Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Twenty Years of Envy

I thought I'd steal a Slumberland catalogue number, as they're up to about the same numbers as here anyway. We've all enjoyed Skatterbrain's Subjective Best of Slumberland 90-95, and I wanted to compile my favourites from their whole catalogue, now that they've been around for 20 years. Some of the best stuff has come out in the last two years actually. I've stuck to no re-releases as a rule, so I've not included anything previously released on other labels - there went the Black Tambourine and 14 Iced Bears comps, the Bright Coloured Lights single and the Just a Taste Summershine retrospective! Here are my favourite Slumberland songs, presented in an order that couples bands for the old and new era, to reveal some interesting lineages.

1. Liechtenstein - All At Once (SLR 96, 2009)
2. Rocketship - I Love You Like the Way I Used to Do (SLR 40, 1996)
3. The Lodger - A Year Since Last Summer (SLR 80, 2008)
4. The Ropers - I Don't Mind (SLR 38, 1994)
5. Summer Cats - In June (SLR 101, 2009)
6. The Saturday People - Working For the Weekend (SLR 67, 2001)
7. Brown Recluse - Contour and Context (SLR 102, 2009)
8. The Clientele - Porcelain (single version) (SLR 63, 2001)
9. The Softies - Half As Much (SLR 47, 1998)
10. Glo-Worm - Change of Heart (SLR 45, 1995)
11. The Pains of Being Pure At Heart - Stay Alive (SLR 89, 2009)
12. Black Tambourine - Drown (DRYL 9, 1991)
13. Crystal Stilts - Love Is a Wave (SLR 91, 2009)
14. Henry's Dress - You Killed a Boy For Me (SLR 34, 1995)
15. caUSE co-MOTION! - Leave It All (SLR 93, 2009)
16. Go Sailor - The Boy Who Sailed Around the World (SLR 36, 1995)
17. Sexy Kids - Drown Me (SLR 79, 2008)
18. The Aislers Set - Been Hiding (SLR 52, 1999)
19. Boyracer - Vitamin B (SLR 48, 1996)
20. Honeybunch - Candy Breath (DRYL 5, 1991)

SLR 106 V/A - I Wish I Was Slumberland Records

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Even Though You Can't Dance should step out tonight for the last So Tough! So Cute! (at Retro). It's sad to see it go as I've always regarded it as the only indiepop club in Sweden with a proper dancefloor. Tonight is a tribute to Slumberland, and the late Ellie Greenwich. By a stroke of luck I found the only Raindrops album earlier today (The Raindrops was of course the alias Ellie and her songwriting partner Jeff Barry used for their own recordings), perched delicately on a pile of rubble. I bet the guy or girl who once picked it up for the considerable sum of 1 crown is kicking themselves now! It's also available on cd these days (on Sequel I think) with a bunch of bonus tracks. But this 1963 Jubilee release is so much nicer, pressed on that super-thick vinyl you only got back in those days. It proves that not only were they able to pen megahits like "The Kind of Boy You Can't Forget", but also swooning tracks like "That Boy's Messin' Up My Mind" and my new favorite "Isn't That Love".

CLOUD 103 The Raindrops - Isn't That Love

Friday, September 25, 2009

Between Mister and Mattress

This image of Paul Handyside has come to you across several different media - recorded, broadcast, rerecorded, ripped, encoded, transcoded, copied and saved digitally and virtually. Still, it is an image. We can just about make out the beautiful, black Burns Doublesix he is playing. Or simulating playing. Because there is music as well, only this image has now been stripped of its soundtrack. The sound that should go with this image is an edited down version of a song recorded in a different place and different time. In its full context, we can even see Paul happily strumming along when he should actually be playing something completely different. So it would make as much sense to present this image here, totally out of context, and out of time.

To provide some context, a virtual person has recently uploaded several videos spanning the whole career of Newcastle band Hurrah!, perhaps in excitement over Monday's reissue of Tell God I'm Here on Cherry Red (following the surely unprecedented success of the Another Sunny Day reissue last month). You can watch them here. The early ones are magnificent, while the later ones can best be described with the adjectives 'silly' and 'sexist'. Now, the reason for picking up the in many respects forgettable Tell God I'm Here (already reissued in Japan last year) is the second disc, which includes 11 tracks from desirable compilation The Sound of Philadelphia. While they have omitted the best Hurrah! track "Around and Around" (ask Bob Stanley) you are treated to the b-side to "Hip Hip" and the best cuts from second album The Beautiful.

The reason why I say they are the best is because I have just had the pleasure of hearing this 1989 lp in it its entirety. I think it is beautiful, landing somewhere in-between their more fragile early recordings and the sound of Bronze. It includes new versions of several old songs: "Saturday's Train" (recorded for radio in 1982), "Big Sky" (intended to be their third single, in 1984) and "Velveteen" (documented on the live lp Way Ahead, recorded in 1985). Since the only way to hear the whole record is to download it illegally, perhaps you should suggest to Cherry Red that they reissue The Beautiful as well!

On the same cherry red note, next Monday sees the release of Black Path, a retrospective of my favourite Medway group The Claim, culled from their singles (including both sides of their Caff 7"!) and two albums plus plenty of unreleased material.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Mundane Monday

German Measles is the among the very best bands of the inbred Brooklyn scene. They've got a sense of humour, their first release was called "Demos Sorry" - a tape now proudly listed as 'sold out' in the already impressive catalogue of Captured Tracks - and they don't hesitate to call themselves a party rock band. In the tradition of the wildest 60s garage and fratrock groups of course. I can definitely imagine them playing new track "Totally Wild" at a North-West college dance in 1966. Or as a track on The Savages' album Live 'n' Wild from the same year. The 'demos' are obvious live recordings too, most of them introduced with "take one". The only thing about it is that the guitar sound is a bit too thin, but then again that makes them sound like Desperate Bicycles! Especially on the opening track "Monkey Me, Monkey You", whose haphazard rhythms has the unusual effect of putting a big grin on anyone's face. Indie music has always had too many pretentious saddos, and such a work of simple genius as this is as rare these days as ever. To me, lyrics like those to "Mosco Street" and "We Want You" is the most fantastic thing since Helen Love's "We Love You". That they have one foot in the 60s (tempted to say in the grave) is proved by the silly "Japanese Beetles" and their playful inversion of Dylan's "It Ain't Me Babe" (also covered, of course, by many garage and folk-rock groups). Perhaps none of this would have got them far if they hadn't had a singer with a real personality. A true (post)modern Gerry Roslie! German Measles may be a live band (proved by the fantastic session on WFMU that you can listen to here) but at least the sound on the soon to be released 12" on Captured Tracks has improved dramatically, thanks to Gary Olson's production. I talked about the recording with him when we played in Germany and he says he's very happy with it. Two mp3s from it are floating around as I write, so if you don't buy it... And don't forget to buy the 12"!

German Measles was one of the many bands who played the Captured Tracks / Woodsist festival in New York this summer. For those of you as envious of the visitors as me, there are some great videos over here.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Death By Transistor Radio

The first copy of Wildwood Lights' debut ep has made it to Sweden! You remember Wildwood Lights, right? That lovely, talented band I had the pleasure of not only meeting and seeing live in Auckland, but also arranging a gig for. We've waited eagerly for the first release and now it's here! Reports from the release party have been very favourable, especially of the new tote bags. The True Love Woes ep contains three songs, including my first favourite "Town and Country" which has subsequently made it to no. 1 on bFM's top ten. It only exists in 100 copies, handmade by the ladies themselves, so get yours now on their site!

The Gladeyes also have news songs on Myspace, from the long awaited new album. Another cause for celebration!

In other homemade record news I have been enjoying the digital version of the first Sugarplums release. They have been selling it at gigs, and I assume you can buy it directly from them! Covers vary, but at least one of them looked like what you can see above. It includes five old and new songs, full of ramshackle guitars recorded with minimal means. "Cate's Crush" is a new favourite with its pairing of Juniper's choppy guitar sound with the fizz of Henry's Dress. The melodies are everywhere, hardly concealed by the lo-fi trappings. "Plum Coloured Sky" will have to be the old favourite then, with a guitar intro that sounds like it's been nicked from the most credible of sources. I do wish they'd let the lyrics come through a bit more, which is why I'd love to hear them with newly added (from the looks of it on Myspace) singer Rachel. But this is an amazing start that could well mean that their next release will be on a label like Art Fag, Captured Tracks or HoZac.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Even Bachelors

This is what this month's DDOMD booklets look like, well, folded in half of course. Still no colour printer, so I had to add some colour with the trusty John Bull kit. Featured in this issue is a diary entry from an 11-year-old, the CO-RITUS manifesto from 1962 and some short features on Neo Boys and Les Misérables (no, not the musical). Will be given out tonight if you can make it.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Love In a Goldmine

What do these bands have in common? Cartwheel, Colors & Shapes, Casino Ashtrays, The Autocollants, Tears Run Rings, In a Day and Evening Lights. Well probably several things, but one is Laura Watling. Perhaps most well-known for being the female voice in The Autocollants, she now plays with Tears Run Rings (the picture is from one of their gigs). Apart from all these pseudonyms she also has releases under her own name. The album Early Morning Walk is one the finest things Shelflife have ever put out, and it's a true honour to be in a band that has a record out on the same label! The sound is so brittle and beautiful that the only thing I can really compare it to is a Motifs record. From the poignant lyrics of "Perfect Penmanship", to the laudable cover of The Motorcycle Boy's perhaps best number "The World Falls Into Place", to the gorgeous harmonies of "It's All I Can Do" (that always reminds me of a West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band song), the whole album bears the mark of Watling's penchant for simple arrangements, utilised to the fullest to accompany her plainly wonderful voice.

I've put together one song each by the bands of hers that I know of (there might be more?), starting with a solo number from a Popgun tape I have dated to 1997. Casino Ashtrays were Watling and Raoul who runs Popgun, and formed after The Autocollants split. Someone should really compile a full discography of Laura's releases, because even though I thought I had gotten hold of everything, at least digitally, I just found out that there is Popgun cassette from 2006 with three leftover Casino Ashtrays songs!

Colors & Shapes' (Watling + Tim Gauslin) only release was also a Popgun tape, with two songs, however doubled over both sides. In a Day (perhaps named after the Evening Lights song?) only had one release as well, a split-7" with the reformed Even As We Speak in 2003. Evening Lights themselves seem to be the group that prefigured Tears Run Rings, as it also included Shelflife proprietors Matthew and Ed. The song here is from their only ep, released of course, on Shelflife. Cartwheel was Watling and Dwayne Palasek (also in Autocollants and In a Day) and they released a 7" on Sandcastle. That label isn't around anymore, but their site is still up at Indiepages.

As you can see there is also a 'Library tape' with Laura Watling songs. If anyone knows where you could get hold of these songs please let me know! Apparently Sandcastle's idea was to create a library of songs, so that when you ordered something you could get a tape with your own selections recorded. What a great idea!

Just now I also found another band called The Disappointment, who had the same members as Evening Lights it would seem. I don't have any of their songs, but you can hear a few on Myspace. Right now you'll have to do with these:

Laura Watling - I Fell In Love On Saturday
Casino Ashtrays - Comfortable Distance
Colors & Shapes - Song One
The Autocollants - Skybloom
In a Day - Lazy Summer Days
Cartwheel - Halfway There
Evening Lights - Starless
Tears Run Rings - Waiting For the End

CLOUD 102 V/A - We're Still Fun

Ed told me that there is a Laura Watling retrospective coming out soon, with some unreleased songs. It's called Songs From Dreams and a track is included in the Shelflife sampler that you can get here. Also included is a track from an upcoming Evening Lights cd, compiling the odds and ends they never released! Called The Disappointment, not surprisingly.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Only Stupid

Apart from studying, today has been spent listening to 14 Iced Bears' 14 Iced Bears (reissued on the now equally out of print Let the Breeze Open Our Hearts) and my latest parcel of records from Matinée. People who were quick (like me!) could make some real bargains among the newly discovered leftovers from Jimmy's old Roundabout mailorder. Finally got a mint copy of the Bubblegum Splash! ep, the second Gentle Despite single (not as great as their first one but worth it just for 6-minute opus "Shadow of a Girl" on the b-side), that treasured first single from The Fairways (which has been sold out for years) and last but not least the first ep by Oxford folk-rock group The Relationships.

That came out on Twee Kitten in 1998, and Twee Kitten being a name that probably wouldn't be passable a for newly established label today, they did package their releases commendably. Among the noteworthy ones are a Casino Ashtrays ep and
(later Matinée signees) Sweet William's excellent Ambiguous ep. I definitely like how they've applied the 80s diy 7"-packaging (folded paper sleeve in plastic bag) to the cd format - complete with catalogue insert, and in this case a "bonus mini-'zine accompaniment"! In it you can read details about the members of Relationships (including their current mode of transport and favourite Beatle) and about their love for 60s groups with hand-drawn logos. The reviews from the Twee Kitten team sets the timeframe for the release perfectly, with reviews of Moon Safari, In the Aeroplane Over the Sea, a Magick Heads ep and (yay!) #Poundsign#s best single.

The Relationships, it can't hurt to remind you of, was once formed by former members of the excellent Anyways and their sound-a-likes Razorcuts. Their latest album came out recently and we enthusiastically played a track from it on the HIAYH radio show in Auckland. But here's a reminder to go out and purchase Space as soon as the credit crunch lifts! Country Catalogue itself is impressive for a debut ep, my favourites being the closing tracks "Sea Street" and "Disappearing Girl". The former has some magnificently airy guitar-playing from Angus, his twelve strings reverberating at the bottom of the mix, while the latter is a classic 3-minute powerpop hit.

Together with these timeless pop artifacts came a shiny copy of Strawberry Whiplash's new ep. Picture Perfect is their second outing and slightly less fuzzy than Who's In Your Dreams, but ever-so-pop. The title-track is the big hit of the bunch, and with "Hay In a Needlestack" Laz continues his playful referencing of pop culture (cf. "Surfin' USB" on the recent Bubblegum Lemonade ep) helped on by some nifty 12-string picking. Sandra's vocals sound perfectly smooth throughout, upheld by seriously hook-laden melodies. "Celestial" turns up the overdrive and gives Laz the opportunity for that solo even pop guitarists itch for. "Falling Through" sounds as great as when we heard the first recording of it on Myspace all those years ago, utilising a clever variation of that Byrds riff. It's very hard for my to pick a favourite here, I guess the only solution is to buy it so that you can play all four songs on repeat!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Little Deuce Coup

In Melbourne I was talking to Alex about making a mix for driving to. Now I've finally finished it! 21 songs about cars, driving, and roads leading everywhere. Named after the Mighty Mighty song, which they even played at Indietracks this summer. Of course there are many more songs that would fit the theme, but if you find any embarrassing omissions, they might be on another mix with the same theme that I just made! The live version of "Driving South" is incredible, and I captured it from Swedish radio several years. In fact it was the first time I properly listened to The Clientele, and there could not be a better introduction. "Big Blue Bus" is an earlier version of the Choo Choo Train tune "Big Blue Buzz", and is from the first release on the Bus Stop label. I'm sure you'll recognise the rest of it. Now, all proud car-owners can scroll down and download the mix from the link. Everyone else will simply have to be satisfied with gazing at the tracklist.

CLOUD 101 V/A - Built Like a Car

Saturday, September 12, 2009

You Meet What You Eat

One of the most confusing things about 60s garage is that almost every band name was used by more than one group. The Rogues is probably the worst/best example, but recently I have been listening to different Beefeaters. Perhaps most well-known is the group that was first known as The Jet Set, and after recording a Bob Dylan tune became The Byrds. They only released one single, "Please Let Me Love You" and on the flip is a less interesting recording of "Don't Be Long" (or "It Won't Be Long" as it was called on Turn! Turn! Turn!). There is also a Danish group called Beefeaters that some people will have heard of, at least in Scandinavia. But the first group of this name that I heard is a much lesser known group from Dallas. They only recorded two songs (at least as far as I know). "Don't Hurt Me" was included in the Garage Beat '66 series, and both are also on the much older Texas Punk 1966 Vol. 1 on Cicadelic. As you can read on Allmusic, they're not entirely different from early Byrds. Especially so on the 12-string-equipped "Change My Mind".

CLOUD 99 The Beefeaters - Change My Mind

Deplorable Logic

We're extremely chuffed to announce that the fantastic fuzzpop duo Horowitz from Stoke/Nottingham will be coming to these shores in October! It's the resourceful Don't Tell Me That! who have finally convinced them, and of course Don't Die On My Doorstep are in on the deal. On Tuesday the 27th the walls at På Besök will have guitars bouncing off them and John from the secret pop heroes of Malmö: Chocolate Barry, will be playing records. John also plays with the in no way inferior garage trio The Branded and we're looking forward to his selections! There might even be an equally fantastic support act..

Horowitz's next single is first on the list of upcoming releases on Cloudberry, and it will be their best record so far! It felt virtually impossible to top "Tracyanne", but with "How to Look Imploring" c/w "The Drunks Are Writing Punk Songs" they have achieved it. We know because we played it almost a year ago already! An mp3 should turn up on Cloudberry HQ soon, otherwise check it out on Myspace. Already out is an ep with 3 even fresher recordings. On Stephen's This Almighty Pop! label, "Super Snuggles" should already be selling as fast as the drum machine beat of the title-track. It's a slightly new direction for the band, heralded by "Drop the Hat" on January's WeePOP! compilation Starting Anew. They have stifled the sugar-rush somewhat and present us with three thoughtfully varied songs - from the melodic hit-potential of "Super Snuggles" to the beautiful waltz "The Boy From Whatstandwell". "Winona" (presented below, via This Almighty Pop!) lands somewhere in the middle, with it's chugging spiral stairs guitar.

CLOUD 98 Horowitz - Winona

Friday, September 11, 2009

There Are Things That No One Has Told You About

I've been listening to Monade and Testbild! today, after a week so full of studies I haven't had time to listen to much music, it feels like. I would definitely not have said no a Monade gig with Testbild! supporting, as the musical moods they create are closely related and I have still not seen Testbild! live, despite the fact that they are based in Malmö.

Aquatint is the name of their fifth album, and also their most ambitious. The Inexplicable Feeling of September was long, but this album contains 20 tracks. A copy has been lying here in Malmö, waiting for me to get back to Sweden, perhaps ripening over the months. It is named after a reproduction technique, which you can see above, but also refers to the marine themes of the music. It is eemingly based around a novel (without author) reproduced in the booklet. Throughout the artwork, all the 'g's are printed in red, something that is explained once you read the story - I am not going to reveal too much of it here.

It is also the first record in the label Friendly Noise's new strategy scheme for releases, which you can read here. Basically a by-subscription affair, like recent albums by Louis Philippe and The Orange Peels, it's encouraging to know that enough people wanted to hear this for it to actually go to the pressing plant. It has undeniably been worth it because the album is full of haunting instrumentals and interspersed moments of pop, not completely unlike the latest Hepburns album Trojan Hearse. Matt and Petter have collaborated quite extensively and on Aquatint you will also find a cover of "My Brother the Submariner". You can hear the Hepburns original here and it is supposedly from a trio of albums they were supposed to have released in 2007!

As always the lyrics are intriguing, whether sung in close male harmonies or by female accomplice 'Jana'. My favourite title is possible "Beneath Transparent Felt" but also "Rippling Icicle". Most of the songs seem connected to the short story inside, and as always with Testbild! they have created a seamless whole, packaged in a matt digipak and even including a short film by Pontus Lindqvist.

The nautical theme perhaps also leads back to a previous release on Johan Jacobsson's label Vågor och Strömmar. A single copy a cd was put in a glass bottle and thrown into the sea outside Malmö in 2007 - still no one knows if it was found. The master recording was erased and the whole concept garnered them coverage on national radio and in several daily papers. Earlier this year a similar event, called Imagine a Balloon, took place in Malmö. Shamefully I missed it, and with it the only chance to hear the Testbild! songs included. At least some photos of the event can be scrutinised here.

Monday, September 7, 2009

2 Ou 3 Choses Que Je Sais d'Elle

Roque included a song by Spanish duo Superété when he made me a mix of Spanish-language pop quite a while ago. I was really excited to hear them, as I knew that Sandra from California Snow Story had been in that band before she moved to Glasgow. Unlike Roque's story, I'd seen her but not spoken to her. Of course, I loved her vocals on Close to the Ocean and the Superété track on the mix, "Martina Feliz" was equally great. I asked Roque if there was more music, but as you can read in his post they only recorded two demos. That song is from the second, and best in my opinion. It's from 2004 and below you will find another track from it. It's very lucky that I'm able to present you with this, because Roque had lost the mp3s for a long time and only just found them on a back-up harddrive! California Snow Story aren't really around anymore, as David Skirving lives in Japan since a few years ago. So here's hoping that Sandra and David continue making music, on their own or by correspondence!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Mystery Kiosk

I love hearing about new bands from other bands, and what influences and favourites people have. Just like Brogues apparently, who recently linked to this fascinating article about Stephen Pastel's faves at 5-year intervals.

A band that Horowitz has spoken very warmly of is Cambridge's punk pride The Users, who only released two singles. I recently found one of them in Repeat Records here in Malmö for 120 kr, which was a bit expensive I thought (the same store that I found the Girl of My Best Friend single in, for 40kr!). Their first, "Sick of You" is simply amazing and will on its own warrant a purchase of Secondary Modern, a 9-track cd that was released last year. The group also have a presence on Myspace.

Grass Widow have taken it upon themselves to champion all-female post-punk group Neo Boys, which is lucky because there is scarcely anything about them online. They were from Portland, Oregon and shared labels with the Wipers. Only two records were released, a self-titled 7" ep in 1981 and the Crumbling Myths 12" a year later. Neo Boys is one of the best bands I have heard all year and it is nothing but criminal that there is as of yet no cd retrospective of their music. If you can, you should track down the History of Portland Punk Vol. 1 comp, which is the only digital source of Neo Boys music.

There's plenty more to find about Texas post-punk group Mydolls, who were three women and one of their male cousins on drums (one of the guitarists is pictured above). I found them through Brilliant Colors' Myspace, and they have their own page here. Mydolls too, only release two singles and a mini-LP called Speak Softly & Carry a Big Stick on the CIA label. The latter is all I have heard, but it's truly wonderful. The group play together every now and then and also have a double-disc compilation A World of Her Own out since last year. The best song I have heard by them so far is the relentless "21st Century Compliments"

CLOUD 96 Mydolls - 21st Century Compliments

Saturday, September 5, 2009

I Can Hear the Grass Grow

While checking in on Captured Tracks to see whether the Spectrals 7" was out yet I discovered that they have not only got themselves a proper website (finally, with info about the releases!) there has also been a new burst of releases. No Spectrals stuff yet, but a new 12" with Grass Widow, whose debut album on Make a Mess made me very happy. The four new songs, out of which two have been on a Rank/Xerox split-cassette, are even better than most of the LP, so it'd be clever to snap this up before it sells out. Grass Widow now stands out as one of the best new American bands to appear this year, and in this interesting interview for Vice Magazine of all people, they reveal their main influences to be The Move and LiLiPuT amongst others. Not bad!

Also back with new material is Blank Dogs/Dum Dum Girls collaboration The Mayfair Set. The new six-track ep Young One is denser more worked-over than the brilliant first single "Already Warm". Me fave tracks are "Dark House" that builds up over 4 minutes and the short but intense "I've Been Watching You".

Also out now is an lp with Brilliant Colors, the best new American band of the year. It rounds up the two now sold out singles on CT and Make a Mess and adds "I Start With Your Name" for your pleasure.

Friday, September 4, 2009

The World and My Wife

At Indietracks this summer it really seemed as if the world and his wife had suddenly become Cats On Fire fans. I'm certain there were more than a hundred people dancing fervently up front, something that is highly unusual with an unpretentious, slightly camp group like Cats On Fire. If possible, they have become even tighter and more professional than last year, and new songs like "Tears On Your Cup" lets them rock out in their own anti-rock way. The summer has already given me two opportunities to see them and tonight they are playing in Malmö for the first time since the We & You festival in 2004. That was the first time I ever saw or heard them, which makes it an even more pressing cause for celebration.

Also, it's high time that I wrote more extensively about their new and second album Our Temperance Movement which has grown on me to become my favourite release of theirs since it came out on Matinée Recordings earlier this year. The thing that defines the new record for me is both the wider variation in instrumentation and the improved coherency compared to The Province Complains. When I saw them at Indietracks Ville was also playing a Telecaster with intermittent bursts of chorus, which gave them a fresh sound that I think suited them well. I later found out the guitar was on loan from Basil Butcher Boy! At Cosy Den they reverted into their familiar Swedish mode and played mainly old material, partly due to the 5-year anniversary of course, since they were one of the bands that played Cosy Den in 2004, when it still took place in arranger Mattias' flat in Gothenburg.

There's something about the record that keeps drawing my thoughts towards The Go-Betweens. Of course Mattias has always had a Forsterian air about him, but maybe it's because they've dared to take a softer approach to many of the songs this time, with the guitars mixed further back and plenty of picked acoustics, baring the songwriting to the bone. They used to be best at the faster, electric numbers but here it is the midtempo songs like "The Steady Pace" that stand out. The scornful "Letters From a Voyage to Sweden", about trips on the seedy ferry connecting Stockholm and Åbo or Helsinki, is as succinct as "Draining the Pool For You" and where else today will you hear someone sing that "too much adultery just poisons your mind"? They even risk slowing the album down to a halt with "Never Sell the House" that seems to be addressed to Mattias' mother, but the very quiet organ in the background keeps everything afloat. There are plenty of references to ships, water and other more intoxicating liquids. And of course the cover is of a ship in a bottle - a symbol for the paradoxical, but also the traditional. A riddle that leaves us guessing at what their temperance movement really is. Perhaps 'our' means belonging to all of us. Several of the songs are about being a better person, or wishing others to be. The lyrics come through much more clearly on this album as well, and the audience at Indietracks was not only dancing but singing along. If there are any standout tracks, it must be "Tears In Your Cup", built on a mock rock'n'roll guitar line and telling the story of someone listening to The Yardbirds while enjoying a glass of wine. It contains my favourite line "so if I want to hear you talk I see you when you're under your favourite spell". Also "The Borders of This Land" with its Deebank-style guitar lines that accompany the vocal throughout, is a firm favourite. Our Temperance Movement is not a happy album, it doesn't take any shortcuts to your heart, but it's daring and most if the time its aim is true. Without boasting, Cats On Fire can say that they have recorded one of the best albums of the decade.

Never Work

Unfortunately (as McCarthy declared), you sometimes have to - e.g. to be able to buy records, which is something I hope at least some of you are still doing. One of the records I'm most looking forward to at the moment is an upcoming release on German Firestation Records, who after last year's brilliant Men of Westenesse comp are returning with a retrospective of English pop group The Ogdens. You can read the full pressrelease here, but it will be a 22-track compilation which means plenty or unreleased material. Because as Ogdens fans will know, the group only released three singles between 1989 and 1990. My favourite song of theirs is perhaps "Train to London Bridge" which you should be able to find online, otherwise check out one of the live tracks on cd on the group's Myspace. I met Uwe this summer and apart from a new Sound of Leamington Spa volume the reissue of Pontification is now finally happening as well! It will be improved with several unreleased tracks even.

Roque (who's working with Uwe on a Greek edition of Leamington Spa) has just released a retrospective compilation of a great lost indiepop group as well. Crush 22 are much more recent and in fact the precursor to one of my most dearly loved bands - Brittle Stars. I've written about Crush 22 here before, but now you can get a cute 3" cd with all the songs they've had on Myspace as well as two extra tracks that no one has heard before! Part of the Cloudberry Classics series that also includes essential compilations with The Artisans and The Proctors.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Some People Sleep

I've been wanting to hear Tim Felton's post-Broadcast band Seeland now for years. While looking around once more for their Crimson 12" - one of only two singles they've done since 2005 - I was thrilled to discover that they have just released their first album! Just like with the Duophonic ep, the cover is once again amazing. And of course one of the best songs is called "Library", and that's also available as a single.

The sound is quite similar to Broadcast, not surprisingly, but Mike Bainbridge (ex-Plone) adds some warm electronic elements. Actually, Tomorrow Today makes me think much more of the lovely Melbourne group Minimum Chips (that included one Guy Blackman), that I was introduced to by friends when I was there. I can see myself listening to this album many times over this autumn!

Also worth picking up is the new ep from Glasgow darlings Strawberry Whiplash, who have a new ep out on Matinée. We played the title-track "Picture Perfect" in May already. I can't wait to hear the other tracks on this.