With no publicity photos, no gigs, and only one interview, the mysteriously anonymous combo GIRL ONE & THE GREASE GUNS provoked intrigue and head scratching in equal measures.
Were they a collaboration between LUSH and SLEAFORD MODS or actually NEW ORDER offshoots THE OTHER TWO doing Spector-flavoured post-punk instead of electronic disco? Whatever, since 2013, GIRL ONE & THE GREASE GUNS have issued a sporadic number of singles as collected on ‘The Strange Little Lines That Humans Draw In the Dust’ and even released a full length album ‘Night Of The Living Electrical Appliances’ in 2017.
In 2018, their most powerfully overt electronic pop single yet in ‘Good Morning, Mr X’ signalled a planned series of limited edition, white label, hand-stamped, one side only releases under the concept of ‘Transmissions From The Glass Factory’. But in 2019 with nothing left to say or do, the remaining recordings from the sessions have now been issued as a six track mini-album as an adieu to GIRL ONE & THE GREASE GUNS.
Best of the bunch are the unorthodox ‘(It’s A) Warning Sign (Blue Lights)’ and the more immediate ‘Noise & Fury’, both epitomising what has been great about GIRL ONE & THE GREASE GUNS. The former is a brilliant squelching electronic number, while the latter is a cover of THE BLANCHE HUDSON WEEKEND sounding like THE PIPETTES doing NEW ORDER’s ‘The Age Of Consent’; both delightfully equal GIRL ONE & THE GREASE GUNS’ best singles like ‘Jessica 6’ and ‘No Longer Spellbound’.
Continuing with that classic but spacey girl group vibe with chills that are multiplying, ‘The Multiplex (Is No Good For Me)’ and ‘Turn It Around Again’ transport the Wall Of Sound into the winter of discontent.
Meanwhile ‘Destination Yesterday’ exploits metallic sequencers, detuned synths and those characteristic nonchalant off-key female vocals.
Less successful though is ‘Run Scared From Eyeballs’ with an over-complex drum mantra that smothers a song that doesn’t quite hit the spot.
So farewell Sissy Space Echo, Warren Betamax, Charles Bronson Burner and Bruce LeeFax, you really did “thrive on causing confusion with a mixture of pure synthpop and more experimental electronic sounds” and shared some dysfunctional fun in the process.
Sitting on the sofa with my now thirteen year old daughter, who over the years has acquired a rather sarcastic sense of humour (who on Earth does she get that from?!) and pondering how to approach this task of reviewing ‘The Electricity Club’ compilation, makes us both burst out with hearty laughter.
After all, she wants to rise to the occasion properly, and review things “just like Mummy does”, or maybe not, as “Mummy always says it as it is!”
Children have the innate ability to always tell the truth; my daughter, however, has an uncontrollable need to please people, so this could really go either way. She will either be pulling her disgusted face, saying “what a load of rubbish!”, or candidly praise, without certainty.
My own adventure with music dates back many years indeed. I was brought up within, what they used to call in communist Poland, “an intelligence family”, meaning both my parents were white collar workers, rather than working class.
My father, a respectable judge, had loved his music greatly and was an avid guitar player himself, while my mum, a teacher, enjoyed listening to pretty much anything within the popular genre (usually via her radio, which, to this day, is always on).
Recalling the baby book entry, which my mum recorded when I was at the tender age of five, saying “Monika loves listening and dancing to records, she could spend all day doing so”, makes me try and remember the old record player and hundreds of vinyl albums which my parents owned.
All this said, I hold my older by ten years brother solely responsible for my eventual music choices. As I was growing up, I just had to endure what he was listening to (at great volume, may I add!).
As legal copies of western music were incredibly hard (or, simply, impossible) to get, his room was full of pirate cassette tapes of everything from THE HUMAN LEAGUE to MICHAEL JACKSON and anything and everything in between.
He would take great pride in inviting me into his musical cave and fed me with DEPECHE MODE, ERASURE, ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA and OMD.
And all this worked… during his absence, I’d sneak in and put my favourites on, which would primarily include the works of DEPECHE MODE, with the vinyl of ‘Black Celebration’ and maxi-single vinyl of ‘Stripped’ being the firm first choices. And that’s how I acquired the electronic music bug. From then on, not much else mattered but coming home from school and playing the entire back catalogue of the Basildon boys, dotted with the works of YAZOO and ERASURE.
My Allie has had little choice, since her musical adventure dates back to being in my womb. At the age of three she would sing ERASURE’s ‘You Surround Me’ on top of her little baby voice, and her sweet childish vocal was sampled and recorded by a well-known UK electronic duo.
Her first gig was at the age of five, and she went to see ERASURE at six and DEPECHE MODE twice at the grown-up age of seven, keenly taking part in the experience.
Although since she’s found love for KATIE PERRY, ARIANA GRANDE and TAYLOR SWIFT, and electronic music hasn’t been on her radar much lately, she absolutely loved ASHBURY HEIGHTS’ ‘The Looking Glass Society’. She also has a lot of vintage DEPECHE MODE on her Spotify playlist, interestingly enough none of it past ‘Songs Of Faith & Devotion’, and plays it at least twice a week.
Having heard that, I would include her opinion in the tongue-in-cheek review of The Electricity Club compilation, she keenly decided to be a serious contributor, and so it goes…
MAISON VAGUE Synthpop’s Alive
Allie: I don’t like it but I like it…
Mon: Bit GARY NUMAN this is! But a tad laboured and rough and ready.
Allie: I like the synth sounds, the voice sounds a bit weird.
KID KASIO Full Moon Blue
Mon: Ah, my favourite of Nathan’s! Love it, love it, love it!
Allie: I like the sounds, the first bit sounds a bit like DEPECHE MODE!
Mon: Yeah, a tribute to ‘Two Minute Warning’!
Allie: That’s it! I like it a lot. I like his voice.
ELECTRONIC CIRCUS Roundabout
Allie: Oh my God! Rubbish!
Mon: Why? *cannot contain the laughter*
Allie: It’s just rubbish!
Mon: Erm, the synth is good, not sure about the vocal…
DAYBEHAVIOR It’ s A Game – Marsheaux remix
Mon: I like this, analog synth! Lovely…
Allie: I like it, like the vocal, but it’s not something I’d listen to if I had a choice.
Mon: Oh, I would. Very good song and well produced by MARSHEAUX.
MARNIE The Hunter
Allie: Reminds me of something but I don’t know what. I like it, love the vocal.
Mon: I hear a bit of LADYTRON, BJÖRK and MARSHEAUX. It’s fresh and enticing.
Allie: Yes, LADYTRON! That’s it!
NIGHT CLUB Cruel Devotion
Allie: Ohhhh, I like that!
Mon: You’ve met them last year Allie! Very good!
Allie: Oh yes, I do like this! I like the background sound and the vocals. I’d play that in my room… She doesn’t sound American! Is she American?
Mon: Yes! *laughs*
Allie: I’d make music like that!
ELEVEN ELEVEN Through The Veil
Mon: I like the beginning, bit of KYLIE there.
Allie: I don’t know who that is! I like the vocals!
Mon: I like the sound! (Note to self: “must educate Allie on KYLIE”).
QUEEN OF HEARTS United
Mon: Oh I’m liking this, fat synth and decent voice…
Allie: I like it, both synth and the vocal.
KATY PERRY Hot N Cold – Marsheaux remix
Allie: It’s KATY PERRY! I like this! I like this remix, it’s different from the original! *singing out loud*
Mon: I never liked the original and this doesn’t do it for me either.
Allie: What?! I love it! But her voice is a bit screechy, like on the normal version!
ERASURE Be The One – Paul Humphreys remix
Allie: Sounds like ERASURE…
Mon: It is!
Allie: Ah, I knew it! Is it a remix?
Allie: I love ERASURE, this is lovely.
Mon: Totally agree.
KID MOXIE The Bailor
Allie: I don’t like her vocals.
Mon: I do, it’s a good song.
Allie: I like the music, the melody is nice.
Mon: It’s a grown up song, very atmospheric and cinematic. Great use of synth. My kind of electronica.
KEEP SHELLY IN ATHENS Oostende
Allie: I like it! The vocals are great. I’d listen to it in the car.
Mon: Yes, it’s good, both vocally and musically.
FOTONOVELA featuring JAMES NEW My Sorrow
Allie: I’ve heard it before.
Mon: Really? I haven’t! You must be thinking of something else.
Allie: It’s ok, reminds me of something you’ve played before.
GIRL ONE & THE GREASE GUNS Jessica
Allie: I don’t like it, vocals aren’t great, don’t like the music.
Mon: It’s not my cup of tea either, but I’m sure it’ll appeal to few people.
AUTOMATIC WRITING Continuous
Mon: Interesting start! It’s different, I shouldn’t like it but I do.
Allie: It’s ok, again, it reminds me of something.
METROLAND Thalys – London edit
Mon: Oh I like that. Simple arrangement and that’s all you need. Not sure about the voice sample though.
Allie: It’s very robotic, like science fiction. It’s like something from another planet. It’s KRAFTWERK!
RODNEY CROMWELL Black Dog
Allie: Yeah! That’s ok! *does a little dance*
Mon: Hmmm, not sure. It’s not unpleasant.
SIN COS TAN Trust
Allie: Don’t know, not sure about that one.
Mon: It’s ok.
Allie: Bored now!
POLLY SCATTERGOOD Other Too Endless – Vince Clarke remix
Mon: Good synth on this one. Liking this a lot. Competent vocals and arrangement, a real stand out.
Allie: Not my cup of tea.
TENEK What Do You Want?
Allie: Is that MESH? Sounds like it!
Mon: No, it’s not, it’s TENEK. It’s a good song.
Allie: Yes, I really like it. I like the instruments.
ANALOG ANGEL We Won’t Walk Away
Allie: It’s fast. Not my kind of thing.
Mon: It’s very well written. It needs more oomph! Very OMD.
ARTHUR & MARTHA Autovia
Allie: It’s not in tune… I don’t know, I don’t like it.
Mon: It’s different, not me either…
MARSHEAUX Suffer The Children
Mon: A cover. Good.
Allie: It is good, bouncy.
SECTION 25 My Outrage
Mon: Oh dear, messy! Too candied for me, bit all over the place.
Allie: Yes, I don’t think it’s good. I can’t describe it but it’s not something I’d listen to.
047 featuring LISA PEDERSEN Everything’s Fine
Allie: Clubby! Like it. Yes, I do! *bounces away*
Mon: Good, isn’t it? I like the club feel to it. A good dance song.
TAXX Is It Love?
Mon: Oh yes, good stuff! Progressive. Decent vocal too.
Allie: It’s ok, but I wouldn’t listen to it in the car. At a disco, maybe…
LIEBE I Believe In You
Allie: You know the ding-ding sounds? They remind me of PET SHOP BOYS!
Mon: “Ding-ding sounds!” To me the vocal technique resembles NEW ORDER. It’s good.
QUIETER THAN SPIDERS Shanghai Metro
Mon: It’s ok.
Allie: Too poppy, way too poppy. Chow mein? *laughs*
iEUROPEAN feat WOLFGANG FLÜR Activity Of Sound
Mon: That’s it! The synth is all there. Semi-modular synth? Very tidy!
Allie: I do actually like it! It’s club but different.
TWINS NATALIA Destiny
Mon: Not me vocally but decent synth I suppose.
Allie: I like the vocals! I don’t know, all confused now, too many songs!
Mon: No, that’s awful.
Mon: YAZOO cover Allie!
Allie: I knew that I knew it! Is that MESH?!
Allie: Thought so. I like anything MESH!
Mon: Now, there’s a surprise!
Allie: You know me!
MIRRORS Between Four Walls
Allie: Like this one, nice music.
Mon: Bit laboured… it’s not bad though.
OMD Time Burns – Fotonovela rework
Allie: Very robotic.
Mon: Not me!
VILE ELECTRODES Deep Red
Allie: I like the vocals, sounds a bit like Sarah Blackwood!
Mon: It’s Jane actually!
Allie: Ahhhh! Doh! I like that a lot. It’s slow! *laughs*
Mon: It is good, but no surprise there.
Allie: Is that the last song?!
Allie: Thank god, I’m tired now!
She will sleep well! I have to say, she did surprise me with some songs and disappointed with others but that just proves to me, that tastes do indeed vary, and even if I’m vehemently against something, others will find it enticing.
‘The Electricity Club’ compilation is a marvellous collection of tunes, and that’s a given. There’s something for everyone here and what a cross-section of all electronica. Still, I come to conclusion that thirteen year olds are probably not mature enough to fully appreciate certain synth music…
Will she follow in my steps? Not for a while… if ever! The one thing we certainly have in common: WE SAY IT AS IT IS!
‘The Electricity Club’ is released on 3rd December 2018 by Amour Records / Minos EMI / Universal Music in collaboration with Undo Records as a 34 track 2CD set in a deluxe 6 panel digipak with track-by-track commentary and ‘O’ card; the compilation can be pre-ordered from the following retailers:
Amour Records / Minos EMI / Universal Music in collaboration with Undo Records are to release a 2CD compilation compiled by The Electricity Club.
Capturing its ethos to feature the best in new and classic electronic pop music, this compilation is the culmination of a period which has seen the resurgence of the genre. Over the years, The Electricity Club appears to have reflected the interests of people who love the Synth Britannia era and have a desire to hear new music seeded from that ilk.
Little did The Electricity Club know when it launched on 15th March 2010, it would go on to interview many of the key players in Synth Britannia, get granted an audience with two former members of KRAFTWERK and be influential in helping some of the best new synthesizer talents gain a profile within a reinvigorated scene. So it is highly apt that WOLFGANG FLÜR should make an appearance on this collection.
The Electricity Club is pleased to showcase its ethos in the form of this tangible audio artefact. Among the impressive cast, there are prime movers from the classic era like PAUL HUMPHREYS and VINCE CLARKE. Without the influence of the bands they respectively co-founded, OMD and DEPECHE MODE, electronic pop as The Electricity Club likes it would not exist.
Meanwhile the next generation are represented by acts such as KID MOXIE, NIGHT CLUB, RODNEY CROMWELL and VILE ELECTRODES. Incidentally, the latter were invited to support OMD on their 2013 German tour following ANDY McCLUSKEY’s discovery of the duo while perusing The Electricity Club’s virtual pages. The bloodline from ‘Radio-Activity’ to ‘Romance Of The Telescope’ and then to ‘Deep Red’ is easily traceable and deeply omnipresent.
The Electricity Club has always relished its diverse taste credentials. It doesn’t do retro or contemporary, just good music. No other compendium could dare to include the spiky post-punk of GIRL ONE & THE GREASE GUNS and the rousing electro-rock of MESH alongside pop princesses such as QUEEN OF HEARTS or KATY PERRY. Be it Glasgow’s ANALOG ANGEL and MARNIE, Manchester veterans SECTION 25 or Essex boys TENEK, it all fits into The Electricity Club’s avant pop playground.
With international representation also from Gothenburg’s DAYBEHAVIOR and 047, Shanghai synthpoppers QUIETER THAN SPIDERS, Texan dance duo ELEVEN: ELEVEN, Belgium’s own passengers METROLAND and the self-explanatory KEEP SHELLY IN ATHENS, the tracks gathered capture a special moment in time where innovative musical aspirations and good tunes have again manifested themselves in the same context.
The collection features a number of covers including MESH’s take on YAZOO’s ‘Tuesday’ and MARSHEAUX’s reinterpretation of TEARS FOR FEARS’ first single ‘Suffer The Children’. In addition, tracks such as MARSHEAUX’s stomping remix of KATY PERRY’s ‘Hot ‘N’ Cold’ and MIRRORS’ ‘Between Four Walls’ make their premiere in CD format.
The tracklisting is:
01 MAISON VAGUE Synthpop’s Alive
02 KID KASIO Full Moon Blue
03 ELECTRONIC CIRCUS Roundabout
04 DAYBEHAVIOR It’s A Game (Marsheaux remix)
05 MARNIE The Hunter
06 ELEVEN:ELEVEN Through The Veil
07 NIGHT CLUB Cruel Devotion
08 QUEEN OF HEARTS United
09 KATY PERRY Hot ‘N’ Cold (Marsheaux remix)
10 ERASURE Be The One (Paul Humphreys remix)
11 KID MOXIE The Bailor
12 KEEP SHELLY IN ATHENS Oostende
13 FOTONOVELA featuring JAMES NEW Our Sorrow (Original mix)
14 GIRL ONE & THE GREASE GUNS Jessica 6
15 AUTOMATIC WRITING Continuous
16 METROLAND Thalys (London Edit)
17 RODNEY CROMWELL Black Dog
01 SIN COS TAN Trust
02 POLLY SCATTERGOOD Other Too Endless (Vince Clarke remix)
03 TENEK What Do You Want? (Alternate TEC version)
04 ANALOG ANGEL We Won’t Walk Away
05 ARTHUR & MARTHA Autovia
06 MARSHEAUX Suffer The Children
07 SECTION 25 My Outrage
08 047 featuring LISA PEDERSEN Everything’s Fine
09 TAXX Is It Love?
10 LIEBE I Believe In You
11 QUIETER THAN SPIDERS Shanghai Metro
12 iEUROPEAN featuring WOLFGANG FLÜR Activity Of Sound
13 TWINS NATALIA Destiny
14 MESH Tuesday
15 MIRRORS Between Four Walls
16 OMD Time Burns (Fotonovela rework)
17 VILE ELECTRODES Deep Red
‘The Electricity Club’ is released by Amour Records / Minos EMI / Universal Music in collaboration with Undo Records as a 34 track 2CD set in a deluxe 6 panel digipak with track-by-track commentary and ‘O’ card; the compilation be purchased from the following retailers:
Mysteriously anonymous combo GIRL ONE & THE GREASE GUNS have unleashed their most powerfully overt electronic pop single yet in ‘Good Morning, Mr X’.
Following their singles retrospective ‘The Strange Little Lines That Humans Draw In the Dust’ and their 2017 debut album ‘Night Of The Living Electrical Appliances’, the guitar-less ‘Good Morning, Mr X’ comes from ‘Transmissions From The Glass Factory – Part 1’ as the first of a planned series of limited edition, white label, hand-stamped, one side only releases!
Utilising the raw recording techniques, just about in-tune synths and slightly off-key girly vocals to procure that wonderful winter of discontent sound which gained GIRL ONE & THE GREASE GUNS a cult audience, ‘Good Morning, Mr X’ comes with a mind-bending mash-up film created and edited by John Aldersea.
Short and sweet but sinister, ‘Good Morning, Mr X’ equals GIRL ONE & THE GREASE GUNS’ best songs like THE PIPETTES fronting an OMD assisted JOY DIVISION romp of ‘Jessica 6’ and the CHROMATICS go North By North West chill of ‘No Longer Spellbound’. Meanwhile, the B-side goes by the suitable despairing title of ‘Forever Seems So Long’ and reminiscent of an earlier single ‘Driving Without Headlights’.
Whoever they really are, Sissy Space Echo, Warren Betamax, Charles Bronson Burner and Bruce LeeFax continue their intentions “to thrive on causing confusion with a mixture of pure synthpop and more experimental electronic sounds”.
Of GIRL ONE & THE GREASE GUNS, Undo Records say “Imagine a place where THE HUMAN LEAGUE meet LUSH, but on the way they stumble on Sarah Records’ Heavenly and all together, they finally meet Alan Vega and SUICIDE!!! Confused, that’s the point!!”
GIRL ONE & THE GREASE GUNS are shrouded in mystery…
Their names Sissy Space Echo, Warren Betamax, Charles Bronson Burner and Bruce LeeFax confirm their intentions “to thrive on causing confusion with a mixture of pure synthpop and more experimental electronic sounds”.
They came to the attention of small UK indie label Squirrel Records by placing a cassette under the windscreen wiper of a car outside the label’s HQ!
Since 2013, they have released a series of vinyl singles. But now, all their recordings have been compiled on a singular CD by Undo Records, snappily titled ‘The Strange Little Lies That Humans Draw In The Dust’. Containing the dysfunctional indie synthpop of ‘Driving Without Headlights (Once Again)’ and the noise fest of ‘(I’m A) Willing Receiver’, this pair of paranoid dystopian ditties served as the opening gambit of GIRL ONE & THE GREASE GUNS.
But it was their accessible second single ‘Jessica 6’ that got the mysterious combo some wider attention. A tribute to the cult Sci-Fi favourite ‘Logan’s Run’, the eerie post-punk cacophony of sound laced with icy Yamaha string machine and a frantic reverbed backbeat was a frantic salvo that came over like THE PIPETTES fronting an OMD assisted JOY DIVISION.
The brilliantly titled ‘Bring On The Dancing Horse Meat’ on the flip showcased some sexily nonchalant vocals from Sissy alongside a barrage of low-fi guitars and a battered Casio. Despite being capable of melody, GIRL ONE & THE GREASE GUNS couldn’t help their progressive mechanical desolation, as proven by their third single ‘(Here Come) The Catastrophe Machines’, basically ‘Nag Nag Nag’ but more violent!
Indeed, ultra-violence was a recurring theme as titles like ‘Hitting The Brick Wall’, ‘The Nightmare Room’ and ‘Bashed, Beaten & Broken (Trip The Switch)’ proved. But despite this, a song like ‘The Shatterproof Man’ sparkled with pretty melodies like early OMD meets THE RONETTES despite the detuned synth backing.
GIRL ONE & THE GREASE GUNS actually revealed a much softer side with their marvellous fourth single ‘No Longer Spellbound’. With its beautiful atmospheric quality smothered in icy synth strings and grainy vox samples, if ‘Twins Peaks’ had been set in The Lake District, then the theme tune might have sounded like this.
All bases were covered with a version of ‘Veronica’ originally by punksters THE MANHATTAN LOVE SUICIDES treated with some frantic pulsing electronics, while the feisty ‘Suburban Robot’ recalled the magic of early LADYTRON. An unsettling dysfunctional waltz shaped ‘The Creep Circus’ which only added to the oddball but tuneful fun and this was without THE NORMAL inspired ‘Jesus On The Grille’.
With their DIY noise and motorik backbone, this compilation of GIRL ONE & THE GREASE GUNS is like the winter of discontent set to music and an ideal soundtrack for the current frosty climate. Yes, it’s time to fuel that paraffin heater until the combo release their first album proper…
With thanks to Undo Records
‘The Strange Little Lies That Humans Draw In The Dust’ is released on CD by Undo Records