Mute Records sure have been keeping busy putting out great bands. The label has bought scarce CDs for licencing, bringing much wider audiences to deserving bands. Last year their focus was on the new German bands that were crossing boundaries between electronic, art, and the rockish structure of pop. The big 4 of that sound/movement are here, remixing the English band which seems to have learned lots from these 4 German bands. Everyone has learned from these bands: even Saint Etienne's new record is being produced by To Rococo Rot. Pole did an incredible job on the production ot Berlin's The Quarks on their "Konig" CD recently. The 4 remixes on this 12" have more to do with the mixers than Appliance: little of Appliance's originals remain. It's pretty neat to have all these people wrapped together in one vinyl slab, united on a common source material, letting their own personality shine through on their track.
March 28, 2000
What a wow. There are 5 songs on this 12". The first song "Pillow" is the feature. It is where Flaming Lips dream of going. A totally electronic - not even now but beyond now - song with vocals and a real structure. It is really a musthear, no kidding. This is what I think Brad Laner wanted to do in his post Medicine pop project too. Following 'Pillow' are 4 instrumentals. I like "Production No." best (the song which immediately follows 'Pillow'). It has a simple piano signature like OMD had in "Electricity" or more recently Cinema in "They Nicknamed Me Evil" which it carries up up up into other realms with the sounds around and within it. The third song on the A-side didn't leave much impression on me, and the 2 songs on the B-side are a bit beat oriented, though I do like the first one ("Superheroes") which reminds me a bit of the Japanese band Montparnasse, who have an excellent 12" on Escalator Records.
MJ Hibbett (Mark Hibbett) also appears on the Fortuna Pop! 7" compilation 'Work Is A Four Letter Word' and on a Flighted Miskick (a subsidiary of Guided Missile) 7" dedicated to the World Cup series which took place 2 years ago. Both bands on this single have just put out debut full lengths. Mark Hibbett's backing band on these recordings includes people from Prolapse, John Sims, and Lazer Guided (whose great split single with Saloon charted well at WZBC). The subject matter of M.J. Hibbett seems to parallel Billy Bragg with all his songs about the working man, and about working itself, but I like Mark Hibbett's songs better myself. The song which appears on 'Work Is A Four Letter Word' even has parts of a Billy Bragg song in it. I have read people calling M.J. Hibbett & The Validators 'Billy Bragg without a budget'. All I know for sure is that the song "Payday is the Best Day" has been going through my head most of the week. Johnny Domino have the plucked note guitar sound that The Yummy Fur and The Male Nurse do, a sound which was pioneered by The Fire Engines in Scotland ages ago . It's a good sound though, and Johnny Domino play it well.
Buck features Lisa Marr (vocals/bass) who used to fron the Canadian all girl trio Cub. She now fronts this coed trio in LA, CA. Gaze are an all girl trio from Vancouver Canada. International House Of Karen is Karen of Bunnygrunts new band based in St. Louis, and Rose Melberg is the much loved ex-leader of Tiger Trap, as well as fronting Go Sailor, and The Softies. All these bands LOVE Patty Duke, the spicy teen who played herself and an identical cousin in the 60's TV show "The Patty Duke Show". On this EP they each cover a song that Patty Duke had covered during her recording career.
The A-side is from the recent 'Avoidance' CD, and the 2 B-sides are instrumentals unique to this 7", from this Edinburgh Scotland band. The first of these instrumentals ("Dan and Greg") centers on Teardrop Explodes "Sleeping Gas" styled rhythm with a bit more zip, and an organ circling around it, all with the feel of a electric jam freakout. The song reprises after a false end, at a slightly slower beat. The second song throws a new wrinkle at you: it runs at 33 despite the fact that the song before it plowed along at 45 rpm. It has an REMish circular picking guitar and piano chords over the bass, which increases in promenance throughout the (pretty short) length of the song.
A good week for Fat Cat at WZBC. Not only do we now have this great 12" with 6 new Kid 606 (San Diego CA) and 4 Christoph De Babalon (Hamburg Germany) pieces, but we also received Process "Shape-Space", The Dylan Group "Ur-Klang Search", and the "Split Series 1-8" CD's from Triage International, who are promoting Fat Cat in the US. Both Kid 606 and Christoph de Babalon are pretty radical, but are not unlistenable noise. They are electronic/computer sound pioneers whose work can just as soon be contemplative as incredibly mixed up in true chaos.
Kimonophonic is Justin Armstrong, from Ontario Canada. He recorded these 4 track mostly upbeat synth intrumentals at home. Like all Earworm releases there is a high quality, and high quality of the unusual. "From Vermont To Delaware in 1961" sounds like Suicide's 'Cheri' without vocals was it's launchpad. The songs which start out each side truly cook, and should delight anyone who enjoyed the recent 'From Inside The Chocolate Coffin' 12"s. My fave is the 2 minute "Super Highway", which starts off the A-side in a quickly percolating trot. For those who like foggy 'lost' sounding tracks, the second song on the A-side ("Music For Time Travel - Part Two") should do the trick, though it's my least favorite of the 4.
Amberley's pamphlet says "The duo of Alyssa and Andrew invite you to a magical place, through quasi-orchestral themes constructed with loving craftmanship." Here is their biography from their website: Mahogany was formed in December of 1995 by Allysa Massais and Andrew Prinz.They had met the year before, and through a mutual love of composers like Debussy, bands like Section 25, and a similar background in classical cello, they began working on music together. In February of 1996, Larry Hofmann of Burnt Hair Records saw the pair play one of their first shows, in Lansing, Mich. Larry like the group and asked them to do a split 12" with fellow Lansing residents Auburn Lull. Released in December of that year, the 'Dual-Group' EP was called 'drop-trousers gorgeous' by the Ptolemaic Terrascope, and received airplay in Belgium, New York, and on the John Peel show in the UK. Releases on other labels like Tinseltones, Liquefaction and Blackbean & Placenta soon followed; currently, Mahogany is recording on 24-track digital for their debut album with Burnt Hair.
Ramonetures: The title and the sleeve spell it out perfectly. The sleeve has a perfect mock of the classic first Ramone's record, with a leather jacketed shirtless ripped jean sneakered girl holding a Mosrite guitar. What you'll find within is 18 instrumental Ramones covers played Ventures style. It's a neat concept, and a great way for this unknown Portland OR band to sell tons of records by tapping into the well established audiences of The Ramones and The Ventures. At the end of the day all you'll need to know is that it's fun, nobody got hurt, and you know all these songs deep in your heart already, so why not?!
"Marble Arch" sounds like one of the instrumentals that you'd find on a Siesta compilation: light airy, upbeat and smart. "Happy day, Happy time!" sounds more like Patty Duke than the bands on the Patty Duke compilation 7", albeit a Japanese Patty Duke with a bossanova beat. Very nice. The 2 songs on the B-side are more in the Clover Records minimal vein, and are not as strong as the A-side tracks, missing the drums and flourishes that made the A-sides so bright.