If you're in Glasgow and you're a fan of Lung Leg and Fire Engines - go here. Or if you simply fancy a bit of foolin' around, Chris Montez style. Oh, I forgot, you'll go anyway, because Liechtenstein are playing!!
If Vivian Girls is your favourite band then Rizzo will be your new old favourite band. Formed in LA in '95, they were about 13 years early. They would've fit in right in at The Smell, and what Dum Dum Girls and PENS do so well Rizzo perfected already on their lone 2001 album Phoning It In, released by the ever tasteful Sympathy For the Record Industry. It's easy to compare them to All Girl Summer Fun Band, but they're more of an all girl noise fun duo! The minimal instrumentation and two-part harmonies also make me think of Cub, but with their cuter elements replaced by drumming from hell and fuzz guitar that could've been sampled straight off of the Fizzbombs 12".
I first heard Rizzo when Nancy shared "Shymaster" with us, from the ep of that very same name, which she released on her Cher Doll label in 1998. I liked it of course, but it hadn't prepared me for the full onslaught of this album. Now I'm looking for that 7" as well, along with their Harriet split with Tullycraft.
I wonder why no one has objected to the fact that there's no CLOUD 50 on here? Especially as it's such a round figure. If it hadn't been for the fact that no. 49 was posted on April 6th I could've claimed it was all an April Fools joke. But now I can't, so here it is finally. I've chosen a song I wouldn't have posted otherwise, by Norwegian band The April Skies. Their line-up includes two members of longtime Heaven Is Above Your Head faves Soda Fountain Rag. But they still haven't released anything since the Cloudberry ep from 2007. They've got plenty of great new songs though so let's hope they soon will. One of them is "Tonight" which got a spin at DDOMD some months ago. Another one is "I Don't Want You to Worry". Notice how the intro resembles "I'd Rather You Leave Me" by the esteemed The Choir? We played that at DDOMD some time ago as well, of course.
I just recevied my copy of the White Night 7" from Brogues. It first struck me how you can legally release a picture disc without a barcode or any release notes. But after re-reading Brogues' post, I managed to find the text in the runout-groove. NEW!004 of course means it's the fourth release on Paul Thomson's NEW! Records. If this is the label's latest release is a bit difficult to say as they don't have a website and there's next to no info about NEW! or White Night on the web.
Rough Trade's online shop says the 7" was released on the 26th of May last year, and as there were only 500 copies I can't imagine there are many left (certainly none at Rough Trade). It also says the group was formed for a birthday party in 2005 and included members of Franz Ferdinand and The Royal We. But when were the songs recorded? It's all a mystery.
If I'd heard this last year I can guarantee it would've landed higher than the Sexy Kids single in my top 15 of singles and eps. "Elevator", which was the only song I could find online (and which I played at DDOMD), actually turns out be topped by all the other three tracks, which are simply amazing. From the cute vocals and Fire Engines guitar-line of opener "Birthday", to the frenzied rhythms of "William", to the impeccably titled "Your Son (Live At the Jail)". Seeing as it's practically impossible to find this ep, I'll let you have one of the songs.
Have you seen more disappointed tigers than these? Well, let's talk some more about Knight School then. These kniggets are K Night, Chris Mess and El Gold. Now isn't that GREAT? Each song on their brand new album The Poor and Needy Need to Party starts off with an annoying CLICK, and after that it just gets worse: messy guitar sounds, what can only be called "drums", and no audible trace of mastering. And what's even better: it's all in mono! They combine old Myspace hits like "Vampire Schmampire" and "Crybaby" with some even better new songs like "Who the Fuck Hung the Moon" the long-awaited disclosure about "Mrs Tambourine Man". We tried playing them at DDOMD, but all you could hear was a distant hum resembling a melody underneath a terrible din. Yes, it IS great!
Lostmusic actually deals us a double blow, by also releasing this polished polar opposite to the Knight School album. If there are three bands out there today that sound a lot like each other it's Philippino hit-machine Moscow Olympics, ever newsworthy The Morning Paper from Sweden and Brooklyn's POBPAH-affiliated The Depreciation Guild. The first two are on Lostmusic's first split-7". The third has an album that you can download for free and have plans for a new release this year. LMR004 features one song each by The Morning Paper and Moscow Olympics, and they're both exclusive. In fact, you can listen to the whole thing here. TMP also have an upcoming release of their album What We Wish in the Philippines (it was released in Japan last year).
I finally ordered and received my copy of the Lil' Hospital ep. Not only is it their best release, but the see-through vinyl sounds fantastic! If they hadn't split up, this single could've taken them a long ways along the path The Pains of Being Pure At Heart have already travelled. Name-checking Pains frontman Kip certainly helps, and that over a drum track that will numb your mind! "Kip Is a Dick" is playing on Don't Die On My Doorstep's myspace now. And the magnificent pop of "Nothing Like a Car Crash" could be heard at our last event yesterday (the rest of the playlist is up now too) and as it played it struck me how well the lyrics resonate with my life at the moment. "Don't care who's throwing the party, I don't wanna dance too close, tonight." Kevin's current project is Knight School, whose first album is out as of TOMORROW. Buy and sample "Pregnant Again" at Lostmusic.
I do have some copies left of the fanzine presented in the post below. So that can be had for £2, which is what it'll cost me to post it to you. Paypal to kristerbladh at linuxmail dot org. It's 8 pages long and the contents are: Earthquake Glue; Join Our Club...Or Die; What Happened, Ray?; Band of the Month; The Sound of Yesterday; How to Avoid Losing Small Objects.
EDIT: Has your payment not been claimed? Well, that's because I got the address WRONG! Just cancel it and use the now correct address above. Sorry!
What's this? Why, it's the final Don't Die On My Doorstep zine of course! I would have liked to call it a paper fanzine, but actually it's a paper and plastic fanzine. Printed in school on transparencies and 160g white paper. Perhaps this will give you a better idea:
The cover is actually a list of all the songs I've played at the club from January through to December last year (including "Don't Die On My Doorstep" by Felt of course). I thought it might be a good way to wrap things up, and it actually makes me feel proud just looking at the number of great songs I've managed to squeeze in. A good deal of them will probably have passed most the clientele by, but not me. This unusually large issue continues the summarising theme with a list of all the 12 nights and who played, or if perchance something else nice happened. There are the normal features of one current pop group (Wake the President this time) and one 60s group (The Rising Storm), but the most interesting page details the tracks chosen by various people to make up the imaginary guest dj set! I made a few extra this time, so hopefully I'll have a few left to make available on here. I should've remembered a transparency is quite difficult to fold, so now I have to find something really heavy to put them underneath. A guitar amp perhaps?
The world sometimes is cruel - like when it won't let you hear Niza for 23 years. Dear oh dear, Niza must be the best band on Spanish label Elefant. If they're not, then who? Not Camera Obscura, not Trembling Blue Stars, not even The School are this good. At least I know that Canciones de temporada is one of my favourite albums. That and two singles is all they left behind, which would have been enough for a considerable legacy had they been dated to 1968 (like you might think when you hear them) and not 1999-2002. The Elefant site compares their singer to Claudine Longet, and the resemblance is more than striking. If I loved Las Escarlatinas, Niza drives me out of my mind - or the exact opposite considering their breezy, acoustic bossa pop. Has there been a better Spanish band ever? It seems like they effortlessly recreate a sound Él struggled so many years to revive and that, more recently, Club 8 has laboured long and hard to finally get quite close to.
It's sometimes hard discovering Spanish indiepop bands. It's not like I thought "hmm... Niza, that's a great band name, I have to check them out". In fact I doubt it means anything at all. I'd be completely indifferent if someone told me the lyrics didn't either, but I think they do. Perhaps it's time I learned Spanish... What better reason could you find? If someone had played Niza to me in high school I would have ticked the box for 'Spanish' without the slightest of misgivings. I first heard the band on Elefant's Momentos perdidos compilation, which is an introduction to Spanish pop as good as any. At least if you can't get a mixtape from Roque! Maybe next time he won't forget them.
And please, please don't tell me there are more bands like this out there. I can't bear it.
I'll be the first to confess that perhaps I haven't listened enough to Inner North, so if I feel that The Guild League's recent Speak Up is their best yet it might just be because it's so much more immediate. The band is at their most rocking and Tali makes good use of the formidable set of lungs endless touring with The Lucksmiths has given him. The influence of The Housemartins on the early Lucksmiths must be familiar to everyone, but it's not until now that Tali White (who of course sings and plays the drum in the Lucksmith) has gone all the way and churned out an album that is not only full of perky POP but also lyrics that are both fun and world-toppling. Speak Up? It would be unfair to call it a political record, it's more of a cry for action. The question is: will this Guild League record make you speak up? Or perhaps "there will be no further comment. No defiant fist will lift. These quiet, capitulating eyes will lower, feet will shift. Onto the long, thoughtful orator we will give the shortest shrift." as the subdued "Dead Hour" laments.
The grave subject matter threatens to make any such record a tedious affair, but Tali cleverly steeps his songs in irresistible melodies (like that of "If Not Now...", played at DDOMD last month) and artful wordings (as in "Brains" which contains my perhaps favourite line - "when I tried to explain, I found nothing in your head but brains"). He's also right to put some unexpected elements into the mix, to keep you on the edge of your seats throughout. The backbeat and horns of "Where's the Colour?" would've held up on any Still Flyin' record and "17 Summer" initially sounds eerily like an outtake from Red House Painters' Songs For a Blue Guitar, before switching into New Lucksmiths mode. Tali may have saved his best songs for The Guild League this time, or maybe this is just better than The Lucksmiths' new album First Frost. Get both from Matinée.
Most everything is ready for New Zealand now, just waiting for my visa to come through. I'll still be writing here, but it'll be Heaven Is Below Your Head instead. I'll have to figure out some sort of outlet for musical discoveries now that I won't have a club night. If nothing else, there will still be new songs on DDOMD's Myspace every month - I've already replaced the current mix with a new un that'll be up throughout February. As I will probably have more important things to consider that month. What's playing now:
Fantastic Everlasting Gobstopper - I Am a Kitten Songs For the Jetset: Supreme Edition comp, 1999 The Kittens Three - I'm Coming Apart At the Seams 45 a-side, 1966 The Kittens - I Love You So 45, 1960-62? Finally Punk - The Place You Love Is Gone (Indian Giver)Hypertension EP, 2008 The Lil' Hospital - Kip Is a DickUniverse Sucks! EP, 2008 The Hard Times - Come to Your Window 45 a-side, 1966
Read the interesting story behind some of the tracks on Myspace! The mix is called Mr. Dieingly Sadafter a tune by The Critters. In other news I never had time to write about the fantastic Dum Dum Girls ep before it sold out. We'll just have to wait for the upcoming single and ep then... The second Butcher Boy album is finally available from How Does It Feel to Be Loved?. Skatterbrain's and Pop Song Romance's respective pop compilations are also soon out / already available.
The last Don't On My Doorstep night is approaching fast. We might be back sometime, somewhere after the summer but we're celebrating this as if it was the end, with an arguably exclusive guest set from my favourite pop clubs of England, Scotland, the US and Germany. They've all chosen one song each and these will be played some time between 11 and 12 pm. If you look, you'll probably just see me, but close your eyes and out of thin air John, Colin, Lynsey, Ian, Erik, Björn, Jennifer, Marion, Andreas and many others will materialise. The emperor's new DJs!
I've been listening to The Hermit Crabs' new ep Correspondence Course today. The first track is "About You Before" and I immediately wrote it down on my list of what to play on the 24th. "It's their best song so far!" I thought. Then the title track majestically enters with violin and acoustic guitars. After namedropping Lynyrd Skynyrd and This Mortal Coil, it quickly replaced "About You Before" on my list. But then "Turn the Clock Back" matches Camera Obscura's finest, and saddest moments. I reached for my pen again. But actually, the last track turned out to be my favourite Hermit Crabs song to date! A timeless pop song, and on the 24th I will help it replace "Eighties Fan" in the dance floor canon. With Matinée lighting the fuse, other labels are just canon fodder.
I've been on the trail of this single for a while. I first heard the brilliant "One False Move" on A Sandwich and a Sweater (which you'll easily find online) and then found a crappy m4a of "Stranglehold" on Beatfortwo, I think. Then I discovered Pete from Horowitz knows someone who was in the band, since they were based in Stoke-On-Trent. As was the label, Kite, whose only release this was - apart from the Kite cassette that I've written about before. I still haven't got hold of a copy, but the Almighty Stephen Pop was kind enough to rip his copy for me. The record which is from 1990 holds three tracks: "I Don't Blame You", "Stranglehold" and "One False Move". The last is by far the best, but here's my second favourite since you probably won't find it anywhere else. Sparse but very effectful backing vocals, jangly guitar, a bit of melody - what more do you need? If you want to know more about the band there's a surprisingly extensive entry lastfm.
I can already announce that my favourite man of 2009 is Lisle Mitnik from Chicago! Look, he's left-handed too! He hasn't done much as Fireflies lately, although the Cherry Blossom Girl 7" has now finally come out on Colm's Papillons Noir (hopefully followed by the Help Stamp Out Loneliness single soon!). But actually he's been even busier than before. Fact is that he plays in both of my new favourite bands: Very Truly Yours and Two If By Sea.
Very Truly Yours (orignally called The Clovers) are essentially The Lorimer Sound without their main man Christopher. Lisle's delicious guitar-playing is now at the front, perfectly complementing Kristine's multi-layered vocals. I've listened to all their songs three times over today already, and I'll do the same tomorrow. They've just released their first ep - a split with The Understudies, available from Cloudberry now. They also have a track on WeePOP!'s first release of the year: a 'new beginnings' themed 7-track compilation, and they should've started shipping the pre-orders by now! It also has a new track from Horowitz, showcasing what is kind of a new direction for them. Let's say it's less Bubblegum Splash! and more Pavement! Check it our here.
Lisle is also one half of Two If By Sea, together with Teresa who should be familiar from The Haircuts and Junebug. I don't know which band I like best yet. Two If By Sea is much more laidback, and perhaps closer to Fireflies but with female vocals. But most of all they sound like The Cat's Miaow, and maybe a bit like the excellent Marine Time Keepers. No releases yet, but it'll happen eventually.
I need to clear the list of 2008 releases in the sidebar to make room for this year's stuff, so I'll just post the whole thing here for reference. Please note that I won't add any more releases to this, even though I'm sure to find records from 2008 that I missed!
Albums Vivian Girls - s/t (Mauled By Tigers) The Airfields - Up All Night (Humblebee) The Autumn Leaves - Long Lost Friend (April Dabbler) Crystal Stilts - Alight of Night (Slumberland) The Wave Pictures - Instant Coffee Baby (Moshi Moshi) The Lodger - Life Is Sweet (Slumberland) Je Suis Animal - Self-Taught Magic From a Book (Perfect Pop) Finally Punk - s/t (self-released) Pas/cal - I Was Raised On Matthew, Mark, Luke & Laura (Le Grand Magistery) Bubblegum Lemonade - Doubleplusgood (Matinée) Minisnap - Bounce Around (Pocket Music) Ballboy - I Worked On the Ships (Pony Proof) Twig - Life After Ridge (Plastilina) Times New Viking - Rip It Off (Matador) Eat Skull - Sick to Death (Siltbreeze) Ponies In the Surf - See You Happy (Darla) Beach House - Devotion (Carpark) Would-Be-Goods - Eventyr (Matinée) Apple Orchard - Half-Steps Toward Bright Skies (Haymarket) The Forbidden Tigers - Magnetic Problems (Dead Beat) Crushed Stars - Gossamer Days (Simulacra) The Occasional Keepers - True North (LTM) Action Biker - Hesperian Puisto (Friendly Noise) The Fallen Leaves - It's Too Late Now (Parliament) Tears Run Rings - Always, Sometimes, Seldom, Never (Clairecords) The Vermont Sugar House - Carlton Gardens (Firestation) Julie Ocean - Long Gone and Nearly There (Transit of Venus) Soda Fountain Rag - It's Rag Time! (Yesboyicecream) The Draytones - Up In My Head (1965) Sarandon - Kill Twee Pop! (Slumberland) Lardpony - The Greatest Invention Ever (self-released) Slow Down Tallahassee - The Beautiful Light (Thee SPC) The Bridal Shop - From Seas (Magic Marker) This Is Ivy League - s/t (Twentyseven) The Very Most - Congratulations Forever (Coming In Second) The Smittens - The Coolest Thing About Love (Happy Happy Birthday to Me) The Whitsundays - s/t (Friendly Fire) Cars Can Be Blue - Doubly Unbeatable (Happy Happy Birthday to Me) Los Punsetes - LP (Gramaciones Grabofónicas) Celestial - Crystal Heights (Lavender) All Girl Summer Fun Band - Looking Into It (AGSFB) (The Sounds of) Kaleidoscope - All This Heaven (?) Boy Genius - Anchorage (self-released) Wild Billy Childish & the MBEs - Thatcher's Children (Damaged Goods) The Lucksmiths - First Frost (Matinée) The Guild League - Speak Up (Matinée) The Primary 5 - High Five (Neon Tetra) Boyracer - Sunlight Is the Best Antiseptic (555) Remember Remember - s/t (Rock Action) Scarlet's Well - Gatekeeper (Siesta) Las Escarlatinas - Al galope (Siesta) Blackberry Wine/The Local Heroes - Museums For Memories (Series Two) No Age - Nouns (Sub Pop) Cocoanut Groove - Madeleine Street (Fridlyst) Love Is All - A Hundred Things Keep Me Up At Night (What's Your Rupture?) Sun Kil Moon - April (Caldo Verde) Stereolab - Chemical Chords (4AD) Wetdog - Enterprise Reversal (Angular) The Charade - Keeping Up Appearances (Skipping Stones) Uni & the Ding! String Trio - As Gold (Unimusic/The Orchard) Robert Forster - The Evangelist (Tuition) Wavves - s/t (Woodsist) The Explorers Club - Freedom Wind (Dead Oceans) Black Time - Double Negative (In the Red) Brent Cash - How Will I Know If I'm Awake (Marina) Lucky Dragons - Dream Island Laughing Language (Marriage) The Bats - The Guilty Office (Arch Hill)
Compilations & Reissues caUSE co-MOTION! - It's Time! (Slumberland) The Motifs - Cross Paths (Knock Yr. Socks Off) The Manhattan Love Suicides - Burnt Out Landscapes (Squirrel) Comet Gain - Broken Record Prayers (Milou) Belle & Sebastian - The BBC Sessions (Jeepster) Jay Reatard - Matador Singles '08 (Matador) Jay Reatard - Singles 06-07 (In the Red) The Summer Suns - Greatest (House of Wax) Sic Alps - A Long Way Around to a Shortcut (Animal Disguise) Second-Hand Furniture - Game, Set, Match... (Plastilina) Various - Country Music - Songs For Keith Girdler (Siesta) Dear Nora - Three States : Rarities 1997-2007 (Magic Marker) Brittle Stars - s/t (Ruined Potential 10" reissue) Shop Assistants - Will Anything Happen (Cherry Red reissue) The Factory - Path Through the Forest (Guerssen) Bluetrain - Some Greater Love (Plastilina) Men of Westenesse - Are You Brothers? (Firestation) Friends - Single Friends (Summerhouse) Mo-Dettes - The Story So Far (Cherry Red) The Laughing Apple - The Ha Ha Hee Hee! E.P. (Edition 59 reissue) The Bright Lights - Drunker Than You Since '002 (555) Tommy Roe - Paisley Dreams (Rev-Ola double reissue) The Parade - Sunshine Girl: The Complete Recordings (Rev-Ola)
Singles & EPs Days - Downhill (Shelflife EP) The School - Let It Slip (Elefant EP) The First Division - On the City (Cloudberry EP) The Pains of Being Pure At Heart - Everything With You (Slumberland 7") The Lorimer Sound - Greenstreets (WeePOP! EP) Pocketbooks - Waking Up (Make Do and Mend EP) All My Friends - Up and Down the River (Slender Means EP) The Mai 68s - Froth on the Daydream (Cloudberry EP) The Motifs - Memory's Gone (Edition 59 EP) The Manhattan Love Suicides - Kessler Syndrome (Squirrel 7") Sexy Kids - Sisters Are Forever (Slumblerland 7") The Clientele - That Night, A Forest Grew (Acuarela EP) Forbidden Tigers - Colonial Freakout (Savage EP) Liechtenstein - Apathy (Fraction 7") Moscow Olympics - Cut the World (Lavender EP) Tyvek - Sidewalk (M'Lady's EP) Psychedelic Horseshit - New Wave Hippies (Half Machine EP) Wavves - Beach Demon (Tic Tac Totally 7") Crystal Stilts - s/t (Woodsist EP) The Catalysts - Autumn Everywhere (Cloudberry EP) Strawberry Fair - I Can't Do Anything (Alltid Hela Tiden EP) Still Corners - Remember Pepper? (Self-released EP) The Wave Pictures - Just Like a Drummer (Moshi Moshi EP) Bubblegum Lemonade - Susan's In the Sky (Matinée EP) Northern Portrait - The Fallen Aristocracy (Matinée EP) The Budgies - Teatercaféet (Cosy EP) The Just Joans - Hey Boy...You're Oh So Sensitive! (WeePOP! EP) The Carrots - Beverly (Elefant EP) Catwalk - Past Afar (YAY! 7") Northern Portrait - Napoleon Sweetheart (Matinée EP) The Garlands - s/t (Cosy/Cloudberry EP) Kuryakin - Still Here (Shelflife EP) The Tartans - Cats of Camerford (YAY! 7") The Carrots - Doing Our Part (Elefant EP) One Happy Island - Pulaski Park (WeePOP! EP) One Happy Island - Secret Party That the Other Party Doesn't Know About (WeePOP! EP) Summer Cats - Passion Pop (WeePOP! EP) The Zebras - New Ways of Risking Our Lives (Lost & Lonesome EP) Slow Club - Let's Fall Back In Love (Moshi Moshi EP) The Electric Pop Group - Sunrise (Matinée EP) Let's Wrestle - In Loving Memory of (Stolen EP) Apple Orchard - Turning Point (Edition 59 EP) Let's Whisper - Make Me Smile (WeePOP! EP) caUSE co-MOTION! - I Lie Awake (Slumberland EP) Esiotrot/Tiger MCs - Singles Club EP14 (Filthy Little Angels split-7") Finally Punk - Hypertension (M'Lady's EP) Vivian Girls - Surf's Up (self-released 7") The Lil' Hospital - Universe Sucks (Hugpatch 7") Fireflies - Cherry Blossom Girl (Papillions Noirs) The Deirdres - Why Do My Glasses Give You the Heeby Jeebys? (Cosy EP) The Manhattan Love Suicides - Veronica (Squirrel 7") Horowitz - I Was the Son of a Teenage Comicbook Superhero's Sidekick (Edition 59 EP) Anthony Rochester - You're a Singer Now (Edition 59 EP) Phil Wilson - White Night (Edition 59 EP) The Westfield Mining Disaster - Judy Greer (Edition 59 EP) The Hermit Crabs - Correspondence Course (Matinée EP) Vivian Girls - I Can't Stay (In the Red 7") The Metric Mile - In Praise of Ski Jumpers (Kingsland Territories 7") Que Possum/Boyracer - split-7" (555) Minisnap - Whistler (Cloudberry 7") Je Suis Animal - Painted In My Face (Cloudberry 7") Twig - Ciao Ciao Bomb (Cloudberry 7") Summer Cats - Lonely Planet (Cloudberry 7") The Tartans - My Baby Doesn't Care For You (Cloudberry 7") The Westfield Mining Disaster - Hank Williams Saved My Life (Cloudberry 7") The Bridal Shop - Violation (Cloudberry 7") The Felt Tips - My Girlfriend Tried to Run Me Over (Cloudberry 7") The Arc Lamps - Wave of Sound (Cloudberry EP) The Firekites - Tears and Togetherness... (Cloudberry EP) The Hillfields - A Visit (Cloudberry EP) The Danny Says - Different Strategy (Cloudberry EP) Boy Genius - No Beginning (Cloudberry EP) Japan Air - Claire (Cloudberry EP) The Andersen Tapes - Smartypants (Cloudberry EP) Afternoon Naps - Can't Stop the Weather (Cloudberry EP) Puzzle - Everything You Ever (Cloudberry EP) The Parallelograms - 1-2-3 Go! (Cloudberry EP) The Sunny Street - Insull Memorial (Cloudberry EP) Postal Blue - Laughing and Crying (Cloudberry EP)
So I finally got a copy of the eagerly anticipated Men of Westenesse compilation out on Firestation a couple of months ago. Although you never know with these 80s retrospectives full of unreleased tracks (Firestation runs the whole gamut from The Bloody Marys to The Desert Wolves) I couldn't help but have high expectations for this cd. I'd heard two songs before: "The Coldest Water" which is one of my absolute favourites from the late 80s, and "Boating" which was one of the better selections on the fifth volume of The Sound of Leamington Spa but still not essential.
Of course, the cd starts off with "The Coldest Water", and as I sing along after the key change the suspense grows. And when "English Tragedy", mastered from a crackly copy their only ep, fades in with some backwards feedback and switches into one of the more heartbreaking pop ballads I've heard - I know that the whole compilation is going to be full of pristine janglepop. There's really no need to say anymore, because none of the following tracks will let you down. Not "This Is Your Life", the third song from The Coldest Water 7" from 1989, not "Boating" and not the eleven unreleased tracks. There's some tape hiss on those, but not more than you can live with, the only question mark is the omission of "Everybody's Fan Club" (the last track on the ep). Perhaps it was just a weak song, and in that case the comp is probably all the better for it. As it is now, it's right up there with The Nivens and Hey Paulette (the best of Firestation's output in other words), but still nothing can touch the Desert Wolves cd.
Men of Westenesse have their distinct sound, although there are similarities to Mighty Mighty here and there (cf. "This Is Your Life" and "My Old Schoolfriends" with their perky bass lines). All the songs show above-average craftsmanship and some excellent guitar-playing. My favourites on second listen are the laidback "Mr + Mrs Talk of the South" with some prominent acoustic guitar contributing to the sound, the simple "All My Friends" (only song under the 2-minute mark here!), the wonderful melody of "I Call You Thomas", and "The World and His Wife". The latter is also the title of The Rileys' only album... and an Elvis Costello song (no cover though!). To wrap it up, there's a second version of "The Coldest Water" which perhaps feels too much like an effort to start and finish the compilation with its strongest song. But I can't complain. I only wish the Big Red Bus lp was this interesting. MoW deserve to have released an album instead. Now unfortunately, we will never get to hear these songs in their full glory. A extra star sticker for the sleeve detailing the members' current occupation!
Spanish label Elefant has a sale just now, and they're also selling some second-hand stuff - not only released by Elefant but lots of other stuff too. Apart from finally picking up the sold out Po! compilation, I found a record on sale that I didn't even know existed. I'm sure I saw a copy of the last single by The Gravy Train as well, if you want to pick it up.
When I first heard Aventuras de Kirlian, I was shocked to see that the songs were recorded in 1989! It sounded a lot like Pipas, and many of the songs were not much longer than "Minilife". After reading about them, things started to fall into place, especially when seeing that they're almost the same band as Le Mans. They only released one album with two accompanying singles (the picture is of the cover of the "Un día gris" 7" on Dro), with minimalist pop influenced by bands such as Marine Girls, Felt and Love.
What I didn't know was that in 2001 Elefant released a compilation of their demos, called 86-88, with 17 tracks at an impressive total of 20 minutes. The artwork is great and it has liner notes by Alejo Alberdi, who discovered the band, got them a record deal and produced the self-titled album released in 1989. Not that I understood much of it though, as it's all in Spanish. But it's not hard to understand that they became quite influential in Spanish indie circuits and I refuse to believe Pipas has never heard them. Here's one of the up-tempo tunes on the compilation - dance!
As was bound to happen I've now heard a few more records that could've made it onto the 'best of' lists. A couple I discovered thanks to Sunshine Department, and it just amazes me how I could've missed out on The Explorers Club this long! Their first ep came out in 2006 and 2008 saw the release of what must have been a crazily anticipated debut album. Most of the tracks from the ep are included and it's a fantastic sunshine pop creation, and the closest thing I've heard to a Brian Wilson production without it actually being that. "Forever" will definitely get a spin at the upcoming last Don't Die On My Doorstep - perhaps next to Wilson's song of the same name? SD also wrote about Brent Cash's brilliant first lp How Will I Know If I'm Awake. It's an incredibly lush production that makes it hard to imagine his previous output, apparently only distributed among friends on cassette. The album came out on luxury pop (and Scots pop) lovers' favourite label Marina in February. It's their first release since The Pearlfishers' latest effort, and shares many of it's qualities while managing to sound even more lavish and more authentic to the 1967-68 era. An exemplary out-of-nowhere wonder that I will cherish for a long time.
I've also had the pleasure of finally hearing the new Las Escarlatinas album, appearing three years after the debut A Todo Color that I wrote about a few months ago. The difference is mainly in production - the first record was produced by the legendary Ramón Leal who now no longer works with Siesta, and Al Galope has Guille Milkyway's signature all over it. There's a very interesting article, comparing the albums in detail over here. I'll settle for saying this is more peppy, more electronic, more disco and more slick - as is to be expected of any Milkyway production. Still it's much more interesting than his own band La Casa Azul, I think. With songs this perfect and voices so angelic I don't think any production could have ruined this album's potential.
Two albums on In the Red have got a lot playtime recently. First, Black Time who Brogues tipped me about, and their third album Double Negative. The band's from London and fits right in with all the other noisy garage-pop bands we've enjoyed this year, only they've been down with the fuzz since 2004. That year they released Blackout, which is now available on cd from In the Red as well. The new record is an intense affair of black matter that threatens to implode at any second. My favourites are the female-sung "I'm Gonna Haunt You When I'm Gone" the ear-splitting "Problems". Cheap Time time have released two singles in the last year and also a self-titled lp on In the Red, which looks and sounds like it was recorded in 1978. Loud, garagey power-pop that nods to the more appealing aspects glam (cf. "Glitter & Gold"). Not on In the Red, but another label with an excellent 2008 record, namely Woodsist, is a re-release of Wavves' first full-length previously only available on cassette. Its 12 tracks definitely raise expectations for the follow-up Wavvves, to appear on De Stijl in the near future.
Moving on the 7"s, I have to say The Lil' Hospital's new ep Universe Sucks on Hugpatch is the best thing they've done. Not as lo-fi as their two albums and with hits like "Kip Is a Dick" and "Nothing Like a Car Crash" this record can't do anything but rock your world. Finally Punk move in the other direction with Hypertension, which is slightly more restrained than the album but just as captivating. Pick it up from M'Lady's Records now.
I felt that Vivian Girls' latest single "I Can't Stay" perhaps didn't really add much to the overbearing impact of the album on my music listening this year, however great its two sides were. But the recent Surf's Up 7" on their new own label Wild World is truly exceptional. Never mind that it's only available as part of a t-shirt/record/badge/postcard pack (that will set us Europeans back $30), you need this single. They've recorded it themselves and the sound more light of foot than the album, with drumming that only comes through as trebly cracks and swathes of crashing cymbal. It suits these more languid songs perfectly, especially the 'romantic' "Second Date". The other two songs are "Surfin Away" and a cover of The Beach Boys' "Girl Don't Tell Me". The latter translates surprisingly well into Vivian Girls' vocabulary. And no, this one does not sound like a Brian Wilson production.