Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Lost Tapes - Lost Tapes ep (Eardums Pop)

The seriously prolific and mostly excellent Eardrums Pop have scored again with Lost Tapes and their debut ep full of fuzzy pop wonderment.

Lost Tapes, from that Spain, take the best of late 80s/early 90s guitar pop and mix it with a very modern take on how great records should sound. Opener 'War in the Netherlands' buzzes along much in the manner of The Hobbes Fanclub, whilst 'By You' wallows in the glamour of shadowy effects pedals and a gorgeously hazy vocal that brings back some of Primal Scream's earlier, better moments.

Meanwhile, back at the technicolour dream party, 'Come With Me' sounds like Spacemen 3 could've done if they'd not lost it and recorded that terrible last album; hypnotic does not quite do this track justice. Finally (oh no!), 'Raincoat' drenches us all in some seriously blissed-out dream pop (urgh).

You should know by now that I have no clue what I'm talking about most of the time, so do the decent thing and have a listen for yourself.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Ally Kerr - Man's Man (Much Obliged Records)

The phrase 'singer-songwriter' often strikes fear into the heart of your author, throwing up visions of a terribly earnest, old-before-time 25 year old in a beard and checked shirt. And so, it is with some pleasure that Ally Kerr reclaims the phrase for pop music.

'Man's Man' worms its way into your brain not through stealth, but by being a glittering piece of persuasive pop that manages, in two and half minutes, to sashay serenely into your life using the most beautiful harmonies, a picked guitar and - yes - some brass. It's hard not to love, really.

B-side 'Everything I've Learned I've Forgotten' is just as good - perhaps even better. Remember when Belle and Sebastian genuinely said something about your life, rather than disappearing up their own backsides? That's the sound of 'Everything I've Learned...', and it's just about perfect.

'Man's Man' has a deliciously self-deprecating video to go with it. Here you go...

'Man's Man' is out tomorrow on Much Obliged Records.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

The Flatmates: a slight return

The eagle-eyed amongst you might notice this year's all-dayer line-up has a distinctly Bristolian feel to it, and this has been further strengthened by the mysterious appearance of late 80s indiepop tyros, The Flatmates.

I first came across The Flatmates on those old Beechwood Indie Top 20 records you could buy if your local shop didn't sell all those seemingly obscure seven inch singles you read about in the music press each week. These albums were often erratic, but contained just enough to keep me buying them.

In 1988 I bought volume four of the Indie Top 20 series from Andy's Records in Grimsby, and fell in love with 'Shimmer' by the Flatmates. In fact the whole album was pretty great, if you ignore the Fields of the Nephilim track...

Fast forward a couple of centuries and a message from Rocker, the all-seeing eye of the indiepop scene, who informs Ian that The Flatmates are getting together again, with Brian from Peru on drums, and Lisa Bouvier on vocals, and could they play the Nottingham all-dayer in September. Okay, so it's not the original Flatmates, and we're pretty wary of this whole reforming malarkey thing that's going on at the moment, but this was too good to turn down.

And so, 25 years after first discovering The Flatmates and Subway Records, they're playing a gig I have a hand in. This sort of thing doesn't happen in real life, does it?

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Without Feathers

Indiepop supergroup, madam? Okay, well here's Without Feathers and their three track demo of delightfully stripped back, delicate, almost naive pop songs.

Without Feathers are, of course, Nat Johnson from the much-missed Monkey Swallows the Universe (amongst others), Norwich's Rory McVicar and Emma Cooper from still-warm-in-their-box Standard Fare. Between them, the trio make a gentle noise that reminds this listener of The Harvest Ministers - and that's no bad thing.

Apparently, Without Feathers (presumably named after the Woody Allen book) went down a storm at the recent Odd Box Weekender, and we'd be a fool not to get them to play in Nottingham quite soon. In the meantime, sit down, put your most comfortable pants on, and have a listen to the demo.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Big Wave: Route one to your heart

The news that Big Wave are playing this year's Indietracks brightened up an otherwise glum month of April. The fact that they're playing a warm-up show for us in Nottingham on Indietracks-eve further cemented my love for them.

I asked Pete from the band a few questions about what it's like being from Torquay (as though it was another planet...)

Tell me how you all met each other, then.

We met years ago now! Rikki and Pete met through pals living in the same part of Torquay and started DJing in a local bar. The night became pretty popular and had a great social vibe, a lot of people met good friends and partners there… and it’s where Big Wave all met. At that point the band had a different name, drummer and keyboard player with quite a twee sound. Nip forward a few jobs, degrees, relationships and years and we are here today.

Torquay - a bit of a musical outpost, or is there some good stuff going on there? I got slightly obsessed with the Harvester near the Seaworld place when we went on holiday there last year...

Did you sit on the roof terrace? Its super lush, views like Monaco (honest!). It’s near one of our fave fishing spots, caught a bass there last year. As for the music, it’s bubbling along nicely at the moment. There are a few bands and producers who are getting out and about, picking up some well deserved recognition. Check out Jake Downs, he’s brill and featured in the video to ‘Only You’.

You've been around a couple of years now; who first started taking notice of the band?

Jeez has it been that long already! Wow, time does fly. The first people to take notice were probably local(ish) label Art is Hard; we put out a single track way ahead of anything else titled ‘Wild Strawberries’, they were kind enough to feature it on a compilation called ‘Dry Route to Devon’. Almost two years later we’re working together again on our latest single ‘Goldmine’, those guys are brill!

Do you all share similar taste in music, or is one of you a troublemaker?

When it comes to song writing and good old fashioned guitars, I would say we do all have a similar taste and that’s what brought the band together in the first place. You may find some of us in the darker, later, house-ier spots at this year’s Glastonbury though!

What's it like trying to put a single out these days? Easier than ever... or really, really hard?

It’s actually a lot of hard work. We all have 9-5s and are plodding away at forging something that resembles a career – one of the reasons along with location that we don’t play too many gigs. Perfecting the songs and learning to develop as musicians is a great way get away from that work vibe and who knows, one day, when the time is right, opportunity might come knocking.

As for putting a single out these days, it really is a matter of bringing together a lot of people who you meet on your musical journey. Recording engineers, record labels, artists, film makers then somehow pulling everyone’s efforts together at roughly the same point in time. It’s great when it all converges; we couldn’t do it without those people.

What’s been the best moment being in the band so far?

Top three if we can…
1. Getting into End of the Road for free…and playing ;
2. Shipping physical releases to all parts of the world, the lady in the post office always looks slightly flummoxed by packages to anywhere further away than Bristol.
3. Watching the Gmail notifications appear… you never know what’s in the inbox.

You all live in the same house, right? So, is it a bit like The Monkees?

There has been a bit of change recently. We had this sweet place overlooking the sea, but the landlord was kinda mad and it all came to an end before the evenings started getting lighter. Currently 4 of us live together; it’s a bit like the house in Neighbours where Toadie and the biker-chick lived… actually didn’t that one burn down?

Who are your other favourite bands?

Blondie, Abba, Aretha Franklin, Pulp, Fleetwood Mac

There's a bit in "Blissed Out" which really reminds me of another song, but I can't place it. Can you help me out?

Can’t help you there I’m afraid, if you do remember please let us know!

When's your album out, and what else is coming up?

We would love to push for an album this year, but there is no rush. We’re constantly writing and coming up with new material and hopefully soon we’ll manage to get into the studio for a longer chunk of time to make an album we’re happy with and that people will listen to.

If only we were 18 again...

Amen to that. I think.
Big Wave’s new single ‘Goldmine/GW Bridge’ is out now on the ace Art is Hard Records.