Friday, May 19, 2006

Hyping Tigerfest . . . on a lonely weekend night

You callous over, really. Become hardened to all the rubbish being written in the press kits and on the web sites for today's up-and-coming bands. "Throwing Toasters combine the hilarious songwriting of Tenacious D with the onstage energy of Barenaked Ladies. A must see!"

But then, every once in a great while, something comes along to restore your faith in the PR folks. Lines such as this: "They are as tight as a terrorist cell." Brilliant.

This is a sentence used to describe Saint Jude's Infirmary, one of Scotland's most talked about fledgling bands. The Kirkcaldy outfit is fronted by twins Ashley (vocals/guitar) and Grant Campbell (bass/guitar), and features cousin Emma-Jane on percussion. Hmmm . . . we have a family here. Now that whole terrorist cell crack makes sense.

St. Jude's Infirmary will be performing at Edinburgh's Cabaret Voltaire May 20 as part of Tigerfest. Now, how to categorize their sound? How about: Fuzzy guitar pop with tinges of post-punk and folk, complete with cheeky, stream-of-consciousness rants. Yeah, sounds like the trite rubbish you'd find in your typical press kit.

Hear it for yourself. Download: "PS Scotland I Love You" by Saint Jude's Infirmary.

The story of Creation (part 3)

Spent the day with my girl. A walk amongst the ugly, rain-soaked mills, a breakfast of rubbery eggs and overcooked sausage, an endoscopy.

Now we're recovering at home together, with plenty of soft, mushy food and Zantac. Of course, she's having a bit of pain. "It'll hurt if I swallow . . . It'll hurt if I swallow . . . Mommy!" Only throat-spray isn't going to save her. Tylenol will have to do.

I offer to make my girl a smoked-turkey-and-swiss sandwich, complete with potato chips, and puree it all in the blender, but she politely declines. She'll stick with her lime green Jell-O, thank you very much.

The afternoon: All My Children, a game of Scrabble, reading the newspaper, a nap. And later, when it's time for dinner? Maybe some Creation Soup, Volume 2.

Who needs anything else when your girl brings this much excitement to your life?

Hear them for yourself. Download:

CRE 013: X-Men - "Spiral Girl," (7"), 1985

CRELP 005: Various Artists - It's Different For Domeheads, (LP), 1985; Slaughter Joe - "Napalm Girl"

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Primal Scream's turning point

They dabbled in 12-string, Byrds-like shimmer on their debut, Sonic Flower Grove, then kicked out the jams MC5-style on their eponymous follow-up. Any sustained success, however, continued to elude them, as neither album was warmly received by critics or the public.

Yes, "no hopers" was a label often bandied about when discussing Primal Scream. And by the summer of 1989, the band members were, as Jeff Barrett of Creation Records succinctly put it, unsure of where they wanted to go -- or even if going there was worth the effort.

Enter the rave scene.

The band fell hard for the subculture, like countless others, on account of the cheap and abundant drugs, the no-closed-doors-to-anyone philosophy, and the euphoric hedonism. Frontman Bobby Gillespie became a regular fixture at Brighton's Shoom and Zap Club, as well as the city's frequent warehouse parties, while band chemist (and guitarist) Andrew Innes delved into ecstasy. With E, Innes realized, your inhibitions melted away, anything was possible as evident by the growing indie-meets-dance esthetic, and so it was his idea to approach new chum Andrew Weatherall -- a former bricklayer, current DJ, and one-time re-mixer for Happy Mondays' ("Hallelujah") -- to rework a track from Primal Scream, "I'm Losing More Than I'll Ever Have."

Weatherall kept the song's bassline, piano, horn sections, and some of the percussion. The new drum loop was culled from an Italian bootleg mix of Edie Brickell's "What I Am." He also added Gillespie singing a line from Robert Johnson's "Terraplane Blues" before crafting the now-famous opening by dropping in some Peter Fonda dialogue from the biker flick The Wild Angels. (Which was nicked, in a way -- the lines had been used by Richard Norris and Genesis P-Orridge two years earlier on their Jack The Tab LP.)

In December, Weatherall played the recently completed remix, now dubbed "Loaded," at London's Subterania. According to legend, the DJ phoned a bleary Gillespie at 4 o'clock in the morning to elatedly tell him about the crowd's incredible reaction. The landmark dance-rock hybrid was eventually released in February of 1990.

The rest, of course, is history.

Hear it for yourself. Download: "Loaded" by Primal Scream. And as a bonus, here's the original track: "I'm Losing More Than I'll Ever Have."

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The story of Creation (part 2)

Stains On A Decade? More like stains on my ceiling.

The rain made large, brown blemishes everywhere. Like some bizarre Rorschach test. "Yes doc, I think I see . . . Lawrence Hayward from Felt."

Lawrence was a quirky chap. One of his many charms (or peculiarities, depending on the viewpoint) was that he was obsessed with cleanliness. Writing glistening guitar music and scrubbing toilets. Ah, the life of a pop star. So yes, Lawrence probably would not have enjoyed the dogshit-hued blots in my upstairs hallway.

The two songs listed below, both Creation Records singles, seem rather appropriate given the insane amount of precipitation we received here in New England over the last week. God bless, Mother Nature. And Felt.

Hear them for yourself. Download:

CRE 032: Felt - "Rain Of Crystal Spires," (7"+12"), September of 1986

CRE 048: Felt - "The Final Resting Place Of The Ark," (12"), July of 1987

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The continuing hyping of Tigerfest

They’ve been dubbed Glasgow's most prolific band. Don't think the moniker is warranted? Well, just look at The Owsley Sunshine's output over the last four years: three albums, two EPs, and a pair of compilations that feature demos, instrumentals, and "sweet little throw-away tunes."

The latest release was the LP Watermelon, which hit record shops April 29. After two previous albums on their own Start A Riot label, The Owsley Sunshine landed with Glasgow's Cell 44 Records. Besides the album, the label will also help to contribute to the band’s already prodigious output by releasing double A-side singles every three months for the entire year.

Eclectic doesn’t even begin to describe this Glasgow outfit, who dabble in everything from your standard guitar anthems to punk to straight-up Beatles to psychedelica. A "crepuscular dream popland" is how the release for Watermelon describes their sound and it's spot-on. (Besides, we're not about to disagree with anyone using the word "crepuscular.")

The Owsley Sunshine will be playing Tigerfest May 19 at Edinburgh's Swamp Bar. Fellow Scottish acts The Dead Beat Club and Dropkick will be joining them.

Hear it for yourself. Download: "Plastic Sandwich" by The Owsley Sunshine.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Hyping Tigerfest? Not so fast

It was going to be one hell of a show. Glasgow's Odeon Beat Club, Ayr's Drive By Argument, and Edinburgh's The Rushes -- three of Scotland's best unknown bands, all on the same stage as part of the ongoing Tigerfest. Too bad this May 16 gig was cancelled earlier today.

I had Odeon Beat Club's "Trouble Ticket" all warmed up and ready to go, so we'll give the Glaswegians a plug anyway. First off, here's a bit of history on them: The four have been regulars on the Edinburgh and Glasgow music circuit for several years now, opening for fellow Scots ballboy, as well as English acts such as The Coral and "Pete the poet's" Babyshambles.

Odeon Beat Club have released material on a variety of labels, including a double-A side single on Electric Honey in 2003 and the Midnight Station EP on Polyester Records in 2004. That same year, the band also had a track on Fierce Panda's six-song The Glowing Underground EP, which was the label's attempt to offer listeners a thin, tasty slice of the then Scottish indie scene.

As for music influences, the band namedrops everyone from Franz Ferdinand to The Nectarine No. 9. And really, any act that's citing Davy Henderson's most recent outfit as a source of inspiration is a-okay in my book.

Hear it for yourself. Download: "Trouble Ticket" by Odeon Beat Club.