26.11.15 G.T. Thomas has initiated a monthly podcast called 'Despite Musical Differences' where she will be discussing aspects of music-making, both specific and peripheral with tra-la-la troubadours.
23.11.15 Horrible Head A couple of items pertaining to the 11th Most Forgotten Band Of The Eighties: First, and most blatantly, is Dave Pope's recent solo performance of 'Pretend', a Horrible Head song co-written by him and Paul Hamilton. It's a rough, soundboard recording but is more venomous than a snake's hankie, and it's the opening track here.
Secondly, and a tad more tenuous, is an article by Hamilton about Hüsker Dü for a blogozine thing called 'Superbad'.
14.11.15 Mephisto 6 Paul Hamilton had been fiddling with a 'duet for piano and bombs' for a few days before the Paris massacre on Friday the 13th of November. His reaction to the outrage and horror was to put the track - 'Nightlights (STP)' - out here in its raw and ugly state. Why? Because its wrongness seems right in this context.
14.9.15 Babylon Squeak "Spoon In Your Sink", the lead track on the "BUBBLEGUMBOOTS" download E.P., now has itself a video of sorts, shot at the Private View of the 'London, New York, Paris, Munich' Pop Art exhibition that opened at The A-Side B-Side Gallery in London's notorious E8 on September 10th. With luminaries and bloomin' 'airies such as Spizz of Spizz Energi, Bill Wyman of The Rolling Something-Or-Other, Ray Gange of Clash film 'Rude Boy' renown, and the frankly brilliant, let's face it, Mikey Georgeson lending an off-duty magic, you can see it here if you so wish.
8.9.15 Babylon Squeak Today, of course, would have been the 90th and 94th birthdays of, respectively, Peter Sellers and Harry Secombe, so what better time, then, for Babylon Squeak to release their strangelovin' allrightJackin' pantherpinkin' therebein' Goonish three-song collection "BUBBLEGUMBOOTS"? Featuring audio and visual input from Smoking Ant tobacco-leaf carriers Andy Thomson (Yellowjack, Reticents), Malcolm Gayner (Reticents, Bisonics, Yellowjack), Si Beex (Bisonics), Karen Birch (Reticents) and Dancin' Dave Pope (Yellowjack), "BUBBLEGUMBOOTS" will put a sing in your song, a thing in your thong and a Ying in your Tong.
26.7.15 SOUND AND VISION. Ah, that's sweet - someone noticed that it's our half-decade birthday (a Quinquennium, if you please) and marked the non-occasion with a Top 10 of our various artists' videos. Trot along here and see what these blogging scamps thought of our retina-ruining, eardrum-walloping efforts.
To mark five years of making a racket in this business, but failing to stir up any business in this racket, we are making a present of our goods to you by reducing the prices of our download catalogue on bandcamp.com and furthermore slashing the CDs in our Shop. As a special treat, for a limited time only (expiring only when we remember to stop the offer), for every £10 spent you get an extra disc totally free. Email us on email@example.com when you've made a purchase and tell us which CD you'd like for absolutely purse-pleasingly free. (Remember that there are no hidden charges here. All postage and packaging costs are included in the stated price.)
If anyone's wondering why we've been uncharacteristically silent this year, it's not through lack of trying. The truth is that there ARE some ditties in a semi-finished state but we haven't been able to complete them... YET.
28.5.15 Yellowjack A & E departments of hospitals the world over have wilted from the uber-glut of emergency cases of busted guts, slapped thighs and violently tickled ribs that have resulted from the news that your friendly neighbourhood Smoking Ant, as a consequence of upgrading its Mac computer to Yosemite OS X, has lost all the film works that were in states of progress and stored on Final Cut Pro X (an application with which Yosemite is incompatible). Unluckily for our detractors (which AREN'T types of West Indian farming equipment), one video has survived the massacre. The edit was only 80% finished but you'll get the general idea. It's for the Yellowjack track 'Everyone Likes This' and it's here.
27.5.15 Yellowjack If you've long lingered over the sleeve of 'Godot Woz Ere' and found it pleasing to the peepers, wot with its conceptual continuity and all that, then we insist you strut forth to http://www.davepope.nz/ this very instant and investigate Yellowjack's singist and guitarer Dancing "Dave" Pope's secret life as graphic designer. His portfolio will tantalise, mesmerise and do THIS to yer eyes:
20.5.15 Bisonics Si Beex has been suffering from chronic and nigh-constant pain for seven or more years. At this moment, he's convalescing after yet another operation that might, just might, put a stop to the pain. Just before he went into hospital, he managed to compose and perform the music for a short film about his illness. The film has the catchy title of 'The Hidden World Of FND (Functional Neurological Disorder)' and you can watch it/hear him here.
27.04.15. Cross-pollination of various Smoking Ant alumni here as Dave Pope (of Yellowjack) designs the website for Doug Murphy (of Bisonics and, er, Doug Murphy & Paul Hamilton) and his non-musical project, IQ Rooms. If your idea of fun is being locked in a room and having to solve a series of logic puzzles to enable your escape - and you're in Norway - then this is the game for you. http://iqrooms.com/
25.4.15 Yellowjack, Doug Murphy & Paul Hamilton, etc Call it commercial suicide but we have decided to remove the digital download versions of the Smoking Ant catalogue from practically all websites except bandcamp. The reason for this is aesthetic as well as economic: The audio quality of your mp3 is too poor to justify the price set by the domainiacs. You're not getting enough megabyte for your megabuck. We make the exception for bandcamp because they provide the option of the higher quality FLAC. Just in case you think we're getting our bat's ears in a twist, here is an example of how much musical information is lost when an audio file (of an a cappella performance) is compressed to mp3 size: http://theghostinthemp3.com/
25.2.15 Yellowjack I think we can safely assume that the Hogmanay celebrations are almost at a close, so to welcome what's left of the New Year the Caledonian faction of Yellowjack (Wee Davey McPope, Laird Tweedy McThomson and Hamish McHamsporran O'McMacBagpipes) have slung together a filmette for their 'Going Slowhere' song which you can peer-ooze right this very here.
19.11.14 Yellowjack. Whilst his compadres are exploring cutting-edge audio technology (i.e. finding out which way to turn the handle on their gramophone), Dancin' Dave Pope can be heard on New Zealand radio station Most FM, co-hosting the show 'Taranaki Sounds' with Anand Rose on the third and fourth Thursdays of each month. The transmission times are 8pm to 9pm NZ time (which means a frankly unspeakable 7 till 8am over here in what Dave Nice would call Grade Briddun). Here's the link, ye moonshiners and dawn-defying groovemeisters: http://mostfm.co.nz/Thursday.php
10.10.14. Yellowjack Ah, yes, sorry for the absence. We were off cultivating our mystique. Hope we're a tad more enigmatic for you now.
Actually, an apology is in order. The plan was to unleash an animated video for the bawdy ode 'Next' from 'Godot Woz Ere' but the drawing board became a bed for a snoring, bored Paul Hamilton. After three months of heads-down no-nonsense doodling, he realised he had only illustrated four of the song's nine verses and that another five months were required to complete all the drawings before the equally time-consuming feat of animating all this rubbish could commence. Declaring that 'Life is too short and so am I!' he has thrown in the ink-stained towel, and the project will join similarly-abandoned films such as the Bisonics film 'Drink Up The Days, Smoke Out The Nights' in the vaults of Smoking Ant Towers.
Here are a leper's handful of illustrations to give you a taste of what might have been or what you've been mercifully spared...
10.10.14 Bisonics Prior to returning to good ol' Blighty and joining up with ancient schoolchums Murphy & Hamilton to make the album 'Play For Today' (remember this classic? No, neither do they), Simon Beacon - or is it Si Beex? Or Si Cottick? - was an essential part of Brisbane's electro music scene through the late '90s and early '00s. Under the soubriquet of Glitch, he would take the stage, screaming into loudhailers as pulverising drum machines and samples jackhammered audience's brains to twitching, pus-weeping jellies.
In a move reminiscent of 'Nuggets', the Gary Stewart/Lenny Kaye-curated compilations of 1960s US garage bands, Dennis Remmer of the Brisbane record label Trans:Com has collected 261 tracks by 140 bands onto one USB stick holding 24 hours of music and housed it in a coffee table-crushing A4 hardback book. Entitled 'BNE', this artifact is obviously for the hardcore electronica obsessive (read: deranged compulsive loonpot) rather than the casual listener, but if you must complete your Beex discography (and you must, you MUST!) or you're at all curious about non-British or American rawk'n'parp, then this is an essential purchase. Find out more here
10.10.14 Yellowjack Dancin' Dave Pope continues his one-song-per-century gig in New Zealand with a rippin' rendition of 'We're Back' [ YouTube ]. You can hear an audience member mutter "Bloody good" at the end of the song and we here at the Smoking Ant 24-Hour Newsdesk won't dispute that observation.
Oh yeah, it was Dave's birthday a few weeks ago and, as a present, we got him a t-shirt naming the line-up of one of his childhood favourite bands. If you can't identify the group via those four surnames, Dave has inserted a cryptic clue into this photo...
3.7.14 Yellowjack Can you guess the missing words of these song titles? 'All You Need Is ---'; 'Goodbye To ---'; 'Crazy Little Thing Called ---': '--- Is A Many-Splendoured Thing'; 'Wake Up And Make --- With Me'. Yes, you pop quizzicals, the answer is, of course, 'A Non-Revolving Asymmetric Figure-Eight Sprag Clutch'. Award yourself to a new Yellowjack video, why the deuce don't you? Their film for 'Godot Woz Ere' is 'ere - or is it 'ere?
19.6.14. Yellowjack. Envisage three multi-bearded post-senile wrinklebags in nightshirts, waving their ear trumpets and dancing the jig of the sacred gout bandage in the wee willy winkie hours, their peeping hoots o' jollity echoing around the Duntokin Home For The Terminally Boogied. Why, it's those gay blades Yellowjack and the reason for their post-Horlicks-and-heroin capering is their 'Godot Woz Ere' waxing receiving an enormous upping of thumb from a critical quarter. Can it be true? Well, have a butcher's for yourself over here.
24.5.14 G.T. Thomas It was Nancy Sinatra, of course, who opined that boots were made for walking, whilst Bernard "Oh Sid!" Bresslaw crooned that you need feet for many purposes, not least to prevent your legs fraying at the ends. Whereas The Smiths made their mark on the pop landscape with 'Hand In Glove', our pal Gwen Thomas has decided to go 'Foot In Boot'. Skip over to here and discover how an official Pedestrian Day held in San Francisco on May 27th 1937 ties in with fighting poverty right here and now with the gift of (ahem! Crap pun alert!!!!) sole music.
23.5.14 Yellowjack A filmette of their short-but-short 'You Can't Have It' ("The best unreleased single of 1966!" whoops pop maven Julian Wakeling) is now available to peer-ooze on vimeo and YouTube.
14.5.14 Reticents The Rets, The Rets, the doomed, down Rets - they slowly go but we quickly forgets... (Er, sorry, talking gibberish.) 'Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery' it is said. So we are sincerely, if inimitably, flattered to see that millionaire minstrel Bob Dylan has slung up on his website what looks like an album cover to some imminent release. This is it here - look! Here! HERE!
We couldn't help but notice - 0.0000003 seconds short of immediately - that this design bears a nun-canny likeness to a 2008 album sleeve by Reticents, to whit:
Has Uncle Barb been bending his ear trumpet to the strains and quatrains of Reticents' back catalogue? Is this why his last few records have been so ghastly? As Dylan himself said, when guest-hosting a pub quiz at The Yacht & Protest, "The answers, my friend, are given at the end. The answers are given at the end."
5.5.14 Yellowjack Dancin' Dave Pope's solo rendition of 'Next' is performed in a strumsome chumsome manner right the very here [YouTube].
1.5.14 Yellowjack Media whore and jammy tart Hamilton waffles about 'Godot Woz Ere' on The Rebel Magazine bloggie 'ere.
28.4.14. Yellowjack. With a band line-up reading like a veritable Who's That Of British Pop, Yellowjack's album 'Godot Woz Ere' is finally unleashed. Hip-hip-who-they? The 11-song download is available on all the usual outlets - iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, and zillions more - though we recommend the version on Bandcamp [bandcamp] where you can obtain it in full for a mere measly puny £4 and in a choice of audio quality, including the immensely superior FLAC lossless format. Plus - if you're into that kind of singalong thingathong - Bandcamp also has lyrics to all the tunes.
As mentioned in previous dispatches, there is a 12-song extremely-limited-edition CD available from our very own SHOP. Encased in a full-colour gatefold digipak sleeve with accompanying two-sided poster (with first-draft handwritten songwords) and a bonus gift of Horrible Head's 'Gloom Of Youth' album, we're practically giving it away at £10 (inc. postage and packing). So why are you still reading this? Get over to our SHOP and snap this little beauty up right this very now!
20.4.14. Yellowjack. Dave Pope left this obscene, unpleasant land for New Zealand at the end of December 2013 but not before crowbarring in one last knees-up. Quaffings at The Montagu Puke on London's Charing Cross Road with his Yellowjack rhythm section and drinking master Albie Gibbs were caught on a mobile phone camera by Andy Thomson's squeeze (as we believe the term is) Becky Chamberlin. Footage of this emotional and heavily refreshed occasion has been turned into a video for their song 'Half-Life' which can be seen here [vimeo].
17.4.14. Bisonics. Anyone familiar with the records and back-story of that group will be aware of the health problems that have blighted keyboardist/sax-honker/vocalist Simon Beacon (a.k.a. Si Beex, Cyborg Baghorns, Queenie 'Tim') these past years. Happily, he seems to be well on the way to recovery. A welcome sign of life is his return to music-making and you can hear some here [soundcloud]. Yes, in its understated way, it's rather overwhelming.
15.4.14. Yellowjack. In February, Georgina Micklethwaite of Sidcot art galleries (somewhere in Somerset, I dunno) ventured up to London for a few tinctures and a confabulation with Yellowjack's drummist about 'Godot Woz Ere' and related topics. That afternoon's booze-crazed babblethon has been cut down to two half-hour films and slung on vimeo for you and you alone. Entitled 'Well, Basically' you can view Part One (talking about the background to the band and record) here [vimeo]. Part Two (concerning itself with the songs and including Hamilton's terrible impression of John Cooper Clarke) is all the way over here [vimeo]. Apologies for poor sound quality: Despite all the hiss, you can still hear them.
30.3.14 Yellowjack. To the merry sound of accountants shooting themselves, Smoking Ant Records have decreed that a free copy of Horrible Head's CD The Gloom Of Youth will be given away with each CD sale of Yellowjack's Godot Woz Ere blasterpiece, the reason being that Gloom captured Pope & Hamilton in their songwriting infancy whereas Godot has them in their full-blown senility.
Godot also comes with a double-sided poster, one side being a series of snaps of the chaps getting hazily ablaze in a hop shop, the other - tying in neatly with the graffiti cover - showing the first drafts of the song lyrics, rather than the finished, tidied-up versions yelled on the actual album.
28.03.14 Yellowjack. Just in from Disc Wizards, this is the sleeve to the CD version of the Godot Woz Ere album. Unlisted on the credits is a bonus track, a 'live' version of 'We're Back' (introduced by a well-known comedian). Just to make things confusing for you, the bonus track is the very first song on the CD (because we believe in getting those kinds of things out of the way quickly). Right, so let's get this straight: The mystery bonus track is actually listed and it's the 'studio' version of 'We're Back' (which will be available on the download album) that is hidden away, right? Blimus. Well, here's the front and back cover to gawp at. Lovely, eh?
26.03.14 Yellowjack. A taster for the froth-combing album, Hamilton & Pope's song about their absent friend, Whatever Happened To Philip Ford?, is there to see in HD on vimeo and, outrageously unpredictably, YouTube of all places.
This song, and its subject, has its own Page on Facebook for anyone who wants to help Yellowjack track down Phil Ford, or just have some fun making silly 'Ford sightings'. Funniest entries will get a signed Yellowjack CD (as soon as they learn to write).
27.02.14 Yellowjack. Printmaker and designer Kim Dawkins [http://www.kimdawkins.com/] has made this digital portrait of Dave Pope & Paul Hamilton. Called 'The Collaborators', it is composed from footage taken of them whilst songwriting, the purpose of the various choices of stills and styles being redolent of the act of composition itself in its adoption and rejection of various approaches before its completion. But, hey, enough of my gasbaggery - let's all stroke some chin and appreciate some art!
19.12.13 Horrible Head, etc Take 50% of Horrible Head, add one third of Bisonics, plus 66.6% of Reticents, and multiply by a 100% of the legendary 5th member of Bisonics (controversially, there was never a 4th member) and what you get is Yellowjack. Dave Pope, Andy Thomson & Paul Hamilton (for they be them) have joined forces with Malcolm Gayner in yet another mission to save Pop. Their secret weapon will be unleashed in the New Yeah-whatever. Who dreams, who dares? Who screams, "Who cares?"
11.12.13 Doug Murphy & Paul Hamilton Season's freezings! It's that time of year when we think of the poor and unfortunate, and one of the poorest and unfortunate Xmas number 1s in UK Singles Chart history was the 1979 winner, 'Another Brick In The Wall' by That Pink Floyd, a charmless antidote to paper hat hilarity and general knees-up fancy-another-old-fruit jollifications. Doug Murphy, applying the maxim "Take a song you hate and punk it up", has re-recorded the hod carrier's lament in a "Kick Out The Jams, Atom Heart Motherfuckers" stylee. It lurks here.
On the subject of That Pink Floyd, Paul Hamilton noticed something about two of their celebrated album sleeves: If one turns their 1977 LP 'Animals' upside-down it's almost a mirror image of their 'Atom Heart Mother' cover from seven years before. Thinking about it further, the titles too can be interchanged, since 'Animals' features most prominently Battersea power station whilst 'Atom Heart Mother' took its title from a newspaper story about a pregnant woman being fitted with a heart pacemaker (in short, a power generator). Woooo! That's something to discuss over your lager & flashback at The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn.
1.8.13 Doug Murphy & Paul Hamilton's song 'Fishes' is under discussion alongside German youth-crazed dance combo Claire's new single 'Games' in the debut edition of online magazine 'Razzmatazz'. Scroll down past The Morrissey, The Elvis Costello & The Roots, and The Dig For Victory (who ARE all these people?) and you'll find us bobbing along, bobbing along on the bottom of the beautiful briny blog.
23.7.13 Bisonics Hot on the heels of their 'Seconds' album from two years ago, here is a video for their song 'Shark'. What? It doesn't make sense? Why should it?
23.7.13 Doug Murphy & Paul Hamilton. Also on an art theme, the winner of this year's BP Portrait Award is Susanne du Toit for her portrait of her son Pieter who just happens to be a chum of Hamilton's. Here Pieter quizzes Paul about all things big and bunny.
18.7.13-15.8.13 Jazz Cattle. J-Catz Petrie and Hamilton have contributed artworks to a group celebration of Elvis Presley's 60th anniversary of his debut recording. The show is called 'I Love You Because' and other notable contributors include Karen Morden (star of Jazz Cattle's 'Let Me Paint A Picture For You' vid) and Harry Pye (who helped make Bisonics' 'Soft Afternoons' film).
1.7.13 Doug Murphy & Paul Hamilton Clap your heads together to their video of 'Keeps', peekable on vimeo and youtube. This quirky perky hip-twitcher is, as you're all too aware, from their 'BIG BUN' album. What? You bain't got it yet? Then hop to it!
25.6.13 Bisonics A video for the closing song on their 'Seconds' album is now on vimeo.com for your displeasure.
5.6.13. Doug Murphy & Paul Hamilton are talking jabbernese, they're really talking jabbernese, I really think so, about 'BIG BUN' with Mark Perry here.
Hamilton chews the fat about 'BIG BUN' here
10.1.13 Horrible Head's Strum-Und-Jangler Dave Pope read the news today, oh boy, about his guitar hero Wilko Johnson being diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer and deciding against chemotherapy. Here is Dave's personal tribute...
"When I was 17 and living in Pitsea, Essex in 1980, I had guitar lessons on Canvey Island. I had been a Dr Feelgood fan since 1975 when 'Down By The Jetty' was released. Previously, as a young teenager growing up in East London, it seemed a natural progression to go from Status Quo's 'Ma Kelly's Greasy Spoon' , 'Dog Of Two Head' and 'Piledriver' albums to songs such as 'Roxette' and 'All Through The City'.
My family moved to Essex when I was 16 and on the road to somewhere. I had my first shag, smoked my first spliff and realised there was a world out there. As an 'A'-level student at Basildon College, I had very little money, but I always made sure I had enough for my guitar lesson with my tutor, Les Titford, who lived just off Canvey's sea-front. Sometimes I had the fare for the 8-mile bus journey. More often I had enough to get me part of the way, and the driver would 'very kindly' drop me off at the spot where the money had been used up. With almost-unplayable Hondo II electric guitar in hand, I would walk to Les's gaff, spend an hour entangling my fingers trying to learn Hotel bleedin' California, and then an 8-mile walk back from Canvey to Pitsea. Then another 4-mile walk from Pitsea to Basildon College, where I would pose in the canteen with my guitar gently stroked by my long Francis Rossi hair, hoping to get noticed by anyone, and wait for an hour or so before bunking off my Maths class.
Why am I telling you this? 1. Because stories are to people what water is to fish; 2. Because rock'n'roll music is about more than gimmicks or style or stars; and 3. Because it's got a lot to do with Wilko Johnson. He and the Feelgoods connected with me because they were from my neighbourhood. Because they were an extraordinary band from an ordinary town, it made us all aware that we had the potential to be extraordinary, too.
The merest mention of Canvey Island immediately reminds me of the Feelgoods. As a kid we would have our family holidays there at my Nan & Grandad's caravan - in the park just next to the oil refinery. Many a time my Grandad and I would lose golf balls by firing them over the oil refinery fence - probably why I never took up the stupid game as an adult. But when Dr Feelgood's first album was released, Canvey took on a whole new meaning for me. Music was local at last. Strange comment, particularly when you consider that loads of bands have hailed from my 'manor' as a kid - Small Faces being just one I could mention (and did, just then), but this was NOW and I was THERE, and Wilko was the geezer who made people fear the Telecaster. Those long walks back from Canvey didn't feel like a pain because I was on Canvey Island, with a guitar, and that was good enough for me. I would forget my lesson (stuff The Eagles) and - I know I did this - sing Feelgood songs whilst walking along the death-trap A130 back to Sadler's Farm Junction and on to Pitsea High Street. Pre-internet meant that the only chance to see this geezer playing was an occasional OGWT delight, but I knew then that he must have had fingernails made out of diamond-coated bullets. My fingernails faint at the sight of a guitar string, but Wilko, without the use of a plectrum, could play for hours. Yes, there would be blood on the frets, but the fingernails remain - the sign of a master.
I introduced my eldest son to Dr Feelgood at the age of ten and, to my sheer joy, he took to them from the start. I can guarantee that when he gets his hands on my ipod in the car, 'Roxette' will be one of the first five songs that gets played.
There are a handful of musicians that have truly inspired me. Wilko is one of them. Others include: Pete Townshend (for everything he does, except for the occasional howler, but nobody's perfect, right?); Hendrix (for his revolution); Robert Fripp (for his madness in the face of conspired sanity around him); Ray Davies (for the songs); David Gilmour (for the beautiful guitar solos). But Wilko gave me something else - as Graham Coxon aptly stated: 'white-knuckle Telecaster abuse'. He was neither ashamed of where he came from or embarrassed about where he ended up. What more could anyone ask?"
Dave Pope, Jan 2013
Here's Wilko playing
Here's Wilko talking
24.12.12 Earl's Court Exhibition Centre, one of London's landmark music venues, is facing demolition, making way for multi-zillion quid apartments. This is outrageous! Criminal! Fight the power and sign this petition. Otherwise, Horrible Head will have nowhere suitably intimate to play on their reunion tour in 2095.
23.12.12 G.T. Thomas Gwen's ambitious plans for live performance gathers apace. Go here - http://www.gtthomas.com/index/strette-o-sphere2013.html - for news of her Strette-O-Sphere project, why don'tcha?
7.10.12 Bisonics Rooz Tavakoli's film of 'Salmon Pink Raincoat' (from Bisonics' 'Seconds' album) reveals itself in HD splendour on both Vimeo [Vimeo.com] and YouTube [YouTube]. Praise higher than God's stovepipe hat to Kate Quinton and Graham Cawte for their excellent performances.
1.10.12 G.T. Thomas Two-way endorsement frenzy abounds as Gwen provides the vocal for a coffee commercial [YouTube.com] and none other than Van Dyke Parks waves the flag and hoots the vuvuzela for Gwen's 'Luckless Pedestrian Years' CD. To quoth the Zelig of popular song, "We carry G.T. Thomas' album in our car, to reduce road rage in L.A. It's a great intro into her subtlety and power as an arranger/songwriter and orchestrator. Check it out!"
17.9.12 Jazz Cattle Their debut farewell album 'Relaxing At Gunpoint' - nine new songs plus a remix of their 2010 release 'Fuck Cops' - is available for all your jiving needs at our shop in CD format and as a download on bandcamp [http://bisonics.bandcamp.com/album/relaxing-at-gunpoint]. For purchasers of the CD, there is also 'Kolibri', a free limited edition CD album of the original demos. The demos - markedly dissimilar from the finished songs - will not be released on the internet.
11.9.12 Horrible Head 'The Natural State (No Time For Nerves)' [http://vimeo.com/49276396] is a 20-minute film wherein the Horribles' guitarist and drummer meet up in Little Rock, Arkansas to smash through a leper's handful of songs for the first time in 26 years. The original recordings of 'Sinking Slowly', 'I'm A Loser' and 'They Don't Need Me' are included on the Horrible Head CD 'The Gloom Of Youth' but uncollected song 'Not Your Property' is a completely rewritten and arranged take on the Pope/Hamilton 1985 composition.
1.9.12 The staff of Smoking Ant Records, absolutely tuckered out from avoiding the London Olympics, are swanning off for a short holiday. To keep a smile on your kite and a twinkle in your toes, we have produced a few jolly music films for you.
G.T. Thomas performs a solo rendition of 'Far' from her 'Luckless Pedestrian Years' album here [http://vimeo.com/47621285].
A film for 'Sore Thumb Parade', from Bisonics' 'Seconds', can be squinted at on YouTube here [YouTube ] or in non-compressed High Definition glory on vimeo here [https://vimeo.com/48217026].
There's a pretty basic promo for Jazz Cattle's 'British Empire State' here [YouTube]
and a big budget (£100) film for Jazz Cattle's 'Let Me Paint A Picture For You' here [http://vimeo.com/47442418].
1.8.12 G.T. Thomas - never a 50%-will-doer - is scouting for players and payers for her Pop Orchestrette. If you have the musical chops or the casino chips, and want to help make a dream come true, then step right this way: http://www.gtthomas.com/index/patrons.html
23.7.12 Bisonics, Horrible Head, Reticents, Loudsneakers and Doug & Paul all feature on Billy Snyder's London Olympics-themed radio show on the OKIBOKI Pirate Radio Station [http://okiboki.com/]. This programme will be available to hear online for the next couple of weeks. Tune in and discover who was 'The James Bond of British garage rock'! In honour of Billy S - the OK Blokey of OKIBOKI - this label will be getting together a team of our most enthusiastic drinkers to enter the Paralytics 500 Litres High Gurgling. Bring it up!
10.7.12. Bisonics. Doug Murphy, fret-throttler of this parish and local Bobby to the gentry, rejoins his native Norwegian band Keeper for their seasonal shoutalong single 'Summer Again' (YouTube).
Prince admires waxwork of G.T. Thomas
14.6.12 Bisonics With words and phrases such as 'nausea', 'pornographic fascism'. 'paranoid worldview', 'inviolable' and 'over-reaching pretentiousness', Rumours Of Peace [http://rumourspeace.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/odds-sods-dark-but-brilliant.html] have reviewed 'Seconds' and Doug & Paul's 'Only Two Can Play' albums in a manner that could almost make you believe that music matters.
22.05.12 G.T. Thomas Pop along here [http://soundcloud.com/radiomeisjes-2/radiomeisjes-uitzending-5] and scroll along to 34m20s for a brief gibber-jabber with Gwen and a gaggle of Dutch DJs, one of whom sounds remarkably like Bruno (the Sacha Baron Cohen character). At the 40 minute mark there's a live solo rendition of 'North Star'. Shoopershtar!
20.05.12 Reticents Their farewell/get-off-and-good-riddance release, the 'I Want One Too' E.P. (2010), is now available to be ignored and shunned en masse on bandcamp [http://bisonics.bandcamp.com/album/i-want-one-too-e-p]. Along with new graphics supplied by ex-Horrible Head twangsmith Dave Pope, the original four-song release has been bolstered by their 11-second tribute-cum-jingle to DJ Marko Fontaine, whose tireless championing of the band on his WCNS and WECS radio programme Marko's Punk Rock Jukebox has put them where they are today - in penury.
Sashay along to here for the background poop about the making of this landmine recording.
18.05.12 G.T. Thomas Click here, why don't you, for gushsome upthumbery of her Moognificent album.
17.05.12 Jazz Cattle Twitches of life were detected at Westbourne Rehearsal Studios in West London when vocal tracks to 'Wonderworld', 'Waves Of Words' and 'Let Me Paint A Picture For You' were thrillingly re-mumbled.
27.03.12 Doug Murphy & Paul Hamilton Two songs from their 'Only Two Can Play' album have been used to soundtrack film student Roozbeh Tavakoli's short 'Dealer's Waiting Room' (YouTube).
13.2.12 This YouTube stuff is all well and good up to a point but, if you want to watch films without having your retinas raped, you'd be well advised to wander around vimeo.com (he says, surreptitiously receiving a back-hander). We're currently in the process of slinging our better filmic efforts up on http://vimeo.com/smokingant/videos
10.3.12 Jazz Cattle Better Lactate Than Never: Whilst their album is being milked, pasteurised, creamed and homogenised, the 'Zcats' debut recording, 'Fuck Cops', is now grazing at http://bisonics.bandcamp.com/track/fuck-cops.
5.3.12. Bisonics Their 15-song monsterpiece 'Seconds' is now available as a download album at http://bisonics.bandcamp.com/album/seconds. Audioheads need not flinch and cower at the thought of this version being some weedy, tinny, 9000th-rate mp3 rubbish. We have used the full-strength AIFF master files, and we recommend you buy the FLAC version (at no extra cost) for a better class of headache.
Unfortunately, due to the bandcamp website's restrictions on graphics, we couldn't include Stephanie Johnson's excellent CD booklet of images without merciless cropping. We didn't want to see her works butchered so, as a compromise, the download version of 'Seconds' has a replacement set of illustrations doodled by Paul Hamilton.
1.3.12. Reticents Their tribute to British broadcasting legend and self-proclaimed 'World's Most Boring Man' John Peel is there to hear and see on YouTube (YouTube). One suspects they are trying to honour the 'Exquisitely Dull' one in the aptest way possible with the World's Most Boring Video.
29.2.12. G.T. Thomas Fittingly, perhaps, it was on this Leap Year day that had us leaping in the air when we learnt that Danny Baker had been playing a couple of La Thomas' songs on his BBC London 94.9 FM show. 'Food For Thought' (YouTube) was on the menu of his 17.2.12 broadcast, and 'North Star' (YouTube) was found brightening his show of 28.2.12.
19.2.12. Loudsneakers A mere 18 months after the release of their debut album, Loudsneakers burst into action with a video for its opening song Me And The Moon (YouTube). Filmed at Tate Britain, singer Sean meanders round the exhibits and has his tower of boxes knocked over - not once, but twice - by fledgling art lovers.
A gentle reminder that the undoneup album is available as a download for under £4 and FREE if bought with Bisonics' mighty Seconds CD. Pop to our SHOP for details.
25.1.12. A belated 'Happy New Year' for 2012 from all of us here, and an extremely premature 'Happy New Year' for 2013. Bisonics have been titting about with their cameras again and putting together some videos for some songs from their 'Seconds' album.
Shark [ YouTube ] uses Stephanie Johnson's artwork from the album's booklet, whilst Soft Afternoons [ YouTube ] was made with the help of London art scene's maverick Harry Pye, for which a prolonged outbreak of curtseys.
Five Little Monkeys [ YouTube ] features Hamilton's nieces Megan and Emily, plus nephew Shaun, going bananas.
My Drugly Past (Part 2) [ YouTube ] features appearances by all three Bisonics. Woooo!
Plans are afoot to make an extended film about 'Seconds'. Rest assured, it won't be a clip'n'quip effort like those yawnful TV arts documentaries - if it gets made at all...
If there's one fault with this modern age, where anything can be accessed in a matter of a few clicks, and where everyone can be informed about it seconds later, it's precisely that: There's no Holy Grail-like quest for something and there's no way of keeping a secret. (That's actually two faults. - Ed.)
The emphysemic insects in the Research & Development Dept of Smoking Ant Records are ancient enough to recall a time when days, if not years, were spent by music fanatics searching for an elusive record - some French-released single, perhaps, with a rare picture sleeve and otherwise-unavailable b-side. And then, one day at a boot fair, hungover and freezing, flipping through some sheepskin-coated scrote's banana box of Tom Jones and Wombles vinyl, it's there! You race home, pour the disc out of its casually-distressed sleeve, slap the b-side face up on your record player, the stylus grinds through the dandruffed and dusty groove, and that long-searched-for song blasts forth. And, verily, it is good. You play it again. It is extremely good. Then you call a couple of mates, tell 'em to drop everything and come round immediately. They must hear this. And hear it they do, and discuss the meanings and importance of this song. Why was it doomed to obscurity? Did The Man try to suppress it?
We know that those days won't come back, but the R & D Dept hope to initiate conversations about music, out of the chat rooms and back into the bedrooms and bars, and want to give people the heartwarming thrill of exclusivity - the fact they have and know something that the internet doesn't.
Therefore, we announce SRCO - the Secret Record Club Organisation. How it works is this:
'Seconds', the next Bisonics album, will not be officially released online via Bandcamp, Amazon, iTunes and the rest until February 2012. However, the CD version will be available from Monday 28th November, a full two months ahead of its scheduled unveiling. Hear one of the albums of 2012 in 2011! The only thing we ask of you is to refrain from putting the album online. Thanks.
Since this is an experiment, we will make a special offer to all participants: With each purchase of 'Seconds', you have the choice of an extra album - Bisonics' 'Play For Today', Doug Murphy & Paul Hamilton's 'Only Two Can Play', Loudsneakers' 'undoneup' or 'The Gloom Of Youth' by Horrible Head - absolutely free.
Go to the Shop page now - go on, go on! - and waste no time in ordering 'Seconds'.
1.11.11 G.T. Thomas Just in case it may have slipped your attention...
4.11.11 Bisonics Smoking Ant's design supremo Stephanie Johnson has an exhibition of her graphics at The Wauregan Gallery, 200 Main Street, Norwich, Connecticut, USA on Friday & Saturday afternoons from 4th November till 3rd December. Amongst other commissions there are prints of her designs for Jazz Cattle, Horrible Head and Bisonics, including the premiere of the 16 artworks that adorn their forthcoming 'Seconds' album. More info at http://ravenseyrie.wordpress.com/
18.10.11 G.T.Thomas will be spending the day of her album's launch (11/11/11) at the Vredenburg Leidsche Rijn, Utrecht, Netherlands where she and husband Berend Dubbe (formerly of Bauer and Bettie Serveert), backed by the Metropole Orchestra, will sing the Cab Calloway tune 'Old Man Of The Mountain', which was premiered in the 'Betty Boop' film from 1933, and, yes, you guessed right, we're trying to write the longest sentence ever but, no, we're going to have to stop for a breather.
Well, if you ARE wandering around Utrecht on Friday 11th November and fancy experiencing a live orchestra playing a selection of classic movie themes (including The Godfather, Lawrence Of Arabia, Singin' In The Rain, The Last Emperor), then grab your air baton and check out the official info, maestro: metropoleorkest.nl.
Tickets can be got right here: www.vredenburg.nl
17.10.10 G.T. Thomas has been on the sunny streets of Amsterdam to make a sunny video for her 'Song For A Walk'. As she rightly states in the chorus, "It's nice to be outside", but you'll probably have to be inside to watch it. Here it is: YouTube
12.10.11 Bisonics As their album edges nearer like a man with gout in both of his bare feet (and a wheelbarrow full of Henry Moore sculptures on his back) staggering across a desert made entirely of drawing pins, here is yet another taste of what to expect. A folksy, wistful tale of drink-soaked lust at a school reunion, 'Re: Union' is musically a radical departure from their usual loud shambles. This time, it's a quiet shambles. Click, look and listen: YouTube
29.9.11. Doug Murphy & Paul Hamilton. 'Only You Can Play', their fly-on-the-wall, eye-off-the-ball 25-minute documentary is available for anyone to see here - Vimeo.com. The object of the exercise was to promote their 'Only Two Can Play' CD but, unless it was done subliminally, you'd be hard-pressed to find it mentioned through the non-stop gorging of biscuits.
18 & 30.9.11. Jazz Cattle. Vocals, keyboards and rhythm tracks for nine songs have been recorded in preparation for the 'Zcats' full-length album (due for Spring 2012 escape). Gadget buffs will be thrilled to learn that one song was created with much use of the Teenage OP-1. Subject matter includes the Night Of The Long Knives, alcoholic fathers and junkie daughters, the skin game, senile dementia and double-crossing spies. Hotcha!
22.9.11. Bisonics. Marko's Punk Rock Jukebox radio show in Connecticut, USA (see LINKS page for details) premiered the W.C. Fields tribute 'Looking For Carl La Fong' from their as-yet-unleashed 'difficult Seconds album'. "Who is Carl La Fong?" we hear you cry. Well, just have a look at this... YouTube
3.9.11. Bisonics. The making of their follow-up album to 'Play For Today' has been fraught with a catalogue of upset and disaster, resulting in almost-interminable delays. It was with a heavy heart that, after completing six of the 15 songs, Si Beex announced his decision to abandon his performance and production duties due to protracted ill-health. However, armed with Beex's notes and ideas, Paul Hamilton and Jason Emberton (who mixed and mastered 'Only Two Can Play' to great acclaim) have finished the album, to be titled (for a variety of reasons) 'Seconds'. Despite the growing preference for single-song-downloads, Bisonics are insistent on making the CD very special, being adorned by a book of artwork - something for the eyes to dance to.
1.9.11. G.T. Thomas has contacted us with the excellent news that her album is completed and will be mastered shortly. Gwen's songs will lighten your load and brighten your day - as you can soon discover for yourself. The release date for her debut is, aptly, 11/11/11.
25.8.11. Jazz Cattle have finally remembered that they're supposed to be making music rather than money from winning every London pub quiz they deign to enter. A leper's handful of songs are ready to be recorded, with more on their way. What will they sound like, we hear you scream? Think Lionel Bart Meets Steely Dan...
5.8.11. Loudsneakers went on a surfing holiday on the South Coast of England. Come on, chaps! Relax! You're plugging your album too hard.
4.7.11. Doug Murphy/Paul Hamilton's 'Only Two Can Play' 9-song CD released. It has become something approaching a hit in Norway (Doug's manor) with major radio station airplay and a 5 out of 6 review by Roar Eskild Jacobsen, in the newspaper Haugesunds Avis (14th July 2011), who wrote, amongst other affirmative things, "There is more life here than I have heard for a long time, and in a more local perspective, it's probably the most innovative sound I've heard since Oral Constitution (ca. 1993)... The sound is incredible. This isn't a performance that was phoned in. Every beat, every bass line and, not least, the vocals sound seriously tough and are in fact clearly well thought-out. Nine songs, all solid by themselves, yet fitting perfectly together. Mass suggestion now."
We don't quite know what is meant by the last sentence (Norwegian can be a tricky lingo to translate at times) but we like the sound of it.
Meanwhile, in the colonies, Connecticut's college radio station have also been blasting a large selection of songs from 'Only Two Can Play'. Marko, host of Thursday and Friday's Punk Rock Jukebox, has called it "a bloody excellent album - pardon my English".
A video for the opening song, 'Mr Potter Of Creep St', is here: YouTube
12.6.11. Bisonics' plans to play some gigs with Australian member Si Beex performing via Skype or Face Time or Gargle+ have been scuppered due to a downturn in Si's (already poor) state of health.
1.3.11. Bisonics At last it can be revealed! The reason behind vile despots Mubarak and Gaddafi trying to stop the internet from operating in their respective dictatorships is because Bisonics have released a sneak preview of their album-in-progress. 'A Karaoke Version Of Myself' is supplied with the same footage but re-modelled; a karaoke video of itself. Smoking Queen Ant Stephanie Johnson, our designer uber alles, has opted for a Hollywood look here - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tijbLW6tsxM - all Faye-light, eyes-bright, skin tancer, and made to look literally and figuratively like a letterbox screen. The alternative visual mix at http://vimeo.com/20169685 opts for the ghost-in-the-machine approach.
20.2.11 Loudsneakers Despite zilch publicity, their debut album 'undoneup' appears to be quite popular. Americans can obtain this nine-song wonder via mail order from Kool Kat Musik here: https://order-vault.net/
5.1.11 Bisonics are planning live appearances later this year, buoyed by successfully popping out for Bounty bars and Lotto tickets. How can all three appear onstage when they live in different continents? "Skype!" proclaims Doug Murphy. Whilst we leave you to ponder the mind-shattering geopolitical implications, here is Doug's spoken word piece, a 20-minute audiobook entitled 'Dear Santa' - http://subtext.no/kjartan/dearsanta/index1.html Unlike most other Christmas presents, it's one that you'd want to keep - and share.
14.12.10 Reticents celebrate the making of the I Want One Too video by splitting up almost immediately. Living up to the dictionary definition of their band name, Thomson, Toynton and Hamilton are cat's-whiff silent as to the whys and wherefores. It's not important. The songs remain in all their shattered majesty. Never mind the shambolics.
10.12.10 Advertising whizzkids DeLeet, Dunderhead & Skwint produce award-losing promo clips for Loudsneakers' 'Shut Up Shop' (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TqNZ0yjud4s), Horrible Head's 'I'm A Loser' (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PFgvpWdzIpE) and Reticents' 'I Want One Too' (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7LXT2WS4Peg). "Simple but effective," explains effectively simple director Sly d'Sho.
8.11.10 Horrible Head "The Gloom Of Youth", the Horribles' collection of 4-track yellalongs from 1986, is now primed for unleashment. Grab your ear trumpets and monocles and catch them screaming one of their own ballads here - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vw-XpjXxHJA - and there - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iA2IP_lEzCI
21-23.10.10 Bisonics A further eight songs are duly recorded for the next album, provisionally entitled 'The Life And Death Of Tall Elf'. These short, sharp shockers include Samuel the goldfish, Carl LaFong (for all you W.C. Fields fans), a school reunion, the fear-frozen grin of an astronaut monkey, chapped lips, a salmon pink raincoat and rum-laced coffees. The day before the sessions commenced, the news broke that Slits screamstress Ari Up had died. In tribute, Bisonics improvised a song for her called 'aRI uP'.
29.9.10 Bisonics The hundreds of photos prepared in June have been junked in favour of a more Bisonical approach to video clip-making. See what Hamilton and Gordon Beswick did to the tune of Bisonics' "Beyond" with just a camera, a bowl of water, some ink and a pipette by leaping over to here: http://www.vimeo.com/15375302
27.9.10 Horrible Head The prospect of "The Gloom Of Youth" [see 14.5.10] edges ever-nearer to becoming a reality as Jason Emberton and Hamilton complete the final mixes, nail the songs into a running order that doesn't trip itself up, and master the monster. With song titles like I'm A Loser, Sinking Slowly, Another Lonely Place, They Don't Need Me and Got To Get Out, you just know it's gonna be a right old family knees-up sing-a-long album. Put your money in razor blades now!
1.7.10 Bisonics Murphy and Hamilton report that sketches for 10 new songs have been recorded. The cast of characters include a shoe-spewing shark, jumping monkeys, a murderer hanging in the hallway, a crowd of legless men in a topless bar, and a conveyor belt of rigid, frigid brides.
9-10.7.10 Bisonics Hamilton catches the RyanAir economy Get Out And Push flight to Haugesund, Norway to see whether he and Doug Murphy can invent any more songs in one take with no rehearsal.
6.10 Bisonics In their respective countries, Murphy (Norway), Beacon (Australia) and Hamilton (England) take hundreds of photos for a film of their song "Beyond", due to be put together by Gordon Beswick (director of Reticents' video "I'm All Right [It's The Others]") in July.
1.6.10 Bisonics Their 19-song CD "Play For Today" escapes.
Arts blog worldwidereview.com had some commentators enthusing or defusing... Here are some extracts:
'[...] one hell of a mixed bag bursting with ideas both good and bad. Most of the songs sound like they were recorded in 1979. (That wasn't meant as a dig by the way - many of my most treasured albums came out that year!)'
'"The Last Post" sounds rather like The Stranglers.'
'"What Happened" is a silly song about two sad men complaining about being let down by the other. It's unintentionally comic and reminds me of the parodies of pop songs on Not The Nine O'Clock News.'
'W.O.E. is, quite frankly, an astonishing mixture of Joy Division, Graham Parker and The Fall. "Starecase" made me want to dig out Alex Chilton's Sister Lovers L.P. "Tender" - another great track that brings to mind Elvis Costello circa "Trust". [However] "The Next Door Neighbours", "This Is" and "Someone Else's Wife" made me cringe and all outstayed their welcome. '
'I asked Gemma what did the record sound like and she went, "Urgh, a bit blokey, anal-retentive trainspottery every-single-copy-of-Q filling the wardrobe kind of thing. Sort of Blur pretending to be someone else".'
'[...] it's probably the most unproduced record ever - certainly since 'Bend Sinister' by The Fall. And that's refreshing because I find that the records in the last couple of years are simply little more than wavering noise tones compressing music like a bus-squelched badger. '
'If there's a fault with it, it's its all-over-the-placeness. But that's also its charm. Whereas most bands can spread the same idea across albums and decades, Bisonics valiantly attempt to crowbar everything in - because it might be the only chance they get. '
'I wish Flaming Lips had this amount of ideas...'
'If they were artists, I'd imagine Bisonics being Stuckists rather than the ghastly tories of BritArt middle-aged contemptibles. '
'I suppose the reassuring thing about the Bisonics is they'll probably only last for one album and then disappear, conveniently for the NME of 2025 to hail them as the true godlike geniuses because, by then, hopefully, they'll be dead and won't be around to spoil the illusion.'
'Hey, I think you might be the victim of a hoax. A few years back Kevin Eldon (from Brass Eye) had a character called Paul Hamilton and I know Chris Morris does brilliant parodies of Jarvis Cocker etc. So I reckon Bisonics is part of some project that will reveal itself next time one of those jokers is on TV.'
'I played the song "What Happened" and it really tore me up. On the surface it's about a gay manager priming his protege for fame and then being rejected but underneath theres this whole subtext of manipulation, emotional uncontrollable forces and the aspect of money and how it goads then corrodes. "What Happened" has this very soft singer with a warm croon - sort of Scott Walker but very English - giving you his side of the story - how he's sacrificed everything for his little star. It ends with the star sounding wrecked like Marianne Faithfull saying, "I didn't want this anyway". If you love musicals and high camp you'll definitely like this but this is kind of butch camp because they have all those rock guitars when it should be Angela Morley orchestrations. Bowie and Sinead O'Connor could do a great hetero cover.'
'Sounds like kweer shit to me. Crack that rock shit fool. that;s well dead. Why you wasting time on old shit? no1 here talkin bout th street'
14. 5. 10 Horrible Head Whilst completing "undoneup", Sean Hyde unearths some tape cassettes of 4-track recordings from 1986 and passes them to Smoking Ant. These Portastudio sessions are digitised by Jason Emberton. They may be released with the tentative title "The Gloom Of Youth".
13-18. 4. 10 Loudsneakers After a year of intermittent activity, Sean Hyde completes the "undoneup" album. Smoking Ant inquire when Loudsneakers are going to go on tour and promote the record. "Well, I've got to collect the kids from school. Then there's the dinner to make. Oh, and the World Cup in June..."
1.4.10 Reticents Appropriately perhaps, the material for their 4-song E.P. is finished. Thomson adding guitar to "I Want One Too" and Hamilton some Stylophone squalls to "John Peel'.
15-18. 3.10 Bisonics With nine songs in the bag after as many months, Simon Beacon abandons his attempt to complete the production on Bisonics' "Play For Today" album due to continual ill-health. Malcolm Gayner and Hamilton mix and master the remaining ten in four days.
22.1.10 Reticents Toynton & Hamilton make unannounced performance at an open-mike evening at The Star & Garter, Greenwich, London and play their tribute to DJ John Peel. The unrehearsed Stylophone solos were acclaimed by two groovers of fine vintage as "Pure Crimson, son. Total Crimson."