Tapes reviews of tapes I buy or get sent.

Send cassettes for review to: Flat 16 Raddon Tower, Dalston Square, London E8 3GN.

Friday, 22 January 2010

Paradise Vendors Inc Tapes

Instead of an individual tape review i'm going to do a little label focus on Paradise Vendors Inc. who started life in Archway, North London and has now settled in Dalston, East London to continue the search for releasing the best noisey indie punk from both sides of the pond. It doesnt't hurt that t PVI is run by Male Bonding who have risen to the top of the recent musical pile in London before hitting the next level by becoming the first band since Billy Childish/Thee Headcoats to sign to Sub Pop.

When not crammed into a van, touring the world listening to GG Allin or cycling around London Town, these three PVI boys are busilyy dubbing tapes, ink stamping 7" covers and making hand crafted sleeves for their burgeoning noise empire. The Talbot Tagora / Hand Jobs and the Temperatures / Paper Legs split tapes were the first adventures from PVI with both contained in amazing hand folded cases, one in green with a triangle cut out and the other in pink with a pentagon cut out. In both cases, these lovingly created boxes contain a tape with no discernable marking and a info slip of song titles and either a picture of GG Allin or a girl, both crying. Before the cassette has started to warp around your battered tapedeck, these are releases to keep and show that the tape medium is not a throwaway format at all, especially when a bit of thought has gone into its creation. The last of the their 3 tape releases, Cheatahs 'Magic Weapons' EP comes in a glued wraparound case like the cassingles of not so long ago which used to take up space along with cds and 7"s on the shelves of most high street music retailers. Funny how only a few year after its massmarket withdrawel, the tape release is now seen as kitsch or retro?

Anyway, back to PVI, who have not just focused on the tape format, but have also released 2 amazing 7"s, the first being a split between Male Bonding & Pens which was a continuation to the cassette that Conan from Graffiti Island released previously (reviewed below). The 2nd 7" again featured Male Bonding & Graffiti Island but this time twinned with Americas Rapid Youth & Old Blood, all playing punk music, albeit in very different ways. As with alot of the smaller labels around at the moment, PVI are spending their time documenting the current and not looking back so all these formative releases have fallen out of print with most likely no view to repress, but with one eye on the future and teaming up with their G.I partner in Italian Beach Babes records, they are releasing a who's who of who's good of British bands on a 12" compilation LP, with bands linked by friendship, record collections, drinking and darts habits,including songs by Cold Pumas, Teen Sheikhs, La La Vasquez, Fair Ohs, Male Bonding, Graffiti Island, Mazes, Not Cool, Spectrals, Human Race and Plug.

If you want to buy this 12" which i think will be pretty important in the long run, if only to the people involved, just head to the PVI online shop www.paradisevendorsinc.bigcartel.com and lay down a measly £8, the London equivalent of 2 pints.

Talbot Tagora / Hand Jobs split tape

Talbot Tagora who now reside on Sub Pop offshoot label Hardly Art start their side with a mangling noise of synthy drones and feedback akin to a 50's SciFi b-movie before ultra processed drums lead into an offbeat scraggly song lead by dischordant guitars and strained vox. Sometimes slipping into space garage riffs before spinning into orthrelm esque guitar spirals this mesh of songs is pretty addictive.
Hand Jobs on the other hand sound like they're a playing a dorm room at an arts college in Portland with yelped vocals and the ghost of KRS in their fingers. It would be lazy to mention riot grrrl as they don't ape the golden Huggy Bear/Bikini Kill era so much as nod to its inclusion in their record collections along with probably hundreds of other great punk bands.

PVI 01

A. Talbot Tagora
  • Restoring / Family Guts

B.Hand Jobs
  • Watch Out!
  • Handle with Claire
  • Tornado Twist
  • Eat Shit & Die

Temperatures / Paper Legs split tape

To be honest i don't know which band is which on this split as they both only have 1 song on each side and there is no A/B side markings, so instead one band is a instrumental band that has krautrock rhythms that keep the song propelled forwards, locked grooves! Th eother band is less structured and falls into more of a noise band category with elements drifting in and out casually and sometimes with little regard.

PVI 02

A. Temperatures
  • Allogamy
B. Paper Legs
  • Slow Answer For Quick Question

Cheatahs - Magic Weapons

Lovely Nathan from Little Deaths solo enterprise is a two headed beast. The recordings are total fuzz fests, overdriven to distortion but with a sweet harmony lurking below, making me think these songs could handle being stripped back to just vox and guitar. Although musically quite different, the recordings reminded me of the first Wavves tape with pop songs masked by dirt.

PVI 03

Cheatahs - Magic Weapons EP

  • Ripper
  • Flake
  • Some Powers
  • Frosh

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Explode Into Colors - The Sean, Rocky, Zach & Dekum Tape

When i was younger and started reading about post punk bands, probably referenced from what Kurt Cobain had said about The Raincoats or Gang of Four in the NME, i had this really heavy yet rhythmic sound in my head coupled with punk fury, and what i first discovered was sometimes a lot weaker than the music i had imagined and as much as i grew to love PIL, The Slits, Wire, The Pop Group and many others, its Explode Into Colors that is the sound i had imagined and wanted.

This live set sounds better than alot of studio recordings and the playing is great, pounding quasi-tribal drums, MASSIVE bass sound and skeletal keys/gtr/vox on top. The track 'Wooden Ghost' has this repetitive booming bass line and tom heavy beat with just the vocals cutting though, leading into 'Paper (Hot Sax Version)' which starts all krautrock until the sax stabs start hitting. Some of these tracks also up the ante with a dance punk slant, almost like 'Intensify' by !!! (chk chk chk) but stripped back bare and without the uneccesary funk-isms. I need to see these 3 Portland girls play live and track down all their 7"s that have started to appear on KRS and M'Ladys Records to see if these tracks have transfered well in the studio. I would be really upset if the recordings don't have the heavy bass on them, threatening to blow my speakers.

The geometric artwork/packaging is pretty special too (see pic), with my plastic cover coming adorned with handdrawn purple,pink & silver pyramids and the tape spraypainted gold/silver with a pyramid in the corner.I don't know how many the band or KRS made but it seems like the personal touch went into all of them. I really hate long sets and self indulgent gigs but i'd still be happy with this tape having a few more tracks on it. Hot shit!

Explode Into Colors - The Sean Rocky Zach & Dekum Tape

  1. I Believe In Crystal Skulls
  2. How Adee Got Her Groove Back
  3. Wodden ghost
  4. Sharpen The Knife
  5. Paper (Hot Sax Version)
  6. Heat
  7. Train Station
  8. Purple

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Black Time - Eine Kleine Trashmusik (self released)

The 3rd and final (for now) Black Time tape is another live tape but this time without a live audience, instead its a radio session for Planet Beet Radio with a 4 piece line up which to my limited knowledge didnt last too long. I like the extra person on here, which beefs up some of the tracks although i probably wouldn't be able to tell you which i prefered, both good, but they're not Led Zeppelin so either way works for me.

I don't have all the Black Time records, there is alot to get through, hence why the Greatest Hits tape was handy for getting alot of great songs from out of print 7"s and LP's, but apparently this has 7 un-released tracks for all the collectors out there. I don't know which ones are old or new but it flows and its a worthwhile session to be slapped on a cassette. I've put the stats below again lifted from the bands myspace:-

'tour tape 1: eine kleine trash musik – 10 songs. 15 minutes. document of a 2008 radio session somewhat fucked with at rocket reducers. rare capturing of the short-lived 4-piece line-up on tape. Includes 7 brand new songs unlikely to be heard anywhere else.'


  1. Contract
  2. Infestation
  3. You Make Me
  4. Glass Shatters
  5. Link Wray
  6. A Radio In The Dark
  7. Classical Mess
  8. No Love Lost
  9. Fucked Up In The Head
  10. You Dont Love Me

Black Time - East Bay Rays (self released)

I thought i would clear out these two Black Time tapes for review as i had already written about the Greatest Hits and had a Black Time afternoon tearing through these tapes. I'll start with the East Bay Rays tape which was a tour tape in edition of 50 for their USA tour with a few coming back to the motherland.

As with the other tapes they have kicked out, it has gone through the rocket reducers process which i suspect is Lemmy Cautions bedroom armed with reverb/delay/echo. 13 tracks that sound surprisingly clear, probably because it was recorded from the desk and not just recorded on a dictaphone by a guy at the bar. This is what the guys and gals had to say themselves :-

'tour tape 2: east bay rays - 13 songs. 20 minutes. desk recording of a 2007 show in oakland, california heavily fucked with at rocket reducers to produce something along the lines of john's children's 'orgasm!' album disaster put through a noise/dub mangle. includes us annihilating "california sun" by the rivieras. i did learn the notes…they just escaped me on the night…. '

Message the band at their myspace to see if they have any of these left, its how i got them.


  1. Black Time Pt.1
  2. Catholic Discipline
  3. Middle Class
  4. Rocket Rumble
  5. Link Wray
  6. Midnight World
  7. Feel So Bad
  8. Cold Lips Taste Better
  9. Beat Of The Traps
  10. Downtown
  11. Office Suicide
  12. Crawlin'
  13. California Sun

Pens / Male Bonding / Graffiti Island split tape (Italian Beach Babes)

It's pretty ridiculous to write about close friends bands without sounding like a gushing fool harking on about how important they are so i will keep this short and sweet. 2009 was a pretty amazing year in music for me as it was the first time in years that i felt England had bands to rival anywhere else, and this tape seemed to be the milemarker for what was to come. It doesn't mean it influenced everyone else who came after but it was a good starting point at least.

18 months on since this tape was made we have had Male Bonding sign to Sub Pop, release a ton of split 7"s and play some of the best, stage invaded beer sodden show. Pens released an album on Di Stijl, toured America with G.I and quit a Slits tour slot and Graffiti island again toured America with Pens, released some amazing 7"s and had a mariachi band cover their songs in an old fire station in Stoke Newington. It's more than i expected, probably more than they expected too.

If you didn't get this tape then get the Pens LP which has 'Freddie' on it, look forward to the Male Bonding debut Lp in a couple of months and grab Graffiti Island's one sided 7" repress of the songs from this tape with a snake skinned B side? on Fin Du Monde records.

I love this tape, i love these bands. It was all worth it.


  1. Freddie
  2. I heart U


  1. Some Power Issues
  2. Full Bonding


  1. Demonic Cat
  2. Pet Snake

Saturday, 9 January 2010

NODZZZ - Live New Years Eve 12.31.08

An awesome dictaphone style recording of a Nodzzz New Years gig which could be bought from their blog (nodzzz.blogspot.com) or given away to the lucky first 100 people to pre-order the 'True To Life/Good Times Crowd' 7" on Whats Your Rupture. I think i read that Grass Widow, Brilliant Colours, Finally Punk & Sex Vid also played, i just wish i had a copy of all those sets on tape. The sound is pretty good too, but i reckon this was probably a one mic job in the audience rather than a semi-pro sound desk recording.

Unlike alot of live recordings they haven't cut the between songs banter which is pretty funny on this tape, mainly drunken mic-talk and taunts for not playing the marijuana song from the audience and then from the band themselves! Half of the set is from their amazing self titled LP with the songs from both their 7"s minus 'I Dont Wanna Smoke Marijuana'. I don't know if they have any of these left at Whats Your Rupture? but its really worth tracking down a copy if you are Nodzzz fan or you have a love for drunken fun time indie-punk!

Side One
  1. Is She There?
  2. We Are The Only Animals
  3. Controlled Karaoke
  4. In The City (Contact High)
Side Two
  1. I Have Bad News
  2. Old Clothes
  3. True To Life / Art School
  4. Good Times Crowd

The Traditional Fools - S/T (Burger)

Any band that starts their album with a cover of Billy Childish's 'Davy Crockett' has already won in my books and by speeding it up, making it scuzzier than the original and adding a surf touch to the proceedings just makes me even more excited to tear through this tape! Most people have probably heard of The Traditional Fools because of Ty Segall who seems to be up there will Mr Childish himself for amassing a considerable back catalogue either as Ty Segall / Ty Segall & Mikal Cronin / Sic Alps / The Perverts / Epsilons / Party Fowl and of course, Traditional Fools. Although he is drumming on this record and not playing guitar it definately fits in with his back catalogue and that of his peers such as Charlie & the Moonhearts.

Its a rough sound which sounds pretty raw but it really works on this tape, again sounding like a recorded practice session sans ANY overdubs and maybe plus a few drinks? However it was recorded, it sounds amazing in a way a week in a studio couldn't do. Along with a heavy surf vibe it also drags in a snotty LA punk feel which as their Make A Mess Records (who released the vinyl version) bio states 'The sounds of the beach blvd comp, redd kross, and ‘60s SoCal garage punk bleed through traditional fools’ blown-out amps' which i think hits the nail on the head. Its the past 50 years of California dreamin' right here with Link Wray riffs, 60's Garage punk from Pebbles compilation and a dose of early 80's LA punk ala Germs / Circle Jerks etc.

After buying this tape i fell for the charms of all the associated Ty bands and have lapped up his insane output the past 3 years, but this was my first and will probably remain my favourite but whilst you pick up this tape from the always insanely good Burger Records, grab the tape versions for his two solo albums, 'S/T' and 'Lemons' or the tapes they have done for NoBunny, Box Elders, Hunx & His Punx, King Tuff and The Audacity.

Traditional Fools - S/T

1. Davey Crockett
2. Snot Rag
3. T.L. Defender
4. Please
5. Layback!!!
6. Get Off My Back
7. Shredstick
8. Kill Someone You Hate
9. Valley (Of the Jams)
10. Party At My House
11. Milkman
12. All-Right

also - how can it fail with the cover featuring a burger with sunglasses!

GERMAN MEASLES - Demos (Captured Tracks)

This little 8 song tape was probably only bought whilst getting one of the Captured Tracks mailorder bundles so as not to suffer crippling prices on 7"s, but this has probably taken up more time on my stereo than alot of the CT releases i own. I was trying to work out what they sound like too. Some bands are so distinguishable by their relation to other bands its hard not to compare but German Measles only bring to mind other bands as reference through attitude more so than sound. I hear The Ramones, Television Personalities & The Beatles but dont expect it to sound like any of them.

The recordings on here are pretty basic, maybe a few mics going into a 4-track in a practice room i imagine, but it really captures everything you need, and the songs still shine through. I dont see this as being 'lo-fi' for the sake of it, just good songs recorded as a demo which someone, rightly so, decided to put out on tape, which is what tapes are perfect for. Would you feel ripped off with this quality on an expensive piece of vinyl? I dunno?

Also i should make mention of the cover which is a cut to size paper photocopy but it seems each one has been customised by a fan of felt tip pens and wavy lines, nice. Get this along with their superior quality recordings on the 6 song 12" Captured Tracks issued last year.

Side One

  1. Monkey Me Monkey You
  2. It Could Happen
  3. Turn On Tune In Wipe Out
  4. Wake Up For The Weekend
Side Two

  1. We Want You
  2. Japanese Beetles
  3. It's Me Babe
  4. Mosco Beetles

Thursday, 7 January 2010

BLACK TIME - Greatest Hits (self released)

Not many bands can pull off wearing shades at night, in a dark room. So far the only proponents of this phenomena i dig are The Blues Brothers and Black Time. My introduction to watching Lemmy Caution, Janie Too Bad and Mr. Stix pogo n' shuffle was in a North London warehouse where they slammed through a blur of garage power pop punk but unlike alot of the current set of bands who ape the Americanisms of 60's garage punk revival, they seemed refreshingly English.

This Greatest Hits tape is 28 songs culled from their back catalogue of songs charting 7"s & Lp's spanning 2003-2008 and even though they cover a wide variety of recording sessions, it sounds like a layer of scuzz was laid on top of it all at the compiling stage to add some noise continuity to the proceedings. Some of the songs even sound like they are recorded live, meaning live in front of an audience armed with pints and apathy, not pressing record whilst in the same room, but then again it could be the overall dirt and tape hiss which i really like on here.

From their In The Red Garage tones to Ramones downstrokes or Mark E. Smith drawls and British Invasion, this tape is pretty mean! Contact them to see if they have any of these left at www.myspace.com/blacktimemutant77

Side A

  1. Beat Of The Traps
  2. Human Pinball
  3. Made In USA
  4. Capital Of Pain
  5. Fever (Version)
  6. Shadows
  7. Scary People
  8. Caution's Camera
  9. Feel So Bad
  10. (I'm In The) Fascist Bathroom
  11. The Mummy
  12. Public Information Film
  13. Little Death
  14. Mother/Whore
  15. Secret

Side B

  1. Crawlin'
  2. Young professionals
  3. The Days Are Too Long & The Nights Are Too Short
  4. Rocket Rumble
  5. Consumers
  6. I Hate The World & The World Hates Me
  7. Downtown
  8. Girls In The Garage
  9. Mystery Shopper
  10. White Heat Returned
  11. I'm Gonna Hurt You When I'm Gone
  12. This Is A Curse
  13. Sirens

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

SAUNA YOUTH - S/T (self released)

This tape was sent to me by the much loved Rich Phoenix who has been the drummer in The Steal, Hot Damn and Capt. Everything and makes lots of nice art sometimes involving cats or family members. Either way, he is now making music again with Lindsey Alexander Corstorphine who he was in The Steal with, apart from this time Rich is on vocals and does an amazing job of it.

Although this tape starts of with a steady punk stomp in 'Delta Caps' and the slightly Shitty Limits esque 'E2 Bang Bang' in which it nods towards 60's punk as well as Wire's 'Pink Flag', this tape is more than just another punk/hardcore demo tape. The last song on side #1, 'Martin', (which i believe is a Snuff cover) see's a psych pop feel that is more Olivia Tremor Control than Minor Threat and then to finish off the tape nicely is a short story called 'Swimming' that was written and read out by Patrick Fisher from Cold Pumas/The Light Sleepers, backed by an ambient drone track that is pretty minimal but in a way that leaves room for you to listen to the story without interuption. I have listened to this tape multiple times since it dropped through my letterbox yesterday and it deserves being put on auto-reverse on your tape deck.

Order a copy for only £3 from their blog www.lostinidea.blogspot.com where you can also download it for free for your ipod/mp3 needs.