Reviews 27


Reviews 27

“Writing about music is like dancing about architecture” – Melvin Ranchero

Wotcha trakMARXists, welcome to the reviews section of trakMARX, once again - & a maxi-priest-sized welcome to new regular contributors, John Lenin & Elvis Preseli:

John Lenin fronted North Cornwall’s power pop legends, The Pinned Outs, for most of the late 80s & early 90s, before embarking on a solo career in 1997 with his debut (& sole) solo LP, “Fuck Peace, Give Me A Chance”. Modest sales & a battle with depression eventually led to John being dropped by his label when his A&R guy left the company for pastures new, leaving a fragile & broken John to pick up the pieces & start again. A chance meeting with Encoule at Leamo Spa’s Alcoholics Anonymous has led to a recovery of sorts, & John is now working for Hepton’s Framers of Warwick, framing rare & collectable rock posters. He contributes to trakMARX in his spare time.

Elvis Preseli was born in 1977 in Rhyll, the son of rabid Costello fans. His Stiff Records-themed christening was the talk of the local Sunday school circuit, taking, as it did, a surreal turn when the role of the vicar on the day was taken by a passing Steve Naïve, ex-Attractions. Steve had been on his way to visit Chepstow Castle for the day & had merely stopped near Ryhll to get petrol. A chance meeting that morning with Elvis’ father, Declan Preseli, led to the former Attractions keyboard player subsequently acting out the role of vicar for the ceremony! The young Elvis was constantly groomed as a future lead vocalist by his doting parents, & their pride when he eventually landed the roll of singer in local Alarm tribute group, The Ringing, was intangible. A successful career on the toilet circuit of North Wales eventually led to Elvis meeting tMx’s own Robert De Janeiro & being recruited into his noise terror collective, Estate Agent Provocateur. Elvis works freelance part-time for The Welsh Tourist Board in their advertising department & was responsible for concepting the “Please Don’t Step On My Bluestone Shoes” campaign that celebrated the 5,000th anniversary of the movement of the bluestones from Preseli in West Wales to Stonehenge. Elvis appears in trakMARX courtesy of HMV Records, SuponA, where he works as a sales assistant & writes his tMx ‘copy’ on HMV dollar! Chapeau, Elvis Preseli!


45 Of The Issue

The Cravats (featuring Paul Hartnoll) – “Séance” (Caroline True Records)

The Cravats

“Is there anyone there?”

It’s been 20-years since The Cravats put their toys away & packed up the racket. It’s been a fair few since the days of “Chime” & reason were last seen round Orbital’s house. Perfect timing, then, for this blistering collaboration, pitting, as it does, The Cravat’s patented brand of provincial eccentric madness against the more seaside-friendly, light-stick waving method acting of Orbital. The resultant “Séance” is nothing less than a triumph. Like a particularly warming winter broth fashioned from diced Pere Ubu, Orbital stock & just the merest hint of tarragon, The Shend sends the shivers down the spine whilst Rob Dallaway & small Paul Hartnoll bring the noise. Most excellent!

Jean Encoule – tMx 27 – 11/06

The Hipshakes – “Stick Around” (Fistful Of Records)

I was alerted to the wondrous sounds of The Hipshakes by the ever-pert ears of the redoubtable Lemmy Caution of tMx Club 45ers, Black Time. Erring on the side of Caution? Andrew Anderson (bass, vox), Daniel Russel (gtr, vox) & Bruce Sargent (drums) hail from Sheffield but – thankfully - have nothing further in common with the sounds of the Arctic Monkeys, Millburn or Little Man Tate. The Hipshakes play no nonsense punk rock & roll without the aid of a hastily bolted on implied social relevance – which is exactly the way we like it. “Stick Around” is The Hipshakes Fistful Of Records debut – a 4-track EP featuring “Brain Numb”, “Mr Wack”, “Stick Around” & “See Me Coming” – following previous 45s for both Slovenly & Goner. Highly recommended!

Guy Debored – tMx 27 – 11/06

Lost Penguin – “Pleasurewood Kills” (Fake Product)

Lost Penguin come from Glasgow & “Pleasurewood Kills” is the follow up to “Mr Whippy” which sold out quicker than the Yeah Yeah Yeahs when they saw Polydor’s open cheque book. “Pleasurewood Kills” opens with sirens & “Rock Lobster” shaped keyboard fills, electro-punk bass & cutting guitars over which Kev Bassett & Charleigh Blue (I shitest thou not) trade boy/grrl vocal licks like it’s 1994. It’s all over in less than 2-minutes. The Huggy Bear revival starts here. Is anyone going to inform John Slade?

Robert De Janeiro – tMx 27 – 11/06

Sandira – “Hanging On The Wire” (Corrupt Drive Records)

Never trust a group named after their singer – especially when that singer’s worked with The Shamen, Loop Guru & William Orbit. Sandira – the vocalist – is an alarming coagulation of every appalling female voice in the history of popular music. Sandira – the group – are a wallowing pool of spineless session musicians striving gamely to create something vaguely interesting for Sandira to ruin. If the idea of Carol Decker fronting the latest set of demos by David Coverdale’s incredibly talented son excites you – then Sandira are the combo for you!

John Lenin – tMx 27 – 11/06

!Forward Russia! – “19” (Dance To The Radio)

And the nineteenth single to be pulled from “Give Me A Wall” is . . . and the bad news is: it’s not a Paul Hardcastle cover. Joking aside, !Forward Russia! have been just about everywhere (twice) this year trying to break their compelling brand of intelli-prog. Their impressive collages have grown in stature & confidence as the miles have stacked up on the DTTR Transit van. “19” resurfaces here once again in its Radio Edit alongside Duels’ re-jigging of “13” & 65 Days Of Static’s reevaluation of “11”.

Guy Debored – tMx 27 – 11/06

Blah Blah Blasé – “Grandad” (Fake Product)

Twisted Charm’s Nathan Doom & The Frenchies’ Camille Chazara & Marine Cabour combine for this collaborative side-project allegedly inspired by a shared evening in the company of the supremely untalented & pretentious Selfish Cunt. Unfortunately, “Grandad” is not an electro-punk reinterpretation of the Clive Dunn classic but a humorous (i.e. - humorless) take on ‘growing old before one’s time’. ‘An avante-electro-pop classic! Non?’ - claims the press release. They got that right. How come they got the rest of it so very wrong?

John Lenin – tMx 27 – 11/06

The Kevs – “Scare The Girls” (Demo)

The Kevs are currently one of the more interesting London based groups working within the traditional medium of rock & roll - & “Scare The Girls” is Joy Division (Factory built?) informed guitar interplay dressed in terrace-chorister’s clothing. Art v angst. It shouldn’t work – but it does. The juxtaposition between fragile beauty & yobbish expressionism is just left of convincing - & marks The Kevs down as the most stylish luddites through these doors this term.

Jean Encoule – tMx 27 – 11/06

LR Rockets – “London Girls” (Must Destroy)

LR Rockets dress up in vests. No wait, come back, they’ve got symbols painted onto them! A red heart, a yellow square, a white star & a grey circle. How unique is that? LR Rockets are going to save Must Destroy a small fortune in stylists fees, I’ll be bound. “London Girls” – meanwhile – makes the Towers Of London sound like Slint. From the people who brought you The Darkenss & Goldie Lookin’ Chain.

Robert De Janeiro – tMx 27 – 11/06

The Pigeon Detectives – “I Found Out” (Dance To The Radio)

The Pigeon Detectives are probably worth contacting if you’ve lost something. They seem to be pretty good at finding things. They’ve obviously found a Tardis – or a wormhole in the very fabric of the time space continuum – or some other method of time travel – because they keep on brining songs back from the late70s/early 80s era of new wave power pop. “I Found Out” is their most muscular offering yet, granted. Strident guitarage & football fan vocalisms recall The Chords or “Setting Sons” era Jam whilst “Left Alone With You” continues to mine that NI Punk Pop vein epitomized by The Outcasts or Rudi. By the time we get to “Hello (My Old Friend)” it’s all gone a bit Arctic Monkeys & we’re reminded once again what a piss poor roll model for a generation Oasis have been.

John Lenin – tMx 27 – 11/06

Mississippi Witch – “Just For Roosevelt” (Colony 2)

Mississippi Witch are two ex-pat ‘bible-belt escapees’ who met at a ‘snake church’ in Baton Rouge, decided to form a group, & promptly moved to London where they were duly ‘discovered’ by Colony 2 & shoved into a recording studio. “Just For Roosvelt” is gravel chewing, ‘bacy spitting rawkus Blues on nodding terms with Uncle John & Whitelock.

Guy Debored – tMx 27 – 11/06

The KBC – Test The Water (High Voltage Sounds)

You know you’re in trouble when the most interesting thing about a record is the hi-hat!

Robert De Janeiro – tMx 27 – 11/06

Itchy Tits – “Slaughtered” (Mamary Music)

A cautionary tale . . . this one goes out to all you schoolies:

‘High’ school pranks – they’re not big – they’re not clever - & they’re invariably best left at school. Should any of you chose to ignore this pertinent advice & attempt to take your ‘High’ school prank ‘on the road’, watch out for associates of the Red Hot Chili Peppers hiding behind the litter bin by the bus stop as you leave said seat of learning. They’ll (the aforementioned associates of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, that is) fill your impressionable little heads with tales of California, possible openings in the pornography soundtrack market, video shoots directed by Banksy (he’s so hip!) & bully you into buying onto a tour with a bunch of cunts called The Fratellis (it’s true, they’re cunts, really, they are). Before you know it Fergal Sharkey will have written your biography, designed the sleeve of your LP & have told Elton John over dinner that YOU are the best thing he’s heard in ages. It doesn’t stop there. Just when you begin to think things are going to turn out all right in the end – Gordon Raphael bursts out of a giant cake & screams, “I’ve just got to produce the album.” – “The Bluffers Guide To Making It In The Music Biz” – by Dominic Masters (Reactionary Press)

Sadly, Itchy Tits were looking out of the window daydreaming the afternoon the above was covered at Rock School. Their mums & dads bought them all the drums & guitars & amps & stuff – but were powerless to do anything about Lizzy Loud’s gratingly unattractive vocals or Itchy Tits total inability to write anything other than parody. This is one of the biggest piles of dogshit I’ve had to endure here @ tMx in almost 6-years of reviews. No, really, it is.

John Lenin – tMx 27 – 11/06

Shock Defeat – “How Did We Make It So Angry?” (Snakes & Ladders)

Ah-haaaaa! Now we know who’s been buying all the singles pulled from “Give Me A Wall”.

Guess who Shock Defeat sound like?

Answer: they definitely don’t sound like Talking Heads, The Fall, The Rapture, 80s Matchbox B-Line Disaster or The Birthday Party!

Who the fuck writes these press releases? And do they have their ears filled with liquid concrete beforehand?

Guy Debored – tMx 27 – 11/06

redcarsgofaster – “24 Passes” (High Voltage Sounds)

Taking New Order as their benchmark, redcarsgofaster recall the halcyon days of RedLorryYellowLorry when issues of colour & modes of transport were the latest word in nomenclature. “24 Passes” blends a touch of the Muses into the Hookey stew but skates a bit too close to Flowered Up/Northside territory to be utterly convincing.

Elvis Preseli – tMx 27 – 11/06

Yes Boss – “Tongues In Knots” (Dance To The Radio)

The 127th Yes Boss 45 of 2006 & the joke’s beginning to wear a bit thin. Even the appearance from the DTTR dugout of Tom Woodhead on guest vocals can’t drag “Tongues In Knots” from the cutting room floor where it should have remained. To paraphrase another famous son of the North, JCC:

“This record’s mindless, boring & crude, full of pornography, the type that’s not rude. Where William Hickey meets Michael Caine, again & again & again & again.”

Yes Boss are the musical equivalent of the Daily Express. Expect their next single to be called “Who Killed Diana?”

John Lenin – tMx 27 – 11/06


LP Of The Issue:

sunn0))) & Boris – “Altar” (Southern Lord)

sunn0))) & Boris

Altar (noun): flat table or block for offerings to deity.

No monotheism here. At this “Altar” we worship two Gods: sunn0))) & Boris.

For those of you not in the loop on this one – sunn0))) are the planet’s leading exponents of drone doom (or Dub Metal, as I, & only I, affectionately refer to it) – Boris are the world’s most adaptable power trio!

No ‘split albums’ here, either. “Altar” is a collaboration resulting from both groups conceptualizing, writing and recording the album together as one entity – along with guests Jesse Sykes (vocals on “Sinking Belle”), Kim Thayil (guitar on “Blood Swamp”), Joe Preston (vocals on “Akuma No Kuma”), Bill Herzog, Phil Wandescher, Rex Ritter, Tos Niewenhuizen, Steve Moore - and Dylan Carlson, who plays guitar on the vinyl only exclusive track, “Her Lips Were Wet With Venom” (not available till Feb 07).

Here’s the concise personnel/instrument/track ratio:

1. "Etna" – Greg Anderson - guitar/Atsuo -drums/Stephen O'Malley – guitar/Takeshi - guitar & bass/Wata - lead guitar

2. "N.L.T." – Atsuo - bowed cymbal & gong/Bill Herzog - upright bass

3. "The Sinking Belle (Blue Sheep)" – Jesse Sykes - vocals/Takeshi - guitar/Wata - guitar, space echo /Stephen O'Malley - piano/Greg Anderson - bass guitar/Atsuo - traps/Bill Herzong & Phil Wandscher - vocals/Adrienne Davies – percussion

4. "Akuma no Kuma" – Atsuo - lead drums/Joe Preston – vocoder/Greg Anderson - Moog Rogue/Stephen O'Malley - Korg MS20/Bill Herzog – snare/Steve Moore – trombone/ TOS Nieuwenhuizen - oberheim/ Troy Swanson – oberheim/ Randall Dunn - Korg MS20, sherman filter bank, echoplex/ Mell Dettmer - Roland SH101

5. "Fried Eagle Mind" – Wata - vocals & space guitar/Stephen O'Malley - clandestine guitar, califone/Takeshi - bottle lead guitar/Greg Anderson - bass guitar/TOS Nieuwenhuizen - Moog Taurus/Troy Swanson - oberheim 4 voice/Randall Dunn - Korg MS20 & natural trouble

6. "Blood Swamp" – Atsuo – gong/Greg Anderson – guitar/Stephen O'Malley – guitar/Wata – guitar /Takeshi - guitar & bass/Kim Thayil – guitar/Rex Ritter - Moog Taurus/TOS Nieuwenhuizen - Moog Rogue

“Altar” fucks with the very parameters of what you may refer to as rock & roll. It manipulatively meddles with your head. This is music from outer space that gets in between the inner spaces deep within the stoned mind and expands exponentially. These are sounds you may never have heard before, arranged in a way you may never have thought possible. An aesthetic built on a bandwidth of tone that manifests itself as reverberation inside your intestines & the simultaneous formation of a new set of values on the hard drive of your aforementioned mind. Apocalyptic fragility suspended in aspic. A cycle of noise broken only by damaged, queer folk. A cacophonous symphony interrupted by a bruised Velvet Underground somewhere deep inside the bowels of Warhol’s Factory. An aural vortex, a double helix, decorated with entopic images: spirals, chevrons, parallel lines, etc - signs from the hardwired cortex at our genetic core.

“Altar”: a poisoned barb in the chest of traditional rock & roll, delivered by a disturbed “Sister Ray” from somewhere deep within the inky blackness below . . .

On your knees . . .

Jean Encoule – tMx 27 – 11/06

This Et Al – “Baby Machine” (Monotones)

This Et Al have been keeping their powder dry. Much of the Leeds scene that kicked off around them over the last couple of years has gone off half-cocked. LPs have been recorded too soon. Compromises have been made when collusion was never part of the original game plan. Too many expensive guitars on too many stages. Too many people-carriers in too many car parks. To many parents in too many sparse audiences. Too much great expectation. Too much too soon!

Thankfully, This Et Al have maintained their dignity & their integrity - & “Baby Machine” is here to record that fact for posterity. Featuring 11-cuts (6 previously available as A-sides, B-sides or compilation cuts – 5 previously unreleased) & produced in glorious analogue sound at Leeds Attic studios by Richard Green, “Baby Machine” defies classification. There’s no ‘X plus Y equals Z’ with This Et Al. No ‘imagine so-and-so wallowing in a vat of Mandarin Angel Delight with so-and-so whilst so-and-so . . . etc, etc, etc’. This Et Al create their art on their own terms. They are one of the few combos out there right now using vocals who can hold a candle to Explosions In The Sky or The Red Sparowes in terms of intensity, imagination & pure unadulterated beauty:

Woken from the unjust sleep of the eternally bored (has 2006 been another toilet-shed for UK rock & roll long players, or is it just me?) by the enchanting chimes of opener, “The Loveliest Alarm”, it’s impossible to staunch the flow of emotion as perfectly formed guitars drowning in reverb fall from the speakers like petals from a wilting rose. “Wardens” accelerates the tempo with its endearing refrain: “What a swaggering debut!” “Sabbatical” digs ever deeper, sonorous & laden with melody. “He Shoots Presidents” rides into town on a shimmering drone before bursting into life affirming action with yet more stunning chord progression. “Of National Importance” rises & falls like a swooping Kestrel in pursuit of its prey. “Cabin Hum” provides brief instrumental relief at half way house. “You’ve Driven For Miles” ramps the tension back up to critical. “Catscan” maintains tempo & course with clinical precision. “Can You Speak European?” is aural Esperanto that crosses the borders of genre by osmosis alone. “Pigs Make Children Sick” crunches as it strides. Foreign voices babble as “Transmit The Ends” draws the curtains of diversity across the windows of endless opportunity & “Baby Machine” reaches it’s timely climax not a second too soon. At 38.58 “Baby Machine” never outstays its welcome: what a staggering debut!

Jean Encoule caught up with This Et Al’s Wu (gtr, vox) to bring you this:

trakMARX - With yr debut LP "Baby Machine" finally on the shelves - how would you sum up This Et Al's progress thus far?

Wu – “Its been quite disjointed and in places unnecessarily drawn out! We've done so much stuff we always wanted to do (Maida Vale, gigs abroad, on MTV, played festivals, etc). This year has been especially strange - the first half was absolutely awful. In reality, our last single “Sabbatical” was a bit of a disaster and that was quite hard to take, especially as we'd spent so much time on it and it was the first thing we were really proud of. But we've spent so much time on “Baby Machine” - it's completely self-funded - so we've been working in between - as well as working to pay for it! So, now its done, we're very proud and very confident at the minute!

trakMARX - How would you describe the sounds held within the grooves of "Baby Machine"?

Wu – ““Baby Machine” is a loud alternative rock album, which on first listen doesn't follow the conventions of normal songwriting processes, but after a couple of spins its charms will reveal themselves. Its halfway inbetween post- rock/stoner/indie.

trakMARX - What's the story behind the LTD EDIT 1st PRESS of "Baby Machine" - & when's the official release date for the LP?

Wu – “The official release is still being discussed. The LTD EDIT 1st PRESS was just so it was out there as soon as it was done, coz obviously the industry being the way it is means it takes 3 months to do anything nowadays.”

trakMARX - Is their a vinyl edition planned? Are This Et Al vinyl junkies?

Wu – “I don't really buy a lot of music - but I don't download it illegally, either! I just don't listen to a lot of music! :D Not really a vinyl junkie - although I own a fair whack! There'll definitely be a 12" when it’s officially released.”

trakMARX - Your on the road with Minus The Bear & others to promote the LP. Fantasy Tour Time: if you could chose two combos - from the past/present/future - to complete the ultimate live package with - who would they be - & why?

Wu – “I would have to say QOTSA/Trail Of Dead circa 2002 - when they were making my favourite albums and exciting. My favourite bands, probably!”

Jean Encoule – tMx 27 – 11/06

Dead Moon – “Echoes Of The Past” (Sub Pop)

Dead Moon hail from Clackmas, Oregon, & have been cooking up their own unique flavour of fucked up garage fired, country tinged, homemade Punk Rock since 1987. Husband & wife team – Fred & Toody Cole – augmented by drummer, Andrew Loonis – have achieved the kind of cult status all over the world that marks them down as one of the most revered & respected combos in garageland. Their early sides were self-released on their own Tombstone label – many were cut on a mono lathe once used by The Kingsmen to cut “Louie Louie”! These releases were eventually picked up for outside the States by the German label, Maniac, who’s patronage & support has led to healthy European sales & sold out tour schedules. They have even been the subject of a documentary: “Unknown Passage: The Dead Moon Story”, by Kate Fix & Jason Summers, which made it to DVD earlier this year.

Fred & Toody – who are both in their 50s – each own distinctly individual vocal styles: Fred pitches somewhere between a “Modern Dance” era David Thomas & and Gerry Roslie, whilst Toody manages to grind a bit of the old Kim Gordon’s into her take on Lucinda Williams – factor in the pounding drums of the aforementioned Loonis & some scintillating four & six string manipulation - & the Dead Moon sound is clawing at your ears!

“Echoes Of The Past” is a 49-track (count ‘em!) double disc summation of all you’ve been missing thus far, & a handy place to start falling in lust. It has been said in certain circles that over-exposure to Dead Moon can result in large chunks of your record collection becoming redundant over night. That’s a risk you’ve just got to take. “Echoes Of The Past” is saturated with the kind of music that makes you want to set fire to things & watch them burn, baby, burn.

John Lenin – tMx 27 – 11/06

Ike Yard – “1980-82 Collected” (Acute)

NYC, circa 1980, as Punk Rock snow was turning to No Wave sludge, & Ike Yard were born of Krautrock/DAF & PiL/Joy Division parentage. They caught the ear of very own Factory Records, who soon made them the label’s 1st US signing, releasing an LP & an EP on their Les Disques Du Crepuscule imprint.

Ike Yard’s sound is dense – possessed of menace. They were pioneers in the field of mixing desk technology – blending synth, gtrs, bass & programmed electronics - the edgy, aggressive vibe they create in the process is the cross roads where avante rock & avante electronica meet. There may well have been a pact with the devil – they did play a few shows with New Order (arf, arf!).

“1980-82 Collected” does exactly what it says on the tin, capturing Ike Yard’s entire output from the time frame in tenderly restored & technologically supreme sound wave formats for the CD consumer. With a chunky booklet stuffed with informative sleeve-notes & the obligatory unseen graphic images & photos, the package is suitably complete.

Listening to Ike Yard 25 years after the fact, they have lost none of their menace to the ravages of time. They still sound like the future in many respects, with the present playing catch up.

Guy Debored – tMx 27 – 11/06

V/A – “Tales From The Australian Underground Vol. 2: 1977-1990” (Feel Presents)

Australia is currently one of the best-served countries in the world when it comes to old school Punk Rock compilations. “Do The Pop”, “Alternative Animals”, “Inner City Sound Vol.1” (Vol.2 on the way) & “Tales From The Australian Underground Vol.1: 1976-1989” are but 4 titles currently rocking the shelves of your local record importer. “Tales From The Australian Underground Vol.2: 1977-1990” is the latest addition to this ever-growing cannon.

“Vol.2” eagerly monitors the development of some of the groups introduced by “Vol.1” within the stated timeframe: The Saints, Laughing Clowns, Radio Birdman, The Triffids, The Died Pretty, etc – as well as introducing further obscurities from the scene: Thought Criminals, The Singles, The Stems, Primitive Calculators & SPK – the latter later finding eventual success in the UK alongside Einsturzende Neubauten & Test Department on the early 80s UK noise scene.

As with “Vol.1”, the source material employed – namely 7” 45s – have been meticulously gathered from the remotest corners of the land, dusted down & re-mastered to within an inch of their vinyl lives to bring you the very best in reproductive sound throughout. Top dollar sleeve notes rammed with detail spill the facts behind the music eloquently. Another quality product from Feel Presents.

Robert De Janeiro – tMx 27 – 11/06

V/A – “Future Love Songs” (Angular)

A couple of years or so is a long time in popular music terms. That’s how long it’s been since Angular’s last groundbreaking compilation, “Rip Off Your Labels”. The Long Blondes & Art Brut are household names now, chart-botherers even! Art Brut have become one of the biggest UK groups in the US for years, spawning Art Brut franchise groups in their wake - & taking the fashion sensibilities of Tony Hancock direct of the average American on the street! The Violets & The Vichy Government aren’t that far behind, either.

“Future Love Songs”, then – Angular’s 3rd compilation thus far – takes a successful template - & expands the parameters accordingly. Compiled by Angular’s Joe Daniel & Joe Margets, “Future Love Songs” gathers the most exciting current sounds from their generation’s rapidly expanding & constantly bubbling underground. Taking in New Cross, New York, New Yorkshire & New South Coast, “Future Love Songs” taxes a whole host of next big things: from the so-called ‘New Rave’ of Klaxons, These New Puritans & To My Boy – to the so-called ‘No Rave’ of Lost Penguin, Theoretical Girl & CaUSE CoMOTION.

Old favourites The Lodger (“Simply Left Behind”) & The Vichy Government (“Elvis & The Beatles”) remain my favourites here by a country mile: quite why The Lodger are not THE biggest group in the whole damn universe continues to fox & confuse me in equal measure! Elsewhere, Wetdog continue to exude promise with their Raincoats-esque oddyshape-throwing, proving, as ever, that you can do a whole rake of DIY damage with just a simple arrangement, some shambolic instrumentation & a winning tune! Kitchen sink drama merchants, take note.

Elvis Preseli – tMx 27 – 11/06

V/A - “God Is In The CD” (God Is In The TV)

Gods Is In The TV zine go all serious on us in their bid for immortality - by doing a lot of work for charidy (wonder whether they like to talk about it that much?)! Thankfully, they’ve elected to donate all proceeds from this compilation to the Macmillan Cancer Support, an organisation many of us could well patronise before we slip off this mortal coil, so kudos where kudos is due. Respect. Right, that’s the patronage out of the way, what about the music?

Things get off to an inauspicious start with the ill-advised Penny Broadhurst – formerly of Chalmers, Warrington & Broadhurst, the solicitors, judging by the plumy tones of her rhymes on “Rhythm Rebel” – who attempts what can only be described as an Eminem-style jam with hilarious results – making Yes Boss sound like Outkast! The Swear fare little better: their ship jumping from former home, Angular, smacks of bargain basement desperation & the transfer window shattering capabilities of “Disco Bitch” aren’t that effective. Gifthorse, on the other hand, are worth looking in the mouth. Their sprightly “A Night In The Arms Of A Stranger” offers slight relief from the mediocrity on hand elsewhere. Villette, meanwhile, ramp up the tempo for their guitar-fueled romp entitled “Drama Girl”. We’ve heard it all before, of course, but that doesn’t stop it being any the less engaging. Donde Stars up the ante slightly with their emotionally drenched softcore marinated in pathos (“You Can Keep The Kids”) that reminds me of very early Radiohead (before they got the gift token’s for Electronica World Of Keyboards of Oxford). The International Karate Plus, on the other hand, love Pavement so much they have decided to dedicate their entire careers to emulating (i.e. – copying) their heroes. Ah, bless. Korova – not to be confused with Korova Milk Bar – or any of the other sad saps who’ve attempted to reference Clockwork Orange via their music in the last 40 years – are so nondescript it really is impossible to write anything about them whatsoever. The Sailplanes feature yet another female vocalist with an awful voice – there seems to be a plethora of them right now. Does this have anything to do with the mysterious cult of Poshoes In Rock? I don’t know. Ask the NME. But I don’t know the NME - & neither do you, theatre!

The Sailplanes suck chunks. The Shake (“Loyal Union”) pick proceedings up by the scruff of the neck & - err – carry on where The Sailplanes left off. More totally inane ‘will-this-do’ LCD rock-by-numbers by people with shiney new guitars & no receipts. Nakeru – terrible fucking name, kids, are you sure that’s all the effort your music deserves? – confound beyond belief with a love of Prefab Sprout, a snappy tune, intelligent lyrics (in present company, unique in itself) & dextrous musicianship. Surely your art is worth more than Nakeru? Right, this is too much – I need a spliff, a lie down & a shot of rye before I can continue any further with this painful procedure. Back in 5-minutes. Talk amongst yourselves!

Fuck! That’s better. Are you still here? Wake up! It’s time for your nap! Ahaaah! Next up are Empty Vessels – a combo who are no strangers to the pages of trakMARX - & one we’ve been quietly monitoring these past few months. Put simply, “Sex Disco” is their best effort yet - & Empty Vessels are the best thing on “God Is In The CD”. There, put that in your crack pipe & smoke it!

Meanwhile, back at the track-listing, Captain Polaroid & Rose Kemp somehow conspire to take the compilation even lower that it’s gone before with “An Accurate Portrayal” & the excruciating “Golden Veins” (a song that, sadly, has nothing to do with Boris). The Psychotic Reaction fail to match the inspired Magpie tendencies of their nomenclature with the insipid & truly dire “It’s A Small Town” (you don’t say?). Rhesus monkey about with dulcet arpeggio’s before bursting into a power-chord-constructed chorus on “Performance”, doing for college rock exactly what Jagger did for acting in “Performance”. Gemma Ray Ritual don’t let their inability to spell Gamma get them down in their pursuit of forging a Fleetwood Mac for the noughties. Akira – with or without The Don – I couldn’t be sure – pop up to weird-out the mums & dads waiting in the forward area people carrier park where they patiently wait to roadie their offspring’s newly subsidised Gibsons, Fenders & Rickenbackers back to their 4-storey townhouses. There’s still time for Salvo to break into the recording studio after everyone’s gone home to guerrilla deposit “Customs” at P18 - honestly believing they’ve contributed to a mid-80s anarcho-punk-syndicate comp by stealth alone.

I love fanzines (I write for one). I love independent compilations (I’ve released enough in my time). I live on the underground (not literally, you understand, those Rail Police are bastards!) – but “God Is In The CD” is a terrible way to ruin what was a perfectly good fanzine. Know your station, gouger nation!

John Lenin – tMx 27 – 11/06

The Duel

Produced by Pat Collier (Vibrators), Lets Finish What we Started is the debut album of London based Punk band the Duel. This is London and the World as seen through their eyes:

“Another beautiful day 
Walking the streets of Camden 
Another beautiful day 
Beautiful people, beautiful smiles

.....Hell is it!

Another beautiful day......for who?!”

From the opening track "Camden Town" through to the finale of "Better Bombs Better Drugs", you realise that Tara (lead vocals/lyrics) dosen't just live in this world - but is sensitive to it - and is troubled by what she sees.

The power of this band lies not only in the lyrics, but in the sound that gives foundation to them. The band's influences seem clear, Ramones (they include a great live cover of "Pet Sematary" on the album), Vibrators (Knox features on the track "The Duel") and Killing Joke have all left their mark. The driving power of Andy's bass and Jorge's druming underpins the wall of sound produced by Paul and Peppe's guitars - a classic punk sound and a powerhouse for any mosh pit!

Dont compare this band to Transvision Vamp, the similarities are superficial. Both bands may use the sexuality of the vocalist to get them noticed, but for the Duel what they do when they have your attention is the substance that few Pop-Punk bands these days ever have. In this respect they remind me of X Ray Spex, if you looked beneath the plastic Day Glo of Poly Styrene's appearance you would clearly see the power in what she was saying. Any band that is able to do this has tons of credibility for me, the Duel has it in abundance!

“They're building better bombs, 
and they're building better drugs 
But we're still 
Brutally lost”

Children are truth.......

Ian OPG – tMx 27 – 11/06

Tractor – “John Peel Bought Us Studio Gear And A PA” (OZIT-MORPHEUS)

Recalling John Peel has evolved its own set of standard memories and associations. I'm as guilty as anyone with my Beefheart-hoisting antics - but here's a lesser known tale about the great man which shows how Peel could put his money where his mouth was.

In 1959, the young John Ravenscroft worked at the Townhead cotton mill in Rochdale by virtue of his dad's big connection in the yarn industry. His job was to haul and break up the bales, feeding them into a machine. Peel, who stayed in a local bed and breakfast, was then sent to the US in 1960 ostensibly to continue his cotton-based education. Instead he discovered its offshoot the blues and all the other music which would shape his early years. Ten years later, he renewed his association with the place by signing up Rochdale band Tractor to his Dandelion label and buying them studio equipment and a PA system.

Thus - around '72-'73 - were started Tractor studios in Heywood and Dandelion studios in Rochdale. The Rochdale studio grew into a music shop and PA hire centre called Tractor and much of the original Peelly-funded gear would end up in Cargo Studios when it opened around 1977.

Unsurprisingly, there's a Fall connection here - they first got noticed (after their initial Zigzag feature!) at the Deeply Vale festival, for which Tractor supplied the PA (the very same). The Fall would go on to record several albums at Cargo, which was run by Tractor producer John Brierley.

The story goes on: Cargo was also used by Teardrop Explodes, OMD and Dead Or Alive - plus Joy Divison and Durutti Column in the fledgling days of Factory, with Tony Wilson blagging a lift to the station to make his Granada TV show off Tractor manager Chris Hewitt (Peter Hook liked the place so much he had a 50 per cent share in it for a period during the 80s). Hewitt also rebuilt the Hacienda sound system.

All this started when Peel used to receive tapes from a group who he renamed Tractor himself - or rather two blokes - Jim Milne and Steve Clayton – and an engineer. Some of these are captured on this nifty box which contains a CD of said demos plus the singles, a booklet and postcards of the aforementioned major players )great one of Martin Hannett).

The early songs are primitive, ranging from the proto-metal riffing of 'King Dick !!' to more acoustic outings like 'Madrigal'. After Peel signed the group to Dandelion in 1970, he played every single they released, including 'Stoney Glory', 'Roll The Dice', 'No More Rock 'N' Roll' and 'Average Man's Hero' - while announcing every gig (He maintained this link until his death).

They sure make a lot of noise for two blokes (White Stripes have unsurprisingly cited them as an influence). There's pop melody, sensitivity and bombastic rock & roll all running about with a sense of humour and even eccenticity which had to be one of the main factors in ensuring Peel's support. Sometimes they do recall early Floyd and Julian Cope wants them played at his funeral.

This lovingly put-together little arty-fact is a fascinating glimpse, essential for anyone interested in the Manchester scene, the Cargo output or simply John Peel as a thoroughly good bloke. Particularly endearing is 'John Peel's 13 Bar Boogie', a 2006 remix which plants that familiar voice over some rollicking blues.

Top Christmas present - but also a bit of history.

Kris Needs – tMx 27 – 11/06

Red Sparowes – “Every Red Heart Shines Toward The Red Sun” (Neurot)

“They sound a bit like a heavier Mogwai mixed with Explosions In The Sky – they drag you in”, claimed the independent record retailer’s assistant who sold me my pink-&-black-splattered double vinyl copy of “Every Red Heart Shines Toward The Red Sun”!

He wasn’t wrong! Red Sparowes do indeed sound a bit like Mogwai, Explosions In The Sky, Godspeed! You Black Emperor – or anyone else wading around in puddles of post-rock, wearing gothic gumboots covered in pentangles! They also ‘drag you in’ - with densely layered quiet/loud/quiet gone Magazine shapes. Progwai?

LA based - & featuring members of Isis, Neurosis, Angel Hair, Halifax Pier & Pleasure Forever – Red Sparowes aren’t averse to a bit of posturing either - vague political allusions, mildly pretentious levels of self-belief - the odd overblown song title:

1 - "The Great Leap Forward Poured Down Upon Us One Day Like a Mighty Storm, Suddenly and Furiously Blinding Our Senses." – 7:00

2 - "We Stood Transfixed in Blank Devotion as Our Leader Spoke to Us, Looking Down On Our Mute Faces With a Great, Raging, and Unseeing Eye." – 8:55

3 - "Like the Howling Glory of the Darkest Winds, This Voice Was Thunderous and the Words Holy, Tangling Their Way Around Our Hearts and Clutching Our Innocent Awe." – 10:08

4 - "A Message of Avarice Rained Down Upon Us and Carried Us Away Into False Dreams of Endless Riches. " – 7:11

5 - "'Annihilate the Sparrow, That Stealer of Seed, and Our Harvests Will Abound; We Will Watch Our Wealth Flood In.'" – 8:43

6 - "And by Our Own Hand Did Every Last Bird Lie Silent in Their Puddles, the Air Barren of Song as the Clouds Drifted Away. For Killing Their Greatest Enemy, the Locusts Noisily Thanked Us and Turned Their Jaws Toward Our Crops, Swallowing Our Greed Whole." – 1:42

7 - "Millions Starved and Became Skinnier and Skinnier, While Our Leaders Became Fatter and Fatter." – 9:55

8 - "Finally, as That Blazing Sun Shone Down Upon Us, Did We Know That True Enemy Was the Voice of Blind Idolatry; and Only Then Did We Begin to Think for Ourselves." – 8:03

That sort of thing.

"We Stood Transfixed in Blank Devotion as Our Leader Spoke to Us, Looking Down On Our Mute Faces With a Great, Raging, and Unseeing Eye" is my personal favourite. It’s says everything Red Sparowes are capable of saying in one handy 8-minute soundbite!

Guy Debored – tMx 27 – 11/06

V/A – “Full Charge” (High Voltage Sounds)

Manchester ‘zine turned label, High Voltage Sounds, drop their second full-length sampler. The follow up to November 05’s “Power Overload”, “Full Charge” duly gathers the label’s charges under one CD cover until the sign on the door says ‘Full’. 19-tracks of thoroughly modern militancy ably showcase the depth of talent on the ground in the city with so much to answer for. Highpoints include the effervescent Answering Machine (“The Hold Up”), the chunky-knit Clerks (“Dissidents”), the Pet Shop frequenting Whip (“Dubsex”), the Death Cab For Cutie hailing Search Map (the standout “Pans National Complex”) & the Joy Division flecked Big Cash Prizes (“Pisser”).

Other possible future chart contenders include The Killer’s referencing Bureau (“After Midnight”), the Arctic Monkey’s aware Jakpot (“Fickle”), Sugarbabes wannabees Modernaire (“Faites Tes Jeux”), Snow Patrol aping Snowfight In The City Centre (“Listen”) the amphetamine ABBA of Dead Disco (“The Treatment”), the St Etienne fronts the Smithisms of The Headlines (“The Long Process”) & the rapturous Run Hide Survive (“Together Again”).

The KBC – “Pride Before The Fall”
Snowfight in the City Centre – “Listen”
The Answering Machine – “The Hold Up”
Bureau – “After Midnight”
4ft Soldiers – “Scars”
The Jakpot – “Fickle”
Lucky Star – “Eyes to the Left”
Modernaire – “Faites Tes Jeux”
Dead Disco – “The Treatment”
The Clerks – “Dissidents”
The Whip – “Dubsex”
redcarsgofaster – “Micro”
The Maple State – “It's Hot As Hell In Martirio”
The Search Map – “Pans National Complex”
The Headlines – “The Long Process”
Big Cash Prizes – “Pisser”
Delta Fiasco – “The Actor”
Run Hide Survive – “Together Again”
Lone Lady – “The Forest”

Alistair at High Voltage Sounds kindly sent us TWO copies of “Full Charge” to give away to suitably interested trakMARXists - & with that in mind – those of you who wish to own a copy of this nattily dressed compilation compact disc should email the words “Full” & “Charge” in the ‘subject’ box of an email along with their postal address to: HYPERLINK ""

Elvis Preseli – tMx 27 – 11/06

V/A – “See Dee Compilation” (Topplers)

Forget: ‘it was easy, it was cheap, go & do it!’

Try instead: ‘it’s easy, it’s free @ - go & do it!’

“See Dee Compilation” is the latest venture from those diligent keepers of the DIY flame, Topplers. Gathering together a genuinely eclectic roster of artists, “See Dee Compilation” collects sterling contributions from Jowe Head (Swell Maps), Gang, The Madness Of Crowds, The Decider, The Existentialists, The Platforms, Dan Melchior (Broke Revue), Steve Treatment, Mong, Masque, Olive’s Hairy Custard (Jowe Head), The Knockouts, Killola, Out Of Nowhere, Angel Racing Food (Jowe Head), Jeremy Gluck (Barracudas), Pottedheid, Mr Luggs & Steve Treatment & The Nomen. All killer, no filler, “See Dee Compilation” perfectly illustrates the depths & strengths of Topplers. Their canny blend of established left-field generals, contemporary cutting edge crackpots & interesting finds from further a field marks them down as a label of taste & genuine worth.


John Lenin – tMx 27 – 11/06

The Peelers – “Let’s Detonate” (Beercan)

I wonder whether the Peelers know their name means ‘filth’ round where my granddad comes from. Apparently, some bloke called Robert Peel (not the DJ dude) was responsible for getting the British Police force into shape - & ‘Bobbies’ (as granddad still insists on calling them) - were known as Peelers in some circles! All of which leads us to “Let’s Detonate”, the explosive (do you see what I did there?) sophomore LP from Chicago’s Peelers. Cut from the same cloth that brought us The Paybacks & The Bellrays, the Peelers deal us solid, copper-bottomed Punk Rock & Roll. Drums set to bludgeon. Bass set to rumble. Guitars set to stun. Vocals set to growl. “Let’s Detonate” is hi-energy, hi-octane, hi-wasted, hip-shaking, ass-quaking, bottom-liberating, bowel-inducing, sonic-assault & old-school-battery in a chunky knit style.

Beercan Records
PO Box 1204
Bedford Park
IL 60499-1204

Guy Debored – tMx 27 – 11/06

Zombina & The Skeletons – “Death Valley High” (Ectoplastic)

The first top thing about Zombina & The Skeletons is that they’re Scousers - but they DON’T sound like the fucking Las, the nauseating Zutons or Echo & his Godawful Bunnymen. No Beefheart LPs, atomizers, bongs or scallydelia going down round Zombina’s gaff.

The second top thing about Zombina & The Skeletons is their resolutely DIY approach. No getting the painters in for Zombina, she & the lads just get on with it themselves - & hang the cleaning bills!

The third top thing about Zombina & The Skeletons is . . . er, hang on a minute . . . actually, there isn’t a third top thing about Zombina & The Skeletons.

The truth is, it’s all a bit skanky, really. They can’t seem to make their minds up who’s sound they want to approximate the most. The 60s garage fired cuts are the best: “Lost Boys”, “Your Girlfriend’s Head” – but elsewhere a contradiction in styles & a tendency to doo-wop the shit out of the slightest returns tends to suggest the presence of some shady ‘elder influence’ (just check the ‘riffage’ on “The Waiting”) lurking in the background of the studio complex (hello, granddad!). Sadly, however much Zombina wants her Skeletons to sound like some kind of post-ironic Blondie (“The Waiting”), the overall effect is decidedly Chad Valley (ask your granddad)!

John Lenin – tMx 27 – 11/06

Jean Encoule – tMx 27 – 11/06
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