The first full length by this London band after two 7"s, a recent CD5 on Shifty Disco, and a few compilation appearances. Early Formula One had a sound that was close to a beloved WZBC band that we haven't heard from in quite some time - Prolapse. This CD has a bit more electronic and pop sound than those early Prolapse sounding singles. To me this disc is a disappointment. I only really like one song, "Springer is Satan", and even that song I could easily do without. What has happened? I'd say that time has happened. Formula One have been together too long without putting out enough things. This has led to what is probably more like a sophmore slump on a debut record. They have tried to change and keep up with the times, but the songwriting is so pedestrian that it embarrases me. I used to really love this band. I bought this with great hopes disc the first time I saw it. Trying to envision how I would feel about this disc had I never heard them: I think I would have seen them as a London Camden circuit local band and nothing more. At one time a few years ago I saw them as the brightest band in London.
December 12 2000
The Millenium is the band that Curt Boettcher and Sandy Salisbury (from last week's gullbuy) were together in. They have a sound that could remind you of The Monkees, with one important difference. They write their songs themselves, and never had a fraction of the money behind them that The Monkees had. In fact, The Millenium was a collection of seven super songwriter/players who had other projects that were more popular but less satisfying. The driving force behind the band was Curt Boettcher. The others were Lee Mallory, Michael Fennelly, Joey Stec, Sandy Salisbury, Doug Rhodes, and Ron Edgar. You'll find reviews of CD's by Curt and Sandy in last weeks gullbuy . This CD has 13 songs that were recorded in 1967 before The Millenium's only record "Begin". The only reason this disc even exists is that these folks were incredible archivists that saved snippets of tape and acetates which are presented here in glorious detail with another beautiful El Graphic sleeve (as all Poptones releases have).
Uwe Schmidt's Senor Coconut project is probably his most popular incarnation. This 12" has 3 versions of the Kraftwerk song 'Tour De France' and 2 versions of 'Expo 2000'. All but one of the songs are unique to this 12". There is the 4:37 'Merigue album version' of "Tour De France" taken from the 'El Baile Aleman' CD. You get 2 more verions of the song here as well: the 6:12 'Good groove's 501 Vocal mix' and the 6:12 'Good groove's 501 Instrumental mix'. All three versions are pretty great. They break far out of the tight confines of the pretend 'neo-Latin' music that the Kraftwerk cover record sticks to. This 12" is the only place you'll find his version of the recent Kraftwerk 'comeback' song "Expo 2000". there are 2 versions here: the 3:59 'Mambo Original' and the 3:25 'Mambo Instrumental'. Uwe Schmidt seems to be pretty great at whatever he does. A few weeks ago we received the second Flanger CD he did along with Burnt Friedman. Although I am not usually one for straight up jazz, that CD sounded crystal clean and somewhat unique in it's combination of traditional jazz and modern electronics. I can't wait to hear his Erik Satin project, which I've heard is his EasyMusic deconstruction act - kind of similiar to what Tipsy is doing.
The latest single by the Scottish band Snow Patrol, a band that has veered extremely close to Lou Barlow's Sebedoh in sound several times in the past. The main song "Ask Me How I Am" is taken from the upcoming "Ask Me How I Am". The other two songs are exclusive. "In Command Of Cars" has the Lou Barlow styled voice and is a good four minute track of well produced pop like the Delgados might have produced a few years ago. "Talk To The Trees" is (to me) a throwaway two minute bedroom indypop piece that would have been appropriate in 1994. The saving strength of all this is the title track. "Ask Me How I Am" is in my opinion their best track yet. It has a strong melody and beat, great production, and imaginative use of the instruments, like Madder Rose was trying on their last record. This EP is not something I would ever buy for myself, but I think it is OK for what it is. Fans of Snow Patrol have much to look forward to on the new record if this is any indication.
The follow up compilation to the 'Mystery Date Game' compilation Bambini put out to announce their presence in 1999. Japan's Bambini Records started off strong by putting out the 'Surprise Surprise" full length and the "Cat Heaven" 7" by Girlfrendo in 1998. Nothing was heard (on these shores ) for a while, then the Frenesi, Swingset, and Ladytron CD5's appeared, with the Mystery Date Game compilation in tow. A little later they released a new Girlfrendo EP called "Vivid Confusion". This new compilation is the first I've heard from the label since the "Vivid Confusion" EP. Here is a listing on the songs/Artist on this comp:
- Domingo / Kitmatic
- Happy ever after / The Big Fish
- Apres midi / Cubismo Grafico
- Epitaph for a dead uncle / Tuesday Weld
- A young man ate my wife / Girlfrendo
- Dusty / Souvenir
- Half asleep/ Swingset
- Romance / Agent Blue
- Je n'eclaire que moi / Luke
- Queen of the world / Joy Zipper
- End of a story / River
- .Playgirl / Ladytron
- Riviera / Monokini
- Frenesi / Frenesi
- Dilettante / Junip.
Where they're from:
, England: The Big Fish, Ladytron, & Tuesday Weld,
France: Luke & River,
Hong Kong: Kitmatic,
Japan: Cubismo Grafico, Frenesi & Swingset,
Spain: Souvenir, Sweden: Girlfrendo & Junip
USA : Joy Zipper (Vinny Caiso and Tabitha Tindale from Long Island, NY. they have a self titled LP on Eye Q. Tuesday Weld are named after the 60's actress. My favorite tracks from this compilation are those from The Big Fish, who sound like The Lorraine Bowen Experience or Anthony Adverse, the new Girlfrendo track, Kitmatic, Swingset, Agent Blue, Monokini, and Frenesi. My most favorite discovery from this comp is Monokini. I really like their sound, and I will now try to track down some records by this San Paulo Brazil band. The Cubismo Grafico track is on the 'Mini!' EP reviewed below, and the Ladytron song is on their Bambini EP, so they don't figure into the 'my faves' list.
Cubismo Grafico (Matsuda Gakuji) is a one man project from Japan that perfectly collage the sounds and styles that have become known as J-Pop. Although this 8 song EP does not have a Sam Haskins sleeve as the 'Tout!' EP did, it does have a great sound. It starts off with "Apres-midi", which is also on the Voyage Romanesque compilation. It is an acoustic guitar song which sounds like he's singing "Toulouse Lautrec" though I know that is not what it really says. It is sung in French, as several songs are. Chabe (Matsuda Gakuji's nickname) is a bit mellow on this first song, and the second song "Moon Is Yours" as well. "Moon Is Yours" has birds singing and a little boy speaking in French, with an oboe providing melody and a beat underneath. It is a very rich and comforting sound. "Jour de Vanves" was also a 7" on Escalator. It is a very nice song with a good melody and an easy feel like a J-pop Jose Feliciano. "Danz le Metro" is the kind of collaged beat pop that Mansfield and Losfeld play. "Up to You!" has a single note synth melody which leads it into J-pop with 4/4 beat and strummed acoustic guitar. "Bate O Coracao" is a forty second acoustic guitar transition piece sung in Portugeuse, with birds singing throughout. "Pleasures" has a sample of a little boy saying "Hi, how are you? I'm fine" which runs in various incarnations throughout. Losfeld had something similiar on his EP with an animated voice saying "It's my favorite song" as the songs basis. Both artists make what sounds like an obnoxious premise work pleasingly. "Life Noise" is a thirty five second piece that closes out this (esentially) 6 song disc. I'd characterize Cubismo Grafico as sophisticated but playful, filled with wonder not pretense. I'd recommend it to any friend who asked.
Come February Hi-Posi will see their first US release with the '4x5' record (their second) on Tokyopop Records. Meanwhile, here is their third and newest Japanese full length. Hi-Posi are a very strong band. They are much different than the other J-pop artists. For one thing they use a lot more guitar. They are a bit like another Japanese band the Spoozy's, except Hi-Posi have a much better vocalist, production, and songs. About 2/3 of this CD is hyper top-treble guitar based new wave warbles with Miho Moribayashi's vocals, while the other third is very electronic spazz-pop based on her bandmate Migget's cool electronic sounds. All the song titles are in Japanese, but I can tell you that there are five new songs here that I really love, and a bunch more I think are pretty fine. This count does not include the couple of songs from thier recent EPs that are here as well. My fave songs are #'s 7, 9, 10, 12, & 13. #7 is one of the guitar songs. It starts like a super treble "Pipeline" with lots of stacatto vocals and a sped up ska feel. #9 is like a roller rink or calliope organ tune turned into a female vocalled pop song with a touch of 'Carvinal Of Souls' strange. #10 could be DAT Politics before the vocals start. It is top ranked. I think it's my favorite of all the songs on this disc. #12 sounds most like Hi-Posi from the 'Gluon' era. What I mean is that it is a straightforward song with lots of embellishments, just not the ultrafast pace of some of the new songs or the radical (for pop) electronics. It is a really strong song though, and is not one of my 5 faves without reason. The final of my faves is #13. It reminds me (no kidding) of Robert Quine's guitar on Richard Hell's "Blank Generation". It is a really great song and has the easily digestable pace of #12 as well. A girl I know told me that Hi-Posi sound like Kahimi Karie when you get her drunk. I like it! Hi-Posi are super-energetic and a bit wild. I like them an awful lot.
Masanori Ikeda's second release as Mansfield. Check last week's gullbuy for reviews of the first Mansfield and Cubismo Grafico CDs. This is my fave of this week's Other Music gullbuy adds. Just listening to the first song ("I Spy") on this 8 song CD (as I am right now) makes me move and wish that I could dance that meringue dance where your head and upper body stay perfectly still and your lower body and hips move like the dickens! "I Spy" has a great Shirley Bassey style vocal as well. The second song is "It's a Man's Man's Field" (named after the 1980 Mod classic 7" by Squire "It's a Mod Mod World" on I Spy records). It is an instrumental that has some of the shake appeal that ComoEstas does on his "Last Mambo In Tokyo" EP on Readymade. The third song is a version of the cover of Beck's "The New Pollution" that appeared on the '6 Complexions Of Mansfield' EP. It is not a version in the usual modern sense - it is more a parrallel universe version. It has all the vocals and changes that the original version did. Listening to the 2 versions next to each other the difference is that the new version does not have the Indian mystique sounds (a la Beatles) and James Bond type background vocals. The beat is louder in the new mix and the swagger is even more propelled. As with the first, Yukari Fresh provides the vocal. Next is the instrumental "Short Trip To Bali" which uses samples of 50's and 60's big band TV Dinner/shopping/easy music in a beat setting, with a female voice saying "Mansfield" a few times in the song.. It works so fine. "Shuffle Bang Bang" is my second fave of the 8 songs ("I Spy" would be my #1). It has non threatening gun sounds, sho-be-doop-a-dah female vocals, and a great sample that says "Ut ut ut ah ah - Don't touch that dial". It is all put together as perfectly as a favorite puzzle. The sixth song "The Sweet Ride Pt. 1" is really just a 30 second intro to the seventh song, "The Sweet Ride Pt. 2". It has Yukari Fresh vocals and is the closest to a regular song on this disc, making it my least favorite of the tracks on offer here, though there is nothing wrong with it on its own. In fact it has a touch of a girl-group background vocal that sounds pleasingly familiar. The track closes out with a phrase taken from The Associations "Windy". The final song is "2010.12.25". It is a Christmas song with jingle bells keeping the beat and snatches of poetic endearment delivered in a Barry White styled voice. Really fun!