Sunday, May 24, 2009


Yes, yes, I know it's been ages since we've gotten together. Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. Now look, I can fritter my time away explaining how I was held prisoner by Morlocks in the wastelands of Mississauga, then besieged by small people and forced to work in the salt mines, or I can get on with what I came here to do, namely draw your attention to some fine music. The choice is yours.

What's that? You're going for the music?

You sure??

You have chosen wisely...

Dearest Friends, I suppose it was almost three years ago that I came across Shrag's debut single, "Pregnancy Scene," while frolicking through the meadows of the interwebbynet. The dang thing stuck to me like a burr, what with its eerily parping synthline, stalking guitar, and SHOUTY vocals. Rather than pick the thing off my woolly jumper, I left it there, hoping it would grow into more tunes. Alas, though this Brighton-based quintet have released a total of five singles over the past two-plus years, all of them have been on lovely, yet postally inconvenient vinyl. And thus I have had to make do with what I had. So imagine my joy when I discovered the other week (only four months late, I'm sooo cutting edge) that Shrag had finally bundled their singles together, thrown in a couple of extra tracks, and released the whole scrummy, squirming mess on an eponymous album available both as a see-dee AND in newfangled digitalese. Hooray!!

So what will you find when you dig down? Rich, crystalline veins of angular post-punk riffage, dense deposits of bolshy pop attitude, and a mother lode of sardonic savvy. Gems include "Talk To The Left," which sets us all straight on matters of ardour (Did he really say "baby, now I'm heading south"? / Funny, I was almost there / And then he opened his mouth) and "Mark E Smith," which makes a helluva brain-churning racket. But go beyond the upper crust of sarcasm and shoutiness, and you'll find caves full of emotion and feeling as well; "Hopelessly Wasted" is an aching break-up song, while the marvellous "Forty Five 45s" drips with melancholy memories of a relationship entwined with a singles collection. Le sigh.

Then there's their name itself - how deliciously succulent! Go on, say it: "Shrag." Can't you just taste the juiciness? And its very sound brings to mind cheesy 70s carpets, immensely satisfying copulation, shrubbery, goofy sea birds, corrupt elections, and soulful dancing. Oh yes, what a combo! Just forget the prosaic fact that it's actually an acronym for Sussex Heights Roving Artists Group - an in joke, apparently.

In June they'll be playing several UK dates supporting The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, and I'd give vital parts of my anatomy to see one of those shows. But alas, anatomy is no substitute for time and money...

Right, enough verbiage, here's some tuneage:

Shrag - Forty Five 45s (buy here or e-here)

Oh, and while we're at it you might as well also have the ooer, fnarr fnarr video of "Talk To The Left:"