Wednesday, February 27, 2008

new zealand record shopping

Oh, for the love of travelling. I have been in New Zealand (or Enn Zid, as I've been calling it recently) for the past few days, being all worker bee like in a foreign country. Yeah! But what it also means is that I've transformed into a zombie from early wake ups + two flights in the one day + three hour time difference. Boo... Despite my right royal tiredness, I want to write about my little jaunt yesterday in Auckland to the resident indie cool hangout, Real Groovy Records.

This was fun! I had been visiting packaging suppliers all morning and found some free time in the afternoon to explore Auckland a bit, including some of my favourite designers. But this record store was enormous! A huge section at the front for DVDs and books, then big racks of records and CDs out the back. My favourite section, by far, was the sale racks. People of AKL, what are you doing not snapping up all this stuff? I found the following in those racks:

- Denim - "It Fell Off The Back Of A Lorry" CD Single - $4 (this includes 'I Will Cry At Christmas', a wonderfully cheery festive track I included on last year's Christmas selection)
- Elastica - "The Menace" CD - $4 (it is probably shit but I want to chortle at 'How He Wrote Elastica Man', featuring Mark E. Smith himself)
- Menswear - "Nuisance" CD - $2 (I felt a bit embarrassed buying this but then I thought, "you know what? It's $2, which means it's about $1.60 in Australian dollars, and I am probably really going to enjoy listening to it")
- Boyracer - "In Full Colour" CD - $2 (haven't heard this either but I couldn't pass it up for the price)

There's gold in those sale racks! What wasn't so good was the selection of classic NZ albums - I would have loved some Verlaines CDs or some really good Flying Nun records but they weren't to be found. Sigh. Or maybe I just didn't look hard enough. However, there is a new Verlaines record out at the moment - it's called 'Potboiler', I believe. I should have probably bought it. Oh, I also bought the Fire Engines' "Hungry Beat", which I'm pretty excited about because I love them so much.

If you're ever in Auckland, make sure you go there! And if you are ever in New Zealand, go to Wellington because I thought it was much prettier than Auckland and has a train that runs right by the beautiful bay.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

the lodger

You know how sometimes when you listen to a band or a record for the first time without any preconceived expectations whatsoever, you can have the most rewarding listening experience ever? Like when you listen to a mix CD and are completely blown away by a particular track? Well, dear friends, this happened to me yesterday morning as I was driving to work, when I slipped "Grown-Ups" by Leeds band The Lodger into little Coldplay's* CD player.

To backtrack: I had briefly read about The Lodger on Skatterbrain and seen their name mentioned here and there, but I hadn't done any further investigations. Then, last week, a parcel arrived from the lovely Andrew of Pants Yell!, containing a copy of "Grown Ups". So I slip it in on my drive to work and what do I find? Proper British Indie that sounds like it's been equally influenced by Bernard Sumner's vocals, Morrissey and Marr's melodies and pop hooks, Lawrence's startling intelligence, and a long, illustrious line of classic British pop history. In short, I love it. It's fun and cheeky and serious at the same time, and it makes me want to dance around, just as all good UK indie should. Go listen to "Getting Special" on their Myspace page and try to tell me that it doesn't want to make you dance.

And now I've listened to "Grown-Ups" a few times, I'm besotted. Look how cute they all are! Cups of tea with scrabble, those dapper jumpers and smart haircuts - they look like pretty damn fine boys to me. I bet they all have girlfriends - they always do. You know, Belle & Sebastian were right when they said, "the best looking boys are taken".

There's a new album coming out on the wonderful Slumberland Records in May - I am really looking forward to it! If I'd have heard The Lodger last year, they would have been one of my favourite bands of last year. They'll certainly be up there on my 2008 list!

(* To clarify, Coldplay is the name of my lovely little yellow car!)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

atomic beat records

Oooh, I have found a new record label to fall in love with. Atomic Beat Records have "the sweetest indie pop", and there's no denying that claim. I just bought myself all their releases thus far! I'm particularly excited about The Parallelograms/The Pains of Being Pure at Heart split 7" - I've previously written about both bands, and it's sure to deliver me that buzzy, c86-22-years-on noise that I love so much. And I'm looking forward to the Pete Green 7" - he has a song called "I Haven't Got A Myspace Because Myspace Fucking Sucks", which is just great! I can understand his sentiments, despite being heavily reliant on it for my pop fixes.

Plus, they host really really good shows all around England. Let's hope they have some super shows on when I'm visiting!

blogs + films

Blogs, blogs, splendid blogs. There's a couple more to add to my nightly reading list!

Love Goes On! is brand new and automatically earns lots of love because it's named after one of my favourite Go-Betweens songs. Not only that, but the first post is about The Cat's Miaow. And it has the best design ever! If anybody wants to design my page as prettily as this blog, please feel free to because I am pretty damn inept at this new fandangled internet design business. Anyway, I know this blog is going to be great because Christos and I have Very High compatibility on, and that is always a sure sign of discerning musical tastes.

Too Much Apple Pie has everything you could ever wish for - posts about Pizzicato Five, themed topics and mp3s to match, videos, pop songs, and oh, so much more. I am going to feel so knowledgeable after reading these posts. Lovely!

Films? Oh yes. I watched The Diving Bell & The Butterfly on Tuesday night and cried and cried and cried. Please go to see this film - it's incredible! Then last night I watched Lou Reed: Rock n Roll Animal, which was screening at GoMA. All the hipsters who wear their Egg Records-sourced Velvet Underground & Nico t-shirts were notably absent. Even though I think Lou Reed is a bit of a twat, there's no denying he's written amazing songs throughout his career. I still think he's a twat, but I like him just that bit more now. Tonight? No films - I am ailing and need lots and lots of sleep. And tea.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Even though it's only Wednesday, it's been a tumultuous week so far. I should be rejoicing because I now have a shiny new digital camera to play with, but I'm not, because this stupid full moon is playing evil tidal tricks on me. Rah! Nevermind, though, because I have the delightful Pocketbooks to cheer me up.

When I think of pocketbooks, I think of the old Belle & Sebastian song "Pocketbook Angel" (an aside - I saw Stuart David's new novel in Borders the other day. I think I have to read it!). Of course, that's a great thing, and these classic, dancefloor-ready pop songs by this London five-piece certainly match the standard. By the sounds of it, they're taking off everywhere - last year they headlined the Indietracks festival, and now there's a new EP coming out soon called 'Waking Up' on Make Do and Mend Records. Yay! If you'd like a taste it's streaming on, but you can also download 'Don't Stop' here!

Meanwhile, I adore 'Cross the Line', which is currently streaming on their myspace page. All those old keyboards and lyrics about losing train cards and eating crisps appeals to my public transport travelling ways. What am I saying? They're all good! Stuff this full moon - these songs are making my night for sure!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

weekend bits and pieces

Okay, a brief update to close my weekend and commence another god-awfully busy working week.

The new Long Blondes single is on the internet - hooray! Listen to it here - it's called 'Everything I Touch' on the music player, but Thee SPC assured me on the Anorak forums that it is 'Century'. Hugely audible cheers! And the verdict? Well, at first I wasn't so sure with those ethereal vocals that send me back to the Cocteau Twins and Lush, but now having listened to it a couple of times, with the hollow guitars, Numan-esque synths and an iciness to rival Anna Wintour, it's sure to stay firmly glued in my head for the next week, month, year... I love it!

I went off to Rics last night to see Enn Zid's The Ruby Suns, who are knockin' the socks off everyone around the planet at the moment, it seems - Sub Pop, Popfrenzy, and now little ol' me. They were so much fun! Crazy kaleidoscopes of musical colour that sounded like an electro pop Pet Sounds, to match Ryan's California Games style board shorts. Of course, the crappy surly Rics crowd didn't seem to get it, but at least one guy up the front was dancing away, enjoying himself. Oh yes, and they were ably supported by Brisbane's own Bell Divers, who played a cracking set last night and are the best pop band in Brisbane at the moment. Wait, that should probably read the ONLY pop band in Brisbane. And even then it's more Orange Juice and Go-Betweens than sweet little pop songs. Just to confirm, there appears to now be zero pop scene in existence in Brisbane, just DJs playing shit UK indie and My Chemical Romance. Argh! Anyway, I will tell you more about the Bell Divers sometime soon, because they really are lovely.

Weekend listening came courtesy of the fine, fine Cloudberry Records - yay! A parcel arrived on Friday containing some delicious 3"s, along with some Cloudberry samplers, which have accompanied my many highway drives. So far I've found some super delights from The April Skies, Strawberry Story and Bonnie and Clyde, but oh boy, there is just so much more to discover!

And once again, it's back to the working week and back to more pop discoveries!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

best of britain: the winter club + the parallelograms

Ah, having returned from my brief work-related jaunt in Melbourne (which included a second-place stint at music trivia at the Empress on Monday night), I've returned to the internet to find myself two shiny new pop bands to listen to. Yay! Let's get started.

First up, there's The Winter Club, who come from Brighton (and not Bristol, as I've mixed up previously). They come highly recommended by one of the finest purveyors of indie pop around, Matt from Skatterbrain, so you know they're going to be great! Three pretty girls in bright colours singing simple little pop songs in harmony, with titles all about mix tapes and toothaches and dancing. Really fun stuff!

Up north, we're heading back to Sheffield. I should mention that The Long Blondes have changed their new single from "Couples" to "Century", and it's being released at the end of March. If you are in the northern hemisphere, please go and see them on tour!! I am making an extra special trip to see them in Berlin, and I'm so awfully, awfully, excited about seeing them play again. Anyway, I'm adding The Parallelograms to my list of Sheffield Bands To Love. Go to their myspace and listen to "123 Go" RIGHT NOW because it has that perfect lo-fi C86 buzz about it, and the lyrics are about C86 itself! Yeah! It's so noisy and fuzzy and shambolic - it's almost as though the songs are about to fall apart, like the Shop Assistants doing "Ace of Spades", and it ends up working so well.

Now, having since returned from Melbourne and seeing posters plastered around the city for The Lucksmiths and Still Flyin' show later this month, I have Melbourne envy. Oh, the temptation to move is growing and growing...

Saturday, February 9, 2008

recent lady loves

I would love to write lots and lots about all these wonderful bands I've discovered recently, but, truth be told, I keep finding more and more each day and I don't have enough time to write about every band I've fallen in love with. Hugely audible sigh. So, I'd like to share some brief bits about a few lovely lady pop bands I have girly pop crushes on right now:

Slow Down Tallahassee are three girls and a boy from Sheffield. My love for a couple of big Sheffield bands is well documented - in particular, my love for one Sheffield band that also features three sassy ladies and, well, two boys. What is it with all this sass, eh? Can I have some? Anyway, these Tallahassee ladies make picture-perfect girl-group pop songs, and they're well dressed and damn cute to boot! Please go to the Cloudberry website and download "Candy", because I can't stop listening to it, and I'm really jealous if you have a copy of this 3". I want their hot pink Sheffield Phonographic Corporation 7", as well as anything else I can ship my way. New Pipettes? I kinda hope so!!

Taken By Trees is ex-Concretes singer Victoria Bergsman's new solo project. Yes yes, album was released last year - I know that now - but that's not going to stop me from expressing my love for these pretty, wistful songs. Oh look, she does a quiet version of "Sweet Child O' Mine"! (An aside: my favourite Guns n Roses cover is Mogwai's version of "Don't Cry") I know some people find it difficult to listen to her vocals, but I like how it's this charming half-spoken voice with her Swedish vocals giving it a half American, half English accent. The musicianship is creative, too. I'm really glad she's doing solo songs, because the first Concretes album was so addictive, and I don't think I could listen to Peter, Bjorn and John's "Young Folks" all day just to hear her voice.

Finally, last week I mentioned that the Humans Beware podcast had introduced me to the Scandinavian delights of Je Suis Animal. I asked my Norwegian colleague at work if he had heard of them, but unfortunately he hadn't (he was surprised when I rattled off lots of other Norwegian bands - Sondre Lerche, Turbonegro, Kings of Convenience, etc.). Again, the question begs - why are Scandinavians so beautiful? And why can they produce such perfect pop songs? "Secret Place" is just so buzzy and jangly and wonderful - I'm besotted.

In boy news, I saw Trans Am last night and really enjoyed their Back To The Future take on rock and roll. Duelling basses! Pummelling synthesisers! No silver pants, alas, but the drummer did take his shirt off to display a huge gold chain. I never thought I'd say it, but it was almost like enjoyable post rock. Oh yes, and I'm in Melbourne for the next few days, being a little worker bee, so more than likely I will write again on Wednesday!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

slumberland revival

Forget Led Zeppelin, The Pixies, Spice Girls, NKOTB, et al - Slumberland is back in town, and they're ready to unleash a billion and one brilliant 7"s to the world! Hooray! Surely this has to be the record label revival of the year - to clarify, band revival of, well, last year was The Jesus and Mary Chain, who I am terribly excited to see in late March.

So, after a few years of not doing much, apart from sending me Aislers Set and Go Sailor stuff a couple of years ago, Mike and co. are back and they have a suitcase exploding with the best pop songs. First up, there's two limited edition split 7"s - first one features Roy Moller & The Company (who my dear friends at Book Club Records introduced to we antipodeans about two years ago; Roy's band features dreamy Stevie Jackson) and The Hermit Crabs. The second one teams Archie Moore's new band Bye! with The Happy Couple. You know, I'm considering making a mix containing bands with exclamation marks in their names - wouldn't that be exploding with emphasis! These two 7"s come out on February 18, and I'm keen to get my warm little hands on copies.

There's some other great stuff to come - an album by Sarandon called "Kill Twee Pop", which, if it counts Los Campesinos!, has some (but not total) approval from me. I've listened to a bit of Sarandon and I don't mind it...I am hoping it will grow on me with further listens. There's also a 7" by Sexy Kids, who have risen like a phoenix from the ashes of The Royal We, and a couple of releases for Cause Co-Motion, who I first heard on a mixtape last year, thus proving that mix-tapes from hip English boys are so much cooler than Australian girly mix cds.

It's difficult for me to quantify just how much Slumberland has influenced my music loves, because it is just so enormous. From Black Tambourine to every band Amy Linton and Rose Melberg have ever been in, and so much more, it's all been brilliant. Given Slumberland's pedigree, I'm layin' out the welcome mat and inviting them back in for a cup of tea and some lamingtons. It's good to have Slumberland back in our lives again.

(p.s. read the slumberland blog, too! if things were perfect)

Tuesday, February 5, 2008


(Warning: this is a terribly self-indulgent post. Things shall return to normal tomorrow...I hope!)

Tonight I've been compiling my first mixtape in ages and ages and ages. Years, in fact. Where once I was an avid mix-taper, making tapes with type-written tracklistings, filled with The Delgados and Hefner for all and sundry who would give me a chance, these days I've resorted to the streamlined CD medium. Yes, the track-listing remains as difficult to select, if a little less spontaneous, but it does seem like quite a cop-out. Here's a picture of me as an avid mix-tape maker back in 2003:

Ah, those were the days. Anyway, I decided to make a tape for a friend who has just discovered Beat Happening, and since all my Beat Happening stuff is on vinyl, I decided analogue was the way to go. Some of it's a bit noisy, and some of the choices are a bit cheesy (yes yes, I know, the Jens and Moldy Peaches tracks couldn't be more obvious), but I think it was a reasonable effort for somebody who's a bit rusty on the taping front.

1. The Clean: Billy Two
2. April March: Chick Habit
3. The Frenchmen: Steaming Train
4. The Aislers Set: My Boyfriend (Could Be A Spanish Man)
5. Pants Yell!: Kids are the Same
6. The Pains of Being Pure at Heart: This Love Is Fucking Right!
7. Black Tambourine: Throw Aggi Off The Bridge
8. Jens Lekman: A Postcard To Nina
9. Beat Happening: Nancy Sin
10. Felt: Sunlight Bathed The Golden Glow (demo)
11. The Moldy Peaches: Anyone Else But You

1. The Creation: Biff Bang Pow
2. Biff Bang Pow!: Miss California Toothpaste 1972
3. The Monochrome Set: B-I-D Spells Bid
4. Heaven 17: I'm Your Money
5. Crispy Ambulance: Deaf
6. Lush: Outdoor Miner
7. Heavenly: C Is The Heavenly Option
8. Josef K: Sense of Guilt
9. The Pop Rivets: Lambrettavespascoota

It was fun to make! If anybody would ever like to swap mixtapes or mix cds or mixes of any sort, please let me know because I am always up for a challenge.

Monday, February 4, 2008

the tough alliance

So I'm going to be lazy tonight and tell you about how much I love The Tough Alliance. Bloody Gothenburg can do no wrong at the moment, it seems. I listened to last year's A New Chance album in the car on the way home tonight and, oh boy, if I had listened to it last year, it would have ranked as one of the best albums of '07. It channels everything - middle eastern chants at the beginning of "Something Special", to Big Audio Dynamite-stylee early 90s keys and synths and those bloody bongo beats that make me want to find some cheesy beach nightclub with a silly cocktail in hand to dance the night away. It could be so easy to write it all off as just another dance album, but these guys wear their influences proud, and they're good influences too.

One of my favourite TA songs is "Take No Heroes", off 1995's The New School, because it has this amazing synth line, along with the coolest chanting lyrics that mention Snoop Dogg and Jim & William Reid amongst others. Fellow Gothenburg dreamboat Jens Lekman also sampled it on "I'm Leaving You Because I Don't Love You". They have also done a cover of Primal Scream's "Velocity Girl" and called it "Velocity Boy", and it's just such an innovative cover. Hell yeah!

Clearly they enjoy messing with the system, which I like. Their website is full of pictures of a tennis player (don't ask me which one - Sharapova, maybe? I only watched the men's final of the recent Australian Open), and links to the Sincerely Yours page, which greets you with some fine, fine classical. Better than your average bio, eh?

Best of all, TTA are playing here at the end of March, at the V Festival. If the lure of The Jesus & Mary Chain wasn't enough, you get to experience this live. Now, if only the Smashing Pumpkins had cancelled instead of Mika - it would have been a dance party to remember!

Sunday, February 3, 2008


Yesterday I mentioned the Humans Beware podcast, which I've since been told is technically not a podcast, but rather a regular MP3 download, because it cannot be automatically downloaded from one's music player. Technicalities aside, the salient point of my post was how great these were to listen to, and how much one could discover by taking the time to listen to these compilations. Last night I was duly rewarded by Humans Beware Podcast #24, which featured the lip-smacking sounds of Antonia Pehrson aka Tango aka Komon.

So, she's from Gothenburg, cites Talulah Gosh, Dolly Mixture and early Primal Scream amongst her influences, and makes all her own dots and loops on her guitar, organ, casio, melodica and the magical Fruiti Loops. What is not to love? Oh yeah, and she is cute as all hell!! I love love LOVE these songs - they're like a magical combinations of Shop Assistants punkiness, Rose Melberg cuteness and Free Loan Investments spiky sweetness. "Poetry For The Winter" is waiting for the perfect cardigan-adorned dancefloor, while "I Made New Friends", from her Cloudberry 3" (and track 4 on the aforementioned podMP3-cast) is a lo-fi bleeping, buzzing dancefloor explosion with crisp English vocals all about the cities she's going to move to.

She has a song called "eBay Watchlist", too, which is all about keeping an eye on an auction for an english polo shirt. Oh yes, I've done this many times before, and this brings my count of songs about eBay to two (the first one was by Brisbane band Sun Hill, and was all about how one of their friends missed one of their shows so he could monitor the closing minutes of his ebay auction). You can listen to this at the Papillon Noirs myspace page, who will be releasing a Komon 7" (and a Fireflies one, too) later this year. YAY!

Last night I bought her 3" from Cloudberry, and I think you should too! Trust me, you too will fall in love in no time.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

podcast delights!

Holy crap, I have discovered the greatest podcasts ever, and, best of all, they're straight out of Sydney!

Humans Beware plays all the pop songs i'm too stupid to know about - in listening to the latest podcast, I've discovered the delights of Je Suis Animal, Komon and Strawberry Whiplash, amongst others. Stay tuned, because it is imperative of me to investigate these bands further.

Side Room 7" Singles is based around the following concept:

I found a huge pile of my 7 inch singles in the side room laying dormant and seemingly unloved ( which is not the case really ) and I decided I wouldn't interfere with the order they had assembled themself into and pick up the pile and go thru them 10 at a time and record them and podcast them and post it on this blog. I have no idea which 10 singles are coming up next !! And I'm having a great time doing it....

The results are AMAZING - if I had this 7" collection, I would be the happiest person ever!! The latest podcast features Heavenly alongside Essential Logic, and Split Enz followed by the Teardrop Explodes. Previous podcasts have featured Australian obscurities (Rabbits Wedding, plus old Brisbane bands such as The End and The Poles), the best of C86 and 80s UK indie, and more. If this record collection isn't worth a fortune, then I don't know what is. And if this isn't the greatest idea for a blog ever, then blow me dead.

Honestly, I have gone green with utter envy, but I'm going to keep listening so I can learn just a few things or three!!

the hi-life companion

Despite my absence from the internet for the past few days, due to busy work schedules, late night train rides, spontaneous dinners and ice-cream expeditions, and sheer tiredness, I did manage to read much of the debate on Skatterbrain! surrounding Cloudberry Records and its importance in the indie pop scheme of things. I thought much of the discussion was utter nonsense, and as a relative newcomer to the joys of Cloudberry, I think Roque's contribution to indie pop has been second to none. Without Cloudberry, I wouldn't have discovered some of the bands I've begun listening to and writing about here.

One such band is The Hi-Life Companion, who hail from Brighton Bristol (edit: thanks Martijn for pointing this out - clearly I am useless with geography) and already have a sold-out Cloudberry 3" to their name. What an achievement! Brothers Matt and Jon play with a revolving collective of players, producing pop songs with a variety of influences. "You're The Greatest" takes me back to early Camera Obscura, with its pretty boy-girl melodies and a guitar line straight out of the sixties summer songbook. But then, "The Girl In The Gorilla Suit" comes along and channels crunchy, fuzzy guitars with an ethereal interlude that wouldn't be out of place in an early Lush song. Oh yeah, and I'm going to play "Times Tables" for my niece once she starts learning them at school, because what better way to learn maths than via song! I should mention that they have done a cover of AC/DC's "Shot Down In Flames", which completes my indie pop AC/DC covers trilogy!!

The Hi-Life Companion have almost finished recording their debut album, which is definitely something to look forward to later this year! In the meantime, I'll wear a smile as big as theirs everytime I listen to their songs.