Track Reviews

Track Reviews: 15-21 August 2011

At the moment it’s hard to know whether writing about the riots or not writing about the riots is the right thing to do. Either decision feels likely to be torn apart with finger-wagging disgust by a world divided with desire to either pore over the event in gory detail or attempt get on with their lives.

That said, there really is no new ground to be covered here. So much has been written, so many opinions flung up and shot down, so many theories dissected, decried or heralded, that another op-ed on the who, what, why or wherefore is as pointlessly irrelevant as attempting to explain to the Daily Mail that maybe charity and empathy begin at home. Even we’ve been at it.

Besides, given we’re now at a point where blame for the rioting has been laid, in all seriousness, at the door of patois AND gangsta rap, surely we can be confident that literally every single possible explanation for the events last week has now been covered, somewhere.

One of the stories that was widely reported during the last week was the burning down of the Sony/PIAS distribution centre in Enfield. For those who don’t know, PIAS are one of the largest distributors of independent record labels in the UK, and as such, when the warehouse was destroyed many small labels lost vast quantities, if not the totality, of their stock.

Before someone somewhere starts getting all disgusted, we’re aware there are innumerable tragedies borne out of those three days last week, and this is not the worst. But, given that this is still a music column, it is one that is both close to our hearts and close to being on a subject on which we feel some degree of relevancy.

Also, given that one of the overriding feelings last week was one of complete impotence, whenever opportunities present themselves to help, even in some microscopically small way, they should be grasped.

And you can help these record labels. Already people are mobilising in an impressive fashion check out the LabelLove website for more information.

What we’re suggesting is the most obvious, no-shit Sherlock thing to do to help: this week, buy some music from an affected label. Our aid to that endeavour is simple too – all of the tracks we’ve covered fall into that category.

So do it. Go out, buy a track from one of these artists on one of these labels. Hell, buy all of them. And some albums. And some from the other labels. It’s an act of charity that will also help improve your cultural well being. You can’t say that about Pudsey Bear.

Oh, and if none of these take your fancy, click here to go to Rough Trade’s handily arranged selection of material from affected labels.

Pop Levi Motorcycle 666

A song with a guitar riff spikier and heavier than a stegosaurus playing in a DFA 1979 covers band and a vocal which sounds like Marc Bolan and Prince having a fight to determine who’s going to get to wear the velvet trousers on their big night out. It’s mental. Brilliant. But mental.

And the EYES. The EYES! They seem to follow you around the room, even after you’ve stopped the video, closed the browser, powered down your computer, put it in a burlap sack and flung it off a bridge. *shudder*

Link to the label, Counter

The War On Drugs Come To The City

This is what indie is all about. The patient groove; the hazy, unhurried set-pieces; the slightly trippy promo covered top-to-toe in film scratches, lens flares and hand-drawn accents.

The type of track to tepidly tap toes to, slowly stretch sinews and absorb, reflect and make sense of the world. Nice.

Link to the label, Secretly Canadian

Best Coast Our Deal

When will the members of teenage street gangs learn, the path of true love never runs smoothly, particularly should you fall for someone who just happens to be your sworn mortal enemy.

That’s before you’ve chosen someone who decides to communicate via the medium of graffiti, picking the most inappropriate moments to answer a simple question in a way that provokes ambiguity at the precise moment where a monosyllabic answer would have saved everyone a whole lot of hospital bills.

Anyway, that’s the video. Directed by Drew Barrymore no less. The song is a delight, a swooning ’50s surf-rock lullaby, that leaves you a blubbering emotional wreck.

Link to the label, Wichita

Cymbals Eat Guitars Rifle Eyesight (Proper Name)

A Slanted And Enchanted-era Pavement cut, stretched, cajoled and appended into almost nine minutes of infrequent alternations between pop-like peppiness and droning, contemplative noise.

Its a love-it-or-hate-it, take-it-or-leave-it type deal, but isnt that always the case with the provocative, the avant garde, the unorthodox? Would you rather be listening to the Black Eyed Peas? Precisely.

Link to the label, Memphis Industries

This Many Boyfriends Young Lovers Go Pop!

Young, chirpy indie doesnt always go over well with such disconsolate miserablists as ourselves. Especially the type that dazzles our dulled senses with day-glo colour schemes, breathless shout-alongs and song titles with exclamation marks.

But This Many Boyfriends (Look I have *this* many boyfriends!) are less Scouting For Girls, more Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!, and Young Lovers Go Pop! packs an impressive punch; its instrumental passages reviving On This Tidal Wave Of Young Bloods choicest elements. Enough to crack the faade of the staunchest of scowls.

Link to the label, Arc 018

Jim Ward Broken Songs

First there was At The Drive-In: alt-rock essentials of the late ’90s, their uncompromising sonic assault etching indelibly into all attentive ears.

Then there was Sparta: um, slightly less essential, their post-hardcore perhaps paling next to The Mars Voltas more expansive experimentation.

Now there is Jim Ward: co-founder of both the aforementioned and now heading into solo acoustic territory, Frank Turner-style.

Link to the label, Xtra Mile

Spank Rock DTF DADT

Well it’s odd and it’s angular and it leaves you wondering if you’re listening to a record, or a badly tuned pirate radio station broadcasting German minimalist techno mixed with grime on a transmitter running on three AAA batteries.

But it’s really strangely enticing and hypnotic and besides, we bet David Starkey hates it, which is enough reason to play it VERY LOUDLY at every opportunity you get.

Link to the label, Big Dada

Dum Dum Girls – Coming Down

Tell you what, it’s been a while since we’ve heard from the Dum Dum Girls; we miss their straight talking, moody bluesing, tattoo toting selves. Seems to us they’re long overdue a new album, complete with teaser trailer and free download…

Link to the label, Sub Pop

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