Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Evans the Death

Before you all rush off and mope about how all your favourite band are going to clash boo-bloody-hoo at this year's Indietracks, a short interlude.

Evans the Death might have a name that reminds of you of late 80s grindcore, but they make the sweetest sound. They do this by using the pure, clean voice of Katherine Whitaker and add some kind of ramshackle pop genius in the background.

They remind me a little of when I first heard Standard Fare, especially on the rattle and rush of 'Sleeping Song' and 'I'm So Unclean', which combines a manic jangle thrash with some more of Whitaker's half primal, half choral voice. It's a thrilling cocktail, and no mistake.

Evans the Death are playing a rather wondrous Baby Honey night a week on Friday, that you'd be a real idiot to miss. It's with Liechtenstein, The Lovely Eggs and Hotpants Romance, and if I wasn't a weighed down wage slave then I'd be down there like a flash. In the meantime, check out the band's myspace page, which features the also-ace 'Catch Your Cold' and 'Morning Voice'. The sooner this lot play outside of London the better, if you ask me.

Monday, 28 June 2010

The Swansea Recreation Centre

A queer weekend leads into a mind-crushing Monday, and as I flick on to the BBC website there's Harry fucking Redknapp, with the mind of a backward pigeon and the face that's a cross between a one arm bandit in full flow and an overcooked apple pie, telling us that there should be SOMEONE ENGLISH managing the ENGLISH football team. Yeah, that's right, you self-obsessed prick, 'cos the last three English managers of the national team have been such roaring successes. Why not come out with nothing on but a St George Cross draped over your (no doubt) tiny penis and just say you want the job, eh?

And relax.

Ah, look up there to the blue sky, listen to the Swansea Recreation Centre and just forget for a moment that it's Monday afternoon. The band have just released a new ep called 'Do Your Thing' which is about "sex and swimming" apparently. They ought to be careful they don't get a nasty infection with all that malarkey.

If there has ever been a song more suited to its title that 'Aquatic Finesse' then I'm yet to hear it. This beautiful Cocteaus/Galaxie 500 epic is a babbling stream of consciousness that builds and builds into an almost desperate finale as everyone in the band chips in with their all.

Meanwhile, 'Your Flesh' (I think this must be on the one about sex) is a more simple affair, but no less effective. A simple male and female vocal doing gentle battle over an ever-increasing tempo... ooh, it's all a bit saucy to be honest.

You can download these two songs here, and find out more about the Swansea Recreation Centre here. You can hear a few more songs there which remind me a bit of The Real Tuesday Weld. It seems they have a couple of dates coming up in London, so you have absolutely no excuse.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Tender Trap - Dansette Dansette (Fortuna Pop!)

It's almost as if Amelia Fletcher is keeping Tender Trap alive and fighting to hand down the baton of First Pop Queen to Elizabeth Morris, because this latest album from the veteran of the indiepop "scene" drips with the same pop nous as we saw on the recent Allo Darlin' record.

Whereas past Tender Trap albums have had the odd track that could maybe described as loosely experimental, every track on 'Dansette Dansette' rips straight through your beating pop heart.

The three singles from the album, 'Fireworks', 'Do You Want a Boyfriend?' and 'Girls With Guns' set the bar high with fizzing guitars, 'Be My Baby' drums and swirling harmones that threaten to set you adrift.

But that trio is easily backed up by the almost rock-y '2 to the N', which sounds not unlike early Kenickie, and features the heaviest guitar part seen on an indiepop song for quite some time.

That's not to say there aren't tender (ho, ho) moments, too. Some might remember the stunning live version of 'Grand National' Tender Trap played at Indietracks last year. Well, it's pleasing to report that it loses none of its poignancy in the studio.

Similarly, 'Counting the Hours' just might be the saddest song you'll hear this year, whilst 'Suddenly' is perhaps the finest track on the album, but also the most understated. Sometimes less is more.

At a time when there's seemingly a new favourite band to love every week, there's something so precious about Tender Trap. The fact they're still releasing pop classics like 'Dansette Dansette' is enough to make this heart melt. Yours will be next.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Twig - Hourglass (Fraction Discs)

On first listen this new Twig single sounds like one of the run-of-the-mill tracks on the later (well, anything past the first one and half) Leamington Spa collections. All late-80s guitars, and oh-so-affected vocals. Y'know - those bands who were trying to be Bradford trying to be Easterhouse trying to be The Smiths.

But to label them as late-80s also-rans would be unfair, because after a while this moody little number worms its way into your everyday life just when you're least expecting it. Just last night I was changing my son's nappy, when those deep Scandinavian vocals sprang to mind. That's a compliment, by the way. I don't mean a messy nappy reminds of Twig's music.

Meanwhile, the b-side 'Scattered Dreams' features some laid back sax, but not in the style of Kenny G. More early Bobby G, if anything, what with those chiming guitars, and you can see where Cats on Fire got some of their shapes from.

That this single is somewhat over-stylised shouldn't detract from the fact that there's some dreamy pop magic at work here. You can order the new Twig single from the ever-reliable Fraction Discs website.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Pop spectacular in Nottingham this evening

I'm just summoning up the energy to tell you about the majesty of the new Tender Trap album, but before I do that, can I remind you about this gig wot I am putting on in Nottingham tonight. I struck lucky with the bands and I think it might be the best bill of a gig I've ever organised. So, if you're in the area (woot, woot, etc), then please pop along and say hello. There are people coming from as far away as SHEFFIELD to be in the same room as these bands. Now that's commitment...

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Say "Yes!" to international pop

Just when you think Sourpatch have hit a new high, they come and floor you again. Take a listen to 'Deli Dream' on the band's myspace page and tell me it isn't the best song you've heard since the best song in the world you heard.

There's a new single out on Happy Happy Birthday to Me soon called 'Mira Mija', the tracks from which are also up there with some of the best I've heard all year. There's plenty of garage-y sounding bands out there at the moment, but, for me, none of them do it with as much pop soul as Sourpatch. They don't sound like them at all, but listening to these songs reminds me of when I first heard Comet Gain.

Christ, France are really, really shit tonight.

As I get older and perhaps more cynical, it's not very often I hear something and my insides (and sometimes my outsides) scream "YES!" At the moment, Sourpatch do that to me all the time.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single dancestep

I'm only half an hour away from the Indietracks site, but sometimes I wish it was more. Whilst I quite like going home at the end of each day and kipping in my own bed and changing my undercracks without fear of flashing a poor, unsuspecting passer-by, there's something of the adventure lost. You can easily lose yourself at Butterley - switch your mobile off and dislocate every day life whilst you get drunk and dance on a train platform to some wonderful pop music.

And then there's the actual getting there. It takes me thirty minutes to get there, but often I wish it took longer. There's no fourteen-change train journey to take, no lugging heavy rucksacks onto sweaty, overcrowed buses, no getting hopelessly lost down a remote country lane. Actually, that last one did happen in 2008, but that's a long story involving the pestering of a worryingly Tony Martin-alike deep in the Amber Valley.

I'd love, for example, to make a CD or two to play in the car on the way to Indietracks, but we can just about get through five or six songs before we're there. That's an EP. I want a double box set experience, and then some.

Still, I'm moaning about something that doesn't warrant moaning about, because I'm dead lucky to live next door to The Best Pop Festival in the World. And all this brings me round to mentioning the now obligatory, official Indietracks compilation album, which is being released again by Make Do And Mend. It's due out on 28 June, but MDAM are taking pre-orders from a week earlier than that.

As ever, there are some classics from the last 12 months there, but there's also some stuff that you'll have never heard and will almost definitely fall in love with on your journey to Derbyshire. And I sort of envy you for that. Safe journey.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Emmett and Mary: The American Deirdres

Now, if that title doesn't put a few of you off, then nothing will. Fact is, my beloved Deirdres are no more, of course. And whilst it's hardly like looking for the new Smiths, it'd be quite nice to find a band influenced by those clowns from Derby.

I doubt whether Emmett and Mary have even heard of Derby in the UK, never mind The Deirdres, but the two bands share a ramshackle sense of pop music that fair warms these cockles. At the last count, over 30 people had contributed to the Emmett and Mary's forthcoming album, 'S/T', which will be on My Idea of Fun records. They call it a bedroom rock opera, which makes it sound like it was done by a onanist Rick Wakeman fan. It's far from that; the songs I've heard exude a warmth and love that, if I didn't have my shorts on already, make me want to strip off a few layers and run through a cornfield, or something. But then I have to think about those pesticides...

My favourite is 'Surveying Revelations'. See what you think.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Modern Skirts

It might becase I've got a hangover on a beautiful sunny day, but I'm in the mood for a song about a Deep South ghost.

Lucky, then, that Modern Skirts new EP, 'Happy 81' has just flopped into my inbox (how modern). The best track, 'Rebecca St Claire' is way cute; the sort of thing that might cuddle me out of the funk I find myself in this morning. It's lo-fi pop that sounds like The Crystals playing in a bar in a John Wayne film. Stretch your minds around that, and then listen to it.

Right, I'm off back to bed.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

The mysterious case of Bubblegum Lemonade

In these days of The Worldwide Internets it's really hard to remain anonymous, but that's what Laz McCluskey, the person behind Bubblegum Lemonade (and Strawberry Whiplash) does quite easily indeed, ta very much. No gigs, no interviews, nothing.

But if self-imposed hermitude from the pop scene means you come up with moments of majesty like 'Caroline's Radio' then maybe a few more bands should buy stock up on a few hundred cans of beans and hole up for a while.

'Caroline's Radio' tells the tale of bedtime pirate radio listening, and all the romance that covert experience undoubtedly brought. An ode to Radio Caroline, then, but one that swoops and glides and has the best guitar solo since, oooh, I dunno, Ride's 'Chelsea Girl', or something.

Over on the b-side, and the hits keep coming. 'Stalling and Laughing' features a cheeky wink to Edwyn Collins in that title and is a perfect blast of psych-pop, whilst 'Looking to the Sun' starts off like The Byrds 'Turn, Turn, Turn' before relaxing into a louche Jesus & Mary Chain haze. It's pretty wonderful, as you can imagine.

You can download 'Caroline's Radio' here, and you can buy the single from Matinee here .

Now go away and leave this man to make more wonderful records in peace.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Now and then

I'm all a bit unsure about the recent spate of indiepop reunions, to be honest. Some people go crazy over them, whereas I'd often like to leave things in a certain time and place, never to be ruined or rehabilitated.

The same can't be said, however, for hearing a newer band make music that reminds me of a certain time or place. No, because this I quite like. The Hillfields have done this to me again, you see, with their new ep 'Come Outside' (Underused Records), which, like last year's 'It'll Never Be the Same Aagin', has rekindled my love of this kind of classic, slightly doom-laden indiepop music. Again, The Hillfields have taken two parts Echo and the Bunnymen to one part Windmills to make the sort of deeply attractive music that, twenty years on from when it was my main hobby, could easily see me lighting the candles, locking myself away, and knocking back a bottle of Thunderbird again. My favourite is the spiky, zesty 'Talk Too Much', which shows that you can still be happy even when you're morose.

The Orchids, meanwhile, are back with their first single in yonks, and whilst it might not break any new ground, were you really expecting it to? 'She's My Girl' (Pebble Records) chimes along like you probably knew it would, but it's meaty enough not to get all lightweight. I'll be honest: when I saw The Orchids at Indietracks a couple of years ago I was bored rigid. They already sound on this single about a hundred times better than they did that afternoon, which saw me fall asleep on a bouncy castle. How's that for an endorsement?

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Math and Physics Club - I Shouldn't Look as Good as I Do' (Matinee Records)

The return of Math and Physics Club fills my heart with glee, and on the cover of 'I Shouldn't Look as Good as I Do' Charles, James and Ethan look pretty pleased with themselves, too.

And why not? This album of full of swirling, shimmering songs that kicks off the summer perfectly. It kicks off with the rushing, diving 'Jimmy Had a Polaroid', before the playful, coy 'We Make a Pair' makes a gentle dash for securing the place of first dance at every indiepop couple's wedding.

These two wonderful pop songs set the tone for the rest of the album, which is a much more rounded set of songs than could be found on the eponymous debut album. 'Trying to Say I Love You' sees Charles desperately trying to save a relationship, but failing because of shyness. And that's a theme;'Love or Loneliness', sees Charles singing about sticking with a relationship out of habit, rather than love. The song ends, cheekily, rather suddenly.

'Will You Still Love Me' is a much better version 'When I'm 64' and sounds like those A Smile and Ribbon songs that wowed us three or so years ago. But the real gem is 'The Internationale', which rather than being a rallying cry for international working class solidarity, seems to be berating a braggard that Charles is tiring off. Also, when he sings "nothing in particular he does his best Morrissey impression. Add in some Marr-ish guitar shapes and you've got a beautiful homage to The Smiths.

The album ends with a pop at the indie-than-thou ghetto dwellers called 'We're So DIY', which in parts reminds me of Shrag's 'Rabbit Kids', and namechecks Tullycraft. One for the trainspotters, ironically enough. It should be a single, anyway.

An album about relationships, then. Nothing particularly new there, but it's the way Math and Physics Club do it that makes the difference. Sweet and tender in places, but with a pop bite that kills me every time. The summer starts here.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

World Cup 2010 unofficial non-anthem

I've never really understood why people go nuts over New Order's 'World in Motion'. Sure, it's better than your run of the mill football song, but it'd be interesting to see how many people would've gone nuts over it if England hadn't reached the semi-finals of Italia '90. It just sounds a bit bland, to me. Much like the current England team, you might say.

Now this is a football song.

Mark E Smith has previous when it comes to ace footy-related songs, of course. You might rememeber 'Kicker Conspiracy' and, more recently, 'Theme From Sparta FC'. Somehow, though, I can't imagine Stevie, Lamps, Wavy, Davey, Dozy, Beaky and Fabby listening to this during their pre-match team talk. Shame.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

The return of the mighty Positions

I think 1998 might have been the low point for music for me. Back then I was beginning to get into Six by Seven and thinking they were The Future. There was no good music about: FACT. The week consisted of working for around ten grand a year, then spending all my wages in a shithole bar in Grimsby or Cleethorpes. I might have gone two years without seeing a band.

All of that makes living in 2010 seem pretty ace, music-wise. Sure, David Cameron is Prime Minister and the Israel's state terrorism still sinks to lower levels than you thought possible, but - wait! What's that o'er yonder webpage? It's only the new Positions album, 'Tonight', available free on their bandcamp page until 29 June.

You'll be able to hear this straight away, of course, but let me tell you straight away that this easily equals the band's last album, 'Bliss!' which was - gulp - released way back in 2005. Which seems an awful long time ago now.

The horns are still there, and the killer stop-start bits that remind me of Architecture in Helsinki's 'In Case We Die' masterpiece. And The Positions still have that knack of writing songs that you think you've heard a million times before on the radio.

My current favourite (this will undoubtedly change) is 'HI/CA', which is the biggest tease ever - and only ever gets going with about a minute left, but it sounds like it'd be a great driving song, or something. If I could drive I could test this out, but maybe the bus is the best place for it tomorrow morning.

I digress!

For pure pop happiness it's really hard to beat The Positions. I remember when we were on holiday last year with Andy and Hayley, and we were on the way to Morecambe. We put 'Bliss!' on in the car and the countryside whizzed by in a haze of wonderful sounds and jokes about balloons (you had to be there). That's the sort of bon homie that The Positions exude. We're not going on holiday this year, but if we were, 'Tonight' would make the perfect soundtrack.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Slowcoaches board Cannanes gig

You know those gigs you organise where the line-up changes every two weeks, mainly through no fault of your own? Well, the Cannanes gig has already been two two line-ups and is now onto it's third.

Academia has beaten Japanese Sleepers as one of their number has to attend a conference in that there London. So their place is taken by candypop noiseniks Slowcoaches, in a move that will see singer Heather Perkins play her first hometown gig with her new band. The parents have been alerted and a red carpet ordered.

There's a facebook page for all this here. You can't really miss out on seeing The Cannanes now, can you?