Saturday, 14 February 2015

Hits From The Box #97 - UnValentine's Day

I haven't had to celebrate Valentine's Day for over five years, which is great. My girlfriend's birthday is February 14, so I celebrate that. The thing is, it's so difficult doing anything nice for her because everyone else is getting shitting corporate bullshit gifts; and every restaurant is boosting the cost of dinner to be part of a set menu that mostly have cloying fringe crap like hearts and glitter and other chokable pap. Which means we usually stay home and watch movies and eat chocolate on that day, and head out before or after - which still works out for me at any rate, but it still sucks. So here are six tenuous links to this most hated of corporate days (seriously, love your other every day and make it special, and stop rubbing your faux happiness into singles' face on February 14).

1) For when things become too much or too weird, you need the twisted garage punk rock of Icky Boyfriends. The veteran SF trio have just put out one of the Live in San Francisco records that Castle Face Records love pumping out, and it's a veritable shit tonne of gangrenous fun. This is the kind of gig that if you took your better half to as a date, and she came away loving it, then you have a keeper. Equal parts rock, roll and stagger, all parts sloppy fun. They play the hits and then some - including this.

2) For when things happen off the cuff, you can dive headlong into the fuzzy lilting doo-wop pop of Impulsive Hearts. The Chicagoans try their hardest to keep things light and spontaneous - their music evokes "swimming after dark, beaches and dance parties" which can sound naff but on a day where manufactured love can go wrong, a bit of sepia tinged rock whimsy can't be a bad thing, can it?

3) For when the choice between a cuddly puppy and a bubble-bath of chocolate is too tight to call, call Pets Or Food. These Swedes call themselves "no romantics" - their new album is called No Romantik in case you thought they were joking - which fits perfectly here, and their sax skronk no wave blitzkrieg scours the Valentine scourge from even the lightest touch of love suckers. It's an atonal blast, and while they stand out like a sore thumb on this particular hit list, Pets Or Food are a great band much deserving of your time.

4) For when the one by your side is still sexy even after they fart incessantly...yep, we're talking about Best Friends there. It's taken a little while, but the four Sheffield lads are about ready to bring out their debut, suitably titled LP, Hot. Reckless. Totally Insane., through FatCat Records. Here is their taster, 'Fake Spit', and it's as raucous and silly as you'd expect - great, then.

5) For when the post coital rest is awkward thanks to a climax that shook the walls but also sounded like slightly "human sacrifice"...we have Detroit's Ritual Howls. Their second album Turkish Leather came out on felt Records last year and I missed it, but thankfully am picking up the slack due to this video for 'Zemmoa'. There is a pagan intensity to the echo on the vocals, and the incessant drum beat and apocryphal guitar lines add a feverish layer to proceedings, ebbing and flowing like the release of blood.

6) Finally, for when there is no one to be your Valentine - you may as well do it for yourself. Free Yourself is the new record from Flesh Lights - perfectly named, I'm sure you will agree. These Texan punks are all about injecting punch into their pop - there is nothing fake about this, it's just unadulterated fun for all concerned. And if you have thrown this on in the darkness of your room, all alone - why shouldn't you be able to indulge in a little fun me time? You're just about due...

Happy UnValentine's Day, everyone!

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