Sunday, 31 October 2010
The Loves has always been there over the last decade, haven't they? Stumbling from one drunken line-up to another, seemingly teetering on the verge of implosion - and this might well be the drunkest yet, of course, but it also sounds from this single and the band's performance at this year's Indietracks, that it's their best yet.
Shame they're planning on splitting up next year, then. I'm no fan of those internet petitions, but this might warrant one.
Saturday, 30 October 2010
Hey, I sounded computer literate for a moment there.
The label has released what may be a posthumous single from Derby's Of Mice and Mental Arithmetic - the band featuring members of the wonderful Lardpony and might Deirdres. Seems that OMAMA may well now be laid to rest, but if that's the case, then the three songs collected together here and are a fitting tribute.
Sounding way more polished on record than their often anarchic live performances, OMAMA sound almost cute at times. 'Gobble Die' carries all the glorious interwoven madness/genuius that The Deirdres perfected so well, whilst the Very Sad Indeed 'Fish Cannot Carry Guns' is sung in the most heartbreaking voice Sophie can muster. It might be the best song about maths ever, too.
Closing track 'Ants and Bees are Communists' opens with the line: "A think patriotism is a form of facism", and then goes on to include a bit of Roger Whittaker whistling, and ends up as a hymn against conformity. It's sweet, in a slightly sinister way...
Whatever, if this is OMAMA's parting shot, then it's a great way to remember them. You can download the single (and loads more) from the Beko website.
Monday, 25 October 2010
... and breathe...
With this in mind, this year sees the return of the layer of chips Christmas Party. Past highlights have seen Pete Green playing whilst showing everyone his testicles through a unfortunate hole in his jeans, Jamie doing his Noddy Holder impression a bit too loudly inbetween songs so that everyone heard, and failing to give away a Jim Reeves record as a raffle prize. Oh, what laffs.
This year's shoddily arranged jamboree will feature the might of Standard Fare, The Felt Tips, The Sweet Nothings and Vom Vorton. It's all happening on Friday 26 November at The Chameleon in Nottingham. Get there for around 8pm and you won't miss anything at all.
You can register your interest by pretending you're coming at either the facebook page or the last.fm page. Don't bloody fib to me, alright?
Sunday, 24 October 2010
There's something hilarious about the float-y nature of those banners. But they're not quite as hilarious as Robinson's face when he's snapped the placard in half. My word, have you ever seen anyone so pleased with themselves? Twat.
Thursday, 21 October 2010
Fear not, dear listener, for Nothern Portrait are here to swoon away you deepest woes. They might not be able to give you a secure job to pay the rent and the bills, but they can give us a song so lush, dreamy and life-affirming that it makes your author forget that he was mere yards from Cameron and Clegg today, and couldn't do a fucking thing about picking them up and chucking them in the Trent. It's the least they deserve.
The most you deserve, is another wonderful Northern Portrait song. And you've got it in spades. 'Life Returns to Normal' soars, it swoops, it tugs at your heartstrings. It's a love song about those people who are always there for you. If you're lucky enough to have those people, you're get this straight away. If you're not, take solace in a pretty perfect pop song and call it your best friend.
Download 'Life Returns to Normal' here.
Wednesday, 20 October 2010
Alan Johnson, the shadow chancellor said the one useful thing of his political career this afternoon, when he stood up and pointed at the Opposition benches, and mocked: "Some of those people over there have today got what they wanted when they entered politics," or words to that effect. He was right. And then he ruined it all by explaining why Labour's version of capitalism would be so much better.
Now, if the unions manage to fuck this opportunity up, then they may as well disband into one amalgamous cesspit and call themselves charities who can get you cheap hoidays when you need them.
Showing the way is an outcry from the excellent Happy Happy Birthday to Me Records (HHBTM). Last Thursday both HHBTM and The Smittens were shocked to find out that Fox News talking head John Gibson (who is very openly opposed to gay marriage) was using the Smittens song 'Something Sassy' as trailer music for his radio show not just once, but it seems to be a new trail that is getting much use.
The Smittens, who have two openly gay members with one being in a legal gay marriage in Vermont, and the label HHBTM which releases records by other gay artists are quite rightly protesting against the use ofthe song, and want to let people know we did not approve the song being used in the first place.
So, they issued a press release. Here it is:
VERMONT BAND THE SMITTENS DEFY THE JOHN GIBSON SHOW’S NEW THEME
Arch-conservative Fox News Radio Host John Gibson - an avowed opponent of gay marriage, and one of GLAAD’s 2008 ‘Worst Anti-Gay Voices’ - has used the track ‘Something Sassy’ by Vermont indie band The Smittens as his new bump to emphasize just how ‘sassy’ racist and homophobic sentiments are.
The band, of which two members are gay, were surprised and appalled by the news. Dana Kaplan, who plays and sings with the band, said: “The Smittens were pretty shocked to hear our song ‘Something Sassy’ being used as bumper music for John Gibson’s radio show. We find it pretty ironic that someone in his team has not done their research properly – two members of the band are gay and one legally married her spouse in Vermont! As you can imagine we’re not big fans of John Gibson and don’t want our music associated with his offensive views. guess it just goes to show you John - ‘ We are Everywhere’”
Good luck to The Smittens with that. And to everyone else who might lose their job/house/sanity when the vicious cuts announced by the UK government today take effect.
Tuesday, 19 October 2010
Like many people I know who either resisted or rejected the lure of London in their early 20s, I have a strange relationship with the place. I both love and loathe London. It can be thrilling, exciting, romantic and just about the best place in the world if you’ve got a few quid and hours to spare.
However, it’s also filthy, anarchic, lonely and displays more than any other place I’ve been (apart from Paris, perhaps) the vivid, cruel differences between rich and poor.
When you’re from the north of England and you’re young, London may as well be on the other side of the world. And when you go there the first time, it really does feel like you’re going on holiday to somewhere wild and exotic. That feeling never really goes away, no matter how many times you visit the place.
But going back home is better. The warm, rich northern accents at St Pancras are the first sign that, in a few hours, you’ll be back to normality – away from the maddening rush and almost surreal London atmosphere. And as the train heaves on through north London and you only have the “delights” of Bedfordshire to look at, well, you don’t really mind that much, because it’s over with. You’ve seen your mates, you’ve been to the gig, you’ve spent nearly four quid on a pint of bitter that tastes like soapy water, and now you long for the more gentle confines of normality again.
I understand completely why people fall in love with London. I like to fall in love with it for 24 hours about three or four times a year. I also understand why people call it the greatest city on earth. It can feel like that when you have some money, and you’re strolling through the streets with your friends to London Popfest, or to some out of the way pub that they’ve found, where you can sit all night and laugh, and laugh, and laugh. Or when you follow your team down to London and you have this ridiculous sense of belonging to the black and white – a tiny team from a small town in the north, and you’re there representing them in one of the biggest cities on earth. How does that happen?
But going home is the best bit. There’s a lot to be said for falling off the train, taking a midnight taxi and walking down anonymous streets until you see you house in the distance. And then you think: “Blimey, I was in London three hours ago.” And that never fails to amaze me. Simple things.
Saturday, 16 October 2010
To celebrate, here is a new-ish video for 'If Loneliness Was Art', which features death-defying rooftop escapades with Fab lollies. And where else can you find such a heady mix? This is such a special song.
From the sublime to incontinent: tonight I'm djing at a 70th birthday party. I'm not sure how we got here. I hope there's some septuagenerian indiepop fans in the audience.
Friday, 15 October 2010
Monday, 11 October 2010
Sunday, 10 October 2010
Miguel: I am especially pleased with how 'Garden Of Roses' and 'Silver Spoon' worked in the studio. 'A Life More Ordinary' is the one that I enjoy most playing live though.
Kev: Difficult to pick a favourite as some of my favourites Felt Tips songs didn't make it onto the album, but really pleased with all that did - 'Boyfriend Devoted' and 'Lifeskills' were the songs which first got me interested as a fan before i joined the band, but i like the raw honesty of 'Dear Morrissey' and the bravery of 'Not Tonight'. I love the way Andrew jumps around on stage while playing 'Bought and Sold'!
Apart from the always amazing number of interesting bands constantly emerging from Glasgow, there has been for many years an important support from certain Scottish institutions, helping bands to grow and develop. Now that these institutions will suffer dramatic changes, we wonder what the future holds for the scene in Glasgow.
Wednesday, 6 October 2010
The stench of rotting capitalism coming out of the Tory conference in Birmingham this week only serves to remind us of a couple of things: a Tory is a Tory is a fucking Tory; the bastards never change, they just get a secondhand car salesman's haircut. Secondly, the mainstream press now seems to dictate government policy more than at any time I can remember.
So, this week I've been depressed and Absolutely Frigging Furious in equal measure. The further ghettoisation of the poor, the degredation of already inhuman prisons into workhouses (workhouses, for fuck's sake!), and the actual promise of mass unemployment makes me yearn for an organised workers' party more than ever. Not that it's going to happen any time soon, like...
Gideon's boss, David Cameron will this afternoon ask "what is fair in an age of austerity". What he really means by that is that he doesn't think it's fair for people to be claiming benefits whilst the "wealth creators" get on their bike. These wealth creators, of course, include those close to the Tories in the City who will, come December, rake in another round of vile bonuses in the name of propping up capitalism. Whilst those being unfair in the dole queue will have to start looking at like without any housing benefit.
That's fairness in 2010, is it?
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the NHS is being privatised inch by inch. The department Mrs Chips works for is up for tender next April, and one of those interested in taking over the podiatry department in Nottinghamshire is an investment banker. Do you hear that, Nye Bevan?
It's at times like this - in these dark days - that you have to turn to the pop, don't you? Which is why, to try and beat the gloom, I've decided to organise an early Christmas gig in Nottingham. It's on 26 November at The Chameleon in Nottingham. Standard Fare, The Felt Tips and The Sweet Nothings are playing. Tories not welcome. Or anyone called Gideon.
The pop fightback begins here. We'll win.
Monday, 4 October 2010
Hellfire Sermons return after what seems like forever away. Their last album was a compilation on the Bus Stop label calle 'Hymns Ancient and Modern', which collected all their singles between 1987 and 1994 together in one deliciously awkward package.
And now 'Luminous Crocodile' has appeared, and it's equally as awkward. Decidely lo-fi (you almost feel like you're sat in a rehearsal at times), this album wrestles with itsel throughout. Just when you think you're about to launch into perfect pop, there's a mangled guitar, off-centre bassline, or out of tune vocal to keep you in check. And that's not such a bad thing now and again.
And then there's 'Gone to Ground', which is something of an epic, but again fails to really take off when you're about to close your eyes and shake your head in a really pretentious way.
But you can do on 'Mystery of Life', which harks back to the early Hellfire Sermons sound. A sort of Fall meets the Pastels, it's the best track here. It grunts, it growls, but it's groovy too. Just listen to that bassline; dare I say it - but it's a little bit primal and sexy.
Pop fans might find this album difficult. But pop fans should give it some time. Underneath that muddy production is a heartthrob of a record. Just don't let on you know, like. We wouldn't want Hellfire Sermons going soft on us...
Download 'Mystery of Life' here.
Friday, 1 October 2010
It's odd that this album's coming out at the same time as the new Belle and Sebsastian record. The two bands are so similar - yet so different. The Felt Tips are set to release a classic collection; Belle and Sebastian limp on, seemingly intent on taking part in some kind of self-parody. Oh, and 'Living and Growing' doesn't have Norah bloody Jones to ruin things.
All life is here: sex, religion, relationships, Morrissey... it's a rich soup of wonderful, heroic pop songs. And, get this: it was funded by the Scottih Arts Council, which might make 'Living and Growing' something of a rarity in the very near future, once the bastard Tories have cut all funding to organisations like that... in the name of "promoting enterprise".
Well, here's something that screams enterprise. Guitars chime, Andrew Paterson's vocals soar and have that folksy Scottish lilt that makes each song irresistable.
'Garden of Roses' shines brightest, but it's followed closely by the perky 'Engaged for a Visa', the frankly filthy 'Lifeskills' (which has an outro that Marr would've been proud of in 1985), 'Dear Morrissey', which tells the tale of disillusionment with your childhood hero (we've all been there), and 'Not Tonight' (another been there, done that moment).
The beauty of this album is its brutal honesty. It's not scared to pick its targets and shoot at will. It means something, for heaven's sake, and that' totally precious.
Download 'Garden of Roses' here.