Bristol Archive Records Blog

Archive for October, 2009

Electric Guitars – Album Review

Monday, October 26th, 2009
Previous Entry Add to Memories Tell a Friend Next Entry

Bristol Archive

‘Eternal Youth’ is an unusual opener for an unusual indie band who shimmer with intelligent energy, keeping the songs restrained but bulbous ideas-wise. The backing vocals irritate through being overplayed and merely repeating the title 4endlessly. It’s just got a nicely dark melodic flow. The jabbering vocal stance used early in ‘Genghis Khan’ is very David Byrne, which must still have appeared new at the time, because there’s nothing copyist about the band elsewhere, and indeed the song develops to an enthralling close, with witty keyboards and winsome guitar. The gentle sing-song capering of ‘Cloud 9’ is equally interesting, fractured and oddly filmic.

This band ran ’79-’83 and, coincidentally, I saw the Dancing Did play with them, with Electric Guitars were also unfortunate enough to be on Stiff Records. It was that era, where people just started becoming wholly individual and wilfully perverse. Cheekily wispy keyboards lift ‘Voice of Sound’ well and then off it wiggles, incorporating a brief train and shivery vocals, the whole song appear to flicker.

‘Scrap That Car’ happened to be recorded when the singer had his balls trapped in a vice, but he carries on regardless and they go loopily funk, which is a happy habit of theirs. Like Gang Of 4 without the academia. ‘Stamp Out The Termites’ has a ditsy, plinky pop thing going for it, but the keyboards add a queasier feel to it, and the individual instruments do tend to have a tweak and twinge here to always just shake up the jittery silliness, and threaten to take the song somewhere weirder. ‘Start Up The New Life’ has some gorgeously Star Trek style keyboards going for it, as well as a snakey rhythm but ‘Food’ is pretty annoying, bordering on ‘quirky’ pop, and nobody needs that, yet once again the fantastic keyboards make it something memorable. Richard Truscott, take a bow!

‘Ja Ja Lunar Commander’ has a bit of Star Wars no doubt, so we’ll pass over that on principle, into the squeaky madness of ‘Interference’ that could even be a demented cuckoo clock. ‘Fat Man’ glides around like a headless XTC, and wit the watery guitar ‘Language Problems’ faffs around a bit too pretend-dippy for its own good, trying hard to be interesting and negaging pop, but not quite getting there, like early Wham! With a toothache. Although there are voices off, ‘Don’t Wake The Baby’ is essentially a reggae instrumental and makes for another strange twist on this corkscrewed record.

I gather they only released some singles apart from this and so, like the mighty Dids, they were snuffed out too early. Interesting band, if slightly maddening.

Rita Lynch – Album Review

Friday, October 23rd, 2009
Previous Entry Add to Memories Tell a Friend Next Entry

Bristol Archive Records

Apparently this debut album (followed by the posher ‘All Dressed Up’, with the enigmatic ‘Victim’ released I know not when) was recorded live at Bath Moles in 1990 although on some tracks there’s applause and on others I hear nothing at all, so maybe some studio chicanery went on. It’s certainly a confused character at the heart of events for Rita, with her experiences of life’s deep, deep troubles to draw upon has a genuine ache to her voice and a fragile sense of decorum, a brittle realism. Sometimes.

‘Rock & Roll Lifestyle’ has that wiggly guitar so beloved of indie schmoozers of the late 80’s/90’s who think having an organ and wah-wah makes you trendy, when it actually comes over as a constipated Charlatans. ‘Silver & Gold’ sings dramatically about the acid revolution which was dying on its arse creatively, although it gets by on a garbled indie rush. It’s the comparatively hushed ‘Call Me Your Girlfriend’ which shows what the point of a Rita record is, striped down with a crestfallen emotional poignancy. Nothing desperate, other than the protagonist, and the most pertinent comparison for Rita is always Patti Smith, so including
‘Pale Blue Eyes’ carries added interest, and it’s a beautiful thing indeed.

‘Stripped Right Away’ slumps back onto acid’s paradiddle widdle, organ tilted sideways as the doomed ship goes on its circular voyage. ‘Baby I Wonder’ is sore but dreamy acoustic, with ‘Beautiful Eyes’ another beautiful bout of disturbingly naked honesty. ‘I Hold My Breath’ is an art-punk mess, and there’s further violin darting through ‘Find A Love’ as though we’re off on a ceilidh frolic, but it’s sombre indie mawkishness. ‘Cry In The Night’ hastens some brisk drama off the back of that, with starker strings, then ‘Rollercoaster’ gives us simple acoustic frothing. Other than ‘Sixty Days/Hey Joe’ which pretty much does what you’d expect, and ‘So Good To Me’ is an exotic puffy vignette.

It’s an interesting record, because she’s an interesting character, but it isn’t truly satisfying because it’s simply all over the place really. I suspect she works better live, because she can really connect that way, and she is still playing live regularly from what I can gather, so if you get the chance…


My Website   Powered by

Gardez Darkx – Album Review

Friday, October 23rd, 2009
Previous Entry Add to Memories Tell a Friend Next Entry

Bristol Archive Records

The wheezy brass and clip-clop percussion of ‘White Rain’ is enough to tell you we’re in left-field art-rock territory, and as there’s never any map I can’t really clear things up. Stream of unconsciousness lyrics never take hold, as attractive, windblown guitar sails away, and a sax alternates between being sometimes heroic, sometimes hated. ‘Stranger’ wees itself happily, with some hideous guitar overspill from a cute enough tune which has some pushy little perky touches to go with the supreme crooning of Latif Gardez, who apparently also recorded as Mystery Slang. It’s like The Associates gone grubby and a touch muso. Is that a good thing?

‘S. M. Tiger’ gets some post-jazz tinkling going, which you did find creeping through at the start of the 80s, with the indie scene brimming over with people trying to reinvent styles other than punky fare, some rough and scary, some surprisingly mellow but irritating like Gardez Darkx. ‘Random Alligator’ is an interesting mess, the idling keyboards suggesting someone like The Doors but it mainly feels likely a drowsy early Spandau Ballet visited by some odd bluesy guitar runs, as the young Latif was apparently influenced by the late, great Rory Gallagher, not that you can tell. Doorsian similarities flood the dumpy ‘Steel Wind’ but sadly this is not the end, my friend.

‘Saints’ has a slinky feel going, but with annoying yowling vocals, but otherwise it’s less scattershot, more direct. ‘Go!’ sounds like ‘Hong Kong Garden’ meets ABC, with a kids tv audience in mind, twee but sweetly twisted while ‘Doctor Be Good’ is strangled Bowie.
‘Bandage Mechanics’ is a gnarled funk David Byrne thing too, so the influences are all over the shop although it’s all there to serve the somewhat sore songs. ‘Whirlwind Friend’ staggers boldly to a finish with all of the aforementioned sounds locked in its dusty grooves and really it’s gone before you’ve grasped what they’re after.

There were tons of bands like this back then, and I can’t say I’m surprised the name hasn’t established itself. The best I can say is that if you’re into that arty noodling there’s a lot more gravitas here than some of the jerkier blaring bands offered, but it’s not my kind of thing in any way. I was glad when it finished.


The Long March – Album Review

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

Bristol Archive Records

William Waine (bass/vocals) seems the mainstay, having seen Dave Cullum (Rhythm Puppet) on guitar and even Mike Darby himself on vocals fall by the wayside, before David Simpson on guitar and the percussively powered Shane Leonard cemented the lineup, occasionally enlivened by string players Justine and Kate Dobbins, although it all occurred between 1986 and 1988 so it may have veered around for all I know. William now sings and swings with Dynamos Rhythm Aces. Snotty punk Dave suggests, “If, when you’re listening to these old tunes, you don’t like them, you can still fuck off!” Well said, that man.


‘When Reason Sleeps’ makes a fabulous impact immediately with keenly explorative vocals pushing through a lean but busy indie song, with muscular drums, and gently detonating guitar, it’s all very melodic, all very spirited. ‘Drowning’ pitches along with tumultuous despair through throttled guitar and wild vocal curves, like a darker version of Hurrah! ‘Weakness’ finds the drums escalate, the vocals drift away as a guitar vibrates cautiously and strings introduce more discretion. Whistles, percussion and drums buffet storytelling vocals in the cute ‘Black Friday’ which makes for an unusual approach, so they were inventive characters. The pattering drums, tight strings and constant vocal presence throughout ‘Themes For Dance’ seems like a bit of a mess when the melody could have been more all-embracing. ‘Risk’ is just as jumbled, with skittish strings poking against tumbling drums and feverish, bright vocals swooping madly, with plenty of gnashing energy evident, so regardless of their odd approach they carry you with them.

‘Heaven And Hell’ didn’t do much for me, as it surged along but the twirly twang of ‘My Six Miracles’ is more involving, despite the jolly guitar and tremulous vocals failing to explain what the six miracles actually were, which annoyed me. ‘Pride And Joy’ is simple agonised indie, with the more rhythmically pointy ‘Laugh Until You Cry’ doing the jostling pop thing. ‘Arena Days’ is pale but well propelled, then a live version of ‘I Am Your Ghost’ from the 1988 Ashton Court Festival maybe hints at what the website throws up, about the band loving punk and classical, because the terse delivery and sudden string moodiness creates an interesting collision. ‘Infantry’ drifts off on sorrowful strains, emoting quietly with some muted samples, before rough guitar goes off on some poisoned wrangling.

An odd indie band then, full of strange, winning elements. I don’t think I’d have followed them avidly at the time had I known about them, but they certainly had something.

(Mick Mercer –