More Fucking Reviews.
LP Of The Issue...
The Bobbyteens - Cruisin’ For A Bruisin’ (Estrus - ES1299D)
Estrus have cut the mustard yet again with this exemplary release from San Franciscan 3 girl/1 boy disturbance, The Bobbyteens. Taking their cue from The Runaways & 70s NYC Punk, The Bobbyteens chuck in bubblegum, do-wop, an aircraft carrier’s worth of attitude & plenty of grass roots rock’n’roll. One look at the sleeve tells you all you need to know: fuck Jack White & Jason Von Poncy - the contest all serious fight fans want to see is: Tina Bobbyteen v Karen O (however art the YYYs may feel they are, there would be no stage blood required!).
The Bobbyteens are well aware that rock’n’roll is far older than most groups would like to admit - & they aren’t scared of where they’ve come from - or where they’re going to. Just one blast of Good Thing Going is ample evidence that Tina, Lisa, Dannielle & Russell have done their homework. He’s So Dull grabs you by the throat & doesn’t let go - threatening to become your new favourite record with every spin of the disc. Be My Baby Tonight clears earwax quicker than a syringe full of olive oil & petrol mix. Dream It All Away proves that the age of the riff your riding has got fuck all to do with your destination.
The Bobbyteens piss all over 95% of Great Garage Scare (copyright: Mike Stax) groups from the kind of height that would mean the urine hitting the ground at a staggering 200mph plus - that’s the kind of shower you don’t want to get caught short in! Exploding Hearts Forever, claims the LP’s dedication - & who would dare argue The Bobbyteens make Punk, Rock’n’Roll the way it was meant to be made - & that, after all - is why we are all here.
Johnny Forgotten - tMx 13 - 01/04
Schwervon! - Poseur - (Olive Juice - OJ-0026)
Major Matt Mason & Nan Turner share a lot: a home, a label, a vision, a cat - & more significantly, a group. Schwervon! is that group.
Once upon a time a duo would rarely have qualified as a group - but ever since those nattily colour co-ordinated fake siblings from Detroit have gone all global on everyone’s arse - perspectives have changed. If Schwervon! have anything in common with Jack & Meg - it’s a lack of bass guitar - all other similarities end there (OK, so Matt strums & sings & Nan drums & sings - go sue me). No re-writing the same bunch of tunes they used last time out, no faux-ironic quotations from the Queen back catalogue, no pseudo Macca warbling, no Hendrixisms - & most definitely no fisticuffs.
Poseur is laden with incident: Bad Music is a loser’s anthem about a boy who accidentally bought a copy of Elephant (OK, last Shite Stipes reference - promise) - & lived to sing the tale.
Title track - Poseur - gives us an important insight into the attitude behind Schwervon!:
You got me falling, falling apart again.
You got me posing & calling it art again.
You got me breaking glass,
You got me kissing ass.
Punk Rock records may be climbing the charts again - but that doesn’t automatically mean everything’s OK!
One of the other things Matt & Nan share is vocal duties - their individual voices compliment each other to perfection. There is a bond at the core of Schwervon! that makes me jealous (two dedicated people - sharing love, vision & sound - in harmony with the world & each other. How come that doesn’t happen for all of us Jealous just about covers it). This is a labour of love - & Matt & Nan’s love for each other transcends all the usual restrictions of working in the music ‘industry’ to leave us with a genuinely touching listening experience.
Red Tongue is another stand out cut - a low-slung dub flavoured confessional - atmospheric & brooding - you feel like you’re listening in on a private conversation - you could be a web cam in Matt & Nan’s apartment.
My favourite cut on the LP as I type is the spine tingling One Of These Days - an ode to the strangeness of estrangement (oooh, ooooh - I’m really upset) - but I’ve always been a sucker for that old fiction romance.
Poseur is essential - truly affecting music not simply made for effect. Matt & Nan are the King & Queen of the alt.rock underground & I want them to adopt me & keep me warm & safe forever. It’s a fucked up, lonely world we live in - & love is the only thing that keeps it turning! Schwervron! Turned out nice again - there’s hope for all of us.
Jean Encoule - tMx 13 - 01/04
Eastern Lane - Saffron - (Rough Trade)
Berwick-upon-Tweed’s Eastern Lane return with a new 45 for a new year. Saffron is assured swagger of the higest order & should be automatically embraced accordingly. Riffed to the nines with gtrs set to stun, Saffron reclaims the fret board as a uniquely British tool.
Eastern Lane will succeed in 2004 where many more fancied fillies will fall. Strong on good ground or soft, confident over hedges & water, come rain or fall - you will own an Eastern Lane record by the end of the year. Saffron is as good a place as any to start.
Marquee Smith - tMx 13 - 02/04
The Fall-Outs - Summertime (Estrus - ES2104D)
The Fall-Outs drop their 4th LP in a hail of spittle - their game-plan this time out: to capture the ‘punk spirit’ of Herb Alpert & Hugo Montenegro! Summertime is a dark stroll through a badly lit world - the batteries are going down fast & there’s no back-up. The mains have been out for a week or so - food is running low!
The Fall-Outs are not afraid of tunes, harmony or guile - & use all 3 to maximum effect. Whisked up by Johnny Sangster @ Egg Studios is Seattle - Summertime is power pop with a capital ‘P’. These are thinking songs for thinking people - provocative, enticing & assured.
Spend a while with The Fall-Outs & Summertime - I have the feeling you may get on.
Harrison Bored - tMx 13 - 01/04
The Dexateens - The Dexateens (Estrus - ES2103D)
From the opener - Cardboard Hearts (a one-track manifesto for the immediate immolation of every member of The Kings Of Leon) - The Dexateens rip up the instruction manual for fucking around with guitars, drums & microphones - & leave a small pile of litter in the middle of the room. Spiritual soul brothers of Black Flag, Black Oak Arkansas & The Immortal Lee County Killers, The Dexateens mash up a brew so potent you’re going to need some ‘under heavy manners’ style painkillers for the morning after/hangover.
In a world where some people seriously seem to believe that the Shite Stipes are the last word in rock’n’roll - The Dexateens are here to define the word ‘overrated’ effectively for you. They make the Souldad Brothers sound like a tribute band. They make the notion that Elephant is the greatest modernist rock’n’roll LP ever released seem as believable as the presence of WMDs in Iraq.
The Dexateens is an awesome journey to undertake. Mid period Stones-esque stompers mix it with Byrdsian bravado & swaggering self-belief. The Dexateens are down home - you should call round & see them sometime.
Buddy Dion - tMx 13 - 01/04
Franz Ferdinand - Franz Ferdinand (Domino - WIG136X)
You may remember Postcard Records - Franz Ferdinand do! Josef K & Orange Juice, sensible threads & fringes. Brown, it would seem, is the new black.
Domino Records hopefuls, Franz Ferdinand, are from Glasgow. They’re on nodding terms with the Charles Rennie Macintosh designed Glasgow School Of Art. They’ve built a secure local reputation on the back of their ‘warehouse style’ live appearances/’art school happenings’ over the last 18 months - & the releases of their debut LP, Franz Ferdinand (WIG136X), has earmarked them as 2004’s most likely success story.
Now, as you know, I’m usually immune to rampant hype - & I must admit I have been quietly ignoring Franz Ferdinand deliberately for some time (hoping they would go away!). Franz Ferdinand does indeed vaguely resemble the shape of noise created by the aforementioned Josef K & very early Orange Juice - but it also contains lumps of Modern Life Is Rubbish period Blur, shards of early Magazine & probably a bit too much of Canadian post punk magpies, Hot Hot Heat.
Record Exec Pitch: Franz Ferdinand is a strongly branded blend of art school rock n roll, punk informed pop & the (presumed) immediate future.
Jacqueline is a riot of an opener - We only work when we need the money. Indeed. Tell Her Tonight proves Franz Ferdinand spent their time on the road with Hot Hot Heat taking notes. Massive hit 45, Take Me Out, is as good as it sounds on the radio - except here it only appears once every 40 odd minutes! The Dark Of The Matinee has been described elsewhere as the LP’s pivotal moment - presumably by Pulp fanatics desperate for less relaxation & more muscle. Auf Achse is Hot Hot Heat doing an impression of Secondhand Daylight era Magazine. Cheating On You is high-speed deception on the high street. This Fire is as raucous as Franz Ferdinand get - clipped, understated & precise. Darts Of Pleasure continues to grow in stature with every spin. Homoerotic disco dancing is the subject of Michael (the least convincing moment here - look out! - The Suede alarm has just gone off!). Come On Home briefly threatens formula overload - before 40’ raps up proceedings with the most adventurous arrangement present on Franz Ferdinand (including a dubbed melodica, Augustus Pablo fans).
It’s all over inside 38.51 - & only the stench of the hype remains. Franz Ferdinand are the new brand on the block (isn’t it great being in a rock n roll brand these days).
Johnny Forgotten - tMx 13 - 02/04
The Constantines - Shine A Light - (Sub Pop - SPCD 569)
Shine A Light is The Constantines sophomore outing - formed in Guelph, Ontario, in 1999, The Constantines combine the ghost of DC post-hardcore with a wide-screen vision that recalls The Afghan Whigs at their peak. Dense, dark & soaked in soul - Shine A Light drags the blues out into the light for a solid but affective kicking.
The press release bleats on about Joe Strummer fronting Fugazi - I’d probably refine that to Phil Lynott fronting That Petrol Emotion - but I’m sure we’re merely splitting hairs here.
Like an unwelcome mix of Memphis Clash & breakneck dub claims drummer Doug Macgregor - which is a perfect example of why no one takes drummers seriously.
The Constatines are effectively a bunch of work-a-day grafters - & as such, should not be unduly criticised per se. The fact that their LP is about as boring as watching one of John Squire’s paintings dry is neither here nor there. The only thing I can thank them for is that I’ll never have to listen to it again.
Harrison Bored - tMx 13 - 02/04
The A-Lines - Demos
The A-Lines made their debut feature in Issue 12 of tMx - & very nice it & informative it was too. Now, hot on the heels of their debut 7 45 rpm disc, One Day, comes this collection of demos which could (possibly)
form the backbone of their debut LP (& what a stonkingly excellent document it promises to be). Covers of Love’s Can’t Explain & The Electric Eels Agitated complement the 10 A-Lines originals present here.
Nothing Personal is the sound of The Slits throwing up on their Raincoats & mopping it up with a Kleenex. Going The Wrong Way Home is pregnant with pause, squall - & squeals. Nice employs Teutonic language skills & one of those rising riffs that once in your brain are almost impossible to evict. You Can Touch forges ahead at pace taking very few prisoners as it goes. More Wax could be a criticism of modern men’s hair practices or an eulogy to the death of vinyl - either way it rocks the spot on one leg with it’s middle finger extended in your general direction - so who cares
The A-Lines have come to embarrass the fakers - their glory is assured & their beauty is well defined. Pencil them in - & don’t skirt about.
The Katestar - tMx 13 - 01/04
dragSTER - Redneck/Trailertrash - (Buzzin ZZ001)
This has been knocking around for a couple of months now but the word on these Coventry based shit-kickers is suddenly becoming extremely audible. Recently signed by London based Scruffy Bird Management, V2 & XL (amongst others) are currently sniffing the diesel fumes dragSTER emit. Discovered by tMx’s very own cuddly memorabilia expert, Suburban Kid, & initially bankrolled by Punk Rock legend Jah Wobble, dragSTER’s potential is awesome.
Peaches fronting The Stooges. Betty Boo changing her surname to Page whilst fronting early Motorhead. Join Geordie Walker, Rat Scabies, Vince Ray, Rocky Revillo, Justin Sullivan, Jools, Jenny Belle Star, Martin Atkins & Jean Encoule at the back of the queue - by the time you read this the guest list will be full.
Recorded under the spiritual guidance of Rat Scabies & engineered by the obscenely talented Small Paul Johnson @ Rhythm Studios, Redneck is the sound of a tall building collapsing around your ears whilst the horniest siren this side of Dita Von Tease hollers in your ear to take the trash out. Trailertrash is the type of noise a Rolls Royce engine makes on take-off with the lushest larynx this side of Cherrie Currie imploring you to lose those inhibitions fast.
A follow-up 45 is threatened for March - or whenever the ink dries on the contract. dragSTER have the undercarriage to propel them to the top of the rock’n’roll Xmas tree quicker that you can say ‘where the fuck is Santa Pod’
Fi, for that is her name, is the kind of front-woman who could take on Courtney, Brodie, Karen O & Lisa Bellray (at the same time) with one hand behind her back - whilst manicuring the other - on horseback! In a world rammed to the blue touch paper with fake female rockettes - I’d go for the real woman every time!
Nothing this exciting has happened in Coventry since The Specials. You may have heard of them.
Harrison Bored - tMx 13 - 01/04
Being 747 - Fun & Games’ - (Wrath Records - Wrath17)
Wrath Records Head Honchos (The Morricone Brothers) join forces with Dave Cooke for the debut LP from Being 747. Operating in the kind of theatre usually reserved for the absurd, Being 747’s skew whiff take on the left-field modern pop vernacular is intelligently manufactured, beautifully realised & perfectly formed. Wrath Records have been making Leeds an interesting place to come from for the best part of the last 3 years & Fun & Games is testament to that fact. Shades of Pulp, The Fatima Mansions & SFA - Being 747 have the sense of humour to make you smile & the tunes to hold your attention while you do so.
Buddy Dion - tMx 13 - 01/04
Bleeding Hearts - The Merchants Of Propaganda
The Bleeding Hearts are from The Midlands, UK, & they describe the music they play as Punk Folk. We liked the term so much we hunted them down & requested a copy of this, their latest, CD release, in order to help spread the word on this most admirable of genres.
Now, before we go any further, it’s probably worth getting the words ‘The’ & ‘Levellers’ out of the way early doors - Bleeding Hearts are no dour crusties! OK
Punk & Folk have always walked hand in hand - where would protest music be without the influence of Leadbelly, Guthrie or Dylan The sound of a group of people standing around a guitar shouting & moaning about their lot & the way of the world is a primary human condition that many have died trying to preserve. The fact that no one died during the making of Merchants Of Propaganda should take nothing away from Bleeding Hearts.
Merchants Of Propaganda is an 11-track love affair that takes in Punk Rock, political conviction, ethics, integrity, loud guitars, dub - & fiddles! The quality of song writing on show is impressive. This is passionate music with a packed agenda that demands your attention.
The Katestar - tMx 13 - 01/04
Ikara Colt - Wanna Be That Way - (Fantastic Plastic - FPPR038)
Line-up changes have blighted Ikara Colt since 2002’s debut LP, Chat & Business, but they don’t seem to have lost any steam. Wanna Be That Way is a natural progression from where they left off - taught, sinewy & low down dirty. This is powerful stuff - structured, opinionated noise.
Retro & futuristic - all at the same time. Threatening but vaguely reassuring. Spikey - but not averse to a quick cuddle behind the bike sheds. Ikara Colt are one of the groups that actually matter in the UK right now - & that’s more than enough reason to rush out & purchase this 45 on Feb 16th.
Evan Halshaw - tMx 13 - 01/04
The Blueskins - Change My Mind - (Domino - RUG174CDP)
The Blueskins are THE perfect example of what not to sound like if you want a decent review in trakMARX. Jesus, I hate these cunts already - & I’m officially not supposed to care.
Change My Mind sounds like a Macca demo from some God forsaken back-to-my-skiffle-roots project. It tries so hard to push all the right contemporaneous buttons (the hardest to button, eh Jack) but ends up sounding like a Pop Idol reject’s idea of what it is to be hip.
I Wanna Know is a White Stripes pastiche.
That’s it - there is no more - now fuck off before we tell Jack where you live & he comes round & Von Bonds your pretty little faces to Jason & back.
Johnny Forgotten - tMx 13 - 01/04
Razorlight - Stumble & Fall - (Vertigo)
Another issue. Another Razorlight single - & this time they’re going for the jugular with a big pop buzz.
The charts are a lonely windswept place in January - Vertigo Records know this. Razorlight are going to go Top 20 with Stumble & Fall (no, there’s nothing sinister about it - you only need to sell 1214 copies of a record in January to go To 10!) - so now Vertigo can put a sticker on the LP saying ‘Includes The Hit Single, Stumble & Fall’, as opposed to ‘Includes 12 Television Pastiches & A Free Copy Of Ulrika Johnson’s Biography.
You can tell by the way Johnny over-pronounces the fuck out of the word ‘breaks’ that success is all he cares about. He’s desperate to make it. Fucking desperate. You can feel it in his compromised, affected, vowel sounds. He fancies himself a bit, does Johnny.
Stumble & Fall is a chancer’s arm worth of blagged skag in a shooting gallery with no decorative murals on the walls. Catchier than a dose of NSU in a Kings Cross bordello. As forgettable as a Busted B-side underwater.
Ultimately, Razorlight aren’t worth a wank. Conditional discharge - a sticky deposit. I don’t wanna be nice.
Marquee Smith - tMx 13 - 02/04
The Ordinary Boys - Maybe Someday - (B-Unique)
Being a Mod in the mid-60s was about as crucial, as vital & as life affirming an experience as a young person could hope for at the time. Being a Mod in 1979 was about as crucial, as vital & as life affirming an experience as a Sealed Knot member could hope for at a re-enactment of the Battle Of Edge Hill. Being a Mod in 2004 doesn’t even warrant it’s own analogy - it’s that dull.
Maybe Someday (not a million miles away from The Chords Maybe Tomorrow in both title & feel) is cod Mod of the most man made of substances - guaranteed to cause static.
Good God. Has it come to this
The Ordinary Boys are not sure if they want to be The Libertines or The Jam - a quandary currently facing every young angst ridden wannabe the length & breadth of Little Britain.
For fuck’s sake - go & borrow some of your dad’s Throbbing Gristle records - & do us all a favour.
Jean Encoule - tMx 13 - 02/04
John Squire - Marshall’s House - (North Country Records)
The first thing I’d like to say about this record is that once upon a time I truly believed The Stone Roses to be fireproof. The second thing I’d like to say about Marshall’s House is it may well be the most tedious piece of dog sick ever submitted to tMx.
The first thing John Squire should do is trade in the sycophants he surrounds himself with & replace them with a few genuine mates. Whoever told him that he could sing was one sick puppy (& when I say ‘sing’, I fully understand that some of the greatest voices in the history of rock n roll are non-voices - unfortunately, John Squire doesn’t even have a non-voice) - the second thing he should do is use his painting skills to form a decorating enterprise (actually, I couldn’t even recommend him for that - the last time I employed Squire Decorations of Greater Manchester they took 4 years to paint my hall, stairs & landing - John had promised to undertake the assignment using his customary appropriated Pollock stylee - but the whole gig ended up Led Zep green!).
Conclusion: Marshall’s House is vacuous, insipid & vague - Squire fancies himself as the indie-Clapton. The LP’s high-brow concept of tunes about paintings (Edward Hopper’s) is as excruciatingly dull as it is embarrassing - apparently John has an exhibition of his paintings coming up soon - can’t wait.
Johnny Forgotten - tMx 13 - 02/04
stellastarr* - My Coco - (RCA)
NYC’s stellastarr* have been dismissed in these pages before - so don’t be surprised when I say: avoid like the plague! Insignificance is the key here - stellastarr* have studied their parent’s record collections closely but have still managed to miss the point by a country mile. One look at the picture on the rear of the sleeve confirms it all: stellastarr* are fakes.
Harrison Bored - tMx 13 - 02/04
Electrelane - The Power Out - (Too Pure)
Brighton’s beautiful Electrelane follow up 2002’s eclectic Rock It To The Moon with their 2nd LP, The Power Out.
Recorded with Steve West Bromwich Albini in Chicago, The Power Out adds vocals to the instruments for the first time - & in several different languages (including English, Spanish, German & French - What No Welsh)!
The results are pastoral, educated & defiantly middle class. Electrelane skirt around the edges of art in their quilted slippers - too scared to ask for help - too proud to listen to sound advice.
There is a prevailing sense of folly that accompanies most of The Power Out - a confusing lack of direction (God knows how they made it all the way to Chicago) that screams ‘will this do’ at the top of its shrill voice - & little else.
Buddy Dion - tMx 13 - 02/04