LP Of The Issue:

Be Your Own Pet – “Be You Own Pet” (XL)

If you’re a regular reader, you’ll know all about Be Your Own Pet – if you’re not a regular reader, where the fuck have you been?

Let’s not beat about the bush. Let’s not get any fences stuck up our collective arses here. BYOP to-tal-ly rock - and “BYOP” has already booked its birth in my trakMARX Top Ten LPs of 2006. 15 shards of razor sharp excellence that’ll cut your ears to ribbons. An aural enema for the out of shape, overweight, bloated body of rock & roll 2006. “BYOP” bleeds excitement from every orifice. “Yr only young once – DON”T FUCK IT UP!!”

Jemina Pearl (vocals) is a whirlwind in a lift heading for the penthouse with a can of spray paint & mischief in her heart. Jonas Stein (guitar) is a Ron Asheton for the noughties with a PHD in serious riffage & a sense of fun the size of your average universe. Nathan Vasquez (bass) & Jamin Orrall (drums) could power the next NASA voyage to Mars – if space ships could run on rock & roll energy, obviously. Together they seriously fuck shit up.

“BYOP” clocks in at just over half an hour. The average song length is 2:20. Check “Bunk Trunk Skunk”:

“I’m an independent mutha-fucker
And I’m here to take your money
I’m wicked rad and I’m here
To steal away your virginity”
At the heart of this Punk Rock manifesto beats a solid pop sensibility: recent 45 “Adventure” and “October, First Account” (is that the ghost of The Sundays?) issue the Yeah Yeah Yeahs death certificate with a knowing grin - & not a minute too soon:
“We’re not out of ammo yet!”
Other songs are called things like “FuuuuuuN”, “Bicycle, Bicycle, You Are My Bicycle” & “Love Your Shotgun”. I haven’t heard this kind of energy since my Dad wired my gold earring up to the cooker point in the kitchen in protest at me getting my ears pierced. To-tal-ly kinetic. BYOP are on two wheels - heading upwards at 45 degrees.

BYOP all suffer from asthma – they draw their singles covers with crayons – they make their own t-shirts in their mom’s kitchen with paint and magic markers – they hate boredom & poseurs. What else do you need to know?

Michelle “Suit” Bernstein – tMx 24 – 03/06

Single Of The Issue:

The Lodger – “Let Her Go” (Angular Recording Corporation)

More bona fide genius from The Lodger. This lot just can’t stop dropping classic singles. The most eagerly anticipated debut LP of 2006? Most definitely! Absolutely no maybes.

Their third 45 - “Let Her Go” – is yet another slice of gloriously addictive guitar pop. This Leeds trio have the hallmark of greatness tattooed onto their collective biceps. Their grasp of tantalisingly evocative melody, perfect instrumental minimalism & driving insistency are second to none. The Lodger’s singer/songwriter Ben has a voice to die for. A romantic idealist with an ear for heartbreak & the talent to convey it sincerely without drifting anywhere near mawkish island.

Backed by the equally brilliant “We Come From The Same Place”, which confines the Stone Roses to the dustbin marked irrelevant in a staggeringly perfect 3:45, The Lodger were our ‘ones to watch’ for 2006 - & we’re still feeling pretty smug right about now.

Guy Debored – tMx 24 – 03/06

The Organ – “Grab That Gun” (Too Pure)

If I’d been challenged to judge this release on moniker & presentation alone, it would have gone straight in the round file without further ado. The Organ is a mind-numbingly tedious sobriquet by anyone’s standards, after all, & the drab brown artwork only adds to the initially overpowering sense of ennui (key-bored?).

Thank Morrissey I stayed awake long enough to slip the disc inside the bunker blaster. Hang on a minute - this is interesting. Beguiling even. No, we can do better than that. This is sumptuous. In fact, the more I listen to it, the more I’m drawn - like a pair of curtains.

The Organ are 5 girls from Canada (formed 2001) who blend Blondie, The Smiths & slithers of early Joy Division/New Order into a remarkably cohesive broth that is both endearing & wholesome. “Plastic Letters” x “The Smiths” x “Unknown Pleasures” = Manchester, so much to answer for.

There’s a sense of natural beauty to “Grab Your Gun”. Its enigmatic presence practically demands your attention, demurely, of course. The Organ have looked ‘atmosphere’ up in the dictionary & defined it precisely. There’s no sordid sentimentality here, just heart-warming self-belief & intriguing invention. Every song is infectious, melancholic & overpoweringly melodic, “Grab Your Gun” is half an hour of pure joy. The kind of LP that’s over before you’ve realised how much you’ve been enjoying it, so the only thing you can do is put it on again! The formula is simple: 30 minutes divided by 10 songs = 3 minutes per song. Magic numbers. No beards required.

The Organ is an instrument usually found at work in churches & cathedrals, a haunting, spiritual instrument that evokes eternal faith. Maybe it’s not such a crap name for a group after all. That makes “Grab Your Gun” the hymnbook lying there on the pew. Maybe brown is the new black after all.

As those curtains I mentioned earlier close at the end of another sterling performance, you should never judge a hymnbook by its cover.

Jean Encoule – tMx 24 – 04/06

Shut Your Eyes And You’ll Burst Into Flames – “Signal Noise” (Dance To The Radio)

I just played this 12 times on the trot. I fucking love this. It’s got more bounce than a Tigger Convention, more inventiveness than a Technology & Design Conference & more hooks than a Peter Pan themed fancy dress party. Like a male Au Pairs taking care of punk’s pop offspring in the kindergarten of Hades, Shut Your Eyes And You’ll Burst Into Flames nonchalantly rip it all up & start all over again. “Signal Noise” should be all over your radar. Don’t let it slip under.

Serge “Bunsen” Burner – tMx 24 – 04/06

Richard Burke – “The Wintered Sea” (Bearos)

“The Wintered Sea” is the debut LP from Birmingham’s Richard Burke (ex The Starries). Recorded in his bedroom on a porta-studio, a shoestring, a wing & a prayer, this 13-track collection showcases his shimmering talent perfectly. Comparisons to Elliot Smith (particularly in his picked guitar style) & Lou Barlow are justified, but there’s something quintessentially English about Burke’s sound: a touch of the Nick Drakes?

Impossibly beautiful, affectingly sincere & drenched in neo-folk melody of the highest order, Burke is a supremely gifted performer & an accomplished songwriter, as “Life’s Arms”, “Buttery Cup”, “Sick Of This City”, “The Women Of Birmingham” & “A Lot Of Things” ably attest. Highly recommended.

Jean Encoule – tMx 24 – 04/06

Mogwai – “Mr Beast” (Rock Action)

It’s hard to believe that Mogwai have been with us for 10 years now - loud/quiet/loudly beavering away in the frozen headlands of the north - subtly refining & developing their sound. They’re often criticised by purists for re-writing “Young Team” perpetually – but that is complete & utter bullshit. “Young Team” established a template, for sure, but each subsequent LP has seen them grow in stature & sonic magnificence accordingly. Anyone that fails to appreciate that is a luddite, pure & simple. No Mogwai = no God Speed You Black Emperor = no Explosions In The Sky! Mogwai are a genre - all on their own.

“Mr Beast” is their pinnacle in a mountain range of a back catalogue. Snow-covered & glistening - reflecting the sunlight & the hopes of the many who’ve diligently invested in them this past decade. Hidden deep within its grooves are the loudest, most beautiful - & ultimately most satisfying sounds Mogwai have committed to disc thus far.

From the spectral piano chimes that open “Auto Rock” it’s apparent that the best word to describe Mogwai in 2006 is ‘assured’. Building from a whisper to a muted scream, the scene is set for the Gwai’s most strident moment since the (some may say) halcyon days of “Like Herod” & “Mogwai Fear Satan”: “Glasgow Mega Snake”. “GMS” ducks as it weaves like a southpaw boxing above their weight. Wave upon wave of glorious riffage batter your ears. Very ‘eavy, not remotely humble. At 3.31 it crashes to an end. Mogwai have learnt that brevity can be a friend as well as an asset.

Elsewhere, “Acid Food” employs trademark muted vocals & slithers of pedal steel to perfect the post-rock-country crossover they’ve been cross-pollinating since 01’s “Rock Action”. “Travel Is Dangerous” is another vocal led piece that pulls every card trick in the alt.rock casino to fashion something that almost resembles a pop song! “Friend Of The Night” could possibly be Mogwai’s most transcendental moment to date: orchestral manoeuvres that have seen the light. Part neo-classical mini-concerto - part Arvo Part. “Folk Death 95” sets the controls of the heart to ‘melt’ – before launching the guitars at you through a wall of unobtrusive organ. The gorgeous “I Chose Horses” showcases spoken-word vocals from Envy’s Tetsuya Fukagawa & keyboard interludes courtesy of Craig Armstrong. “Mr Beast” draws to a close with the enigmatically resonant “We’re No Here” – a defiantly insistent pay-off that brings proceedings to an ominous end.

If you are quick enough to capture the book shaped ltd edition double disc of “Mr Beast” you’ll find yourself in possession of an enlightening DVD that takes the viewer into the bowels of The Castle Of Doom & lets Mogwai do their own talking. It’s an entertaining yet educational glimpse behind the shades of one of art-rock’s most engaging & enduring combos & only heightens the already unique listening experience that is “Mr Beast”.

File under: Mogwai.

Guy Debored – tMx 24 – 03/06

Wire – “Pink Flag” (EMI)

Wire were always way too clever to be real punks, a fact they subsequently proved beyond any reasonable doubt with “Chairs Missing” & “154”, but it’s still their debut, “Pink Flag”, that keeps me coming back for more.

Often celebrated, much dissected & frequently ripped off, “Pink Flag’s” 21-tracks buzz by the eardrums in a spectacular 35:31. Taut, angular, solo-less, unadorned, insular & vaguely distant – “Pink Flag” is the kind of oh-so-perfect LP that should only ever be followed by the group that made it splitting up!

The minimalist artwork is as iconic as the music: a lone pink flag flutters in a clear blue sky. The juxtaposition at the horizon where the blue sky meets the grey of the tarmac is as visually engaging now as it was 30 years ago. Wire records were always supremely well dressed.

It’s a well-thumbed cliché to be sure, but there really isn’t a duff track on “Pink Flag”. There are plenty of diamonds: “Ex-Lion Tamer”, “Fragile”, “Lowdown”, “Mannequin”, “Feeling Called Love” – a brace of anti-anthems: “Mr Suit”, “12 X U” - & a casual disregard for everything else going on in the vicinity. There’s even the ironic use of the French language for the staple punk 1234 count-in on “Surgeon’s Girl” (a joke that was obviously misunderstood by many judging by the number of translations into German that were to follow).

Strangely as out of place on the home-of-prog-label that was Harvest Records as they were on the stage of The Roxy, Wire remain the fly in the punk ointment to this day - & “Pink Flag” remains their finest hour.

Asger Yawn – tMx 24 – 03/06

Buzzcocks - Flat-Pack Philosophy (Cooking Vinyl)

Pete Shelley’s raw and provocative cries have survived four decades of fads, fashions and whims - but have retained their evergreen quality throughout. The reason that Buzzcocks have long outlived many of their contemporaries is probably down to the universal subject matter of their material. Pangs of regret are driven home with their trademark bolting guitars. 'Wish I Never Loved You’ is a brazen critique of control issues that often permeate affairs of the heart. Sound familiar? If looked at crudely it could be seen as picking at the carcass of ‘Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn't've)’. You’d have thought Pete Shelley would have gotten over that significant other by now, eh?

A prevailing feature of Buzzcocks albums in the past has been their ability to settle into a groove straight away and stick to it - so you feel like Homer Simpson sat on a couch listening to them sometimes. However, the snappy and futuristic ‘Credit’ wobbles the applecart with its delicious parody of modern consumerism. Its introduction features the sound of a checkout procedure at one of those infuriating automated cash machines before Shelley mixes his natural anger with apparent bemusement:

“Credit: In love with the never, never I wish I could get something I really need.”

‘Big Brother Wheels’ sees Buzzcocks going all American on us - the vocal and guitar hooks seem to be trying to capture that Pennywise essence! Now I am getting all confused? Are Buzzcocks being influenced by a band that they no doubt influenced themselves?

Punk used to be straight forward, didn’t it? With ‘Flat-pack Philosophy’ the masterful Mancunians effortlessly grasp the personal-political nettle without squealing. At the end of play, there is a certain swagger that trickles through this fourteen-track album that reminds you of the glory days whilst Buzzcocks do more than enough to imply that their part in punk’s parade is not ready to be downsized. Not just yet.

Dave Adair – tMx 24 – 03/06

TV Smith – “Misinformation Overload” (Boss Tuneage)

Tim Smith (Adverts) returns to the fold with his sharpest solo set yet. Recorded in England & Germany over the last 2 years, “Misinformation Overload” features long-standing stalwart Tim Cross on keys, Die Toten Hosen’s Vom Ritchie on drums & Happi Mueller on bass.

From the crashing opening bars of the LPs mission statement, “Good Times Are Back”, it’s soon apparent that Smith means business. The guitars dominate the mix, cavorting & pummelling the listener into a state of frenzied excitement. The sound is chunky & forceful: chugging riffs draped in distortion spill from the speakers. Melodic flourishes are kept to a minimum. Smith’s vocals dust the vibrating strings & thumped tubs with renewed conviction. He sounds positively alive, born again with all the vitality that made him such an important artist in the first place. The songs are invigorating, the arrangements taut, you can almost hear the collective muscles flexing.

“Not In My Name” (an anti Iraq War song we first heard Tim perform acoustically on a BBC Radio London show which prompted the show’s listeners to tele-vote TV a more important protest singer than Bob Dylan!) is rerecorded here & takes on a new life in its full group version. “Small Rewards” tugs at your conscience as well as your heartstrings:

“Millions are starving, But tonight let’s order in, And watch the happy stuff, Is that enough?”

“Second Class Citizens” explodes from the traps to jingle as it jangles through the fuzz atop a sprightly bass line:

“So we zipped our lips, We worked for tips, We aimed ever-lower but still missed, In this compassionate land, The helping hand, Shows you two fingers then a fist”

“Right Hands Rise” is my personal favourite here – a riff from rock & roll heaven that vibrates with all the seething anger of the righteous vibe of the lyric. Smith sneers the chorus:

“Who wants it? All the right hands rise, Who deserves it? All the right hands rise”

“Es Stort Mich Nicht” is sung entirely in German, illustrating Smith’s pan-European vision, solidarity with his band mates - & his admirable command of the German language! Haven’t got a clue what it’s about – but that’s not the point!

“Misinformation Overload” closes with the skanking “Carrying On” – a carnival of oil drum fired celebration - & the fact that TV Smith is still here after 30 years, making music as relevant & animated as this, is surely cause for celebration indeed. Welcome back, TV Smith!

Guy Debored – tMx 24 – 03/06

The Cherry Reds – “Boy Hero” (Positive Imapct)

For what we are about to receive: the debut LP from The Cherry Reds has been long time coming. Now it’s finally here it’s plain to hear – these boots were made for walking it like you talk it.

For the uninitiated: The Cherry Reds make 21st century Punk Rock: “Give ‘Em Enough Rope” era Clash x The Adverts x The Jam x SLF x early Manics x S*M*A*S*H = The Cherry Reds! They formed 10 years ago whilst still at school. Now – over 300 gigs later – they’re ready to take on the world.

First impressions: “Boy Hero” sure looks the part – polished, sharply dressed, tastefully packaged. It looks like an LP to treasure!

First play: The Cherry Reds continually evolving sound has reached an apex of maturity with “Boy Hero”. This is violently affecting rock & roll - riddled with passion – with no concessions to fashion. I’d (almost) given up on the prospect of hearing a British group deliver Punk Rock urgency of this calibre again convincingly. “Boy Hero” maintains the pressure throughout with its fluidity, insistent melodies, chant-drenched choruses & stunning guitars. The laser reads cut after cut as indispensable from the very first spin.

Highlights: The opening salvo of “Whole Lotta Hate”, “Beaten Broken Burdened” & “Sun Seemed To Shine” are hard to beat - or resist: The strongest 1-2-3 on a British rock & roll LP since “Up The Bracket”? Mmmm! Darker Theatre Of Hate-esque guitar shapes & splashes of electronica stain “In My Skin” & “Room 3”. “Villains” eerily questions our choice of role models & pertinently asks: who can we trust? “British Dream” & “Boy Hero” draw proceedings to a stunning finale. The former a stinging critique of nationalist pride picking up where Billy Bragg left off in the 80s, the latter the perfect summary of everything The Cherry Reds stand for: integrity, honesty, individuality, commitment, raw talent & attitude.

“Boy Hero” marks The Cherry Reds imminent promotion to the Doctor Martin’s Premier League of Punk rock & roll. Go get a copy. What the fuck? Get a pair. Lace ‘em up & watch ‘em stomp all over the competition. They’ll kick your head in, them Cherry Reds.

Serge “Bunsen” Burner – tMx 24 – 03/06

Errors – “How Clean Is You Acid House?” (Rock Action)

Scotland is producing more exciting music presently than the rest of the nation put together – and Glasgow’s Errors are making some of the finest music coming out of Scotland. Go figure.

“How Clean Is Your Acid House?” - a 5-track EP of Errors’ trademark early New Order doused in essence of Mogwai - is instrumental finery at its most adept. That should come as no surprise – it was recorded deep in the bowels of the Gwai’s Castle Of Doom recording studios under the watchful eyes/ears of John Cummings, after all.

“Mr Milk” yearns as it burns – music to take drugs to. There’s a naïve beauty to Errors that emanates from every note. “Terror Tricks” is further analogue fired proof that oscillates its way into your heart & refuses to budge. Sampled distended vocals fed through a vocoder & fragile guitar patterns only add to the overall prettiness of Errors’ aural sketches.

“Crew Cut” builds to a crescendo before jumping aboard a simple but ultimately effective bass-line all the way to the stunning guitar interlude. “Songos You Mongos” is the veritable icing on an already fanciful cake. Shuffling amiably into you ears at first, it bursts into life at 2:20 with joyful abandon & subtle complexity before suffering premature ejaculation a mere minute or so later.

Remarkably resonant stuff. This has been on repeat in the bunker, car, home – anywhere I lay my CD wallet – since date of purchase - & shows no sign of waning as I type. Errors are a joy to behold. A brilliant mistake.

Isidore Ajar – tMx 24 – 03/06

Pretty Girls Make Graves – “Élan Vital” (Matador)

Seattle’s PGMG follow up “The New Romance”, expanding both their ranks & their sound with the addition of keyboard player, Leona Mars. Despite production from in-form Colin Stewart (Black Mountain), it looks like the thesaurus at the pre-production meeting for “Élan Vital” got stuck open at ‘P’: ponderous, pretentious & - most unforgivably – progressive. Flatter than East Anglia, as intoxicating as strong black coffee & about as addictive as opium free heroin, “Élan Vital” is a chore from start to finish. PGMG’s 15 minutes is up. You know where the door is.

Asger Yawn – tMx 24 – 04/06

Neil’s Children – “Another Day” (White Heat)

Neil’s Children lit up the horizon briefly with “I Hate Models” & duly landed themselves a cameo roll as a Punk Rock group in last year’s BBC TV adaptation of “The Rotter’s Club”. In many ways, it’s all been downhill from there on in - & one of those descending pathways is new single, “Another Day” – in which our Clockwork Orange themed anti-heroes attempt to find a cure for their lack of mainstream success & end up finding The Cure instead. Woeful, comedic – ambition-by -numbers. Never work with animals or Neil’s Children.

Guy Debored – tMx 24 – 04/06

Sonny Vincent – “P.I.N.S” (NDN Records)

Sonny Vincent made his CBGB’s & Max’s Kansas City debuts fronting Testors back in the mid-70s. Regarded as ‘too punk rock’ by many of his more arty peers, Sonny has since fronted Shotgun Rationale, Model Prisoner, The Dons, Rat Race Choir, The Guevaras & The Extreme.

“P.I.N.S” (Person In Need Of Supervision) is blistering no-holds-barred punk rock & roll. Recorded with help from Captain Sensible, Brian James, Wayne Kramer, Richard Lloyd, Noodles Offspring, Bob Stinson, Scott “Rock Action” Asheton, Arthur Kane (RIP), Clem Burke, Rick Ballard & Scott Morgan, “P.I.N.S” is 14-cuts of uncompromising, unpolished Punk upholstery.

Complete with 3D artwork by the legendary Mad Marc Rude (RIP), 3D glasses, a 40-page booklet & a 26-track bonus disc, “Rarities, Roughs, Gems & Live Nuggets”, “P.I.N.S” is the perfect one-stop Sonny Vincent cache for both the uninitiated & die-hard fans alike.

Isidore Ajar – tMx 24 – 04/06

Masque – “Peacekeeper EP” (Topplers)

Further adventures in intelligent sonic terrorism from Glasgow’s uncompromising Masque. The “Peacekeeper” EP continues the groundwork laid down by 05’s Kango-fired debut EP. The cover artwork features B52s spreading the good word by way of dropping bible bombs on the under-developed nations of the world. The music features repetitive beats, brass bands, Bush samples, singing hillbillies, chatty US weapons operators, munitions explosions, mutant Scottish voices - & on the lo-fi protest folk of “Just Believe What You’re Told” - some of the most reactionary lyrical content since Crass:

“I was told it was Al-quaeda who blew up the twin towers & Saddam Hussein had WMD’s that could be launched in three quarters of an hour. Where did I get this information, from George Bush & Tony Blair, it was on every TV station & would they lie?“

Masque are fighting the good fight for all of us. They need your support. Man the barricades & chuck another Nazi on the fire.

Serge “Bunsen” Burner – tMx 24 – 03/06

The Buffets – “Saucy Jack” (Damaged Goods)

In much the same way as The Headcoatees brought the feminine side out of The Headcoats, The Buffets do likewise for The Buff Medways. Nurse Julie (bass & vocals) is reunited once again with her erstwhile fellow Stuck-Up, Sister Tiffany Lee Linnes (vocals & guitar), & propelled into action by Matron Bongo (drums & vocals).

“Saucy Jack” was completed with the kind of precision usually associated with covert military actions. Tiff flew in from Seattle on Sunday 3rd of April 2006. The Buffets had their first rehearsal that afternoon just after tea. The next day, Monday 4th April for continuity obsessives, The Buffets recorded “Saucy Jack”. On Tuesday April 5th the record was mixed & deemed duly appropriate. On Friday 8th April The Buffets played their debut & farewell gig simultaneously to a packed house at The Dirty Water Club. On Saturday 9th April Sister Tiff flew home, her work here complete.

“Saucy Jack” remains as a testament to that particularly hectic week - & as a succinct lesson in ‘getting things done with a minimum of fuss’ objectivity. “Troubled Mind”, “Sally Sensation”, “Lie Detector”, “Archive From 1959”, “Punk Rock Ist Nicht Tot”, “You Piss Me Off” & a whole host of Buff’s classics are performed with vim & vigour making The Buffets & “Saucy Jack” yet another valuable addition to the Childish cannon.

Michelle “Suit” Bernstein – tMx 24 – 03/06

Yeah Yeah Yeahs – “Gold Lion” (Fiction)

The pouting pearl of modern indie - Karen O -firmly places her self in the middle - vocally speaking - as though she is mediating a battle betwixt Alison Goldfrapp and Katie Jane Garside. The slowly punctuating percussion of Brian Chase provides a musical gap for the grinding guitars of amateur photographer Nick Zinner to slide into and rub off the back of Karen’s singing – thus proffering escapism in abundance.

The dreamy subject matter of this single brings the New Yorkers within the radio-friendly pop enclosure - to give them (possibly) - a wider appeal than they may have previously enjoyed.

Dave Adair – tMx 24 – 03/06

Shame Accademy – “Punk Rock For Dummies” (Combat Rock)

Subtitled, an “Introduction to Northern Ireland Punk Rock”, Shame Academy are none other than Brian Young (Rudi) - gtr, Greg Cowan (The Outcasts) - bass & Petesy Burns (Stalag 17) – drums.

“Punk Rock For Dummies” is a blistering collection of 12 studio cuts & a further 14 slices of live punk rockin’ action recorded ‘illegally’ at the “It Makes You Wanna Spit” book launch. Featuring sleeve notes by said book’s authors, Guy Trelford & Sean O’Neil, & high- octane versions of Rudi’s “Excitement”, “Time To Be Proud”, “The Pressure’s On”, “Big Time” & The Outcasts’ “Self Conscious Over You”, “Magnum Force”, “Seven Deadly Sins” alongside covers of “Teenager In Love”, “These Boots Were Made For Walking” & “I Wanna Be Your Dog”.

A timely reminder of just how vibrant & exciting the Northern Ireland Punk scene was. When everything had become predictable & formulaic in little England, it was the provinces that kept the true Punk home fires burning. As the 30th anniversary tribute retrospectives, glossy specials, talking heads sofas, pull out posters, Lilliput Lane miniature Roxy with accompanying Punk Rock figurines & remastered Sid Viscous dolls begin to flood the market place like Corgi Mark Bolan Minis your anything but average trakMARXist should bear that in mind.

Jean Encoule – tMx 24 – 03/06

The Knockouts – “D-Zug”/”El Problemo”/”Husband Material” (Topplers)

Luton’s hugely admirable Knockouts make instrumental surf trash of the highest order. This 3-tracker collects new versions of tunes that first appeared on the group’s superb “System One” LP.

Take a pinch of Blues Explosion (carefully wiping off the vocals), add a soupcon of Dave Greenfield, a dash of Link Wray, a hint of Beastie Boy’s instrumental irreverence & mix in a shed load of Punk Rockery & you’re just about there. Many a rapper would delight in dropping their rhymes over this kind of low-down & dirty grime.

The deal is sealed with the placement of a “PARENTAL ADVISORY EXPLICIT LYRICS” sticker on the cover of the rekkid. The Knockouts know how to put you on the canvas & make you smile as you hit the deck.

Guy Debored – tMx 24 – 03/06

The Heartwear Process – “Mean Season” (Velocity)

Reading’s Heartwear Process skank a positively roots feel with “Mean Season”, their debut for Velocity. Like the 22-20’s if they’d been raised on garage punk ska & not the blues, “Mean Season” shimmers with intent. The dusky vocals of Tom Purcell are shrouded in 60s intrigue & the group’s 3 guitar attack provides that ‘Nuggets’ authenticity. The Heartwear Process deserve a suitable artery for their endeavours & are well worthy of both your attention & your time.

Asger Yawn – tMx 24 – 03/06

The Immediate – “make our devils FLOW EP” (Fantastic Plastic)

The Immediate hail from Dublin & have a keen interest in 60s kook: VU, Love, Brel, Walker & Gainsbourg (Serge, not Bobby, you understand?). Not that you’d notice. Lead track “Don’t You Ever” is punchy indie-by-numbers with a reasonably forceful chorus - but little other substance to make you press the repeat function. Elsewhere, “A Ghost In This House” is slightly more interesting: haunting, brooding, longing, etc. Meanwhile “Tomorrow’s Zero” & “This Mirror In The Hall” (even the group sound bored by this stage) slip by in a fog of ennui & I’m reaching for the thesaurus to find another word for generic (sorry, can’t be arsed). Note to The Immediate (do you like the Small Faces too?): instead of swapping instruments, why not swap jobs.

Michelle “Suit” Bernstein – tMx 24 – 03/06

Duels – “Animal” (Nude)

Twitchy backing and prodding vocals that shake hands with Marc Bolan helps this terse offering take off. This Yorkshire quintet sprinkle catchy and provocative nuances of ‘new wave’ into the mix to boot. The nub of the number is the lurid repetition of the chorus:

“Me animal, you animal.”

There is something to be said for the back-to-basics catchiness that flow from Jon’s lofty vocals. Duels are proving to be a match for any down-tempo indie crew out there today.

Dave Adair – tMx 24 – 03/06

Jeremy Warmsley – “Other People’s Secret’s EP” (Transgressive)

Apparently, Jeremy recorded this in his bedroom. If that’s true, Jeremy must have one fuck off bedroom. Orchestral-electronica, says the press release. While that might possibly be true of the lead cut, “Dirty Blue Jeans” – a marginally engaging exercise in taking a fairly basic song structure & over egging it to create the effect of implied eclecticism – “I Knew Her Face Was A Lie” sounds like a Freddie Mercury home demo for a solo LP that never saw the light of day, “Jonathon & The Oak Tree” sounds like Nick Drake having a pop at being Dean Friedman (featuring a massage from the Swedish prime minister on percussion), “Modern Children” sounds like Gary Numan & “Hush” is a bloody good idea. Shut the fuck up, Jeremy. Take the plums out of your mouth. Stop referring to Abbey Road as your bedroom & make your way back to your Classic 70s Songwriter classes this instant.

Serge “Bunson” Burner – tMx 24 – 03/06

Brakes – “All Night Disco Party” (Rough Trade)

With news of Eamon Hamilton vacating the British Sea Power camp still sinking in with their fan base, he softens the blow by transforming his vocals to an almost robotic style and ploughs them into this crunching party inducer. This is done with help from a flighty band that grew out of his early solo acoustic days. The mesmerizing accompaniment provided by members of Electric Soft Parade wanders off from a solid rock base to add some spacey quirkiness.

The Kahuna remix of “All Night Disco Party” covers the song with slowly throbbing beats to proffer an almost ambient feel. Eamon does not seem to be looking back as he confidently strides into new territory with the help from a seriously talented backing outfit.

Dave Adair – tMx 24 – 03/06

The Rafle Band – “Women Of Japan” (Skint)

Is that the same Skint that shoved Fatboy Slim down our throats? Checks CD case. Brighton? Affirmative. Glad to see they’ve given up jumping bandwagons.

The Ralfe Band? I could Mactell it was gonna sound like this (arf, arf). Apparently The Ralfe Band are comprehensively not Ralph Little’s side-project, which is a shame. “Women Of Japan” is self-consciously plinkity-plonkity fayre – all cowbells, wonky strumming & off-key yodelling - that wants to be Syd Barrett fronting The Band when it grows up. The Ralfe Band are desperate to be seen as authentic. Dreams of living in a large pink house & hanging out with students from Cambridge University is possibly all that keeps The Ralfe Band from suicide. Mojo love it, Music Week love it – hell, even the guy from the Mighty Boosh loves it! Which are three very pertinent reasons for all good trakMARXists to avoid this like the pox.

Give it up, boys. Life’s too short - & as all good cliché ridden chancers know - Tom waits for no man.

Guy Debored – tMx 24 – 03/06

Ludes – “The Dark Art Of Happiness” (Double Dragon)

When Ludes first strolled onto the scene a few years hence, unleashing their brand of slightly paranoid post-mod-indie, supporting the likes of Future Kings of Spain and The Others, you felt that they were very much a band of the times. On the brink of their debut album, however, this fickle industry has already moved on.

Nonetheless, Ludes have pressed on regardless - & on opener ‘Badlands’, they begin with disgruntled pungency, incorporating roasted guitars that give pulsation to the commencement. From there on in, sadly, they don’t really expand on this - and by the fourth track (‘Sailor Boy’) the riffs are beginning to sound a tad lazy. Things do pick up again halfway through - when the poetically lolloping piano led ‘Mr. Benson’ sees David Ashby’s normally gritty vocals take on a more polished and soulful approach – but the overall vibe is distinctly lacklustre.

Ludes suddenly get bold on 'Free' - and add a sliver of free-styling funk to the mix - a slow bluesy vice grips Ashby’s vocal and refuses to let go. Things are starting to get interesting now - and Ludes are beginning to show the adventure they hinted at when they first arrived on the scene. The ska/country coated ‘Luckiest Theatre’ has a certain Zutons instrumental spark to it - and illuminates an empirical side to this London quintet. Their one-time standout track - the growling garage rock of ‘Dog Don’t Bark’ - seems to have lost it’s snap in this full-length setting, however, and the album quickly peters out like Jordan’s husband falling down a bottomless well.

You get the feeling that Ludes are still growing and do ooze potential, it’s just a pity this promise is only realised in snatches on this patchy debut offering.

Dave Adair – tMx 24 – 04/06

Sliced Peach – “Spellbound” (promo)

Sliced Peach are both total pop & totally pop-tastic. “Spellbound” is crammed with infectious melody, boundless energy & just the right amount of youthful exuberance. As yet unsigned, but championed by such luminaries as Radio 1’s Rob Da Bank, world domination is surely only 4 signatures & 1 dotted line away. “Spellbound” deserves to be all over the radio like nervous eczema.

Jean Ecoule – tMx 24 – 04/06

The Vichy Government – “Carrion Camping” (Filthy Little Angels)

We all know that everyone’s 1st LP is their best - so here’s The Vichy Government’s. Mostly recorded in 2003 before the success afforded them by their inclusion on Angular’s seminal “Rip Off Yr Labels” comp, “Carrion Camping” is a poisonous cacophony of unabridged bitterness - & that’s exactly why I like it. The Vichy Government’s laptop fired backing tracks may be as minimal as their lyrical content is contentious - but their humour is blacker than decker - & their cause is just.

“I Control Discourse”, “The Protestant Work Ethic 2”, “Make Love To The Camera” & “Orange Disorder” are way more vicious than a Darkness sized bank of Marshals fronted by a phalanx of faceless big-haired clones. The Vichy Government’s poetic realism gives them licence to do whatever they see fit. If I was you, I wouldn’t argue with them. Not if you value your kneecaps.

Michelle “Suit” Bernstein

Yes Boss – “Get Dropped Quick” (Dance To The Radio)

It’s grim(e) up North - & Yes Boss are suitably grimy. Beats & rhymes from where The Streets have no name.

“Get Dropped Quick” de-mystifies the gangs of New Yorkshire work ethic to hilarious effect. The label’s onto the next hot shit - & you’re cleaning toilets. MC Noah & Gavin Lawson are predicting a riot at their local job centre.

Time to jump bandwagons if you’re going to avoid the inevitable.

Serge “Bunsen” Burner – tMx 24 – 04/04

Kill The Young – “Addiction” (Discograph)

Kill The Young sound nothing like you’d imagine them to from their moniker. Or the press release, for that matter. They grew up in the suburbs of Manchester, screams the hyperbole. Like, wow! They sound like Sonic Youth, Smashing Pumpkins, Echo & The Bunnymen & Magazine. Oh good, I like them – apart from Smashing Pumpkins & Echo & his Bunnypeople, obviously. What else has the press release got to say to entice me further:

“They’re everything Idlewild were, & Muse tried to be, but without the cushioned upbringing” – blurts The Fly.

Now I understand (slips disc into CD player). Here’s my alternative press release based on investigative journalism:

Kill The Young chose their name cos they thought it was dangerous, wicked & made them look hard. They were picked up by some dodgy French label cos one of their dads owed the geezer a ton of dosh. They grew up in three very nice houses in the stockbroker belt of Cheshire. Their favourite TV show is Footballer’s Wives. Their influences include Busted & Fightstar. Their record sounds like an accident involving Busted, Fightstar, an expensive multi-track recording studio & a jack-knifed ambition tanker. Thanks – but fuck off.

Asger Yawn – tMx 24 – 03/06

The Human Value – “Give Me” (Big Deal Records)

The new wave, new wave crave is marching to the UK and the potential leaders of it, America’s The Human Value, capture a buzzing sound and shake it like it’s a poor man’s money box to produce Blondie-eqsue provocation and XTC style eccentric frivolity. The crawling vocal approach of Turu has a mechanical effect and effortlessly turns the wheels of this satisfying grinder of an A- side.

The hollow percussive build up to B-side – “Nashville #5” - helps set a nostalgic feel that throws matters into a reflective vortex of which throbbing instrumentals are the centrepiece. There is a lustful hunger that trickles through Turu’s stammering vocals - lifting the number’s quaintness to a catchy high ground.

The vocals take a delightful turn towards the Katie Jane Garside bedside-manner during the salacious glam/punk melting pot of “She” - and keeps this purring first single bubbling throughout its entirety.

Dave Adair – tMx 24 – 03/06

Bib – “I Want To Be Better” (dogbox)

Bib weld New Order to the Pet Shop Boys with admirable results. “I Wanna Be Better” is pristine pop – shiny, bouncy & rather clever really. Wafts of Yazoo & early Depeche Mode emanate from the speakers defiantly in defence of pure pop for now people. This is what our radio stations need. In spades. Another winner from those saucy dogbox types.

Download only from:

Isidore Ajar – tMx 24 – 03/06

Killing Joke – “Hosannas From The Basements of Hell” (Cooking Vinyl)

These grizzly grunge metallers are fronted by the eccentric Jaz Coleman, whose vocals saddle the eerily frantic bass lines and punching guitars to ride through the murky depths of the depraved mind on “Hosannas from the Basement”. They have always been one of the most palatable bands of their ilk over the years - mainly for their crunching instrumentals that shudder you into alertness. Killing Joke seem adept at keeping just the right side of deranged depravity in order to haunt the mainstream and will continue to do so for many years, it would seem.

Dave Adair – tMx 24 – 03/06

Piranha Deathray – “The Rising” (dogbox)

Mining a comparable seam to the glorious Luxembourg, Piranha Death Ray glam it up like there’s no tomorrow’s world. “The Rising” glitters like Marc Bolan’s forehead under the harsh light of a 1kw parcan. Sweat gets in your eyes. It’s all over that quickly that all you can do is put it on again – slip your thumbs inside your belt loops - & do the Mud shuffle.

Download only from:

Michelle “Suit” Bernstein – tMx 24 – 03/06

Dirty Pretty Things – “Bang Bang Your Dead” (Vertigo Records)

Hammering bass lines and sodden vocals signal the collaboration of Carl Barat and Didz Hammond (The Cooper Temple Clause). This single is punchy Rock ‘n’ Roll - incorporating a vocal nod to ‘Can’t Stand Me Now’ by Carl’s former band (Yeah, who were they again? - Sarcasm Ed). This offering is brazen and clanging enough to capture the attention and go someway towards justifying all the sold out shows the band are in the middle of performing.

Dave Adair – tMx 24 – 03/06

Ultrafoetus – “EP1” (Valentine)

Manchester’s Ultrafoetus is essentially Buzz – one man & an orchestra of laptops. Mixing influences as diverse as Hunter S Thompson, William S Burroughs, Antipop & The Cramps, Ultrafoetus make alluring cut & paste random noise shot through with funktastic groovery. “Extra Words For Matt” brings you “The Message” in German - ain’t no Kraut about it. “We Went To A Goddam Movie” strokes it’s chin & flicks popcorn from the back. “Dirty Gurgles” comes on like DJ Shadow shagging the Aphex Twin in a flotation tank. The Shadowy interface continues apace on the EP’s standout cut, “When Were You I”, 7 minutes plus of atmospheric noodling riddled with acidic bass drops. Nice gear, man.

Isidore Ajar – tMx 24 – 04/06

Koufax – “Why Bother At All EP” (Rubworks)

Flighty and uprising piano led new wave with a political bent introduced via tersely delivered and caustic lyrics propelled via a yearning Doors/International Noise Conspiracy/Orson skirting title track. The engaging bemusement continues through the slow booming ‘Call The Cops’ - displaying singer Robert Suchan’s punchy and heartfelt cry in all its croakily commanding finery.

A Joel Pott vocal interlude gives the more universal subject matter of ‘Loveless Meredith’ a kick - and it enables Suchan to reach out and grab the listener. The piano slows down to toe tap along with a love-struck ode that pangs with regret and doubt. Detroit’s Koufax command respect for their emotion laden bite - they use it to devastating effect to grip each and every offering on this four track EP.

Dave Adair – tMx 24 – 03/06

The Spells/Rocket Uppercut – Singles Club EP1 (Leaving Home)

Aberystwyth’s Spells cast their kinky shapes in the form of “Witness” & “Spells”. Despite some intriguing guitar work & some excellent jingles & jangles along the way, they are ultimately let down by weak Sarah Records-esque vocals & can therefore be labelled generic indie & logged immediately into the round file. Which is a shame.

Germany’s Rocket Uppercut, meanwhile, fair slightly better by comparison, with their altogether more muscular take on generic Scandinavian Punk Pop. “The Arrival” & “Smashing On Love” are both perfectly serviceable, the latter definitely having the edge & the dubious honour of being the best cut on a disappointing EP, but overall this is crushingly ordinary fayre.

Guy Debored – tMx 24 – 04/06

Black Ramps – “Saucer Crash” (STR8 2 TAPE Records)

Soaring Pixies-esque spirited jamming and bemused vocals build to a tersely repeated chorus harking back to the 70s two-minute-whirlpool effect:

“She’s a big girl now, she knows what she is doing.”

This lo-fi offering is simple indie rock n roll as it should be; punchy, surprisingly meaningful and well strung together. Basic chord structures stop the guitars taking over and keep proceedings on a tight rein in order to steer this exercise in rattling simplicity safely into the instantly catchy zone.

Timeout is taken during ‘Speak & Destroy’ to toy with emotions - singer Warren’s vocals evoke a laid back/crisp feel. This helps Black Ramps occupy the stirring and dusty end of the indie market with the stubbornness of a squatter alongside their vastly underrated contemporaries The Mendoza Line. This three-track exposure of raw, honest emotion looks set to continue the momentum gained by their ‘Shark Attack’ EP. With Radio 1’s Steve Lamacq and Claire Sturgess of XFM already onside, the Black Ramps are slowly building a formidable case for some kind of domination or another.

Dave Adair – tMx 24 – 03/06

The Ape Drape Escape – “They Filled Bag With Laughs, Threw It In The River”/“200 Angry Bikers” (The Laundrette Recording Company)

This. Lot. Rock. And. Roll. The Ape Drape Escape are a sextet from Sheffield who would doubtless kick the shit out of the Icelandic Monkey’s if they saw them down the pub. “They Filled Bag With Laughs, Threw It In The River” welds Metal Urbain to the 80s Matchbox B-Line Disaster, dispensing with the comedy mock-horror make-up, House Of Hammer props & missing tuneage along the way. Very loud guitars fight squelching electronics, a lone saxophone parps away in the background, above it all punchy vocals dominate. “200 Angry Bikers” is more of the same – but this time covered in cider, oil & black leather (& possibly smoking roll-ups). The Ape Drape Escape are the future, your future.

Isidore Ajar – tMx 24 – 04/06

Morrissey – “Ringleader of the Tormentors” (Attack)

The modern day Philip Larkin of Manchester wastes no time in employing a chugging accompaniment and his trademark yearning vocals to convey the searching of life’s darker corners for opener ‘I Will See You In Far Off Places’. The Mozallini’s appetite for self-analytical lyrical motifs is as voracious as ever - yet the way he varies the subtle elements of his tone to fit the variety of accompaniments on this album makes his work eerily compelling. This diversity is aptly illustrated by the slow and mournful nature of ‘Dear God, Please Help Me’ and the buoyant strains of lead single ‘You Have Killed Me’.

Morrissey recently revealed that he’d turned down a lucrative deal to reform the Smiths for the American arena. Why would he need to do that when he can produce the same ‘downtrodden music with an uplifting vocal kick’ all on his own? 20-odd years down the line, our Mozzer continues to scatter bleakness around as though it were confetti. A fact ‘The Youngest Was The Most Loved’ spells out with the power, grit and snap:

“There is no such thing as normal.”

As with the aforementioned Smiths, Mozzer continues to surround himself with a bevy of broadly talented musicians who know just how to build adequate foundations for his slightly outrageous yet heartfelt song-writing skills. With help from storm cloud effects and thundering percussion during ‘Life Is A Pigsty’ - the working class Salford boy takes the listener on a 7-minute plus journey through life’s downpour - and you get the distinct impression he’s enjoying the stroll.

Like it or not - & maybe he’d prefer the latter - but the Mozallini is not going to fizzle out in the hail of nostalgia many Smiths fans would sell their collection of New Order bootlegs to witness. This may be his finest solo hour.

Dave Adair – tMx 24 – 03/06

tMx 24 – 05/06
Contact: - We're All Addicted To Something