Monday, 30 April 2012

Thank crunchy it's Standard Fare

Standard Fare aren't messing about. Just a few months after their mighty 'Out of Sight, Out of Town' album was released they're ready for the new season to start by releasing a new single called 'Girlfriend' on WIAIWYA.

It's one of those slow-burning songs in the mould of 'Wow', which explodes half way through and ends up taking flight. The lyrics are also as bitchy as anything, and I fully endorese this, whilst the crunchy bass threatens to crush you soon as look at you.

As usual, it's pretty amazing, but don't take my word for it - have a listen yourself.

This post is in memory of Lee Kenton, an old friend without whom I'd have probably gone back to Grimsby and worked in a frozen pea factory for the rest of my life. Thanks for everything, Lee.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Hear them roar!

Oh, such terrible timing with that last post. Seems Rose Melberg can't actually play for us now, but we do have the quite beautiful Sea Lions to take her place. We'll also have one more band, hopefully, and I'm dead excited about who it will be. If they can do it.

I'm off to Chester for the weekend now to sit in an over-priced B&B whilst it lashes it down with rain outside. Au revoir, and here's Sea Lions at their very best.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Dear Rose

Did I mention that Rose Melberg is playing our Indietracks warm-up show on 5th July? I don't think I did.

Anyway, Rose Melberg is playing our Indietracks warm-up show on 5th July. It's at The Chameleon (where else?), and it'll be a fiver to get in. More details over there on the right.

Thanks to Mike from Happy Happy Birthday to Me for sorting this out. It's going to be an amazing start to the Indietracks weekend.

Also playing are Orca Team and Joanna Gruesome. We did an interview with the amazing Orca Team on the Indietracks blog this week. Have a look.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Record Bore Day, more like

I was messing around on Youtube, listening to this thrilling fifteen minutes of pop music from Prolapse...

... and thinking back to when I used to rush down to Selectadisc (bottom shop, the one where the fearsome Linda worked) to buy the band's new singles when my dole money came through. Today is Record "Store" Day, of course - a concept that has been hijacked by every money-grubbing band and record label to try and get some poor saps to go and queue up outside their local record SHOP and spend a fortune on a ridiculously limited edition seven inch single.

You have to ask yourself whether Coldplay need to put a l,000 limited edition single. But then you have to ask yourself whether Coldplay have to put records out at all.

I find Record Store Day particularly sickly. I know it's hardly killing children with bombs, but it's not far off. Queueing up outside a record shop is ridiculous, if you really think about it. And for what? To say you've actually got something. To buy a product. You're queuing up to buy a product. Think about it. you're not saving the world, here. And, to be fair, you're probably not claiming to, but please, Record Store Day, don't make out you've got anything to do with trying to kick against the pricks, because you're not.

Record Store Day is, on the whole, praised and patronised by the sort of people who call tiny scenes like indiepop 'elitest', but that's bollocks. Record Store Day is pompous, elitest and self-satisfied.

We're all going back to work on Monday, comrades. Still, at least you've got your hands on something only a 1,000 people have got, eh?

My contribution to Record Store Day is to point you towards the excellent new download-only single from Pale Man Made called 'In Your Bed'. It's available, without queuing up and tweeting about queuing up, from Oddbox Records FREE OF CHARGE from this link.

Sleep tight.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Happy Wayne Burnett Day

Fourteen years ago today I woke up on the floor of a shared house in Harrow, north London, necked a bottle of cheap fizzy wine I was supposed to be saving for later that day, and, with a group of friends, made my way to Wembley to see Grimsby Town play Bournemouth in the Auto Windscreens Final.

It seems a rather trite thing to say, but it was one of the best, most memorable days of my life. When Wayne Burnett scored the goal below - a golden one in some many senses - 28,500 Grimsby Town fans lost themselves for good minute or so and went crackers. I've not felt like that a match since. I hope I feel like that watching Town again one day.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Allo Darlin' - Europe (Fortuna Pop!)

There’s nothing as terrible as nostalgia. Well, of course there is, but if you don’t want to turn into one of those deeply backward people who constantly bang on about the past being better, then turn your back on nostalgia.

Nostalgia is what some of my favourite bands excel in. The Smiths used to paint pictures of some of kind of 1950s nirvana and mix them with terrifying social faux pas. Brighter and Harper Lee wanted that girl or boy back. Allo Darlin’, on ‘Europe’ look backwards, for sure, but are more defiant, more optimistic and more forward-thinking than to simply say, “Remember that time when…?”

‘Europe’ is as confident as it can be. Elizabeth Morris sings of friends lost and places long gone, but behind her she has a band that sounds as though they could lift even the most downbeat lyric.

That’s not to say that Morris shrouds herself in a grey cloak of yearning throughout. The title track might paint the picture of a tour from hell, but as we travel through the song, from the motoring mishaps to the sheer defiance of the handclaps at the end, then you get the sense that, after all, things are going to be okay. That’s often something we all need to hear.

Musically and lyrically ‘Europe’ is a quantum leap for Allo Darlin’. Gone are the knowing London references (sometimes swapped for that past life that only perhaps half-existed – who knows?) and cheeky stabs at their friends and peers; and in their place comes a more relaxed sound. That’s not say that we’re veering into Radio 2 territory here – most of the songs retain an edge that it’s sometimes hard to find – it’s just that the clamour to write instant pop hits, as on their first, often-thrilling record, has waned for a more measured approach.

The big tunes are still there, of course. ‘Northern Lights’, ‘Wonderland’ and especially ‘Still Young’ would slip into their first set with ease, but it’s tracks like the gorgeous ‘The Letter’ which give new meaning to a band that are already held close to so many hearts. Again the topic is Europe, of loss and yearning, of being far away from those you love – but yet again, there’s hope and happiness in there.

If you’re still addicted to the instant pop hit of Allo Darlin’’s first album, then ‘Europe’ might take a while to worm its way into your head and heart, but once it does it’s more than likely to stay there forever. Look back, for sure, but don’t stay there.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Peru - Archie's Luck Is In (Archdeacon of Pop)

In 1992 I found myself on the dole right in the middle of a recession. Stranded in Grimsby with no qualifications, I decided to take my chances and move to Nottingham with a girl from my hometown who was studying at Trent Polytechnic, as it was called then.

At around the same time Peru were starting to play their first few gigs. I remember seeing posters for their gigs around Nottingham, Derby and Leicester, but never ever got around to seeing their shows. Their fire burned pretty brightly, but briefly in the East Midlands - the high point probably being a support slot to Heavenly in Derby.

Doesn't sound all that, does it? Well, indiepop in 1992 wasn't so great. I'd turned to shoegaze and fell under the spell of Suede in the absence of anything jangly and awkward. Peru and I just didn't quite hit it off.

Fast forward 20 years (gulp), and finally Peru and I are in love. 'Archie's in Love' is like Haircut 100 playing McCarthy song, and if that sounds terrible, then you have tits for ears. There's also a bit of The Loft in there, too. It fair takes you back.

Peru are playing live again. I'm still in Nottingham, but they're in Bristol now. Time for a homecoming, perhaps.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Joanna Gruesome

How remiss of me not to remind you about how great Joanna Gruesome are.

Their name is splitting the nation down the middle, of course, but who really cares what names bands give themselves, and aren't most band names stupid anyway, when you think really hard about it? Yes. Yes, they are.

What you really need to know is that Joanna Gruesome are very, very good. They remind me equally of early Lush and Ride, as well as AC Acoustics before they went terrible, Uresei Yatsura... you get the idea, and then you do add a great big dollop of bubblegum pop in.

Oh, and according to reports from the frontline they'll "shred you ears" live. Mine went years ago, so this holds no fears for me.

You might have noticed, if you tend to notice these things, that they're playing Indietracks over the summer, as well as our Indietracks warm-up show on 5 July, and our all-dayer on 29th September.

You'd be a total flaming idiot to miss either of those, or any other time they play live within 300 miles of your front door.

Here are Joanna Gruesome with the remarkable 'Madison'.

Sunday, 8 April 2012

The return of the mighty Tender Trap

To try and do justice to something as heartbreakingly gorgeous as the new song from Tender Trap with mere clumsy words would be a terrible, terrible error.

A song about unrequited love (hey, we've all been there, honey), this is the first tune to emerge from the sessions for Tender Trap's third album. If the rest are up to this kind of standard, then we're in for a rare treat.

Listen and weep with joy.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Cats on Fire - All Blackshirts To Me (Matinee Recordings)

I'll admit to being bored to tears by Cats on Fire the last few times I've seen them. Gone was the initial rush of chiming guitars and darkly humorous lyrics that'd first endeared me to them nearly five years ago. They seemed to be treading water.

It's delighful, then, that the band's third album 'All Blackshirts to Me' (Matinee Recordings)is an album to be treasured. It's not an immediate record at all, apart from tracks such as 'My Sense of Pride' which is pretty much Cats on Fire by numbers, but it's an album that, after a few listens, worms its way into your heart - almost despite itself.

Like when a football teams sacks its manager and appoints a new one if often performs much better, then Cats on Fire's new drummer seems to have added a whole new dimension to their music. This is most apparent on the stark 'There Goes the Alarm' and 'After the Fact', bith minimalist exercises in self-doubt and anxiety, and both brilliant, brilliant songs.

But perhaps the most brilliant is 'The Sea Within You', which sits neatly at the heart of 'All Blackshirts To Me''. It's lyrically obtuse, but that only adds to its general aura.

This is something of a theme. Mattias Bjorkas's lyrics have never actually been straightforward, but often they've descended into romantic parody - not this time, though. His high point is '1914 and Beyond', a stunning critique of the financial crises hurting the working classes across Europe. It's quite something.

So, yeah. Five years on from seeing this band at the pre-Indietracks gig we organised in 2007, Cats on Fire are back on form. 'All Blackshirts to Me' is their 'Strangeways, Here We Come'. Only now I really hope they get to make another record.

You can download 'A Few Empty Waves' from the album here.

Buy 'All Blackshirts To Me' now from Matinee Recordings.