Sunday, August 24, 2008

The Sorts, Sea Tiger - 'How Did You Get There' and 'Theme Song' 7"s

Now is probably as good a time as any to say that, unfortunately, I won't be going to the Hoover/Bluetip reunion show this Wednesday, 27th of August in London. In case you haven't noticed, I don't live in the UK, but neither is London that far away from Dublin... just a few hundred miles, with a short sea crossing in between. Still, it works out a bit too expensive, so no re-living the mid-90s* for me.

This weekend my part of southside Dublin has been hosting the annual DĂșn Laoghaire Festival of World Cultures. Usually based around a few shows by big acts - this year included jazz/afro-beat group Ethiopiques and Chinese singer Sa Dingding - with entertainment and shows in every pub, hotel and open space in the town. Last night we spent some time at the Mr. Whippy Soundsystem parked down by the Carlisle pier, an old railway terminus for the mailboat between Dublin and Holyhead in Wales. It's an ice cream van with a DJ booth inside and, um, 'speaker cones', in which selectahs Mr. Whippy and DJ Bass-Berger, among others, provide "softly-lit, world-wide-water-side downtempo, dub and ambient selections".

* when I was less than 10 years of age.

In honour of those two things, I thought I'd present these two 7" singles that I got recently from Interpunk. An additional reason is Blend's recent post on Zen and the Art of Face Punching: Sevens - 777 which gave the Hoover Genealogy Project a nod. That Sevens 7" ('Hammer'/'Booty', well worth hearing) actually features Joe Lally of Fugazi on drums rather than Chris Farrall of Hoover, but the later releases of Sevens do involve Farral along with Josh La Rue and the Sullivan brothers Bobby and Mark.

As Blend mentions, the web of Hoover and other connections is complicated, but it's particularly complicated with these two bands. Sorts (going by's listing for the 1999 album Contemporary Music) was made up of Carlo Cennamo (The Boom, HIM), Christopher Farrall (Hoover, etc.), Joshua La Rue (Rain Like the Sound of Trains, Sevens, The Boom, Sea Tiger...), Stuart Fletcher (Sea Tiger) and Vin Novara (1.6 Band, Crownhate Ruin). I suspect not all of those people are on this release, but some of them surely are. Sea Tiger (again, going by the listings for their 1999 album Teenage Bandit) included Chris Farrall, Dave Batista (John Henry West), Joseph McRedmond (Admiral, Hoover, the Crownhate Ruin), Joshua La Rue and Stuart Fletcher.

The Sorts have been featured here once before, on the Hoover mixtape, and I discovered them through the two albums, Common Time posted previously on Zen and the Art of Face Punching. 'How Did You Get There' sounds similar to the style on those two albums, with the same key characteristics (laid-back guitars, Chris Farrall's drum fills and, yes, Josh La Rue's warbling vocals) but kicks off in a heavy dub atmosphere. A little descending riff holds the song together for a while, before it locks into a tenser groove at the end of the first side where after emerging into clarity it returns towards the dub sound.

The second side, or 'How Did You Get There Pt. 2' buzzs in as a continuation of the song, but slightly louder and more assertive in both the guitar and the additional sonic surroundings (in fact, if you listen closely it sounds a little bit like the ominous, vibrating hum of 'Electrolux'). The lyrics, which on the first side mostly consist of "how did you get here/way ahead of me?" expand to "use a magnet/not a real magnet/you know what I mean" and "use a ladder/not a real ladder/you know what I mean" (the label for Side b is subtitled or parenthesised as 'use a magnet').

Sea Tiger are a new one to the genealogy here, but given that they are supposed to contain both Christopher Farrall and Joseph McRedmond, it's about time. 'Theme Song' is a much shorter record, with the grooves on the A side extending to barely half the width of the record. It's more like incidental music than the name perhaps does or doesn't suggest, but based around a catchy guitar line and Farrall's rolling drums it's enjoyable enough to listen to. The jazzy feel of the track (including a sort of bass solo in the latter half) gives way to a brief dub treatment at the end, an indication of how close these two bands are in style.

The flip-side, simply entitled 'M.V.', is another relatively brief instrumental piece, but this time with a heavier, deeper guitar riff and with a heavier beat to it. For stretches it alternates high and low phrases on the guitar while the rhythm section keeps up the dubby jazz feel.

The excellent Epitonic site, which introduced me to a lot of the D.C./Chicago/Mid-West bands including Abilene and Radio Flyer, have this overview on Sea Tiger:

"Like so many underground DC bands, Sea Tiger likes to get real funky. They create complex instrumental arrangements which feature an array of instruments centered around a basic three piece band. The songs are sometimes languid and jazzy, sometimes choppy and funky, but always engaging.

Featuring members of The Sorts, Hoover, Regulator, and Crownhateruin, Sea Tiger lets it all hang out and lets the good times roll, weaving math equations that drop science on your rhythmless buttocks. So kick back and enjoy this collection of lovingly crafted works straight from the minds of some of DC's finest musicians."

As a side note, if you're familiar with vinyl records you might have noticed from the scans above that these two seven inches have wide centres, originally designed for use in jukeboxes. Since these were both released in 1997, I'm assuming this was done somewhat ironically (in addition to the generic label sleeves). It's slightly troublesome as well as being ironic, though, as to play them an adapter needs to be placed around the spindle of the turntable. Mine came equipped with one, that neatly fits into a recess on the base, and which I had all but forgotten about since getting the turntable.

Sorts - Sea Tiger 7"s (vinyl rip)

Sorts and Sea Tiger 7"s on Interpunk.

These singles are apparently some sort of joint release between Southern Records and 'Copper Spurs Productions', although I can't find anything about the latter on the internet, and who were presumably just an ad hoc group or even just a name (the symbol is on the front of the Teenage Bandit and other covers, though.) Below are the stickers on the back (a continuation of the title stuck on the front) which show the rest of the information about the releases. Finally, Juan Carrera, who helped to mix both records, was co-founder of Slowdime Records which released records by Regulator Watts, Hoover, Abilene, The Boom, and The Sorts as well as Kerosene 454 and Bluetip.


josephlovesit said...

It's nice to learn of another new addition to the project, especially when the words "dub" and "jazzy" are involved. Can't wait to hear these.

gabbagabbahey said...

great! they don't scream 'dub' or 'jazz' exactly, but it's there...

josephlovesit said...

Just checking back in to say I loved both singles, particularly "Part 2" of The Sorts single with that weird synth intro and the vocals (they reminded me of Kurt Cobain's vocals).

And cool header, is that you in the Green Day shirt? I have a pretty great Dookie poster that's just the cover art enlarged. Though I recently took it down, I think I might throw it back up now that I've cleared some extra wall space.

josephlovesit said...

Silly me, nevermind that second part. I just read the "About the Picture" in the sidebar.

gabbagabbahey said...

I've never seen Kurt Cobain as a comparison for Josh La Rue's vocals, but it is sorta appropriate. They sound like that on all the other stuff I've heard, too.

And I reckoned people might ask that, so I put in the bit at the side. I have that same Dookie poster still, and the one for Insomniac as well.

Anonymous said...

i think i'm gonna check these out. i need to listen music other than bands associated with another.:/

gabbagabbahey said...

these are bands associated with another..? but, yeah, I think I get your point.

proven hollow said...

sea tiger was great. i highly recommend their other 2 albums as well, teenage bandit and the cyberporpoise ep. also, josh larue has a solo album if interested.

gabbagabbahey said...

yes, I was just listening to Teenage Bandit yesterday. Very good album.