Friday, February 29, 2008

Stop Before You Say It

I played some records last night, at the uni club Klubb K3. Unlike last time I thought I'd play only 60s stuff and drink only red wine. I did both, and it was fun even though the turnout was a bit poor. But the best thing of the whole night was getting to play The Evil and Golden Dawn through big speakers (and no, I don't mean The Golden Dawn)! The downside was missing American Music Club who were playing just next door. I met a friend afterwards who said they'd played some of the old (as in good) stuff, so it might actually have been worth the 12 quid. Anyway, here's what was heard this side of the sadcore wall:

Set one
The Wolves – At the Club

Julie Grant – (Baby Baby) I Still Love You
October Sky – Cowboys and Indians
The Precious Few – Young Girl
Glenda Collins – Baby It Hurts
Diane Castle - My Heart Belongs to a Devil of a Boy
Dobie Gray – The 'In' Crowd
Eternity's Children – The Other Side of Me
The Peanut Butter Conspiracy – Dark On You Now
The Novas – And It's Time
The Beatle-Ettes – Only Seventeen
The Exciters – Blowing Up My Mind
Tawney Reed – You Can't Take It Away

Set two
The Avengers – Be a Caveman

The Evil – I'm Movin' On
The Brogues – Don't Shoot Me Down
The Girls – My Love
Golden Dawn – My Time
Faine Jade – Can't Get You Out of My Heart
The Sorrows – My Gal
The Smoke – High In a Room
The Kingsmen – Killer Joe
The Mourning Reign – Our Fate
The Black Diamonds – I Want, Need, Love You
Pulsating Heartbeats - Anne

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

A Girl Is Not a Girl

So, here is cloud no 40. It's a very limited compilation cd with pop music from in-between two eras that are usually associated with 'back-to-basics' DIY guitar pop: punk and 'indiepop'. Roughly covering 1977-1984, I used to think these years were not very good years for no-nonsense pop. But even though more great pop records might have come out during 1987 than those eight years together, they were a lot better than 1970-1977! The idea was sparked by watching a Factory Records documentary at the recent Music Doc festival - or rather half of it, after which the DVD copy they'd been given came to a halt (luckily I was able to download it after I came home). Factory was arguably one of the most important labels of this period, but I thought the film made too much of its significance. So I decided to make a compilation that didn't feature any Factory bands, and not even truly essential Manchester outfits like The Buzzcocks and The Fall.

Thus the result is not intended as a definitive compilation of the most important bands. If that's what you want you should download Kid Frostbite's recent Definiton '79 podcast for Slumberland, which is more to the point. In fact, many of my favourite bands are omitted - there's no Subway Sect, no Orange Juice, no Aztec Camera, no Felt, no Fire Engines and no Scars. Instead it's a more eclectic mix that tries to tie together a number of developments in different countries that all pulled in the same direction. Especially, it shows the overlap between the 60s revival and the emerging 'indiepop'. Los Angeles' paisley underground scene is represented by The Three O'Clock and Rainy Day (a collaboration between members of different bands - I've always wondered if Rainy Day was the name of the project or just the record, in which case the track here should be credited to Susanna Hoffs of The Bangels, who sings on this version the VU classic). A few years later The Nines arrived and one of their members, Paul Chastain, became a pioneer of American indiepop/powerpop together with Ric Menck.

In England the obvious link was Dan Treacy, whose Whaam! stable is represented by The Direct Hits, The Mixers, The Page Boys (pre-1000 Violins), Marine Girls and The Gifted Children (with Dan himself). Then there were the bands that just didn't fit in whatsoever. Liverpool's The Wild Swans claimed themselves to have their heads in the 1860s, rather than the 1960s like their labelmates on Zoo. The Chefs are still as unique today as they were in 1979 when they were on Brighton punk label Attrix - also the home of The Golinski Brothers. And The Monochrome Set was the first seed to what was to become the world of él. The women on the scene are represented by all-girl bands Dolly Mixture, French accented Mo-Dettes, and their French counterpart Les Calamités.

Australia was bustling with punk and powerpop bands as well, like eg The Passengers. Based in Brisbane, The Go-Betweens led the way back to melody and pop craftsmanship and were followed by bands such as The Lighthouse Keepers and the Waterfront label. And of course New Zealand had Flying Nun, fuelled by the ground-breaking work of The Clean.
Back in England Alan McGee set up Creation Records, and what was orginally a British take on paisley underground would prove to be the start of a new era and became the home of bands like Primal Scream, The Jesus & Mary Chain and Razorcuts (of which The Cinematics was an early incarnation). More or less chronological in order, it thus comes to a natural end with McGee's Biff Bang Pow!.
People who came to the club last week were given a head start on this, but there are still some copies left. All you need to do to get your hands on a copy is to send your address to the email in the sidebar!

As the last copies have now been sent off, I've uploaded the whole thing for you as mp3s. There's a pdf of the cover in there too if you want to print it.

CLOUD 40 Various Artists - Use Hearing Confection

Monday, February 25, 2008

It's the NOW Sound!

Apart from the Shelflife and Simulacra parcels, the last one was from Slumberland (yay!). I couldn't resist the deal of getting the first two instalments of Searching For the Now for a mere $7. It's a new series of split-singles that will later be compiled on a cd - but hey, I know you crave those marbled vinyls... They also came with a cute 'i'm searching for the now' badge! The most important reason to get them is The Hermit Crabs' new offering "Flaxen-Haired Boy" which is quirky and great as usual. #1 is all Scottish with The Company's glam stomper "Join the Dots" on the other side. The Company is Roy Moller and pals like Stevie Jackson lending him a hand (with clapping that is). #2 has a song from Bye!, Archie Moore's new project (being decorated above for his past services in Black Tambourine, Velocity Girl, The Saturday People and Heartworms just to name a few - his production credits are endless). It's called "Oh No, Baby Don't" and you can download it here. There seems to be quite a bit of old-school Slumberland action going around, what with the Julie Ocean album coming out soon and all. The flip to the bye-side is the one song that is not essential - it's a great tune of course, but the 'acoustic version' of "Song For the Troubadour" by The Happy Couple is already included on their Happy Times & Petty Crimes compilation where it is labelled 'Stanstead version'. But maybe you forgot to buy that compilation?

Today Is the Day

I also got Downhill by Days, which is finally out on Shelflife now about 18 months after I posted "Never Came to Last" on my old blog. The question is of course, has it been worth the wait? Well, getting your record released by Shelflife is worth anything but all those months of listening to the low-quality mp3s, imagining how majestic they REALLY sounded and seeing one brilliant live performance after the other has set our expectations so high nothing short of a masterpiece will do.

It just so happens that the ep(?) is that masterpiece. The title-track is actually on the 7", as it's the perfect a-side, which makes you wonder if it's a single that comes with an ep or the other way around. Either way, I've put the three Shelflife releases LIFE1001-3 separate from both my 7"s and my cds, which must have been one of Ed's reason for choosing the double format. Apart from the four 'old' songs, Downhill spoils us with three new wonders. On the flip of the single is "Motion", a perfect title for another perfect Days tune - and a classic b-side to that. "A Part of the World" might be the song I remember from Rip It Up, sounding better than anything I've heard them do prior to that. You might have gotten used to hearing the four songs previously available, but this track lets you rediscover the sheer joy of following those layered guitar parts in your mind and marveling at their inventiveness!

The sound and production overall is spot on, with some beautiful string parts blending perfectly into the arrangements. The drums sound like they've been recorded in a different way from the rest, which makes them very conspicuous. That's fine though, as I like the sort of garagey boom it gives them. The song that sticks out is of course "Small and Ordinary", a largely acoustic affair that presents a completely different texture. An essential sort of song for a full-length album, which needs a lot more variation, you could argue that it's out of place here. But if you listen to all the seven songs together, like a mini album, it makes more sense. It's also gratifying to know that Days CAN do more that one type of song, however perfectly they do it.

CLOUD 41 Days - A Part of the World

(What happened to #40? ...wait and see!)

Tomorrow Is Another Day

A bunch of records arrived in the mail today, this is one of 'em. And it's more than the beautiful cover that reminds one of The Clientele's Suburban Light collection. Crushed Stars is a one-man project by Todd Gautreau, which I hadn't heard about before this his third record. Whereas his background in electronic ambient (performing as Sonogram) is apparent on the first album, called Self-Navigation (streaming in its entirety on, this is a certified POP album. It's the little things here and there, like the fact that the guitar lick in "Amherst Incident" is insanely catchy and that the last track is called "Clare Grogan's Scar". And what is that but a nod to the roots of indiepop? It might even get it a spin at our Scottish-themed club night next month!

The music is spacious and sparse (if you can call something with four layers of guitar that!) and Todd's voice is soft and dry. The record's got one thing no Clientele record's got though - 12-string guitar used to great effect on tracks like the opening "Spies". Overall he's used many different guitars, nylon- and steel-stringed acoustics and electric guitars with very different sounds and settings. The lyrics don't exactly jump out at you, but one line that's stuck in my mind is '
there was no place left to hide, the doors were locked from the outside' from "Oh, the Places You'll Go" - suggesting more attentive listening will be rewarded. This is one of the best records so far this year, and definitely leaves me wanting to check out its predecessor Obsolescence. It's a perfect record for the end of winter, with the waxing warmth of compositions like "Snow Day". Available from Simulacra since a week.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Today Has Been Cancelled

No one seemed to have a camera last night at Don't Die On My Doorstep, so you'll have to make do with a still from Heavenly's hopelessly twee video for "Our Love Is Heavenly". That was one of many indiepop videos from Munch that served as our visual stimulus for the night. The aural stimulus consisted of a series of song numbers of overall decent quality (the playlist is on MySpace now). I'm already looking forward to next month and the 29th! Though it seems no one has read the last page of the fanzine yet...

For more pop that will do wonders for your ears, you should visit the K3 club next week at Vinylbaren. I'll be there. Well, I have to cause I'm playing records. But I would have gone anyway.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

It's Fun to Be Clean

Clean is definitely what this album sounds like. There's nothing lo-fi about The Airfields debut album Up All Night - a record that puts them in a whole new universe from their first ep City-State. It's an icy indiepop sorbet and I'm already convinced this will be my favourite album of the year. It's got everything! If I called Pants Yell!'s latest album their The Boy With the Arab Strap, this is The Airfields' A Certain Smile, a Certain Sadness. The similarity to Rocketship has always been there, but this really is as good as that classic album. And there's no doubt that in a few years it will be just as legendary.

All the songs from the Cloudberry ep from last year are included, so don't worry if you never got a copy of that. They're arguably the best songs here, but it's really hard to make such distinctions. New favourites appear all the time, like the jangle-fest of an opener "Prisoners of Our Love" and the strolling "St. Monday" for which they must have nicked The Clientele's tremolo pedal. And "Happy and Safe" is even bouncier than anything on The Lodgers' Grown-Ups.

I won't upload a song from this album, because it's miles above mp3s, torrents, and filesharing. You need to hear it all in one piece, running your fingers over the beautiful artwork. After all, I wouldn't upload a Rauschenberg bricolage even if it was technically possible. (Besides, there's still a sample on Cloudberry's page in case you don't agree.) Instead here is a song from the Laneways 10", because I'm shocked that the white vinyl version is still available! It's 1) on the best format in the world 2) limited to 300 copies and 3) the silk-screened cover is stunning. Buy it, I tell you.

CLOUD 39 The Airfields - Red Fox

Take Me to Your Waterfall

This record looks like it came out on Flying Nun, but as it's Australian it was released by Waterfront - the best Aussie label before Summershine came along. I listened to Widdershins' compilation on Egg (Good Songs 1985-1987) again recently, and realised I didn't fully get it first time around. I was expecting more of the almost Smiths-like jangle of "Now You Know". Instead, some of it was even more low-key than The Lighthouse Keepers (Juliet Ward and Greg Appel's previous band). But now I've got it, and I also looked up the name in a dictionary - what a great word! The songs that really struck a chord were the live recordings that go from quiet, quiet strums to majestic ringing guitars and echoing drum rolls. Dramatic is a word that comes to mind. But what really lifts it above countryfied drivel (don't want to slag off The Triffids but...) is Ward's amazing voice that propels the songs to unknown heights and send shivers down one's spine. A song like "Chainsaw" makes me think simultaneously of The Sundays and Nick Cave's I Had a Dream, Joe album. None of them artists I've listened to for years. Hear for yourself - here is "700 Miles" that starts of with Juliet's golden retriever barking. It was orginally included on a scarce compilation called A Minute to Midnight (1987), you'll learn that and many other interesting facts by visiting their website (yes, they've got one) here. And buy the Egg Records compilation, of course.

CLOUD 38 Widdershins - 700 Miles

Goodbye to the Sea

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Dancing In Your Eyes

It's been two weeks since our Cloudberry-sponsored club night, so I thought I should say that everything went well and photos and playlists have been up on MySpace for a while if you haven't checked them out yet. I've been waiting to post about it as the last of the three clubs where the Nothing Matters When We're Dancing EP is given away happens today. (Spiral Scratch in London opened its doors about... five minutes ago.) As all the copies should be gone by the time I'm finished writing I thought I should give something back to everyone who supports and loves Cloudberry but didn't get a chance to get their mits on one! And many thanks to Roque for doing what he does.

The ep features Komon, The Jealous Sea, Soda Fountain Rag, Sunny Summer Day and The Pristines with cover art by Katy Bottlerocket. My favourite track is "Moving Targets" from Americans The Jealous Sea. They also impressed me with their ep "(I Won't) Hold My Breath", with Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg on the sleeve! Hear more on MySpace, and check out Dale's interview on Chelsea Guitar. Oh, and "Moving Targets" is here.

A Touch of Brimstone

- May I say you are uncommon handsome ma'am, uncommon handsome.

Friday, February 8, 2008

COIR 004: Down With Fun!

It's about time I announced the details for our next club night, which is only two weeks away now! We're continuing at Metro and this time the guest-dj is a boy called Nils-Martin. I wanted to involve him in the club from the very start, but he ran off to Australia and just came back in fact! Unknowingly, my planning has taken a bit of a 'down under' turn for the February night. Apart from the chance of hearing elusive Australian pop hits from the likes of The Rainyard and The Summer Suns, we're screening the Munch video compilations, released by Australian label Season. So come along and giggle at the super twee "Our Love Is Heavenly" or the pastel bridges in "Throw Aggi Off the Bridge". And as usual it is free, like McCarthy said their LPs should be.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The Danger Makers

- Whatever you do, don't touch the wrapped ones!

The French Kids Are Alright

Carrying on in the same vein as the last two songs I put up, here is some garagey female pop from France. Les Calamités seem almost a twin group to English Dolly Mixture as they shared the mod influence and both released their only album in 1984. Theirs was called A bride abbatue, and since then there have been several compilations - the latest being C'est complet from 1997, I think. All thanks to scoring a massive hit years after the album, with a single called "Vélomoteur", but they started out with punkier style not far from The Mo-Dettes, The Shop Assistants and Girls At Our Best!. Singing both in French and English, they covered e.g. "The Kids Are Alright" by The Who, The Troggs' "With a Girl Like You", The Choir's "It's Cold Outside" (I haven't heard that cover, though) and various girl group classics. Just like The Delmonas they tried their hand at "You Can't Sit Down", and it fact it's giving me a hard time deciding which version I like the best! One of their English songs, and most of the French ones were originals however, and they're top notch. One of them is the fabulously titled "Le supermarché" that you can get below. Each song on the album is near-perfect actually, making it the best record I've heard for a while. There is an extensive website about the band, that you can even read in English, over here.

CLOUD 37 Les Calamités - Le supermarché

Monday, February 4, 2008

On Top of Things

The Voluntary Butler Scheme, or Rob Jones, is not only everyone else's favourite - he's yours too. And to show his appreciation he's giving you a free ep, that you can download here, describing it as something "written on me lunch break Wednesday, recorded Thursday evening - The Volauvent EP". Short and efficient, so short in fact I've listened to it three times over since starting this post. Still, there are enough melodies in there for a whole Springsteen album. Go see him when he's supporting the Brakes guy! And... that's four.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

The Thirteenth Hole

- Fear not, for ere this day is done you shall have a hole-in-one.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

They'll Use Evil

As I mentioned The Delmonas in connection to The Pussywillows, I remembered I was going to post something by my favourite female garage group. The Delmonas were to The Milkshakes what Thee Headcoatees were to Thee Headcoats. Three of their girlfriends sang backing vocals for them, so they decided to switch the backing and fronting roles for a new group. The Delmonas were Sarah, Hilary and Louise backed by Billy Childish and Mickey Hampshire amongst others. They released three albums, but Dangerous Charms from 1985 - the first one - is only one that includes all three members. Here is a rendition the Goffin/King number "Chains", previously recorded by e.g. The Cookies.

Too Drunk to Dance

A common occurrence at the Indigo Club in Lund. Last night was no exception, when Momus performed and Daniel and Marcus provided for a packed dancefloor. All I needed was "Ever and Always" by Snowbirds to make my day though! Sometimes Daniel needs a "grab by collar" as we say in Sweden. Such big hands you've got, Johan!
When Nick Currie first appeared in the room we were dancing to "Lovesick" by Orange Juice and we could see him humming along. After the show, Daniel threw on "I Hate Scotland" by ballboy even though it's about as danceable as early Arab Strap. Momus' performance was everything I could have hoped - it's a very rare talent to be able to capture the attention of an audience, alone on a stage in front of a gang of drunk students with only an iPod between you and certain death. And he's still quite handsome.
Before going to Lund I popped in at Vinylbaren, where The Branded were throwing a release party for their second 45, out now on Dirty Water Records. It's called "You've Got the Hurt" and is an excellent piece of trashy garage/r'n'b. Here's Lee proudly playing his newly purchased (vintage of course) Höfner.

Something Worth Watching

I just saw these recordings from when Welshman Matt Jones and Tasmanian Anthony Rochester played at Krets in Malmö, and they're definitely worth watching. They have everything from blatant product placing to a drunk guy obscuring part of the frame! And you can just about make me out in the pan in this first shot.

That was Matt playing a Hepburns tune, a new one I think. Another new tune, called "The Help" is now playing here. Their latest album is last year's Something Worth Stealing available from Radio Khartoum. And here is a shot of Anthony, which is even more hilarious!

His latest record does not cost 600 SEK in fact. But it was a pre-press that is now sold out. Luckily you can still get Music For Librarians for the small sum of $12 from here.