When everyone’s favorite Soledad Brother Ben Swank moved over to England what seems like ages ago, all I can remember is him bitching about how much he hated London…all the fashion victims and bullshit music and exorbitant prices, if it wasn’t for marrying a right on bird I’d question why he was even there.
But Ben’s being doing better lately. He’s introduced the Horrors to the world…a band who I’ve actually seen more photos of than music from and I’m still hesitating to first “hear” them over a broadband connection, instead hoping that their first two singles somehow magically appear in my mailbox.
So the Horrors are huge…all over the NME and playing garage music like it’s 2001 (so I’ve been told). But Ben’s also hipped me (and presumably others) to the blossoming beauty that is Fitzrovian Phonographic.
The first thing that hits you from these Fitzrovian releases is the utter delicacy and uniformity in packaging. Each single comes with some pins…usually one with the “Fitzrovian Phonographic” center label design and another specific to the artist. The front covers are all the same pen/ink interpretation of a long-locked, bearded man reaching towards the clouds with an assortment of eyeballs eyeballing him. There’s a top hat fallen off his head.
While the first two releases made good use of vellum printing, they seem to have steered away from that with their third single. Either way, these intricate bundles are all hand-numbered and limited to 250 copies.
And that’s just so damn endearing. This cannot be a money-making venture with such small production runs. A look at any of these singles and you’ll immediately recognize a labor of love. Here be my thoughts:
Benjamin Prosser and the Tap Collective – “Killing Flaw”
Benjamin Prosser – “Below the Plough”
“Killing Flaw” may be the best A-side of the year. Percussive propulsion behind the angry depressed lyrics with a non-blues slide guitar and there’s still some kind of intangible I’m missing…a bit like “Tremble…”-era Jonathan Fire-Eater? Tap Collective is the backing band and if Prosser knows what’s good he’ll keep them around, as the solo acoustic flipside is moody and dark, Cave-ish murder-ballad style that truly does work, but me wants more of the “Killing Flaw” unhinged singe.
Mr. David Viner
“Silence is Gonna Break”
“Love at First Sight Blues”
Viner has still yet to falter on record. His Hank Williams crafted storytelling with deft Fahey-like fretwork is all precisely perfect. The only thing you can fault him with is being too true to his throwback ways, but that’s being pickier than “Classical Gas.” Backing vocals on “Silence…” ties the song together in a way I’d like to see more of from Mr. David. “…Blues” is pretty down-homey in a way that you wish this 45 was a 78. In full disclosure, Viner has let me sleep in his bed before, but that’s hardly what makes this single so damned great.
The Last Town Chorus
The construction on “Caroline” is a marvel. The way certain instrumentation fades out only to slip back when you’re least expecting it keeps you guessing. A tad bit cheerier update on the Mazzy Star sound with vocals more akin to Khaela Maricich of the Blow. Would this fit in on a Lilith Tour? No. Will some other lazy journo inevitably compare it to that or Sarah McLachlan or similar turds? Yes. Why? I don’t know. Dudes will get into this somewhat while their girlfriends will (and should) totally dig it.
FITZ 004 is supposed to be a long-awaited solo release from ex-Greenhornes/Soledads Brian Olive. The stuff of his I’ve heard on CD-R has been smoking…like a New Orleans death parade with all kinds of ju-ju swirling round your head like the birdies on a Loony Tunes short. As of right now all but the Last Town Chorus record are sold out. Be sure to peep www.myspace.com/fitzrovianphonographic for all the gory details and DJ nights and future salvation.