Saturday, October 06, 2007

Me and McGee, Rockabilly Shoegaze, Starrgaze, and the Return of the Rave Hoover

Glasvegas - It's My Own Cheating Heart That Makes Me Cry

There used to be a time when Alan McGee had direct access to the money in my pocket. From about 1988 onwards, he’d sign a band and I’d worship them and buy all of their records. It was a mutually beneficial relationship - he got rich, took Scarface quantities of nose-up and went mad, and I filled my shelves with quality music. It was inevitable that this relationship would eventually sour, but it would perhaps be churlish of me to suggest that his talent spotting radar became wonkier than the façade of a Gaudi building when he stopped taking the drugs. But I’m not sure how else to pinpoint the staggering decline in McGee’s signings since the Super Furry Animals put pen to blotting paper in 1996. I would probably be more on the money in recognising that his recent unintelligible stream-of-consciousness internet rants against the evils of the music industry have intensified in vitriol since he stopped having hits. I think we all know that it ain’t like it used to be, but that’s what progress is all about. So Poptones has gone down the shitter – deal with it. Labels like Domino and Warp still seem to be thriving and they aren’t in the pockets of the majors.

So, to the point – it’s been a while since me and Alan agreed on anything, but it finally seems like the old boy’s ears might be starting to function again as he was one of the first to champion the excellent new Glasgow band, Glasvegas, in one of the aforementioned rants last year. As always, McGee is looking for the new Beatles/Pistols/Oasis, but it’s heartening to hear that Glasvegas’s dominant influences come from outside of that triumvirate’s domineering sphere. The Dalmarnock-based four-piece marry classic 1950s songwriting, in the vein of hits like Del Shannon’s ‘Runaway’, to a tornado of white noise, creating a sort of rockabilly shoegaze sound, with lead singer James Allan crooning in his thick, Glaswegian accent.

You could easily imagine The Ronettes recording the band’s second single, ‘Daddy’s Gone’, which is due for release on a limited edition 7” and download through Sane Man Recordings on November 5th 2007. It’s got that whole Spector/Wall of Sound thing going on, in a heartbreaking tale of the pain caused by an absent father. On the flip side it’s tissues at the ready again with ‘Flowers and Football Tops’, inspired by a mother who lost her son to a senseless murder, and eerily prescient following the recent death of Rhys Jones in Liverpool. ‘Flowers…’ opens with a shimmering wall of guitar distortion, before Moe Tucker-esque drum thuds and Allan’s soulful vocal kick in, bizarrely recalling John Travolta singing ‘Sandy’ in ‘Grease’ on the chorus. This is a good thing – trust me. I’m not so sure about the ending, when Allan intones ‘You Are My Sunshine’ over Slowdive guitars – mawkish or moving? I can’t decide.

I’m posting a home demo of a track called ‘It’s My Own Cheating Heart That Makes Me Cry’, a belting tune that shows Allan’s got a bit in common with Alex Turner, with the way he crams too many words into one line, upsetting the lyrical rhythm of the song but making you listen twice as hard to what he’s saying. In this case, he brilliantly riffs on the trials of being a teenager - “The ecstasy doesnae work it makes you worse, I’m feeling so guilty about the things I said to my Ma when I was 10 year old” and “I think my missus has fucked every guy she looks at” - themes relevant back in the1950s that still resonate today.

A final word on McGee - his recent decision as manager of the Charlatans to give away the new single for free because “nobody buys CDs anymore” smacks of a publicity stunt rather than a magnanimous gesture. Plus, how are new bands like Glasvegas who are just starting out and need some sort of traditional music industry model to be intact (i.e. sell records / downloads – make money) supposed to survive if bands with an established following and plenty of cash decide to start giving everything away for free?

Glasvegas website
Glasvegas My Space
Alan McGee waxes lyrical on his Guardian blog

Ringo Deathstarr - Swirly

Ringo Deathstarr are exactly the sort of band McGee would have signed back in 1991 and I would have fallen head over heels in love with. Their excellent moniker suggests they’d be happy sharing the bill with Napalm Death, but they are in fact a corking four-piece from Texas who recall the glory years of Jesus and Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentine and Drop Nineteens. I absolutely love them, and listening to this EP made me feel 17 all over again; the distorted mess of gorgeous, fuzzy guitars and buried vocals replicating the confusion that reigned in my nascent, addled mind at that time. I’m posting ‘Swirly’, with that groaning, ‘warped tape’ guitar sound that Kevin Shields perfected on ‘Loveless’. It clocks in at a measly 2 minutes but should go on forever. I guess the hard of heart could dismiss this out of hand for being rather derivative but seeing as how shoegazing didn’t really get a fair crack of the whip the first time round, it deserves a second coming, and bands like Ringo Deathstarr should be at the forefront of the scene.

Ringo Deathstarr’s self-titled five-track debut was released by the ever-wonderful SVC Records, the digital label offshoot of the Spoilt Victorian Child blog. It’s available now from them for a measly £2, but is also getting a hardcopy CD release on October 29th 2007, as well as being available through iTunes and other digital download sites. The band is supporting The Dandy Warhols on a couple of dates in Texas at the end of October and seem destined for very big things indeed.

Buy Ringo Deathstarr's S/T EP from SVC Records
Ringo Deathstarr My Space

Colder - To the Music (Optimo Espacio Mix)

All the hipster blogs have already posted Optimo’s AWESOME remix of Colder’s ‘Into the Music’ weeks ago, so I was having second thoughts about sticking it up. But it’s so fucking good I had to do it, even if it simply serves to demonstrate how slow I am to get onto things. At first it seems the Scottish duo of Twitch and Wilkes are turning in a fairly standard rework of Marc Nguyen Tan’s glacial Parisian-cool take on Joy Division, but then somebody locates the rave hoover in the cupboard under the stairs and gives it some proper welly, the likes of which these ears haven’t heard since Human Resource used a similar appliance to suck my sorry ass onto the dancefloor back in 1991. Fan-fucking-tastic.

This remix is part of a 4-track 12” entitled ‘I Hate… Remixes’ released on Process Recordings, a companion to the forthcoming ‘I Hate Music - A Compilation of Output Recordings 1996-2006’ 3CD box-set. Both hit the shelves in November.

Output Recordings website
Process Recordings My Space

Human Resource - Dominator (Beltram Mix)

And seeing as I’ve been away for so long and in celebration of the return of the rave hoover, here’s Joey Beltram’s belting remix of Human Resource’s ‘Dominator’. I won’t leave it so long again I promise. x

Human Resource on Back to the Old School