EP review – Ride

Ride -‘Tomorrow’s Shore’ EP (Wichita)
Last year Ride released their fifth album Weather Diaries. It was their first album in 22 years, since Tarantula, which was released as the band dissolved. Now the band have issued a new four-track EP, Tomorrow’s Shore – in which they continue to work their magic.

It’s pretty fitting that this should be an EP. After all, released around their debut LP there were four stunning EPs (Ride, Play, Fall and Today Forever) which were – and remain – stunning releases in their own right. By the end of 1994 pretty much everyone on their original record label, Creation, had been eclipsed by the arrival of new labelmates Oasis – but tellingly, they too released singles (usually four track ones) that formed complete packages.
Nearly a year on, a listen to Weather Diaries confirms that it really was a return to form, to the essence of their first two albums – but moving forward, rather than trying to cling to past glories. Tomorrow’s Shore stands on its own terms, whilst forming a companion piece.
Partly this may be the decision to work with both Alan Moulder (who produced their first two albums Nowhere and Going Blank Again) and Erol Alkan again. It makes for an extremely satisfying listening experience.
Opening with ‘Pulsar’ it striking that while the term shoegazing was coined because of bands staring at their feet (because of all the foot pedals, duh), this seems to be music that reaches for the stars. Even if lyrically it talks of returning home from another star. It’s fuzzed-up and fabulous, and explains the astronaut on the cover.
‘Keep It Surreal’ is reminiscent of New Order’s first two LPs. ‘Cold Water People’ is perhaps the weakest of the four tracks, not helped by the early part of the track sounding deliberately – and unnecessarily- out of tune. It does get better (and back in tune) in the second half of the track.
The EP closes with ‘Catch You Dreaming.’ A few plays of this track reveals it to be a Ride epic in the vein of ‘Leave Them All Behind’ ‘Vapour Trail’ or ‘Today.’ It’s got perhaps the perfect shoegazing title, and it’s something to lose yourself in. One of the best tracks of the year so far, in fact.
It’s worth finding the twenty minutes to appreciate this release. On this evidence, Ride have the ability to carry on making great music, and it’s a comeback that continues to be worth it. Let’s hope we hear more from them soon.
****
Tomorrow’s Shore is out now on Wichita

Album Review – Monochrome Set

Monochrome Set -‘Maisieworld.’ (Tapete)

“…Playful vocals sing of your frail organic nature, the sad dreams and hopes that you entertain, and the dismal decisions you make. Scenes of a different imagination tear you like brittle canvas and rearrange your portrait into another’s fantasy.

Upon your exit from Maisieworld, you will be pleasantly surprised to find that your vessel is now filled with abnormal thoughts.

Caution : May contain nuts. And bolts.”

Excerpt from press release.

…Of course, I’m not here to review the press release, but it does give some idea of the world in which you enter here…

This year marks forty years since the Monochrome Set formed. Led by Ganesh ‘Bid’ Seshadri, they rose out of the ashes of the B-Sides, which had included Stuart Goddard (the future Adam Ant).

This is, perhaps surprisingly, their fourteenth studio album. It’s a great insight into what makes them distinctive as a band. While I wouldn’t want people to cherry pick what they listen to on this album (c’mon people, it’s all of 33 minutes long! Find the time, as Five Star once sang), there are highlights on this record. Stage Fright,  the opening ‘Give Me Your Youth’ and the wonderfully titled (and ever so slightly sinister sounding) ‘Oh, Yes, I’m Going To Be In Your Dreams Tonight.’ Sounding so different to almost anything you will hear on mainstream radio as to be from a different planet (and all the better for it) these songs hold their own up against the songs of what is now decades ago like ‘The Monochrome Set’ and ‘Jet Set Junta.’ There are – unquestionably- people who can explain in more depth than I can about what is ver Set’s best work, but this is as good as any place to start with their work. The oft-repeated John Peel cliche about The Fall that they were always different, always the same applies to the Monochrome Set. It’s an equal successor to the band’s last record, 2016’s Cosmonaut.

It’s not just that it’s different from so much out there that makes this an entrancing listen. Sure, it’s not a groundbreaking record, but this is a great collection of songs and and attendant sounds. It’s somehow very reassuring that in this uncertain world that Bid and co. continue to produce their slightly quirky songs, a connection to a time when indie meant independent, as opposed to meat and two veg formulaic guitar work, as is so often the case. While members may have wondered why the former Stuart Goddard had much greater commercial success than they, four decades along, there’s still consistently great work coming from the Monochrome Set. There have been splits and hiatuses along the way, but whether the next album is two or ten years away, there’s a strong likelihood it will be worth the wait.

***1/2

Maisieworld is out now on Tapete

More from Sista Strange

Last year, I was very impressed by a track from a South London duo called Sista Strange. Still in their teens they are Chariz Calanday and Jesley Faye Fantolgo. Writing about ‘Friday Evening’ I commented ‘I hear electronica, soul, hip-hop and drum’n’bass, served up as a kick-ass tune.

It still is, take note. Somehow I missed out on the slightly darker-sounding ‘Lust’ – but I’m enjoying making up for lost time. You should, too.

In the last week, they have unveiled ‘Ride’ which shows that they have developed further. In what seems to be -charmingly – typical of the Sista Strange sound, it goes places you don’t expect. Not least because my first thought was ‘Wow! They’ve gone more soulful on this one.’ It is, however, like a much needed ray of sunshine in this freezing cold weather. Utterly fantastic.

New from Ezra Furman

I cannot claim to be any sort of expert about Ezra Furman. I do know that I really enjoy both of his last two albums Perpetual Motion People and Transangelic Exodus. The latter was released this last Friday just gone. I’m still getting my head around it – it’s absolutely brilliant, though. As in: I would be happy to spend my own money on it, and be thrilled.

So, instead I will point you in the direction of the very nice Loz Etheridge at my other writing gig, God Is In The TV, and you can read his excellent review there.

I don’t think it’s either controversial nor too early to say this album will be cropping up on end of year lists. This video for ‘Driving Down To L.A.’ is worth seeing on its own…

…and you should stream the whole album below:

The return of Broken Records

Having championed them on this blog since 2007, every time there is a new Broken Records release I want to get up and cheer. Should a forty-something man behave this way? Ach, who cares. Broken Records will shortly release their fourth album What We Might Know, on March 30.

The first track from the album is entitled ‘They Won’t Ever Leave Us Alone’ – and whether or not you have seen the video or heard the track, you can view it just here:

The band will be playing the following tour dates:

March 31 – Lexington, London

April 21 – Church, Dundee

April 26 – Summerhall, Edinburgh

April 27 – Tolbooth, Stirling

April 28 – Lemon Tree, Aberdeen

The album cover looks like this…

…and the album tracklist is as follows:

  1. They Won’t Ever Leave Us Alone
  2. Let The Right One In
  3. Open Ground
  4. The Inbetween
  5. Anytime
  6. Perfect Hollow Love
  7. When All Of This Is Done
  8. So Free
  9. Clarity.
  10. Someday You’ll Remember Me
  11. What We Might Know