The Crackle Of Debris
Or a Mix CD as a basis for a reviews column. Again.
Ring A Ding Ding - Brakes

Man, I used to love Clinic. What have they been up to recently? Are they still together? You know I have this thought that last yearís Winchester Cathedral was a disappointment, but Iím not even sure why I think that. I guess I just didnít play it that much, which is really criminal. These things happen when people send you free stuff though; all the things you buy often get left behind and are criminally ignored. So thatís one of my tasks for the week ahead: check back with Winchester Cathedral and remember the genius of Clinic. But why all this talk of Clinic anyway when this cut is by Brakes? Well, hell, if this track isnít like a great lost Clinic track then, uh, Iím something I clearly could never be. That itís also sounding like a great lost Roxy Music single is also to its credit. Now I didnít fully catch up with Brakesí Give Blood album of the summer, but on this evidence Iím going to make amends post haste and I suggest you do the same. Oh you already did? Iím sorry, Iím just slow. And for the connection spotters thereís links here to British Sea Power, Electric Soft Parade, The Tenderfoot, and from thence to Blind Cowboys, Monster Bobby, Pipettes, and no doubt a heap more of Brightonís brightest and best. The single is out on October 17th but this lead track is on the album, so youíve already heard it. Iíll move on.

Good Luck Charm - California Oranges

Fuzzy fast guitar pop courtesy of a bunch of what I assume are Californians. Theyíre probably not really oranges though. I donít think oranges can play guitar, though it never stopped the raisins. But maybe they were just a vocal group? Whatever, Iíve lost the press release on this, so all I can tell you is that this is from the Souvenir album on Darla and thatís itís fun throwaway Instant Indie Rock/Pop and none the worse for that. Velocity Girl Lite. Or something.

Out Of Zone - Marbles

Iím losing press releases all over the place (no jokes about losing my Marbles too, please) so I canít tell you lots of interesting facts about Marbles. Instead youíll have to make do with the fact that this comes from the brilliant Expo album for Fargo records; an exuberant 25 minute Pop gem that glistens and glows just like Pop gems are meant to. Iím instantly reminded of the best of Russian Futurists, which is most likely because Marbles play a sweet Brian Wilson-esque game whilst flirting with Ď80s synthpop. And yikes, I discover suddenly that Marbles is in fact the solo project of Apples In Stereoís Robert Schneider, and that Expo was engineered by oft-times Wilson worker Mark Linett. Which explains a lot. So Marbles: Robotic Madcap West Coast Soft Synthpop. Possibly.

A Man Of No Importance - Cherubs

Now, youíve got your Franz and youíve got your Maximos and youíve got your whosits and whatnotís in their thrift store suits and shabby ties. So what chance another bunch of spiky guitar shod chancers breaking into the Pop Charts and the hearts of teenage oiks the land over? Probably pretty good, I expect, and if so then they could do a lot worse that opt for The Cherubs. That they sound like a crew of manic Suedeheads partially in love with the ghosts of The Chameleons is to their credit, but not as much as the fact that they would probably have to ask their parents who the hell The Chameleons even were. And by that I mean they are probably young enough to be just out of my Year 11 class, not that The Chameleons arenít worthy of investigation. Just in case you were wondering. This is a single, incidentally, and if itís been all over the radio and the music papers already then please feel to ignore all Iíve just written and to laugh openly and at length. Because yes, I am an Old Fart who is totally Out Of Touch.

Smart Guys Wear Ties - Mistyís Big Adventure

And Yay! too for Mistyís Big Adventure and this cut from their The Black Hole album for SL Records. This is kind of like Wire frolicking with The Nightingales under the floodlights of St Jamesí Park on a frosty Monday night watching Yuri Geller bend his spoons to an audience of twelve year old kids with ASBOs, whilst Michael Jackson eats babies in the shadows. Yep, that good.

Memorize The City - The Organ

This has been on every mix CD Iíve made since the start of summer and has been my constant companion for what seems like such an age that it already feels like one of my most treasured long term friends. Which makes the fact that itís still not been officially released here as a single even more frustrating. But wooo! Just imagine what a treat you all have coming your way when it does hit the ground! And believe me, it will hit the ground running so hard youíd better watch yourselves, cos this baby ainít stopping until itís bust open the Big Pop Charts and has made The Organ the starlets they fully deserve to be. Picture The Bangles in love with feisty Ď80s indiepop, or Jesse Garon And The Desperadoes as an all-girl troupe of glamorous post-Goth Beat Subterraneans hanging out in the Beat Hotel. Genius. Total. Fucking. Genius.

Mind Blindness - Dirty On Purpose

Thereís a lovely promo film to accompany this track from the Sleep Late For A Better Tomorrow EP that has shyly dancing indiekids slyly making out in a club. Itís ace. That the track is only marginally less seductive and special without the visuals is of course to itís credit, and as a result I have New Yorkís fabulously named Dirty On Purpose marked out as Ones To Watch in the realm of post-dreampop guitar driven symphonies of pretty post-teenage angst. Oh, to be nineteen again and in love with floppy fringes and the magic of gentle psychedelia.

I'm Really Sorry - Loveninjas

So, now, the return of sweet Swedish Pop in the form of Loveninjas and this lead cut from their summer CDR EP release on the Canadian based Humblebee label (some time home of the gorgeous Diskettes). Think the phased vocals and furry guitars of peers The Legends and South Ambulance blending with the electro EuroPop of Le Sport and youíre getting close. Two and three quarter minutes of infectious sunbursting lunacy that goes on about cutting off arms and legs and heads. What more could you possibly ask for?

Cry For Me - Fool

This monthís reissue gem comes courtesy of Rev-Ola and this bunch of late Ď60s madcap psychedelic peddlers. Anarchistic artists from Amsterdam fuelled as much by the spirit of the Situationists as by Emmett Grogan and The Diggers out in San Francisco, this troupe of psych-artists are maybe best known for the visuals that graced the likes of the Apple Boutique in Baker Street and the surface of Lennonís infamous psychedelic Bentley, but in 1968 they also recorded an album for Mercury records. Produced by Graham Nash, itís a naturally strange period piece that now sounds rather quaint and charming, and is all the better for that. Excellent sleeve notes by Stefan Granados and Boudewijn de Kadt, who supplies a brief but intriguing potted history of the Amsterdam art gang The Provocateurs. Good stuff.
Fools Life - Dr. Dog

Donít you just love the link there? From The Fool to ĎFoolís Lifeí. Cool, huh? I should programme for Radio One. Or not. Anyway, this cut comes from the Rough Trade release of the Easybeat album from Philadelphia based Dr Dog. Many reviewers seem to have bandied about the term ĎBeatlesesqueí to describe this set, but theyíd all just be wrong (and lazy fuckers, to boot) because this record is WAY better than anything the flab four ever produced. And anyway, I donít hear it. I especially donít hear it on this track, which to my mind is more of a big Beefhearted clamour thatís too stoned to stand. Recommended for lovers of scuffed country rockíníroll with a bruised and battered heart.

Thaumaturgy - The Orchids

Admittedly, this doesnít flow too well after the Dr Dog track, but think of this as track one, side two. Youíve had a few moments of quiet whilst youíve flipped the tape over and rewinded it to the start. Youíve had time to come down, and what better way to continue that come down than to ease into this gem from The Orchids. Originally released as a single on the under-valued cult label Sarah back in September of 1992. That makes it thirteen years old (yeah, I can do the math!). Way to make a guy feel old. Regardless, though, this remains one of the finest of The Orchids many fine singles, being languid and alluring, like one of Mickey Spillaneís femme fatales seducing Mike Hammer with their oh-so-obvious guiles. And just as Hammer could never resist, neither can I. This makes my nerves tingle every bit as much today as it ever did, and thatís really saying something. Itís thanks to the fine LTM label then for salvaging this as part of their three CD operation that brings together the complete Orchids collection (including the ultra-collectable 7Ē on Bob Stanleyís Caff label). All three are essential investments. Extra encouragement to buy can be found here.

Accordination - Uter

I saw Uter perform recently in Glasgow as part of the Plan B all day event at Mono, and they were a revelation. Hypnotic and with machine-like melodies beaming in from heaven, they took my breath away and crystallised it in the cool night air. They reminded me of Simple Minds when they werenít bombastic and mired in ego-centricity (and okay, perhaps they always were, but they didnít always SOUND like they were), and this track sounds to me for all the world like it could be an out-take from their Sons And Fascination / Sister Feelings Call era. And if you donít believe thatís mighty praise indeed, then you need to re-educate yourself. They opened for The Organ last year, apparently, which would have been a fantastic show, and really, like The Organ, Uter recycle an Ď80s aesthetic for a new century with an inventiveness and awareness thatís refreshing and mesmerising. Watch them fly.

Firefly And Me - Motodestra

This eponymous album has been sitting around unplayed for ages, which is a real shame because itís really very good and would have sounded delicious on hot summer afternoons with little to do. Now the cold has set in and I have next to no time to call my own, it still sounds rather fine and does its best to bring me down from my heights of school week stress. Like Durutti Column meets Deebank whilst gazing out at July Skies, this is an album of elegant instrumental charm. Quietly substantial.
The Velvet Cell - Gravenhurst

Itís always exciting to have a new Gravenhurst record to look forward to, and with the October release of the Fires In Distant Buildings album, we have a great deal to anticipate, particularly if this single is anything to go by (and it is! It most assuredly is!). This record sees Gravenhurst flesh out and harden in sound whilst still retaining the oh so invaluable tension that rests in Nick Talbotís deceptively quiet and gentle voice. ďTo understand the killer, I must become the killerĒ he intones over a motorik rhythm thatís pitch black Stereolab Noir. Itís hypnotic and eerie and a richly rewarding listening experience, and the same applies to the rest of the album. In other summer mixes Iíve been dropping in the album closer cover of The Kinks great sweet brit-psych-pop masterpiece ĎSee My Friendsí and if I had the time Iíd have included it again on this mix. As Iíve said before, for me it has always been to Daviesí darkly imagineered evocations of a mythic England that Gravenhurst have most obviously nodded, and as such itís great to see them make the connection concrete; just as itís also great to see them take the song and extend and expand it into a nine minute PsychNoir masterpiece that revolves in swirls into the black sun. If Fires In Distant Buildings isnít universally heralded as one of the yearís masterpieces, then there truly is no justice.

The Cinders Spread - Leave Land For Water

Now the first time I became aware of Gravenhurst was at a show in the Cavern where Nick Talbot attempted to play some quiet songs as support to the then Sink And Stove signed Chikinki. With a fucked up PA, he stormed off after barely a couple of songs, but it was enough for me to know that here was the spark of something special. Gravenhurst too had a track on the first Sink And Stove compilation, which makes for a neat segue into this track from Leave Land For Water, which is from their debut EP for the Bristol label. With echoes of a Sea and Cake filtered through Pavement Pixies, this starts off as a whisper in the ears of cracked porcelain angles before stretching out into a languorous yawn and ultimately to a cacophonous helter skelter of murderous intent. Certainly ones to watch.

The Crackle Of Debris - Occasional keepers

Downshifting to a slower tempo now, courtesy of this cut from The Beauty Of The Empty Vessel Set on LTM. Keen eared listeners will hear a familiar voice here in the form of former Field Mice / Northern Picture Library and current Trembling Blue Stars vocalist Bobby Wratten, and for this project he joins former members of The Wake (Caesar and Carolyn Allen) to make an album of intriguing and often magical avant-pop. And whilst on this track Bobbyís forlorn and heart broken voice trails an impressionistic tale of endings and their crumbling after effects, elsewhere things are harder to pin down, with sound experiments in texture and light coalescing around crystalline guitars and pitter patter drum machines. Itís telling too that in the sleeve notes Wratton is credited not only with vocals, but also ďradio and field recordingsĒ whilst elsewhere the notes state that ďall distortion, clicks, glitches and crackles are intentionalĒ. And really this whole album is, as the title suggests, a study in minimalism that veers from the abstract to the figurative in accomplished sweeps. Itís the soundtrack to a stroll through a lighthouse gallery, taking in works by Dan Flavin, Georgio Morandi, James Turrell and Mark Rothko along the way. Esoteric, elegiac and essential.

Static Song - Paris Motel

I know little of Paris Motel aside from the fact that they seem to be mostly a vehicle for the glorious voice of Amy May and the fact that I love this 071 EP (on Hotel Records) to bits. On a previous mix I included the title track with its hypnotic refrain of Ď071, 71, 71í etc and it quickly became one of those tracks for which I would always hit Ďrepeatí as it ended. That this cut is every bit as good says something about the wealth of quality across all six tracks on the disc. With lushly minimal orchestration and Amyís delicious voice wafting over the air, Paris Motel remind me a lot of the great Whistler who made one terrific eponymous album (including the classic ĎRare American Shoesí single) for Wiija back in 1998/99, and if Amyís voice occasionally too recalls no less a reference than Kirsty MacColl then thatís surely too all for the good. Well worth tracking down.

Tiny Teeth - Colin Clary

This one comes from the Sweater Weather Or Not, These Are The Songs I Got album on the excellent Asaurus label (home of Pants Yell! amongst other), and comes in the Best Sleeve Ever! Or for this week at the very least. Itís a handmade felt sweater with a shirt inner sleeve made of cardÖ in the breast pocket of which is a little info sheet. Oh, and pinned to the felt sweater is a little badge that has the album title. Itís super sweet. The album is super sweet too, which is probably unsurprising coming from someone who is also in a band called The Smittens. But like The Smittens, this record rules, in the way that sherbert dips and freewheeling down hills with your feet off the pedals rules. And if you donít understand that then for sure youíll hate this record. Go play with your Kaiser Chiefs instead. Anyway, this track is my own personal favourite, being all pared back and beautifully sparse, like those early Elliott Smith albums maybe, or Folk Implosion at their softest.

Stupid, I Loved You So - The Amazing Pilots

Oh and I did, I truly did. But you just never knew it. Because I never even told youÖ Ahem, yes, anyway, what a great song title, and what a richly dark and downbeat song to go with it. From the Hello My Captor album on the Dťcor label, this sees Coleraine brothers Paul and Phil Wilkinson emerge largely triumphant (if not entirely unscathed) from previous label hell (Easy! Tiger going belly up just before the planned release of their first single) with a fine set that mixes West Coast inflected Pop with alt-country tinges to fine effect. Certainly worth a spin around the block at least once.

Born In The '70s - Fruit Bats

And finally, our mix closer sees Sub Pop in Ďweíve found another Shinsí shock! And yeah, I know thatís a cheap and easy shot, but the similarities really are too obvious to resist, and anyway, there are a whole lot worse comparisons to find yourself locked into. So whilst we twiddle our thumbs and wait patiently for new Shins product, here are Fruit Bats with their Spelled In Bones record, and really, thinking about it too, I should probably retract those Shins comments because Fruit Bats have been around every bit as long as their label mates and have shared stages with them in the years gone by. And really too this album is nearly as delicious in its way as parts of Shutes Too Narrow or Oh Inverted World, and this track is just one of many delights. And as befits a song with such a title, there are handclaps! There are slide guitars! There are moments of Bee Gees falsettos! And Eagles acoustic country strums! Classy.

© 2005 Alistair Fitchett