27
Feb

So I got the UPS tracking number for the Some Other Day CDs. They are arriving this Wednesday and will start shipping on Thursday! Very very excited to have this release out. A release that actually happened thanks to the blog. It was through a post I wrote years ago that I could get in touch with the band, interview them and eventually release this album as part of the Cake Kitchen series. This is the 8th release and don’t worry, as I’m writing these lines I am already working on the 9th release. It is very exciting times and can’t wait to receive all the boxes, open them and find the beautiful CDs. I’ll take a photo for you all (on the Facebook page) as soon as I can! So don’t forget to order the CD if you want to have a listen to some gorgeous songs that you probably have never heard before!

On indiepop news around the world my friends of Linda Guilala, from Vigo, Spain, have a new video for the song “Abstinencia.” This song appeared on their last album, “Psiconáutica”, and it is a cracker! I haven’t seen Iván and Eva for some years now, but it makes me very happy to at least see them on video! How I wish to visit them someday soon!

Shelflife’s favourites The Holiday Crowd have a new video out as well. The song comes from their self-titled album, “Cheer Up“. Another album that no one should have missed. I’ve played it lots but on the turntable. Shame there is no CD version for it, it doesn’t get recorded on my Last.fm plays.  But well, I’m probably the only one making that complaint! haha. Such a fab band; I saw them once at NYC Popfest, I can only hope for them to come back someday… Toronto being not that far away!

I’m not much of a fan of The Proper Ornaments (I do own some of their stuff, they haven’t won me over) but they have a split 7″ with a French band named Beat Mark. I’m listening to the song by them titled “Flowers” and it is really good!  It seems there are only 50 copies remaining of this record on the Bandcamp page for the label Requiem Pour Un Twister. Beat Mark seems like a very cool new discovery and followed them to their Soundcloud were I could find more songs. In all honesty only the two latest songs on Soundcloud, “Flowers” and “Neverending Fun” sound as if they have a better quality. The rest seem to be badly recorded or something.

Firestation Records also has news. “Pep Sounds” by Peppermint Parlour will be released in March. I wrote about this band time ago and mentioned that “Pep Sounds” was listed in places as a CD with 19 songs. I don’t know if this release will be exactly the same as that CD. You can read a bit more about Peppermint Parlour on that post. We’ll just wait for more news about it.

The other release Firestation seems to be working on is a retrospective by the band Asia Fields. We do know that this one will be available on both vinyl and CD. The album is titled “Goodbye Frank” and it will contain the bands two singles plus a bunch of unreleased songs. This one will be released on April 7th.

And last but not least, one of the most amazing surprises so far this year is that Pretty Olivia Records, Javi’s label, is reissuing the “Swimming in the Heart of Jane” 12″ EP by Treebound Story! Oh dear! This is one of the most beautiful records ever released. I can’t wait to get my hands on this record!! Pure pop bliss indeed!

That’s what I’ve seen going on this past week. Am I missing anything?

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Some months ago a reader of the blog, Jasper, asked me about a band that is as obscure as it gets: Storm House. I didn’t know anything about them, and I haven’t heard any of their songs either. The only clue there is was a song, “Inside”, that appeared on a compilation titled “I Might Walk Home Alone”, released by Wilde Club Records in 1992.

I’ve been meaning to get this compilation for a long time. It is not too expensive but not cheap either, so I have kind of been leaving this purchase for a later day. You have to understand that on this compilation, two Cloudberry related bands appear, Shine! and The Suncharms. So how come I haven’t got round to buying it?

The catalog for this CD release was WILDE 10. The girl who appears on the black and white photo of the artwork is Madge Kennedy from the movie “The Service Star” (1918).  Storm House contributes the penultimate song on the tracklist. It is the 14th song on the CD.

This is pretty shoegaze, not that far away from The Suncharms. And from the booklet of the CD we know that there were plans for the band to release a 12″ EP. Don’t know if on Wilde Club or on some other label. The song “Inside” was recorded at Purple Rain Studios in Great Yarmouth. A lot of the songs on this compilation seem to have been recorded in this place. It also seems that this place doesn’t exist anymore.

I keep googling. I try different combinations of keywords but I have no luck. I don’t know any of the bands members names. I would guess they hailed from Norwich or somewhere in Norfolk, but I can’t be 100% sure. Most of the Wilde Club bands were from that area.

There seems to be different well known Storm Houses in the world. I could find one in Copenhagen which is listed as a historical house in Denmark, and another one in Oklahoma in the US which is also listed as historical. Maybe their name also came from one of these houses.

Do you know what happened to Storm House? Did they ever release that 12″? What happened to their members? Would be interesting to know more about this very obscure band!

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Listen
Storm House – Inside

20
Feb

Whereas indiepop is agonizing in the US we get news that in China there will be a brand new indiepop festival soon. During two days, May 20th and 21st, the festival “Up a Tree” will be happening in Shanghai of all places. A city I visited just a few years ago and couldn’t see any indications that indiepop was going to be a thing there at all!

It came as a total surprise when late last week I saw this news. There are bands from China and Japan participating as well as DJs. They will also have a flea market, they will sell fanzines and they seem very excited about having a lot of booze as well.

The organizers are Puppy Fat Records. I don’t know who they are and could only find a Tumblr with little information.  Maybe it is just a name for the occasion.

The announced DJs are:
陳振超 ( The White Tulips)
小吉 (Die! ChiwawaDie!)
Shiyu (植物園zine)
一盒 (Fish Tank Radio)

I’m definitely familiar with Shiyu who makes the very cool Botanic Garden fanzine. The rest, I don’t know. Will they play proper indiepop? I’ve always questioned DJs at indiepop fests. I hope they do.

On the other hand I wanted to discover some of the bands playing. The lineup for the festival has:
Pictured Resort (Japan)
Gatsby in A Daze
Wallflower (Japan)
Atta Girl
The Cheers Cheers
Chimo 赤莓 (ex. 蘑菇紅)

There is no venue announced yet it seems or any schedule for the bands. It is still early, but looks promising. Let’s check the bands that I haven’t talked yet on the blog, which means everyone of them but the superb Wallflower who I’ve been a fan for like forever and I covered them when they came to play NYC Popfest.

Pictured Resort: this band I already know and I like them lots! I have their releases on Miles Apart Records but I don’t own their last release, their album! I have been living under a rock? Well, they released a new album last August and I believe is on CD and LP. It is titled “All Vacation Long” and was released by Sailyard Records in Japan. Don’t know if it is available anywhere else. The band is formed by Yuki, Mari, Yutaro, Yushi and the great Koji Takagi. Definitely a band to keep an eye.

Gatsby in a Daze: a band from Hangzhou, China. I see they have 6 songs on their Bandcamp and they are described as a lo-fi jangly psych rock band that hits the sweet spot. Sadly for me it didn’t hit the spot, I’m not much of a fan of their music.

Atta Girl: I’m familiar with this band thanks to the great labour of love of the Chinese label Boring Productions that I’ve covered before in the blog. The band has a new release that I still haven’t got it (what’s happening with me?). It is titled “Everyone Loves You When You Were Still a Kid” and is available on CD and cassette. There are 10 songs on this album and they sound great (even though on a small blurb on the Bandcamp it says they are lame on stage). I should write to Jovi about getting this release! So good!

The Cheers Cheers: I think I’m missing this band’s sole release, “Carinae”  as well. Also on Boring Productions it was released on CD/Cassette with 6 songs. Very nice introspective indiepop solo project by WangXiaoYu from Shenzhen, China.

Chimo: from Shanghai, the local band for the festival. I find two “releases” on Bandcamp. In reality they are just two songs that feel more like sketches. These two bedroom recordings have no vocals. And you know, instrumental songs and me we don’t get along. I wasn’t hooked here.

All in all pretty promising, at least 4 bands I would definitely want to see. And I think the dance parties should be pretty good too, don’t know Chinese indiepop fans but I’m assuming, as this will be the first time for the festival, that people will go with all the energy, in the perfect mood for having fun! Wish I could be there!

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So I expected to find at least some proper information about The Magic Shop when I started digging the web. I thought that if they had been on Sha La La, at least the band members names will be available somewhere. But no. Even though their one and only release might be thought as a classic one, the band has left nothing behind it seems.

As most of you know Sha La La was the precursor label to Sarah Records. It was run by Matt Haynes and it released a string of flexi discs, most of them shared by two bands. That was the case of The Magic Shop who were to share a flexi with The Visitors. It also happens that this was the last release, the last flexi, on Sha La La. This was 1987 and Sarah was about to be born.

The flexi came along many fanzines. It was common at the time that sort of system. You were to release a flexi and a good way to sell it was through other people’s fanzines. This flexi in particular (catalog Ba Ba Ba 008) accompanied the following fanzines, “Make it In Ongar”, “Simply Thrilled (#4)”, “Hedgehogs and Porcupines (#8)” and “5,000 miles from George Square (#2)”.

The Magic Shop contributed one song, “It’s True”, and The Visitors contributed their classic “Goldmining”. I tried long ago interviewing The Visitors, sent the questions and all, but never heard back. Maybe they could have shed some light about the band they shared the flexi with.

4 60s girls dancing on the cover of The Magic Shop side of the sleeve. No information whatsoever. The Visitors instead have a photo and a contact name and names of  towns, I’m assuming where they were from. Why the difference? Why didn’t The Magic Shop wanted to be contacted or leave any information? Why such a secret?

I have no clue where to look. Whereabouts in the UK they came from? Were they involved in any other bands? Did they play any gigs? I can’t recall seeing their name on fanzines, I have really no idea where to find anything else about them. That’s why I’m asking you, maybe you remember them from the time. Did they record any other songs? “It’s True” is a gem, but there must have been more from where that came from, no? Maybe the one and only demo tape they released? Who knows?

Edit: Sam on Facebook pointed me that the three girls from the cover come from another record: Bill Haley And His Comets’ “Bill Haley’s Greatest Hits!”.

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Listen
The Magic Shop – It’s True

13
Feb

This week, as it is quiet in indiepopnews, I have a long review of many bands I’ve heard for the first time in the past weeks. Hope you like some of them.

Astragal: they released a tape (yet another release I won’t get because of the format, shame) on Banana Tapes out of Nashville, TN, last September. I arrived to their Bandcamp thanks to the CD16 compilation. For that comp the band had contributed probably the best song out of the 3 on their tape EP, “Notations”. A lovely jangly and dreamy song. My second favourite song being the closing one, “Scenery”. The band is formed by Sam, David and Jimmy and they hail from Houston.

Traveling with Monika: yet another band I discovered thanks to the CD16 compilation. Now this one is quite a surprise as they hail from Bangkok! I haven’t heard of Thai indiepop bands in ages, in more than a decade. I was in Bangkok just some months ago, if only I had known, maybe I could have seen them live. They have 3 songs out and they are really nice. The band is formed by Nisarat, Thanapat and Samart. I think my favourite thing about the band are the vocals especially on the song “Traveling With Me”. Really cool!

The Whistling Possum: Only one song on their Bandcamp, the same as the one that they contributed to CD16: “Some Popkids are Even Worse”. In any case this is a very cool song coming all the way from Jakarta, Indonesia. The band is formed by Adi, Kaneko, Tio and Yenezkiel and they also seem to have a blog but I can’t understand a thing!

The Newsletters: from Melbourne comes this cool band that had a 7″ single out in 2015 and a three track digital single in March last year. I’m really enjoying the songs from this last digital effort. On CD16 the A side from the 7″ single, “Lucky Country”, was the one that was included. This 7″ was released by Butter Cup Records and seems to be still available.

Horsebeach: they have now “Beauty & Sadness”, the song that gives title to their new album streaming on Bandcamp. Sounds fantastic as everything they have put out. You can now pre-order the digipak album.

The Cottons: I think Kaneko and Yenezkiel from The Whistling Possum are involved in this band. I found two of their songs, “Yesterday’s Gone” and “It’s Only a Day” on the Dismantled label Bandcamp. They sound really promising! Lots of superb-sounding bands still coming from Indonesia!

Her’s: two digital singles for this band that will be debuting in Madrid Popfest very soon. The band is based in Liverpool and it is just a duo, Audun and Stephen. My favourite song being “Dorothy” out of their first single.

Pan Total: a fantastic discovery thanks to Madrid Popfest booking them. I feel very sad to have missed their limited edition CD that included 9 fab songs. I don’t know much about this band. They hail from Logroño and they seem to have been around at least since 2012! Where was I? How come I’ve only heard about them just a few days ago? It is embarrassing! Hopefully they re-release it? One can only hope.

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Was very surprised when I saw the song “Closer” opening the 4th CD in the “Still in a Dream: A Story of Shoegaze: 1988-1985” released by Cherry Red last year. I don’t know how obscure the band was back in the day, but these days it is not a band that I feel everyone remembers. There is very little on the internet about them. I wonder if the label got in touch with the band, the small bio on the booklet says very little, almost uninteresting information:
“This Tynemouth band were initially touted as Newcastle’s answer to the Stone Roses. Their first release “Bubble Bus”. shared a Whoosh flexi free with fanzine Two Pint Take Home. Further singles followed on Sympathy For the Record Industry (“Teenage Death”) and Tea Time (“Daydream”) before they settled in 1991 on Clawfist for “It’s Only Everything” and “Closer”, an anthemic, swirling guitar-fest produced by That Petrol Emotion’s Steve Mack. Their final release was a split single that coupled up The Sunflowers version of Smashing Orange’s “Collide” with Smashing Orange’s rendition of The Sunflowers “Something You Said.”

 

Nothing new there. Of course it gets a bit on my nerve the misspelling of Woosh Records.

But yes, they did release their first song “Bubble Bus” on Woosh’s eight release (catalog WOOSH 008), a flexi they shared with St. James Infirmary (a band I’ve written about here before and waiting now for their interview to be completed). The Sunflowers song was the second song on this fold-over paper picture sleeve, with a photo of two eyes printed in green and blue. The flexi was not only available with the Two Pint Take Home (vol. 4 by the way) but also with the Waterbomb vol. 4 fanzine.

Their second single, from 1990, came out on Sympathy For The Record Industry (catalog SFTRI 64). This is quite interesting for me as this label was based in Olympia, Washington in the US. It wasn’t that common for these sort of British bands to end up on American labels. It seems the label had high hopes for the band, releasing the 7″ in a variety of different colour vinyl records: yellow, tangerine, orange transparent, dark blue and turquoise. The songs included were “Teenage Death” (a favourite of mine) on the A side, and “Twenty Fifteen (live)” on the B side. The A side was recorded in Chamber Studios in Edinburgh on February 1990. The B side was recorded live at Newcastle Riverside on January 31, 1990.  The photography on this record is credited to J.R. Hughes. He is also credited for recording the B side.

Their third single was to come out that same year, 1990, on the very well-regarded indiepop label Tea Time Records. “Daydream” (catalog TEA 08) was actually the B side even though it was the song giving the single its name. “Twenty Fifteen” was the A side. Artwork for this record is credited to P. Mann. Photography to  J.R. Hughes again. The producer for this record was Jamie Watson who was the one that set up Chamber Studios in Edinburgh in 1986. It is no surprise then that the band recorded this single there.

Then they were to move to Clawfist Records. It was 1991 and they released the “Closer” 7″. On the B side we got “Day Into Day”. This was the fifth Clawfist release (HUNKA 005). This label was set up by the Vinyl Solution record shop on Portobello Road in London. The record was mastered at The Exchange, a Camden based mastering studio. Other credits on the sleeve include Design by Jocky, Mastered by Mike, Photography by J.R. Hughes and Produced by Steve Mack.

The same label was to release another single the same year. On Clawfist’s 7th release (catalog HUNKA 007) The Sunflowers put out “It’s Only Everything” on the A side and “Too Far to Fall” on the B side. Credits are similar as the previous record, Design by Jocky, Photography by J.R. Hughes and Steve Mack as producer.

Their last release was part of the Clawfist Singles Club (this was number 18). As mentioned before The Sunflowers covered “Collide”, original by Smashing Orange, whereas “Smashing Orange was to cover “Something You Said”, a Sunflowers original. I wonder if The Sunflowers released anywhere “Something You Said”.

They were to appear on a legendary compilation in 1990. On the Positively Teenage tape they contributed two songs, “Sunflower Babies” and “Sunflowers Mum”. About this tape I believe I’ve covered many bands that appeared on it on the blog like The Lavender Faction, Love Parade, The Penny Candles or The Mayfields.

“Bubble Bus” also appeared two years ago, 2014, on the “Ten Little Records: The Woosh Collection” that Jigsaw Records put out that included most of the Woosh flexis.

Time to leave Discogs and 45cat. Time to dig online for more information. I reach the Cud website. The Sunflowers are mentioned on their gig diary, for October 6th 1992:
Newcastle University.Pals, the Sunflowers turn up to quaff all our rider. The gig’s a sell-out but we’re put in the smaller hall with a precarious stage where we fear the lights may topple onto Steve. The Dunphy clan turn up and we put on our best show so far.

Perhaps the best find on the web is this one, live footage of The Sunflowers. Here I could find them performing “Closer” at Newcastle’s The Broken Doll sometime in 1990. From this video’s small description we know The Sunflowers played high-profile supports with acts like That Petrol Emotion, Pale Saints and Slowdive. This is truly amazing! Wish I had been there! The music soars!

I read the video comments, maybe someone remembers anything about them. Someone named Mark Wilson says that the band fell out with their bassist and they never got over it. Was that the reason the band split?

From the Feral interview I did many months ago, there is a Sunflowers mention from Arlo:
Not long after the Feral single we became a 3 piece briefly. We then recruited Ian Nagel from The Acrylic Tones on guitar. He was a real 60s aficionado and Feral took on a more psych / jangly sound for a year or so. We then disbanded for a few weeks, Ian continued with the Acrylic Tones, and we recruited Paul Schofield from The Sunflowers on vocals and renamed the band Camp Freddie. Camp Freddie was a good little band. We holed-up in a barn in Felix’s auntie’s house near Morpeth in Northumberland.

This is the first name associated to The Sunflowers I can find, Paul Schofield!

Another mention of The Sunflowers on the blog comes from The Lavender Faction interview. When I ask about Stephen from Woosh, I’m told:
I think he said he was living with his partner, the girl from out of the Sunflowers and they have a child or children, and he works as a full time guitar tech, touring, ect, with major acts although I know he used to roady for My Bloody Valentine. I don’t know if he toured with them when they recently reformed.

I couldn’t find more information about the band.

It seems that during the last few weeks I’ve covered a lot of bands of the Newcastle area, I hope someone there remembers The Sunflowers, what happened with them? Why they never released an album? Why did they split? If they continued making music? If they were involved in any other bands? If they had more recordings?

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Listen
The Sunflowers – Closer

09
Feb

NYC under a snowstorm. Perhaps the best moment to write blog posts even though I have little to say. I already posted this week and it is not too often that I make two blog posts a week (excepting the times when I post an interview). But I feel like researching some more indiepop. Digging deeper. Finding new records to buy, new songs to listen, new bands to add to my pantheon.

Detective novels and long rides on the subway now that I work  in the Financial District. Days go fast. A week of vacations might open for me the first week of September. Might go back to London. Or to The Netherlands. Or Iceland? Those seem to be the best choices. Was doing a little research of what new to see around London, a city I’ve visited so many times. Shamefully I still haven’t been into the Tower of London or Westminster Abbey, so those I’d visit for sure. But then I noticed this place, Royston Cave, in Herfordshire, that I can reach on the train, and I think I would love to visit that place. And then I’d need to add at least a castle visit. I’ve always wanted to go to Bodiam castle, but seems complicated to reach. Warwick then? Anyways, I’m only dreaming at the moment. I might not even go!

I should instead focus on my Finland trip the last week of May. I already have the plane tickets. What would my route look like? It all depends. There’s a chance we end up renting a car. If that was the case there’s the intention of driving all the way north to Rovaniemi and then crossing to Sweden, to Luleå. That’d be something! The only other extra places we’d visit if we rent a car would be Vaasa and maybe Oulu. Without the car the plan is to definitely go to Helsinki (obviously), Turku (there’s a castle!), Hämeenlinna (another castle!), Tampere (for Moomin museum), Savonlinna (probably the nicest castle in Finland, at least from the photos), and then Rovaniemi to get inside the Arctic circle. We’d probably do this in a mix of buses and trains. We still can’t book either anyways, so probably by March we could have a better idea. Very excited.

At the end of the year, for holidays, it seems the plan is to head to Mexico, but this time to Yucatan and the Riviera Maya. Checking out mostly pre-columbian sites as well as beautiful beaches. Escape the winter and have great food (cochinita pibil, yum!).

What scares me a bit about all this traveling is that there is absolutely no indiepop involved in it. Maybe if I go to London that would change, maybe there’s a gig or two. Or at least I could meet with indiepop friends. But then, this just may not happen.

I should try to go to more of the small gigs within NYC, those that are really not indiepop gigs but a mixed bag of bands where 1 happens to play nice indiepop and the rest crap. Tough. Paying to see 4 bands but only caring for 1. Hate that. But that’s how it usually is. Promoters usually don’t care.

Anyways, turning the page… here are some bands that I’ve discovered lately (thanks to CD16) and I think you should check them out:

Toilettes: I heard “Observatorio” on the CD16 and thought, where does this beautiful lo-fi racket comes from? They hail from Barcelona and they are two girls, Joana Mallol and Julieta Caprara. They have a tape out (I don’t know if it is still available) on Discos Walden/Discos Populares and it includes 8 songs, all which you can stream on their Soundcloud. This is really, really great. Pop that reminds of flexi girl-fronted indiepop bands like The Felicitys, The Definite Article, or even Talulah Gosh!

Lillet Blanc: quite the surprise. Their song “Foul Play” is gorgeous, but more surprising is that they hail from NYC! Damn. So close and I had no clue. Joel all the way in Peru could find them first. This means I should try to go see them whenever they play. They have three songs out on Bandcamp and it seems these songs were also released on tape. They seem to be formed by Sean Camargo, Andre Bellido and Emily Rawlings. A three-piece. That’s always a good number. And they seem to have some connection to Latin America because of their last names, so that makes me even happier. My only problem, as you know I hate tapes, is that I’m really sad these songs, and also the Toilettes ones are available in that format. Bring back CDR!

I Saw You Yesterday: the song they included was “Girlfriend” and has a great shoegazy sound. I look for them on the web. Surprise, surprise, they are Japanese and on the Ano(t)racks net label. I’ve checked this label before and it’s bands. But somehow I must have missed them. They have for download the “Malibu EP”. 4 songs that you can also stream. The band is formed by Hidemasa Shimoda, Kai Murakami, Kazushige Suzuki and Reiji Shibata. Not sure where from Japan they are from. I wish this label, with so many great releases, would put out some stuff in physical format. CDR?

Memory Drawers: seems the CD16 was pretty international. Memory Drawers contribute the song “Maybe” and they hail from the Philippines. It has been a while since I listen some great pinoy pop! So this is pretty exciting. On their Soundcloud I could find two more songs, “…For Any of This” and “Hart (?)”. There’s not much info about them, but they do have a Facebook page where I hope I can find more stuff about them in the future. So far they have been featured in a filipino newspaper. Maybe they’ll be big someday?

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Honey trapping is the private investigative practice of evaluating the fidelity of partners in marital and nonmarital romantic relationships. Investigators are employed by wives, husbands, and other partners usually when an illicit romantic affair is suspected of the “target”, or subject of the investigation. Occasionally the term may be used for the practice of creating an affair for the purpose of taking incriminating photos for use in blackmail. A honey trap is primarily used to get evidence. In a typical honey trap a private investigator will approach the spouse of a client and attempt to flirt with them.

Honey Trap or Honeytrap. I’ve seen the name written in both ways. But I’m going to go with Honeytrap. One word. I own a flexi by them and it is fantastic. I’ve heard some other songs and they are pretty good as well. I notice I know nothing else about them. Time for detective work then.

“Honeytrap were formed in 1988. Basically what happened was that I was first starting to do gigs I called myself “Sonny Rancher” then as I drafted in more members we changed the name at the same time. The complete and final line up just before we broke up in 1990 was as follows:
Phil Walton – vocals, guitar
John Peel – guitar
Jon Haslam – keyboards
Dave Haytack – bass
Jon Dickson – guitar
Tony Stewart – drums

All songs were written by myself and Jon Haslam.
Phil Walton (January 2003)”

This is what it says on the booklet of the Sound of Leamington Spa Vol. 3 compilation where Honeytrap appeared contributing the song “Peace in a Picture”. There is a bit of a different story on Twee.net. That one says:
“All but John Peel and Tony Stewart worked at TRADECRAFT, a company that traded with third world countries and paid 1st world prices direct to producers, look it up . Whoosh fanzine started at around the same time, owner Steve Joyce also worked at Tradecraft. During a conversation regarding an imminent Whoosh Club which was due to be held upstairs in the Broken Doll public house featuring Jesse Garon and the Desperadoes, Phil Walton agreed to fill one of the support slots. Calling himself Sonny Ranchero, taking the name from a ditty he had recently penned he enlisted the services of John Peel. A small handful of gigs later and David Haytack joined, closely followed by Tony Stewart. At this point and still operating under the name of Sonny Ranchero, Phil Walton and Jon Haslam began discussing and exchanging song writing ideas. Jon joined the group which was promptly re-christened Honeytrap. One additional member was later added, John ‘Dicka’ Dickson (Guitar) before the band went their separate ways around 1991.”

From Twee.net we also know that Phil Walton and John Peel hailed from Washington, Tyne & Wear, David Haytack from Flint Hill near Consett, Tony Stewart from Gosforth, Newcastle and Jon Haslam from Jesmond, Newcastle.

Washington is a large town in the City of Sunderland local government district of Tyne and Wear, England, and part of historic County Durham. Washington is located geographically at an equal distance from the centres of Newcastle, Durham and Sunderland, hence it has close ties to all three cities.

The band is listed on Twee.net as hailing from Washington in England. A lot of information already and I haven’t had to do much digging.

They only had one proper release, a flexi with two songs on the Sublime label (catalog Sublime One). There are no other releases on this label so it is kind of safe to think that it was a self-release. The two sogs on this fold-over paper picture sleeved record  were “The Boy Who Wouldn’t be Beaten” and “Make Me Happy”. The flexi also included a lyrics insert and a postcard. It was released in 1989. As far as I know it is not difficult to find this record,  I see some on Discogs. If you are missing it, please get it, it is GREAT. Two classic indiepop songs of jingle jangly quality!

That same year, in 1989, the band were to contribute the song “England” to the “Turquoise Days” compilation released by Red Roses For Me. A classic compilation packed with so many great bands from the period, from The Popguns to The Penny Candles to Fat Tulips and more!!

The other only compilation appearance I could find was that on the legendary “You Can’t Be Loved Forever 2” tape. On it they appear with the song “A Slender Grip”.

A little more digging and I could find Phil Walton’s Youtube channel. It hasn’t been updated in 3 years but he has uploaded 4 out of the 5 songs I’ve mentioned before (missing “A Slender Grip”) for you to stream and listen. The cool thing is that he has included lyrics for them!

I couldn’t find much more about them. I wonder why their flexi didn’t come out on Woosh, seemed like the obvious choice. I wonder if they have more recorded and unreleased songs. What happened to them after? Were they involved with other bands? Did anyone of you reading this remember anything about them? Did you go to any of their gigs? Would be great to know more about this obscure English band!

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Listen
Honeytrap – Make Me Happy

06
Feb

A bunch of news worth mentioning:

When Nalda Became Punk, our good friends from Spain, are promoting a new song: “Hanging Out with Imogen.” This song sounds great and is taken from their forthcoming new mini-LP to be released on March 10th on Shelflife Records and Discos de Kirlian.

There’s a compilation LP including three classic indiepop bands: The June Brides, Aberdeen and 14 Iced Bears. Each band contributes 4 songs on this “Three Wishes: Part Time Punks Sessions.” All the songs are live recordings from 2011, when the three bands recorded live sets for Los Angeles’ KXLU radio station.

Mid-march will also se the release of The Apple Moths’ “Fred Astaire EP” as a 12″ on Firestation Records. This was originally released decades ago (and you can read more about this classic band on an interview here in the blog) as a 7″ and this re-release will have extra tracks. Looking forward to it!

Next week Eggstone, the fantastic band from Malmö who were around mainly in the 90s, will play Hamburg. I’m so very jealous of this event. So if you are in that beautiful city, a city that I love, don’t miss out this 11th at 8pm at Nochtwache the comeback of “Swedish indie pop godfathers.”

And the last interesting news comes from Elefant who are reissuing the “Teenager” and “Keep it Clean” CD-singles as 7″s.

That’s it. That’s all I’ve seen on social media this past week. I’m trying to keep tabs. I’m probably forgetting stuff. As always if you have any suggestions please let me know through the comment section.

On my end there is little news as well. It is time for waiting for the pressing plants. It takes time, two months usually. So this February is just a month of waiting. March might bring surprises. In the meantime I have started planning which should be the next band to be featured in the Cloudberry Cake Kitchen series. I’ve already contacted a band that I really like and they seem interested. I hope it works out. If you have any suggestion for that too, please let me know. I’m very happy and pleased with this collection of classic recordings.

There was something else this week, something that left me with a bitter taste to be honest. I don’t want to go into it in detail, but what would you do if a much bigger label that has been unhelpful and uncaring in the past asks for help in tracking some bands?

And now onto re-discovering some obscure band from the 80s. That’s my favourite exercise.

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Crocodiles (subfamily Crocodylinae) or true crocodiles are large aquatic reptiles that live throughout the tropics in Africa, Asia, the Americas and Australia. Crocodylinae, all of whose members are considered true crocodiles, is classified as a biological subfamily. A broader sense of the term crocodile, Crocodylidae that includes Tomistoma, is not used in this article. The term crocodile here applies only to the species within the subfamily of Crocodylinae. The term is sometimes used even more loosely to include all extant members of the order Crocodilia, which includes Tomistoma, the alligators and caimans (family Alligatoridae), the gharials (family Gavialidae), and all other living and fossil Crocodylomorpha.

A ride on a crocodile. A Crocodile Ride. I wonder about their name. Maybe it has some more meaning. Discogs immediately gives me the lineup:
Marc Johnson – vocals/guitar
Chris Gates – bass
Matthew Owen – guitar
Stuart Allcock – drums

Then we see three records listed. Let’s start with the first one, released in 1987 on the Surfacer label, the “Ride” 7″ (catalog Surfacer 001). I start to feel this is a self-release. From what I see there was no proper sleeve for this record. Just a plain what sleeve, stamped with the name “Crocodile Ride” on red, and written with black marker the song belonging to each side. On the 7″ label I see a sticker for “Playroom Discs”. Maybe they were distributing this 7″? If you remember Playroom Discs was a label based in Brighton, that was run by Gordon Kaye and released some great records like Whirl, The Morrisons or The Grooveyard.

There is an insert including in this record it seems. There’s a scan on Discogs. It says that the release date for this record was on the 3rd October of 87. That they have already a hundred advanced orders based on their reputation as a live band in Brighton. That the lineup was completed three months before and that the core of the band was established in June 1987. During that time they had written over forty songs and that they have built their own rehearsal studios. Also it mentions that they won the Brigthon “Battle of the Bands” on their debut gig. They won five hundred pounds. With that they have financed this first single.

The songs on this first single were “Ride” and “Kiss and Tell.”

In spring of 1989 they were going to be part of a split flexi with Whirl. While Whirl was to cover “Bizarre Love Triangle”, Crocodile Ride was to contribute a song of their own, “Shimmer”. This flexi came out on The Sound of Spasm label (catalog 2). I couldn’t find what was the first reference on this label or any other information for this release. Maybe it came along some fanzine?

There last release was a split 7″, also in 1989. This time they were to share it with yet another Brighton band, 14 Iced Bears. In this record each band contributed 2 songs each. The A side was for 14 Iced Bears and they included “Falling Backwards” and “World I Love (Speed Mix)”. The B side, for Crocodile Ride, had “Ex-Hipster” and “Satellite”. This was released by the same Surfacer label as their first release (Surfacer 002) and there were only 1000 copies.

They participated in some compilations too. In 1988 they were to appear on the legendary “Hoopla” compilation that La-Di-Da (also from Brighton) released. For this one they contributed the song “Killers”. So when in 2000 this compilation was re-released on vinyl by Accident Records, Crocodile Ride was to appear again with the same song.

They included their first single, “Ride” , on an 1989 tape called “The Unknown Seven” that was released by Rain Tapes (catalog R12). The only other band I’m familiar on this compilation is Big Red Bus. It seems that Rain Tapes was according to Discogs a long running underground cassette label and distribution in the late 1980’s, run by Julian Smythe of Ruthin. Released a series of compilations called The Unknown, which ran at least up to Unknown 14 in Jan92. Also did a series of International compilations in early 90s.

Their last compilation appearance that is listed is that of the classic compilation “Alvin Lives (In Leeds)”. This was a charity release in aid of the Anti-Poll Tax Campaign. Crocodile Ride was to cover Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love”!

Let’s keep looking for more info about Crocodile Ride. My last stop is Matt Owen’s Soundcloud. What a find!

There is a set of Crocodile Ride recordings, many not included in the records. We find songs like “Dance With Me” or “Treasure” that weren’t released as far as I know. There is also for you to stream “Helen” (which is “Shimmer” really), “Ex-Hipster”, “I Feel Love”, “Killers 1” and “Killers 2”. All songs were uploaded 4 years ago. So I’m not sure if we can get in touch with Matt through there. Maybe I should try.

Where were these other songs from? I really love “Shimmer”, sounds like timeless indiepop, should have been a classic!! I wonder how many more songs they recorded. They did say they had written over 40 songs by the time of their first single!  Would be interesting to find out.

I know many Brighton friends read the blog, maybe you remember them? Saw them play? Would love to know more about them. What happened to them after they split? From Soundcloud at least it seems Matt Owen continued making music, solo and also with bands called Fuck You Planet Earth, The Rock and Roll Wall of Death, Law and The Malchicks.

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Listen
Crocodile Ride – Shimmer

30
Jan

The end of January. Time is going fast. Some bad news. Another hard drive failure. Doesn’t look good this time. Whereas my other hard drive, the first one that stopped working, seems to have been recovered, this one looks in a bad shape. I wonder what can be salvaged. If it will take a toll on Cloudberry? I wonder… a lot of back catalogue was on that backup hard drive, and I was just waiting to get the other hard drive to start transferring what needed to a fresh one or the cloud. How could I imagine two hard drives would fail within a month and a half. Tough life. Maybe it is a message? That Cloudberry has to suffer more and more obstacles? As if postage prices is not enough.

There are some good news though, I sent Some Other Day’s master to the pressing plant and it should take around a month and a half for it to be ready. So March. That’s when you should be able to get your pre-orders. I’m very very excited. Now onto getting Pale Spectres to the pressing plant. That’s the next step. I count with your support for these upcoming releases.

During the weekend I was planning how to reboot the Cloudberry Podcast. Was figuring out which sections should come back, which shouldn’t. I guess one decision would be that the interviews should be shorter. That I think will be hard as I love talking to bands/friends, but I think for the sake of the listener, a shorter interview is better. I also would love some suggestions from all of you. I would like to have a new Podcast by March. Please let me know how can I make it better. If you haven’t heard any of my previous Podcasts, you can check some of them here.

My office has moved, now I’m working in the Financial District, very close to the 911 Memorial. Today was my first day. I kind of miss Midtown, but I guess eventually I’ll like this area. It is just a matter of finding the cheap/good food places around here. It takes me 10-15 minutes longer too, to commute. That is not a terrible thing, I can read a bit longer one of the many books I want to read (I’ve set a low 45 books as a the year goal in Goodreads).

Music-wise I listened a bunch of music this weekend, but mostly old CDs that I keep buying, The Honeydrips, Cranebuilders, Young Marble Giants, Blissful and The Earthmen. I did get on the mail the Saint Etienne’ Fox Base Alpha 25 year anniversary boxset. I still have it in shrinkwrap, shame on me. They sent me an extra t-shirt. There must have been a mistake. Now I have 2. Maybe people will think it is part of my uniform, same as my collection of black jeans.

On my portable CD player I still have “C16”, the very nice compilation Joel Felipe has put out in his Impermeable label. There are a bunch of new discoveries on it, so I keep listening. Haven’t bought any other new release. What do you recommend? Is there anything new worth getting?

Indiepop seems quite. The world seems loud. Maybe when the world is quite, indiepop is loud? I wonder.

I found a nice sounding band on Bandcamp if you are curious, they hail from St. Leonards in the UK and they are called “No Middle Name”. Their album “Fondness“, released in hand-made CDs, sounds really lovely. Never heard anything from them before even though it seems they have more releases. I can only ask why bands like this don’t get invited to Indietracks? If they sound so nice and they are in the UK, why not? Why get Sweet Baboos and other crappy non-indiepop bands? The mysteries of life.

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Rediscovering some flexis I own. What about this one by The Quentins? My girlfriend doesn’t know what’s playing and she enjoys the guitars on “Take it All Back”. It sounds very lo-fi. But sounds fun, like so many indiepop songs from the period, from smaller bands that maybe their whole output was defined by appearances on compilation tapes. You know, just like the Hipflasks, The Pilgrims, The Kensingtons, The Almanacs and so on. Bands that I love.

These sort of bands of course lack presence on the internet. You can barely find any information about them.  At least the flexi, the only proper release The Quentins put out, appears on Discogs. We know that it was released in 1991 by the Sheer Joy label (catalog Joy 001), and it was the sole release on this label. Most probably then a self-release.

Two songs on the flexi, “Take it All Back” and “Let Down”. The artwork on the cover is simple, a drawing of a guitar player and his amp. On the back sleeve we see that this drawing was made by a girl named Rachel. There is also an address. The band must have hailed from Ashford, in Kent.

Ashford is a town in the county of Kent, England. It lies on the River Great Stour at the south edge of the North Downs, about 61 miles (98 km) southeast of central London and 15.3 miles (24.6 km) northwest of Folkestone by road. In the 2011 census, it had a population of 74,204. The name comes from the Old English æscet, indicating a ford near a clump of ash trees. It has been a market town since the 13th century, and a regular market continues to be held.

The band would appear on at least two tape compilations according to Discogs. In 1992 they would contribute the song “Haven’t You Heard?” to the “Teeny Poppers” tape released by Anorak Records in France (catalog SHOUBIDOUWA 01). Maybe our friends Guillaume or Fabien remembers them? They were part of the Anorak Family and I met them after they resurrected the label around 2007. Saw them at Indietracks a couple of times. Ah! I miss those days!

Anyhow, this seems to be a great compilation, would love to listen to it. You have songs by bands like The Gravy Train, Hope, Budgie Jacket, Bouquet, and more! Wow. Good selections!

Their second tape appearance is on the “Polythene Star” tape released by the Flaming Katy label (catalog FK001). I don’t know anything about this label or compilation. It was released in 1993 and The Quentins contributed “Feel so Grave”. There are some known bands in it like Mary Queen of Scots, The Kensingtons, Peru, Southville and even Boyracer. The cover artwork was credited to Anna and it was hand-coloured with crayons. The compilation was put together between 1992-1993.

Their location, Ashford, helps me find just a few more hits on the web. The first is that of a band called The Dale Coopers. It is listed that they supported The Quentins at The Monarch in Chalk Farm, London on the 4th of May of 1993.

The only other information I could find was on a zine in PDF format uploaded to Angelfire (this must be old!). The zine seems to be called “Your Mornings Will Be Brighter” and it dates of September 2000. It says it is “your indispensable free guide to life and music in South Kent”. There is a timeline for a band called Intensified who were celebrating their 10 year anniversary in 2000. We can find that in 1991 a Karl Wirrmann joins the band and it seems that he was formerly the bass player with The Quentins! That is the only name I could find associated to the band. Who were the other Quentins? Was he replaced? Or did The Quentins split in 1991?

There are so many questions. I still would love to hear the two other songs not on the flexi. But 4 songs released is very little. Did they record more? Did they release anything else? Would be interesting to find out more about them. Do you remember anything else by The Quentins?

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Listen
The Quentins – Take It All Back

23
Jan

Hey indiepoppers! Now back from 9 days abroad, vacations in Peru, Lima and the Amazon jungle, Iquitos and Nauta, the Pacaya-Samiria Reserve. Lots of good food, hanging out with friends and showing my girlfriend my hometown. It was really good but now back to reality, work and the US with its new government. What should one feel in this situation?

Not easy, isn’t it? But Cloudberry is very much alive with new releases around the corner. So that’s what I’m going to be doing the next few months. And I’m very excited about that! Have you heard already Some Other Day? And pre-ordered the CD? You don’t want to miss this album!

What news happened while I was away? Will have to catch up. The only news worth mentioning that I have is the release of a a compilation album on a new Peruvian label named Impermeable Records. This compilation is titled CD16 and is kind of a tribute to the C86 tape. It celebrates 20 years of the release of the mythical tape and includes 22 tracks from all over the world.

I actually got a copy already of the CD and started listening to it today. You can order it from the label Bandcamp and also stream the compilation for free.

Among the bands included we find two Cloudberry friends like Pale Spectres or Stephen’s Shore. Also there are bands I have championed in the blog like The Bv’s, Whalo, Eva & John and Yumi Yumi Hip Hop. And of course there are a bunch of bands I’ve never heard before that I need to check out.

Also would like to mention that while in Peru I had the chance to see some bands at the Paraíso Vacío festival that happened last Saturday. Sadly I had a flight very early on Sunday so couldn’t stay late and had to leave halfway through the Dan Dan Dero set. They were really good performing the three songs I had the chance to listen, as good as the last time I saw them a year or so ago. The other band I enjoyed was Serto Mercurio, who looked like very young school boys wearing shorts (not the usual look for a shoegazy bands) and who didn’t sound much as the album I raved on the blog years ago.  But in due honesty, their last song though was brilliant.

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It seems like I keep checking out what’s left on the WOOSH label that hasn’t yet been dug on the blog. Esmerelda’s Kite appeared on one of their flexis and that’s the one I own of their two proper releases.

They appeared first in a flexi on the Sunshine label in 1988. This was the only release on this label as far as I know. On this flexi they appeared along the band The Williams who I interviewed years ago. When I asked The Williams about this flexi they told me:

++ You released a split flexi with Esmerelda’s Kite that came with the Shoot The Tulips zine. I read this was the best selling of them, 800 copies. It even got airplay by John Peel! Was that the biggest highlight of The Williams? How did you end up on this flexi?

The flexi was a good thing – recorded on the strangest 4-track recorder in our bedroom – I remember that I’d met Jo in Leeds- she sold me her fanzine and introduced me to pale saints – we hit it off and discussed the possibility of doing a joint flexi together. Suffice to say my band was going on it – so in some ways it was a vanity press sort of thing. She knew a band from Leeds called Esmerelda’s Kite – of whom the singer would go on to become The Gentle Despite who released some stuff on Sarah records. I think it cost a bit – but we made it back from the sales – she sold out and so did I – it was bizarre – I’ve still got a couple left but generally that flexi is out there.

Jo hated the fact that I called the label Sunshine [in retrospect she was right] and when we got it back from the manufacturers it had three tracks as opposed to the two listed – so it was even better value for money. The John Peel thing was a highlight – Jo rang and said he was going to play the flexi – and we thought he’d play Esmerelda’s Kite – it sounded more garage etc. but we had forgotten that he had a son named William. I remember him introducing it and Paul and I just trying to tape it – it was weird to hear it on the radio. After that it got picked up by some other European stations and even ended up in some charts. Having John Peel play your record means he had to listen to it – make a decision and programme it – it was John Peel do you know what I mean – I listened to him every night. Still he never gave us a session – despite the hundred of tapes we gave him.

From that answer we get to know a couple interesting facts about Esmerelda’s Kite. They were from Leeds and they were to become Gentle Despite. We also know that Sunshine was a label run by The Williams.

The song that is credited on the flexi to Esmerelda’s Kite is “Roundabout” but there is a third song on the flexi, after The Williams’ “I Know I’m Nothing Special To You”, that is attributed to Esmerelda’s Kite and seems to be called “A Whirl.”

The next year, 1989, they were to release a red flexi with the Woosh label (WOOSH 006). This time they were to share the record with The Groove Farm. Esmerelda’s Kite contributed “Vampire Girl”. This flexi came along the fanzine Woosh No.3 that also came with another flexi by The Pooh Sticks.

“Vampire Girl” was also to appear on the “Ten Little Records” compilation that Jigsaw Records released in 2014 collecting most of the songs that Woosh put out on those classic flexis in the 80s.

Where else to dig? Well we do know the connection with Gentle Despite and so the Popkiss book written and researched masterfully by Michael White ends up being a good source of information. From it we know that it was Simon Westwood from Gentle Despite the one that was on Esmerelda’s Kite. Don’t know the rest of the band members but at least we know one now.

The book mentions Esmerelda’s Kite just twice:

Paul Gorton and Simon Westwood had been friends in their native Leeds since the age of twelve, playing together in a succession of teenage bands that followed the trajectory of 1960s rock from speed-fueled garage-punk (The Cavemen) to acid damaged psychedelia (The Emptyhearts). Westwood had been the drummer in both groups, but stepped out front to become a singer after parting company with Gorton and joining a “knockaround joke” endeavour named Esmerelda’s Kite. 

Wadd and Haynes had been encouraging Westwood about the Esmerelda’s Kite demos, so they were familiar with his name when he sent them the first trial recordings of Gentle Despite. 

Sadly early in 2015 Simon Westwood passed away.

I wonder though who else was in Esmerelda’s Kite and about those demos they used to send to Sarah. How many did they record? There’s really not much more on the web, but I wonder if anyone knows more about them?

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Listen
Esmerelda’s Kite – Roundabout

09
Jan

Next week I’m off to Lima and there won’t be any blog posts until the week of the 23rd. For those Peruvians that read the blog, who must be a few but nonetheless, if you are interested in any records please let me know so I can bring them with me and you can save some postage costs (which as you know are quite high).

Speaking of that, I did book another vacation for the last week of May and early June. I’ll be visiting Finland! Very excited. I’ve been to northern Europe a few times, to Sweden, to Denmark, to Norway, so I was missing Finland, the land of some amazing pop bands like Cats on Fire or Leevi and the Leavings. The same offer goes for Finnish fans, if you want any records please let me know and I’ll bring them with me and even if I don’t visit your town it won’t be a problem to use the Finnish postal service to send you the records as it is probably cheaper than the US one!

I have also announced on the website the Some Other Day release details. I will add a pre-order button soon. Just waiting some small details before I can send it to the pressing plant. You should be able to download one song too. Will update the Soundcloud soon with a song by them as well for you all to share. Hopefully all of this before Friday that is when I start vacations.

So let’s go through some new discoveries on the web.

What about Bitter Cherry Jam? This Japanese band have a new release titled “Sayonara” and you can stream it on Bandcamp. The surprising thing for me is that the label releasing it is a classic Japanese label that I thought was no more: Galaxy Train! I think I must have it all wrong then! The label have a full website with details and all (though sadly the shop seems to be Japan only). I think I only own one record from this label, and it comes comes to mind instantly, the 800 Cherries 7″ with “La Pa Ti Ta”. Maybe I could try to collect them somehow.

Then I saw that John Jervis’ WIAIWYA was promoting their 21st anniversary celebrations sharing a Girlfrendo demo, the first demo by this beloved band of mine. That I saw on Facebook. Little did I know that there were copies of this tape (well, a replica) being sold in their Bandcamp. Today I noticed, but of course it is already sold out. I missed it. Even if I hate tapes, I would have gotten this one just because. I love LOVE Girlfrendo. There are 4 songs on this tape but only “Easily Impressed” can be streamed.

I remember the band Maria from California on Yay! Records. They were ace. Today I found another Maria, but this time with an accent on the I. María hail from Buenos Aires, Argentina, and they have an album out titled “Tan de Repente” released on CD by Paper Heart Records. You can stream this nice girl fronted band’s album on Bandcamp.

And well, this one is quite late to be recommended, but I totally forgot about it. I listened to it almost a month ago but it slipped somehow from the blog. It is a 2 song digital single by the great Night Flowers from the UK. The songs being “To Rest” and “Christmas” (this is why I say I’m late). Very nice two songs on their Bandcamp from a band that I saw once in Indietracks with a different vocalist. I remember mentioning to them that I loved their songs and would love to keep in touch. Well, that didn’t happen. In any case they seem to be doing pretty good, and look forward to their next release.

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Holidaymaker: One who goes on vacation.

Back to explore the Woosh catalog. Why not? Especially with a favourite band of mine from that label that for some reason I hadn’t covered before! Very strange as I love “Everyday” and “Cincinnati” a lot!

The story of the band seems to start with “Everyday”, a classic jangly song that appeared on a shared flexi with The Nivens in 1988. This was the start of the Woosh label, catalog WOOSH 001. The foldout cover came in different colours, there were at least ones printed in blue and others in green. Mine is blue. This flexi came accompanying the first Woosh fanzine in which many bands were covered like Darling Buds, The Flatmates, Emily, Bachelor Pad, Sea Urchins and more. The Nivens contributed “Let Loose Of My Knee.”

That same year their first 7″ was to be released, again on Woosh. Two songs, “Cincinnati” and “Seventh Valley Girl” on Woosh’s 4th release (catalog WOOSH 004). Now, if you’ve never heard this or don’t own it, I tell you to get on it. This is a great single. Classic sounding, the sort of indiepop that makes me happy. And it shouldn’t be difficult to track this record down. Now, who is that girl from the cover sleeve? Most probably she is a famous actress, but I can’t say who she is. Maybe someone can help with that?

Cincinnati is a city in the U.S. state of Ohio that serves as county seat of Hamilton County.Settled in 1788, the city is located on the north side of the confluence of the Licking with the Ohio River. With a population of 298,550, Cincinnati is the third-largest city in Ohio and the 65th-largest city in the United States. Its metropolitan statistical area is the 28th-largest in the United States and the largest centered in Ohio. The city is also part of the larger Cincinnati–Middletown–Wilmington combined statistical area, which had a population of 2,172,191 in the 2010 census.

What we do get to know from the back sleeve are the band members:
Adrian Smith – Vocals/Guitars
Neil Craig – Guitars
Mark Cunningham – Bass
Richard Guy – Drums

Songs credit both times appear as Smith/Craig. The record was produced by Angus McPake and engineered by Bobbie Heatlie. I also notice that the contact information for the band has an address from Edinburgh. Ok, so they were Scottish then?

Their last release is not that well known, it came out in 1989 on a different label: The Gay Cowboy Recording Organisation. I feel this was a self-release as Discogs doesn’t list any other records on this label. The catalog number was “maker 001t”. This  was the band’s first 12″ as well and was titled “Skyrider”. And yes, the A side is “Skyrider” and then on the B side we can find two songs, “Cross River State” and “Beginning at the End”. The sound of the band has changed a bit, less poppy I’d say. Still I quite enjoy the record.

Then silence. No news from the band. I guess they split. What did the band members do after?

We do know that in 1988, when the band was still going, they contributed “7th Valley Girl” to the “Everlasting” compilation. But what about other songs? Did they record any other ones?

In 2014 they appear on the “Ten Little Records: The Woosh Collection” on Jigsaw Records with “Everyday”, “Cincinnati” and “7th Valley Girl”. But that was more of a Woosh thing, this compilation, I think, or was the band involved?

I check on Adrian Smith on Discogs. They list him as being part of a band called The Beatpack with releases in 2015 and 2016. Is this the same Adrian Smith? There is such a big gap, from 1989 to 2015. Could be, but seems strange that he was away from music that long!

I do see too that Mark Cunningham contributed bass on one song on an album by Jeff Green titled “Jessica” on 2008. The song name is “Willing the Clouds Away”. No other credits for him on Discogs.

Neil Craig and Richard Guy only appear listed for The Holidaymakers. I keep digging. I find a post from 2009 about them on a blog titled Because Midway Still Aren’t Coming Back and even though the post doesn’t shed any new light, there’s a comment by a Charles Hodgson that says:
I knew the Holidaymakers back in the day – they’re from Edinburgh, heavily into Postcard records – really wanted to be in on the Jesse Garon / Shop Assistants ‘scene’ (or ‘clique’) but were just too genuinely young and fun-loving to be accepted. Some of those ‘older’ (early twenties!) bands were right unfriendly snobs as I recall from hanging out at the Onion Cellar etc in those days, ‘cos they knew The Legend (and possibly Bobby Gillespie & Alan MacGee) you know! Anywhoos, they moved to London about 1988 or 1989 and were never heard off again. Where are you Adrian, Richard? Best bands of the whole era are Close Lobsters and McCarthy – everybody knows that, right?

Interesting. This confirms that they were from Edinburgh. But what happened to them in London? Why did they disappear!

I keep googling and trying to find any information about the band members. I have hit a wall. There’s nothing at all. I am rather sad. I really like their songs. I wonder about if they left many unreleased recordings as I want to hear more from them. But maybe some of you, like Charles Hodgson in that comment, remember them. Did they play your town? What happened to them after going to London? Were they involved with other music? Would be nice to find out!

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Listen
The Holidaymakers – Cincinnati

04
Jan

Happy New Year!! Back for another year, the tenth year anniversary of Cloudberry, and the 9th for the blog. Let’s continue this indiepop dream for one more year!

What’s new then? I still haven’t recovered my hard drive, but I have received some new nice packages on the mail that I feel need to be recommended. Well, I did recommend one of them last week, the BV’s new EP “Runaway Neon” that came out on tape. Luckily the band was super nice to me and sent me a CDR version so I could listen to all the tracks, and wow! They are so good! Definitely one of my favourite newish bands in the indiepop world.

It seems then that the label Kleine Untergrund Schallplatten from Augusburg is kind of a King Midas now, every band that they are involved with, like the Bv’s, is really good. I got two new records from them today too and aside from the beautiful presentation, the music is fab. The records I got were a 7″ by the band Botschaft and a 12″ by Endlich Blüte.

The 12″ EP by Endlich Blüte is titled “Der Schöne Junge Mann” and you can actually stream all songs from their Bandcamp. There are only 200 copies of this record and I feel the price is very good. So there is no excuse for not getting it! On top of it all the band has a new video for the song “Eigenwohl” and you can check it here.

About Botschaft you can hear their jangly and elegant song “Niederlage” here, on their Soundcloud. You can also stream “Reproduktionsfunktion” there as well. Happiness. Germany keeping indiepop alive!

I hope Kleine Untergrund keeps on this perfect run!

On other indiepop news I could gather during the past few days I saw that Horsebeach have announced a new album titled “Beauty & Sadness” to come out on March 17th.

Desperate Journalist another favourite band of mine have a new song out too titled “Resolution” and it is gorgeous. Sadly it is not available for me to link to their Soundcloud, only a select few hipster websites seem to be able to, but I found it on a non-official Youtube. So you can listen to it there.

But is it an end of an era? I was thinking about this last week when Cake Shop, the iconic venue in the Lower East Side, announced that it was closing. At least it is an end of an era in New York. With no Popfest and now with no venue that was extremely friendly and supportive to indiepop bands, New York seems like an island. I don’t know what will happen here. Not even there’s a Mondo to listen a few indiepop hits and dance. That’s it. Indiepop, I believe, is agonizing in NY. Time to resurrect it somehow?

The news of Cake Shop closing wasn’t a surprise. Years ago they were looking for investors. It must be so hard to pay the rent in an area that is hip and happening. CBTweeBs as Michael Grace calls the venue was a place where I got to see so many amazing bands during the years, even before I moved to the city. Many bands associated to the label played there like The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Alpaca Sports, Zipper, Lost Tapes and so on. I saw many other cool bands there like Love is All, My Favorite, Airiel, Cola Jet Set and many more.

I used to start the nights with the cheap Genesee beer, and then continue with the Brooklyn lagers. The basement could get so warm, so hot, when it was packed of people. Standing on the seats on the righthand side of the basement just below the AC was the solution. The big table there were all the merch was sold, were I sat so many times and the line for the bathroom where one would meet always new people will be missed.

I didn’t go to the last shows, sadly the bands playing weren’t my cup of tea. I feel a bit bad for not supporting during the last days, but in due honesty I did go there quite often, even when there were no bands playing. If I was in the area and was up for a beer, the Cake Shop was always the first option. I liked the first floor for that, it wasn’t loud and the people that visited weren’t obnoxious, they were just like you and me, usually.

I have so many photos of friends and myself in this venue. Somehow it will be remembered by all our memories, for all those great nights of gigs and Popfest. I do hope that Andy can start another Cake Shop with the same name or another somewhere else in New York. It is important for the city to have the sort of people and venues that support bands like they did.

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How do we start the new year? What about a fantastic obscure band? Well, that’s the usual isn’t it? Let’s see what can we find about a band that a lot of serious indiepop fans love: The Beaujolais Brothers.

Beaujolais is a French Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) wine generally made of the Gamay grape which has a thin skin and is low in tannins. Like most AOC wines they are not labeled varietally. Whites from the region, which make up only 1% of its production, are made mostly with Chardonnay grapes though Aligoté is also permitted until 2024 (on condition the vines were planted before 2004). Beaujolais tends to be a very light-bodied red wine, with relatively high amounts of acidity. In some vintages, Beaujolais produces more wine than the Burgundy wine regions of Chablis, Côte d’Or, Côte Chalonnaise and Mâconnais put together.

Were they wine lovers then?

I don’t know much about the band, I’ve only heard the one song “Here Comes Summer”, and it is such a good song! Classic indiepop! Where does this song come from? From a 7″ released in 1988 on the Seagull Records label (CORK 001). I believe this is a self-release as there are no other releases on this label as far as I know. This was a double A side record, the other song was “Day After Day”.

Two people are credited on this record, the songs were written by M. Jamieson and R. Maberley.  Sadly there is no back sleeve photo uploaded to Discogs.

Keep digging. An unexpected turn of events. I find on Google some messages of Japanese fans to a Facebook page for Rodney Maberley. I think I hit the target. I will get to know more about the band now. Someone did the detective work for me.

I find on this profile page a small biography:
‘Le Mc Rod’ was a name borne of his busking in France and Scotland. He was a man of great musical talent and loved his life to be as simple as possible! He was full of cheesy one liners and cheese and picklle sandwiches. God bless you Rod love ya!

His full name was Rodney Keith Maberley and was born in Brighton, UK. There are more bands listed that he was involved with, aside from The Beaujolais Brothers he played with The Sexed up Lambeth boys, Ol’ Dirty Bar Stars, The Introze, The Dolphins, Heroes, Scuba Divers, Slime Time, Red Sox.

Sadly from this page I learn that it has been 8 years since he passed away. Terrible news.

I see some messages from people I know, there’s one saying that there’s a German label that wants to re-release the 7″ and probably a retrospective. Would that be Firestation? I bet on that.

It seems the page is being managed by his niece. It seems at some point there was a Facebook music player on the page were more songs by him were uploaded. Not sure if they were from The Beaujolais Brothers or from other bands.

There are also lots of photos on this page, many of him as a musician though I’m not sure which ones are from The Beaujolais Brothers. I could tell there are some by The Dolphins.

On Last.fm I could find people listening to songs by him, two songs that I don’t know if to which of his bands they belong. The names being “Moon Equipment” and “Julia”. I also tried to find out more about the other bands listed that he was involved with. But I couldn’t track any of them.

I then tried to track M. Jamieson, the other name that appears on The Beaujolais Brothers record. I couldn’t find anything either. Dead ends.

A true mystery. The one 7″ record that is classic. Were there unreleased songs? What about Rodney’s other bands? Did they sound similar to The Beaujolais Brothers? What happened to M. Jamieson? Was he involved in other bands? Would be great to know more about them and MAYBE find a copy of this 7″, would be nice to have it!

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Listen
The Beaujolais Brothers – Here Comes Summer

26
Dec

Last post of 2016, wishing everyone a Happy New Year!!

I still can’t remember what records came out this year. Sure I know the ones that I just got from Shelflife or Matinée, but I’m sure there were many earlier on, but you know, I barely remember them! Thing is, as many of you know I keep this Excel document where I have written down all my records and I kind of have it ordered by purchase date, at least the last year. Then after a year is over I organize them alphabetically, that way I know which were the records I bought in the last year and I can tell you some of my highlights of the year. No lists though, I find them unfair.

But see, as I told you before my computer broke down. And yes, there were good news that the hard drive was saved by my girlfriend’s cousin (a computer whiz) he left to Mexico for holidays before I could meet him to get my hard drive. So yeah, no Excel sheet yet to check the records. I haven’t even stored my latest records and they are piling on my desk, instead of finding a good home in my shelves, waiting to be catalogued. This is definitely nerve wracking for me, for my order, for my way of storing and collecting records, but what can I do? It is my fault in the end, should have had my collection on the cloud or have a backup file, something. But no… I didn’t.

So that’s changing, that’s a resolution for next year. Being more cautious, more careful with digital stuff. Once I got fried a hard drive and lost thousands and thousands of MP3s of indiepop. A lot of rare stuff. I guess since that time I have issues with digital releases and MP3s. Understandable, no?

So yeah, won’t tell you what records were my favourite this year until I have it more clear.

What can I tell you then? These last weeks of every year are usually very quiet. That’s always like that. I did see something on my email a couple days ago, Phil Sutton from Pale Lights promoting a new song under another name, The Holiday Scene. It is a free song on Bandcamp called “Eight Dates a Week (Song for Hannukkah)” and it sounds a lot like Pale Lights if you ask me. It is very nice, lyrics by Lisa Goldstein (Pale Lights) and Dora Lubin (The Soft City) and all music played by Phil and Kyle Forester (Crystal Stilts) and vocals by Suzanne Nienaber. The song is intended to raise funs for Planned Parenthood, so they are asking for donations if you like the song. A good thing indeed.

Another worthy release that just came out is a cassette tape by Barcelona band Son Bou. A favourite band that released some fantastic records many years ago. Now they are back after a long silence with 7 songs on a limited edition of 50 tapes. Shame I’m no fan of tapes, but I’m really enjoying the tracks on Bandcamp. As I said before, why do just 50 copies of a tape when you can do 100 CDRs and they are way easier to listen to them. Why tapes? I will never understand this trend. Bring back CDR! Anyhow, the record is out on Snap! Clap! Club a label that seems to be on fire lately.

A Texas indiepop band? That seems like something from the 90s, doesn’t it? Well there is this band The Crystal Furs that also have a very late release this year, expected to ship December 27 it says. This is their first full-length album and it includes 9 songs, though only one, “Weightless“, can be streamed from Bandcamp. It sounds pretty nice, quite a surprise for a band hailing from Forth Worth, a city I visited back in 1994 (!).

And what a nice surprise is Battery Point from Chula Vista, California. It makes me happy when I see Spanish last names in bands in the US, makes me feel less lonely in the indiepop community in a way. This four piece have 3 songs up on their Bandcamp, “Street Lights”, “Eternal” and “Violet Dream” and they all sounds really good! What a promising band, and I wonder who they are? have they been in bands before? and if they have any plans for the future? A very nice discovery and one to keep an eye in 2017.

And so this is how I end up 2017, reviewing some up and coming bands, hoping for a good year for indiepop, and more, MORE, releases. Around the corner we will have Pale Spectres and My Light Shines for You 7″s and the Some Other Day retrospective. The blog will continue, on it’s 9th year of existence, trying to do a blog post each week, with some band you might have forgotten and some news or some reviews or whatever. And when possible interviews to bands that I care.

Happy 2017!

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I wonder why today, coming out the 7 train, going to work on a Christmas day, St. James Infirmary came to mind. I was reading the fantastic Grant & I book (I’m halfway through) and started thinking of bands that I haven’t covered in the blog and that I barely know anything. I guess I do this exercise a lot, but I wonder what sort of connections brought me to a band that is very well regarded by me, that I keep in mind, that I have even uploaded a song to Youtube. But for some reason 8 years have had to pass on the blog for me to start writing some lines about them!

And I’m not the first one writing about them. I see that my good friend Alex in Madrid had already dedicated some lines to them, especially to their Angelikagool EP, back in 2007! So I’m quite late to the party even though I’m very sure I owned this EP and their flexi on Woosh already in 2007. I least that’s what I recall. My memory could be playing tricks on me though.

Alex raves a couple of the songs on the EP, especially “Terry Marriagehead” and the fabulous “Like a Boy Detective”.  I agree with him, those two are the best in this 4 song 7″. But lets start from the beginning.

There was a time once where fanzines were important and they brought the news of new up and coming bands. I still don’t know what would be the fanzines of our times. Blogs are dead (even if this isn’t). Well, with the fanzines “Two Pint Take Home -No. 4” and “Waterbomb No.4″ a flexi 7” came along. This was the flexi shared by The Sunflowers and St. James Infirmary, released by Woosh (which used to be a fanzine). The catalog was WOOSH 008 and it came out in 1989. Here in the blog I’ve celebrated Stephen’s Woosh label so many times and so it is no surprise this band would find home not only here on Woosh but also on Stephen’s second label, Lust. The song they included in the flexi was “The Boy Who Crossed the Street”. Keep in mind too that this song is also available on “The Woosh Collection” a CD released by Jigsaw in 2014 where all Woosh flexis are included!

Next record, going in order on Discogs, is the Altered Mixes 12″. I have never heard the songs in this record. They are just titled “Altered (Mix 1)” and “Altered (Mix 2)”. I’ve read not so good things about it, so I haven’t taken the risk before listening to it (not like me, huh?). This blue sleeve record came out in 1990 on Lust Records (catalogue LUST 6T).

Then another flexi, also from 1990, but this time on the Paint it Red label. This came out alongside the Paint it Red magazine No. 43 in November of that year. It figures. St. James Infirmary shares the flexi with The Lavender Faction and they contribute the song “Juicehead Ritual”.

And now the record I started the post with, “Angelkagool EP” on Lust Recordings. Catalogue LUST 2 (which means this actually came before the Altered Mixes 12″) and out in 1990. Four songs, on the A side, “Terry Marriagehead” and “The Shenanigans Begin Again” and on the B side “Her Voice Moves Me Thru Time” and “Like a Boy Detective”. 1000 copies made and a printing mistake seems to have put the back sleeve upside down.

On the back sleeve we find some information. First off some text titled “In Inventions, Waiting for Bill” credited to Jimmy Buxton, the produced of the record. The band line up is listed:
Tony Bennett – drums and vocals
G.W. Lang – vocals, guitars and organ
Michael Damain Hydes – vocals
Stephen Bennett – vocals

The songs were recorded by Tim Hartley. The drawing on the sleeve am I smart enough to guess that is the “Saint Klimt” by Skip Doncaster that is also credited on the back? We also find out that the band hailed from Ashington, Northumberland. Good clues for our detective work, just like a boy detective.

Ashington is a town and civil parish in Northumberland, England. With a population of around 27,000, measured at 27,764 at the 2011 Census; it was once a centre of the coal mining industry. The town is located some 15 miles (24 km) north of Newcastle upon Tyne. Many inhabitants have a distinctive accent and dialect known as Pitmatic. This varies from the regional dialect known as Geordie.

Discogs lists yet another 7″ but from a later time, from 1998. This means the band kept going even after the indiepop heydays. Released on a label called Sound Archive Recordings, St. James Infirmary’s 7″ included “Punk Rock (Saved My Best Friend’s Life)” and “Thanks a Bunch, Fat Boy”.

Let’s keep digging. Best bet that they took their name from:
“St. James Infirmary Blues”, sometimes known as “Gambler’s Blues,” is an American folksong of anonymous origin, though sometimes credited to the songwriter Joe Primrose (a pseudonym for Irving Mills). Louis Armstrong made it famous in his influential 1928 recording.

But that is just another guess. I do find a Bandcamp for St. James Infirmary and there I find an interesting bio.
St. James Infirmary, of Ashington, Northumberland, was formed in 1985 as the vehicle for singer, songwriter and multiinstrumentalist g.w.lang and has been continuously active ever since. g.w.l. is assisted in his work by an evolving and rotating cast of bandmates, and at last count, SJI has had something in the region of 40 members.

So G.W. Lang is really the main force behind the band. Was it like that always? Seems like it. Here on the Bandcamp there are a lot of recent-ish releases, none from the 80s. But here you can listen to the 7″ on Sound Archive Recordings. And that was 1998. Then the next release is titled “Abdicate” and it dates from 2002.

Then there are these releases titled Almanac. They go from Almanac 3.01 to Almanac 4.12. All in all there are 23 of these Almanacs, lots to listen. Also there is another release titled “Annex B to Planet X” that is mostly electronic tracks.

For the completists of websites, I could also find a Soundcloud page. Here there are a couple of the 80s songs, the ones that make me so happy! Do check some of the songs at the bottom, like “She’s Off Her Head” for example, proper indiepop! Wonder when was this one written and recorded.

Back to Discogs for a bit. I need to check if they appeared on compilations. Of course they did. I can see they appeared on the Mind The Gap tape in 1990. On this legendary tape compiled by the one and only Peter Hahndorf they included the song “Martha & Terry”. That same year on another classic tape, on the “Positively Teenage” compilation they contributed the song “The Sun Don’t Shine”.

Then another gap, 8 years. In 1998 they contribute the song “Heavy Handed Down” on the CD compilation “Pickle Patch Compilatio 1” released by Din Mak Records.

I know Discogs is missing something! One of my favourite songs by the band is “How Many Times” and that was included on the 2nd volume of the legendary “You Can’t Be Loved Forever” tape compilation series.

The boy detective has to keep going. And now perhaps the grail, on a St James Infirmary Facebook page (that has no profile photo!) I’m to find a lot of goodies. First off a band lineup that seems correct: G.W. Lang, Mark Oliver and Tony Bennett with Simon Foster, Bing Bongo, Bob Wire, Andrea Woodyer. I remember seeing the Bing Bongo name on the back sleeve of the “Angelkagool EP”, wonder what did he do in that record then.

There are a bunch of videos in the page, but for me the cherry on the cake is a video titled “Hey ho, see you down the discotheque, when I get my giro cheque”. It is a video from the 80s definitely. It sounds glorious to me. Jingle Jangly! Please check it out! Was it a promo video?!

From this Facebook page we know they are still playing. They even have a gig just around the corner, January 12 at the Prohibition Bar in Gateshead. So that’s good news! Maybe we’ll get in touch with the band and learn more about them, maybe an interview? That’d be nice.

And what you weren’t expecting, St. James Infirmary has a website. True the URL is not very helpful and Google wouldn’t give me this website by just searching their name. But doesn’t matter. I found it and it is time to dig on this sort of blog structured site. There’s so much here but it seems like a blog chronicling the band singe August 2011. I know, I’m more interested in the 80s stuff, and that’s kind of mean of me perhaps, and I go through the posts looking for something about those years. I especially want to know if they have more unreleased songs from that time. If they appeared on more tape compilations back then (I did find out that they were on a tape compilation just lately, on the “The Rough With the Smooth – A Glimpse of Paradise Vol 1” on Neen Records where the very hip Molly Nilsson also appears).

I wonder if you remember them. Many of you probably do as they are still going strong. I wonder about their indiepop days, if they played as many gigs as they do now. As I asked before, if they had more songs recorded. If they released demo tapes or participated on more compilations. Or even, if there are more jingle jangly videos for me to love.

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Listen
St. James Infirmary – Like a Boy Detective