Friday, 28 January 2011

Stars of stage and screen

For some, the passing of The Lucksmiths was akin to others losing The Smiths. For me, it was like losing The Deirdres. You could understand it, you were sorry, but you still had a catalogue of songs that would keep you warm on the coldest of days.

And now, you can have the DVD. Matinee Records and Lost and Alone are releasing 'Unfamiliar Stars', which documents The Lucksmiths' August 2009 farewell show at Melbourne's Corner Hotel. Having only been lucky (ho, ho, ho) enough to see The Lucksmiths once, this release is a godsend. I suppose its costs a fortune to put them together, but more indiepop bands should releases DVDs. I'd buy them.

For now, you can enjoy The Lucksmiths as many times as you want. You can experience that feeling of wanting to hug Tali White as he stands up drumming, and you can remember what a special band they were.

Here's a teaser from the DVD:

You can buy 'Unfamiliar Stars' from the Matinee Records and Lost and Lonesome websites.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Standard Fare on One Happy Island

New Standard Fare tracks are usually devoured pretty quickly 'round these parts, so it's nice to see that the band have a split single with One Happy Island out on Thee SPC next week.

Standard Fare cover One Happy Island's 'Kudzu Girlfriend', turning it into a great power pop song. But it's the new song here that thrills me the most. 'You Can Wait' is part rockabilly, part almost-ska. It deals, like so many great Standard Fare songs, in the minutiae of relationships telling the tale of the stifling boredom of domesticity, whilst harbouring a wish to travel around the world. We've all been there, right?

On the flip of this EP, One Happy Island come along and strip 'Night With a Friend' right back and turn into a slightly spooky lullaby, whilst their own new song 'China Fair' which twists and turns all over the place and has certain echoes of Pocketbook's wonderful 'Falling Leaves' from a couple of years back.

You can pre-order the single from Thee SPC now.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

The first great single of 2011 award...

... goes to Lovely Eggs, with 'Dont' Look at Me (I Don't Like It)', which manages to combine old ladies in hairdressers, a really nice dress, the most wonderfully disgusting glasses ever, and John Shuttleworth with a sausage roll on his thumb.

If you're after genuine pop thrills, it doesn't get much better than this.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Slow Down Tallahassee - Curly Cuh (Thee SPC)

Back when I was out of work for three years, I'd have given anything for the job I have now. Back then, surviving on £35 a week dole money became a day-to-day challenge just to clothe and feed myself. Now, I can just about manage both of those things, but some weeks you wonder what day it is, never mind when it will all get easier.

Luckily, I've had Slow Down Tallahasee to keep me company this week, else I might have completely cracked up. The band's posthumous second album, 'Curly Cuh' is just the sort of delicious dark pop that I needed this week.

If 'The Beautiful Light' was snotty, knowing pop at its best, then 'Curly Cuh' is its world-weary, cleverer, more downcast older sister. That's not to say it's all doom and gloom, but there's a certain sense of an ending throughout the tracks.

When 'Curly Cuh' is at its most sparce it draws heavily from pioneers such Young Marble Giants, but its perhaps the likes of the alluringly maudlin 'Knees As Sweet As These' - a sort of 21st Century re-working of The Waltones' 'She Looks Right Through Me'. The songs sits at the heart of the album, and hits the spot on so many levels that it's hard not to replay it straight away, just so you can exclaim again: "Shit! That's right!"

Death, in one form or another, is revisited throughout the album. On 'Saturday' in particular there's a sense of finality, and so it comes as no surprise, upon listening to the record that this is the band's last album.

Some of the best days and nights of the last few years have been watching or listening to Slow Down Tallahassee. Sheffield is a poorer place without them, but with 'Curly Cuh' they've left a mighty, mighty epitaph.

'Curly Cuh' is available now to pre-order on CD in a gatefold digipack with immediate digital download from Thee SPC.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Slow Down Tallahassee are dead...

... long live Slow Down Tallahassee. 'Cos whilst Sheffield's finest architects of surprisingly dark pop music are now more, there's a new, second album out soon on Thee SPC that serves as a fitting tribute to one of indiepop's most underrated bands of the last three or four years.

Indietracks might be a (relatively) big sprawling beast these days, but back in 2007, Slow Down Tallahassee were one of the first bands to play the festival, on that platform at Swanwick on a lovely, sunny day.

I'll review 'Curly Cuh' later in the week when life isn't getting in the way, but first impressions are that it's up there with debut album 'The Beautiful Light'.

Nicola from the band says: “Lyrically this is our death album; we couldn't have gone anywhere else after ‘Saturday’, so it makes a kind of artistic sense to us that it is released posthumously.” 

Which is fair enough, isn't it? In the meantime, good luck Nicola, Richard and Claire and thank you.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

The Whatevers - Fun Size Drugs ep

The follow-up to last August's wonderful 'Rhapsody in Blue Jeans', the new Whatevers ep is (thankfully) no more accomplished. Full of rattley guitars, ropey singing and shoouty bits in the right places, most of the songs here sound a little like late '90s heroes Uresei Yatsura and, at times, early Hefner.

There's a re-working of boy/girl love/hatefest 'You and Your Twisted Romance' which has a bit more oomph than before, whilst 'Stuart Murdoch' takes a swipe at the pomposity of some of the supposed indiepop glitterati. Best track here, mind, is 'All the Dirty Kids and Dead Rock Stars' with its world-weary lyrics and wondefully lolloping guitar line. It's the sort of song that makes you stare out of the window and think about Really Deep Stuff.

Final track 'It Could've Been the Start of Something Beautiful' is intriguing. A love song looking back at a decade of a relationship it just about soundtracks every awkward, confusing, exciting, disappointing and wonderfully nosensical nature of sharing your life with someone. Tucked away at the back of this ep, it deserves more attention.

You can listen and then buy the ep here. The Whatevers are playing an Oddbox Records night at The Wilmington Arms in London on 20 May, if we all live that long.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

The Andersen Tapes - As I Write 'Today' Ten Times (Fraction Discs)

The word "legend" is bandied about too easily indiepop circles. No-one who bounces around this micro-scene is a legend or is going to be one, unless Sean Price suddenly develops immortal powers and takes over the universe.

However, amongst those coming close to legendary status is Amanda Aldervall, once of lost heroes Free Loan Investments. Those in possession of the 'Ever Been to Mexico' ep that the band put out will probably tell you that there are days when no other record will do.

Fast forward a decade or so, and Aldervall has released 'As I Write 'Today' Ten Times' under her new monicker of The Andersen Tapes. You all need to know that it's a great big gentle rush of brilliance.

Here you'll find that the Free Loan Investments sound isn't completely dead (see 'Cross Country'), it just got mixed up with the beautiful Pipas-like harmonies of 'All You Need to Know'.

At times this album can seem almost glossy, but you'd be fool to think so, 'cos at its heart is a beautiful mixture of all that's wonderful in indiepop today. You can hear Liechtenstein in there, parts of Crayon Fields, the odd nod towards Pocketbooks, and then you think "Oh! Maybe those bands took their inspiration from Aldervall". Only then you realise how important it is to have her back.

Where other acts strive and strive to achieve pop greatness, Aldervall seems to have it at her fingertips at all times. Maybe I'm as guilty of hyperbole as those who throw the "legend" status around all over the shop, but these songs are so effortlessly cool and loveable and full of the best pop spirit you could ever wish for.

By the time you get to the tear-y 'You're So Lonely When You're Old' you're itching to press the repeat button and experience the joy all over again.

No doubt, 2011 is going to be a painful year for the majority of people. If everyone worried about their job, home, how they're going to pay their bills or feed their kids could listen to 'As I Write 'Today' Ten Times' just once, it might not change their material situation, but I'd wager it'd make them feel just one degree more strong. And we need more of that.

Download 'Visual Expectations' here. And then buy the album from Fraction Discs here.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

The clash

I'll stop banging on about Sourpatch when someone records a better album than 'Crushin', but in the meantime, here's another flyer and a facebook event page for the gig we're putting on in February.

Alas, in order for Sourpatch to make their money on this tour, this clashes with the first day of the wonderful London Popfest, but if anyone travelling from the north fancies a stopover before a weekend of pop debauchery, then we'll see you in Nottingham on Thursday 24 February, alright?

Sunday, 2 January 2011

Fox-y music

I've just got back from a long trip to Bournemouth to see the in-l*ws. Never do that on New Year's Eve, comrades.

Anyway, on the way down there and back I re-read Simon Goddard's wonderful 'Songs That Saved Your Life' - a song-by-song look at each Smiths track ever recorded. If you haven't read it, you don't have to be a fan of The Smiths really. As Goddard himself says: you don't have to agree that The Smiths were the greatest band ever, you just have to understand why he thinks they were.

Nice, then, to come back to an email from John Jervis about the end of the World of Fox '80s covers project, which looks ace and I had no idea about. Fox have recorded a strpped down versions of The Smiths' 'Jeane' and rare Morrissey classic 'I Know Very Well How I Got My Name'. I used to have a version of the latter taped from a John Peel Morrissey session, where the song goes wrong and you can hear Vini Reilly and Morrissey in hysterics. You had to be there, really.

I recommend you download these songs (they're free) and then revisit the rest of the World of Fox covers from last year. The version of The Cure's 'Six Different Way's' is particularly pretty.