17
Dec

Definitely this has been a quiet year for indiepop. When I was answering the Twee.net poll about the best of indiepop of 2014, I barely had answers for any of the fields. There have been a bunch of good records, I won’t argue that. But I think they’ve been so few. So few. And most importantly I think there was a lack of new bands, new talent, new blood, in the scene, that have made it feel stagnant.

This 2014 is the total opposite of 2006, the year many things changed for me in indiepop. That was a year full of new bands, of new discoveries. I know many times I reminisce about that time, when Myspace reigned supreme for music. I still had my blog, Mira el Péndulo, it hasn’t been hacked yet. It was a year of new making new friends, break ups, and novel experiences. In the real world, parallel to mine, 2006 marked the 20th anniversary of C86. I had the brilliant idea then, as I’ve mentioned before in this blog, to put together a tape called C-06. That’s when the snowball Cloudberry started.

This cassette included a bunch of up and coming bands. One of them was Slow Down Tallahassee, a band that we won’t be lucky to see reunited no more.

I’ve been meaning to dedicate a piece to them since the news of some months ago, because even if I wasn’t close with them, it affected me a lot. Here was one of the first bands ever that trusted me, and one of the first bands that I knew I had to release. They were talented, fresh, sure about themselves, and cool as f•ck.

As many stories I have, I met them through Myspace. I used to spend hours searching for bands. I loved that there was this option where you could search by influence. I must have searched for the “Shop Assistants”, when a band with a strange name appeared. A band from Sheffield with a name that nodded to Florida. At that time I was living in Florida, so it came as a surprise. Why would any band call themselves anything with Tallahassee? It’s not like it’s a fun town I thought. There was a profile photo of three girls and three songs. I remember one of them was U R Grace U R. And it wasn’t the version you know. It was a very lo-fi recording, much noisier, less crisp. It sounded out of an 80s tape, like a long lost recording of the Sohfas or the Wilderness Children. I was in love. Immediately.

They hadn’t released anything by that time. These were their first recordings. I asked if they wanted to participate in this tape I was putting together. I think I had this prepared text where I explained what this C-06 was going to be about. I must have forwarded them that too. And they said yes. I was very happy. I asked for U R Grace U R. And I was going to have it.

I was looking at Discogs and it says that the Sheffield Phonographic Corporation released their first 7″ in 2006. I think that’s wrong. It was 2007. The tape was out in December 2006 and I’m pretty sure there was no release yet. In any case, yes, they put out this first 7″ but before that, and I’m very sure of this too (though my memory is playing tricks on me), I had release the 3″ on Cloudberry.

This was the 10th release in the 3″ series. Again, Slow Down Tallahassee were so easy to work with. So friendly. They gave me three songs, “So Much for Love”, “U R Grace U R” and “Candy”. This were newer recordings and sounded much crisper than their previous demos on Myspace. The A side, “So Much for Love”, was/is such a cracking indiepop song.

This wasn’t the last time we worked together. It was 2007. I kept in touch for a bit. The song “Down the Alleyway” was included in the Thrilled to Bits 3″ compilation. This was a very special EP as it was a Cloudberry gig in the UK, with Horowitz, The Parallelograms, and Slow Down Tallahassee on the bill. I remember I chose this song before their first album came out. They sent me a CDR with a handwritten tracklist of their album and told me, just pick any song, the one I like the most, and use it. Such friendly gestures, such trusting gestures, are so hard to come by.

They kept releasing some records on the Sheffield Corporation, who sadly didn’t behave very nicely with me, but that’s another story. What’s important is that Slow Down Tallahassee kept putting put amazing songs out. They recorded a handful of promo videos too. Sadly there’s not many live footage of them. And I say that because I never got to see them live. Never. Now I regret that. They didn’t play Indietracks or London Popfest after I started traveling to Europe, after I graduated and had a proper job.

I didn’t meet the band either. Just Claire, when she was playing drums for the Parallelograms that year that they were announced at last minute. That was just luck. Pure luck. It was my highlight for that year’s Indietracks (I’m sure that I’ve mentioned before in the blog too). It was such a beautiful gig. I remember clearly the atmosphere at the church, it was giddy, and boiling, and everything felt so right. It was were everyone there belonged to be at the moment. I’m so glad the band that canceled or couldn’t play or whatever wasn’t there.

I met the Parallelograms for the first time ever after the show. And I was introduced to Claire too. We spoke just a little, not too much. Maybe 5 minutes at the most. I thanked her for Slow Down Tallahassee. Asked her about what was coming next, any other recordings, and so on. It was a lovely meeting, and we even took that photo together with my friend Andrew from The Felt Tips.

We lost touch even though we were friends on Facebook. I didn’t know much of her musical adventures. Until a year ago when I was put in touch with The Nature Set thanks to a friend, Andrew (another Andrew). The band sent me their 7″ and some CDRs with unreleased songs. I sent them some records in exchange. I didn’t know Claire was in the band until I saw the photo on the 7″ cover. And it made me so glad that she was still making music after Slow Down Tallahassee. I had before listened to another project of hers, Bon Bon Club, and now this. You could tell she was very talented and had this energy to start all these different music projects. By the way, I don’t know how many instruments she played but, I saw her drumming for the Parallelograms, and I’m pretty sure she played guitars for Slow Down Tallahasse. And I can’t even play one instrument right.

The news shocked me a couple of months ago. It was definitely unexpected.  Slow Down Tallahassee was a band that helped me build this label. It was a band that made me believe in a scene, they were just so nice, so trustful and most importantly, passionate. On top of that you can add that they had good taste, good influences, and knew their stuff. And they were passionate. They were indeed a beautiful light.

I’m sure this has been a hard year, and I know I’m late, I was a bit shy as I wasn’t close to express my feelings. I’m very sorry. I wish the family strength.

I will miss your music. Because you made so many songs that were important to me. You made songs that were totally indiepop hits too. I wish I had seen you play live. I wish we could have talked a bit longer that Indietracks. I wish I had released more records by your bands too. They were all so excellent. I can only say thank you so many times.

Thank you.

rest in peace.

12
Nov

The last few days there’s been an interesting debate on the facebook group Indiepop Shop Talk about a post Xanthi wrote on her blog Songs for Girls to Sing. After seeing the results of a survey (that I will go over in a bit), she expressed this:
I’ve been meaning to put forth this theory for sometime now and this kinda confirmed it (check the ratio of people who have been fans of indie pop music for 20+ years). It’s a theory I came up with whilst following what is happening in this indiepop schtik all these years: that in fact, the indiepop scene, community, clique or whatever you want to call it is largely sustained and driven by people who are in their 40+ years.

I agree with this. Will even say that this is a theory but a fact. But let me go step by step so I can explain what’s going on.

A week or so ago on the indiepop-list a nice chap by the name of Brian asked the listees if they could participate in a survey he was doing for a research paper. He is studying for his Masters degree in Library Information Science. He said that he was trying to collect data so he could write about the indiepop community, with a focus on how people get exposed to new music these days.

I participated answering the questions. Other 99 people did too. I guess 100 is the limit for the free SurveyMonkey service? It doesn’t matter. It’s a small number, that is true, but it’s significant. How many people are really into indiepop? Arguably some 3000 in the world? So 100 is still not such a small number.

It’s from the results, which you can see here, that Xanthi proposes the theory. From the results we see that almost 40% that answered the interview say that they’ve been fans for 20+ years. This will mean that more or less the big group into indiepop goes from 35 years and older.

This would be no surprise to anyone that attends festivals or gigs. You can see this. I never minded this, but some people get annoyed by it.

90% of the respondents wrote that they support the scene by buying records and going to shows. The remaining percent is a big question mark. I think if tt 10% is not doing this then definitely they are not supporting the scene in any way possible.

Vinyl seems to be the number one format choice. Yes, people love vinyl more than anything, but still CDs sell better.

There are a bunch of interesting results there, though I find the more surprising one the one that says more people use Myspace to find bands. Seriously? Who uses Myspace these days?!

Anyways, on the Indiepop Shop Talk, there are people that have said that this is not true, that express:
” are making the music as well, starting labels as well, and building scenes as well. The emphasis on “40 yr olds” as those who have expendable income is also a bit meh as I had much more expendable income as a student because I didn’t have a mortgage, or other mouths to feed than my own. I could drop money on records and just put off lunch, and I often did.”

When I read things like this I wonder if seriously whoever wrote this is actually knowledgeable of the indiepop scene. I wonder what kids this person talks about? Which kids are organizing labels? Or gigs? Or festivals? Perhaps in other scenes this might be true. Maybe there they are proactive and creative and all that. But in the indiepop scene? It’s not true. At least not yet.

I won’t go into his expendable income argument as it’s pretty obvious a 40 year old should, generally speaking, make and live more comfortably than a 20 year old. But let’s talk about indiepop. Right?

I agree in one point with this person. The youngsters are making music. But the older guys too. The Orchids are still penning beautiful songs, The Hit Parade too. Then you have The Spook School, young and full of life, or Flowers, making beautiful noise. I think when it comes to music there’s a 50/50 thing going on.

There was one post that I really liked and I think sums up what the “kids” are up to:
“I’m also not so sure kids want to be limited in one “scene” these days. Most of the people I know in between 15-20 are way more eclectic than I was at the same age. They’re gonna listen to Rihanna, French Films, Thee o sees, Kurt Vile and The Field Mice, but they don’t really care about who belongs where. I tend to think they just want to build their private own musical utopia.”

This is dead on. And you can also see it when you see gig lineups for many of these younger bands. They just don’t mind. They don’t want to be part of one scene.

In the end, I think the main idea behind Xanthi’s post is that of pointing out that we do need a new generation to step up. I’ve been writing about this for years now. A new generation that organizes gigs, release records, and bring new ideas to make the scene fresher and more exciting. I think age in the end doesn’t matter, but it would be great if this great scene keeps going strong for many years to come.

And yes, I’m under 40. And I don’t mind accepting that they are the ones who keep supporting the scene in a way or another. And I’m very thankful to them.

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Charlot may refer to:

+ Charlot, son of Charlemagne in the Matter of France
+ Charlot Byj (died 1983), American artist
+ Charlot Kaské (18th century), Shawnee war chief
+ Jean Charlot (1898–1979) French-Mexican painter and illustrator
+ Charlot, the French, Portuguese, Spanish and Italian name for Charlie Chaplin’s character The Tramp
+ Charlot, the name of a high spec Bicycle maker in Paris in the first half of the 20th century

I was looking into some old CDs on my Benno shelves. I have a section just for the slim cardboard CD singles (or albums) that is a bit of a mess. They don’t have a spine so it takes forever to find anything.

Among those CDs there’s one by the Charlots on Firestation Records. So I played it.

This make me look into their other releases. I was aware for a long time of their other single, a 7″, but I had no idea they had released an album! So now, I have to look into getting it! Anyways, let’s go discover this obscure band from the 90s!

Online I found on a Swedish blog a small biography of the band. So let’s start there:

Charlots was a Swedish pop band formed in Stockholm in 1994. The members were Per Lindén (Guitars), Love Eklund (Synthesizers), Sofie Sörman (Vocals), Mattias Carlsson (Drums) and Sven Granath (Bass). On their first single Lars Antonsson played drums, and Roger Kallin bass. Love and Sofie were schoolmates at the musician program at Södra Latin’s High school, and Sofie was at the same time singing in another band, Ridis, formed by some other schoolmates as a school project. Like many other Swedish pop bands in the 1990s, Charlots released records only in Japan and Germany. Nevertheless, they also climbed the charts in former Yugoslavia.

Today Sofie lives in Paris, where she is involved in various projects, performing and recording music. On her Myspace page she presents mostly jazz music. Love lives in London, and runs mrlove.org – a website about his impressive collection of Depeche Mode records.

A quick visit to Love’s page I notice he has been updating his Depeche Mode collection recently. Is he still making music in England? I wonder. Then another visit to Sofie’s Myspace. There are a bunch of songs taken from three albums “Hidden Space”, “Ripples” and “Defrost”. Definitely not indiepop but more into jazzy sounds. Quite nice still! Seems the last update on this Myspace account happened early in 2013.

Let’s get back to their records then. Almost 20 years ago. 1995. That’s when they released their first 7″ on the fabulous Japanese label Motorway Records (catalog MOTOR 009). There were three songs included, “Even If I Like You” (the sole A side), “Rocky Boy” and “Summertime Affairs”. The photo on the sleeve came thanks to Annette Samuelsson. The record was produced, recorded and mixed by J.A. Novak, who was part of Cinnamon (I love this band). And yes, you can see some similarities between both bands. Also it’s good to mention that Per participated in some of the Cinnamon releases too!

Their last  release was the one I was talking about, the one on Firestation Records. This one came in 1998 and was one of the first releases on the Berlin-based label (catalog FST 004). This CD included four songs, “Always Someone Else”, “Playboy”, “Night People” and “The Painter”.

In between these two releases, in 1997, their album came out. I had no clue until today that it existed. It was only released in Japan on the L’Appareil Photo label (catalog PHOTO 14). This label also had Japanese releases for Momus, Stereo Total, Saint Etienne and more. It seems you can find a used copy for a fair price on Amazon.

And that’s more or less when I lose their track. There’s not much more written about them online. And aside from Sofie, I don’t know if the rest of the band continued making music. Also would love to know and listen if they had any other musical projects before or during Charlots. Or if they have any unreleased songs? Does anyone know?

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Listen
Charlots – Even if I Like You

07
Aug

I have so many mixed feelings after coming back from Indietracks. I had a good time as I always do. There’s no better place for indiepop. That’s a given. I get to see all my friends and spend with them so much time in the beautiful Midland Railway Centre. We get to drink warm beers, sometimes with ice on it, and sit for hours in the stationary train next to the shed. We have greasy hamburgers from the immortal lady or badly wrapped burritos, or even curry from our friend Brian and Heather. And we eat dust to wake up with our noses full of black matter. All in all, it’s a good time, isn’t it?

The problem is the music, that’s the only problem. Everything else is just plain perfect. You know, as I said lines above, I can put up with having to drink warm cans of beer even though it doesn’t refresh you at all in a hot summer day. I can put up with kids playing football and creating a whole dust storm to everyone that is trying to enjoy The Popguns. Even dancing in the marquee among another dust storm I can take it. That the festival has to stop at midnight and can’t continue unless you have to pay 5 pounds to get into the beautiful campsite, well that’s ok too of course. But having 6 to 7 good bands out of 50 or something, is a bit too much. That’s why I’ve decided to take a break.

Yes, a lot of people at the festival were telling me that of course they’ll see me next year, that I’m just talking like this now but I’ll change my mind. And hey, believe me I wish they were right. I actually feel like going. But it’s way too expensive to fly in the summer to the UK and get to a festival were all my expenses don’t make it worth it. I remember years were I barely had any time to talk to friends, that I had to run from stage to stage not to miss a band. Years were I collected 10 or more setlists from bands compared to the meager 5 from this year. Of course it’s pretty nice to have extra time to spend walking around, catching up, being at the merch tables promoting the label, but I didn’t travel this far to not see some exciting new bands. Right?

As I said it’s a bit of a catch 22 this year’s Indietracks. I have a blast, I love being there, but I feel this is not the same festival I used to go. Even I took less photos this year. I bought less records too. I did enjoy a lot going back to the Alfreton Travelodge, definitely the hotel to be for me. Great conversations late at night, great friends to go out for breakfast in the morning too. And the Tesco being close by is perfect. Or Matloob procuring beers from the convenience store at the gas station from his Punjabi friend late at night. Those sort of things are what make me feel like I can’t miss my sixth Indietracks next year. But I think it all comes dome to priorities and seeing I was perhaps the only person from the US there this year (right?), I think I’m a bit nuts to keep going when only got to see 3 or 4 bands I’ve never seen before. That’s way too little. Especially when the UK still produces a lot of quality indiepop.

I’ve been previously critical of Indietracks about the bands they’ve been booking. I’m not blind and I did see less people in the crowd this year. Of course these sort of things go in cycles. Probably next year it will be packed, who knows. This year may have been a bit of a transition period, with some members of the organization leaving. Could be. I’m not going to judge that, they know best if that was the case. I did ask one of the organizers why was Gruff Rhys booked. The answer was “because I love him, he is great”. Yeah well, I was looking for another kind of answer. I guess that motto “an indiepop festival” is a bit forgotten.

I sent interview questions to team Indietracks before the festival. Sadly I didn’t get answers for them. I asked many questions that would have cleared up many of the doubts I had for this year organization.

All I’m saying is, and I don’t want to get deeper on this topic because there’s a lot of people that get very susceptible to any criticism is that Indietracks is the best festival for indiepop. The atmosphere is fantastic, the food options every year get better (though still no sign of the roast pork), and all the friends that come make up for a fabulous time. But the bands, come on. This was a festival that used to showcase small and up and coming bands back in the day. It celebrated a scene. It introduced me to so many new bands and also let me get to catch bands that would never cross the Atlantic. It was special what the organizers did, even bringing back classic bands like Friends or the McTells back to life. Where did all that energy, ideas, hope and good taste go? I don’t know.

Next week I’ll go over the festival, the anecdotes, and the bands I loved. I just wanted to explain why I’ve been saying why I won’t go next year. If it was a 100-200 dollar flight, as it it’s from many places in Europe, I would definitely repeat. But 1300 dollars flight, to get to see 6 or 7 indiepop bands, 3 or 4 I’ve never seen before, well, it doesn’t make any sense. I’ll be jealous of everyone going next year because it’s impossible not to have a good time, even if the quality keeps going down. Anyways, see you next week!

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This week’s obscure band comes from a tape called “A Prospect of the Sea”. I heard about this band from Heinz’s Youtube channel. It seems this happens often. Heinz has a fantastic collection and top taste. Heinz, you should organize Hamburg Popfest!

The band was called Kindergarten. The song I heard was Jellybelly. This song was the 8th on the B-side of this tape that was released in 1991. The label seems to be Cloud Production, the catalog number was “Smile 3”. Question for everyone out there reading. What was Smile 1 and 2? Was there a number 4?

There was also another song included by Kindergarten in this tape. On the A side, track number 14 is “Everything You Do”. I haven’t had the chance to listen to this one but if it’s anything like “Jellybelly”, well, I will like it!

The song is a classic slice of 80s indiepop, in the vein of The Fat Tulips or The Penny Candles, though the sound is much rougher, like of a very flimsy flexi single. Could be the quality of the tape too. It does sound like taken from a demo tape. Boy/Girl vocals, catchy choruses, and nice jangly guitars. It reminds me a lot of another band I’ve featured here. Heaven’s Above. It’s no surprise then that they also appear on this tape.

Yes, it’s a tape done with a lot of good taste. In it you can find bands like The Suncharms, The Lovelies, They Go Boom!!, Dreamscape, Saturn V, The Sweetest Ache, White Town and more. Even Heavenly is in it! Pretty classic lineup!

But there are a couple of obscure bands too like this one. For example I have no clue about Gyroscopes, Poem by Rachel, Howard, Cradleyard, Huckleberry Pie or Spectral Alice. Seems I should investigate!

But now, let’s try to find answers and more information about Kindergarten. Who can help?!

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Listen
Kindergarten – Jellybelly

03
Apr

Last week an unprecedented pike of messages in the indiepop-list happened. You know, it’s usually so quiet. Nothing ever happens there. An email conversation going by the subject “Anyone up for a book burning?” had everyone giving their opinion about the announcement of a new book called: “Twee: The Gentle Revolution”.

99% of the people were totally up for the book burning. No one felt that this was going to be a good book. The other 1% were either cowardly asking not to have ‘bad’ feelings about it and instead think of other things that can give you “good” feelings, or asked to wait until we get the chance to read the book.

The book is not out yet. It will be out on June 3rd. So we are mostly supposing things at the moment, but we can figure a thing or two from the book description at the publisher’s Harper and Collins site:

New York Times, Spin, and Vanity Fair contributor Marc Spitz explores the first great cultural movement since Hip Hop: an old-fashioned and yet highly modern aesthetic that’s embraced internationally by teens, twenty and thirty-somethings and even some Baby Boomers; creating hybrid generation known as Twee. Via exclusive interviews and years of research, Spitz traces Generation Twee’s roots from the Post War 50s to its dominance in popular culture today.

Vampire Weekend, Garden State, Miranda July, Belle and Sebastian, Wes Anderson, Mumblecore, McSweeney’s, Morrissey, beards, artisanal pickles, food trucks, crocheted owls on Etsy, ukuleles, kittens and Zooey Deschanel—all are examples of a cultural aesthetic of calculated precocity known as Twee.

In Twee, journalist and cultural observer Marc Spitz surveys the rising Twee movement in music, art, film, fashion, food and politics and examines the cross-pollinated generation that embodies it—from aging hipsters to nerd girls, indie snobs to idealistic industrialists. Spitz outlines the history of twee—the first strong, diverse, and wildly influential youth movement since Punk in the ’70s and Hip Hop in the ’80s—showing how awkward glamour and fierce independence has become part of the zeitgeist.

Focusing on its origins and hallmarks, he charts the rise of this trend from its forefathers like Disney, Salinger, Plath, Seuss, Sendak, Blume and Jonathan Richman to its underground roots in the post-punk United Kingdom, through the late’80s and early ’90s of K Records, Whit Stillman, Nirvana, Wes Anderson, Pitchfork, This American Life, and Belle and Sebastian, to the current (and sometimes polarizing) appeal of Girls, Arcade Fire, Rookie magazine, and hellogiggles.com.

Revealing a movement defined by passionate fandom, bespoke tastes, a rebellious lack of irony or swagger, the championing of the underdog, and the vanquishing of bullies, Spitz uncovers the secrets of modern youth culture: how Twee became pervasive, why it has so many haters and where, in a post-Portlandia world, can it go from here?

The author of the book is called Mark Spitz. I haven’t read anything by him so I have no clue if he is a good writer or a bad writer. A bad researcher he definitely is though and I will tell you why (especially after this feature in Salon magazine).

But let me stop here first. What about the term Twee. Sure I hate it. I’ve never liked as it entails making indiepop a synonym of the word inoffensive. I truly don’t believe that. BUT at the same time I understand and accept that it’s a term that for most of us, Twee.net might be the best example, that twee in the end means indiepop, C86, p!o!p!, neo-aco, or however you want to call it. We all know, even if we don’t like the word, that twee is indiepop. Or at least, a sort of sub-category within indiepop. Can we agree on that?

Sure the term has been in existence longer than indiepop has existed. But it’s use was also almost non-existent in the English language. Maybe they used it to name Tweety bird. Who knows. But I can’t think of many examples. It’s rise as a word to describe something has to do with our music in the late 80s. It was mostly a term to dismiss the cutesy bands of the indiepop spectrum. I believe it was after 1994, when the Sha La La list was functioning and Twee.net was already established that the word gained power. And it was especially used to tag those small bands that were appearing in the US in the mid 90s like say The Receptionists or even Tullycraft, bands that had a sweeter, funnier, and cheekier approach.

So explain me then what does Arcade Fire has to do with anything of this? Sure they had one release in Asaurus, but that wasn’t a proper indiepop record. They released some, but in general it was pretty eclectic. What does Nirvana has to do with it? They championed The Vaselines, but does they make them a big part? Maybe a little footnote perhaps, and even so.

It’s mentioned that it’s the first great cultural movement since hip hop. This might not be liked by many that read me, but I don’t think hip hop has anything to add to culture. If there’s a culture surrounding it, it’s a terrible culture and I feel uneasy with even mentioning hip hop and twee in the same paragraph. There’s no comparison of the values of one and the other music genres.

Generation Twee has it’s roots in the 50s. That’s a very strange claim. I guess I’ll wait for the book to read what’s his point about this. But it does seem farfetched. I can see some late 70s groups influences in it, like The Buzzcocks, but all the way from the 50s? Perhaps some sort of aesthetics? Morrissey’s quiff? It feels like he is just inventing something here that has nothing to do with our beloved indiepop.

I love this phrase: an old-fashioned and yet highly modern aesthetic that’s embraced internationally by teens, twenty and thirty-somethings and even some Baby Boomers. I love it especially because I have no clue what they are trying to say. Should we be surprised that people in general, no matter the age, like some sort of music? Is our indiepop that terrible? Or what? I don’t get it.

Then there’s that list of “influences” or perhaps “examples of what Twee is. From that list I only like Morrissey and a bit of Belle & Sebastian. Zooey Deschanel can be pretty ok. But that does make her indiepop? That’s really stupid. I like one movie by Mirand July, her latest was very mediocre, but were her movies indiepop? No. Wes Anderson is very overrated. I think he is among the most pretentious and vacuous directors out there, but who cares what I think, are his movies indiepop? Do they show indiepop values? Again, no. I really don’t have to deal with Vampire Weekend, or even beards, right? I don’t remember Edwyn Collins sporting a beard. Or Davey Woodward doing so. Which indiepop stalwart sported a beard? Maybe he is confusing lumberjacks with musicians. Poor research. Again.

Then of course there’s the issue of ukuleles and kittens. This requires a long post. I dislike both. But a big part of the indiepop fandom loves them. So I’ll leave it like that for now. I guess he has a point about this. I can understand kittens in a way, they’ve been in so many jacket sleeves, but ukuleles? That’s only for the most terrible bands out there and thankfully I can only count with my fingers the bands that say make indiepop with an ukulele. Etsy, crocheted owls, food trucks, artisanal pickles, McSweeney’s, honestly I don’t see any connection at all. Maybe he is playing a game of six degrees of separation?

Twee movement in music, art, film, fashion, food and politics. Damn. I WISH! I dream of someone making an indiepop film. I know the Sarah documentary is coming up, and there has been a couple too like BMX Bandits documentary or the great Dolly Mixture one. But not really a feature film yet. That’d be something. Indiepop music sure. Indiepop politics. Yeah that exists too. Indiepop art? Mmm if you consider the art of the records, perhaps, I can be ok with saying that that exists. Indiepop fashion? I guess there are sort of looks people go for. Though I tell you, I’ve seen some people with mohawks or piercings all over their body following indiepop concerts and not missing any day of an indiepop festival. But I can see someone saying there’s a sort of fashion. But what about saying that there’s indiepop influence in food. You have to be quite stupid to make such a claim. What’s an indiepop food? Marmite because there was a band called The Marmite Sisters? Doesn’t make any sense.

And then they say: and examines the cross-pollinated generation that embodies it—from aging hipsters to nerd girls, indie snobs to idealistic industrialists. Really? Again? Do we need to break down people this way? Clearly he hasn’t gotten what indiepop is. Indiepop is not like this. We are all equal. Bands can be fans, and fans can be bands. Fanzine writers can run a label, a label person can write a fanzine. Everyone does everything, it’s all about democracy and equality. And we don’t like hipsters or snobs or yuppies. Just for your information Harper and Collins.

Then they tell us that Disney and Dr Seuss are origins of indiepop/twee. It’s the twilight zone, isn’t it? I start to worry if the book will really be exactly what this book description is. What will happen to those reading this book and have really no clue what indiepop is. This is creating a caricature of all of us, and a bad one, one that is not close to reality. The only right part of it is a line that says “to its underground roots in the post-punk United Kingdom“. But one line among a lot of crap? Even mentioned my favourite Whit Stillman doesn’t help. I love his films, and I hold them dear, but to say he is indiepop! Or what about mentioning Pitchfork? For f*ck sake, they are all that indiepop isn’t!!! Its’s like the nemesis! They champion everything else but indiepop. They do it all for money, not for the kids, even less for the music. And indiepop is not about the money. Anyone involved in it knows that. If we break even we are already more than happy.

Then the last paragraph is a bit more accurate when they mention: “Revealing a movement defined by passionate fandom, bespoke tastes, a rebellious lack of irony or swagger, the championing of the underdog, and the vanquishing of bullies“, though I strongly disagree when they say there’s a lack of irony. That’s tremendously wrong. I think there’s so much irony, so much wit in indiepop, that we could give away to other genres that lack of intelligence. Perhaps these people don’t care about lyrics. I’ve met some like that in my life. Boring and uninteresting people.

Twee became pervasive? Not really. It’s a very small scene. A little pocket that no one really cares about, only us in it care about it. It has many haters? I haven’t met any. I only meet people that have no clue what indiepop is and give me a hard time explaining them what it is. So yeah, all wrong.

Then there’s this on the Salon feature:
“Tweens?”
“No. Twee.”
“I don’t know what that is.”
“You know! Everything happening in Brooklyn.”
“Hipsters?”
“No, Twees. It’s a movement!”

I go to Brooklyn often for drinks, to party, etc. I have never met anyone that knows about indiepop or twee. I’ve never seen anyone sporting an indiepop badge/pin. Or even a t-shirt. I believe the author lives in NYC, somewhere in the five boroughs, most possibly Brooklyn. I’m very surprised he would make this claim. Because even a The Smiths t-shirt is kind of rare in Brooklyn. I think the ones I see the most these days are Black Flag t-shirts if you are wondering. And yes, Im very observant.

Anyhow, to dissect that interview would maybe require another post, as it is a big joke to twee/indiepop. So I’ll get on that on my next post, on part 2.

The question for now is, if this is just a book description to catch people’s attention, to get sales, or is the book really like this? That’s the answer I’m looking for. I guess we’ll have to wait until it’s published! Let’s see how much it will be hurting our indiepop scene,how many will jump in the bandwagon, and how many ‘haters’ (at last) it will create of indiepop?

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Now into the obscure band of the week: The Clamber. Though it’s surprising that someone has uploaded to SoundCloud the song “Choose The Way”.

Clamber: an awkward and laborious climb or movement.

More like a laborious climb to find out who this band was!

That song was the A side of their one and only 7″ released sometime during the mid 80s. A British band most definitely as on the back sleeve we can clearly read Basildon, Essex. The only other information on the back is that the record was produced by both The Clamber and D.J.M. entertainment. The sleeve was designed by Mark Molloy.

Aside from those credits we do know that the B side was “Everywhere You Go” and that the release was the first one in the catalog of Clamber Records. So definitely a private release. Some descriptions I found online of previous listings on eBay say: “Somewhere between Friday Club, early Style Council, Ala Pana Fuzo and Where The Hell Does Jane Smith Think She Is.” Definitely on the right track. I can guess that this description must have written by the great Uwe at Firestation Records! The only other clue we get is from the center label of the record. It credits both songs to a K. Boardman.

Aside from that, there’s nothing else online about the band. Listening to “Choose The Way” one ends up wanting to know more, to research them properly, find out what happened to the band, who were the members, and how can one find a copy of it, with a sleeve (as it seems the sleeves are rare too!). It’s a great track obviously. The trumpets. How can I be won by trumpets!!! Catchy, classy, elegant. The kind of record I love! Check it out!

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Listen
The Clamber – Choose The Way

19
Mar

– EDIT –
I’ve just been told that there is no-repeat policy at Indietracks. Later in this blog post I go babbling about it, so forgive me. From Indietracks Twitter I got this: “We don’t have a no-repeat policy, all we say is that we don’t book bands two years in a row :)” . So everyone out there forgive me, I have misunderstood when I go on and on about this policy. I was totally sure it existed, but it’s clear for me now, through official channels even(!) that this rule doesn’t exist.

Hello my dearest indiepop fans of the world. Not the nicest, not the prettiest, not the smartest, but my favourite people nonetheless? haha. After last week review of New York Popfest lineup I think it only makes sense to check out the bands that have been announced to play Indietracks. So let’s do that.

I remember I woke up. Kind of late. 11am. I turn on the computer and I see a friend that has posted the lineup. Then I write a post about it on my facebook. So far, all so natural, right? Thing is, I was leaking the news. I had announced some of the bands 3 or 4 hours before the official announcement. What had happened? It seems people that are involved in press or have a blog (but not me of course) or have a zine (not me either) got the news beforehand. I guess so they could prepare a post or an article for when the time came after the announcements. The news was embargoed until 7:00pm GMT. I guess my friend didn’t notice immediately about this fact and had made it public. Of course he noticed afterwards but it was too late, I had already noticed the whole lineup before he had the chance to delete his post.

My complain was, “Allo Darlin’ again?”. My excitement came for The Popguns! I had wanted to see them last year. I was happy to have met their drummer as he was at Indietracks drumming for his other band, The Fireworks. I took a photo. Good fan. This year it has to be with the whole band of course. But what about Allo Darlin’? Sure, I’m not a fan, but that doesn’t mean that I can be objective and say that Indietracks goers love the band. I understand that. The thing is, Indietracks boasts a no-repeat policy. I know they’ve broken this policy before with The Smittens (who knows why, but they did), and well, they are doing it again. Isn’t this the third time Allo Darlin’ is playing? I don’t know anymore. For me this is a bit annoying because this in fact takes a space that another band, that has never played, could have taken. Right? I’m not into conspiracy theories, but, some people gain benefit by shifting records of their bands at this festival. I leave the thought there…

The March 10th announcement read like this:

Gruff Rhys, Allo Darlin’, Dean Wareham, Rocketship and Withered Hand are among the bands playing this year’s Indietracks Festival, held on 25-27 July at the Midland Railway in Derbyshire.

Also playing Indietracks this year will be Spearmint, The Spook School, The Popguns, Sweet Baboo, Let’s Wrestle, The Very Most, Franny and Zooey, The Wellgreen, Night Flowers, ONSIND, The Blue Minkies, The Yawns, Thee AHs and Lost Tapes.

Cheaper early bird tickets are available until 11 May. There’s full details about today’s announcement here: http://www.indietracks.co.uk/?p=757

We’ll announce lots more bands shortly!

I wish I was less critical sometimes. But seriously? Gruff Rhys? Doesn’t he play other big festivals in UK? Isn’t he something else other than indiepop? Are we to repeat the fiasco of Herman Dune some years ago? Questions abound. I guess the idea behind is to bring new people to the festival, to make some more money (though as far as I understood, the festival wasn’t losing money).

An anonymous friend tells me that perhaps it has to do that the organizers know there is a very loyal crowd that will always come, so they stopped catering and caring for them. I doubt that. I do think the organizers are not like that at all. I just think they are branching out, being naive perhaps. I wouldn’t think they have Machiavellian intentions. I myself think the next wave of announcements will leave all criticism behind, that they will announce the better bands. They just needed to have some bigger names on this first announcement so the press part got rolling.  I trust them.

Dean Wareham is a surprise indeed. I’m not sure how are his shows. Galaxie 500 is definitely a cool band. I’m not going to argue against that. But will Dean play some of his old songs? Perhaps. Will Dean sound poppy enough? Who knows. I think he is fitted for the church venue. But as a headliner, perhaps he won’t. We’ll see. I will definitely skip this one too.

Rocketship. The first band that is repeating from NYC Popfest. So here’s the deal. If I see a great gig at NYC Popfest, I’ll be front row at Indietracks. I already expressed my excitement and my doubts about them. Half of Rocketship material is legendary. The other half is un-listenable. In any case, I find it a true success to get the band over the Atlantic. How many legendary US bands get to play the UK many years after their heyday?! Now… here’s an idea that just occurred to me. Doesn’t one of the Holiday guys live in London? Why not reunite them too. That is a band I’d DIE to see!

Withered Hand. Not indiepop. Don’t care. Didn’t he play some London Popfest? I think I was louder than him singing with a microphone. Ugh.

Spearmint! Second band to repeat! Damn. It seems I’m jinxed. Maybe it was a bad idea to attend both festivals! I trust that Spearmint will be great, glorious, poppy, everything I love about them, all of that, they will make it in real life. As I said on my previous post, this band I won’t be missing. Please, main stage for them.

The Spook School. Third band to repeat from NYC Popfest! They repeat Indietracks too after two years? I love Spook School, I love the band, I love the songs, I love everything about them. Not that keen about the no-repeat policy thing to be ignored though I have to admit. Even though I want to see them again, a thousand times. But to put them in the league of Smittens or Allo Darlin, that was not cool. They are better, and more exciting than that. Nevertheless there’s no going back. Count me in for seeing them at the main stage.

The Popguns. This makes me the happiest. As I said lines above I’m very much looking forward to one of the best indiepop bands from the 80s. From what my French friends that got to see them in Paris I know they won’t disappoint. I hear they sound as thrilling as ever. I can’t wait. Front row. Photo with the band. Buying all merch. Support 100%!

Sweet Baboo. Let’s Wrestle. The Wellgreen. The Yawns. ONSIND. Better skip them.

Franny & Zooey. Fourth band that repeats NYC Popfest. Though this makes me happy! First Latin American band to play Indietracks. Who would have thought! I wouldn’t have. Me coming originally from South America, I would have never thought that it would be a Dominican band, and not a Brazilian or Mexican band, the first to play Indietracks. An achievement!

Thee Ahs. New record coming out soon. A fun gig last year at NYC Popfest. The Canadian band is a treat. Who can forget Sarah’s white t-shirt with a bikini printed on it. A classic of last years. Lots of fun, raucous pop. Hope they haven’t “matured” their sound!

Lost Tapes. Fifth band that repeats! That’s already five bands! That would make a whole festival day at any other festival. Oh well. For me this is great news though, as the band will be able to keep selling and promoting the 7″ we put out earlier this year. For me, one of the best new bands out there at the moment, and I’ll finally see them for the first time this Sunday! I’ll let you know how that goes!

The Blue Minkies. Here I have to make a stop. MANY THANKS to MARIANTHI for this band. I may be wrong, but I only know two Blue Minkies fans in the world. Marianthi and Daniel So Tough So Cute. This must have been Marianthi booking them or suggesting them, or something. I’m eternally thankful. This is like the rare treat. Like that time that Dorotea reformed. I’m very happy, so thrilled, that this will be one of the one bands that I won’t miss, that I will try to get their setlist and all. Hopefully they even bring merch. Please don’t put them on the church or in the train. At least on the shed. Lots of points here for team indietracks, bringing a superb band back to the indiepop scene!

Night Flowers. The last band for now. A newish band that I’m really enjoying. They have a new release coming out, and that is great. Hopefully won’t be sold out until Indietracks because I’d like a copy. Their sound is fresh, juvenile, and dreamy. It does remind us all of the Pains, not the early ones with distortion, but the later ones, with British accent and a more shoegazey nerve. I dare to say that they have a bright future ahead of them, and I look forward to seeing them. Again, I modestly ask, no church, no train, for them!

So that’s more or less what I’m looking forward to. What are you looking forward? At least at this point I know that there won’t be many clashes to worry about! 🙂

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The Starke Adolf compilations have been on standby for some time now. I kind of lost interest in doing them mostly because a lack of interest in the Swedish bands I’ve been asking to contribute songs. Feels it’s like pulling teeth. So hard to get me a WAV, a photo and some liner notes. I understand sometimes life gets in the way, that there are other priorities, but I tell you, I’ve had answers like “nobody would have interest in listening to these songs again”. Can you imagine?!

There was one band that I wanted to add to the 2nd volume of the Starke Adolf that I just remembered today. I exchanged some emails through Soundcloud with Kris and agreed to include it. The song was “TVP Wannabes”, the band was “Gang of One.”

As far as I know it was a duo formed by Kris and Jenny. Jenny from Strawberry Fair (perhaps I should ask her for help, she was so great when I included Strawberry Fair on the first volume). My first encounter with their songs was AGES ago on soulseek. I can’t recall who I got these songs from, possibly Dimitra, who always had the latest stuff from the Swedish kids of that day. I’m talking about 2004 or so.

The songs I heard the time were three “Target Practice”, “Something to Do” and “TVP Wannabes”. The first and second were covers, Henry’s Dress and Bubba and the Shop Assistants, obviously. The third song though was for me a one-hit wonder, a true classic, a song that could have been an hymn for those days. A song whose lyrics expressed what we all have thought about hipsters, posers and wannabes. They put it all so perfectly in words.

Ah! how I love how they namedrop the Funday Mornings in between McCarthy, Felt, or the TVPs. You require a lot of guts to do that! Anyhow, I just thought you’d enjoy this song, and discover one of these obscure projects from that time, the time I fell in love with indiepop, with Swedish pop, with Sweden. I’ll see if I can find out more about them. Maybe I get a renewed interest on the Sound of Starke Adolf series. That’d be total happiness!

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Listen
Gang of One – TVP Wannabes

13
Mar

I’m feeling quite sick today, sore throat, maybe starting to get a cold, but as I promised last week, I think it’s good time to go through the NYC Popfest lineup. Though before doing that I want to tell that I have started work on the 9th Cloudberry fanzine. I’ve started to contact the bands that will be featured as well as the ones that will contribute tracks for the 3″ CD. Hopefully it will be ready by Indietracks time. I’d love to sell a bunch there! Now let’s start getting excited about NYC Popfest!

I’ll only go through the bands I’m excited to see, in alphabetical order.

The Arctic Flow – I believe they will be playing the free Saturday show at Spike Hill. They will go on first. I don’t seem to find online the schedule for Popfest but I’ve seen some of it on Facebook. The Arctic Flow were invited last year to play but they didn’t come. I think it had to do with playing solo or something like that, I can’t remember. In any case I’m very glad that Brian is coming to play to NYC the beautiful songs that he has been crafting for many years now. I’ve really liked the few things I’ve heard, the EP on Holiday Records and lately the 3″ on Little Treasure. I definitely want to see this band.

Bart & Friends – Of course! I think this is one of the bands I’m looking forward the most. I’m pretty sure they will be playing on Friday at The Knitting Factory. I had the chance to work with Bart on a little 3″ some time ago and later I’ve been enjoying the EPs on both Matinée and Shelflife. Bart is an indiepop hero, The Cat’s Miaow, his previous band, is one of my favourite bands ever. It is no surprise I’ve interviewed Bart in this blog so many times, talking about each of his projects, from Girl of the World to Pencil Tin to Cat’s Miaow and more. I’ve heard some rumors that as many in the band are librarians they will be visiting some of NYC libraries. Exciting! Extra points for the band as I will finally meet Scott Stevens (who is part of the Friends part), an old friend from Summer Cats! So far I had the chance to meet Hugh and the other Scott, Brewer, of the Cats. So this is pretty cool. Also Scott S used to be in The Earthmen who also appeared on an interview in the blog. We have agreed on having some great dinner that Friday before the show! Good times!

Colour Me Wednesday – In due honesty, I haven’t followed them in all these years they’ve been playing gigs. I have always missed their gigs when I’ve been in the UK. Their recordings remind me a bit of a band I used to love in the mid-00s, The Sorayas (from Sweden). This is punky indiepop, but has that Britishness that I like. Not sure what day they’ll be playing, or where, though I’m hoping they are a nice surprise for me.

Don’t Cry Shopgirl – Very VERY excited to see them. It’s been some months since they appeared on Facebook. I remember writing some lines about them here on the blog, and then just after that, hanging out all the time at Indietracks with Astrid and John. Sweet people! It’s interesting how friendship happens! Astrid is perhaps a bit more known as she plays solo with a project called Northern Spies. Under that name I saw her play in a packed wagon at Indietracks while everyone was sweating and then months later here in NYC. Actually she is in NYC now too! The truth is, after listening to their songs for the first time I knew I had to release them. So yes, there will be a Cloudberry 7″ by them this year. We’ve been working on the artwork this week actually! They will also be playing the free show on Saturday and I think this is one that I will say you can’t miss!

The Flatmates – I am going to see them. I’m not sure what to expect. Martin and Rocker are the only original members. I like Brian and Lisa, but I have to say I’m very skeptical after the single they released (mostly due to the artwork being kind of terrible). But The Flatmates are the The Flatmates, a band that I’ve always loved, so I’ll be there front row. Let’s see what happens.

Franny & Zooey – A band I must have seen as many times as Allo’ Darlin haha. I must really love them. I could tell so many anecdotes and stuff about them, but I think it has to wait. I may have seen them around 10 times  play here in NYC and I’m happy to call them my friends. Real friends, the kind you go for beers every single weekend. In the last few years I’ve seen an evolution in their songs that I can assure you that you’ll be surprised by their next release. They’ve gone full indiepop! I believe they’ll be playing Cake Shop on Thursday, hopefully not opening because I may miss them because of work! It’d be a shame because it’s been months since they left NYC and they are coming back especially for this gig, so crossing fingers!

Gingerlys – It was Ed Shelflife that tipped me about them while eating Korean food here in NYC months ago. I think he will be putting out a 7″ by them. I was so surprised that a band this good in NYC hadn’t been under my radar. Then I tipped Maz. Then I’m very happy that they’ll be playing Popfest! May be the best new band in town. One of the bands I look forward to seeing the most. And that’s because I’ve been unable to attend any of their shows yet! Terrible me!

Gold-Bears – Jeremy is back. Who’s coming with him? He always finds the cool musicians, though I must admit I loved the first incarnation the most with Erich and Santiago. Mostly because they were so cool haha. Anyways, the Gold-Bears have a new album coming out and it’s coming in a white and green sleeve that I had to Photoshop some days ago! Energy, excitement, and fast guitars, that’s what they bring. I can see them many times and will never have enough. One of the happiest moments of Cloudberry is indeed when we released their 7″. Now I’m hoping to hear their new song as well as their classics. Can’t wait for my favourite This Poison wannabes 😉

The Haywains – So yes, you know that the Haywains 7″ is coming out on Cloudberry just for NYC Popfest time. What can I say about the legend that The Haywains are? You’d think they’d sound boring and mature after 20 years. But when you listen the 7″ songs that’s not the case. They sound as fresh as ever. Fresh as a lettuce! And what’s even better is that I can assure you that live they are one of the funnest bands I’ve ever seen. Their Madrid Popfest show that I attended last year was glorious. I think this might be one of the gigs of the year for me. They are playing Knitting Factory of Friday too. I believe they are the headliners that night? Anyways, I just can’t wait. Can’t WAIT! Oh! and they will also be appearing on the next Cloudberry zine I was talking about earlier…

Heathers – Because they sound alright on bandcamp, though they are terrible with emails. I’m still waiting for my copy of the 7″ 🙂

Lost Tapes – Our last 7″ we released was by this Spanish band, and what an EP it is. It’s lush. It’s beautiful. Precious even. It’s classy. It can remind you of moments of the 80s, postcards of Brighter and The Field Mice. It’s no surprise they’ve been just touring the West Coast and now they are playing at SXSW. They will be playing next week at Cake Shop too where I’ll meet them in person for the first time. They’ve been invited to Copenhagen Popfest and Indietracks too. It seems this is their year. One of the best new bands around for sure. Quality.

Marine Life – A band I’ve never heard before. But I’m liking what I hear on Bandcamp. It says their debut single will be coming out on Elefant. That’s a big deal isn’t it? Especially as this doesn’t sound like all the 60s influenced bands that Elefant seems to be preferring these days. Marine Life reminds me to many of the American bands from the 90s. #Poundsign# anyone? Worth checking out the live set.

My Favorite – The quintessential NYC indiepop band. The one and only. The first one. My Favorite is back. I could write so much about them because I love them. That’s why I wanted to release The Secret History album last year. That’s why this year I’m teaming up with them for a co-release of a reissue of Love at Absolute Zero on vinyl. Hopefully later this year the Cloudberry Cake Kitchen of their early recordings will be released too. Dream come true. More importantly, seeing them live, after all my Swedish friends always raved and boasted about their tour in their country, with the pinnacle of Hultsfred festival when My Favorite became a cult band, that’s a dream come true.

Pam & Bart perform as THE CAT’S MIAOW & THE SHAPIROS – This might be the intimate moment at Popfest. It may need a lot of beer to keep me going after getting all sentimental by these songs. When it’s the Cat’s Miaow Pam is not Kerrie, but she is still Pam. She has the voice. It will be definitely interesting to hear. The Shapiros? Match made in heaven. Never thought I’d listen to them. Btw, there’s also a Shapiros interview in the blog!

Rocketship – Another classic band. For many indiepop heroes and legends. For me a fabulous, an outstanding band, that in their earlier period released their most magnificent stuff. The 90s were glorious for Rocketship. The 00s not so much. That Garden of Delights album was the biggest letdown. Here I’m hoping then to hear the indiepop songs, the ones that made Rocketship a band loved by everyone! (also playing at indietracks)

Spearmint – This was perhaps the biggest surprise (maybe not much as a surprise now after they’ve also been announced for Indietracks). I didn’t think they were still going you know. The band fronted by Shirley Lee has been a favourite of mine for so many years. I’ve djed many times their songs, and I remember always having this sort of paradigm about loving their song “The Flaming Lips” and hating the band by the same name! In any case, a band that name drops Said Liquidator in a song, or the BMX Bandits in another, well, that’s a band I love. It’s funny that the day they were announced for Popfest I was actually listening to their A Week Away album. Coincidences. Destiny. I don’t know. But it’s great!

The Spook School – Cloudberry graduates with one 7″ two years ago. Time flies! I thought it was just last year. When I saw them play at Indietracks 2012 I knew they could be big. They are so talented. They are so much fun. And Niall, the drummer, is party personified. Last year they released their first album and what a cracker it was. I feel they will be one of the bands New Yorkers will like the most. Funny how when Nye was living here they didn’t play, now that she is gone the whole gang is coming for it. Life has that kind of things. But the timing couldn’t be more perfect! They are such a treat!

Stars in Coma – I saw Stars in Coma in Berlin Indiepop days. At a small venue. It was nice. I saw André once too when I djed at a little venue in Malmö ages ago. Those were the days. There’s a connection of course with Cloudberry. There was a 3″CD very early on when the label was just starting. There was also a CD album that we released through Plastilina. Stars in Coma is so prolific. I’ve lost count how many releases they have now. But what I do know for sure is that there is a whole bunch of fantastic songs that you should start discovering.

The Zebras – I like them though I’ve never been head over heels for them. They make great luminous pop. Classy, smart, elegant. I stopped following them in 2007 or so. Why? I don’t know. I guess it didn’t connect as other bands do. BUT, I’m hoping to get excited by them once again. The song “Chase” on the NYC Popfest page is very STRONG. If they have more like this one, I might fall in love!

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Über obscure band today. Let’s roll back to 1988.

That year sees the release of a 7″ by a band that sounds more 1984 than 1988. They are called Mexico Red. The songs included are “Eternal Flame” and “Follow me to Heaven”. Both of them are beautiful. They were meant to be classics. They should have been in the Leamington Spa compilations that my friend Uwe has stopped releasing.

They have elegance and class. “Eternal Flame” even has trumpets. Oh I melt. The question arises immediately, with a single this strong, that these days is highly sought after, how have they disappeared from the face of the Earth?

Where does the name come from? Definitely they must have liked Mexico or at least Mexican food (can’t blame them). The Red part? Maybe they liked the idea of a communist Mexico? Who knows. The cover art is beautifully illustrated in black and white. A sad looking girl that seems to have a knife in her belt.

The credits on the back sleeve just add more to the mystery. Lyrics and Music by Del Kwai. Who was Del Kwai? It’s enough of a strange name, but google doesn’t really help me find him.

The label that put out the record was Hummingbird Records.  Possibly a self-release.

The 7″ according to Popsike also included an insert. Not so sure what says in it. I sadly don’t own the record. But maybe someone out there does? And can help us with the insert?

Anyone out there remember them? Where in the UK where they from? Did they have more songs? Would love to know a bit more about them! Hopefully someone can help!

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Listen
Mexico Red – Eternal Flame

12
Feb

A strong feeling that something is about to happen, esp. something unpleasant.

I’m suddenly changing my idea of going to China in autumn, postponing it for next spring, and instead going to Germany. Thing is Throw That Beat in the Garbagecan, one of my favourite bands ever is doing a reunion gig in Berlin for their 20th anniversary. I’ve always said that McCarthy is my favourite band, and it is. But before I even knew McCarthy I was already in love with the German outfit. Can I consider them a second favourite band then? Possibly yes. That would be very fair, and it’s not like I like just 10 or 20 bands. I like hundreds, thousands. So they are very very dear to me.

To be honest I don’t remember how I heard about them first. The year must have been 2003. I was young. Younger than now. I was 19 back then. I had just moved to Texas that winter. At that time I hadn’t even started blogging as Mira el Péndulo. I was on Soulseek though and perhaps it was there that I met them for the first time. I used to hang out in the Twee Folks room, a place I made many great friends, but of course the best being Cris in Spain. Did he introduce them to me? Possibly not. We were mostly gossiping. There were some people that had amazing stuff. I do remember getting the video for “Suburbia” from Chris Jigsaw on Twee Folks. But I’m 100% sure that wasn’t the first time I heard their music.

The fact is in 2004 during a weekend trip with my dad, from San Antonio to Texas, I bought two of their albums. I was still 19, it was winter, and I remember that drive as if it was yesterday. Five hours of talking about football, history and politics, the three topics we usually talk about. My dad is not really a music-fan you see. But he grew up seeing Peru in the world cups unlike me. So he has these vivid memories of the golden age of Peruvian footie. On the highway, passing by outlet malls, ranches, and fast food restaurants, we agreed that at least we were going to go to a record store while in Dallas. We weren’t really going as tourists, my dad had to attend some business there. We didn’t even stop by the Dr. Pepper museum in Waco (I love Dr. Pepper), just to get to Dallas in time.

I don’t remember liking the city much. Just another American city I would say. The food wasn’t that special. I had Mexican food one day, and it wasn’t the best I’ve ever had (arguably the best I’ve had has been in San Diego, I’m yet to visit Mexico). On another day I remember having Brazilian rodizio, all the meats you want, but that is the same every place you go. For that, still the best, the ones I had in Sao Paulo. Anyways. On Sunday morning, after a terrible night sharing room with my dad (he snores heavily), we visited a record store. Problem is now that I don’t remember the name of it. It was in that store that I found the two albums that Throw That Beat released on the American label Spinart: “Large Marge Sent Us” and “The Cool Album”.

They weren’t priced. I took them to the cashier and possibly because he saw I looked a bit out of place he charged me $15 for each. And they were used! Total rip off. But my dad insisted in getting them for me. Happy days. I was just a student and in Texas I hadn’t found a job yet. Now I had to wait until I got back to San Antonio so I could listen to them. I was so eager but I knew I couldn’t play these in the car, my dad would hate me eternally haha.

And so on my old cd-player, the one that lasted almost 10 years (rip 2009), I started a very close relationship with those albums. It was love at first-sight, or listen. I played them over and over for months. Both of them. I rode the bus to university listening to them every single day. At home will I was still honing my skills on Pro Evolution Soccer, I played them. At every moment of the day, I played them. And this went for months. That whole 2004 for me is a year defined by Throw That Beat in the Garbagecan!! I can say their songs always gave a smile to me, and that let me survive a whole year in Texas. That is way too long. Nobody should live for that long there. By 2005 I moved back to Florida and I found a job and well, eventually started buying other records. But, it wasn’t that long that I was going to return to TTB.

My next encounter would be when I visited Germany for the first time. In Essen I stayed with my dear friend Nanita. What a surprise for me that she had a gift for me upon my arrival. What was it? It was the “Tweng” LP on September Gurls. I didn’t know this one existed! There was no Discogs yet, and their discography wasn’t easily available online. Some days after I was at Peter Twee.net’s home and he was giving me a bunch of TTB stickers he got from back in the day. I was back in love and from that time on, my hunt to find all their records started though to my shame I haven’t got them all yet!

Since those days I always go back to Throw That Beat. I don’t think there are months that I don’t listen to at least one of their songs. The videos on Youtube always work when I need a little cheering up. So when on the Facebook group it was announced that they were going to play a reunion gig, it made my the happiest. And now I want to go. It seems it’s happening on the 13 of September. At the Lido in Berlin. Supposedly all original members will be there, even Lotsi. I hope so. I cross my fingers. I should start planning how to get there. Could be my 30-year old present in advance!

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And now one way more obscure band that Throw That Beat. One that requires more researching, but I don’t seem to find much information about them: Premonition.

Let’s transport all of us to Dublin, Ireland. It’s the mid 80s and there’s this band called Loudness of Whispers. We don’t know much about them only that they played the Mood Club at Tommy Dunne’s Tavern in June 1985. From their ashes a band called Premonition will emerge.

The only information regarding the band comes from that great Irish site called Irish Rock, an encyclopaedia of the Irish scene. From there we learn that Premonition were:
John Brennan – rhythm guitars, loud voice
Kevin Morris – lead guitars, mandolin, alto voice
Kieran Eaton – bass, bass voice
Gerard Eaton – drums, tenor voice

Safe to think that Kieran and Gerard were brothers?

The small bio on Irish Rocks says:
Blades-influenced band also compared to the Housemartins. Winners of the Dublin Millenium Battle of the Bands competition held at The Underground on 8 July 1988. Standout track of their set was “Clutching at Straws”. This competition was organised by Danceline and involved 9 heats and 3 semifinals. The prize was a single recorded at Sun Studios, released on EMI.

So another question arises, is there any recordings for “Clutching at Straws”?

Then they released their 7″. On the A side the song “The Streets are Paved with Lead” and “Eyes like Sin” on the B side. Catalog was IEM 004 though the back cover incorrectly lists it as IEM 006. The record was produced by Premonition and Pat Dunne.

I haven’t yet heard the B side. But the A side is quite glorious! It’s classic jangly pop. Of course there’s The Smiths influence, but you can also hear classic sounds from Mighty Mighty, The Brilliant Corners or Hey Paulette! Not your usual fare on EMI! You got to love the guitars, the trumpet arrangements! Should have been a classic! That opening line: “Please don’t go, you are tearing my life to shreds”, always gives me goosebumps!

And then they disappeared. There is no sights about them online. Whatever happened to them? Does anyone remember them? Did they play live often? Did they release anything else? Did they leave any other recordings? Would love to know more about them. Just listen to this song, and you’ll understand why!

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Listen
Premonition – All the Streets are Paved with Lead

 

24
Dec

Because people keep asking for a list, and I won’t do a ranking because I feel it’s terribly wrong, here are a many releases I’ve enjoyed this year. Obviously all Cloudberry releases are here because I would be an hypocrite to release them and not enjoy them, right? And also keep in mind I may update this list any day between today and December 31st. That’s because I’m very forgetful and I’m sure I’ll remember about some release sometime later and because I still haven’t heard all albums for this year like Spook School, Bubblegum Lemonade or Northern Portrait, that I know if listened they would appear in this list. Anyhow, if you are one of those curious people here it is in no particular order:

Electrophonvintage – Play Harp in Your Hair (album)
Go Violets – Heart Slice (CD-EP)
Major Leagues – Weird Season (EP)
The Sheets – The Sheets (lost album)
Club 8 – Above the City (album)
Homecomings – Homecoming with Me? (CD-EP)
Reserve – Beneath the London Sky (retrospective)
Alpaca Sports – Alpaca Sports (mini-album)
April’s Fools Day – Well, it’s true (album)
Silver Screen – When You and I Were Very Young (album)
The Felt Tips – Symbolic Violence (album)
Various Artists – Envoys from Alexandria (CD-EP)
The Secret History – Americans Singing in the Dark (album)
Veronica Falls – Waiting for Something to Happen (album)
Camera Obscura – Desire Lines (album)
The Proctors – Everlasting Light (album)
Various Artists – The Sound of Leamington Spa 7 (compilation album)
Everyday Mistakes – Obscure Lanes (album)
Honigritter – Kellergeister in Unserem Haus (album)
Los Canguros – Un Salto Adelante (retrospective album)
Rose Elinor Dougall – Future Vanishes (single)
Fireworks – Runaround (single)
The French Pop Dream – The French Pop Dream (single)
Helen Love – Day-Glo Dreams (album)
Flowers – When You Lie (single)
The Spook School – I’ll Be Honest (single)
Zipper – La Casa Rural (single)
Joanna Gruesome – Supercrush (single)
Boyish – The Hidden Secrets (single)
The Occasional Flickers – Capitalism Begins at Home (single)
Los Urogallos / Las Chinchetas – Brindis Picnics y Bongos Beatniks (split single)
Alpaca Sports – He Doesn’t Even Like You (single)
Karatekas – Nubes Negras (single)
Eva & John – César Gutiérrez (single)
Tripping the Light Fantastic – Heavy Heart (single)
Axolotes Mexicanos – Infectados (single)
The Understudies – Everyone Deserves at Least One Summer of Love (single)

02
Oct

Last week I counted the amount of posts left for this year, not counting interviews. That’s 12 more posts including this one. I assume it will be 11 as I will be away for a week in November. So 10 more after this. I wonder then if this has been my most prolific year as a blogger. I ask myself too if people still consider themselves bloggers. Are there many blogs left? I feel many bloggers these day feel more like columnists, working for newspapers, magazines and such in their digital platforms. I saw though in the last couple of days the return of a favourite blog of mine though, 7 Pulgadas. When did his blog start? 2004? A long run from Alex, right? After a long standby as most of his records were in boxes thanks a very long move between houses in Madrid he is back. And it makes me happy that there are people who care about sharing their indiepop knowledge in the world, who respect bands and artists and who get involved in making this scene a better one. People who know Alex know that all of what I’m saying is true, not just because of his blog, that’s certain, but also from being part of the great Madrid Popfest, a regular indiepop festival attendee, and a good friend.

I started blogging in 2004 too. I had a Spanish language blog called Mira el Péndulo. The name came from a song by a Spanish band I was really in love then, El Niño Gusano. I still like them, but perhaps not as much. I started to blog inspired by the Indie-MP3 blog that was pretty popular then. That one was Tom’s blog. It closed some years ago and I wrote a big blog post about it I remember. As I was saying, I was inspired by it because they would offer an Mp3 from some new-ish band, or sometimes even an old classic band, with a link to their Myspace or to their website, and a little review. I thought that was the perfect format to introduce a band. And so I set up a blogspot, even with the same design and look as Indie-Mp3, and started blogging in Spanish because at that time there was nothing like it in my native language.

That’s the time when I discovered a couple of like-minded bloggers, all of them based in Spain. Their format varied, some wrote longer pieces, some shorter. Some wrote about old bands, some about gigs. Some preferred sharing many songs, some not even one song. But we all read each other, we all respected each other, and so a little community of indiepop bloggers was born. It’s funny that after many years I have actually met many of them, especially three that I always love to see at festivals together. That’s Alex of course, Manolo and Javi. Manolo had one of the best blogs in my opinion when it came to reviews of albums. His posts were long and he never shared an Mp3.  The blog was called 360 Grados de Separación. It is still online but he hasn’t updated much in recent times. He is missed. Javi in the other hand, the biggest Go-Betweens fan in the world, had his blog Lost and Found where he introduced to all his readers, this time in English, lots of obscure indiepop gems from the 80s. It was him, and of course the Leamington Spa series, that influenced me on what to recommend and showcase in this blog. Because, for new bands, there are TONS of other blogs and pages.

Then of course Mira el Péndulo was hacked by who knows who. The wordpress was hacked and there was no way to bring all posts back. Everything was lost. Not just what I wrote but also what my collaborators wrote. Because at some point I shared my blog with other friends that wanted to write some indiepop related posts. I remember Romina, from Argentina, that would correct my terrible grammar and write amazing posts about the sweetest sounding bands. Then there was JC, from Chile, who wrote smart posts that questioned the established taste of indiepop kids. One of my best friends José Emanuel, who I had a band with once and who was lately in Eva & John, wrote a bunch of posts about very weird and quirky indiepop bands. Then also Carlitos, from Peru and Eva & John, wrote a bunch of posts of the tweest kind. All those posts lots. I didn’t know what to tell them. I felt ashamed. I should have kept a backup, but I didn’t. I believe that’s the moment where I stopped believing in digital formats. That’s when I knew an MP3 collection was nothing, not even dust, it was nothing. Because all these things don’t really exist.

After a year without blogging I came back in 2008 with this blog, and then the rest is history. This is of course the longest blogging career I’ve had. As a Cloudberry cake chef. I didn’t think this was going to last this long. I came back because I was bored but what I was reading and because I couldn’t find any information about the bands I wanted to read about. Those days I was very close to my friend Emma. I thank her for pushing me to write again. She insisted I had to do it, and she even used to help me in writing interview questions. There’s one that is a favourite of mine, to the band Pink Noise. She wrote all the questions. It’s quite whack. She also answered all the questions a fanzine sent me as a Cloudberry interview. The questions were so boring, the usual questions people ask, so I let her be wild with her imagination. I think the Twee As Fuck crowd weren’t pleased with those answers about monkeys and razor-blade vinyl records. But well, that’s another story.

Anyhow, the thing is that I started blogging in Cloudberry Cake Proselytism in October 2008. It’s October 2013. That’s 5 years, right? Well, Happy Birthday to Me!!

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Have you ever heard The Candy Dates? Probably not. But they have an album that is a gem of indiepop. Fun, bright, smart, bouncy, and a treat to the ears. Sure, some of you might say they remind one to Throw That Beat in the Garbagecan!! And that might be true, these fellow Germans have that same taste for great pop music. But who cares, the Candy Dates are great in their own league and I recommend you getting their album Yep! that was released in both LP and CD. And trust me, it’s not that hard to track down!

The CD version was a sole release of Twang! Records (catalog TCD 5899) while the LP was a joint release between Twang! and Semaphore (catalog 27 777). I believe Semaphore was a Dutch label with an office in Germany also. Twang! was definitely a German label and had some nice releases.

The tracklist was:

1 Downtown Park
2 Six Tambourines
3 Big Big Kiss
4 Happy Hills
5 My Absolute Favourite Girl
6 Honey
7 Marlene
8 Top Ten Idol
9 Sophisticated
10 Brian On The Roof

The CD has an eleventh track, but it’s a 2 second one. So don’t worry about it! It’s a hidden track. Both the album and LP were separated in half, the first five songs were under the side called Cake One, and the last five songs were in Cake Two.

The album was produced by Andi Jezussek who was in a band called Breeder I believe.

The Candy Dates were formed by Gunnar Berndorf on vocals, drums and tambourines, Tobi Friedrich on vocals and guitar, Jockel Staron on vocals and guitar, and Lothi Berndorff on vocals and bass.

The band, as the label, were based in Berlin. The record was released in 1992 and the artwork reminiscing Roy Liechtenstein was made by the band themselves with help from Pat on Riesen for the layout. The photo of the band on the back cover was thanks to Frank Wegener.

There are some thank you notes on the CD. It says:

Thank You:
Robyn Wills, Andy, Frank, Pat, Manu & Uwe, Daniel Sprock, Herr Hanich, Hopek, Ralf Bieneck (DT 64), Antje Tiemeyer (RRB), Malum, Peter Perett, Raymond D. Davies, Joe Nolte.

Cool thing on the CD is something a lot of people are missing these days. All lyrics printed so one can sing along!

But let’s get back to that Thank You list. Is Uwe the Uwe from Firestation records? Probably but probably not. But Herr Hanich. That one we know. That’s Matthias Hanich who was also in Angry Flowers and later in the Groovy Cellar. But most importantly Matthias Hanich had been in a band with Gunnar Berndorf in the mid 80s. Yes! In 1984 they had been together in a band called The Artpress.

A little bio found on Facebook says:

The Artpress, whose melodic and beautifully constructed power pop made the band an instant success in Lower Saxony and other parts of Europe, released their one and only piece of vinyl under a long term deal with Worldcup Records in 1988(?). Due to management and distribution problems the single entitled “Mystery Girl“ c/w “Get Smart“ only reached 101 in the pop charts. Both numbers are up-tempo, guitar-fuelled with a wonderful 60s mod feel. This is your second chance – so don’t miss it.

They were based in Göttingen and the band members were: Harald Fischer, Matthias Hanich, Gunnar Berndorff, Ronald Kruschak
(Carsten Richter, Ralf Fricke, Jörg Waltje).

I also tracked down that Tobias Friedrich had a band afterwards called Viktoriapark who released an album in 2008 called “Was Ist Schon 1 Jahr?” and also another album called “In Teufels Küche”.

I also found out that Gunnar wrote a book along two other authors, Barbara Berndorff and Knut Eigler. This book is called Musikrecht and shame on me that I don’t know much German so I cant tell what it is about!

And that’s about all I could find about this fantastic band, that I don’t know much about, but did record this one fantastic album! I really recommend tracking it down if you can. And if you know anything else about them, if you ever saw them playing live, if you happen to have any more unreleased songs or anything, please share. There’s a nice comment section right here!

Edit: Andreas again comes to the rescue with some new insights:
Regarding your blog entry for The Candy Dates (and The Artpress), Gunnar Berndorff is also the drummer for The Groovy Cellar who’ll play Berlin Popfest on Saturday (and whom, along with Most Wanted Men, I’ve put on as supports both in Berlin and Hamburg in the past). He’s actually a colleague, i. e. a lawyer, and “Musikrecht” translates into “music law” (part of media law). A very nice guy, too.

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Listen
Candy Dates – Six Tambourines

27
Sep

Almost October now. This year has gone so fast! There are no more festivals left for me, though I know some of you will be heading to Berlin Popfest, the last stop of indiepop vacations this year. How I wish I could join you!

Today I finished sending all pre-orders of the Boyish 7″, three days before the release date. Now onto emailing all the mailorders, tell them I have a fantastic new record out. I feel by next week things will get a bit calmer as I still need to order all the boxes, inserts and polybags, put them together and then store them. These things take time, especially as I have the new Pro Evolution Soccer, which is taking me quite some time at nights, after work.

Next weekend I’ll be heading to Providence, Rhode Island. I’ve never been, and I’m just going to check out. Seems like a nice, little, quaint town. What to do? I’m open for suggestions. I’ll just be there for Saturday and Sunday. Need to check if there are any good record stores. From the top of my head, Small Factory were from there, right?

Indiepop-wise New York is quiet. Aside from a future meeting with Shelflife boss who is visiting town, I feel the city doesn’t offer what London offers to indiepop people. I get terribly jealous all the time. I did buy tickets to see My Bloody Valentine, $70. Yes, plus all those crazy fees (one is called convenience fee) then it was like $80. I guess I convinced myself that I have to see them live once, at least. Before they die (?).

The indiepop-list is back, and after a few hiccups (like a silly issue with the illustration used on the website) it’s up and running smoothly. I even posted three replies to it in a single day. I don’t remember replying to threads so many times in the past. So that’s quite an achievement. Of course my friend Mr. Hyde Murphy was cheeky like always, and questions the $7 price for the 3″CDs at Cloudberry. Though explained over and over, and with facts, in this blog, breaking down the price, the guy is still clueless. But what to do, some people are not good at maths or the real world.

I do want to recommend a book this time on the blog. It’s been out for some years now but I only knew about it after Henrik from Twig recommended me the documentary about it. The book is called “Last Shop Standing” and it’s written by Graham Jones. It was such a refreshing read, with lots of anecdotes about the music industry. On top of it all there’s a chapter about The Cherry Boys, yes, the ones that wrote Kardomah Café. So Graham was their manager, so he tells the whole story about them and also some tidbits about the band that followed, Exhibit B. Both great bands, both great guitar pop bands that I always enjoyed. So that was quite a treat! Also in the book Graham discusses lots of issues about the “industry” like MP3s for example. I tend to agree with all his views. I love that these kind of views about how great physical records are actually get published. We do need to make a stand!

And the other discovery this past week was a compilation by Said Liquidator that I found on Discogs. I didn’t have a clue that it existed but it’s a 2 CD compilation with all their recordings, even live recordings. It seems it’s only a 200 copy release so better head there before it sells out. Really enjoying it as I only knew the fab “Third Man” and “Say What You Feel”. I especially love their “Liquidator Jingle” song. Maybe I should try to track them down for an interview!

Other good releases of late are the new Proctors album and the Go Violets EP. I don’t own these yet, but hopefully in the next couple of weeks I will. Today I’m listening once again to the Homecomings “Homecoming with Me?” album on Second Royal. It’s so ace. The Japanese seem to be making a stir in the indiepop scene now. Lots of great new young bands springing from out of nowhere in the streets of Tokyo and beyond!

And I know, you are wondering when The Rileys album will be out. Well next week I hope to tackle the artwork, it’s very close to be finished and after that I’ll send it to press. Sorry it’s taken a bit too long but you know it’s only me running the whole thing and with two new releases this month I’ve been swamped!

But hey! Let’s move onto our very obscure band of the week!

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The Herbs. I’m sure you know The Raw Herbs. But The Herbs? I didn’t use to know them until many months ago I found them through that great blog that is From a Northern Place. A blog that though lacking writeups (wish they had some!) offers a track from an obscure record, and drives me into hours and hours of indiepop investigation!

With The Herbs though I hit a wall quite fast. I couldn’t find anything really. Even Rupert at Turntable Revolution wonders about them back in 2010.

So I’ll tell you what I gather from my little detective work.

The 7″ EP was released by a label called Andy Harper Records. Did Andy Harper had a big ego? Or maybe he was one of the nicest patrons? Or even perhaps he was part of the band? We don’t know. There is no catalog number though so it’s fair to assume this was the one and only release in the label.

The record included four songs. On the A side we had “New York Nightmare” and “U Boat”, whereas on the B side “Strum City” and “One Down and 2 To Go, This City Sure has Sold It’s Soul”. That last one has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?

I live in New York, so I’m pretty curious about the first track. So if anyone could share it with me?

The record was recorded in 1990 at Tony’s during the month of March and April. The cover photograph was taken by Graham Buckerfield. With all those palm trees and the 4×4 on the street I would dare to guess it’s been taken in Los Angeles. Definitely not New York.

You might think this record was American with all these nods, but this sounds totally British. The three first songs are credited to someone with a last name Healey. The last song is credited to Healey/Russell.

And that’s it. I hit a wall. Sure, 45rpm is the speed of the record if you care much for that. I do. Sometimes.

I don’t own this 7″ and it seems it hasn’t popped up much on eBay. It’s not even listed on Discogs. But I would love to have it, or at least listen to it in it’s entirety! I also wonder if they had more songs. If they fitted 4 songs on a 7″ something tells me they did have many more songs recorded.  Also, where were they from? Did they play many gigs? I would love to know more about them! If anyone out there knows more let me know!

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Listen
The Herbs – Strum City