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Steveless/syd Howells - Teeth Like Tombstones, Eyes Like Coal

  by Jamie Rowland

published: 18 / 6 / 2006

Steveless/syd Howells - Teeth Like Tombstones, Eyes Like Coal
Label: Select Label
Format: CDS


Discordant latest release from detuned experimental rockers Steveless and Syd Howells surprisingly recorded for a Radio Wales session earlier this year

Would you believe someone would actually let Steveless and Syd Howells onto the radio to broadcast their freakish noise to the public? Well, earlier this year, Adam Walton of Radio Wales fame did just that. This new EP documents that session. To be fair to the boys, they did make their lovely noise a bit more accessible. A bit. ‘Mae West’ is a funky piece of freakiness, with lyrics going “Mae West…she smokes! She’s smokin’!” Although my personal favourite is “she’s been dead for some time now, so she’s not the woman for me”. ‘Radio Wales (Is Roy Noble)’ sounds something like what might happen if a Sleater-Kinney song book was found by the ape-men at the beginning of '2001: A Space Odyssey', and it’s bloody good. The bass line is slow and obscenely low, the drums random crashes (in time, mind you) and the vocals are barked out over what sounds like a detuned guitar. ‘Vaguely Toxic Paint Stripper’ is more usual Steveless/Syd Howells fair, a slow, growling plod of discordant buzzing unintelligible lyrics (“there’s no Corona cherryade, it removed the plaque from my teeth”). I think there’s a kazoo in the background, which adds to the overall (good) noise of the track. The second half of the track is quite brilliant; a burst of thrashing drums and twanging guitar strings that don’t quite mix. So wrong, but it feels so right. ‘Broken Wasp Tannoy’ is another track that sounds almost tuneful, with a lovely bit of harmonica fighting through a wall of feedback and drums. It’s actually my favourite track on the record, and one of the best things I’ve heard from this particular collaborative pair. It’s kind of like Mclusky mashed up with Sonic Youth and some of the members of Mogwai. The final track, ‘Adam (You’re Making My Nose Bleed)’ is a tribute to the DJ that put this out to the general public, and has a real classic rock style riff, and a thumping rhythm. A very good finisher. With the use of a proper studio to record their songs, Steveless/Syd Howells sound almost like something marketable. Bloody sell-outs.

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