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Rock - Released September 1, 1974 | 4AD

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Pop/Rock - Released January 1, 1980 | 4AD

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Pop/Rock - Released January 1, 1980 | 4AD

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Alternative & Indie - Released September 1, 1980 | 4AD

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Alternative & Indie - Released November 3, 1980 | 4AD

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Alternative & Indie - Released December 1, 1980 | 4AD

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Alternative & Indie - Released May 1, 1981 | 4AD

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Alternative & Indie - Released August 1, 1981 | 4AD

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Alternative & Indie - Released October 1, 1981 | 4AD

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Alternative & Indie - Released April 5, 1982 | 4AD

The real beauty of independent labels like Teenbeat is their ability to put out records like 13 (Lucky for Some), a complete retrospective of the short-lived English post-punk band In Camera (roughly 1979-1981) -- the album's release probably has more to do with Mark Robinson's personal inclinations than any sense of posterity, but that doesn't make it any less interesting. In Camera's work falls somewhere in line with better-known bands like Wire and Gang of Four, only concentrating on the dark, fractured end of this genre rather than the adrenalized punk aggression -- most of the tracks on 13 bear a resemblance to the more sinister, chaotic numbers on Gang of Four's Peel Sessions. But even if the band's work doesn't quite live up to the genre's finest practitioners, there's a good deal of appealing material in their catalog -- plus there's the odd historical quality of these recordings, standing as something like a time capsule of the British post-punk scene. Teenbeat's release also includes circa-1991 mixes of In Camera material, which are decent enough listening even if they ruin the sonic purity of the remaining tracks. ~ Nitsuh Abebe
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Alternative & Indie - Released September 1, 1982 | 4AD

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Alternative & Indie - Released November 1, 1982 | 4AD

The Twins' immediate follow-up to Garlands was something a little more energetic and just a touch friendlier all around, exchanging the album's sometimes trudging feeling for a more fun if still fairly moody set of three songs. "Feathers-Oar-Blades" has something of the rush of prime Siouxsie and the Banshees, often used by contemporaneous critics needing to compare the Twins to somebody. However, Fraser's vocals are her own gentle keening mystery, while Guthrie's rough guitar art and the rumbling punch of the drum machine equally have their own distinct appeal. "Alas Dies Laughing" uses heavy flanging much like Robert Smith did in his Cure recordings of the time to create a queasy, strange atmosphere; the song itself feels more like something that could have ended up on Garlands, but Fraser's more direct vocals mark it as a later performance. "It's All but an Ark Lark" concludes the EP, a lengthy fair enough mid-paced effort that fit in alongside many other Twins songs of the time, most notable for some of Guthrie's strong guitar work as the track progressed. ~ Ned Raggett
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Alternative & Indie - Released November 1, 1982 | 4AD

Hearing Nick Currie singing in a decidedly youthful and almost too precious for words fashion that makes his later work as Momus seem like Bon Scott is one thing, but is the album itself any good? Happily the one full-length work that the Happy Family gave the world, expanded on CD thanks to the inclusion of the Puritans single, is a wry little treat. Its connections to Momus' solo work is almost exclusively through the vocals, and even those, as noted, don't quite sound the same -- otherwise, the results from the band are rushed pre-Smiths post-punk indie pop, the type of thing that Girls at Our Best! fans are likely to love. There's plenty of hints of the Postcard-era material that inspired Currie as well (then again, what else could be expected with Weddell in the band) not to mention a bit of goth work here and there (check out the instrumental breaks on "Letter From Hall" or the tense start of the title track). The guest sax from Steve Kettley and violin from Kirsteen McCormick add a nicely off-sense of semi-sophistication to the whole affair, and as a whole The Man on Your Street sounds pitched somewhere between the try-anything-once early-'80s U.K. pop scene and its understated indie milieu. Currie claimed to feel himself as the cross between Mark E. Smith and Kasper Hauser, but generally he comes across as the Bowie-worshipper he undoubtedly was, crossed with a jaunty smoothness that suggests what the musichall tradition would have sounded it if it were more French than Cockney. No matter, it's all good fun spiked with the sly bitterness later Momus records would bring to the fore, and some of the lyrics are still a hilarious scream: "I'm tying up my future with a fine organization/It's called the Red Brigades and they treat employees well." ~ Ned Raggett
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Alternative & Indie - Released April 4, 1983 | 4AD

Experimenting with other producers, the Twins worked with fellow Scot and Associates member Alan Rankine on this three song effort, though not to fully successful effect. Guthrie later groused that Rankine didn't appreciate the band's music to begin with and swore never to hand over production duties again, though the single itself was a notable independent chart success. The title track appeared in both 7" and 12" versions; either way, the song was definitely a bit atypical for the Twins even at that stage, with cleaner guitar, light keyboards and a tight arrangement which sounds more like early Associates than anything else. The 12" mix is all the more unexpected, aiming for the dancefloor in a way which they would never really try again. Fraser's vocals mark it as a Twins song and no other, at least. As for the other two tracks, "Laugh Lines" has Heggie's bass brought up very prominently in the mix and extra live tambourine from Fraser, while the pounding "Hazel" does its job well enough. The EP was also notable as being the last release on which Heggie appeared before splitting to form Lowlife. ~ Ned Raggett
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Alternative & Indie - Released April 11, 1983 | 4AD

Xmal Deutschland's Fetisch is the kind of album that Batman would listen to while patrolling Gotham City. A dismal, often creepy LP, Fetisch snags the dissonant gloom of early Siouxsie & the Banshees, Bauhaus, and Joy Division and gives it a German accent. Unfortunately, while the album bursts with ferocious energy, the songs are mostly repetitive and monotonous. Rabid goth collectors will probably savor every sinister groove on Fetisch, but nothing here can touch the hellish beat of Xmal's "Incubus Succubus" 12" single. Vocalist Anja Huwe sounds like a Siouxsie Sioux doppelgänger; however, even Sioux's bleakest numbers with the Banshees had keen hooks. Unfortunately, Xmal Deutschland utilizes the same eerie riffs throughout Fetisch. The album is listenable in limited doses. The dense, fuzzy guitars of "Qual" are somewhat hypnotic, and the brooding basslines of "Young Man" and "Orient" certainly catch the ear. Played loud, the shrieking riffs of "Orient" are thrillingly raucous. Xmal Deutschland knows how to bring the noise, but the eerie clamor of Fetisch is hollow. Goth pioneers such as Siouxsie & the Banshees, Joy Division, and Bauhaus similarly took listeners to life's sullen underbelly with intelligence and creativity; on Fetisch, Xmal Deutschland is lost in the dark. ~ Michael Sutton
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Alternative & Indie - Released October 31, 1983 | 4AD

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Electronic/Dance - Released November 7, 1983 | 4AD

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Alternative & Indie - Released April 2, 1984 | 4AD

The first Twins release with Raymonde on bass, The Spanglmaker simply nails it, a note-perfect slice of Twins life which acted as the best possible teaser for the band's follow-up effort, the peerless Treasure. The title track is the lead number, one of the Twins' most dramatic and captivating songs. Over Raymonde's low bass work and the rhythm pulse, Fraser sings an alternately commanding then captivating vocal. Guthrie's guitar follows its own course, creating drones and wails in the background, coming together with Fraser only on the chorus. The song concludes with a smashing full arrangement on the final chorus, the drums suddenly powered up high and the Twins' trademark mock choir effect putting it all together with a flourish. "Pearly-Dewdrops' Drops" isn't as immediately stunning, but it comes close, shimmering guitar lines, sparkling keyboard and piano and a measured pace backing a soaring Fraser take. The 12" version begins with a quieter opening, and at one point cuts down much of the instrumentation to let Fraser's voice come fully front and center, a lovely touch. "Pepper-Tree," in comparison, is lighter and relaxed, similarly paced but more content to aim for the beautiful rather than the full-on sublime. The combination of synth strings and ticking clock at the end make for a good conclusion. ~ Ned Raggett
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Alternative & Indie - Released June 22, 1984 | 4AD

Xmal Deutschland's second full-length album is a creative high point, a Teutonic marriage of Siouxsie & the Banshees' inviting Goth-pop and the majestic sonic spaces of the Cocteau Twins. Less offputtingly bleak than the quartet's earlier records, but without the unfortunate candy coating of the albums that followed, these 11 songs are precariously balanced between neo-psychedelic pop in the traditional 4AD style -- the opening "Mondlicht" would not sound out of place on a This Mortal Coil album -- and the more aggressive, artsy sound of their first EPs. The former is clearly winning; "Incubus Succubus II," a much glossier remake of the song that first garnered U.K. attention for the group, features a less tortured (but still German-language) vocal from Anja Huwe over a smooth, throbbing pulse that trades in the spiky scrappiness of the original for a clean, but not antiseptic thrust. The clash of styles actually works quite well, giving Tocsin a palpable creative tension that adds a frisson of intensity to what might otherwise be just another collection of Goth-pop tunes. ~ Stewart Mason
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Alternative & Indie - Released November 1, 1984 | 4AD

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  • Sohn who?
    Sohn who? British Electro Soul... Tremors is the new album from Sohn released at 4AD earlier this week and frankly, we love it.