Posts Tagged ‘elefant’

The Primitives at Power Pop Gumdrop

Jangle pop legends the Primitives strike gold again with this pure classic. Everything you could hope for in a power pop album is heard on Spin-O-Rama. Jangly guitars, infectious hooks and harmonies, and anything else you can think of is explored on this album. This will exceed any expectations you have for what modern classic power pop album sounds like. 10/10


The Primitives at AllMusic

A good general rule for a band attempting to make an album after re-forming would be to do no harm. Don’t sully the past by making an uninspired update of your classic sound, don’t try to be modern and come off sounding desperate…don’t suck, basically. The Primitives already passed this test with flying colors thanks to their album of ’60s covers, Echoes and Rhymes, which they released in 2012. While it was impressive that the band, and especially vocalist Tracy Tracy, sounded like they hadn’t aged a single year, the true worth of their reunion could only be measured with an album of original songs. 2014’s Spin-O-Rama is that album and let’s just say that if Echoes and Rhymes was a nice welcome back, this is the album they should have made in the early ’90s as a follow-up to Pure. Working with longtime collaborator Paul Sampson, the group rushes through 11 songs in 29 minutes in a colorful flash of noisy indie pop that’s carefully crafted and full of excitement. Tracy is still drinking regularly from the fountain of youth, Paul Court‘s guitar work is impressive as it ranges from overdriven noise to chiming neo-psych haziness, and the overall sound of the album is punchy and bright, maybe even more so than their best work from their original run. While there may not be a giant hit like “Stop Killing Me” or “Sick of It” here, the songs are consistently hooky and fun, and a few of them would easily fit on an updated hits collection: the title track, with its super perky melody and insistent go-go beat, the hard-rocking “Petals,” and the almost shoegaze-heavy “Dandelion Seed” are three early picks, though that tends to change with every listen. Another cool thing for bands to do when they come back is to add some new colors to their paintbox and The Primitives do that a couple times, like on the dreamy “Follow the Sun Down,” which has a nice garage pop sound, or the Paul Court-sung psych-folk jangler “Working Isn’t Working.” Court actually takes more vocal leads than one might expect and his monotone balances well with Tracy‘s sweet croon. When they sing together, like on “Lose the Reason,” they sound so good you wish they did it more often. Making more albums is something else the group should do more often. They’ve done the rare trick of coming back even stronger than they finished, making music on Spin-O-Rama that sounds like classic Primitives, but also making music good enough to be mentioned in a conversation about the best guitar pop happening in 2014.


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.


Primitives at Ion Magazine

Acts that are on the legend tour are notoriously disappointing, unless of course you go to VH1 for your contemporary content. The Primitives’ new release is a shocking treat, maintaining their songwriting chops, and cashing in on a resurgence of dream pop, with younger bands name checking The Primitives as influences giving them a bump not unlike that time Morrissey was photographed wearing one of their shirts. Spin-O-Rama is an upbeat gem of a full length that can be enjoyed by both young fans of current jangle bands, and middle-aged moms who used to get down to “Crash” on a mix tape sandwiched between the Pointer Sisters and Fleetwood Mac’s “Everywhere”. Skepticism on a comeback record 22 years later is justified given these types of bands’ track record, but giving this record a shot will not disappoint.


Primitives at This Wreckage

The slow re-introduction to the Primitives has finally culminated in a full length album of new material!  After eons away, they returned to action in 2011 with an EP (see review here), then graced us with an interesting covers record in 2012 (review here) and finally they teased us with the fun way pre-LP single, “Lose the Reason,” back in February of 2013 (review here).  They have always been a stellar singles band and luckily, “Lose the Reason” is included here.

It’s interesting to listen to new music from this band now.  I don’t know how to quantify my feelings for them. I was a fan of theirs ever since hearing the spiky and endlessly addictive “Crash” back in 1988 and loved a lot of their songs, but never found their albums to be strong from start to finish.  Plus, I don’t think I fully realized back then how much of a 60s influence they had – it was simply somewhat disguised by speed and buzz in most of the songs.  It was the speed, brevity and feedback that caught me initially, so when they bring out their full blown 60s pop songs, I find myself missing the electricity.  About half of this new album sounds as if it were actually written and recorded in the UK back in 1965-66.  The songs fronted by songwriter/guitarist Paul Court especially capture this vibe.  “Wednesday World” relies on a spiraling rhythm, scratchy strumming guitars, Court’s mellow vocals, and drums relegated to the left side of the mix, but I have to say it sounds pretty fresh anyway.  Court decides to drop out on his breezy anti-9 to 5-work ode “Working Isn’t Working,” which is a sentiment I can definitely get behind (“I like to sit around”), but it’s actually theliveliness of the buzzing guitars and heavy pounding of the drums that emphasizes the chorus that sparks this song.  Less effective is the trippy (though, thankfully super brief) “Purifying Tone” and the okay, but somewhat aimless instrumental “Velvet Valley.”  Primary singer Tracy Tracy takes the lead on a couple of other Summer of Love style psychedelic pop songs with “Follow the Sun Down” and the bouncy “Dandelion Seed.”

Thankfully, the Primitives have not abandoned their edge and they’ve clearly retained their strength for creating fantastic timeless pop songs in three minutes or less.  Lead off song, title track and single, “Spin-O-Rama,” is every bit the quality of “Crash” and quite reminiscent as well, with its cleanly picked guitar opening leading into a chugging number with handclaps and a serious hook (The single B-Side is the trippy, but really fun “Up So High,” making the single a must-have).  Likewise, the sheer fun whoosh of the organ in “Lose the Reason” places a thrill down the spine.  Meanwhile, “Hidden in the Shadows” allows Tracy Tracy to urge us the look for our own truths and directions and avoid being “tricked by a trend / fooled by a fad” with the same kind of distant disgust at what she’s seeing as she sang in the old favorite “Sick of It” way back in the late 80s.  It’s the song “Petals,” however, that has me truly realizing why I love this band and can never ignore them.  The rush and buzz and energy is in full bloom inside this treat, which rivals any of their great singles from the original days till now.  I absolutely cannot understand how songs like this cannot be huge worldwide hits, but what do I know?

Have a truly resolved my feelings for this band, or this album?  I’m not sure.  It’s a mixed bag, but overall with such great highs, it’s damn nice to listen to new material from this group!  It also helps that I have grown up and have a better understanding of both their influences and their massive influence.  Treat yourself and enjoy.


Primitives at Linear Tracking Lives

Where has the time gone? This weekend marks 10 years since John Peel’s turntable stopped spinning. As we are all managing the juxtaposition of sadness and celebration, I have asked Paul Court of the Coventry band the Primitives for his remembrances of listening to and performing on the legendary BBC Radio DJ’s program. Special thanks to Mike Turner at Crashing Through Publicity for helping me get in touch with another one of my heroes.

Linear Tracking Lives: As a kid, what are some of your fondest memories of listening to John Peel’s show?
Paul Court: I started listening to the show in 1978. Radio One used to turn into Radio Two in the evening and then revert back to Radio One at ten for the John Peel show, so it really felt like a visit to some secret, cut-off place. I loved all the post-punk stuff coming through in ’78/’79. Lots of melody and experimentation creeping in. I’d listen in bed and would normally fall asleep before the end and wake up in the early hours wondering why the fuck he was playing Leo Sayer, before realising it had gone back to Radio Two and some truckers request show was on, and that I’d missed the next installment of Sir Henry at Rawlinson End or the final song in a Spizzenergi session.

LTL: What do you think made Peel so good at what he did?
Paul: I think because he was just left alone to get on with it, which fortunately meant giving the underdogs and outsiders a chance.

LTL: What standout Peel Sessions do you recall from other bands?
Paul: Loads of different contrasting stuff, such as The Birthday Party and Helen and The Horns. He played a lot of stuff that I really disliked to begin with, but couldn’t stop thinking about the next day, so I would tune in wondering if he’d play it again that night, subsequently becoming a big fan — The Birthday Party, The Fall, etc. I loved the first few Mary Chain sessions.

LTL: For many reasons, 1986 must have been such an exciting time for the Primitives. It was also the first of three consecutive years the band appeared on Peel’s Festive 50, and in the fall you recorded your first of three Peel Sessions. What was it like going into the studio and then hearing yourselves on the program? Is there a particular song or session that really stands out in your mind?
Paul: The studio was at Maida Vale in London. It was an ornate single story cake of a building with studios below the ground. It felt very much like being in the 1930s down there — I don’t think much had been altered since then. The first couple of sessions we did were produced by Dale Griffin, the drummer from Mott The Hoople. You could tell he wasn’t best pleased having to record all these musically inept bands. I remember him saying the guitar jangle on the chorus of “Stop Killing Me” didn’t fit, but I refused to change it because that was what I played. Eventually he conceded that it sort of worked. When we went back for a second session he was a bit friendlier and told us we’d improved. Hearing the session on the radio was a massive thrill. It would take a few weeks for it to appear on the show and they wouldn’t let you take a tape away, so you couldn’t really remember how it sounded. This was our first John Peel session. [sends YouTube link]

LTL: More than a quarter century after the band’s days on Lazy Records, the Primitives have returned to its indie roots with ‘Spin-O-Rama’ on Elefant Records. What do you think John Peel would have thought about that?
Paul: Hard to say really. I’d like to think he’d show some small acknowledgment, but his thing was always about the new young upstarts.

If you have heard ‘Spin-O-Rama,’ I think you’ll agree Paul is being far too modest with that last answer. So, I’ll say it: Peel would approve. If you haven’t heard the new one yet, check out a few of the new songshere. Then buy it on LP or CD. For more of the Primitives, listen to the band’s second Peel Session (and my favorite of the three) from the spring of ’87. Songs include “She Don’t Need You,” “Ocean Blue,” “Everything’s Shining Bright” and “Dream Walk Baby.” It’s nine minutes of pop perfection.

This very grateful fan would like to thank Mr. Court for taking the time. Thrill of my life.


Primitives at Magnet

We have been invited to guest edit MAGNET this week, so we thought we’d spin right back through memory, as the line from the title track of the Primitives‘ new album, Spin-O-Rama, goes (how’s that for a clever bit of crowbarring?), and revisit some music-related experiences from our childhood, youth and early days of the band. There’s also some other random stuff to do with the world of the Primitives. It’s been a pleasure putting all this together, as there wouldn’t normally be any reason to relay any of this stuff. So thanks MAGNET, we’re enjoying the delve.


[Link to Pt. 2]

[Link to Pt. 3]

[Link to Pt. 4]

[Link to Pt. 5]

[Link to Pt. 6]

[Link to Pt. 7]

[Link to Pt. 8]

[Link to Pt. 9]

[Link to Pt. 10]

[Link to Pt. 11]

[Link to Pt. 12]

[Link to Pt. 13]

[Link to Pt. 14]

[Link to Pt. 15]

[Link to Pt. 16]

Primitives at Vinyl District

For a US lad of the late-‘80s, the indie pop of The Primitives was a welcome pleasure. Most folks know them for ’88’s Lovely and its accompanying hit single “Crash,” but after breaking up in the early-‘90s the band reformed roughly half a decade back. The group’s latest LP Spin-O-Rama is out this week via the Elefantlabel; if it doesn’t reach the heights of their best material it also doesn’t fall short by much, the record’s 11 tracks continuing to vindicate the rekindling of the whole endeavor.

Naturally the point is arguable, but of all the ‘80s indie pop acts to have missed the original cut for the New Musical Express’ genre-defining C86 compilation, The Primitives are a very likely candidate as most deserving of inclusion. As evidence, earlier in 2014 the Cherry Red label assembled a 3CD expansion of that release, and three tunes into the second disc one can find The Primitives’ nugget “Lazy” standing proud.

Not that one needs to buy the set to hear it. The group’s pre-RCA period as self-documented on Lazy Records has been collected and reissued numerous times and is currently in print through, wouldn’t you know it, Cherry Red. And for this writer’s money, the Lazy stuff, which contains the dandy singles “Thru the Flowers,” “Really Stupid,” “Stop Killing Me,” and a bunch more (a double CDs worth, including demos and an ‘87 live show from London’s ICA) is their strongest work.

But I will readily declare that Lovely is a fine LP in a style/scene where excellent long-playing records are, if not exactly rare, then far from common (the concept of the indie pop compilation as a spotlight for a succession of individual highpoints has endured up to the nonce). Plus, the band’s classique thrust once Aussie Tracy Tracy (born Tracy Cattell) was fully established as lead singer (replacing Keiron McDermott) made them palatable to US listeners, particularly those with an undying jones for prime-era Blondie.

“Crash” might not have cracked the US Top 40, but it did make it to #5 on the Modern Rock sales/airplay chart, an obsolete gauge basically signifying that The Primitives received an ass-ton of exposure on Music Television. And like a select few indie pop cohorts, the majority of their initial spate of recording has aged very well.

Lovely’s ’89 follow-up Pure, while not quite as successful, reinforced the group as having a solid songwriting foundation delivered through a focused sound. But derived from a handful of plays, I recall ‘91’s Galore, their third album, to be a disappointment, though that was admittedly a long time ago; I really should reinvestigate.

Perhaps one day I will, but at the moment there’s Spin-O-Rama to consider. It’s not The Primitives’ post-comeback debut, for in 2012 a swell all-covers disc Echoes and Rhymes was issued, the choices generally so under the radar that many have and will persist in perceiving it as a standard release. However, Spin-O-Rama is their first full-length of all originals since recommencing in ‘09; “Never Kill a Secret,” a 4-song EP split between band compositions and covers, surfaced back in ‘11.

Their newest presents them in trim form, the LP opening with the title track, pristine and sprightly before quickly landing squarely in a familiar zone of ‘60s-inspired fuzz-infused melodicism. Tracy’s singing is as robust and sassy as ever, and as the cut’s tidiness progresses it deftly alternates Ramonesian punch with chiming brio.

While surely catchy, “Hidden in the Shadows” resides on the heavier side of The Primitives’ guitar pop spectrum, its sharp riff mingling well with Tracy’s undiminished prowess. From there “Wednesday World” introduces a strumming acoustic as guitarist Paul Court steps up to sing lead. Throughout, Tracy gives her tambourine an emphatic shaking.

The mid-tempo gallop of “Follow the Sun Down” brings a productive switch, illuminating the rhythm section of drummer Tig Williams and bassist Raph Moore (who replaced Steve Dullaghan; the founding bass player’s untimely passing in ’09 directly preceded The Primitives’ return to activity for live gigs), with Tracy’s singing detectably outside of the D. Harry-esque feel offered on the disc’s first two selections.

“Purifying Tone” retains the pace, Court picking up the mic again for a concise slab of pop-rock brandishing hints of neo-psych. It’s pleasant and built upon a sturdy base, but frankly the speedier, more raucous “Lose the Reason” is the meat of The Primitives’ matter. Featuring trade-off/tandem vocals, lively bass, mucho handclaps and a cascading organ sounding as if it was surgically removed from an early-‘80s power pop radio smash, it strongly underscores the outfit’s enduring relevance.

It’s followed by “Petals,” a stripped-down yet fully-formed hunk of ‘80s-style indie pop with rock-level amp-gust channeling the ‘60s via the Ramones, though Court also tosses off a nice Chuck Berry via The Saints micro-solo. And Tracy manages a vibrant youthfulness here, coming off a bit like a young Juliana Hatfield. Next, Court’s voice reminds me a tad of the Television Personalities’ Dan Treacy on the jangled-up and fuzzed-out ode to being unfit for labor “Working Isn’t Working” (seemingly a recurring theme for them).

Combining a constant flow of sha-na-na-na-na’s with an equally incessant riff descended (if well-disguised) from “Sweet Jane,” the leisurely this-could-go-on-for-hours aura of “Velvet Valley” is a sort of how-to manual for budding pop-rockers, effectively accentuating the lasting appeal of The Primitives’ modesty of scale as they slather it with low-mixed but plentiful string burn.

And it segues pretty well into the vigorous catchiness of “Dandelion Seed,” distortion rippling forth as Tracy emotes with unfussy verve, though the crucial component in this example comes through the crisp rhythmic propulsion of Williams and Moore. It sets up the ear for closer “‘Let’s Go ‘Round Again.” A reprise/adjustment of the album’s opener, the brief track provides a fitting finale to the appropriately succinct (less than 30 minutes) old-school flavor of Spin-O-Rama.

Beside a couple of mildly slighter songs, my only real quibbles with the record are minor, essentially personal wishes for a few more uptempo numbers and less democracy in the vocal department (though when Tracy’s and Court’s voices combine on a tune the results are worthwhile). Also, it’s not as if they’ve over-polished this baby, and the writing remains up to snuff.

Additionally, there’s nary a hint of going through the motions on display; not as special as Lovely and approximately comparable in quality to Pure, it still feels like The Primitives are in it for the fun rather than the retirement fund. Not that I have a problem with late-life security, but picking up Spin-O-Rama is happily far from an act of charity.


Throwing Muses, Hobbes Fanclub, Joanna Gruesome, Lunchbox, Fishboy, Primitives at Tuning Into the Obscure

The Hobbes Fanclub – Up At Lagrange – Shelflife Records – LP/CD

Hazy and dreamy guitars and vocals gives this album a sort of hot, hazy and lazy summer feel, which for me is just perfect. It’s refreshing and relaxing at the same time, without compromising on songwriting or quality.  It definitely fits in with Shelflife’s vast catalog of sound, and this album delivers nothing short of perfect.  Fans of the Chills, The Ropes and even those who’ve been digging some of the more recent M83 singles will enjoy this album.  Sweet stuff! (4.8 out of 5)

Lunchbox – Lunchbox Loves You – Jigsaw Records – CD

Jangle, pop rock, indie, psyche, dream pop and a hint of garage make this album so delicious that I want a second helping. This album is quite sublime without losing any potency lyrically.  It’s hazy and dreamy at times but knows where to pack its punches.  It reminds me a bit of the September Girls with hints of the Vaselines, Veruca Salt and others.  The love here is mutual, Lunchbox! Keep on rocking!  (4.7 out of 5)

Fishboy – An Elephant – Yofishboy – LP + Graphic Novel

This indie punk lo-fi pop outfit returns with a soundtrack to their graphic novel that follows the ghost of Topsy the Elephant in her quest for vengeance for being electrocuted by Thomas Edison in 1903. And if you’ve seen that video footage from that time period, I think you’d find yourself joining Topsy’s quest.  This album rocks!  Life, death, and everything afterward makes this hard to resist, especially when it sounds so cheery.  It’s been a while I’ve come across a themed record like this where I dare to call it a rock opera of sorts.  Awesome!  (5 out of 5)

The Primatives – Spin-O-Rama – Elefant Records – CD

Their first album of new material in almost 22 years, the band creates some real indie-pop jewels. I’d say it likens closely to their early material from the mid 80s, picking up right where they left off.  It’s so catchy, sparkling and sweet without sacrificing its rock edge, like a more jangle-new wave Vaselines.  Male and female vocals make this extra dreamy. I can totally see why this band has been a major influence for so many bands/artists over the years.  The writing and composing are top notch and highly addictive. Lovely! (4.9 out of 5)

Joanna Gruesome / Trust Fund – Split 12” – HHBTM – 12”

Three tracks per band, starting off with Joanna Gruesome’s brand of jangle-pop-rock-folk that’s sure to please fans of just about any of the bands reviews above in this post. This is my first introduction to the band and I am hooked badly and need another fix. These three tracks are astonishingly engaging and staggeringly powerful.  Flip things over with Trust Fund and while the genre mixture stays somewhat similar, the flavor and the drive changes up a little bit.  It’s a great intro to the band for those who are not familiar with them and it is safe to say that if you liked Joanna Gruesome, you’re gonna love this!  Flawless split EP from start to finish.  (4.9 out of 5)

Throwing Muses – Purgatory / Paradise – HHBTM – LP

One of the most influential groups returns with a double LP (the CD came out in 2013 and the vinyl is brand spankin’ new!) and they pack a punch as you might expect. Everything about this album is powerful, beautiful and even haunting at times.  The magic is unmatchable.  Despite the absence of some of the founding members, nothing is lost here.  And the vocals are to die for. Seriously!  This is well worth having on either CD or vinyl – as long as you get a copy!  (5 out of 5)


Primitives at Examiner

With pop melodies, Paul Court’s classic jangly guitars and Tracy Tracy’s sweet vocals the British band the Primitives shot out of England around the same time Jesus and Mary Chain, the Wedding Resent and My Bloody Valentine were gaining traction in the US. Their career came to a halt almost as quickly as it started but after several years apart they reassembled in 2009 and have now delivered a new album loaded with new tunes. With everything music listeners loved about the band packed into the 11 song album Spin-o-Rama picks up right where the Primitives left off. The opening track, “Spin-o-Rama”, welcomes listeners into the album with infectious guitars and catchy lyrics. Songs like “Petals” and “Lose the Reason” follow that same formula and when they step away from it things really get good. They harness a 60’s garage pop vibe on “Velvet Valley”, they take things in a little harder direction on “Hidden In The Shadows” and Paul Court on “Working Isn’t Working” may be the best song on the record. From start to finish Spin-o-Rama is a fun listen loaded with sounds that are pleasing to the ear. The Primitives make it look easy as they dish out tunes that are every bit as good as their earlier music delivering 80’s infused pop music without sounding stale and rehashed. Spin-o-rama is a surprising addition to the wealth of good music being released in 2014.