Thursday, 29 April 2010

The Peterborough All-Saints Wide Game Team (Group B)

Ian Evans from Horowitz was playing a gig in Leeds last weekend with Tada Tata, and he came across The Peterboroughs on the same bill. Turns out The Peterboroughs are half of the excellent Seven Inches, or something.

Naturally, like all young, happening pop bands, they have a myspace page, which only has one song on it at the moment; the slightly hypnotic nursery rhyme, 'Shine My Skull', which features a round, no less! And so my mind wanders back to terrible secondary school music lessons where an excitable teacher would try and make us sing a round, WITH HILARIOUS CONSEQUENCES.

Anyway, The Peterboroughs, or The Posh as all the cool kids are calling them, have agreed to play our all-dayer in September, so you'll be able to come along and see them then, won't you?

Before you go and have your tea, MJ Hibbett and his Validators have joined the bandcamp revolution and have made their ace album 'Regardez, Ecoutez et Repetez' available for download. And look! Here's the informercial.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

In session

For those of you that missed it last night, you can now hear the Allo Darlin' (yes, them again) session and interview with Steve Lamacq again here. But I reckon you have to be in the UK to do that. Probably. Bloody BBC racists.

Anyway, the interview tells you all need to know about the upcoming work of genius that is the Allo Darlin' album, where they'll be playing next, and what Sean Price from Fortuna Pop!'s bedroom looks like.

I hope that hasn't put you off your breakfast. Or made you ravenous. Either way, keep calm.

Lamacq also plays storming session versions of 'Dreaming' and 'Polaroids' - both of which are, of course, highly recommended.

Saturday, 24 April 2010


Slowcoaches are Heather (vocals, bass), Callum (guitar) and Matty on drums. They're from Leeds and are playing their first ever gig the Brudenell Social Club in the city this Monday.

Excuse me whilst I go over the top a bit, but I've heard two songs by this lot now and they make me feel like going out and seeing a live band RIGHT NOW. And it's only half ten in the morning. They sound like a cross between Ride, the poppier moments of MBV and Jesus and Mary Chain, and newer stuff like Vivian Girls, and perhaps Neverever.

You can download Fuzzy Felt here. It sounds like the snotty little cousin of Pixies' 'Gigantic', and I'm a bit in love with it.

Friday, 23 April 2010

The Primitives crash Indietracks

I still remember buying The Primitives' 'Crash' in Woolies in Grimsby, thinking I was dead hip and cool walking up to the counter with it held out in front of me. However, I didn't think that over 20 years later I'd have the chance to see them at a railway station in the middle of Derbyshire.

But it has come to pass. The Primitives, post reformation, have signed up to play Indietracks in July. I've not been to any of their recent shows, relying instead of memories of them in their prime rather than trying to get all revivalist on myself and pretending it's just as exciting second time around, honest. But there have been good reviews of the shows, and if Indietracks is to have cryogenically frozen indiepop band each year, then I can think of a lot worse ones than The Primitives.

I wonder if Morrissey will turn up...

Meanwhile, there are just two weeks left to pick up Indietracks tickets at early bird discount prices. Weekend tickets are currently available at an early bird discount price of £55, and day tickets are available for £30. These prices are available until Friday 7 May.
Hurry up, youths. Buy your tickets here.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Election special

Dave Proctor, once of grindpop specialists, The Farming Incident, is standing in the UK general election as an independent green socialist type in Leeds Central, which is Hilary Benn's seat.

Here's why you should vote for Dave:

1. He's a socialist, and we all love socialism, right?

2. He's got a lovely accent.

You can also find out more reasons why you should vote for him, here.

I've done a quick interview with Dave to try and find out why he wants to be embroiled in bourgeois elections. It's probably an expenses fix, or something...

Why did you decide to stand?

Because there's no-one standing in my constituency who I'd want to vote for. No left-wing parties, no greens. Who do I vote for? Myself!

And why did you not either join a left group or The Green Party?

Too late in definitely deciding to stand - you have to be a member for a year in the Greens (and I assume the same for other parties too) before they let you stand. And rightly so.

You're up against Hilary Benn. You're clearly not a fan of his, but where you a fan of his Dad?

I like Hilary Benn the person, but the policies he votes for (and he has to as a cabinet minister if he wants to keep his job) are draconian and right-wing. His dad suggested to me in an email he sent me on Monday night that I should join Labour and fight for my policies inside the party where I would have decent support. It saddened me to have to write back to someone who has influenced my political thinking so much and my own background in the mining communities between Stoke and Crewe and explain all the reasons why I could never join the party.

What's the most frustrating aspect of the UK left, in your opinion?

That it's too splintered into factions still. How the electoral system stands at the moment, all left independents of whatever persuasion are fighting amongst themselves at times. Generally when 90% of the ideas are the same.

And do you see any positives for the left in the future?

Absolutely. A hung parliament will change things and allow left leaning and green parties to have more weight in the political debate - if the LibDems use PR as the lever if we have a hung parliament, then the left will become stronger - I think quite a few Labour MPs will defect as more leftish ideas become seen as the norm again.

How is the campaign going so far?

Slowly and stressfully. As an independent, you have a lot of paperwork and blogging and publicity to deal with. But it's fun. I'll be worn out by 6am on the 7th of May, but happy that I've put myself forward.

And what would you class as a decent result?

A decent result? For the country, a hung parliament. For me personally, getting my deposit back, but more importantly, giving left and green people a choice in Leeds Central. Other than me there's the main 3 parties, BNP and a Leeds Utd footy fan independent.

What's the main message you're trying to get across with your campaign?

Ignore all candidates who promise cuts in public services. There are plenty of other things we can do before that has to happen.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Waving, not drowning

Eardrums Pop, the label associated with the ace Eardums Music, has today released its 'Between Two Waves' album - a completely free compilation of 40 songs on 3 digital volumes.

Stefan from Eardrums Pop said: "The idea behind our fourth compilation is co-operation & collaboration. Bands and artists were invited to find someone to work with and make a new song together in a new project for the compilation.

"The only guidelines we set were that the songs have to be "warm and melodic" and to try to use a new name for the project. So if you look behind the groups you will recognize some familiar artists that you have heard before."

The other day I posted the ace Baffin Island track, a... erm... supergroup consisting of The Hermit Crabs and The Very Most, but you can download or stream the whole shebang from today from here. From what I've heard so far this uncommonly cold April morning, you're in for a treat.

Before I nip downstairs to throw Weetabix in the general direction of my seven month old's face, over the last couple of days we've managed to confirm both Milky Wimpshake and Allo Darlin' for our annual indiepop all-dayer in Nottingham. This year's show takes place a little earlier than usual on 25 September. Rudimentary details are over there on the right...

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Do the pansy twist

If, like me, your twenties were kick-started by a band called Huggy Bear who swept through your town and played a gig so full of excitement, violence, vicious pop thrills and left you with a heightened sense of politcal consciousness, then you're going to want to download this.

Please, please do not delay.

Monday, 19 April 2010

The School - Loveless Unbeliever (Elefant)

There used to be a school (ha!) of thought that a band shouldn't put singles on an album. But what if those singles were so good that you had to include them? Or what if you wanted an album to be a wonderful forty-minute snapshot of the last couple of years of a band you cherish? You'd want all those singles on there, wouldn't you?

And so I'm glad The School have managed to fit their singles onto 'Loveless Unbeliever', an album to lush, playful, perky and pink that it makes even the funless Monday morning a better place.

All the hits are here, from the aftermentioned greatest misses to tracks you've heard in sweaty, shitty, small rooms at venues around the country, like 'Valentine', which makes you think Sandie Shaw might fit in nicely as a backing singer for The School.

Then there's 'Hoping and Praying' - the sort of bubblegum pop that The School have made their own over the last few years, and 'Summer's Here' which makes you want to scrape off your socks and lay on the grass and look at the sky.

Liz looks coyly from the cover of the lushly packaged album. It's her band alright, and it's something of a minor miracle that this album has seen the light of day what with seemingly endless personnel changes over the band's lifetime. Indeed, last year's indiepop all-dayer in Nottingham, which The School headlined, was the first time that particular incarnation of the band had played on the same stage together.

Hits, then. Thousands of them, and from Cardiff with love. Well, 13 on 'Loveless Unbeliever' at least...

PS. I'm hoping everyone saw the deliberate mistake at the top of the post earlier today? You didn't? Right. Please move on...

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Tender Trap - Girls With Guns (Fortuna Pop!)

Remember that Two Ronnies sketch where the seemingly serene all-female inhabitants on a sleepy village turned out to be evil, leather-clad KILLERS? You probably haven't got a clue what I'm going on about, but it seems Tender Trap have written the theme tune to those sketches 25 years after they were first shown on telly.

'Girls on Guns' is a sassy rockabilly number, with a surprise Duane Eddy guitar half way through that makes me, as A Man, feel a bit uneasy in his seat. Militant feminism, however, has never sounded so joyous, so I'd urge you to strap your gun to you back, burn your bra and buy this record immediately.

And if this is a signal of what's going to be on the upcoming album, then I'm going to start wearing a dress. Make for the hills, brothers.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

When Crayola met The Cannanes

The Cannanes are over in the UK for the first time in a decade in July, and I feel a bit humbled to be able to put such a legendary band on. Should The Smiths ever feel like reforming and fancy a show in a tiny Nottingham venue, they know where to find me.

Anyway, the gig came about by Crayola from Sarandon asking around for shows for his band and The Cannanes to play. Turns out he's playing bass for them, see. So I thought I'd ask him a few questions about what makes The Cannanes one of his favourite bands ever.

When and where did you first hear The Cannanes?

It was mid '80s. Gillian at Bi-Joopiter introduced me to them by sending me the K released cassette, "Happy Swing".

She thought I'd like them and that I'd find similarities in attitude with what I was doing at the time - you know, very DIY, cassette releases, no more "ambition" than supporting bands and meeting people.

Soon after I was staying at the Bi-Joop house and in Rough Trade I found the "Weather" and "Cardboard" singles and the "African Man's Tomato" LP.

And why did you fall in love with them?

It was initially the same thing that made me love The June Brides - incredibly catchy pop music made by people like me. Normal people with only an amateur grasp of their instruments.

Sarandon and The Cannanes sound very different. What's the common thread that connects your band with them?

I think you know me well enough by now to know it's not about sounds to me, it's about attitude, intention, and whether or not the song's a good one.

What connects Sarandon and The Cannanes is firstly that we've known each other for about 20 years (we've corresponded on and off since the '80s, and they provided a song for a compilation I released in the mid '90s).

And that they like Sarandon.

We share a common interest in the politics of music and especially in how the DIY attitude can empower (un)musicians.

How did this little tour come about?

Frances asked if I could help. She was coming to the UK for work and wanted to make more of a trip of it.

How could I say no?

Are you really playing bass for the band? Won't your fingers be sore by the end of the night?

I'll be playing with them for a few songs and our Tom will drum. It'll be an honour and a pleasure and I'd be happy to lose fingers to do it.

Do you think The Cannanes are revered as much as they should be?

That's tricky. Honestly I think they would think the same as me - having a bunch of people hear your music and some of those people enjoy it is as far as ambition goes.
It's not and has never been about really building a following or a profile or whatever.

And it's for that reason I treasure The Cannanes. And I think that's why people find them so disarming - they've found fame by accident and always come across like that.

Give me your top three Cannanes songs.

1. I Think The Weather's Affected Your Brain
2. We Drink Bitter
3. Simple Question (the Short Poppy Syndrome version)

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

More? You want more?

Yesterday afternoon, a missve landed in the Chips inbox from the all-powerful Indietracks press team. And, lo, it did say that Love is All and The Pooh Sticks are confirmed as headliners for the Ripley festival. Amen.

The Pooh Sticks have reformed 'specially for Indietracks, which is nice. Forming in the late 80s, the Swansea band started out by using ramshackle pop charm to lighten up the indie scene, it says here. Their debut single 'On Tape' gently mocked obsessive indie fans and was followed by a box set of one-sided 7" singles featuring the track 'I Know Someone Who Knows Someone Who Knows Alan McGee Quite Well'. In the '90s, the band released a series of well-received albums with a more expansive power pop direction, according to the vast Indietracks machine.


Monday, 12 April 2010

"Have you got any Cure?"

When I was little, weddings were something to endured, rather than enjoyed; a seemingly endless day that would end with me slumped in a corner, painfully shy, and trying to not to catch my Grandad’s eye, in case he came over and insisted on talking to me. And heaven forbid if a long-lost cousin tried to talk to you. I’d have rather my head exploded than a 13 year old girl talk to me.

These days, things are different, of course. These days, I ruddy love weddings. They’re day-long celebrations that involve everyone being in a fantastic mood, the chance to laugh like a teenage drain about embarrassing middle names, and as much booze as you can lay your hands on. Oh, and a stunningly average meal, that no-one really wants, but feels as though they must say was “lovely” because, well, y’know, it was free and it probably cost loads of money.

But perhaps the biggest minefield of all when it comes to weddings is the music. It’s none of your bloody business, thank you very much, what the happy couple choose as the music for when they’re walking back down the aisle. And the first dance – usually a cringe-fest for nearly everyone involved – masquerades as a deeply personal choice (when, in reality, the bride and groom would rather be slumped at the back of the room eating pork pie and drinking a pint than have to go through such ritual humiliation.)

No, it really couldn’t be harder to try and please all the people all the time. What do you do for the disco? Do you get a friend to play obscure shoegaze tracks from 1991? do you go straight for the Abba jugular? Or do you get a band that would rather just get pissed with everyone else than sing Queen covers to a couple of pissed up fortysomethings frugging at the front.

I ask all these questions, because I’m still none the wiser. A combination of relief at getting my best man’s speech out of the way, and way too much free wine, saw me – and seemingly everyone else in the room - hopelessly tip-toeing around the dancefloor to Tiffany’s ‘I Think We’re Alone Now’ on Saturday night. At a way too early hour than is acceptable. And I had my Serious Dancing Face on throughout.

'I Think We're Alone Now' was a staple of the horrible secondary school discos me and my mates used to go to every month, in the hope that we could practice our uncomfortable fumbling technique on some poor, unsuspecting girl from the year below. Of course that never happened.

Here are my top five school disco songs from that time:

The Cult - Rain: we thought we were dead out there and with it dancing to this.
The Cure - Close to Me: Even the girls in puffball skirts knew this one.
Cutting Crew - (I Just Died) In Your Arms Tonight: resolutely sat through nursing a weak orange juice hoping not to catch someone's eye.
Nick Berry - Every Loser Wins: erection section favourite.
The Housemartins - Happy Hour: cue us all pretending to be able to do that wobbly-legged Paul Heaton dance.

School discos were shit. But they were better than weddings. And now the two merge perfectly and are, somehow funfilled mini-Indietracks*. How did that happen?

You can’t please all the people all the time, then. Unless you play the eponymous debut album from a red-haired teenager from the late 80s. It’s where we’ve all been going wrong all these years.

*Speaking of which, there are more announcements tomorrow morning at 9am.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Obligatory Sarah Records post

There's some people making a documentary about Sarah Records. Below is a teaser video, but the people involved in making it are still looking for your memories, photos, and general Sarah ephemera. If you think you can help preserve the indiepop soul, then email them and unload your heart.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Baffin Island

I never quite know whether the Hermit Crabs are still going or not, but having been charmed by a couple of secretly ace eps and an admirable stab at a forgotten classic-style album, it seems they are.

Or they are in the form of a collaboration (maaaannn) with The Very Most. This new lash-up is called Baffin Island (named after the exact midpoint between The Hermit Crabs' home in Glasgowand The Very Most's home in Boise, Idaho.) Cute.

Anyway, Baffin Island have recorded a song for Eardrums Pop's 'Between Two Waves', called 'You Make Two Weeks Two Days'. Aww.

Sure, it might be a dead ringer for a Camera Obscura song from a couple of years ago, but there's not much wrong with that.

You can listen or download 'YMTWTD' here.

And if anyone has any news on the whereabouts and movements of The Hermit Crabs and any new stuff under their own steam, then I'd be delighted to the point of tears to find out.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

The tasks of the youth leagues

Whilst you work out which bollock you want chopping off on 6 May...

I’ve never had the patience to play any of the myriad of fantasy football games there are these days, but the thought of TOTAL POWER which comes with picking and choosing players puts me in a glee sweat. Which is probably why sometimes actually picking bands, asking them if they’d be good enough to play, and booking the venue, is often better, for me, than the actual night of the gig.

However, I think the next gig I’m putting on is the very pinnacle of this. And this is because I simply couldn’t wait until Indietracks to see them all play again.

"We of the older generation may not live to see the decisive battles of this coming revolution." - VI Lenin

It’s ages away yet, but 19 June will see blog regulars Allo Darlin, Standard Fare, Pocketbooks and Mascot Fight play at The Chameleon in Nottingham. And in a strange twist of fate, Sean and Tom from Mascot Fight will be in the unusual position of being the most macho singers on a bill. To have these four bands in the same room on the same night is something of a personal miracle, and makes just about everything worthwhile.

(Rumours of me stalking these four bands are wholly untrue.)

Also coming up in July are The Cannanes, who are playing with Sarandon and Alberto Veto and – hopefully – Horowitz. Horowitz only get back from the US two days earlier, so they might be a bit tired and emotional.

Such was the love and positivity that came out of last year’s Nottingham all-dayer, that we’ve decided to do it all again – only a couple of months earlier. Bunkers Hill in Nottingham is booked for 25 September (that’s my Mum’s birthday, my Mum fans), and already confirmed are Horowitz, Red Shoe Diaries, The Sunny Street and The Pete Green Corporate Juggernaut. We’re hoping to add some exotic overseas visitors soon, too.

And so to work…

Saturday, 3 April 2010

"I need to get out of the town"

An email from someone called Julie Ives (a name which, to me, sounds like a Grange Hill character from the early 80s), telling me about her band The Sunbathers, who are from Wellingborough (a name that makes my heart freeze after a desperate three months living on Wellingborough Road in N*rthampton some years ago) and Leicester.

And where have these people been all my life?

Julie says: "We got together in 2007 when our guitarist Paul got in touch with me to say he'd been working on some new songs and was looking for a vocalist/lyricist. We'd last worked together in the early 90s in a band call the Artisans (a ‘complete career retrospective’ of 6 songs(!) has just been released on Cloudberry, but in spite of a considerable hiatus, we slotted back into writing again fairly quickly and now have a solid body of around 20songs about life, love and standing around on beaches looking longingly out to sea (hence the name!)"

To a salty mariner like myself, Midlanders' obsession with the seaside is somewhar flummoxing, but songs about the seaside are invariably ace, and so it goes with The Sunbathers' music, which manages to capture both the wistfulness and tacky romance of coastal resorts perfectly. So much so, in fact, that we're off to Skegness tomorrow for a day trip simply because I've been listening to the band's myspace page all week.

Musically, it reminds of those other seaside obsessives, Pinkie and Lovejoy - which means you're not exactly going to dance until your hair drops off, but for sensitive souls who like reading books in sand dunes, well, you might just have a new favourite band.

The Sunbathers are supporting Rose Elinor Dougall on Thursday 29 April 2010 at the Firebug in Leicester, on a Twesta Promotions night.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Perfect pop

There are people I know who are weeping into their falafel about not being able to go to the Slumberland birthday shows last weekend. And who can blame them when they could've seen something as pure and pop as Neverever (formerly Champagne Socialists).

Neverever sound so magically vital and exciting in this performance of 'Blue Genes', that it's almost like you're stood at the back of the room, watching them.

When I am running the world this is what all pop stars will look and sound like.