The last song on the album is by Young Romance whose name I have seen around for a while but not really heard much by them. Their song - Twenty Five - is absolutely amazing! Great vocals, lyrics, guitars - everything. What a tune!
Tuesday, 12 November 2013
As I have said many times before, the greatest thing about indiepop is that you can make things happen which are really exciting and hopefully inspiring to others. All you need is a good imagination and some great ideas. I have always admired the writing of Dennis who runs the All That Ever Mattered blog and was intrigued to see that he has taken the plunge and created a new record label - Candy Twist Records. Well, what a debut! Order it now!! The record - Nobody's Business - is great from start to finish, apart from a few very minor quibbles which I will come onto. The first release is an album featuring 12 international groups with all the DIY ethics I love. The album kicks off with the candy pop rush of The Fireworks who can do no wrong at the moment. I just hope they keep this wonderful energy and noise going and don't go all mature and dull. The Fireworks are probably the most vital band we have at the moment who capture the Subway Records spirit. It has never been about Sarah Records for me. It will always be Creation and Subway. As long as The Fireworks keep 'Sign On The Line' by The Fizzbombs as their template then they will be alright. That is probably the greatest pop song ever recorded and sounds as good today as it did years ago. Cave Ghosts are from Dublin and lead singer Jen Connell has a beautiful voice but, what could be a wonderful song, is ruined for me by the ukulele. Ditch the ukulele and world domination could be yours. The Hobbes Fanclub flew out of the traps a couple of years ago with two of my all time favourite songs (Outside Myself & And Just Like That) and I just hope they are not running out of momentum. The thing I loved about them was the energy and exuberance. That is missing on 'Baby it's you' which should be twice as fast and three times more noisy. It is okay but The Smiths influence doesn't suit you guys. Liechtenstein have never really grabbed me and here they don't hold my attention. I've never understood what all the fuss is about. Next to one of the real highlights of the album - Martha. Just simply a fantastic pop song, these guys should be massive and hopefully will be. As some may know by now I am not great at describing music but suffice to say The Felt Tips, lost Tapes, Making Marks, Horowitz, Colour Me Wednesday and Heathers all contribute songs of pure pop perfection. Well done everyone.
Saturday, 19 October 2013
It doesn't happen often these days, but very occasionally a song will come along that absolutely knocks your socks off. I can tell usually within the first twenty seconds of hearing a tune whether I like it or not. Then, while I am listening I am hoping that the song is going to be brilliant for all 2 mins 49 seconds. I needn't have worried, Runaround is AMAZING! from start to finish. Runaround by The Fireworks is easily the best song I have heard since Outside Myself by The Hobbes Fanclub and maybe, the most exciting song since Wannabe by The Spice Girls. This is high praise indeed, given that I think Wannabe is probaby the greatest POP! moment in the last thirty years. I first saw The Fireworks a couple of years ago at the Going Up The Country event in Congleton and thought they were good but they had trouble getting to the venue on time, and I think this affected the intensity of the performance. I saw them again at Indie Pop Days in Berlin last summer and thought they were great and also at last year's Nottingham All-dayer. The improvement each time I saw them has been immense and this has continued since. I must get to see them again this year before they are selling out arenas. What I like about The Fireworks is that they can walk it like they talk it. Lots of bands say that they love punk and Motown and the under produced C86 bands and that they are massive influence. Then, when you hear their songs they are the most boring, over produced pile of tosh you could have the misfortune to hear. The Firworks are EXCITING! and you can hear it in the songs. We all have to compromise in our everyday lives and having a creative outlet is the one opportunity to be brave and adventurous. Why be boring? The Fireworks may end up breaking our hearts, they may be like the girl you knew you shouldn't fall in love with but do so anyway. For now, they make beautiful noisy pop music. I hope they never grow up. Runaround by The Fireworks is out on November 26 on Shelflife Records.
Monday, 14 October 2013
I may sometimes lament the fact that the art of songwriting is diminishing fast, but maybe I have been looking in the wrong places. There are so many talented singer - songwriters all over the world but the one I want to discuss today is from down the road in Northampton. Luke Roberts goes by the name of Hey, Sleeper and produces the kind of hazy, dreamy acoustic vibe I love to wallow in. Writing slow, melancholy songs is incredibly difficult to pull off successfully but Hey, Sleeper carry out the task with aplomb. The new Hey, Sleeper EP is available to download from Bandcamp. Here's a brief explanation from Luke: Taking influence from artists such as Elliott Smith, William Fitzsimmons, Iron and Wine, and Bright Eyes, Hey, Sleeper songs centre on simple chords, with a focus on thoughtful, rarely-rhyming lyrics and memorable vocal melodies. Sometimes a solo affair, and sometimes surrounded by other musicians, Hey, Sleeper shows have been played across England in the last three years. Early demos also attracted the attention of 'Pickup' magazine, naming Hey, Sleeper as the best acoustic artist in their annual Unsigned Awards. With a growing following, hundreds downloaded the online release of the 2012 EP 'We Fell Asleep in Winter, and Woke Up in June'. Thanks to radio airplay on BBC Introducing and several features in international music blogs, the songs are gaining attention both in the UK and across the pond.
Sunday, 13 October 2013
You can always trust Dufflecoat Records to restore your faith in indiepop. Tomorrow (14 October) sees the release of the debut ep by The Salient Braves called Somewhere Sordid. Not that many records come along of this quality and have found myself playing the songs on repeat since I first heard them. The band hail from Barnsley, England and have a dark Northern humour in their songs that remind me of The Wedding Present without Gedge's vocal mannerisms (which I find irritating) but with all of the songwriting quality. I have said before that I am terrible at trying to review songs but one of the highest compliments I can pay to this fantastic EP is that it makes me happy. It also makes me feel like wanting to go and see them live so that I can drink a pint of bitter and jump up and down whilst hugging my best mate. It is so good to hear a band actually put some thought into their lyrics and make the songs relevant to every day life. This is hardly an original concept, I know, but so few groups around write intelligent lyrics that you cherish the ones that do. You will be hearing a lot more about Matt Bailey - what a great writer! Get those orders into Dufflecoat RecordsThe Salient Braves - Somewhere Sordid I'm not sure if it is just me being totally out of touch these days but a couple more bands have caught my attention in recent days. You can never have enough groups that sound like Brighter which is why I adore The Silent Love so much. Just listen to their new song 'Answer' and fall in love. The other great band I have heard are Night Flowers. These might be familiar to most of you but I am really impressed with their songs. I don't hear that much these days that excites me but in the last few weeks I have discovered some great tunes. One of my recent posts about the current indiepop scene was considered negative by some, but it was written after a particularly depressing encounter with the lead singer of a reformed C86 band. This person had written one of my favourite songs and on meeting him was disappointed to say the least. I suppose I shouldn't have such high expectations.
Wednesday, 28 August 2013
here plus other bits and pieces dotted around the web. Considering they didn't release many songs and weren't around for very long they gained quite a bit of attention around 1990 / 91 time. I saw them play in February 1991 at Birmingham University as they were headlining and The Cudgels were supporting with Strawberry Story opening the show. It was a great night and because we had played in Leicester the night before was probably the closest we ever came to a mini tour, albeit of the Midlands. "Madly In Love With 25 People" and "I Am So Cool" come from the legendary Mind The Gap tape and the essential "My Ex-lover's Address" is from the famous Waaaah! CD. They have a Facebook page as well but with little detail on the band. Give them a "like". I seem to remember getting very excited when the Waaaah! CD got a really good review in Melody Maker. This was a major music weekly and quite a big deal at the time. The Bedflowers - Madly In Love With 25 People The Bedflowers - I Am So Cool The Bedflowers - My Ex-Lover's Address
Thursday, 11 July 2013
The Royal Landscaping Society are without a doubt the best band around in 2013. Groups talk a lot about being independent and pleasing themselves but as we all know they do nothing of the sort. They write to order pleasing the record company and target audience first and quite often release music they neither like or are proud of. All for what - to sell 300 singles? A pointless waste of time for everybody concerned. If they are frightened of following their own instincts and slavishly pleasing the target audience at such a micro level what would they be like if they actually started attracting interest away from the two hundred people worldwide that actually care! A worrying prospect! Every now and then a group comes along who are truly making music for the love and passion they feel for their music and doing it for all of the right reasons. The Royal Landscaping Society are one of those groups. They are the most important and vital group we have at the moment. Back in around February, I was so impressed with the sound and attitude of the band that I sent some interview questions to Cris, the main songwriter. He was thrilled with my interest and with the interview request. A few weeks went by before receiving an email from Cris apologising about the fact that the band couldn't agree on the answers to any of the questions and that the interview couldn't be completed. Given that one of the questions asked what their names were and what instruments they play made me love the band even more. A true punk rock spirit!!! Most bands would be falling over thenselves to self promote and mention how songwriting is oh so difficult and you couldn't possibly understand how sensitive I am. There has been talk in some circles about the amount of C86 era bands reforming and a lack of new, young groups coming through. I'm never particularly excited about the old groups reforming as POP! has never been about pot bellies and bald patches. Again, it is ego driven and lots of people can't resist the allure of commanding an audience of 30 disinterested people on a wet Wednesday evening. If it is done for the right reasons then hey! why not, but if you talk to any of the people in the newly reformed bands they have absolutely no interest whatsoever in indiepop and more interest in their egos being massaged and who will buy them a drink. Along with this they usually turn out to be the most uninteresting people you could have the misfortune to meet. The interesting characters are always in the audience never the bands. In most cases the enablers are far more knowledgable and good to talk to than the artists. The lack of new groups coming through is easy to answer - why would they? Twenty or thirty years ago there was nothing else to do but to form a band if you had even the slightest interest in music. You might even be able to get a girlfriend. These days there are so many other things available to young people that sacrificing a lot of time, money and energy on a futile attempt at making it is bottom of the list of priorities. Most bands are paid less (if at all) for small gigs these days than they were years ago so it becomes an expensive hobby. Why not go to the football instead. Once Top of the Pops finished music ceased to be of any importance in the mainstream. Whoever you ask that was always the dream show to appear on, with that gone where is the incentive? I have never been a massive collector of records. I have a box of 7" singles that I absolutely love but after that I'm not particularly bothered. I like mp3s for the convenience. Some people want to keep vinyl alive. Why? I don't care what format the music comes in as long as it is good and I can hear it. Vinyl gives a certain amount of power to companies that want to have a carrot to control naive bands that think vinyl is important to please their fanbase. These days it is possible to bypass the record companies and groups to do everything themselves. Why would they want to give up their creative control to somebody else to have a final say on releases. I do sometimes like the idea of putting on some gigs for bands I like as I still see this as a very vital way of contributing. I am not negative about the scene or the people involved. What I hate is the hypocrisy and the dishonesty. Putting on gigs is a pure way of showing passion and commitment to the music and I applaud everybody that takes the time and effort to organise events. Anyway, in the absence of an interview here are two videos that prove The Royal Landscaping Society are the best pop band in the world at the moment. Enjoy!!
Tuesday, 21 May 2013
Roque has written an interesting piece on where all the indiepop bloggers have gone and it is something I have been thinking about recently as well. Roque says that it is maybe because indiepop isn't hip anymore but I don't think indiepop has ever been hip. England is sometimes viewed romantically as the true home of indiepop but gigs are still quite sparsely attended and always have been. In fact, there are more free shows now than there ever were 20 odd years ago and still nobody seems that interested. Facebook is probably to blame because word can spread about a band or song very quickly without someone going to the trouble of writing a blog post. It is also probably to do with bloggers running out of things to say and the lack of interesting and exciting bands around. You are only moved to write when you are inspired and I haven't heard anything new to make me rush to my keyboard for months. Indiepop is a very conservative medium, hence the endless discussions about what constitutes indiepop and what falls outside the narrow parameters set by the taste-makers. Over a year ago now someone said (you know who you are) "Conservatism is rewarded and dissent is shunned" and nothing has changed. Where have all the bloggers gone? Who is going to speak up? Maybe everybody just got bored and moved on.