THE SERVANTS : She's Always Hiding 7" (1986)

Servants 7"
A short 'n' sweet entry from The Servants, featuring the elusive David Westlake, Creation Records' Great White Hope for 1987 (along with Blow Up, Phil Wilson & Baby Amphetamine). Westlake, where are you now?*

As mid-80s Brit jangle goes, "She's Always Hiding" is a bit of a classic - reserved, subtle, nicely performed & not at all dated, despite embodying it's (much maligned) era. If nothing else, it puts paid to the common misconception that all homegrown independent guitar music from this period was the product of twee, thumb-sucking Byrds-fans with greasy fringes & uniformly appalling vintage knitwear. It also led directly to John Peel immediately commissioning their sole BBC session (though Westlake, with The Go-Betweens as his backing band, recorded a solo set for Janice Long in early '87). In hindsight, Westlake seems a superior vocalist / lyricist to many of his late 80s contemporaries, & it's perhaps unjust that The Servants somehow missed out on the critical hyperbole granted to, for example, The Loft, with whom they certainly had a minor chord or 2 in common.

Originally released on Head (Loop, The Wishing Stones, etc) in 1986, this neglected 7" has since been rounded up by Cherry Red to kick off their 2006's Servants CD retrospective. The B-side, "Transparent", overcame it's all-too-obvious debt to Syd's "Octopus" to appear on the NME's misunderstood C86 compilation, of course. Though slightly unrepresentative of the band's sound generally, it's undoubtedly their most widely heard song. Great single all 'round then!

* He's lecturing in English at Brunel University apparently.

STEREOLAB : The Underground Is Coming EP (1999)

Lab A
Lab B
Lab Sadier
You might remember that back at the turn of the century Stereolab were at their most furiously, wallet-worryingly prolific - bewilderingly so in fact. The proliferation of new material they were ceaselessly hemorrhaging culminated in way too much stylistic repetition & an unnecessary glut of largely interchangeable releases that only the most financially benevolent 'Lab aficionado could ever have hoped to keep abreast of (i.e. not me). Patience & resources severely tested, I have to admit that I ducked out on 'em after 1999's Cobra & Phases Group Play Voltage In The Milky Night LP, only dipping back into their frantic release schedule intermittently, & then only for seductive boutique releases like this one, The Underground Is Coming...

I've always preferred Stereolab's succinct, EP-length collections (1995's Music For The Amorphous Body Centre remains one of their finest releases after all) &, as such, The Underground Is Coming is outstanding. A limited edition 4-track 7" in a blinding red & yellow Situationist-inspired sleeve, it was released c/o their own Duophonic label (#D-UHF-D24) & sold exclusively on tour in 1998-99. Musically, it's a frothy mélange of abstracted Abba melancholy, celestial Krautrock motorik, post-ironic elevator muzak & kitschy, wah-wah steeped synths. To date, none of it's buoyant Mooged-up miniatures have been compiled on any of the band's regular Switched On anthologies which is a bit of a shame - brief, slightly daft songs like "Fried Monkey Brains" make a refreshing change from what had by then become "standard" 'Lab fare, & The Groop sound as if they're letting their hair down a bit & having some FUN for once.

And absence really does make the heart grow fonder it seems - I'm currently fighting off a profoundurge to nip upstairs & dig out a couple of old 'Lab albums for a listen, it's been ages...


GG Allin Works The Room... (1989)

A GG Allin spoken word show, recorded in Boston c.1989. Despite his fearsome reputation, he actually strikes quite a pathetic figure throughout this performance (& it definitely is a "performance"), taking his anger out on property for the most part & visibly flinching at the prospect of genuine, physical violence. It doesn't look like he'd downed his customary laxatives prior to taking the stage on this occasion either, for which I'm rather thankful - I guess he didn't feel the assembled hipster throng was worth the trouble? As the man himself quoth" "With G.G. you don't get what you expect - you get what you deserve." Having said that, he was imprisoned for "rape & torture of a female aquaintence" later this year, so they evidently got off quite lightly...


SMOG : Tired Tape Machine (1990)

More nil-fi flotsam from Bill Callahan's Maryland years. Recorded, primitively, in Pasadena way back in May 1990, & originally released on cassette on his own Disaster label, Tired Tape Machine found Bill cautiously edging towards bare-bones melody for the first time. A handful of these songs were extracted by Drag City for inclusion on Smog's Floating EP & Forgotten Foundation LP. A few others appeared in reworked form on peripheral releases such as the My Shell 7" & the Burning Kingdom EP. Tired Tape Machine sounds like shit, but most early Smog did of course...

MEMORYHOUSE : The Years EP (2010)

OK, it's not often that I post new music on here, so make the most of this... Memoryhouse are a somnambulant, hauntological boy/girl duo from Canada. I know next to nothing about them, 'cept that their names are Denise Nouvion & Evan Abeele (a photographer & a "neo-classical composer" respectively) & that their one (DL-only) EP to date, The Years, sounds like a Kendra Smith-fronted Broadcast channeling an ectoplasmic Boards Of Canada remix c/o Reed Richards' Negative Zone. Indie blogs'll inform you that Memoryhouse are "hotly tipped practitioners of chillwave" or "blissed-out glo-fiers" no doubt, but let's just label them good ol' fashioned psychedelia & be done with it, hmm? They've been giving these 4 hazy songs away for nothing c/o Arcade Sound for a few months now - their only non-virtual release to date, a 7" featuring 2 versions of "To The Lighthouse" on Inflated Records, has just been repressed on translucent blue vinyl & is available here. If there's one thing better than free music it's good free music, & The Years is marvellous throughout - I honestly can't stop playing it, Favourite New Band Alert, etc...

Update: Memoryhouse later re-recorded this virtual E.P. in it's entirety for release on Sub Pop in 2011. Just to clarify, the versions posted here are the original self-released incarnations - you can purchase the "redux" edition here.