OK, let’s get straight into it, first up, from Wales, French Alps Tiger tells all about Life. This is the band’s sixth single and comes ahead of their debut E.P., to be released digitally and on 12” vinyl in the spring of 2023. A jolly rollicking affair from French Alps Tiger who insist they are named after the elusive tiger found only in the French Alps of South Wales. Now, if you believe that, then I have a bridge to sell you. | Dog Name hail from Canberra, Australia say, I Can’t Figure It Out. A cut from their s/t LP. Love that bass and solid drumming, along with the almost laissez-faire vocals, especially on the line, “I taste the blood in my mouth!” Lovely sleeve artwork. | Here’s another one-liner, “Your face just bugs me” from I Have A Lot To Say by 7ebra the new project from 25-year-old twin sisters Inez and Ella out of Malmö, Sweden. On their double-sided single Inez plays electric guitar, Ella plays a keyboard, organ, and Mellotron – whilst also playing drum samples with her feet. A wonderful release. | Over in Leipzig, Germany, Marius Huber, Julia Boehme, and Alexander Günther present as Mellie. I Have Ideas, Too is from their album of the same name, and this is one to give a serious listen to. Smart, competent work going on here, I do like the way they use their voices and instrumentation, plus another delightful sleeve. | It would seem that Mammal Sounds sequestered at the perfect location of Bondi Beach have a potent knack for making music I cannot help from singing along to. Much to the chagrin of my producer who maintains I sound like a chorus of alley cats wailing away. The fact is, Jez and his cohorts get it right every time as is evidenced by Cherries from The Nicholas & Golden Vessel. It’s a captivating downtempo cut you can dance to (and sing along to). Perfect production, intelligent arrangement, familiar, yet original. Lovely! | While I have you moving your body around seductively, let’s hold onto that feeling with Jeff Dread and Dub The Farmer’s Daughter. This Melbourne-based producer’s doubt-sided single is on the Efficient Space imprint. Jeff name-checks Jamaican trailblazers King Tubby, Scientist, and Jack Ruby and their UK-based disciples Jah Shaka, Adrian Sherwood, and Mad Professor. Essential listening. | Over in Sheffield, Yorkshire talented producer, Oldboy clearly has a nifty and witty touch at the mixing console with Hello Who This? This one is from the top-ranking three-track EP, Ring Ring. Full marks for these last two cuts, make sure you play ‘em at volume 11 | Here is the story around the next one from Rokiah with Still Perimeter from her EP of the same title. London-based Rokiah Yaman says her EP is a varied collection of atmospheric songs written between 1990 – 2010. They were recorded over the last 5 years on Logic X with live guitar, bass, and virtual instruments. Then she adds, all proceeds from sales of the EP will go to MAD LEAP – the zero waste, environmental project Rokiah has been working on since 2012. Still Perimeter is a well-crafted combination of exotica, gentle persuasive vocals, and intriguing instrumentation. Delightful. | And then…on the first listen to the album, Problems Of Other Minds by Elizabeth Crompton I knew I had come across a remarkable collection of songs. Each cut here is beautifully realized, the poignant heart-wrenching lyrics take me to places I know only too well. As with every desperate love song I have treasured throughout the years, Elizabeth seared straight into my emotions. Listening to Problems Of Other Minds I refuse to hold back the tears while indulging in the deliciously heavy ambiance, the somber piano, her haunting voice, and the alarming, yet graceful production. Selecting, I Keep Getting Better for this show was in part because of Elizabeth Crompton’s words, “It’s definitely the most personal thing I’ve written. I want people to take from it what they take from it. But I will say that I’ve had my ups and downs, I’ve experienced some things that left me feeling broken and bruised, and this record was definitely a form of catharsis.” Interestingly the album was produced by her husband, Tim Crompton. Exceptional! | Multi-instrumentalist Damian O’Neil has a lot to say about his third solo album, An Crann which in Irish means The Tree a symbol of growth and inspiration. “If someone listened to this record without knowing anything about me, they’d probably never guess that I started life in a punk band. I unashamedly wanted to present instrumental pieces that are emotional, evocative, and personal and offer to the listener textures and layers of music that can be melodic, childlike, and even melancholic at times.” You should recognize the name, Damien O’Neil from The Undertones, That Petrol Emotion, and The Everlasting Yeah. Malin Head Imminent is the cut you’ll hear, Damian describes the song as a “Reference to memories of childhood holidays in Donegal” Visual artist Marry Waterson has directed an evocative video for the song. I’m thinking a conversation with Damien O’Neil is in order. | A wonderful email arrived the other day from musical artist and videographer, Eka who is based most of the time in Paris. Her last single, Ash impressed me so I’m thrilled to receive new music from this accomplished artist. About her new work Eka says, “It’s kind of 90s feeling” and on her website, she writes, “I don’t know why we are here, but I’m pretty sure that it is not in order to enjoy ourselves”. Eka’s sullen tone undermines her ability to make important music. From her recent EP, White Nights I selected Ghost Bird (I Think Of You) and Insomnia. Yes, I’m a fan of Eka.
Take a close look at the splendid photograph accompanying this volume. I first saw the work of Stephenson Petrie at his graduate show back in the early 90s. Since then, he has concentrated on everyday objects or scenes, mostly with food or table settings – “Butter knife and empty plate”, “Yoghurt and one blackberry”, “Marmalade with spoon”, and of course, “Strawberry jam on toast”. The rich detail captured in a deadpan shot, no effects, no tricks, or clever lighting instantly grabbed my attention. And the large format prints turn unspectacular scenes into exotic/erotic landscapes. The unnerving close-up of thick strawberry jam, plastered spontaneously on scrumptious-looking toast, surrounded by enticing crumbs could easily be transformed into a mystical, sexy boudoir. The missing bite is simply provocative.
- French Alps Tiger – Life
- Dog Name – I Can’t Figure It Out
- 7ebra – I Have A Lot To Say
- Mellie – I Have Ideas, Too
- The Nicholas & Golden Vessel – Cherries
- Jeff Dread – Dub The Farmer’s Daughter
- Oldboy – Hello Who This?
- Rokiah – Still Perimeter
- Elizabeth Crompton – I Keep Getting Better
- Damien O’Neil – Malin Head Imminen
- Eka – Ghost Bird (I Think Of You)
- Eka – Insomnia
Artwork by Stephenson Petrie “Strawberry jam on toast” 1998 44” x 46” giclée print on archival paper. Courtesy of Norman B’s collection