|Reviews of Sarandon's Age Of Reason|
I wanted to review Sarandon's new LP Sarandon’s Age of Reason but feared I would not be able to hurdle the Anglophile heights. I mean, really—this band's new album came with the nearly simultaneous release of a special Age of Reason beer from Revolutions Brewing Company (http://www.revolutionsbrewing.co.uk/#/buy-beer/4544904169). But here goes; I will have a pint and try.
Sarandon’s Age of Reason is the agit-prop, underground version of a concept album. Short, sharp songs from the band alternate with and illuminate the ruminations of Big Trev, a man thoroughly disillusioned with the world yet harboring a secret wish to be accepted by it. The band's songs in response to Trev's rants match the big man's complaints with commentary, encouragement, and in some cases, gentle ribs. So when Trev talks about the discouragement of the discothèque, the band answers with "Do the Dance," a song that seems to further disparage the concept by reminding Trev that this is the "dance of death." Trev's path seems doomed, and when he laments that his name will go unremembered by history the band responds with "Dinosaur."
However, the story changes when Trev meets a girl and falls in love. Out of this comes the album's best track, "Piglet," which revels in the joys of being liked, an experience they call "a tonic for the wind and rain." Not sure I trust them as to whether this is love or a mocking of love, but a more infectious song is impossible to imagine. Trev, cured of his doldrums, in love, finds fame and acceptance. Sarandon offers some hope, but it is a guarded hope at best. As even Trev says, all you have to do is sign away your life and use your real name. Put yourself out there and stop pretending. Is this a swipe at all those poseurs? By the end of the album Trev is the life of the party, the man everyone wants to see. There is a lesson here, perhaps to accept oneself, but I refuse to look too deeply (lest this turn into a Genesis album).
Sarandon was formed in 2003 by guitarist Crayola, otherwise known as Simon Williams. Williams was a member of the underground scene in the UK in the ‘80s. The band’s official lineup is rounded out with Alan Brown (bass) and Tom Greenhalgh (drums), but Sarandon thrives on a diverse group of guest players. This fluid nature brings the band a varied and lively sound, yet their music always sounds like Sarandon—lightning fast guitars and machine-gun lyrics. They are somewhat like Gang of Four at 78 RPM. This makes for albums that are brisk but filling. I was a big fan of their second full length, Kill Twee Pop, which came out in 2008 (their first being the amazingly ambitious Completist's Diary in 2006). Speaking of old punks, Big Trev is voiced by The Shend, a former member of the ‘80s underground movement and most famously from The Cravats, who has gone on to a career in TV and movies. He perfectly personifies that middle-aged spread (physically and metaphorically) that the band is trying to capture on this album.
Sarandon’s Age of Reason is an enjoyable romp, though Big Trev's transformation is rather abrupt on so short an album. But that’s how life is sometimes. Besides, we need to practice more acceptance so we can all, as Big Trev says, become “POP-u-LAR.”
- Playback STL
The last of the Death To Trad Rock bands, Sarandon are the survivors of the discordant mid eighties UK scene that stretched post punk out to its logical conclusion.
A logical conclusion that sees this release being about Big Trev ‘a man frustrated by his lot’. It’s a bit like the Kinks but with guitars played like machine guns- or a Play For Today with a brilliant soundtrack with the shrapnel guitars defeating the rain of the everyday.
Big Trev maybe frustrated by his dour lot but Sarandon are anything but dour and their incendiary album is a quite brilliant piece of stripped down high IQ intelligence that is what pop music or at least alternative music should really sound like.
You want that shrapnel guitar, twanging bass and fractured drum beats with obtuse lyrics that combine surrealism with social commentary then you got them all here. Featuring Alan Brown from Big Flame on bass – the band even have one of the key players in the original scene in their line up.
They also have the Shend from the Cravats (Other guests on the album include Robert Lloyd (The Nightingales) and Rhodri Marsden (Scritti Politti) reading out a world weary story of modern life between the tracks in his best John Peel voice. It makes the whole experience uncannily like listening to the much missed Peel show in the late eighties- those sonorous tones somehow fitting perfectly with the high octane treble overload of the music.
Produced by Collapsed Lung’s Anthony Chapman (busy knob fiddler on top form here who has also worked with Collapsed Lung, Bis, Klaxxons, Ten Benson)
Like many of the later bands on the Death To Trad Rock frontline Sarandon have polished the form taking it to a jazzcore peak- dissonance and frantic energy combine in away that Badgwearer or Dawson were playing with in the great Glasgow scene that book ended the initial pre C86 explosion of pop noise war in the late eighties.
There are time changes and obtuse riffs that would make Captain Beefheart, circa ‘Lick My Decals’ album glow with an insane pride and the same sort of clattering rhythm section that was a hallmark of the scene of bands like the great Bogshed.
As one of the founding fathers of this high octane., life affirming racket when I was in the Membranes it makes me glow with a strange pride that the music is in such good hands in the 21st century. Sarandon are more than lonely flag bearers of the form, they have reinvented it for new century and this album is a fantastic reminder of the potent power of this kind of music that had oddly not dated atall.
Fuck me there are even some moments of pure pop on here with ‘Piglet’ that I demand they release as a single because it may just sneak in under the closed world of alternative radio and get itself some much deserved play.
Anyone who ever fell in love with the vicious high treble dream then I urge you to investigate Sarandon. Now.
- Louder Than War
Sarandon: a great, weird band releasing a weird album. A concept album in which Big Trev, a cockney man not sure of his place in life, vents his frustrations, complains & generally grumbles humorously in between nearly every track, which act as an intro to each song (see batched tracks on list). So really there are only 8 songs on here, more or less. This is angular & punky, yet not fuzzy & distorted, like early Wire, Devo & The Fall, & even The Minutemen & Captain Beefheart at times. Weird, spazzy, fun stuff, despite Big Trev’s grumbling. This is their 2nd or 3rd album (their 1st was really a comp of old 7”s & eps). Good stuff, this. Quite unlike the regular fuzz n’ pop crowd on Slumberland, which is a refreshing change indeed.
- KPCS Music
Opening with the ramshackle yet skankable clatter of Theme From The Age of Reason before turning into burbling, spoken word murmurings. There’s an enjoyably disparate style that’s both winningly abstract and humourous.
Big Trev the first tune to hang around is a spiky, scruffy indie-pop number like The Bluetones coveringThe Hives or vice versa. It’s after this track that we return to the grumpy monologue of earlier, slipping in and out like running between a mid-90s gig and a Stephen Berkoff play. This performance recurs across the entire LP giving it some sort of peculiar structure, as if we’re floating from the thoughts rattling away in our narrator’s head and then back out into the hectic insanity of the world around him.
Mustn’t Grumble begins like a very earlier outtake of trying to figure out what Los Campesinos!‘s You, Me, Dancing! might sound like before collapsing into a slobbery swagger with hastily spluttered lyrics about, as the liner notes aptly puts it, ‘acquaintances who can be bothersome’. Meanwhile the double-bill of Perky I & II has a really tasty White Lines-style bass line in its second half, whilst the sweet female vocals that pop up recall Beck‘s Beercan.
It’s followed by some ranting about the state of expensive bars, followed ironically by a track called Do The Dance that under other circumstances would perhaps be emblazoned with neon lights saying ‘The Single’. It has a sound like the clatter of horse hooves running through it and dry lyrics that unenthusiastically (intentionally) urge the listener to ‘Do the dance they dance at death.’
When the wah-wah accordian begins to announce the next lump of narration it feels somewhat laboured rather than part of an ever more apparent whole, though it does feature the best line on the record so far; ‘Have I made even a little tiny nick in existence? I mean, well, what mark have I actually left, well, I suppose my name’s in the list of all the people who use the library.’
Afterwards wry indie-pop track Dinosaur sung with a near-Toploader twang proves to the album’s weakest moment, a jazzy cacophony that is a somewhat lifeless assault of noise lacking a strong lyrical or melodic hook like the earlier tracks; though the bass line is nice and chunky. Following along after yet more narration is Piglet, dippily sweet with its ever repeated refrain of ‘I like you, I like you I do.’ Though the inclusion of the baby noises is somewhat unnerving! But then again aside from David Bowie‘s Magic Dance I can’t think of a track with baby noises in that actually works.
It’s around this point that the inclusion of the narration becomes really baffling, kind of like Outkast‘s obsession with including skits between songs, it just doesn’t always seem necessary to punctuate every track with these pieces of narrative that feel at times detrimental to the preceding or ensuing song. For example, Mackenzie is initially a musical punchline to the narration, and it zips by so fast that once you’re willing to give it the time of day (it’s kind of like a hi-speed Dodgy skiffle) the next bit of dialogue has started up and the way it heralds the album’s title track feels so similar to previous introductions that you’re not really sure which is the main thrust of the record. It’s almost like listening to two albums at once, playing one track off of the first, then one track off the other and so on.
Maybe I’m missing the point of the narration, but if it was as nestled into the journey of the songs as well as say Prince‘s The Rainbow Children then it would act as a complement to the music and vice versa, you’d welcome the progression of both pieces, but here they just feel so disparate that they end up rubbing one another up the wrong way. The penultimate title track is a lively conclusion with the band seemingly singing about themselves collectively in the third person!? A self-deprecating punky number before a crackling and jaunty re-tread called Return to the Theme from The Age of Reason played on piano, that almost seems to emphasise the somewhat befuddled tongue-in-cheek flavour of this record.
Sarandon are clearly a band having a lot of fun, their songs are quick dizzy rushes, but the record as a whole is uncertain and unsteady, like the drunkard who provides a bit of guest narration on track 13, it’s peppered with enjoyable moments but there’s a push and pull with how the record is organised that sometimes gives the listener a harsh slap in the chops just as they’re beginning to get comfy. Inconsistent, yes, but, at least always interesting.
- God Is In The TV
Given their strictly structured musical approach and habit of announcing their intentions in their album titles, Sarandon are the sort of band who seemed destined to make a concept album, even if they lack the studied seriousness that usually goes along with such endeavors. So it should come as no great surprise that the band's third album, Sarandon'sAge of Reason, is indeed a concept project, though the overriding theme is pretty flimsy -- the songs reflect the thoughts and ideals of a schlubby-sounding regular guy who pops up between songs to mutter about rare days when things go right, the glories of friendship, his disgust with overpriced pubs, how fashion ignores stocky guys, and that glorious day he brought cheese to school. The subtle comedy of the spoken passages stands in stark contrast to the actual music, in which Sarandon sound as edgy, frantic, and curiously precise as ever, with bassist Alan Brown and drummer Tom Greenhalgh holding the songs together with a rhythmic assault that could seemingly fly apart in a moment's notice while guitarist Crayola (aka Simon Williams) lays sharp, flailing chords over the top. Sarandon's gift is that they play music that seems to be exploding in a dozen directions at once on the surface, but careful examination reveals it was crafted with much careful thought and the bits fit together with the craftsmanship of a pocket watch. On Age of Reason, Sarandon split the difference between Wire, Primus, and Captain Beefheart, add a portion of lyrical absurdity in the grand tradition of British comedy, and end up with an album that's somehow endearing and witty no matter how hard these guys try to make the music off-putting; for all the sharp angles, Age of Reason doesn't stab so much as it nudges, and this aural poke in the ribs is pretty entertaining if you're up for it.
Sprightly and spastic, cute n’ quirky, this charming outburst from UK’s Sarandon is a perky bundle o’ joy. Not a band to get bogged down in the weighty issues of the day, these guys play fun songs, when they feel like it, because it’s fun. A fine philosophy.
I must confess to not having heard Sarandon before so when ‘Age of Reason’ landed on my doorstep it was with interest that I read in the press release that the recording before me was a concept album about a character called Big Trev who’s not necessarily happy with his lot. Yes, an indie concept album – run for the hills!
Only joking, come back! This is actually rather good! The album takes the form of a narrative from protagonist Big Trev interlaced with songs. Trev is a pragmatic chap who knows he could have done better in his life and had more, but equally knows that it’s his own failings that stopped him. With a gruff cigarette laced voice (think Arthur Smith) there’s signs of bitterness as he sarcastically refers to boys in a nightclub chatting up the girls with their lovely clothes, ‘I can’t wear lovely clothes because I’m too big, they don’t make clothes like that in my size’ he grumbles. Sounding like he’s telling his story from a bar, Trev’s words seem to get more slurred as the record progresses. Musically ‘The Age Of Reason’ is loaded with clever but awkward songs featuring guitars and drums that crash, bang , clatter and gallop as lyrics are more chanted than sung. Thought the songs are as entertaining as the narrative, I’m not entirely convinced the two compliment each other , though as with the songs Trev’s life has a feeling of disorder; ‘you know those times…everything’s perfect, it happens so rarely that when it doesn’t you can’t believe it’s actually happening to you’.
The Age Of Reason’ is a fascinating album that, perhaps surprisingly, not only stands up to repeated listens but seems to deliver something new every time you listen to it. I love this album, it’s unusual, smart and brave, but we’ll leave the last word to Big Trev – ‘I try to go through life and not actually cause people grief’, what a guy! 8/10
- Punk Rock Ist Nicht Tot
Indie concept albums? The two ideas sound irreconcilable but this actually works pretty well thanks to some sharp songwriting, some great narration by the legendary Shend (of Very Things fame) and the sort of jerky pop moves that a body makes when being resuscitated with a paramedic’s defibrillation paddles. Sarandon formed in 2003 but their roots date back to the 80s (band members were previously in Big Flame and the Colgates), in a scene spawned by the side of the C86 cassette that was all fast and spiky arrhythmic pop, and there’s plenty of that here.
In between Big Trev’s tale of his journey from zero to some form of hero (weirdly, he sounds just like John Peel’s old producer John Walters), there are songs – frenzied, clattering pop songs. But this isn’t opera: Big Trev’s narrative acts as a breather between the rhythmic mayhem of the songs and reinforces the mood. Written by The Shend himself, these tales are occasionally sad but usually blackly funny (“they don’t make clothes like that in my size”) and leave you agreeing with the band on the chorus of ‘Big Trev’: “we like Big Trev!” Meanwhile the music provides its own commentary, from the zig-zag wanderings of ‘Perky’ to the angular urgency of ‘Mustn’t Grumble’ and ‘Dinosaur’s almost funky, bass-propelled onslaught. In an era of downloading this lends itself more to hearing as a piece, but the football chant rhythms of ‘Piglet’ stand out, the optimistic atmosphere reflected in the superspeed indiepop.
It takes a couple of listens to adjust to the excitable rhythms and clanging guitars, and to fully understand the relationship between Big Trev and the songs around him, but once you do, it’s a huge buzz of quintessentially English pop that makes our small hero into a big deal.
- Sounds XP
Three years after the provocatively/appropriately titled LP Kill twee pop Sarandon are back with their new full lenght Age of reason, on Slumberland and Odd Box Records. It's a concept album, even. Yes, really. It made me frown a bit when I read that, but it's good. The 33 minute story is about Big Trev, a man unhappy with his achievements in life and determined to now make a change. The album consists of some tracks where the story is narrated, and then the actual songs of course. I appreciate the effort of the story, but for me it's mainly about the music. And that's good. Really pretty good.
I've always loved Alan's running bass, Crayola's adrenaline-driven hooky guitars and Tom's high energy slaps all over his drums. Those are all back again, but even more sophisticated, as far as music this punk gets sophisticated. If you like your music with a sharp edge and want your music to be for the heart, for the ears and even for the feet, you may not find many better albums to please you as much as this one right now.
- All That Ever Mattered
Sarandon might be the last of the truly wayward agit-noise-indie bands, collapsible DIY spiritual flame holders from mid-80s antiheroes Bogshed, the Membranes and bIG fLAME, one of the latter's original number now being in this band. They've recorded with the June Brides' Phil Wilson and their last album was called Kill Twee Pop! (exclamation mark a necessity, one feels) Their new album is called Sarandon's Age Of Reason, co-issued by Odd Box and US indiepop giant Slumberland (POBPAH, Crystal Stilts), and is a concept album about the titular Big Trev which features guest appearances by the Nightingales' Robert Lloyd and bedroom cassette label legend The Shend. A cask and bottled beer has been brewed in its honour. The advance taster? Scratchy razorwire guitars, pothole strewn rhythms, something approximating the right notes, all good things.
- Sweeping The Nation
Brilliant post-punk pop that pays homage to the best of 80s UK DIY. Short, angular tunes that combine the brusque drive of Big Flame and Bogshed with the spiky melodicism of June Brides and Josef K. "Sarandon’s Age Of Reason" tells the story of Big Trev, a man frustrated with his lot and determined to change his life, and is Sarandon's finest, most focussed record yet.
Turns out I’ve not done enough reviews yet this week so I’m the lucky sucker who gets to review the Sarandon LP. I believe I’ve come into contact with these lads before and as I recall they create agitated post-punk with a hint of brit-pop tweeness. ‘Saradon’s Age Of Reason’ sees the lads tackling the tricky terrain of the concept album. This one comes complete with in between track narration from The Shend (The Cravats, The Very Things) who regales us with wisened and miserable commentary on modern life. He sounds like pissed up Alan Moore basically. It appears to be an everyman tale of modern British life but I’ve not got the time to listen to and decipher the entire concept. Musically the group are at their strongest with a growing sense of maturity becoming apparent with each new release. Primarily Sarandon deal in angular rock centred around precise top-heavy guitars and vocals ably backed by a solid rhythm section capable of generating all sorts of dynamic shapes.
For some reason the whole concept angle reminds me of the british quirk of the first few Genesis albums with a hint of Blur’s ‘Parklife’ but musically it’s more like Gang Of Four playing the hits of the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band with the added angst of Chips For Poor. They’re at their best on tracks like ‘Mustn’t Grumble’ and ‘Perky I & II’ where their angular post-punk and cheeky lyrical phrasing brings to mind the genius of post-hardcore stuff like Joeyfat. It’s a strange record to make in 2011 but I’m sure it’ll be appreciated by many. 4/5
- Norman Records
Sarandon’s new album, Sarandon’s Age of Reason, is due out later this month on Odd Box (in the UK) and Slumberland (in the US.) A striking arrangement of wiry, agressive pop and spoken word pieces, Sarandon’s Age of Reason is a concept album about a frustrated everyman determined to make a change in his life. Big Trev, the album’s narrator, voiced by The Shend, speaks to the listener through a series of vignettes, laying out his plan. The Shend’s voice, coupled with the eerie carnivalesque sounds that score his spoken word pieces, gives the album a sinister undercurrent that builds in time with Trev’s growing dissatisfaction.
Musically, I’m struck by just how much some of the songs on Sarandon’s Age of Reason remind me of Minutemen’s jittery, dissonant California hardcore. Songs like “Feeling Happier” and “Do the Dance” wouldn’t feel too out of place on an album like Double Nickles on the Dime. Like Minutmen, Sarandon is a trio whose music is sonically aggressive (yet undeniably hooky), lyrically and conceptually sophisticated, and carried by strong, inventive basslines.
For me, an album like Sarandon’s Age of Reason is a strong reminder of how diverse indie pop is as a genre. Labels like Odd Box continue to release albums that challenge and reward listeners by pushing pop boundaries. Sarandon’s latest works both within and around pop conventions to score an unsettling story that stays with you long after the album’s last song has finished.
You can stream the track “Big Trev” and pre-order the album from Odd Box here (pre-order is not yet up, but will be soon.) The album will be available on CD, LP (colored vinyl), and as a digital download. Slumberland and Odd Box will each be using different artwork for the album sleeve. Revolutions Brewing Co. in West Yorkshire will be releasing a limited edition Age of Reason microbrew to accompany the album’s release. You can read more about Sarandon on their official site.
- Side Ponytail
March 29 street date. Before the usual description, I just want to state that I like this record. A lot. I don't say that very often. So there. Now back to our regular programming. SARANDON returns to the fray with nothing other than a concept album. 'Age Of Reason' tells the story of Big Trev, a man frustrated with his lot and determined to change his life. The album is narrated (beautifully!) by The Shend (of The Cravats and The Very Things) who plays the voice of the story's hero. Produced by the inimitable Anthony Chapman (Collapsed Lung, Bis, Klaxxons, Ten Benson), the album is a more mature take on the angular agit-pop of their previous outings (kind of a cross of Buzzcocks and Gang Of Four). The cheese-wire treble of the guitars remains, the bass thuds and booms and the drums clatter at light speed, but the songs contained in Sarandon's 'Age Of Reason' are more carefully crafted and arranged. There are songs to make you shout and songs to make you sing. There are even songs to make you dance. Vinyl includes a digital download coupon. Please buy this. Restore my faith in humanity.
- FAB Distribution
Thing of the Day today is the new album that is Sarandon’s story of Big Trev, and their frantic agit pop that more than deserves to feature on the roll call…
One of those frantic records, all scratchy guitar in an angular hurry to get somewhere in a bluster of urgency. All scratchy and poppy (in a very unpoppy kind of way) and standing up like The Fall but they could fall off at anytime. Short songs, short and sharp and full of all the dreams and aspirations that eventually get knocked out, like they have for Trev here - for this is the story of Big Trev (with narrated bits linking the songs together, narrated by The Shend, he of The Cravats). And it it worth mentioning the sound of The Cravats here, that and the recent notions of what some were calling Wrong Pop. Yes, Wrong Pop is a better description, not unpoppy, just wrong pop, and wrong pop, as you know, is very right…
Cheese-wire treble of a guitar sound, angular agit-rock and rhythm section frantically clunking along as they declare that they rather like Big Trev. Big Trev mustn’t grumble even though things wind him up, mobile phones when you’re going to the toilet or about to eat and people calling for no reason and buses turning up on time and on the rare occasion it does happen you can’t believe that it actually happened to you. There go Sarandon, stopping and starting and shambling away like urgent buses staying on time in the busy traffic. Do the dance, the dance, the dance of death… all art brutal and in a hurry and Trev’s name is in the list of names of people who use the library, but he probably won’t feature on the roll call of people on earth who were actually of importance, when the time comes for that roll call to be called and things come to an end on this planet – “there you go, I am nothing” declares Big Trev. Sarandon can get funky, funky in a post-punk agit pop scratchy guitar kind of way, sometimes the story gets quite moving, and they are catchy and tunes going somewhere and not just strings of consciousness. They’re going to be popular, popular since the first time they… alright then, maybe not popular household names or on the tips of the tongues of anyone other than those of us who still miss John Peel.
We do like this urgent rushing about, tunes going to all corners at once, and we’re all gonna get what we want… holidays in places other than Spain, just follow Trev’s directions to the letter, nail hit firmly and squarely on the head, sign on the dotted line, initial it there, don’t ask questions, this is a serious album now…
“They wanted to make exciting, snappy, itchy, uncontrollable pop music and so they do”, so says their biog. Their biography is right, they do, if you really need to find who this classic English post-punk new-wave no-wave wrong pop band, I could tell you more but any fool can regurgitate an on-line biog and quickly ‘remember’ to namedrop Bogshed and the Crayola connection or Big Flame, but you can hit the link and explore for yourselves of course - they’re worth it, this is memorably good..
- The Organ
|Reviews of Spike Milligan's Tape Recorder|
There was a time (it was 1984) when every other indie single sounded as crashingly inventive, chaotic and irresistible as the Membranes' "Spike Milligan's Tape Recorder". Hard to imagine now, but everywhere you looked there was a future Ron Johnson band striking up gangly chords and frenetically annoying the neighbours - as Rhodri Marsden once said (to us!), "you should be able to bottle that feeling that you got, the excitement of a new Big Flame record when you were about 16...".A quarter of a century on, bite-sized anti-twee angular post-post-punkers Sarandon pay tribute to every such single, as well as to the Membranes, by coupling their 2009 versh of "SMTR" with the original on a Slumberland 7" replete with Vinyl Drip (erstwhile Membranes/Bogshed label)-referencing sleeve. They do this despite the certain knowledge that it is not possible to improve on the Membranes' shrieking, Fall-happy, still mastered-from-vinyl original: a truly magnanimous act of evangelism. Sarandon's take is still (as you can see) in the top fifty singles released this year: from the opening Gedge / Salowka-speed strums, it refashions the original as a shorter, blunter, neater, ride, clanging with a need for speed.
- In Love With These Times In Spite Of These Times
Truly some of the freshest and funniest indie angst-y rock happening right now is coming from an odd little band out of the UK called Sarandon. Named after the actress? Due to unsettled memories of her quivering voice and half undressed body in the Rocky Horror Picture Show? One can only speculate. But listen, do, to their ferocious rendering of The Membranes‘ post punk classic (yes dears, there is such a thing now), “Spike Milligan’s Tape Recorder.” This is, I’m afraid, about as hip as you can possibly get with guitars and drums in 2009. Repeated listens may cause spontaneous ironic mustaches. What’s the drummer eating for breakfast, I wonder? Excellent track. - SUPERFAN
Putting two versions of the same song on a 7” is the way Slumberland have chosen to mark the release of John Robb’s Death To Trad Rock book, and it’s a good lead in. Producing a spiky piece of lo fi agit pop is how Sarandon take on the old Membranes song. It evokes early rattly Wedding Present with its hundred mile an hour guitar and shonky effervescence. The Membranes version out strips this, mainly down to the freaky, psychobilly howl of the vocals. The tune buzzes with menace, backing up the murky psychosis present. The old guys win, by a knockout. - russell's music reviews
Flash back... England, 1984 A dark and ghostly land littered with the bodies of Thatcher's unwanted The stench was bad and the view was bleak Out of the gloom came a thunderous cacophony The Blackpool Tower shook to its foundations Could this be the Devil's own band? Spike Milligan's Tape Recorder The sound of dissent, the sound of agrievement, the sound of fun The sound of The Membranes Unsung heroes of the Post-Punk North John Robb, Mark Tilton, and Coofy Sid A trio of badass post-punkers who made one hell of a beautiful racket Forward to... England, 2009 A dark and ghostly land littered with the bodies of Brown's unneeded The stench is bad and the view is bleak Out of the gloom comes a thunderous cacophony Canary Wharf shakes to its foundations Has the Devil returned with a brand new band? Spike Milligan's Tape Recorder The sound of dissent, the sound of agrievement, the sound of fun The sound of Sarandon Unsung heroes of the Post-Post-Post-Everything Tom Greenhalgh, Alan Brown, Crayola A trio of badass post-everythings who make one hell of a beautiful racket Slumberland Records presents Spike Milligan's Tape Recorder to those who want to feel the history then and the history now. - midheaven
In 1984, post-punk heroes, The Membranes, recorded a raucous ode to chaos, “Spike Milligan’s Tape Recorder.” Fifteen years later, destruction-bent prodigies, Sarandon, decide to cover the classic, adding a tighter, more cohesive sound – but keeping the crashing cacophony in tact. This seems like an unlikely release for Slumberland, but there’s something oddly lovable about both bands’ circa-1980 delinquent attitude. Should you decide to trade in your cardigan for a safety-pinned leather jacket, this 7” would be the perfect soundtrack to such an identity crisis. - we heart music
|Reviews of Other People's Records|
Sarandon frontman Crayola has made an important discovery: the vast majority of music being written, recorded and purchased right now is of rather under whelming quality. Luckily for us, rather than just accepting the status quo, he and his bandmates have channelled their disillusionment into a rather catchy slice of 2 minute spiky guitar pop aceness. Hooray! - MAPS
Boot tapping wig flipping brilliance from the greatest under achievers currently pulling faces and screwing up people’s record listening tastes. Sarandon are past masters at being - well brilliant, both responsible for perfecting the art of producing skewed lost masters as well as equally proving their unequalled adeptness at their wilful disregard for playing the pop game, for the last few years they’ve busied themselves in sublime ad hoc fashion occasionally unleashing the odd indie nugget or two. ’other people’s records’ is an EP boasting three more day-glo ditties from the demented desk of the Sarandon gang and marks the debut release for the newly augmented Little Car imprint. Featuring guest vocals from the Pocketbooks Emma Hall ’for the now’ is a crippled pop gem hoodwinked straight out of the arse pocket of the TV Personalities, all at once dislocated and damaged and nailed onto a harmony laced skewiff canvas this slice of vibrantly wired pop is jiggered and jarred by a deliciously schizo stop start dynamics and best filed we feel somewhere near those essential Beatnik Filmstars and Magoo types. Flip the disc for ’other people’s records’ - the title track no less - to these ears sounding like some face slapping echo from the vibrantly volatile late 70’s punk / new wave scene, this beauty blisters and broods between momentary flashes of stinging agitation and an ever so brief though ear lobe stealing shudder of wiring cacophony. That said we’re more than fond of the parting ’vertical slum’ - an old Swell Maps cover done as a tribute of sorts to the late Epic Soundtracks, a brazen and blistered slab of snot nosed agit pop that to these ears sounds not unlike Spizz Energy lamping several shades out of Jilted John with the Blockheads refereeing the melee. Absolutely essential.
- Losing Today
Jerky, angular pop music that most refreshingly doesn’t sound like Oxes, American Football, Foals or any other band that everybody still mystifyingly wants to sound like. Sarandon have more of a grip on their history than that, and sound like they’re just enjoying themselves rather than worrying about their haircuts/tuning/tapping technique/etc. Why, it’s every bit the combination of mid-period Beatnik Filmstars and Big Flame. And if you know what that means, you’ll know whether you’ll like it or not…
Sarandon released their latest slab of 7″ vinyl on Christmas day (via new label Little Car Records). It’s another cracking piece of pop music. The ‘A’ side ‘Searching For The Now’ is typical Sarandon with added chorus singing from Emma Pocketbook which gives it a distinctly 60s feel - all of this is punctuated by the jerky rhythms that have made Sarandon pretty much essential listening for anyone with an indiepop bone in their bodies these past few years.
‘Other People’s Records’ confusingly kicks off the B side and it’s another gem that tells the tale of bewilderment as other people’s records sell so well, while Sarandon’s records seem to not have this magic power. I am with Sarandon on this. The band are criminally under-rated and if there was any justice they’d be selling a lot more records and all that gubbins. As it is, they’re a beautiful little secret that is worth telling - so go tell people how about how FAB Sarandon are.
The EP ends with a cover of Swell Maps (another sadly forgotten band) ‘Vertical Slum’ and it’s just perfect for the Sarandon treatment - abrasive guitars, rushing drums and semi shouted vocals mean the song flashes past as fast as a speeding little car.
Sarandon are back with a new 7" on new label Little Car Records. They've now got Alan Brown from Big Flame in the band on bass and vox duties (don't you love the word vox). Searching For The Now is a 3 track 7" of sprightly jerky timeless sounding indie pop. Brian has told me to mention Death by Milkfloat. There I said it. Apparently their last recorded like the Milkfloat. He's not heard this and I've not heard the Milkfloat so I'm not sure how much use that is. I do like the jerkyness of this. It's almost making me spasm in my chair and anything that makes me move at all (be it involuntary or not) has to be a good thing. The female vocals in the chorus are a nice move. They soften it up or not...... it's like sweating onions off. You need to slow cook 'em otherwise they're too crunchy. You get my drift? There's a class tune on the flipside all about how other people's records sell and how everyone has no taste in music anymore. Which I totally relate to as none of you buy my record (mind you I've not made one for ages so maybe that's why?... it still hurts...)
- Norman Records
|Reviews of Every Conversation|
|Reviews of Kill Twee Pop!|
New shit from one of the worst. I can’t think of another band that brings the rage out in me.
- Dusted Magazine
#99 In the TOP 100 RECORDS OF THE DECADE.
Very few moments in the past few years have filled me with such schadenfreude towards my fellow critics than when I discovered this recording, which was not even covered by Pitchfork. All the talk about The Pains of Being Pure at Heart revitalizing Slumberland Records focused on how surprisingly advanced that band sounded for a twee label. Few recognized a band named after a respected but oft-forgotten actress that had a name less suitable than the Pains for typecasting. A year before someone picked up the Pains excellent debut, Sarandon had cleared the air of everything we thought we knew about urban indie pop. No more simplistic and sparse than Beat Happening, but a lot more of a punch to the gut than most anything Calvin Johnson's followers have ever produced, this song murdered the escapist element of a subculture within a subculture, and served as something of a reality check for a class of individuals lucky enough not to be getting blown up in another continent. Youth in London allows for more polemics than they are in Brooklyn, and while it can often produce the same kind of navel-gazing, but here we see where the courage in ones convictions only produces good things for the world.
- Tynan's Anger
Like the "Joe's Record" single before it (the A-side of which appears here), this record shows the band breaking their self-imposed mold of keeping songs short and even branching out their sound a bit - and doing a damn fine job with both. The songs are a touch longer (though mostly remaining in the two minute range, with only one barely passing the three minute mark), but the Minutemen, Big Flame and Gang Of Four influences are still readily apparent. In fact, like the Minutemen's later work, there's a fair amount of melody visible amongst the dissonance, skronky jangle and spastic rhythms. There are even moments of poignancy in the lyrics that I didn't notice before. I was a bit wary of the band's leap from EP to LP and how it would affect their songs, but they made the transition perfectly with this most impressive debut album! MTQ=11/12
You know those “what if” scenarios people like to come up with? What if Buddy Holly were still alive and recording music? What if Biz Markie had never recorded “Alone Again”? What if a hardcore punk band turned to indie rock? Well, I could spend a long time arguing the hypothetical repercussions of the first two scenarios, but I can provide a short, concrete example of what the third might sound like by introducing you to Sarandon, a trio from South London.
I tell you these guys really kick out the jams on their newest album Kill Twee Pop!. They have the chaotic energy that a hardcore rock band has with frenzied guitar playing and plenty of drum fills, but they rely more on catchy riffs and solid song structures than just going crazy on their instruments. And replace wild screaming with more low key yet still highly invigorated vocals that are reminiscent of The Ramones or other classic punk rock bands of that era. You really get a great feel for their style once the album’s title track starts off the listening experience. Once that song got into gear, everything I was going to say about Sarandon in this post popped into my head all at once and I knew I was going to love the rest of the album.
One particular aspect of Kill Twee Pop! that really sticks out is the quick and precise musicianship, which I briefly touched on above. As I also mentioned, Sarandon’s music has a sort of speedy madcap style to it, but everything is played so cleanly that it sounds incredibly clean and coherent. This is a stark contrast to bands like Melt Banana or The Locust where everything tends to meld into a wall of sonic fury. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I mean, that’s what I love best about those two bands, but it’s nice to have groups like Sarandon come in and mix things up. Even so, they do seem to indulge in moments of seemingly more improvised noise making at the very beginning of “Very Flexible” and towards the end of “Massive Haircut” along the lines of their more cacophonous sibling bands.
Of all the great instrumentation, I particularly enjoy the heavy, dead-on drumming on this album. I always love a good drummer and Tom Greenhalgh manages to stray away from the typical rock percussion to come up with some great, catchy beats that really add some oomph to the tracks. “Remember Mavis?” stands above the rest as an incredible track for outstanding drumming. Even if you aren’t playing the song loud enough to have your floorboards shake, you still feel vibrations going up through your legs just because of how much the drums are quaking up the album at that point.
Kill Twee Pop! is an album that I cannot recommend highly enough for those of you who like high energy rock music or hardcore punk. Sarandon is one of those bands that crosses boundaries and is hard to classify within one single genre, but all the better in this case; it gives more people with more diverse musical tastes something to agree on. At least I hope so. I bet Sarandon hopes so as well.
- Radio Krud
May they continue to skronk on. No song over 3 minutes yet so much to offer. Awe inspiring.
- Textile Sounds
OK, I understand.
Sarandon doesn't interest anybody. What a shame.
Kill Twee Pop is a title that promises much and Kill Twee Pop is an album which keeps it's promises over 26 short minutes in 12 songs splashed with humour and vigour.
Sarandon are indispensable pop slaggers.
Since its formation in 2003, English trio Sarandon has consisted of singer/guitarist Crayola and a rotating cast of bassists and drummers. After recording a whopping five EPs, Crayola finally found a stable rhythm section to craft a proper full-length with. It’s a good one, too: bassist Alan Brown used to play in Big Flame, whose jumpy, jangly indie-pop is a major template for Sarandon’s sound, and drummer Tom Greenhalgh navigates the songs’ relentless stop-start syncopations with heretofore unmatched speed and dexterity. Kill Twee Pop! starts on a bad note with the atonal title track (talk about a self-fulfilling prophecy!), but the other 11 songs definitely compensate. These caffeinated, catchy tunes tell terse tales of loneliness, jealousy and embarrassment. There’s the man whose ex-girlfriend’s life improves after she leaves him, much to his chagrin (“Remember Mavis?”), the woman who covertly hits on her son’s friends (“Very Flexible”), the man who finds a film of himself getting beaten up by skinheads on YouTube (“Good Working Practice”), etc. Fans of aggressive yet distortion-free punk-pop (Minutemen, Fire Engines, Futureheads) just might have a new favorite band!
This UK outfit is completely under the radar, but that does not mean that they shouldn’t be noticed. Upon checking out their myspace page you will see that they have lots of releases out, yet it took this new release for us to finally take notice. This album sounds like a more punk version of Love As All. With raspy vocals, angular guitars, and signature 1.5 minute songs they manage to make highly original and high energy songs that are so catchy that you’ll sing along to them all day long.
- Crashin' In
And we should also mention here Sarandon's "Kill Twee Pop!" album, also on Slumberland, even if it's been out long enough for many of you to have grabbed already. For Sarandon are simply one of the best British bands out there at the moment, both live and on record, and this their debut album proper (after the 28-track "Completist's Library" whetted appetites) merely proves it, both including and building on the finery of last year's "Joe's Record" 45 as they move towards (marginally) longer, but still infinitely spiky and sprightly, numbers. It's hard to describe their sound without (a) confirming that it ain't twee pop, and (b) reeling off a list of names of our favourite 80s awkward squad bands plus perhaps 90s' outsiders like the Yummy Fur and second-phase Beatnik Filmstars, so we'll restrict ourselves to saying that if you liked any one or more of the bands on the superb "Commercially Unfriendly" compilation, this will probably be one of the most exciting records you trip across this year.
- In Love With These Times In Spite Of These Times
First things first - no band fronted by a man who goes by the name Crayola has any right to be good. In these days of identikit indie bands, where the slightest variation on the theme is heralded as groundbreaking, such a moniker could easily be the sign of a 'zany frontman'. I believe marketers call this a Unique Selling Point. Modern indie is dependent on such a thing. The irony is that Sarandon will never grace any top tens, have their backs slapped at awards shows or record an album with Mark Ronson. Because, quite frankly, they are above all that. Their post-punk sound may share a lineage with Josef K, The Fire Engines etc, but whereas their influences ran out of steam as soon as Franz Ferdinand came along, Sarandon make it sound fresh and exciting.
- The Clash Magazine
Back in the 1980s when the world was young, John Peel would frequently play music that was a cavalcade of noise: discordant, declamatory, ear stabbing, tautly rhythmic and often uncomfortable. Eventually, NME issued a cassette called C86, at least half of which was made up of music like this but for some strange reason became synonymous evermore with whiny and wan anorak-pop. That was unfair on bands like The Mackenzies, The Shrubs, Big Flame and Bogshed. But you can’t keep a fierce sound down and now Sarandon are making music that gets certain people misty-eyed at the thought of a new Wolfhounds. It helps that Crayola, one of the troika at the heart of Sarandon, knows his shronk-pop history and is out to restore the spikiness and anger that ‘C86’ once possessed, beginning with track 1, side 1. ‘Kill Twee Pop!’ slaps down the presumptions and pretentions of the polka dotters and bowlcutters by sending up the whole ‘so uncool we’re cool’ crowd.
There follows another 11 quick songs with abrupt endings, only one of which dares to break the three minute mark. My favourites are ‘The Discotheque is My Lover’, a colourful riot of scratchy pop with shades of the Fire Engines, and the tender but twisted ‘Joe’s Record’ but what all these songs have are edgy, stabbing, stop-start post-punk rhythms that distort the idea of pop about 180 degrees. There’s much wit too, with the band smart-mouthing everything from happy slapping gang cultures (‘Good Working Practice’) to internet relationships (‘Mike’s Dollar’) and the foolish sport of drunk dialling (‘Welcome’). Both for restoring the reputation of a certain strand of 80s indiepop and in making refreshingly askew new music with a wicked sense of humour, Sarandon ought to be applauded.
The British have a remarkable knack for social satire not found in the music tradition of any other (at least Western) country. With a band name presumably lifted from Susan and choosing the most cringe-worthy of song titles for their record, Sarandon have sold themselves short. Across the 12 minutely pointed tracks of second full-length Kill Twee Pop! we find at least enough wit and cutting commentary to assail any fears as to the decency of the band. Lacking the commercial viability of the new Britpop’s better-known purveyors, Sarandon will always be in the second tier – a place well-suited to their lo-fi sound. However, with more bollocks than the movement’s worst products (The View, The Wombats, The Kooks, The Fratellis, or any of the other cruddy 'The' bands), Sarandon prove a valuable contributor to their nation’s fine tradition of gritty punk and scathing lampooning as lead today by notables Art Brut, Future of the Left and The Futureheads.
The cornerstone of this kind of music is the gift of making the mundane interesting, or at least funny. If they have this, they will succeed. Sarandon make the ‘comment’ their raison d’être and in doing so with a rare consistency, Kill Twee Pop! offers many a rare pleasure in return. Furthermore, each song tackles its chosen target with enough panache to be seldom boring. The topics targeted include hipsterdom (‘Kill Twee Pop!’), the awkwardness of being a musician in “the scene” (‘Welcome’, ‘Joe’s Record’, ‘Massive Haircut’) and infuriating acquaintances (‘Lippy’, ‘Mike’s Dollar’). ‘Massive Haircut’ is a self-consciously silly take on the sometimes-ridiculous lengths musicians will go to to be different. After describing some of his more errant fashion choices, singer Crayola concedes “I try to be cool, I act like a fool/deep down I wish you would stop me/but you just laugh behind my back at me and my massive haircut”. It’s funny, but underpinned by a rare honesty.
Even the grave and difficult subject of ‘growing up’ is done with humour and insight (‘Mark’, ‘Remember Mavis?’). A dedication of sorts to Crayola’s older brother, ‘Mark’ reflects implicitly on the potentially straining differences of personality between siblings: “my brother had a phone put in his room at 13 and called downstairs to ask Mum for a cup of tea… my brother got his first got job at the age of 16/bought a suit and tie and overnight became 33”. These lines, which almost make up the entire song, echo perfectly the dissatisfaction felt by Crayola in the fraternal bond. The song ends with a mention of their father’s death and the change this effected on ‘Mark’. It’s moving stuff and, set to the album-standard early 80s rhythmic punk backbeat, unexpectedly good.
If Sarandon reach their market, they should do well; Kill Twee Pop! is outlandish, concise and exuberant enough to attract many lovers of rhythmically and lyrically sharp rock. Obviously, though, like most music with such a clearly defined modus operandi, they aren’t for everyone. And anyone with even a passing crush on the… well, twee delights of outright sunny pop will probably hate this. Of course, the truth is that hating ‘twee pop’, or any other genre, is hating the reification of expression found therein, yet in pursuing their own course with such fervour Sarandon invite the same polemic attitudes towards themselves. In so abrasively titling their latest album, however, Sarandon reveal a facet of the musical/pop-cultural landscape and what must be a frustrating dilemma between either pleasing all or pursuing one vision and not coming across hackneyed and bland as a result. Amazingly, however, Sarandon succeed in doing all three: there are moments of cuteness, innovation and sass all present on Kill Twee Pop!. Even with the Windows Vista, eBay and YouTube references, Sarandon are crustily authentic enough to talk of ‘‘A’ badges’, hotpants and Mavis getting a job at Barclays. With Franz Ferdinand wallowing in ever-growing self-consciousness and the Arctic Monkeys suffering from a distinct lack of consistency and verve, Sarandon could be just what the doctor ordered for the new BritPop (and that’s not even considering the shite).
- Wireless Bollinger
The first thing that comes to mind when thinking about the band Sarandon is the actress, Susan Sarandon. The two, however, likely have nothing in common. The first thing that comes to mind when seeing the title of their latest album, Kill Twee Pop, is that Sarandon must really dislike twee. The first think that comes to mind when listening to said album is that Sarandon’s music is ingrained in twee-punk and has some stark similarities to bands like Tullycraft and Boyracer.
It’s true, Sarandon can be found on such twee-friendly labels like Slumberland and Happy Happy Birthday To Me. “Kill Twee Pop!” opens the album on an awkwardly high note. Their music is jumpy and dancy for being on the verge of punk; I can hear further similarities to artists like The Faintest Ideas, whose songs are so short they almost never top 3 minutes and are more often located in the one- to one-and-a-half minute mark.
“Lippy” is the undeniable album high point with its catchy, pointed guitar riffs, filled with rapid staccato notes and memorable vocal hooks. Still, there are plenty of other notable tunes that make up Kill Twee Pop. Songs like “Remember Mavis?” have a lo-fi element to them apparent via the production value. More high points can be found in “Joe’s Record”, “Good Working Practice” and “Mike’s Dollar”; all three are just as upbeat and catchy as “Lippy”.
Kill Twee Pop is definitely and album to add to your collection and Sarandon is definitely a band to keep your eye on…
One of the most anticipated LPs of the year (well, by me at least) has finally landed. It's due for release in the USA on Slumberland Records on April 22nd (I can't see a UK release mentioned anywhere) on 10" blue vinyl and CD.
The title that Sarandon have chosen for their début LP is provocative. It's called 'Kill Twee Pop!'. That's going to polarise opinion, before most people have even heard a note. It will have some of current indiepop fans on the defensive from the off. Whereas, it instantly gets this old codgers seal of approval. All before hearing a note from the LP as well. We're a judgemental lot, aren't we? As the band try and explain the title of the record is not aimed against indiepop per se - the press release that accompanies this CD states Sarandon are on a mission to save indie from wetness, knee jerk posturing and careless cardigan wearing and this is a fine manifesto by me. You only need to trace the routes of the word 'twee' in this indiepop context and you can see it was never meant to be worn as a badge of honour. But I digress - this is supposed to be a review of a record.
After the compilation 'The Completist's Library' which collected together 5 earlier Sarandon EPs and was released in 2006 - this is the first 'proper' LP from Sarandon - and Crayola and his cohorts (Tom Greenhalgh - drums and Alan Brown - Bass) have made something a little bit special. It's packed full of tunes, jerky riffs, jagged guitars, great lyrics and all round excellence. This record is the essence what great guitar pop is all about. Often when music has an abrasive edge, tunes are usually a forgotten ingredient - And Sarandon are acutely aware of this - so 'Kill Twee Pop' comes packed to the gills with hummable tunes. Every song on 'Kill Twee Pop!' is meshed together from memorable melodies and hook-tastic riffs.
The LP starts with the song 'Kill Twee Pop!' amid scatter gun drums and an incessant guitar riff. They all propel this song along and I am soon to be found nodding furiously in appreciation. I'd never of thought it possible - Sarandon even break the 3 minute barrier for the first time on 'Remember Mavis?' - a song, again, propelled by some furious drums and those ever-present jagged guitars. 'The Discotheque Is My Lover' is one of the highlights of the LP - a slightly slower paced song that manages to maintain the energy levels that the faster songs exude.
This really is one of the finest LPs I have heard in quite some time. Sure I can hear the influence of bands like Big Flame (Alan Brown was once a member, folks), The Minutemen and Fire Engines - but the band are really a lot more than mere copyists. They've honed this mid 80s indiepop sound into something as compelling as it is brilliant. I dare anyone to play this record and not start to move. There are a fistful songs on here that should be packing indiepop dance floors out. It really is that good.
Man, is it great to have Slumberland Records back around (not that they really went anywhere, but they were sorta dormant for a bit there in the public eye). I am really excited to be working with them as a fan of the jangle and twee and...what's this? KILL Twee Pop? Haha. The irony probably wasn't lost on Slumberland, nor was the insane post-pop that Sarandon cranks out here. It's jittery, it's spastic, it has mind-melting drums, and it's also catchy as all hell. This record is pretty damned unique, a real sleeper.
- Team Clermont
Post-punk that's not new and certainly not updated—yeah, Sarandon are rowdier than Tokyo Police Club or Futureheads, but they’re certainly not as spazzy as American models like Ex-Models or whoever’s playing the Smell this week. But what they lack in caffeinated abandon, Sarandon makes up in having dynamite hooks—Kill Twee Pop is like an XTC album played by bonkers Ritalin unachievers. Shades of Wire’s Pink Flag, the Minutemen’s Paranoid Time EP and those early Fire Engines singles mean these guys will get excited about just about anything, even though they have the Wire artfuck disconnect down to an unsexy science: the first word on the album is “geometry,” the second song is about drinking to escape boredom, there’s a song about chavs rolling some guy and posting it on YouTube, plus various stories about town drunks and whores and housewives, all told in about five lines or less. “Mike’s Dollar” has something to do with computers and eBay and meeting someone online and even has an unfortunate pun (“I installed Vista Windows/I might just throw you through them, you know”). Makes sense, ’cause hanging out and getting into fights on the computer is the new millennial version of, uh, hanging out and getting into fights. Or maybe not considering most of these guys were playing in bands around the time of C86 and are way too old to say any of this without an enormous grin. And maybe that’s what makes it so fun?
- Christopher R. Weingarten | Paper Thin Walls
It's so hard to gauge an album named Kill Twee Pop! It could be hardcore; it could be an ironic twee pop album title. To my (welcome) surprise Sarandon is neither twee pop nor hardcore.
Kill Twee Pop! is the sophomore album from English trio Sarandon. The band plays a mix of post-punk and indie rock.
In some ways Sarandon wears their influences on their sleeves. From the first notes of the first song, unimaginatively named "Kill Twee Pop!", the listener can tell Sarandon is heavily influenced by Gang of Four, Pere Ubu, and The Fall. Their guitars are sloppy and often dissonant. The vocals are a mix between talked and yelped with very little melody behind them. The bass is heavy and extremely rhythmic. The drums are disjointed and chaotic.
Although all of those elements may sound like a bad thing, the truth is Sarandon has a certain "je ne sais pas". It could be their sense of urgency or their addicting energy, but Sarandon's Kill Twee Pop! is more than an enjoyable listen, it might be one of the best records of the year.
- Surviving the Golden Age
Irony in rock 'n' roll is a tough feat to pull off but Sarandon makes it happen.
The description on LastFM is pretty succinct: "Scratchy itchy guitars, rumbling bass and tumbling drums." I can't remember a band that made me immediately smile since the first time I heard/saw Minus the Bear or when I was a kid and bought a Gruppo Sportivo EP on a personal dare. Sarandon sounds like one of the perfect late '70s/early '80s post-punk bands that blazed away on mix tapes and in the oh-so-hip clubs. A little bit Bongos, a little bit Gang of Four, and just a tiny bit of the Fall.
Short, catchy songs that are memorable is what pop is all about (apparently 2:42 makes the perfect song) and Sarandon pulls them off brilliantly. Their songs are funny and quirky. I won't spend the entire review quoting lyrics, but here is one of my favorites from "Massive Haircut": "I'll grow a mustache that won't suit me/ then shave all my body completely/ tattoo eyebrows across my forehead/ so I look shocked when you meet me/ I try to be cool, I act like a fool/ deep down I wish you would stop me/ but you just laugh behind my back/ at me and my massive haircut." Kind of sad and mean at the same time, but we all know it is true.
Irony in rock 'n' roll is a tough feat to pull off but Sarandon makes it happen with titles like "The Discotecheque is my lover" "massive haircut" and "good working practice." I don't know if the band kills twee pop as its title professes, but it goes a long way toward putting some muscle in the genre known as pop.
The album is a brisk listen. With only one song over the three-minute mark, the album clocks in at just about a half hour. So make sure when you put it on to hit the "repeat" button.
- Jim Dunn | playback:stl
"I love you Mr Disposable popstar"
The title track sounds ridiculously like the Minutemen - the scratchy funk guitar, Watt’s thunderous bass spiel and some flexible George like drumming. It differs only in the vocals which get a bit closer to the tune than D Boon ever did. They don’t spend all there time in Pedro, but head towards influences close to home (they are British but this is released on a US label) Stump, Bogshed and they certainly can get A Witness, short sharp stiletto stabs of angularity - it jerks so spasmodically it makes Futureheads and their ilk seem like lazy lounge lizard Lotharios. It’s a strange mixture of the mordant humour of the English bands I’ve mentioned and the muscular musical punch of the Minutemen. The manifesto is to kill twee pop and rid the world of cardigan wearing fops, this is not a political record, there’s no righteous anger - what there is impeccable playing; they are tight, the classic trio as well drilled as the Red Arrows.
They are like a cloud of petrol vapour just waiting for the spark to ignite them. ‘Good Working Practice’ worries at you like a terrier with a slipper and unusually for them it has an almost tuneful guitar break in the middle which adds some contrast. I enjoy listening to this but then Double Nickel… remains one of my favourite records of all time. Anyone who takes D Boon & Co as a blueprint is a few points ahead in my book, only this is a book I’ve read many times before. ‘Mike’s Dollar’ and ‘Remember Mavis?’ are no Project Mersh but they do hint that they may be able to hotwire something more original. Still 12 songs in 26 minutes, itchy and scratchy guitars - give me this over fey singer songwriters trying to be Bob Dylan any day.
- Americana UK
Sarandon are back with their first official CD album on Slumberland. In case you've just joined us, this incredibly savvy 3 piece are the main torchbearers for a sound that alledgedly died in 1988 with the last EP from Death by Milkfloat. Just dozens of incredibly taut, caustic & brief agit pop ditties yelled out by a man named after a brand of wax crayon, with shards of caustic rapid fire guitar abuse that makes Bogshed sound like Sunn 0))) and some of the most primal, thrilling tub thumping heard in years. Another couople of bands who are possibly a huge influence are Stump, Big Flame, Dawson & Fire Engines. But there's a vitality & freshness here. Jerky 'n' catchy as hell, they're also in rude health on ' Kill Twee Pop !', a chunky, primitive pop record for the kind of person who feeels indie died with John peel (which sometimes I think it may have done judging by some of the gash released these days!) So brilliantly excecuted, I'd be chasing this for AOTW had we not fallen in love with the Harmony Korine soundtrack. So if you fancy some no frills old skool delights, check this great album, on the aforementioned legendary US imprint!
- Norman Records
Large doses of spastic garage rock and slips of new wave punk swish around and flop about through Kill Twee Pop, the latest album from the UK’s rock trio Sarandon, released on Slumberland Records. At times the band’s tunes sound like covers of classic rock songs that hark back to an earlier punk rock age, when The Rolling Stones were at their peak and rock bands were sprouting on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean due the profusion of electric guitar models and multi-tracking systems made possible by guitarist Les Paul. Sarandon’s songs have an offbeat simpatico that would fit right in with the music featured in England’s screwball comedy The Young Ones, which acquired a cult following in the early to mid-80s. Sarandon are another band that is either too late to be fashionable or they have rediscovered rock music that is worth excavating and reliving.
Courting avant punk stylistics reminiscent of Devo on tracks like the title track “Kill Twee Pop,” “Mark,“ and “Good Working Practice,” Sarandon show that they feel quite comfortably grinding their chords into weird angles and spastic rhythmic forms. Melodic patterns with geysers flowing of treble rock and post new wave punk pile in through “The Discotheque is My Love” and “Mike’s Dollar,” while songs like “Welcome” and “Massive Haircut” have an retro rock intonation that prunes the guitar cuts into moving in tempo with the rippling drumbeats displaying thumping movements reminiscent of the early Rolling Stones. The slinky rhythms played by drummer Tom Greenhalgh and bassist Alan Brown for “The Completist’s Library” are massaging as the guitar patterns and vocals of frontman Crayola achieve a dreamy simmer, but the album has a proliferation of spastic wiggling movements and garage rock textures comparable to Maps & Atlases racking up a rushing momentum through “Very Flexible” and bluntly edged drizzles through “Lippy.”
The album is a motley bunch showing specks of old school punk and retro rock postures that the band dusted off and put into tracks like “Joe’s Record” and “Remember Mavis.” The band’s lyrics take on the voice of a gossip columnist or a group of buddies who share gossip in a local pub like in “Remember Mavis” when Crayola sings, “Remember Mavis? / She grew up / She even got her life on track / Now she works in Barclays Bank instead of lying on her back / It was cold when I caught the bus / I saw Mavis at the back / It's been a year since we broke up and she got the semi detached… And now our Mavis is well off / I'd love to punch her stupid face.” But the lyrics for “Mark” may actually strike a chord with listeners: “My brother had a phone / Put in his room at 13 and called downstairs to ask mum for a cup of tea / My brother spent at least 10 years without a word for me / Installed Sky-TV that only he could see / My brother got his first job at the age of 16 / Bought a suit and a tie and overnight became 33 / My brother's spent at least 10 years working steadily / But it took our dad's death to make him friends with me.”
Sarandon have released five EPs previous to Kill Twee Pop, but it is Kill Twee Pop that feels most like a campaign ad to return to the avant punk rock intonations of the late 70’s and early 80’s. The trio have excavated piles of this stuff and dusted off classic rock crystals that are deep in the collective consciousness of society. Kill Twee Pop is a concrete edifice emblematic of spastic garage rock and post new wave punk, a synthesis that Sarandon feel relates to their lives.
- Absolute Punk
Since their formation by guitarist Crayola in 2003, Sarandon has been on a mission to save indie from wetness, knee-jerk twee posturing, and careless cardigan wearing. This potent group of post-punk tacticians takes its cues from the rough angularity beloved by bands on labels like Ron Johnson and Slampt, and Sarandon is the proud parent of a string of five 7-inch EPs (and one compilation thereof) fairly bursting with short, sharp tunes, wiry riff-mad guitars, spastic drumming, and terse-yet-clever lyrics. Trimming all musical and lyrical fat, Sarandon cram more ideas and passion into 1:30 than many bands do across a whole record.
Some points of comparison include Big Flame, The Minutemen, Bogshed, Fire Engines, and The Fall, and though Sarandon share musical DNA with those groups, they've forged their own path and unique sound. Crayola marries naggingly catchy tunes to corruscating blasts of guitar mayhem, combining the punchy, driving tunes with surprisingly memorable melodies and smart lyrics. It's pop, but possibly the angriest and most aggressive pop ever heard.
Kill Twee Pop! is the first fruit of a line-up consisting of Crayola, Tom Greenhalgh on drums, and ex-Big Flame/Great Leap Forward legend Alan Brown on bass. Brown and Greenhalgh are an incredibly tight and powerful rhythm section, providing Crayola with such a sure foundation that he's now letting the songs stretch out a bit--one tune even breaking the three-minute barrier--which is fitting as this is the first proper Sarandon album, and it shows them at their itchy, spiky, angular, aggressive, enthusiastic best.
From the chugging "Welcome" to the blues-by-way-of-The Birthday Party "The Completist's Library" to the insanely catchy "Mike's Dollar" and the croon-tastic "The Discotheque Is My Lover," this album is packed with great tunes, recalling the best of '80s post-punk and bringing it bang up-to-date with passion, humor and wit. Kill Twee Pop! is a call-to-arms for those tired of paint-by-the-numbers indie, a ration of passion in these cynical times, an antidote to your massive haircut, a soundtrack for your next dance party, an updated cubist pop manifesto.
- Midheaven Mailorder
Kill Twee Pop? Seems a strange thing to say when your signed to a label responsible for some of the twee'est moment in twee history. Perhaps they're working on it from the inside and soon Slumberland will be a twee free zone. Either way this is a record you won't forget in a hurry not least because it comes on a lovely ten inch slab of blue vinyl which looks ever so pretty (but not twee) rotating on the turntable. Slumberland say this is the bands debut album but I'm almost sure there was an album a couple of years ago. Much like The Fall they seem to change band members on a fairly frequent basis. The album starts as it means to go on with the angst fueled title track "Kill Twee Pop" the geezer shouts in a demented fashion. I have to say it sounds great cranked up as loud as your system will allow although I got the impression my neighbours disagree when they started banging on the walls. Oh well, perhaps they like twee pop!
- Burning World
|Reviews of Joe's Record|
|Reviews of The Completist's Library|
|Reviews of The June Bride|
|Reviews of The Feminist Third|
|Reviews of The Big Flame|
|Reviews of The Miniest Album|