The White Stripes' return single Icky Thump has spent the last few weeks merrily splitting the audience, which we suspect is just how Jack and Meg wanted it. Coruscatingly stratospheric guitar solos with added feedback, prog keyboard fills, time changes aplenty, a manaical vocal about being drawn in by a Mexican senorita charmer that segues into a stab at anti-immigration and Meg White drumming as only she can. Nobody else does this, and that's a very, very good thing. They've gone back to being completely, wilfully obfusticatory mad, everyone. The mixed sex dual instrument attack of Blood Red Shoes gets very lazily compared to the Stripes despite being of a completely different hue, that of superior relentless indie disco rock. Laura-Mary and Steven have gone the limited edition 7" route for best single yet It's Getting Boring By The Sea, a title surely not unconnected to their Brighton base, where it's said everyone in a band knows each other by rote. Speaking of which, Actress Hands, recent tour support for Electric Soft Parade, fronted by Matt Eaton, who was in a previous band of Eamon Hamilton's and appears on his Brakes' Give Blood album, with keyboards from British Sea Power's cornet for hire Phil Sumner, Johny Lamb of touted psych-folkers Thirty Pounds Of Bone on bass and Alex White of ESP/Brakes on guitar. We could continue, but we'll instead talk up the lilting Teenage Fanclub harmonics of Come The Summer Days. The Be Be See - teetering on the edge of bandname culpability, you have to say - describe themselves alternately as "pre punk psychotronic linear tekno drone pop from nowhere" and "psychotronic glam pop with a subliminal golf-rave element", which actually means Eno-era Roxy Music meets Pulp meets piano pop (and psychotronica, we must assume) judging by second single Disney Eyes. They share an EMI spinoff label with The Research, which makes sense. Maximo Park's less frenetic growing up period hasn't appealed to everyone but Books From Boxes proves there's songwriting heart underneath the breaks and hats. The Rumble Strips search for the re-released soul rebels on Motorcycle, Salford art-electropop duo (Blood Red Shoes template gender assignation, since you ask) The Ting Tings - again, something has to be done about band names nowadays - take time out from acting the Hill's Angels to the Benny Hill and Bob Todd of the nation's A&R men to issue limited edition 7" summer disco-funk smash That's Not My Name, MIA breaks cover with baile funk grower 12" Boyz, the Broken Family Band's run of alt-country wryness continues on 7" Love Your Man Love Your Woman, and with a new Tegan & Sara album out in America next July their UK label go and reissue the three year old Walking With A Ghost. Well done. We'll close with Gossip's Listen Up! even though the re-recorded version is rubbish and it comes backed with a cheesy house track's worth of remixes in lieu of having anything new left to use.
Is it really the case that everyone who bought Life Without Buildings' sole album Any Other City at the time went on to form a band? No, because we did and we can't play a note. Regardless, like a kind of 90s Young Marble Giants, while nobody has properly sounded like them since (or before, come to it) it certainly feels like it at times, there being an ever growing collection of bands and band members paying outward homage to the jarringly Fall-angular art-rock and Sue Tompkins' semi-manaical streams of repetitive consciousness. Ask fully paid up supporters Bloc Party, Maximo Park (Paul Smith is rarely slow to namecheck them), Los Campesinos!, Love Is All... hell, Rose Pipette once named PS Exclusive one of her favourite songs ever. Apparently the band prefer the Australian live recording Live At The Annandale Hotel to the album, and you can see why from its hyperelectric kinetic energy. It even starts with an unreleased track, Liberty Feelup, and if the rest mean nothing to you Any Other City is currently less than a fiver on Amazon. If only they'd emerged a couple of years later... Here's a link the likes of us jump at - Glen Johnson of Piano Magic is occasionally credited with discovering LWB and guitarist Robert Johnstone guested on one of their albums. Johnson's ever evolving collective have never had anything like the credit they deserve for their wry eclectic electronically enhanced post-shoegazing. Seventh album proper Part Monster, produced by Guy Fixsen (one of Loveless' billion engineers, also worked for Pixies, Stereolab, the Breeders and Throwing Muses), keeps the inventiveness quotient high, matching up guitar swells and pedal play with quiet seething and enigmatic illustrations. We wrote about the Experimental Pop Band's Tinsel Stars the other week in a similar vein, and that's properly out now. Somewhere higher up the expected sales graph Queens Of The Stone Age are the last of the heavy riffers on Era Vulgaris; the Stills were supposed to be big sellers round about the New Rock Revolution but Without Feathers seems to be crawling out unnoticed; and former Josef K frontman Paul Haig releases his first non-instrumental album in ten years, the twisting electropop of Electronik Audience.