the manual. Track 9 is "The Joy of Being Electronic," presumably that it's possible to simply sample and loop a beat and some kind of overload into a mesmeric cycle. Endpiece "You Could Never Be In Our Band" suggests that the Various Artists think that's not the case after all. 26 Elthorne Park Rd, Hanwell, London W7 2JA

The Teenbeat, A Year In The Attic TAPE

"Bulimia Queen, I bought you pop and crisps from the vending machine" croons Adrian Shaw in the ode to a sixteen-year-old whose name appears to be Urina. Not a common name, admittedly, but it does help the rhyming scheme later on when, in a sad climax, she drinks---wait for it---toilet cleaner. Such lack of respect for taste and convention along with the irony-free delivery are probably what makes this 90 minutes of The Teenbeat such a joy.<p>

What the tape most resembles is one of those cut'n'paste collages where sloppy editing, a Dadaistic sense of context and plenty of hiss make everyone a potential phono-terrorist. The difference here is that everything, except for the odd John Shuttleworth skit, is played by a band favouring the spasticity of early Wire filtered through Half Man Half Biscuit via Jim Reeves and the leapfrog logic is the inside of Shaw's head. The whole lot is recorded on a borrowed walkman and can be yours for just a quid to cover costs (cheques to K.Ferguson): Teenbeat HQ, 25 Redwood Ave, Royston, Barnsley, S71 4JP or Look for a split single with Baxendale shortly and some kind of release on Short Fuse to follow.

Dag Are Hausen, n for 19 (MykeDroner) 7"

Possibly, given that MykeDroner translates from the Norwegian as "soft drones," the signature tune for this label. "n for 19" is the sound of the wind reverberating through the length of a litter-strewn concrete alleyway at dusk. The other side adds the gentle groans of a comatose tramp and shifts the time to 3am. One that wouldn't be out of place on Earworm. Kalinerun 3C, N-7021, Trondheim, Norway

Baptiste, A New Career In a New Town (Linear) 7"

As an instrument, the heartstrings are notoriously tricky to play. Tug too hard and you get hammy schlock, a theatrical caricature of emotion, but too soft and fey whimsy is all you'll manage. Baptiste, thankfully, are skilled manipulators of the harp de coeur, plucking a Velvet melancholy from it which they overlay with quiet introspection. 50 Harewood Ace, Middlesex, UB5 5DB

Piano Magic, There's No Need For Us To Be Alone (Rocket Girl) 7"

Hefner's Darren Hayman guests on the title track, singing in a creakingly unreliable manner while Piano Magic's empathic backing shimmies like a sequinned fountain, glistening and falling away as occasional odd tangents spurt off and are reabsorbed into the whole. PM here are less drone and more tune than on some previous outings and that's as welcome as the lovely red vinyl.

Menlo Park, We All Doctors Here (Cutty Shark) CDS

When the first one sounds like Jane's Addiction relocated to Paris and the second Tom Waits relocated to the gutter, you've got to take notice. The other two on this taster aren't quite up to the same standard but in all honesty that would be a difficult task.

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