Sunday, 25 September 2011

Humousexual - Meaning to these maps (Everard Records)

I had always assumed Humousexual to be way too cool for me. The people that usually name-dropped them were the same people who regularly snapped up micro-pressings of impossibly obscure bands who everyone else but me seemed to know about. And so, I'm mildly ashamed to say, I ignored them. How daft and stubborn is that?

That was until I saw them at this year's London Popfest, where they were probably the best band of the weekend for me. I then bumped into Victor at Indietracks, and he was the most charming, shy, unassuming person ever. And so I decided to warm to Humousexual immediately

And so it's a good job that 'Meaning to these maps' is such an ace record - their first in seven years. It's five songs are full of urgency and fun and politics

and pop and make a dreary Sunday seem slightly more bearable. There's scratchy guitars and defiant lyrics and a underlying sense that Humousexual, despite this outward display of being oh-so-humble, are really QUITE DANGEROUS INDEED.

Don't be scared. Buy this ep on seven inch white vinyl from Everard Records

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Nottingham indiepop alldayer: a preview of sorts

Around about now in exactly two weeks I'll be panicking my arse off, already three quarters of the way through my fourth pint of the day, and wondering why on earth any of the bands playing the Nottingham indiepop all-dayer haven't turned up yet, and why the soundman is spending more time in his mysterious smoking alley than he is setting the first band up. This, of course, is the curse of the small-time promoter. I don't pretend to be doing the world a favour, and I probably wouldn't have it any of other way. I'm sure Ian will be a rock on the day, anyway.

Panic over.

I thought, by way of a half-arsed preview, that I'd get together a few video clips of the bands playing, so you can see what you're missing out on when you decide to stay at home and watch X Factor/wash your hair/paint the cat. So, in no particular order...

A Fine Day For Sailing - Ballad of the Bedsit

Ste McCabe - I've Got a Big Car

Standard Fare - Love Doesn't Just Stop

The Blanche Hudson Weekend - Let Me Go

Ace Bushy Striptease - HM9 (Waterfall)

Milky Wimpshake - Pearshaped

Help Stamp Out Loneliness - Biergarten (this one features my bald spot. Yeah!)

The Whatevers - You and Your Twisted Romance

Pale Man Made - B-Line

Let's Whisper - Dylan's Song

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Pocketbooks - Carousel (Odd Box)

Clarity is what's needed at the moment. Something to blow the uncertainty away for once and all. A kind flush through of everything. Luckily, Pocketbooks' second, superb album, 'Carousel' is here to provide all of that and more.

'Flight Paths', this scrumptious band's debut album, is only two years old, but it seems longer than that. In between we've had sporadic live performances outside of the capital, and half the year most of the band are up to their necks in organising Indietracks. You can forgive them the two year wait. Life, and indiepop festivals, do seem to get in the way a bit.

'Carousel' is markedly different to its predecessor. If 'Flight Paths' was snotty, charmingly naive and marked the band's arrival, then 'Carousel' is their autumn album. It's all about introspection and staring out of windows and feeling a little bit lost with life.

Outsiders (those people who are considered that by others, not people who call themselves "outsiders" - they're fucking idiots) will love this album. Throughout there's a desire to break free of life's little obstacles and celebrate a little. Listen to 'The sky at night' for an ace example of this.

And this is a common theme. Love and life is lost - or couldn't attained. And if it has, there's a sense of restlessness. I think that's something a lot of us can relate to in one way or another. 'Sound of the carnival' is particularly knowing.

But, hey, let's not get too deep, chumps. What, essentially, you've got in 'Carousel' is a gem of a pop album. With Andy Hudson's twinkling keyboard and Emma Hall's amazing, crystal clear voice to the fore. And this time everything's backed up by some perky strings. I'm not gonna use the word 'mature', but it's pleasing to see a band can move on without losing any of their pop sensibilities. Chancers like Belle and Sebastian should take note.

If you want to force me to pick a favourite, then it'd have to be 'The Beaujolais Lanes' - a truly affecting mixture of words and music that deserves a much wider audience than it'll get. It's the sort of song you can imagine filling up a huge TV studio, whilst Ant & Dec look on. Y'know the sort of thing. It's a yes from me, anyway.

When Pocketbooks played some of these songs to open Indietracks it was a bit of emotional experience for some of us. That they manage to carry that feeling onto record is testament to how special they are, and this album is. Proof, if it were needed, that pop remains supreme.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Sigh on life

It's now less than three weeks until the Nottingham indiepop all-dayer, and if work wasn't getting in the way (recurring theme, there), then I'd be filled with that sense of nervousness and excitement that always comes before these dream-fuelled events we put on sometimes. As it is, I can barely see past the next hour at the moment.

Someone was asking me the other day who, apart from those already in the line-up, I'd like to add to the bill. I let out a long sigh and said these lot of lovely buggers.

Cor, how I miss The Deirdres. This seems like such a long time ago now. I repeat: sigh.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Everyone loves a happy ending

In preparation for their forthcoming UK tour at the beginning of October, Let's Whisper have put together a little video for 'All Happy Endings'. It's as cute as a button, of course. Look out for them playing a small room near you soon.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Bart & Friends - Stories with the Endings Changed (Lost and Lonesome)

Having finally settled down after another sporadic bout of John Fenty-hating, work has taken over about 18 hours of my day once again. I've been working on my own for nearly six weeks now, and it's beginning to take its toll. I've got the worst spot I've ever had in my life on my bloody chin, and I actually had a dream about a venture capitalist the other night.

So, it's at times like this that you need a record to take you into its arms and give you a great big hug. Luckily, I've had Bart and Friends' 'Stories with the endings changed' to do just that for the past month.

This record is lots of things. On the surface it's a straightforward pop album of sweet nothings. But, to me, it's been like a best friend for the last few weeks. Like last year's 'Make you blush' it's intimate and homely and instantly recognisable - even when you're listening to these songs for the first time.

They music here meanders - but in a perfect way. Pam Berry is gone from this album, and in comes Mark Monnone and a cast of thousands (well, seven) to create an at times, almost country-ish sound. Monnone's hand is all over this record, and his influence can be found on just about every song, but especially 'When I've Got No Choice', 'There's no place I'd rather be', and 'Tomorrow will be better than today'. But look to the credits and it's all Bart Cummings' own work. More of an indirect influence then.

Again the songs are short, but its hard to be this tender for longer than a couple of minutes without exploding with love. That's what I love most about it; the fact that Cummings packs so much feeling into a couple of minutes that you simply couldn't go on loving these songs for longer.

And then you skip to track one and start all over again, of course. Thank you for being a friend.