Saturday, 30 June 2012

All change

Hey, hey, hey - it's Indietracks week! This time next week I'll be almost certainly drunk and lolling about on some grass in the middle of the Amber Valley, whilst around 1,500 pop kids celebrate The Best Weekend of the Year.

This little post is just a reminder that here in Nottingham we're looking forward to waking up with our annual Indietracks Friday hangover by hosting another Indietracks warm-up show. If you're anywhere near the East Midlands, then you really should make it along.

Perhaps just as exciting as that are some changes to our all-dayer line-up in September. First, the bad news: Tigercats and The Whatevers can't make it any more; the former having to go to a pesky wedding that weekend (it's not too late to change your mind!); and the latter actually going and splitting up. Blimey.

Fear not, in their place we have the ace Anguish Sandwich, and, excitingly, Marc and Graeme Elston playing together for the first time in about twenty years. Graeme was in Love Parade, Pure and Slipslide, whilst Marc played in Bulldozer Crash and The Liberty Ship. All of these bands mean a lot, and we're really dead happy that they've agreed to do this one-off (perhaps?) show for us.

For the sake of nostalgia, here's some Bulldozer Crash and Pure stuff. Both these songs make me smile just as much as the Elston brothers' later stuff.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Something of the night about Orca Team

If Orca team aren't the most beautiful band around at the moment, then I don't know who is. This is the video for 'Night Moves', the thrilling first new track to be released from their amazing 'Restraint' album, ready to order now from Happy Happy Birthday to Me Records.

I might have mentioned something previously about Orca Team playing in Nottingham in two weeks time, but if you didn't know about that and have just watched them playing one of the best pop songs of the year, whilst looking gorgeous and puking up black ink, then you'll surely want to come along.

I love this band so much I might just leap on them when they show up in my city a week on Thursday. A promise, and a threat.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Bart and Friends - There May Come a Time (Matinee Recordings)

There have been times when Matinee releases have managed to get me through some pretty rough hours and days, and so it seems that Bart and Friends - whose records have done pretty much the same - should finally find their home there.

Bart Cummings's latest mates include the incomparable Pam Berry, Mark Monone of The Lucksmiths and various members of feted groups such as Mid State Orange and The Zebras, and they serve up five memorable janglepop treats here. Along with a pretty awful cover of Elvis's 'Can't Help Falling in Love' of which we will speak no more.

When you've got tracks as chocolate-y as 'A Kiss You Won't forget, which combines the effortless grace of Berry's vocals with a guitar line straight from 'Johnny Marr: the early years', then you'll never be alone.

Of similar worth is 'These Words Are Too Small', a song which glides by far too quickly. An ode to stuttering amour, this is surely one of the finest love songs you'll hear for many year. Truly heartbreaking stuff.

Lastly, 'A Summer's Dream' appears again on this ep, but that's not a grumble, more another chance to hear it all again in its downbeat majesty.

You can listen to 'There May Come a Time' here, and buy the EP of the same name here


Friday, 15 June 2012

Shrag bite yer hand off

Shrag have made a rather disturbing video for their new single, the spellbinding 'Show Us Your Canines', which appears to be set in an overgrown outhouse. No-one likes an overgrown outhouse, matron. It was directed by Darren Hayman who used to be in a band I liked. Hide behind your cushions... NOW:

When you've stopped messing yourself over that, take yourself along here and download this year's Indietracks sampler, which, CRAZILY, is only a pound for 50 songs. It's like the old days - but better!

Monday, 11 June 2012

The Great Leap Forward - This is Our Decade of Living Cheaply and Getting By (Communications Unique)

I've been vaguely aware of The Great Leap Forward for what seems like my entire post-Elton John-loving life, but as far as I'm aware I'd never heard a note before listening to this, the band's latest album.

I say band, and I'm sort of fibbing because The Great Leap Forward is "just" Alan Brown, the singer from the much-loved bIG*FLAME (another band who I've always been aware of without really getting around to listening to much of their stuff).

bIG*FLAME's pop was a combination of wiry guitars and awkward rhythms, with confrontational, often mildly surreal vocals over the top, and awkward is a good word for 'This is Our Decade...' Brown might have mellowed slightly musically, but his lyrics, if anything, have become more at odds with the world?And why not when those at the top seem completely intent on fucking the rest over whilst feathering their own palatial nests (that are probably in Surrey, or Buckinghamshire, or somewhere).

'This is Our Decade..." starts off as a deeply political record, with Brown's trademark schizo guitars scratching deep for the truth, especially on the wonderfully angry 'Race to the Bottom'. However, about three-quarters of the way through things mellow out a bit, and there are almost moments of whimsy in titles such as 'Heaven's Just a Short Journey from Platform 4a', which tells the tale of a trip around the Peak District. Brown concludes that, whilst the Peaks are "beautiful' and he "loves them all", that "Yorkshire though is prettier by far."

There's more train talk on 'I Catch the Last Bus Home With the Driver of The Flying Scotsman' (yeah, this is a record all about long titles), that tells the story of a night out in Doncaster - a terrifying prospect at the most sober of times (and I grew up going out in Grimsby wearing backcombed hair). It's a lovely, warm, pissed-up song.

Yet this is really agit-pop at it's very best. Those two lighter moments aside, 'This is Our Decade...' is a kick up the arse to the much rest of pop music which seems intent on getting by by pretending that nothing really bad is happening, and that singing exclusively about not copping off with the girl from the chip shop is all that matters. There's nothing wrong with heartbreak over a saveloy, but sometimes I need more, and the Great Leap Forward have given me it. A properly thrilling, angry piece of work.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

High art

First day back at work. Glum. Only four more days in my current job, and I'm already beginning to think that I've made a mistake packing it in. That's normal, right?...

Anyway, here are some posters for some upcoming gigs we're putting on here in Nottingham. Spot which one I flung together to win free entry into all three.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Off with their heads

If you live in the UK, you might have noticed that this weekend we've been subjected to a full-frontal propaganda onslaught by the establishment, trying not-so-gently to persuade us that Elizabeth Windsor and her family of lympet-like spongers is somehow "the glue which binds the nation together".

Utter bullshit, of course, especially when people feel so atomised, alone and desperate enough to do this. Nothing is "binding" these people to the rest of the population, and nothing will until the ruling class in the UK - and all over the world - is deposed and done away with.

There's no reason to disbelieve the story in the Guardian - after all, it's probably just the tip of the iceberg as far as the vicious Workfare programme is concerned - but if one good thing can come from it, it's that the victims might see that the Windsors, and any other Royal family, are worthless, lazy cretins who make a mockery of so-called "democracy".

When you next turn on the telly and see the brainwashed saps waving their plastic flags, don't hate them - pity them. And when you hear the next Workfare horror story, remind anyone trying to justify slave labour that nothing much has changed for the better since Elizabeth Windsor had to cut short a colonial tour to "serve" the country.

Right now, the lyrics of the inspirational Housemartins seem most apt.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Cheshire life

Yesterday, for a few hours, we were at the excellent Going up the Country all-dayer in Congleton, Cheshire. Thankfully, we didn't run into any millionaire Premier League footballers, but we did bump into some of our best friends, at a gig, in a pub car park.

The organisers had managed to persuade Robinsons to come up with a one-off bitter called 'Pristine Christine' for the day, which was a nice twist, and after five or six pints of that just about anything seemed possible.

There was much DRAMA when three quarters of The Fireworks were still stuck in Birmingham half an hour before they were supposed to go on. And no-one wants to be stuck in Birmingham when there's an ace indiepop show in full swing, do they?

But when Emma, Matthew and Isabel finally joined Carys (who, as a native north-wester was altogether more clued-up as to how long it takes to get up to Cheshire), The Fireworks went straight on stage and blew us all away. I've not seen the band since Indietracks last year, when Emma and Isabel weren't even in the band, and they were incredibly nervous. This time around they were still as charmingly ramshackle, but in a more confident way. They have what I believe the young call "attitude", and that's really quite exciting.

Anyway, I hope Going up the Country happens again next year, because the venue (a pub car park - what's not to like?), the atmosphere and the beer was ace. To celebrate that thought, here's The Fireworks playing 'Higher & Higher'.