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singles/eps - september 2014


 

The Chemistry Set – “Live And Let Live” / “A House Is Not A Motel” (7” coloured vinyl – Fruits de Mer records)

The last time I reviewed The Chemistry Set for Tasty Fanzine I referred to them as ‘veteran psychedelic archivists’, now with these two reinterpretations of tracks taken from Love’s third and finest album, the influential ‘Forever Changes’, originally released in 1967, they achieve something more akin to alchemy, deftly managing to be both faithful, evocative homage’s to the original versions and at the same time a transmutation of the finest elements of late sixties American psychedelia.

Undaunted by covering their favourite band of all time, The Chemistry Set approach their all time favourite track by Love, “Live And Let Live”, with a certain degree of reverence; faithfully retaining the vibe and structure of the Love version, but with added vocal harmonies, twin guitars, lightly phased drums and a stroke of iconoclastic, inspired genius by including a section of “Get Me To The World On Time” by The Electric Prunes as the track’s outro.

“A House Is Not A Motel” opens with acoustic guitars and the close vocal harmonies The Chemistry Set have perfected, before a swirl of phased drums ushers in a whirl of freakout fuzz and tremolo guitars, until the track closes, not with the abruptness of the original, but an explosion followed by a brief, deft reference to the Spanish guitar part that graces the Doors, “Spanish Caravan”, from their “Waiting For The Sun” album.

Both tracks are only available as part of the forthcoming “7 And 7 Is” boxed set of seven 45’s, featuring seven bands from the Fruits de Mer label covering songs from their favourite American psychedelic bands of the 60’s. Released on September 22nd, this is a package that is clearly intended and rightly destined to be a collector’s item. Buy it while you still can.

Bill Howe


 

James Yorkston - 'Great Ghosts'

Seems like everybody's rallying around on Scottish retro-folkie James Yorkston's latest single 'Great Ghosts', from his current album The Cellardyke Recording And Wassailing Society, also released this month. Principally, it's a duet with KT Tunstall, a rather upbeat "mocking lament" with hints of the Kirsty MacColl/Shane MacGowan 'Fairytale Of New York', with Yorkston's fellow travellers The Pictish Trail providing backing and Hot Chip's Alexis Taylor wrapping the whole package up in a sauntering Bossanova-type mix. There's also an excellent video to accompany the single, a stop-motion animation directed by Marry Waterson from the esteemed Waterson's folkclan. It's more of a way into the album, a collaborative effort which solidifies Yorkston's claim to be one of our great contemporary folk artists. As an interesting aside, it's the first time I ever heard Tunstall use profanity ... and all the better for it!

Matthew Haddrill


Ty Segal - 'Manipulator'

It's not a bad idea, applying the Malcolm Gladwell 10,000 hours rule to rock music: Ty Segall not only took a year out of his schedule and headed for Northeast LA to write songs for his latest album Manipulator, but when he came to record them at The Dock, a Sacramento studio run by producer-engineer Chris Woodhouse, he took the academic's cue to keep going. Something like the Brian Wilson school of recording: “The idea was to focus more on one thing for a long period of time,” said Segall. “Usually I’ll spend six months writing a record and then I’ll record it. This record I wanted it to be the opposite,” so he produced, as he puts it, “A Tony Visconti kind of record.” Segall plays most of the instruments and it all sounds like a blast as he crams more and more riffs into the same guitar space to take his garage punk stratospherically. The title track will whet your appetite, gothic-sounding psychedelic organ matched with a hard-driving beat on the lead-in, the song then really building with a riff not unlike Queens Of The Stone Age, all eventually swallowed up in various electronic pyrotechnics and Segall's not inconsiderable vocal talents ... he's using his latest tour (the publicity heralds it as "The Segall has landed", clever, eh?!) to plug the new material as much as possible. It's a hell of a record, which sees the Segall musical jugganaut marching on, although he doesn't actually reach Britain until November!

Matthew Haddrill


The Chills - 'Molten Gold'

The Chills seem to be back on track after a long hiatus, following last year's neat live album Somewhere Beautiful, a string of concert dates making up a sort of mini-European tour, which took in various festival appearances and even a session for Mark Riley on BBC Six Music. 'Molten Gold' is really the band's first new material since 1996's Sunburnt album, originally released as a digital download last year, but now receiving it's proper release in time for the band's upcoming album Silver Bullets, probably due out early in 2015 record company-permitting. For the uninitiated, The Chills are from Dunedin in New Zealand and were part of the Flying Nun roster of bands in the 80s and 90s, like The Bats, The Clean and The Moles. They have always been fronted by mercurial songwriter Martin Phillipps who remains the only orginal member, a sort of NZ last-man-standing equivalent of Mark E. Smith of The Fall, except Phillipps has a load of tunes! The single is full of the band's characteristically 90s guitar band swagger (think Lloyd Cole & The Commotions or Echo & The Bunnyman, for example), gliding along gracefully, but a special mention should go to Erica Stichbury the violinist who 'colours' the overall sound very nicely, indeed! The release coincides with Phillipps' 50th birthday, and it's backed with a well-known early Chills number, 'Pink Frost' which has been re-recorded on several occasions previously which gives you an idea of Phillipps' overall musical philosophy of adapting the band's sound for the present. If the single is any indication of the album's tenor we're in for a real treat!

Matthew Haddrill


 

The Afghan Whigs – Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic (Sub Pop)

It’s a somewhat strange proposition; one of alt-rock’s all time hippest bands, The Afghan Whigs (back with this years fantastic Do The Beast) covering one of rocks most often derided artists. But say what you want about Sting (and plenty of people have) he did write some decent songs, and this is one of the Police’s best.

The Afghan Whigs don’t so much as cover Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic as break it down and strip it back. The minimalistic, snare heavy drum sound is complimented by the plucked guitar rhythms, replacing the synth sounds of the Police version. It lacks the upbeat bridge to the original and the chorus loses some of its catchy pop power, but the flow of the song is good. So much so there’s little definition between each section: unlike the down/up/down emotional dynamic of the original.

The cover feels like you’d imagine the Police demo version to sound, except with the added impetus of Greg Dulli’s superb vocal delivery. As if Sub Pop released the Police. Or essentially like an average Afghan Whigs track. It’s pretty good, and certainly an interesting, imaginative song choice. But there’s plenty of better fare on the Whigs newest album. For a band known for their cover versions too, there are plenty of superior ones out there.

Robbie Bryson