Reviews Zone

Scratchcard (Blang Records) 16th October 2020



4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)



Eclectic and intrepid British independent label Blang Records celebrates 15 years of releasing what they call “outsider music” with the 15-track compilation album “Scratchcard”.

Showcasing a diverse roster past and present from a label which began with 2005’s compilation “Fruit Machine”. We suss a gambling theme here, with “Scratchcard” and “Fruit Machine” monikers for their sampler albums. A gamble on some of their signings perhaps, and a sure fire bet on others.

The new album features artists such as the legendary Tav Falco, Brix and the Extricated, David Cronenberg’s Wife, Milk Kan, Sergeant Buzfuz, Filthy Pedro, Sterling Roswell and Iggy Pop favourite Jack Medley’s Secure Men.

It’s a mixed bag of quality; from the quite quirky to the quick, quit! Then there’s the bonkers, bizarre and the brilliant across the 15 cuts. The styles are as varied as heck. You can bet if Peel was still with us and on-air, he’d be dipping into this one over several shows.

Some of it is very much an acquired taste and of course, what one person thinks is the shizzle, another will think it is just shizzle! In this office we particularly dig five of the 15, with track four, “Something To Lose” by the wonderful Brix & The Extricated our fave. It’s shouty and attitude-drenched. Love it.

But hot contenders are, for sure, track seven by The Reverse and “Which Way Out”, track eight from Sheepy and “She’s Taken Over”, the fabulous Tav Falco offering at track nine and “Tram”. It beautifully nails a Stax/Booker T & The MGs groove with a Lou Reed/New Yorker vocal and is not far from Talking Heads territory. * See our interview with Tav in the Features Zone * 

The last but not least in our roll call of honour, is track 13, “Baby, What Have You Done For Me Lately?” by Extradition Order.

Born out of the monthly Blang nights at defunct West End of London venue, The 12 Bar Club, the Blang nights were part of the UK’s so-called ‘Antifolk’ scene. Antifolk was born in New York’s East Village at the Sidewalk Cafe, with New York Antifolk artists playing Blang nights in London whenever they were in town.

While not strictly an Antifolk label, Blang Records is rooted in the Antifolk philosophy of “anything goes”, but broadly united by storytelling with edge and humour. Diversity their aim with the 100-strong back catalogue of releases.

Despite the pandemic shutdown of the music business in spring 2020, the label has managed seven album releases this year, plus the “Scratchcard” compilation, a Soho Radio takeover slated for October 15th and documentary, “Blang: 15 Years Of Outsider Music”, also set for October release.

Happy 15th birthday guys and gals!



By Simon Redley



1 out of 5 stars (1 / 5) ‘Dull Zone’
2 out of 5 stars (2 / 5) ‘OK Zone’
3 out of 5 stars (3 / 5) ‘Decent Zone’
4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5) ‘Super Zone’
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