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Physical Format-20190327


November 2017's selection from Flying Vinyl contains . As an aside there's been no interest shown in the discs from previous months which have made their way on to Discogs but it's early days yet.

Even before beginning to write the body of this I've opened a tab for Discogs as the Colouring disc ('Heathen' and 'White Whale') is so obviously not something I'll be listening to again on purpose. Their smooth '80s slightly jazzy pop sound is anathema. According to this month's booklet they supported the 1975 in North America in 2017 and that's another black mark by association with one of the worst named acts of the century. 'White Whale' offers up more of the same from the A side (the songs are interchangeable in their blandness). Unsurprisingly the valuation on Discogs is under £5 but I'll settle for that. By the looks of the band's website they've not been very busy since 2017.
Cosmo Sheldrake's the only one of the five acts this time around that I'd heard of prior to the parcel dropping through the letterbox. I think he's supposed to have a reputation as being a bit off the wall. 'Come Along' doesn't come across as something that'll be getting sung by the masses much in the future. Not good enough to have him mentioned in the same breath as Nick Drake or even Badly Drawn Boy. 'Mind Of Rocks' starts off with a female chorus at a pace which brings to mind pagan rituals. It goes a bit wonky too but it's not totally clear if that's to do with the pressing or deliberate. There's the possibility of a tenner being paid for it so I'd rather have that. Cosmo's website also doesn't show much recent activity but he does have a couple of gigs lined up for the summer.
Next up, on solid white vinyl, are The Ninth Wave. I've recently become aware of their existence and I'm sure someone I know suggested giving them a listen. 'Reformation' ticks a number of nostalgia boxes but not really for any style I was very into. I can't help thinking that they'll be less successful than Franz Ferdinand in their heyday and sink just as quickly. 'Heartfelt' has a faster pace than the A side but what I picture is Deacon Blue given a rock makeover. If someone wants to pay me a fiver for it they're welcome. Their site confirms they're alive & well with a small tour of the UK imminent.
So far we're three for three this time around. Given that Isaac Gracie apparently had help from BBC Introducing (so says the blurb) there's a good chance its kiss of death won't reverse the disposal trend.
And so it proves. Nice solid scarlet disc but yearning, drippy singing on 'All In My Mind' immediately have me switching it over to 'Reverie'. Which is better vocally but does the world need another "woe is me" tune? £20 on offer so that's four out of four getting listed. Isaac's still on the go though, with his first gig of the year scheduled for late in April.
Stereo Honey are immediately on a sticky (geddit?) wicket as a) there's too many bands around with honey in their name (and you don't really want your stereo anywhere near spreads) and b) they've opted for an acoustic B side. 'The Bay' comes to life when it hits the instrumental passage around halfway through and is the best song from this bunch of discs but still not one I feel a need to keep hold of. 'Angel', in the version presented here, doesn't grab me at all or give the impression that the original version would either. Whilst Discogs has no sales history (not usually a good sign) and only three people want it (but yet there are 15 selling it) I can apparently hope for the best part of £15 so that's a clean sweep. Spotify playlisting them and chatting with GQ seems to be keeping the band busy at the moment.

Physical Format-20190320


Flying Vinyl's October 2017 selection gets our attention this week. So far none of the discs I've decided to let go have had any attention on Discogs but lets see if they'll be gaining company in the inventory from this iteration of the column's inclusions. Or indeed whether I'm well behind the curve in not having played the best thing since sliced bread until now.

Black Honey receive the transparent pink (slightly bloodshot) treatment for their 7" of 'Bloodlust' and 'Ghost'. The A side's got a good bit of pace to it and so progresses at a good indie rock clip. The B side's an acoustic version of what is presumably an album track. As mentioned in a previous column the point of such versions escapes me and this is a bit dull on the whole. £18.70 seems to be the going rate on Discogs so will take a punt. The band's website show's they're set to tour the UK & Europe during spring 2019.

Horsey fetch up in transparent bottle-green vinyl. 'Park Outside Your Mother's House' starts off unpromisingly but after it initially blows up there's a bit more oomph to it. Gallon Drunk come to mind as it rolls to a close. 'Weeping' begins with a similar late-night, intimate jazz club vibe as the A side but again comes to life as it progresses before dribbling away at the end. Doubtful I'll be playing either side often in the future or getting owt else by the band but for now it's being listed for sale & kept. The group's Facebook page shows them to be active at the present time.
Brighton's brotherly duo Underwater Boys take up the third slot this time around. 'Everyone You Know' is earnest, yearning, synth-driven pop. Pleasant if a bit drippy. 'Bye & Bye' wasn't likely to be anything other than similar to the A side. No one seems to want it on Discogs though (last sale at time of writing was 50p in January) so it's into the flea market box with it. The pair's Facebook page shows they were active up until at least November last year.
No such fate for disc number four however. Given that she and her band are going from strength to strength it's almost redundant to write up Pip Blom's 'Babies Are A Lie'/'School' double A sider this far down the line. But here goes. Catchy, honest and jangly the first track has that quality of sounding effortless in it's composition & performance whilst 'School' deserves multiple repeat plays and is surely one of the best tracks of its kind produced in 2017. Debut album Boat is coming out in May and all the details of live shows etc. can be found here.
Last out of the box this time is Maddee from Toronto. Mention of R 'n' B in artist blurbs always makes me wary, given that my concept of it doesn't seem to tally with what's meant (i.e. I'm stuck in the sound of the '60s). 'Lost' though conforms to what I understand to be the current usage. It's a bit Lana Del Ray meets Sade. Wine bar background music - enough of a beat to provide pleasant noise but turn it one notch louder and the atmosphere's ruined. 'Weight' leans a bit more towards Sylvan Esso territory but on the whole there's no compelling reason for this to stay in my collection. Facebook shows Maddee is still active.

Physical Format-20190313

We've reached September 2017 in this retroactive exercise of reviewing the Flying Vinyl singles I've had gathering dust. So far four out of ten have been either listed for sale on Discogs or failed to sell for 50p at a flea market & thence gone up on display in my kitchen window. What fate awaits the next five?
Alvvays get a fetching transparent orange for their disc of 'In Undertow' and 'Dreams Tonite'. The A side must be one of the more memorable releases in the Flying Vinyl canon, getting a fair bit of airplay on 6 Music three years after they caught people's attention with 'Archie, Marry Me'. Enough for me to recognise it all these months later anyway & it's certainly not unpleasant to hear it again. 'Dreams Tonite' is a slower, dreamier song than 'In Undertow' & so fine as a B side. A nice pairing on the whole. I thought they'd shot their bolt with 'Archie' but they've probably a few years left in them although their website shows no activity since last summer. 
Transparent pink is the order of the day for London trio Calva Louise. 'I'm Gonna Do Well' races along nicely in a surf-pop vein - good riffage, quirky synth parts and some top notch screaming. So enjoyable in fact that I'm going to turn up the volume and play it again. B side 'Getting Closer' begins in more ponderous fashion but the guitar thrashes early on hold promise & sure enough we get some epic screaming not that long intp the song. This is probably my favourite disc of the three months I've so far written up. Their Facebook shows them to be on tour in the UK at the moment, in support of LP Rhinoceros.
Francobollo hail from Sweden. 'Future Lover' sounds like Pavement at their heaviest, which is no bad thing. As it progresses though Weezer at their roughest come to mind and after that point they've lost me. Being very quiet, like Elmer Fudd, just so you can then be VERY LOUD is pretty dull on the whole. I can't imagine this coming over at all well live. B side 'Finally' is acoustic, something I fail to see the point of when the tune was obviously written to be played electrically. Discogs reckons I could possibly get £8.70 for it so listed it is. From a look elsewhere online it seems the band have been quiet since summer 2017.
Geowulf get no points for their name. Boy/girl duos are ten-a-penny & this pair sound no different from the likes of Joy Zipper (who I'd forgotten about until going through 7"s to donate the other day. Hung on to theirs for now though) etc. 'Saltwater' is decent enough pop, particularly the instrumental break midway through, whilst B side 'Drink Too Much' is also equally pleasant in recounting how Star Kendrick is apparently a bit of a handful when she has a skinful. It may not of course be autobiographical. Hedging my bets here as I'm keeping it but also listing it, seeing as double figures are a possibility and it has a decent sales history. The pair are active this week at the SXSW love-in so clearly still a viable outfit.
Last up this time around, appropriately you could say, comes Turtle. Typically for Flying Vinyl, at least at this point in its history, the tracks on here ('Calculate' and 'Blood Type') are listed in the opposite order on the sleeve but then described as A & B respectively in the box's accompanying booklet. Whichever is which both are good slices of electronic music at the darker (but still tuneful) end of the spectrum. After finishing this piece I'll be seeking out the Turtle album, Human. 2017 also seems to be the last time that Turtle produced anything.

Physical Format-20190227

Edition two of our new irregular column finds us progressing into August 2017 with the Flying Vinyl selection for that month. Three of July's releases were culled from the collection after the previous column so let's see how many survive this time.
First up, on transparent rose-coloured vinyl, were Estrons with 'Strobe Lights' backed with 'Glasgow Kisses'. The A side's a punchy, speedy & nonsense-free introduction to the Glaswegian group, marred only by the fact that my copy appears to have a jump in it. Getting five singles new for £20 unfortunately maybe means a drop off in the quality of the manufacture. The B Side is more of the same (minus the jump) and is over way to soon. Another good initial disc. Fast forwarding to 2019 and the band had a new video out last month (here) and hit the road on tour next month. Their sound appears to have gone a bit pop unfortunately. 
Reading's Palm Honey offer up 'Starving Hysterical Naked', one song split into two parts over the sides of their disc. This month's booklet describes the song as "expansive" but, by the halfway point of Part One I can only imagine it boring me senseless if experienced live. Just after typing that last sentence it actually went silent, before lumbering back into a bit of riffing. A CD would possibly have given this the release it deserved (or an mp3 ...), so as to see what the band were trying to do over the length of the whole piece but, as it is, the whimsy that turns up in Part Two (there are also tortuous guitar strangling bits) just sounds like they're trying too hard at too many things. It seems to be about suicide though. According to Facebook the band have done nothing since May 2018, although that could be fake news.
Hey Charlie get transparent red for their single (an EP has more than two tracks) 'Young & Lonesome' and 'She Looks Like A Dreamer'. 18 months ago their name was apparently "on the tips of everyone's tongues". Surely not for the A side here, which is a dull plodder if ever there was one. They manage though to dig out a funky bassline, some swearing and a good, meaty riff on the second song, however (causing my girlfriend to compare them to L7, though apparently unfavourably). For me though this track has a lot going for it. The trio are finishing a headline tour of the UK as this piece is published and have festival dates later in the year.
On the month's penultimate disc JW Ridley gives us 'Blitz' & '1990'. The first song has a broody, darkwave thing going on and The Smiths are an obvious comparison too. Hearing this now it's actually a surprise it doesn't ring a bell, given that it sounds good enough to have deserved radio play at the time. '1990' is a slower effort, perfectly suited to its place on the disc. Lovers being emotionally reunited in a film is what this could score. JW has live dates coming up in the UK in Spring and a new video here.
Finally for this time around we get to London duo Sides, performing 'Feel Better' and 'Do Tell'. "Inoffensive pop" is the first thing that comes into my head as the needle progesses around the A side. It's pretty danceable too. Possibly it overstays its welcome just a tad by the end. 'Do Tell' is more of the same (as if it would be radically different). Pleasant and equally of use in public spaces on a low volume or in more social environments to break down those inhibitions. Due to their name ithe internet is throwing up a lot of stuff clearly nothing to do with the duo (& I doubt they've morphed into a metalcore quintet) so unfortunately I've no idea what they're up to right now.
Only one culled this week.

Physical Format-20190220


Having finally plugged my speakers back into my amp after relocating the stereo & jettisoning the CD player (and slowly trying to flog off the discs) it’s now possible for me to play the Flying Vinyl 7”s I’ve been amassing since July 2017. I’d have heard the tunes way before now if not for the subscription label’s anti-digital stance. Not a drama as that was clear from the start. There’s something like 200 songs to be got through so let’s crack on with the first month I received.

Taking them in the order displayed on the front of the accompanying pamphlet first up is Bloody Knees with 'Not Done' and 'I Want It All' (hopefully not a cover of the Queen song). The A side actually rings a vague bell so this is probably one of the months selections which actually got a play at the time of release. 'Not Done' is well weighted, fun & crunchy with an obviously pit-inducing pace and enjoyably anthemic lyrics which are howled out for the duration. 'I Want It All' is slower & more grunge than punk so, whilst an obvious B side I can't say it pushes any buttons for me. They appear to have been quiet since the release of their You Can Have It album last October.

Next up is Mellow Gang with 'Vendetta' & 'Lagoon (Solina)'. The mention of Lana Del Ray in the booklet in relation to the vocals here is clearly apt from the off. 'Vendetta' swirls around the place in a shoegazy melange. What's being sung about? No idea. Things are even less clear on the B side, which may not actually employ full words. Reasonably pleasant but probably not quite mellow enough for successful background music. The web indicates they've had no releases in the past year.   

Bloody Knees had the first of this month's two coloured discs (translucent bottle green) and Mellow Gang's is clear. The first black vinyl showcases 'Count Me Out' and 'Heartbreaker' by Berlin's Weirdo & Co. Being unable to live without someone's love (which they would if they could) is the theme of the A side. The Pet Shop Boys have probably done this sort of thing better. Not my sort of pop. At the switch over it turns out I've played the songs in the wrong order and the A side is in fact the worse of the two. I definitely need to see if I can get anything for this either on Discogs or at the flea market at the weekend. The band's Facebook page seems to have been pretty quiet since last Spring.

The penultimate 45 from 20 months ago comes from Theo Verney, someone I've liked since first seeing him play at Long Division a few years ago. We should be on safe ground here. 'Mind Fire' doesn't have the oomph I was expecting and, whilst it's at a better than plodding pace I don't finish playing it to the end. 'Letter Down' doesn't measurably speed things up but it does have some nicely weighty guitar parts bracketing the chilled out verses. Theo also unfortunately seems to have been quiet on the release front in the past few months.

Lastly we get to Swimming GirlsCranes initially come to mind, for the first five seconds of 'Tastes Like Money' but after that it's all pretty vacuous, calling to mind the '80s in the mainly bad way that they're recalled. Off at the halfway point. '2 Kids' has a darker quality to it but it's a bore nonetheless. A look at their online biography shows they're a rather concocted group but they do have some live dates coming up this year so you can maybe make your own mind up by seeing them in the flesh.  


HeartSongs - 20180820

Welcome to HeartSongs, our regularly scheduled (probably) look at songs and the people who write them. We spoke to Benjamin Shaw about his new single ‘Terrible Feelings!’.

“I think ‘Terrible Feelings!’ was the first song I really sat down to write for this album. And the first new song I’d come up with in what felt like a very long time. The title came first definitely (with punctuation and everything - some of my finest work I think) and even became the inspirational album title for a while, Benjamin Shaw sings… Terrible Feelings!, I still think I missed a trick there.

At risk of a lawsuit, I’m pretty sure the melody came to me while I was listening to the only other artist from my home town of Blackpool in the UK, Jack Cooper. I’m not even sure which song because I can’t pick it out now, but the melody was nothing like his (I swear). I quickly turned it off and recorded mine on my phone there and then, and built on it from there - repeating and moving patterns and found sounds on the laptop, which seems to have become my way over the years. Shouts out Jack Cooper, he doesn’t know me, but his album Sandgrown is sweet.

Lyrically, as with most of my songs, it started out as a collection of short insults about my work colleagues that I put into Google Keep whenever they come into my head. My Google Keep is substantial. And then, as always, when I sit down to try and arrange the insults into an actual song and do something creative, my own head starts creeping in and the songs quickly descend into self-obsessed artistic terror, self-pity, and in this case, Dirty Dancing references.

I’m a big fan of this song though. It felt like a turning point after having not written much for a good few years. I’d finally come up with an actual song, even if it was just terrible feelings.”

Listen to ‘Terrible Feelings!’ here


Terrible Feelings!

Hey apocalypse, it's nice to know you still be trying

To lift me by the hips

And make believe like I be flying away,

you're all terrible people, with terrible clothes, go away

but I don't care, I got no dog in the race

So do me a solid, do me again and again

terrible feelings but I got nothing to say

Aw hey its you, I don't forget a face

Naw I'll do it, it's a piece of cake

ah've nothing to hide, I just wanna go home today

oh it'll blow over, everyone makes mistakes




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