Friday, June 29, 2012

End of June round-up

Why? - Sod In The Seed

After his lost weekend of three years ago, the very un-beaty Eskimo Snow, Yoni Wolf returns to hip-hop beats and moreover quasi-rapping to the beat rather than unfurling over it in his own time. The title track from an EP out 13th August, it's typically unguardedly introspective and honest, so wordy you surely can't take all its meanings in in one go, the better to allow Wolf's self-examinatory consideration of celebrity, life as a professional musician and self-hate.

Cheerleaders - Puzzles

Apart from their being from Leeds and having launched online presence in mid-May, we know nothing about this band. Exciting start, though, charging through less than two minutes of driving American-influenced dark hued indie-rock of a National on amphetamines stripe.

Golden Fable - Sugarloaf

Ahead of the duo's debut album, out 10th September, another fine example of their ability to combine Rebecca Palin's ethereal vocals, pastoral folk-pop melodies and glitchy ambience, leading to something that seems to float above misty hillsides while actually restlessly reshaping.

Snøskred - We Are

Like Tilly & The Wall causing a disturbance in a Cardiacs factory, Snøskred ('avalanche' in Norwegian) throw everything at the wall and uncover pop nuggets underneath the ever churning psych inherent amid the pounding drums, warping guitars, blasts of sax and choral shoutalongs

The Smittens - Burning Streets Of Rome

Having long stretched out their playfully twee-pop credentials, Burlington, Vermont's most lively bubblegum group have gone all Magnetic Fields - synthesised 80s pop references, baritone vocals, lyrical gay playfulness. Just past the ten year mark, their fourth album Believe Me is out 23rd July and next weekend they open the whole Indietracks shebang.

I Like Trains - Mnemosyne

Bit late to this, accompanying album The Shallows (produced by Richard Formby) came out in May, but ILT have shifted their emphasis from history via geology to technology. Named after the Greek goddess of memory, it tries to find its lyrical place in the wider scheme against guitars that have shifted from post-rock to post-punk, a Chameleons-recalling delay pedal-adorned heavy brood.

Knickers - Baby It's You

Don't usually run covers on here unless it's for a good reason. This good reason is it's the latest product from the House vs Home Singles Club is a gloriously breathy, horn and Hammond-aided stylish soul stomp of the Bacharach and others standard the Beatles, Carpenters and Shirelles among many, many nothers covered, the latest from Simon Love's current retro-pop outlet.

GUMS! - The Middle Of The Year

A one-off collaboration between various Glasgow underground heroes, the free download A Glasgow Summer EP veers from Arab Strap post-pub self-examination, like this track, and excitable punk-pop, both ends seemingly marinaded in Buckfast.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Coming attractions: first weekend in July


WHAT: The greatest indiepop spectacular there is, in the grounds of a railway museum. All our friends, and perhaps some of yours, will be there
WHEN: 6th-8th July
WHERE: Midland Railway Museum, near Ripley, Derbyshire
HOW: £67 weekend
WHO: Allo Darlin', Standard Fare, Summer Camp, Darren Hayman & The Secondary Modern, The Monochrome Set, Gordon McIntyre (Ballboy), Tender Trap, The Vaselines, This Many Boyfriends, The Rosie Taylor Project, The June Brides, Evans The Death, Stevie Jackson, The School, Liechtenstein, White Town, Joanna Gruesome, Veronica Falls, Girls Names, The Just Joans, Tigercats, Jasmine Minks, The Smittens, Go Sailor


WHAT: The glorious Alcopop! Records takes over SW2's most sainted small venue for the day
WHEN: 7th July
WHERE: Brixton Windmill
HOW: £6.66, but hurry. "Physical tickets in the form of a big inflatable beachball to advance buyers only". Well, it is Alcopop
WHO: Stagecoach, Yr Friends (Alexei Berrow), Stephen Davidson (Tellison), Katie Malco, Sam Isaac, Jumping Ships, Gunning for Tamar, Her Parents


WHAT: Feminine-led, charity-aiding weekender promoting arts equality
WHEN: 7th-8th July
WHERE: Music on the Saturday at The Fleece; films, workshops and activities all over on Sunday. See the website for full listings
HOW: £25 for the weekend
WHO: Shrag, Mary Epworth, Rozi Plain, Rachael Dadd, This Is The Kit, She Makes War, The Horn The Hunt


WHAT: A once cosy affair comfortably on the way to outgrowing its expectations while remaining laid back in its own time
WHEN: 6th-8th July
WHERE: Merton Farm, Canterbury
HOW: £53.90 weekend
WHO: Dexys, Chic, Slow Club, Roots Manuva, Niki & The Dove, Ghostpoet, Scratch Perverts, Hooray For Earth, Matthew Herbert's Big Band, The Charlatans, Eugene McGuinness, Theme Park, Mystery Jets, Jamie N Commons, Charli XCX, Kitty Daisy & Lewis, Tom Williams & The Boat, Jake Bugg, The Good Natured, Bastille, Emeli Sande, Swiss Lips, Spector, The Wombats

Monday, June 25, 2012

Meursault - Flittin'

One of our milestones of a year ahead, Meursault's third album Something For The Weakened is out 16th July. Early notices claim it's largely phased out the electronics in favour of chamber folk-pop, but if this single is anything to go by the emotional devastation is still in place amid the greater depth of sonic field, still staying this side of, say, Frightened Rabbit's anthemic hues by way of Neil Pennycook's cracked howl and the unfettered honesty behind the march towards the emotive abyss.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Indietracks 2012 Compilation special

In two week's time the greatest event of the year, in its own way, will be running, the sixth annual Indietracks gathering. This year's compilation harbours 50 tracks from those playing, a name your price (as long as it's at least a pound) bargain with all proceeds to Midland Railway Trust. There's tracks from people we've gone on about enough in the recent past - Allo Darlin' (an Eux Autres cover), Standard Fare, Evans The Death, This Many Boyfriends - and some other people may already be aware of too - Veronica Falls, White Town, Stevie Jackson - but may we kindly point out these...

For starters, something new from Ballboy. Four years on from their last album, for most of which time Gordon McIntyre has been preoccupied with the success of the "play with songs" he co-authored Midsummer, the tale of a newly redundant lighthouse keeper The National Trust is taken from an impending... something called Pumpkinfield Sessions.

Electrophönvintage, a duo from Toulouse plus a couple of Pocketbooks, make short but striped sunlight sounding acoustic pop songs by way of Felt and ye-ye.

Further exquisitely lovely acoustic wistfulness from our old friends The Sunbathers, Round And Round from their January, February, March, Ely, Cambridge EP.

And how about a track from Darren Hayman's next album? The bathetic Vinegar Tom is from The Violence, his long promised concept record on the 1645 witch trials, also the last part of his Essex Trilogy, and will be accompanied by an album of songs about the English Civil War.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

LookiMakeMusic - Michigan, Massachusetts, Leeds, Leeds, Leeds

The third free EP from our favourite doyens of the emomathindiepopxcore underground, the splendidly titled Hate Me For A Reason, Let The Reason Be Hate, is led by a track about... well... it's about wishing they were from Leeds rather than Birmingham. As usual it veers all over the place without making like it doesn't know what it's doing at all, there's too many anguished words for the melody and it overcomes hesitancy with sheer stridency.

Splashh - Need It

It seems to be a condition of releasing a single on Luv Luv Luv (as this will be, on 30th July) that it must include an unsubtle synth tone. That out of the way, and at least it sounds like a pitchshifted air attack siren rather than a leaden 80s wash, it gets back to the lo-fi fuzz, more forceful and charging than we've really heard from them before, swirling and surfy with a real burst, virtually shoegazey by its peak, of an extended coda.

Monday, June 18, 2012

The June Brides - A January Moon

Yes, everyone will eventually reform. Actually chief Bride Phil Wilson's been around and about again for a while but a regathering of former colleagues has led to the name of the janglepop/C86 inspirers and sometime NME cover stars being revived for, foremost, this lushly melodic, sophisticatedly harmonic pop, their first release since 1986 and as if they've never been away.

Runaround Kids - Drinking History/We Are Losers - Talk

The latest in the mighty Runaround Kids' convoluted 2012 release plans is a split 12" with Dublin based We Are Losers out July 9th, two new tracks from each plus one cover of the other. It's no bad thing that this is a little more US west coast then we're used to from Wakefield's actual finest and a whole lot Pavement-esque, but it's still packed tight with wound up guitars and plenty of emotional involvement.

As for We Are Losers, their line of attack is filtered through Guided By Voices' submergence of classic guitar pop hooks in lo-fi flavouring, sweetened by harmonies, sugared by sentiment.

The two bands are playing together round Ireland at the end of the month - 27th Dublin Twisted Pepper, 28th Limerick Bourkes, 29th Galway Roisin Dubh - and Runaround Kids have also been called up for Beacons Festival.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Erika Spring - Hidden

One third of Au Revoir Simone (now seemingly on hiatus, gah), Spring steps out on her own with a self-titled EP on July 10th. Still beholden to a blurry modulating keyboards, this time the backing is greater filled out with electronic beats and effects, a kind of dazed sun haze equivalent of the Californian beach love dream of others.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Mission Of Burma - Second Television

We've heard one track from the new Mission Of Burma album Unsound, out July 9th; now comes its double A sided single partner, mining the occasionally sighted psychedelic sound for something that while less immediately visceral delves deeper into a whirlpool of molten core-mining guitars.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Things you may have missed

Actually these aren't all repeats, there's a couple of new tracks at the end so this isn't a complete waste of time, but with Tumblr now not putting post text in the Twitter feed and hardly anybody reading this any more, largely I'd assume due to Tumblr's lack of Hype Machine sync, it seems all the new tracks posts will have to migrate back to Blogger along with everything else, and Tumblr will have to learn to fend for itself.

I've tried to change the split between the two services twice now and reneged within a month on both occasions. You'd think I'd learn my lesson.

Splashh - All I Wanna Do

Newly released on celebrated tape label Kissability, enveloping jangle-noise meets slacker lo-fi garage and crystallised a molten core of hook-lined summer fuzz. Apparently the duo only formed in February.

Rick Redbeard - Now We're Dancing

Phantom Band frontman Rick Anthony’s first proper solo release strips away the questing instrument gathering and becomes a plangent Will Oldham-esque eccentric lament, half of a split 7” with Adam Stafford on Gerry Loves Records.

Piano Magic - The Slightest Of Threads

Glen Johnson and co's eleventh album Life Has Not Finished With Me Yet, out this week, would seem to turn back from the overarcing synths and shoegaze effects of the last couple of albums back towards the prime 4AD-esque spectral minimalism of their late 90s work. Then, about three minutes in, the track falls into an industrial vat and struggles to completely extricate itself.

Rumour Cubes - 1871

Intriguing new single from the usually slow-burning post-rock artistic collective, inspired by the 140th anniversary of the Paris Commune uprising and taking the form of a rolling, seemingly barely controllable guitars/electronics spree plus politicised shouting from poet Steve Willey.

An Blonds - El Mudo

A duo that could only exist in the post-80s pop revival here and now, languid vocals, woozy synth and pop melodies. Think Beach House via Niki & The Dove plus a little of Summer Camp’s faerie dust. They're 'anonymous' and 'enigmatic', because every fucker is these days.

Let's Buy Happiness - Works Better On Paper

Slower and even more shimmering, this new version out on 7" this week of one of the first things anyone else heard from them swoons in all the desired places, languid and chilling in the right way. Shouldn't they be huge by now?

Standard Fare - At The Lake

The latest in WIAIWYA’s 7777777 series came out yesterday, three new songs from Standard Fare. Posted Girlfriend back in March; lead track At The Lake launches in with some Motown bass and tambourine before Emma and Dan trade verbal reasoning over the sort of thing that should fill indie dancefloors if indie DJs were interested in music like this, progressing appeallingly from jangly to ragged. Some jaunty handclaps too.

Shiny Darkly - He's Suicidal

More than a hint of J&MC about the Copenhagen trio who here hit upon a menacing, circling riff, clamp down on the reverb pedal and let what results corrode all around it. FLASHING IMAGES WARNING.

Fear of Men - Green Sea

Hints of indiepop, dreampop and, oh, all sorts of pop, but really it's built on the awareness there's something not quite right with everybody here however warm and melodically inviting it seems, the wistfulness and melancholia coasting on the back of guitars that can't decide whether to Slowdivebomb or build cathedrals to Cocteaus. Out next week on Sexbeat 7", they're about to tour support Best Coast.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Long Division Festival 2012: a diary

9:00 94 miles up the M1, on the Saturday of a four day bank holiday? Even though I don't have to be there until midday at the earliest, better to be safe than sorry...

10:45 Oh.

12:00 It does feel like there's quite a few of these multi-venue events cropping up at the start of the festival season these days, but there's little sense of major label push or corporatisation about Long Division, merely a local independent promoter (Rhubarb Bomb) and some accomplices putting on some of their favourite bands in a variety of unique rooms and hoping those who care turn up in numbers, rather than those who want to be seen. Under leaden skies that fortunately refrain from unleashing their load all day, and indeed allow some warmth through later on, the ease of use of the festival becomes clear - five of the nine venues are on the same road, two are just off it and two more are in the same building four or so minutes' walk away.

12:15 Having a normal ticket rather than press pass this year does at least mean not having to wear a lanyard all day telling everyone we got in for free.

12:30 So we start upstairs at Wakefield scene central The Hop for Piskie Sits. There's six of them, and there's clearly well worn copies of Daydream Nation and Goo in their collections, but the way they ally these to not-quite-melodies more recalls Urusei Yatsura's glitter bombs, college rock with a devil-eyed British toilet circuit overdrive slant. Plus, they seem to be pissed already, though they claim not as pissed as some of their local counterparts.

13:00 The Town Hall - and it actually is the town hall, with opaque design and display cases - is home to most of the loudest bands of the day, starting with Advances In Mathematics. Mancunians who've released a single through the label of the estimable indiepop fanzine/promoters Pull Yourself Together, and featuring Help Stamp Out Loneliness drummer Ben Ambridge up front, the intricacies and delay echoes with a degree of warmth and not too much bludgeon recall not so much the Mogwai/EITS party line as I Like Trains' more post-rock moments to the power of Maybeshewill becalmed. We do nip away before the end...

13:30 pop into the Theatre Royal, an actual former opera house with seating still installed, which on first visit in the dark seems precarious. Mi Mye, a local trio three albums deep, have literate ability refracted through the personal and a depth of indiepop-influenced sound that suggests knowledge of Flying Nun Records' back catalogue. Then Jamie Lockhart pulls out an acoustic guitar for a completely unamplified solo song before switching to fiddle for the closer. Nothing if not surprising.

13:45 Which unfortunately isn't quite true of Fever Dream at the Orangery, given they span off from the same source band (Esiotrot) as Tigercats. The big blocky bass sound impresses, the well thumbed wall of effects pedal guitar noise playbook in a Yuck style less so.

14:15 Mammal Club back in the Theatre Royal are very much in the spirit of Everything Everything - overwordy lyrics, falsetto bits, dynamic shifts, tricky guitar parts - if they were more willing to explore their electronic avenues, swelling into wilder shores while keeping some semblance of melody intact somewhere underneath. Wilson Astley's crazy legged dancing behind his set-up deserves some sort of attention too.

14:45 Down a corridor in the town hall building, the Old Courtroom is indeed an old courtroom with most fixtures still intact, a fitting location for the acoustic end of the bill. Sam Airey fits it neatly, his poetic imagery and yearning, full bodied vocal drawing in the attentive and aided by the natural acoustics. To think they nearly didn't use this room. Although they were originally going to use a chapel, so who knows.

15:15 The tiny Henry Boons is full for Kid Canaveral. Scrap all plans to catch Withered Hand in an hour's time.

16:00 Leeds' Hookworms have been garnering fans for a rocket propelled live show that deals in droning noise-psychedelia, Spacemen 3 meets Mudhoney. Ears set up nice and tinnitus-y for the... month, probably.

16:29 Big celeb spot! Erm, in our world anyway, as Fortuna Pop! leader and general indiepop ubergrupenfuehrer Sean Price wanders towards the Hop ahead of the next band.

16:30 In glaring contrast to Hookworms, Richard from This Many Boyfriends is visibly (and, on speaking to him later, audibly) astonished at how many have turned up to see his band. Ryan Jarman produced their current single and they sound like the Cribs would if they actually better reflected all those K and Postcard Records bands they go on about. Young Lovers Go Pop! is of course the one that sends people nuts but before then is a compact set of excitable nuggets of indiepop hook enthrallment.

17:00 There's a tiny stage downstairs at the Hop and for some reason the mighty Standard Fare are playing halfway through the day there when common consensus is they'd be much better suited to a bigger room. No matter, despite Emma dropping her water bottle and soaking the stage beforehand their ordinary magic shines through the two songs we catch before literally running off towards...

17:10 ...a packed Town Hall for Wakefield breakout band in waiting Runaround Kids, whose T-shirt Richard Boyfriend had been sporting in note of the awkward clash. Of course their Johnny Foreigner-by-way-of-Tubelord-but-with-more-outright-thrash mix slays all with utmost confidence that if they persevere they'll get through past these town walls eventually.

17:30 Napoleon IIIrd played the infamous western bar Mustangs last year in a set notable for the absolute inaudibility of his vocals. The Theatre Royal, which should after all be good at it, have got that sorted this year, though James does have to gesticulate towards his monitors a bit. A set drawn largely from Christiania, no bad thing but there's a new album pending, sees him switch tirelessly between multi-functional keyboard and effects boxes, conjuring thumping beats out of formless noise, before giving a guitar plenty, culminating in chucking it back over his shoulder.

18:00 Must have done something around this time. Chatted to a couple of people, saw bits of two not that interesting bands. Ate, probably.

19:00 Due to a stage time clash which means Young British Artists are unfortunately right out of the picture a couple of songs in the Town Hall from Evans The Death is the plan, but Dan's lead guitar is next to inaudible so it's something of a washout before dashing off...

19:10 Mustangs, which with its bunting and England flags up next to the stencilled pin-up girls in cowboy gear and plastic cacti looks even less welcoming to pale indie kids like us. We're here to touch the hem of Eddie Argos' garment. Inevitably Art Brut are better mixed than their leader but he still commands a room, even if constantly fearful that he's about to crash through the stage extension in front of the monitors he spends the whole set on. Whole set, that is, apart from his customary wander around the audience improvising around a Van Gogh Museum thread mid-Modern Art. Not too many from the most recent album, a request for Emily Kane fulfilled, the knowledge gained that Eddie's little brother is a teacher and it's just himself that his parents now worry about, the sight of Argos attempting to skip using the mike lead as a rope and a full audience energised and amused. Top of the pops indeed.

19:46 A ringer for Charles Slow Club passes me.

19:47 Outside the Hop courtyard stands a ringer for Rebecca Slow Club. Hmm. (Though, seeing her later, she has a punter's wristband on and there's no secret sets or anything, and no clues on her Twitter feed)

20:45 Aidan Moffat and Bill Wells are in the theatre, by all accounts packed out and wonderful, but we saw them at Swn and can't imagine the set is much different. Back in court, then, for White Town, Jyoti, acoustic and pre-recorded backing. His open-hearted songs with twists are being watched by, at quick reckoning, eleven other people but he seems happy enough with it, offering money off his albums for stories he can reuse. And yes, he does do that one.

21:40 The Vaselines playing between England flags? Someone didn't think this through. Watching the now three guitar lineup vibrate the flag stretched over part of the PA reverberate with every chord is a fun sideshow, but the set is great enough without that as they pile through the compact fuzzbombs, dealing out Molly's Lips and Jesus Doesn't Want Me For A Sunbeam early on just because they can. That's where we call it a night, after a second excellent Long Division out of two, excellently organised with knowledge of just how to pitch it.