Tuesday 30 June 2009

Life has it in for us, Vol. 2 - available now(ish)!

I somehow managed to shift around 170 copies of the first volume of Life Has it in For Us, which was extremely heartening and made me more excited about the second ep.

I know there are a million cd-r labels out there, so I hope you can find time for one more. Volume 2 is available from next Monday, and features:

Standard Fare - A Night With a Friend
Boy Genius - Eleanor
Mascot Fight - Terry is Chicago Sun
Liechtenstein - Roses in the Park
The Specific Heats - End of an Error
The Besties - Bone Valley Deposit
The Middle Ones - Freely With You

It's free, but if you could see your way to sending £1.50 (£2.50 Europe and rest of the world) to alayerofchips at hotmail dot com via Pay Pal, that'd be lovely.

Monday 29 June 2009

Interview with Marisa Bestie

'Twas the Monday after Indietracks 2007, and we were all knackered. And yet around 40 hardy souls stayed up in Nottinghamshire to see The Besties play with The Deirdres on what was possibly the most joyous gig I've ever put on.

The bad news is that The Besties didn't tour the last album in the UK. The good news is that Marisa Bergquist is another ace band, and they're playing in Nottingham for us on Thursday 23 July, before heading off to this year's Indietracks.

Such a perfect circle led me to ask Marisa some questions. Here are her answers.

How long have you been in the Specific Heats, and how did the band get together?

I've been playing with The Heats for about a year and a half now, although Mat's been doing the band in one form or another for several years, with various lineups including solo. Mat and I met in 2004 at the first New England Popfest- He was there playing bass in a great band called Shumai (also featuring on drums one Mr. Frank E. Korn who would later join The Besties) and our bands just kind of hit if off. When we Besties realized what huge pervs they all were we knew we'd be great friends. I later found that Mat had his own band, The Specific Heats, who the Besties went on to play with many times. Mat asked me to sing a duet with him called Carl Sagan on the Heats' first album Aboard The Spaceship Of The Imagination which was in production. I was so flattered! I remember listening to the demo on the bus on the way up to Boston to record and thinking what a great songwriter Mat was and hoping not to screw it all up! The session went well and the recording came out nicely. From that experience I think we both realized how much we liked working together, so when the Heats lost their bass/organ player (the lovely and talented Jen Kaminsky) Mat asked me to take over Farfisa duties.

How does this it fit in with your stuff with The Besties?

The Besties and The Specific Heats have each grown in very different directions from our common indiepop roots- the Besties' punk leanings began to influence our sound, while Mat's love of surf and garage is really showing what he's writing these days. That said, I think Mat and I are both people who are moved strongly by melody, and I think that's where there's a mutual admiration for each other's writing, which is why we like working together so much. Of course one of the things I like the most about being in The Heats is that, unlike in The Besties, I only sing occasionally so I'm free to focus more on playing the Farfisa and, most importantly, headbangin.

Can we buy Specific Heats records?

Yes you can! Our newest release, the Back Through Thyme 7", as well as the first full-length Aboard The Spaceship Of The Imagination are available via mailorder through Total Gaylord Records, or by emailing thespecificheats@gmail.com. Digital copies can be purchased at Itunes, Emusic and Amazon. Or if you live in Greece you can buy the 7" it from Lost in Thyme, a really great garage fanzine!

How did you hear about Indietracks and what are you looking forward to most about it?

We started hearing about it when we were at the Emmaboda festival in Sweden in the summer of 2007. People were talking about this festival in the UK that took place on a train and it sounded so amazing. So glad to finally be playing it. I'm unbelievably stoked to be seeing TEENAGE FANCLUB!!! But I have to say, the thing I look forward to most is hanging out with some of the awesome people I met when the Besties toured Europe. Are you guys ready to hang out?!

How did the last Besties album go down in the US?

I don't know- good, I guess? It's hard to say. We got some really great reviews, also some really awful (and bizarrely personal) ones. But we were happy with the record we made, our friends and fans like it, so what more can you really ask? What I learned from reading the negative reviews, as well as noticing the lack of reviews at all, was that perhaps it didn't have as broad an appeal as maybe we thought it did or were lead to believe it had- but that doesn't make it any less of a record. At all. And I'll never let a "music critic" or anyone else make me feel bad about myself, my music, or the choices I've made with my life. Fuck that!

What's the best new band in the US right now?

The Specific Heats! No..... The Besties! Ugh... You decide!

Are you at all jealous of the success Pains of Being Pure at Heart are having?

The short and honest answer to your question is yes, if only in the sense that of course every band wants to do well. Mostly we were just thrilled to watch them catapult to indie super-stardom because they're great, happen to be the nicest folks ever, and have always been big supporters of our band. We couldn't be more pleased that their music is reaching as many people as it is now. But being envious of their exact position and circumstances, no. It's funny, our record Home Free was released on the same day as theirs and you can see the uh, very different trajectories of our two bands from that point. Comparing these trajectories has been interesting for me- it really clarified for me what I do and don't want for my band. What they've got going on (huge festivals, blog presence, television appearances, etc) isn't exactly what's right for The Besties. Now that's not to say that if we blew up (juuuuust a little) I'd wish it away if it meant we were able to reach a few more people, have an easier time booking tour, etc. But for now I'm actually quite happy being a basement band- it feels real to me and it's just who we are.

I'm also aware of the danger of feeling that you're owed something because of the choices you've made in your life. When you play in a touring band at our level, you do things like work shitty jobs, live in crumbling apartments or nowhere at all, and make all manner of personal sacrifices in order to make it all physically and financially possible, and for some people that leads to high expectations and extreme bitterness if those expectations are not met. You have to remember that no matter how hard you work, or what you give up in your daily life, people still might not like your band and you have to be ok with that. Welcome it even- because most likely it means you're doing something right- and keep on going because you believe in it. There's simply no room for a sense of entitlement in making music- at least any music that matters.

What's your most useful festival survival tip?

Poop in the woods as opposed to using those nausea-inducing port-o-lets. After day 1it's just not worth it to go into those things for any length of time, no matter how brief. But be considerate and find a spot away from the path, naturally.

Tuesday 23 June 2009

Transmittens - Our Dreams (Wee Pop!)

Who ever wants to actually open a Wee Pop! release? They're almost too beautiful, aren't they? They also remind of Ye Olde Paydays, but that's another story.

Transmittens play all sorts of tricks with your mind. They go all sickly sweet on Boo and Sparklemittens (which they rhyme with kittens - oh yeah!), but then there's the indiepop torch song of My Heart's in a Dumpster, which ticks every box in the fey boy meets fey girl situation. And on the other (third?) hand there's the punky Fingers Crossed, which sort of sounds like Helen Love playing a Lucksmiths song. Hmm, that might not be strictly accurate, but it sounds like that to me, alright?

Saturday Socks also rattles along at a fair old pace, and sounds a little bit Elefant 6, maybe. But, ultimately, you come back to indiepop, and on Our Dreams, Transmittens do it just about as good as anyone else at the moment.

Those who still mourn the perfect demise of The Deirdres should get an earful of Transmittens. Sure, they don't sound half as chaotic, but there's the boy-girl vocals which have the same innocent charm that first turned me on to those oiks from Derby. High praise OR WHAT?

Monday 22 June 2009

Bloody Vandals

A note from Jonny Lee Hart of Leeds poppers the Chiara Ls. Or, as they're now called The Kiara Elles. Jonny alerts me to record label called Vandal, and it's run by the people behind the old 48 Crash label.

Any road round, as they (maybe) say in Yorkshire, there's launch night for the label which will be in Leeds at the really pretty brilliant Joseph's Well pubs on 3 July called A NIGHT OF VANDALISM... dun, dun, dunnnnnnn!.. and The Kiara Elles are playing, so that'll be nice. I'd go along if I were you.

Wednesday 17 June 2009

The Pete Green Indietracks interview!

I remember, way back in 2007 (them were the days eh, lads?) camping opposite Pete Green (then Juggernautless) at the first Indietracks festival. Ah, I can still smell him now...

Of course, back then, it was all fields around Butterley, and the trains ran on steam, and you could still get a seat in the church after 4pm in the afternoon. Fancy that! So, two long years on, I thought it was about time we cast our minds back, and reminisced about that long, hot summer of 2007...

What were your initial thoughts when you first heard about Indietracks?

First thought: "Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!" Second thought: "Hang on – how am I gonna get there?" Indietracks is a combination of wonderful things which none of us ever remotely imagined somebody might put together. It's like Wash & Go, but with steam trains and indiepop instead of shampoo and conditioner. And a shower of real ale. The phrase 'best thing ever' tends to be squandered on YouTube clips of funny cats, but it's fully justified when it comes to Indietracks.

What came first? Indietracks or the train enthusiasm?

I got interested in heritage lines and steam after I had a go on the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway in 2005, a couple of years before Indietracks began. It kind of helped that they had a real ale coach on the train with a lovely little purpose-built bar. I've always been fond of trains really, though – it was just a question of coming out at the right moment, in a tolerant environment and with a supportive group of friends around me. Not that I'm a spotter, you understand. Honest! 'Enthusiast' is a much better word.

Which has been your favourite Indietracks? 2007 or 2008?

2008 was amazing but I guess 2007 edges it for me, if only cos I was there that year as a performer as well as a fan, so there were two different kinds of thrills. Anyway, I confidently expect 2009 to be even better than both. They're all fantastic though, aren't they? I can't see anything at all to be less than joyful about. It's like trying to choose your favourite member of The Deirdres.

And what has been your favourite Indietracks moment?

My favourite Indietracks moment and possibly my favourite whole life moment was during the Pocketbooks singalong on the train in 2007. They asked me to join them on guitar but I didn't really know what we were playing – it was half their songs, half covers – so I was kind of muddling through but having a blast anyway. Then Dan very quickly showed me the chords for 'I'm Not Going Out' just before we played it, and by the mercy of the pop gods it came out note perfect, and at the end Dan and me turned round to each other and laughed in amazement and joy. This combination of musical perfection, dozens of people having so much fun, and the sheer weirdness of all this happening on a moving steam train made me so happy that I had an out-of-body experience, but then I got a bit thirsty and there wasn't a bar up there. It's always the way.

Sometimes when I feel a bit down, I'll go on the internet and watch the video of us all doing 'Happy Hour' later in the set, and it never fails to make me grin and go "awww!" and think maybe that was the hour when my entire existence on Earth became worthwhile.

Has Indietracks turned you on to going to other festivals at all?

Not really. I mean it's done the best it can, but the other festivals need to try harder. For a long, long time I'd just never have even considered going to one – mud, crap line-ups, mud, expensive, corporate sponsors, mud, pooing into a bucket, possibility of horrible people trampling on your tent. Indietracks has proved it doesn't have to be like that, but I look down the line-ups of other festivals and there's maybe two or three bands out of 40 that I'd be bothered about seeing. I guess something like Primavera or ATP would come closest but, I dunno, just too many people. Maybe Emmaboda sometime, if I ever get a passport. But in reality there's probably more chance of me giving in to my mum and letting her drag me to one of these terrifying hippy-folky festivals she goes to in deepest Lincolnshire.

Do you think there'll come a time when Indietracks will have to veer away slightly from indiepop?

Hey, now pack that in, you mardy old goth. Why would it? I've interviewed Stuart Indietracks for my new zine Bye Bye, Duffel Boy and he put my mind completely at rest about the future of the festival, so there's really no need to sit in the cemetery with a bottle of Thunderbird obsessing about everything having to die. I know they lost a few quid in 2007 but there's loads going this year. Indiepop – it's the new craze, you know!

What are your thoughts on this year's line-up?

This year there's a cracking mix of acts who I've seen a few times, and already know to be chuffing brilliant, with a load of really intriguing new or new-ish names who sound really promising from a quick listen on last.fm: people like The Specific Heats and Rose out of The Pipettes. Also: ohmygod ohmygod Eux Autres! This year's line-up is the best yet. I live in daily terror that just before they split up The Lucksmiths will be announced as a late headliner and ruin everything!

And what do you have planned for your set this year? Any surprises?

We're hoping to have a special guest join the band on stage for a couple of songs, but I'm not telling you who, cos then it wouldn't be a surprise. Before you ask, no, it isn't Morrissey – they're much prettier than that. What I can tell you now, though, is that just before the festival The Pete Green Corporate Juggernaut will be releasing 'Hey Dr Beeching' as a free mp3 download. Wooo-wooooo! I wrote it so I'd have a train song to play at Indietracks in 2007, so it's all kind of fitting. Finally, and most importantly of all, I can reveal exclusively to A Layer of Chips that I'll be sporting a new and rather fetching pair of red festival shorts.

Tuesday 16 June 2009

Last few copies of Life Has it in For Us Vol. 1

There's about 12 copies of Life Has it in For Us Vol. 1 on my desk at work, so if anyone wants one, please send £1.50 if you're in the UK (£2.50 rest of the world) by paypal to alayerofchips@hotmail.com.

In case you hadn't been paying attention, the track listing is:

MJ Hibbett & the Validators - One of the Walls of My House Fell In
Moustache of Insanity - You and Things
The Hillfields - Delivered
Pocketbooks - Summertime
The Crayon Fields - How Loved You Are
Northern Portrait - I Give You Two Seconds to Entertain Me
Give it Ups - Four Day Week

Volume 2 is out in July, and is a BELTER.

Ghosts of dead aeroplanes - an interview with Tim Pattinson from Prolapse

Between 1993 and 1999 I was totally, utterly and completely in love with a band from Leicester called Prolapse, so much so that I followed them around shortly after they released their masterful first album, Pointless Walks to Dismal Places. Almost literally.

It's by some stroke of huge fortune that Prolapse's drummer, the deceptively explosive Tim Pattinson, ended up in MJ Hibbett & the Validators, and so a part of my simple youth lives on today in another great band.

Tim was kind enough to talk about his time in Prolapse.

How did you end up in Prolapse?

Well we formed as an idea first before actually playing together. Me and Geordie Mick had been in a couple of bands together before Prolapse, and then one night it was decided with Pat and Scottish Mick to form the most depressing band in the world (not entirely seriously) and then eventually we got around to playing. The first thing we ever played that night ended up as They Slept In Darkness – which at the time we thought was a really enigmatic title until someone pointed out that most people do that!

Tell me about the early days in the band. Did you realise with those first two singles that you were in such a special band?

Special? The biggest excitement I had on any of the early recordings was probably on the first demo we did, it had a sound that we only really got close to capturing again on the last album – never got close otherwise. One of the things that was great about the early days was creating a buzz in Leicester, and eventually getting out of it. There were a few big local bands that always seemed to dominate things and we were the upstarts that actually got out of the city. I think as soon as record companies were interested you started to dream of what might happen.

How long did it take to paint the covers of those limited edition copies of 'Pointless Walks...'

Well we did a load of them at a gig at the Sausage Machine at the Russell Arms, they were put on the back of the stage and people got up and painted them through the gig, which was THE hottest gig I’ve EVER done. Then we did a few each ourselves and I think the rest were done by some art students or something. Whilst it was a great idea, I’d have loved to see the cover on a 12 inch sleeve. Probably never will have another one of those.

What were the relationships like in the band? Did Mick and Linda have big fights? If so, did that affect the rest of you?

Okay for most of the time. There was a period when Geordie Mick and Linda started seeing each other and Scottish didn’t know and it was a bit fractious but otherwise the tensions weren’t really between Mick & Linda. The only fisticuffs I can remember are between me & mick (both on separate occaisions) and a great one at the end of the first gig on the Italian Flag tour when Mick had introduced Cacophany #A as “the boring one”, which got Pat riled, then by the time I came off stage they were at each others throats. Thankfully hatchets were buried.

There seemed to be quite a lot of money (relatively) thrown at the band around the time of Italian Flag and the singles off that album. Did the record company think you were going for the charts? And did you?

I guess we were going for the charts yes. Though to be fair the record company were more convinced than we were. Putting out Autocade as a single caused a bit of a rift – Mick hated the song – hence he’s not on it. We went out for a meal with the record company to discuss the second single, there was the Deanshanger camp (Me, Scottish and Dave I think) and the Autocade camp (Geordie, Linda and Pat and the record company) after much food/beer/wine/discussions we ended up with the bizarre decision of Death Seaside being the 2nd single – quite how that happened I’ve no idea. We did some new mixes and it was awful and eventually we did the sensible thing and put the poppy one out as the single. I think the problem was the video – in those days you could have bought a house for the money we spent on that and it’s awful. Doorstop which is brilliant only cost £1,000. It’s all down to the ideas I guess.

What do you make of the last album? Was it a disappointing way to go out, or do you think it's a lost gem?

No I really like it. I think if we’d had the songs of the Italian flag with the sound and atmosphere of the last album, then that would have been excellent. I think Government of Spain is one of the best things we did and Fob.com was actually a single of the week in the NME (our only one) you know, so it’s not THAT bad!

What finally split the band?

Once we got dropped by Warners (Radar) it was a case of accepting that the band was never going to be a full time concern. Most of us had jobs and lives that had in a way been on hold for about 5 years. If we could have got away with doing an album every 2 years and a handful of gigs (like with the Validators now) then I’d have loved to carry on. But the problem was always going to be the pressures from record companies, agents, press, management (and probably some of the band) etc to do more and more. It was therefore just easier to pack it all in than to try to carry on at a reduced level. It meant getting a life back, being able to say things like,’ yes, I will go on holiday then’ and not need to get approval from 6+ others.

Who were Prolapse's musical heroes?

There’s a few that are easy and obvious, like The Fall, Joy Division, Neu, Sonic Youth & Stereolab, but that’s probably slanted towards my own personal list. Quite a bit of Post punk stuff, Pat was always inspired by the Chameleons, I know Linda came from a more indie pop angle, Shop Assistants etc. I think of bands around at the time, the one time I saw and thought “yes, I know what you’re going through” was Mercury Rev (Yerself is Steam era)– they seemed to have the same level of chaos going on.

What's your favourite Prolapse song?

You’re not really expecting only one are you? Very hard to narrow it down. I think on each album there was one song where I think we totally nailed it sound & performance wise, these being Doorstop, Framen Fr. Cesar, Flat Velocity Curve & Government of Spain. On top of that I’d add Slash/Oblique & Visa for Violet and Van.

And what is your favourite memory of your time in Prolapse?

There’s 3 that spring to mind.

First one playing the Reading Festival, we were 2nd headliner in one of the tents. And it was absolutely packed. When we walked out on stage it was amazing. We’d never seen that many people at one of our gigs (and never again!) it felt like being a proper pop star for a few short moments all those teenage dreams etc… just great.

The next one was in Paris, first and only time. We started with Serpico and when it kicked in the crowd surged onto the stage throwing my friend Emma (different Emma) onto the stage along with loads of young French kids. Totally mad, and it was followed by the funniest night of my life. We were doing Alan Partridge impressions to a packed pub of French people who, presumably thought we were irritating drunk Brits – as it was we thought we were Great! Never laughed so much!

Benecassim – backstage free bar, swimming pool , life of Riley chairs - say no more!

Can you dispel one Prolapse myth?

I wouldn’t want to dispel anything rather reinforce one, the curse of prolapse! Autocade was pretty much blanked by radio1 because of Princess Diana’s death, apparently they thought it was a bit of a touchy subject. Then about a month later the day the Italian Flag came out, there was an earthquake in Italy which destroyed St Francis of Assissi’s church. Also we are entirely responsible for the demise of Flying Nun records. We’d agreed to do a one off single on them (it was going to be Visa for Violet and Van) and then they went bust a few days later! There was other stuff too but I cant remember what they were, a night in the pub with Pat or Mick would I’m sure bring more back.

Do you still see or keep in touch with any of the band?

I still see Pat when he’s over from Denmark which is usually a couple of times a year. Geordie Mick who lives in Leicester I haven’t seen for years nor Linda – they could always turn up to a Validators gig if they wanted! I actually saw Scottish Mick last month in Oslo, we went to a death metal pub, they served the cheapest beer in the city, strange that Mick would know about that.

Sunday 14 June 2009

Merci Magazine, Vol 001

Back when I used to run tasty fanzine, my friend Aline did an interview with Stuart Murdoch for me. This was picked up by a Japanese magazine who asked if they could run it in their next issue. Of course, I said they could, and they subsequently sent me a copy. It was a thing of beauty.

But it's perhaps not as beautiful as the first issue of Merci Magazine, which comes with a free cd, featuring:

01 Ingeborg Selnes - Open your heart (NO)
02 Bedroom Eyes - Hand in Hand Grenade (demo) (SW)
03 Punch and Judy - You better know it..s coming backn (SW)
04 Girl is Töugh - Polynomie (MX)
05 Run Toto Run - Your Face (UK)
06 clover - Tania in a Car (ID)
07 The Pity Party - Wanting Wan (US)
08 The Kazoo Funk Orchestra - Robots in Your Eyes (UK)
09 The Winter Club - Stylo (UK)
10 Hari and Aino - Gold (or something just as nice) (SW)
11 Ladies!Disaster! - Sushi Sabotage (DE)
12 Sweet Sweet Concorde - Time To Die (SW)
13 Oliver North Boy Choir - Over/Out (DK)
14 Naivepop or Petitfool - Sunday Morning (JP)
15 Audrey shoes - Colorful (JP)

The magazine comes courtesy of Masahiro Nomura of ABCDEFG* records and ABC*BOOKS. You can contact Masahiro at office@abcdefg-record.net and order your copy.

In the meantime, here's Naivepop or Petitfool's Sunday Morning

And here's a handy youtube video showing you just how ace this magazine looks.

Friday 12 June 2009

Songs that saved your life, part 6

A post was partly inspired by a thread on anorak, this latest dull excursion into the furthest reaches of my tiny mind concerns a band I cherish nearly more than any other - Stump.

The first Stump song I heard was 'Buffalo', a crazy, off-kilter pop song about... well, fish and chips possibly. But probably not.

I heard this on John Peel's show one night, and the next morning rushed into school to see if my fellow Peel-listener, James, had caught it. He had. We enthused about the song to the endless tedium of our school friends, and that weekend I went into Andy's Records in Grimsby and bought Stump's mini-album, Quirk Out, on tape.

Stump were an ansty bunch. They made the C86 tape and, somehow, got signed to major Ensign, who had Sinead O'Connor to worry about at the time. Centred around Kev Hopper's ridiculously intricate bass playing, they made a sort of awkward pop sound that had the 13 year old me thinking that they'd come from another planet. Well, they certainly weren't from Irby-upon-Humber...

My favourite song of theirs, however, is perhaps one of the only times they played it straight. 'Our Fathers' has resonated with me during my teenage years, into my angsty twenties, and onwards into my resigned thirties. It's a song about the father-son relationship, and how, gradually, although you vow never to at a young age, you often display your Dad's traits as you get older - for better or for worse. It has my own fractious relationship with my Dad down to a tee, and it really should've been a single.

Some kindly soul has set up a Stump myspace site, and if you want some more information on a truly unique, thrilling band, have a look at Kev Hopper's wonderful history of Stump.

I once had my hair cut like Mick Lynch. I looked a right twat.

Tuesday 9 June 2009

Indietracks 2009 - An Indiepop Compilation (Make Do and Mend)

Designed as a keepsake that will remind you of indiepop thrills, fumbled legover moments in collapsed tents, and the raging shits you contracted from drinking too much real ale on top of three hot dogs in a row, this expansive revue can also be bought up front and give you that tight feeling in your stomach that makes you wish Indietracks was this weekend coming.

That sentence was way too long.

Anyway, I'm not going to go through each track on this mammoth 44 (forty-four) track double cd. I'm not a flippin' robot. Suffice to say that I'm looking forward to the following acts a lot: Friends; Downdime; Pocketbooks; the boy Green and his Juggernauts; Cooper; Northern Portrait; The School; Eux Autres; Kevin McGrother; The Marshmallow Kisses and Help Stamp Out Loneliness. Especially Help Stamp Out Loneliness, who I'd manage to not hear before listening to their swoonsome 'Parma Violet' on here, which sounds a little bit like the best bits of the much-missed Saloon. They're a must-see.

You want one more ace thing about this album? It's only bloody £6, isn't it? You really should order right away from Make Do And Mend.

Monday 8 June 2009

Teenage Fanclub headline Indietracks

Your author once spent a lovely afternoon in 1991 watching Teenage Fanclub play the Reading Festival. Yes, I might have been dressed in Doc Martens, Grimsby Town shorts and a leather jacket, but I was happy. And so, nearly twenty years on, I'll get to see them again when they headline the Elefant stage on the Sunday of Indietracks. I shall hopefully be wearing something a little less flamboyant.

Indietracks weekend tickets cost £55, day tickets cost £30 and both are available to buy from Ticketweb or by calling the railway direct on 01773 747 674.

Thursday 4 June 2009

Pocketbooks - Footsteps

The Pocketbooks micro-backlash, instigated by a handful of amateur masturbation enthusiasts in that London barely made a ripple on the oft-derided indiepop scene (does 50 or so people make a scene?), and yet there are mutterings from elsewhere that Pocketbooks just haven't earned yet, man, and that they only get decent reviews from people because they go to the right gigs, and keep in with the right people.

Well, colour me guilty of liking nice folk. And call me Wally and slap my arse if I can't help but love the fact that a band like Pocketbooks exist, a band who don't want to "play the right shows" and don't moan if they're at the bottom of a bill, and who will happily travel outside of London because they realise that you can have fun without confining yourselves to the four walls the capital, and who are perhaps one of the least pretentious bunch of people swimming in a sea of studied looks and moves you could ever hope to meet.

And, yeah, the songs are pretty ace, too. It's Thursday 4 June 2009, and by the end of the weekend, the UK will know whether it's elected its first openly racist member of the European Parliament. Walking to the polling booth today to either vote for a left party that hasn't got a future, never mind a hope of winning is going to be a sobering experience. So, when you're lamenting the fact that post-war social democracy ended up producing something as morally and politically inept as the Labour Party in 2009, then I'll tell you what to do: stick Footsteps by Pocketbooks on. It might not change the world, but fuck me, it'll make you feel a whole lot better for three minutes. And that's the power of pop music, isn't it?

Footsteps is officially released on 15 June on iTunes and through http://www.pocketbooks.org.uk/

Wednesday 3 June 2009

The Specific Heats/Sarandon/Give it Ups, Nottingham 23rd July

Well, I might be helping put on *one* more gig...
This is the night before Indietracks starts. Or Indietracks Eve, as the excited children call it. The Specific Heats are from the US, if you didn't know, and are amazing. They also have the added bonus of counting Marisa from The Besties amongst their number.
I've been wanting to see Sarandon again for ages, since we put them on in Leeds three or four years ago, and The Give it Ups remain pop's best kept secret. I'd come along if I were you.
All we need now is a drum kit and a PA...