Label: Desire records
Tell me more: This all-girl trio have recorded just two singles, both released on 7”, Hidden Doors at the end of 2008, and Francis the following July. Two years on, we have to presume they’ve been away touring like bitches and developing their sound.
The Lowdown: Rayographs strike me as a mix of PJ Harvey, Lush and post-punk acts like the Au Pairs, with a feminine-masculine-feminine feel but with literary and film influences to boot. It’s eerie yet understandable, off-putting but intriguing, powerful while melodic. The contrast in emotions runs riot on their debut, a track like Providence Rhode Island being an uneasy listen, but My Critical Mind, is a beautiful half-spoken, near monotone ramble that is surprisingly beguiling. It’s sister track is Falconberg Court, where Jess Tierney eschews signing and speaks into the mic, as Astrid Steehouder and Amy Hurst play a uniformly ethereal backdrop that both hides and highlights Tierney’s approach. And so it goes, there are surprises at most turns, some of which requires a number of listens, some of which require the need for the ffwd button, but it’s never predictable.
Anything else? Their name comes from the surrealist photography first established by underground legend Man Ray to create stark and beautiful images.
Title: Spinning Plates
Label: Blip records
Tell me more: Slightly eccentric British indie Pt 876. Originally from England’s Midlands, Middleman self-produced this in their new home of Leeds, the album reflecting a time when “they found themselves completely overwhelmed trying to juggle day jobs, bad management and trying to keep control of their own music.” In terms of rock’n’roll adversity it’s no Altamont or your drummer being found in the bath stone cold of an overdose, but we can still emphasise lads.
The Lowdown: Middleman spit out lyrics as if they’re competing in a rap contest while pounding guitars bang your head, the bass rifles its way into your nether regions and you’re left feeling as you’ve just heard The Streets having graduated from the School of Indie. The title track is also the lead single, reminiscent of early Arctic Monkeys, in its observance of the work-laden consumerist society: “My 9 to 5 is 8 to 6, and by the time I’ve made the trip to work and back, sat in traffic, I’m exhausted.” Nothing quite matches this, with overblown fluff like Chipping Away coming across as a poor man’s Smiley Culture – mid-80s cheepy chappie cockney reggae goes dancehall for the uninitiated. Meanwhile, I feel transported back to a disco circa 1998 as all sorts of electronic keyboards make me feel slightly queasy.
Anything else? All good for television, as some tracks have found their way on programmes like The Gadget Show. The cover you see is from the promo edition: Porky is keen on having the alternative artwork to the one you’ll seen everywhere else.
Who? F In Math
Title: Couch EP
Label: Flying Nun
Tell me more: A connection with seminal Kiwi three-piece The Mint Chicks? Now, Porky’s interested. Indeed, F In Math is the solo vehicle for Michael Logie who was once the bassist for the Chicks, who’ve now been taken down the slaughterhouse. Math, however, is largely an electronic band.
The Lowdown: The Couch EP is another tantalising collection of bouncy keyboard-heavy tunes featuring delicate, laboured vocals/ vocoder splintered by early synth rhythms. The first three tracks go to form, laidback beats that tend to work, with Fish of Pre-History being the standout. Then Logie ramps it up a notch or three on Don’t Look Down with keyboards ditched in favour of chugging basslines. Meanwhile, Paint the TV is about someone “all alone” who just watches television all the time, which conversely comes across as sad and inspiring in equal measures.
Anything else? F In Math’s own particular version of Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds is a live extravaganza if you can imagine how it’s played.