LP Of The Issue:

Various Artists - "Rip Off Your Labels" - Angular Recording Corporation

Once upon a time running an independent record label was all about integrity, vision & talent - then came Creation Records, corruption & "Now That's What I Call The Most Definitive Independent Selection Yet - Vol 47". 'Independence' - or the very notion of it - has been a front for major labels to hide behind ever since (check distribution details for the truth).

The Angular Recording Corporation (see Q&A elsewhere in this issue) have come to save us all from that malarkey. Born at the heart of London's Kings Cross, Angular are to the 00s what the Cartel were to the 80s - collectively motivated. In the delivery room, immediately after Angular's birth, an impartial observer casually commented, "doesn't he remind you of little Rough Trade Jnr?"

"Rip Off Your Labels" is the second full-length compilation from Angular. Their 1st release, "The New Cross: An Angular Sampler", sold out quicker than the New Rock Revolution. "Rip Of Your Labels" is all set to build on that platform, having, as it does, adequate nationwide distribution.

"Rip Of Your Labels" features 14 cuts of angular action: electro minimalism & Highland vernacular from the Vichy Government, clipped vowels & choppy Fenders from the Violets, exciting guitars & group enthusiasm from Art Brut & Friends, 80s pop classicism & melodic genius from the Fucks (when does The Ideal Husbands revival start?), Slits shaped Ladbrooke grooves & angle-poise guitars from the Long Blondes, introversion & the unbelievable truth about pine from the Showboys, pummelled cymbals & convincing tub-thumping from the Swear, Mancunian cardigans & unknown pleasures from the Boyfriends (I honestly never thought I'd here a young Morrisey fronting Joy Division), Normalcy (being under the influence of "Warm Leatherette") & reluctant phrasing from Sweetie, sugar & spice & all things nice from Elizabeth Harper, real life & Adamson-esque bass from Gifthorse, penetrating insight & dictation from Lovers Of Today, unashamed pop & roxy music shapes from Luxembourg - & plenty of make up & emotional rescue from the Rocks.

All of the above - & only 41 minutes & 15 seconds have elapsed - surely that's recommendation enough? Angular Records are part of a new independent philosophy with the emphasis on authenticity. I don't expect them to open a New York office in the near future - & neither should you. "Rip Off Your Labels" is available from all good independent record stores throughout the UK (or by mail order from Rough Trade). These people need your support. That's how it works.

The Katestar - tMx 15 - 06/04

Police & Thieves - "Intnodisco"/"Under 24 Hour Surveillance" - Ripper Records

Exciting rock n roll from London Town. Surely an oxymoron? Not according to "Intnodisco"/"Under 24 Hour Surveillance" - the brand spanking new 45 from Police & Thieves. Fresh from their debut appearance in the pages of tMx 14, Police & Thieves have opened their vinyl account with 2 x prime slices of urgent guitar abuse.

"Intnodisco" could be The Undertones throwing up the Dead Kennedys - it speeds by in such a blur it's hard to tell (this is a 7" 45 rpm disc -remember - being played on a Portadyne RP22). Energy, guitars, shouting, terrace harmonies & anger - all propelled by the kind of drummer that could once have been described as 'flailing'!

"Under 24 Hour Surveillance" is charged with suspicion - like it's subject! Paranoia, mistrust & ultimate betrayal are the endgames we normally associate with CCTV & "Big Brother" style monitoring. Police & Thieves ram home the point with an aural baton charge.

This is the real sound of the true underground. Police & Thieves - thoroughly modernist punks for the blank cheque generation.

Harrison Bored - tMx 15 - 06/04

mclusky - "the difference between you & me is that i'm not on fire" - Pure Records

Difficult third LP syndrome, is what they used to call it. Piece of piss, is how mclusky would probably prefer to refer to it.

The snappy, witty titles & incisive lyrics of the group's previous two outings are all present & correct once again. The production is as crisp & sinewy as you'd expect from a Steve "West Bromwich" Albini production. The songs are fatter, meatier - darker. There's a pervading atmosphere of malevolent intent. mclusky are pissed off with you - & you - & you (you major label arsehole).

The mainstream press are clutching this release to their chests & proclaiming mclusky the best new Welsh group in the whole of England ever - yet. They believe them to be Americans who re-located to Cardiff following the collapse of the Michigan 'White Goods' Industry in 2001. They are wrong to believe this. They are not wrong to believe in mclusky.

"the difference" is another powerfully convincing state of the union from mclusky. To call them a national treasure would mean installing the relevant boundaries & some ham fisted constitution or other - & that would never do.

mclusky - sometimes it's not all about the money.

Harrison Bored - tMx 15 - 06/04

The Thermals - "Fuckin' A" - Sub Pop

Hutch Harris, Kathy Foster & Jordan Hudson reconvene as The Thermals for their second full length onslaught on the minds & sensibilities of the world's disaffected youth. "Fuckin' A" follows the indestructible energy of debut LP "More Parts Per Million" - & success will surely follow - like a sexually transmitted disease follows irresponsible casual sex with a stranger. It's inevitable.

"Fuckin' A" is monstrously large. Everything has grown. One louder. Recorded & mixed in 4 days at Avast in Seattle - this is the sound of a group exploding in front of several strategically placed microphones. It's Sebadoh sing the Ramones. It's Dinosaur Jnr sing Buzzcocks. It's almost linear. It's one-dimensional. It's annoying the flat upstairs. Thank fuck for that.

Needles reverberate solidly into the red. Microphones bleed. Drums threaten to detach themselves from the kit. Cymbals fly. Strings screech like ski lift cables when Camilla Parker Bowles is on the piste. Over it all, Hutch Harris whines & wails like a twelve-year-old who's just had his Ipod set on fire by an angry teacher during a particularly difficult exam.

There are 12 songs on "Fuckin' A" - all of them indistinguishable from the next - or any of the ones on the previous LP, for that matter. That's not being derogatory - THAT'S EXACTLY THE FUCKIN' POINT. Was "Leave Home" better than "The Ramones"?

"Fuckin'A" is a masterful display of anger, attitude, aptitude & ambition. The Thermals make gtr music to carry around in your breast pocket like a crumpled photo of a lost loved one: with passion, volume, integrity, intensity, broken gtrs & amplifiers - & even the odd tune. It's called PUNK ROCK - & if you don't like it - you're reading the wrong zine.

Jean Encoule - tMx 15 - 06/04

TV On The Radio - "Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes" - 4AD

The hype surrounding TV On The Radio has been intense. Genre defying - they said. Barber's shop eclecticism - they said. Peter Gabriel fronting PIL - they said.

They didn't say anything about the Flaming Lips - or Jeff Buckley. They forgot to mention the stench of 'construct' as well. TV On The Radio? Do they mean Tommy Vance?

"The Wrong Way" & "Staring At The Sun" get proceedings off to an unconvincing start - rather like The Pop Group covering "The Very Best Of Lenny Kravitz". It's all so falsetto. You can imagine the members of TV On The Radio sitting around for hours concepting the LP whilst filling in their session musician tax returns. This could have been recorded at Real World Studios in Box. Pretentiousness x freeform expressionism = implied tediousness. Imagine what it would be like if Prince tried to go 'industrial'.

By the time we start drowning in dowaps, bebops & dum dee dums, the experimental has left the building & only the prog remains ("Ambulance", for example, is particularly painful). Quite why TV On The Radio have been talked up as having a 'Punk Rock' attitude to their 'work' is utterly beyond me. TV On The Radio are everything that Punk set out to destroy.

Marquee Smith - tMx 15 - 06/04

Jet Johnson - "Death Song" - Seriously Groovy

Oslo's Jet Johnson return with their 2cnd 45 (& the follow up to their excellent debut long player). Imagine a cross between the Sundays & Codeine - & you're almost half way there. "Death Song" is a particularly perfect slice of peculiar post-pop. It's Elizabeth Frazer singing in English, it's Afterlife Without Buildings, it's simply divine - & should be purchased immediately, housed in gossamer & kept close to your heart at all times.

The Katestar - tMx 15 - 06/04

Snatches Of Pink - "Hyena" - MoRisen Records

Snatches Of Pink are fronted by Michael Rank - a man who could give Chris Robinson a run for his money in the highly defined cheekbones department. He looks like he should be in The Faces.

Snatches Of Pink hail from North Carolina - home of the once great Superchunk - & play measured melodic outlaw rock n roll that is part Replacements, part Stones homage, part Dolls-ian train wreck & resolutely all man.

Their sound is gritty & effective, their songs are dense & expansive. We may well have heard much of it before - but no one is claiming to have re-invented the wheel here. It does what it says on the tin.

"Otto Wood" & "Come To This" are as good as anything the genre has had to offer for sometime - & should be embraced accordingly. Elsewhere, "Terminal" & "Reptile" make a particularly good fist of it - & only the over-bearing presence of a cover of David Bowie's "Moonage Daydream" racks up any negative equity.

All Snatches Of Pink need now is a decent name & they could be contenders.

Jean Encoule - tMx 15 - 06/04

Ikara Colt - "Modern Apprentice" - Fantastic Plastic

Ikara Colt are back with a new 2 boy/2 girl line up & a spanking new LP.

"Modern Apprentice" picks up the gauntlet thrown down by "Chat & Business" & slaps it across your cheeks like a warm haddock fillet dressed in a butter sauce.
"I Wanna Be That Way" & "Wake In The City" kick us off with a double dose of that signature IK sound: young Iggy fronts early Joy Division. "Jackpot" adds the girls to the vocal mix with varying degrees of success. It's a good look & a classic balance - so why does it sound so forced? I get the feeling Ikara Colt could be trying just a bit too hard this time out - or maybe it's just me. "I'm With Stupid" (awful title), "Rewind" & "How's The World Gonna Take You Now" could all have come from "Chat & Business" - it's that one dimensional.

"Waste Ground" attempts to move away from the formula by recalling "Closer" era Joy Division as opposed to "Unknown Pleasures" - hardly a radical departure. "Motorway" summons none of the tension of Kraftwerk's "Autobahn" whilst happily splashing about in the same genre paddling pool (with insufficient sun block - in 75 degree heat!). By the time we reach "Automatic" there is very little point in Icara Colt existing beyond this LP.

"Chat & Business" had verve, energy & hinted at invention in spades. "Modern Apprentice" says: Will This Do? Very, very loudly. Icara Colt are fashion victims in the sense that fashion moves so fast that some will inevitably get left behind.

Johnny Forgotten - tMx 15 - 06/04

Devendra Banhart - "Rejoining In The Heart" - XL

Quite what UK bandwagon jumper's supreme, XL Recordings, could want with a long haired, bearded weirdo from Buttfuck, Idaho, is beyond me. Instead of getting the Prodigy to finish their new LP, the head honchos at XL have decided they want some more of that White Stripes dollar (in effect).

Subsequently, it's a thin line between the new Bob Dylan & the new Cat Stevens - & Devendra Banhart falls convincingly (but effectively) somewhere between those two stools (any implication that Messers Dylan & Stevens are a couple of turds is purely intentional). Michael Gira, so much to answer for.

It all starts off fairly brightly - if the world was waiting for a new Simon & Garfuncle LP - the wait is over. Hushed tones, delicate picking, warbled vocal on the cusp of a whisper, just the hint of a lisp, ridiculous lyrics, banjos, out-of-tune pianos & all the innovation of sliced bread.

I've always hated implied eccentricity - & guess what - I hate Devendra Banhart too.

Johnny Forgotten - tMx 15 - 06/04

Various - "Seriously Groovy - Moo Sick" - Seriously Groovy Sampler.

Label sampler from the people responsible for introducing us to mclusky, amongst others.

Seriously Groovy are a London based label that specialises in 'comfy guitar' music & 'super chilled' alt.fizzy pop. "Moo Sick" is a 4 x group 12 x slab compilation introducing you to their roster:

Emetrex are Yanks who know their way around an enigmatic fret-board. Hushed tones & delicate structures entice the listener inwards. There's an understated intensity to Emetrex that recalls a slightly harsher Talk Talk.

Econoline are obviously au fait with the XTC back catalogue but their undoubted rustic charm is not harmed unduly as a result. Masterful pop music delivered with power & without affectation.

Norway's Jet Johnson are, as The Katestar points out correctly in her review of their new 45 "Death Song" (above), the chick from the Sundays fronting Codeine. Jet Johnson songs take for ever to get under your skin but once there - they are as difficult to remove as tattoos.

Finland's Mother Goose are seriously raucous by comparison - offering, as they do, far more substantial fare by way of exchange. The full tilt "Feelies Feeling" & the wonderfully titled "Cocaine Mirror" are ample evidence of Mother Goose's burning ambition to lay the most golden of eggs.

Seriously Groovy have been quietly working away for the last 9 years, inching inexorably towards this point in time. Their time is now & your help is all they need.

Marquee Smith - tMx 15 - 06/04

The Open - "Just Want To Live" - Polydor

The Open? What could they mean? The Open Golf Championship. Not closed? The possible definitions are endless. Aren't they? A name should inspire, spark debate, arouse passion - shouldn't it?

The Open, thankfully, spent as long on their music as they did thinking of their name. Over-wrought, overdue, overtly non-descript? If that's what they were striving to achieve - they succeeded (hurrah!). Three cheers for Daddy's mate at the recording company. Now fuck off.

Johnny Forgotten - tMx 15 - 06/04

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