Crayon at Luna

20th anniversary reissue with download including 21 bonus songs. Crayon took the burgeoning sound of twee pop and added punk elements, sounding something like a cross between UK indiepop bands like the Pastels and more abrasive American bands like Unwound.


Crayon at This is Book’s Music

If there’s one thing that Nirvana, Soundgarden, and Pearl Jam did for the Pacific Northwest, it showed that it was a great place to find lots of great. The band thing is that the hype of grunge made countless fans assume that all bands sounded the same and had the exact influences. Not every band was super-polished or had the publicity teams to make them a powerful force. Take for example, a group from Bellingham, Washington named Crayon. They released a small handful of 7″ singles and EP’s before they came up with their debut album in 1994. The spirit of Brick Factory (HHBTM) sounded like a group that were willing to show how new they were, even though they existed for four years. They weren’t too polished or sharp, nor did they want to be. They wanted to twist their style of pop music with a lot of garage rock and noise, as if they wanted to join Sonic Youth, King Missile (Dog Fly Religion), Coffin Break, or Hazel and have a huge party. It was loose punk rock with a poppy edge, and their album sounded like something you’d pop into your cassette deck and just get drunk.

That album is now 20 years old and the spirit lives on with its reissue, which has come out on vinyl for the first time. You might assume that having fourteen songs on an album is too much and would lower the sound quality, but the original album was under 40 minutes, which means the sound quality is excellent. Some may feel indie music from the early 90’s have been lost in time but as far as the fans are still out there and show how much this music moved them, a reissue like the one for Brick Factory will continue being reissued. If you get the digital version of this album, you’ll get seven more songs that are from their earlier singles. Brick Factory may not make you feel as long as you were 20 years ago, but it is sure to remember why these songs trilled you in the first place.


Crayon at Dublab

Sometime around 1992/93, after the rise of alternative rock and before the death of Kurt Cobain, there was a sweet spot in the pop-culture landscape for DIY punk, noise rock and the many permutations of lo-fi pop. There was Shimmy Disc, the documentary “The Year Punk Broke”, and the movie slackers. Zines and indie labels celebrated and embraced all that. Crayonwalked that fine line of the not quite aggressive, yet hard enough to not be pure pop. Lo fi to its purest, the re-issue of “Brick Factory” by HHBTM Records is on limited edition vinyl (the album was originally only released on CD and cassette). In addition, the digital download includes 21 bonus songs comprising tracks from 7 inch singles, compilations, 4-track demos and never before heard unreleased songs.


Emotional Response at Too Much Rock

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Emotional Response at Whisperin and Hollerin

 This is one of 3 singles all now out on Flagstaff, Arizona’s Emotional Response label. They all come on coloured vinyl, this time on grey wax and featuring the alleged final single by Indie stalwarts Boyracer. I have vague memories of having seen them live aeons ago as an opening act at the Garage in Highbury but I’m not certain about it.

All the singles also contain bonus tracks on the download card which is cool. This is the current label run by Stuart Anderson and Jen Turell who also ran 555 recordings and Red Square records.

This single has cool artwork inside the label’s own Immediate Homaging sleeves. Pete Shelley is a new wave mod urgent lo-fi tribute to Buzzcocks’ frontman Pete Shelley; not as catchy or punky as Pete’s own work but very cool nonetheless. New Wave Mod sounds like the soundtrack to a culture clash as a mate transforms into a new style. The lyrics are a cool vignette and a mix of hurt and spite and Stuart Anderson comes close to sounding like S.M.A.S.H.

On the b-side, The Kind Of Man You Really Are tells the story of a rather mouthy neighbour over Jam-esque mod punk and let’s face it this guy’s wife is going to let him know just what kind of man he is. That’s followed by Jump which is almost Nouvelle mod with Jen Turrell’s vocals on a Jump-along tune with cool keyboards that is literally jumping for joy as it hurtles by.

The download card for this single comes with 2 bonus songs that opens with (Don’t Try To) Second Guess Me. That’s a good slice of shambling loud feed-backing indie that is good and brief like all these Boyracer tunes. The final song, Date with Doug, is a weird but compelling sort of love song about how a guy keeps meeting girls who’ve had dates with Doug. The flange guitar madness is what it’s all about; for me a cool noise for sure.


Emotional Response at Whisperin and Hollerin

This is one of 3 singles all now out on Flagstaff Arizona’s Emotional Response label. They all come with bonus material on the download cards and are on coloured vinyl. This time it’s Blood Red for Stuart Anderson of Boyracer’s collaboration with Crayola and David Nichols who you may or may not know from the busy duo’s other bands.

The vinyl catches me out on first play as the cheeky sods have put it on a 33rpm 7″ and I started it at 45RPM. Still, had it said so on the label I wouldn’t have felt so dumb as I was a safe distance from the record player at the time (ho ho). As the lo-fi fizzing with odd keyboard bits kick in on Hey You it hooks you in before you even get to some odd lyrics about domination with a very cool repeating bass figure underneath it all.

Soap is an upbeat song about a sexual fantasy that includes having soap in your eyes. It’s kind of like The Prisoners going off on one in a strange alternate universe. On the B-side A Big Splash is kind of like a skewhiff Luna song with incredible flange guitar effects. It also sounds like one of those 80’s indie 60’s revivalists but it’s all about that guitar. Let me have loads more of that flanged out guitar love it. Sandpits is urgent frenetic almost shambling clatter pop hidden under all the noise with nicely sneered vocals.

The 6 bonus songs kicks off with Domesticated Male: a cool jaundiced look at being a well-trained domesticated male of clattering noise-pop and some very cool out of space organ sounds with a nod or two towards The Shend. The Cover of Adam and The Ants’ Young Parisians sounds more like they are channeling Wasted Youth’s Paris France, but either way it’s a cool take on it even taking into account the odd whistling bit.

Sasquatch is naive indie-pop that again references Luna and has a good bit when the repetitive vocals drop out and the musical madness takes over like someone is on the deck of a spaceship. That’s very cool incidentally. You don’t often hear Bogshed cover versions but damn do they do a number on Fat Lad Exam Failure. It comes on like the Fall on speed: a very cool take on this 80’s underground favourite.

Winged Man sort of suffers for following the Bogshed cover and coming as it does before a storming totally mental version of Hawkwind’s Silver Machine that closes the bonus and damn what a great version with mad noises and crisp vocals. As out there as it needs to be.

This ep and download are well worth getting fromEmotional Response Bandcamp page.


Emotional Response at Whisperin and Hollerin

This is one of 3 singles all now out on Flagstaff Arizona’s Emotional Response label. They all come with bonus material on the download cards and are on coloured vinyl; this time out it’s marbled purple which is very cool indeed.

Hulaboy are Eric from Hula Hoop and Stuart Anderson from Boyracer who have apparently been putting out stuff together now for 20 years. From the opening line of “That’s What Facebooks for”, Exes and Enemies is a dry look at what you find out about your exes by trawling Facebook all over some ripe C86-style indie reminiscent of The Popguns and with some great keyboards.

Now if you only download it and don’t play the 7″ single the next song is The Kid Asked: a heart-breaking story about a kid witnessing some domestic violence. It’s moving and a slow rumination on the damage done to the witnesses let alone the victims of violence. Back to the vinyl where Exes and Enemies is followed by the excellent Napalm Heart: a bittersweet song about a woman with a heart of Napalm that sounds quite sweet despite the vicious lyrics.

On the b-side is Kids Under Stars; a cool Psych-indie tune that reminds me of Spitfire or early Hang Ten-era Soup Dragons with a garage-rock edge and cool lyrics and then towards the end it goes properly wonky with a bass riff that could have been stolen from Joy Division. But on the download that’s much later on.

Anyway, taking the bonus tracks (all 7 of them) I Find Your Topsiders and Beard Amusing is odd and compelling and rather out there wonky indie with a sly grin on its face. Hey opens with the EP’s title track He’s Making Violent Love To Me, Mother as the clattering begins and it could almost be the raggedy end of the Drop Nineteens or Velvet Crush over some deep lyrics about the love that has gone and why he don’t want her back.

I’m Not From Louisville I’m From LaGrange Motherfucker is a clattering, shambling rant rock after someone obviously said he looked like the slugger or some other local insult that set him off on one. And this song IS off on one!!

The Western Mark E Smith makes an attempt to put a western tinge on him as opposed to The Jazz Butcher’s Southern Mark Smith. He certainly deserves the treatment as this sounds like The Fall gone awry and trying to behave like they are sober. As if!! It’s also a song about betrayal and love gone wrong in odd ways.

Not Another Orange Juice Song is actually a cover of Echo and the Bunnymen’s The Cutter and they do a good clattering job as it’s just off enough to kind of nail it and not have the preening cock of the walk insouciance that Mac the Mouth is famous for.

The download bit finishes with the brief and cool We Saw Crispin Glover: as much a fade out as anything but a cool end to a very interesting single and download that can be found at Emotional Response Bandcamp page.


Primitives at Porky Prime Cuts

THE PRIMITIVES HAD IT ALL in the fag-end of the 1980s: harmonic pop songs serenaded by the photogenic Tracy Tracy, an accomplished Primitivessongwriter in Paul McCourt and those songs: Crash, Stop Killing Me, Really Stupid and Thru’ the Flowers.

They arose from gloriously cultish indie pop band to a hitmaker. Their biggest hit, Crash, was also their finest moment, and was all over the shop in 1988 in Britain and offshore. Lovely, their debut album, captured the hearts of Madonna-loving teens and Beatles’ obsessed boomers.

Alas, the attention-span of their new found friends was want to drifting off, and despite some excellent singles – You Are The Way is one of the most under-rated singles of the early 90s – they gave up the fight against a fickle population and retired in 1992. Not much was seen since of any of them thereafter, but they returned in 2009 for a one-off gig which, of course, turned into something more tangible. I’ve heard some favourable things from my Liverpool correspondent about their gigs in the north-west.

Spin-O-Rama (Elefant records) is the second comeback release following the cover-heavy Echoes and Rhymes of 2012, and is their first batch of new material in 22 years. Neither those who have Lovely, nor those who insist their pre-Crash singles were the best thing they ever did, will be torn by Spin-O-Rama: it’s a non-stop pursuit of all that is good about music.

The opening title track sets out its stall early: pounding riffs, gorgeous vocals and the sound of a band glad to be together again; there’s hints of Crash in the pace and jollity of it all and it shouts for attention from the roofs. Hidden In the Shadowshas the trashy, edginess of one of the 1986/87 singles, complete with frenetic verses and a rousing chorus. This is pop at its finest.

Prims 2I’d almost forgotten that some of the Primitives finest hours were when songwriter Paul (PJ) McCourt took charge of vocal duties, and Wednesday World is awash with his magnetic timbre as tells us how he “feels nothing in the rain”. My personal favourite is another McCourt-led charge,Work Isn’t Working. This doesn’t give the impression of having taken too long to write, but will resonate with every workshop fop, creative sort and bohemian in the world: “I wasn’t made for lifting things or digging up the ground/ I never want to follow orders or to knuckle down/ I wasn’t born to stand in line, I like to sit around,” and off he goes to clock out … for good.

All other tracks are chirpy sing-alongs, with buzz saw guitars, tight drums, barking bass and lyrics that don’t aim too high, then they sign-off with a brief reprise of the title track, which makes you want to press play again.


Eureka California at Artrocker

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Black Watch at Austin Town Hall

You know what’s going to make your day a little bit better? You’re going to have to listen to this new track from The Black Watch in order to make that happen.  The band are prepping the release of their new LP, Sugarplum Fairy, Sugarplum Fairy; it’s just a year after the most excellentThe End of When (you better have that LP!). Listening to this first single, there’s a hint of Bobby Pollard in it, though I still love the crisp twang of the guitar that’s in the background.  Pop Culture Press will be releasing the album in late January, but I’ll remind you closer to that date, as this is sure to be another successful long player from the group.