Friday, December 31, 2010

Depreciation Guild - spirit youth

Unhappily this is probably the final album the Depreciation Guild will release as they announced an intention to wind up the band recently but happily its an amazing album to go out on. The Depreciation Guild were one of my finds of 2010, a band that mixes shoegaze, pop, 80s melodies, and chiptunes. It does sound like an indie anorak's wet dream but i have so far managed to not disgrace myself, in public anyway.

"Dream about me" lets talk about that song. Have you heard it yet? If not then do so now as its wonderful, a beautiful pop song complete with key change and 80s melodies. Actually at times this album does sound a bit like the last great album from 80s pop not a 2010 indie album but don't worry there is plenty of noise, chiptune electronica and modern indieness on here too.

Maybe they decided to split now because they couldn't really refine the band's sound any more? It does feel like a total refinement of the more edgy material on their earlier releases. Very pop tastic. In fact probably the best pop record of 2010 and one of the best indie records too. Not that the vast majority of people who like "pop music" will ever hear this. That is maybe an even bigger shame than this being the end of the Depreciation Guild.

Century 21

Pure childhood nostalgia : the amazing TV series of Gerry Anderson like Thunderbirds and Stingray. TV21 was a comic off-shoot of the amazing universe his team created and this is the first collection of comic strips from that comic of the late 60s and early 70s which i personally never read before though i do have an old Thunderbirds annual somewhere...

The stories are fast paced and exciting though lack depth somewhat. The bad guys always seem to manage to pull out a secret underground base out of nowhere. The likeness of the characters also varies which makes it a bit confusing sometimes to tell who is who, though of course the characters were puppets. When an artist went too far to make their drawings match the puppet it looked a little odd. So basically you can't win. These are just minor niggles though, the stories are an amazing thrill ride. Just read them as you would when you were 12.

Freed of the restraints of puppets the comics show a lot more physical action by the characters than on TV of course. Characters get into fist fights, fall down mountains or even get tied to ballistic missiles as in the case of Lady Penelope (sure i dreamed of that once - when a boy i hasten to add). The futuristic toys are still there too of course and this is where the true nostalgia hits me. Nostalgia for an age when the future was impossibly exciting and positive. These are comics written before the Oil Shock of course.

The Century 21 future doesn't have economic and environmental collapse, religious fundamentalism or resource depletion. Instead it has hypersonic nuclear powered airliners, cities in the stars and Lady Penelope in her pink Rolls-Royce.

MV : "The kiss off" by The Icicle Works

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Trip Top 10 Records & Top 10 Songs of 2010

End of year list-mania et cetera. Not best 2010 albums/songs but ones i have been listening to this year...

Top 10 Records

1) The Mirage - tomorrow never knows
2) Secret Shine - all of the stars
3) The Monkees - head OST
4) Harper Lee - he holds a flame EP
5) The Fox - for fox sake
6) Various - 94 Baker Street : The Pop-Psych Sounds of the Apple Era 1967-1969
7) The Orchids - she's my girl (single)
8) The Aerovons - resurrection
9) The Fauns - self-titled
10) The Zombies - odessey and oracle

Top 10 Songs

1) Do i have to do this all over again - The Monkees
2) Mrs Busby - The Mirage
3) Party drive - East River Pipe
4) Look in the sky - The Fox
5) Liar - The Charlottes
6) Second hand love - The Fox
7) Astral cowboy - Curt Boettcher
8) Black & white rainbow - The Iveys
9) Oblivion - Secret Shine
10) Young adult friction - The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart

Monday, December 27, 2010

Action Painting! - classical music

One of the earlier Sarah bands Action Painting!'s first single "these things happen" was Sarah 28 but we had to wait until Sarah 73 for the follow-up and what glory it was too. The sub-2 minute title track is a fabulous noise drenched pop thrash.

B-side "Sensation No 5" is another energetic pop song, this time acoustically driven. Action Painting! deserved more fame than they got, as far as i know only releasing a few singles in their time though apparently one of them did manage to get on Top Of The Pops in Shampoo's backing band. Nowadays a couple of guys from the band still record as part of Socialist Leisure Party.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

New video channel

I've set up a dedicated Youtube channel for this blog, on it i shall upload obscure indie tracks from years lost. Only songs which don't seem to be around already of course. If you are the owner and want me to take it down its cool, let me know et cetera. One of the first i uploaded is the wonderful Brighter song "falling" from a 1990 flexi.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Field Mice - September's not so far away

There are many reasons to admire early-90s indie and Sarah/C86 indie in particular, one major reason was the cover artwork. Simple for budgetary and technical reasons the resulting covers are often modern day minimalist masterpieces. One i particularly like is of this Field Mice single which is just a bit of orange text and a few shapes on a white background. Lovely.

Enough artistic musings, what is the actual music like? The title track is yet another beautiful piece of guitar pop from the Mice, with a fast pace you can shuffle to at the indie disco. "Between hello and goodbye" is one of my favourite Field Mice tracks (though there are quite a few songs in this category). A slower acoustically driven song with an irresistible soaring melody. This single is just perfect pop in every single way!

MV : "Oceans and blue skies" by Swallow

Monday, December 20, 2010

Psychedelia Vol 4

This is the fourth compilation Northern Star Records have put out of contemporary neo-psychedelia and noise tracks. You get plenty for your money thats for sure, there are 35 songs on here by bands which i have either heard of before like Insect Guide and Sennen and the majority who i haven't... though some of them like The See See i want to hear a lot more of (which is how a compilation should be!)

Some tracks are maybe, lets say, less than stellar but the majority are superb. 93MillionMilesFromTheSun's "waiting there" is a highlight, one of the songs of the year for sure, a true noise epic. The See See's "keep your head" is another highlight, a more straightforward psychedelic pop song but superbly done.

The modern noise music scene is almost impossibly diverse and wide nowadays so how can anyone truly find out whats going on, especially if you are a newcomer, well a compilation like this is a good way to start.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Dreamscape - blackflower

The Dreamscape are rather obscure, they only released a couple of singles of which this is one. Later on i found out they were a side project of a couple of members of Secret Shine but at the time i just thought they were yet another mysterious C86 dreampop band producing beautiful music and disappearing after one or two singles...

And this single is beautiful, the A side is the best song by a margin (not that the B side "Evergreen" is bad), "Blackflower" is a lovely song with ethereal keyboards and female vocals that, while a bit flat, perfectly suit the song. One of my favourite songs from that era, taking me back to a time i used to go to town once a week and find amazing 7" singles like this.

You really should check the song out, it will be pretty hard to find the 7" single anywhere in the shops (though having said that there appear to be a couple on Ebay) but fear not as both songs are on Youtube, here is the A side.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Cinebook Recounts 2 : The Falklands War

To someone like myself who remembers the Falklands War of 1982 very vividly (maybe the most abiding TV memory of my childhood) a graphic novel telling the story of that war at first appears very strange. But then again graphic novels of WW2 seem fine and for some people they were vivid memories too so why not?

And indeed this is a very beautiful piece of work with excellent artwork. To fit the whole conflict into the confines of one volume was difficult i bet and at times the story races along at breakneck speed and also puts somewhat odd speech into the "characters'" mouths in order to advance the narrative sufficiently. I did notice a couple of inaccuracies with the events portrayed here but something only a military or history geek would really pick up on.

This is a very good piece of work, it should be required reading for British children to see how a British colony was regained nearly 30 years ago despite great difficulties and great cost.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

93MillionMilesFromTheSun - EP1

Doncaster shoegaze noiseniks 93MillionMilesFromTheSun released this EP last month and its available as a free download (see link below). I love this band with their multi-layered feedback noise, they could easily have been one of the original shoegaze bands yet also are totally modern too.

"When I Look Up, I see Nothing" is my favourite track with its shimmering reverb feedback. "Never Understand" is a JAMC track and so true to the original's sound yet also with an original touch. Its fantastic. So a great EP, it also includes 2 tracks by Falling Saints and a poem!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Insect Guide - dark days and nights

Leeds trio Insect Guide produce a lovely dark shoegazey and noisy pop on this their second album. It has feedback noise, cool female vocals (Su Sutton is one of my favourite singers right now) and bags of atmosphere. Despite the dark noise mayhem there is also a definite pop sensibility and some great hooks, on the title track especially.

Wall-of-sound indie guitar pop with a cool style and attitude. I just know that if i was in a band i would want it to be Insect Guide. They should be massive worldwide, they are in my heart already.

MV : "David Hero" by Insect Guide

Great band!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Yoko Tsuno 4 : Daughter Of The Wind

This series gets better and better, the first 2 were admittedly a bit odd and hard to get into but Book 4 really builds on the wonderful mystery of #3 to give us a terrific adventure involving typhoons, international intrigue and hi-tech toys that look like they came straight out of a Gerry Anderson show.

What i like about these Yoko Tsuno stories is that the author isn't afraid to give the character a past, and some background story which really adds to the appeal of the character. Otherwise she would be just a pretty geek who gets involved with sci-fi adventures for some random reason. This story involves her family and the sort of scientific work they are involved in and as well as that we discover her childhood mentor.

Its a well paced and intriguing story and even has some ninjas in it. Any story with ninjas in is a win of course. If the third book reminded me a bit of a Famous Five or Scooby Doo mystery then this one is more like a Gerry Anderson or Japanese anime. Both work really well with a character like Yoko. The artwork too is truly superb. Highly recommended.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Lucky Luke 3 : Dalton City

The third book in Cinebook's sequence of Lucky Luke introduces the Daltons, a gang of desperate men who are luckily pretty stupid too. The Daltons escape from jail and set up their own outlaw town. In steps Lucky Luke, the man who shoots faster than his shadow, to bring them to justice.

Like the first 2 books this is a very enjoyable read with plenty of the humour those familiar with some of Goscinny's other works may find familiar. There is so much to enjoy here such as Luke's horse and its sarcastic quips, the Daltons all looking the same except for being different sizes and the rubbish telegraph operator. Its a great comedy western, it even has an overworked and overeager undertaker.

What i really enjoy about these stories is that even though Luke is a gunman without peer he seldom relies on his gunslinging to catch the bad guys rather using his cunning and trickery to enshare the bad guys in an intricate plan, though the storieswould be a lot shorter of course if he did!

Morris' artwork is fine though one criticism is that it suffers from "lazy colouring" with whole chunks of the same frame in the same colour though this was common in older comic strips (early Asterix for example). Its only a minor point though, this is a great read.