Mind if we start with some barely distinguised hyperbole? Cheers. So, The Victorian English Gentlemens Club, then. Adam, Louise and Emma by name, based in Cardiff via various West Midlands and northern outposts, who we promoted back in our preview of stuff to properly look forward to in 2006 not realising that, no matter how great debut The Tales Of Hermit Mark was, new double A-side Amateur Man/Ban The Gin would blow it into a cocked hat in a highly ungainly fashion, somewhere in the ballpark that fits in Pixies, Geffen era Sonic Youth, Wire, the Minutemen, McLusky and the Fall at their most up for it but certainly staking out its own territory. We've genuinely not been this excited about an opening one-two salvo of singles possibly since Franz Ferdinand (whose own double-A single release this week, The Fallen/L Wells, is none too shabby itself) and despite a slowness on the music press' part to date (damn them, eh?) they can only expand outwards - they're in capable hands on Fantastic Plastic, good things are noted about their live shows (they were on Marc Riley's Saturday afternoon 6 Music show yesterday) and they've landed four gigs as Wedding Present support in May. Watch them fly. What else? Well, Larrikin Love, a band who we're sure remind us of someone else that we can't quite put our finger on, release horribly titled first full scale single Edwould, the Fratellis debut with an enponymous EP that proves there is a good side to the whole shambolic electric skiffle thing, there's Alex James making the record you suspect he always wanted to make, namely teaming with Betty Boo on a strangely underpromoted excursion into stupid pop disco Wigwam by Wigwam, and physical stock is released of Gnarls Barkley's Crazy, although we're secretly hoping extreme irony will strike and it'll be knocked off number one as soon as you're able to buy it. No link, but Hope Of The States return with 2000 10"s of the Blood Meridian EP.
It's not every band, even one jammed into the outside edge of the mainstream as solidly as the Flaming Lips, who can pull off three top notch albums in a row, however much time and effort they put into each one. At War With The Mystics certainly isn't immediate and you could say it thematically treads old ground, although in the latter sense we'd like to hear all the bands who thematically tread through existential crises in hook-laden pop and doomy epics on the future of time and space. It's been called Wayne Coyne's political album, but it's as much personal and social politics as well-thumbed anti-Bush rhetoric that's covered here. He's too much in love with the ideas of humanity, you see. So, that list in full of bands who can record a song called My Cosmic Autumn Rebellion and get away with it in the slightest: the Flaming Lips. The Morrissey album's also out after what seems years of build-up, Ringleader Of The Tormentors categorised as his sex exploration opus. Needless to say, of course it isn't - the "explosive kegs" track, Dear God Please Help Me itself, is an oddly stately thing featuring Ennio Morricone striking up the string section and later features the lines "then he motions to me with his hand on my knee/Dear God, did this kind of this thing happen to you?" Easy to overlook where possible, isn't it. Again, it's not one for the listening post and perhaps will suffer by the fact that it comes two years after the last album rather than seven, but it will spread its wings over time and fills the allotted love, life and death themes excellently. Top Deutsche Grammophon-styled cover too. Everything else is understandly dwarfed by comparison this week, but there's just time for the all-out post-prog bashing of Secret Machines' Ten Silver Drops, the Domino Recordings low down and dirty blues-punk of Archie Bronson Outfit's onomatapaeically titled Derdang Derdang - none of them are called Archie Bronson, you'll recall - Calexico taking inspiration from their Sam Beam collaboration to become more hushed and thoughtful, in part, on Garden Ruin and female take on the Cure/Smiths/Interpol timeline The Organ's Grab That Gun, which import distibutors may like to note first came out in 2004 in North America. In the compilation stakes the only place to turn this week is Zero: A Martin Hannett Story 1979-1991, in which his most famous spooked production clients Joy Division are only represented by Transmission but there is room for the Buzzcocks, Happy Mondays, John Cooper Clarke, Magazine, New Order, OMD, the Durutti Column, U2, the Only Ones, the Psychedelic Furs and, well, Jilted John.
Things we missed
A couple of things we should really have mentioned had we spotted them at the time and have kept forgetting to since, not least that the band who recorded the song this bloody blog's named after, Spearmint. The Boy And The Girl That Got Away is a nine track album of songs written specifically for an acoustic tour of Germany. The glamour. It's only available via their website, in any case, ahead of the proper new album in the next few months. A band we've mentioned on here before but not followed so hard that we didn't miss their debut album release when it came out a fortnight ago are literate, angular Bristolians the Playwrights, whose English Self Storage sounds like an amalgam of all eras of XTC at once.
Some would say it's easy to forget how incendiary Public Enemy were in the face of Flavor Flav's lovelorn goofing around on VH1. We'd amend that slightly - they've made it easy for us, throwing in the album every three months or so. Timely, then that getting a re-release this week is It Takes A Nation - The First London Invasion Tour 1987, recorded at Hammersmith Odeon a few months after Yo! Bum Rush the Show's release while giving live debuts to Bring The Noise and Rebel Without A Pause. S1Ws present and correct, Bomb Squad beats to level monuments, crowd more than likely mostly there for headliner LL Cool J going appropriately nuts.
DVD with only tangential musical connection but we reckon is essential anyway
A Bit Of Fry And Laurie Series 1, featuring America
As a rule we really should discourage managers from writing autobiographies, as we know what they'll be like before the spine has been even slightly cracked - more than slightly catty, presenting the elbowing for space nature of business as shock revelation, actual people in the acts somewhere in the background unless there's girls involved. Such is Simon Napier-Bell's schtick, but the paperbacked I'm Coming to Take You to Lunch survives through the storytelling skills Napier-Bell possesses in among the self-publicising. Subtitled A Fantastic Tale of Boys, Booze And How Wham Were Sold To China it's his opening up on how he made George and Andy the forces they briefly became and how they responded in kind up to and including that opening up of Eastern borders.