Sunday, August 31, 2008

There Aren't Enough Songs About Minigolf

I arrived at Debaser for the Popfest around half five, as Springfactory were playing. I didn't hear much though as I was too busy saying hello to people. After a massive dinner with Darren Hanlon and The Deirdres, they went to burn some calories at the minigolf course just outside in Folkets Park. It was looking good for the Southern hemisphere, but the patient Northern Drummer won out in the end. After the game it was unfortunately too late to go on the ferris wheel, so the disheartened band had their picure taken in front of the pink rose fountain instead.

After Darren's set, I played some records outside. And as no one listened I can tell you I played anthing I like. But honestly, these were the songs:
The Submarines - Take Me Away
1000 Violins - Why Is It Always December?
Hope - Singing Vest
Reserve - Butcher's Daughter
Bomb Pops - Theme Guy
The Revolving Paint Dream - In the Afternoon
East Village - Meet the Wife
The Poets - Now We're Thru
Hey Paulette - I Will Line the Streets
Hurrah! - Big Sky
The Pastels - Breaking Lines
The Church Grims - Seen It All

The action moved indoors after nightfall and The Deirdres was the climax for some, while others slipped back out for a reassuring fag. To call them 'amateurish' is to miss the point with a big neon hula hoop. The people dancing madly up front would probably agree. The sound was as confused as the sound engineer must have felt trying to soundcheck them 30 minutes earlier, I'll admit that. I've heard them sound better in smaller venues. But we had fun and they had fun - that should be more than enough? The long parade of DJs ended with Karin and Mattias of Cosy Recordings. The last two hours of the night I was dancing with Copenhageners and shuffled extra frantically to these:
Heavenly - Shallow
The Arrogants - Lovesick
JDDE - Sean Connery
The Magnetic Fields - Strange Powers
The School - I Want You Back
Girls At Our Best! - Too Big For Your Boots

The Cinderellas - Baby Baby (I Still Love You)
The Tidy Ups - Dizzy Heights

Am I Supposed to Smile and Say Yes Please?

We're awfully proud to present this amazing band at Don't Die On My Doorstep, coming all the way from New York! It's the last of their first four gigs in Sweden, and you might never get a chance like this again. We're opening an hour earlier to accomodate for this and an eventual support act, so be there at 9 pm. And no later, cause there's a good chance it will fill up quickly! Be sure to buy some merch, so it's worth the trip for them. Our guest dj for this special evening is Anna from Tandem Pop.

To celebrate the occasion, I have compiled a wee mix cd with mostly brand new music that has been DDOMD-approved. It's download only, and the link will be in the post on our mailing list, concerning this gig. It usually arrives a week before the club night in question, so send a blank email to heavensabove[at] now to sign up. This is what it looks like. (And of course POBPAH are featured...)

Afternoon Naps – Happy All the Time
Crystal Stilts – Crippled Croon
Bubblegum Lemonade – Just Like You
The Elektras – Go Wild
Sic Alps – Mater
The Tartans – Try As You May
Northern Portrait – In an Empty Hotel
The Pains of Being Pure At Heart – Kurt Cobain's Cardigan
A Sunny Day In Glasgow – Hugs & Kisses (Theme From A Sunny Day In Glasgow)
Je Suis Animal – Amundsen
Tibi Lubin – The Great Big Lie
Cub – I'm Your Angel
Cars Can Be Blue – Hope You're Hurting
Boyracer – They're Making Money Off of You
Let's Wrestle – Music Is My Girlfriend
The Wave Pictures – Hotels and Motels
The Whitsundays – Falling Over
All My Friends – Up and Down the River
Minisnap – Innocent
Vivian Girls – Going Insane
The Mai 68s – Whipped Cream

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Dancing a Hole In the World

Last night at På Besök was brilliant! Thanks to everyone who turned up, to Albulene for challenging the technology and her cold, to Anna and Mette for the flowers, and Jonthan for the after-party. If you haven't got enough of that pop pop action, step into the sunshine this afternoon and direct your ears toward the sound emanating from Debaser's outdoor stage. Bands are playing there from 5ish, and then moving indoors for those dangerous Deidres that have to be kept locked up except for when allowed on stage. It's their glasses they say. Are they telling the truth? Well, you won't find out till you buy their new cd on Cosy Recordings. They've even called it Why Do My Glasses Give You the Heeby Jeebys?. I'm playing records for bit after half nine, a purely indiepop diet this time. Expect both playlist to be up by tomorrow!

We went to Retro for a while after Don't Die On My Doorstep, but it was nowhere near as good as last Saturday when the mighty Brogues paid So Tough! So Cute! a visit. He must've felt in his element with all that rain, slipped and played all the wrong songs, but stumbled upon some real corkers. His playlist is here. The man has an incredible lowest level, I tell you.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Gravity's Got Me Falling Indefinitely

This post is about two great new eps out there. The number of new releases worth buying just seems to increase constantly, making it difficult to mention everything that deserves your time. These are records I really care about, so please remember to order them after you've read this through. If you hesitate, that should be purely because of my flawed descriptions of them. It's alright, you can buy them anyway without feeling bad about yourself.

So there is a new ep out by Postal Blue, it's true! I was playing "Super-Electric" by Stereolab just before it, and it occurred to me that it sounds closer to that than their now two year old ep Road to Happiness. That was a work of jangle genius and it made perfect sense for them to cover "Josef's Gone" for the June Brides tribute after it. You can also forget about the comparisons to Belle & Sebastian that floated about after their Shelflife album. And actually, the correct pronouns to use now is his and him as the band is now Adriano only. The new songs are full of cleverly programmed drums, oscillating analogue synthesisers and classic songwriting. The best track is "Laughing and Crying" which leads off the ep, and "You Should Keep It to Yourself" you can download from Cloudberry's page. Has the singing lessons paid off? Leave Adriano a note here. He plans to write more songs soon and release them, well, probably not so soon.

I finally met Laz from Bubblegum Lemonade and Strawberry Whiplash last week and he gave me the best present I can think of: the new Matinée ep, cause I was just about to order it. This is exactly the future I could see clearly laid out before me, when I told him he should get a single out almost two years ago. Susan's In the Sky is if possible even better than last year's Ten Years Younger. And I don't know how he's done it! I subconsciously tell myself he couldn't have written these songs himself. But I guess he has, unless Alex Chilton has given him some lost Big Star tunes to go with the cover of "Holocaust". Many people have tried their hands at that composition, but it melts like butter in his. "Surfin' USB" sounds like the Paint Set song that could have followed "Delaware Rain". The new version of "Just Like You" at first seems like a tamer version of a surefire hit, but I'll be damned if I don't think it's cooler when the distorsion fades out at the end. The only conclusion I can draw from all this is that as great as Bubblegum Lemonade was when it seemed like Razorcuts and the Mary Chain reborn, it's even better when it just sounds like Bubblegum Lemonade. This is a hit record with unobvious hits. That will become obvious when you hear it. I won't need to tell him to do a full-length album because it's already been promised by Matinée. I can spot a future classic from months away.

Compliant Jukebox

The night in Glasgow went amazingly well, and somehow, we got in The List's top picks for going out dancing. We even made some money for the bands - which would never happen in Sweden. It was a good turnout and people were dancing throughout. Some of the bands represented by one or several attending members were Belle & Sebastian, 1990s, Wake the President, Bubblegum Lemonade/Strawberry Whiplash, The Hermit Crabs, Tibi Lubin, Camera Obscura etc. Gavin did a one-hour set after the bands and then me and Jane McKeown took over - the playlist is here, and there are some photos from the night as well! Jane's selections were excellent, and if it hadn't been for her I doubt many people would have been dancing. The films screened were The She-Creature (a cheesy 1956 horror flick by Edward L. Kahn) and Jack Hill's hilarious Switchblade Sisters from 1975 - both recommended.

The Catalysts and The Just Joans both did a good job, although it was clear that not many people liked both bands... Cheers to them for playing! Don't forget to go to Half My Heart Beats at the same venue the remaining months of the year. Our next night is in Sweden as usual on Friday the 29th.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Words and Guitar

In 1987 psych-pop group The Chemistry Set contributed a track to the Imaginary label's tribute to Syd Barrett. I first heard of this record, Beyond the Wildwood, because one of the earlier Ric Menck recordings is on this. It's a cover of "Golden Hair" credited to The Paint Set and it's also included on the Ballad of Ric Menck compilation - a hodge-podge of Springfields and Choo Choo Train songs with a few rarities thrown in. The Chemistry Set recorded a version of "See Emily Play" and very good it is - you can now download it from here. Judging from the new original they just put up, a new album might be something to look forward too!

A group I came across purely by chance (mentioned in a review of the Airfields album) is The Whitsundays. They're from Canada too but take their cues from The Zombies and We the People rather than The Field Mice. They recently had a self-titled debut out on Friendly Fire and it's definitely worth its price of ten dollars. One of my favourites on it is in the player just now. Otherwise I can't wait for the new releases on Slumberland (Crystal Stilts and caUSE co-MOTION! albums, POBPAH and Sexy Kids seven-inches!) and the reissue of Vivian Girls' lp.

Ankle Deep At the NPL

It's been raining practically every day since I came to Glasgow, but I don't really mind. Had I actually been to the last National Pop League I would've been more likely to be ankle-deep in water than knee-deep in snow. I was wondering if there are any more songs that mention NPL apart from that Camera Obscura one? Let me know if you can think of any and I'll play them at my next club night as a wee tribute. I met John the other day at a Butcher Boy band practice, and he didn't seem too sad that it's over. Perhaps Butcher Boy can finally take off as a band now. The new songs still sound amazing and I can't wait for the second album to be released.

I've heard many reports from the last NPL already and it will go down in history as being everything NPL used to be, but just a tiny bit more. It was hotter, the queue to get in was longer, the music was better and people waited as long as 1½ hours to get a drink at the bar. The last song was "Reel Around the Fountain" by you know who. Some of the regulars presented John with a book full of notes, photos and drawings which i sent in a wee letter for and they also got him a seat dedication at the GFT. Stuart Murdoch did a short speech... and I missed it all.

One thing I didn't miss was Calvin Johnson's brilliant gig in the Lansdowne church last weekend. He played in an upstairs hall to a revering crowd that included Stephen Pastel and Katrina, Duglas T. Stewart, Sarah Martin etc. He played an acoustic guitar and sang, without a microphone. I only recognised "Can We Kiss?" and "I'm Down", but it all sounded fantastic. He was supported by Withered Hand from Edinburgh and a band that first seemed to Skeleton Bob but was actually National Park. I've never seen National Park before so that was a happy surprise!

On the Sunday we went to see the second film in the Southside Gallery's series at Stereo. This time it was a short by recent graduate Lila de Magalhaes, followed by her selection The Holy Mountain by Jodorowski (1973). A very entertaining and disturbing film that somehow reminded me of The Quest For the Holy Grail (with the jokes shining with their absence) as the goal of the film is for a group of people to achieve immortality. The Monty Python film, set in the Middle Ages, ends with the Knights of the Round Table being rounded up by the police for having killed the narrator. In this film, when the group has finally reached the Holy Mountain, their leader tells the camera to zoom back and says that nothing has been real - it's all been a film. (The end of Inland Empire, suggests that David Lynch has seen this film as well.)

I've also seen a more recent film, called Sátántangó, by Hungarian director Béla Tarr. It's like a Kaurusmäki film stretched out to seven hours and brilliantly shot in black and white. We saw this at my friend Stuart's place and I'm excited to see what he can dig up from his vast collection to screen at the Don't Die On My Doorstep night this Friday! By now I should perhaps also reveal the identity of our secret guest dj. After all, I don't think many people reading this will turn up at the Flying Duck! Jane McKeown is perhaps best known for having been a member of Lung Leg, one of Glasgow's best ever bands. Now she plays in Peter Parker with the girl from Miss the Occupier and their first gig was at You + Me two months ago. They're next playing at the TAF night at Stereo, along with Sexy Kids and Wake the President. Jane also has a radio show on Celtic Music Radio, which is on every Friday from 6 to 8pm. It's called The Soup Kitchen and it was them who had All My Friends in for a session recently. If you tune in this Friday you'll probably hear a couple of tracks from The Just Joans and The Catalysts.

From September onwards there will be a regular indiepop night at the Flying Duck that will hopefully attract the same clientele as NPL. It will called be Half My Heart Beats and Lynsey and Colin will be the resident djs (well, you probably know who they are if you're from Glasgow). I wish them the best of luck and I hope I can attend sometime. I bet The Smittens feel the same.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Saw You In the Film Where the Children Write On Glass

So what have I been up to so far in Glasgow? Mostly music and film stuff. I've seen Je Suis Animal, Wake the President, A Sunny Day In Glasgow, Basil Pieroni, All My Friends, The Thanes, Ulric Kennedy, Roy Moller, Friends of the Bride, Hyena, Hey Enemy and Selfish Cunt. And Calvin Johnson is playing on Saturday in that church on Great Western Road you always used to pass on the way to NPL! I missed Je Suis Animal at Indietracks so I was lucky to catch their intense set at Nice & Sleazy. Three guitars, one of which was a Burns Double Six. Wake the President are still getting better and the new songs sound brilliant. Watch out for "Miss Tierney". Another Double Six turned up at Eyes Wide Open at The Twisted Wheel, where Edinburgh's garage legends The Thanes did a loud and fuzzy set and I'm very happy I finally got a chance to see them. Eyes Wide Open seems like a great club night and any Flipside regulars ought to love it. All My Friends did their last ever gig at The State Bar's country night Don't Mess With Texas, supported by Butcher Boy's Basil Pieroni. They had a new song, that I recorded with my camera because no one will probably get to hear it again! Ulric from The Catalysts did a solo set at The Halt which apparenlty had two more ex-Mixers in attendance. He's got a full band together for the 15th, which is more than what I hoped for!

Filmwise I've seen Pierrot le fou, Made In USA, Team America, Angel-a, Hardware, and a Luke Fowler short. The latter was screened downstairs at Stereo as the first in a series of art films every Sunday afternoon. It was introduced by the artist and followed by two films chosen by himself. Both really interesting, the first one was a Hollis Frampton piece called (nostalgia) revolving around a set of photographs from the 60s. It was the second film that made the biggest impression on me though. Peter Gidal is an English structuralist filmmaker and we got to see his Conditions of Illusion from 1975. As a structural work it examines the formal qualities of cinema and is suitably a silent, as the moving picture is the only feature unique to the medium (medium-specificity being of huge concern for formalists). This 30 minute film is essentially one take of an interior, with occasionally frantic camera movements, repeated three times. Only intermittently does the footage coalesce into regoniseable imagery. As the title suggests it investigates how little visual information we need to create the illusion of three-dimensional space, movement and time. At first we are merely trying to make out what is in front of us, obviously struggling. The first time the sequence repeats we minutely compare what we see to the images in our memory. We no longer seek objects and backgrounds but imagery itself. During the second repeat the illusion is complete as we don't even question what we see. Traditional filmmaking is to a large extent about creating anticipation and reaching a resolution. Here, Gidal has achieved the very same with a minimum of means. The rule of three is widely used in films within the Hollywood system, where information is often duplicated over mise-en-scène, dialogue and soundtrack. An interesting thing occured during the screening; not only were there vertical green lines down the middle of the screen throughout, but dust started collecting at the top of the screen as the film rolled. We all assumed it was part of the film, until they had to stop the roll to blow it off. Interruptions and distractions of course also affect the lllusion the filmmaker is trying to create, and it's fascination how much we can accept in order to loose ourselves in the cinematic world. I could have watched it all day. The context and conditions in which we watch things is a very interest area of film studies. This Sunday they're screening Holy Mountain, which should also be good.

The Singers Hide Behind the Cameras

Stuart's video from A Smile and a Ribbon's gig at The Goat in Glasgow. There's a recording of "Sweet Sixteen" as well *coming soon*.

What's the Time... Ok, I'm In Love

We were The Enemy and know that that is true
We were the Enemy and we existed for you
Because Iggy told us and Iggy would not lie to me
We started playing because everything else was fucked
We started playing for the cunts and the bucks
Cause Iggy told us and Iggy would not lie to me
Back in Dunedin late last year

The best band ever to call themselves The Enemy was Chris Knox's (Toy Love, Tall Dwarfs) first band. It's a good band name as you can introduce yourself with "we are the enemy" and it's also a heteronym for the NME. Not that this would be much use in New Zealand, mind you. The Enemy was the first punk band on the islands and is often quoted as the inspiration for and/or genesis of the Dunedin Sound. Just a few years later several new bands had turned up - like The Clean, Toy Love, Doublehappys and The Chills.

The lines above are from their manifesto number "Iggy Told Me", and although nothing was released there are several live recordings. This Myspace page links to a website that has 25 tracks for download, and you should definitely check them out. The title of this post is the introduction to "I'm In Love" and although it's hard to believe it was just a spontaneous thing to say it's sounds completely brilliant!

Another rather obscure band who's got a website with a sizeble mp3 archive is late 80s indiepop group The Moss Poles, who hailed from London (contrary to what TweeNet tells you). Their first single "One Summer" is a firm favourite, and you'll also find their other singles, the album Shorn, as well as an unreleased second album. It's all there.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

She Only Works In a Record Shop

The line-up for the popfest in Malmö has now been announced and Darren Hanlon will be playing! The Deirdres are finally coming over to Sweden, in conjunction with a release on Cosy Recordings. Our Cosy friends Mattias and Karin will come down with The Deirdres to play some records, and I will do a bit of DJing as well. Too bad Twig aren't coming...

Monday, August 4, 2008

Downhill From Here

Rip It Up was an unusual festival experience for me, and maybe all the better for it. I helped out as some sort of band host, the downside of which was I didn't have time to hang out with my friends. But I got to sleep indoors and all the 'work' invovled was being nice to Pipas, Pocketbooks, Harvey Williams, The Clientele, The Dreamers, Darren Hanlon and a few new acquaintances.

The highlights were the backstage frisbee games, saving Darren Hanlon's life with an anorak, having a huge vegan breakfast with Pipas and their friends, walking around Säffle with Darren, the contagious enthusiasm of Pocketbooks over being in SWEDEN, listening to 1000 Violins in Matloob from Roadside Poppies' car on the way up (especially "If I Were a Bull", which the display shortened one title to), taking shelter from the rain in Fraction's little merchandise tent, and last but not least seeing a few decent bands.

I finally got to see The Dreamers and Kevin and Sarah got the festival off to a stripped-down and tasteful start with their simple and unpretentious performance in the light drizzle. Both style icons in their own way, and both interesting stage personalities, it was great to see them on a stage together, exchanging the odd smile. The happiest surprise on the first day was the seemingly vast potential of Cocoanut Groove, who fittingly opened with a cover of Roger Nichols' "Coconut Grove". Their own matierial come frighteningly close to the standard of their heroes - read more about them in a post below.

They were preceded by Hormones In Abundance and followed by Harvey Williams. HIA was only Patrik this time, who now records as Ring Snuten! and was a festival organiser himself in his teens (with three amazing Liv festivals outside Kalmar on his conscience). He gave us a set laiden with nostalgia, sugar-rush pop and Softies covers, all played out on a guitar that came all the way from Brooklyn. Harvey started out on the keyboards as usual and played a 'new' song that I really enjoyed along with some from California. Then it was time for the acoustic singalong to "You Should All Be Murdered" and Other Sunny Days hits. Days themselves reminded me that they are still the best band in Sweden and introduced a new song that sounded like it might become the best in their repetoir. Secret Shine reminded me that even the best shoegaze can become boring after 50 minutes. Besides it was cold and damp, and Darren's comfy couch beckoned. After a nice chat over some crisp bread and caviar we went to sleep.

Having got some banjo practise in the next morning (ok... noon) we arrived at the festival site with Pipas only to find Pocketbooks sitting in the sun-drenched grass and probably on their second round of beers. I hadn't seen them since May so it was a happy reunion, and I finally met Natalie who's done such a great job with Indietracks promotion. After Darren started the day off, things were quickly moving towards the anticipated high point of the day: Pocketbooks' first ever gig in Sweden. And what a gig it was! We were dancing and singing along and everything was beautiful.

Obviously, it would be hard for The Tidy Ups to follow this, but just seeing them on a stage for the first time in four years was enough to set my mind spinning to thoughts I haven't had for almost as long. It didn't even matter that the songs hardly sounded half as good as their recordings, and as they ended with "I Hate Being In Love With Elijah Wood" I was in another world completely.

The sunlight didn't last long though. As I was sitting with a travel-weary Clientele, Alasdair predicted that it would start raining by the time they were on. And he was right of course. But standing in the rain for 40 minutes was fine by me when I got to hear such perfect songs as "Reflections After Jane", "Saturday", a version of "Lamplight" that seemed to last for ten minutes, a cover of "A Picture of Dorian Grey", "My Own Face Inside the Trees", "I Hope You Know" and "We Could Walk Together". After a timely (but missed) opportunity for an Amor De Dias set inbewteen, Pipas went on stage. They'd had a frantic practice that morning, as they hadn't really played together for many a month. You could defintely hear that, but they made up for it by playing old favourites like "Rock and/or Roll", "Tout va bien" and "Hiding In the Park".

The highlight of the day however, and perhaps of the whole festival, turned out to be triumphant set from Stockholm's Twig, finally with an album release in sight. From the opening take on "Rip It Up" through to the end the trio didn't loose it for a second. They were intense, fervent and casual - Henrik's vocals ranging from tender croon to mocking sneer. Look out for the album on Plastilina's webiste in a couple of weeks.

Unfortunately I don't have a cable for my camera at the moment, so reports from Indietracks and gigs in Glasgow will probably have to wait a while.