Poltergeist – Your Mind Is A Box (Let Us Fill It With Wonder)

poltergeistGenerally when I’m in the sort of mood I’m in now (an internal belligerence raging against vicious depression, mixed with various others), I tend to go for something from the past  to at least divert attention away from whatever happens to be going on in what passes for my brain.  I suppose I do this partly to just transport myself elsewhere for 45 minutes, or perhaps to avoid accidentally poisoning a first listen of something with my current malign temperament – much as I seem to be doing with this opening paragraph.  Sorry about that.

Anyway, it turns out that I can’t pick anything old out of the hat at the moment either, so here’s a happy compromise: an exciting new record from a band comprising members of another band who captured so much of my time and imagination from when I was younger, perhaps?  Yup, that’ll do nicely.


The Soundcarriers – The Other World Of The Soundcarriers

towotscFrankly, it’s been far too nice to be faffing about indoors listening to stuff and then scribbling about it when I could be outside listening to stuff and then forgetting to write about it when I come back inside.  That’s the joy of Outside though, and given the forecast for the next few days, I’m glad I made the most of it.  So now that I’m back in from the sunshine, and shortly before I follow my Dad’s old lead of unplugging everything before a storm so the lightning doesn’t get in, I’d better get a shift on.  And what better way of doing so than this, a cheerfully strange slab of English Summertime that further exposes me for the idiot that I am for basically not reading the instructions.


Matt Berry – Kill The Wolf

kill the wolfFolk.

As a stroppy youth, this word was an indication of all that was wrong with the world I was growing up in, and so I spent much of that time immersing myself in anything but tales of sailing out of Liverpool never to return, wrapping myself firmly and snugly in the most serious of indie (this was the mid-80s, so there was plenty to choose from), the brashest of thrash metal and many points in between.  Then, as my mind opened up a little bit more via natural, strange routes (The Wonderstuff and The Levellers on one side, Led Zeppelin via Nuclear Assault on the other as it happens) I sort of ended up there anyway, and became especially enchanted by the more non-conformist sides to it – which is happily most of it.

This record embodies all the best bits of a folky attitude for me: embracing a past without forsaking the present, and larking about a bit while doing this.


The Focus Group – Elektrik Karousel

Elektrik KarouselThe imagined village of Belbury is an idyllic location not too dissimilar to Trumptonshire.  Jolly, eccentric and full of character, the Parish has become rather adept at producing a bunch of uniquely English-flavoured electronic psychedelia.  Unlike Camberwick Green and its environs however, there is a sense of ‘otherness’ about Belbury that brings to mind church clocks chiming at funny times, Women’s Institute gatherings devoted to invoking all manner of friendly spirits and an off-licence dispensing many a curiously-coloured liquid for the discerning customer.  Welcome to the strange and wonderfully parochial (in the nicest sense of the word) world of Ghost Box Recordings.

And quite frankly that’s the best intro I could come up with to set the scene for something that exists in its own little universe, obeying its own rules and wandering off in whatever direction it feels like, as they continue in marvellous form with this one from The Focus Group.


Anywhere – Anywhere

The nature of musical “supergroups” has changed a lot since the heady days of the 1970s.  Instead of lurching around the globe in individual monogrammed articulated lorries, only meeting bandmates at motorway service stations while conspiring to sound louder and dress more egregiously than each other, all the fun ones nowadays have ambitions no loftier than hanging out with friends from other bands and making records with them – and thank the stars for that.  Even when faced with the Rock Godliness of Them Crooked Vultures, the emphasis remains less on extended oneupmanship soloing and more on being part of a good tune.  It seems that supergroups are much more super when they’re more down to Earth, and that can only be a good thing.  So it’s a pleasure to sit and listen to this coming together of eclectic talent, making a record that sounds immediate and timeless in equal measure.


Stealing Sheep – Into The Diamond Sun

Hello, I’m on a train. Isn’t technology marvellous? The reason for this will hopefully become apparent tomorrow morning when I will be on a train heading in the opposite direction going on about something else.
So, with little further ado, this is another of those “not looking forward to much at the mo so am taking a bit of pot luck” things, and again it’s turned out to be a bit of a corker.


Om – Advaitic Songs

 The first time I heard Om was via Sup Pop’s 20th anniversary 2008/2009 Singles Club collection, with Gebel Barkal.  It remains the most-played of the dozen singles released in that set, although curiously (a split single with Six Organs Of Admittance aside) I’d never looked at getting hold of any of their albums.  I suppose this was because, much as I liked the spacey and meditative music they produced, I wasn’t sure if my easily distracted nature could cope with a whole album’s worth.  It turns out that I can, and happily so.


YB’s – Altered Steaks

Sometimes, the hardest part of writing up one of these things is knowing where and how to start.  Like this one for example.  I’ve had a dull week at work where nothing much has happened except for me getting a movable-type rubber stamp which I have been duly abusing for days on end (my personal fave can be viewed here), the predicted snow chaos didn’t happen anywhere near here and so held little interest, and that’s about it.

So it was nice to have the mundanity scuppered by the surprise arrival of this record from Seattle’s YB’s, a band I know next to nothing about (let alone what the YB stands for) making music that largely defies a cohesive description.  Of course, I could read and relate the info that accompanied this, but I always feel that doing so is cheating slightly, as well as ruining the surprise…


Microdot Gnome – Low Flying Bird

I do like singles.  Honestly.  It’s just that they’re an absolute sod for me to go on about on here due to the nature of how I do things around here, which is basically

  • Put record on
  • Type
  • Stop when record finishes
  • Check spelling (not necessarily in 100% of cases)
  • Check sense made (this one might actually be a massive lie)
  • Send!
  • Wine

It’s a system that has served me fairly well for a year and a half, and I’m not sure if I can do it any other way (especially the Wine bit, I insist upon that), as if I’m not listening to something then it’s hard to put into words what I feel about it.  Short records mean either lots of repetition (which can wear down the appeal of them) or very fast typing (which is a bit of a strain on both fingers).  Nevertheless, I’m always willing to have a go, albeit under the guise of a very long preamble to get the wordcount up before I actually start…


Jonny – S/T

First things first: this is three and a half quid on iTunes.  This alone, for thirteen tracks and forty minutes of good-natured and off-kilter indie-pop, is a steal.


Which isn’t the only reason why I bought it.  I bought it partly because Teenage Fanclub’s Shadows was a huge highlight of last year, this project intrigued me from first hearing, and well yes because it was cheap.


With Teenage Fanclub’s Norman Blake and Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci’s Euros Childs’ paths crossing on more than one occasion over the years, a more substantial coming-together than the occasional guesting on each others’ work was probably always going to happen.  And in fitting fashion, the end result isn’t so much a collection of painstakingly-crafted and produced soul searching balladry, as a strange parallel 1970s universe where a young Euros seemingly pops round to the Blake’s house to ask Norman’s mum if he can come out to play for a bit and make an album.