Thursday, January 28, 2010

Veronica Falls Into Lake

So CT are finally putting out the first single by Veronica Falls from London. Since hearing the a-side early last year hopes have been very high (but also a bit hesitant considering the longevity of the members' previous outfits) for future material. "Beachy Head" on the Rough Trade 09 compilation fueled expectations even more, and I think that Roxanne really comes into her own as lead singer on the b-side "Starry Eyes". I haven't heard Roky Erickson's original (from 1975) but I can't imagine him matching this gorgeous vocal.

Another new CT release is the debut 7" from Beach Fossils, which is a nice taster for the upcoming LP on Woodsist. The a-side "Daydream" inevitably makes me picture an uptempo Real Estate (which is a great idea!), while the b-side sounds more like a slowed down variation on "Have Love, Will Travel". They definitely do better with the brisk jangle of the a-side.

Plenty more 7"s are available to order from the CT website now, including the first single off of Wetdog's second album.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Take Off Your Mask, It's Me

It's been a bit of slow start to this year, or maybe I have just been busy finishing up one of my degrees and moving house. But the only great album that has come out so far in January is Standard Fare's debut The Noyelle Beat. Well, it's not really out, but if you pre-order it you get an instant download in mp3 or flac! And for only £10 - can you get a better deal? It looks like a co-release between Thee SPC and a label called Melodic, so I guess the Bar/None deal has been postponed or maybe won't happen. Who cares when the album gives us 13 fantastic songs in a comfortable 38 minutes?

It's no wonder the album has followed so quickly on the heels of the single "Fifteen" (that just came out on Thee SPC) considering some of their songs (including "Fifteen") are almost three years old now. They've been captured very well on tape, retaining the energy of their live appearances. Of which I was lucky enough to catch 3 last year, most recently at The Windmill in December. You'll recognise most of the songs from gigs (if you've seen them!), the ones that sound new to me are "Secret Little Sweetheart" and "I Know It's Hard" and they are both making me smile. A contender for album of the year already, innit?

Actually, I don't know how Standard Fare do it. They're just one of those three-pieces that seem to work organically and make perfect pop seem stupidly simple. In that sense they remind me of Bearsuit. But Standard Fare have a unique resource in Emma Kupa, vocalist and bass player. The bending vocal melody of "Wow" is something not many people would pull off. It's one of my favourite songs on the album, as well as "Be Into Us" - can there be more POP titles than those?

I'm also eager to hear Sourpatch's first album, which is coming out on Happy Happy Birthday to Me next month. And while Slumberland are having a rest Matinée have pushed out the first release of the year with The Matinée Grand Prix, a compilation that feels like a follow-up to The Matinée Hit Parade. While not quite matching the latter's promised "a-side quality throughout", it's certainly an essential companion to the two recent albums from Northern Portrait and The Electric Pop Group. Those both came out at about the same time, at the tail end of December, and the compilation features exclusive non-album tracks from both groups. Northern Portrait have contributed a beatiful slow number called "Stirling Moss" which is not far off a "There Is a Light That Never Goes Out" in a racecar. Otherwise The Matinée Grand Prix is notable for three things: 1) the return of Simpático! 2) a new (yes, new) song from Math & Physics Club 3) the last Lucksmiths song to be released. The Luckies' "Get-to-Bed Birds" is really something - I think it's better than anything on their last album actually.

I just found out that Fireflies put out another free download ep last year, called Butterscotch. A co-release between Lavender and Music Is My Girlfriend like the last one, it should surely whet your appetite for the album that came out in November. I've been playing that lots since Christmas, and the ep is suitable winter listening too, with two songs called "Winter" and "Sledding"! But Autumn Almanac is even better. If Lisle had only varied the rhythms a bit more it could have been a would-be classic!

It looks like Fair Ohs is a band to watch in 2010. Their first single "Summer Lake"/"Almost Island" is out now and is a huge improvement from their tape as 'Thee Fair Ohs'. Our Days On the Pacific Rim, released by Suplex Cassettes (now revealed as the bass player's label!) was a tad too Black Flag-inspired for my taste, but the two new sides are upbeat POP with slightly exotic rhythms. Get it from Sex Is Disgusting now! There's also split with Leeds darlings Spectrals coming up soon, pre-orders are shipped from Tough Love in February.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Man Without a Movie Camera

Now that I have finished my essay I can finally get around to posting my best-of list for last year. I had two late contenders in Northern Portrait and Fireflies, the latter whom had actually released his second album in November already. But the undisputed no. 1 is still The Mantles' self-titled debut lp. For someone with one foot in the garage and the other on a stack of indiepop flexis, this album couldn't have hit home better. They've managed the meld better than any other band who has tried it over the last year, and many many have tried.

1. The Mantles - s/t (Siltbreeze)
2. The Pains of Being Pure At Heart - s/t (Slumberland)
3. The Clientele - Bonfires On the Heath (Merge)
4. Cola Jet Set - Guitarras y Tambores (Elefant)
5. Christmas Island - Blackout Summer (In the Red)
6. Pocketbooks - Flight Paths (HDIF Label)
7. Northern Portrait - Criminal Art Lovers (Matinée)
8. God Help the Girl - s/t (Rough Trade)
9. Liechtenstein - Survival Strategies In a Modern World (Fraction Discs/Slumberland)
10. Afternoon Naps - Parade (Happy Happy Birthday to Me)
12. The Crayon Fields - All the Pleasures of the World (Chapter)
12. Cats On Fire - Our Temperance Movement (HDIF Label)
13. Knight School - The Poor & the Needy Need to Party (Lostmusic)
14. Fireflies - Autumn Almanac (Littlemusic)
15. Pants Yell! - Received Pronounciation (Slumberland)
16. Butcher Boy - React Or Die (HDIF Label)
17. Vivian Girls - Everything Goes Wrong (In the Red)
18. Brilliant Colors - Introducing (Slumberland)
19. The Fresh & Onlys - Grey-Eyed Girls (Woodsist)
20. Pens - Hey Friend, What You Doing? (De Stijl)

Tough deciding between the Pens and Tyvek albums, but I've definitely played Pens more.

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Gig Worked But the Audience Survived

So Northern Portrait managed to squeeze in an album release just before 2009 came to a snowy halt. And Criminal Art Lovers will definitely be on my end-of-year list, which I haven't finished yet because I had a sneaking suspicion this album would need to be on there. It's got 9 new songs, only their hit (well I understand if people would call it that) "Crazy" is a repeat. The album opens with the grand "The Münchhausen In Me" and immediately we can conclude that is the best the Danes have ever been. They even dare to introduce some glockenspiel towards the end, without tarnishing the grandeur. The song following "Crazy" at #3 is crucial to the album - it has to be of the same caliber as that, their now most recognisable tune, or the record would feel disappointing. Northern Portrait manage this commendably by putting "The Operation Worked But the Patient Died" at #4, a song frequenters of their Myspace have been able to enjoy for many months already. It is one of their slowest songs but also one of the most impressive. Another new favourite is the frighteningly titled "Murder Weapon", which jangles along at yes, a heart-stopping pace. The highlight of their live sets last summer, "What Happens Next" sounds good as well but lacks that extra boost the surprise attack of the Rickenbacker at the move into major key gave. What's this? "That's When My Headaches Begin" shows that the group is not without wit either, as Stefan sings "armed with these weapons of self-distraction" in a tender lament on the temptations of drink. The closing track "New Favourite Moment" (which we also got to hear live) winds up the album on a positive note with its exuberant picked guitar. It strikes the listener that this album, not unlike The Sundays in production, could well have been a radio staple if it had only been mixed and mastered more suitably, with a bit more low end etc. Thankfully it isn't, Northern Portrait stay just the right side of well-produced. If there's anything that needs more compression it is the collar of one's shirt.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Guitars In the Garage

One of the best discoveries so far this year is Lydia Marcelle's other two singles. Her "The Girl He Needs" from 1967 has been one of my alltime favourites since ploughing through the Girls In the Garage series, but Rateyourmusic has two more singles listed. I've heard "Everybody Dance" from her debut, but it was nowhere as great as her second a-side "It's Not Like You", which you can find on the northern soul comp Wigan Forever (and also on Youtube). If anyone has the other sides, please let me know!

The other big surprise was
Cécilia et Ses Ennuis, who sound like The Bristols singing in French. Their four eps all come from the same recording session at Toerag, so no surprise there. Their singer Cécilia Meneau also runs a record label and has played with the legendary garagepunk group The No-Talents, and later with Opération S. She also sings in garage supergroup Cécilia & die Sauerkrauts, that include members of the also French Les Terribles, The Mummies and King Kahn & the Shrines.

In other female garage group news, The Flips are about to release their second 7" - this time on Hozac. Their debut came out last year, and I was particularly impressed with "I Still Wanna Be His Girl" which is quite jangly. Otherwise they sound quite similar to Stolen Hearts, who are also great.

Late last year I also listened to some Japanese girl groups, like the amazing The Apricots, who Pierre told me about. I think they only have one album, called Swingin'! Smilin'!. Then The Bunnies, who have released at least two albums and are apparently still playing. I've only heard their second album Ooh Wee Baby, which was great but not as great as The Pebbles, who I finally heard today. They are from Japan as well, and Sympathy For the Record Industry reissued their first album in 1997. I don't know if they have released any more albums, but here is an interview with them. For a great introduction to similar Japanese bands, check out the compilation My Summer Love on Daiki Sound.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

There Is Life After Birth

First post of the year! And it's about time to clear up that list of recommended releases to the right. The last record to make the list, before I start one for 2010, is Santa Monica Swim & Dive Club and their mini-album Mild Honey (great Beach Boys reference!). SMS&DC is Tim Sendra, previously of such notable pop ventures as Veronica Lake and Madison Electric. According to Myspace, he's been using the alias since 2003. The seven songs on the record sound as playful as anything he has recorded though computer recording makes for better sound quality then the old 4-track. While not chronicling independent pop on the otherwise very dependent Allmusic, Sendra's got another blog called None More Twee, together with co-author Margaret. He's just posted his faves of 2009, so check it out.

The Pains of Being Pure At Heart
s/t (Slumberland)
Flight Paths (HDIF Label)
Burning Hearts
Aboa Sleeping (Shelflife)
Hey Friend, What You Doing? (De Stijl)
Wavvves (Fat Possum)
Knight School
The Poor & the Needy Need to Party (Lostmusic)
The Besties
Home Free (Hugpatch)
Butcher Boy
React Or Die (HDIF Label)
The Loves
Three (Fortuna Pop)
Cats On Fire
Our Temperance Movement (HDIF Label)
Temporacha (ROOM40)
Camera Obscura
My Maudlin Career (4AD)
Blank Dogs
Under and Under (In the Red)
Blackberry Wine
Modern Living: A Survival Handbook (Pony Proof)
Cola Jet Set
Guitarras y Tambores (Elefant)
The Wave Pictures If You Leave It Alone (Moshi Moshi)
Woods Songs of Shame (Shrimper)
Eat Skull
EUSTA Kill (self-released tour CDR)
Eat Skull
Wild and Inside (Siltbreeze)
Survival Strategies In a Modern World (Fraction Discs/Slumberland)
s/t (Slumberland)
Girls At Our Best!
Pleasure (Cherry Red reissue)
Mr. Wright
Diary of a Fool (Series Two)
Cheap Red
s/t (555)
The Relationships
Space (Big Red Sky)
Let's Wrestle
In the Court of the Wrestling Let's (Stolen)
God Help the Girl
s/t (Rough Trade)
Slow Club
Yeah So (Moshi Moshi)
The Beets
Spit On the Face of People Who Don't Want to Be Cool (Captured Tracks)
Thee Oh Sees
Help (In the Red)
Ye Olde Maids
God Blesses Us, Mother Dresses Us (Art Fag)
Vivian Girls
Everything Goes Wrong (In the Red)
A Sunny Day In Glasgow
Ashes Grammar (Mis Ojos)
s/t (Siltbreeze)
Ray Rumours Le Pont Suspendu (Stitch-Stitch)
The Clientele
Bonfires On the Heath (Merge)
Pants Yell!
Received Pronounciation (Slumberland)
Grass Widow
s/t (Make a Mess)
Another Sunny Day
London Weekend (Cherry Red reissue)
Tell God I'm Here (Cherry Red reissue)
The Claim
Black Path – Retrospective 1985–1992 (Cherry Red)
The Ogdens
Hellish Mad Rush (Firestation)
The Close Lobsters
Forever, Until Victory! (Fire)
Ty Segall
Lemons (Goner)
Afternoon Naps
Parade (Happy Happy Birthday to Me)
Matt Harnish & Other Delights (Happy Happy Birthday to Me)
The Crayon Fields
All the Pleasures of the World (Chapter)
Rose Melberg
Homemade Ship (WIAIWYA)
The Mantles
s/t (Siltbreeze)
The Fresh & Onlys
s/t (Castle Face)
The Intelligence
Fake Surfers (In the Red)
Christmas Island
Blackout Summer (In the Red)
The Fresh & Onlys
Grey-Eyed Girls (Woodsist)
The Procedure Club
Music For Leisure Time (Series Two)
The Medusa Snare
Cinderella (Squirrel)
The Pearly Gatecrashers
But Wait, There's More (Plastilina)
s/t (Addenda)
The Gladeyes
Psychosis of Love (Lil' Chief)
The Brunettes
Paper Dolls (Lil' Chief)
The Manhattan Love Suicides
Louder and Longer (Squirrel re-release)
Brilliant Colors
Introducing (Slumberland)
Theoretical Girl
Divided (Memphis Industries)
Real Estate
s/t (Woodsist)
Frauhaus! (Captured Tracks/Angular)
Tesco Chainstore Mascara
Good Foundations (Bubblegum)
Voluntary Butler Scheme
At Breakfast, Dinner, Tea (Split)
Box Elders
Alice and Friends (Goner)
Autumn Almanac (Littlemusic)
The Electric Pop Group
Seconds (Matinée)
Northern Portrait
Criminal Art Lover (Matinée)
Zoey van Goey
The Cage Was Unlocked All Along (Chemikal Undergound)
Fungi Girls
Seafaring Pyramids (Play Pinball)
Santa Monica Swim & Dive Club Mild Honey (Little Pocket)

Singles & EPs
Wake the President/Je Suis Animal
split single (Electric Honey/Lucky Number Nine 7")
Very Truly Yours/The Understudies
split ep (Cloudberry EP)
The Morning Paper/Moscow Olympics
split single (Lostmusic 7")
The Specific Heats
Back Through Tyme (Hugpatch EP)
Dum Dum Girls
s/t (Zoo Music EP)
BMX Bandits
Love (Elefant EP)
The Sea Lions
Let's Groove (YAY! EP)
The Loves
The Ex Gurlfriend (download EP)
The Felt Tips
Bough & Sold (WeePOP! EP)
The Just Joans
Love and Other Hideous Accidents (WeePOP! EP)
Electricity In Our Homes
Silver Medal In Gymnastics (4AD 7")
Ipso Facto
If... (Vinyl Junkie EP)
Dum Dum Girls
Yours Alone (Captured Tracks 12")
Everything's For Sale (Drill Building EP)
Mutating Meltdown
Fantasy (M'Lady's 7")
Comet Gain
Herbert Hunke (Germs of Youth 7")
The Voluntary Butler Scheme
Multiplayer (Split 7")
The Bumblebees
s/t (self-released ep)
Dum Dum Girls
Longhair (HoZac 7")
Colin Clary
Every Little Thing Counts (WeePOP! EP)
Brilliant Colors
s/t (Make a Mess 7")
Brilliant Colors
Highly Evolved (Captured Tracks 7")
The Mayfair Set
Already Warm (Captured Tracks 7")
Blank Dogs
Seconds (Captured Tracks 12")
The Pains of Being Pure At Heart
Young Adult Friction (Slumberland 7")
Crystal Stilts
Love Is a Wave (Slumberland 7")
The Bridal Shop In Fragments (Plastilina EP)
Woods Sunlit (Captured Tracks 7")
Little Girls Youth Tunes (Captured Tracks 7")
Kid Romance Fuck Punx (Captured Tracks 7")
Very Truly Yours
Reminders (self-released EP)
German Measles
Demos Sorry (Captured Tracks CS)
Little Girls
Youth Tunes (Captured Tracks 7")
Vivian Girls
Moped Girls (For Us 7")
The Artisans
s/t (Cloudberry EP)
Because Because Because (Slumberland EP)
Help Stamp Out Loneliness
Torvill and Dean (Papillons Noirs 7")
Help Stamp Out Loneliness
Pacific Trash Vortex (WIAIWYA 7")
Standard Fare/Slow Down Tallahassee
split-single (Thee SPC 7")
Boy Genius
Blame Love (Greenpop 7")
The Motifs
People Like Us (Cosy EP)
California Gold
s/t (self-released EP)
The Proctors
s/t (Cloudberry EP)
Socialist Leisure Party
Turktown Saints (Cloudberry 7")
Socialist Leisure Party
Tactical POP! for Coffee Cadets (Shelflife EP + 7")
The Depreciation Guild
Dream About Me (Kanine 7")
The Pains of Being Pure At Heart
Higher Than the Stars (Slumberland 12")
The Champagne Socialists
Blue Genes (Slumberland 7")
Eux Autres
You're Alight (Bons Mots 7")
Eux Autres
Strangled Days (WIAIWYA 10")
The Smittens/The Just Joans
split single (WeePOP! 7")
Tender Trap
Fireworks (Fortuna Pop)
Leave Me Be (Captured Tracks 7")
The Drums
Summertime! (Twenty Seven EP)
PENS/Crocodiles/Dum Dum Girls/Grafitti Island
split single (Art Fag 7")
The Cavalcade
Meet You In the Rain (self-released EP)
Brown Recluse
The Soft Skin (Slumberland 12")
The Pains of Being Pure At Heart
Come Saturday (Slumberland 7")
Sic Alps
L. Mansion (Slumberland 7")
God Help the Girl
Stills (Rough Trade 10")
Apple Orchard
Leafy Lanes (Haymarket EP)
Wildwood Lights
True Love Woes (self-released EP)
Real Estate
Fake Blues (Woodsist 7")
The Mayfair Set
Young One (Captured Tracks 12")
Grass Widow
s/t (Captured Tracks 12")
Super Snuggles (This Almighty Pop! EP)
Ty Segall/Black Time (Telephone Explosion split-12")
The Cave Weddings
Bring Your Love (HoZac 7")
The Sugarplums
s/t (self-released ep)
Strawberry Whiplash
Picture Perfect (Matinée EP)
The Magic Kids
Hey Boy (Goner 7")
Gregory Webster
Promised Land (WIAIWYA 7")
The Girls At Dawn
Never Enough (HoZac 7")
Woven Bones
With You Alone (HoZac 7")
Blood On the Sand (Captured Tracks 7")
Woven Bones
Janie (Needless 7")
German Measles
Wild (Captured Tracks 12")
Woven Bones
Your Sorcery (Sweet Rot 7")
Christmas Island
Nineteen (Captured Tracks 7")
The Cavalcade
For You (Edition 59 EP)
Warm Morning
Sleepy (Edition 59 EP)
Pale Man Made/Leaving Mornington Crescent (Cloudberry split-ep)
Leaving Mornington Crescent
Corners (Susy EP)
Woven Bones
The Minus Touch (Zoo Music 12")
Love Is Something I Know Nothing About (YAY! 7")
Sea Lions/Watercolor Paintings (YAY! split-12")
The Mantles
Bad Design (Slumberland/Dulc-i-Tone 7")
Stolen Hearts
Heart Collector (Douchemaster 7")
Real Estate
Suburban Beverage (Underwater Peoples 7")
The Blanche Hudson Weekend
The Letters to Daddy EP (Squirrel 7")
The Girls At Dawn
s/t (Captured Tracks 12")
Rabbit Kids (WIAIWYA 7")
Best Coast
When I'm With You (Black Iris digital single)
s/t (Captured Tracks 7")
The Garlands/The Sugarplums
split (Atomic Beat 7")
Electricity In Our Homes
We Agree Completely (Parlour 12")
Felt Letters
600,000 Bands (M'Lady's 7")
Fergus & Geronimo
Harder Than It's Ever Been (Woodsist 7")
Fergus & Geronimo
Blind Muslim Girl (Tic Tac Totally 7")
Fergus & Geronimo
Tell It, In My Ear (Transparent 7")
The Flips
s/t (Stankhouse 7")
The Metric Mile
Trade Fours (digital EP)