reviews july 1999

Various, Year One (Son) CD

UK hip hop does not, and never did even a decade ago, begin and end with Derek B's "bad young brother." Son, more than most---certainly more than some journalists---know this very well as they've spent the last 12 months dropping slabs of terrific British beats and rhymes to appreciative audiences. This compilation collects fifteen of the best in an end-of-year report which sees the label excelling in all subjects. Worthy of particular mention: Def Tex's "Rare ride," which was remarkably only a b-side, rocks a walkman loop and live double bass with a tight and rapid rap and Lost Island's "Return to forever" where slack, loping beats underpin a dulcimer and soft sax jazz with lazy rhymes.

Cable, Sub-lingual (Infectious) CD

It's finally out, but brings with it the sad tidings that Cable are no more and leaves me writing what is essentially an obituary. A task I'm not enjoying much, although sitting here in front of the stereo with all my Cable records in a big pile listening to "Oubliette" for the 5th time in a row is some kind of consolation.

The Cable (at the time Matt Bagguley, Darius Hinks, Peter Darrington and Neil Cooper) story kicked off for me at Reading Alley Cats in 1995, third on the bill to somebody long-since forgotten. After being pinned against the bar by a high volume slice-n-dice of ragged and bendy chunk rock, I purchased "Blindman"---their Infectious Records debut---at the merchandise stand and hurried home to bathe in its supercharged avalanche of reinvented hardcore power and mini-melodies topped off with that strangely alluring noise Matt Bagguley made to disguise the fact that he couldn't sing. More was required so I ran out and bought the two double-A 7"s on the Derby-based Krunch! label. "Oubliette/Seventy" and "Sale of the century/Hydra," raw, primitive versions of the racket the band were creating live sated my hunger until another gig, this time at the Cambridge Boat Race where the band entertained 5 people (counting the pub cat) with an electrifying 20-minute set that ended with Matt hurling his already battered guitar at the ceiling without realising it was only about a foot above his head.

"Seventy" was re-recorded and released on Infectious with "Downlift the Uptrodden", the mini-LP to follow. Produced by John Robb, and sounding like it, "Downlift.." screamed through its duration, all siren whining and feedback screeches, virgin pop structures shafted by the dirty dildo of dole-queue punk rock music and an obsession with death which the album sleeve notes attributed to their appropriation of "the raw growl of old death-haunted blues men" but which those in the know attributed to them making up lyrics as the songs were recorded. "Murdering Spree" in particular sounded like an explosion in a firework factory sited at the top of an active volcano, during a thunderstorm. With distortion and shouting. Around this time, the band ran into Oasis at Rockfield recording studios and sparked a fight between the Gallagher brothers when a drunk Darius was asked for his opinion of the new Oasis album and treated everyone to the reply: "it sounds like the Beatles...a total fucking rip-off and the worst kind of lowest common denominator trash." Cable were ejected at gun-point (!) and Liam and Noel had a scrap which resulted Noel leaving for London. It was in all the papers. Except for the bit about Cable, which reflected the amount of press they'd get all the way through.

Having used up all the old material, it was time to record a grown-up, proper, album for the new label and thus, with new drummer Richie Mills, to "When animals attack," released in 1997 and preceded by "Whisper firing line" both produced to great effect by full-time lunatic visionary Kramer after a chance internet connection was made. Kramer added silence to the band's sound, "Whisper.." being the quietest track to date, easing along, both verse and chorus, on a single tense riff composed of interlocked guitar and bass that always threatened to rampage into an all-out noisefest but never quite did. One in the eye for those critics who'd got them down as a kind of loud/soft post-grunge outfit. The release of the album coincided with support from Kerrang! but relatively little mainstream coverage despite large amounts of advertising and even the ignominy (in the band's eyes) of having "Freeze the Atlantic" used in a Sprite advert. A sequence of cleverly packaged, coloured vinyl singles followed and singularly failed to make an impression on the record-buying public despite constant touring. Interviewed in Robots.. at the end of 1997, Richie didn't much care and insisted that they and Infectious were, despite the lack of sales, "like one big happy family." Live they were as overpowering as ever, their performance at Dingwalls for London Music Week was riotous, the band saying nothing but maintaining violent eye-contact with the audience as taped massages shouted "you coke-snorting motherfuckers" between songs and the band, dressed as Kraftwerk and about as animated, trashed Richie's kit as they left the stage. The run of releases ended with a 6-track e.p. recorded live at Brixton Prison and including a right royal thrashing of "San Quentin" which went down a bomb with the inmates, all the lifers at the back "sharpening their knives and headbanging."

And so, via a strange Europe-only compilation, "From here you can see yourself" (reviewed elsewhere), to the third album which was to follow single "Arthur Walker," the tale of a Derby explorer to the tune of noisenik antics of the guitar variety, but was instead delayed for a long time. "Sub-lingual" eventually surfaced with the news that protracted legal wranglings with an ex-manager had resulted in the split of the band and looked like preventing them from playing together again, under any name, for several years. The album itself is another evolutionary step along their art-rock road with a thicker mix and real singing but still plenty of the lurch and surge, the twinned anti-melodic riffs and squeals, drumming from a man who has obviously spent too much time in thrash bands and the lock-down bass. With hindsight, perhaps you can even feel a sense of foreboding and anxiety too. It's unlikely that this record would've made them stars, but it would've been nice to find out. Instead, for Cable, it's the end of the line.

The Groove Criminals, Exhibit A TAPE

3 tracks of post-hip hop instrumental ghetto decay from these lawbreakers. 3 tracks that crawl along mean, deserted streets to the sound of a thunderous looped beat, occasional gangster film sample, edgy scratching and very little else. The kind of minimalism that DJ Vadim sculpts so well...only less of it.

Cay, Princes and Princesses (EastWest) CDS

Punk chord changes and tribal drumming drive this along route one at a serious pace, through red lights, across zebra crossings and straight on at that last corner. Top notch crackling distort pop that's having a hard time losing it's "Hole" tag, and understandably so.

Various, Amateur hour (FanMael) CD

The label has probably given it away already but, if not, welcome to a Sparks tribute double album featuring bands from the Sparks internet list, mainly from the UK and US but also Australian, German and Dutch. Robots.. faves the Cuban Boys pop up on disc 2 ("heavier") doing "A song that sings itself" pretty straight (no surprise when you know a bit about their murky past!) and God/Monster cover "The No.1 song in heaven" on disc 1 ("quieter") but, beyond that, they're all new to me and I don't particularly like Sparks, so you know you're getting a fair review...this time, at least haa ahahahahah...Highlights: The Quackle tackles "This town ain't big enough for both of us" faithfully enough and with a bit of a spark but can't hold a candle to Egnekn's Daughter who play toys and kitchenware as an 8-year-old sings the eminently suitable lyrics to "Those mysteries" in her own sweet time. The Wonder Boys clatter through "When do I get to sing my way" in a Glitter Band meets Mud rush and, best of the lot, Collider's gabba theatricality, Lydonesque sneer and Casio camp steal the show on "Something for the girl with everything" which is pretty much the only track on here that captures the archly eccentric edge and abandon that Sparks displayed at their peak. It's over the top, kitchen sink pop and so much more than a respectful cover. As new reviewer Jyoti might say: buy it if you're a Sparks fan, don't buy it if you're not. Stijntjesduinstraat 25, 2202 LA, Noordwijk, The Netherlands

Mo-ho-bish-o-pi, Two tier water skier (Seriously Groovy) CDS

Owing a serious debt to the Pixies, sounding not unlike Cable and beating seven shades out of an undeserving snare, the Mo-ho's (as no-one calls them) crash into your stereo, fall over noisily and speed off again before you can even get off the settee. Great.

I am 7, Welcome (RnB) CDS

A 3-minute blast of chugga guitar pop that launches into a Mighty Lemon Drops (circa "Like an angel") of immense proportions just few enough times during its length to make you want to listen again.

Ligament, Me supreme (Kitty Kitty) 7"

Like Mudhoney might sound if they rediscovered some of their early enthusiasm, it's grungy bar- room pop music with big boots and bigger guitars.

The Beta Band, The Beta Band (Regal) CD

"The Beta Band rap" is both a stylised autobiography of the band to date and a manifesto for the future, flitting as it does between warped barber shop vocal, hip hop and rock'n'roll as the short history is related at the front end of this album. It's easy to see where the Beasties and Beck comparisons have come from---who else changes hats so often and with such maverick glee, such restless impatience to move on again and such convincing authenticity? The Swap Shop approach continues across the other nine tracks too: lazy soul psychedelia, primitive electro, summery Bonzo- pop, a b-boy bouillabaise of old-school samples and a drawling rap, cheery dub, shuffle beat mantra, marathon Carpenter film score creepiness and cyclic, breathy choral drone...but all imbued with essence of Beta, in much the same way that the Freed Unit manage. The band say that they're not happy with the album and that all they're interested in is "groove and funk" but that can't be the whole story. I mean, Cameo never sounded this good.

Wadzim Ykhnevich CD

A Russian busking on the Berlin U-Bahn during a week's holiday is discovered by a passing Frenchman and they spend 3 nights recording an album's worth of Russian folk songs including some originals on acoustic guitar and accordion. As Pierre-Yves Rognin, the Frenchman, says: "...the CD is not perfect [but] I always to record Wadzim because he plays and sings always with emotion." And you can't say much more than that.

The Wandrin Allstars, The Good People of America (Artists Against Success) 12"

Pink blancmange vinyl gets the tastebuds tingling and cheery lo-fi hoe-down drum'n'bass with a sharp pop nous does the equivalent for the ears. TWA are Johnny Carwash and Bobby Denver (yep) and they know a good thing when they hear it, on this occasion a blend of "Cotton eye Joe" and the KLF. Remixed by Jyoti Mishra as four-on-the-floor techno and by the Cuban Boys as scores-on-the-doors disco.

Various, Soundclash EP (Soundclash) 12"

This sampler for the forthcoming "Undo" comp features four cuts for the alternative dancefloor--- and I'm not talking your local pub's student night. Dr Walker and M.Flux perpetrate a deep electro and throaty Barry White groovecrime, Speedranch and Jansky Noise roil like clouds over the North Sea in a surge of distortion, Triumph 2000 reprise "Oscillate" from their EP series of last year (we loved it, see Robots.. 4), a rolling drone of breakbeats and hum and Speakerfreaks stir up a nasty acidic take on hip hop jungle with extra overload.

Superstar Disco Club, Welcome To (Che) CD

Superstar Disco Club, they say, but Studio 54 it ain't. Instead, SDC offer a crunching head-on, seatbelts off, multiple pile-up involving The Pixies, Cable, Blondie and Mudhoney. From France. It's aggressive, inventive, twisted pop songs, distantly related to, although less schizophrenic than, the Evil Superstars and not afraid to stick a few bars of whatever takes their fancy in, whenever it takes their fancy. "Skyscraper island" adds the enormous sound of Penthouse and "I wanna beer" (not a dance, sadly) is a dumb-ass 60 second Ramones yomp. "The Trans-en-Provence mystery" is psychedistortion like an enraged and primal Scorpio Rising (whatever happened to...) and it all ends with a Morricone droner not unlike Quickspace's recent effort at the same.

Tendrils, Soaking red (Gold Hole) 7"

Part number 4 in the Gold Hole story, Tendrils are the Billy Joe Country Explosion, an intensely spartan, menacing version of Smog where weird feedback and overtones are woven into the backwards, backwoods Hicksville semi-acoustics and disturbing lyrics. There's a chap called Dorian Taj doing stuff not dissimilar if you're looking for more.

The Chemistry Experiment, Agua de Beber (Short Fuse) 7"

Not the Chemistry Set, nor anything remotely resembling them, TCE launch their quest for a less miserable existence with 4 tracks of inventive bedroom sonics. "Disco song" is the real gem, featuring the wonderful line "she says she's lost all of her marbles, peas and gravy" as it pulses along on cod-disco beat, hypnotic guitar scrape and thumping bass, a distant cousin of Minxus or, latterly, even Novak. 6a Timor Close, Whiteley, Fareham, PO15 7EE.

Pop Unknown/Sunfactor, Split (Year 3000) 7"

They call it Emo and it's nice to know that Uncle Rod Hull made a lasting impression on the nations' youth...Pop Unknown's "Sunday gone" is a slowed-down pop song with thick guitars, buried vocals and a little toy synth. Almost Grandaddy, in fact. Sunfactor drop the synths, add a bit more tune and sound not unlike a tardy Bob Tilton. 11 Stainer St, London, SE1 3QX

Billy Mahonie, The big dig (Too Pure) CD

See this issue's interview with San Lorenzo for a discussion on the utility of the math/post rock nomenclature. But don't spend too long on it, we all know genre boundaries are the futile defence of the narrow-minded. Billy Mahonie show that it's the tunes that count with this post-hardcore (ha ha ha!) brew of intense bursts of controlled aggression and light relief in the form of dubbed-out passages of angular guitar riff, alternately fluid and jerky. The dynamism of hardcore is generated with a wider palette, finer brushes and the freedom that comes from abandoning the structural restrictions of verse and chorus and instead crafting minimalist instrumentals. There's no self-indulgence though, and there's always enough ideas and enough melody to keep the interest. For Tortoise fans with short attention spans.

The Action Time, Don't sell your soul (Speedway Sounds) 7"

I can't fit a quart into a pint pot, but I know a band who can, musically speaking: The Action Time. They pack an album's worth of pop hooks, riffs, licks, middle-8s and bubblegum chorus into a shade over 2 minutes and somehow still manage to sound like the magical daydream that is the Shangri-Las if George 'Shadow' Morton had been into garage bands. 66b Grove Park Rd, London, N15 4SN.

The Shovels, Fantastic plastic generation (Kinky Star) CD

Reign in your credibility for a moment and picture in your mind's ear this unholy union: the two- stroke Johnny Cash bass line, scratchy indie guitar, Bob Dylan harmonica and two minute nonsense pop songs sung in English by Belgians decked out in full 1970's finery and recorded on primitive 1960's technology. Disbelief still suspended, understand me when I say that these ingredients one of the records of the year make. It's by The Shovels, it features such lyrical genius as: "there's a hole in me pocket, all me money's over there" ("Hole in me pocket") and "your cats are out on the street with their million zillion feet and, rodents, it ain't looking sweet" ("The cat song") and it's naive, not quite Country of a kind that you've never heard before. 9 songs, 20 minutes, instinctive pop music...The Shovels. Can you dig it? Vlasmarkt 9, B-9000, Gent, Belgium.

@tomika, Dead flowers (Mother Stoat) CDS

In all honesty, unless you're in the first flush of youth---or considerably less cynical and jaded than most---@tomika will be one of those "heard it all before" bands. Lurking around the punk/pop/grunge intersection, they essentially do nothing wrong---their songs shudder, surge, squeak and pogo in all the right places---but, and this gives my game away, it's like painting by numbers and...we've heard it all before. 6 Clevedon court, Farnborough, Hampshire, GU14 7EJ

Keyop, We hate Andrew song (Flexipop) 7"

Not content, as so many are, with just Radiohead, Keyop jump in with both feet and, erm, show their respect for DJ Shadow as well. The heights of neither are attained but a splendidly fresh mid-fi juxtaposition of minor chords, record scratching and the odd breakbeat with a wig-out ending is achieved and points to a bright future for both band and label. 2 Daubeny Court, Draycott Place, Bristol, BS1 4RE

Anjali, Feline woman (Wiiija) 12"

Eartha Kitt in a black catsuit, half-lit and throwing seductive, dominating poses like it's going out of style as PJ Harvey rhumbas with Lalo Schifrin in a hip hop manner.

Monkey Island, Monkey Island (Ultra) CD

When you see the magical words "produced by John Robb" in the credits you know two things: (1) the record is worth buying; (2) the record will be a crisp live recording with warts'n'all first-take spontaneity and drive. Oh yes, and (3) it'll rock like the proverbial mater...with DMs, tattoos, piercings and five o'clock shadow! This album is no exception, exploring---as do contemporaries Penthouse---the possibilities of a British Blues Explosion in drainpipes and brothel creepers with jagged guitars and real-life Cartoons quiffs. 7 tracks speed by in 19 minutes, a blur of harmonica riffs, pounding beats and low-down JD growl before the 10-minute "Cha cha champion" winds down in a sozzled jamming tradition. PO Box 12903, London, N16 7JR

Ricky Spontane, Domino (Full Strength) 7"

Ricky Spontane's latest, a tribute to Fats rather than the old man's pub game, sounds like a lost Chinn and Chapman composition, rejected by the Sweet and Mud and jumped on with glee by the Spontane boys with scratchy guitar abandon when it was rediscovered. The Wendy House, 54-56 Compton St, London, EC1V 0ET

Gas Solari, Space/Psych (both CDS) Gasworks

The development in the first two parts of this triptych suggests that the concluding installment, "Trance," will be something special. "Space" defines the starting point, Spaceman 3 copyism---which beats the usual Green Day copyism ever day of my week---of the truly dedicated kind: every flange, echo, reverb and drone, every gossamer vocal precisely moulded and every last laconic nuance caressed into place. Having established that base, "Psyche" steps out into a fractured slice-up of it. "Idol" replaces the finely-crafted glissades with twisted shards of low-speed white noise or reverse drone but in such a way that coherence retains a shaky toe-hold on proceedings. "Godfather" strips down to acoustics and recalls the Freed Unit in the same mode and "Ambition" not-so-slyly steals a Spiritualised lyric, dropping it onto a piledriver of drawn-out garage organ groove. Each disc 3.50 from 537 Burnage lane, Manchester, M19 1NH

Blue, Corrosion (Irislight) CD

Just 8 tracks here, each one labelled by a single-word title of which some are transparent mnemonics for the music they represent---"Crunch" is a big, bad sinuous dub-funk that skanks along in a fat On-U fashion---while others are more obscure in origin: "Asset" drops arctic slivers of staccato spy funk on to deep, lush breakbeats. Between these two, the opener and closer, Blue delve into their sequencer and slowly tease out six more break- and dub-led, uniformly mellow but funky as hell, instrumentals. Real quality material for late-night head nodders.

Brassy, Good times (Wiiija) 7"

Not the Chic classic but rather a dynamic blast of chic clatter: It's quirk/pop with a healthy interest in an enormous beat, a 15 year-old Polly Harvey marshalling Sleater Kinney with itching powder in their pants, a DJ and, as "Back in business" shows, some hip hop know- how too. Cracking stuff on their Wiiija debut.

Snow Patrol, Starfighter pilot (Jeepster) 12"

As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool returns to his folly, to paraphrase the Bible. Luckily, Snow Patrol are not fools or dogs and this is neither vomit nor folly, but it is about returning: Snow Patrol to their debut single. It was released when they were called Polar Bear and it's undoubtedly still their best effort today, a yawing, thick-edged, bright-eyed guitar sludge drone, exuberant nonsense of stellar quality. Remixed by Cut la Roc, Twintub and Steve Hitchcock, but go for the original.

Bob Burnett, Loops and lines CD

No offence intended Bob, but the sleeve is not an invitation to play this mini-album, looking for all the world like "Session man plays his favourite technical classical guitar pieces." Flip the CD over and see the image of guitar body plus human head. Oh dear...But then take a listen and prepare to be stunned as Stravinsky is sampled and looped then augmented by tastefully-applied picked guitar in an outlandish jazz fashion. RESULT! And that's the M.O. for the remainder too, as Burnett cleverly edits all and sundry including the King of the Hill theme and the Band of Gypsys and plays over the top of them in unexpected and thoroughly original ways.

Chicken Lips, Shoe beast (Kingsize) 12"

4 tracks from this poultry collaboration between Sir Drew and Psychedelia Smith which involve a perky disco/breaks crossover ("Shoe beast"), deep bass acid and breaks ("Our thang"), filtered stuttering breaks with twist funk ("Bodywag") and Stevie Wonder's "Supersition"...and breaks.

Various, Defeated by technology (Cripperty) CD

If Peel's tour of the provinces had made it to the Isle of Man, he could've done worse than drop into Cripperty for a cuppa and an overview of the island's music scene courtesy of this comp which displays plenty of variety and a somewhat incestuous personnel policy across its 18 tracks. Highlights: moving acapella from Manx stalwart Mike Seed, cheesewire Albini-esque guitar shredding and noise in the form of El Gordo's "Flat hunting," the splendidly-named February Arse (sounds like some seasonal bowl disorder) let rip with a Syd Barretty wheeze of lo-fi psyche and Colon lurch and riff like distant cousins of Big Black while Capri supply Weddoes plus electronics and Ohmeater dishes out spartan clankbeats. 10 quid from 37 Oakhill Close, Glen Park, Douglas, Isle of Man, IM2 6HU.

Penthouse, Creeper's Reef (Beggars Banquet) CDS

Can't be very long before they add Blues Explosion to their name and be done with it. Another cracking mangled bar brawl of six strings, Marlboro and the bottom of a whisky bottle, this time with a winsome merman on the cover.

Cylob, Previously Unavailable On Compact Disc (Rephlex) CD

Another comp, this one a bit more recent. Starts off with the quite stunningly beautiful "Flicklife" which reminds me of John Carpenter's film stuff. All of the stuff on here has been out before but it's good to have it all rubbing shoulders. I guess that also contributes to the variety (there's also mixes by uZiq, Aphex and Autechre). Moody, sad elegaic, silly Paradinas noises, electro - it's all here. There's even a track ("Flad") which sounds like prime Test Department till the bzangy noises come in. Mmmmm...metal bashing...Lovely! Also check out the Rewind 12", it's humongous. Buy this album if you haven't got most of the originals and wish to follow the way of the groink. Don't buy it if you hate "bleepy bedroom shite." (Jyoti)

Lazarus Clamp, Sea sore songs (Amberley/Clever Legs) 7"

Two songs that've been kicking around for ages on a demo finally see the light of day as Lazarus Clamp pop their vinyl cherry. It's a split release between their own Clever Legs label and Amberley and sees the Clamp simmering nicely on "Sop" and coming to the full Slinty boil on "Bosporus," an ebb and flow of propulsion and revulsion dynamics, repetitive and even derivative but still stirring as it winds in tighter and tighter on itself, spirals of atune and coiled tension building and ultimately exploding. c/o Agency Services, 13 Biddulph St, Leicester, LE2 1BH.

By Coastal Cafe, Black radio/Daffodil (Lissy's/demo) 7"/TAPE

First black stuff for these two Swedes, the 7" is split with Spare Snare but, to be frank, there's nothing particularly new from them on here although "Lesbians in wasitcoats" is amusing. By Coastal Cafe offer 3 tracks that are customarily short but marginally better recorded than their demo tapes have been. "Black radio" is mini-JSBX recorded in a coal shed through several layers of sacking; "Unloved golfer" charms as it stumbles along with Bagpuss toy keyboards and strummed guitar backing Marilyn's plaintive singing and finally "Somewhere in the night" which looks and sounds like it might be a Smog cover and is, as these things go, almost the finished article: virtually finished and quite lengthy with real verses and a chorus, and even a couple of guitar tracks. All 3 tracks inside 3 minutes.

On the "Daffodil" tape there's more fragile magic, more fidelity-free charisma in the form of a song sketchbook. If you thought that Guided By Voices overworked their material, then By Coastal Cafe are the band for you. "Daffodil" is recorded on a dictaphone, drums a ruler slapped on the table, words a broken nursery rhyme; "She knew she liked me" is a 30-second oompah guitar and hum beauty and "Old post" shoots past with a kazoo-d 60's melody and childlike vocals. These 3 inside 90 seconds and utterly marvellous. Martin and Marilyn Lilya, Kappelv 19, S-35262, Vaxjo, Sweden.

Aerial M, Post Global Music (Domino) CD

This is a remix thingy with versions by Flacco, Tied & Tickled Trio, DJ Your Food and Bundy K Brown. The Flacco mix is quite guitarry but with a CP-30 burbling its hi hats over the top. Again, the whole effect is a bit Notwisty cos it's the same kind of Devoish chords. The last mix, by Bundy, is severely floaty and ambient at the start, all wispy guitar apreggios and soft maracas. But then the chocolate thunder strikes and it goes notch filter drum loopy...loopy. Buy this CD if you like Spiritualized, Notwist or Cell. Don't buy it if you're looking for classic two minute pop songs. Speaking of which.... (Jyoti)

Vaselines, The Way Of The Vaselines, A Complete History (Sub Pop) CD

I just had to get this when I saw it on CD, I know it's old stuff but so what? It's a great comp, with a foreword by Eugene himself. Classic pop songs like "Monsterpussy," "Rory Rides Me Raw," "Dying For It" and of course the originals of "Molly's Lips" and "Son Of A Gun," as covered by some band from Seattle. Listening to this (along with "Singles Going Steady") makes me realise what's missing from most contemporary guitar pop/rock. Feeling, meaning, a sense of humour and grace. I better stop now before someone mentions Bogshed again. Buy this album if you've ever pogoed in your bedroom. Don't buy it if you don't like songs about rudies and pubies. (Jyoti)

Super Collider, It won't be long (Loaded) 12"

A twisted pastiche of Prince croons as two horny hogs make noisy bacon and a methodical lumberjack chops down a very thick tree with a very blunt axe. Extraordinary. Remixes from Midfield General and Buckfunk 3000.

Grind, Best of (J-Bird) CD

Reviews of this album seem to have reached a concensus opinion that Grind are fans of Paul Westerberg and it has to be said that there's plenty to support the view that the ex-Replacement would figure high in their list of musical heroes. However, across the 23 tracks culled from 6 albums, there's a lot more besides: try Pete Shelley and Elvis Costello with out of control vocal chords, or Grant Hart's Husker Du songs played on a cranky acoustic or, better, by a cabaret band or a trashy basement trio. Listen to a quirky Gary Numan or the schizophrenic swagger of Talking Heads battling with the grandiose structures of ELO and Roy Wood's genius arrangements. This is the sound of a band with a short attention span and the talent to do it justice.

Blackalicious, A2G (Mo Wax) 12"

Seven tracks of quality hip hop with the vocal dexterity and lyrical eccentricity of Kool Keith and the production of DJ Shadow's Latyrx (Lateef guests on one track). Old school is just about useless as any kind of a guide these days, but insofar as it means an upfront beat and strong rhymes, this is old school, imagine if De La Soul had stripped their DAISY vibe of the inane smiles and evolved it a couple of generations. There's no slack on these cuts and "Alphabet aerobics," mixed by Cut Chemist, is just about as good as it gets, an inspired poetry trip on which rapper Gift of the Gab skips through verses where each word begins with the same letter until the whole alphabet is done. Stunning.

Black Eyed Peas, Behind The Front (Interscope) CD

This has got slagged a lot by the rock press (what a surprise) but I love it. It's very, very poppy, nearly every track is a stunna and they do the 'live band playing hip hop' thing excellently. In fact, I prefer it to the Roots cos it draws me in more. The lyrics are also top, very positive and conscious (a bit of an antidote to the Eminem album) and the flow's cool and smooooov. In sound terms, it's again like the Native Tongues stuff, with a dash of the Hiero madness. The production is deliberately trying to place them apart from the retro g-funk wave that seems to be going on. It's also one of the few current hip hop albums that doesn't have the Timbaland ghost hovering over it. Some tracks near the end of the album veer into Fishbone territory and even Rollins Band but funkier. Buy it if you love De La Soul, TCQ, Masta Ace or BDP. Avoid it if you're looking for something nastier. (Jyoti)

Mothers Against Sex Association, Pause (Hiljaiset Levyt) 7"

Chewbacca with laryngitis appears to front this seething bunch of Motorhead-loving Finns playing a far-out tribal distort/perv blues that recalls a less winding Warser Gate or a fired-up Jon Spencer as Beefheart. PO Box 211, 33201 Tampere, Finland

Atari Teenage Riot, 60 second wipeout (DHR) CD

Same shit, different day, a slogan stuck above the desk of thousands of dissatisfied 9-5ers, dissatisfied with work, life, society, government, their lot, you name it, but also apathetic enough to do precisely nothing about it. Enter Atari Teenage Riot, several orders of magnitude beyond dissatisfaction and well into intense rage of the bile-splitting, spleen-venting variety and intent on putting the world to rights through direct action and distortion, rampaging beats and shouted polemics. Current single "Revolution action" is their call to arms, "Western decay" their diagnosis and "Anarchy 999" their prescription, all accompanied by the amplified sound of Satan loudly evacuating his bowels. It's riotous stuff and easily the equal of previous releases but nothing significantly new, which leaves us with the ironic outro: same shit, different disc.

60Hz, Double zero/UK fresh (Second Skin) 12"

"UK fresh," the press release says, is a devastating example of nu skool breakz...a term I'm still not entirely sure about. What is sounds like is seething, dirty electro noise pumped up by a sparse, rigid breakbeat. Kraftwerk from the dark side on steroids. BLIM sticks the boot in on remix duty, reverting to a more straightforward electro template but losing none of the seedy gutter vibe.

Chasm/Bannlust, split (FatCat) 12"

Episode number 5 in the FatCat shared vinyl series, this 12" sees Chasm (Robert from Loop and, latterly, Main) on one side and Bannlust (Marco of Science City) on the other. The Chasm side is built from, well, not exactly found sound, more constructed sound---deliberate taps, scrapes and rubs of unlikely materials recorded and treated---stitched together in a beaty way. Like a stripped-back Funkstorung perhaps, or a particularly weird Herbert moment. It's spacious stuff, as are Bannlust's 3 tracks, although probably less so, being, inasmuch as it's possible to say this, more traditional and in the mould of mellow Autechre moments. There's always a beat to nod along to and often other cracked samples to thicken things up.

Crazy Penis, A Nice Hot Bath with....(Paper Recordings) CD

I've had this CD for a while now so I can unashamedly recommend it. It's nine sublimey bopping choons lasting around seventy minutes. The feel is sort-of Fila Brazillia/Pork Records stuff but is peraps a bit more mainstream poppy, which is fine by me. I guess you'd broadly call it house but definitely towards the funky end rather than four-on-the-floor stomping. Just the swing of the tracks makes you want to dance. My fave overall track is number two, "Do It Good". This is just an amazingly stomping groove. It starts off with cross-mod squeals over a resonant pad and then this horn stab comes in. Then a huge squelchy bass coupled with a lovely tight beat. I'm not lying about this track - it's pure pop. If this got used on a telly ad somewhere or borke on the radio, it'd be an instant hit.

The rest of the album's just as bum-shaking, in various different styles. "Omega Man" has got some suitably haunting strings at the start and a darker beat. "A Little Something" is just very summery and floaty. Makes you wish you were floating on a luxury yacht somewhere... niiice...Overall, it's probably more jazzy than average, whilst still remaining house (ie, it's not as jazzy as Fourtet or as experimental as Slicker). But just to prove they don't take themselves too seriously, there's a *ahem* appropriate sample at the end of "3Play It Cool." I won't say what it is here cos they'd get their arses sued. Buy this CD if you loved the Air, Daft Punk, Money Mark albums. Avoid it if you hate "bleepy bedroom dance music shite". (Jyoti)

Ceramic Hobs, Psychiatric underground/72 hour drink binge (Pumf) CD/7"

Mark E. Smith's evil twin brother, Wilbur H. Smith, obviously didn't make it out the other side, remaining trapped somewhere in Blackpool providing demento vox for a bunch of deranged clangers going by the name of Cermaic Hobs. As is usually the case in these doppelganger sibling scenarios, ME and WH were separated at birth and share many personality traits but differ in some vital ones, these being the vile reflection of good in one as bad in the other. After separate upbringings, we join the story 20 years down the line etc etc etc. The commonalities between the two are a Fall-like backing band who favour abstraction, noise, chaotics, lumber, clatter, hiss, howl, jowls, crashes, lurches, angularity and the annoying habit of being completely shit one minute and truly incredible the next; visionary vs idiotic lyrical outpourings and a seemingly limitless capacity for lexical tomfoolery. On the cracked inverse side, MES has released an album a year for the last one million years while WHS has released one album this year containing a million songs; MES has better microphones and MES undertands the word restraint, just. Stanzine Publications, 25 Ivy Avenue, Blackpool, FY4 3QF.

Dawn of the Replicants, Wrong town, wrong planet, three hours late (EastWest) CD

There's something intrinsically strange and twisted about DotR. It was there even way back on the "So far, so spitfire" 7" that kicked things off for them and it's a credit to their (double) vision that it's still here now after a couple of years on a major label and the release of around a million songs a week over that time. Having listened to the new album several times an image is beginning to form, a picture story that explains the sounds...Paul Vickers uses hallucinogens and a satanic thesaurus to conjour up some Dadaist lyrical mismatchery then wanders out to the cages at the end of his garden in which the rest of the band live, cramped wooden cubes filled with broken instruments and 4-track recorders with missing knobs. He gives each of them a sheet of lyrics, pours a little water into their bowls, switches tapes between all the recorders and promises food the following day...if they're good. This goes on for several months after which he collects all the tapes, adds his vocals, mixes down and catches a train to London to present EastWest with a new record. And if it's a little more straightforward than the last one, it's only because he's stopped using the worming tablets.

Various,Mini-Krautrock (Mini Drivers) TAPE

A bunch of, mostly French, bands offering their own varieties of K-rock and its later derivations comprise this debut release for the Mini Drivers label. Normal compilation rules apply, away goals count double: The Ghor Experience from Canada opt for a tinny proto-Depeche Mode development of the synth formula while Madrid's "Moonlamb" is more on the space side of things with obvious echoes of MBV; "Arnold willy" by Snark drops a dose of dub under distorted rumbling beats and is followed by Dave's Infusion doing a similar thing in a tribal Can/junglist manner with ambient noise. Snark's second offering, "Jeopardy," is a clockwork toy and Casio sonnet and NetBEUI round off the first side with a dark and broody electronic hum. The uppers on side 2 come from Dub Printing Fingers' "Juicy magnetic lemons," an itchy grumble of typewriter percussion and vibes wrapped up in a coat of buzz; Perspex coerce the buzz onto a sine wave and cycling synth before TG give us some old school Pram sounds in "Il est tard" and Snark wobble like Holger Czukay playing windchimes in a storm. So, it's Krautrock in the widest sense, the bands inspired by the breadth of the original genre rather than the recent journalistic revival of the term. If you're expecting 20 tracks of Stereolab Jr, this is not for you. Singel 26b, 1402 NT Bussum, Nederlands

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