It's a long time between Penny Ikinger records but the results are usually worth the wait. "Tokyo" follows "Penelope" (2010) and "Electra" (2003) and is as evocative as ever but with a slightly rockier disposition.
"Tokyo" was recorded with a batch of top-notch Japanese psychedelic musicians, with heavy input from Radio Birdman's Deniz Tek. The latter's influence is evident - not just in some flammable splashes of lead guitar but also in the odd lyric. That Four Winds Bar sure has done some mileage since being name-dropped by Blue Oyster Cult all those years ago...
Even so, "Tokyo" is very much a Penny Ikinger record. Gone are the days where she needed to be referenced as "a past member of Wet Taxis" or as "Nico defrosted". As clever as that last marketing line was, Nico ultimately shut out the world. Penny embraces its musical possibilities and has her own distinctive voice.
"Giant Lizards on High" b/w "Fresh Meat for Martyrs" - Blurt! (Sartorial)
"Insomnia" - Mark Steiner and his Problems b/w "Six Feet Under" - Mark Steiner and his Problems with Line Saus (Rabben Records)
"Urge" b/w "Milk and Metho"/"Crash"/"318" - The Nuclear Family (Urge Records/VS)
"Knife Edge" - The NJE b/w "Caesar" - Dear Thief (Sartorial)
Today I'm listening to a few singles (instead of cleaning the house for an inspection). Sorry, that's the small vinyls that play at 45rpm.
OK - "records" not “vinyls”.
Now, the beauty of singles is that they carry a stand-alone song, in a format which forces you to pay attention to that one song. For a low-level label or a low-level band - no matter what the rep, you're only as big as your last gig - the single is a signpost, a statement, a declaration of intent.
It's been 15 years since I first laid ears on Sweden's Dee Rangers via their mighty "Pretty Ugly Beat" album, so smear me with a bowl of IKEA meatballs and mashed potato for thinking they'd broken up. Au contraire, to mix European languages in an almost Brexit world, they are very muich alive and kicking.
"All You Need Tonight" is album number seven for a band whose membership has stayed largely stable since they formed in the mid-'90s. You'll recognise their influences as soon as you hear their music. Firmly rooted in the '60s but blurring the stylistic boundaries between pop and garage, it's a potent distillation of what made Scandi music great for a very long time.