heard on the wire

I want to know what this is all about

Spoke School vinyl

The split single is an interesting phenomenon.

The compilation LP I understand — carefully curated, it’s an excellent way to introduce the curious to a plethora of top tunes — but the compilation single is an oddity.

It begs too many questions. Which is the A-side?, for instance. How do I tag it in iTunes? Where do I file it in my obsessively alphabetised record collection?

When did this all start? The early 80s, says Wikipedia, but the same post also claims that there is such a thing as a “split gig…a show with two artists, one guest and one host.” Or as I call it, a gig.

Still — and despite my flummoxed protestations — there has to be value in a format that shares production costs and exposes one band’s music to another’s fanbase. Especially if the result contains a track as fine as this one from Sacramento, California’s Soft Science, a real treat for fans of the Luxembourg Signal.

Soft Science // Breaking

Durham’s Martha have twice split their singles with lesser lights. The first featured Benny The Jet Rodriguez, the second Radiator Hospital. Both are the B-side.

Martha // The Historian

Talking of b-sides and confusing releases, this is the title track of an EP from St Petersburg, Russia. But spurning single convention, Pinkshinyultrablast placed it second on the running order. But second was enough for top spot on Records I Like’s top ten of 2015.

Pinkshinyultrablast // Holy Forest

The Spook School released their second LP in 2015. Try to be Hopeful was the follow-up to 2013’s excellent Dress Up and didn’t disappoint. Binary was the single; this was the b-side.

The Spook School // David Bowie Songs

Whether you’re a fan or not, there’s no disputing that David Bowie was one of the most important and influential figures in the history of popular music. I’d never considered myself a fan. His voice had never sat comfortably with my ears, and my musical development coincided with his 1980s artistic decline. However his death prompted me to take a fresh look, so to speak, and while I would never say I’m a Bowie fan, I have warmed to his Berlin-era and the three LPs he release while living in the city between 1976 and 1979. The first of them was Low, literally and figuratively a record of two parts, with its second side of avant-garde instrumental experimentation preceded by seven short songs, including this touching, brilliant love song.

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