Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Sport for all?

Those who haven't been engaged counting of band members on stage at Indietracks in order to try and make a clumsy point, might well have been rapt by the Olympics. "Team GB" (yack!) is currently the centre of the universe in these parts, and the Olympics are being pushed by the state as a way of trying to unify the country.

The rapture on Saturday morning was reaching Diana levels, but time will tell whether a two and a half week corporate jamboree is really the thing to suddenly define a nation's mood, never mind catapult those out of work back into it, or stop the terrifying rise of homelessness, or suddenly stop successive governments' consistent attacks on public services. Call me cynical, but I'm not sure even the best discus final can manage that.

Along with what seemed like the rest of the everyone else I know I watched the opening ceremony to the Olympics on Friday evening - a big party with lights and people dressed up as nurses and pretend Tories attacking children in their hospital beds.

Elizabeth Windsor jumped out of an aeroplane. Unfortunately it wasn't the real Queen, and, alas, she had a parachute.

Remarkably, at a cost of £27m, and in the teeth of a fierce attack on the working class, this whole thing was declared as some kind of triumph for the left. At best, it was mildly surreal (and at times funny) and a kind of fairytale eulogy to the British working class and the welfare state it worked so hard to establish. At worst it was a bloody huge waste of money, and something of a piss-take.

The Olympics, now more than ever, is held up as the pinnacle of sport; each Games is better and more spectacular than the last one; each athlete bigger, faster stronger... more covered in advertisements than ever before. These facts might be true, but they have little to do with sport.

As Harley Filbin says in this week's Weekly Worker:

"Sport is art, quite as much as dance, or theatre, with which it shares the aestheticisation of the physical spontaneity of life. As such, it is quite as capable of producing something beautiful. It does so today in spite of its corruption by bourgeois society’s ideological decay, which turns athletic achievement into a celebration of pointless sacrifice."

Beautifully put, I think, and something which applies to every man and woman competing in this year's Olympics in London. There is no so-called  "pride" in this kind of ordeal where so much is sacrificed in the name of imaginary borders.

The drive towards Olympic glory at the expense of just about everything else create a self-serving elite that has access to the best facilities. Sport and recreation just isn't for all, it seems, unless you're willing to give up your life for Team GB and the nation.

All this led me to another article in the same paper, which told the tale of the Workers Olympics, which fascinate me. I'll hope you pardon me if I simply cut and paste straight from the original article here:

With the rise of national trade union federations, cooperatives and mass socialist parties during the period of the Second International (1889-1916), worker sport started to assume organisational form. As with so many other aspects of working class culture, the German working class movement served as a model - its enormously popular gymnastics, cycling and hiking associations were replicated all across Europe. Worker sport encompassed a wide-range of activities ranging from chess to jiu-jitsu.

The emphasis was always on participation - another way of patiently building the organisational capacity of our side, opposing the dominance of capital and breaking through the fetters it imposes on the self-expression of the worker. These clubs and associations often produced and distributed their own agitational materials and even specialist publications.

Reflecting the post-World War I division in the workers’ movement, two worker sport internationals came into existence in the early 1920s. The Lucerne Sport International (LSI), founded in 1920, built on the remnants of official social democracy. Nevertheless, its membership totalled nearly two million people, with more than half of these coming from Germany. The German movement had the honour of running the largest cycling club in the world, served by a cooperatively-run bicycle factory. While much smaller, the Austrian and French sections were also influential.

The Communist International helped found the International Union of Red Sports and Gymnastics Associations - more commonly known as the Red Sport International - in 1921. Its explicit aim was “the creation and amalgamation of revolutionary proletarian sports and gymnastics organisations in all countries of the world and their transformation into support centres for the proletariat in its class struggle”.

The fate of both organisations was bound up with the twists and turns of the relationship between the two wings of the international workers’ movement. At a grassroots level, however, the relationship between the two organisations was often close and led to some interesting outcomes. 

Worker Olympics

Following a series of large regional and local events, the first Worker Olympics took place in Frankfurt am Main in July 1925, organised by the LSI. Despite the fact that the festival banned communist sporting organisations from taking part, these games were a big success. Over 100,000 athletes competed, making them the biggest Olympic event ever. Frankfurt 1925 highlighted the schism between the (class-prejudiced) ‘amateurism’ of the official Olympic Games and the working class response to them. A line had been drawn - there were no common events or competitions between the two Olympics. (In other sports, however, there were examples of competition - on one occasion the Austrian worker football team actually beat the official Austrian national side. Forget Liverpool v Everton: that’s a real derby!)

In welcome distinction to the usual capitalist crap, the official motto of Frankfurt 1925 was “no more war” - sticking two fingers up to the official Paris games of 1924: the warped and jingoistic values informing the latter ensured that athletes from the ‘loser’ countries in World War I were banned from taking part, not to mention athletes from the young USSR. The LSI charged Paris 1924 with “using sport to promote war”. While the Second International’s record in fighting World War I was anything but exemplary, the message of the LSI games was clear: “For sure, competition easily awakens animal instincts. But only if the spirit of humanity is absent. Nationalists know no humanity. We all have the same enemy: capitalism.” 

Over 150,000 spectators attended the worker games, which eschewed national flags and anthems. Memorable events included a “living chess game” and an anti-war demonstration on the “day of the masses.” The games finished with the (hugely popular) football final and an aquatic exhibition in the Main river! Later on that year the first worker winter games took place - also in Germany.

Calisthenics were an important part - all competing athletes were expected to participate in these mass exercises. In this way the worker Olympics strove to break down the artificial division between the athlete and the spectator - and to counter national chauvinism by bringing together so many athletes from around the world in a conscious display of international solidarity. The aim was to proclaim the “new great power” on the global scene: the international working class.

Social democratic ‘Red Vienna’, renowned for its daring, avant-garde experiments in architecture and the design of working class accommodation, was the venue for the second LSI worker Olympics. The Prater Stadium had been built especially for the occasion. Over 250,000 people watched the “festive march”. All this was a bit of a coup for the Second International too, with its 1931 Vienna congress taking place at the same time. The event’s official programme even contained “welcome greetings” from such Second International luminaries as the Austro-Marxist, Victor Adler, and the execrable Belgian social chauvinist, Emile Vandervelde.

Once again, the festival’s opening ceremony was remarkable, featuring a live depiction of the history of the workers’ movement from the Middle Ages. At its close, a large model of a capitalist’s head placed in the middle of the Prater stadium collapsed into itself (imagine that, Seb Coe!).

All the while, the communist RSI and its affiliates, such as the wonderfully titled Combat Association for Red Sport Unity (Germany), were organising their own events as an alternative to both the official games and those of the LSI. The first Worker Spartakiad took place in Moscow in 1928, followed by a Winter Games in Oslo. Moscow 1928 could not compete with the LSI event in terms of numbers (600 athletes representing 14 countries), but it was nonetheless a crucial event for communist worker sport and its attraction internationally.

In 1932 the RSI attempted to take the second Spartakiad to Germany, but in the heightened political atmosphere of the time the games were banned. Then came fascist reaction in Germany and Austria. It is worth noting that Hitler crushed the worker sport organisations in Germany in 1934.

Fascism struck another blow against the worker Olympics in 1936. With Comintern’s embrace of popular frontism, there were successful attempts to organise a joint RSI-LSI Olympics in Spain. However, these games had to be cancelled immediately after the opening ceremony following Franco’s uprising. With much of Europe now coming under the influence of fascist reaction, brave attempts were made at organising another event in the following year, this time in Antwerp, but in spite of the unity of the two organisations the numbers were markedly down. The repression in the core country of worker sport had taken its toll.

Nevertheless 50,000 spectators at the opening ceremony was no mean achievement. And once again the games had tremendous symbolic value, especially for the many courageous working class militants engaged in the struggle against fascism. There was even a Spanish delegation present despite the civil war. Their armoured car and ‘No pasaran’ banners were met with cheers from the crowd.

This was the last time that a worker Olympics was organised on an international scale. In line with post-war ‘peaceful co-existence’, ‘official’ communism soon fell in behind the mainstream games - as did official social democracy, by then fully integrated into the US-led global order. The split between the bourgeois Olympics and worker Olympics was resolved in favour of the former. And this situation looks set to continue until we see a revival of mass working class organisation.
Fascinating stuff, and, for me, something more courageous than hiving yourself away in a five star resort "at altitude" for half the year. Of course I'll gasp with the rest of you when Usain Bolt breaks another world record, or Mo Farah either spectacularly wins or fails (oh, we British love a plucky loser - we're constantly told this), but I'll also gasp at how grotesque it all is.

And finally, really, how can you love an event that is headed up by Sebastian Coe?

Thursday, 26 July 2012

September songs

Just a very quick post as I swelter in an office writing corporate shit about stuff that no-one will ever read: we've made a start on gathering up some track from all the bands appearing at our Nottingham Pop All-dayer on Saturday 29th September, and we're sticking them up on our tumblr thing. Or rather Andy is, because I don't really understand tumblr.

Already up there are tracks by The Hobbes Fanclub and Shrag, and I believe The Fireworks will be next up. Keeping checking back to give yourself a very slack-arsed preview of who'll be playing what come the end of September.

Right, back to the dulling world...

Sunday, 22 July 2012

The Hobbes Fanclub - Your Doubting Heart (Shelflife)

In which Bradford is, for five minutes, the centre of pop music's renewed claim for world domination.

This second seven inch from The Hobbes Fanclub is the real deal, the perfect single; two short bursts of spine-tingling brilliance that make you want to either go and smash a bankers' windows in, or lie in the grass looking at the sky and dreaming of what you really want. These things can be done in either order - just make sure you're listening to these two songs whilst you're doing them.

There are no a-sides here - not to me, anyway. 'The One You Love' is introspective, maudlin, powerful and, to be honest, a little bit teary. It sounds like it'd fit nicely on those first four classic Ride eps, and there's no higher praise from me than that.

'Your Doubting Heart', a tale of self-doubt and insecurity, you emo filth, is decidedly more upbeat, and rattles along like in much the same way The Wedding Present used to when they were good and less awkward about writing pop songs.

Keener ears than mine might say there's a definite similarity between these two Hobbes Fanclub songs and the Pains of Being Pure at Heart, and they might be right - I couldn't possibly comment. Sure, The Hobbes Fanclub wear their influences on their sleeves, but they do it with pride and when they take their lead from bands that have sat if your record collection for years, then it's pretty much impossible not to fall in love with them.

Have yourself a listen to 'The One You Love' on the Nottingham All-dayer tumblr, and make sure you com and see them on 29th September in Nottingham, as well as everywhere else. They're playing in Paris soon. Now that's a combination to dream of...

Monday, 16 July 2012

Charlie Big Time - Dishevelled Revellers (Matinee Recordings)

Do you remember those times where you used to lock yourself away for hours and hours, with just your records and your record player in front of you. Maybe you might've been making a tape for someone you had your eye on at school, or maybe you just didn't want to go outside and have to deal with the real world.

I remember those times when I listen to the Charlie Big Time's debut ep for Matinee 'Dishevelled Revellers'. In the days of mp3 files being emailed everywhere and clogging up your laptop, then it's easy to forget that records used to be an artefact - an object to loved and admired. Something to look at and hug (come on, we all did it). 'Dishevelled Revellers' is such a record, and it makes me long for the days when I had days on end to just sit and listen to record after record after record...

Enough of the romance - here's the science bit: Charlie Big Time are never going to find themselves breaking down any barriers musically, but when they make such gorgeously gliding melancholia like this, well, I couldn't care less.

The title track here tells of the hideous aftermath of those endless nights out where, all of sudden, you're back home, and reality bites. Charlie Big Time salute this heroes of the night during three or so minutes of the most beautiful guitar pop. "My life's a mess, my Sunday best' they sing...

'Liberation of Love' recalls both underated Sarah types Harvest Ministers and The Smiths' more tranquil, early moments, whilst 'Real Estate' and 'Passion and Headaches' end this whole magnifienctly downbeat package of songs on a deliciously downbeat note.

Charlie Big Time have had songs out of Cloudberry and Series Two over the last couple of years, during which time I've been a bit busy. That doesn't stop me being miffed with myself that I've missed out on two years of the most beautiful pop music. Best start catching up now.

Listen to 'Liberation of Love', then head over to Matinee and buy the record.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

Pale Sunday - The Fake Stories About You and Me (Matinee Recordings)

Pale Sunday first came into my life when their glorious 'A Weekend with Jane' ep shimmied its way through my letterbox almost a decade ago amidst a period of serious upheaval. It's fair to say that back then it was a ray of light, and the band have remained that way since. Even when they let me down by not turning up for Indietracks the year before last.

It's easy to forget Pale Sunday, to be honest; stuck in Brazil they've never toured Europe, and so it's left to my good comrade Jimmy at Matinee Recordings to keep in touch with them, and put their records out now and again.

'The Fake Stories About You and Me' is Pale Sunday's strongest release since those nascent days of 2003, with four songs that, whilst hardly tread a new path, are definitely more confident, rounded, and affecting that at most times since that first Matinee release.

'Happy (When You Lived Here)' is a fair heartbreaking tale of broken relationships and starting over - but ultimately hope, and it's that hope that almost makes the guitars break loose at times. Pale Sunday are too cute for that, of course, and the melancholy harmonies return. It's a majestic three minutes, but it's probably best you don't listen to it if you're having a hard time at home.

'About Your Life' perhaps should've been the lead track, but who cares where it is; I'm just glad it's here. Built around a guitar riff that will worm its way into your life for days and days, it's just thing to perk you up after the bitterness of the previous track and hints at a love of Teenage Fanclub or mid-period Ride.

'That's the Way' further illustrates a love of early-90s guitar manglers and is all the better for it (it even goes a bit shoegaze on the fade out), whilst Pale Sunday revert to type on 'The Winter Song' - a paean to the shortest day, and perhaps one of those clever metaphors about change and upheaval and all that jazz.

Like everything about indiepop, it's a small miracle that this records exists at all, but it does and that's wonderful. Here's hoping Pale Sunday continue to soundtrack the lives of people everywhere.

Have a listen to 'Happy (When You Lived Here)', and then buy the ep.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Shrag: "Nobody wants to see us over their Crispy Pancakes"

Call me rash and foolish if you will, but I'll come out and say there won't be a better album than Shrag's 'Canines' this year. The album was released this week, and if you haven't got it yet, then what are you messing about at? You can buy it from here.

Bob, Helen and Steph took time out from getting tanned and famous to answer a few questions.

You must be deeply pleased with the new album. How long have you been working on those songs?

Bob: Extremely pleased. The fun part was writing them. The process began last year around January. We’d have regular weekly writing sessions and within a few months we had 14 demos. The hard part was learning to play them. Even harder was recording them. Having a producer for the first time made us aware how sloppy we are in the studio. But it all came good in the end. I think!

Helen: Yeah, we're pleased with Canines, it became what we hoped it would be in the end...we wrote it in a relatively short, condensed period of time for us, between February and August of 2011, and (I personally at least) can see the way that has shaped the record - in a good way I think! It feels more coherent and immediate maybe than our two other records, and I think in part that is a result of the way it was written and recorded.

Steph: From start to finish, the album took about a year and a half. The first bit, when you're working it out, is the most enjoyable which makes sense else you might not continue.

Is there a common theme running through the album?

Helen: I don't know about a common theme exactly, because there is a fair bit of divergence between much of the subject matter of the songs. Saying that there is also I think a dialogue between some of them; some songs like 'Chasing Consummations' and 'Flinching at Forever', for example, are an attempt at interrogating a similar issue or situation from a different perspective or stance, getting round the other side of it and looking at it from there in an endeavour to make sense of it that way.

And what is that issue/are the issues? That six-month period, whilst we were writing ‘Canines’, was particularly unstable and strange for me, and I was, partly ‘cos of my own fault, facing making some decisions and changes that I didn't particularly want to have to make - in my personal life, in my 'career', and the rest of it.
And then it also felt like given the political changes seeping out of London, the trajectory we were and are still on, being uncertain and facing instability in your personal life was becoming an increasingly frightening, paralysing thing. Something is being taken away from people and it's those whose personal foundations are less established or more in flux who feel that loss the most. And so I guess I was interested in the way these structures interact, and indent each other - the bigger structures, the way we organise ourselves politically.

And then internal structures: ways of thinking, what you believe in and value, and then, importantly for ‘Canines’ I think, physical structures, of the city, of the body, the way it is possible to use the body to deal with or articulate emotional, psychological states or belief systems.

I don't know if this makes any sense. It does to me.

You've been around for quite a while now. Did you ever think by this point you'd be pop stars? Do you want to be pop stars?

Bob: Without Top of the Pops there’s nowhere to go is there? The Graham Norton Show doesn’t have the same cachet. I gave up wanting to be a pop star way too late in life, but it did happen. No one wants to see Shrag over their Crispy Pancakes do they! Maybe they do. I want loads of people to hear this album. Whatever their diet is.

Helen: What I'd like is to be able to get to a point where we could do this full time. When we do work out a way to devote a continuous period of time to the band, writing… I always wonder what we might be capable of if we had the time and the money to really give ourselves over to it for a while. I sometimes suspect it might be a lot. But that so rarely happens, and certainly not to a band like Shrag, and I don't think we've ever been under any delusions that it would!

Having said that, I would very much like to be a popstar yes, of course... love all that shit.

Who writes the words and who writes the music?

Bob: I generally work on the music in demo form before anyone joins in. When I’m happy there is a song in the making I’ll get Helen and Steph on the Batphone and we’ll add words and voices together. Helen writes all of the words.

Steph: Every album has been done slightly differently but basically, Bob will have a track, Helen will write the words, I will add some counter melodies, some harmonies, some keys, Andy will work out his drum parts… everyone adds their bit.

Do you feel any affinity with any other London (or elsewhere) bands? If so, who?

Bob: There are bands I really like but affinity is hard to come by. It’s probably hard not to mention Comet Gain at this point, however.

Helen: There's many bands that I love and who we have played with and feel connected to, to some extent, but that tends to be a measure of a shared outlook or ethos or friendship. I always just think we're a bit strange and so our music doesn't always fit right in with a bunch of other bands, we don't have bands that we always play with etc. I like that too, though, we've been able to do so many different things over the years which, looked at as a whole, don't really offer up any coherent narrative of where we 'belong' or fit in or are headed.

There are so many good people in London at the moment, and good people in bands and running labels and nights and promoting. We feel lucky to know them and be a little part of that, but I wouldn't want to pick out one or two with whom we discern an affinity more than others, they might disagree.

Steph: Chips for the Poor.

The album has received ace reviews. Do you think this will lead you being offered more money/fame/free booze?

Bob: It’s all relative, but yes I’d like a bit more of all of those please. Who do I see to make this happen?

Helen: All three of those things would be very welcome, and we were promised them in bucketloads by Jerv and Sean, so they will undoubtedly be coming our way soon.

The songs on the new album sound - to me - like they could be sung by a full-on chart act like Girls Aloud, or whoever is in the charts these days. Are you influenced as much by chart acts as you are more underground stuff?

Bob: I’ve always pitched our music somewhere between Throbbing Gristle and Girls Aloud.

Helen: I don't even know who's in the charts these days! Does anyone? But yeah, we always wanted ‘Canines’ to be a pop record, the poppier the better. I like Girls Aloud. I really like melody, I like things you can sing along to, I like changes in songs. We also like noise, noisy pop, happy with that.

What's coming up for the band over the summer, and beyond?

Helen: Planning all that now - late as usual. Despite strenuous efforts and intentions this time, we're still pretty disorganised...we have a few shows. But, ‘cos the album ended up coming out in July, it's obviously really not a good time to tour, so we're going to do a proper tour with the next single which should be out in September/October. So we're getting ready for that, making videos and rehearsing…

Bob: Gigs? Autumn tour? We are never really sure one month to the next! Watch this space. There is a certain all dayer in Nottingham I’m quite looking forward to.

Steph: I expect we'll all get really tanned and famous

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Indietracks 2012: Isn't this where we came in?

"This song's dedicated to some of the best bands in the country
Some of the bands we never got to hear
Bands who never got any records out
Never got played on the radio
Never got written about in the press"
Spearmint, 'Sweeping the Nation'

I'm sat here at work, counting down the seconds until I can run off and see Standard Fare and The Smittens and August Actually play about five minutes away. I'm still tired from the weekend, but right now that doesn't matter, because I was one of the 1,500 or so people who went to the best festival there's ever been last weekend.

Thursday night's pre-Indietracks show in Nottingham flashed by in a hail or excitement and general loveliness, and I woke up on Friday morning with the familiar hangover that means it's the first day of Indietracks

We arrived in Ripley just after lunchtime last Friday and booked into Moss Cottage, or 'Mottage' as it became known (crazy, I know). With about five hours to kill we walked in the pouring rain down to a nice little pub in Codnor where Rachel's American accent stood out a mile, and the beer was less than three quid a pint.

After a wet walk down country lanes we made it on site to be confronted by Andy, Murray, Trev and his good lady, and possibly someone else I've forgotten. The first stop is always the bar. Faces appeared, heads were nodded, hands shaken... then The Smittens started. On record I've never really got The Smittens but live they're a whole different bundle of fun altogether. Now a six-piece they kick-off the festival with perfect pep and even the constant drizzle can't dampen things. Apart from my feet.

The School are next, and the sun comes out. This seems almost perfect now, and although we watch most of The School from the bar carriage, they sound possibly more assured than ever. I remember those early, nervous appearances in Nottingham and see a different band now. Almost literally, as it turns out, because there's hundreds of them.

When Saturday arrives I leave Lisa nursing a hangover in the B&B and wander down to meet Murray and Andy, and we walk to Butterley only to find that there isn't a train for another hour, and our two budding DJs have to be on site in 20 minutes. Johnny and Astrid are also looking hopelessly lost, and so we join them in the muddiest walk down the side of the train tracks. Astrid's white pumps are knackered.

London has been in thrall to Young Romance over the last couple of months, and so, after meeting Rob from the train we decide to hang around outside the church until we can go in and nab a seat.

The place is rammed by the time the duo set up, and there's a reason for that: Young Romance are outstanding. There's a genuine reason to get emotional about this band, and the simple guitar and drums thing makes the spaces in the songs sound like a whole new, extra instrument. Later on I go up to the on the train, a bit pissed, and tell them that I love them and that they should move to Nottingham and play in my front room every night. I think they agreed.

I'll be honest: the rest of the day is pretty much a blur. Tigercats in the shed were perhaps even better than I hoped for. As the rain started, then stopped, then started, then stopped they brought a piece of sunshine inside and the crowd danced like their feet were on fire.

Outside and Evans the Death slope on stage to deliver some fierce pop songs before the heavens open and we run inside. Or were Evans the Death on before Tigercats? At this point fatigue was setting in...

It doesn't matter though, because Standard Fare come on and it seems the whole of the Indietracks is watching them. They're on fire and, there's even a good, old-fashioned moshpit down the front that I might or might not have got involved in - at my age! Afterwards Emma says, from their point of view, it was one of the worst gigs they've ever played. She's talking nonsense, frankly.

Waking up on Sunday is a very difficult thing to do, and, still a bit pissed I think, we decided to go and pick up our little boy from deepest Lincolnshire and drive back to the site - all before midday. We make it to Butterley just in time for the 12.30pm train and trundle slowly down to Swanwick Junction.

One of the best things about Indietracks is that you can take kids along and not get sneered at by "festival purists". Indeed, there's even a kids' workshop, which we attend, and Supercat is born. I don't mean I got dressed up as Supercat, more... well, see the photo from the previous post.

I'm gutted to miss The Hobbes Fanclub, but manage to catch half their set through the church window. The place is packed for them, which is particularly pleasing. I was speaking to Leon from the band the morning before, and he just seemed generally pleased to even be there, so to have such a big crowd to see them must've meant a lot to him and the rest of the band.

Meanwhile, outside Spook School are charming an ever-growing audience with some rowdy bubblegum pop and a drummer who looks like he stepped out of the Dutch Eurovision Song Contest entry in 1976. Spook School would almost steal the day, if it wasn't for what happened next...

Velodrome are playing the shed, and it's the first time I've seen them since probably the late '90s. Markie is in full drag, and is hilarious. Velodrome play punk pop like you've never heard it before... like you've never seen it before. They haul around 200 30- and 40-somethings out of their Sunday slumber and banish hangovers back behind the bar, ready to be topped up. They're bloody amazing, to be honest.

Our time at Indietracks comes to an end with Orca Team, a band so perfect that there's doesn't seem a better way to finish. If Leif is all cool and poise, and Dwayne is the sharpest drummer in the world, then Jessica is the real star of Indietracks. She puts her lippy on before the band starts, bops around, smiling now and again, whilst also the time picking the most perfect guitar shapes. Orca Team rule.

What rules even more, is that as I turn to leave, standing right next to us watching Orca Team are some of my oldest and best friends, a couple of whom I've known over 20 years, since I first started going out and dancing to music in clubs and going to gigs. That right there summed up this year's festival for me. We're still here, and we'll hopefully all still be here in another twenty years time (although someone might have to help me up the steps to the portaloos).

Having said that, each year's Indietracks seems to matter more than the last because we all know it can't last forever. But these times are good times, for sure, and that's more than enough for now.

See you next year.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Once more

I'm too tired, busy with work and emotional to write about another amazing Indietracks weekend just now, suffice to say I'm not quite sure what I did with my Julys before it all first happened.

I've spent all day reading the reports of everyone who went, and how they're feeling that numbing pang that it's all over again. I went to work in a FOUL mood this morning, knowing that it's a whole year until I get to see some of the best bands in the world play to some of my best friends.

But! Tomorrow night we're going to do it all one more time with feeling, because The Smittens, Standard Fare and August Actually are playing at The Chameleon for us. I'm expecting a quiet affair, so why not turn up and surprise me.

Right now, I've got some serious moping to do. There'll be a proper ramble at Indietracks 2012 over the next couple of days (how can you wait?).

Sunday, 1 July 2012

How swoon is now?

After surviving a week away in Torquay with five kids, it's kind of reassuring that out there in the world there are people making vital, confident new pop music.

Not that there's anything wrong with reliving your youth and going to see The Stone Roses trudge through songs that are fast approaching 25 years old (it's called "having fun" after all), but I'd rather elevate bands like Young Romance.

Young Romance play heartbreaking pop music, as you've probably just heard. They're playing Indietracks this weekend - a fact that'd passed me by until a friend equally as in love with them told me last night. I've half a mind to go out and start camping at the front of their stage this evening.

The band have a single available to download from the often-excellent Eardrums Pop label. It's three tracks are just as joyous as that song up there. I simply can't ait to see them at the weekend.