Monthly Archives: July 2007

Something’s Coming Closer, I Can Only Stare

The Comsat Angels

My last posting got me thinking about non-LP in-between LP singles and thought I’d dig up a few from the same era as the Sound over the next few days.

The Comsat Angels actually toured with the Sound in 1981 and they released singles both before and after 2nd LP ‘Sleep No More’ which didn’t make either that LP or its successor.

The 12” of ‘Eye Of The Lens’ was actually the first Comsats record I bought after seeing them support U2 (of all people). Whilst the band could certainly lay claim to being at the doomier end of post punk (particularly on the claustrophobic ‘Sleep No More’) the lyrics on ‘Lens’ are to some degree meant to be humorous although few actually got the joke.

Whilst ‘Sleep No More’ earned masses of critical praise, its uncompromising sound didn’t sell huge quantities of records. So another single ‘(Do The) Empty House’ was an attempt to broaden their sound. It’s a record which heavily relies on the rhythm section of Mik Glashier and Kevin Bacon featuring particularly loud crunching drums. It’s also got a slightly jaunty melody, well by Comsats standards anyway. Despite coming with a free single (a re-recording of their debut single ‘Red Planet’) it wasn’t a hit.

Their third non-LP single was the melancholic ‘It’s History’. This single was far easier on the ears but also a far from a cheery record. And, you guessed it, it wasn’t a hit either.

It was a good pointer for their third LP ‘Fiction’ even though it wasn’t on it as the menace of the earlier LPs was diluted to no commercial gain. After ‘Fiction’ failed to do the business the Comsats were dropped by Polydor and the next stage of their career was something of a train wreck. But that’s a story for another time.

In the meantime, here’s their three in-between albums singles:

The Comsat Angels – Eye of The Lens

The Comsat Angels – (Do The) Empty House

The Comsat Angels – It’s History

On the latest reissues from Renascent, ‘Eye of the Lens’ is an extra track on ‘Sleep No More’ whilst the other 2 singles are on the reissued ‘Fiction’ (although if you come across it you’ll find ‘Empty House’ on the 2001 RPM reissue of ‘Sleep’ rather than ‘Fiction’).

Buy them both here (and debut LP ‘Waiting For A Miracle’ is also a cracker.)

In The Hothouse


The Sound

Today’s post is a follow-up to a recent post on the Sound. After their raw debut LP, their second, ‘From The Lion’s Mouth’ was a far more polished affair produced by Hugh Jones, who also produced the Bunnymen’s ‘Heaven Up Here’.

Even though the LP’s single ‘Sense of Purpose’ was excellent, the more commercial production didn’t yield the sought after success. But the band persevered with the approach on a non-LP single:

The Sound – Hot House (7” single)

Needless to say the record wasn’t a hit, in fact it isn’t as strong a song as ‘Sense of Purpose’. The approach changed again for the band’s 3rd LP, ‘All Fall Down’ and, as the single didn’t fit in, it languished in obscurity (except for a live version on the band’s live LP, er ‘In The Hothouse’) until it became a CD extra on the reissues.

Curiously, although I have all the LPs, I never saw them live because they never played in Scotland after 1981. Even more curious is the fact that according to the excellent Brittle Heaven website they seem to have spent 10 days in Scotland in September 1980 playing no fewer than 5 dates in Fife. Can this really be the same band?

Buy the Sound’s LPs here

Knocked Out, Drunk & Loaded


Thanks to excellent service from Resonance, I am now the proud owner of Desert Hearts’ second LP ‘Hotsy Totsy Nagasaki’. And you know, what? It’s great.

At its core is a clutch of crunching rock songs. ‘Sea Punk’ is still my favourite but that’s possibly only until I get to know the others a little better. ‘Gravitas’ is a taut, strung out kind of song which always seems on the point of climax. Yet when it does you can’t help but be surprised at its ferocity. ‘Central Line’ is more insistent, the choruses offering some release from the driving guitar.

There’s some pop here too. ‘Ocean’ is one up tempo example – careering along nicely with Roisin’s vocal pitched somewhere between Kim Deal and Kristin Hersh. And Desert Hearts can do downbeat too – ‘Urchin’ is Americana influenced whilst the title track, with its strings, leans more towards folk.

From the Myspace tracks I was expecting a varied album but it’s great when a band can be just as successful within a divese range of styles.

At the same time I got the ‘Gravitas’ 7” single and its B-side, ‘Hammer and Frogs’ is just as good as anything on the LP.

I like this lot a lot and I’ll no doubt get the first album soon too. Here’s a couple of tracks from the LP to hopefully convince you that HTN is worthy of your attention.

Desert Hearts – Central Line
Desert Hearts – Hotsy Totsy Nagasaki

Buy ‘Hotsy Totsy Nagasaki’ here.

Cut Off In Their Prime (1) – Flying

Throwing Muses

I listen to a lot of music in the car and up until getting a car with a CD player that meant listening to tapes. However tapes are only 45 minutes or so long and sometimes the tape would run out just in the middle of the last track on a record.

So I thought I’d celebrate those tracks. First up is the final track off the self titled Throwing Muses LP from 2003. It is, frankly, a belter, so I make no apology for returning to TM once again. Here it is in all its non-truncated glory.

Throwing Muses – Flying (from ‘Throwing Muses’).

‘Throwing Muses’ should not be confused with the band’s untitled debut LP from 1986 and was up to that point the fiercest record Kristin Hersh had recorded. It’s very much a rock record and is certainly not the Muses’ most accessible LP. But it’s well worth persevering with and is available here (in the UK) or here (for the US).

Baby, It’s Time We Give Something New A Try

Interpol live

You know what it feels like to fall out of love with a band? Where once you used to be desperate for every new release, the latest record is purchased more through habit than through desire. What used to excite now feels old. Sure, if you can take an objective view, there are plenty of things to like but when you’ve loved, like doesn’t really cut it.

Well, that’s how I feel about Interpol. ‘Turn On The Bright Lights’ was an LP which provoked love at first sight and left me craving more. Unfortunately when more did arrive it was a let down.

Not that ‘Antics’ is any way a bad album. It’s just that I was expecting greatness and the streamlined, propulsive Interpol of ‘Antics’ isn’t greatness to me. So, did this metaphorical cold shower signify a case of infatuation rather than true love?

Third LP ‘Our Love To Admire’ would suggest that was the case. My first impressions were not good – on the first couple of listens there was nothing which jumped out at me as a great song. In fact too often some sounded like they’ve been constructed entirely from parts of previous Interpol songs. ‘Heinrich Maneuver’ and ‘No I In Threesome’ are obvious culprits.

And yet, on repeated plays, both these songs have a saving grace in that they’re pretty damn good. And if you couldn’t listen to this record without recognising that it is obviously Interpol, there is at least a broadening of style on things like ‘Pioneer To The Falls’ and ‘Rest My Chemistry’ which may be amongst the slowest songs on the record but are also amongst the best.

I’m still left with a nagging feeling though that this isn’t going to be a keeper in the long run (and the last few undistinguished songs don’t help either.) The likes of the Bunnymen and REM get a bit of a pasting for sounding just like themselves but that is more inevitable given that they have 25 years plus of history behind them. Interpol are only on their third LP yet they sound like they’ve said all they have to say.

Frustratingly the band have been involved in some decent remixes of their own material (and there’s another one of ‘Heinrich’ on their Myspace) yet they haven’t found a way to incorporate this into their LPs as of yet.

Don’t let me make out that this is a bad LP, it’s not. But sadly it isn’t as good even as ‘Antics’ and the musical progress on display is limited.

Here’s a couple of the best tracks musically (the lyrics are another story):

Interpol – No I In Threesome

Interpol – Rest My Chemistry

You can buy ‘Our Love To Admire’ here.

Photo borrowed from Pitchfork.

Myspace Jukebox Jury (4) – Desert Hearts

Desert Hearts

Yeah, I know it’s been a long time. There have been a couple of bands recently whose work I’ve been encouraged to purchase after a brief check of their Myspace (The Twilight Sad and The Kissaway Trail) but I bought the records so quickly that I wrote them up as ‘proper’ reviews rather than a MSJBJ.

Not so Desert Hearts. I referred to discovering a new band in my Spectacularly Useless posting and this is them. Obviously I’ve been slow here as they’ve been around for ages. Arriving at them via De Rosa (Martin Henry is listed as an official band member, busy lad) their Myspace features 3 tracks from their debut LP ‘Let’s Get Worse’ from 2002 and just one from last year’s follow-up ‘Hotsy Totsy Nagasaki’.

What impresses me most is that the 4 tracks are all quite varied. They’re not startlingly original but I like the melodic sensibility of the tunes. So, let’s get the formal business over with first:

Manic rating – 5
Pop rating – 6
Thrills rating – 9

So Desert Hearts are a big hit on the MPT Juke Box and the second LP at least is hopefully winging its way towards me as we speak.

Here’s a couple of tracks featured on their Myspace:

Desert Hearts – dsr (from ‘Let’s Get Worse’)

Desert Hearts – Sea Punk (from ‘Hotsy Totsy Nagasaki’)

You can buy ‘Hotsy Totsy …’ direct from Gargleblast here. ‘Let’s Get Worse’ seems to be available either here or here.

Photo borrowed from here.


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