Tapes reviews of tapes I buy or get sent.

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

Monday, 31 May 2010

The Bitters - East General ( Release The Bats)

I still haven't worked out if i like this yet. I have been putting off this write up as i think this album is a grower, it has definitely some killer parts to some of the songs, but it just doesn't sink in easily and some of it still grates my ears. I was a big fan of the 'Wooden Glove'EP that came out last year on Captured Tracks, its big choruses, triumphant guitars and killer dual vocals. This doesn't give me the same want to play it over and over again. But it's not bad. I think. I don't know?

I may have to file it under records-that-may-grow-on-me-but-i-probably-wont-listen-to-enough-to-let-it. Maybe it's because it sounds pretty grunge, one of the musical eras of my childhood i don't look back on with rose tinted specs? I do get an itching to listen to Babes in Toyland again. This is wrong. Or is t?

I'm sure all of the Young Guv's fan boys will have this on every format anyway along with the other 27 releases he has put out recently. That's not a dig at bands putting out lots of records, if the songs are all good enough to release then do it, and from what I've managed to pick up, i like alot of it, just maybe a bit more than The Bitters.

The Bitters - East General (release the bats)

1. Wild Beast
2. Nurtured Disease
3. Nails In The Coffin
4. No Anchor
5. Beggar
6. The New Real Way
7. East
8. Impatient As Can Be
9. Bitters Bust
10. Travelin' Girl
11. I'm Feelin' Good

get from italianbeachbabes.bigcartel.com (UK) or www.releasethebats.com

The Bitters - Travelin' Girl from Mexican Summer on Vimeo.

Ale Mania - Essayes ( Sixteen Tambourines)

Ale Mania is 2 dudes from San Diego who also moonlight in Beaters who kick out a nice line in noisey garagey punk tunes, which carries across a little to some of the tracks on this cassette, but it is buried or nestled under layers
of swirling synths, gated drums and smooth vocal lines. I feel like i'm in a seedy 80's dive full of synth punks and bent police drinking cheap liqueur to drown sorrows.

By no means is it tropical in sound but it has a sense of heat to it, sweaty moist heat. Post punks layers sweep in, but it is too accomplished to portray the simplicity that post punk sometimes follows, and it has a sense of soul to it and i imagine if played in the right place it would get people onto the dance floor.

These tracks are culled from their recent 7"s on Volar and Hell Yes!! Records and some compilation appearances with a bonus exclusive track, in a similar vein to the recent Beaters cassette on Suplex Cassettes. The packaging also came in a nice protective plastic sleeve like an LP and the artwork includes an acetate interpretation of the artwork tucked inside, again great attention to detail which sets certain packages away from others. This tape is highly recommended if you already like this band and essential if you have no Ale Mania in your life.

Ale Mania - Essayes (sixteen tambourines)

1. Lustfulfistful
2. Robust Universe
3. DC Rails
4. I've Let Myself Go
5. Ramp Age
6. Vomitpig


Ale mania-robust universe by Suplex

Blessure Grave - Live In Oakland, CA ( Italian Beach Babes)

The second in the Italian Beach Babes live tape series (the first being the Male Bonding/Fair Ohs live in London tape) which sees the gloomy death punk Blessure Grave kicking out a New Years eve set in Oakland. The thing that often puts me off live sets is not being able to hear very well, more often than not the recordings are overblown to the point of unrecognisable noise, which is fine if you're listening to a Wolf Eyes tape but annoying if you're straining to hear the hooks of a good song. This tape sounds great, the bass has a real treble twang and doesn't take over the mix and the vocals are pretty well pushed with everything else.

But what does a Blessure Grave live set sound like? I have missed out on the 12" on Captured Tracks and the large amount of 7"s dropped in the last year so this is my first BG experience. I can mainly hear an 80's post punk feel to it, with the low Ian Curtis quiver to the male voice and a gentler 45 Grave esque feel to the female one, with the guitars driving the music that is not far from Echo & The Bunnymen or The Gun Club. I generally don't find myself going for alot of bands that could ever be lumped as 'Goth' as its a very lazy term and doesn't really mean much, apart from maybe the band has more black jeans than Bermuda shorts? Yes, this is not tropical and it lies somewhere in the void between depressing, ethereal music and aggressive punk/post punk.

I honestly did not think i would like this as much as i do, and its a great way to jump into a band that has alot of material out there, for a cheap cost, so well done Italian Beach Babes, you did it again!

Blessure Grave - Live In Oakland, CA / 31/12/09

  1. Intro
  2. Steps
  3. Interlude
  4. 90 Plus Days
  5. Come Back
  6. Stranger In The House
  7. Reduce You to Black Smoke
  8. Interlude
  9. Motion Sickness
  10. Parallel Lives
  11. Shadow
  12. Learn To Love The Rope
  13. Outro
www.italianbeachbabes.bigcartel.com to purchase

Daniel Higgs - Devotional Songs of Daniel Higgs (Open Mouth)

At this point, i have come to realise that Daniel A.I.U Higgs is as close to a cultural icon to me as they come, along with Billy Childish. Both have a large discography of great music, have made innumerable amounts of paintings and great works of art, written books of poetry and done pretty everything they wanted to on their own terms, both with a slight nod to the eccentric side of life.

Daniel A.I.U Higgs delivers a tape of tracks that have been collected from a variety of sources and in many cases are just a voice, banjo and a tape recorder, with a variety of drone instruments that sound like harmoniums and sruti boxes. It's the delivery of these banjo ragas or vocals word plays that make all of Higgs solo work so mind warping and exciting. I get lost in his recordings and with no song titles on this 90 min tape, it makes it easier to just lose yourself and let Daniel take you on a psychedelic trip with tales of Eden, God, and the Kingdom of Death. To avid fans of Higgs solo work, you will recognise some of the tracks on this, but with many being played live or recorded at home with a simpler set up to his recent vinyl released albums. Sound quality has never prevented him from exercising his ability to tell a story and if anything, the tape format provides a perfect platform to really experience Daniel Higgs.

Whilst searching this tape out from Open Mouth tapes, make sure you get the new 'Say God' Lp on Thrill Jockey which literally blew my mind when i first dropped the needle on wax, and left other recent purchases in the dust. Essential.

Only place i found to buy is here:

Male Bonding - Daytrotter tape (Sub Pop)

If you were one of the lucky 300 people who either pre-ordered the 'Nothing Hurts' LP from Sub Pop or snagged a copy of this tape at their stage dive fest of a launch party in London then well done, you hold a copy of Male Bonding's latest tape effort which is the songs from the Daytrotter session they did in March 2010 whilst on tour in America.

As the inlay notes states, they arrived with tour buddies Vivian Girls to both record their sessions only to find that they had to record a stripped back 'acoustic' style session due to recent noise restraints. Alot of bands would crumble under the weight of having certain pedals turned off and amps not cranked up, but it works for Male Bonding, allowing the vocals to come through with very restrained drumming from the usually hard hitting Robin Silas Christian. The Vivian Girls also provide some sweet back up harmonies, replicating what they had done on album closer 'Worse to Come'. At only four songs and with the dulcet introduction of bassist Kevin Hendricks of 'Hi, we don't mean to harsh your mellow, we are male bonding welcome to daytrotter' this is a great addition to one of the best albums of 2010.

If like me you didn't pre-order the LP from Sub Pop because popping to your local record shop is easier, then try the band as they have a small boxful to sell, along with a few copies of the split 7" with Graffiti Island, Old Blood and Rapid Youth which is a mile marker in records you must have!

Male Bonding - Daytrotter Tape (Sub Pop)

1. Daytrotter Introduction
2. Before Its Gone
3. Worse To Come
4. Can't Dream
5. Your Contact

Get from the band when they are on tour or if you pre-order the LP from Subpop.com

Male Bonding "Year's Not Long" from Sub Pop Records on Vimeo.