Alternative music reviews

August 28, 2008

Electic Eels

Filed under: electric eels,vinyl — @ 10:24 pm Comments (0)

How different things were before the Internet. Back in 1977 I bought a single called Agitated by Die Electric Eels. A few months later I found another copy in a record shop and was so surprised that I bought it again, just in case my first copy ever wore out – it was that good. Apart from the fact I liked it, I knew nothing more about Electric Eels and had found no information about them in the music press apart from a very short review- NME didn’t talk about them until twenty years later in a short article.

Now, all I have to do is type their name into a search engine and I can find out plenty. I get confirmation that despite the pseudo-German on the cover they were from the States – Cleveland in fact. Although it came out in 1977, it was actually recorded in 75 and so pre-figured Punk significantly so it is really a violent aberation of Glam-Rock. It sounds like a hell of a band. I particularly like this story from the Scat records Electric Eels pages.

Their first gig was in August of 1974 at the Moonshine Co-op in Columbus. McManus adorned himself in rat-traps for the occasion and Morton was wearing a jacket held together with safety pins, earning them the tag “Ratman and Bobbin” from the police they encountered when leaving the bar at the end of the night. Morton took offense and kicked the nearest policeman in the balls as hard as he could, despite being handcuffed at the time. As a result of the inevitable beating that ensued, Morton performed their next show three weeks later with a slide and wrench taped to his broken left hand in order to play his guitar.

Despite only playing five gigs they had significant influnce on Peter Laughner of Pere Ubu and Stiv Bators of the Dead Boys but this astonishing piece of catatonic guitar and vocal was never equalled by those better known bands.

Agitated by Die Electric Eels

Agitated by Die Electric Eels

August 1, 2008

Obviously 4 Believers

Filed under: nostalgia,Obviously 4 Believers,Only Ones,vinyl — @ 10:51 pm Comments (1)

Today, Obviously 4 Believers release their debut single Then I’ll Be Leaving You (download only). They are a young band originally from Lancaster who play a sort of updated blues that has its roots in the guitar rock the Rolling Stones used to play.

Then I’ll Be Leaving You

Then I’ll Be Leaving You (clip) by Obviously 4 Believers

There’s some really good guitar work going on there and a certain swing that reflects what Madchester brought to the world. I particularly like the singer’s voice and the fact that it reminds me of Peter Perrett of The Only Ones. The Only Ones were never part of Punk or New Wave, being a more traditional Rock band of the old school – but they played such good songs that they were still allowed to be in your record collection. Obviously 4 Believers maybe share that slightly ‘out of time’ feel but this single is refreshing and certainly beats the crap out of most current Indie.

That gives me the perfect excuse to dive into my vinyl and get the first Only Ones 12″.

Lovers Of Today

Lovers Of Today by The Only Ones

Obviously 4 Believers

July 10, 2008

Fun With Wizard Stencils by Wintermute

Filed under: nostalgia,reviews,vinyl,wintermute — @ 10:06 pm Comments (0)

Fun With Wizard Stencils by WintermuteI get to hear a lot of new music. My speciality is listening to it over a long period and giving my considered opinion – a sort of long-term road test. Just (very) occasionally I listen to something sent to me and it is so good and immediate that I have to write about it straight away. I got a link to Fun With Wizard Stencils by Wintermute and after a few days of it sitting in my inbox I thought I should at least download it out of politeness. I was already feverishly writing about it before the end of the second track.

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The music is played with the precision of Math Rock (until now, not a favourite style of mine) while the vocals are peppered with a certain ‘shouty’ style that a few Yorkshire bands seem to excel in – think The Terminals/Close Your Eyes… from the Dance To The Radio compilations. The ultra-passionate, imploring singing is made even better by the precision of the instrumentation. I can only gasp and utter occasional expletives at the wonder of what Wintermute have created. I have rarely heard songs of real life and real experiences performed with such verve that I found myself remembering that emotional desolation of youth. Yes, that sounds effing pretentious but I know what I mean and it is good sometimes to be reminded of that intensity of feeling.

Bad Company In A Sauna by Wintermute

Bad Company In A Sauna(clip) by Wintermute

There are a lot of moments when the guitar is struck with a Funk edge that recalls The Pop Group and the sudden silences in the music also emphasises that essential undanceability – although in truth many of us have all tried and ended up doing some very ungainly, jerky idiot dancing (being laughed at just makes you stronger!). So now I can mix my vinyl nostalgia series by playing you an earlier example of such artistry:

Beyond Good and Evil

She Is Beyond Good and Evil by The Pop Group

Wintermute on myspace

June 24, 2008

Sonic Youth

Filed under: nostalgia,vinyl — @ 9:20 pm Comments (0)

I’ve been catching up on what Sonic Youth have been doing since 2000. Listening to their 2004 album Sonic Nurse, I enjoyed the familiarity of the same electric guitar sounds and those oh-so-familiar vocals – a thoroughly pleasant experience guaranteed to relax you. The only strange part was the review that I read that causzed me to listen to the album began: “Picking up where Murray Street’s languid experimentalism left off…” I interpreted that as Sonic Nurse would also be languidly experimental but I ended up wondering what on earth “experimental” meant to the reviewer. It seems the word has nothing to do with trying something new but repeating some intersting guitar sounds that you first tried 12 years ago.

Anyway, as I mentioned, it is very nice album in its own terms (familiar, relaxing) but its lack of challenge became more apparent when the next track on my MP3 player was the track The Burning Spear from their first EP in 1982. The build up of driving bass, churchbell-like percussion sounds, then an extended white noise scream from the synth. Now, that still feels “experimental” and can set my head shaking.

Sonic Youth

The Burning Spear (clip) by Sonic Youth

June 12, 2008

Boys Next Door

Filed under: nick cave,nostalgia,vinyl — @ 9:24 pm Comments (0)

Dig, Lazarus, DigHaving just reviewed the latest Nick Cave I thought I’d dive into my vinyl for some of his earlier work. Back in 1979 the future members of The Birthday Party were called the Boys Next Door and they were emerging from Punk and just beginning to create elements of the tension that would soon characterise their latter incarnation. But mostly they were a young punky guitar band with a ‘different’ singer.

How things would develop…

The Nightwatchman by Boys Next Door

The Nightwatchman by Boys Next Door

May 6, 2008

Sandy Richardson walks…

Filed under: nostalgia,vinyl — @ 11:02 pm Comments (0)

Hunting For The Ugly ManI started my vinyl conversion series with the Glaxo Babies so this track follows on from there. Rob Chapman was the vocalist with the Babies in their early days (on Who Killed Bruce Lee and Christine Keeler) and they went downhill fast once he had left. But Rob moved on to the Transmitters and produced this startling track on their Hunting For The Ugly Man EP.

Although often too obtuse and chaotic for their own good, everything came together for this classic track. I appreciated the railing against the mediocrity of every day life and commercialism at the time but now I’m more interested in the mention of Manchester “where people have no faces” and of course the reference to Sandy Richardson. I assume most of you have no idea who Sandy Richardson was or why he should walk. I don’t want to ruin the mystery or explain why it’s such a cute line.

The Ugly Man

The Ugly Man by The Transmitters

April 23, 2008

Teenage Jesus & The Jerks

Filed under: nostalgia,vinyl — @ 11:19 pm Comments (0)

Teenage JesusOnce upon a time (76-79) in New Yok City there was Lydia Lunch. With her co-conspirators she stripped music down to its bare essentials: a beat, thrashed guitar, and a wailing vocal. The complete recordings add up to around eighteen minutes of music but the shock waves arried on for much longer.

They made Punk sound over-orchestrated and overblown. The way her voice cracks on the word “mediocrity” is still one of the finest moments in Rock music. If you take more than 82 seconds to make your point, you are just wasting everyone’s time.

Less Of Me by Teenage Jesus & The Jerks

Less Of Me by Teenage Jesus & The Jerks

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