30
Aug

I can say now that all pre-orders and recent orders of Stephen’s Shore debut 7″ have shipped and they are in the way to arrive to their new homes, if they haven’t already. I see someone has already added it to Discogs. Really cool. At the moment I can assure you that the record will be available at Jigsaw Records in the US and Stone Records in Japan. Hoping more mailorders get in touch during the week. So if you prefer to get them from there, be my guest. I understand you wanting to save some in postage.

Next important news is that as soon as I finish this post I will get all things together so I can send The Seashells 7″ to press. As you know, because I announced a month or so ago, this is the comeback of the classic Umeå band with two brand new songs. I’m very excited about this as I love the music and also because I’ve been a fan of the band for so long.

This weekend has been a bit tough for me though, I doubt any of you have heard of something called Bell’s palsy? well, supposedly it goes away in two weeks or so, but I got scared as hell. The right side of my face has some sort of mild paralysis and it is awfully annoying. I’m taking medicine and will go to therapy starting Friday. I know, very unlucky. But guess that’s life, no? At least it is supposed to disappear and all my muscle functions should recover.

So that means I may be a bit busier these coming weeks as all this definitely will take time from me. Especially time I use to go to the post office. So if the record you ordered takes a little longer, don’t worry, it will arrive for sure.

Also I just heard that we have someone very special to write the liner notes for Some Other Day. That, and the mastering of some tracks, are the final steps to get this compilation ready. I’m assuming now it will come out early next year.

Early next year too will be the release of the long, LONG, awaited Pale Spectres 7″. Everything is ready now and you can even download one of the songs from the website.

That’s the news from me this week. A bit quiet for indiepop, (aside from the announcement Peter from Twee.net will be giving away all his records (!!!) – but don’t get too excited, he is planning to donate them to a museum, kind of like something we discussed ages ago while in London… both having this idea of setting up a museum to preserve indiepop at the time, though of course, setting one up requires a lot of money!) but not so much for Cloudberry. I’m very excited with all the new music we will be putting out month after month. Will it be the final run?

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Here’s another band/record I’ve always been so very curious from the first Leamington Spa compilation: Sister Rain.

I’ve had their record as a saved search both on eBay and Discogs, but to be honest, I never had any luck getting it. It doesn’t sell for too much on Discogs, but seems someone always gets there before me, when I get the email saying that Discogs has found the record, well it is there no more!!

I have never heard three of the songs included in the record. Just the first one, “Burt Reynolds”, the same one included in the first Leamington Spa comp. The other songs are: “Curtain Song”, “Window Cowboys” and “Is it Right?”. The last two on the B side. The record was released by Serene Records (catalog RAIN 001) in 1988. It is safe to assume that this was a self-release as there seems not to be any other releases in the label.

During those same years, the late 80s, there was another Sister Rain band in the world. There was a Sister Rain in Oslo, Norway. They have a much more presence on the internet and they released a handful of records. I wonder if our Sister Rain were aware of them?

I don’t think the photo on the sleeve depicts Burt Reynolds. Burton Leon “Burt” Reynolds (born February 11, 1936) is an American actor, director and producer. He has starred in many films, such as Deliverance, The Longest Yard, Smokey and the Bandit and Boogie Nights, in which he was nominated for his first Academy Award. It looks like a much older man.

The blue jacket, a Cloudberry blue (!), has some information on the back.
Steve Periac – voice, guitars
Dave Taylor – bass, violin
Beat – guitars, keyboards, vocals
Tiffer – drums, voice

All songs are credited to Banks, Breakey, Periac and Taylor. They were recorded at “Suite 16” in Rochdale, England. They were produced by Dave Fielding and engineered by C.J. Cover. The pic on the cover is credited to Geoff White.

I check the liner notes on the Leamington Spa CD. What new can we learn from it? It says:
Oldham, home of the Inspiral Carpets and Oldham Athletics, also produced Sister Rain in 1987. Their only official release was their “Burt Reynolds” 12″ from which we took the titletrack for our compilation. It was produced at “Suite 16 studio” Rochdale by former Chameleons member Dave Fielding. Due to their Rockdale connection (twintown of Bielefeld) they even managed to play a couple of gigs in Germany.

Pretty interesting. So they hailed from Oldham.
Oldham is a large town in Greater Manchester, England, amid the Pennines between the rivers Irk and Medlock, 5.3 miles (8.5 km) south-southeast of Rochdale and 6.9 miles (11.1 km) northeast of Manchester. Together with several smaller surrounding towns, it is part of the Metropolitan Borough of Oldham of which it is the administrative centre. Historically in Lancashire, and with little early history to speak of, Oldham rose to prominence in the 19th century as an international centre of textile manufacture. It was a boomtown of the Industrial Revolution, and among the first ever industrialised towns, rapidly becoming “one of the most important centres of cotton and textile industries in England”.

Rochdale, where they recorded the songs, is quite close actually. 8.5 km north northwest from Oldham.

My next stop is a Facebook page managed by the band. From here I get to know Beat and Tiffer’s real names, Nigel Banks and Chris Breakey, though I’m not 100% sure who is who.

We also get to know that they split in 1992, and that they were formed in Middleton (?!). Wait, so not Oldham? This is getting confusing! That is quite close to Oldham and Rochdale too. Maybe some were from Oldham, some from Middleton?

Anyhow they formed as a three piece originally until in 1987 Nigel joined them. They also toured France. Would be interesting to know which cities in France and Germany they played, right?

From there  we find a link to an old Myspace page. There are some songs I’ve never heard before there, “Frame to Frame”, “Crushed”, “All I Want” and “The Very last Time”. Sadly only “Frame to Frame” can be streamed. Where do these songs come from? Early recordings? Demos for a second single?

Time to investigate the whole Facebook wall for them. What will we find? We learn that they played in Sendenhorst, Germany on the 9th of Sept of 1990 at a venue called The Titanic. That they met again in 2009 and agreed to record a song titled “Watch Out for the Voodoo”, but then in 2010 they were wondering why the song never came to fruition. This song was a song that they only played live and was never recorded as a demo or anything.

At some point they were posting stuff on a Soundcloud page, not Sister Rain stuff, but stuff the members were producing. Today there’s only one song and it is called “It’s Awesome”. Before there were many others.

We know that there was another Sister Rain song titled “Straight Upstairs”. Also there’s a live video of Sister Rain from 1988. It seems then they were just called The Rain. There’s 26 minutes of footage. Maybe someone can help me figure out which songs they are playing?

Even more interesting, Dave Taylor, became, and is now, Lord Mayor of York. He is the first Green Party councillor to hold this position. York’s Lord Mayor is second only to London’s in precedence. There’s an interesting article/interview on York Press where he talks about his music past, mentioning Sister Rain too!

That’s all I could find. Seems some time ago there were more Sister Rain songs online, on Souncloud at least. I wonder why they were taken down. I would love to hear the rest of the songs that are on Myspace and cant be played. Maybe even more unreleased stuff they have. “Burt Reynolds” is such a great track, jangly heaven, that I can only be very curious about the rest!

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Listen
Sister Rain – Burt Reynolds

22
Aug

Well, well, this week we will definitely start shipping Stephen’s Shore debut 7″! We are very very excited! The records seems to be in a warehouse in Philadelphia and if nothing goes wrong they should arrive home in a couple of days as the latest. We are very sorry about the delay but I hope the wait will be worth it!

Also I’ve updated the website with the new artwork for Pale Spectres as well as a song to download from their EP. It is ready and will go to press very soon. First though we have The Seashells going to the pressing plant this week! It is very exciting at Cloudberry HQ right now! So many great releases that we really hope you enjoy!

At the moment it still seems very quiet in indiepop world. The only exciting news I’ve heard lately is that the Holiday Crowd will be releasing a new album soon on Shelflife. Speaking of Shelflife they also released a 7″ by the Close Lobsters titled “Desire and Signs EP” that I still don’t have! Shame on me. Maybe soon I can get it.

Yes, I’ve been very slow with new releases. But at least I managed to track down the Chestnut Bakery album thanks to a tip from John on the blog. It was the only release from the Chinese label Boring Productions that I was missing. I don’t think this is very new but still…

I should be getting soon too the new Juvenile Juvenile record. I’m a big fan of this Japanese band so getting their new record is great. It is released on a bit of a strange format. It is a 7″ with a CD. The 7″ includes two songs, “Planet Heaven” and “Perfect Lies”. The CD comes with 2 remixes: “Planet Heaven (Jesse Ruins Remix)” and “Perfect Lies (Teto2 Remix)”.

Don’t know what else there is right now in the indiepop world? Tell me what are your latest findings? What records have you bought? So far which are the records you’ve listened the most?

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One of the biggest mysteries of indiepop has always been Hopkirk & Lee. Who were they? What happened to them? No one seems to know anything at all. A couple of weeks ago I was just chatting with my friend Vernon about them. He mentioned me a couple of interesting details I wasn’t aware of. I wondered why I had never showcased them on the blog. Thanks to the blog I’ve got in touch with so many obscure bands, maybe, just maybe, a little bit of the mystery behind this band could be solved.

The band only released 4 songs. The year was 1998 and Gallery Recordings was going to put the out on vinyl and CD. As far as I know this was the only release on this label. What is interesting though is that the 7″ record was actually a co-release with For Us Records. For Us Records was Rough Trade Shops in house label. This label was set up to release one off singles and albums that have either not been released on vinyl. Bands that appeared on this label are many, some favourite of mine like Spearmint, Sing-Sing or Kicker.

The 7″ and the CD was titled “Beneath the Apple Tree”. Catalog number was GAL 001 (and FU001 for the 7″ as well). The songs included were “Free Arthur Lee!”, “A Love Like Ivy”, “Summershine” and “My Line is Short”. The first two were on the A side, the other two on the B side. The only main difference between both versions is that the CD has a photo of the two members, it is very blurry, but at least we get an idea of who they were.

Oddly enough inside my 7″ record there is a small flyer, alongside a black and white tabloid size poster with the names of the songs, from Yakamashi Records. It says that Yakamashi is releasing this record as their first release. And then they list their next releases, by Nuzzle, The Aislers Set/Fairways and more. So many labels seem to have been involved in this record.

On the credits we find that the songs were performed, written, produced and arranged by Alex Hopkirk and Ronnie Lee. Antonia Fuchs played violin on “Free Arthur Lee!”.

Antonia Fuchs seems to have been (or maybe she is still) part of The London Session Orchestra. Has played in records by Joni Mitchell and Peter Gabriel.

The only other appearance of the band that I know of, is on the compilation “Casablanca”, released in 2002 by Elefant Records. The song included was “Free Arthur Lee!”. From the title of this song, and the sound of their music, it is clear that they loved the band Love obviously and that they were influenced by the 60s sound.

This song title comes from this incident of course: In late 1996, Lee was sentenced to 12 years for the negligent discharge of a firearm. California’s three strikes law meant Lee was forced to serve a prison term, having previously been convicted on “a couple of assault and drug charges” in the 1980s.

Back in the day they actually had a website. I believe the last time I may have accessed it was in 2008. It is no more today. The only thing on it I remember was an email and a photo of the record sleeve.

I was reading on a post from 2007 by the blog Finest Kiss that he actually got in touch with them. What happened was a bit surprising. First, there’s a fan from Poland saying he was the best man of one of the band members like in the early 90s. Then a second stranger pointed him to a myspace by a band called Bitter Herb. I’m very band with recognizing vocals, but our friend from Finest Kiss was pretty sure that Bitter Herb’s vocalist was the same as Hopkirk & Lee. He wrote to this myspace and he got a reply saying that they had never heard of “Hopkins and Lee”. A mischievous joke? Perhaps.

Rumours abounded it seems. Finest Kiss on a blog post from 2008 says that there was a rumour of them signing to a label and then the label going under. Also that they signed a deal with Ralph Macchio and Steve Vai to make a single EP and then go to hell. But that was it really. The Myspace page for this band doesn’t exist anymore.

We do know though that this band had 4 songs up: “Dancing Eyes”, “The British American Dream”, “The Legions of Romulus” and “Turning Like a Leaf”.

On the Red Roses For Me fanzine website there’s also some mention to the band and their release. He says he had heard rumours of the band being Scottish. But we don’t find any other clues in here.

I’m not sure what to think about this whole mystery. Many blogs have tried to uncover some truth. I feel that the names might just be pseudonyms. They sound so right, so good, for a band name. But who knows.

I’m sure those who own the record are very curious about this whole thing. Wonder if anyone can help us shed some light!? Perhaps the people in the labels that released this record?

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Listen
Hopkirk & Lee – Free Arthur Lee!

15
Aug

Should have started shipping today the Stephen’s Shore 7″ but a delay on the pressing plant will probably make me start shipping them either next week or in worst case scenario the week after. I’m very sorry about this, to all of you who have pre-ordered, but sadly this is out of my hands. I’m sure though that the wait will be worth it as the record is a cracker, all four songs are pure beauty.

Speaking of releases I heard from a little bird that at long last the mastering for the Pale Spectres 7″ will be ready very soon. This means that finally we will be able to release this record that is already a modern classic.

And if that is not enough next week I should be sending to the pressing plant the masters for The Seashells new 7″. Damn! It is getting busy here at Cloudberry at the end of 2016.

That’s the news on my side. What about you? What have you been up to? Watching the Olympics perhaps? Capturing Pokémon on your mobile? What’s going on? Here in New York we’ve been suffering a heat wave and I swear that this past weekend going out felt like hell.

I’ve been listening to a bunch of new-ish bands and also old bands. I’ll start with some old band links that are worth checking out if you haven’t already.

On this Mixcloud setlist you’ll find a bunch of nuggets from Ireland dating 1985-1987 thanks to the blog Irish Nuggets. There are classic bands like Microdisney or The Stars of Heaven but there are also many bands that you probably haven’t heard before. Some songs are not great mind you, and you can’t skip them, but I’m sure you’ll make a discovery or two.

Also, before I forget this is very important. You can hear on the Friends Again website all the demos the band recorded in 1981. Of course, you can also listen here to all their other songs, released and not (like the 1985 demos). But as we are all familiar with the songs included in the 1981 demos, this is such a treat!

Post-punk with a nice indiepop feel comes from Moscow band Commis Voyauger on their Bandcamp. This new EP “16.1” is really nice. Perhaps I’d like the volume of the vocals turned up a bit higher, but these are quite good songs.

The new band by Liam Coffey from the mythic Perth, Australia, band The Rainyard has a new band called The Lazybirds. They have an EP you can listen online on their Bandcamp titled “Drumbalow Sessions”.

Los Polares are part of a new crop of Chilean bands influenced by late 80s and early 90s indiepop, and a lot of it what we call twee. They sing in English and Spanish. They have their new EP on Bandcamp and it is called “Sobre El Inicio de los Polares”. There are three nice songs, “Oregon, 1959”, “La Época Migratoria” and “Cherry Red”. I look forward to hearing more from them.

Our friends from Fantastic Day also have a new release titled “Kaleidoscope” and it sounds AMAZING. The Hong Kong band who released a 3″ with us back in the day have put out a limited edition CD and also on LP format that includes 11 songs that is not to be missed.

And finally my favourite new release comes from Barcelona. Catalan C86 band Univers has put out their new album “Límit Constant” and it is REALLY good. I’m loving it. 10 songs of great guitar playing and classic melodies. I only see it now as a digital release on their Bandcamp, but I hope there will be a physical release.

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I am surprised to see that All Over the Place’s sole release can be bought from Discogs for cheap. I think I paid $10 plus postage many years back through eBay. Anyhow, it is good news for anyone that doesn’t own this record yet.

All Over the Place were a girl duo, formed by Tracey and Vanessa. They were around 20 years old when the record came out in 1990 on the venerable La-Di-Da Productions label (catalog La-Di-Da 014) that the great Grant Lyons ran in Brighton back in the day.

From the press release that some of these 12″s included, we know a bit of the story. All Over the Place first caught Grant’s attention thanks to their demo “Turn it Up” being played in BBC Radio Sussex. From that moment on they will be part of the La-Di-Da family, first contributing on compilations and later releasing their 12″.

Their first compilation appearance was in the classic 1990 compilation Borobudur (La-Di-Da 009) with the song “Sandstorm”. This same compilation was to be re-released on CD two years later thanks to King Records (KICP-272) with the only difference that the Flipper’s Guitar track wasn’t included in this version as it was a Japanese release already and I’m guessing they didn’t have the rights (?). It is important to notice that it is in this compilation that I learn the last names of Tracey and Vanessa: Fields and Elphick.

Their second compilation appearance was also in 1990. This time the song “Strange” appeared on yet another classic indiepop compilation, “Becket House”. It was released by the enigmatic Porritt’s Hill Records (Phew 002) who also put out a very rare tape titled “Spare a Thought” that included All Over the Place’s “Scattered” and among other things included a demo version of “Crush the Flowers” by The Wake. I don’t know when this tape was released by it is listed as Phew 001.

Also on 1990, All Over the Place was to appear with the song “Tired of Being Alone” on the “You Can’t Be Loved Forever No.3” tape that our good friend Phil Ball used to put out. I wonder if he was already familiar with the band or not before appearing in the charity compilation “Becket House” with his own band Are You Mr Riley.

Now it was time for them to put out their sole EP, their 12″. With a psychedelic kind of artwork, and the whole jacket printed in purple and white, the record included four songs. One A side, and three B sides. On the A side the fantastic “Scattered”. On the B side we find “Think Back On Me”, “Strange (Remix)” and “Back to Square One”. This EP was recorded with the help from Mark of the Liquid Faeries and Bill from How Many Beans Make Five. The press sheet says: “One can only describe Vanessa’s voice as beautiful, blending perfectly with Tracey’s haunting melodies”.

All songs were indeed written by both of them. We know that Vanessa sang and wrote the lyrics while Tracey played guitars and all instruments in “Back to Square One”. Mark helped with bass and Bill with drums. The record was produced by Grant Lyons and the band while the artwork is credited to Linette.

They would continue appearing on some more compilations. I actually discovered the band through the compilation “La-Di-Da… So Far” (La-Di-Da 018) that came out in 1991 and included three of their songs: “Sandstorm”, “Strange” and “Scattered”. What a fantastic compilation this is if you haven’t heard it. There are classic songs by Dead Famous People, Bobby Scarlet, How Many Beans Make Five and more.

In 1994 when I’m guessing the band wasn’t around anymore a song called “Half Life” appeared on a compilation titled “La-Di-Bloody-Da” released by who else, La-Di-Da (La-Di-Da 035). I haven’t heard this song though, or the compilation, so I better try to track it down!

I couldn’t find neither Tracey or Vanessa. I wonder if they continued making music after All Over the Place. Where are they now? What about that first demo “Turn it Up”? Were there more songs in that tape? Are there more unreleased songs?Do you remember them? Would be so interesting to find out!

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Listen
All Over the Place – Scattered

08
Aug

After getting such a nice email from my friend Jennifer recounting me with details her weekend at Indietracks, and also reading Ragnhild blog about her Soda Fountain Rag experience at the same festival, I got all teary-eyed and nostalgic wishing I had attended the festival of steam trains and indiepop (and some other questionable music).

I’m seriously considering going next year, if it happens of course. Indietracks and a side trip. Perhaps the north of Wales, a dream of mine since forever, visit Caernarfon, Harlech, Beaumaris, Conwy castles and more. Or take my girlfriend north, to Scotland, as she would like that very much.

I guess planning will start when the dates are announced and I book almost immediately a Travelodge room. That’s how it usually started. Ah! the memories!

But I thought about finding some new talents from the British isles, start giving the organizers some ideas of some indiepop music that could fit in the festival. Obviously this is by no means a request or a demand. I already know that their taste differ with mine. But maybe, just maybe, one day it will be like the first years, where it was a solely an indiepop festival worth traveling miles and miles, crossing an ocean.

Because folky and punky bands abound here. Garage too. So, put yourself in my shoes. Why would anyone pay a pricey transatlantic flight for the same old? We don’t get much indiepop here. Just NYC Popfest and the random My Favorite, Pale Lights or Gingerlys gig. That’s it. For someone hungry, thirsty, for pop, well Indietracks should be the panacea. Right?

Anyhow, I find myself on Bandcamp looking for bands in the British isles. Not anywhere else. Not even Europe. If they come from this area they are definitely cheaper to book, and probably even easier to get them in a short notice, if there’s an emergency like a band canceling last minute for example.

The first band I find is called Dott. They are Irish actually and their last tape titled “Beverly Baldwin” (gosh I hate tapes) has been nicely reviewed by Brooklyn Vegan it seems. Released on Mirror Universe Tapes from South Carolina (!), there are four songs by this band from Galway. This duo formed by Anna McCarthy and Evan O’Connor (already married to each other) sound quite nice, it is fuzzy pop with girl vocals. A nice little surprise.

Whalo is not technically exclusively Brit. They are half Swedish, half English. From Nottingham and from Stockholm. Another duo, Johanna Lageryd and Matthew Breed (don’t know if they are married) and yet another tape, this time released by Alicante, Spain’s, Mondo Canapé. Titled “Sleepy EP”, it includes 4 classic slices of indiepop. Jangly guitars, girl vocals and lo-fi production. Being from Nottingham, definitely should give them an edge and they should be booked for the Derbyshire festival. It’s just a bus ride away!

I don’t know where Glass Arcades are from. But they write “potato crisps” in their Facebook. They must be British. This is a one man project as far as I know. Anton Salmine writes, performs, mixes and produces. Their new EP is called “Singular Forms” and it is available online. Dreamy and jangly. If he puts a band together for a live performance, it could definitely be an early evening band in the church, don’t you think?

Remember The Hillfields? We put a 3″ here on Cloudberry many many years ago. Rob has put together a new London based band called Rapid Results College. Classic guitar pop, good to enjoy with a cup of tea. They have an album on CD now titled “In City Light” and it includes 10 songs. Worth checking out!

Small roundup, but interesting for sure. In the coming months I’ll keep digging some more, perhaps one of these bands do find a place in the most important indiepop festival in the world.

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I didn’t know until today that you could actually buy moss covered poles. I found a place where you can get them for $6.99. Maybe there’s cheaper places. I don’t know what is their use though. Maybe someone can tell me?

The Moss Poles was another band I heard for the first time in those years when I was discovering indiepop online while hanging on Soulseek rooms like Twee Folks or Viajeros Polares. If I recall correctly the song “One Summer” was usually shared on mysterious folders titled “Future Leamington Spa” or something like that. Songs that should have been part of the great “Sound of Leamington Spa” compilations Firestation Records used to put out where obscure bands from the 80s were introduced to a new audience.

I remember too that The Moss Poles had an online presence. They had a website. I can’t remember though how it looked like. I do know that the Twee.net bio for the band was taken from that website, so it’s pretty legit:

The Moss Poles were formed by Nick Potter, Sean Bergin and Mick Kemp in the summer of 1987. They met whilst working together in University of London halls of residence in Camden, North London; Nick was already in a student band with Mick called Last of the V8s, which Sean joined as bassist. The other members of the V8s departed over time, leaving Nick, Sean, Mick and a drum machine. Their first gig was at the Half Moon in Herne Hill, for which they recruited a drummer, Brendon the American. The Moss Poles began to play gigs around London with different drummers (occassionally reverting to the drum machine for some gigs) and quickly built up a reputation as an outstanding live act. They were spotted by an A&R man for MCA, Tim Bulliment, who booked them in to do a demo of One Summer, one of the songs which most represented what the Moss Poles were about – fast, guitar driven post punk studded with harmonies and melodic hooks. The studio desk blew up so the session never happened; soon afterwards another session was arranged with Duran Duran’s producer – this didn’t work out so well. Then MCA introduced the band to Jeff Chegwin, a music publisher, who arranged a recording option with Warner on the fledgling Idea label (not to be confused the the XTC label of the same name). Jeff also introduced the band to Harry Barter, who became their manager. The single ‘One Summer’ was released in July 1987 and the music business began to take an interest; a Janice Long session got them national airplay and the gigs got bigger. The single ‘Underground’ was released soon after, and the band then went into the studio to record an album – Shorn – which was released late in 1987. The band continued to play gigs around London and got a couple of slots on GLR including a live lunchtime acoustic session. In March 1988 the Moss Poles went on tour. Steve Lamacq, who was a big fan of the band, came with them, following the van in his mini. After the tour ended, Sean left. Nick carried on, and Jeff got a deal with Mayking for a second album and third single; these were recorded in a studio in Wales with Nick’s friend Paul Breuer (later lead singer of Junior Cottonmouth) on bass. But the label went bust and all the tapes were seized due to non-payment of fees. Sean did rejoin the band and they did a few gigs in London to promote the new album, but the chemistry of the band had changed. In 1989, they reformed for one or two gigs before calling it a day. Sean now plays with an occasional punk band in Rugby and Nick lives in Australia. ‘One Summer’ still gets played on the radio occasionally, and it sounds as good as it ever did.

Twee.net lists them as if they were from Scotland. It is clear from the bio that they were based in London. That website used to have a download page but I believe all the songs that I downloaded from them were lost when my “music” hard drive stopped working. According to an old blog post from Power Populist there were 42 songs to download. Some of them from an unreleased 2nd album.

I do own two of their records, the “Shorn” LP and the “Underground” single. The one I’m missing is the “One Summer” single (which I just ordered to complete my collection). I believe I bought the ones I have when I went to a record shop in Greenwich many years ago.

“One Summer” came out on both 7″ (cat. Idea 006) and 12″ (Ideat 006) on Idea Records in 1987. It included “One Summer” on the A side and “Go Down” on the B side on the 7″. The 12″ added another song to the B side, “Blissful”.

Second single was “Underground”. This was Idea 007. Also released in 1987 this included two songs on the 7″ and three on the 12″. “Underground” was the A side whereas “Were You Happy?” was the B side. The 12″ added “The Sweetest Girl” to the B side. The record was produced by Andrew Fryer and The Moss Poles.

Idea Records was a great indiepop label, releasing classic records by The Jack Rubies, The Wolfhounds, Playing At Trains and The Wallflowers. With them they were to release also the Shorn LP in 1987. The catalog number was IDEALP 002 and it included 14 songs! There were 7 on each side, and you could find on the A side: “The Things You Say”, “Take it Or Leave it”, “Don’t Worry”, “Amanda Dreams”, “All in Your Eyes”, “I Hear You Scream” and “Don’t You Know?”. The B side had “Underground”, “More & More”, “The Sweetest Girl”, “You Came Up & Smiled”, “Little Prince”, “What Can I Do?”, “To Kiss You”.

From the credits we learn a few details, Dave Kirk helped with drums and Andrew Fryer with keyboards in this record. It was recorded and digitally mastered onto DAT at Chapell Studios.

Let’s keep digging. On Youtube I find a song called “10,000 Miles” and is dated 1989. It is said to have been the third single. Sadly it never got released. Luckily this same Youtube account, which I suspect must be from a Moss Poles member, has many more Moss Poles videos. All of them uploaded 6 years ago:
One Summer Live 1986
– A rehearsal from 1985 playing the song Loop
– The song “Blissful”
– “Here He Comes” live at Dingwalls in Camden
– “Little Prince” live at Dingwalls in Camden
– “Underground” live at Dingwalls in Camden
– “One Summer” live at Dingwalls in Camden
– “Take it Or Leave it” live at Dingwalls in Camden

Then I stumble upon Nick Potter’s Soundcloud. Here there are some more tunes by The Moss Poles, but most importantly two songs from the second album, “The Eucalyptus Crack” and “The Whole World’s Sinking”. Such great songs! What happened to this record? Why did it never come out?

Other song names I could find online were “Couldn’t Find a Reason”, “Don’t Think About Me” and “Your Ignorance”. May these three also be from that 2nd unreleased album?

The last item I could find about the Moss Poles is that they appeared on a compilation on Idea Records called “The Idea Compendium” (IDEALP 003) released in 1988. In this great compilation they contributed “One Summer” and “Go Down”.

Then I couldn’t find much more about them. I wonder why they took down their website. What happened to all of those songs that were available for download and if they will be available again. What happened to the band members afterwards? Were they involved with music? What about before being The Moss Poles? Had they been in bands? And what about that 2nd album, what’s the story behind it?

Anyone out there remembers them?

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Listen
The Moss Poles – One Summer

01
Aug

This past weekend I followed, on Facebook and Instagram, many friends that were at Indietracks posting photos and videos. I felt nostalgia and a bitter feeling for not being there. I hope it was great for those who attended and that everyone had a good time. That there were some bands that surprised, and others that confirmed their greatness. Hope beer was cold, and that the weather was perfect. I hope to hear from people about their experiences. Or read about them. I don’t think no one does Indietracks reviews anymore on blogs, but hopefully some of you will post some photo albums on Facebook, or perhaps write something somewhere so me, and everyone else that missed it, had a good picture of your experience.

Now, today after Indietracks was over, I’ve read already a couple of posts on Facebook saying that the label Fortuna Pop is no more. I looked in the label’s Facebook page but there’s nothing there saying so. Perhaps it was an announcement made at Indietracks? I wonder what happened. When I saw Sean at NYC Popfest a couple of months ago, it seemed Fortuna Pop was going strongly, supporting important bands that drew crowds bigger than your indiepop standard. Maybe after so many years he got tired? What has happened?

The past week I’ve been exchanging emails with a label from China. From Shenzhen specifically. That is the area in China that is immediately north from Hong Kong. I guess that may explain a bit that they are an indiepop label. The only other Chinese indiepop I’ve heard before in my life hails from Hong Kong. Not saying indiepop can’t happen in Xinjiang, but definitely is more possible in Shenzhen I think.

The label is called Boring Productions and so far they have four releases. The first one, a compilation called “Our Secret World”, includes covers of indiepop classics like “Anorak City” by A Hidden Trace or “Sensitive” by Zoo. From this first release we can already figure out what sort of sound this label champions, that of a bedroom produced dreampop.  A lo-fi shoegaze that is very appealing to me.

On this first compilation released in August 2015 we find 15 different bands. None of the names in the album is familiar to me. All new. I couldn’t say where they come from. Are they all from Shenzhen?

The second release on the label is an album by a band called Chestnut Bakery. This band appears on the “Our Secret World” compilation with the song “Saturday Afternoon”. The album titled “Diaries” seems to be the only one that has sold out. There are 10 songs that are classic indiepop. They are described as the most 90s shoegaze band in China in their bandcamp. The band is formed by Rye on guitar and vocals, Leo on guitar, Nadia on bass and Sango on drums. I think they might be my favourite band and the favourite release on Boring Productions. This is a great album and wish I had discovered them sooner so I could have a copy!

Third release is a tape just titled “Promo Tape: Bedroom Pop rules the Wolrd”. It seems there is a typo on world indeed on the cover photo. There are just four songs, one each for Milkmustache, The Cheers Cheers, Dripping Wet and Atta Girl. I don’t think this tape is actually part of the catalog but just a promo release for the next releases that will be out on the label. We know then that Milkmustache hails from Shenzhen, The Cheers Cheers from Shaoxing, Dripping Wet from Texast (?!) and Atta Girl we don’t know where from China.

Fourth and last release so far is the Milkmustache 4-song CD that came out just a week or so ago. The songs are “Shell Button”, “Dolphin”, “Submarine” and “Oh!Overload”. The CD comes with a very cool presentation, with what looks like a board game called Boring Productions adventure. It all looks so fresh and exciting with this label. Feels like the early days of a cool scene that is brewing in their area, reminding me of what Yay! did many years ago in Oxnard, California. I wonder what will happen next with Boring Productions and what amazing bands will introduce to indiepop fans. Efforts like this are what makes one keep faith in indiepop, there are still pockets in the world were music inspire and make people come together.

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Ages ago when the last Leamington Spa compilation was being put together there were a bunch of bands I had never heard before that were going to appear in that CD. Hugebigmassive was one of them. And always thought that at some point I should try to track their records and songs. I’ve tried believe me, but still I have heard just a few of them and haven’t had the luck to get my hands on their 2 records.

I still don’t know how to write their name, is it Hugebigmassive or Huge Big Massive? I see them written both ways. I’ll go with the first style as Discogs has it that way, but I wonder what was the band’s preference?

On the Leamington Spa #7 they go with the second option, all words spaced and there is a tiny bio:
Formed in 1986 originally as a three piece with surviving members from previous band Sister Crow – Andrew Sharman (guitar/vocals), Stuart Simpson (guitar/keys/backing vocals) and Karl Traae (bass). The drum machine was usurped in 1989 with the arrival of Kevin Tucker and his drums. Building a large following in their home town of Leicester HBM toured nationally playing on many high profile tours with the likes of Suede, Dodgy, Teenage Fanclub and Ocean Colour Scene resulting in numerous TV and radio appearances. HBM released two twelve inch EPs ‘Who wants more?’ and ‘Out of my mind’. With the collapse of the Berlin Wall they toured extensively in what was Czechoslovakia. Despite many approaches from record companies the band were deemed to be too ‘laddie’ in the pre Brit Pop era. Eventually in 1992 after playing themselves to death, HBM decided to call it a day of pursuing different musical outlets. All four members remain friends and keep in contact with each other (just).

The first of these EPs, “Who Wants More”. Came out on Tasty Records in 1991 (catalog TR 01), 5 years after forming. One can only wonder why didn’t they release anything else before. Perhaps they did some demo tapes? In any case the truth is that this record included three songs. On the A side we only find “Who Wants More” whereas on the B side there’s “Unfair” and “You Crazy People Kill Me”. The first one written by Simpson while the two on the B side by Sharman. I also think is safe to assume that Tasty Records was their own label as it seems the only two records released by this label were the two HBM releases.

On the Discogs page for this release we find a press sheet where their tour dates appear! We then know they played in 12 different venues in then Czechoslovakia in places like Plzen, Sokolov, Litvinov, Prague, Decin, Pardubice, Trebuc, Bratislava, Brno and Zdar. In the UK they also promoted this release playing in Leicester’s Princess Charlotte, at the Stoke Poly, Coventry’s “Tic Toc”, Nottingham Grand Central Diner, Cambridge Junction, Windsor Psykik Dance Hall, Oxford Jerico Tavern, Scraptoft Leicester Poly, Warwick University, Derby, and London ULU.

A year later three more songs would see the light of day. “Out of My Mind”, on the A side, and “Make it Happen” and “Here to Stay” on the B side, would appear on a new 12″ in 1991. Again released by Tasty Records (catalog TR 02), this record was produced by Paul Sampson from The Primitives.

It is the last song on this record, “Here to Stay” that appears on The Sound of Leamington Spa #7 released by Firestation Records some years ago. Don’t know if they had any other compilation appearances. But what I did find were some TV interview/appearances on Youtube. I don’t know exactly which TV program these recordings come from but there are two. The first one seems to show a promo video of the band and some bits of interview and the second one another interview and a live performance.

From the comments on these Youtube videos we find out some more song names like “Coming Down”, “Trouser Press” and “I’m Not a Policeman”. Also that they had played at Coalville Tech Students Union and Peterborough. Another Youtuber mentions that Andy Sharman used to be a delivery guy for a co-op in Wigston. All these fans do believe that this band should have been massive and seem to agree that it was just bad timing, that they appeared a bit too late in the indie wave. It was the early 90s with grunge taking it over.

A cassette titled “The Good, The Band and the Slightly Shop Soiled” seems to have existed as well as one called “The Elvis Underground” definitely confirming that they recorded more songs.

From what I could gather Karl Traee continued making music, he went to be in Perfume and releasing many many records after the demise of HBM. The only other member from HMB that continued involved in music afterwards was Andy Sharman, on a Leicester Mercury article I could find that he was also frontman of The Charmers and Sourpus and that lately he was leading a band called Produkty. Sharman says they are Leicester’s answer to Abba, though for sure this is rock n’roll. This is their bandcamp.

I wonder about HBM, about those tapes, about their name, about touring Bohemia, seems there’s a story to be told. And definitely “Here to Stay” should have been a hit.

Edit:
Gary Strickland from Honeyrider (and now Seafang) told me a couple of interesting facts about the band on Facebook. First that Tasty Reords was started by Andy Wright who ran The Princess Charlotte in Leicester and also managed HBM. Also Stuart Simpson joined him in the band Whirl from San Diego, flying all the way to California. When Whirl went to record with Paul Sampson (thanks to the HBM connection) in the UK Karl Traae was to join Whirl as well. Stuart would later be part of a band called Minithin that had two songs on the compilation Sunny Sunday Smile Volume 2 that Sunday Records released in 2000. The songs were “When We Were Something” and “The Next Life”. Thanks Gary!

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Listen
Hugebigmassive – Here to Stay

28
Jul

Time ago I wrote a piece about the band Tropical Fish Invasion on the blog. I really liked the few songs I have heard, and always wondered if their flexi that I own was missing a sleeve. There were many questions and this band remained very mysterious to me. Happily Cat got in touch and was very kind to answer all my questions about his band in the late 80s, early 90s. Here is the interview, hope you enjoy it!

++ Thanks so much Cat for getting in touch and being up for the interview! I know so little from the band, so let’s start! I had the idea the band hailed from Derby, but you are based now in Nottingham, right? Where was the band from?

The band was mainly based out of Derby but we did all move to Nottingham in 1991

++ When did the band start? Who were the members and how did you all know each other?

The original band (The Pink Sugar Cube Boogies) formed in 1985/1986. The driving force behind it was Matty Pearson – a larger than life character who once went to a ladies hairdressers in Heanor and asked for a ‘monk cut’ – which was literally having a bald patch shaved into the top of his head to look like a Benedictine Monk because he thought it would be a good look for a party we were attending that night. I was mightily impressed by this rather committed fashion gesture and soon became his disciple!

We were all students at South East Derbyshire College and met in the canteen, we started hanging out and playing music together. the original line up was Matty P, Paul Kleesmaa, Gary Kempley, Allan MacDonald and myself. The college ran a music course which at the time seemed rather boring to us, lots of jazz, rock and more traditional stuff. At the Christmas concert we were given a slot and dressed in 60’s beatnik paraphernalia, smoking jackets and cravats we played a couple of songs (quite badly I may add). This sorry affair led to the music course leader saying we were worse than the ‘Sexy Guns’. We assumed he was actually referring to the Sex Pistols!

++ Have you been involved in bands before?

This was my first official band but I’d always been drawn to performing from a young age. At the age of 5 my teacher used to make me stand up in front of the class and sing to everyone. I used to love it and never felt shy or embarrassed. I also sang in a couple of choirs at school but The Pink Sugar Cube Boogies opened up a new world to me and writing songs with my best friends was the best thing in the world.

++ Where does the band name come from? It’s such a good name!

After leaving college we decided to get serious with band and renamed it Mr Cinzano and Tropical Fish Invasion and moved to Nottingham (we eventually dropped the Mr Cinzano – I can’t remember why). The name was inspired by our love of Tropical fish, the beautiful colours and what they represented, freedom to move in beautiful waters in some of the finest locations of the world.  I guess it brought a bit of glamour and relief to intercity living at the peak of Thatcher’s reign over the UK. We eventually moved to Derby where we developed a really good following.

++ And I have to ask, even if it’s a bit silly, did any of you had pet fish?

I used to have a goldfish which I won at Heanor fair! It died and we flushed it down the toilet.

++ What sort of music were you listening at the time? Who would you say were influences for the Tropical Fish Invasion?

Our influences were wide: 60’s psychedelia, Frank Sinatra (Witchcraft) Dean Martin, James Brown, Sliced Tomatoes by Terry, Divine, Led Zeppelin, The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Beach Boys, Hendrix, early B52s, Stan Getz, Astrud Gilberto, Nick Drake, Ella Fitzgerald

++ Were there any like-minded bands in your area that you were into?

There were some great bands that we were fortunate to play with, these include The Moonflowers (supported twice) and The Frauds (from Leicester)

++ There’s this flexi with the song “La Di Da”. Was it self-released? Did it have a proper picture sleeve?

Yes the flexi was self-released on our own ‘Octypurple’ label. We had 1000 singles pressed and I probably have a few hundred left in my garage somewhere. We never created a proper picture sleeve as we didn’t have enough money. I think I may have funded the whole thing myself!

++ I love this song, so I wonder if you could tell me the story behind it?

The song has a simple message about positivity and how to remain positive when things take a turn for the worse – just take a look around (take stock of everything and find the positives) . It’s also about love and friendship – you might have material wealth or nice things but what’s the point if you don’t have any friends or loved ones to hang out with.

++ The catalog number was OCTY 6-5000. Does that have any meaning?

The 6-5000 part comes from a song of ours called Aquamarinaland – this was our own sub-aquatic/tropical fish reworking of Glen Miller’s 1940 classic Pennsylvania 6-500. In 2001 Aquamarinaland made another but very different appearance on a collaboration with Nottingham outfit Schmoov! on their Album ‘While You Wait’. On this very chilled out track I sing of the regret of losing a loved one in a very tongue in cheek style

++ The other song I know from you is also great, “Ring a Ding”, that was on the “Seahorses” tape compilation. Do you remember how you ended in there?

Ring-a -ding is one of my favourites and was a homage to Frank Sinatra. I can’t remember how exactly we got onto that compilation but at the time there were many talented and dedicated people travelling to gigs, writing reviews and creating fanzines and putting compilations together.  We would have met at a gig, had a few drinks and passed on a tape to them.

++ You were telling me that you recorded many more songs. Do you remember how many demo tapes you released?

We probably recorded 4 demo cassettes and the flexi-single on Octypurple records. We also had a few videos but these have been lost unfortunately – or over recorded by our bass player who was the last person to have the video!

++ And from all your repertoire, which one was your favourite song?

My favourite changes all the time, at the moment it’s Ring-a-Ding.

++ What about gigs? Did you play live a lot? Any favourite or not too favourite gigs that you remember?

We used to play a lot – at least once a week at our peak. As an established band in Derby we got lots of support slots at the Dial, The Lord Nelson, The Old Bell and the famous Rock City in Nottingham. We played with Crazy Head (which wasn’t a well suited gig in terms of the music we played, and some of their fans looked bewildered at best and ready to kill us at worst!) We also supported 1000 Yard Stare, The Moonflowers, Five Thirty, Spacemen 3, and a few more that I’ve totally forgotten!!
My favourite gig was in the Dial back in December 1990 (I think!). The place was absolutely packed and everyone was in the zone so there was lots of dancing, sweating and the atmosphere was electric. I have some really fond memories of that night and it felt like we had ‘made it’.

 

++ During the late 80s, early 90s, there were a lot of guitar pop bands in the UK. Was wondering if you ever felt part of a scene there?

There was definitely the feeling of being part of a scene and we used to have people travelling from afar to see us and often crashing with us. This helped us build a network of fans and get to know other bands and travel up to Manchester or down to London to see them.

++ What about press? Did you get coverage? Radio? What about fanzines?

We got loads of coverage in the local press, Derby Evening Telegraph and the Nottingham Evening Post. We also appeared on local TV as part of a World Aids Day event and some local radio too. Our main exposure was through fanzines. I can’t remember all of them but I do have copies of:
Share The Modern World With Me
A Nice Piece of Parkin
Sperm Wail
Red Roses for Me

++ And then when and why did the band split? What did you guys do after?

I guess we split due to the usual and predictable differences there can happen within a band – getting on each others nerves, girlfriend trouble, changes in personal goals. From my point of view we had gone far enough and I felt a bit disillusioned – we’d been let down too many times by A&R people saying thay would come to our gigs that never did, even after all the trouble we’d gone to in terms of getting a bus load of people to come and see us in London etc. The house party scene was also taking off and it most of us got heavily involved in that so it seemed a good idea to have a break. I do wonder what might have happened if we had persevered a bit longer.

++ Are you all still in touch? Are you still making music today?

Not properly just through Facebook and through mutual friends. Amazing really because at the time we thought we would be friends for ever but people grow up and have our own families and there just isn’t enough time.
Yes I am still involved in music today.  After the band split I took a short break and started playing at parties and venues in Nottingham as a DJ. On the day of a gig, my headphones weren’t working so I went to the flat next door to borrow some from a good friend. He was rehearsing with a band for a jazz gig and the song they were playing was Witchcraft. I knew the words, I grew up with this song (and it felt a bit like fate I suppose). I sang along, it sounded great and ever since then I’ve been singing Jazz (mainly Rat Pack stuff) and Latin and have played at weddings, private parties, local bars, restaurants, film launches, festivals – we even played at Glastonbury Festival twice as part of Lost Vagueness collective. I would say gig wise I’ve played in more venues and locations than when with the Tropical Fish (including a friend’s wedding in New York).
My kids are also musical and I encourage them to play and sing. I song to them overnight and we often have ‘jam sessions’ which are a great way for the kids to express themselves and have fun. My daughter (now 7 years old) was selected to represent the UK in Monaco, France to play a composition she wrote when she was only 6! As you can imagine I am extremely proud of her achievements and that the musical tradition will continue through my kids.

++ Looking back, what would you say are your happiest memories, the highlight of being in the Tropical Fish Invasion?

My happiness memories of a time when only music mattered – whether it was writing songs, rehearsing, performing – the whole creative process. Having this process validated through positive audience reactions and getting approached by young ladies was also a very positive outcome!

++  Let’s wrap it here, but before we go, why don’t you tell us about Nottingham a bit. If one was to visit, what are the sights or the places one shouldn’t miss?

Notingham is a great city. It’s the home of Robin Hood, Paul Smith clothes and Raleigh bikes. There’s plenty to do here like drink in the oldest Inn in England, visit the Castle, come and see me sing at the Pelican Club!

++ Thanks again so much Cat! Anything else you’d like to add?

No –  I think that’s covered it all. Good to talk with you Roque and thanks for keeping the memory of the Tropical Fish alive!

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Listen
Tropical Fish Invasion – La Di Da

25
Jul

This coming weekend there’s Indietracks. It’s the last week of July and a very big crowd of indiepop fans will gather together in Derbyshire. Last week posts earned me a tweet from PO!, from Ruth Miller, I was very happy, such a fan I am. She even said she’d love to come to NYC. I hope she does. That would be amazing really.

Who did come to NYC was Jessel this past weekend. I saw him for just a little, he was in a family trip really. But he was very kind to give me the Final Diners 7″. Such a great record that you can only wonder why the hell “Your Island” wasn’t included in the Sharon Signs to Cherry Red compilation. So unfair! The record I got is missing the sleeve though, so I ask everyone out there that if they have an extra sleeve of this record, please let me know!

I saw on Instagram that Botanic Garden #2, the Chinese indiepop fanzine, is ready. It is not available though to buy from their website yet. One of the blog posts of mine has been translated and included in it. I got #1 and it was really ace, well presented, and it didn’t matter me not understanding Chinese.

What I did buy already is a Japanese fanzine called “Everything Reminds Us of Something Fantastic”. It’s promoted as a Neo-Acoustic zine and was put together by Hiroyuki Miyata. It seems to be printed in full colour and includes the 24 most important indiepop people, I guess a review of 361 bands, 243 artists, 28 producers. It doesn’t say how many pages were included but only 100 copies were printed. There is more information and also instructions on how to order on this website. I’m very much looking forward to receiving this. Looks like something done with lots of love!

And last but not least, the marvelous London band The Fireworks have a new video out for the song “All the Time“. Very cool to see Emma, Matthew, Isabel and Shaun dressed up in Halloween style and acting! I especially love Matthew’s wig and costume haha. It’s really awesome. I should be getting the 10” that includes this cracking song soon. It’s available from Shelflife Records and it’s called “Black and Blue”. It’s a must have!

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Last week I had all the intentions to recommend Rex and Dino as you remember, but it needed to make sense. That’s why I started introducing you Empty Shell, the band that came before Rex and Dino. Today I’ll dig and try to find more about this Irish band!

From last week post, this paragraph is relevant:
In 1987 Dermot Lambert and Ellen Leahy would start a new band, Rex & Dino, but that is another story. Even later Lambert would form Blink, his longest running band (1991-2007) and release a bunch of records with a sound that reminds us of the Madchester era. These days he seems to be making music solo.

We do know that in 1989 they released the first 7″ on the Danceline Records label (catalog DLS 001). A favourite band of mine, The Would Be’s also released on this label. This 7″ by Rex and Dino included two songs, “Busy Sleeping” on the A side and “Trouble With You” on the B side. I have only heard the first song and it’s really ace. Hoping someone out there can help me with the B side! Also if someone has a spare of this record, let me know!

“Busy Sleeping” was produced in Ropewalk Studios in Dublin by Paul Murphy and Barry Grace, engineered by Catherine Considine and Louise McCormack. The B side was produced in Elektra Studios, Dublin, by Rex and Dino and engineered by Larry O’Toole.

Credits for this record include:
Dermot Lambert – vocals
Ellen Leahy – keyboards
Brian McLoughlin – bass
Dave Thomas – drums

Lambert and Leahy as we said were together in Empty Shell. Lambert and McLoughlin will later be part of Blink.

Discogs also lists a compilation appearance by the band. It was on a LP compilation titled “Snap Shots” released by Snap (catalog SN 901) in 1987 in Ireland. They contribute two songs, “The Cat Gets Out” that appears as A3, and “This Time, Next Time” that opens the B side. Other bands in this compilation are Missing Link, Ott, Brainchild, The Pink Hurts, A Splash of Red and The Soft Music Company. I’m not really familiar with any of them.

Then I land on the Irish Rock website. There we learn that the band was around from 1987 to 1989. Most importantly we learn that they released another 7″ prior to “Busy Sleeping”. “Someone There to Love” on the A side and “Same Way Too” on the B side came out in 1988 on the Solid label (ROK 715). This label had released Irish indiepop classics from Guernica and Cypress, Mine! among others. The producer for both songs was Emmett O’Reilly, they were engineered by Pat Dunne and Larry O’Toole and the sleeve was designed by Arthur Mathews. There’s some text on the back cover that I assume is part of the lyrics of one of the songs (?). It says “Wavy day on the Aegean Sea / on the Coast and all along the Beach”. It also seems that the band at this point was managed by Ankle Promotions from Dublin.

Then in 1989 they appear on a compilation released by Danceline called “Nationwide 3” (DLS 1004). On Irish Rock they say it’s an LP compilation but the sleeve looks like a tape really. Rex & Dino contribute two songs, “Bed of Nails” and “Fire”. One in each side.

In total then we have 8 songs released by the band. So far I’ve heard the one and I think is great. Did they record more songs? Why did they split? Where did they gig? So many questions arise.

I found some information about one of their managers, Aiden Lambert. He was brother of Dermot. Seems he passed away last year. You can read more about it here.

And this is where I stop digging. Not much more information online about this band. Definitely there’s a lot more about the band that Dermot Lambert would be involved later, Blink, but there’s a struggle finding stuff about Rex and Dino and Empty Shell. Perhaps some of you remember them and can shed some more light. Use that comments section!

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Listen
Rex and Dino – Busy Sleeping

18
Jul

Yet another week with very little news for indiepop. I know that Indietracks is around the corner but I’m not going. There must be some new releases coming out (aside from the new Starry Eyed Cadet album that I’m so looking forward), but I don’t think I know about them. In the last week I ordered the new Helen Love and the C87 compilation. I have yet to listen to them. I’ve been listening to much older stuff, catching up with the piles of CDs that I have by my computer, finally about to finish listen the Lush and the Creation Records box sets. I’ve taken a while to do so.

Haven’t bought many vinyl records either in the past weeks. I think I got some stuff from France the last time, I ordered a couple of 12″s. Blammo! and something else. It’s been a while then! Maybe I should check out any cheap finds on Discogs or eBay. I haven’t been hunting records much lately.

I’ve been playing Pokémon Go since it came out though it servers suck. I’m a Pokémon fan as many of you might now and I’m having a good fun with this new game. I do see people go out in big groups to play together. I do it alone. I don’t enjoy much playing any games with random people unless they are competitive I guess. It’s odd when I walk by the park with my phone and people just ask me Pokémon related questions. I don’t really like that. Also I signed in with the Trainer Club account and as the servers are always down, Google people have had the advantage and now have all the gyms filled with powerful critters. Oh well…

I got some photos from the pressing plant for the new Stephen’s Shore 7″ and they look really ace. It’s only a couple of weeks for release date. I will get on writing and printing the inserts soon. I’m a little behind on that. Also I’ve received a semi-finished artwork for The Seashells 7″ and looks really classy. I can’t wait to start promoting their songs!

I guess all of you are looking forward to Indietracks. I’m only jealous of missing Po!. What a band. I love them. I wonder which songs will Ruth Miller play. Will she have a full band? I hope people record her gig and post the videos on Youtube. She is playing at the same time as my friends of Flowers and also while the movie of Indietracks is going to be screened. I know Flowers would understand if you go see this legend of indiepop. The movie you can catch on Sunday as it will be screened again then just after Red Sleeping Beauty (who I’m jealous of you seeing them, but I feel there are bigger chances for them to come to NYC than Po!).

While I was at that, checking the schedule and all that, I was looking at the discos and workshops. You know I never attended to any workshops in all of my visits to Indietracks. I wonder why. Must be that I prefer checking out bands or hanging with friends. I assume some of these workshops must be fun. I see this year they have quizzes, printing lessons, portraits, tea making, poetry, and more. Niall from Spook School is even doing life coaching for all of those who need that sort of thing. That could be fun.

The discos on the other hand don’t add much to the festival I think. Same old story, DJs that love going to an indiepop festival to play anything but indiepop. I hope this year is different though, it’s the 10th anniversary, so I hope they show some respect for a festival that, even with their mistakes and successes, has been carrying the indiepop flag with pride.

Well, that was more of a rambling than a proper post. As I said not many news in indiepopland as far as I know, but I’m hoping things start changing soon. Summers are usually slow, the heat slows us all, it’s ok. But things should be getting more exciting anyways in Cloudberry HQ with new releases in the coming months. And I know too that I have to get on writing a new fanzine. I’ve been putting that off for too long!

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I was planning to do a post about Rex & Dino, the band that came after Empty Shell, but I thought that to get the story straight I should start from the beginning.

I have doubts about when was that I heard first Empty Shell’s  “If Heavens Waiting”. It was either on the Shelflife blog or downloading from Soulseek one of those “future Leamington Spa folders” that some indiepop fanatics had with a bunch of not so known pop gems. Either way the song struck on me and so I wonder why I never tried finding out more about them.

They released only one record as far as I know and as far as I could find on the web. It was a 7″ released in 1986 on their own label also called Empty Shell (catalog SHELL001). The A side was the brilliant, romantic, and classy “If Heavens Waiting” compared by Ed from Shelflife to The Wild Swans and The Railway Children, while the B side was called “Theme”. As I don’t own this record (I wish I did of course), I have never head the B side. I wonder what it sounds like even if Ed from Shelflife says that it sounds like an 80s goth song.

The band hailed from Dublin and was formed by:
Dermot Lambert – vocals, guitar
Neil Tyrrell – bass
Ellen Leahy – vocals and keyboards
Richard O’Connor – drums

About gigs, I could only find one mentioned online, at the Roundstown Town Hall in Galway. I’m sure they played many more.

Another interesting fact is that Empty Shell recorded a Fanning Session in January of 1985 with Declan Farrell on vocals. Even the great Fanning Sessions blog hasn’t posted these tracks. They remain a mystery.

In 1987 Dermot Lambert and Ellen Leahy would start a new band, Rex & Dino, but that is another story. Even later Lambert would form Blink, his longest running band (1991-2007) and release a bunch of records with a sound that reminds us of the Madchester era. These days he seems to be making music solo.

Next week I’ll get onto the Rex & Dino story and releases, but for now let’s enjoy this cracking tune and try to find out all the answers to the many questions we have about Empty Shell. Was this the first band Lambert was on? Where else did they play gigs? Did they ever play in Great Britain? Did they record more songs? More releases? Any compilation appearances? What songs were recorded for the Fanning Sessions? And so on!

Do you remember them?

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Listen
Emtpy Shell – If Heavens Waiting

11
Jul

No news this week in indiepop world. It has become very quiet. I was hoping to review something, recommend some records, or check out some new bands. I guess everyone is playing Pokémon Go at the moment and no one is caring about music. Hopefully next week there will be enough stuff to cover.

In the meantime I’m sharing an interview I did for the Chaotisch und Charmant blog back in 2011, around the same time as now, in July. I really liked answering the questions Felipe wrote for me and was especially surprised the interest from far away Brazil. I’m surprised how many things have changed since then, like for example when I say there were many good places to distribute music. Today they barely exist.  I still haven’t made that transition to the ipod though. Feeling proud about that.

01. Tell us a bit about yourself and your relation with music.

Music is a central part of my life. I can’t imagine a day without music. I carry my portable cd-player everywhere. I still haven’t made the transition to an ipod. I still buy CDs that’s why. And I still buy records. Lots. I love collecting records. Most of the stuff I have is indiepop, I like some other stuff too but I feel that my money better go to what I love the most. I’m based in Miami Beach, close to the beach. It’s usually sunny here and way too warm. Half the time I speak Spanish. Lately after work I like to get key lime sorbets on the way
home. It’s refreshing.

02. How, when and why did you decided to create Cloudberry Records? And why name it Cloudberry?

Cloudberry officially started on February 1st 2007. But of course I had started working on the label before, since December 2006. I had just put out a tape called C-06 to celebrate 20 years since C-86 and it went really welll. I did a very small run though, 75 copies. I should have done many more I think. Looking back at the bands that were included, it probably would be considered influential and a classic, no kidding. Anyhow, that was the spark that made me start Cloudberry. I learned a lot from that release and made contact with some great up and coming bands. Then, you know just like the cartoons, a lightbulb popped up over my head, and thought that for a small investment, for a small label, the idea of using 3″ CDs as a format for singles hadn’t been done in a successful way yet. Some labels had done it before, but I feel they didn’t explore all the possibilities, and that’s why at the moment I did it, many people felt this was something very new, and in some cases, revolutionary. But it was just a lot of research. I am a designer, and so, this was quite an exciting part, creating the package design, the look of the label, logo, etc. I feel in Cloudberry I have let loose many ideas I have had even though it seems there is a very straight line in the overall design of the label.
About the why?, well, it is true that I was involved with another label at the moment (Plastilina) but I had time, I had the drive, and the passion for indiepop. Also at that specific moment, I remember every band was setting up a Myspace, which made it easier to find bands. It was really an exciting time! But with so much quantity I felt a filter was needed. I thought Cloudberry could be a filter. There was so much music available all of a sudden, but where to start? My reasons for creating Cloudberry are many, but I think the most important ones are to work in a way that doesn’t follow any capitalist model and to help build a stronger indiepop community. To some extent, I humbly believe these things have been achieved.

03. What is the infrastructure of the label? Are you the only person running it? How much of your time it takes to do Cloudberry related stuff (like listening to bands, taking care of the making of the releases…)

Yes, it’s just me. Still a bedroom affair, even though the record boxes have started to pile on the living room! The setup is probably what you imagine, a computer, a scanner, printer, lots of blank CDs and DVDs, a cutter, scissors, glue, etc. I’m thinking “Cloudberry” 24/7 but the amount of work varies each day. I do have a regular job and that takes most of my day time. There’s always something to do concerning Cloudberry though, sometimes a lot, sometimes not so much, but always something.

04. The variety of artists and music being released through the label is very diverse. How do you choose the artists? Can you say what is the ‘Cloudberry musical aesthetic (if there’s any)?

It’s a very personal label. At least that’s my intention. The only requirement then for me to choose an artist is to like them and feel they fit fine with the musical aesthetics. What is the musical aesthetics? Well definitely I like electric guitars to start. I avoid ukuleles and toy instruments usually. I like 80s sounds, classic indiepop. I like seeing some influence of that on the bands I release. I like fragility in the songs but at the same time I like a lot of edge. I think you can be both. In the best cases, the bands know what indiepop is and know it’s history. That makes it easier. I like bands to believe in indiepop and feel indiepop. I don’t like bands that happen to do indiepop by mistake. I think that’s where the aesthetics kick in, all these bands I’ve released are indiepop at heart. I agree with you when you say that the music is diverse within the releases, most people don’t seem to see that, blinded because the aesthetics are very similar between bands.

05. Inside Cloudberry’s website you have a blog where you interview bands from the past (which I think it’s an awesome idea). Everytime I read an interview, I can’t stop thinking about how do you get to find the people you interview… could you talk about how this interviews happen? In your opinion, what are the most underrated bands from them past 20 years?

Thanks. A lot of these people I find by googling their names! Some also get in touch with me after I’ve written a blog post asking for anyone in the band to get in touch. Other times by recommendations, and some other times I just interview friends to happen to be involved with music years ago. There’s not much to them, I do some research and then I email the band a bunch of questions. Sometimes they answer me, sometimes they dont. I’d say I have only published half of the interviews I’ve done. The rest are still unanswered. It’s a lot of fun for me to learn the story behind the band, especially if I own their records, it makes it more special. Most underrated bands from the past 20 years? Well, McCarthy should have been greater than The Beatles. Friends should have been greater than The Beach Boys. TCR from Spain should have been bigger than Julio Iglesias. And This Poison! should have at least been bigger than
N’Sync.

06. What do you plan for the future of the label?

Very soon I’ll have the Very Truly Yours 7″ out and a new fanzine. After that a Youngfuck 7″ is already confirmed. I have many other releases on the pipeline too. That’s the future, just more releases. I dream at some point to see some sort of small Cloudberry festival, that’d be sweet.

07. Give your insights on music distribution nowadays. Is it financially viable to run a record label nowadays?

Sure it is if you release some mainstream stuff :p But I guess you mean a small indiepop label? Then I’d say no. But it’s fun and worth it. I recommend it doing. If you break even consider yourself lucky. Music distribution is a bit better than some years ago, there are more stores carrying indiepop records. Funny thing is that I feel there are less people buying records. I don’t know about MP3s, I don’t do digital distribution. I think that’s wrong for a label to do, if anyone was going to sell MP3s, it should be the band. What involvement did a label had on making an MP3? Nothing! I feel that part of the music distribution process should be fixed.

08. A word of advice for people wanting to create their own label?

Be a boutique label. Don’t aim to be the next Cherry Red with all it’s sub-labels. Stick to a genre you love with passion. If you love “everything” don’t do it. You have to be passionate of something in particular, so you can focus. If not you’ll hit yourself with a wall all the time. A label’s job is to be a filter especially now that everyone can have access to any song anywhere at anytime. You don’t want to confuse people more. Oh! and have fun!

09. Show us a video you think it’s awesome.

The Wedding Present’s Brassneck video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lWZkTEGPG8Y I’ll let the video speak for itself. The quality of the upload is not the best, but you get the idea.

10. Any band(s) you think the whole world should know?

Not really. I think that’d be bad for the bands. I don’t think nothing good comes when pleasing such a huge crowd, the whole world. You try too hard and it’s dishonest.

11. Anything else you feel like saying?

Muito obrigado Felipe, it’s nice to answer some interesting questions and not the same ones over and over every time I do an interview. It’s been a pleasure. 🙂

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Like many I heard The Calloways for the first time thanks to the “A Sandwich and a Sweater” tape rip that used to be easy to find on indiepop channels on Soulseek. The song included in this 1996 fan-made tape was “Kalamazoo” and I thought at the time (and I still do today) that it was great, perfectly catchy. The only thing I know about this mysterious tape was that it was made by Keith D’Arcy, a long-time listee on Twee.net. Not sure how many copies were made, or if it was sold or was it just part of a tape exchange. I wasn’t around on the indiepop-list in the mid 90s!

I was lucky to find The Calloways 7″ soon as I started building my record collection. It must have been one of the first vinyl records I ever bought through eBay. I remember not paying much, and I can see it is still not an expensive record to get. So I recommend you to do that. The record included two songs, the aforementioned “Kalamazoo” on the A side and “Big Trees” on the B side.

Kalamazoo is a city in the southwest region of the U.S. state of Michigan. It is the county seat of Kalamazoo County. Kalamazoo is located geographically in Western and Southern Michigan. As of the 2010 census, Kalamazoo had a total population of 74,262. Kalamazoo is the major city of the Kalamazoo-Portage Metropolitan Statistical Area, which has a population of 335,340 as of 2015. Originally known as Bronson (after founder Titus Bronson) in the township of Arcadia, the names of both the city and the township were changed to “Kalamazoo” in 1836 and 1837, respectively. The Kalamazoo name comes from a Potawatomi word, first found in a British report in 1772. However, the Kalamazoo River, which passes through the modern city of Kalamazoo, was located on the route between Detroit and Fort Saint-Joseph (nowadays Niles, Michigan). French-Canadian traders, missionaries, and military personnel were quite familiar with this area during the French era and thereafter. The name for the Kalamazoo River was then known by Canadians and French as La rivière Kikanamaso. The name “Kikanamaso” was also recorded by Father Pierre Potier, a Jesuit missionary for the Huron-Wendats at the Assumption mission (south shore of Detroit), while en route to Fort Saint-Joseph during the fall of 1760. Legend has it that “Ki-ka-ma-sung,” meaning “boiling water,” referring to a footrace held each fall by local Native Americans, who had to run to the river and back before the pot boiled. Still another theory is that it means “the mirage or reflecting river.” Another legend is that the image of “boiling water” referred to fog on the river as seen from the hills above the current downtown. The name was also given to the river that flows almost all the way across the state. The name Kalamazoo, which sounds unusual to English-speaking ears, has become a metonym for exotic places, as in the phrase “from Timbuktu to Kalamazoo.” Today, T-shirts are sold in Kalamazoo with the phrase “Yes, there really is a Kalamazoo.”

The record came out in 1984 on the Wonderful World of Records label (catalog WW1) and the artwork was done by Jenny Lupton. The engineer for the record was Jimmy Anderson at Hart St. Studios, Edinburgh and the producer was Jo Callis. I think Jenny Lupton is now a renowned equestrian and sporting portrait artist, I found this website and there’s the coincidence that she hails from Scotland. I’m pretty sure the band came from Edinburgh as everything is hinting me so.

Now Jo Callis. That is a much more known name. John William “Jo” Callis (born 2 May 1951) is an English musician and songwriter who played guitar with the Edinburgh based punk rock band, The Rezillos (under the name Luke Warm), and post-punk band Boots For Dancing before joining The Human League. Callis was educated at the Edinburgh College of Art. The band played many gigs in Edinburgh and Glasgow, during which Callis wore space suits and other hi-tech costumes. He was a member of The Knutsford Dominators before forming The Rezillos in 1976. He wrote the Rezillos’ 1978 hit “Top of the Pops”. In late 1978, after the release of the band’s only album, The Rezillos split in two, with Callis forming Shake along with Simon Templar (born Simon Bloomfield) and Angel Paterson. Shake released two singles before splitting, with Callis later joining Boots for Dancing. Callis released a solo single, “Woah Yeah!”, in 1981 on the pop:Aural label,[2] and also joined The Human League, playing both keyboards and lead guitar and making contributions as a backing vocalist. Callis co-wrote many tracks and following his departure from the band in 1986, he has returned several times either to play keyboard, or to offer help with songwriting. He co-wrote the band’s 1990 hit Heart Like a Wheel together with former Rezillos band mate Eugene Reynolds. The track was produced by Martin Rushent. In 1985 he teamed up with Feargal Sharkey to write Sharkey’s “Loving You” which reached number 26 in the UK Singles Chart.

Now, we know more about the people around The Calloways, but what about the band itself? We really know very little. We know their last names as they are listed on the labels: Gould, Mckenzie, Buck and Farris. They appear alongside the silhouette of a rooster. But that’s it. I tried different combinations on google, with their last name and The Calloways but finding a good hit is impossible. Calloway seem to be a very common last name. There are even bands that have Calloways on their name. It’s definitely complicated.

What happened to this band? Did they record more songs? Are the members the ones portrayed on the artwork? What happened to the members after the band split? Were they Scottish for sure? I would love to know much more about this band. I love their song “Kalamazoo” a lot, I think it should have been a hit with it’s catchy “Mari, mari, marianne” chorus. Indiepop before indiepop existed as such. A perfect pop song.

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Listen
The Calloways – Kalamazoo

04
Jul

4th of July. Independence day. Not much going on here but last week wasn’t shabby at all. I went to two gigs and that’s more than the usual 0 gigs per week average that New York offers me normally. I know, you must be thinking, how come New York, the city that never sleeps, offer so little gig opportunities? Well, there are tons of bands, many venues (though day after day I see more closing down), and gigs of course. Thing is, indiepop is not really represented here. Aside from a handful of indiepop bands based in New York, namely My Favorite, Pale Lights, Gingerlys, there’s not much more. So we wait for bands to come from out of town, from abroad, but then, I don’t think promoters these days want to risk their investment by having some unknown indiepop band here. Capitalism.

But well, promoters weren’t going to cry over losing money by bringing The Stone Roses to play their one and only gig in the US at the Madison Square Garden, here in New York. It was last Thursday when I went for the first time to the Garden. I didn’t pay a lot for the tickets, I didn’t get the tickets to be close and standing by the stage. Instead I thought seating would be enough. I’ve never been to such a big gig. It was sold out. And I was kind of far from the stage, much higher definitely, on a row of only 4 seats. The nice thing was that it had it’s own entrance to a balcony. It was our private area. The band looked small from where we were, but it wasn’t that bad. They sounded great though and even played “Sally Cinnamon”, my favourite of theirs, which I never expected.

The odd thing for me about these sort of concerts is that people go with a friend or friends after their work, and while the band is playing they are talking about their weekend plans, their office colleagues and so on. It’s just so strange! And then, people are having dinner there too! Like eating a pizza and having a coke while being at a gig? That’s weird. I guess this is how most big concerts are, but for me, not used to them, this was an eye opener. I guess when people go see bands like Fleetwood Mac, or Bon Jovi, or whatever boring band that play one of these thousand people venues, the crowd just sits there comfortably, eats, talks, just like if they were at the movies. Definitely not for me.

In any case I enjoyed the experience. It was different, and I really had a good time singing along to many classics like “She Bangs the Drums”, “Elephant Stone”, “Waterfall” and so on. I would also say that there was such a big crowd of English or British ex-pats. Lots of Manchester City and United jerseys and a smell of pot that was unbearable. I guess I arrived a bit late, but the merch that the band brought wasn’t very nice, mostly hooded jumpers. Why not stick to the classic black t-shirt and logo formula that works so well?

And then on Saturday I went to see Fear of Men. They were giving away some song books, just photocopies with lyrics for their songs. I think they were intended for the first 250 people at the door. I don’t think that 250 actually were at the gig, there must have been around 100 or so. Anyhow I got 4 of those booklets, if anyone wants one. Again I wasn’t keen on the merch, I didn’t like their design for their t-shirts sadly, but did buy their last album on CD and a lathe cut transparent square, 7″ with the song “Luna” on it.

I know that many times the band has that hipster sound that puts me off. But when they go all out poppy, they can make a glorious racket. That’s when I enjoy them the most, when I think they are ace.

Also this week I got the “Sharon Signs to Cherry Red” compilation that looks very interesting. So far I’ve heard the first CD, out of two. And to be honest, the bands I didn’t know on it, are not as good as the ones I already knew. Which is a shame, because of course, you want the new ones to discover to be great, or even better. I hope though this changes on the second CD as there are many names that are unknown to me. The good thing about this sort of compilations is definitely that they always come with a booklet and a little story about each band. I think that is what is worth the most, the work put on that. I still think there are many bands that were left out of this compilation that are a bit better than many included, but then, who can please everyone. In any case, even though I really dislike Cherry Red’s business model and guts, this is a fine effort at introducing these bands to a larger public.

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Speaking of that compilation, here’s another song that could have fit nicely in one of the two CDs.

So it seems movie buffs might now that there was an American film called “Final Hour” directed by D. Ross Lederman. That I didn’t know. Then I don’t know if this is why this obscure band from England decided to name themselves like that.

There’s almost nothing about Final Hour online. They are as obscure as they can be. I only know one song by them, the one you’ll hear here called “Friends”. This song comes from a rare compilation, that I’ve been hunting with no luck so far. This compilation, titled “Thames Side Story” was released by the Local Scene label in 1985 (catalog LS-D001) and included a plethora of amazing indiepop from the likes of The Bridge, The Liquid Laundry, The Shirt, Rubarb Rubarb, among others.
It’s a shame that online I couldn’t find a good scan of the back cover where the members of the bands are listed. I could only figure out that on The Final Hour we have Bell doing vocals, Mark Willis playing guitar and Steve Lester on bass. The rest of the band I don’t know sadly.

Another interesting fact is that the record label was run by Gary Smith and Doug Wells and it is said that at the time they could be contacted in various pubs in the area. The cover design for this compilation is credited to a Paul Adams.

I can’t find anything else online. Perhaps I found a Steve Lester that with his band released an album called The Final Hour. There’s that coincidence, but doesn’t sound similar to the band from the 80s. What do you think? Aside from that, I read on an eBay listing, that the Final Hour usually had a male vocalist instead. I don’t know any other recordings by the band, but could that be the case?

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Listen
Final Hour – Friends