Wednesday, July 30, 2008

You Were On-and-Off My Doorstep But Often On My Mind

Our August date for the regular Don't Die On My Doorstep club in Malmö has now definitely been set to the 29th. That means it'll be on a Friday and this breach of procedure is because we're leaving you the Saturday to go the pop alldayer at Debaser. As of yet unnamed, this will have The Deirdres on the bill and is part of their first round of gigs in Sweden! Hopefully Darren Hanlon will also be there, or I will try to arrange for him to play at DDOMD. We've seen a lot of each other the past weeks so I hope I'll be able to keep my word on this... Our guest DJ this time is Albulene, who will increase the female/male ratio to 3:2.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

It Doesn't Have to Be So Simple

The most promising Swedish band at the moment is Cocoanut Groove. It's been way too long since there was a band influenced by sunshine pop round these parts. Coming from the northern city of Umeå I guess a big dose of Roger Nichols and Curt Boettcher is essential to get through the winters. And considering that the city has previously given us bands like The Tidy Ups, Everyday Mistakes and Funday Mornings it is proof that a few more years in the cask have ripened their taste.

Remi was kind enough to give me a copy of their first single (released by his Phonic Kidnapping label) when I was last in London. "The End of Summer on Bookbinder Road" is a classic sunshine pop song and I included it in one of my summer mixes below. But it didn't quite prepare me for the brilliant set at Rip It Up this weekend, which showed us that they have a lot more than one really good single in them. The songs maintain a ridiculously high standard and I honestly can't wait for the album. It's been delayed a good deal but should be out on Swedish label Fridlyst soon. The opening cover of "Coconut Grove" was an extra treat and I'm very glad I got to see them now, because unfortunately their appearance at Indietracks this weekend has been cancelled. While you're waiting for the album and more gigs (they seem to have one in Bristol coming up) you can pick up the 7" from here, and listen to this tune that they are giving away on Myspace.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Take Me to Where I Should Have Been and Not Before

Continuing the streak of 80s indiepop here, because I thought I'd given you Remember Fun's "Hey Hey Hate" long ago but it turns out I was mistaken. I've had the flexi for a while, and if you don't know it it was number 7 in the Sha-La-La series (and shared with Emily). It is perhaps the best embodiment of what all those things like Are You Scared to Get Happy?, Hungry Beat, Trout Fishing In Leytonstone and people like Hurrah! and The Siddeleys seemed to have stood for. Pop with an agenda and a radical sense of style. Were they naive, or has POP today simply lost its spirit?

Of all the bands that never managed to get a proper record out in the late 80s, Remember Fun is the band I feel most sorry for. They married 60s jangle (covered WCPAEB's "Transparent Day" they did too) to adhoc tonalities and lyrics infinitely more pressing than Roger McGuinn's, often with a resulting austerity that Wake the President have occasionally come close to capturing. Especially if you listen to Matinée's retrospective ep. Those songs were all previously released and except for "Train Journeys" are among their least melodic. It was hard to resist posting "Car" simply becuase of its sheer political incorrectness today. It tells the tale of the nuisances of collective transport and delivers applaudible lines such as "even if it's ecologically right it's a pain in the backside" and "it's better killing the earth than killing myself". But you need to go back to all those lost tracks from long-forgotten tapes to truly grasp their greatness. Egg Records gave us a taste what these hiss-laden old things can sound like remastered, when they put "Cold Inside" and "Apple of My Eye" on the Souvenirs From Egg Records sampler. Their promised Remember Fun cd will hopefully include all those songs - the dreamy "Clearly Blurred", the barely audible perfection of "P.S. Elaine", the never-before-heard (at least by me - help!) "Never", and "Hey Hey Hate".

CLOUD 67 Remember Fun - Hey Hey Hate

Sunday, July 13, 2008

COIR 007: It's Easy, It's Cheap - Go to It!

The next club night is in Glasgow, cause I'm there for most of August anyway. COIR 007 is presented together with The Flying Duck and their regular Friday night club Back Tae Mine, with Gavin Dunbar from Camera Obscura as resident dj. What we've done is to bring some bands in, so it opens a few hours earlier and it will also be free to get in during this time - worth to remember. Of course I will also be playing records with a guest.

The Just Joans will be headlining and they don't need an introduction, at least not if you're from Motherwell. They've released an album and two eps so far, the latest (Hey Boy... You're Oh So Senstive!) is mentioned if you scroll down a bit, but suffice to say it's a work of genius. The band is now fronted by David and Katie, but they started out already in 2005 with slightly different members. Last Tango In Motherwell (cassette release and eventually cd-r) is a lo-fi masterpiece in class with The Moldy Peaches' only record. You can still get it, from here. If you haven't heard any of the songs you must check out "Coia's Empty" below! Chris who's selling the cd also recorded The Just Joans as part of his Last Night From Glasgow series in 2006: bands played seven songs in his flat and they were then posted on YouTube over a week. I've collected all the links for you here. Great stuff!

Friday Afternoons
Lookin Like Rain
East Kilbride

I Hear You're the Man Now, John
Coia's Empty
Back to Highschool
Five Beer Bottles

The Catalysts is mostly Glasgow-based Ulric Kennedy, but hopefully he'll get a full band together for the night. The first band he was in was powerpop legends The Mixers (featured on Dan Treacy's All For Art and Art For All compilation). In 1985 he formed the The Catalysts with Dannie from The Mixers, but soon got involved with The Golden Dawn instead. That band (not 60s garage greats 'Golden Dawn') released two singles on Sarah Records and Ulric recorded his own demos for the label, but they weren't released until 2003 when German label Felicité put them on a 7". The brilliant, new ep Autumn Everywhere came out recently on Cloudberry. "Let's Build a Dyson Sphere" by The Golden Dawn is in the player here now. A dyson sphere seems like an interesting thing, check it out here. A Catalysts tune's coming up soon as well.

CLOUD 66 The Just Joans - Coia's Empty

Constellations Reel From My Sky Into Yours

This post comes more in amazement over the fact that digital zoom actually works in good light, than over El Perro Del Mar's performance today.

This is her.

She did a good set backed by a band that looked and sounded like Eggstone, but with all probability wasn't.

In front of a big crowd.

For free (that can also mean 'free maintainance' but doesn't).

Saturday, July 12, 2008

When the Moon Is At Its Rest

Johan or Fredrik asked me to do some mixes of soft, breezy sounds to play in the mornings at Rip It Up. I gladly obliged since I've mainly been making loud things lately. The titles are from "In the Morning" by the Gibb brothers, of which The Autumn Leaves' perfect version is featured on the Saturday one. This is what you'll be waking up to.

She Falls From the Sky

It's not without reason I let Slipslide's "Summer Song" conclude my 'pop' summer mix. I keep coming back to Graeme's songs. Maybe it's nostalgia for a memory I don't have. Guitar sounds from childhood. The way he sings "yesterday I felt alright, but just now I am so happy I might hurt myself" in their Melodie Group cover on Matinée 50. And all those other lines that crop up in my head intermittently. So I used the player here to make a playlist of some of the songs I've been listening to recently - by Slipslide, Love Parade and Pure. Hope you catch them before they're gone.

Friday, July 11, 2008

All My Dreams Kept Up to Date About You

Thanks to Alistair for linking to this excellent article about Hurrah! (with an interesting answer from Paul himself). It revolves around the b-side (or aa-side) to their monumental second single "Hip Hip". It's called "Flowers" and is eloquently described by Daniel, but I can't see that anyone has uploaded it? Apart from the single, it's only available on the Boxed compilation lp.

At the end of the article you'll find links to places you can download the The Sound of Philadelphia comp from as well as their Kid Jensen session (the versions of "Lonely Room" and "Saturday's Train" are the same as on the cd, it should be said). Tell God I'm Here is also worth a listen, but perhaps he didn't find this? Since I'm responsible for The Sound of Philadelphia floating about, I thought I'd set "Flowers" bobbing downstream too. Cause it's not on the compilation, strangely, and neither is "Tame". Hungry Beat's Kevin Pearce is quoted in the article, and here are his liner notes to The Sound of Philadelphia - enlarge for comfort.

CLOUD 65 Hurrah! - Flowers

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Hey, Hate Hate

What could be more fitting after mentioning The Desert Wolves than a post about James Dean Driving Experience? Another year and still no sign of that retrospective. And I suddenly realise that there haven't been any JDDE songs on this blog, which means it doesn't qualify for Sad Pop Obscurist status. I clutch my temples in woe! Luckily, Richard comes to the rescue and courtesy of him I present you with "Lonely Hearts XI Versus the Rest of the World" a song only available on their self-released cassette that followed their flexi, thus JDDE-2. Having already ticked off Audrey Hepburn they quite naturally went for Bridgitte Bardot to adorn the cover. As will tell you, this tape was unleashed on an unknowing world in 1988 and also featured a demo version of "Drop Dead Darling" and the single version of "Dean's Eleventh Dream".

CLOUD 64 James Dean Driving Experience - Lonely Hearts XI Versus the Rest of the World

Saturday, July 5, 2008

In Love With Other People

A Cloudberry release I didn't mention before is the ep from The Vermont Sugar House. Not because it is undeserving but because their recent album has been on my list of things to rave about for some time. As The Desert Wolves (pictured above) is one of the bands I'm most fond of, I was delighted to find out last year that Martin King and David Platten are still recording. I picked up the single "Braveheart" that Firestation, ever the faithful servants of ageing pop musicians, put out as early as 1999. It wasn't as jangly as 1989, but the songs were great and King's voice is still (un)cool.

The album Carlton Gardens came out in March, but actually it's a collection of recordings spanning their whole 'career', including both single-sides and the three songs released by Cloudberry. Seeing as Indie-mp3's review wasn't very favourable I'd like to point out straight away that it's good. The problem, that everyone I've spoken to keeps coming back to, is of course that four of the songs are included twice - differently mixed. Surely nothing but a case of indecision, they could have asked anyone's advice and cut it down to the ten songs and 39 minutes it ought to have been. In fact listening to it again, skipping the versions, it sounds so much stronger!

I really love the sparse, acoustic songs like "Just Wandering Around" and "Solo Living" that happily offer themselves up for compositional dissection. Ally Boo contributes some great vocals to "Walking Distance" and "Technicolour Memories" and it's easy to sing along to "I Only Ever", half forgetting they're not The Desert Wolves anymore. "You took my world, now take the rest of me" and then a stolen guitar solo. That's the strongest song here, along with the gloriously melodious old b-side "Absolutely". But now I'm forgetting the epic (as in six minutes long) "Vanishing Point", referencing the film of the same name. Let's be honest, they could have done so much worse. And you can do better than just listening to these songs. It's simply a matter of how many songs you want - three or ten?

Earlier this year Uwe from Firestation told me there's a retrospective coming out soon with the near-mythical Men of Westenesse. I can't wait to hear this as "The Coldest Water" is such a perfect song (included on that momentous tape called A Sandwich and a Sweater). After I mentioned that two years ago, Guy (wonder if it's the same Guy being thanked in the Carlton Gardens sleeve?) from the band got in touch and said there were some more songs lying around, so I hope that had something to do with the release. Actually that post got comments from members of The Pooh Sticks and The Williams as well!

Friday, July 4, 2008

You Charged My Heart With an Unfathomable Bill

At long last I will get to see Twig in the flesh. In two weeks, at Rip It Up. Of course you've picked up the "Ciao Ciao Bomb"/"Wentworth" single already? It's in the list to the right if you look close enough. They also have lots of songs on Myspace, some of which I'd like to see on the upcoming album Plastilina promises will be out this summer (along with the Blue Train and Bollweevils retrospectives!). If that wasn't enough you can now hear that old, dog-eared volume called "At the Library" (from 2004, but there is even older material around) in the new sidebar player.

Northern Portrait, sadly, are not playing (although I have a feeling the arrangers are sitting on something even bigger) but they have a track for download here. I would have given you the link to the Rewind website, where the other 80s covers part of the project are featured, but it attacks you with loud annoying music that there is no escape from. The rest of the covers submitted look quite boring to say the least, so you don't need to see it. "Some People", as the Danes' choice is called, was originally recorded by Cliff Richard. As you may have read in the previous post, they have a new ep out this month on Matinée.

Like the Twig 7", the other Cloudberry stuff is only listed by catalogue numbers in my list, cause it's simply too much. But as Roque makes a point of letting the music speak for itself, there are a few things that might interest you. The Firekites was a band started by Iain from The Mayfields after the split. The music is a bit more dreamy, with a female vocalist, and actually this was their demo that made the rounds in the early 90s! There's no reason why these songs shouldn't have been released back then, as a photocopied review from an old local newspaper makes clear, so well-done Roque to succeed where others have failed! Get "Good Times" on the label's website, and "Victoria Summer" is on the second of my two summer mixes below. A fourth song called "Kansas" is on the ep that comes with the third issue of Roque's fanzine (this also holds an exclusive Arc Lamps song which is better than an estimated 90% of the music written about here all year).

The Hillfields first ep came out earlier this year, at no. 78, and is still available! Their hit ("Spoon" of course) is not on this, but an ep for a Cloudberry/Lostmusic event called What's All the Fuzz About. That you cannot acquire legally, but it's not unlikely it will appear on a future release from the band. Any fan of Flying Nun outfits like The Chills and The Verlaines will dig the three songs on A Visit EP, and if you don't believe me download "The Front Room" from Cloudberry HQ. Why no Indietracks slot though?

The Andersen Tapes is believe it or not Amanda from Free Loan Investments and The Busy Band. I have an mp3 dated 2006, so I guess she's been using the pseudonym for at least that long. All the songs on the ep, which is her first release, are brilliant and she's also got a track on this:

...a Cloudberry compilation that comes with the next issue of the awesome Bottlerocket fanzine. It's also got a 'new' Nixon song, which I'm certain is a huge event for most people. The ep title is from a Dolphin 7 split-flexi with The Gravy Train and The Lavender Faction - I know you wondered.

No.s 95-97 are all essential: the new jangle explosion from The Catalysts would not even have been rejected by Sarah Records; The Parallelograms make the songs from the sold out Atomic Beat split-7" available again, adding new must-have "Orchard Square"; The Mai 68s is a new UK band blessed with a Joe Foster production and I'm greatly looking forward to their Indietracks set; "College" by The Sunny Street is the best I've heard from them yet. And the last releases (yes, he's stopping at 100) will all be just as remarkable, I can assure you.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Nothing* Is Ugly

Except some things... But V-Sign is definitely not among them. A new record label started by Andy Wake over 15 years after his previous label (Medium Cool) was put put on ice. And "everything* is beautiful" is just about the best motto ever. Slightly disappointing however, is his reluctance to release things on vinyl - or even cd. If he thinks that the kids don't buy vinyl he couldn't be more wrong. Some of this year's fastest selling records have been vinyls - like the Pains of Being Pure At Heart & Parallelograms split-single and the Vivian Girls album. There's plenty of vinyl in my shopping list here in the sidebar too. So, the first V-Sign item is a download single from Manchester group Daybreaks, who are not really my cup of tea but still I would have liked it a lot more on a slab of plastic. But you should make up your own mind after listening to "Here I Am" on Myspace.

In other record label news Matinée promises releases from The Electric Pop Group, The Guild League, Strawberry Whiplash, Would-Be-Goods and maybe Keris Howard this year. And that is on top of the imminent eps from Bubblegum Lemonade and Northern Portrait! It's about time I said something about Northern Portrait's first ep The Fallen Aristocracy since the next one is almost here.... I remember hearing "Crazy" and "A Quiet Night In Copenhagen" for the first time and not quite believing they were from Denmark. With even just an ounce of their perfection they could have swept the floor with every Danish pop band in recorded history. In full glory they are comfortably playing ball in Sweden's premier pop league, scoring a few goals past Happydeadmen even. That's the band I keep returning to when trying to describe Northern Portrait's music; they have almost exactly the same sound, with the twin jangle of acoustic and electric guitars. That first time was at the start of my new degree last autumn and I was sitting behind a uni computer in one of the cellar room, earphones plugged in, wondering to myself if I was actually humming along audibly. Now I can sing along all I want to, cd spinning in my stereo, and I do, because these four songs are all could-be radio hits. I tried to get Northern Portrait to play at Don't Die On My Doorstep when we had bands, as they're just a bridge and a tunnel away but I think they still haven't done any gigs. And right now they are probably busy mastering the new ep Napoleon Sweetheart and then recording for the full-length. No rest for us.

At the same time I got The Electric Pop Group's Sunrise EP, following up on their debut album. That was good, but what an improvement this is! (Decent artwork does it a world of good as well.) The first time I heard these guys I wondered how they could simply have appeared out of thin air. They didn't. I just recognised Martin was one of the members of the bygone and scarcely noticed Aquadays - that's why that guitar-playing sounded so familiar... His current band garners surprisingly frequent namechecking of Brighter and Razorcuts for not sounding very much like them. On the new ep there's song called "Summer's Day" which is the first to land in Brighter territory because of the novel use of acoustic guitar and the lack of a drum track where previously they have relied completely on the combination of three electric guitars. All the songs are solid, competent compositions - all by Erik it would seem? In "I Could See the Lights" they are at their most accomplished, the major-to-minor chord-change in the chorus of "This Is the Town" is effectual and it's nice that the drum beats are a little more varied than before. There are still lots they can do with the arrangements, the bpm control on the drum machine, and there's still a few to many chorus repeats. All four songs are over 3:30 actually, which is ok on an ep but for the next album I hope they've cooked up some up-tempo hits that can be played after "Does Love Last Forever?" on the dancefloor!