Strawberry Whiplash: Stuck In The Never Ending Now
The Hermit Crabs: In My Flat
Scotland forever. The nation that’s given the world Altered Images, Postcard Records, The Associates, Edwyn Collins, the Cosmic Rough Riders, et al just keeps on giving, with two new releases from Matinee Recordings.
Strawberry Whiplash are Laz McCluskey and Sandra Nosurname, from Glasgow, just like The Orange Juice were, and have been around for rather a long time, producing an album and several EPs.
Stuck In The Never Ending Now is unabashed tweedom, sweltering in the umbrella of The Primitives and Talulah Gosh, Sandra’s delectable vocals shimmering all over wanna-be MTV hits like If Surface Were Depth and the outstanding ‘title track’ Never Ending Now with its fuzzy guitars and impatient drumming. Ride The Waves To The Shore is a much slower effort which has an intricate beauty that transponds this writer from his small, city flat on a dreich day to the local surf beach with sunburnt arms all around.
The Hermit Crabs, also from Scotland’s soul capital, have an American link, having spent a lot of time in Boise, Idaho. It was there that In My Flat was recorded, however, that was three years ago, and it wasn’t till the Scottish summer this year that it was mixed and mastered. Hopefully the band can explain the delay.
In My Flat is a sombre album, also with gloriously deft vocals by Melanie Whittle (there was a Scottish runner called Brian Whittle, who ran like fuck in the relay in a major champs with one shoe to get Britain a medal, wonder if he’s a relation). There’s stories of unrequited love, such as that on I’m A Fool while High Maintenance is a tale of the difficulties imposed by a long-distance love affair.
There’s a touch of country music on Should I Drop You Off, which won’t be to everyone’s taste. And there’s namechecks for Tracey Emin, who I can’t be bothered explaining, and Stuart Murray, a Glaswegian artist, one of whose books In Pubs takes up a fair bit of the second tier of a bookshelf in the Porky abode.
The critics will inevitably dub these albums as treading an old path, going down the same road that twee, shambling, the Monkees etc etc have all done in the past. And yes, this is quite true.
But when Porky first heard The Pastels, The Shop Assistants, The Mary Chain, Aztec Camera and The Darling Buds (all from north of Carlisle other than the last one), it was ALL NEW. I’d never heard of the Velvet Underground, Vic Goddard, Love, and a multitude of other West Coast bands that were the forefathers of such melodic delights.
The new/old argument is as old as the hills and won’t ever go away. Let’s celebrate these two albums for what they are … joyous and uplifting, and very much OF THIS DECADE.