Posts Tagged ‘this wreckage’

Close Lobsters at This Wreckage

Somehow, I mostly missed Scottish band Close Lobsters back in the late 80s, but I didn’t completely miss them.  At some point, I picked up a couple of their EPs used, and I still have their excellent song “Lovely Little Swan” on a bizarre 1990 K-Tel Records “modern rock” compilation called The Edge of Rock that I bought simply for the cheap price and the novelty (I say “bizarre,” because I thought K-Tel had long vanished by that point.  My prior K-Tel collection fresh from TV ads was the wondrous Rock 80 from around my ninth birthday– collecting 1979 “new wave” hits from the likes of The KnackThe PretendersGary Numan,BlondieThe Ramones, and Nick Lowe).  They were renowned from their offering from the legendary C86NME compilation that launched so many great bands’ careers, but I apparently I always kind of overlooked them.  So, how did I end up with this brand new 7” single by a band that has been dormant for about 25 years?  Not sure how, but it doesn’t matter, because I love this record!!

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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.

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Luxembourg Signal at This Wreckage

When I bought The Luxembourg’s debut 7” single, “Distant Drive,” earlier this spring, I had no idea that much of the band used to make up Sarah Records staple Aberdeen from back in the day.  I simply knew that “Distant Drive” is an infectious and lovely song that perfectly fits its theme.  It makes for a great song to kick off a long road trip with its insistent drum beat and repetitive guitar riff literally carrying us along for the ride. Likewise, the B-side, “Wishing Pool,” (also included on the LP in a mildly different version) captured my adoration by being simple, catchy, and dreamy all at the same time.

So, now, finally, comes their self-titled debut full length and their long shared history as professional musicians proves why this band sound so seasoned and have offered up such a rewarding and fully realized album.  What is surprising is that though they share a history with the very reserved Sarah Records bands, this album takes away that beauty, but brings along a healthy dose of rock and roll edge.  Any question regarding this can be dismissed by the appearance of Melvins drummer Dale Crover on the absolutely pounding and psychedelic “Drowning.”  Speaking of psychedelic, this album has a few songs that harkens back to the late 80s UK indie scene where bands began to embrace at least tinges of psychedelics into their sound.  It makes me think of the Mighty Lemon Drops (oh, and look, former Lemon Drop David Newtonhelped record this album!) crossed with The Heart Throbs.  Check out the dreamy and trippy expanse of the opening “Dying Star” for a flashback or the atmospheric passages of “First Light,” before the power chords during the bridge.

However, it’s the wistful focused pop songs like the two from the 7” single that really have me grinning from ear to ear.  The Beth Arzy fronted “She Loves to Feel the Sun” sounds exactly like an amazing lost Trembling Blue Stars song gone into overdrive (Arzy sang several songs on the last few TBS albums) and is one of the best songs I’ve heard all year!  Speaking of which, the penultimate “We Go On” is also a contender for great song of the year.  “We Go On” begins with a crisp build up that reminds of Cerulean eraOcean Blue, but with the beautiful voices of Betsy Moyer and Beth Arzy leading us into a fantastic timeless chorus.  Both of these songs fill me with warmth and a chill as they simultaneously present great hopes and dreams and missed opportunities and longing.

Finally, the album closes with the amazing and bitter “Let it Go,” whose knowing words straddle the line between escapism (“let it go / we’re lying in the sun”) and the desire to fight against the constraints that we all live in – in order to make a living and get by in this world (“and shove you aside”), despite the potential soul sucking side effects (“swallow your pride / till you feel nothing inside”).   It’s a battle that most of us fight to some degree every day, but it’s still comforting to hear an understanding voice convey the feeling atop a very tasteful tune.

This debut album by the Luxembourg Signal feels like the return of an old long lost friend.  It makes me wistful for old times, bitter about what I’ve lost along the way, but thankful and hopeful for what is yet to come.  Do yourself a favor and buy this album.

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