Tuesday, November 30, 2010

MV : "November Starlings" by Trembling Blue Stars

I did get the new (last?) Trembling Blue Stars album today, going back to 2007's album however and we have this lovely song (and video).

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Charlottes - liar - the best of

Formed in 1988 The Charlottes were a female fronted indie rock band which created quite a stir in the 3 short years they were in existence. They fitted in between post-C86 girl-fronted pop bands and shoegazing with a look that maybe fitted with the former though sonically had much more in common with the latter with their guitar heavy melodies and a heavier beat.

This collects together much of their discography which only consisted of a couple of albums and a few EPs but their legacy is sound. "Liar" is the sub-title of the album of course and is their best and best known track. A hard and heavy indie noise song with female vocals that sometimes get lost a bit in the noise but never are defeated for long. A song that sums up The Charlottes in general to be honest.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sea Dweller - love is coming

I love the internet, it allows one to discover and get music from bands that in previous pre-connected days you may never have known existed, like Sea Dweller a shoegazing band from Rome. This album collects together 2 of their earlier EPs into one solid album of dreampop noise.

Sea Dweller can be loud, such as on "Every inch" with its soaring guitars and even louder as on "She whispers" with its sonic attack. This album has a chunky beat too that sounds wonderful hammering through your speakers (and then through your ear drums). There is a delicate edge and some great pop moments too even an 80s-ish feel to some songs at times. This album is a winner. Bellisima!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Field Mice - the Autumn store EP

Early-ish on in Sarah Records history came this EP split over 2 parts (and 2 7" singles) that presented some of the best pop singles by The Field Mice. The quality of the 5 songs is just incredible. "The World To Me" for example with its infectious fast beat and chorus is pop gold.

"Song Six" is also high-tempo but with very potent lyrics about how some men treat women. "If you need someone" is a beautiful jangly pop song with its yearning vocals. "Anyone else isn't you" is a classic sad slow C86 pop nugget. Some bands would be happy to release just 1 song of this quality never mind this many in 1 go. There is many reasons the Field Mice are called one of the best bands on Sarah and this EP has 5 of them.

Also have to love the cover design of the 2 singles, a simple geometric design which (intentionally?) reminds us of a mouse!

MV : "Helen Reddy" by the Trembling Blue Stars

Forged from the ashes of the Field Mice and Northern Picture Library (and including at various times Keris from Brighter, Harvey Williams and Beth from Aberdeen) the Trembling Blue Stars is the ultimate post-Sarah band. New (and possibly last) album out tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Yoko Tsuno 3 : The Prey and the Ghost

Yoko Tsuno is a young Japanese woman who, like many people in the comicverse, always seems to have a knack of getting into trouble or being in the right time and place to get involved with a new adventure...

The first 2 books in the Yoko Tsuno i found a little difficult to get into because of the fantasical themes including aliens, time travel, cloning et cetera which stretched credibility a little far for a story which is drawn and written like a classic children's or young person's adventure. However this book is a (fairly) straight forward mystery adventure in a haunted Scottish castle and is very enjoyable indeed.

Its maybe a little unfair to criticise the earlier books in this way because the theme of most Yoko Tsuno books tends to be science fiction or fantasy but i felt this story worked a lot better than the first 2 released by Cinebook.

When she almost runs down a girl running seemingly for her life Yoko is drawn into an adventure that involves mysterious deaths, ghosts and strange goings on. As the adventure draws on Yoko finds she maybe isn't in a ghost story after all but maybe something that is more Earthly yet also more deadly.

Yoko Tsuno by Roger Leloup is a beautifully drawn comic strip and this issue has an engaging and interesting story which brings to mind classic mystery dramas especially those set in ancient castles full of hidden passages and rooms!

Monday, November 15, 2010

MV : "Wasted" by Insect Guide

The more i hear of this band the more i like them.

Eternal - breathe EP

If i was put on the spot and asked to name my favourite ever records it would be an impossible task apart from the 7" category. There can only be one in that category : Eternal's one and only single for Sarah Records which bought us 3 of the best shoegaze noise pop songs of all time. Eternal is largely unknown in the annals of indie pop these days though they had quite an influence on a number of people, they also included Christian Savill later of Slowdive.

Three songs then, "Sleep" and "Breathe" are mere sparkling yet delicate examples of shoegazey noise pop, "Take me down" is just something else. A downbeat drone of a song with continuous feedback noise and an almost inconsequential beat and vocal. One of my favourite songs of all, be sure to check out the demo version on Youtube too which is a bit slower and not as noisy.

Only a couple of thousand copies of this single were made, alas mine has gone long ago though you can get and hear all 3 songs very easily online.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Blake & Mortimer 1 : The Yellow "M"

Having reviewed the latest Cinebook translation of Blake & Mortimer a few weeks ago i thought it best to start back at the beginning to the first book The Yellow "M" (though actually the 6th in the series by Edgar P Jacobs).

Why are the Blake & Mortimer books so wonderful? And they are. Well one reason surely has to be because of the wonderful period and reality they are set in, Britain in the post-war 1940s (though it could be any time in the 30s or 40s) and with a large dollop of interwar period weirdness, occultness and classic mystery.

The Yellow M is a mysterious super criminal who is terrorising London, even stealing the Queen's crown! As Blake & Mortimer investigate the criminal they uncover the mysterious technology of the Mega Wave, mind control and murder!

As with all of the Blake & Mortimer books the story is intense, you certainly get your money's worth as far as word count is concerned! The plot is deep, intricate and complex though also reminds one of old serials with dastardly bad guys putting our heroes into peril after peril. Some have criticised these books for being too wordy, for explaining everything that is going on even when it is obvious from the pictures but this to me just adds to the classic serial feel. You can just imagine the narration by someone with a very posh clipped RP accent.

It is also so beautifully drawn in the clear line style. This isn't just a comic book, it isn't just a work of art, its a precious treasure. So precious the Yellow M would be sure to try and steal it...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Blind Mr Jones - over my head

Its often dangerous and usually pointless to highlight anything as "the best" or your all-time favourite as you choice usually changes over time or you forget other contenders to the title. However i have no hesitation in naming Blind Mr Jones the best original shoegazing band. What who? Not Slowdive or Chapterhouse? Well they were good but Blind Mr Jones captured the scene and explored the sonic possibilities of shoegazing more than any other band in the early 1990s.

This compilation brings together everything Blind Mr Jones recorded, thats two albums and a couple of EPs. I used to have it all from the fabulous "Over my head" EP to the latter album that was rather disappointing (so much so i can't remember its title at the moment). What did Blind Mr Jones sound like, an often ethereal delicate sound together with hard fuzz noise. On songs like "Henna and swayed" the tones spark memories of one's childhood and other nostalgia. On the impressive "Dolores" BMJ blast you with a sheer wall of noise.

CD #2 has their later material which more straight forward indie rock than their earlier fuzz drenched stuff. I didn't like it that much at the time though the songs in hindsight were more intelligent and mature. Just lacking the right amount of noise. The addition of a flute did give a new dimension to their later sound though often the flute arrangements are a little obvious.

This compilation gives me a wonderfully nostalgic feeling for the sounds of the early 90s but maybe that feeling also has a bittersweet edge due to lamenting a band who were criminally overlooked and really should have been massive.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

East River Pipe - the gasoline age

East River Pipe are another of the ex-Sarah bands i am currently rediscovering though the band, in actuality all the work of FM Cornog, has had a career both pre and post Sarah Records. This album (ERP's 4th) dates from 1999 (and thus is in the post-era of course).

The title of the album and some of the song titles indicate a bit of an automobile or travel theme or trying to escape for a better life as is the theme of the epic "Atlantic City" and its tale of going to try and make it rich at the casinos. Like all ERP albums this is an exploration in lo-fi pop with delicate and beautiful melodies, sentimental and fragile but sometimes with a hard edge kicking in at exactly the right moment.

FM Cornog is a master craftsman of pop music and like all of his music this captures your heart and takes you to a strange and slightly desperate yet life affirming world. This is beautiful pop and its also wonderful Americana.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Bardots - eye-baby

The astonishingly good Bardots only released two studio albums of which this is the first. The Bardots were neither from the C86 or shoegazer scenes but could maybe occupy the same space as bands from both. Ultimately their hard edged guitar pop with doom laden vocals coming in 1992 was maybe a year too late as the indie scene had largely moved on unfortunately.

So what were the Bardots like? A typical Bardots track has screeching jangly guitars, big choruses and downer lyrics. The effect was often fabulous, any band that can do songs about self-harming with a bright jangly guitar backing has to be nothing short of awesome.

I find it hard to put it into words how much i love this band to be honest. Listening to this or the follow-up V-neck is just a roller coaster of intense pop thrills, deep emotions and passion. And when you have ended your ride you just want to get on again and again. 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Lucky Luke 1 & 2

Recently i have tended to go for European comics of the more serious and clear line style though Asterix is my first love and Lucky Luke is very much in that vein and the first 2 Cinebook released Lucky Luke volumes "Billy The Kid" and "Ghost Town" were even written by the co-creator of Asterix the unsurpassed René Goscinny and drawn by the equally talented Morris.

Drawn in a similar style to Asterix and also similarly humorous yet intelligent Lucky Luke does differ quite a bit from the famous ancient Gaul. Luke is a drifter cowboy who can draw his sixgun faster than his shadow. Luke wanders the Wild West sorting out unfairness and wrongdoing where ever he finds it. Unlike Asterix Luke doesn't have a sidekick unless you count his horse who occasionally talks and delivers Snowy like sarcasm where needed.

I enjoyed both of these volumes and as Cinebook have published over 20 more to date (and in French the series is in the 70s by now) there will be plenty more to enjoy in the years to come. Goscinny and Morris pack a lot of story into each volume and the humour is often subtle and multi-layered. The only question is over Luke himself, i found it not that easy to warm to his character and would probably like a bit of back story. Maybe that will come after reading further volumes...