Fascinating Things : Issue 18

American Wrestlers – American Wrestlers (Fat Possum -2015)

Bruut! – Mad Pack (Music On Vinyl – 2015)

Dick Diver – Melbourne, Florida (Chapter Music, Trouble In Mind Records – 2015)

Larry Gus – Years Not Living (DFA -2015)

The Kramford Look – Telepaths (Wonderful Sound – 2013)

The Ramsgate Hovercraft – Arcane Empire Redux 1 ( Bandcamp – 2013)

Cryin’ Queerwolf – Diva (Self Released – 2015)

A lot of new (and not so new) things arrived today so I thought it would be good to consider them all together. It is quite frightening to consider the large amount of new music arriving during 2015. For the most part it has all be of a very high standard. It does make me wonder whether some sort of paradigm shift is emerging which takes us away from corporate Cowell world and back to the grass roots.  Practically speaking I have the time at the moment, due to lack of mobility to sit and listen to this with some degree of attention. In more mobile times, which hopefully will be back soon, the modus operandi has been applied with the 30 second rule – i.e. if it has not grabbed my attention within the requisite time period the finger moves swiftly to the delete button. When I have the time I can usually tend to listen to the first track on the release and to be fair this does allow for more critical appraisal.

There is a constant moan in the DJ/Podcast community about the inaccurate labelling of MP3s/WAVS what have you. The moan is well made with today’s batch of goodies. It may be, to some degree, down to limitations with the tagging software, especially in the genre category, but today there were some obvious misnomers in regard to  the alleged “style” of the music. All will be become clear in due course.

So we start with American Wrestlers, which piqued my interest given my weekly diet of “sports entertainment” from the McMahon family. Googling reveals that this is Gary McClure from Working For A Nuclear Free City and a home Tascam recording which has been picked up by a label, and a touring band has emerged from it. McClure has relocated to the States and to some degree the WFANFC sound has been mildly americanised, although his trademark vocal remains intact. The ID3 tagging on this one is fairly accurate with the use of the ubiquitous “Alternative” being applied. It’s a very pleasant to listen to but I am afraid I can’t get into McClure’s vocal which feels too thin, which detracts from the listening experience. I managed three tracks before pressing the stop button.

Bruut! are from Amsterdam and described themselves as “jazz”. That’s stretching things a bit. Remember those 60s films where they go to the beat club and there are lots of hip young things frugging to a band of loveable mop-tops. It’s more a form of R ‘n’ B than it is jazz. The first track was sufficiently up tempo to grab my attention but after that it got a bit too wacky and mainstream for my liking. I’m sure it would go down well with festival crowds etc but i’m too much of a purist to regard this as “proper” jazz.

Dick Diver is an Australian four-piece indie pop band from Melbourne. The band consists of Rupert Edwards (guitar) and Alistair McKay (guitar), Steph Hughes (drums) and Al Montfort (bass). I have to say that, being a bit of a lover of Antipodean music,  I have oddly missed this combo out of my music experience to date. They’ve been around since 2008 and releasing albums since 2011, this new one is the third to date. There is enough going on here to grab the attention and listen the whole way through but there’s nothing that grabs the listener immediately, no killer hooks or choruses, and nothing ground-breaking.

Larry Gus’ is a play on the Greek word for ‘larynx’, pronounced ‘lareegas’. The chap behind it all is Panagiotis Melidis who uses airy vocals to add texture to the multi-genre experiments on this second album, ‘Years Not Living’. It rumbles along nicely mixing a variety of multi-cultural influences, and there are some interesting jumps in style, within and between songs,  but it’s just a little too safe sounding for my liking.

The Kramford Look – Daniel Wood and Pierre Duplan returned in 2013 with an album under The Kramford Look moniker. It has finally made it’s way to me. Jazzy bass lines, laid back funky drums, lush strings and wind instrumentation, plus analogue synth textures, and John Barry rhodes/clavinet sounds echo classic tv themes and film soundtrack.  The ID3 tag says “Reggae” which I find a little strange. There’s nothing particularly new here, but it’s slick and cool.

The Ramsgate Hovercroft – Mark Bandola (The Lucy Show, Typewriter ) contributes his guitars, keyboards, plus a smattering of bass and percussive rhythms. . Kit Jolly plays  keyboards, as well as saxophone. It floats between Tangerine Dream ambience and In A Silent Way jazz textures. At times I could have been listening to Tim Blake interludes on the Radio Gnome Invisible Trilogy or something from the Bill Laswell back catalogue.  One of the better selections in today’s pile of goodies.

Cryin’ Queerwolf has been forwarding the developing versions of the tracks on his new release “Diva” over the last few months and it has been a rewarding experience contributing ideas and suggestions back to him.  Fast Lane Steve, the Queerwolf’s manager, says “Loosely ‘Diva’ is the story of a gender neutral “showbizz” star, who used to be big, but they are on the wane. He compares the protagonists fans basking in the warmth of the nova like fade out of their idol. The Diva is quite deluded and believes they are ‘still big’ very much along the lines of Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard and Kathy Kirby.” The latent humour of this work, combined with the usual  darker, sinister, sub-text to CQs output is in full effect here. There is also a coy playfulness to the delivery and lyrics that edges towards the bawdy, but manages to keep it’s trousers on throughout. CQs sino-centric sound emerges occasionally from the dark disco electronica which dominates the album, and there are occasional glimpses of a post-punk pop moodiness. The Queerwolf’s best work to date. A limited CD run has been despatched so any chances of getting this are slim – but CQ has mentioned the possibility of a live performance sometime in the near future.

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