Sunday, 25 November 2012

The Sunbathers - EP (Dufflecoat Records)

In a time when most go to a gig to get sweaty, dance and sing along to their favourite pop bands, The Sunbathers are something of a rarity. Julie and Paul are never really morose, but if you're looking to cut a rug, then you'll be searching in the wrong place on a Sunbathers record or at a gig.

Of course, that's perhaps what makes this record such an alluring piece of work. Many compare the band to Marine Girls, and whilst that's fair enough, I also hear Harper Lee, Lovejoy and some more Kitchens of Distinction's more introverted moments, and it's in this tradition that makes me love this record hard.

'Hope' kicks us off, and is positively radiant. A wildly optimistic polka about sharing bags of chips and snogging and go for long walks. Wonderfully, it deviates halfway through into something not dissimilar to mid-period Smiths, with Julie almost veering into a yodel. It's better than I make it sound.

'Hopeless Romantic' continues a theme of coupledom and features a sterling melodica solo from Julie whilst Paul picks a guitar line that makes you wonder if he actually has ten fingers on each hand. It's really quite something on record, and simply mesmerising live.

'Northfield Lane' is what reminds me of Lovejoy and Harper Lee so much. From the seagulls and sea samples to the world-weariness and longing to recapture the past. Could this song be about Northfield Lane in Wells-Next-The-Sea? Answers on a melting ice cream, please.

The Sunbathers make me love the seaside even more than I do already. A gentle masterpiece.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Soft Power to the people

Have you heard those couple of new Spook School songs off of the amazing Soft Power soundcloud page yet? There's a couple of them; the first is called 'You Don't Know', and it sounds like your broken heart falling down the stairs in a tin can. It's possibly the finest song written this year and it makes me want to go out and sit in a park and get roaring drunk. But it's a nit nippy for that. And dark. And Corrie is on soon.

Whilst 'I Don't Know' doesn't quite match it for me, it does bring back the spirit and sound of The Deirdres back in 2008, and all those amazing nights we shared together.

Spook School are perhaps the most exciting new band since the last new exciting new band I heard this year. They write each song like it's their last, play their instruments like they having some kind of torrid affair with them. It's pure exhilarating.

Please, please, please check out the other songs on that soundcloud page. I mean, where have Big Wave been hiding? Lost in music for another weekend.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Souper Sunday

What are you doing this Sunday apart from sitting there at home, in the dark, crying into a Cup-a-Soup about going back to work on Monday? Well, why not come to this instead and save yourself all the hassle of boiling the kettle. You could also pretend that the Chickfactor weekend that you can't afford to go to isn't actually happening in London.

See you there, like.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Veronica Falls - Teenager (Bella Union/Slumberland)

Veronica Falls are one of those bands who have, in my eyes, remained just about aloof enough to remain a ridiculously cool enigma, whilst continuing to write drop-dead gorgeous pop tunes in the process.

'Teenage' is perhaps their best yet; a gliding jangle that brings to mind Bart & Friends, Camera Obscura, Bubblegum Lemonade, and a whole host of prime late 80s indiepop, with hints of House of Love, Primitives... probably Kirsty MacColl. Its also got this waterfall of a guitar part that makes me want to put my thumbs through the cuffs of my jumper and do that dance you used to see all the time at indie discos. You know the one I mean...

'Teenage' takes on the themes that happen to you between the ages of 13 and 20: listening to records, being dumped by your boy or girlfriend, the insecurity, spots (probably), and ends up telling us that's, after all of these horrible things then it's going to be alright in the end. If only Veronica Falls had been around in 1988 I'd have probably not ended up buying 'Bummed' by Happy Monday just to lend a girl to impress her.

Any teenagers reading should take note and steer clear of stuff like that.

There's a new Veronica Falls album out sometime soon on Bella Union and Slumberland. If this is a taster (and it is), then the teenager in us all (steady!) can rest easy. Veronica Falls are looking out for us.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Wanted: ace pop band for NSA fun in Nottingham, 8th December

Darlings, I write to you with some urgency. See that gig up there on the right hand side of this page? Well, Young Romance have found themselves in something of a pickle, and are no longer able to make it.

I'll be frank with you: we're a band short, and we seem to have put just about every brilliant band on in Nottingham this year, and are running out of ideas.

That's not to say that if you've played for us recently, then you can't do again - more than we're drawing a bit of a blank. So, can you fix it for us to have the best Christmas party ever on 8th December in Nottingham? That last sentence is perhaps not the most well-advised, but you get my drift.

I don't normally do this kind of thing, but if you're free, and brilliant, drop me a line. Fanks.

Friday, 2 November 2012

September Girls - Wanting More (Matinee Recordings)

One of my favourite memories of this musical year (I sound like David Hamilton now) was seeing September Girls wandering around the Indietracks site, clearly loving every moment of being in a band, looking like a band, and basking in the fact they knew pretty soon that they'd be playing to a rapt audience in the church.

Soon after that Jimmy from Matinee sent me an email asking if I had some contact details for the band. I'm not saying for one moment that I have any part at all in creating this wonderful record, but it's nice to hear from others who appreciate sheer bloody brilliance, isn't it?

Throughout the three flawless tracks on this seven inch, September Girls create something so exciting and deeply beautiful that it's hard to understand why they aren't pop stars already.

'Wanting More' is like a clarion call to the fragile, all organs and fuzzpop and reverb, it's refrain of "Where did you go?" and 'Take me back to where the summer last forever" touch kind of nagging insecurity that most of us all feel from time to time.

Meanwhile, 'Hells Bells' sounds like the Shangri-Las fronting early Jesus and Mary Chain. This pleases me a great deal, and 'Hells Bells' is easily as strong - if not stronger than the title track, with its swirling Farfisa, growling bass and shimmering stars.

Last up is the rollocking instrumental 'Man Chats', two minutes of thunderstorm pop. It's the sort of music you'd play if you'd got away with robbing the world's biggest sweet shop. It's immense, really.

A little piece of plastic to treasure. Buy it here.