Raymond – Swelling Violins/Use Lye 7”, 1998[?] (First Love)
This is the first in a series of small features on obscure records that I own and know virtually nothing about.
I have no idea about how many of these 7”s were pressed – part of me thinks it can't be that obscure as I bought it in a UK record shop (Edgeworld in Brighton to be precise). My reason for doing so was that it featured Stephen Immerwahr from Codeine on bass. I naively expected this to sound like Codeine, but instead it's ramshackle lo-fi in the vein of early Pavement, Butterglory, or Wingtip Sloat. There are some impressive high-pitch yelps, which I assume is the singer backing himself, unless it's Mr Immerwahr letting himself go (though he's not credited with backing vocals). I have no idea why I like this record so much but both songs have that wonderful quality where it feels like they're going to fall apart at any moment, but somehow the band keep it together enough to get to the end – I'm a sucker for that. Swelling Violins also has a killer melody and it's just a great (albeit scuzzy) pop song that gets stuck in your head. Interestingly, the singer is listed as “J. Donovan” – it really could have been the most demented supergroup of all time but alas it wasn't that one. It's difficult to find anything about this record – no listing on Discogs and the only official recognition I can find is a reference of Codeine's website (http://www.heartofthunder.com/codeine%20old/raymond_page2.html). I assume this was the band's only release and it's a shame they did nothing else.