Friday, April 29, 2011

Hyperbubble - welcome to infinity

Another Bubblegum Records digital only single and like Ex-Crush's single this is a lovely piece of electronic pop by Hyperbubble. This is a very upbeat and poppy song (i saw song as the single includes 2 versions of the same song) and maybe lacks a bit of substance but as the Sun is shining outside and the temperature rising the song "Welcome to infinity" feels just right for the time. I prefer the remix which is a bit slower but harder electronically.

MV : "Mighty Quinn" by Manfred Mann

Been awhile since we've had some 60s pop. Lets rectify that!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Comics : Blake & Mortimer 10 : The Sarcophagi of the Sixth Continent part 2

Blake & Mortimer books usually have sumptuous covers but they have really gone to town on this one, book 10 in the translated series released by Cinebook, is a classic of comic art. The ligne claire artwork inside is pretty good too, being to the usual B&M standard. Very well drawn accurate artwork depicting an idealised view of the world of the 1950s, beautifully coloured... and with plenty of words!

This story continues the one begun in part 1 obviously which involved a mysterious Indian living god launching an electrical attack on the Brussels Universal Exposition. In part 2 our heroes travel to Antarctica to track down the source of the attacks. If you like secret bases at the South Pole and mysterious retro-future technology then you will be sure to love this. It is packed full of action and weird science...

The best part of the story though, to me, is the backstory these 2 volumes have provided to Professor Mortimer. Part 1 showed us some of his adventures in India as a young man and this all comes to a conclusion here where his past and present collide.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Tramway - maritime city

Tramway are just one of many fabulous, obscure and now fairly lost Sarah bands. They recorded 2 singles for the label which i thought were among the best Sarah ever released and an album for another label later on (though i've never been able to track it down). I really like Tramway's sound which is at once familiar and unique being as it is bongo drum driven C86. As well as the drums we have tunes with fey vocals to the (kind of) fore and organ in the background a sound as Sarah as it is possible to be. Its almost like someone took the rest of the roster and blended them, then added the drums.

Their songs like "Star" are laid-back, almost care free and shy. Star has a brilliant coda by the way that you wish would never end.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Cherry Smash - west coast rip-off

This is all a bit obscure but i recently heard this single for the first time and i like it a lot. "Nowhere generation" follows the perfect formula for a C86/90s indie noise pop song : jingly jangly intro exploding into some formless indie noise. Perfect. Maybe we should stop there though.

"Californya Bum Trip" is just awful to be honest, its a lo-fi mash-up of the Beach Boys and to be honest i hated it. "Airport girl" is a song that starts so laid-back it makes the Grateful Dead seem like speed junkies however it does pick up and hits the indie noise note well. Apparently this was The Cherry Smash's only solo single which seems a shame as i would have liked to have heard a lot more songs of the vein of track 1 and 3. Could live without anymore #2s though.

MV : "Fait accompli" by Curve

In the early 90s i was just a normal young guy then i discovered this.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Ex-Crush - all boys break hearts

Its the modern world and i am equally very retro and and modern web savvy (which considering i've earned my living from web design for the last 15 years is just as well). I noticed that Bubblegum Records have a number of download-only singles for sale so i got a couple considering they were very cheap so what is to lose? Ex-Crush features two people from the Just Joans apparently but as i don't really know that other band very well i'll not mention it.

Anyway i love the title track of this single! Its all lo-fi electronics with an infectious pop beat. Appealingly sardonic female vocals drive the whole thing along. The perfect soundtrack to the early Summer. "The biggest buzz" is quite different, male vocals for a start. Guitar driven but still very poppy and quite groovy infact. This is Ex-Crush's debut single and its quite frankly brilliant.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Novaak - i am, you are

Novaak's music on this self-released downloadable album is heavily electronically based pop with a lovely retro lo-fi yet multi-layered edge to it. "Mr Memory" for example has sounds that would not be out of place on a mid-80s pop record but at the same time it sounds bang up to date and contemporary and excellently recorded.

Jessi James' vocals are soaring throughout and really elevate this beyond an interesting retro pop record into something special. Her vocals also really score on the deep "You pressed the crash button" with its building menace facilitated through multi-layers of effects and vocals. Its a very accomplished and intelligent album, crafted electronic pop. Very good indeed.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

MV : "The boy from outer space" by The Hobbes Fanclub

Classic C86 sound, it could almost be the late 80s, but actually this is a new (split) single and is the sound of the 2010s!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Blind Mr Jones - eyes wide EP

Shoegaze, a sub-genre of indie, is one i really dig but if i was going to pick one shoegaze record for my "desert island exile" then it would be this one. Blind Mr Jones are fairly unknown now and never really made it big but they perfected the shoegazing vision in the early 1990s and produced music that even now sounds far more advanced and imaginative than most indie out there.

This was their first EP and includes 4 classic tracks. "Over my head" and "Henna and swayed" bookend the EP and are my favourite songs here. Both manage to embody a melancholic feel for a nostalgic past in their melodies somehow. I think its due to the beautiful and often intricate yet simple music, powerful at times with plenty of effects but at others so delicate. Half-forgotten melodies and tones from your childhood seem to lie buried in the music. Well maybe you can't be sure. There is something both familiar and unknown here. Its just magic.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Huggy Bear - rubbing the impossible to burst

It happened without your permission you know? Riot grrrl. It blasted into our lives in the early 90s, a new generation of punk noise anger with a feminist lead. Huggy Bear were one of the major players over here and this was their debut EP. I remember getting this and thrilling to the primal anger. The power. The possibilities. For some the possibilities led to something, to many maybe nothing but dreams. But look at the world of media now, coming a few years after riot grrrl the internet has allowed many voices to emerge on their own terms not crushed by the establishment. Doing it for themselves. Not a slave to a major label. Not a drone to the corporate machine. Punk rock!

And yes this EP. Sorry got a bit carried away there. This EP by Huggy Bear, of course its rough, some of this EP sounds like it was recorded in a toilet, and thats the best bits. "Single bullets" is am amazing growl of a track with anguished screams masquerading for vocals. Wonderful. Its not garage rock punk thrash mayhem though, there is so much sonic inventiveness here such as on the track "High street Jupiter supercone" with its multi layers of song and interplay of two vocals - its more like a conversation to music than a song. "Katholic Kunt" again has more invention than a million generic indie crap bands. A French intro, a toy town music instrumental then into punk rock growl stomp. Rough, imperfect, brutal, brilliant.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

MV : "Umm" by Scritti Politti

Scritti Politti went away for a long time at the end of the 80s but returned just before the end of the 90s with...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Serena Maneesh - abyss in B minor

If noise is your passion then this is essential surely? Asymmetric noise that is, sonic attacks coming in from all angles. Its like when you are listening to a song on your computer and a webpage plays another song without your permission so you have a clash of what might be two totally different songs. Sometimes though the cacophony of two competing melodies are oddly compelling. Serena Maneesh sounds like that all the time on this album.

Standout track is "I just want to see your face" with its blistering noise attack start before slipping into a blissed out speedy groove. Shades of Medicine. "D.I.W.S.W.T.T.D." is another great track, quite what is making the noise at times is hard to work out. Perhaps no one ever knows.

Its often quite uncomfortable noise but then you are rewarded by sonic beauty, then you are hit over the head again. This album is like a sonic version of world history from 1914 to 1945.

MV : "Belong" by The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart

New song off POBPAH's new album.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Comics : Iznogoud - the Caliph's vacation

I'm still not 100% sold on Iznogoud yet, it has lots of trademark Goscinny humour, satire and charm and is well drawn by Tabary but the stories are all rather short and follow the same formula : Iznogoud wants to get rid of the Caliph but his schemes fail miserably.

Its all fine and often funny but compared to a comic series like Asterix with its full length stories it does tend to suffer in comparison. Although you could argue all Asterix stories are the same (the village or the 2 main characters face peril but the magic potion saves the day) the longer format allows for a greater variety of story whereas i find Iznogoud can get a little samey after awhile.

(Though in fact after Goscinny died Tabary took over the writing as well as the artwork (as Uderzo has done with Asterix) and moved Iznogoud to full-length stories so those will be interesting to see one day when Cinebook translate them.)

All this criticism may seem a bit unfair of course, most comic stories suffer in comparison to the indomitable Gaul and i am not saying Iznogoud is bad by any means. Its an enjoyable and often very funny read. But it just lacks that little something to yet make it one of my favourites. Yet!

This collection of stories, Iznogoud Vol.2: The Caliph's Vacation revolve around a holiday theme. Iznogoud sees holidays as very dangerous so naturally is keen to get the Caliph to collect his bucket and spade and don some flip-flops!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Blur - popscene

What was your first ever indie/alternative record? Actually this was mine which i got when i decided to try something a bit different after listening to the likes of the Rolling Stones and Lynyrd Skynyrd since childhood. And what a great 12" record this is too. "Popscene" remains one of Blur's best songs in my view. Coming after their very indie pop first album and the more experimental (and sometimes heavier) stuff to come.

Its a fast frenetic pop noise thrash of a song. I've always loved the chainsaw guitar break in this song too. As for the other tracks "Mace" is pretty good though nothing compares to the title track. And 19 years later i have this indie blog. Maybe can say it all starts from here? Maybe not as i would have got into indie through some other song sooner or later but its nice to think this is the first step.

MV : "Mingnonette" by April March

Dear little pop star.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Siouxsie & The Banshees - twice upon a time

Siouxsie and The Banshees are of course legends of 80s alternative and goth though to be honest this is the first album of the band i have got. I decided to play it safe with a singles compilation as i am a chicken. Also this includes the Beatles cover "Dear Prudence" which is my favourite song of the band. Well until now maybe.

To be honest i prefer the later stuff when they got more into electronics like "Face to face" which has some some great pop sensibilities too. Maybe this is my new favourite track of the band now. "Peek-A-boo" is also a fun track though the sounds that resemble fart noises (maybe a little too much) make me laugh every time. "Kiss them for me" is a great indie dance track. Siouxsie and The Banshees modified their sound a lot over their career and it shows here to make this singles compilation a very varied (and often enjoyably over-the-top) ride indeed.

Monday, April 4, 2011

MV : "Perfect way" by Scritti Politti

One of the best 80s bands in my opinion.


I reviewed the 12"/80s Grooves already but this triple-CD collection is a lot more indie friendly. As with the grooves set it is (as you might imagine) a collection of 12" versions and mixes from the 1980s! As i said this has quite a good alternative and goth mix with the likes of The Cure, Siouxsie & The Banshees, The Icicle Works and Echo & The Bunnymen alongside more mainstream but still excellent 80s pop from bands like Visage, ABC and Talk Talk.

OK it also has Simply Red on it, nothing is perfect eh? 12" mixes are a mixed (pardon the pun) bunch. Sometimes a 12" mix just seems like studio control showing off where the remixer shows he knows how every new piece of technology works. Other times the mixes really add to a song and give it a new dimension, as well as the literal one. Some misses but overall a lot of hits.

MV : "Truth is" by The Sky Drops

Loving The Sky Drops album, it includes this song.