Sunday, 20 April 2008

Raymond & Maria

Raymond and Maria are a six piece from Sweden, who are the latest in a seemingly endless seem of top quality upbeat indie pop combos from that neck of the woods. They have actually have been going since 2002 and have had considerable success in their native charts with their own particular brand of stripped down acoustic sunny tunes which veer just on the right side of twee. Sisters, Maria and Camilla, augment this with sumptuous singing and sweet harmonies. There is a strong anti-commercial d.i.y ethic, as seen in their homemade videos and of course they ooze style just like those cool kids in the sixth form college common room who seemed to have sauntered straight out of an obscure French New Wave movie. Apparently, the band moniker comes from a swinger's club in Stockholm, if that's so, well I'll be throwing my car keys onto the coffee table and cross my fingers that I pick up some more 'Raymond and Maria' action rather than any 'Terry and June' tunes.

They are doing a quickie tour to promote their recently released U.K debut single 'It Could’ve Been You' at the following venues: 19/6 - The Fly (London) 20/6 - The Windmill Brixton (London) 21/6 - The Monto (London) 22/6 - Sounds of Sweden (Glasgow)


This one's veering off the main criteria of this blog, but I think anyone who has has spent many hours shuffling the vinyl racks in record stores, will appreciate this sublime mini comic about our favourite hobby/obsession, created by the talented 'Phil Tre' in Vancouver, Canada.

Friday, 18 April 2008

Low & The Helio Sequence in concert

Scratchy put on his flak jacket and made his way down to Portsmouth to catch Low performing at the Wedgewood Rooms. The place itself is a good medium sized purpose built venue with decent acoustics and a stylish adjoining chill out bar. The crowd was a bit on the spartan side (reflecting the style of the music, perhaps?) but they were enthusiastic enough, that is if you can call the Low fan base enthusiastic, let's just say that the door staff had no worries of having to curtail any over exuberant stage diving on this particular evening.

Up as the support were Portland duo The Helio Sequence who are signed to the Sub Pop label. They impressed with their big sound infusing a mix of shoegaze and baggy vibe with occasional Arcade Fire like crescendos. Brandon Summers multi-tasked with aplomb on vocals and guitar and Benjamin Weikel, who has had Modest Mouse duties to his credit, put in a passionate drumming performance, as well as somehow finding time for some keyboard action. It was a big sound for two guys to pull off and mostly they succeeded. The 'Helio' sound could occasionally do with some extra vocal/instrumental input to add a fresh dynamic especially when performing live. They could become an electrifying three piece and are already worth making waves in their current format.

Low came on in an atmosphere of reverence, the crowd were intent on creating the right conditions for the special minimal stark Low sound to make it's full impact. Alan Sparhawk on lead guitar and vocals took control of proceedings perfectly counterbalanced by his wife Mimi Parker on drums and vocals. The new band member, Matt Livingston, in the middle was concentrating hard on bass duties and did come across a bit of a gooseberry but the group interaction will no doubt develop in time. They seemed a bit nervous, not so much as performers, but as in between live entertainers, which was strange given the long history of the band and the supreme control they have over their material. The set list had a good mix of their quiet tunes mixed up with numbers from their punchier more recent albums 'Drums and Guns' and 'The Great Destroyer'. These were delivered to spine tingling perfection and were met with appropriate reverence by the assembled throng. Indeed, at times, I felt like I was in the midst of a congregation of dutiful worshippers at a solemn ceremony but that's the effect of the fragile unearthly sound of Low. Come the encore, the trio managed to unshackle their inhibitions and let their unique sound soar to new heights, releasing the full majesty of their music to the delight of the gathered throng. Lo and behold! for ye shall follow...

Monday, 14 April 2008

Le Loup

While Scratchy gets all carried away with the crayons I hope no-one minds if I pull it back to plastic for a moment. Please, come, and tilt your heads at the sublime hintings of Le Loup, from Washington D.C.

I heard about them from the good people at Stool Pigeon who, almost singlehandedly, carry aloft the flame of the London's proud typographical heritage. (What is it with torch carrying anyway, why so current? 'Round our way the only reason people carry a torch is for a burnin'!)

Stool Pigeon gave the album The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations' Millennium General Assembly ( too) three stars. A critic's equivalent of a pat on the back. Tardy preparation for what greeted me on first listening. Such RESOUNDING SPACE! Such ECHOING EXPANSE! Where Arcade Fire achingly yearn for transcendence Le Loup are already there, waving at us lazily atop their Olympian mount. Even better, We Are Gods! contains possibly the feyest noise I have ever heard. Voices that wilt like orchids in a desert sun.

Single Record Sleeves

Here's a nice site showing some tasty examples of the now, nearly forgotten art of designing eye catching single sleeves. It's broken down into catagories for ease of searching with an A to Z of labels as well as general genres like stars, patterns and two colour prints. Above: are two (slightly changed) examples of pleasing on the eye patterns that were designed. These show that simplicity often produces the best results.

This site has some more fine 45 design action..

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Alex Taylor - Dinnertime

Every mother loves a son who enjoys his dinner, and look at this boy go. Somebody call Daisy Duke! Her simple brother is at the watermelon stall ag'in! Maybe he just loves his melon, or maybe he does what his publicist tells him to do. Who's to tell? But the demi-john of piss at his feet don't look promising to me.

This here is Alex Taylor, lesser known brother of James. Dinnertime is his second full length, released in 1972 on Capricorn Records. Alex could call upon some of the best session musicians available (to the sibling of a hugely successful 70s singer-songwriter) and the results are easily audible on this competent effort. Classy arrangements abound, highlighting an absence of punch from our watermelon munching hero. Ultimately the relentless mid-tempo stomping kind of gets me down; you can almost feel the players counting down the bars 'till their paycheck. But hey ho! 1972 was a hell of a confused year, culturally speaking, and the more paranoid listener might detect shadows around every well-turned blue-eyed blues/soul phrase. Or maybe not.


one - "Here is one of the World's Unique Long-Play Recordings" you're not kidding there matey!

two - Gaaaaze into the wonderful album covers which demand to be picked up and purchased.

three - Relaaaax into your favourite chair and listen to my efforts to hypnotise you!

four - Clooosssse your eyes and conceeentrate on my weirdly sinister Canadian voice...

five - Your eyelids are sooooo heavy and only my voice matters now.

- Breeeaaathe deeply as you are getting deeeeeper and deeeeeper into this must have piece of vinyl.

- You are now wonnndeerrfuully relaaaxed even though my image on the front looks like I will hand out a Begby style kicking if you don't follow my instructions.

- You wiiiilllll give up all cigarettes even know you feeeel the need for one now more than ever, in order to calm your nerves, (see seven above)

- You wiiiiiilll enjoy the elevator classical piano music, lilting gently in the background.

- I am now in compleeete control of your listeeening habits!
you will play this masterpiece on a regular basis.
Well it worked for me as you can see, thank you Reveen for making these inspired slabs of vinyl.

Find out about his remarkable life here..

Monday, 7 April 2008

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Itchy Knackers

'Itchy Knackers'
Itchy and Scratchy browsing for Britain

I am delighted to announce an exciting new development for this blog. Let me introduce our new writer 'Itchy Knackers' who has graciously agreed to contribute some posts to our burgeoning content and thus inject some much needed va va voom to this blog. This will mean that, hopefully, more frequent postings will take place and of course an interesting new perspective into the world of vinyl digging will be divulged, as well as another finger on the pulse of what's currently hot in audio land. I think it's fair to say, that Itchy has many successful years of vinyl sniffing under his belt and brings an encyclopedic knowledge of rock/pop music to the proceedings, especially when it comes to 'American Alt Grunge' circa 1991 to 1993. I look forward to reading his extended discourse, on this particular sub genre, in the coming weeks. I have been informed that Itchy has recently been on a raiding sortie north of the border and has returned with all manner of plunder to be reviewed, dissected and where merited, extolled.