Today I stumbled upon: Kosmischer Läufer

Sometimes you’ve just got to acknowledge you are late getting to a party. The Secret Cosmic Music of the East German Olympic Program 1972 – 83 is just an excellent concept and most importantly backed up with some truly exhilarating music. The narrative goes, “for the first time since it was recorded in East Berlin over 30 years ago, the music of Martin Zeichnete can finally be heard. A disciple of the Kosmische Muzik of the likes of Kraftwerk, Can and Neu! that was drifting across the Wall from the West, Martin’s idea of using the motorik, hypnotic beat of krautrock in the training of athletes was taken and exploited by the DDR’s Olympic Committee.” 

My introduction, I have several memories that are managed over the years to blend together into a romantic melting pot of musical discovery. It is difficult to separate truth from fiction now, but the timing is pretty much self-evident. I know it was during a period of school exams, so I’m guessing it was around 1976 when my ears first discovered what I would get to know as Krautrock. That genre of experimental music, which had emerged in Germany in the late 1960s drawing influence from psychedelic rock, the avant-garde, electronic music, funk, minimalism, jazz improvisation, and world music styles.

I know some of the punk bands I was starting to listen too had referenced the likes of Kraftwerk, Neu and Can. My music teacher, Mr Bell had given me a copy of one of Kraftwerk’s early albums, which I still have to this day. Maybe, I’d subconsciously developed a liking for Krautrock as I listened to John Peel show on my radio while preparing for exams.

How my admiration for Krautrock developed I guess I will leave to my fond memories, no matter how clouded they increasingly become. Today, I’m happy to just stay behind the illusion of the Secret Cosmic Music of the East German Olympic Program 1972 – 83. I did start to do some research, but you know what? As we continue to consume ourselves a little piece of escapism, which transports us back in time to a period where things seemed a little bit simpler, black and white, may not be an altogether bad thing now and again.

1.2.3…..

Three 2017 releases, which have brought a smile to my face.

One: The No Action debut album finally arrived.  Originating from Australia, No Action have delivered an Intense, lo-fi album reminiscent of a vintage 4 track deck cassette recording of a rehearsal held in a vacated industrial estate. A thing of beauty, which collects material from over a five year period and is limited to 250 pressing, or download.

Two: While we take stock of the dangerous clown occupying the Whitehouse helping to restore a bit of confidence in the land of the free this December we had a further mini-release from Mouth Reader. Eyes Sink adds to their conveyor belt of catchy punk releases. A glorious racket delivered in just under 3 minutes. Perfectly formed.

Three: Martha properly the best pop/punk band to emerge from my native North East for many a long cold night continue to set a high bar. 2014s Courting Strong and 2016s Blisters in the Pit of my Heart album releases are still subject to heavy rotation. Mini-release The Winter Fuel Allowance arrived in November. The 7″ limited release may be sold out, but you can still snatch a download.

Enjoy the noise.

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Medium Mystic: Demo

Medium Mystic: Demo

Medium Mystic are a Brooklyn, New York garage band who have released a five track selection under the title Demo, which consists of catchy hooks and very competent songwriting. You can listen to Demo through the link below, which is also available on a name your price basis.

Washing away bridges

a0331914498_16Opting not to search for meaning through the choreographic medium of aggressive guitar and drum or indeed the synthetic doldrums of pop music can be a hazardous route to follow given the abundance of wannabe singer/songwriters desperate to discover the elusive steps to the stage at Wembley Arena. As with any musical explorer if you are prepared to look hard enough then the real stuff will always float to the top, which brings me onto Lowpines.

Lowpines build songs on fragile foundations where tilting structures are exposed to the elements of a desolated environment, which allows the lyrical intimacy of each song to resonate. Scrambling through the Bandcamp jungle one evening in 2015 this musical explorer stumbled across Lowpines self-titled  full-length album. The album’s opening track ‘October’ is a self-assured opener that would not go a miss on a Lambchop, Nixon era album. The quality of songcraft is carried throughout the album and has become a regular headphone destination when seeking to escape the stress of everyday life.

A new EP emerged this February entitled, ‘That Bridge Washed Away in the Storm’ and with the prospect of new material this year suggests the trajectory created by Oli Deakin, the creative force behind Lowpines will be maintained. I recently caught up with Oli for a chat about his influences, back catalogue, and tracks from ‘That Bridge Washed Away in the Storm.’

Who are your musical influences and why? I think my musical influences are always changing. I’m forever finding new things to listen to, and hearing new things in records I’ve listened to for years. It’s rarely a particular artist or song that’s inspiring, so many bits of things I hear in different songs. I start wanting to listen to how the different pieces stuck together and make new songs out them. I’ve been obsessing over drum sounds recently, how they can completely change the tone of the whole song just with the kind of reverb or distortion or whatever. The sound of recordings has always been something I’ve been fascinated by, and certain patterns in the records jump out to me. Eels, Sparklehorse, Bonnie Prince Billy, Elliott Smith, Shins, Smog. Records that sound like they’re recorded close-up, so you hear the details, the mistakes, and breaths, the things that make it real.

What music was playing around the home when you were growing up? Classical music, all the time. I couldn’t say what exactly, but that’s what my parents played and taught. So it was a constant feed of music heard from the next room, that I never got to know by name. I never actually engaged with it, not in the way I’d get hooked on the Beatles or Nirvana or pretty much anything with guitars and drums when I eventually discovered it. I tried learning instruments and learning to play classical pieces, but I found it way too stressful having to play what was written on a page note for note. I wanted to make up my own tunes and make records. So I borrowed a guitar and got a tape 4-track and set about trying to figure out how to play, sing, write songs, make a record. Still figuring that out…

What is your view on the current state of the music industry? It’s interesting, seems to be changing all the time. I think for a lot of smaller indie labels and DIY artists, those who never planned on selling a lot of records anyway, it’s never been easier to keep being creative and reach new people with your music. Huge profits were never part of the plan so they don’t miss them in the way big record labels must do. Sure, it’s hard to make any money, but we just have to try and be inventive with how we do that, I don’t see any sense looking backwards. There was a time when sheet music was big business, songwriters at the time must have thought recordings were the death-knell of their trade when they first started being manufactured on a mass scale.

How old were you when you first performed live, where and what song did you perform/sing? The first time I got up on stage with a band, I was about 14. Along with my school friends had formed a band and played our debut show during lunch break in the school coffee bar, to about 40 other students. I sang Basket Case by Green Day. Almost certainly ruined it for a lot of my peers but I that didn’t cross my mind at the time.

Tell me about a song (by another artist) that has remained with you throughout the years – why does it matter? One song I consistently come back to is Dylan’s ‘Farewell Angelina’. I never tire of it. It goes on and on, verse after verse, getting stronger all the while. I think one of the things I like most about Bob is he sets a mood for a song and then just seems to have fun with the lyrics. I don’t think you can ever take him too seriously, which makes records a good companion. It’s up to the listener to do the work and figure out what they hell it may or may not be about.

What other career choices did you consider and what made you chose to be a musician? About 8 years old I thought I’d be a writer so I sat down to write my first book. Half a page later I was exhausted, my hand hurt from writing, and I was all out of ideas. So I scrapped that idea and decided to focus on songwriting. Fewer words needed. I don’t think I ever made a decision to be a musician but just knew that’s what I was doing and had no interest in doing anything else. I guess I just assumed it was a given that it’d be a viable way to spend my life. Fingers crossed.

Tell me about the creative steps between writing material and then performing it for the first time. It varies greatly… Some songs arrive fully formed like they just fell out of the guitar or something. So those ones I tend to take out and introduce to some people, see how they get along. But more often than not I spend some time creating a lot of the song within the recording, layering up and adding parts as I go. So once its done I have to start over figuring out how I’m going to play it live, with or without a band. I don’t see the shows as a reproduction of the record, more a response to wherever I’m playing and who I’m playing with.

I love the track ‘Loose Canon’ from the 2015 album. Tell me about the song. Thanks. That was one that fell out of the guitar… I was a bit suspicious of it for a while, I couldn’t see much of myself in it. I was reading a lot at the time, mainly short stories and some of the people and places I was reading about were actually lodged in my mind. I think the song belongs to them. But after trying out live a few times, it seemed to settle in, and now we get along just fine. In a way, it’s about exactly that, finding something of yourself somewhere you didn’t expect it, and not being totally sure how you feel about it.

The ‘October’ track from the same album makes me very melancholy and yet strangely uplifting. Tell me about it. October was written in January the previous year. I guess it’s about having a marker point in the year where you take stock of things, looking forward and backward and deciding if you’re on a right trajectory. October is that month for me, summer is over, and we’re often back out on the road playing shows. The leaves are turning, the end of the year is in sight, so it’s a good moment to consider if you’ve done the things you set out to do while there’s still time to do something about it. I wanted the song to have a good balance of reflection, regret and resolve, and also humour. I think any kind of self-reflection needs fun, or you just get too bummed out to do anything.

That Bridge Washed away in the storm (2016 release) in many ways (to me) seems increasingly reflective – what were the influences driving this new material especially on tracks like ‘No Hercules.’ This song on this record started out as entirely fictional, based on stories borrowed from books and films. I wrote all the songs over a week, from notes and little scraps of recordings I’d done through the previous year. I soon started to recognise a lot of things that actually applied to me, reflecting my own experiences. So I started digging into those memories and seeing how I might be able to weave it all together. By the time I’d finished it, I couldn’t remember what I’d made up and what actually happened. ‘No Hercules’ started from an idea of someone finding strength in pretending to be strong and accepting that they may have bitten off more than they can chew. I’m sure most people find themselves doing that to some degree at one time or another. I think I also wanted the song to have a definitive end point, to draw some conclusions. The minute I finished mixing it I started writing new songs, and it felt lighter like I’d drawn a line under something. I’m not sure what, but I think the next songs will form a new chapter somehow.

What does the rest of 2016 look like for Lowpines? So far, I’ve spent most of this year writing and recording, and there’ll be lots more of that. I try to move around as much as possible when I’m writing, so I’ll be travelling quite a bit. I think the songs benefit from a change of scene while they’re being written. It’s easy to get a bit short-sighted if everything is written and recorded in one place. I like to hear the songs in different lights, different climates. They can sound so different. Other than that, I have some shows dotted throughout the year. I’ll be playing in Norway in the summer for Indiefjord Festival, which I’m excited to be playing at. I grew up surrounded by mountains, so the Fjords sound like somewhere I should take my songs.

Lowpines will be supporting Benjamin Francis Leftwich on Wednesday 11th May 2016 @ The Forum, Royal Tunbridge Wells. Click here for Tickets and keep an eye open for new releases and further live dates here Lowpines

Cometh the chameleon

Ghost to Falco_behind_tumbleweedI find myself walking alongside the River Thames. It’s a walk I take most Thursday evenings whilst making my way to Waterloo Station for the long train journey home. It is a pleasant evening as I occasionally glance over to the House of Commons,  Big Ben, wearing my headphones and navigating the tourists, whilst flipping through the Bandcamp app on my iPhone. I’ve just pressed play. The Soft Shield album by Ghost to Falco kicks in with openner Enemies Calling and I instinctively stop, take a public seat and listen to the whole album whilst viewing the river and the features on the opposite riverbank. Finally finding my way home I purchased the album and email the brain child behind Ghost to Falco, Eric Crespo who lives in  Portland, Oregon, USA.  This blog mainly consists of email exchanges between Eric and myself, as well as the virtual digging I have managed to undertake. Portland of course has one of the most vibrant music scenes in the USA. My earliest recollection of a band from Portland was The Kingsmen, who had the hit Louie, Louie in the early 1960s. It’s a little know fact that In February 1964, an outraged parent wrote to Robert Kennedy, then the Attorney General of the United States, alleging that the lyrics of Louie Louie were obscene. The FBI investigated the complaint and, after four months of investigation, concluded that the recording could not be interpreted because it was “unintelligible at any speed”.

Eric Crespo was born in Los Angeles, California where he lived until eight years. at this ripe age his parents moved the family to Burlington a small town in North Carolina. Burlington is situated 40 minute drive from Chapel Hill, which would prove to be a critical influence to Eric given its underground rock music scene. Eric recalls Chapel Hill has a college town.  “In the time (mid 90’s) there was a quite a scene there.  The most noteworthy bands from Chapel Hill that were active when I started going to shows were Superchunk, Polvo, and Archers of Loaf.  Polvo was my favorite out of those three but I’d go see all of them, and they’d usually have some other interesting bands on the bill with them.  And all the touring bands would come through.  While I was a teenager I 10264709_10152161629904302_3003215836447863725_nsaw bands like Dirty Three, Mogwai, Guv’ner, Modest Mouse, Shudder to Think, Fugazi, June of 44, Pavement, Storm and Stress, Sebadoh, Blonde Redhead, US Maple, Elliot Smith, Unwound, and many more all playing at various small clubs–sometimes to about 10 people.  I saw Sonic Youth play secret shows in Chapel Hill on two different occasions at a smallish club (probably 650 capacity?) called The Cat’s Cradle.  I even saw Radiohead once at the Cat’s Cradle right after the Bends came out.  I wasn’t really a fan (and I’m still not) but I’d just go to shows..”  Eric then moved to Asheville, NC to go to college.  In his sophomore year he found himself living with friends and rightfully having fun. “I knew I had to leave though.  I felt like I was just waiting for something important to begin. I played in two bands that toured around the region a bit.  We’d go play in Atlanta or DC, but my bandmates in those bands weren’t really up for touring like I was.  Touring was all I really wanted to do at the time, so I was trying to come up with ways to play out alone just so I could tour as much as I wanted.  I may have never started Ghost to Falco if the people in my bands really wanted to tour like I did.”

10371438_10152270693314302_1731744634009158020_nSo how did the solo work start to evolve? “When I first started thinking of playing out solo my first idea was to go the acoustic guitar/singer-songwriter route.  I had a nylon string classical acoustic guitar, but I felt like I needed a steel string acoustic for some reason, and oddly enough I actually ended up finding one on the street one day.  In the middle of a crosswalk in downtown Asheville.  It seemed like it had fallen out of a car or something.  So I started trying to write songs on that but it wasn’t happening.  I had no frame of reference really for being a singer-songwriter.  I had no interest or knowledge of folk singers or anything like that.  I kind of put the acoustic away after a few months (or weeks—I can’t remember).  A little later I started messing around on my electric guitar with a looping pedal and I put my newly acquired monophonic 70’s analog synthesizer into the mix and I started making up these loose song structures that sounded pretty full even though I was the only one making the sounds, and that excited me. I thought maybe I could play shows like that but wasn’t sure. Around this time I was also getting interested in a lot more stuff that was outside of what I had grown up listening to.  Minimalist composers (Steve Reich, etc.), late 70’s industrial music, Glenn Branca, and “freer” bands of the era. Another thing about starting Ghost to Falco is that I had played in bands since I was fourteen years old.  I didn’t know how not to be in a band.  It was, and still is the way I find friends, my motivation to travel, my motivation to do anything really.  So, starting a band that could never break up unless I wanted it to was pretty appealing.  I left North Carolina in October of 2001.  My bands played our final shows, I got my wisdom teeth taken out, and then hit the road to Portland.” 

The Ghost Falco moniker began in 2001 as a solo project consisting of electric guitar loops, synthesiser sounds and field recordings. The band has gone on to became something of an underground institution with a rotating door of musicians have joined for tours and recordings bringing with them a whole range of instruments. “The first Ghost to Falco show I ever played was in Athens, GA (a place I have never lived) on the way to Portland, followed by shows in Shreveport, Louisiana, Lubbock, Texas, and a kid’s garage in a suburb of Los Angeles.  These shows were painstakingly booked by sending out a cassette of a song I sneakily recorded in the studio of my college on an exam day of my last semester.  I didn’t really know how I would feel about doing Ghost to Falco live, but it turned out that I generally felt pretty good about it so I decided to keep doing it.  I always thought I might add some band members to the mix at some point down the line and I did that in 2005 and live shows have gone back and forth between being me solo and having bandmates.  Nowadays I prefer to have bandmates in the band.”

So what are the challenges facing an artist like yourself? “Probably the biggest challenge in getting my music out there is the music I’m making!  It’s sort of always existed between worlds.  I designed it like that initially.  I liked avant-garde music and I liked good songs with singing.  I sort of wanted to do something to unite these two worlds, and in doing so I didn’t really create a new scene, but I just sort of made Ghost to Falco this free floating entity.  When you’re doing something different and it doesn’t adhere to the tenets of an established scene, or have enough people involved to create a new scene you just end up existing as a free floating anomaly.  People might agree that it’s good but people want to align themselves with things that make them a member of a tribe or a community.  People want connection.  Most of the time it takes some kind of noted tastemaker (preferably with lots of money) to step up and champion it before even a decent amount of people will take notice.  We’ve had a few minor taste makers sing our praises over the years, and that’s why today we can boast that we have 980 Facebook likes”  
Then there’s the whole music establishment?  “Let me just go off on this for a minute, because I’ve been meaning to write this down for a little while.  Within the realm of the kind of music we’re making, this is my perception of how things generally work (of course there are  exceptions):  It’s a 1978818_10152266495739302_3771852591971329847_n big whirlpool where everybody is paying each other.  The noteworthy record labels, (not even talking major labels unless you count Merge, Sub Pop, and Matador as majors, which I guess are majors at this point) are probably like the sun that all the other planets of the industry revolve around.  So these labels pay the PR firms.  The labels buy advertising on Pitchfork and other popular blogs and music magazines.  These popular blogs and music magazines are obligated to write about bands that are being pitched by PR firms who are hired by the record labels, who buy advertising on these blogs and in these music magazines, which pays the salaries of the people who run the blog or music magazine. When these bands get written about by the popular blogs and magazines then the booking agencies start calling and then these bands get a booking agent.  The booking agent book the bands on high profile tours and festivals and the bands get popular.  This system doesn’t work if the popular blogs and such write about anything that any nobody band sends them.  Then no one gets paid.   And the booking agents aren’t going to want to book a band with no hype behind them.  You can’t blame people really.   There’s only room for so many bands and writers and promotional agents and such in this world.  And there’s even less room for people who are making risky music.  To make a food analogy: Even a big city can only support a certain amount of high end vegan restaurants, while the pizza places on every other corner are turning a fine profit.  People like pizza and it’s fast and it’s cheap and it fills you up.   There’s nothing wrong with pizza.  I like pizza.   The music I tend to make requires a little more patience and a little more time, maybe it’s a little harder to find the entrance to the place, but I hope that in the end it’s going to be more nutritious.”  
 Back to the whirlpool, “there are bands that get thrown into it and don’t connect with people that happens all the time, and then they just fade away.  And some are on the edges of the whirlpool and some are right in the middle of it.  Ghost to Falco has never been in this whirlpool at all and never really had the chance to connect with a lot of people in this way. No one at a popular label (or management company who gets you on the popular label) has had enough of an interest to take Ghost to Falco on.  I wonder how we would do if we were to get thrown into that whirlpool.   We might do fine, but who knows?   It’d be nice to be able to connect with a lot more people, but it’s sort of cool running the band how we do.  We only tour when we want to and we can play whatever kind of venue and play with whatever bands we want to play with.  No one is shaping our career.  It is a freedom I appreciate.  We don’t really make money, but it’s never a situation of the label is making us tour, this sucks, kind of thing.  I’ve had friends in those situations and it seems terrible.”  

Soft Shield is Ghost to Falco’s fourth full length album. The albums initial sessions began at the Portland-based Type Foundry Studio (known for producing recorded output by the likes of  Dirty Projectors and R.E.M. among many others) in June of 2009. A few days after the first sessions Eric left town for six months of touring and traveling. When he came back with his limited funds, Eric realised that going into debt on an album at a top-of-the-line recording studio maybe wasn’t the smartest thing to do. But it was too late.  He earned money from odd jobs and spent it on studio time, and/or relied on generous favours from recording engineers. It took three-and-a-half years to finish Soft Shield. Eight different studios were used in all. The album is properly the most cohesive of any record in Ghost to Falco’s discography.

Soft Shield still casts a wide net that marks most of Ghost to Falco’s output, one could find evidence of just about every rock- affiliated musical movement of the past fifty years, but Soft Shield corrals those disparate elements into a vision that feels firmly planted in the American-West. Trippy desert guitar lines and arid pedal steel are intertwined with a lush and intimate, Northwest-specific, Twin Peaks style of mystery— a duality that points to both Eric’s love of the American desert canyon country and his longtime Portland address.  As Eric says, “There’s contentment, anger, humor, regret, fear—and hell, some of it you can even dance to” and I could not put it better myself.

During my virtual journey of discovering Eric and the Ghost to Falco’s back catalogue I came across another of Eric’s projects Centers, which was formed by Jay Demko and Eric Crespo in mid 2010.  Whilst I absolutely adore the Ghost to Falco catalogue and have no hesitation in recommending them the Centers album is also a piece of magnificent beauty and worthy of any serious music collection. 

Eric Crespo is a musical chameleon who weaves genres together and pushes creative boundaries, avant-garde sound structures, alt-country, world fusion with carefully crafted lyrics all blended together. He is the is type of artists we should increasingly celebrate given the quality of his work and the creative space he occupies often results in very few finding full commercial success. His craftsmanship finds itself at odds with the conveyer-belt of mass consumed music that is often found seeping through many a MP3 player.  Neil Young is credited with saying, “When people start asking you to do the same thing over and over again, that’s when you know you’re way too close to something that you don’t want to be near.”  It’s an interesting observation from an artists who is respected and who has influenced many. Neil Young of course had the means to take a left-field turn from middle of the road comfort before he cranked up his amplifier. In reality the true creative forces on this highway are artists like Eric Crespo, who did not take the middle of the road in the first place.

Clearance: Carte Blanche plus one

There are many mysteries in this world that continue to perplex, puzzle and confound scholars and intellectuals alike. What influenced the 71 year old Harrison Ford to suddenly pierce his left ear? The ever eccentric Mr T from the 1980s trash TV show The A Team simply begs the question why? And If there is a god, why did she/he take the legendary Curtis Mayfield from us at such an early age? Into the void of the great unknown these questions must remain. But one fact is undisputed Ford, Mr T and Mayfield all originate from Chicago, Illinois, USA.  And it’s here in the great windy city where I come across the magnificent Clearance who have just released their third offering on Bandcamp “Carte Blanche” plus one .

Harvest for the world

Good things come out of Chicago

In 1833, the Town of Chicago had a population of around 200. Today it is the 3rd most populous city in the United States with 2.7 million residents. It is also home to the annual Lollapalooza and PitchFork music festivals. The city has a vibrant and creative cocktail of rock, punk, soul, jazz, hiphop, house and rave music all pitching for their adoring audiences.

In the midst of Chicago’s musical tapestry Clearance find themselves in this vast scene that is broadly described as rock. Clearance are in the space of garage and  LoFi band land, which has given us The Stooges, Danny Adler, The Fall, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Sonic Youth to but  name a few. Its a hard place to work and achieve stardom from given today’s X-Factor route to riches would be counterintuitive to the art form.

I have a live Sex Pistols bootleg from 1977 and as the drums kick-in to the Pistols version of the Stooges No Fun Johnny Rotten mutters to the audience, “I bet you thought I came here to entertain you rather than you entertain me.”  A classic chicken and egg metaphor, but one that sums up those bands who decide to follow a path of integrity and credibility to themselves. Musically it is this space that I personally find Clearance. Originally from Ann Arbor, Michigan a city renowned for its progressive politics the founding members of Clearance Mike Bellis and Arthur Velez relocated to Chicago and have since released two 7″ EP’s Dixie Motel Two-Step (April 2013) and Greensleeve (January 2014) on their own Microluxe imprint.

On the 29th March 2014 the band released their 3rd Bandcamp offering “Carte Blanche’ plus one

The sign of a great band lies in their ability to evolve and expand their musical horizons with each new release. Based on the evidence to date Clearance are an embodiment of this notion. There are plenty of bands around who are more than capable of churning out medico material and with the help of a few production twitches and the ad man’s expertise quickly find their faces on anxiety ridden teenage T-shirts. With Clearance you get a real sense of a hard working band seeking to secure appreciation for their art form through a dedication to maintaining independent integrity. This of course is admirable and is worth the ticket price alone, but in reality this means little if the material is not consistent in quality.

Clearance seem to have any ability to toss out brilliant, catchy and intelligent songs. This all bolds well for the future given the solid platform they are building for themselves. The songs are built around clever lyrical structures and offset by guitar textures. Their songs can initially deceive the listener, but lurking beneath a few listens is a revealing depth and intelligence.

Carte Blanche plus one (March 2014)

I’ve listened to Carte Blanche on repeat loop and its one of them songs that never seems to get stale. Looking through the eye of life via a narrative of a road trip the track bounces about gleefully with amazing drum work underscoring the building guitar textures and the eloquent lyrics,  “Darling don’t you dwell upon the exit sign and know that time is going to wound the heals.” The second track is a blend of Misdirection Prize/TV Exhaust is my personal favourite of this release and a supreme piece of work. The fade out and fade into TV Exhaust is at first a little baffling, but ends up providing a rye smile.

I managed to catch up with Mike Bellis from Clearance for a few Old Man questions about the new material:

JK:  What you guys up to at the moment?
MBLaundry, and continuing to waste our money on padding our record collections.
JK: The feel, sound and production on these two tracks demonstrate another step up. How do they feel to you and what feed back have you had?
MB: They feel fine to us – like the last two records they were also recorded in a basement, though this time it was in a different one. We had the luxury of using our friend’s tape machine this time, which always makes things sound better.
JKWhen were the tracks written and what were the main influences at the time?
MB: The tracks were written in January, and when we weren’t listening to friends bands it was probably just the Velvet Underground in ’69 or Danny Kirwan-era Fleetwood Mac. Maybe some Faust too.
JK: Will we get to see a full album release soon?
MB: Yes, eventually.
JK: Any live gigs planned? (UK maybe)?
MB: Only stateside so far, but if we can find anyone willing to pony up the change to send us across the pond we’d be delighted to meet the Queen’s acquaintance.
JK: What are you guys listening to at the moment?
MB: Older stuff mostly- Beefheart, Minutemen, Teenage Fanclub, glam-era Eno, Faust, John Cale (“Fear”), kosmische stuff. But also newer bands like Parquet Courts, Protomartyr, and The Courtneys.
JK: I hear you have a soft spot for Mark E Smith and The Fall?
MB: Who doesn’t?

Back to the Future

Clearance’s back catalogue is also available from Bandcamp – you will do music and the world a favour by purchasing them immediately.

Greensleeve 

Full of amazing hooks and skewed observations this glorious 5 track EP is a little gem. Lo-fi maybe, but high quality throughout. My stand out track: Face the Frontier. 

Dixie Motel Two – Step 

The opening track Walking Papers is simply a classic and would not have gone a miss on an early Sonic Youth album. The EP is again full of hooks and heart warming riffs. In many ways the LoFi production of this early material make it so good.

I demand an LP and I want it now!

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