This past week's run of excellent features on slowcore reminded me of the influence the initial wave of "shoegaze" labelled bands had on many of the artists aligned with that genre. On the surface, any similarity between groups like My Bloody Valentine and Low could at best be described as tenuous, but one listen to groundbreaking albums such as Galaxie 500's 'On Fire' or Slint's 'Spiderland' and it becomes blatantly obvious that both of those records' roots lay as much in the distorted excess of early Fire and Creation seven inches as anywhere else, and more importantly their legacy can be heard today throughout the diverse range of artists populating both the shoegaze and slowcore scenes.
A prime example of such diversity would have to be one-time Creation Records stalwarts The Telescopes. Having first arrived kicking and screaming at an independent scene still mourning the break-up of The Smiths whilst openly embracing the flared trousers of Manchester's rebirth, their garage-tinged rock was a breath of fresh air. Ever since then under various guises, the one constant being head 'scope Stephen Lawrie, their experimental approach has seen them amaze, beguile and frustrate audiences in equal measures; certainly the phrase "no two records sound the same" could be instantly tagged as their epitaph, so it was a pleasant surprise to hear what he had been up to when I caught up with the enthusiastically buoyant frontman recently.
"I'm working on an electric album on my own, with vocals - it's going to be very heavy," he told me quite excitedly. "Meanwhile I'm jamming with various people and thinking of getting a full band together in order to do an album like that too, until I've got the heaviest motherfukkin space-rock band in the world. I wanna do 'Taste' songs again, loud and heavy." I, for one, await the outcome of this with baited breath.
With the early part of the New Year being generally quiet in terms of new releases, its also been a good time to catch up on records that may have slipped the radar at the back end of last year. One of those is the seismic 'Fire On Corridor X' by Atlanta three-piece All The Saints. Imagine a mid-air collision between Spacemen 3 and early 1980s era Black Sabbath and you're somewhere near the ferocity of their sound. Although relatively unknown this side of the pond at present, one suspects all that will change in the ensuing months.
Video: All The Saints 'Half Red'
Staying Stateside for the time being, I'd also like to introduce you to Boston's Magic Magic, an outfit who would be just as comfortable delivering a slice of whimsical countrified folk as they would enveloping their wares around a heady mix of distortion and reverb. Also enlightening us with a dose of the unpredictable are recent Memphis Industries signings Papercuts, whose excellently crafted new long player You Can Have What You Want will be with us shortly, and by all accounts has the potential to lift their brand of psychedelic rock into more commercially chartered territories.
One band who have enjoyed a considerable amount of success in recent months are London four-piece The Boxer Rebellion. Having been initially tipped for big things some six years ago by none other than Alan McGee, their career appeared to be over in its infancy when then-label Mercury dropped them in 2005 soon after the release of debut album 'Exits'. Despite experiencing a number of traumatic events that would have signaled the end for most bands, they continued in the face of adversity, existing entirely on their terms. Last month finally saw them release their second album, Union, a heavier collection of songs than the often U2 inspired first record. Next month sees them embarking on their first UK headline tour in a long while, and Some Velvet Mourning will have an exclusive interview with the band next time around.
A couple of weeks ago we were invited down to London by long-time favourites Exit Calm to hear them lay down the final tracks with producer Paddy Byrne to what is set to be their debut album, and I can reveal that even at this unmastered stage, it promises to be one of THE SVM records of 2009, for sure. Conveniently situated across the way from their studio is the Hoxton Bar & Grill, and with Club AC30 hosting one of their nights at the cosy little venue during our excursion to the capital it would have been rude not to pay a visit. Leeds four-piece I Concur and Irish post-rockers God Is An Astronaut (main picture) made up the bill, and in the latter's dense signatures of apocalyptic noise and incendiary beauty set to a blissful backdrop of hazy visuals coupled with the former's National-inspired noise-pop was the perfect send-off to an enlightening couple of days.
Scandinavia seems to have everything going for it at the minute; beautiful scenery, unbelievably high standards of cleanliness and hygiene, the most polite people on earth and of course, an exceptional array of musical talent. Although comparisons to the usual suspects are obvious, Icelandic-born but currently London-based four-piece Blindfold's demos literally blew me away a few months back, and with their first single 'Sleepless Nights' imminent, expect many more open-mouthed gasps of incredulity before long. Likewise Swedish outfit Sad Day For Puppets, who hail from the suburb of Blackeberg and sound like they were reared on a diet of The Chart Show and Snub TV. Their first UK release 'Marble Gods/Big Waves' is out on Sonic Cathedral Records next week and we can't get enough of it here at SVM! Last but not least, Danish five-piece Rumskib have been floating our boat for the last couple of years since their self-titled first found its way across the North Sea via import. Obviously due to logistics, their live shows in this part of the world are fleeting at best, but with rumours of a tour in the offing this coming spring, watch this space.
That's nearly all for this month, except to say that if there's one album that should be on everybody's "Must Have" lists it has to be Other Arms, the posthumous second album by one-time DiS Recordings signings and now sadly departed Redjetson. Although recorded over a year ago and featuring contributions from iLiKETRAiNS Dave Martin and Bloc Party's Gordon Moakes among others, the band disintegrated towards the end of making the record and ultimately called it a day. Nevertheless, this is a remarkable record of epic proportions, and as fine a swansong as anyone could have possibly hoped for. Leeds imprint Gizeh are releasing the album in April as a limited run of 1000 copies; take my advice, get your orders in early as these will be gone like hotcakes, mark my words.
The next Some Velvet Mourning will feature pieces on The Domino State, Crystal Stilts, Psychic Ills and SPC ECO among others. I'll leave you with the excellent video to the recent single by up-and-coming London troupe Four Dead In Ohio, 'Jesus Won't Dance In My High Heels'.