Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Au Revoir Simone - Shadows video

I'm quite taken by the new Au Revoir Simone single. I've never really given the band much attention before, but 'Shadows' is as cute as anything. Here's the video.

You can - gasp! - see behind-the-scenes footage and an interview with the band here.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Frankie and the Outs

I've sort of tried to ignore the whole Dum Dums/Vivian Girls thing so far, for some reason. But I really can't turn a blind eye to Frankie and the Outs, which I believe is some kind of Vivian Girls offshoot, or something.

There's a track on their myspace page called 'Where do you Run To?' which verges on the religious. Think of school choir singing Champagne Socialists songs whilst the drunk music teacher directs them slumped up against the piano. It's probably one of the most beautiful songs I've heard this year. Or any year.

They have a single out on Slumberland in October. It seems to go under the name of Frankie Rose, the drummer from Crystal Stilts, and it's called 'Thee Only One'. Once I get out of this financial pickle, I'll have to buy it.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

On the road with Stuart Murdoch

Perhaps the biggest 'scoop' tasty fanzine got was when my friend Aline managed to interview Stuart Murdoch during a lift he gave her to a Belle and Sebastian gig in London in 2002. The interview was picked up on by a Japanese music mag, and they reprinted it. Which is perhaps the closest any of us involved in the fanzine will come to fickle fame.

Here's Aline's interview, anyway.

It is a sunny Saturday and I take the train to meet Stuart Murdoch, Belle and Sebastian's front man, who is on his way to London (sort of), where the band is recording their new album. I invite you now to be the passenger on this journey, which involved a trip to the seaside, a wedding, playing bowls (‘top leisure’), some fish and chips on the pier, and of course, a very nice, relaxed chat with him. While he was driving, he managed to answer some of my questions.

I was holding the map. We were heading towards south now; the sun was still up. He put on his sunglasses…

Aline -As I said, I hope you don’t find this a drag…

Stuart - No, no, you can ask whatever you want.

Which would you say is Belle and Sebastian’s greatest album? Why?

Well… my favourite album is probably ‘Tigermilk’, although I’m fond of ‘Fold your hands…’ because we put so much effort into it and had a hard time finishing it… that it’s almost like a piece of you… and although maybe people didn’t like it so much, we learned a lot during the making of that record. We learned so much because we had to scrap it, start again, because people were disinterested, the core of the group just wanted to get on with it, but we became quite strong.

You know how some of your songs tell a story, have characters in them… to what extent are they related to real people, people you know and other people in the band know?

Well, I think personally as a songwriter, it’s changed over the years. Some of the songs are quite open, you know, homage to a person, although veiled. In a lot of them, the characters certainly become fictional because they’re composite of people and they might be my ideas, or ideas of friends, or somebody you just glance in the street. Sometimes you can see somebody and in an instant you get a feel of what they’re like or what they happen to be going through at the moment. Sometimes this might inspire you more than knowing somebody all your life.

What about ‘Put the Book Back on the Shelf’? Any stories with that one?

S- That was a long time ago… it’s a bit of an unfortunate recording, that was, I hardly ever listen to it because we made some recordings that were quite ragged and that was one of them…

We’d like to play it, we played it live in Canada a couple times… Well, it features Sebastian. I’ll have to remember it… (starts singing… ‘Sebastian you are in a mess/you had a dream they called you king of all the hipsters/ is it true are you still the queen/). It’s an absolute bulk standard B&S song… what I mean by that is ... It’s pretty straightforward…it’s about feeling isolated, in a group of people but feeling isolated. Being in a club and… not feeling part of the situation at all uh… being bored with what other people are doing, looking for a way out, feeling depressed, looking for anything that will cheer him up

Can you tell us a bit about the new album? I heard some of the new songs at the Glasgow Concert hall and it seems that the band is expanding? It was great to see you, Sarah and Stevie singing together as in ‘Roy Walker’ …

That is a feature we’ve been trying in the last couple of years; we can make a more powerful sound with everybody singing. And Sarah’s got a really good ear for harmony so the three of us have really enjoyed working a harmony. It is a pity… I enjoyed singing with Isobel as well. I almost feel that the four of us were a good number… but… the three of us are pretty good. There are quite a few numbers on the record that features that eventual combination.

It sounds really good! Anything else about the new album… is it coming out in October?

Well, it’s funny. That’s about all you can say about when is an album coming out. We don’t even know that, as usual is going to be 12 weeks after it’s finished. But I think it’s funny because it’s a crunched time right now: we’re going back to the studio tomorrow. In fact when I get to London tonight there’ll be already some mix; it’s going to be interesting to see what has been done.

If the band would invite any musician to participate in a recording of an album, who do you think it’d be?

I think there would be a difference between the group supporting an artist or somebody coming in like Monica for instance, to sing with the group. So if you ask every member of B&S they will tell you a different thing, they’d have different preferences and maybe for that reason we don’t often collaborate in records. I’ve always wanted to do a record with Liz Cocteau, from the Cocteau Twins.

So, if it were up to you, you would maybe like to work with her?

Yeah, maybe produce a record for her.

Do you think there are any advantages or disadvantages of being in a band with so many members?

Advantages is that if you have an idea, and everybody likes it, or if at least everybody approves it, then it’s bound to be okay. We’ve had disadvantages in the past… we’ve been crippled by indecision…We’ve been crippled by people not wanting to do the same things…and stuff like that… and logistical stuff about people wanting to work at other things and not wanting to go into… but that’s all become easier.

Do you ever feel limited in B&S?

Well, if I did feel limited then I could honestly, I could look at the group and sit down and say ‘I want to do this’, ‘I don’t see why we can‘t do this.’ Usually, the group should be able to accommodate your ideas. I didn’t get the group together to go off and demand things… I want to do things with the group, that’s what it is about, collaboration and stuff. Instead of feeling limited what I like to say ‘how can we do this’, ‘let’s get help’.

There’s a lot of sharing of ideas, then, between the group?

Yeah, absolutely, I think we’ve all become comfortable, just the way that the group has evolved. I don’t think anyone would feel shy about bringing anything forward. In the past we spent a long while getting comfortable with each other, because I used to write all the songs, people would be nervous to bring new ones. Now when we start, we start from scratch and we pull our ideas together and we try to develop songs between us.

What do you think is the band’s main source of inspiration? You mentioned that sometimes it comes from people you see in the streets… is it the same for other band members, you think?

Yeah, everything and anything…ideas-wise I’d say, you can get a spark from anything. If I told you what’s the inspiration behind certain songs, you either wouldn’t believe it or you wouldn’t be able to understand how I can get that from that. But that’s the process, that’s the way it happens. And also by the time seven people throwing their ideas together it sounds just like a mixture.

So life and music are definitely not separated?

No, no. But it must be said that pure music, melody and harmony don’t come from life; that comes from inspiration. When you wake up in the morning with a tune, you know, you dreamt the tune, it comes from somewhere else. You gotta wake up write it down; you gotta note it down. It might be in a dream when you listen to this music; the trick is you have to wake up and get it down on tape. That’s your idea and you can develop it later, make that dream real. That’s abstract but certainly a lot of other ideas come from life.

What was the best gig you played so far?

I've got quite a few favourites. It's difficult to say what's my favourite one .there's a few in the old days and a few in the modern times. I really loved the one we did in Coachella, in Palm Springs, in the States. It was the first time, I think, that we played outdoors and we were liberated with being outdoors and everybody was in a good mood, and the sunset and the palm trees, it was just great. We had a nice time, a good laugh. And as I mentioned before, I loved the two seaside ones we did in the British tour, Scarborough and Bournemouth. Also, there are some personal moments. For instance, the second time we played in Philadelphia. We were really relaxed and I was thinking about Rocky, cause Rocky is from Philadelphia and so. I dressed up as him: I got some boxing shorts.

And you did you do the Rocky steps?

Oh yeah, cause when I was jogging, I ran into those stairs and I realised where I was and I heard the music in my head and thought 'that's how we're going to open the show tonight!' (Sings the 'Rocky' theme song). So the string players picked it up straight away and they played that and I came on, with my trainers, it was actually Mark's trainers, he fixes the keyboards. it was just funny.

I bet!

I loved it. Because I don't think the kids would have thought anything like that . I think sometimes they expect you to come on with a walking stick and walk up to the piano and sit down and start wheezing and ' fox in the snow.' (starts singing) .It's kind of
funny, you look at the kids faces cause I still had my gloves on when we were playing 'sleep the clock around', with my guitar it must have looked like I didn't have any clothes on, you know, and I'm sweating.the kids are like ' What!!?'

That must have been really good. And how was the experience of playing in the Concert Hall in Glasgow?

Yeah, it was pretty good, it just enhanced our appetite, to speak the truth. It's almost like you're half way being a caterpillar and a butterfly. We're doing the record; we're not primed to play live, we haven't really done our new set. It was a little bit polite, but it was pretty good.

What do you think of all these new bands, that you see on NME, for example. and some that are not that new, for example. The Strokes, The White Stripes? The new 'scene' or whatever you call it.

I must admit I'm the last person you want to ask. I don't think the Strokes have done anything amazing, they're not a great new thing, but I really like them, you play that in a club they get you dancing. I think I like them more than the White Stripes. I quite like The Moldy Peaches, but they're not so hip like other bands. I haven't heard much of other bands, but I heard The Vines at Glastonbury and I didn't think they were very good.

What are your favourite, top five albums of all times?

S- Well, I'm not going to be able to tell us because I'd have to think about it. I could tell you my top fifty films because I sat and worked it out before. I won't get it right. but how about. 'Poem of the river', by Felt, 'You can't hide your love forever', by Orange Juice, 'The Queen is Dead', by The Smiths. Give me a minute so that I can think about it.

Ok. are there any new bands that you appreciate?

If you asked me 10-15 years ago, I listened to a lot of music. It's funny, because I fill my head with music all day and all night. It's a protracted excuse but when I got free time to listen to music, I tend to go back to music I know I'm going to like. I don't have an appetite to listen to new music. When I was younger I used to eat it up, constantly getting new records. I really like seeing bands live in Glasgow, though. There's a band called Franz Ferdinand, for example, I was really impressed by them.

About the DVD that the band is going to release: will there be any new videos featuring in it?

I think a lot of stuff will be new to a lot of people. There are videos for every single, apart from ' I'm waking up to us'. We included a lot of stuff and we composed a kind of a video for 'The state I am in', which is new. We used a lot of footage and stuff. There's 'Waking up to us' from Jools Holland, there is 'Wondering Alone', from Jo Soares, ' I could be dreaming' from ICV, Scottish Television, from 1997, which is quite good because it's a LA documentary of the group. 'Dylan in the Movies', from New York.

Could you describe your way of dancing? Has anyone ever made any comments about it?

Somebody said they liked my dancing once. Sometimes you can really get into it. I know it's corny but if you're dancing and it's a great tune, if you know it so well, you know what the bass line is doing. Like a Stevie Wonder or a Jackson Five tune, it's almost like you want every part of your body to be playing a different instrument. There's no way to describe it, though, cause I think you dance the way you feel it.

What's the nicest B&S song to dance to?

S- I'd like to say the next one. It's an ambition of Stevie and I to make records that people can really dance to. There's one in the new record called 'If she wants me' that has got a good rhythm. It's pretty slow but kind of funky. If we get it right that might be okay.

Ping- Pong: whatever the word/idea brings into your
mind, just say it.
- Favourite cartoon: Top Cat
- Source of support: Religion, friends and family, not in this exact order.
- Meaning of life: this is a tricky one. I look around and I do think there is more to life than you can see. And if you keep thinking that then you start to think some interesting things. Why, what, that kind of stuff. Being lucky enough to have a backdrop of spirituality, it's great, it just gives another dimension to life.
- Favourite place: Glasgow
- Fans: I really like the fans. I want to put them to work. You know sometimes I feel a little bit of responsibility; you're in a little bit of a position of power. But it's the kind of power like having people around to your house, being a host. You can give people a good time, if you're a good host, and I want to be a good host. But at the same time if you have people around to your house, being able to help out and be part of the household amuses them. So I'd really like them to be part of the household as well, in the sense that you can get involved with stuff, things like treasure hunts.
- Woody Allen: I'd say genius but that's such a clichéd word. Woody Allen, for all his faults. you know, we were talking about meaning of life. if I'd name one hundred things on top of my head, he'd be one of the reasons why life is so great. he's just very, very talented.
- Favourite Book: the Bible
- Favourite food: I always love breakfast! When you're really in the mood for it, there's nothing like really good crispy fresh bread and a nice boiled egg and butter. with a good cup of tea! (But I wouldn't say no to a mission burrito, in San Francisco)
- Love: you're going to get a paragraph.

Go on.

When I used to study physics at university they used to be looking for a force, that they called a unified force. Modern physics is looking for a unified equation, to bring all these forces together, to explain how the universe works, to a simple reduction. I don't think they're ever gonna get there, the smaller they look, the more complex the problems are gonna get. I like that, because as more spirituality enters your life you want the mystery. If there was going to be unified forces. it sounds corny, but you could take a little step sideways, you might think that love is a universal force. I'm actually talking in physical terms here, if you believe in a God that created everything, you know I'm talking in abstract terms, but that's what I feel, that love is this unifying force.

Romantic love, is it 'ever' complicated?

Yes, and you wouldn't do it without it. When you get to a certain age, you got a little bit of wisdom; you got a little bit of experience. It could be a bad thing, cause you're never gonna get lots in the naivety so much, like you used to. But it's nice to sit back and see how things work between people and anticipate that kind of feeling going to happen all over again or be sad about that . if you're right in the middle of it, it could be hellish obviously but you couldn't do without it.

Of Mice and Mental Arithmetic

Last night I went to see Pocketbooks and Howoritz play with Of Mice and Mental Arithmetic at the Hand and Heart in Nottingham. OMAMA are the new band of Fairy, Gemma and Sophie of The Deirdres and Tom from Lardpony and someone else. They do the same instrument swapping between songs and there is a charming display of amatuerism throughout - the same sort of thing that made The Deirdres such a disarming, delightful prospect.

Horowitz were their usual lovely, drunken pop mess, and there isn't better live band in the UK than Pocketbooks, in my opinion. And wonderfully - WONDERFULLY - OMAMA were just thrilling. Sophie remains the cutest, smiliest pop star ever, Tom got his ukelele out and Fairy sang a totally ace, punky song called 'Terminator'. ROCK.

Earlier in the evening I learnt that Fairy, late of The Deirdres and now of OMAMA is going to be the new drummer in The Pete Green Corporate Juggernaut. Stick that on the front of The Times tomorrow.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Forever on the sidelines

All over the spring and summer sweaty men (and the occasional woman) hammered away furiously on their keyboards (not a euphemism), getting themselves properly het up about the word twee, and the Twee as Fuck clubnight. Your blogger here even got his collar a bit warm now and again. I am but human.

Nobody really made much sense during the tiny furore. There were people who didn't mind the word "twee", nor what those frightfully beautiful Twee as Fuck people were up to in their salad days in London.

There were those for the t word was akin to their VERY MANHOOD being called into question. This was a bit daft, if you ask me. Can anyone be twee? Something is twee, surely? I'm not English scholar, so you call me out on that one.

And then there were those that kept a respectable difference. Either because they thought the whole storm in a tweecup was a fantastical load of bollocks (not to mention a waste of time), and merely tutted and sighed and moved on. Like what you do.

And then, of course, there is the In Love With These Times... opinion. Yet again, Kieron has managed to convey in around a thousand of so words what it took scores of people all over the internet months and months to do. And then they failed.

Have a read of this piece and tell me it doesn't clam you down and shut you up, and I'll call you a fibber.

Now, if only we could get an RSS feed of ILWTT so that we could get instant updates to our i-fone wank tablets, or whatever the new thing is. Is there an app for that?

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Just like Heavenly

For those old-timers who thrilled when Amelia Fletcher played some old songs in a manky tent at Indietracks, here's a Heavenly treat for you.

It's a Spanish radio session from way back when John Major ruled the world in 1994. Imagine that!

There'll be a brand new Tender Trap interview up here very soon. Hopefully.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

The Ogdens - a slight return

A massive bout of nostalgia this afternoon drove me, as usual, into the arms of You Tube to search for The Ogdens.

The Ogdens were one of those post-Smiths band still mourning the passing of Manchester's finest, and who sounded unashamedly like their heroes. The bands finest moment, for me, was "Rachel, Put Your Arms Around Me" which came out on Casca Records in 1989, and was listened to by me and my girlfriend over and over again in her bedroom in Caistor, Lincolnshire whilst we waited for her Mum to come and cook us tea.

Like many bands of their ilk, The Ogdens gave up the ghost at the beginning of the 90s, but their myspace page says there'll be a compilation out on Firestation records next month. Which is super news for those who can't find their records anywhere these days, and so 'Hellish Mad Rush' is very welcome.

Now if only I could get my hands on those long, lost Charlottes records...

Saturday, 19 September 2009

In the Pines

More from the tasty archives, and this time it's a conversation with Pam Berry, latterly of The Pines.

This interview was done around the autumn 2003, when the band released their excellent True Love Waits Vol. 2 ep, and it seems there was a visit by that George Bush fella. Remember him? The Pines were chucking their shoes at him long before that journalist ever thought of it...

Tell me about your previous and present bands - when did you realise you were in love with music?

I realised music was the best thing since iced raisin bread long before I had any kind of involvement with making it myself. My parents had a big beautiful cabinet stereo that finally bit the dust only about a decade ago, the kind with the stack-o-vinyl spindle on the turntable. I've got an old Christmas polaroid from when I was three of me and my younger brother standing next to what must've been our first record player, with seven-inches without sleeves strewn about the place. Old record filing habits die hard! The first band I sang in that put a record out was Black Tambourine. I couldn't sing very well but it didn't matter, writing songs and playing with friends was the best time ever. Every band I've been in since then has been the same ace situation of playing with friends and if I still lived in the US I'd hope to be playing music with the same people, I miss them! Speaking of those folks, lemme just say how many times a day I'm compelled to play When You Come Around by The Saturday People, can I get a witness?I'm presently playing in The Pines with my friend and guitar wonder Joe. These days we record everything at home in my South London flat on a digital 16-track portastudio with my husband at the controls. Joe and I stay pretty busy with our jobs and don't see each other as much as we'd like, but we record more than we play out - we just played our first and last show of the year at what is turning into our annual live gig at the Bush Hall in London. I also join in when I can for Snowdrops recordings with Keith and Dick, who live in Brighton.

Which would you consider your 'day-job' band?

Don't make me laugh! Playing and recording is great but at the rate we do things, I'd be wiser to work on one of the ten gazillion other things that are more appealing than working 9 to 5, like world craft domination or starting London's foremost homemade pie delivery service.

Tell me a little bit more about the process of releasing Pines records - you've recorded for various labels - what is your relationship with them all?

The first Pines release was a song on a comp CD that came with an issue of Papercuts magazine that our friend Stevie put out in 2000. Our first seven-inch came out on the label Long Lost Cousin, which is run by Mark who currently plays in the fantastic Pipas. Mark used to record us on his Mac before Mike and I got the Akai, he wanted to start a label, I was keen to make some sleeves, and it was done. In the earlier days Joe and I didn't really work much on recording until someone asked us for songs, having some kind of deadline would kick our butts into recording action. We've been lucky because the labels who have asked us for songs like Becalmed, Annika, Foxyboy and Matinee have committed to putting out a Pines release and trusted that they'll like the songs without hearing them first! I've known Jimmy from Matinee for ages but still couldn't bring myself to tell him after we recorded that True Love Waits Volume 2's first song was a capella and the last song clocked in at 9 minutes, I just sent along the finished songs and hoped for the best. Only recently have we started recording songs that don't have a home yet.

How many volumes of the 'True Love Waits' eps will there be?

Volumes 1 and 2 are the whole shebang, Joe wrote the songs as a group, though we didn't record them all at once. A long time ago we got asked to release some songs on a new indie mini-CD label and decided to start recording the first half of the True Love Waits bunch of ten. When the label crashed and the record wasn't going to happen after all, Ara from Foxyboy offered to release the songs. Matinee then kindly offered to put out the second batch of five, which mirrored the first five nicely and completed the TLW set.

How do you think labels such as Matinee are helping smaller bands in the UK, and US...and throughout the world?

I don't know that anybody would've ever heard the songs on True Love Waits Volume 2 if not for Matinee, and though I think it's some of the best stuff we've ever done, Joe and I would never have been in a position to put it out ourselves! Jimmy must be the most enthusiastic label mogul I've ever met! His excitement about his own releases as well as pop music on lots of other labels is infectious - combine that with great distribution and it means Matinee and pop labels like it are getting songs out to the kids that it would be impossible to hear otherwise, a fact which I hope I'm never too jaded to appreciate.

Does living in London make being in the Pines easier or harder - as far as gigging, rehearsing and recording are concerned?

The Pines wouldn't exist without London, since we both live here! I'm not sure how easy it would be to continue if either of us moved away from London. Gigging isn't really an issue since we only play out about once a year (not counting late-night drunken sets at house parties) and recording is easy enough once we can find the same days/evenings free, which isn't very often!

Did you welcome Bush's visit to London? If so, why? If not, why?

Who could welcome him to London unless it was the driver of the bus he should go under? It's bad enough to see his stupid mug all over the news at any given time but that only increased with his trip over here. The man's a menace, he makes my blood boil.

Did you start 'Chickfactor' with Gail O'Hara - or just work on it for a while? How did they come about?

I started Chickfactor with Gail in 1992 and though she did take on more of the reviewing burden and was a friend to the deadline in a way I never was, we were right there together transcribing, putting on shows, pasting candies and hair thingies on the covers and stapling pages together until I left after issue 11 in 1995. All told, Gail did put much more work into Chickfactor than I did (she hit people up for ads for instance, something I could never do) and though I miss doing a fanzine I really think of it as her mag. Good thing, then, that she carried on doing it after I left and now has a wonderful webspace devoted to it! Check it out for a complete history of Chickfactor, fab pictures by Gail and awesome web-only CF articles (like Peter Paphides waxing excited about choc!).Do you and Joe have different ideas about how The Pines should sound?

Is there any element of compromise when you're working together?

Joe and I have very similar ideas about how The Pines should sound, which is why recording is something I look forward to. We also have very similar ideas about how much lazing about should be done during any day of recording and how much cheese should go on top of the pasta bake made on the day of recording. Doing any kind of creative activity with someone else will always involve elements of compromise but we've yet to have fisticuffs over where the melodica fades out or anything like that, and since we have all our recording gear at home we have the luxury of trying things out different ways, without the pressure of time or expense that recording in a studio would have.

Would you like to be more prolific?

Yes, and not just in music. In music, I'd love to be recording more frequently and getting more Pines records out. In everything else, I'd love to finish even half of the projects I start and get my small biz up and running this year. More music, more bags, more gocco fabric stamping, more mass pierogi-producing and more hat-making in 2004!

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Love Katsen

I'm ever so late in giving this a mention, so sorry.

Katsen are a duo from Brighton (I think), and they've just released an album full of Alka-Seltzer synthpop on Thee SPC called - wait for it... 'It Hertz!' The scamps! It's full of the sort of spoken word stuff that Angie Tillett and Death by Chocolate did so well, but over a much more bleepy background, of course. Oh, and they look amazing. And clearly like cats. What more do you want?
'It Hertz!' is available now to pre-order on CD in a gatefold digifile with immediate digital download from

There's also a free download-only single "Let's Build A City" which is available now from Thee SPC website.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

It's 2002. It's Comet Gain.

It was ten years ago - TO THE DAY - that I started tasty fanzine. Initially, it was a printed fanzine, and that first one took two monts to put together and was 18 sheets of A4 held together with staples. I think it had a Morrissey live review in it.

I used to be quite proud of tasty, but then life got in the way and I handed it all over to my friend Shane around late 2005. He seems to have then passed it on to some people in London, because that's where most tasty gigs seem to be held. It's a bit weird seeing the name associated with stuff I'd ever really listen to, but it'd run its course for me.

Anyway, in a bout of nostalgia, I thought I'd pilfer the tasty archives for some old interviews I'd done with the indiepop heroes du jour. This could be rather embarrassing, of course, but to start with here's a short interview I did with Comet Gain on the release of their masterpiece, Realistes.

What or who are the Realistes? And are the people pictured on your new album sleeve realistes?

'Realistes' is an illusional concept, a mixture of dadaist rhetoric and situationist daydreamers, if baader-meinhof had no terror in mind only realization of dreams-come-true. An ethic of many things mixing film rebels, drunks, pop art poets, skinny wolves etc. It’s a cloak to wrap around any aspect you feel okay with....a loose coalition of things and possible manifestos all contradicting each other. If you take the situationist stance of society as the spectacle and the enemy of true love and freedom, then the only thing many can do either than resort to actual anarchy and terrorism is to transcend the spectacle.

There are many ways to do this and realistes is a word and a deed and a thought and an idea, and any idea that falls outside the logical status quo is subversive in some form. The actual word is loaded because we all think of reality as we know it here and now - comfortable within the spectacle- as the real reality. But it’s not and the more we approach society now and reality on a religious, spiritual and political level by actually seeing them as they REALLY are our current structures make absolutely NO sense and you have that 'oh shit! we're all living in some awful dream created by the few to contain the rampant dreams of the many. its all about perception, creativity, realization and then renewal.

The pictures are of people-they could be realistes .

Riot Grrrl legend and sometime Le Tigre stalwart, Kathleen Hanna has contributed to the album. How did working with her come about?

I've been friends with Kathleen for many years, since the first bikini kill tour of England -we all became buddies and played stuff. Me and Kathleen had a short lived band called Male Slut with one great song - ‘Tight Pants, Fat Butt' about the difference between English Boys and American girls... according to Kathleen. When we go to New York we stay with her and vice versa. We play with le Tigre and she was the perfect duet for that particular song (Ripped-Up Suit), although I'm not really sure what she’s singing its sounds like an explosion. God bless you Kathleen.

Comet Gain has just expanded again with the addition of Lefties drummer Chris Applegren. Is this a settled line-up or will you seek to work with more people in the future?

Why not? There are no rules as to who should be in a band or why. Comet Gain always has and will be a collective of friends around the world and I like to think this is my favourite so far.

Will the band will celebrating the Jubilee?

Oh yeah, the Jubilee really changes my life, its the most important day of the year for me and so relevant to EVERY thing I say and do. Where’s my shotgun?

How do your politics manifest themselves in your music?

If you get the music and films and government your generation deserves then the sooner those venal fucks controlling the puppet strings send us hurtling towards there dumb biblical e.n.d Then I'll be cheering. Although Gordon Brown’s Socialist Budget seems a shock, and a good one, and about the first sensible act of the century. I remain fucking MASSIVELY suspicious. The alternative is for people to actually think about the world and all the things I mentioned in question 1 and do something about it. Except it won't happen until people are educated in a global scale and perhaps the old hippy idea of acid in the water supply would be a good starting point. We need to evolve really quick or it'll be too late

And so is your music a channel for your frustrations too?

Yes... no a channel for communication and most communication is frustrated. If I didn't do it I'd probably get drunk a lot more.

Do you think that Comet Gain’s time is now?

We don't make records for any 'time' or some false pretensions of fame or acceptance. We are by and large as un-important to the world’s issues and artistic relevance as Madonna losing a toenail...if one person likes our record, and didn't before, then our time has come driving round that corner. Is that all bands care about?

Who gets the Comet Gain pulse racing nowadays?

Clinic, Butterflies of Love, Neon panda, Ray-k-Ray, Pattern, Tyde, Beachwood Sparks, Derek and Clive.

And what’s to come from Comet Gain?

More seven inchers, some compilation tracks some awful drunk shows, Swedish and American tours, cookery book, self help manuals, a video movie, a kiss on the cheek and a smile in the morning.

Monday, 14 September 2009

The Hillfields - It'll Never be the Same Again (Underused Records)

I've listened to this record about 15 times now, and I'm still getting something different out of it each time.

It's serious; funny; maudlin; brilliant; ecstatic; intelligent; and maybe a little overlong. But ignore that last bit, because when this is good, it's amazing. Tracks like 'Down on You', 'Lolife' (with it's "fucking tv" refrain, 'Afterburn' (which manages to a quite wonderful shoegaze-y ending), and 'No More, No More' - which reminds me of all those late 80s indiepop bands like The Close Lobsters. And those three come one after another, hit after hit.

Then there are the songs that manage to creep under your skin at a much slower pace, such as 'Antifolk', which is an altogether more subtle heartbreaker, or the simply pretty 'Spoon', which, after a while, has hooked itself into the inside of my brain.

There are echoes of Echo and the Bunnymen here, of Velo-Deluxe, and more recently The Windmills. And so it's not all happy-happy-glee-glee, and it certainly doesn't sound like a debut album at all, but as the nights grow longer and winter stretches out before us, that's maybe what I want. "The endless days of summer have ended", sings Rob Boyd on the psychedelic 'Medicated'. Let's hear it for cold weather.

Download 'Down on You' here.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

At the edge of the sun

This week as been A Good Week, but I feel completely worn out, what with one thing and another. And yet a sense of complete ease has come over me. This has been helped somewhat by a little parcel from Shelflife Records containing a couple of Souvenir cds, which I'd lost during countless house moves and broken relationships.

Listening to Souvenir always used to make feel incredibly sophisticated for half an hour. During that time I was the hero in a Jean Luc Godard film, and I managed to snare myself a bereted lovely half way up the Champs Elysee. Then my boss would ring me up and ask me to write a thousand words on pig farming by 5pm, and that sort of spoiled everything a little bit.

So, it's lovely to have these records back, and I'm sorry it took a $1 sale at Shelflife before I got my arse into gear and bought them again.

There really is something very special, secret and almost - gulp! - erotic about Souvenir's music. Download 'Au Bord du Soleil' and see for yourself. Make sure you shut the curtains, mind, because if anything the new songs on their myspace page are even more filthy. Nurse! Pass me the damp towels...

Saturday, 12 September 2009

The Platers - The Second Between Spark and Flame ep (Indiemp3 Records)

Tom from Indiemp3 seems quite excited about The Platers, a London-based band who namecheck most of the indiepop/C86 staples on their myspace page.

Indeed, there's an innate 80s miserabilism about this band. The title track of this ep is downbeat enough to appeal to the long coat brigade (is there still a long coat brigade?), whilst 'Unwise' doesn't do much to up the fun factor. But hang on, there's a hint of optimism in 'Let's Take the World Tonight, Jonny', which sounds like those other '80s heroes The Housemartins a little bit. Naturally, it's the best track here. 'Another Day' rattles along at a fair pace, too, but it's a bit too tricksy for its own good, whilst the stylish 'Down the Works' ends the record on a stubbornly downbeat note.

Here's something I've noticed over the last couple of weeks: the guitar album seems to be back in fashion. Okay, maybe it's a coincidence, but along with the impressive Hillfields album (which will get a review soon - promise) The Platers' ep emphasises some pretty nifty guitar shapes. And that's something I've not noticed for a while. Maybe indiepop is going through one its periodical serious phases. Maybe the next Hibbett album will be a concept album about early 90s Leicester.

Maybe not.

You can listen to 'Let's Take the World Tonight, Jonny' here.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Nottingham indiepop all-dayer flyer

The venue is booked. The soundman is hired. The line-up is full. The Swedish are coming. 15 November might just prove to be the busiest gig I've ever put on, if you believe Facebook attendees. But then you really shouldn't believe Facebook for things like this. This much I've learned to my cost plenty of times.

T'other promoter, Andy, has whisked up this scampish poster, probably featuring him when he was in the first incarnation of the Bay City Rollers, some time back in pre-war Germany.

I'm talking rubbish, because the birth of my son has kept me awake for most of the week. Sorry. Hope to see some of you on Sunday 15 November at Bunkers Hill in Nottingham.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Very Cheap Red

Cheap Red (y'know, those ex-Boyracer types) are streaming their new album completely free of charge. But you might as well give them some money whilst you're there, of course.

My favourite is 'The Hurt on Her'. What's yours?

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Horowitz hit the north (of Europe)

Every time I see Pete or Ian from Horowitz they're always going on about Sweden this, Denmark that - I DON'T KNOW WHY THEY DON'T BLOODY JUST MOVE THERE.

Anyway, Scandinavians amongst you will no doubt be thrilled to learn that Horowitz have a whole tour of Sweden (and maybe a date in Denmark) booked. Expect fuzzy pop thrills on:

Saturday 24th October - Göteborg - On Our Honeymoon club at Stars n'Bars (venue tbc)

Monday 26th October - Copenhagen (tbc)

Tuesday 27th October - Malmö - Don't Die On My Doorstep at På Besök (venue tbc)

Wednesday 28th October - Jönköping - Don't Tell Me That!

Thursday 29th October - Stockholm - Cosy Den at Landet

Friday 30th October - Linköping (kf brun), skylten

Can you bring me back some of that round crispbread stuff they sell in Ikea please, lads?

Friday, 4 September 2009

Tender Trap - Fireworks (Fortuna Pop!)

You know you're an indiepop legend when the likes of Kip Berman start namechecking you, and of course Amelia Fletcher and her Tender Trap fit into that category nicely.

Why? Because of singles like this, that's why. 'Fireworks' belongs in that cult teen drama that never seems to make its way onto telly these days. If they ever remake Grange Hill as a film, then Tender Trap should write the soundtrack, because they make me feel like I'm 17 again. Indeed, if Tender Trap had been around when I was 17 it might have saved a lot of embarrassment. Anyway, it's a fizzy little number alright.

I recognise the second song from Indietracks, but for the life of me I can't see it mentioned anywhere on the press release or cd case, so you'll have to trust me when I say it's a feisty piece of stop-start pop, with a woozy chorus that mentions roulette wheels. Answers on a postcard, please. Hang on! It's on their myspace page, and it's called 'Grand National'. SOLVED.

'Fireworks' is available as a download only. I think you'll be able to find where from at the Fortuna Pop! website.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Apple Orchard - Leafy Lanes (Haymarket Recordings)

Yeah, indiepop, right - it's all fey pricks with Sarah Records badges and Hello Kitty slides, innit? Yeah. Twee fuckers.

Nonsense, says I! It's a massive, fat fact that not many of the current crop of indiepop darlings sound anything like the stuff that Sarah Records used to put out (I'm ready to be shot down on this one, of course). But Apple Orchard do, and they do it ever so nicely.

On 'Hit or Miss' they sound like Brighter, and there's no-one around at the moment who can sound like Brighter quite as nicely. On 'Fall Fast' they sound like Trembling Blue Stars, with added synth. Tick those boxes.

But don't worry - Apple Orchard aren't some kind of tribute act. 'That Sleepy Side of Town' is upbeat, perky, and almost groovy. And sort of indiepopdance song that you could only just shimmy along to, of course, but it top-tapping all the same.

We revert to type with 'Near Perfect', but that's okay, because in the absence of Harper Lee, I need some lush introspection every now and again.

That Apple Orchard carry on letting go of these little pop gems after the best part of a decade is a wonderful thing, and if you'd like to share this particular one, you best hurry up, because there are only 100 of them to order.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Strawberry Whiplash - Picture Perfect ep (Matinee)

Remember those Lush songs that Emma used to sing that all the dopey indieboys (myself included) didn't think were as good as the ones Miki used to sing, because - dur - she was Miki. They were all wrong. I was wrong. But it's good to see that Strawberry Whiplash has seen the value in a good Emma Anderson song, because the 'Perfect Picture' ep transports this listener right back to 1991, when he had considerably more hair and, therefore, a better fringe.

The title track is all chiming guitars, hazy, swooping verses and vocals that are always quite cute enough to make themselves heard above it all. It's a bit like Clare Grogan fronting Teenage Fanclub for a few joyous minutes.
'Celestial' is altogether more understated, but is all the better for it. All resignation and daydreams, with an outro that might be amongst my favourites of the year. And yes, I keep a list. What of it?

'Falling Through' ends the ep on a suitable ethereal, fuzzy, but resolutely poppy note. This is what I thought music was going to be like forever in 1991, and then it all disapeared as soon as it had arrived. Strawberry Whiplash have brought it back with all the venom perfect pop can muster.