EP Review: Please Don’t by Sandblast My House by One Thousand Violins (1986) (Constrictor)

If your are old you may just remember a time before the internet. In these pre-mid 90’s years, before Bandcamp, Soundcloud, Spotify and all manner of social media, new bands were discovered via magazines such as NME and their ridiculously flimsy multi-coloured flexi-discs, musical fanzines that were so cheaply produced your fingers were to be ink stained for the entire month until they could eagerly grab the next one, or by listening to the handful of radio shows, such as the John Peel show, that dared to see past the mainstream opinion of ‘commercial quality’.

Peel was ‘the’ man. A band’s record played on his show was the entry point into the kingdom of indie cooldom which, if the band was lucky enough and included enough usage of minor swear words in a Northern accent in their tracks (he loved tracks such as Ungrateful Bastard – see below) the Royal Peel of Approval was granted with an official recorded session (One Thousand Violins had two !) in much the same way that the Queen of England gets all manner of free stuff by announcing a particular product as being her favourite with her infinitely less important ‘royal seal of approval’, that I last saw emblazoned upon a jar of redcurrant jelly.

Ungrateful Bastard

Peel was my introduction to this five piece from Sheffield led by the strange, but ultimately endearing dual vocal styles of front man John Wood, who seemed to be able to cater his acoustics for the two somewhat different styles of tracks heard on this superb debut EP. Ungrateful Bastard, My Beautiful Shirt and the opening title track unsurprisingly (considering the band name is lifted directly from one of their lyrics) imbues a definitive Orange Juice aesthetic. 

These tracks see Wood wrap a glowing Edwyn Collins croon around the same sort of tinny, incidental jangle that flutters in the background of early OJ tracks and emboss them with their own stamp by emphasizing both percussive and riff aggression in the same sort of manner bands such as the Corn Dollies and Black Cillas would perfect a few years later.

I Think It’s Time That I Broke Down

The latter half of the album presents the second stylistic as Wood adds muted Morrissey vocal inflections, as OTV gloriously fail to escape the influence that The Smiths had on the jangle landscape of the era. The best of these tracks, I Think It’s Time That I Broke Down (see above), sees Wood elongate his words in Morrissey style, albeit with a rounded warmth rather than with the Pope of Mope’s yodelled pain, whilst the lead guitar provides the same manner of jangled clarity that Johnny Marr imparted upon the world, whilst always retaining the sort of metallic ore edge that ensured they kept at least a toe in the Orange Juice sock.

OTV went on to release a couple of superb full lengths in the next couple of years after this mini album. However this release still stands out as their most consistent effort.

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