Friends Of The Bride are from Raynes Park, SW20, which according to Wikipedia is also home to Richard Briers, ex-Charlton midfielder Graham Stuart and Dave Benson-Phillips off the kids' telly. The Times called them "nu-croon", a title Google also ascribes to Josh Groban and Cherry Ghost. Friends Of The Bride sound like neither. What So You Think You Can Dance, their second far too cool for school single for and generally another ripe picking from Young & Lost Club, does sound like is Brit-beat meets swing meets post-ironic attitude, a sound we've previous labelled "rat pack fuzzpop". As we generally say about bands who sound simultaneously retro and modern, were radio not so much in the pocket of the self-appointed NME zeitgeist this sort of thing should be all over the daytime schedules and picking up more than the small but ever growing cult passing following they currently have. Judging by the turnout and audience participation for their End Of The Road Festival set the Wave Pictures already have a passionate enough live crowd, and of course we're going to love them - two of them are from Leicestershire, they were based for a while in Cardiff, they take their lead from Darren Hayman, they've been on tour with Emmy The Great, they've played with Jeffrey Lewis and have issued records on 4AD and, in the case of the splendid Richmanish double A side We Dress Up Like Snowmen/Now You Are Pregnant, Moshi Moshi's singles club. A very big 2008 album awaits. As if to remind us that we should never have doubted her, Emma Pollock's album Watch The Fireworks is turning into quite the slow burner. That it sounds not that far from the latter days of the Delgados helps, of course, but it's definitely a record bearing a very personal stamp. Paper And Glue has a gorgeous melodic glaze covering an awkward structural feeling and is rightly making Radio 2 sit up and take note. Speaking of ethereal songwriters, presumably Island picked The Piano from PJ Harvey's White Chalk because, featuring drums and a crescendo, it's as close as they'll find to something remotely commercial. Like the rest of the album, it's otherwise totally out of line. This Is Fake DIY have followed Drowned In Sound and PlayLouder into the online magazine-becoming-label market, and their latest signings are Love Ends Disaster!, the Nottingham outfit who've been 'promising' for far too long now without getting their deserved breakthrough's Suzanne/Dinosaur double-A 7" doing the Maximo Park-channelling-Sonic Youth 'thing'. It stays well on the right side of the clean/dirty equation of post-punkishness, which Editors' The Racing Rats is busy leaping Fonz-style. The Electric Soft Parade just had to finish off their comfortably reputation re-establishing No Need To Be Downhearted album campaign with Appropriate Ending, a digital release also bearing covers of Elliott Smith and the Aislers Set. Deerhoof are occasionally called pop by mad people, but Matchbook Seeks Maniac is as sunshine pop as the American underground will ever make, even starting with the Be My Baby beat (see Covermount passim), while Electrelane bid not farewell but adieu, or whichever form they intend the word 'hiatus' to take, with the ethereal shards of In Berlin. Also that Mules single documented last week got moved back.
One of the most interesting things in the last couple of years has been the rise of the mini-album, whether giving an up and coming act time to put their older material out while writing for the proper full-length debut or to give an explosive new talent a helping hand. It's very much the latter in the case of Birmingham trio Johnny Foreigner, who've had a couple of ground level 7"s out before but on Arcs Across The City explode into glorious Sony Bravia-style technicolour of taut leftfield heavy riffage and Sonic Youth-cribbing knives through the heart of dull old linearity. Imagine Seafood's American-flavoured melodic hyperactivity colliding at full pelt with Los Campesinos!' million ideas in three minutes or less, but Los Campesinos! (who they've supported on several occasions, as they have Sky Larkin, so it's a foregone conclusion we're going to follow them whatever) if Gareth's love of Xiu Xiu was all-pervading, in one airtight package. By God, this is an exciting 21 minutes 20 seconds to give hope at these end of the year blues. Once upon a time Johnny Foreigner would have had little problem with the blanket genre description 'indie'. Probably. Man, 'indie' used to be such an unbesmirched term, indeed one which told you nothing other than its circumstances of release, often therein acting as its own badge of quality. Of course, twelve or so years ago the majors barged their way into the private party like drunk latecomers possibly tipped off by a Myspace bulletin and now everyone hates it as a subjective we're seeing indie without its rug. How different to 1982-83, when indie was something Peel and perhaps Long played and the rest of broadcast media bought bargepoles specifically for the purpose of not touching that row with, and Cherry Red records brought out its celebrated label sampler Pillows And Prayers, complete with sleeve instruction "pay no more than 99p". Skinflints got to hear the Monochrome Set, Felt, the Nightingales, Attila the Stockbroker, far too many Tracy Thorn and/or Ben Watt projects and a splendidly out of place Quentin Crisp among other luminaries of the student bedsit, and now it's back out with an extra disc of label obscurities (ver Set's Jetset Junta? We'd have thought so!) and a bloody DVD. Someone should mount a sculpture dedicated to this stuff for Trafalgar Square's spare plinth. Pixies were never so downtrodden so they just settled for being the greatest rock band ever (our perspective only). Dig For Fire: A Tribute To Pixies sounds like one of those tribute albums featuring obscure Norwegian light metallers that get flung out into bargain bins every so often, but in fact features British Sea Power (Caribou), Mogwai (Gouge Away), They Might Be Giants, Joy Zipper, the Rosebuds, OK Go and assorted US underground flyweights. They've done all their reforming, but Squeeze head around the country from Monday and take with them self-released document of their summer US tour 5 Live and the second in Glenn Tilbrook's mining of his demos cupboard, In The Sky Above: Demo Tapes 1993-1998.
There's quite a bit of Roxy Music revivalism going on at the moment, now that the coast is clear from the half-arsed half reunion tour, and it continues with The Thrill of It All: A Visual History 1972-1982, featuring the art school dandies doing what they did on video, telly and stage, much commercially unreleased before now. One thing it unfortunately doesn't feature, which we might as well give you as we're in a good mood, is their MusikLaden set of 1973, featuring this version of Re-make/Re-model chiefly notable because a) it's mad and b) the audience are only roused by the drum solo. Sparks, who did a similarly coolly received set for the same show around this time, have fans who would only cheer a drum solo were it fed in by the backdrop projection. Dee Vee Dee - Sparks At The London Forum is a document of their high concept show from last September.