Monday, March 31, 2008

Green Things Have Entered My Skin, Gladys

Saturday was amazing, and having both Don't Die On My Doorstep and So Tough! So Cute! on the same day turned out to be more of a blessing than a curse. If you want to check what me and Brogues played, the playlist is now up on MySpace along with some photos from Metro. And six new hits on the player, of course!

I should also say that my flash mixtape is up and playing on Jessel's page, with the info on the songs in a blog post. My tape is called Get That Haircut Off Your Head! and will probably be playing for a couple of weeks. However, you'll need to check my post below for the tape cover, or if you want to hear the songs in the intended order.

Will be back soon with a date for our April night and our next guest dj! Don't forget to see Soda Fountain Rag if you're around Copenhagen this weekend.

Monday, March 24, 2008

He Didn't Even Have a Great Haircut

I've been listening more to The Brilliant Corners, after putting "Everything I Ever Wanted" on the tape below. You'd think there must be something peculiar about a pop band that take their name from a Thelonious Monk song (the name would have been more suitable for their later splinter group The Experimental Pop Band), and in fact 'peculiar' and 'awkward' are really the two words that best describe their music. They even turn up in the lyrics now and then. The lyrics, yes, they're probably the most interesting thing about the songs. Davey Woodward, though not exactly a poet as he says in the note above (from the Everything I Ever Wanted lp), was well on his way to becoming a notable lyricist already at that early stage. The music was initially heavily influenced by The Velvet Undergound (apart from their very first rockabilly-style singles), especially on Growing Up Absurd the song here is from. The following ep, The Fruit Machine, approached the trumpet-backed sound of The June Brides and is perhaps the best example of the bouncing, uptempo tunes that was their speciality. But "Mary", a slow and forlorn tale about sexual insecurity, is a big exception. A beatiful song about another awkward subject matter. The only time Woodward ever mentions love in an uncomplicated or poetic sense is in the very last lines of "Meet Me On Tuesdays" - otherwise a blistering potential floor-filler: "Meet me on Tuesday at eight o'clock, I'll be worried in case you don't turn up. And if I hesitate be kind, cause in the darkest night I know the sun shines."

Saturday, March 22, 2008

How to Succeed... At Murder

- Now young lady, you're going to talk!

The Hairstyle That Looked Like a Hat

Every respectable catalogue numbering system needs to have something special at #45, especially record labels - Matinée are examplary here. So here's a mixtape I just made for Jessel Baltazar's series What's On YOUR Tape. He's been making mixes on his own for quite a while but only just started inviting friends to do tapes as well. Number 002, called Untitled Monday, is up and running here now, compiled by Ryan Marquez of Apple Orchard, Sodajerk, The Haircuts etc. It's great!

Mine's called Get That Haircut Off Your Head! and as I'm used to simply making mixes from mp3s on my computer these days, I decided to go back to my records and pick the ones I'm most proud of owning. The reason is also that Jessel asked me to take a photograph of all the records the songs are from, so I basically had to! For the nosy types, it would be interesting to double-check this with the list of my 60 favourite songs on my old blog, to find out how many of those I actually own... This compilation comes with a full rundown of all the songs and why I chose them, I'll let you know when that's up at Jessel's.

CLOUD 45 V/A - Get That Haircut Off Your Head!

My writings about the songs are now up here, along with a picture of all the records I used. You can also listen to the tape on Jessel's main profile page, but the song order is randomised there, so you won't hear the songs in the correct order.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

A Sense of History

- Two Robin Hoods - that will hardly do!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Lips That Taste of Tears Are the Best For Kisses

The band Veronica Lake is not completely unrelated to The First Division, mentioned in the previous post, as one of Joe's other music-making partners sings on a few Veronica Lake songs. Her name is Pam Berry, and actually Chip Porter even played in her band Belmondo for a while. He also wrote the two songs that appeared on the K Records seven-inch.

The first Veronica Lake record was a single (not an ep!) on Bus Stop in 1992 called The Man Who Was Not With It EP. It was quite lo-fi and very sparse. Two more singles followed the next year, on spinART and Audrey's Diary. But apart from a bunch of tracks on compilations and split-singles that was it, sadly enough. My favourite is still "Threnody", the a-side of their last single, which ís a duet with Pam and has a lovely production. Working Holiday was an old singles club on American label Simple Machines. Twelve split-singles were released monthly in 1993 -the May instalment featuring Bratmobile (with a track later included on the album Pottymouth) and Veronica Lake's "Saints Above". It's a fantastic tune with a crazy warbling synthesizer and Pam Berry in the background. All the singles in the series was later compiled on a cd, called Working Holiday as well.

CLOUD 44 Veronica Lake - Saints Above

Monday, March 17, 2008

I Was Working With Decimals, You Were Conjugating

Playing The First Division on the radio, I realised I never wrote anything much about their ep when it came out in January. So to make amends, but also because I haven't seen anyone else mention it apart from their best friends, I'll take it upon myself to make you regret not having bought it before it sold out. I can't imagine those three songs being re-released anywhere else, like some Cloudberry stuff has been. There's still a chance to pick up Joe Brooker's Arc Lamps ep, at least!

As The First Division, he's joined by twee compatriot Tim Hopkins of Visitors fame. Comparing the ep with the Arc Lamps' release (which is difficult to avoid) these three songs are very much about London - an essay On the City if you will - whereas the songs on the other ep are more about countryside life and experiences. It's also the one that sounds more like The Pines (Joe + Pam Berry), or rather it's got the Mike Jones sound all over it. Much more acoustic, the jangly texture gets a welcome contrast from Tim's now quite coarse voice (he's not sixteen anymore, after all). It works very well together I think, so they both have every reason to be proud of the recordings. You can download "Downriver" from Cloudberry's site, but actually the other two songs are even better. Lyrically, this ep also has more to offer and both the title-track and the "Oil Fires" are brimful of poignant lines. As you can buy it anymore, here's one for the unlucky.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

You Ain't Been Nowhere 'til You've Been In

This is the new flyer I made for Klubb K3 - the poster looks different but I won't bother you with it. Sitting on the ledge is Britain's very own Gillian Hills. Born in Cairo and most well-known as a yé-ýe singer. She first became famous after the hastily banned film Beat Girl and appeared in several others after that, perhaps most notably Antonioni's Blow Up. She recorded a heap of material in French and eventually became more popular across the English channel. None of it matched the unbelievable quality of her sole English single though: "Tomorow Is Another Day" with "Look At Them" on the b-side.

Yesterday I went to Lund to participate in the Tandem Pop radio show on student radio station Radio AF. I was one of the presenters 2004-2006, ie before I went to Glasgow. I don't intend to continue broadcasting cause I don't have the time but I've managed to recruite some friends to keep it going. Kalle is the only one who remains from my day and he was actually involved a long time before me - it's quite an old show really. I heard recently that Johan Angergård (Labrador Records, Club 8, The Legends etc.) was once involved too. Anyway, it was only me, Anna and Marcus last night. We managed quite well and it was good fun trying to remember how to work the mixers and stuff - resulting in a few technical errors, but I don't suppose anyone listened anyway. That's because of their new stupid broadcasting hours: 11-12 pm. To make it more bearable they've turned it into party and down a few pints every Thursday. Well, this is what I played:

The Voluntary Butler Scheme - If You Only Knew How Hard I Try
Pocketbooks - Love Is the Stick You Throw
Wake the President - You Can't Change That Boy
The First Division - On the City
The Rainyard - Beneath the Skin
Tricycle - 54321 Here I Come

I recently helped Katja Ekman out with a little something she was writing about 'tweepunk'. A
sort of "then and now" article of which the first part is now published on Digfi. It's in Swedish so you might not be able to read it; some good band recommendations though. The second part is about contemporary bands and should be up soon. I was quite surprised actually, when she sent me some questions as I've always thought of her as part of the indiepop generation that just preceded mine and thus ought be an authority for me. I used to see her at Young Alive and In Love when I was in school and didn't dare speak to anyone!

I'll be back soon with news about an A Smile and a Ribbon tour of the UK.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Dive For Your Memory

The Bridal Shop were excellent on Friday. Some pictures from the gig are here. Jimi and Gustaf from On Our Honeymoon were playing records before and after, which was fitting as Gustaf grew up in the same town as most of the members of Bridal Shop, although they now live in Stockholm. I'd been listening to The Go-Betweens quite a bit this week, so I was delighted to dance to "Love Goes On!" and "Right Here".

But the main subject of this post is to tell you about another record I got this week - the simply amazing ep from Swedish Strawberry Fair! It's Jenny Franzén's first proper release, five years on from her two cdrs Strawberry Fair and Empty Wallets and Greedy Companies. The sound has developed considerably since she first appeared and was involuntarily rounded up with other quite lo-fi groups to create the tweepop revival of 2003. She actually turned down an offer to play at the Mitt Nästa Liv festival, together with The Tidy Ups, Bearsuit, A Boy Named Thor, Javelins, Rocky Dennis (Jens Lekman), Dorotea etc.

New songs turned up on Myspace over a year ago - the title-track of the new ep as well as a cover of The Toys' "Attack!". Both showcased the influence of 60s pop and girlgroups, especially in her vocal style which is closer to The Shangri-Las than Heavenly. Last year she also appeared at the soon legendary Rip It Up festival backed by a band made up of the cream of Stockholm's pop scene. Now finally, "I Can't Do Anything" is released on cd together with three new songs, available from Johan Jacobsson's old label Alltid Hela Tiden (which means 'always all the time'). Every song, except for maybe "Kristoffer", is an instant hit combining lyrics that aim straight for the heart and vocals that could have made Phil Spector shed a tear with a clean and modern indiepop sound. Here's my favourite.

CLOUD 42 Strawberry Fair - Give Up

Friday, March 7, 2008

It Started With Squares

Tonight The Bridal Shop from Stockholm are playing at Blekingska Nationen in Lund, and everyone who has the possibility must go. As far as I know it's only their third gig or something! Still they've managed to visit London and release two amazing eps that are now both sold out. But don't worry, their first vinyl record will be out on Cloudberry in a matter of days - the "In Violation" 7". I wanted them to play at my club, and it was only a couple of months ago I found out it wasn't possible. But they're still playing in Lund, which isn't far away anyway - at least not geographically, mentally is a different matter.

Anyone who likes POP! (in the form of punk and northern soul that is) should check out the brand new I Smiled Yesterday podcast on Slumberland's site. I Smiled Yesterday is David and Andrew and they're keen on hearing your comments about their mix on Myspace. I've listened to it twice already and I can't wait for #2!

It would seem Foxyboy have finally got round to shipping out some more records (maybe Ara's moved back from Sweden?) - checking Poppolar's site there are lots of Foxyboy releases back in stock. Including The Foxgloves' Lives You Didn't Lead EP, which was impossible to find ANYWHERE when I was (desperately) searching for a copy! I just ordered the first (The Sounds of) Kaleidoscope ep and a Saturday People ep I didn't even know existed.

Another bunch of records turned up today. The one I was most eager to throw on the turntable was of course the new Atomic Beat 7": a split-single between The Pains of Being Pure At Heart and The Parallelograms - it doesn't get any cooler than that. The Pains just completed a tour of England and Iceland that I'm devastated I missed out on, and their side (called "Kurt Cobain's Cardigan") is surely the start of a very POBPAH year! Another classic pop song. I should probably feel more lucky about having caught The Parallograms live TWICE, but now it just seems like an integral part of my life. Where would have I been now, if I hadn't seen them? Probably in a sadder state anyhow. "1,2,3, Go!" and "Pop the Bubbles" are in fact the first two of their songs to see release and the wait has indeed been long! I've been pestering them about sending me demos since Indietracks... Apparently they've re-recorded things more than once, and "1,2,3, Go!" does sound a lot different than the demo I was given last year. The biggest change is probably the use of fuzz bass that gives it a chunkier sound, and ultimately erases the similarity in sound to their mentors The Rosehips. I like the new sound, but it's not necessarily an improvement. With this band it's not the sound but the melodies and the attitude that will reduce you to a dummy-sucking toddler. Fuzz guitars that leave your brain blanker than Cobain's and ba-ba-bas so catchy they could have been your first words. "Pop the Bubbles" is my natural favourite as it's new to me and I can play it on repeat at least another fifteen times. Sheffield doesn't deserve The Parallelograms! Give them to me, I promise to take good care of them.

Monday, March 3, 2008

All the Kids Have Got Pocketbooks

First of all - it's snowing, yay! That aside, I got Pocketbooks' brand new ep in the mail today! It's called Waking Up, and is recorded by the new line-up (including Ian from The Cut-Outs). Far away from their lo-fi early demos, this is a first class pop recording. It still needs some production, as there's hardly any treble and not much bass, but that is not enough to prevent Pocketbooks from finally revealing themselves as the ingenious pop band they've always been. We've known Andy to be a prolific and very talented songwriter, but here Dan and Emma contribute one of the best songs, called "Love Is the Stick You Throw". It's got some very lovely instrumental bits, which not many bands tend to bother with since Belle & Sebastian. Definitely an underrated element in pop composition! Belle & Sebastian is of course also the overbearing influence on Andy's songs, with their endlessly spiraling lines and imaginative words. The best example is "Falling Leaves", one of my old favourites now re-recorded, which is also the best song of the four here I think. With a bit more of a beat, it would be destined for floorfiller status even beyond HDIF! I really like the sounds they've created, like the combination of piano and organ, and there's some classic indiepop style guitar ranging from tinkling picking to trashy fuzz (almost sounds like an electric organ at the end of "Waking Up"!). I'm really looking forward to hearing them play this live! If you haven't ordered the record yet, Make Do and Mend is the place to get it.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

The House That Jack Built

Kool Vikings Always Take Cheese Home

So, last night Clare Wadd was playing records at Retro. It was a great evening with lots of people there, many of whom I knew. I was quite thrilled to hear what she was going to play, as I didn't know at all what to expect. And of course it was a pleasure and an honour to meet one of the people responsible for so much fantastic music reaching my ears, as well as her partner who was very likeable. It must have been a cool experience also for Clare, to see the response on a Swedish dance floor as Daniel played "Pristine Christine" - a song I think both she and Matt Haynes have a special relationship too. Although she played many things I didn't recognise, one of the best was "Poised Over the Pause Button" by This Poison! - definitely the fastest song played at So Tough So Cute the nights I've been there. In fact I've never heard Daniel play This Poison! at all. And I was touched to say the least by the surprise spin of Blueboy's "The Joy of Living". I just never expected to hear it at a pop disco, and it's now the most treasured moment I can recall from this club.

Actually I was playing with the thought of making a list of the best bands on Sarah before leaving home - something which quickly appeared near-impossible. I first thought of Brighter, my first contact with the Sarah catalogue. Then I thought "no, it should be St. Christopher", then "no, The Sea Urchins"... "Another Sunny Day"... "god, The Springfields!". And I was listening to The Orchids and remembered thinking they were the most talented band on Sarah Records. One thing that surprised me yesterday was my friends frowning at "Peaches" by The Orchids, not even recognising it as them. Even though it's probably their most well-known song and from Unholy Soul, one of the most accomplished indie albums of all time! Of course it's far removed from their early sound, but The Orchids were always versatile (though always retaining a certain delicacy). But let's return to Blueboy; just thinking of those records I realise that they were on a completely different level from every other act that signed with Sarah. A record like Unisex might just be the closest popular music has ever come to approaching the genius of classical composers like Debussy et al. Just those lines sung by Gemma...

Of course it's not love, but I'm not choosy
I just want to kiss you in new places
To savour the joy of living liking you

Saturday, March 1, 2008

COIR 005 or Postcard From Paradise

This Postcard-inspired poster is for the next club night, when my friend David Brogan is coming over to play records. In fact, everything about it will be quite Scottish. We're going to have Gregory's Girl flickering on the wall and hopefully some drinks and nibbles brought over by express courier (ie hand-cuffed to David's wrist)! And except for the usual classy mix of not-so-classy sounds, there'll be an excess of bands from the North like The Orchids, The Pastels, The Royal We, The Beatstalkers, The Thanes, Jesse Garon & the Desperadoes and maybe even Primal Scream if Ben turns up. He's playing later the same night at Retro and Daniel's So Tough! So Cute! club. Me and David's going there afterwards, so you should come along - don't worry, it's within crawling distance. Just pretend you've got some knife-wielding Glasgow ned at your heels and you'll be there in no-time.

What the Butler Saw