Thursday, 30 July 2009

Slow and fuzzy

I really do feel like this crappy photo looks at the moment. To stave off - or more probably wallow in - post-Indietracks blues I've taken to listening to really downbeat for the last few days. Stuff like Galaxie 500 and Slowdive and Beulah's more maudlin moments. And you can't beat Beulah's more maudlin moments.

This got me thinking about For Stars, a now defunct band from San Francisco who put a quite wonderful record out on the Shifty Disco singles club in March 2001. It's still one of my most played records when I'm feeling all fuzzy like this. Nice, simple clarity.

Also, can you believe it's Friday tomorrow? I can't...

Download For Stars' Spectators here.
Download For Stars' Cowboys Lost at Sea here.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Songs that saved your life, parts 8 and 9

If anyone ever asks me what my favourite indiepop compilation is, I look them in the eye, stick my tongue out, and tell them it's 'Picnic Basket - a Shelflife International Compilation'.

I've mentioned this album before on this blog, mainly because it came out at just the right time, and has sort of shaped the last decade of my life, music-wise. But it also boasts something quite rare: two songs, back-to-back that are amongst my favourite ever.

Tucked away right at the back of the album are Pinkie's 'Do You Feel Guilty' and Southville's 'Sleep'. They both knocked my sideways the first time I heard them, and they still do. I listened to this album over and over and over during the summer of 2002 whilst watching the World Cup on a portable telly perched on a chair next to my desk at home, and chuckled along as France and Argentina got knocked out in the first round, whilst Senegal somehow made the quarter finals, and South Korea and Turkey made the semi-finals. 2002 was the indiepop World Cup. And the Shelflife compilation - and in particular these two ace songs - were it's unofficial soundtrack.

These then, are my 'That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore' and 'Nowhere Fast' of my adult years. Yeah.

Download Pinkie's 'Do you feel Guilty' here.
Download Southville's 'Sleep' here.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

You'll never see that summertime again

I left the house at 6am this morning for work, and there was a real autmunal chill in the air. It was almost as if the end of Indietracks had signalled the end of summer, and now we're ready for the long slog of the British winter.

And then Friends' 'You'll Never See That Summertime Again' came on my mp3 player.

'Fate' is bullshit, but that's about as close as I've come to believing in it.

There should be state-sponsored counselling for these kinds of withdrawal symptoms. Anyone want to form a self-help co-operative?

Monday, 27 July 2009

Indietracks 2009: pop heaven since 2007

There comes a time when you never really expect the unexpected. You think you've seen most of it before and experienced all the highs you can expect to experience from silly old music. And then you end up at this year's Indietracks.

A lot of people had maybe come to Indietracks 2009 to bury it. The tedious 'twee debate' rumbles on, and most involved in what can only loosely be called "the scene" were tired of defending themselves just because they happened to like a band and some other people didn't. People wrote some wrong stuff in The Guardian.

Like any of that even matters any more.

Indietracks 2009 was, in these eyes, an utter triumph. It stuck two fingers up to those careerist festivals who attract careerist festival goers who pay more for some designer wellies than a ticket to Indietracks even costs. It turned previously grumpy old men into lollgagging gadabouts for the weekend. And it scaled new heights in staff-friendliness.

But perhaps more than that is the general comradely bonhomie that has accompanied each Indietracks event so far. That's unique to this festival out of ANY public event I've ever been to. There's no jumping the queue for a pint. There's no nicking the loo roll out of the portabogs. There's no pushing people out of the way to get to the front. You're all in this together. You could probably leave you Nan on her own at Indietracks whilst you went to buy a pint, and you'd come back and not only would she be chatting to her new best friends; she'd have a Smittens t-shirt on, too.

And the best thing is - no-one's got a clue where this atmosphere comes from. And long may that continue, because it only exists at Indietracks, and if anyone could try and bottle it and take it away from Swanwick, then they'd not only get a severe spanking, but they'd also fail to recreate something that belongs in a field in Derbyshire.

So, even though you feel like shite because you've managed to get to the bar 15 times in one day, or you've been kept awake at night with that out of this world Specific Heats set running over and over in your mind, or you're chatting all night about how tomorrow can simply be any better than today (and it will be), it doesn't matter. Because over there The School are playing, and then later on you can go and see Pocketbooks, and then in between those you can walk 20 yards and chat to friends old and new.

There are gigs I go to throughout the year that have an inkling of what being at Indietracks feels like, but none of them recreate the sense that, for a few hours on two days of the year, you've found you're own little piece of pop majesty. And it's in fucking Derbyshire!

See you there next year.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Specific Heats + Give it Ups + Sarandon, Nottingham - tomorrow!

Just a reminder that there's a great show at the Heart and Hand Gallery tomorrow night; a sort of Indietracks warm-up if you will.

Playing are the marvellous Specific Heats, supported by the equally ace Give It Ups and Sarandon. Doors are at eight, and it's only a fiver on the door. Hope to see some of you there before the real fun begins in Butterley on Friday night.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Chariots of Tuna

I know a good falsetto when I hear one, and Chariots of Tuna's singer Ben Morrs does it better than most. Have a listen to indiepop epic War Hero on the band's myspace page, and tell me that this sort of summer-y pop isn't just what you need a Monday that seems to have dragged on forever.

That name, of course, is a problem, but then there's plenty of daft-named bands around these days, isn't there? Yes, there is. So, let's accentuate the positive, and say that Chariots of Tuna fill that space left by fifty per cent of Beulah, and Belle and Sebastian before they turned into the Barron Knights.

If they don't come to the UK soon, I'll duff them up.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

New Crayon Fields single

Crayon Fields have a new single out, don't you know. Pitchfork have called it "Zombies-esque", but , y'know you make your own mind. it's called 'All the Pleasures of the World'. You can download it here. I think it's beautiful.

Friday, 17 July 2009

Interview with Dave Douglass

Back when I started this blog in January, it was the intention to write about music and politics. But the music sort of took over.

In order to remedy this, I recently interviewed Dave Douglass, a prominent NUM member in the Great Miners' Strike of 1984-85, and who is what you can only describe as a Marxist anarchist.

Dave first came to my attention in the late 1990s when he appeared on a telly programme called Living With the Enemy, during which he went to stay with a Tory landowner in his stately home. The first thing Dave did was go upstairs and hang a massive Soviet flag out of one of the upstairs windows, which ingratiated him to me.

Here's what he had to say...

What made you first become aware of working class politics?

I became part of the anti-bomb movement around 13, joined YCND, (Youth Campaign For Nuclear Disarmament, the junior wing of CND) mainly because I discovered that leukaemia which my sister died of, was probably caused by the atom bomb, and its use from Japan through the host of tests around the world. A certain professor in the US had found the cluster of leukaemia around the fall out range of the bomb tests and Japan bombs. It made me conclude that this was what had killed my sister when she was 18 and I was eight.
I also had been developing a love of the Soviet military hardware since the age of 11, (this is a contradiction I know, I didn’t think of the Soviet tanks and missiles as being nuclear- a number of grown up lefties thought the same way. ) particularly via the May Day Red Square parade, which I crawled out of bed to watch at 6 am on our little black and white rented TV. It drew me to the idea of communism, through the influence of both I joined the Young communist League at 14. Then this led me on to The Direct Action Movement, then Committee of 100, which I became secretary of at 16 on Tyneside, and through these to the magic and colour and excitement of anarchism. So I was kicked out of the YCL, and flew at once to anarchism and anarcho-syndicalism.

How did you get thrown into the Great Miners' Strike struggle of 1984-85?

I was elected NUM Branch Delegate, one of four branch officials in a miner’s branch, in June of 1980 at Hatfield Colliery. Doncaster. One year later the Doncaster miners as a whole elected me to be one of their four reps on the Yorkshire Area Executive Committee. Quite an honour. My reputation as somewhat of a firebrand ensured that when the strike broke the Doncaster NUM Panel (the unofficial alliance of all the 12 Doncaster miners’ branches) they elected me the Doncaster Picket Director/co-coordinator. So here, I was at the heart of the most militant, most numerous of the miner’s pickets during the strike. Something approaching half of all the Yorkshire pickets came from Doncaster, Doncaster miners represented about quarter of the total number of miners in the Yorkshire coalfield.

What did the NUM do wrong during the Strike, if anything?

We did many things wrong, but mainly we discovered this in retrospect. It’s always easier to be wise after the fact of course. Firstly, we should have pulled out all the stops to win the support of the power workers to black coal and fuel during the strike. We should have met with their stewards and regional officials. We underestimated the number of power workers at coalfield power stations who were in fact blacking scab fuel. The whole power station situation swung In the balance, but we concluded I think they were a lost cause. We ought to have given the power stations equal importance with getting the scab miners out. Orgreave was a chronic diversion; we ought not to have fallen for it. It should have remained a target but never become the sole target. The port of Immingham became a flashpoint of the entire strike and could have handed us victory. We ought to have realised what an arterial point this was, and should have met en mass and individually at home and socially the men on the port. We lost them and they broke the dockers blacking action, which was a crucial blow to us. NACODS came in for tremendous stick from the NUM lads on the gate and they were always crucial to our success. We ought to have gone direct to the NACODS members and gained their support for our bottom line settlement terms, and gained a cast iron commitment from their leaders to stick to it. Finally, in retrospect we might have held a national ballot in April, as all the signs are we would have won it, hands down and taken a major piece of anti-strike propaganda away. The regular members wouldn’t hear of that though and thought we were trying to sell the strike out with a ballot. We ought to too have had a press office, with a media team working night and day to get across our message in the way the government was pumping the propaganda against us unchallenged.

When did you realise that you were going to be defeated?

It crossed my mind in October that it was possible, and I mentioned this to my wife Maureen who was a heart and soul leader of the Women Against Pit Closures; she nearly threw me oot the hoose! She couldn’t see how I dared even consider such a prospect, it was clearly impossible and high treason. Mind I didn’t think we were going to be defeated, I thought to the end we could still win, but began to realise that involved factors beyond our control, like SOLIDARITY from our so called fellow trade unionists and fellow workers.

What was the mood like leading up the '92 dispute?

We had an uphill fight to convince the lads to have another go, that there was someone else out there on our side. As the movement in support of the miners spread to 1 million people on each of two national demonstrations, they were convinced this time we could win. The morale rose like a storm, and the women took the lead in that whole campaign. Trade Unionists beat their chests again and promised ‘this time…’ but the bloody Lib-Dems crossed the floor and voted with the Tories in favour of the closure programme. In the final analysis, it was Paddy Backdown, as Skinner calls him, and his so-called liberals and democrats who gave the pit communities the final coup de grass. But again, a generalised strike of all the major unions would have nailed the whole closure programme to the floor along with Major’s government.

Which left group came out of the 84-85 strike with the most respect amongst miners?

Without the slightest doubt Class War. They caught the imagination and power of the whole movement and their papers reflected the temper of the pickets and increasingly their political mood.

And which left group do feel most affinity with?

What now? Then, then Class War. Now, I don’t agree with anyone, I am in the camp of Anarchism on its Marxist fringe which is a lonely place in that field. A member of the IWW.
I write for the Weekly Worker the CPGB anti Stalinist reformation of the old CP, but I have huge disagreements with their political line. However, the Weekly Worker is the most serious paper on the left, and the members of the CPGB are among the most personable. I also write for Freedom which is getting better although I hate that little format it’s in, but costs are costs I suppose. The Anarchist Movement is a ragbag of all sorts of political tendencies and aspirations, highly middle class, sometimes deeply reactionary and at times anti-working class. But the majority these days are class struggle anarchists of one sort or another which is a refreshing change.

How did the Living with the Enemy appearance come about?

Well I was in the second series. I was known to the media as a spokesperson for the miners union and they assumed I would be ‘old Labour’. They first lined me up for the first series to go on with a ‘New Labour’ yuppie farmer and see how the conflicts would transpire but I set them right on my politics and they filed me in draw somewhere. They in the second series some wag came up with the idea of The Anarchist and The Aristocrat. They put me living with a Scottish Tory Lord in his mansion. It was quite some experience. We did 280 hours of filming for 40 minutes of programme. There were some classic bits went on the cutting room floor, but I think the overall balance was good.

I totally supported your stance against the Climate Camp recently, but it seems to have split those in and around the anarcho-left. Are there those that support you amongst those groupings?

My problem is their arrogance. They have decided like the government what is good for us, ‘just transition’ isnt just at all, its us doing what they tell us we have to do because they think its right. We have to do as were told, stopped from doing whatever it is that they believe is bad for us, having sex too young, smoking, taking drugs, drinking, assembling in large numbers, burning coal, driving cars, using supermarkets, flying on holidays…etc Both the government and this wing of the anarchist ‘movement’ believe in enforced social engineering. The Agenda of ‘appropriateness’ the enforced ‘politically correct language and expression’

The anarcho-feminist agenda has a strong Taliban wing and sometimes appearance; I don’t think I should be stoned to death for saying ‘you’ve got a lovely face’. and what is ‘hetrosexism’? Heterosexuality is taking on the persona of homosexuality in the 50s, totally unacceptable in polite company. The traditional white working class, its behaviour, organisations, language, and life style are everything, which is anathema to the middle class liberal anti working class anarchist factions. They dress it up as radical and revolutionary but I find it deeply offensive. It’s a class thing I’m afraid. I have been governed and told what is best for me by this class all my life, now they think they can do the same in the movement, which developed to overthrow the bastards in the first place.

What's your relationship like with Arthur Scargill these days?

We have a love hate relationship over the years, well never love really, armed co-existance would be a better phrase. During the strike, we fought on the same side and he was largely right. In the period just after the strike, I thought he had flashes of visionary insights into regroupment. But then a bit further down the line his bureaucratic grip got tighter and tighter and what slight concept he had of rank and file control and workers democracy went right out of the window. He seen me as the core of a far left tendency within the union organising opposition to him and his minions, and I sailed close to expulsion or at least that’s where he would have taken it left to him (he says he wouldn’t but I don’t believe him). Then at the Climate Camp he came through and quite off his own bat agreed to come down with me and sell the message of clean coal and the importance of the NUM to the anti coal environmentalists. A bit like hells angels speaking at a Salvation Army rally really. I thought we were on the same side again. Then last month he takes a legal case against the NUM (for breach of the rules he invented and we opposed) I am one the major witnesses in defence of the NUM against comrade Scargill, so I guess were at war again.

The NUM has about 2,000 members but the political struggle within the union is as bitter as its ever been, I support the current leadership which is more rank and file orientated than the old pretenders still grouped around Arthur ‘the great leader’.

Dave has written two books, 'Geordies – Wa Mental', was released last year to acclaim and his latest, 'The Wheels Still in Spin' is out now. You can get them from Waterstones or via Amazon.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Weirdly brilliant

I'm off to see Mark Hibbett perform his Dinosaur Planet stand-up, cabaret fandango tomorrow night at Lee Rosy's. Normally, I'd hate that kind of thing, but because it's Hibbett is sort of seems to make it seem right - much like most times Mark plays in Nottingham really.

Which sort of leads me to why I'm here. It seems there's real excitement building for Indietracks now, and there's people all over Europe descending onto this tiny little piece of land in Derbyshire for a weekend. It shouldn't really work. People will go somewhere like Butterley because they feel they can't do otherwise. Similarly, Hibbett will go and play to 15 people on a Thursday evening in Nottingham, because he somehow feels that it's really the most important thing to do right then.

I can't work out if that's weird or brilliant. Actually, it's both.

In other news, I can't work out whether I like The Cavalcade or not.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Songs that saved your life, part 7

We all do daft things when we're young, don't we? Y'know, we paint our room black, we backcomb our hair, we smoke and swallow things that aren't particularly good for us, and we think that Ned's Atomic Dustbin will save the world.

Well, I carried on doing some stupid things well into my late 20s, and especially around the early part of this decade, when I decided that I'd mess quite a few people's lives about by being a selfish bastard, and, really, having some kind of early mid-life crisis.

My soundtrack to this tomfuckery was, amongst other things, 'Summer Snow' by The Windmills. The Windmills were from Essex and were headed up by professional miserabalist, Roy Thirwell. The band were one of the stars of the years of Matinee Records, and by the time of their second album, 'Now is Then' they were all but finished.

Now is then was recorded over seven years, apparently. And it showed. Some of the tracks were slushy and sentimental; the others were hard-nosed and bitter, especially 'Summer Snow', which sort of perfectly summed up my state of mind at the time.

For reasons I would rather not go into
I don't want to see you
Don't ask why

Half of what I feel is filled with hatred
The rest is too complicated
Don't ask why

Oh, it all got a bit nasty all right. And in the background was a driving, Echo and the Bunnymen-style piece of music that made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. And they don't just stand up for any old thing, I'll have you know. 'Summer Snow' is what I used to play over and over again as I travelled on buses all over the place, pretending the whole world had taken against me. What a pillock.

Eventually, I got over the fact that I was approaching 30, and settled into life. I think (hope) everyone else did, too. The Windmills went missing not long after and have never resurfaced. Thirlwell released an album as Melodie Group, which was cute enough, but for pure bile and that feeling that you can connect with a perfect song at a not so perfect time, then it was hard to beat The Windmills' finest three and half minutes.

You can download Summer Snow at their Matinee page.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Jurassic Mark

I've been unlucky enough to be visiting Edinburgh when the Fringe is on. It's like walking through an endless hell of crazy jobbing actors and mime artists and self-appointed stand-up comedians walking alongside you, trying to be funny, and shoving a flyer in your hand which says it basically promises the BEST NIGHT OF YOUR LIFE. Which is clearly false.

However, last year and this, Mark Hibbett has devised a show to present to the Fringe, and this year we're lucky enough to get a preview in Nottingham. A Fog of Ideas is putting Mark's Dinosaur Planet show on at Lee Rosy's on 16th July. That's next Thursday. And it's only £2, so you best not miss out.

Friday, 10 July 2009

"I like indiepop. I don't care what you call it."

I thought today was going to be absolutely rubbish, what with having to get a train to Manchester at 6.40am that just got busier and busier and more stressful as it went on, but then I read this on anorak, and some of it didn't half make me chuckle (if you start about half way, you get the general picture).

Some of it was very eloquent of course, and amongst the male-dominated tug fest came a ray of light from Colin Clary who said something like: "I like indiepop. I don't care what you call it." Which sums it up nicely for me. If only I could get into The Smittens though...

Anyway, there's plenty of Sensitive Indie news around.

First up is that Art Brut have been named as the remaining headliner for Indietracks. The schedule is now up on their website now, so you can have a really good moan about which bands are clashing, and why the festival wasn't designed with your specific needs in mind.

Secondly, my friend - and probably yours - Pete Green has made his and his Juggernaut's excellent new version of 'Hey, Dr Beeching' available for download. All proceeds go to some train hospital in Lincolnshire, or something. It says on there, anyway.

Lastly, and never leastly, the mighty Standard Fare are set to release their debut album on Thee SPC this autumn, and I've had the honour of hearing both the Lucksmiths-y 'Be Into Us' and 'Married', which is a proper old weepy. You're all in for a treat when the record comes out, believe me.

More Bedsit Pop news on the hour, every hour. Cuddle me to the core.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Interview with Stephen Maughan (This Almighty Pop!/Bulldozer Crash/Kosmonaut)

Many moons ago, in the early 2000s, there was a great band called Kosmonaut who put out a single on Matinee Records. Amongst their number was Stephen Maughan. Even more moons ago, Stephen was in a band called Bulldozer Crash with Marc Elston, who, as part of The Liberty Ship, put out a couple of singles and a quite beautiful album - also on Matinee. And even further back in the mists of time, Stephen wrote the best fanzine the world has ever seen. It was called This Almighty Pop!
This time last year Stephen decided to return from hibernation to do a new issue of TAP, and now he's got Kosmonaut back together for a gig with the legendary White Town, which is this Sunday in Newscastle. I suggest you go along if you're in the area.

In the meantime, Stephen's been good enough to answer a few questions from a trembling ex-fanzine writer who took more than a little inspiration from TAP. Here's his answers.

How long has it been since Kosmonaut played?

It's been 7 years, but we only ever played live twice back then, one was the gig that you promoted in Nottingham when we supported The Liberty Ship.

Why did the band stop playing?

I became a dad and the spare bedroom in my house which was our little home studio became my daughters' bedroom, so we decided to have a break for a little while, but we never got back together, until now.

What made you start up This Almighty Pop! again?

I just started going to more gigs and discovering lots of great new bands and it reminded me of the days when I first started my fanzine. I just fancied doing something again and the fanzine and label are it.

Were you surprised with the reception it got when it re-emerged?

I was because everyone has been really nice. It's like I've never been away, I've reconnected with lots of people who I was in touch with when I originally did the fanzine and lots of people who were too young back then to remember it have been very supportive.

What do you make of the current indiepop scene?

I'm really enjoying it, there seems to be a great new record released every week. I like the blogs that keep me up to date. I wish there were more real paper fanzines though, how come nearly all the new ones are written by girls?

You have quite strong views on certain aspects of the scene; where does your attitude towards Sarah Records come from?

I guess you're referring to what I wrote about them in number four of my fanzine? I still get hate mail about it now, well not quite, but people still tell me I was wrong to write it. In hindsight it was really nothing because they were such an important label and I do like a lot of the records and what they stood for. At the time though Matt's fanzine was my bible and I just couldn't believe he was doing stuff with Sarah that he had had a go at labels like Creation for doing, but really it was a storm in a teacup, still is, it was just how I felt at the time, twenty years ago when I was young and foolish.

Who are your favourite new bands?

Loads, but here are a few . . . Frankie and the Heartstrings, Les Cox (sportif), Blackflower, Lets Whisper, Horowitz, Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, A Classic Education, Play People,Withered Hand, Summercats... I better stop because the list in endless.

Are you still in contact with Marc Elston? He wrote to me the other day and said he's twiddling his thumbs - Bulldozer Crash revival?

Yes, we are still in touch, we are meeting up at Indietracks in a few weeks. We always talk about doing something together again which I would love to do, Jyoti even said he'd play bass for us again, but we never seem to get it sorted. We can't even blame the distance between us because we lived almost as far away from each other back when we were a band. Who knows, one day we might get our act together.

When Kosmonaut were around in the early part of the decade there was nowhere near the indiepop scene there is nowadays. Matinee and a few others, to my mind, were keeping the flame alive. Do you sort of cherish those more "underground" days, rather than everyone jumping on a tiny bandwagon?

Not really, I was just happy that somebody wanted to release records by us. So who are these bandwagon jumpers?

Oh, no comment... Will there be a new Kosmonaut record?

Well there is going to be an e.p. of 4 songs we recorded when we still had a studio. Cloudberry are releasing that. I don't think there will be any new recordings, nothing planned anyway, this gig is just a one off, although I really have enjoyed being in a band again.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

LHIIFU artwork

Just when I thought Andy couldn't outdo himself, he has.

This is available from tomorrow.
I went for a run this morning and took my mp3 player with me, which I normally don't do because I'll only go and get run over by kamikaze mountain bikers because I can;t hear them coming behind me. I came to the conclusion that This Nation's Saving Grace by The Fall isn't the best music to run to. I started doing stacatto steps and gurning, and everything. It must've looked most odd.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Dub Sex and Dumb

I went down to London last week for work, but mainly to see Marianthi and Sandy, as well as Give it Ups and Mascot Fight at Brixton Jamm (warning: £3.90 for a pint of lager).

Both bands were ace, of course, and it was about time that Mascot Fight had a sympathetic soundman. Well done to all concerned.

Anyway, Sandy had said she'd got a present for me, and so I thought that I'd return the favour by giving her an old Cribs promo that I'd had kicking around for ages. They're her favourite new band. She gave the 12 inch version of The Underneath by Dub Sex, which completed by collection. So that was nice.

Dub Sex were around in Manchester at the end of 1980s, and their sound could easily be described as Eighties Awkward. They were centred around the voice of Mark Hoyle and the bass playing of Cathy Brooks. Hoyle's voice sounded like someone had just chucked a load of bricks in a cement mixer, whilst Brooks' bass drove the whole thing forward in an almost industrial way.

Dub Sex released five singles and two albums in just over two years - mostly on the Cut Deep label, and appeared on a few compilations here and there. They were largely ignored, apart from the sublime 'Swerve' appearing in the lower reaches of the Festive 50 in 1989. They split in 1990, and Brooks and Hoyle worked on putting together Dumb, there next band.

Dumb weren't a million miles away from Dub Sex. Hoyle's voice still rasped against the world, and Brooks' bass still bounced around in places you wouldn't think possible, but Dumb's music was less dense than Dub Sex's.

I plucked up the courage to befriend Dumb when they sent me their 'Always Liverpool' single for review in 1994. There then followed countless trips to Manchester to see them play and fall in love a little bit with their percussionist.

Dumb released two albums of tight, wired pop and then split, with guitarist Jay going off to play with John Robb's Gold Blade. Hoyle and Brooks reformed Dub Sex a couple of years ago for some gigs in Manchester, which I only found out about after they'd happened. Shame. Brooks went o to play in the equally excellent Calvin Party, who mix politics and pop in the most visceral, exciting way. Hunt down their track 'Lies, Lies and Government' at once.

Anyway - thanks, Sandy. Here's 'Swerve', and here's a few more Dub Sex tracks. Time of Life is particularly thrilling.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Allo, Darlin' - Henry Rollins Don't Dance (WeePop!)

Hot, isn't it?

By rights, everyone should think that Elizabeth Darling is too clever for her own good. Her songs are full of references to (hey!) Popular Icons of our Time, and could be thrown away as some kind of sub-Hibbett fancy.

The fact they're life affirming nuggets of pop, therefore, should be cherished. 'Henry Rollins Don't Dance' is the perfect accompaniment to Pocketbooks' 'Footsteps' - a couple of songs that rely on nothing more than pure innocence to make them modern treasures.

Whereas the title track and 'Dear Stephen Hawkins' are full of life and zest, it's the mournful, Lucksmiths-y 'Heartbeat Chilli' which makes me happy. Full of couplets most bands would die for, the fact that it's a b-side shows that Darling has brilliant songs coming out of every orifice.

I've cooled down a bit now.