01
Dec

Thanks so much to John Harkins for this interview! I didn’t know Things in General until stumbling upon their Bandcamp some months ago when I was searching for The English McCoy with whom they shared members. I loved the songs they had uploaded and was so sad to know that I had missed the limited CD they had released. Luckily was able to get in touch with John and ask him a bunch of questions.

++ Hi John! Thanks a lot for being up for this interview! How are you? Are you still based in Preston? Has it changed a lot since the days of Things in General?

Kev and I are both still in Preston. It has changed massively since the ’80’s. For a start the old Polytechnic is now a fairly large university and there are tens of thousands of students from all over the place, in fact the town has developed quite a bit, much the same as other provisional English towns. Preston is about 35 miles from Manchester and Liverpool, so it is massively overshadowed by its noisy neighbours.

++Tell me a bit about how it was back then in the mid 80s, were there any other like minded bands? Where would you usually hang out? What were your favourite venues to go check out bands?

For unsigned bands back in the ’80’s there wasn’t very much of an organised music scene, it was very rare to play in a venue with a house PA. There was no internet and no computers so there had to be a real DIY ethos to gigging. Begging and borrowing gear, promoting our own shows, making the posters, tickets and trying to drum up interest. The bands on the music scene were mainly based around groups of friends, our friends were in bands like The English McCoy & Dreamland. A lot of the time the same group of people would be in a few different bands together. Karl and Damian from Dreamland were in Fear The Fear and ProNoise, Miles, Darren and Paul from the English McCoy all played with Things in General at one time or another. Pete Cobb, a founding member of TiG, was in the English McCoy in their early days too. There were other bands in town that I liked but didn’t really know too well, Dandelion Adventure, Big Red Bus & Cornershop.

Our circle of indie/alternative bands used to hang out in a pub called The Exchange until it got “done up” then we moved to The Adelphi. There were some music pubs, most notably The Lamb, Joplins/Kings Arms and Maguires

There was the occasional “big gig” on at Preston Guild Hall, I saw The Smiths there in ’87.

Touring bands would play at Clouds, The Warehouse (aka Raiders), The Paradise Club and The Venue. The Stone Roses, The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Pogues and countless indie bands passed through these venues over the years.

To be honest, Things in General were more at home in a café than a pub or a music venue. There can be a lot of big egos in and around bands, Things in General much prefered a quieter life spending a long afternoon nursing a mug of tea in Bruccianis Café.

++ I read many of you were in different bands like James, Cornershop and the English McCoy, wondering if there’s any other bands missing in that list? And who were in which bands?

The English McCoy were good friends, Miles Salisbury played drums and Pete Cobb played keys in the early days of Things in General, after the McCoy split up Paul and Darren played keys and drums with TiG. We did some gigs together and I roadied for English McCoy in ’87 & ’88 around the time they were signed and put their single out. Happy times. Miles has just started playing again, in fact I’m doing a gig with him this weekend!

Mick Armistead did most of our recording at the Musicians Co-op in Lancaster. Mick joined James in 1988, around the time of James’ Gold Mother album. He toured with them for a year or so before leaving and recommending Mark Hunter as his replacement. I don’t think Mick was too comfortable with the level of attention that James were getting. He’s still engineering, producing and playing, I saw his band Montana Wildhack a while ago. Good guy, we used to drive him nuts.

Saffs (Anthony Saffery) was one of the Bruccianis cafe regulars, he was a lovely guy and sat in for a few gigs on guitar after Kath left the band around 1987. A few years later Saffs joined Cornershop, they had a No.1 single with Brimful of Asha. I was so pleased for his success, it helped him carve out a career in the industry.

++ Was Things in General your first band? How did the band come together? How did you all know each other?

The band formed out of the post punk era. Kev had been in a punk band called Urban Renewal in the early ‘80’s and knew Miles (drums), also of The English McCoy & Blank Students, Kath (flute and guitar) & Pete Cobb (keys). Andy and I were at school together, he was introduced to Kev and Kath at a party as a guitar player, they asked him to play bass and that was how the first line up came about.

A few people came and went, mainly drummers. Kath left Preston leading to a more guitar oriented sound, I joined on guitar in 1988.

For me personally before TiG I was messing about with my own stuff under the pseudonym Johnny Ligament, I’ve been working on my debut solo album for over 30 years….. 😉

++ Who came up with the name and what’s the story behind it?

No one can remember. Kev told me it just sort of sounded good.

++ At that time, who would you say were your influences?

It may sound a bit pretentious but Kev, in particular, didn’t really have musical influences. The songs came out the way the came out and that was that. I was more into guitar indie, Andy was in to The Cure and played huge bass solos with flanger, Kath would have a nice melody on the flute. We never really tried to be like anything, in that way the band were remarkably unambitious, it was what it was and if people liked it… great.

++ On Bandcamp we can listen to 15 songs that were part of a retrospective CD released in 2012 titled “The Generals”. Was wondering what sparked the idea to put together by yourselves this release?  And are there more songs recorded by the band that weren’t included in this CD?

Kev and I got chatting about 4 years ago. Initially it was just about getting the tracks that we recorded digitised for ourselves. Some people were interested so we put the best 15 on a CD and made a t-shirt.

There are another 10 to 15 tracks that aren’t on The Best of TiG CD, I may put them online at some point as The Rest of TiG.

++ All, but one, songs were recorded at the Blueprint Studio Lancaster and produced Mick Armistead. I guess you really liked working there. How was that experience? Any anecdotes you remember?

Blueprint studio is part of Lancaster Musicians Co-op. The Co-op is a fantastic resource for local musicians, it’s been there for 30+ years and hundreds of bands must have passed through there at one time or another. I was there a few years ago rehearsing with some friends and some of the faces from the ‘80’s were still knocking around like Dave (The Lovely Eggs), Ian (Montana Wildhack, Premier Kissoff) and Mick.

Mick was an ex-boyfriend of Kaths which is how we got to know him. He was infinitely patient with us and he seemed to know what we were looking for.

++ If you were to pick one song from the band, your favourite song, which one would that be and why?

I’m going to be cheeky and take two, one from my time in the band and one from before I joined.

My favourite from my time in the band is Raintown, it really sums up Kev’s songwriting and what it was like living in a northern town in the 1980’s.

Before I joined I really like Morning Air, the slower stuff with flute was so original.

++ How did the creative process work for the band?

The songs were Kev’s with a bit of tweaking by the band. Kev is a fairly self contained songwriter. I think in that we only tried to write a song collaboratively once and it never got into the set…..

++ Let’s talk about gigs. Did you play many? Which cities? Which bands do you remember supporting or that supported you?

We played a lot in Preston and Lancaster, Bodega Wine Bar, Yorkshire House, Kings Arms. Bigger gigs in Preston were at The Warehouse and The Venue. In Manchester we played the Boardwalk and Band on the Wall.

++ What would you were your best gigs and why? Was there any that was actually a bad gig?

I remember a really good gigs at The Venue (Preston Polytechnic) and the Boardwalk (Manchester). On the flip side we had a nightmare once at The Yorkshire House (Lancaster) because we turned up on the wrong day, and I think Kev once booked us at The Warehouse (Preston) as “Kevin Cross and the Wagon Trailers” there was much confusion when we turned up on the night.

++ The band lasted until 1990. Why did the band stop playing? Why did you split?

Some of our friends had done well out of music and as individuals some of us had our heads turned by that. We all knew that Things in General lacked the ambition as a band to make a big impression so we decided to part company. Darren and Andy started a band called Junk Mothers, Kev started Wholesome with Miles & Geoff from the early days of TiG. I got involved in a couple of bands that didn’t take off….

++ What did you guys do after? Are you all still in touch? Was there ever talks for a reunion?

We did a gig in ‘94 at the Adelphi in Preston, it was fun but it was always going to be a one off. I see Kev and Miles a lot.

++ And what about today? Are you still making music?

Kev and I started a Crossbill in 2012, it is a bit like Things in General but acoustic. Andy, Darren and Kath have moved away so I don’t see much of them. Kev and I have done some gigs with Pete Cobb’s band and Miles (solo) recently.

++ Aside from music, what other hobbies do you enjoy doing?

Most of the guys I’m in touch with still play music. Darren Baldwin is a fantastic photographer.

++ Let’s wrap it here, thanks a lot for the interview, anything else you’d like to add?

Thanks for taking an interest!

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Listen
Things in General – Raintown

29
Nov

Back from two weeks of vacations. I’m exhausted and jetlagged. In a way happy to escape from the heat of Thailand, but not that excited to be back in an office. There was little indiepop during the trip, but I did meet Peter from Twee.net for a day while I was in Railay Beach. That was fun, reminiscing past gigs, festivals and so on. Gossiping a bit, talking about records, his own collection that will be now housed in a museum and more. It was really great to catch up after some years. Last time we saw each other was in Madrid Popfest 2013.

As I’ve been away I have very little news about indiepop. Don’t know what has happened in the past two weeks. Were there any good releases? Any new bands popped up in Bandcamp? I will have to do my own research this week. For the next post I hope to find out some exciting news.

The one piece of news that is really important though, that we all learned yesterday, was that Indietracks is returning next year. There was a lot of doubts that it was going to happen again it seems. Fans were wondering for the past few weeks. But the news came and everyone started booking their Travelodges.

The dates for 2017 Indietracks are July 28th to the 30th. It will happen at the same location, the Midway Railway Centre in Derbyshire. There is one difference though from previous years, three of the organizers have left, Marianthi, Ian and Alice. Andy and Nat are still on it while Jasmine, Emma and Beck are joining Team Indietracks this time around. I don’t know these new members but I hope they book some great bands, proper indiepop for the pop fans. Definitely Marianthi and Ian will be missed, they booked so many fantastic bands during the years making me happy when I attended.

I don’t think I will be able to attend. But who knows, if the lineup starts shaping up nicely, I can make a big effort. I miss the festival so much. Fingers crossed. And good luck to the new organizers!

And about my vacations? Well, what else can I tell you. Visited Bangkok, Ayutthaya, Lobpuri, Sukhothai and Railay Beach. Lots of walking, temples, Buddha statues and monkeys. I wore a baseball cap and shorts, very unusual for me. In a way Thailand seemed so different to anywhere I visited, but other times it just felt like another Latin American city, Bangkok especially reminded me of Mexico City a lot.

I have to go through my photos, get my memory refreshed. I had some issue today with some of my photos, they seemed to be lost after I pressed ctrl+z, undo, on my new computer. How odd. I’m using a recovery program and I left it doing it’s thing. It seems like it was working. I hope so! So far this day has been so crappy.

I found Thai food a bit hit or miss. Some days it was fantastic but in general I think Thai food in New York is as good and sometimes even better. I may be mistaken, but that was my experience.

Taxi drivers, damn, they see you as a westerner and they try to rip you off. I was better using Uber really. Taxi drivers don’t want to use their meter and they just ask for a flat rate, a very expensive one. Well, not expensive if you convert to dollars, but definitely much more if they were to use the taxi meter.

All in all it was a fantastic adventure in Asia. Worth the very long flight. When I get my energy back, maybe I can write a bit of a tourist guide for the places I visited. Right now I just want to fall asleep!

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Roberto Durán Samaniego (born June 16, 1951) is a Panamanian former professional boxer who competed from 1968 to 2001. Widely regarded as one of the greatest boxers of all time, Durán was a versatile brawler and in-fighter in the ring, which earned him the nickname of “”Manos de Piedra” (“Hands of Stone”) for his devastating punching power.[1] He held world titles in four weight classes—lightweight (1972–1979), welterweight (1980), light middleweight (1983–1984) and middleweight (1989)—including a reign as the undisputed and lineal lightweight champion (1978–1979), and the lineal welterweight champion (1980).[2] He is also the second boxer to have competed over a span of five decades, the first being Jack Johnson. However, Durán is most infamous for abruptly forfeiting his welterweight title in the middle of his 1980 rematch with challenger Sugar Ray Leonard.

Today I want to introduce a band I know very little about: The Roberto Durans. I know almost nothing and the internet also knows barely anything about this band. There is barely anything but I’ll dig up everything I can. They are not even listed on Discogs!

They are not much of a mystery in the indiepop world. I’ve never heard anyone talking about them. Maybe not many know their existence. Never seen them on those wanted records lists. Never seen a blog post about them. I found them on Youtube and from there I started my “investigation”. First fact I can find about them is that they were based in Wakefield, UK.

Wakefield is a city in West Yorkshire, England, on the River Calder and the eastern edge of the Pennines, which had a population of 76,886 in 2001, increasing slightly for the five Wakefield wards (East, North, Rural, South and West) to 77,512 at the 2011 Census.

As far as I know they released just one record in 1990. It was a private pressing, self-released and it seems only 500 numbered copies were pressed. This 7″ included two songs, “Don’t Go Weird On Me Baby” on the A side and “T.B.O.O.E.T.K.M.” on the B side. What does the B side song mean? The catalog number was TKO 001.

On Youtube I could find 3 more songs. I assume these are from the same recording session as the 7″. They were uploaded 8 years ago I think by a member of the band. The songs are: “Jesus Drives a Harley“, “A Million Tears” (which is said to be inspired by Harvey Milk), “Dying to Meet You“. Also you can listen to the two songs that appear on the 7″,”Don’t Go Weird On Me Baby” and “T.B.O.O.E.T.K.M.“.

I wonder who were behind this band. From a Facebook page called “I See a Darkness” I feel one of the band members might have been Paul Stephenson but I can’t confirm this. I wonder if the band members had been in other bands before or after The Roberto Durans. If they were really big boxing fans. If they ever visited Panama. So many questions. Did they record more songs? Why were there no more releases? How big was their following? Maybe some of you remember them? And how the hell do I get a copy of their single? I would love to have it!

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Listen
The Roberto Durans – Dying to Meet You

07
Nov

Last post before vacations! Well, unless someone answers interview questions before I head to Thailand this Saturday morning. Very exciting! But before we have here an interesting week. Tomorrow there’s Presidential elections in the U.S. and I will be working around the clock, probably until midnight or later. Hopefully the result of the election is not a terrible one. It is a very scary election and I’m crossing my fingers for the best outcome. Then two days later, on Thursday is our official release date for The Seashells 7″ with the fantastic two songs “Thoughtlessness” and “A Comfort to A Fool”. The mighty return of the classic Umeå band! So quite a packed week!

On top of it all, last Friday I had my U.S. citizenship interview and I passed it. Now the next step seems to be the oath ceremony and I’ll be waiting for that. I was quite nervous but I didn’t make any mistake in the history/geography questions (to be fair they were pretty easy questions). I haven’t had an oral test in more than ten years! But yeah, it was quite an interesting experience.

I hear also that my good friend Peter from Twee.net will be at the same time in Thailand. That would be awesome if we could meet. Maybe there’s some indiepop stories in Thailand in the end! Things shaping nicely.

Then I got my new computer and I’ve been setting it up. I’m still lacking some programs. I haven’t done much to be honest as I’ve been addicted to Civilization VI. But about my other computer, the one that stopped working, I don’t much. A friend is checking it, a computer expert, and hopefully he can salvage the hard drive. I have listened to a bunch of records this week and I want to file them in my Excel sheet! And I can’t. I really feel silly for not having transferred my record collection to the cloud, maybe to Google Spreadsheets. I thought many times about doing that, but I never did. No excuse, laziness probably.

But what about the topic we are always interested in? Well as it is becoming normal the news are far and between. I think what has excited me the most are a number of gigs happening in the UK that I most probably won’t be able to attend.

The first, and I couldn’t find a link to a Facebook event but you can check the flyer here, is happening on Friday February 17th 2017 in Preston. Who is playing at The Continental? Well, it is a fantastic lineup, The Orchids, The Chesterf!elds and The Suncharms. Three top acts. How I wish even one of these bands would play in New York. Just one.

And what about the day after? Yes, on February 18th 2017 there’s An Evening of Indie Pop! at Gulliver’s in Manchester. Who is playing? The Chesterf!elds, Karen (which is the fab band Davey from Brilliant Corners has now) and Cherlie Big Time. Couldn’t find a Facebook event either, but here’s the flyer. Again, what a lineup! I would be a roadie for The Chesterf!elds if I could!

But much closer, this November 10th, in the continent, our friends and Cloudberry graduates Stephen’s Shore are playing a gig in Stockholm. So please if you are around don’t miss it. For this one there is a Facebook event page. It is happening this Thursday at 8pm at Under Bron.

Continuing with gigs, NYC favourite band Pale Lights are playing on November 19th at the Cake Shop. But that one I’ll be missing as I’ll be away. I still haven’t managed to get their last release and I’m quite worried it will sell out! Damn!

Then Olov Antonsson who used to be in The Tidy Ups and used to record under the name Cocoanut Groove is playing solo on November 26th in Stockholm’s venue Landet.

Maybe there’s more cool events happening. I don’t know. I was also wondering when will Indietracks 2017 be announced. I can’t recall previous years now, but I think it was around this time of the year when they would announce the dates for the next festival, right? Well, better to keep an eye.

Also it seems Firestation Records is now working on a Metro Trinity retrospective. Sounds like an ace project. At the time they seem to be asking fans and people to help with any recordings. Please check here and help if you can!

And last but not least, all-time favourite La Casa Azul has a new song out titled “Podría Ser Peor“. Hoping for a new album soon!

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Now, the time of our obscure band of the week right? I picked up a random Leamington Spa compilation today before leaving home. Kind of in a hurry. Today I needed a surprise, and it suddenly hit me, a song I remember liking a lot and about I knew nothing really: “Mrs. Harrington” by On the Waterfront. Did they release records? Who were they? I don’t own nothing by them. Who were On The Waterfront? And who was “Mrs. Harrington” if anyone at all?

I open the booklet included in the compilation. That’s the best part of these compilations perhaps, the booklets. I miss booklets. Now CDs (and LPs by default) come without booklets. It sucks. It makes me so annoyed. Nothing can replace them. And labels and bands don’t even try, you would think that they would attach a PDF or something, but not even. Anyways, I turned a bunch of pages and I saw, a whole page for On the Waterfront. What does it say?

“Essentially a live band, more powerful and ‘rocky’ than the EP portrays, played mainly around the London scene. ‘Mean Fiddler’, ‘Ronnie Scots’, ‘Rock Garden’, ‘Tramshead’, and all those great venues that were ‘live and kicking’ at the time. Some bigger gigs in provinces on the university and festival scene. Highlights such as supporting ‘the late great’ Steve Marriot, and the TV show ‘The Tube’. Tried to be topical rather than political, (but politics is always topical). Songs were often inspired by news stories. Mrs. Harrington a prime example, and sadly a story that’s still topical today. All members are still alive and well, and still playing, don’t think you ever get it out of your system. There is even talk of a 20 year reunion gig…. We’ll see. Jon Yallop”

And we also get the years they were active, 1983 to 1987. And the lineup:
– Bill Mayell – vocals/guitar
– Tony Fitzgerald – bass/vocals
– Paul Patch – drums/vocals
– Jon Yallop – guitars/vocals

Their origin? Tilbury in Essex, England.

Tilbury is a town in the borough of Thurrock, Essex, England. It was established in the late 19th century, on land that was mainly part of Chadwell St Mary. It contains a 16th century fort and an ancient cross-river ferry. Tilbury has a major deep-water port which contributes to the local economy.

Now what about their releases? We head to Discogs. They only have listed one 12″ EP with four songs. Two on each side:
A1. The Kids are Allright
A2. Never Surrender
B1. Far From the Madding Crowd
B2. Mrs. Harrington

Huh! “Mrs. Harrington” was not even an A side! Wow. The record was released by Wizz Records (catalog WIZZ1) in 1986. But I really doubt it is the same Wizz Records has as it is a house label. I think this must have been a self-release. I notice that in the cover there’s a picture of Colin MacInnes’ novel “Absolute Beginners” which I’ve never read.

Time to keep digging. It seems there’s not much online. I find a video with some footage of the band from the 80s. It is supposedly they only known footage of the band. This comes from a gig at the Rock Garden in London and also from a rehearsal venue in Essex. The track that accompany the images is “The Kids Are Allright”.

Someone comments in this video, a year ago, and says that Tony Fitzgerald is now a bass played who plays solo acoustic sets of covers and  some songs of his own and that also he is the bass player for the Northern Soul band The Signatures. Time to track The Signatures. I think this is their website. The problem is that I don’t see Tony’s name on the website or in their Facebook page. Maybe he left the band already?

What about the rest of the band? I find some info about Paul Patch, the drummer, on a website called The Various Assortments. It seems Paul Patch also goes under the name Billy Bad. He was born in Chelmsford and raised in Grays Thurrock. It seems he was in the famous Apple Computers 1984 commercial (!) among other interesting tidbits about his live. It says he has been in at least seventy (!) bands during his career like The Angels, Walking Wounded, Psycho Psycho, Dancing on the Telephone, etc etc. Seems he had a very eventful life!

About Jon Yallop, I think I found some music of his on Youtube. Unless there’s another Jon Yallop you can find a bunch of his songs on his channel.

What about Bill Mayell? Again, I’m not 100% sure but I found some photos that mention a Bill Mayell, a guitarist, being part of a band called “Take Oath” in the early 80s. Might he be the same one as In The Waterfront? Check these mod photos here.

And that’s where I hit the wall. Not bad, no? Found some extra information about each band member (I think!), and we got to listen to three of the songs on Youtube. The only one I couldn’t find was “Far from the Madding Crowd”. I couldn’t find a good price for the record, but hopefully I will at some point. I won’t forget about them. What about you? Do you remember from their London gigs? Did you use to see them hanging out in Tilbury? Would love to know more about this band!

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Listen
On the Waterfront – The Kids are Allright

31
Oct

It has been a bit of a nightmare week for me. Nothing going my way and my personal computer stopped working. I have most of Cloudberry stuff saved on external hard drives so that’s not much too worry, but still there are some important files, like the Excel with my record collection (!) and a bunch of rare music that I wish not to lose. Hopefully it will be fixed but then I already bought a new computer. Being honest, this computer was already a bit old but seemed to work just fine until one day decided it didn’t want to boot anymore.

So with that annoyance the week couldn’t be any worst. On top of that small details like crazy rain getting into the house thanks of an open window, losing a subway card, a fuse that blew, etc, just kept getting everything worse. How could one not get frustrated? I’ve tried not to. It is hard. Feels like it is a terrible moment. An astrologer probably would say Mercury is retrograde for me, or something like that. I spent a lot of money too on that new computer. New computers don’t seem to come with an optical drive, how would I play my music? Well, also have to buy an external CD/Blu Ray/DVD player. More expenses, all of a sudden.

Why don’t they include these drives anymore? I think Apple started with this trend. I’m so sure it is to kill the physical form of music, this way they just can get richer and richer with MP3 and streaming sales. Ah! That must be it. I’m not being cynical now.

So without a computer, now I’m on work’s computer, I haven’t been able to be on top of indiepop news. Has there been any?

I will start posting The Seashells 7″s starting tomorrow. So if you placed a pre-order you’ll get the record before its release day on November 10th. Very excited with this release. Now it is time to get the Pale Spectres 7″ pressed and the Some Other Day CD too. And then we’ll see how things are.

I did buy some records now that I remember. I placed a very expensive order from Saint Etienne online shop. I ordered the 12″ Foxbase Alpha vinyl boxed set that includes so many goodies, aside from the original album it comes with “Remains of the Day” an exclusive album that gathers ten rare “Foxbase Alpha” era recordings, a 7″ featuring the unreleased version of “Kiss and Make Up” featuring singer Moira Lambert, a 28 page book, three black and white portraits, trading cards, digital downloads and more. 50 pounds, plus crazy more pounds for shipping to the US. Oh well, I think it will be worth it. And also a black Foxbase Alpha t-shirt. Of course. When I ordered I didnt know I had to buy a new computer, so it felt like I was just treating myself. Now I feel a like a spender!

What about you? Have you made any good indiepop discoveries lately? Or bought anything worth recommending? Hopefully next week it is better, it will be the last week post before I go on vacations to Thailand (yay!).

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Les Tender Whiskers. I had never heard them. It was the end of the first decade of this century. 2008. I met one of my best and favourite friend, Nana. She would introduce me Les Tender Whiskers.

I’ve written many times before about her, about our friendship, roadtrips in Germany, festivals in England and more. It has been a while now since I saw her. 2014 in Berlin for the Throw That Beat in the Garbagecan! reunion. Time flies, but it feels like yesterday since we hanged out.

When I arrived in Essen she had some records waiting for me. One of them was a 7″ by Les Tender Whiskers. The 7″ included a song that for me it means my friend Nana, I can only picture her when I hear that song: “Marmalade Monster”. She would also include this song on a some CDR compilations she made for me. I suspect she always included this song on all of her compilations. It must have been one of her favourite songs ever.

Then on the same 7″ I would find out that there was a German version of this song. I wonder which one she heard first? I also learned that they had more releases and I would track them down, only now missing their last 7″ which I’m sure I’ll find it sooner than later.

There was never much online about this obscure band. They did release a bunch of records, but they were on smaller labels, not that familiar to the casual indiepop fan. But let’s start with Discogs perhaps?

Tender Whiskers was a performance act/simulated indie pop band from Germany that consisted of mainly non musicians & record shop employees with a 70s art rock background.
They pretended to be French and became infamous for abusing French bread onstage while playing tape loops of DeGaulle speeches at ear-splitting volume.

Original members:
Sardella Catwhisker
Eustache Muscardin
Hubert d’Aussisse
Jean-Luc LeWhirl
Olibier Dubois
Serge Manzaresque
Octave d’Aussisse
Arne Saknussen
Roky Erickson
Ambrose Libre

We know Peter Schlump from bands like Horror Vacui and Sandy & Boris was the one behind the Eustache Muscardin name. Elke Neugebauer was the one behind Sardella Catwhisker. Who were the rest? Maybe we’ll find out.

I actually at first thought they were French. As I said, I didn’t know much and I didn’t investigate. Les Tender Whiskers just meant my friend and not much else. It is very interesting how a song can create such vivid memories, how you can associate them to someone. I’m sure it happens to you, no? There are songs that remind me of different friends. Songs that I saw them singing like crazy at gigs, or even songs from their own bands. Say when I hear The Garlands I don’t really think of my friend Christin even if she sings all songs. It is only when the song “Open Arms” starts playing that a bunch of memories come to mind. It’s odd.

Les Tender Whiskers’ “Marmalade Monster” came out in 1993 on Mermaid Records (FRIGID 009). This same label had already released records by 14 Iced Bears or Yukio Yung. Some indiepop stuff. The single included three songs, on the A side just “Marmalade Monster” on the B side, “Who Loves You” and “Marmaladen Monster”. The producer for the record was Jean-Luc LeWhirl, real name Johannes Wöhrl. Olibier Dubois appears on the first two songs only. While Eustache and Sardella on all three. We can track down Olibier and find out his real name was Marc Frank (who seems to have his own Compost Records).

On the back of the sleeve we see a small story for each of the songs, definitely worth the read, very entertaining.

“Tell Me Faster” was going to be released in 1994 on the Teenage Kicks label (KICK 005). This label was based in Augsburg, in Germany, and had released some interesting indiepop like Mondfähre or Buddy Love visits Klaus Cornfield. This 7″ came out in different versions, on black vinyl, on blue vinyl and also on red vinyl. The songs included were “Tell Me faster (Whiskers of Mu Mu Mix)”, “Iss Die Marmelade” and “Hey Hey We’re The Whiskers”. The last one a cover of The Pooh Sticks “Hey Hey We’re The Pooh Sticks”.

The next year, in 1995 they release their last 7″, limited to 150 copies. It came out in Teenage Kicks (KICK 007) and it was a single sided clear vinyl. The songs included on that one side were “The Flower Song” and “Ice-Blue Pole”. On the credits we find Hubert d’Aussisse, his real name being Nic Cramer. Also T. Zilly who seems to have been Tico Zamora, an American guitarist from Washington D.C.

There’s a compilation appearance, from 1993. It is a tape, a promo tape from Mermaid Records. It is just called “A Mermaid Records Promotional Device” and it includes 6 songs by Les Tender Whiskers, 6 by Mondfähre and 12 by The Bartlebees. The songs by Les Tender Whiskers are different to the ones on the 7″ mostly, “Es Liegt Nur An Dir”, “Marmalade Monster”, “Who Loves You”, “Road Works in Communist Town”, “No Tape” and “Fara-Dodger’s Guide Thru’ the Galaxy”.

Their last release as far as I know is the one I finally got two weeks ago, the album “Mosterpussy” on Mermaid Records (BUM 16). It includes 10 songs: “Tell Me Faster”, “Marmaladen Monster”, “On Tape”, “The Flower Song”, “Who Loves You”, “Brecht Communiste”, “Iss Die Marmelade”, “Ice Blue Pole”, “Sag Es Mir”, “Im Wagen Vor Mir”. The first song being a Daniel Johnston cover and songs 3 and 5 being Pooh Sticks covers.

More credits here that we can figure out their real names. Florella was Marion Wöhrl, perhaps Johannes sister? Marigold is Tanja Mayr and Serge Manzaresque is Marian Tögel (from bands like Creeping Candies). And lastly Ambrose Libre being Ambros Brux who has worked on a project titled Nejet Nok.

 

The tape I mentioned earlier, the Mermaid Records promo seems to have been uploaded to Youtube! That is good news. The songs are actually not recorded in studio by they are from a live session. Please enjoy it here! So cool to hear “Mermeladen Monster” live!

Now onto compilation appearances. On Discogs we find four. The first one from 1992 on Mermaid Records’ “Mermaid Employee of the Month: Gustav Sackmüller”. On it they appear with “Hey Hey We’re The Pooh Sticks”. The catalog number for this CD compilation combo with 7″ vinyl and cassette was MIRABELL 665. Who was Gustav Sackmüller by the way?

Second appearance is in 1992 on “He Didn’t Even Draw a Fish on My Shower Curtain” CD compilation on Mermaind (MIRABELL 001). They contribute the same song as before.

In 1994 they will contribute “Tell Me Now Is It Really Love? (Light Mix)”, a cover of Daniel Johnston, to the compilation “The Onion Most Dangerous Game”, a box set that included a bunch of 7″s on the French label Aliénor Records (Alien Lambda).

Their last appearance dates of 1995, on the Candybars 7″ compilation on Little Teddy Recordings. The song included was “Ice Blue Pole”.

And that’s all I could dig about this mysterious German band. Which makes me ask the question, where in Germany were they from? I know so very little about their story. Their discography we know, but are we missing anything? Is there more unreleased material? Who knows. Would be great to find out more about them. Do you happen to remember Les Tender Whiskers?

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Listen
Les Tender Whiskers – Marmeladen Monster

25
Oct

How exciting! The Seashells 7″s arrived early and they are safe and sound at home. I’m missing their polybags but they should arrive this week, as soon as I have them I’ll start shipping all pre-orders and orders. The official release date is November 10th but we are a bit ahead now! Happinness!

Now, you know you want this 7″, so support the label so we can fund more releases in the coming months!

What else is new in indiepopworld? Let’s see…

Well, very important news was that Alpaca Sports released a new video for the song “Where’d You Go?” that was included in the 10″ “When You Need Me the Most”. The video is so much fun, kept me smiling all the time. The video is entirely filmed in Japan when the band was touring and on top of seeing the friends of Alpaca Sports we get to see cameos of many Japanese friends. If you haven’t seen this fun video, do so here!

The other video I was happy to see was “Stellular” by ex-Pipettes Rose Ellinor Dougall. I didn’t know the meaning of the word Stellular until then. It means having the shape of a small star. This song will be included in the album of the same name to be released in 2017 on Vermillion Records. It is true that this doesn’t sound like your usual indiepop fare but I’ve been a fan for a long time and one of my favourite songs ever (confirmed also by my scrobbles on Last.fm) is the demo version of “I Know We’ll Never”. So always a fan!

Also the legendary band from Birmingham Mighty Mighty have a new EP up on Bandcamp. It is titled “Misheard Love Songs EP” and it includes 3 songs, “Stupid Little Things”, “Winter” and “Weather Girl (demo)”. It is said that they are actually recording a new album to be released in 2017. Classic vocals by Hugh McGuiness and jangly guitars, what else can you ask?

One of my favourite English bands for the last few years, Horsebeach, have also new stuff on Bandcamp. Titled “Demos & Unreleased Nonsense” this 8-song compilation adds bits and bobs to their growing discography. Some gems to be discovered here.

That’s all I could find worthwhile this week. What about you? Any exciting new discoveries?

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One of the important influences for Cloudberry in the beginning was Bedroom Records. A Swedish label that was releasing at the time, in the mid 2000s a bunch of up and coming bedroom indiepop projects. During the years when I discovered this label, being at some point friends with Pontus from All of My Brother’s Girlfriends on Soulseek, I was only  a student and didn’t have money, or a credit card, or paypal, to order and get their releases. And that was a shame as these were only burned on CDR in very limited amounts.

Just a few weeks ago I managed to get two of the Bedroom Records releases. Not for the price they used to be sold for. More expensive, but definitely not as expensive as some other listings I had seen. It was a decent price for vinyl, perhaps not for CDR but well, one is only human and I got Inside Riot’s “1999-2002” and the Rough Bunnies “Tøff Hevn” CDRs. Exciting of course is the fact that this Inside Riot release was the first ever on Bedroom Records (BED 001) released in 2004.

Of course both bands shared members: Frida and Anna Vermina. But Inside Riot, supposedly, was a full band. Rough Bunnies was just them two, as a duo. So who were the other members in Inside Riot? That is the first mystery to solve. Then I see they were originally from Malmö but they recorded in Berlin. Was that the case with all members of the band?

Inside Riot came first. Rough Bunnies after. About Rough Bunnies there is much more information online. About Inside Riot not much. It is a fact that the first Inside Riot release was posthumous. As I said it came out in 2004, the recordings date from 1999 to 2002. Wonder why they didn’t release anything while the band was active.

This first release included 9 songs: “World of Love”, “Modern Love”, “Night Star”,
“My Man”, “I Fell in Love”, “In Front of Your Gun”, “Dance with Me”, “I Say Goodbye” and the bonus track “Ice Princess”. “Dance With Me” being a cover of Adam Green.

That same year, 2004, there was another release by Inside Riot. I’m not sure if the songs on it are also from years before, or actually recorded that year. The name of this CDR is “Berling Recordings + Mini EP”. This one I sadly don’t have it. Not yet. It came out on Bedroom Records (BED 007) and included 7 songs: “Riding in Cars”, “ESK-83”, “Telescope Eye”, “Homesick”, “Teenage Obsession”, “Human Industry” and “More Lost Than Alive”.

They would also appear with two songs, “Modern Love” and “World of Love” on a download compilation that was once available, in 2005, titled “Rough Bunnies Go Pirate” that was available on roughbunnies.se. On this same download comp appeared Rough Bunnies and The Flame.

The next year, 2006, Anna and Frida kept promoting Inside Riot. This time on a CDR compilation with no catalog number. Titled “RB for Beginners” it included 27 songs by Rough Bunnies, 3 by The Flame and 4 by Inside Riot (“World of Love”, “Modern Love”, “My Man”, “I Say Goodbye”). It says that on the sleeve five other Inside Riot songs are listed but they don’t appear on the disc. Those five were “How Did He Know I Had a Dick?”, “Riding in Cars”, “ESK-83”, “Human Industry”, “Teenage Obsession” and “I Say Goodbye”. I wonder about that song, “How Did He Know I Had a Dick?” as it wasn’t in any of the CDRs.

What else do we know about this two cousins? Let’s keep digging. I find that there was an album by The Fine Arts Showcase were all songs are covers of Rough Bunnies and Inside Riot. The person behind this band was Gustaf Kjellvander. He tells a very nice story about how he ended up loving their music:
“I was first introduced to Anna Vermina and her cousin Frida, the founding members of Rough Bunnies and Inside Riot, through mutual friends. Frida gave me a CD-R just days before they were about to move to Berlin. About six months later I was looking for someone to rent my spare room. I bumped into Frida by chance, who told me she had moved back from Berlin to Malmö and needed a place to stay – so she moved in. I was already smitten by Inside Riot at this time, and when Frida played me the songs they had recorded in Berlin, along with the Rough Bunnies record C-sides, it blew me away. I played it to everyone who came over to my house. They became an obsession that carries on to this day. I knew I wanted the Fine Arts Showcase to cover their songs. The problem was that with a catalogue of songs as amazing as theirs it was hard to pick just one, so I came up with the idea that we should do an entire record instead (in the Merle Haggard sings Jimmy Rodgers tradition). And here it is: a musical love letter to two of my favorite songwriters, a celebration of the pop geniuses of the Vermina family. Rough Bunnies (and their twin group Inside Riot) have inspired me more than any other band this side of the millennium and this record is my way of thanking them. Rough Bunnies Saved My Life”

On this album Gustaf covers two Inside Riot songs, “Modern Love” and “World of Love”. We keep digging…

I find a mention of another Inside Riot album called “The First Record (Eskimo)” and another one called “Hi, What’s Your Name?” on the Anorak Forum. What are they? I could only find “Hi, What’s Your Name?” on RateYourMusic. It seems to have been a CDR released in 2001 and it has the same artwork as the later “1999-2002”. So it seems they did release some stuff when they were active. Maybe the “Eskimo” album was also from that time period. Also according to RateYourMusic the Berlin Recordings date from 2002 and not 2004.

Here I also find the other band members names, Anders on bass, Mattias on lead guitar and Martin on drums. No last names though.

I can’t seem to find anything else online about Inside Riot. Of course about Rough Bunnies you can find much more. But I’m curious now about this first project (was it the first? or maybe they were involved in bands before?).

What are they doing now? I know Friday was playing in Frida & Ale and even played at Indietracks (on a year that I didn’t go). Their legacy is fantastic, The Flame, Rough Bunnies and Inside Riot are favourite of mine and for many others.

Would love to know more about Inside Riot. Where did they play gigs? What about those releases that Discogs doesn’t list?  Why did they split? And so many questions more!

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Listen
Inside Riot – World of Love

17
Oct

Less than a month for me to go on vacations and that feels very good. And then after that vacation in Thailand, just a month after it, I have it all booked to go to Peru for 10 days in January. When I am there, I’ll even travel to the Amazon rainforest. Can’t complain and can’t wait for these trips to happen.

But what about indiepop? Well to be honest it continues to be slow at Cloudberry HQ. At the moment I’m waiting for The Seashells 7″s to arrive, and they should early in November. I hope they arrive the first week, as after that I will be traveling and won’t be that convenient for me as I won’t be able to post any orders. I’m crossing my fingers that they will arrive early.

After that we have the Pale Spectres 7″ and the Some Other Day retrospective album of course. The latter hasn’t been announced on the website but will be up there for pre-orders soon. We are waiting for a handful of songs to be mastered. The artwork is finally done. Those are the three releases confirmed for the moment and who knows what will happen next. Can’t promise much really as don’t want to go into debt! I have to say that if sales don’t get better the outlook will be a bit grim. And yes, I do understand prices are high at the moment but what can one do with such an unfriendly postal service?

What about indiepop news? I haven’t seen many important news lately. But let me see what I can dig for you.

First off the Lost Tapes compilation, that includes (sadly for me as I will probably see no sales for their 7″ on Cloudberry) all of their previous singles, “We Thought It Was Okay At the Time (2013-2015)” is now ready for pre-orders on Shelflife Records. It will be released in both vinyl and CD formats and includes 14 songs. This is a must have for any pop lovers as their songs are pure pop bliss. It’s release date is January 13.

My friends of Linda Guilala have a new video out as well. It is for the song “Accidentes” that was included in their last album “Psiconáutica”. This is one of my favourite tracks in it. In the video one can notice that the band has changed lineup, but of course Eva and Iván are still in the band.

Lia Pamina, also on the Elefant stable, has a new video as well. I really loved the 7″ she released time ago, that one touched by Roger Gunnarsson’s magic wand. So when I heard she was working on a full album, to be released in November, I was giddy. Things have changed though, now Lia’s music has changed it seems. It is a bit different, not as immediate and catchy perhaps, more elaborate maybe. It is still very good and enjoyable, though I won’t lie and say I prefer this over her previous effort. You can catch a preview for the album on the video for “Love is Enough“.

And Juvenile Juvenile, the amazing band from Japan, also have a video for their latest single, “Perfect Lies”. I have already raved this 7″ and here it is in all of it’s splendor! What a song!

Last week I also posted on my personal Facebook a cool video of Grand MacDougall explaining, talking about, the Splash One posters. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend checking it out. Anyone who likes design and indiepop will love this!

And on that same account of Vimeo, there’s this cool video of Martin St John discussing his tambourine and more! I actually just finished his book about his time in Primal Scream and it was SO GOOD. Please read it!

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Last week I wrote a bit about the Manchester North of England compilation box set due to be released on Cherry Red. It came to my attention, on their Facebook page, that they were trying to get in touch with a band called The Days. I thought “weren’t they on some Leamington Spa?”. So I checked, and certainly there was a The Days on Leamington Spa 4. But no, this was a different The Days even though later I would find Discogs had made the same mistake I made.

So who were these The Days from Manchester? The first clue comes from their one and only release a 12″ EP with 4 songs: “Fly”, “Time of My Life”, “Jigsville” and “Wake Up”. This record was released by Visible Records in 1991 (catalog VIS/00121). I couldn’t find any other releases on this label, might it have been a self-release then?

Happily today I found a good price for it, around 10 dollars including shipping from France, so hopefully it will be soon in my collection. That feels good.

The second clue comes from that same post I was talking about earlier. It is mentioned that they were featured in a TV special filmed in a big top in Middleton in 1991. They were featured alongside Raintree County, The High and The Railway Children. This event was christened as The Manchester Band’s Night and it was sponsored by Heineken. You can watch the 16:22 minute celebration of pop music on Youtube here. In it The Days appear first, on this 6th of July of 1991, with the song Fly. It is a bouncy song, definitely Madchester, baggy, influenced. Much fun!

Someone on that post comments that he owns two tapes by them, probably demos. No tracklist provided. Then later on the thread Nik Jackson confirms him being on the band as the vocalist. Who else was in the band?

I found a The Days Facebook page. That wasn’t that hard I think. How come Cherry Red was having trouble. We find the rest of the band members names: Carl Rogers, David Browne, Mark Millward, David Harvey and Paul Chadwick (joined 2012). What instruments did each of them play? And how come 2012? Have they been going still?

Well, it seems they had a website, but that one is no more online. I did find that they reformed at least around 2012 and played a gig in Glossop at The Redroom and later, in March 2013 a gig at The Roadhouse in Manchester. This was a gig were they supported the band The Celadors.

A little more digging and I find jACKSON and his Facebook page. That is the vocalist new solo project and he is thrilled to be part of the Cherry Red boxset. You can find more about him here.

Then I found a Youtube channel with a bunch of The Days recordings. Such treasure! We find here for our listening pleasure:
A Thousand Ways
Time of My Life
Some Kind of Revolution
Fly
Lose Yourself – Recorded by Tim A. Duncan
Wake Up (This is How I Feel) – Recorded by Nick Garside at Out of the Blue Studios, Manchester
History
Sunshine
Share Me
Jigsville (Chris Nagle mix)
Trapped
The Dawning Of Your Mind
Lose Yourself (Live at the Manchester Academy)

We know from the “Sunshine” song on Youtube that they recorded a session live at the BBC in Oxford Rd, Manchester, for the Mark Radcliffe show. “Trapped”, “The Dawning of Your Mind”, “A Thousand Ways” and “Some Kind of Revolution” were also part of that session. “Share Me” on the other hand is a demo track that was used as the opening title music on the Granada TV show “Celebration”.

Plenty of material in the end! I wonder then if they had more songs recorded other than the ones on Youtube. What about those two tapes someone mentioned. And why didn’t they release any other records. Who were Visible Records? What happened after the band split?

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Listen
The Days – Jigsville

10
Oct

How is this week treating you all? I hope everyone is doing well. It is October now and it is definitely my favourite time to be in New York. The autumn foliage and the perfect weather, not too cold or too hot, make my living here pretty enjoyable.

Feeling much better now from the paralysis, I have almost recovered 100%. I’d say I’m on a 95% and with more exercises on my own, I don’t attend therapy no more, and with the days passing I should be fine which is a big relief.

There were a few interesting bits of news last week. But first I want to say that I started reading today, on the subway on my way to work, Martin St. John’s book about his years as a tambourine man in Primal Scream. I’ve only read 30 pages and I’m already hooked! The writing is just like a blog or a fanzine and not “technical” or “serious” at all. I feel I’m reading a book written by a friend, by another fellow music fan! So I totally recommend it.

Talking about books finally ordered the “Grant & I” book as well. For those who are in the US and don’t know where to get it as I believe it is not yet available on Amazon, I got it from the Book Depository who have free shipping for the whole world, which is  quite convenient. I hope it arrives soon.

Last week I got a nice package from the German label Kleine Untergrund Schallplatten. They are based in Augsburg and have released already a nice string of records. I got their last releases, a CDR compilation with outtakes, demos and rare recordings by bands in the label and a fabulous 7″ by a band from the same city called Zimt. I wasn’t aware of this band I have to be honest, and I only found out now that they have a video for the A side of their single, “Du Kannst So Leben Wie Du Willst” and it is ace. Maybe not that new, but you might have missed this gem!

I hear news from the UK too. The band E’spaniel, who feature 3 members of Pale Man Made (who were part of the split singles we did some years ago in Cloudberry), will have a new single out on November 7th. You can stream both of the songs that will appear on this release on their soundcloud at this link. “Just Another Day” and “Knots” are really really good. I just hope these get released on physical format. They are just quality indiepop songs in times when there’s a lack of this sort of thing! They give me a big big smile listening to pretty melodies and jangly guitars like this. More please!

And I guess the news that surprised me the most is that Cherry Red will release another boxset. This time focusing on the music from Manchester from the years 1977 to 1994. The title for the boxet? The very original “Manchester North of England”, just like the compilation released by Bop Cassettes on both vinyl and tape format in 1988. And some of the bands that appear on this compilation will be included in it.

The 6 CD compilation has been organised together with the Manchester Music District. I’ve visited many times the website of this organisation to find lots of flyers, photos and setlists from bands I have featured in the blog. In that sense I trust these people, they do a great job. You know I have some sort of distrust with Cherry Red, what can I do, they run their label as a big business and that pains me, feels wrong to support them. But in the end, if the booklet is very good, with lots of information, you know I end up happy. That’s the main reason I buy these boxsets they release, the songs and bands that appear are the obvious ones usually, songs I already own in some format or another. And I understand, these boxset’s public is that one that needs an introduction to the wonderful world of guitar pop! And as long that works, and more fans appear in the world, then it is a good thing, isn’t it? Maybe one day it will be easy to sell records again!

Anyhow, the tracklist is already available for this compilation and definitely disc 4 is the one that will interest us more as indiepop lovers!

DISC 1: 1977-1979
1. BUZZCOCKS Breakdown
2. SLAUGHTER & THE DOGS Cranked Up Really High
3. THE NOSEBLEEDS Ain’t Bin To No Music School
4. THE DRONES Just Want To Be Myself
5. JOHN COOPER CLARKE Psycle Sluts Pts. 1 & 2
6. JILTED JOHN Going Steady
7. MAGAZINE The Light Pours Out Of Me
8. ALBERTOS Y LOST TRIOS PARANOIAS Heads Down, No Nonsense, Mindless Boogie
9. SPHERICAL OBJECTS The Kill
10. STEVE MIRO Up And About
11. V2 Man In The Box
12. THE DISTRACTIONS Maybe It’s Love
13. JOHN THE POSTMAN Louie Louie (NB: Edited Version)
14. GROW-UP Stay Awake
15. FRANTIC ELEVATORS Hunchback Of Notre Dame
16. JOY DIVISION She’s Lost Control
17. FRESHIES Baiser
18. THE SMIRKS To You
19. THE SALFORD JETS Manchester Boys
20. 48 CHAIRS Snap It Around
21. FOREIGN-PRESS Downpour
22. X-O-DUS English Black Boys
23. THE OUT Who Is Innocent
24. THE MOTHMEN Does It Matter Irene?
25. FAST CARS The Kids Just Wanna Dance
26. ANY TROUBLE Yesterday’s Love
27. HARLEM SPIRIT Dem A Sus (In The Moss)

DISC 2: 1980-1982
1. A CERTAIN RATIO The Fox
2. THE FALL Totally Wired
3. THE TILLER BOYS Big Noise In The Jungle
4. MANCHESTER MEKON No Forgetting
5. MANICURED NOISE Faith
6. ERIC RANDOM Fade In
7. SMACK Edward Fox
8. DURUTTI COLUMN Lips That Would Kiss
9. BLUE ORCHIDS The Flood
10. IF ONLY If Only
11. THUNDERBOYS Fashion
12. CRISPY AMBULANCE Deaf
13. LUDUS My Cherry Is In Sherry
14. THE DIAGRAM BROTHERS Bricks
15. BEE VAMP Valium Girls
16. THE CHAMELEONS In Shreds
17. CARMEL Storm
18. NEW ORDER Temptation
19. GOD’S GIFT Discipline
20. DISLOCATION DANCE You’ll Never Never Know
21. SWAMP CHILDREN You’ve Got Me Beat
22. NICO AND THE INVISIBLE GIRLS Procession
23. SYNCOPATION Marking Time
24. 52ND STREET Cool As Ice

DISC 3: 1983-1986
1. THE SMITHS Hand In Glove
2. JANE & BARTON I Want To Be With You
3. QUANDO QUANGO Love Tempo
4. TOOLS YOU CAN TRUST Working And Shopping
5. THE PASSAGE Sharp Tongue
6. INCA BABIES Grunt Cadillac Hotel
7. MARCEL KING Reach For Love
8. LIFE Tell Me
9. STOCKHOLM MONSTERS All At Once
10. SECTION 25 Looking From A Hilltop
11. MEMBRANES Spike Milligan’s Tape Recorder
12. JAMES What’s The World
13. BITING TONGUES Aair Care
14. JAZZ DEFEKTORS Hanki Panki
15. A WITNESS Kitchen Sink Drama
16. MIAOW Belle Vue
17. GRAHAM FELLOWS Love At The Hacienda
18. EASTERHOUSE Whistling In The Dark
19. BIG FLAME Why Popstars Can’t Dance
20. THE BODINES Scar Tissue
21. TWANG Sharp
22. YARGO Carrying Mine
23. THE WEEDS China Doll
24. BIG ED & HIS ROCKING RATTLESNAKES Skulldiggery
25. FRANK SIDEBOTTOM Christmas Is Really Fantastic

DISC 4: 1987-1988
1. INSPIRAL CARPETS Garage Full Of Flowers (Flexi Version)
2. THE RAILWAY CHILDREN Another Town
3. THIRST Let Go
4. THE FALL Hit The North
5. HAPPY MONDAYS 24 Hour Party People
6. METRO-TRINITY Spend My Whole Life Loving You (or Die Young)
7. MAN FROM DELMONTE Drive Drive Drive
8. JOHNNY DANGEROUSLY Black And Blue
9. THE DANNY BOYS Days Of The Week
10. MIRRORS OVER KIEV Take Me Down
11. TOT Kill All The Boys
12. MEAT MOUTH Meat Mouth Is Murder
13. T-COY Cariño
14. KISS AMC Kiss AMC
15. MONKEY RUN Falling Upstairs
16. AMBITIOUS BEGGARS Man In A Suit
17. MORRISSEY Suedehead
18. LAUGH Time To Lose It
19. THE WALTONES The Deepest
20. BRADFORD Skin Storm
21. FALLOVER 24 Pessimistic Man
22. THE DESERT WOLVES Passion In The Afternoon
23. TOO MUCH TEXAS Hurry On Down (When Will I See You Again)
24. JEAN GO SOLO In Salford The Sun Doesn’t Shine
25. BARRY ADAMSON The Man With The Golden Arm
26. US Born In The North
27. A GUY CALLED GERALD Voodoo Ray
28. CHAPTER & THE VERSE All This And Heaven Too (Radio Edit)

DISC 5: 1989-1990
1. KING OF THE SLUMS Fanciable Headcase
2. THE SUN & THE MOON C’est La Vie
3. INSPIRAL CARPETS Joe
4. THE TRAIN SET Hold On
5. JAMES Sit Down
6. DUB SEX Swerve
7. THE MOCK TURTLES …And Then She Smiles
8. THE REEGS Chorus Of The Lost
9. THE STONE ROSES What The World Is Waiting For
10. REVENGE 7 Reasons
11. ELECTRONIC Getting Away With It
12. HAPPY MONDAYS Hallelujah
13. MC MUZZ B How Sleep The Brave
14. WHAT? NOISE Vein
15. MC TUNES vs 808 STATE The Only Rhyme That Bites
16. RUTHLESS RAP ASSASSINS And It Wasn’t A Dream
17. KRISPY 3 Coming Thru Clear
18. HYPNOTONE Dream Beam
19. NEW FAST AUTOMATIC DAFFODILS Big
20. PARIS ANGELS Perfume
21. NORTHSIDE Shall We Take A Trip
22. THE HIGH Box Set Go
23. THE CYGNET RING 18 Daze
24. THE RAINKINGS Get Ready
25. ASIA FIELDS Dazed
26. SWIRL Giant Sea

DISC 6: 1991-1993
1. THE CHARLATANS Sproston Green
2. 808 STATE Cubik
3. WORLD OF TWIST Sons Of The Stage
4. INTASTELLA Dream Some Paradise
5. THE ADVENTURE BABIES Camper Van
6. SUB SUB Space Face
7. AUTECHRE Cavity Job
8. THE DUST BROTHERS Song To The Siren
9. LIONROCK Lionrock
10. PURESSENCE Offshore
11. KILL LAURA Murder
12. THE POWERS THAT BE Crude Sound
13. ROBINSON Soup
14. WONKY ALICE Caterpillars
15. NEW ORDER Regret
16. MOLLY HALF HEAD Barny
17. BANDIT QUEEN Dirt And Soul
18. OASIS Columbia (Demo)

Wonder what your thoughts are? I do find it refreshing that smaller, not so well known bands like Asia Fields, Cygnet Ring, Train Set, Fallover 24 and some other ones appear in this boxset.

The compilation is to be released next summer.

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When I wrote two weeks ago about Waving at Trains I said: “What about Paul Gill? I found that he was involved playing keyboards and piano in another band called Bluenose B who released two 2″ singles with three songs on Blues Records (1985 & 1986). He only was part of the second single though where they included the brilliant song “My Diary”! I’m glad that I found this band through this detective work. Maybe they deserve a blog post at some point. I will also try to track this record for my collection. It is really good!

It seems then it is now a good time to do some detective work on this Bluenose B band, why not?

Though it seems that officially the band was called Bluenose B, Bluenose altogether, Discogs lists the band as Blue Nose B. I will use the two words together name throughout this post of course.

We already know they were around in the 1980s in Liverpool. We also learn immediately that the band was formed by:
Stephen Lawson on bass
Michael Lawson on drums
John Briody on guitar
Dave Billows on vocals

The first record we see listed is a tape demo released in 1984. Yes, that early. Bluenose B is not really part of the indiepop explosion we all love, they are more of a post punk bands but some of their songs are just brilliant pop that I have to introduce, recommend to you. And that is what matters, right?

This demo tape included 6 songs: “The Loneliest Dogs”, “Physically Satisfied”, “Escape”, “The Dream”, “Summer Girl”, “When I Love”.

None of these songs were to appear on their first proper release, a 12″ single released in 1985 on their own (?) Blues Records (catalog Blu-001). On the A side we find “Forever Passing Trains” and on the B side “Burning Up” and “Maybe”. All the songs are written and produced by Stephen Lawson. The record being engineered by Roger Boden. The artwork by Alan Rawcliffe. Special thanks to Peter Clark and recorded at Cottage Studios in Cheshire. Included with this record was a photocopied sheet with the lyrics of all three songs.

Their last release was another 12″ single, the one I was talking on the Waving at Trains post. This is the one were Paul Gill plays the keyboards. This record was also released by Blues Records (catalog Blu-002) and the year was 1986. The songs on it being, on the A side “My Diary”, and “My Beatiful City” and “Hold Me (I’m Alive)” on the B side.

Three more songs were released on compilations. “Why Do I Need You” appeared in the compilation “Modesty Kills – A Merseyside Compilation” in 1987 on the label Audio Visual Records (AVA 001). A year after, in 1988, on the compilation “Desperation”, also on the Audio Visual Records label (AVA 002), they contributed the songs “Beneath the Sheets (Hey Marianne)” and “Is That a Crime”.

The next stop is their BandCamp which was set up last year. Here we find 9 songs under the title “The Sinking of Liverpool: A Retrospective 1983-1989”. The songs being “Hold Me (I’m Alive)”, “Burning Up”, “Blade”, “Discussion”, “My Diary”, “Physically Satisfied”, “Loneliest Dogs”, “Forever Passing Trains”, “My Beautiful City”. All of them free to stream.

This compilation to be put together by a label called Modern Polymath, so I head to their Facebook as their website is no longer up. What I’m looking for is any news about this release, saying if it was released physically as it only seems to be a digital release. I couldn’t find anything about that. Don’t even know if the label is still going on as I said that the label’s website is down.

Next stop is a Bluenose B soundcloud. Here though the band has the name with the two words separately, Blue Nose. I start doubting which is the right way to write their name. Here there are a bunch of songs that I believe are much newer, not from the 80s. Songs that seem to be new are “Forever One (Radio Edit)”, “Dream of You”, “Look Deep Inside (You are Good)”, “Faded Photograph”, “Forever One”, “My Sweet Girl”, “Back to Bed”, “Nelly”, “History”, “If They Could Fly”, “That Last Love”, “Prayer”, “Lost Your Hand (Instrumental)”, “I Lost Your Hand”, “The World Fell Down”, “So Hard To Do”, “Wounds of Love”, “Funk all Night”, “Lost”, “Ravages of Love”, “Easy to Insanity”, “A Riot Song”, “Fury”, “Burn Away Her Sight”, “Space Programme”.

There are also some songs from 1983 like “When I Love” and “Summer Girl” not available in the retrospective compilation.

This Soundcloud seems to be updated, the last song being uploaded 9 days ago. I think Stephen Lawson, the driving force behind the band still uses the name Bluenose B for his music. I wonder though if these new recordings include other past members of the band?

And so I end up on a Bluenose B website. Here it is clear that the website is owned by Stephen Lawson. There’s a biography and a blog. On the biography we learn that the band toured extensively and played many of the important independent venues. They were also featured in Sounds, NME, Melody Maker and BBC Radio.

On the blog we see mostly Youtube links for his songs, one that is not on Soundcloud, “The Three Graces”.

I keep googling. I find a forum where it says that the name, the “blue” and the “b” are a reference to Everton FC. Then at the Link2Wales website I find that the band hailed from Aintree.

Aintree is a village and civil parish in the Metropolitan Borough of Sefton, Merseyside. Historically in Lancashire, it lies between Walton and Maghull on the A59 road, about 5.5 miles (8.9 km) north-east of Liverpool city centre, in North West England.

We then know that Dave, John and Mick had been previously in a band called Indadais. That “Summer Girl” was released as a demo tape in 1984 and that there was a demo called “Blade Discussion” from October 1984.

It seems to that in 1986 most of the band left, Stephen continued with Dave Billows (vocals), John Murphy (guitar), Jay Naughton (keys), Paul Thomas (sax), Gary Gilmurray (drums), Dave Rielly (percussion). By the end of 1987 Stephen had settled with Danny Woods (guitar) and Paul Denners (drums). Paul Denners had been previously in a band called Emily’s Suitcase.

And that’s where I hit a wall. There’s a lot of songs, but little information online. Where did they tour extensively? Whey all the changes in the lineup? In which other bands they played? And where are they now?

Now, please enjoy “My Diary”, what a great song!

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Listen
Bluenose B – My Diary

04
Oct

Thanks a lot to Spencer Roberts for getting in touch and telling the story of Steamtown, a band I wrote about some weeks ago and couldn’t find much information online. I’ve always been curious about this obscure Birmingham band that had this one song on the Corrupt Postman cassette compilation that was so so good. Lucky enough here Spencer fills in the blanks and transports us to the late 80s, a time of ramshackle guitars and indiepop galore! He also was kind enough to share some exclusive images, a flyer, and here is a photo. Hope you enjoy! Very happy about this interview!

++ Thanks so much for getting in touch for being up for this interview! I see you all are still in touch, but wondering if you are still making music?

Andy, Simon and Paul and me are in touch, thanks to Facebook. I think Simon is till playing, not sure about Andy and Paul. Music wise, I have played in loads of bands over the years, some a long time, some briefly, bands I have played guitar in since the Steamtown days: Elizabeth Jane, The Cudgels, Rumblefish, Silt (ex Little Red Schoolhouse), I still play drums for The Leaking Machine (ex Mighty Mighty) and I played drums for Mighty Mighty recently supporting the Fall and playing the Scared to Get Happy festival supporting BMX Bandits, and The June Brides, Yeah Yeah Noh, Wolfhounds etc and many more one-offprojects.

I am still making music: I signed a publishing deal in 2005 with Schott (thanks to The Go Betweens) with a project called The Winnebago Orchestra. Originally set up with Andy from The Cudgels, where Andy wrote lyrics and I wrote, played and produced the music. I then invited Caroline Trettine to work with us. She is a singer/poet/guitarist, a solo artist, (aprotege of Billy Bragg), and formerly of The Blue Aeroplanes. She sang on the 2 albums we made, the first a bunch of demos called Fifteen. The Second album; Born in the Sun was constructed by Caroline and myself and some session musicians, Andy had decided to leave to do other things on his radar prior to recording the second album.

The past 5 years I have been playing guitar for Stella Martyr, based in Exeter in England. We’re basically a bunch of friends: Dave, Spike, Joe and Jim, we’ve recently recruited a singer/keys player called Annie. Dave the singer is a really good mate I’d known for a long time, and invited me to come and play with them. Our first gig was supporting Peter Hook, we’ve also played with Everything Everything and Public Service Broadcasting and recently we managed to play both Glastonbury and Beautiful Days festivals this year which was great fun. We’re due to play the new band stage at Shiiine Festival in Minehead this November, supporting the likes of Echo and The Bunnymen amongst many others.

++ Was Steamtown your first band? 

No, I’d played in a band at school when I was 14 called Civic Summer with mates, so I suppose that was my first real band experience.

++ What are your first music memories? What was and how did you get your first instrument?

My first musical memory, that I can recall was hearing My Sweet Lord by George Harrison on the radio. Around the same time I remember hearing the Midnight Cowboy Soundtrack. The opening theme, with the harmonica, Idistinctly rememberhearing that on the telly one night, when my mum and dad were watching the film. Both those songs really resonated and stuck with me, and, I guess, to a certain extent influenced me. My sister at the time (she was 9 years older) was into glam rock, so she would often be paying Bowie, Roxy Music, T-Rex, Alvin Stardust in the house. Other stuff I would hear when I was a kid was stuff like Stevie Wonder, Rod Stewart, Elvis Presley…

My first instrument was a toy drum kit I had when I was 7. I’d broken my arm just after I had it, so had to play one handed! My first real instrument was an electric guitar I had when I was 13. It was a black Hohner Les Paul copy.

++ How did Steamtown start as a band?

I had been playing in various bands around ’86/’87 and gaining some experience playing gigs in and around Birmingham. I decided late ’87 to start my own band, where I would write the songs etc rather than playing someone else’s songs. I also wanted to play a bit closer to home rather than in Birmingham ( I lived near Bilston in the Black Country) with some friends who I knew from school, namely Simon and a guy called Pughy. Pughy left after a month, so Paul stepped in. They were both slightly younger than me. They liked The Jam, as I did and we had similar tastes in bands generally, so we gave it a go.

++ Who were the members and what instruments did each of you play?

I was vocal and guitar, Simon played Bass and Paul was the drummer. Then in early 1988. Andy joined on vocals and tambourine. Then a month or two later a friend of Andy’s – Neil joined on guitar. So we went from a 3 piece to a 5 piece in a very short time.

++ How did you all know each other?

As mentioned above, Simon, Paul and myself went to the same school. Andy, I knew from going to pubs and clubs in Birmingham around ’86 and ’87. He was a big fan of a lot of guitar bands on the independent scene, as I was, so we had a lot in common. He was also immensely enthusiastic about the C86 period, and everything that was connected to it, such as fanzines, dj’ing etc.

++ And what about the name of the band, where does it come from?

I’m sure it came from a book called ‘We Americans’, a massive coffee table book that an American aunty gave me in the late 70s. There was a ref to Steamtown in that book. Not sure of the background or context though!

++ How was Birmingham back then? Where did you usually hang out? Were there any like-minded bands in town that you followed or liked?

During ’85 – ‘90 very exciting city for a 16 year old like me! Loads of pubs acting as venues putting on bands etc. you could go out pretty much any night of the week and see someone new.

For me, I hung out at Synatras, a wee pub in centre of Birmingham. Saw tons of great bands there, the music that the dj’s played was great too. Other places were, The Powerhouse which was a club,also in Brum. Burberries and The Cod Club, which were trendy night clubs, that on certain specific evenings, such as Tuesday and Sunday nights would be transformed and become host to indie nights put on by promoters with a passion for good music. JB’s in Dudley, 10 miles form Birmingham was another regular haunt we’d hang out at!

Not sure about like minded, but I used to go and watch local Birmingham/black Country bands like Might Mighty, Onionhead, Rumblefish, Pig Bros, Pop Will Eat Itself, The Nightingales, Mighty Lemon Drops, Surf Drums amongst many others.

++ And what sort of music were you listening at the time? Who would you call as influences?

My influences changed a lot of the time, from day to day back then, Velvet Underground’s live 1969 album (Not the live at Max’s Kansas City) at the time was always on my record player, but I really loved Josef K too, the Postcard band from Scotland. I would say, Josef K were a primarily a chief influence on my guitar style at that time playing with Steamtown. In terms of my singing style, I could not sing in the real sense of the word, so I tried to go for a Lou Reed style of delivery!! As I mentioned above, we all liked The Jam, but also a lot of Creation bands such as Biff Bang Pow, and especially their album The Girl Who Runs the Beat Hotel. That album really did influence us, and possibly The JasmineMinks and and the like. i adored bands like McCarthy, Wolfhounds, and John Peel was a massive influence on me all throughout the 80s. Although it didnt show in the music of Steamtown, I was also massively into the labels Factory Records, Les Disques du Crepuscule and el records. I was a massive fan of Momus in ’85/‘86, who was originally on el!

++ The only song I know by Steamtown is “Living & Loving” that appeared on at least two compilation tapes, “Corrupt Postman” and “Hacia la Luz”. Did it appear on any other compilations? And what’s the story behind this song?

I really don’t know if at appeared on any other compilations. I think this song was a jointly written tune with all of us writing in rehearsals – together. Andy’s lyrics.

++ What do you remember from the recording session of “Living & Loving”? Did you record any other songs?

We recorded 2 songs very quickly on a Sunday in Birmingham, with a guy who was in local band Scarecrows. We mixed it in an evening a month or so later.We were really naive – that was it! There was another song, called Reality. We only ever recorded 2 songs in this line up. I do have some good rehearsal tapes of Steamtown, if I get around to digitising them, I wil let you have them.

++ Did you have more songs perhaps when you played live? 

We had about 10 songs in total that we would play live. I remember one song was called Because. That was one of my favourites, it was the first song I ever wrote for the band. I seem to remember it being inspired by The Velvets What goes on, smae riff etc.

++ And how come there were no releases by the band? Was there any interest from any label?

We were constantly trying to build up a following by gigging as much as possible, that was really what we were trying to do initially. That was the focus, gig more and to get experience and get better at playing as a unit. So I guess that’s why there were no releases, we weren’t that bothered about getting signed or releasing music, we loved playing live.

There were various connections we had with a variety of people from labels who expressed interest in Steamtown, they would often put us on supporting bands that would have been on their respective labels, such as The Raw Herbs, their label Medium Cool were keen I seem to remember.

++ How did the creative process work for you?

Siting at home in my bedroom with a guitar messing around!!. Lyrics would come later on. I used to like the indosyncatic approach to lyric writing, rather than writing a love song! Most of the time I used to come up with the rough structure of ideas/songs in the early days, then, pop around to Simon’s house in Coseley in the Black Country, we’d then take it to rehearsals and it would be developed from there.

++ What about gigs? Did you play live often? What are the gigs you remember the most and why?

We played quite often, mostly in Birmingham/Wolverhampton. Our first ever gig was supporting Cherry Red records signing Little Red Schoolhouse (ex Nightingales) and a band I drummed for called Elizabeth Jane. I ended up spporting myself with the 2 bands! This was at the Cod Club, a legendary Sunday night slot put on by promoter Paul Flower in centre of Birmingham. We supported The Raw Herbs many times, thay were nice lads, great fun. We had a great night supporting them and The Siddelys in London in June 1988, they were lovely people too.

++ Did the press, or the radio, pay much attention to Steamtown?

No!

++ What about fanzines? Do you remember appearing on them?

Not really, sorry!! Might be best to ask Andy about this question!

++ At the time when you were around there was an explosion of guitar pop bands, why do you think that happened? and did you feel part of a scene?

For me, since I was a kid there always seemed to be an abundance of guitar based bands around. I think there were scenes, but they were created by fans, rather than the bands themselves. People got bored of the plastic electronic music of the mid 80s, I guess we did feel that we felt part of something, not quite sure what, we weren’t overtly commercial, and we knew that, so I guess we felt indie/alternative/underground in a way, like so many others who were playing music during that time – for passion and pleasure rather than for fame and money.

++ When and why did you split up?

I left late ’88. I just became interested in doing other things musically and I was drumming at the time for Elizabeth Jane another local Birmingham band, and really my focus shifted to playing with them more. The guys in Steamtown carried on without me and became Steam.

++ And then what happened to you all?

See answer to first question! I think it would be good to ask Simon, Paul and Andy to answer this or any of the other questions!

++ Aside from music, what do you do? what other hobbies do you have?

I’m a graphic designer and I’m a dad to twin daughters, so that is my main hobby!! that and playing guitar in Stella Martyr and drums for The Leaking Machine.

++ Looking back in time, what would you say are the happiest memories, the highlights, of the band?

For me, being a gang, having fun, we used to laugh hard, but mainly I would say the hot summer evenings supporting The Raw Herbs, Razorcuts etc, playing music, drinking and being young, stupid and happy!

++ Birmingham today, has it changed much? What are the places to go to? Are there any bands that you’d recommend?

Birmingham has changed its visual landscape pretty drastically. It’s a good city though I really don’t know that many venues anymore if I am honest. Not really any bands I would recommend either, sorry!

++ Thanks a lot again! It is really nice to know a bit more about the band, anything else you’d like to add?

Thanks very much Roque for the interest, get in touch with the other guys, I’m sure they wopuld be able to add some valuable content to the legacy of Steamtown!

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Listen
Steamtown – Living & Loving

03
Oct

Even less news this week for indiepop as far as I know. The only worthy piece of news for me was the new video that the New Zealand band, The Prophet Hens, have published on Youtube for the song “Popular People (Do Popular People)” that is included in their 2nd album “The Wonderful Shapes of Back Door Keys”. I played this album a lot last week, so that was quite cool that their video coincided with my listening.

I promised reviewing the Lima Popfest spring edition lineup. Sadly it seems I mixed up the weekend it was happening and well, it happened last Saturday. I don’t know how it went, hopefully it was a success, but I’ll go ahead and do a review of the bands for all of us that are not aware of many of these South American bands that were part of the festival.

  • Tobogán Andaluz – I guess this Buenos Aires, Argentina, band was the headliner. I’ve seen their name many times in many of my South American friends Facebook. They must be somewhat popular. They have played not only in their home country but also in Argentina and now Peru. They also have a bunch of releases available on their BandCamp being “Luz Satelital” their latest effort (2016). So I have a listen now to the 8 songs on this release. I like alright their songs but they are more rockier than my usual indiepop day to day fare. There are some very nice guitar passages in some of his songs, and perhaps that’s why I quite enjoy this, though I won’t go far saying I’m a big fan of what I’m listening.
  • Niños del Cerro – The kids from the hill, that would be the translation for their unusual name. This band hails from Santiago, Chile, and they have a Soundcloud from where I start listening their songs in order. Poppier than Tobogán, the guitars are closer to what I love, though the vocal harmonies on their first song “Nonato Coo” make me feel weird. So I try the next songs. And again, the music is really nice but the way the lyrics are sung, well they leave me a bit cold. Perhaps that’s due to their influences? I don’t know. I think simpler vocal harmonies, or less flashy, could work better with such music. But that’s just me. I believe they have a lot of followers down south and that is what matters.
  • Chico Unicornio – A one man band from Lima, Peru, that is quite well known around Latin America. I have lost track of the artist for many years. I remember he used to have some sort of indie project many years ago, but now I can’t remember the name, was it Inerciados Pusilánimes (?). Someone might correct me. I listen to his latest track on BandCamp and even if I’m not a big fan of this sort of power pop style usually, by now I have to say I’m liking this much more than the previous two bands in the lineup. But then I change to other BandCamp releases and well, they are just some sort of experimental music? I think this is a bit too eclectic for me. Sometimes it is good, sometimes I just want to press skip.
  • Banana Child – they also hail from Lima and from the illustration on the top of their Bandcamp I assume they are a quartet. They describe themselves as a surf rock band. The first song though, “Waves”, sounds really good, poppy, and with the right way of singing. Even the terrible English pronunciation is lovely. This is nice I think, a good discovery. But wait, let’s not call it a victory because I liked one song, let’s listen some more. So I continue listening the songs on their album “Empty Room”, and alright, I don’t enjoy the next few songs, too much surf in them, but then “Every Night Seems A New Morning” does sound fine. I guess a bit hit and miss, but quite a discovery when they get it right.
  • Los Lagartos – The Alligators, from Lima, Peru. They’ve been around for a couple of years now. They have a bit of a following I gather. And it is well deserved. They have very fine songs, with good music and witty lyrics. I do hope to get some of their releases when I go to Lima in January, especially this split Mini CDR they released with Dan Dan Dero (another very fine band). I don’t know the members of the band but they seem to be listening to the right bands and crafting some very good songs. So far, in this review, my favourite band.
  • Hiroshima Dandys – also called Mambo, or by his real name Pablo Rivas, this artist comes from Buenos Aires, Buenos Aires and makes some interesting pastiche electropop. Of course this is not the kind of music I usually listen to. But I can tell this is well done and actually sounds like fun. Good for a party. Not indiepop at all mind you.
  • Electrochongo – another band making electropop from Argentina and also quite fun. I can picture it making the crowd dancing at the festival. Easy lyrics, good rhymes, they remind me of a bunch of bands from Spain that were making “tontipop” back in the early 2000s. It sounds like a time machine for me. I was listening to a lot of similar music back then. Because of nostalgia mostly, I enjoy the 4 songs on their Capo Ep that is free to stream on their Bandcamp.
  • Poder Fantasma – last band in the lineup comes from Santiago, Chile. And I might think this is my least favourite sounding band. I listen first to the song “Tierra” and it is way too rocky for my taste, it even gets a bit anthemic on the vocals. And you know, I don’t like that. The next song, “Por Qué No Tiramos una Bomba en La Moneda?”, has good intentions definitely, the lyrics speak rightly, it has the punk attitude, but the music ends up being too messy for me, me not being fond of the electronic beats on it. Oh well…

I hope I’m not being too harsh. All in all, the even, Lima Popfest, does a fantastic job bringing bands from the region and fans together. That is what matters in the end. And to have fun. Maybe live these bands sound totally different too. I would have loved to attend. Also it matters the taste of the locals, and they really love some of these bands, I’ve seen them hyped by Tobogán Andaluz and Los Niños del Cerro for example. Me, I’d be hyped by Los Lagartos, but then, people are never usually excited for local bands. They want the ones from abroad. Same thing happens to me!

I wish that Popfest continues, even this exercise of listening to new music is really rewarding for me. There should be more Popfests, more gig organizers, that way even if I can’t attend, at least, I’m going to be able to listen to new music, sometimes I will like it, sometimes I won’t. But I will give the links to you, popkids, and maybe you like ones that I didn’t like, and dislike the ones I liked. That’s the beauty of it.

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Been meaning to “introduce” you to Pastelshot for some time now. Maybe you already know them, they are not new. I only discovered them this year.

True, it is not often that I feature obscure Japanese bands in the blog. But there are times when I have to. Especially because Japanese bands are usually obscure for us Westerners. We don’t get to know much about their members, their gigs, what happened to them after or before the band and so on. Maybe that information is actually available in Japanese on the web, I don’t know. I don’t know Japanese, so it ends up being very difficult to track down Japanese bands and find information. In that sense, it would be great if Japanese fans can help me uncover the mystery of Pastelshot.

I don’t know when their mini-album came out. I can’t find a year. It came out on a label I mean to explore in a detailed way, abcdefg*record (catalog a-g007). I remember this label from the Myspace days, they released a band I really like, Naivepop or Petitfool. I never got round buying their records so maybe now I could start with the magic of the internet. I wonder though if all their catalog, all those bands I’ve never heard before like Strawberry Machine or Yucca, are as good as Pastelshot is.

Through the catalog I kind of have an idea when was the their mini-album “Hush, Little Baby” released. I think it must have been in either 2001 or 2002. It included 8 songs and it was released in CD format. The songs being: “Fade Into the Clouds”, “Red Bus Goes Through Our Days”, “Walk Or Not”, “Drops”, “Night Moves On”, “White Bird Sings Another Song”, “Hesitation” and “Funny Card”.

I’ll go over this record again in a bit. The thing is, that before the mini-album was released they did appear on a compilation titled “The Lucksmiths Japan Tour Sampler”, a CDR that I’m guessing was sold or given away while the Australian band toured in Japan/ This CDR was released by a classic Japanese label, Clover Records (catalog CLCDR-824) in 2001. The song the band contributed was “Red Bus Goes Through Our Days (Demo Version)”. I’m assuming this is a very rare record.

There is another compilation appearance listed on Discogs. On the compilation “ABC Make Up On Monday” released in 2009 by abcdefg*record (catalog a-g 004) they contributed “Summer Song”.

Luckily I have the mini-album and can now unveil some details about the band. We know the band is actually a duo formed by Keisuke Kamiya and Mamiko Yokote. They got the help of many friends on the record like Noriko Yamada (drums), Yasuaki Takahashi (bass), Kei Matsuura (guitars), Makoto Sasaki (flute) and Akiko Sumino (cello). The record was mixed and also disigned by Yukio Hirai and mastered by Kasuya Nagae.

There are some thank you notes as well and I can see they thank some bands like Harmony Hatch or Hazel Nuts Chocolate. They also thank the Blue Badge Label’s head honcho Toshiyuki Higumi. What a great label is the Blue Badge Label, right?

The beautiful illustrations on the booklet were made by Tamami Yokote. Maybe Mamiko’s sister?

I look for Keisuke Kamiya on Discogs. He seems listed on a band called Tiala. But it sounds PUNK! Is this the same Keisuke Kamiya that makes such gentle pop on Pastelshot? For the other people involved in the record, I find no info.

I find a small review entry on the Tonevendor mailorder site. Actually you can get their record there for a good price if you are not in Japan, that is a good tip. It is said that the band had 3 independently released cassettes before the CD came out. Now Pastelshot got all my attention. I want to listen to these three tapes!

Tonevendor accurately describes their music: Like a soundtrack to a movie, this is “the melody of small love”. Heartbreaking, warm and touching you brightly. Boy/girl vocals complete the sound perfectly. 8 tracks. Japanese import. From this review we know this was a long-distance band, one of them was in Tokyo, the other in Nagoya. Who was who, and how did this work out for them?

Ok, so they were on other compilations. Perhaps they were on Blue Badge compilations? It would make sense if they thank the label. So yes, in 2002 they appear on the compilation “Send My Badge” with the song “Walk Or Not” and then on 2000 on the cassette compilation “Her Breast Pocket” with the song “Ray of Snow”.

Now, where else to find them? Where are they now? It’s been around 15 years or so since they released this lovely mini-album. What did they do after? I’d love to listen to the songs on compilations that don’t appear on the CD, and also of course, those three tapes they released before joining any labels.

I google and only find a bunch of Japanese and Chinese sites that seem to sell the record. I go to the abcdefg*record site. There’s no information there either. The band just vanished.

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Listen
Pastelshot – Red Bus Goes Through Our Days

26
Sep

When there’s no news, well there’s no news!! Last week I managed to go through 2 posts and maybe I could have waited, saved one for this week, but then I don’t get to enjoy this routine I have of figuring out what is going on in the indiepopworld and more importantly get to dig some obscure pop treasures!

There are a few interesting indiepop sightings that are definitely worth mentioning. The first is that Papa Topo from Barcelona, a true favourites here in Cloudberry HQ, have a new video out for the song “Akelarre en mi Salón” that is included in their debut album released this year. It is a lot of fun, like all of their previous videos,a and the song is such brilliant homage to the Spanish pop of the 80s, I especially hear so many nods to Alaska y los Pegamoides. You can watch it here.

Then another Barcelona band has a video out. I wasn’t aware of this band, totally new for me, but their video started to pop up on my Facebook wall and it was an ace song. The band is called Yumi Yumi Hip Hop and seems to be an all-girl band. The song is called “Enamorats” and it is sung in Catalan. They are on the label Snap! Clap! Club who are to release this song as part of a 7″ that will start shipping on October 1st. You can watch the video here.

For all of you that like reading about the bands and the music we love there is also a new book about the early days/years of Primal Scream. I still haven’t ordered it yet, but will order it soon and I think you should too. It is titled “The Psychedelic Confessions of a Primal Screamer: The Tambourine Years 1984-87” written by Martin St. John, who used to play the tambourine in the band before the band would appear on Top of the Pops, play Glastonbury, and become a big name.

Then there’s also another book that I’ve been meaning to read that will be published next month. “Dig: Australian Rock and Pop Music 1960-1985” by David Nichols is also on my list. David Nichols wrote the Go-Betweens biography and he has been part of a couple of indiepop bands like The Cannanes or Huon. Of course I’m mostly interested in the 80s part of the book as you might suspect, but even if that is just a tiny chapter, I want to learn about it. So many great Australian bands in the 80s, don’t you agree?

And last but not least there is a petition by the classic band The Wolfhounds asking Warner/Chappell to return their copyrights & reinstate their songwriting credits. If you have some time you can read more about it and sign the petition here.

Yup, that’s all for this week. Maybe some will point me out that I’m missing some stuff like last week. Sometimes it is true, I avoid mentioning stuff I don’t like or not too excited about, I can’t like everything, but if you have some exciting news or recommendations worth checking out please let me know!


The name Sylvie comes from sylvan, as in the forest, the woods.

I keep going back to the Leamington Spa compilations for inspiration. Look for bands and records I’m missing and that I should try to track down. Learn their story, their discography. Whatever happened to them. I know that perhaps it’s not the best of ideas of being fixated with the 80s, there are plenty of obscure bands in the 90s, even in the 00s. I feel I should mix decades a little in the blog, but there’s something with 80s bands that I return to them. This time I opened the booklet for the Leamington Spa Volume 3 and ended up in the mystery of the band Waving at Trains. The booklet reads:

Originally formed in late 1984 in Liverpool. There were to be short-lived incarnations before the first stable line-up in 1985. At this stage the band was:

Paul Hobday – guitars and backing vocals
Paul Gill – keyboards and lead vocals
Gary Gillmurray – drums
Trevor Roganski – bass

Changing to:
Paul Hobday – guitars and backing vocals
Paul Gill – lead vocals
Steve Ashton – drums
Chris Ashley – bass
Paul Shields – drums

In 1986 the final lineup saw Chris leave, Gary back on drums and Paul Shields move to bass. The band were part of a vibrant live music scene in Liverpool during the mid eighties. Gigs at The Venue, State Ballroom and rehearsal at The Ministry and Vulcan Street studios often had bands like The Bunnymen, OMD, The Las, The Farm, Thomas Lang, China Crisis, Afraid of Mice in neighbouring rooms. Demos and tracks were recorded at Amazon Studios (OMD, Christians, etc.) later to be renamed Parr Street as it moved near to Paul McCartney’s Music Institute. Only one single was released (Telling the Stranger/Sylvie) and an album was in pre-production at the time the band folded in 1988.

I miss so much these compilations. I wonder if I should try to put one together in the same fashion. Perhaps it could be a fun idea when I’m not involved with a label? It is an idea, but will people buy them? Cherry Red has been putting out some sort of compilations but they are of much more known bands, bands that perhaps can sell a little more than these obscurities. Firestation called it quits on the Leamington Spa compilations after volume 7, actually volume 6 as 7 ended up being a bit of an afterthought included in Firestation’s 100th release. Quite a shame. These were the most influential compilations for me, for my love of indiepop.

Liverpool has been such a place for guitar pop bands. So many have been born there. It is no surprise Waving at Trains hails from there. We know they released one record, one 7″ with 2 songs, and so I wonder about that line on the booklet when it says that demos and tracks were recorded at Amazon Studios. Would that mean there are many more songs than the 2? Hopefully someone could shed some light.

The 7″ came out in 1988 on the Gash label. The catalog was GASH 111. Even though that is kind of a high number for a catalog, I couldn’t find any other release on this label.

The two songs on the record are “Telling the Stranger” on the A side and the song that appears on the Leamington Spa compilation, “Sylvie”, as the B side.  Four last names appear as composers, Gill, Ashton, Shields, Hobday. For producer, the band, Waving at Trains, is listed.

On the back cover we see the name of Paul James on vocals. I’m assuming that is Paul Gill. The artwork was done by the drummer, Paul Shields and the cover photograph by Ken Hewitt. I’m not sure which city is the one depicted in the photo on the cover. Does anyone know?

I keep digging. For some reason I end up on the Link2Wales website, were a lot of bands are listed with a small little blurb. From there I know that Paul Hobday had been involved in other bands like Collective, India (Lost Weekend) and Association. From there we also learn that the band had another song released, “Parade”. It appeared on a tape compilation titled “Merseyside Musicians Bureau” in 1987. I would love to listen to this song (and also Telling the Stranger!) and even the whole compilation. Does anyone know anything else about it? The only other band on it that sounds quite familiar to me is The DaVincis, but never heard Sudden Norway or Go For Soda for example. Were they guitar pop as well?

I keep digging and I find a Paul Hobday, musician, might he be the same Paul Hobday? I’m not sure. He is a guitarist. And he seems to be involved in a duo with Steve Payne since 2010. They have a Bandcamp and they seem to have toured extensively through Europe and Ontario in Canada. I tried connecting this project with Liverpool just to be sure it is the same Paul Hobday but couldn’t find a mention to Liverpool in their Bandcamp or Facebook page.

What about Paul Gill? I found that he was involved playing keyboards and piano in another band called Bluenose B who released two 2″ singles with three songs on Blues Records (1985 & 1986). He only was part of the second single though where they included the brilliant song “My Diary”! I’m glad that I found this band through this detective work. Maybe they deserve a blog post at some point. I will also try to track this record for my collection. It is really good!

I couldn’t find more information on Steve Ashton and Paul Shields.

I found a 2009 movie titled “Waving at Trains”, but that is past the time of the band. There is also a collection of poems titled “Waving at Trains” by Roger McGough published in 1982. That might be were they took their name I think.

And that’s where I lose the trail on Waving on Trains. Do any of you remember them? What happened to them after they split? Were they involved in other bands? Why didn’t they release any more records? What happened to their other recordings? And who is this Sylvie they dedicate their song to? Anyone know anything else about Waving at Trains?

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Listen
Waving at Trains – Sylvie