Archive for November, 2013

Down in Dunedin they have a great tradition of left field music, a trend that’s being continued by Fish Rider records, which released one of our favourite albums from anywhere in the world this, The Prophet Hens’ Popular People Do Popular People.

The 11th released by Fish Rider is by two males, called, err Males. Run Run Run/MalesMalesMales is nine-track minute compilation of their debut EP, a single from earlier this year, and a projected four-track EP that has instead been included here. Males

There’s a briskness to this fairly brief album, with the opener, Pre Roll, rattling along and doing its dash after 1:46. There’s a California feeling to much of this, with hooks aplenty, and guitars at full pelt. Richard Ley-Hamilton occasionally reaches Kate Bush-esque heights, which is onerous on Lucky Too, but otherwise he keeps to a steady vocal timbre. That’s clearest on the stand-alone single So High that contains a highly infectious chorus, but there’s a verse in which you feel Ley-Hamilton hasn’t even rehearsed.

By the time I’ve completed the final five tracks I am wondering what’s new here. It feels like a re-run of the previous few tracks, Marion Bales Thievery excepted. This sense of disappointment is hard to shake off, but the final four tracks are from their debut release and the highlights are the latest material which bodes well for the future.

It’s a long way from New Zealand’s most southerly city to central Scotland, but remember that Dunedin is New Edinburgh in Scots Gaelic. This a tenuous link to our next guest star, the Super Adventure Club, from Glasgow. The wonderfully-named Armellodie records releases their wonderfully-named third album, Straight from The Dick, with wonderful titles like Dog With Two Dicks and  Turns Out My Brain Was My Other Brain.

Straight FromLet me tell you now, this ain’t full of heavy themes from introverted singer-songwriters. And thank goodness for that.

With a humour similar to that mined by Half Man Half Biscuit, the trio explore tales of the weird and wired, the stories that end up in the Oddspot of your regional papers. Between a Sock and a Hard Place is centred on people with a curious love life, including the woman who renamed herself Mrs Berlin Wall after marrying the famous German structure.

As for the third track … well, ahem. “I made a date with two dicks,” sings Bruce Wallace, accompanied by some Dave Time Band* licks” before reeling off oblique namechecks to GG Allin and Cassius Clay.

If the music was more harmonic rather than the souped-up 70s rock often dished up, this would ideal for a singalong with the kids or a Exclusive Brethren congregation.

  • That’s what it sounds like.


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Earlier this year, Porky was somewhat disgruntled with Billy Bragg’s Tooth and Nail, (see here https://craighaggis.wordpress.com/2013/04/02/billy-bragg-tooth-and-nail-but-theres-no-fighting/) but what better way than to shed a lame album, than delving into the past. It was 30 years ago that Bragg unleashed Life’s A Riot With Spy vs Spy (Cooking Vinyl), a 16-minute seven-track mini album sold for the price of a 7” record. Riot

Listening to the reissue (and what a time to release a record with that title), it’s hard to believe that this was just one man and his guitar; Bragg sang and strummed like a one-man Clash. Life’s A Spy was released a year before the Miner’s Strike invigorated him, but he was clearly a musician with no leanings towards the dark and evil philosophy of Thatcherism that was waging an unnecessary and unjustified war against the working class for the benefit of the few.

There are some memorable one-offs “I am the milkman of human kindness, I will leave an extra pint”, and tales of the heart, both The Man In The Iron Mask and Richard touchingly explore the “trapped” relationship from the male perspective. Meanwhile, The Busy Girl Buys Beauty explores a theme that remains in our garish 21st society: the women’s magazines that push products and an attitude young women feel they must adhere to.

A New England always felt like a pop song even with its minimalist structure, long before Kirsty MacColl sang role reversal to take it into the top 40. The line “all the girls I loved in school are already pushing prams” was part of the small p politics that Bragg was developing, and which came to the fore on To Have And Have Not, exploring school qualifications, life expectations and the rat race: “The factories are closing, the army’s full, I don’t know what to do.”

To understand this record fully, it’s worth rewinding to 1983, when Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet and ABC took glamorous suits, scantily-clad women, yachts, and a 1920s Hollywood movie sense of the good life into everyday culture. Guitars were hidden behind synthesisers, and hair was big and spangly. Bragg, The Smiths, and a little later James were part of a small crop that were apposite to all the above. There was a feeling of back to basics, of exploring personal issues that were amiss on Girls On Film and Karma Chameleon, although to be fair, the New Romantic bands were not without feeling, far from it, but the substance was often clouded out by the style.

As with reissues, there are extras, but Life’s A Spy is not the deluxe triple CD edition some may expect. The add-on is Bragg redoing the mini album at Union Chapel in London this year, and as he poignantly notes, in introducing it, that it fits handily into a second encore. It’s a faithful replaying of his debut, without the addition of a band, orchestra or leggy backing vocalists, with the odd twist, such as slightly reworking the line in To Have And To Have Not, “just because I dress like this, doesn’t mean I’m a communist” with narcissist replacing the final word.

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