7 January 2011

Featured Blog: Reeks Of Effort

As odd as it may seem as a blogger, I've decided to feature other blogs and writers on here so to draw attention to the good things other people are doing. It's a bit like Tesco telling their shoppers to go to Asda, I know, but I'm crazy like that.

The first of hopefully many other blog features is Reeks Of Effort - a blog run by some guys from Cardiff that I only stumbled upon fairly recently. What I liked about it was that it's main focus seemed to be on lesser known older bands, rather than bands that have barely had chance to play their first show. I also liked that I didn't have a clue about a good few of these bands yet loved their music almost instantly. Find below an email conversation with those behind that blog, disguised cleverly as a face-to-face interview.

Hello, Reeks Of Effort. Who am I speaking to today

Owen and Alex.

Describe to me what your blog is, and the reasons that you and your friends write on it?

Owen: It's basically something I started when i was bored and felt like inflicting my favourite records on anyone who cared enough to look at it. Then it gradually expanded into something that reviewed gigs we'd been to around Cardiff or whatever, and I started to let my stupid friends write about records and shows. It's main function is to introduce people to independent music that may have been overlooked or forgotten. Me and Alex are the factory owners and James, Max and Rob are the minions.

Alex: I'd written for a site for the better part of two years but it's difficult to keep interested in writing about music when you spend half time sugar-coating reviews of mediocre albums to keep the labels happy so they don't cut the stream of promos off. I figured writing for this blog gave me a chance to talk about music on my own terms free of label politics, not to sound all "fuck the man" about it.

Aged under 20, you’re posting about the likes of Beat Happening, Sarah Records, The Vaselines and even more obscure bands largely from the early 90s. How did you get so deep into a scene that isn’t especially well known and that started before you were even born?

Owen: Well, I can't speak for Al, but I was pretty into DC punk bands like Rites of Spring and Nation of Ulysses, which in turn led me to Riot Grrrrrl bands like Bikini Kill. So then I was listening to a Bikini Kill song, I think it was "False Start", and she was just singing in this kinda child like way over some dumb riff and I loved it. This helpfully coincided with going to see a screening of the K Records film with a Q and A from Calvin Johnson, I remember the bands on it sounded exactly like "False Start" and so I started listening to those K bands like Tiger Trap and Mecca Normal. It was all like dominos falling, and Sarah records etc was just part of that. It felt like i'd tapped into a pretty rich vein.

Alex: Well, with the internet obviously our age isn't a barrier in anyway, or even I guess the obscurity of the records. I was pretty into Husker Du, Black Flag, Dino Jr etc. and I happened to be reading Our Band Could Be Your Life which I guess is a beginner's guide to that sort of thing. It was when reading the chapter on Beat Happening that I started becoming aware of the legacy of Calvin Johnson, who I'm ashamed to admit I'd previously dismissed as a minor player in some biography of Kurt Cobain I read when I was like 14. Of course this was around the time he was doing the K Records night, so I guess I ended up following pretty much the same trail as Owen. I always feel I'm relatively lacking in knowledge of K/Sarah bands behind the more obvious ones, though.

For you, who were the best or most influential band of the 90s?

Owen: I really couldn't say, there was too much good shit. Lou Bega?

Alex: Maybe My Bloody Valentine? I seem to hear bits of them at every stage of their career in every new shoegaze/jangle/whatever band about.

Owen: Yeah, that's the band that might come the closest, but most of that MBV stuff i really love was from the 80s.

You went to see Sonic Youth in London recently, right? Were they as incredible as everyone would expect them to be, or can people like me who missed them not feel like complete idiots for doing so because that they weren't that good?

Owen: They were obviously great, but overshadowed by Shellac, who killed it. Al wrote a review of the show on the blog if you wanna take a look (here). Sonic Youth definitely felt like headliners though, whatever that means.

Alex: Yeh, with Sonic Youth you pretty much know you're gonna get a good show. I'm sure a lot of people who don't really follow the band these days would've been a bit disappointed by the lack of old stuff and I guess I'd have liked to have seen them play a couple more old ones. But the new album's as worthy as anything else they've done and I think it's pretty cool they're not doing the typical rockstar thing of just going through a greatest hits set.

We know about some of the older bands and labels you’re fond of, any new stuff worth checking out that people might not know of?

Owen: Harbour (MySpace) are probably the best hardcore band I know of at the moment, and they're from Cardiff, so check that out. They released a split with Facel Vega a while ago, who are equally awesome. The Sceptres (MySpace) are also pretty cool, kind of garage rock, maybe like Slant 6. I play in two bands, one of which has the nerve to call itself something as stupid as Joanna Gruesome, so I get to see equally stupid bands that I would never see otherwise. I can't think of anything that's totally, totally new though. Uhhh, well, last year I enjoyed this Asobi Seksu album and I like the new PJ Harvey single. Oh, Seapony (bandcamp) and Dysneyland (MySpace) are fun, check that out. Try to avoid a band called "Saturday's Kids" if you can, though.

Alex: I'm actually presenting a student radio show at the moment so I feel I'm supposed to be some kind of expert on this. Only problem is you end up thinking in terms of singles rather than albums. So I apologise if I'm hyping bands based on the strength of one or two songs here. Feels a bit obvious to mention twee/shoegaze bands but whatever. Apart from Seapony, I thought Young Prisms (MySpace) and Weekend (MySpace) released some promising singles. I feel I should mention Ringo Deathstarr (MySpace), they released an album in '09 but I feel they're gonna get a lot more exposure this year. Apart from that there's a band called TV Girl (bandcamp) who seem to be doing pretty cool indie pop and they're named after a Beat Happening song so bonus points for that. Some guy called Levek (MySpace) is doing this kinda cool stuff that sounds like the soundtrack to a really awesome 70s movie, maybe check him out? And a band called Gauntlet Hair (MySpace) released a single called Out Don't which I liked despite it being totally trendy sounding. I could list more but I'd basically be regurgitating playlists at you.

Owen: Gurgle Gurgle. Gauntlet Hair is a shitty band name

Thanks a lot!

If you're looking to get more acquainted with bands from yesteryear you might have missed, as well as the odd new band feature or gig review, Reeks Of Effort is definitely a good place to check out. Keep reading here, though. I don't want this featured blogs thing to backfire.

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