Archives for posts with tag: Young Marble Giants
RAOTIJ press photo

Revolutionary Army of the Infant Jesus

Goodness knows we need something beautiful and hopeful in these strange, uncertain times. Who better to shine a celestial light in the darkness than mysterious Liverpool ensemble Revolutionary Army of the Infant Jesus (or RAIJ for short). The single released ahead of their upcoming album “Songs of Yearning” is an intriguing 2 minute slice of enigmatic pop perfection called “I Carry The Sun”.

“I Carry The Sun” somehow evokes the magic spirit of Young Marble Giants and New Order using celeste, organ, acoustic guitar and a muted guitar part. Over the song’s simple but mesmerising cyclical structure and sparse instrumentation Jessie Main’s nonchalant vocal captures something utterly intangible and emotionally powerful.

RAIJ’s debut album “Gift of Tears” was released in 1987 and re-issued a few years ago. This extract from the sleeve notes by Jason Morehead from the re-issue explains the band and their music (as much as anything can): “Taking their name from Luis Bunuels’s ‘That Obscure Object of Desire’ the Army formed in Liverpool in 1985 to integrate film, imagery,and performance elements to create environments and experiences that confounded expectations and interrupted the mere consumption of music… It challenges and overwhelms as much as inspires; it can be uplifting but also ominous and foreboding…”

“Songs of Yearning” will be only their 4th album in 33 years. RAIJ may not be best known for sublime pop singles, however it is not the first such perfect song to grace an album – try “Après le temps” from their previous (2015) album “beauty will save the world”.


Radisson Blue 2019In 2015 two white cranes from Bristol released an album called “Radisson Blue”. I bought the CD at the time and was playing it tonight, wondering if songwriter, guitarist and singer Roxy Brennan had released anything since then. Sure enough the two white cranes Bandcamp page has a 2017 collection of songs called “conway court” and the description “Indie pop folk guitar project that existed between 2012 and 2017 in oxford/bristol/brighton” which appeared to indicate the termination of two white cranes.  However there was also a link on the page to Radisson Blue and two releases under that name. The most recent of these is called “three” and was only released 10 days ago. Here’s the opening track “rhizome”:

As they were with two white cranes, Brennan’s songs as Radisson Blue are perfect pop miniatures. These are minimalist songs, guitars strummed in the style of Young Marble Giants (particularly on the sublime “whitby”, part of this collection of three songs), with the distinctive voice(s) of Roxy Brennan conveying lyrics that are both specific (and poetic) observations of everyday existence and also deep reflections on life and the nature of everything.

“tempt small birds to the balcony / play guitar while looking out to sea / hope you’re somewhere listening out for me/ its so rhizomic when you write it down/ you were living in this sea side town / i’m still living in this sea side town”

Brennan says “rhizome” is about “deluze & guattari’s ideas about rhizomes“.

Their ideas – the rhizome theory – is that in nature the rhizome is a much more complex thing than a tree, and has no evident origin or end. It develops in multi-directional vectors which interweave in plateaus and show no sign of termination. Everything is connected. “Their vision of the rhizome predicts and explains the boom of the social networks.”

It is said that their work has potential to describe the String Theory of Quantum Physics. But my needs are simpler and I’m just happy it describes the multi-directional vectors interweaving between artist pages on Bandcamp that allow new discoveries to be made. Like discovering today how Radisson Blue developed from two white cranes after playing a two white cranes CD and wondering, and then searching (listening out) for more…


Strathcona BandcampEveryone likes a mystery, right? Well here’s something mysterious and new from Dunedin. All we have is a song called “Seams” on Bandcamp and the band/ performer name strathcona pl.

An EP is promised in the future. Adding to the intrigue is that “Seams” is so good it draws you back to listen again and again to try to find clues in the DNA of the music because music can’t exist in a vacuum, it must come packaged with information – knowledge about its creator.

“Everything and everyone’s falling apart” observes the chorus over and over again before adding “in my dreams” and you really want to write down all the lyrics to try to decipher meaning from them but you also know this this would break the spell of only half-hearing these anxiety dream lines.  So, let’s instead focus on the music, because it’s a little unusual and just a bit intriguing, not sounding much like anything we’ve heard around the streets of this town recently.

The minimal-yet-complex interwoven guitar/ bass/ drum sound, staccato chop of the guitar and bass and the hushed vocals here remind me of Young Marble Giants.   But there’s other interesting undertones throughout which offer even more intriguing Post-Punk influences or perhaps just coincidences. The guitar playing and chord changes – those descending lines at the end of the chorus in particular – seem to carry a faint sonic smudge of a track off an early Cure album perhaps (circa “A Forest”).

So it’s a little bit folk, a little bit Gothic, some Post-Punk DIY or maybe even New Wave. And as much as it may carry these early 1980s UK echoes, it also hints at the folk-rock intimacy of The Spinanes (on Seattle label Sub-Pop’s 1990s roster) or the more DIY folk/ punk attitudes of artists on nearby K Records ‘International Pop Underground’ at the same time. So it’s all these things and yet, because it’s from Dunedin in 2017, it’s none of these things.

Finally, a search of Wikipedia helpfully informs us that Strathcona is an invented name from the 19th century, a way of referencing Glen Coe (Glencoe) in Scotland in a way that avoided any word-association with “massacre” and used by its creator as a place name across Canada. The ‘pl’ suffix could be an abbreviation of place, or Public Library.

So now we know everything, and yet we still know nothing at all.





It’s not often I can say these days ‘here’s a great band I discovered through a print fanzine!’ But I can say that for HOUSEHOLD, thanks to the wonderful new (Issue #1 out now) music ‘zine Dynamite Hemorrhage. Here’s the latest from New York 3-piece HOUSEHOLD, a concise and near-perfect 6 song mini-album ‘Elaines’ released last December. If you are quick you may still get the 12″ vinyl from their label Dull Knife.

The first thing that comes to mind for me is the elegant undemonstrative post-punk pop minimalism of Young Marble Giants and also sometimes The Raincoats or Wire. I have long wondered why Young Marble Giants’ distinctive stripping of music to the simple core elements was never really emulated by anyone else. Perhaps it was too hard to create something as arresting as their landmark album ‘Collossal Youth’ without just copying the template?

HOUSEHOLD are from a different country and a different generation to Young Marble Giants, The Raincoats and Wire. Talya Cooper (guitar/vocals) & Isabel Freeman (bass), joined here for this recording by Nick Millhiser (drums), haven’t copied any template on ‘Elaines’, just done what the best young bands do by making their music instinctively out of a collection of imperfect memories of music, assembled and presented in the way their skill, circumstances, tastes and attitude permits.

As Mark Twain observed “substantially all ideas are second-hand, consciously and unconsciously drawn from a million outside sources“.

[Footnote 1 May 2014: Re-reading this post it looks as if I am a bit dismissive of HOUSEHOLD. I’m not. I love their music and rate their distinctive re-organising of partly-familiar ideas to be as compelling and original as the music preceding them. The purpose of adding the Mark Twain quote was as a counter to the usual kind of dismissal given to music made today that it has ‘all been done before’. Of course it has, if you view it narrowly. That doesn’t mean it can’t be re-explored and re-interpreted by others and new generations. That is the nature of art & human expression; continually processing the past through the filter of our own experiences and lives and creating new layers on, and ideas from, what went before. Or, occasionally, veering off on unmapped paths and tangents from what was familiar. The danger territory for me is only where influence and re-interpretation is merely pastiche; recreating a contemporary facsimile of the original. This is not that.]

Misfit Mod

Here’s day 13 of the challenge to find and share some New Zealand music every day of May – NZ Music Month.

Today’s offering is a single from an expat Christchurch synth/ vocal artist Misfit Mod (Sarah Kelleher) now based in London. I’m a sucker for 7” singles and this song is minimalist pop perfection so it’s on the way. There is something in this song that reminds me of Young Marble Giants . Perhaps it’s the pop simplicity, open spaces and gentle pulse of the rhythms, and the way the intimate yet detached voice floats above.

There are many equally brilliant tracks on the album ‘Islands & Islands’ that the single ‘Sugar C.’ comes from – check the eerie, icy soundscape dislocation of ‘Ghost Me’ for another side of Misfit Mod.

The album is a winning combination of approachable current/ future electronic pop, executed with skill and restraint, and the solemn art and poise of the kind of dark New Wave electronic music that featured in the early years of the Mute label.

If you are not yet convinced download this free song ‘Valleys. It’s a fuller, more accessible dream-pop song and also utterly perfect.