Monday, August 08, 2011

PAWS / LADY NORTH "Split Single"

If the part-homage, part-pun name wasn’t enough, you’ve got to love Gerry Loves Records for their heartfelt fan-boy beliefs: “At Gerry Loves Records we love the intimate feel you get of an artist and their music through vinyl pressings. To us there is nothing quite like buying vinyl - unwrapping it when you get home, carefully taking it out of the sleeve, delicately laying it on your turntable and placing the needle on the record before waiting for that first crackle”.

Following earlier releases by an eclectic collection of artists including Conquering Animal Sound, Debutant and Miaoux Miaoux, today marks the fifth release from the Edinburgh-based micro-indie: a split vinyl 7” single (with extra download tracks too) by two contrasting Scots bands.

Edinburgh’s Lady North is an energetic collision of math-rock intensity and prog-jazz variation. Over its near six minutes ‘It’s All About Getting That Claude Monet’ shifts pace and focus from furious drum patterns to intricate guitar riffs that sometimes howl and crunch, other times chime like synthesisers. There’s so much going on in its caffeinated rhythms and irregular time signatures, it's a surprise to discover there are only six hands at work, the band being simply a bass, guitar and drums three-piece. ‘Rub ‘n’ Scrub’ continues the robotic avant-pop with a quasi-oriental feel but adding strange wordless, nonsensical chanting; ‘Acid Trips and Pussy Whips’ is a longer, more expansive piece of psychedelic exploration. Put the word ‘jazz-fusion’ in any description and I’d normally pass – but this ain’t tame or smooth, it has a depth that never becomes overly cerebral and its swings from wild looseness to aggressive intensity are thrilling.

Paws are another trio, this time based in Glasgow, but one that joins up all the dots from the pop-punk of The Undertones to current US no-fi scenesters like No Age in a trio of sub-three minute songs (‘Booger’ is actually over four minutes long but other than an extended outro feels punchier). The claws-out ferocity and heads-down pace of ‘Lekker’ kicks off proceedings with taut, exuberant melodies; ‘Booger’ recalls “Copper Blue” Sugar mixed with this year’s lof-fi slacker poster boys Mazes. ‘Kitten’ eases off the accelerator a tad and muffles the vocals somewhat but is still a sturdy, rolling J Mascis-leaning treat.

This split single (three tracks on the vinyl, those plus an extra three come as digital downloads) is a pithy, hard-hitting introduction to both bands but given the format never outstays its welcome. And the contrast in musical styles between both acts only helps to amplify the respective qualities of each. By all accounts the live reputations of both bands are formidable. Sadly if like me, Glasgow and Edinburgh gigs are not an feasible option, you’ll just have to content yourself with the recorded alternative. As Gerry Loves Records remind us at the top: there's nothing quite like buying vinyl.

Paws/Lady North Split Single [BUY]

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