“Do you have any idea what you’re listening to?”
“It’s Venus.” Actually, it isn’t. It’s the August Monthly Mix coming straight to your ears from the wizards’ secret hideaway somewhere near Uranus [Stop it! – TTW Ed] and kicking things off with those most likeable of surf guitar aliens Man… Or Astroman? featuring the combined talents of Birdstuff, Captain Zeno and Coco The Electronic Monkey Wizard. This is appropriately followed by a song entitled A Question Isn’t Answered from neo-psych posterboys Temples. Some neat handclaps and suitably out of this world guitar fuzz are on this highlight from their Sun Structures album. And since I’ve started this ‘space’ theme, I guess I am contractually obliged to include a track from the wonderful Public Service Broadcasting’s The Race For Space set. The one I’ve chosen is more downbeat and tense than much of the album, but is perhaps the most powerful on the record as a result. Bringing us back to earth, it’s the title track from Johnny Cash’s Out Among The Stars because… well, you get it.
OK, enough of that astral malarky, how about some Vertical Scratchers from erstwhile Brainiac guitarist John Schmersal? Now, if you know there’s a track on their Daughter Of Everything that features Robert Pollard, you will be mightily surprised that I have chosen a different track altogether. Yes, it’s that good (and sounds like the most Beatlesy bits of GBV for good measure). Then it’s a track from the new album Whatever, My Love from The Juliana Hatfield Three. It’s great to hear that heartbreaking voice again and with lyrics like “it sounds like a metaphor for love, but it’s not”, we’re onto a sure-fire winner here. Similarly, by looking no further than the opening track on the first album, the neatly entitled Album, by the short-lived, and difficult to Google, Sanfranband (as no-one called them) Girls, you can find more grist to the wavering mill of my FAATB* campaign with a joyful two and a half minutes of jingle jangle indie pop. Following them it’s apposite that I feature the wizards’ favourite Argentinian rock and roll troubadour, Billordo, as it has given me much joy this week to learn that the legendary Spare Snare are releasing a cover of one of his songs to coincide with their Autumn tour. You can buy said record here and catch the band in Liverpool on 9 September. You can also hear one of my favourite Billordo tracks by watching the video below.
Time for some Winston Hubert McIntosh now in the form of, the strikingly not Scottish, Peter Tosh with his classic Stepping Razor from the album Equal Rights (excellent, but not quite as good as his first Legalize It [Oh shut up! – TTW Ed]). A mid-mix instrumental after that with the B-side of a recent 7″ release on the uber-reliable Ghost Box label from The Pattern Forms (with a little bit of Jon Brooks) that will have you rapt for its full 6 minutes. This month’s Tex Pick sees our lone star chum (quick)draw on glumsters’ favourites Fun Boy Three and their ever relevant The More I See. Good work. Then, to cheer us all up, how about a quick visit to Finn’s Motel for a taste of the Concorn Village Optimist Club? This is a record I bought without knowing anything about the band or what their sound might be like, but, despite the danger that it might feature a number of unwanted New Zealanders, it was always bound to be ace because it’s on the Scat label (home of, amongst others, Bee fucking Thousand) and… it is.
A bunch of very much welcome Antipodeans next in the shape of The Phoenix Foundation, who hail from Wellington, on the North Island, with the lead-off track from their Tom’s Lunch EP (see what they did there?) that has a tremendous bass thump that ensures you really feel the love (of Yoko Ono?!). Last October, another of my favourite record labels (we’ve all got ’em, right?), Audio Antihero turned 5 years old and released a compilation to celebrate the fact called, er, Five Long Years, which amongst the likes of regular Kicker’s mixers Benjamin Shaw and Low Low Low La La La Love Love Love Love, also featured a collective new to me in The Superman Revenge Squad Band. Could they possibly live up to that superb band name? Damn right they could. This month’s GBV track comes from 1995’s Alien Lanes and is dedicated to Kicker Jr, who has designed the future logo for our soon-to-appear Trust The Wizards record label that will be bringing more Billordo to the UK before the end of the year. Watch this space. After that undoubted classic, we’ve then got Robyn Hitchcock with a song from the oft-overlooked A Star For Bram album that compiled outtakes from Jewels For Sophia and included a studio version of the legendary song 1974. You’ll have to buy that collection to hear it, but watch the video below for a stunning live version first.
Of course I have to follow the song 1974 with a song released in 197…1. I have a soft spot for Alice Cooper – the band – and would argue that both the albums Killer and Love It To Death are great records and it is from the latter that I present the case for the defence. Another band I have a growing soft spot (increasingly becoming bigger than a great lake) for are the band Evans The Death, who, fresh from wowing both me and Chorizo Garbanzo at Indietracks, appear here with one of the many stellar performances on this year’s highly recommended Expect Delays LP. Just listen to that voice and those lyrics. Genius. The new Built To Spill album Untethered Moon is also getting a lot of airplay in the O’Elves household at the moment and being a sucker for songs about songs (surely a theme for a future TTW Podcast) there was only going to be one choice for this mix. That, and the fact that it includes an enormous shimmery guitar sound, obviously. Finally, you might have noticed that Michael Head’s the Magical World Of The Strands has recently been repressed along with an accompanying album of different versions, demos and the like. While I wait for the latter to arrive, it seems appropriate to remind the listening world (hello to both of you) just how great that album is and how it continues to hit the spot…
* First Albums Are The Best
Those all important tracks in full:
1. Man… Or Astroman? – Transmissions From Venus ’94 (it’s a live version retitled Transmissions From Uranus [Really? – TTW Ed] on Spotify)
2. Temples – A Question Isn’t Answered
3. Public Service Broadcasting – The Other Side
4. Johnny Cash – Out Among The Stars
5. Vertical Scratchers – Someone
6. The Juliana Hatfield Three – Parking Lots
7. Girls – Lust For Life
9. Peter Tosh – Stepping Razor
10. The Pattern Forms – The Sacrifice
11. Fun Boy Three – The More I See
12. Finn’s Motel – Concorn Village Optimists Club
13. The Phoenix Foundation – Bob Lennon John Dylan
14. The Superman Revenge Squad Band – Lately I’ve Found Myself Regressing
15. Guided By Voices – My Son Cool
16. Robyn Hitchcock – 1974
17. Alice Cooper – Is It My Body
18. Evans The Death – Idiot Button
19. Built To Spill – All Our Songs
20. Michael Head – X Hits The Spot
Before You Continue
Previous monthly mixes
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