Yeah yeah, so yesterday I was whining about not wanting to find space for more things in my life and today I’m posting a photo of, uh, more things recently acquired. Well the contradictions in our lives are what makes us all fascinating creatures, no?
I have said in the recent past that I no longer care too much about having the physical product of records in my possession, but I admit I have been seduced by a few things these last few weeks. One of these is the People In A Position To Know label. PIAPTK specialise in “limited edition vinyl recordings” and they do make some gorgeous artefacts. Two that arrived for me last week were the matchbook packaged split 7” by Advance Base / Hello Shark and a 8” square vinyl disc of Springsteen covers by Casiotone For The Painfully Alone & Concern.
The Springsteen covers single is the first 8” record I have ever owned, but looking through the PIAPTK catalogue I’m guessing it won’t be the last. It confirms my view that Springsteen is a great songwriter (well duh...) but that I overwhelmingly prefer his songs when performed by others. I have written in the murky past how it was Ballboy’s take on ‘Born In The USA’ that made me realise what a wonderfully subversive song that actually was/is, and I reckon this doom-laden synth led and vocoder version by brothers Owen and Gordon Ashworth is as strange and fine a version as you will hear. Their take on ‘Streets Of Philadelphia’ in contrast is beautifully sparse, pared back and vulnerable. You can pickup the vinyl (500 tan and 500 brown marble) for a cent under seven bucks, or download the tracks for a dollar thirty nine. Bargain.
The matchbook sleeved 7” is even better. Advance Base is the aforementioned Owen Ashworth on a solo tip, and his lead cut ‘Whirlaway The Horse’ is a sheer delight. It’s one of my most played tracks of January; a vacuum of drum machine and keys with Ashworth recounting a tale of, well, Whirlaway The Horse. It’s a gem of spacious electro-folk bliss.
Hello Shark meanwhile turn in a couple of short and jagged numbers that shamble and tumble in a manner that recalls the magic of Esiotrot. Exploration of their ‘Break Arms’ set for the Burst & Bloom label cements that impression in impressive manner, throwing in alongside that reference ones maybe to Pavement, Jeffrey Lewis or back to the original psychedelic folksters Holy Modal Rounders. Well worth investigating, as are the other releases on Burst & Bloom (look out in particular for the Guy Capecelatro III ‘Ten Miles Out’ set - a fine modern psych-folk collection from the former Unbunny member).
The green sleeved 7” in the picture meanwhile is from the Grizzly stable and features two tracks by Mrs Magician. The San Diego based band turn in a fine Shins meets Beach Boys meets blissed-out basement fuzzpop. Both cuts check out in under two minutes but the pick of the two for me is ‘I Know What Girls Like’ - sadly not a cover of the wonderful Waitresses classic but nevertheless a swift blast of bittersweet Pop candy. Yum.
And the big, grown up 12” vinyl album in the background of the shot? It’s the new record by Red Horses Of The Snow; nine tracks by duo Mark Burgess and Chris Hawtin that collectively come over as celebrations of fine avenues of inspiration from the likes of Talk Talk, Ride, Bark Psychosis and Red House Painters. Of course these references to records of times past are easy pathways of least resistance for writers and listeners alike, but they do provide hooks upon which to rest our preferences and we cannot, after all, deny the roots and routes of our personal contexts. So if I had never heard (of) any of those other groups, what would Red Horses Of The Snow sound like? Well fittingly they would sound just like their name; like scudding rain-laden clouds across platinum winter skies pierced on occasion by a blinding flash of unexpected sunlight. Really rather wonderful.