Goth Euro vision

interpretive dancers, gratuitous violins, extravagant hair… it could almost be a eurovision performance, sadly no horseheaded figure up a step ladder but you can’t have everything can you? Spectacularly grainy old black and white footage here from Riverside in which two members of the royal ballet accompany a version of The Cure through ‘Siamese Twins’. I have to admit to being stubbornly ambivalent about the merit or otherwise of the dancing but the violins work well. (it can also be found in much higher quality colour without too much exertion but for some reason, this is just better) I’ve ended up here on account of The Quietus hymning the wonders of the ‘Pornography’ album and trailing the paperback of Lol’s book. The description of events it includes put this performance about a year after a tour ending fight between Gallup and Smith I guess, explaining Steve Severin’s appearance on bass. Weird to be looking back from today’s perspective where several years pass between releases to see that despite the all consuming, band destroying, conflagration of ‘Pornography’ Smith hardly sat on his hands moping. By this point ‘Let’s Go To Bed’ had been a hit and he spent the rest of ’83 making the singles that became ‘Japanese Whispers’ as well as a Banshees album and The Glove record with Severin which seems remarkably productive, I’m a bit tired just thinking about it. It’s not the piece the record deserves but it’s not bad – a few insights tempered by some John R(ent-a-g)obb and poor old Lol, whose name would become quite literally synonymous with laughter, getting his due for a change. I can’t honestly say it’s made me mad keen to read his book, but I don’t often need much encouragement to listen to the album again.

In other vaguely cure related news Mogwai tease their next record with a lovely track ‘Coolverine’ which finds them sounding more than ever like instrumental outtakes from ‘Disintegration’. No bad thing to be honest. They’ve come up with another terrible, terrible title as well. I picture them sat about after finishing the record with a bag of cans and a bottle of Bucky daring each other to come up with stupider names for the tunes. It’s a hit and miss business – sometimes they’re gold but ‘Coolverine’ is definitely on the ‘you wrote this lovely piece of music and then you called it what?’ pile . . .

If you need a little more high-culture-meets-goth theorising in your week then tomorrow there’s this. A Goldsmith’s event remembering Mark Fisher and featuring Gazelle Twin, a reading of his ‘for your unpleasure’ essay . . .




Monkey’s Claw Vs April Fishes

2015-03-10 21.00.53

Les Poissons d’Avril as our French comrades would have it. Despite the obvious problem with releasing anything on April 1st (rather than the 2nd or March 31st) plenty of people went ahead with it. Competition for which of us is the most foolish around here remains stiff nevertheless it was Thee Monkey’s Claw who sat irritably through a pile of new releases to bring you all his uninvited and curmudegonly views on a few so you could save precious time and brain power for more worthwhile things…

First up then this Electric Pencils album which isn’t out April 1st but has been out since Feb 29th, a much more intriguing release date. It has a spring into summer, bright and breezy feel to it, short sharp pop punk songs with sing-a-long melodies. Ben (on the left of the cover, which he painted) was formerly in Thee Spivs but this is a more melodic, less snottily punk rock affair. The love of Billy Childish is still there, his voice has something of Mick Jones in it and it often, if loosely, reminds me of Buzzcocks. There’s that energy and youthful brightness to it. Steve, as you can see from the cover, is a one man rhythm section and plays the drums with his feet which gives it a very simple, direct feel. I don’t think they’ve even taken advantage of the studio to put any cymbals on the record, I’ve not noticed any and it’s a nice touch if true. So the drums recall the stand up kit of The Shop Assistants or Bobby Gillespie pounding away in the early Mary Chain. It’s actually the more punk mid 80’s indie bands they most sound like though I hesitate to say it because I don’t mean it in a bad way at all (The Shop Assistants were damn perfect). Actually English bands because they don’t cop any American garage band/rock ‘n’ roll clichés either, they’re quietly and politely English without making a fuss about it (because that would be vulgar). I’m of the right age and inclination for this to scratch a nostalgic itch in just the right way. On repeat listens it’s clear just how well they’ve pulled off a remarkable trick, the descriptions ‘punk pop’ or ‘indie pop’ rightly strike indifference into the heart in any context but retrospective because there have been so very many crappy bands unimaginitively flogging that dead horse for 30+ years now. But they are perfect descriptions of this record, and it’s really good. It reminds of a lot of things without being embarrasingly indebted or tiresomely generic, and the writing, playing and production is a cut above a lot of those 80’s indie records without being all shiny and happy and Californian…

Which brings me embarrassingly to Bleached, scrappy punk rock sisters from California who have made a shinier, brighter pop punk record than previous. I’m not slagging it though, no sir. Where the comparisons above were vague signposts and suggestions this one is straight up The Runaways + The Go-Gos = YES. If you don’t like The Runaways or The Go-Gos you are wrong and there’s nothing for you here. Still, those records are 35 – 40 years old and maybe something to add to the pile wouldn’t hurt? I’ve already played ‘Beauty and The Beat’ a few times this year. Have a listen to ‘Sour Candy’, that should be a proper pop hit shouldn’t it? Not even impossible that it could be. No-one’s reinventing the wheel here or anything but sometimes it gets really boring listening to another bunch of stoned half wits digging into the same riff for 15 mins pretending they’re gifting us conciousness expansion. I think you know what I’m saying. Even I’m in a good mood sometimes. It is 1000% better than what I’ve heard of the new Cherie Curie record so, you know, a young ‘un’s game. Take a look at the cover too, they look like a less glamourous version of The Faster Pussycat gang, drag you out to Barstow and kill you in the desert.

There’s a limit to the sweetness and summery vibes of the last two records though, something in both about finding the positive way out of life’s darker moments, the last track on the Electric Pencils is about a neighbour being killed, nothing much seems to have ever troubled this guy. The Burning Hell may be sarcastically or inappropriately named. They are basically Matt, a nice Canadian, and any number of others from time to time although improbably they recorded this in Kent. Which apparently soured the mood nowhere near as much as it should have. They seem nice. I don’t want to be mean. I’ll suggest you listen to “Fuck The Government, I Love You” because it seems to neatly encapsulate the problem here. It’s quite a smart lyric in it’s way but it’s a pretty shit song. So smug you want to punch everyone. I don’t just mean everyone involved either, I mean EVERYONE.

Enough happy upbeat pop, lets have a little intellectual heavy lifting in here again, my teeth hurt. The name The Comet Is Coming has a pleasing 23 Skidoo echo to it so I thought I’d give them a go. Tries the patience somewhat but it’s not an entirely off base assumption. If you know 23 Skidoo’s self-titled album from around 2000, the one with Roots Manuva and Pharoah Sanders on, this isn’t too far away from that sort of thing but coming from the Jazz direction rather than heading towards it. I am again regrettably drawn to the issue of shininess here. Like the glistening cover there is much going on but it appears to be all surface. Perhaps it would sound better had I not been listening to pretty straightforward pop songs all day, there are enjoyable moments here and there but I’m torn between thinking it might open up and reveal secrets or just be a load of old tosh. They have stupid stage names and ancient hip hop beats, the titles suggest a space adventure type narrative theme ‘Journey Through The Asteroid Belt’ and so on. It reminds me of stuff from 20 odd years ago which does not seem at all the point of what they’re doing, and then it packs a little wonky surprise now and then. The truth of the situation is I am just not interested enough by it to give it the chance to impress me on a second listen. From the blurb “Listen! As a trailing meteor shower drops hot coals hissing into topographical oceans. Inhale! The burning funk of strange new flavours. The sound of the future… today.” Lucky they got a first go reading that to be honest. I must have been in a good mood. Jazz Wankers.

Fucking Gnod eh? What are we gonna do about them? They do almost everything right and yet I still don’t like their records. Noticing that topographic oceans nod just now I’m sure their last one earned them some unfavourable Yes comparisons. Not a place you want to be. I’m starting to feel mean. If the uk’s underground/avant garde rock scene/whatever was pub, Gnod would be the pub dog or cat, and everyone would love it except me. I’d be the cantankerous old drunk bastard who kicked it if he got a chance. Why is that? I like this one more than others and I can see me enjoying this version of the band live, if they’ve not transformed again by the time I do. It claims to be channelling PiL and Swans this time out which is a welcome development. More accurately they are the obvious reference points when listening to it. While it might be easily better than the last Pil album and the influence of Swans is pretty clear it’s no match for actually listening to Swans. Not a lot is of course, the recent run has been particularly overwhelming. It’s earlier, dragging, sludgy, darker Swans they’re tapping into here. The vocals are surplus and slightly annoying but the music is pretty impressive for something recorded in a very short time. Still, I’m not having it. One day they’ll make a really great record and I’ll have to admit it, this isn’t it but it’s another step on their intriguing path. It’s possible the problem with Gnod is they keep seeing shiny things in the woods and veering off that path to have a look and when they come back they haven’t moved forwards.

Thank God for Mogwai. How do they do it? We’ve had ourselves a good old chuckle about the purple prose this latest album has inspired elsewhere, so best be careful. Especially this far down the bottle. Firstly and most importantly it does not contain a cover of Blondie’s ‘Atomic’. Once you get over that little heartbreak you’re good. It’s a Mogwai record, a particulary good one, a better Mogwai album than ‘Rave Tapes’ was and a better soundtrack than ‘Les Revenants’ which I liked a lot. The first track here is so beautiful I keep expecting the wonderful voices of The Unthank sisters to chip in, it’s the very sound of spring. The rest of the album is equally good, the fierce noise beast of the live band kept on a short leash but to no detriment, there’s a lot more electronic tinkering as well but perfectly combined. They seem completely in charge of their wide sound world, subtler than before not so reliant on dynamic drama. Not that such comparisons make much sense but if we look to Tortoise’s recent water treading effort and Godspeed’s ‘We’ll do another one the same in five years eh?’ approach it seems the plucky Scots lads have emerged victorious from the post rock wars…



Panic & Carousels

The Panic & Carousels column for Narc Magazine was supposed to be regular – monthly, even – but by the end of 2015 it was dead in the water. Life, eh?

Panic & Carousels Narc Mix - Feb 2016

Anyway, all being well it should get back to at least  being fairly regular this year, and kicks off 2016 with a look back at 2015. You can take a look here. There’s reviews – or mentions, at least – for Workin Man Noise Unit, Early Mammal, Laura Cannell, Karen Gwyer, Kemper Norton, Supernormal and Tor Ist Das?, Woven Skull and The Cesarians, Shape Worship, Coil, This Heat, Harmonia. Mogwai, The Bug, Terminal Cheesecake, Denver Broncos UK, Oneida, Mamuthones, Capra Informis and Was Ist Das?‘ Noise In  The Woods compilation.

There’s also my Hickey-friendly end of year chart:


  1. = Hey Colossus – In Black & Gold (Rocket Recordings)
    = Hey Colossus – Radio Static High (Rocket Recordings)
  2. DBUK (Denver Broncos UK) – Songs One Through Eight (SCAC Unincorporated)
  3. Godspeed You! Black Emperor – Asunder, Sweet & Other Distress (Constellation)
  4. Woven Skull – Lair Of The Glowing Bantling (Penske Recordings)
  5. Sleaford Mods – Key Markets (Harbinger Sound)
  6. Low – Ones & Sixes (Sub Pop)
  7. King Midas Sound & Fennesz – Episode 1 (Ninja Tune)
  8. Grey Hairs – Colossal Downer (Gringo)
  9. Blown Out – Jet Black Hallucinations (Golden Mantra)
  10. Teeth Of The Sea – Highly Deadly Black Tarantula (Rocket Recordings)
  11. Henry Blacker – Summer Tombs (Riot Season)
  12. Jenny Hval – Apocalypse Girl (Sacred Bones)
  13. Shape Worship – A City Remembrancer (Front & Follow)
  14. Wire – Wire (Pink Flag)
  15. EEK & Islam Chipsy – Kahraba (Nashazphone)
  16. Luminous Bodies – Luminous Bodies (Box)
  17. Workin Man Noise Unit – Play Loud (Riot Season)
  18. Steve Gunn & Black Twig Pickers– Seasonal Hire (Thrill Jockey)
  19. Bad Guys – Bad Guynaecology (Riot Season)
  20. Shit & Shine – 54 Synth Brass, 38 Metal Guitar, 65 Cathedral (Rocket Recordings)

And if that wasn’t enough, there’s an all-too-rare mix, of releases from the column or from the chart and some other bits and pieces.

Here’s what’s on it:

  1. Luminous Bodies – Stay Dead
  2. Workin’ Man Noise Unit – Yeah, I Was Hypnotised
  3. Teeth Of The Sea – Animal Manservant
  4. Mamuthones – Symphony For The Devil
  5. Shape Worship – Heygate Palimpsest
  6. Laura Cannell – For Sorrow Salt Tears (Karen Gwyer Edit)
  7. Raime – This Foundry (Regis Version)
  8. The Bug – Krak Teng
  9. E.E.K. ft Islam Chipsy – El Bawaba
  10. This Heat – 24 Track Loop
  11. Hey Colossus – Heaven Blows
  12. Oneida – All Data Lost
  13. Mogwai – The Sun Smells Too Loud
  14. Harmonia – Walky-Talky
  15. Bird People – Calder Valley Rockaway (Live At Tor Ist Das?)
  16. Woven Skull – Ananda


Tough Guys Finger Snapping

Panic & Carousels 26

That was Panic & Carousels #26: Tough Guys Finger Snapping, with the vaguest of nods to the first anniversary of the show thanks to Delia Derbyshire and The Residents. There’s new Mogwai and Sunn O))) & Ulver, a couple of tracks from the Jehu & Chinaman compilation, a showstopper from The Tiger Lillies and some classic Tortoise and AC Marias. There’s also a track from the first The Hare & The Moon album. It’s since become clear that they’ve been working with Tony Wakeford, which makes us sad, but hey – it’s a lovely track and maybe they’re just a bit dumb.

You can download Panic & Carousels #26 here or stream it here

o1 Delia Derbyshire – Happy Birthday (Music from The BBC Radiophonic Workshop, 2003)

02 Martin Rev – Mari (Martin Rev, Infidelity, 1980)

03 Plone – Plock (For Beginner Piano, Warp, 1999)

04 Wizard Of – Childlike (For Isabel compilation, Jehu & Chinaman, 2014)

05 Death & Vanilla – Ghosts In The Machine (Death & Vanilla, Hands In The Dark, 2012)

06 A$AP Ferg – Cocaine Castles (Trap Lord, A$AP Worldwide, 2013)

07 Nearly God – Poems (single, Durban Poison, 1996)

08 Tortoise – Gamera (single, Duophonic UHF, 1995)

09 Alice Coltrane – Stopover Bombay (Journey In Satchidananda, Impulse, 1971)

10 Beehoover – Interlude #1 (The Devil & His Footmen, Exile On Mainstream, 2013)

11 Phil Tyler – Youth Will Soon Be Gone (We Sunk The Ships To Get Rid Of The Rats, Rif Mountain, 2013)

12 Cian Nugent & The Cosmos – The Grass Above My Head (Born With The Caul, No Quarter, 2013)

13 The Hare & The Moon – Hob’s Lane (The Hare & The Moon, Reverb Worship, 2009)

14 Sunn O))) & Ulver – Western Horn (Terrestrials, Southern Lord, 2014)

15 The Caretaker – In The Deep Dark Hours Of The Night (Patience (After Sebald, History Always Favours The Winners, 2012)

16 Dickon Hinchcliffe – The Karachi Club Shooting (Red Riding: In The Year Of Our Lord 1980, Blackest Ever Black, 2013)

17 AC Marias – Just Talk (One Of Our Girls Has Gone Missing, Mute, 1989)

18 The Durutti Column– Sketch For Summer (Return Of The Durutti Column, Factory, 1980)

19 Adderall Canyonly – The Sound Of Your Face (For Isabel compilation, Jehu & Chinaman, 2014)

20 Mogwai – No Medicine For Regret (Rave Tapes, Rock Action, 2o14)

21 The Oscillation – Descent (From Tomorrow, All Time Low, 2013)

22 Guru Guru – Bo Diddley (Hinten, Ohr, 1971)

23 Beauty Pageant – Cheerleaders (Torso EP, Box, 2013)

24 ORE – Sugar Man (free Bandcamp release, 2013)

25 The Residents – Birthday Boy (Buster & Glen, Ralph, 1978)

26 Holger Hiller – Das Feuer (single, Ata Tak, 1984)

27 Band Of Holy Joy – Watching The Night Porter Again (City Of Tales, Exotic Pylon, 2013)

28 The Tiger Lillies – My Heart Belongs To Daddy (Lulu: A Murder Ballad, Tiger Lillies Records, 2014)

29 Aphex Twin – Ruglen Holon (Drukqs, Warp, 2001)

30 Riz Ortolani– Cannibal Holocaust End Titles (OST, Lucertola, 1995)