Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Sloopy's Gonna Hang On

One of the best bands I've discovered recently, is the not so recent Pussywillows. These three NY garage girls are much more than Palm Sunday decorations - an American counterpart to The Delmonas is the best description I can think of. One of them, Elinor Blake, was later to become famous as April March after a stint in The Shitbirds. April March has released several records now, all excellent, so it's a shame there are so few recordings by her first band! The only release is the Spring Fever! 12" from 1988, that kicks off with "The Boat That I Row" written by Neil Diamond and made popular by Lulu. The ep continues with covers of girlgroup obscurities by The Coupons, The Short-Cuts, Carol Connors and The Cinderellas as well as a Kinks cover. I'm not sure if "Everyone Will Know" is a cover?

Friday, January 25, 2008

Left-Handed Too

How can you not trust Afternoon Naps? And Tom is left-handed too! They sure have my vote. If there's one band I regret not mentioning more last year, it is the Naps. Sunbeamed is definitely among the best releases of 2007. They set your expectations pretty high by naming The Free Design and Felt as influences, but in fact it's an ingenious strategy because of the wide chasm that separates those two bands musically. The album (if you can even call it that with only eight songs) turned out a modern and somewhat more jangling take on sunshine pop. Think The Ballroom, as remembered by Majestic or #Poundsign#. In fact Afternoon Naps is the best American indiepop group that doesn't use fuzz guitar for a long while. In many ways it seems to come straight out of Shelflife's eary catalogue. And right there, next to the Skypark ep, is where you want to be if you're a POP record. And Sunbeamed, honey, you are!

The new ep Can't Stop the Weather is just out on Cloudberry, but I won't post anything from that as you can already grab "Clean Bill of Health" from there. Instead, here's the dancefloor filler "Orange Paw" from the album. And that, you can buy right here. Do!

CLOUD 34 Afternoon Naps - Orange Paw

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Ghost of a Chance

No there isn't. That The School's first single will be out by Valentine's Day, I mean. It was supposed to, as "Valentine" is the a-side. I can't wait to buy it, after getting a copy of Elefant's Happy New Year 2008! ep. Just to be able to hear The School on record is a revelation. And of course I'm dying to hear what wonders Ian Catt has worked this time. In case you don't know, he was part of Saint Etienne and has produced lots of records, including most of Bobby Wratten's output. I wonder if it is going to be a match for seeing them live? This weekend in Gothenburg they were every bit as cute as i remember from last year's Indietracks. It was good to meet Rob again, especially as it was his last gig as drummer in the band. Instead he's going to concentrate on his own material as The Voluntary Butler Scheme, which is quickly gaining on The School both where my affections are concerned and in POPularity.

I think I might now be the only person in my city with a School t-shirt. And that's enough to keep a boy happy! I don't know about you, but I know what I will be listening to and whom I'll be thinking of come the 14th... Two of them are called Ryan, and then there's Rosie, Steph, Liz, Ceri and Rob. Hugs and kisses all round!

The Girl From Auntie

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Day of Release

Witness the birth of The Arc Lamps! Released today is their first record - the Wave of Sound ep. The Arc Lamps is actually Joe Brooker from The Pines, The Foxgloves, and recently The First Division (whose first single came out just a couple of weeks ago). You can get it from Cloudberry Records now! In my eyes this is a big step forward for Roque's label, and the biggest exclamation mark in the catalogue since the Shining Hour ep from last year. The Pines and The Foxgloves are of course among my favourite bands ever, and I had been looking forward to a new Foxgloves record for a while. Instead we get the first project that puts Joe in the foreground! All his other releases have been as a duo (be it with Pam Berry, Stephen Troussé or Tim Hopkins) and although he has been writing and singing bits for all of them, the new moniker suggests new horizons. It's no longer possible to overlook his songwriting talents and his POP! star qualities, in many ways reminiscent of those of Stephen Merrit. The songs on the ep are about rural England - brooding but with sparkles of hope and love, accompanied by electric guitars (even bass on the last one) and programmed drums. And if you've got something to say, that is all you need.

CLOUD 33 The Arc Lamps - Good Friday

Monday, January 14, 2008

Small Game For Big Hunters

- Me, Steed.
- Me, Emma!

Nowhere to Die

God, the year's barely started and I've already heard some of the best music ever. I've got several tracks to post so I best get started with the first one! The Chemistry Set - not the new band - was a paisley shirt clad English group from the mid-to-late 80s. I've got their only record, a Spanish-released minialbum called Wake Up Sometime! and the songs released on flexis at the time, but apart from that this is the classic story of a band with first rate material that held out too long for the ideal record deal (Tales of Jenny take heed!). An album's worth of their best material was never released! What was to be Sounds Like Painting, recorded in 1989 with suggested artwork above, has now turned up on the internet. I came across it at the resourceful Lost In Tyme blog, but it first appeared at a forum called It's Psych. Apparently, it comes from a rough mix direct off of the master tapes!

The album is every bit as good as rumour has it, and I would recommend this to ANYONE in love with 80s indiepop, jangle, mod revival and 60s garage-psych. The song here is one of my favourites so far, and if you like it you can get the whole thing there. It's a big moment for past and new Chemistry Set fans so if you're one of them, spread the word!

CLOUD 32 The Chemistry Set - The Dreams That I Saw Yesterday

(By the way, I've checked, and all the old uploads are now working again...)

Room Without a View

- Steady Steed, it's a 30 mph limit!

Back to The School!

It feels very fitting that Elefant releases a Happy New Year ep that features The School - because this is of course the year that The School will get HUGE! It's a big thing in my world as "Kiss You In the Snow" is the first ever released song from the band, and should be followed by the Let It Slip 7" soon. Apart from the School's song (which you can download on MySpace), the ep has contributions from Helen Love and two other bands.

Very, very soon The School will also be making their first couple of appearances in Sweden, yay! We'd been trying arrange a grand mini tour together with A Smile and a Ribbon, but it didn't happen and hard as I tried I couldn't get them a gig in Malmö. Which means you'll have to pack your bags and go to Stockholm on the 18th or Gothenburg the 19th. I would recommend the latter, where they are playing at On Our Honeymoon (with A Smile and a Ribbon, actually!). We've got a couple of new songs, so I promise we wont't bore you, should you look in.

In other record-related news, anyone who missed out on Horowitz's amazing Cloudberry single last year can now get "Tracyanne" on a 7" with "Popkids of the World Unite!" on the flip - two of last year's best pop songs if you ask me! The heavy vinyl is transparent yellow and sounds even better than the digital thing. They also have a recent split-single on Filthy Little Angels with two new songs.

Did you forget to vote for The School and Horowitz (or something you perhaps even liked) in the TweeNet poll? Or didn't you vote at all? I shake my finger at you! Well, the results are now up and as always I rub my hands in glee to check out who voted for their own bands/labels/stuff! Nice to see California Snow Story high in the charts. And my humble thanks to the six people who voted for my blogs (I know who you are!). Hope I this thing lives up to your expectations in 2008...

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Monday, January 7, 2008

For Girls Whose Favourite Thing Is Snow

What better way is there to start the year than with a song by Moscow Olympics? The Still 7" was finally released by Gothenburg's devoted pop purveyors Fraction Discs, just before Christmas. And what a present to this Pop World it is! My copy arrived this afternoon and I'm giving it its second spin right now. The vinyl sounds incredible, perfectly mastered by Ulrika Mild of Compute. Of course the songs of Moscow Olympics have been making rounds on the internet since early summer, and I'm just one of many who have been enjoying their 'demo tape' which actually consisted of full-fledged finished pop masterpieces. Still, hearing the mastered result is a thrill paralleled by few other things! The leak has probably resulted mostly in positive things for the band anyway. I think many with me feel good that they're finally able to BUY something by this band. And I predict it will be the first Fraction release to go out of print. It's a beautiful little 7", with a classic a-side and b-side ("Talk Like This") which is not many steps behind.

Who are Moscow Olympics then? Well, they're not some snotty boys from Glasgow who can't give up the local produce of orange juice, that's for sure. Instead, they are something of an indiepop fab five from the Philippines with their past in bands like Colour Contest, Soft Pillow Kisses, Candy Audioline and Dorian of Juniper Bells. If that doesn't mean anything to you (it should, actually) then how about vocals that sound like Caesar from The Wake, guitar lines matching Bernard Sumner's and dreamy POP sounds colder than snow and sharper than the breaking ice?

To make up for listening to these songs without permission for too long, this is not a downloadable mp3 but a link to the mp3-stream at Fraction Discs' site. I hope this will help making the demand truly go through the roof!