I stand before you to urge you towards Action

On Saturday, I spent a couple of hours sampling music on the MySpace pages of acts tagged as ‘friends’ on Steve Lamacq‘s page. In that time, I found one act I liked the sound of. One! My new found enthusiasm for tarting around on MySpace was quickly extinguished. The one act I liked? Well, for a start, they’ve already split up but, on the plus side, you can download their music for free from their site.  They are The Arrogants and their music is essentially a rockier Sundays. Occasionally somebody gives them a few too many blue Smarties, but I suggest you have a listen. Go here for free audio goodness.

I finally visited Action Records in Preston yesterday. I’ve used them for mail order from time to time over the years, but I’d never previously experienced the shop. It was a delightful (and costly) experience. I’ll get my one concern out of the way immediately: For most of the time that I was in the shop, there was no music playing. That’s not right, is it? I used to have to budget extra when shopping in the now defunct Reveal Records of Derby to allow for the inevitable purchase of whatever was on the ‘now playing’ shelf. I expect to be bombarded with tunes and I don’t remotely care if they’re actually toss, just so long as they’re there. Which reminds me. The other week, whilst browsing the vinyl department of a well-known Midlands indie store, the young lad behind the counter decided that the next record we were going to hear was the current (and oh-so-very-perfect) Elbow album, ‘The Seldom Seen Kid‘. He’d been playing a dance 12″ previously and so, just as the record was starting, he flicked the speed from 45 to 331/3. Unfortunately for him, that particular album is pressed on two 45rpm discs. Plus, the opening track has a long, instrumental build-up before the vocal arrives. Hoping to communicate in the way only slightly anti-social, slightly hairy musos can, I looked across at him trying to convey my confusion about what was coming out of the speakers. At this point, he gave me a look that I can only describe as, “What, peasant? Haven’t you heard this great record?” Once Guy Garvey‘s delightful voice grace the speakers, he hurriedly (and, agonisingly, audibly) dragged the needle away from the vinyl. A few seconds later, it returned at the correct speed. As I was leaving, I looked across and he scowled at me. If you’re going to be an indie snob, know your bloody tunes. Like me, for example!

Anyway, where was I? Ah yes, Preston. Action Records is packed full of quality stock and disturbingly good prices. In particular, the new vinyl section is very reasonably priced. For example, the Johnny Flynn album, ‘A Larum’ is available as a double-vinyl, pop-up gatefold sleeve, limited edition for £20. In Action, £18. And such was the case for many other titles I could mention. There’s a huge CD sale with piles of stuff reduced (admittedly not all of it worthy of your attention). Back catalogue isn’t marked up ludicrously and it’s clear that their approach to stock control is to keep prices low on stock that isn’t shifting. Seems sensible, but so few other record shops do it. I won’t say much more other than to once again recommend their excellent mail order service which is available on their website here and to reiterate how delightful I found to be.  A rare beacon of splendour on an increasingly dour music shopping landscape.

On that note, I’ve put up a link to the ‘Coalition‘ site along with the other record shops on the right-hand side of the page. I mentioned it a few months back and how it’s meant to unite the remaining indie stores in the UK to make them stronger and to help with business. However, they’re still not involving the good folk of Norman Records (or some other indie mail order types I can think of) because they don’t have an actual shop. Surely, for something designed as a means of fighting the big companies who shut off doors to small companies, being elitist is rather anti the ethos of the Coalition? Who knows.


Quite spacious at the moment

Ok, so it’s very 2005, but I spent longer than I meant to setting up a Myspace page for the blog yesterday. I mention lots of different bands on this blog and increasingly it tends to be things that aren’t perhaps as well known as they deserve to be. To make it easy for the loyal readers of this blog to have a listen to the stuff I’m talking about, the Myspace page will try to link to as many of these bands in the ‘friends’ section, thus allowing you to listen to whatever they’ve got on their Myspace player. Simple, eh? Anyway, don’t expect it to look particularly special – that’s not the point. (Plus, I’m not entirely sure how to do that anyway) It’s there for the tunes. Little, clickable link on the top right of the site.

A few things to talk about today. First up, a single that was released, seemingly via download only (I know, the site is called Vinyl Junkies, but give me a break) today by Ryan Mullin. The track is called ‘The Splint’, on Grooveland Records. I’ve seen it described on the interweb as tech-house, whatsoever the flying fuck that means, but to me it’s just very, very good. I have a soft spot for imaginative electronic music of whatever kind. That Glow album is still wonderful, by the way. Anyhoo, ‘The Splint’ can be heard in full over the Ryan’s Myspace and there are many links to allow you to buy the track for varying prices and in varying qualities, from 192kbps MP3 up to WAV. Treat yourself.

Secondly, Robin Allender and The Allender Band. Technically two different acts, although you can probably guess what the common factor is. I defy anyone to listen to the start of ‘Green Wound’ and feel nothing. It’s not possible. That noodly little guitar thing (so, so technical, as always) is just beautiful and the way the band gradually seem to arrive in the background sets you up for a rather splendid piece of music. It’s one of the best tracks I’ve heard all year. Thankfully, it’s not a one-off. The accompanying ‘In The Grip Of Light’ EP is all of the same standard. You can also pick up Robin’s solo album from last year. There is some overlap with the material, but it’s a worthy purchase. Both CDs come in exceptionally fun card boxes with fold-down flaps and black CDs. You can order straight from the Dreamboat Records site. The less said about the name of Robin’s previous band, the better.

Here’s the original, stripped down version of ‘Green Wound’ by Robin. Full version, oddly enough, can be heard on his Myspace.

Finally, as the whole point of setting up the Myspace page is to tie together recommended tunes and to hunt out other good stuff, I should give a mention to the first act to request friendship from the mighty bastion of musical mutterings that is Vinyl Junkies. The honour goes to Derby band, Leon. Nope, I’d never heard of them either. Now, they’re not doing anything particularly original and I don’t imagine anyone’s ever heard one of their records and thought, “Christ! The future of music is here,” but they do melodic indie-rock rather well and considerably better than plenty of bands that are selling records these days. ‘Hope‘ sounds like contemplative Feeder and ‘Be There’ sounds immediately familiar – a bit like a tidied up and polished Super Furries singalong in the chorus.

Oh, and while I think of it, here’s the album cover for the quite magnificent Glow album, ‘I, Yeah!

No reason, other than the fact that it gives me another chance to point out how wonderful it is. I promise you, I’m not being bribed to mention it. Like this blog will ever be that important, anyway! Still, like I said yesterday, it’s only a fiver!

I’m hoping to tell you a little bit about Man Without Country tomorrow, but I’m waiting on some demo tracks from them. Worth the wait, I assure you.