Sunday, February 17, 2008

Goodbye to the Sea

Lost At Sea is the name of the compilation that gathers everything St. Christopher released on Sarah Records. More than two years in the making, it was originally meant to come out on Bus Stop who released some of the singles in the US. Instead Glenn gave Plastilina permission to release it, probably tired of waiting. If that is the reason behind many, if not all of the songs, obviously having been recorded from vinyl it might have been a hasty decision. Part of the joy with listening to LTM's Field Mice reissues was the fine job they had done of remastering them. Surely the master tapes for St. Christopher's recordings must still be around? When it comes down to it though, this is just a minor matter and even though I've waited so long for this record it's still most, most welcome! Another essential addition to the Sarah reissues - now we're only waiting for Another Sunny Day and The Sea Urchins, whose London Weekend and Stardust respectively are still fetching high prices on eBay. And after all I only have two of the records compiled on Lost At Sea on vinyl. I don't feel I need to say any more about the record, because if you've heard St. Christopher you've already bought this and if you haven't heard them you haven't been listening.

Fans of Sarah Records should also know that Clare Wadd, after having played records at How Does It Feel to Be Loved recently, is now coming to play in Malmö at the excellent club So Tough! So Cute!. I'm guessing the music will be more tough than cute...

Peru-based Plastilina have also done another good deed for indiepop by releasing a retrospective of Swedish twee stalwarts Second-Hand Furniture's output. They were more successful than most bands of the class of '04 in taking diverse influences (Orange Juice, Felt and The Go-Betweens who gave them their name) and molding them into a unique sound of their own. Jörgen of Fraction Discs writes in the liner notes that this is a record for all the people who weren't there. People who are hopelessly searching for their long since out-of-print 7" and the elusive cdrs. It struck me that I wasn't really there either. Or I was there, I sort of came in at the tail end of everything, so I didn't feel part of it and I didn't know anyone else; I saw Second-Furniture live several times, but I never bought the ep on Fabulous Friends; I might have been sitting next to Jörgen at We & You, but I didn't know him then and Fraction didn't exist yet. So it's both a matter of nostalgia and re-discovery for me.

Another record that came out recently is The Fallen Leaves' debut album It's Too Late Now. If you check the Bus Stop site, they were supposed to have put out the first single by the Leaves as well, years ago, but in the end the band released "Trouble" on their own. It is thanks to Brian Kirk I discovered them though, so he should have credit for that! The Fallen Leaves' claim to fame is that they have original Subway Sect member Rob Symmons on guitar and anyone who visited their MySpace page last year undoubtedly succumbed to their ferociously trebly garage sound. Now that those songs have finally been put to record - like "Shining", "Repetion" and "Choose" - it is in new more timid mixes. The result is that this is not the record of the year as it should have been, but still the quality of the songs hold up very well. I'm glad I recorded those old mixes from MySpace!

Talking about loud mixing leads me on to the next record I have on my list. Times New Viking's third album Rip It Off was released by indie major (gasp!) Matador in January. I'd never heard them before but Brogues' obsessing proved contagious. I can only agree that it's a glorious piece of fuzz-pop. From what I've understood Times New Viking are an old-school lo-fi group. This album was recorded in a high-tech studio but it doesn't sound like it! It's the loudest pop album I've heard for years. I wonder what it sounds like on vinyl, because they seem to have used the limitations of digital sound to their advantage. My god, there's more overspill on this record than on Guitar Wolf's Jet Generation. And apparently it's more POP than their previous efforts - my favourite track "(my head)" sounds like Meat Whiplash playing Cars Can Be Blue.

Finally, London's Pocketbooks (now re-inforced by Spiral Scratcher and Cut-Out Ian Cowen) follow up the brilliant "Cross the Line" single from last year. An ep called Waking Up is out on Make Do and Mend in March. It's the label's first release and new pop labels really seem to be cropping up everywhere, don't they? Something tells me it's actually a front for Pocketbooks' secret scheme of world domination though. They're taking pre-orders now and if you're hesitating - don't stop.

But I forgot perhaps the biggest news: Shelflife have got the Days ep off the shelves. At last! Now you can head over to their website and pick up your copy.

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