Thursday, September 23, 2010

On the road again....but I'll be back

I'm moving to my new place tomorrow so I'll be without internet for a while and thus Bigger Splashes will be on a temporary hiatus until I get service hooked up there. In the meantime, check out my friends over at Hamhock's International Time Machine. They update frequently with plenty of auspicious and funky jams for y'all to vibe with. See you lads and lasses soon.

Simon Fisher Turner - The Many Moods of Simon Turner (1993)

Simon Turner, although not widely known, has lent his talents to many great film scores and lies in the upper echelon when it comes to crafting atmospheric filmic ambience. His work with Derek Jarman's final film, Blue, is just astonishing and the way his notes linger and resonate captures the poignant inflection of Jarman's death bed sentiments strikingly and flawlessly. The "moods" on this particular compilation are redolent and elicit foreign but strangely familiar emotions from deep within the psyche, specifically on more ambient tracks such as "Isles of Spice," "Exotic Hats," and "Sloane Square" oscillating from one colorful timbre to the next. The beginning of "Colours of my Life" suggests a vast cold room of starch white, with nothing but walls and silence; a chapel for contemplation. As the song progresses, echoing percussion enters like pillars rising forth adding weight to the empty space. Soon, with another subtle metamorphosis, the percussion gives way to sparse shimmering piano notes and flowery vines entwine the pillars giving color and life to the blankness before a wave of sound erases the sonic canvas and the recurring lyric "silence" is spoken one final time before "Violet Crumble" begins its melodic closing. It's a very powerful album from start to finish, and one of my favorites to relax and paint to.

Rating: 10/10


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Sea Urchins - Stardust (1992)

There two kinds of pop in the world: Sarah Records pop... and everything else. Perhaps that's a ridiculous over- simplification, but it's how I see things. Maybe the reason for this is that Sarah's sound has always been so insular, so compact. Sarah bands had a distinct style and always existed parallel to the label itself and The Sea Urchins, much like their fellow label mates The Orchids, are a perfect example of this. Their highly sought after single, Pristine Christine was the first ever Sarah release and encompassed the Sarah sound, which was essentially just C86-esque indie pop with sunny melodies and lovelorn lyrics. I almost feel as if I'm posting this album several months too late in the year as its a perfect summer record. However, songs like "Cling Film," "Summershine," and "Everglades" are just radiating sunlight themselves, so they can accommodate and bring a little warmth to any time of the year.

Rating: 8.5/10


Vladimir Nabokov - Lolita (1955)

"I have reserved for the conclusion of my "Annabel" phase the account of our unsuccessful first tryst. One night, she managed to deceive the vicious vigilance of her family. In a nervous and slender-leaved mimosa grove at the back of their villa we found a perch on the ruins of a low stone wall. Through the darkness and the tender trees we could see the arabesques of lighted windows which, touched up by the colored inks of sensitive memory, appear to me now like playing cards-presumably because a bridge game was keeping the enemy busy. She trembled and twitched as I kissed the corner of her parted lips and the hot lobe of her ear. A cluster of stars palely glowed above us, between the silhouettes of long thin leaves; that vibrant sky seemed as naked as she was under her light frock. I saw her face in the sky, strangely distinct as if it emitted a faint radiance of its own. Her legs, her lovely live legs, were not too close together, and when my hand located what it sought, a dreamy and eerie expression, half pleasure, half-pain, came over those childish features. She sat a little higher than I, and whenever in her solitary ecstasy she was led to kiss me, her head would bend with a sleepy, soft, drooping movement that was almost woeful, and her bare knees caught and compressed my wrist, and slackened again and her quivering mouth, distorted by the acridity of some mysterious potion, with a sibilant intake of breath came near to my face. She would try to relieve the pain of love by first roughly rubbing her dry lips against mine; then my darling would draw away with a nervous toss of her hair, and then again come darkly near and let me feed on her open mouth, while with a generosity that was ready to offer her everything, my heart, my throat, my entrails, I gave her to hold in her awkward fist the scepter of my passion."

The Other Two - The Other Two and You (1993)

The Other Two consisted of Stephen Morris and Gillian Gilbert of New Order. Their name, which was a play on their part in their previous band (after the other members went on to pursue solo projects), saw minor success in the dance scene of the early 90s due to their two singles, "Tasty Fish," and "Selfish." They not surprisingly fashioned a sound not too dissimilar from fellow New Order compatriot Bernard Sumner's band, Electronic, although more in the vein of the dreamy synth pop of Strawberry Switchblade and early Saint Etienne. The aft portion of the album dabbles with more progressive sounds and occasionally consists of a fusion between jungle techno and house (or something like that...I'm not an expert on electronic sub-genres), and is entirely unlike the "hit" material featured on the first half. They weren't breaking any new ground, but the album is solid and the download is worth it for the singles alone (videos featured below). More good music to feel good to.

Rating: 7.5/10


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Dr. Osamu Kitajima - FM Shrine

Peter Perrett in The One - Woke Up Sticky (1996)

Peter Perrett has never been a man of moderation. However, despite being a notorious roue and reprobate, despite his knack for indulgence, he has always been one of the more cultivated and endearing junkie rock stars of his generation. I think his music has always shown this even back in the early days with England's Glory; he's always had an eccentric, albeit self-centered persona. Known for his tendency to disappear, much like fellow rock icon (and fellow heroin/crack addict) Dan Treacy, Perrett would go into reclusive phases and vanish for years at at time, "spending most of the 80's in a bedroom he rarely left, heroin his only companion, physically deteriorating into a scuzzy, unkempt mess, sinking so low that (Johnny) Thunders himself felt obligated to give him a pep talk (imagine!)" No matter how high on the charts his one hit wonder ("Another Girl, Another Planet") rose, he always seemed on the fringe, doing his own thing. This was a rare quality for his kind who usually end up corralled and pushed around by record execs, wilting at the end of the road with a career gone sour (although fate and self-destructive decisions would eventually find him in such a position regardless).

Woke Up Sticky was Peter's harrowingly confessional reemergence, the gathering of his shit together; his heart on sleeve, woes exposed, and his guitar playing and song-writing at its finest. Lyrically Perrett is intellectual and sincere, while maintaining a level of rock 'n roll simplicity. The production is super clean throughout and doesn't sound the least bit sloppy like The Only Ones occasionally would. His cover of The Kink's "I'm Not Like Everybody Else" is so convincing and passionate if you didn't know better you'd think it was an original song. Standout songs like the title track, "The Shame of Being You," and "Shivers" are all parts of a staggeringly vivacious and heartfelt whole, a beautiful medley of anger and love, a testimony to life itself. Welcome the return of that shivery feeling.

Rating: 9.5/10

DOWNLOAD (Includes both the EP and the LP of the same name)

Monday, September 20, 2010

Momus - The Sensation of Orgasm

...and speaking of Momus...

Pulp - I Spy

The best ode to infidelity since Momus' "Hairstyle of the Devil."

Michel Polnareff - Fame à la Mode (1975)

The story of Michel Polnareff is a tempestuous one lined with tragedy, troubles, and tribulations, but with a triumphant and inspirational ending. He was a French singer-songwriter who at one point was the most popular, exalted musician in France, however a series of stochastic misfortunes intervened causing his career and life to suffer a massive downfall. His salacious image which consisted of his muscular build, bushy hair, signature large white sunglasses, and flamboyant clothing contributed to both to his success and partially his eventual exile. His attitude which was rooted in his music was virile and passionate, and added to his controversy at the time.

In 1970, after he had put out 2 records already, his close friend Lucien Morisse committed suicide. This upset him gravely and his depression sequestered him in Paris for many months. After a while his morale improved, but he began to have vision problems and was forced to wear his thick, dark sunglasses almost all the time. In 1972, his problems escalated further. A promotional ad showed his naked rear, causing a scandal and resulting in censorship and lawsuits. Finally in the midst of a world tour, his manager, Bernard Seneau, ran off with all of his money. The combination of this, the death of his mother and the inability to pay his debts caused him to leave France where he began an anonymous life in the States. Things seemed hopeless and bleak for Polnareff at that particular juncture.

However, after a brief period of inactivity he began recording again and produced one of his best, most ardent and personal albums, Fame à la Mode. The sincerity of songs like "Wandering Man" and "So Long Beauty" are heartbreaking and obviously influenced by his own calamities. The beautiful thing about these songs is that instead of whinging about his adversities, he transforms them into beautiful poetical ballads. Later in 1976 he composed the soundtrack for the film Lipstick and in 1978 he released another album, Coucou me Revoilou. However, it wasn't until 1981 with the release of Bulles, that he recaptured the hearts of the French public, selling 800,000 copies and getting generous playtime on French radio. In 1989 he moved back to France and continued recording albums all to great success. This sense of triumph is prevalent throughout all of Polnareff's music. Its a powerful testament to the human soul and its willingness to push on, to overcome obstacles, and the refusal to succumb even through the darkest times.

Rating: 8.5/10


Sunday, September 19, 2010


More here

Paris Angels complete discography

Paris Angels were a 7-piece who briefly illuminated the Madchester scene in the early 90s and are tied with the Happy Mondays as my favorite Madchester band. Rhapsodic and groovy electronic, combining pop and dance, accentuated with that distinguishable late 80s, early 90s indie guitar sound, their style is fetching and chic, even by today's standards (or rather especially by today's standards, considering how tame, sterile and contrived most pop music has been recently). This collection which I nabbed from the blokes over at The Power of Independent Trucking, has all of their singles (with some great extended / instrumental remixes) and their only LP which features a few songs from the singles as well as a handful of new recordings. So bust out your euphoric empathogens, get your disco ball spinning, and get ready to groove.

Collection features:

Home (compilation, 1989)
Perfume (single, 1990)
Scope (single, 1990)
Oh Yes (single, 1991)
Perfume (single, virgin issue, 1991)
Sundew (LP, 1991)
Fade (single, 1991)


Friday, September 17, 2010

Bloodless Pharaohs - Brian Setzer and the Bloodless Pharaohs (1996)

It was once sung, "It's better to burn out than to fade away." Unfortunately for the world (or at least for those of us with decent taste), Brian Setzer did neither of these as far as his musical career was concerned. Instead he trudged on and began to make lamer and lamer music as the years passed. Sometimes it's boggling how someone gets from point A to point B, or to be more precise from the '78-'79 Bloodless Pharaohs recordings to the rockabilly bullshit of The Stray Cats (OR to point C, which in this case would be the the joke that was The Brian Setzer Orchestra). Perhaps its a matter of poor influences. Perhaps Dave Edmunds is to blame. Whichever the case, Setzer fell off rather early in his career - once he started putting eyeliner on it was all downhill as far as good taste is concerned. Anyways, enough with the smack talkin', let's talk about why this particular band of his rocked.

The Bloodless Pharaohs were an ephemeral, but seminal band in the underground New York rock scene in the late 70s. A major part of the awesomeness of the band had something to do with a man named Ken Kinnally, whose organ, Wurlitzer electric piano and cavernous vocals made him a key component of the group and complemented Setzer's more than adequate guitar playing quite well.

Because of a similar setup and the intense vocals, they often sounded like a stripped down version of The Stranglers. Their sound alternated between deranged, almost tyrannical circus rock (a la Social Climbers, which I talked about a few posts back), to dark, hypnotic new wave with a raw, unrelenting punk attitude. It's all very aggressive, although, much like the Stranglers, not as loud as you might expect. The high point of the album for me is the 11 minute opus,"The Cells" which gets pretty crazy midway through, then proceeds to climb and climb until exploding into a fountain of cinders at the finale. Other songs worth noting are "Industrial Nancy," "Nowhere Fast," "Stella by Strobelight," "Boys Having Babies," and "Bloodless Pharaoh." - all fantastic tracks. Yeah, the songs sound like like were recorded in someone's garage party, and yeah even as a comp, its no masterpiece, but it sure as hell will rock your face off, and sometimes that's all that matters.

Rating: 8.5/10


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Charles Baudeleire - 20 Prose Poems

Everyone should have this in their collection.

Anywhere Out of the World

This life is a hospital where every patient is possessed with the desire to change beds; one man would like to suffer in front of the stove, and another believes that he would recover his health beside the window.
It always seems to me that I should feel well in the place where I am not, and this question of removal is one which I discuss incessantly with my soul.
'Tell me, my soul, poor chilled soul, what do you think of going to live in Lisbon? It must be warm there, and there you would invigorate yourself like a lizard. This city is on the sea-shore; they say that it is built of marble and that the people there have such a hatred of vegetation that they uproot all the trees. There you have a landscape that corresponds to your taste! a landscape made of light and mineral, and liquid to reflect them!'
My soul does not reply.
'Since you are so fond of stillness, coupled with the show of movement, would you like to settle in Holland, that beatifying country? Perhaps you would find some diversion in that land whose image you have so often admired in the art galleries. What do you think of Rotterdam, you who love forests of masts, and ships moored at the foot of houses?'
My soul remains silent.
'Perhaps Batavia attracts you more? There we should find, amongst other things, the spirit of Europe married to tropical beauty.'
Not a word. Could my soul be dead?
'Is it then that you have reached such a degree of lethargy that you acquiesce in your sickness? If so, let us flee to lands that are analogues of death. I see how it is, poor soul! We shall pack our trunks for Tornio. Let us go farther still to the extreme end of the Baltic; or farther still from life, if that is possible; let us settle at the Pole. There the sun only grazes the earth obliquely, and the slow alternation of light and darkness suppresses variety and increases monotony, that half-nothingness. There we shall be able to take long baths of darkness, while for our amusement the aurora borealis shall send us its rose-coloured rays that are like the reflection of Hell's own fireworks!'
At last my soul explodes, and wisely cries out to me: 'No matter where! No matter where! As long as it's out of the world!'

The Brilliant Corners - Creamy Stuff (1991)

This is a really outstanding compilation from another great English band that managed to fly under of the radar despite their hummable, convivial style that should have landed them a number of hits. It's one of those scenarios where if they'd come along a year sooner or later, things might've been different, but fate was not in their favor. The band was formed in 1984 in Bristol by David Woodward (vocals, guitars), Chris Calvin (bass), and Bob Morris (drums) and released their first album, Growing Up Absurd in 1985.

They were always structurally tight and their sound consisted of twangy jangle pop with a jaunting rock n roll spirit, and was full of catchy riffs and toe-tappin' hooks. Its the type of music that'll make you want to dance around your room all silly-like when you're getting ready to go out for the night. Lyrically, their subject matter was in alignment with their musical style and filled with plenty of light-hearted innuendos and shifted from slapstick teenage romance ("Brian Rix," "Teenage") to political sarcasm ("Sixteen Years") to Happy Mondays-esque irrelevant and fun rock nonsense ("The Pope, the Monkey, and the Queen"). The band also had quite a few music videos, a few of which I posted below for your viewing pleasure.

Rating: 9/10


Split Enz - Six Months In A Leaky Boat

There were two songs that greatly affected me after a rather troubling and difficult period of my life (Let's refer to it as 'the dark half of my LA stay'). One was The Wild Swans' "Worst Year of my Life" and the other was Split Enz's - Six Months on a Leaky Boat." I randomly stumbled across this video about the time that my personal storm was passing and the sun was beginning to come out. This whole video, starting with the incredibly epic opening prelude sequence, really moved me at the time. Nowadays it never fails to put a smile on my face.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Electronic complete discography

In 1988, the planets aligned and a dream team was formed between New Order's Bernard Sumner and The Smiths' Johnny Marr (and momentarily collaborating with Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe of the Pet Shop Boys). Though neither as ambitious nor as commercial as New Order or the Smiths, Electronic was an almost natural progression forward for the two, keeping an ambiguous image and combining various genres of contemporary electronic music (no pun intended). They even garnered quite a bit of success in both the UK and the States, although not nearly as much as their previous pop behemoths. Their first self-titled album is mainly electronic (damnit!) and near perfect, however their second and especially their third album are much more rock oriented. For Raise the Pressure, the band was aided by ex-Kraftwerk percussionist and songwriter, Karl Bartos, adding another legendary member to the dream team. Twisted Tenderness saw the group as a more conventional four-piece, but I feel its the most generic and weakest album of the three. Still pretty good though.

Collection includes:

Electronic (1991)
Raise the Pressure (1996)
Twisted Tenderness (1999)


I Saw The Devil (2010)

Highly anticipating this. Features Oldboy's Min-sik Choi and directed by Ji-woon Kim (The Good, The Bad, & The Weird)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

In Embrace - Passionfruit Pastels (1982)

Another Cherry Red classic! You can never have enough Cherry Red in your collection - they were arguably one of the best labels of the 80s and put out some amazing releases. In Embrace's Passionfruit Pastels is no exception, their sound is uniquely crystalline and chameleonic. I don't know what you'd classify it as really. The only recurring attribute is acoustic guitar accompanied by a keyboard or organ, but that doesn't really tell you much. The album starts off relatively accessible with some percussion driven pop ("Half Awake (Mountains)") then progresses towards the cosmic chimes backing "Our Star Drawn Through Panes" and proceeds to hop around from piano threnodies ("Tears Turn Fresh") to just plain curios ("At East") to sincerely sung psychedelic hymns ("To Friends (An Open Letter)"). In summary, an exotic, fragile, and pristine album from a short-lived, overlooked band.

Rating: 7.5/10


Iron Curtain - Tarantula Scream (1984)

In celebration of my 100th post (and the approaching thunder storm) I'm sharing with you today the extended version of Iron Curtain's cult classic, Tarantula Scream, my all-time favorite (and perhaps the most unitary) minimal wave album ever. The album has the fluidity and sense of movement of a pop record and every song is diligently layered, catchy and memorable, which is rare for the genre. It's the perfect hybridization of minimal wave and synth pop, equal parts foreboding and inviting.

Speaking of dualities, there are obvious themes of despair and darkness here, but for some reason this album's sonorous synth tones never fail to put me in a good mood. There is also so much atmosphere its easy to mistake the music for the score to a campy 80s horror film, however, Tarantula Scream is anything but cheesy. It's austere and fatalistic, almost darkly romantic, with a current of electricity flowing through the channels of every track. The lyrical imagery and the distant, echoing vocals go with tense, frosty music and add another dimension to the moodiness. Great music for chilly weather and nights where you can feel that peculiar "something" in the air, which makes you feel just a bit more visceral and alive than usual.

Rating: 9.5/10


Monday, September 13, 2010

MIX: Music to Close Your Eyes To

Title: Music to Close Your Eyes To
Genre: Sentimental pop
Duration: 77 minutes
01) The Freshies - I Can't Get Bouncing Babies by the Teardrop Explodes
02) Denim - Don't Bite Too Much out of the Apple
03) Al Stewart - Told you So
04) Robyn Hitchcock - Television
05) Trash Can Sinatras - Thrupenny Tears
06) Prefab Sprout - Cowboy Dreams
07) Friends - Day by Night
08) Dominant Legs - Just Silly Ones
09) Felt - Ferdinand Magellan
10) The Legendary Pink Dots - Bella Donna
11) Momus - Virtual Reality
12) Mojave 3 - Got My Sunshine
13) Saint Etienne - Stop and Think it Over
14) Martin Phillipps & The Chills - Lost in Future Ruins
15) Kevin Ayers - Margaret
16) The Durutti Column - Spent Time
17) Ryuichi Sakamoto - Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence
18) Ben Watt - North Marine Drive
19) The Blue Nile - Headlights on the Parade


Maurice Deebank - Inner Thought Zone (1984)

Main Entry: majestic
Part of Speech: adjective
Definition: impressive, splendid
Synonyms: august, awesome, ceremonious, cool, courtly, dignified, elevated, exalted, fab, grand, grandiose, imperial, imposing, lofty, magnific, magnificent, marvelous, mind-blowing*, monumental, noble, out of this world, pompous, regal, royal, smashing, sovereign, stately, stunning, sublime, sumptuous, superb
Antonyms: humble, low, lowly, shabby
* = informal/non-formal usage

This is a rare and resplendent instrumental showcase of Maurice Deebank's prestigious and masterful classical guitar techniques. As a guitarist, Deebank was rivaled by only Vini Reilly when it came to fusing raw skill and creative ingenuity. He left such an imprint on Felt's early work, the band wouldn't have been the same without him. He left Felt in '86 and laid low for a few years until briefly coming out of hiding in '92 to co-write a song with Saint Etienne. However, after that he vanished from the music scene once again, this time for good, sadly. Much like Felt's The Splendour of Fear, the classical style on Inner Thought Zone evokes scenes from archaic histories long forgotten and a sense of regality, sometimes even holiness. A fantastic album for letting your mind drift off to another time and place.

Rating: 9.5/10


Video art courtesy of Tommyboy

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Lora Logic - Pedigree Charm (1982)

During the recording of the second Essential Logic album, pre-riot grrrl Susan Whitby (aka Lora Logic) disbanded the group and decided to go solo. I think she was like 17 or something at the time too, which is pretty impressive. Her solo material doesn't stray from the Essential Logic recipe of messy post punk atonality too much, but its a little more accessible and dancey. Pedigree Charm opens boisterously with Lora performing a sax solo and then breaks into some funky guitar rhythms to which Lora's mellifluous and dynamic voice soon takes over. The album then transitions from to bluesy coke music ("Horrible Party") to more distinct rug cutting tracks such as "Wonderful Offer" and "Stop, Halt" (an ironic title choice its so terpsichorean) to almost harmonious bizarro pop ("Martian Man"). The latter half of the album is a bit gauche and dabbles with more avant-garde and free jazz experimentation and is far more dissonant than the first, but that was always kind of a trend with this period and style.

Rating: 7/10


Friday, September 10, 2010

Sade - Cherry Pie

Everything But the Girl - Eden (1984)

Whether it's Ben Watt's loungy jazzy compositions or Tracey Thorn's demure crooning, something about early Everything But the Girl reminds me of Christmas. Eden is almost like really overt and sophisticated holiday mall music. I don't mean to turn anyone off by saying that, because its a stellar album, really, it is. It's super romantic, it's classy, its bursting with fervor. There is also an underlying sense of amatory nostalgia and lovelorn disappointment seeping in, elevating it emotionally from your run of the mill light-acoustic faux-bossa nova "mall jazz."

Thorn and Watt work well as duo, co-writing most of the songs, although Thorn sings on all of them except the final track, "Soft Touch" where Watt steps in and takes over on vocals. Outside of the misty acoustic and electric guitars, they have a complete mini-orchestra laden and lavished with various brass instruments, spunky percussion, a Hammond organ and a piano, which make for a very full sound and a far stretch from the song "Missing" that made them popular in the mid 90's. A must have for hopeless romantics.

Rating: 7.5/10


Saint Etienne - Finisterre (2002)

Incase you haven't been paying attention, the theme this week has been all about girl power(!); female fronted bands/artists. Saint Etienne's dainty leading lady Sarah Cracknell has been lending her smooth and effortless vocals to the band since their first album Foxbase Alpha. Although the band's sounds are mostly contrived by Bob Stanley, Pete Wiggs, Ian Catt, and a revolving cast of others, Cracknell's lyrical and vocal contributions to the band have always shown her to be adept as a song-writer.

It was really hard for me to choose just one Saint Etienne album to post today. Each and every LP has its special charm, even the compilations of b-sides and singles; they've yet to falter. They're the most eclectic and versatile electronic dance/pop act in the field. The band has been through so many stylistic transitions since their inception, their extensive palette (techno, house, dub, ambient, soul, etc.) and ability to adapt have always kept them sounding fresh and original.

After the wonderfully balanced Good Humor, which marked a lighter direction, and then the easy, moody, less dance-oriented Sound of Water in 2000, Finisterre, with its upbeat groovy electro, is a fierce return to form for the band. It's a cornucopia, but not a revisitation of their previous works. The album accompanies a film about London directed by Paul Kelly and features interludes by Michael Jayston which make the album feel like a cohesive, singular piece. Saint Etienne is a band who knows how to make a hit, but also knows how to experiment a little and make a solid album, and that's a rare thing in pop music.

Rating: 9/10

Link removed by "request"

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Kate Bush - Tour of Life 1979 - Moving

Would-be-goods - The Camera Loves Me (1988)

Smart, fashionable, and cute as hell, Jessica Griffin's Would-be-goods are a British indie pop group with a wry, charismatic sense of humor. Although the band was essentially Jessica's, she had plenty of help from high(er) places. Her first single was co-written by no other than unfamed film composer and self proclaimed King of Luxembourg, Simon Turner and her first and second albums were backed by The Monochrome Set, proving once again the old cliche it's about who you know. Stylistically, every song is playfully catchy and portrays the aforementioned sense of humor with the upbeat 60s pop they're trying to emulate. Your toes'll be tapping and you'll be on your feet doing the twist before you know it. However, as pleasant as the music is, their real charm lies in Griffin's witty and charming lyrics, songs like the title track "The Camera Loves me," "Velazquez and I," "Pinstriped Rebel," "Marvelous Boy," - heck, pretty much every song on the record - is brilliant. This album is girly, delicate, and unmistakably British, but ultimately lovable more than anything else. An El Records classic!

Rating: 8.5/10


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Strawberry Switchblade - Strawberry Switchblade [Japanese reissue]

Oh my god, I'm obsessed with these gals. I'm obsessed in a way that probably many high school goth girls in the 80s were when they first stumbled upon them. I'm so obsessed that I'm almost too giddy to sensibly and coherently write about them. I'd heard their name thrown around for quite some time, but for some reason I'd always written them off because of the sour assumptions it gave me. However, now that I've finally gotten over my ungrounded weariness, I realize that not only was I very wrong, but also that their name is very fitting for their music/style, and I even like it.

Their sometimes dancy, always sweet and dreamy synth pop is in a way tantamount to a gothic precursor of Saint Etienne, if Sarah Cracknell had a partner with an anxiety disorder and the two liked to wear outrageous polka-dotted dresses and frill their hair out. The band consisted of friends Rose McDowall and Jill Bryson and formed in 1981, but didn't release their first single until '83. Unfortunately, they only put out one album and split up rather acrimoniously in 1986. Rose went on to lend her voice to several other groups (many of them part of the neo-folk movement) such as Coil, Current 93, Death in June, Felt, Nurse With Wound, and Psychic TV.

I actually considered dedicating this whole post to lauding the unbelievably gorgeous extended version of "Trees and Flowers". It's the most beautiful song about agoraphobia ever written. Scratch that - it's one of the most beautiful songs ever written - period. Apparently Bill Drummond had a hand in it, which might explain why its so good. Seriously though, I've listened to it like 10 times in the past couple days and its just as heavenly every time. I showed it to my good friend Lance yesterday and he had the same reaction. If you don't believe me, see the video below (although it's best absorbed in high quality)

Rating: 9.5/10


Saturday, September 4, 2010

MIX: Love in Fall

Title: Love in Fall
Genre: Indie-pop, twee
Duration: 69 minutes
01) Blueboy - So Catch Him
02) Popguns - Landslide
03) Aberdeen - The Boy has Gone Away
04) Pacific - Barnoon Hill
05) St. Christopher - All of a Tremble
06) 1000 Violins - If I Were a Bullet (Then for Sure)
07) Orange Juice - Consolation Prize
08) East River Pipe - Make a Deal with the City
09) Berntholer - You Grabbed Me by the Hand
10) Apple Orchard - Loveletters in June
11) Captain Sensible - Martha the Mouth
12) The Pastels - Nothing to be Done
13) Fat Tulips - So Unbelievable!
14) Action Painting! - These Things Happen
15) Go-Kart Mozart - Glorious Chorus
16) Paul Quinn - You Have Been Seen
17) Felt - September Lady
18) The Honest Johns - Hollywood Affair
19) Boat Club - Spanish Castles


Friday, September 3, 2010

Social Climbers - s/t (1981)

Working with only couple of guitars, a primitive drum machine, and an organ, Social Climbers managed to make some truly epic and frantic D.I.Y. post punk with their one and only self-titled LP. There is a lingering sense of desperation and anxiety that drives their sound like an out of control steam train, pistons pumping at full speed. Several early tracks combine this tension with an effect that's almost trance-inducing, like staring into an ever intensifying Twilight Zone swirling spiral illusion. The first half of the album is arguably the better half, as the latter portion gets really experimental and at times sounds like a punk band channeling circus music. Another key point worth noting is the wacky lyrics which could easily be mistaken for the ramblings of an escapee from an insane asylum. This apparent drivel is actually cleverly disguised social commentary that, especially on songs such as "Domestic" and "Western World," is indirect and facetious, but effective and exposing, touching on the bourgeoisie, working class and capitalism in general. A lost post punk masterpiece if there ever was one.

Rating: 9/10


Mr. Wright - Hello Is Anyone out There (2001)

A beautiful morning such as this calls for beautiful music to accompany it. You may not have heard of him, but Kevin Wright, aka Mr. Wright, is the most sophisticated and elegant pop musician alive on the planet. The travesty, however, is that he is completely and totally unrecognized - no one knows this guy even exists. His previous incarnation, Always, whose sound was lovably linear, released 2 comely LPs on El Records, and had a small cult following. However, his work as Mr. Wright has vastly improved craftsmanship, a more cinematic sound, while maintaining the same trademark elegance and emotional range he fashioned as Always.

Hello Is Anyone Out There is a tender, passionate, and radiant album shining with gorgeous, ornamented instrumentation, spectacular lyrics, and most importantly heart and soul. The album opens with arguably its strongest track, the climactic and gripping "Sailor on the Sea," but subsequent tracks are all endearing, many of them deeply melancholic or lovingly heartfelt or a fantastic combination of both. Mr. Wright is one man you don't want to miss.

ps. If you like what you hear, please support this guy and buy the album on Itunes - he deserves it.

Rating: 9.5/10