The flexi disc is perhaps the most underdiscussed and underappreciated of physical sound carriers. Maybe the childhood or adolescent connotations of vinyl’s bendy sibling along with a strong fanclub and fanzine history robs it of its true worth. My own first experience with a flexi was when very little. Sergei Prokofiev‘s ‘Peter and the Wolf’ plus colour picture book in return for Ribena or Vimto labels/bottle tops painstakingly collected by my mum. I’ve found flexis in a charity shops since, freebies from old Smash Hits or the inky music mags. One had an interview with Frankie Goes to Hollywood, an anonymous dead pan voice asking each member questions like ‘do flowers scream when you pick them?’ A 2020 reissue and thorough polish turned the songs on The Bluebells’ 1984 album ‘Sister‘ into a wonderful and precious work. Glasgow’s Monorail record shop’s own edition had a carefully curated zine and flexi disc of King Creosote covering the classic ‘Cath’. Sweet icing on the most moreish cake.
Arriving this week for this year’s Record Store Day #2 is ‘You Flexi Thing Vol 8: X-Ray Flex’ from Swansea/Cambridge underground label R*E*P*E*A*T Records. Given Record Store Day largely churns out coloured vinyl by cash cows and heritage acts, straying far from any original intentions, it’s encouraging to see independent artists and grassroots concerns getting an invite to the party via the medium of a more affordable format. The reach of this Persil-white flexi disc with songs from Bandicoot‘s Tom Emlyn, The Darling Buds, The Monoliths and The Verdicts is geographically wide, with songs from South Wales and East Anglian artists, and embraces indie legends and fresher meat.
‘Serenade‘ from Bandicoot’s Tom Emlyn (pictured) is a song of longing. It broadens out and blooms beautifully from simple romantic notions to wider, deeper admissions of vulnerability. There’s humour in there if you listen out carefully for it, and gentle affections – “I’d like to serenade you, because you are the bomb”. Love the guitar comeback at the end, like Emlyn has thoughts to mull over before concluding his thoughts. Serenade has already picked up airplay on BBC Radio Wales, and quite right too.
Tom Emlyn, Primitive Soul, The Mudd Club and more, Swansea Creature Sound, August 7
The Darling Buds’ ‘Jump In‘ sees the Newport legends as fresh and tuneful as ever. Andrea Lewis Jarvis’ familiar sweet yet determined vocal over classic indie guitar, what is there not to love? Apparently there is a new album on its way, a follow up to ‘Erotica‘ released almost 30 years ago.
The Darling Buds – Newport Le Pub, September 11
‘Fuck Oasis’ by The Monoliths actually made me laugh. Not because it’s crap – on the contrary – but instead because each syllable is drawn out with wonderful venom. A raw sore throat vocal with all the fury teen punk can possibly manage. The Monoliths really do not like Oasis. At. All. Cherishing the thought of a Liam ‘As You Were’ Gallagher response.
The Verdicts’ ‘You Believe‘ is 100% punk mosh pit-ready. The forthcoming gig by them and The Monoliths will be just about the most angst ridden imaginable, but absolutely necessary for 2021. They lay out a no-frills-what-so-fucking-ever message baldly and boldly. The world needs reminding Boris Johnson and The Sun are twats, and that’s that.
The Monoliths / The Verdicts – Cambridge Portland Arms, August 13
‘You Flexi Thing Vol 8’ is available exclusively from participating indie record stores nationwide (list here), with artwork by Phil Rose from July 17. Cat No MBRR158.