14
Dec

Tomorrow is our official release date for My Light Shines for You’s “Detective EP” 7″! Very very excited! All pre-orders have been posted by now, and I hope to get getting orders as the record is GREAT! It is classic indiepop in the vein of The Haywains or Strawberry Story if you have never heard them before. So check them out on our website or SoundCloud!

Also please remember that next week I’m heading to Mexico, let me know if anyone there wants me to bring you any records so you can save on shipping!! AND mark your calendars, I’m going to Madrid Popfest next year! First time since 2013.  So same thing, if you need me to bring any records to Madrid (or Spain) let me know and I’ll happily do so!

Now, I what new music have I found?

El Último Vecino: it seems it has already been 3 weeks since they unveiled their latest promo video for the song “Donde Estás Ahora”, but only now I found out about it! The Barcelona band is one of the best bands around if I may say so and I still haven’t been lucky enough to see them live. I doubt that my week in Spain will coincide with a gig of theirs in the area I’ll be staying (Madrid), so I can only cross my fingers. Anyhow, the new song sounds great but not sure how or when it will be properly released!

Remington Super 60: the Norwegian band seems to still be going. I remember them from the days Alexander from Radio Khartoum used to promote them on the indiepop-list in the early 2000s. I got a nice email the other day from the Frederisktad band telling me they have a new song out, a Christmas song. Titled “Another Christmas Song” it is available as a digital single on their own Cafe Superstar Recordings label.

Stutter Steps: an indiepop band from The Andy Warhol Museum’s Ben Harrison. That’s how the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, promotes themselves. They have a new EP titled “Floored” available on both 12″ vinyl and CD, and I must say that it sounds really great!! There are six songs in total, “Floored”, “Dim”, “Submarine”, “Identical Eyes”, “Weak Restraint” and “Encino”. The sound is poppy, with chiming guitars, it is classic indiepop sounding! The band is formed by the aforementioned Ben Harrison on guitars, vocals and drums, Cindy Yogmas on keyboards and vocals, David Horn on bass and keyboards, Phil Jacoby on guitar and Sean Fin on drums.

Palehound: just heard their song “Sea of Bloodl” on their BandcCamp and it sounds great! The band from Yonkers, New York are releasing a 7″ on January 26 with this song as a B side and with the yet un-streamable song “YMCA Pool” on the A side. There’s not much more on Bandcamp but I found out on the band’s website that they have released two albums and an EP already.

UK Cinema: lastly this Hamilton, Canada, band that has this gorgeous track titled “English Girls” on Bandcamp. There is not much more other than this song so that’s quite sad, but at least some band details are available. They are a five piece formed by Josh Kemp on vocals, RJ Kemp on guitar and vocals, Wes Lintott on guitar and vocals, Matt Lintott on drums and Chris McLaughlin on bass. Check them out, this one song is a winner.

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Last post of this exhaustive world tour were I’ve featured bands from countries all around the world! This will be the 45th and last post, hoping I didn’t miss any country that has produced indiepop in the past (I’m not counting contemporary bands, for example the case of Costa Rica) as this is an “archaeological” exercise. If I missed anything please let me know.

Today it is the time for Iceland and the band Rúnk which I discovered a few days back trying to find any information about any guitar pop done in that country other than the well known Dyrdin. It took me a while as it wasn’t an easy task. I found a mention about a “C86” band called Mússólíní, but couldn’t find any tracks by them (any help would be appreciated). In the end somehow I stumbled upon Rúnk on Youtube, I played their quirky “Atlavik 84”, and I thought, I need to know more about them. I found yet another song there, “Klapparstígur”, which was catchier, kind of sort of sounding like the lo-fi indiepop of the late 90s or early 2000s in the US. So the search started. At the same time I ordered their CD for less than 10 dollars on Discogs.

It was easy to find the lineup of the band, though not 100% sure what each of them played. The band consisted of Benedikt Hermann Hermansson (who had been in the band Mósaik and Benni Hemm Hemm), the cellist Hildur Guðnadóttir (formerly of múm and Stórsveit Nix Noltes), Björn Kristjánsson aka Borko (Skakkamanage), Svavar Pétur Eysteinsson (Skakkamanage & Prinspóló), Óli Björn Ólafsson (of the band Yukatan, Unun, múm, Kanada, Slowblow & Stórsveit Nix Noltes)

Rúnk only released one album, “Ghengi Dals” in 2002. It was released by the label Flotur Kúltúr & Gott Music (FK & GM 002). According to Discogs this was the only release by this label. I don’t think the name of the record is Icelandic. True it kind of sounds like Ghengis Khan but, that’s not it either. What does it mean?

The album had 10 songs, “Atlavik ’84”, “Rúnk”, “Yamaha Algleymi”, “Wall Street”, “Andhóli”, “Þörungaspitt”, “Klapparstígur”, “Men and Motors”, “Friends Forever” and a 10th untitled bonus track.

The band also has listed one compilation appearance. The song “Innipúkinn” was included in the double CD comp “Alltaf Sama Svínið” released in 2002 by the label Smekkleysa (SM 100).

I find an article on RokMusik from two years ago by Win Van Hooste where he recommends some obscure Icelandic bands from the 80s and 90s and Rúnk is among them. Here he mentions that the band’s name could be translated as The Jerk-offs or something like that. That the album went largely unnoticed, but those who noticed started a cult following. Another interesting fact is that Óli Björn Ólafsson performed with Emiliana Torrini and at age 14, in 1993, he wont the annual music competition known as Músíktilraunir with his band Yukatan.

The band used to have a Myspace, but as you can expect, you can’t stream the songs there.

Then there is a trove of press clippings on the very fine blog Icelandic Music Museum. The problem is that I don’t understand Icelandic and to copy/paste images to Google Translate, well, that doesn’t work. So can’t really tell what it says, if there are any important details in there. I see they appeared on many papers like DV in July 2001, Fréttabladid on August 2001, Morgunbladid on August 2001, DV on October and December 2001, Morgunbladid again on June and July 2002 and more.

On the CD foldout sheet that comes in a pocket inside the digipak I could understand a few more details, everything is written in Icelandic mind you. I understand that the recordings were done at Studio Polyrunk Vesturporti while the extra bonus track was recorded at La Mariagne. I see some credits here too, like Bobby played guitar, bass and drums, Jimmy the organ, synths, drums, bass, and vocals, Orlando the drums, organ and guitar, Pamela sang, clarinet, glockenspiel, harmonica and more while Suawey played guitar and bass. Clearly these aren’t their real names. What’s going on? Some other credits I see are for trumpets (Erikur Orri Olafsson), chorus (Karlakorinn Grettir), photography (Borkur Sigdorsson)and design (Honnunardelid Runksins). THen you see all the lyrics of the songs on this foldout, most of them in Icelandic of course with some exceptions in English.

The post ends up being quite short. The truth is that I can’t seem to find any other information about them. Sure, you can probably find many more details about the bands that they were involved in afterwards. But I’m curious about Rúnk. If they record any more songs? If they appeared in any other compilations? Did they play many gigs? Did they ever play outside Iceland? What inspired them to create this music? Was there any other like-minded bands? Aside from the big names of Icelandic music, I feel, the smaller bands, live in obscurity, really not fair.

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Listen
Rúnk – Wall Street

11
Dec

Okay popkids, 4 more days and the My Light Shines for You 7″ is out. Copies have already started shipping to everyone who pre-ordered it though. So if you want a happy Christmas why don’t you order some Cloudberry Records this season?

This 7″ is the last for this year but worry not, there are a few surprises for the year to come. At the moment I’m working on one Cloudberry Cake retrospective by a Manchester band and three other 7″s which I will be announcing as soon as we have the art and the songs ready to be shared. So just wait a bit and you’ll see what we have in store, it is very special!

Also I have to mention that from the 23rd of December to January 1st I’ll be in Mexico. If there are any Mexican fans who would like some records please let me know and we can save in shipping by me bringing them to your beautiful country.

So what’s new today?

The Perfect English Weather: Matinée has a new surprise for the end of the year. The Brighton duo of Simon and Wendy Pickles (from The Popguns) are releasing their second CD and it is titled “English Winter”. It is a 4 song EP where the band changes a bit their style, less guitar-driven to a more electronic one, think Saint Etienne. The songs on the record are “Still”, “Christmas in Suburbia”, “Cold Out” and the Go-Betweens cover of “Dusty in Here”. I could listen two of the songs on SoundCloud, “Still” and “Christmas in Suburbia”, and they are gorgeous. Can’t wait to have this at home on repeat. James Matinée, I need this!

Bradford: I mentioned some posts ago that the classic band Bradford were getting a reissue. Now I can finally share a link to that fantastic story. The German label A Turntable Friend who resurrected last year is putting “Thirty Years of Shouting Quietly” on both vinyl and CD. There are all in all 30 songs in total on the double CD, not sure how many on the vinyl (this one already is almost sold out, only 90 remaining as I write this post). Of course I’ll choose the CD when it comes out on February 9th, 2018. The records come with a booklet with lyrics and also liner notes by Fergal Kinney from Louder Than War. It is fantastic to see this classic record being re-released!!

Pale Lights: the band who are releasing their second album very soon (Dec. 15) on the German label Kleine Untergrund Schallplatten has a 3 song taster EP titled “Jean, Bring the Flowers” on Bandcamp. And what can you expect? Well, beautiful guitars, timeless melodies, and classy lyrics. The New York (or is it fair to say the Brooklyn?) band keeps showing they are one of the few worthy bands in the area. The three songs on the EP are “Jean, Bring the Flowers” (which has a video), “Streamlined” and “The Soft City”. This last song actually released many years ago on Cloudberry by The Soft City, Phil Sutton’s previous band. I hope now that this EP gets a release, even if it is on limited edition CDR or something. I want my Calico Cat Records collection complete.

Dianas: a new discovery for me. A tape titled “Leave Love” by 2 girls from Melbourne, Australia. Nathalie Pavlovic and Caitlin Moloney. Now a 2nd pressing of 50 copies. 6 songs in total, “Intro”, “Leave Love”, “Heart of Me”, “Somebody Else”, “For All I Know” and “Priorities”. The songs are dreamy, with surf textures and fine melodies. Don’t know much about them but I see they have more releases other than this tape, the oldest dating to 2012. Well, I got late to the party. I should check them out.

Vacations: more from Aussie. This time from Newcastle. Again a new discovery for me. The band latest track uploaded to Bandcamp, titled “Moving Out”, is a lovely jingle jangly track. Vacations are Campbell Burns, Jake Johnson, Nate Delizzotti and Joseph Van Lier. I had a very quick listen to their backcatalogue and I feel this might be their best track so far.

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I remember back in the early 2000s when there was this sort of rumour that Fotomoto were going to release on Elefant. I wasn’t surprised by it. Their sound fitted perfectly with the Spanish label then. That never happened and the Ukrainian band didn’t get to be a household name for indiepop fans.

I lost sight of them too. Only know that I’m being a revisionist, featuring bands from all corners of the world that they came to mind. And to my surprise they’ve kept busy in all these years. It is true that they are not exactly a guitar pop band, they are more of an electro-pop band, but when I hear songs as beautiful as “Lune” or “Chat”, songs with a fantastic pop sensibility, I know Ukraine had to had an entry on my blog.

My first stop this time is not going to be Discogs, I will check that later, but the John Peel Wiki. Yes, the band did indeed record a Peel Session. But let’s start from the beginning.

The group formed in 1999 in the city of Zaporozhye as a duo with Sergey Sergeyev and Anton Sigurov playing all sorts of instruments.

Zaporizhia is a city in southeastern Ukraine, situated on the banks of the Dnieper River. It is the administrative center of the Zaporizhia Oblast. Administratively, it is incorporated as a city of oblast significance and serves as an administrative center of Zaporizhia Raion, though it does not belong to the raion. Until 1921 the city carried the name of Aleksandrovsk after the name of a fortress that was part of the Dnieper Defense Line. After the establishment of the Soviet regime in Ukraine, in 1921 the name was changed to Zaporizhia (Zaporozhye), after the historical region Zaporizhia. Itself Zaporizhia literally means Trans-Rapids or beyond the rapids, alluding to the rapids which used to exist on the Dnieper River  at the time, before the construction of the Dnieper Hydroelectric Station in 1932. Currently the city is the sixth largest in Ukraine.

Ah! Would love to visit Ukraine one day! Anyways, the band would become a trio when Olya Volodina was to join on vocals, and then a quartet when Alexander Ivanov joined in 2002 to do midi and drum programming. Olya was to bring something special to the band aside from her vocals, Fotomoto’s signature French lyrics. Why did she choose to sing in this language instead of Ukrainian? That’d be a good question to ask.

So how did they end up meeting Peel. Here the story says that a Mike Eardley, brother of a Rich Eardley from a band called Melys (which I’ve never heard), sent John Peel a demo of Fotomoto in the year 2000. Mike was distributing records by the Russian label Snegiri. This label had actually released Fotomoto’s second album “Suranov, A?”. Peel must have liked it as he played the song “Je Suis Fotomoto” on December 14th of 2000. In 2004 he would invite the band to record a Peel Session. The band took a 70-hour bus from Ukraine to the UK. Peel didn’t get to meet them, but on his June 24, 2000, show  Peel said that he just missed meeting the group when they performed their session. However, he thanked them for their gift of a bottle of wine – “Tonight it’s going to prove fabulously useful.” (England had been knocked out of the Euro 2004 tournament that evening.)

So, what was their first album? According to Discogs it was a self-titled CD released by the Russian label Taiga Sounds (TS002) in 2002. The album had 13 songs which were “Sever”, “Le Sport, La Musique”, “Bogunskaya”, “Le Passage”, “Une Planete de Gopak”, “La Lune”, “Je Suis Fotomoto”, “Bela”, “Couquillage”, “Ballado”, “Le Melange”, “Dino Zaor” and “Ma Faute A Moi”.

That same year they were to release a split 7″ with the band The Workhouse. This limited edition record came out on the Jonathon Whiskey label  Hershel Whiskey 43). This label was actually under the operation of Norman Records, the Leeds record store that still is around to this day. Fotomoto was to contribute the song “Le Sport, La Musique” while The Workhouse had the song “Nancy”.

Their second album came just a year after, in 2003 they put out “Suranov, A?” on the Лёгкие (Snegiri) label. Catalog was LG-035-2. This album had 10 songs in total, “Dances Et Popuski”, “Saccharine”, “Dolya”, “Le Blat Ska”, “L’Amour Africaine”, “Hydrocomfort”, “Goran Philips”, “El L”, “Uran Defense” and “Anonyme Infini”.

In 2005 the Danish label CPH-Sound was to release what seems a compilation of 13 Fotomoto’s songs under the title “Model”. This CD had songs that had appeared on both their previous releases as well as some exclusive recordings. The tracklist included “Le Coquillage”, “Passage”, “Nord”, “Lune”, “Ma Faute”, “Morozzzko”, “Mélange”, “Monster & Belle”, “L.S.L.M.”, “Zaor”, “Planete de Gopak”, “Vyuga” and “Les Nuits Géorgiennes”.

They also had a bunch of compilation appearances. The song “Le Sport, La Music” was to appear on a few. It appeared on the 2001 CD comp “Лёгкая Осень” released by Лёгкая and on the 2002 “Лёгкие 2001 – MP3 Коллекция ” CD-Rom compilation with MP3s on the same label. On this same compilation they had another song, “Morozko 333”.

There is another CD-ROM MP3 compilation listed by the same label, “Лёгкие 2003”. On this one the band had 9 songs! These were “Dances et Popuski”, “Saccharine”, “Dolya”, “Le Blat Ska”, “L’Amour Africain”, “Hydrocomfort”, “Goran Philips”, “El L”, “Uran Defense” and “Anonyme Infini”.

This same format seem to have been popular for this label. They band was to contribute the songs “Sever” and “Edmund” to the CD-ROM MP3 compilation “Легкие Представляют: “Сезонная Серия” 2002″ released in 2003, and contribute the songs “Sever” and “Morozko 333” “Счастливая Электроника Легкая_Зима” released in 2007.

The song “Sever” also appears on the 2002 CD compilation “Легкая Зима 02” released by the same Russian label whereas “Morozko 333” appears on the CD comp “ElkaElka” released by them too in 2001.

They were to have some flirt with an indiepop label on 2001. The Italian tape label Best Kept Secret included one of their songs, “Monster & Belle”, on a compilation cassette titled “We Are Not Alone Songs for the Lo-Fi Generation Volume 5”.

The last compilation appearance I see is the one on the compilation “Вечное Лето” released by the Ukrainian label Stereo & Video (S&V 076) in 2004. Here they appear with the song “Le Blat Ska”.

I look at any other credits the band members might have. I see only Olya has any other than Fotomoto. It seems she has writing credits for a Russian pop singer called Натали (Natali).

Youtube ends up being a trove of Fotomoto goodies. I find a video from 2009 for the song “Denis“, the official 2009 video for the song “Chat” and them playing the song “Chat” at Duma Club in Moscow in 2008, playing the song “La Lune” at the “Harper’s Bazaar” journal party on December of 2009, playing Ukrainian Fashion Week, and more and more.

There are a bunch of clips of them at the Shuzz venue in Odessa. I find videos for “Le Blat Ska“, “Aligote“, “Sever“, “Une Planete de Gopak“, “Kukushka” at the Shuzz venue in Odessa on May 2010,

There seems to be clips from another gig at Buddy Guy in Kiev too. I find clips for the songs “Bella“, “Ballado“, “Ma Faute” and “Edmund“.

What else? Well there is even an article on The Guardian written by Matthew Collin in 2005 titled “Curious Orange“. On the article Collinn ends up describing their sound quite right, he mentions that in their sound there are hints of Stereolab, St Etienne, Depeche Mode and Serge Gainsbourg. That there is a certain elegant charm and a quality of innocence. it is definitely a great article, worth taking the time to read it. It is not just about the band but also about the Ukraine.

Finally I find the tracklist of the BBC Session, “BBC Inc”, “Be One”, “Park Bun” and “Denis”. Took some time. I also found out that the band were in Huw Stephens BBC show doing a session in 2006.

I also find a very old looking website being hosted at Mike Eardley’s domain. Here is the link. There is a cool gallery of the band in London, visiting places like Rough Trade. Here I find too that the band played the Progress Festival in Ghent in 2005 as well as London’s Spitz venue that December.

A 2007 blog titled “Filles Sourires” mentions that the band had made covers of songs like “Joe Le Taxi” and “Voyage Voyage”. I want to listen to them!

But the there is not much more info about them. As they say, they weren’t popular in Ukraine, that no one knew them in their home city, so it was going to be difficult to write many people championing their sound all over the world. I remember them fondly, I remember playing their quirky songs fifteen years ago. I lost touch and now I’m only rediscovering them. Whatever happened to them? The last date I found was that gig at Shuzz in 2010. What are they up to now? Anyone remember them? I should also try to get their records, maybe the Danish compilation is the best way to start? And was it true that they were going to release on Elefant??

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Listen
Fotomoto – Chat

07
Dec

We are very close to 2018 and what news will bring the new year? There will be many new releases on the label and I can’t really wait to announce them. I’m sure in the next few weeks I’ll start letting everyone know the next Cloudberry Cake Kitchen release as well as the new ones on the 7″ series!

Speaking of which, don’t forget that the My Light Shines For You 7″ is coming out next week, on the 15th! Order it now at our website!!

So you want new recommendations?

The Hit Parade: Best news in a long time is that The Hit Parade are back with a new song and single, “Oh Honey I…”!!! Damn! I need to order the 7″ right away. It is classic Hit Parade, one of my favourite bands ever!! Where do I get the record? I need to find out! It seems to be available only on British sites at the moment. Will Jigsaw Records carry it? I hope so! The B side is “History of Art” and as usual it is released on their own JSH Records. Legendary.

Bubblegum Lemonade: the Glasgow band have a new release coming up this December. On the 7th they are releasing a 6 track EP titled “Laz Christmas” on the venerable Matinée Recordings. What will the tracklist be? I don’t know yet, but for the time being we can have a very good time listening on repeat the songs “Number One Christmas” and a cover of the classic “Silent Night”!!

Sky Faction: more friends keep releasing fantastic music. This time I see Sky Faction, which has members of Starry Eyed Cadet, releasing 5 songs on their Bandcamp. And how beautiful they are!!! Are these songs going to be released in any way? Physically I mean? CD? vinyl? I hope they do. The five delicious slices of perfect pop are “No One Else”, “Mar”, “Miss Solitary”, “Lactose Intolerance” and “Feathers”. Do you remember The Shermans? They remind me a bit of them, maybe to that sound that Shelflife used to purvey back in the early 2000s. The band from San Francisco is formed by Lillian Yee on keyboards and vocals, Sally Jati on rhythm guitar, synth and vocals, Rex Padayhag on bass and vocals, Roberto Burgos on lead guitar and, the top Rob Uytingco on drums.

Glass Arcades: 9 songs, some of them already available on the web, that’s what “Milquetoastesque EP” is. The new Glass Arcades release on Bandcamp is pretty good. Of course I’ve recommended the Cardiff band before on the blog. We know what they are about and every time they have a new thing on Bandcamp here I am telling you to check them out. The songs in this collection were finished in 2016 but it says that for a reason or another it wasn’t published until this day.

The Eleventh Door: Found two songs that sell for $150 dollars on Bandcamp. Quite expensive? Probably it is some sort of way for the label Hail Atlantis Records from Salt Lake City, Utah, to make it impossible to order them? I guess they want to wait for the official release date of January 1st. That is when a 10″ will be released by The Eleventh Door who seem to be a duo formed by Catalina Gallegos and Rocky Maldonado. More latin people in indiepop is always good in my book. They seem to hail from Salt Lake City too and the two songs on the record are “Tellement Tendresse” and “Fever Dream”. 2 songs for a 10″? It is an odd choice, maybe there will be more? I hope so. Both songs were mastered by the one and only Joe Foster at Poppydisc in Glasgow.

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About to finish our world tour of guitar pop bands and today it is time for the 42nd band/country, Gradapenda Rosindale from Northern Ireland!

But first I wanted to share a map I did where I colored the countries that I have covered in this special feature on the blog, as well as a list of the names of the 44 countries that will be covered. Yes, there are 2 more to go. Maybe you could help me adding to the list? Maybe there’s something from Costa Rica aside from the contemporary bands? Or what about Croatia or Slovenia?

Of course I found out about Gradapenda Rosindale from the Sound of Leamington Spa series. They were featured on the 5th volume of the series that will soon have an 8th volume according to Firestation Records (can’t wait!). On this compilation released on 2005 the band contributed the song “Bad Days Must End”.

As usual on this series the booklet included a bio of the band, which has a lot of interesting details about them:
“Gradapenda Rosindale took their name from a mishearing of a line in the single version of the Jonathan Richman and The Modern Lovers’ song “Roadrunner”. They formed in June 1990 when Sean Mason and Sean Pemberton began demoing songs and playing gigs around Derry in Norther Ireland. The line-up of the band finally settled into Stephen Doherty (guitar), Andy O’ Doherty (drums), Sean Mason (bass, vocals) and Sean Pemberton (guitar, vocals). This line-up recorded the Exit EP in Forge Brae Studios in Donegal and it was released in the summer of 1992. The release was follower by airplay on various radio stations, reviews in the music press and gigs around Ireland including Belfast, Dublin, and Cork. In February 1993 the band recorded a session for the Dave Fanning show on Irish radio. Shortly after this the band split up. They reformed as a three piece with Sean M. and Stephen, and a new drummer Gary, and played Cork Rocks in the summer of 1993, but finally folded in October 1993. When we released the Exit EP our main hope was to get it played by John Peel. He played it three times.”

I was to find a Bandcamp page for the band and there there are even more details about the band:

In February 1993, Gradapenda recorded a four song session for Dave Fanning on RTE Radio in Ireland, but shortly after this split up. They reformed as a three-piece with Sean M. and Stephen, and a new drummer, Gary, and played Cork Rocks in the summer of 1993. They recorded one demo, “Five”, but folded in October 1993. Although they never gigged as Gradapenda again, Sean M. and Stephen went on to record two more demos (“Sitcoms, Bombs, and Proft” in 1994, and “Take A Look At Me Now” in 1998) as Gradapenda Rosindale. “Ceasefire from “Sitcoms” received airplay on BBC Radio Ulster, and the same demo’s “Nothin’ In Our Heads” was played by Steve Wright on BBC Radio 1. Nowadays Sean M. records under the name Shine May Sun, Stephen is an infamous luthier, and Sean P. is in Mars Field. 

Let’s check then the “Exit” 7″ that was self-released in 1992. There were four songs, two on each side. On the A side the band had “Bad Days Must End” and “And Baby Not” while on the B side there was “Michael” and “You Hate”. As said before the songs were recorded at Forge Brae Studios with John McGrory and Neil McGrory as the engineers. There is no catalog number on this release but on the runout etchings it appears as GRAD 1. This was the only proper release by the band.

But there were more recordings. As mentioned before 4 songs were recorded for the Dave Fanning session. These songs were “Control”, “Hello Joe”, “Flowers For Sale” and “Love Like the Bomb”.

On Bandcamp one of the demos recorded in 1994 is available, “Sitcoms Bombs and Profit”. For this demo the now two-piece Gradapenda Rosindale recorded seven songs, “Nothin’ In Our Heads”, “Ceasefire”, “War Pays”, “What Could Be More Beautiful”, “Pushin’ the Wheel”, “Emily Lloyd” and “Hip Hip Hooray (Instrumental)”. Oh and all of these songs are also available on SoundCloud.

The very good website IrishRock.org has the tracklist for the “Five” demo. Recorded in 1993 it had the songs “Five”, “Little Girl”, “What I Want”, “Sometimes”, “Tell Us Bout Your Friends” and “I Can’t Take It”. So many songs they recorded and I haven’t even heard them! Would love to do so someday.

Then I found a Facebook page which hasn’t been updated in a very long time. There I found some press clippings that are very favourable to their sound.

But that was about it. They do have a bunch of “official” presence on the web but really not much information about their time as a band. Like where did they play gigs? If they had any other songs released, maybe on compilations? Or what did the band members do afterwards? Maybe they were even in bands before being on Gradapenda Rosindale?! Does anyone remember them?

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Listen
Gradapenda Rosindale – The Bad Days Must End

04
Dec

Little by little getting closer to Christmas, and another vacation week for me. Kind of back to back vacations this year. At the end of the month I’ll be heading to Mexico, so if there’s anyone in Mexico interested in any Cloudberry Records do let me know and we’ll sort it out. Also, very important news, the My Light Shines For You 7″ will be arriving very soon and we have set the official release date for December 15th! Have you ordered your copy yet?!

Let’s start then with our review of indiepop news, and sorry if some of these are a bit older, but I have a backlog of news because of me being away in Portugal!

Tiny Fireflies: So very happy to hear this beautiful slice of pop by my friends Kristine and Lisle. I was missing them, I was wondering where were they? Why no new songs? And suddenly I see that the band has uploaded to their SoundCloud the song “Nothing” which will be the A side for a 7″ that they will release in 2018. It will have two songs, this one, and also one called “2040′ which I haven’t heard yet. It doesn’t matter, the quality of “Nothing” will make you buy it anyways. The song also have another friend of mine, Hampus Öhman-Frölund on drums, and even has the class of Ian Catt on mixing duties. A brilliant song, and I hope one day I get to work with the talented duo again!

Las Tetris: The Peruvian girl band who have already been featured on the blog have released their first album and it is available to stream on BandCamp at the moment. The self-titled record has 10 songs, and I’m hoping here that it gets released properly, physically I mean. The band is formed by Claudia Castillo on vocals and guitars, Angiela Carranza on vocals and drums, Majo Fernández on bass and Grecia Fernández on guitars. I don’t understand why they are not more of a household name in the Lima scene, I see great tunes here! Very much influenced by the Spanish pop scene of the early 2000s, the so called tontipop, I’m really enjoying it!

The Spook School: Our Edinburgh friends are releasing a new album on January 26 on Alcopop Records and Slumberland Records. It will be titled “Could It Be Different?” and to promote it the band have just released a fun video for the song “Less Than Perfect” which you should check it out! Catchy as always, The Spook School never disappoints. Looking forward to the release of this long-awaited 3rd album! It feels like yesterday when we put out the first 7″ (which by the way is down to its last copies).

The Room: I found a complete gig from 1985 by the classic Liverpool band. Truly a surprise. This gig happened on the 2nd of March of 1985 at the Royal Court in Liverpool. That time they supported Killing Joke. Here it says that for this gig Alan Wills, the drummer, had his hand injured so Joseph McKechnie sat on drums. Alan Wills still attended and made this boombox recording.  How cool! Wish I had been there!

Penny Arcade: My friend Vernon just recommended me the album “A Girl from Penny Arcade”. Never heard about them. Had to look for them on SoundCloud and found this song “T.V. Personalities” and indeed it is really good! Then I notice this is a mid 80s guitar pop band from Tokyo! And I’m like wow! Now how do I get a copy? This band had members that would later form Flipper’s Guitar, Debonaire or even Venus Peter. It is like the seed of everything that came after. Very very important release. So now I will need to order it! And also, would love to interview them! and find out more about them!

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Years ago I featured a Czech band on the blog, Sebastians. I thought this time it would make sense to cover The Ecstasy of Saint Theresa, the shoegaze band that is quite well known. After doing small research I thought that there was already quite a bit of information about them so decided to dig much deeper, try to find something I’ve never heard before, something good, something exciting. That’s how after a lot of investigation on the web I stumbled upon the band Toyen.

Of course, this series of guitar pop bands from around the world is not a review of bands everyone knows, I want to find new music and share it with you. With Toyen there have been 41 bands featured now, and have two more in store for next week from Northern Ireland and Ukraine. After that I don’t think I have any other countries to feature. Maybe some of you know of any bands from any other countries missing? Please let me know. Would be great to find out more great guitar pop from another corner of the world.

What do I know about Toyen then, well very little. But they do have a Wikipedia entry and that is a lot of help. The band formed in 1988 and had named themselves after the nickname of the famous Czech surrealist painter Marie Čermínova. it says that three of the four original Toyen members had been involved previously in a band called Letadlo who had been banned by the communist regime in the early 80s. Toyen had no issues with that as they formed just after the Velvet Revolution.

The band members were Petr Chromovsky on vocals, acoustic guitar and keyboards, Ivo Heger on guitars, Petr Vaclavek on bass and Jiri Simecek on drums.

Here I learn that the band actually came to the US to perform. That is quite surprising, and definitely not common for a Czech band. How did that happen? It seems a guy named Scott Murphy who worked for the TV channel ABC saw them performing in Prague. He loved them and offered to prepare a US tour. It is at this moment that they start recording their first EP, “Following The Disappeared Railroads”. This EP was to be released in 1991 by the Rotag label (catalog RG 002-2 311) and had 6 songs. They were “Following The Disappeared Railroads”, “Guys”, “Matthew 27:24”, “Lucky Tears”, “Questions” and “Broken Hearts”. The first song was actually a big hit in the local charts. The EP was recorded at Studio Smetanova Divadla in Prague. The engineer for the record was J. Celerin. The photo of the band on the cover was taken by the famous photographer Tono Stano.

Toyen would travel to the US and would play at the Broadway club The Shooting Gallery. Then they would also play a gig at CBGB. Playing NYC would open the eyes of Sony Music to offer them a contract. With them they were going to release their album “Last Free Swans!”. For this album they had the help of producer Colin Stuart and lyricist Matt Black. The art for the record got a Czech Grammy nomination. Thanks to this album they also got invited to play in England and Wales where they played the Open/air summer Festival in Cardiff. They would also play in Austria. It seems this was a good time for the band, at a music competition in BREGENZ, the band met Paul King from the UK MTV channel. He was to feature the video clips of the band and also live footage from Prague in the 120 Minutes program.

So yes, “Last Free Swans!”, the album that opened the band many doors. It was released by Bonton which I believe was a subsidiary of Sony in 1992. There were 10 songs, “The Flowers Inside”, “Puppet Show”, “Last Free Swans”, “Don’t Turn Away”, “Perfect Person”, “Y”, “Skočím Jen Jednou”, “Freight Train”, “Falling Higher” and “I’m Rolling”. The record was recorded at Sono Studio in Nouzov between June and August 1992. The engineer was Pavel Karlík. It was mastered at Rudolfinum Studio in Prague. The tambourine on this record was played by Milan Cimfe. The art for the album was created by Václav Jirásek. It is important to mention that a video was created for the song “Last Free Swans” which was directed by David Ondříček. The album was released on CD, cassette and LP formats.

The song “Last Free Swans” was to be released too by Bonton as a 7″ in 1992.  The B side was “Skočím Jen Jednou”.

In 1993 Ivo Heger was to leave the band to start his own band The WAY. Toyen was to leave Sony to sign with BMG CZ. They were to replace Ivo with Jiri Krivka and embark on a new US tour. They were to release the album “Malíř smutnej” (Blue painter) that same year with the help of Jan P. Muchow from The Ecstasy of Saint Theresa as a producer. That same year they opened for Depeche Mode in Prague.

“Malíř Smutnej” was released under Ariola that year. It came out as a CD and tape. It also had 10 songs, now all of them with Czech names:  “Po Stopách Zmizelých Železnic”, “Ten Druhý”, “Srdcerváč”, “Myji Si Ruce”, “Fotky”, “Příběh Lásky”, “Sv. Jan”, “Železnice”, “Železnice (N.Y.C. Summer Mix) Remix” and “Bestie (Dancing Groovie Mix)”. The opening song “Po Stopách Zmizelých Železnic” had a video too. The record was recorded at West Studio in Pizeň.

According to this Wikipedia entry after this record things kind of went downhill. When they toured to promote the album they added Frantisek Sahula as a guitarist and after the tour the band changed once again the guitar player for Petr Vana. With him they were to release their last album “La Orana” in 1997. For this album their long-time friend Ivo Heger, who had left the band after the first album, would be the producer. and very important to mention a movie about the band was made by David Ondříček for Czech TV in 1997.

“La Orana” got released as an enhanced CD and cassette. It included the history of the band in multimedia format with the two promo videos I mentioned plus a video of “Železnice (N.Y.C. Summer Mix)” and the MTV Presention on 120 Minutes by Paul King. Aside from that the record released by Indies Records (MAM 041-2) had also ten songs: “1 Možná Svítání”, “Swans”, “Teenage Shout”, “Father’s Son”, “You Don’t Ask”, “Tomorrow”, “Late Now!”, “Heavenly Cry”, ” Tětiva Luku”, “Tehdy V Římě”.

In 2010, the original lineup would reform and play again.

Where to start? Well, I would say their first album is very recommendable, guitar pop with psychedelic vibe, catchy chorus and good lyrics. It actually is in its entirety on Youtube. But that’s not all, they also contributed to many compilations.

The first one was on the “Nové Horizonty” cassette released by Monitor in 1990. On it they had two songs, “Byl Tu Chvíli” and “Ten Druhý”. That same year two other songs appeared on the compilation “Monument (Nový Horizont)” released by ESTA in their home country. The songs were “Malíř Smutnej” and “Příběh Lásky”.

In 1993 they were to contribute the song “Adresát Neznámý (From Me To You)” to the compilation “HerGott!!! Volume 2” that was released by Supraphon and the next year the song “Náhrobní Kámen” appeared on “Klaunova Zpověď” released by Monitor-EMI.

Another 1994 appearance was with the song “Bestie” on the CD compilation “Hitalbum” released by B&M Music.

It would take the new century for them to have two more compilation appearances. First on the “Little Darla Has a Treat For You Vol. 17” released by Darla Records in 2001 with the song “14 Pints”. Two years after, in 2003, their song “Following The Disappeared Railroads” was to show up on a very interesting compilation called “Hurá, Kytary!” that was released by Ultram:x as a accompanying CD of their magazine of the same name. It seems this compilation was showcasing the early/mid nineties guitar pop scene of the Czech Republic.

Then of course I start clicking on the band members, see what else they’ve done. I notice Ivo Heger not only was on The Way but also on Colorfactory and helped producing The Ecstasy of St. Theresa, Sebastians and more. Jiri Simecek and Petr Václavek played also on a band called Stará Kovarná who released an album in 1994.

I found a Myspace by the band and here there is an article from what seems the Telegram and Gazette from November 14 of 1991. This is a newspaper from Worcester, Massachusetts. Here they are compared to The Smiths and U2. Some others to The Vapors (?!). You can read more about how Scott Murphy, a Worcester native, found about them and how he brought them to the US on this article which seems to have been written just before their last gig of the tour at Chadwick Square Dinner in Worcester.

There are many Czech websites mentioning a bit of the story of the band but from what I gather I think I’ve covered the important details. Also I must say it is hard with the language trying to find interesting details. The translation by Google not being the best either. So as you suppose there are many unanswered questions about them.

I’m especially curious about why they switched to English and then to Czech again. Or where else in the US they played. What about that 2nd tour that is mentioned? Did they record any more songs? Now that they reunited in 2010 where did they play? Did they release anything? What bands influenced their sound? And most importantly, how do I get a copy of their album “Last Free Swans!”?

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Listen
Toyen – Last Free Swans

30
Nov

I visited one record store in Lisbon. I can’t recall the name now, though it was very close to the Santa Justa lift. It was on the way up (or down) some stairs. I entered without any hope of finding anything, it looked like your usual jazz and oldies records place but after a good look I was to find some fine indiepop records. Sadly I didn’t buy any because they were crazy expensive.

For example I found the two Razorcuts LPs on Creation. Both of them were being sold for 25 euros. I believe you can find them cheaper on Discogs or eBay. Then I was surprised to find some 10″s by Anthony Adverse or Marden Hill. Nice records indeed, but again overpriced. So I returned to NYC without any new records.

I also visited the FNAC thinking that it would be similar as in Spain, that I might find some of the latest releases by Elefant. But no, none of them were available. The selection there for indiepop in general was very poor.

But of course that doesn’t mean I had a bad vacation! It was terrific, I really loved the country. Buying records wasn’t part of the plan for Portugal. It would be if I go to England, Sweden or Germany for sure, but for other countries, I don’t go with the mindset of buying records. Of course, if I find something, it would be a treat and would be appreciated.

I have to cover indiepop news too, so can’t be just talking about my trip. I’ll tell you more next time, but would share my travel route, the cities I visited: Lisbon, Evora, Sintra, Fatima, Obidos, Alcobaça, Batalha, Coimbra and Tomar. So many beautiful places I couldn’t visit. Really, 8 full days weren’t enough!

There’s been a few festival announcements, but I’ll start from where I was last post, Madrid Popfest! And yes, I’m looking into going. I need to figure out some things but there is a good chance I will attend. That would be nice, after one long year (2017), not attending any indiepop festivals!

Madrid Popfest will happen on the 2nd and 3rd of March in 2018. That is on a Friday and on a Saturday. That is quite convenient for me, I could return on Sunday and be back to work on Monday. The festival will be held at the Galileo Galilei venue, which I’ve never been but after Googling, I can say it looks like a good choice.

Some bands have already been announced and for sure my excitement went to another level when I saw that Eggstone was playing. Wow! They had a reunion not so long ago and I believe so far they’ve played only in Sweden and Germany. Only now they will travel to warmer climes. For me, this seems to be a unique opportunity to see them live as I really doubt they are going to play the US any day soon. So indeed, what a chance to see this legendary band!

Another big band announced is the BMX Bandits. I’ve seen them a few times. I’ve always been a fan and I’m sure I’ve mentioned them on the blog many many times.

Then we have The Tuts, Terry Vs. Tori, Cosmen Adelaida, Melenas and The BV’s.

The BV’s are a favourite band of mine these days. I’ve raved about them here time and time again and hopefully I will have some exciting news about them soon!

The Tuts have got a mention too when I’ve looked into Indietracks lineups years ago. So I’m familiar with them. There are then three bands that haven’t had a mention on the blog so I’ll have to check them out!

Terry vs. Tori is the one band I’m familiar because my good friend Cris from The Royal Landscaping Society has worked with them. He showed me their music last year and I thought it was really enjoyable. The Sevilla band’s latest release dates from May 2017. The “Leap Day” EP is available to stream on their BandCamp and as I was saying earlier, it is great! The band is formed by Erica Pender on vocals and guitar, Manuel Jiménez on guitars, Jose Prieto on bass and Rosa Ponce on drums. Very curious to catch this band live and hopefully get their records which at the moment I don’t own any!

Cosmen Adelaida hail from Madrid and have more than a few releases. Their last release also happened this year. Last March they released their 10 song album “Dos Caballos” which I’m listening now for the first time. I must admit I know the band by name for years now, I think they’ve been around since 2009 or so! But for some reason I never paid attention to their music. Why? I don’t have an answer. But well, better late than never, right? Maybe the reason was that they are not strictly indiepop?, I can see their post-punk influences but also influences of La Movida in their sound. But instantly I’m hooked by their punchiness and catchiness. Maybe it is time now for me to go through their back catalogue?

Melenas could be my favourite “new band” from Spain at the moment. This girl group from Pamplona Pop City is formed by Oihana on guitars and vocals, Leire on bass, María on keyboards and Laura on drums. They have just released their album as a vinyl LP and what a debut it is! This self-titled record has 10 songs and it is being released by the very fine Snap Clap Club label from Barcelona. I know I need this record. Should I wait until I can go to Madrid and save postage or have it now? I probably will need it soon because I am loving it. Upbeat, girl vocals, quirky lyrics and catchy melodies. What else can one ask for these days? I’m playing the songs on Bandcamp on loop for hours now!!

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About to close the international world tour of indiepop review. Time for the USA now, for the 41st band on this special feature where I’ve been showcasing at least one obscure/lost band from each country that has produced indiepop/guitar pop.

Who doesn’t love the sound of Dearly? Those who have heard their pretty music gets hooked. I own two records with their music, their 7″ and the split with the Castaway Stones. Today I was looking at Discogs and saw that there was even an earlier release, a split tape with The Legendary Jim Ruiz. I realize I know very little about them, so I get on detective mode and being the investigation.

It seems this cassette came free with the first issue of a fanzine called Let Us Be Nice To You. The tape had no sleeve but had the tracklist written on the label. I see that the catalog number was LETTUCE 1 and it was released in 1993, but where was this fanzine released? In their native Minneapolis or somewhere else? And who made this zine? Was the band featured on it too? It would be good to know, I’m sure if they were, we’d know many more details about them.

Each band contributed 4 songs. Dearly got the B side and their songs were “Without You”, “I’m Breaking Up With Myself”, “Anniversary of Nothing” and “Light Headed”.

The next year, 1994, would be their proper debut. They were to release a 7″ with two songs, on the A side “Only Betweens” and on the B side, “I Don’t Want to Go”. The record came out on the classy Grimsey Records (Grimsey 002). Now that I think of, wouldn’t it be great to do an interview with Andrea Toolin who ran the label that was named after an Iceland island?

The artwork for the record is credited to Tree of Heaven. The record was produced by Bryan Hanna from The Bomb Pops. Here we also find the names of the people behind Dearly. We have Aaron Lundholm, David Jarosz, Marcel Galang and Matt Gerzema.

I click on each name on Discogs, I find that Aaron had been involved with The Hang-Ups and The Owls. Marcel on the other hand had been in The Autumn Leaves, The Hang-Ups and The Owl while Matt was on The Autumn Leaves too. David doesn’t seem to be listed in any other bands.

Their next release wouldn’t be until 1998. A split 7″ with The Castaway Stones was released by Brittle Stars Records (Brittle Stars 003). This is a special release as The Castaway Stones is a band that features indiepop legends like Archie Moore or Pam Berry. Dearly appears on this record with the song “No Respect”. Here I notice that Aaron Lundholm or David Jarosz don’t appear on the credits. Instead it appears like this:
Matt Gerzema on bass, organ and backing vocals
Marcel Galang on vocals and guitar
Bryan Hanna on drums, low whistle, tambourine and backing vocals

Bryan Hanna replaced Aaron and David? I wonder. Bryan also produced this song at Lucky Rocket Studios. The record was mastered by Greg Vaughn and the artwork was designed by Ocean Design.

It is true we know more about their other projects. They are more familiar to all of us, The Bomb Pops, The Autumn Leaves and especially The Hang-Ups. But I’m curious about this project. I have never heard the songs from that split tape and would love to. Were there any other unreleased tracks? What are they doing now? How long did they last as a band?

There are no photos of the band on the web, nor any reviews (only a similar blog post as this by the Shelflife blog). Did they play many gigs? It looks like they were more of a studio project, but who knows? Maybe some of you remember them?

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Listen
Dearly – I Don’t Want to Go

27
Nov

I’m writing these lines before my trip to Portugal as I would be returning on the Sunday and this post should be up today, on the Monday. So yeah, not much about my Portugal trip or my experiences there. Hopefully in the next post I’ll tell you about my adventures in Lusitania.

There is of course the news of Madrid Popfest that was announced the week I was leaving, but I haven’t had the time to digest it because I really want to go and I don’t know if I’ll be able. So I’ll leave that for the next post, probably on Wednesday or Thursday. So today just a review of new sounds I’ve found on the web!

The Keep Left Signs: I recommended this band quite some time ago, I really liked their songs on SoundCloud and had no information about them whatsoever. Well, seems Shelflife and Kocliko Records are releasing their debut album on December 7th. What’s cool about this band is that they are members of some very fine Swedish bands like The Electric Pop Group and Cloudberry friends The Mare. You can listen to the seven songs that form the album titled “Tomorrow” on the linked BandCamp page! Fantastic jangle pop and a must buy!!

Day Wave: I just found out this LA one-man, fronted by a Jackson Phillips, band on SoundCloud and it sounds pretty good. Of course I feel that there is a bit of a “let’s push him” to be well-known attitude from the label and perhaps from the band which you know I don’t like. Maybe targeting to the hipsters. I guess it is not a bad idea as the music is friendly and hard not to like, I’m actually liking it a lot! And of course that matters the most. So far they have released an album titled “The Days We Had” which has 11 songs. So try to ignore that hipster vibe and enjoy the music, check out too the video for “Something Here” which is a very fine jangly and dreamy track!

Plastic Picnic: another hipster band that sounds good. Based where else but in Brooklyn, Plastic Picnic has a bunch of songs on SoundCloud that are part of their first single “Nausea in Paradise”. I check on Facebook their influences and I don’t like any of them really. Shame. I do like their songs though, and again, I have mixed feelings. Liking the music, not liking what the band represents. Again, try to ignore the hipster-ism and listen to the music.

Black Sea: the good people from Melotron Recordings from Thessaloniki in Greece will be releasing on December 1st the album by Los Angeles lo-fi guitar pop band Black Sea. This CD will include the album that was available only on tape plus 3 unreleased tracks. It will also come with 2 inserts and a sticker. In total there are 14 songs that were performed, recorded and produced  by Cole Devine.

Marc Elston: lastly our friend Marc has put together a limited edition CD titled “I’ll Build a Better Castle”. What’s in there? Well, 11 jangly pop songs by the ex-Bulldozer Crash and Liberty Ship! This is a very lovely release which I’m already enjoying streaming here. Now I need to order it. Classic indiepop sounds by Marc who got a little help from his brother Graeme (The Love Parade) on mixing and mastering these songs.

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Finally, the 40th band on our worldwide review. And still there are a few more to cover in the next coming days and weeks. I’m quite impressed to say the least!

On this feature I’ve been back to the Myspace many times. It was a good time, 2005-2008, for indiepop, to discover bands. Also for bands to get in touch with fans and labels. I can’t recall exactly how I met Iowa Super Soccer, but it was definitely there, on Myspace, most probably around 2006. They sent a demo to the label I was running with my friend Jalito in Peru, Plastilina, and we liked it. But we couldn’t release it for many reasons at that time. It wasn’t the right time for us. Nevertheless we were quite impressed that for the first time we were listening to an indiepop band from Poland.

I remember reading on the indiepop-list about other “indiepop” bands from Poland, like Delons for example. I listened to them time after time, trying to find out where in the world they were compared to The Wedding Present. I couldn’t see it. So in my book there hadn’t been any indiepop bands in Poland up until Iowa Super Soccer appeared with their clear influences of Belle and Sebastian, Camera Obscura, and chamber pop in general.

The band may have been popular in Poland, I mean, they do have a Wikipedia entry in their language. On it I find out that the band formed in 2004 in the city of Myslowice.

Mysłowice is a city in Silesia in southern Poland, near Katowice. The population of the city as of 2008 is 74,912.  It is located in the south district of the Upper Silesian Metropolitan Union in the Silesian Highlands, on the Przemsza and Brynica rivers (tributaries of the Vistula). Mysłowice is one of the cities comprising the 2.7 million conurbation – Katowice urban area and within the greater Silesian metropolitan area with a population of about 5,294,000.

It says that the band was part of a scene that included bands like Negatyw, Gutierez, Twisterella and Peru. I should try to check them out. Especially Peru, right? We also know the band lineup:
Natalia Baranowska – vocals
Kasia Włosek – cello
Agnieszka Bednarz – violin
Michał Skrzydło – acoustic guitar , vocals
Wojtek Sawicki – guitar
Piotr Sawicki – bass guitar
Slawek Plotek – drums

Some former members also listed were Monika Mendak on vocals, Marcin Fluder on guitar and Alicja Herma on violin.

In 2006 they released two EPs, both of them don’t appear on Discogs. The first one was the “Iowa Super Soccer CDr EP” that included 4 songs: “Letter to Nowhere”, “Strange Planet”, “My World” and “Morning”. The second was the “Teenage Dreams So Hard to Beat” that also had 4 songs, “The River”, “If You Die Die Tomorrow”, “10,000 Miles” and “The Straight Story”.  I start to wonder about the band’s name. Where does it come from? I used to love as a kid the Super Nintendo game Super Soccer. But why the Iowa part?

Their first album was to come out in 2008 on Gusstaff Records. This was a small Polish indie label that was based in Zielona Góra. The album titled “Lullabies to Keep Your Eyes Closed” (catalog GRAM 0803), had eleven songs, some which had appeared on the previous EPs. The songs on the album were: “One in the Grass…”, “She”, “The River”, “Screaming”, “Cold”, “Letter to Nowhere”, “Robin Hood”, “Naive Song”, “Let Me Die”, “Live as If You’ll Die Tomorrow” and “Tony.” There was a promo video for “The River“.

On the credits for this first album we see that the artwork was created by Maciej Porczek, the photography was taken by Michał Skrzydło and Piotr Pisek while the record was produced and mixed by Błażej Nowicki, Grzegorz ‘Kuba’ Kubek, Michał Skrzydło and Zbyszek Olko. It was recorded at Cyberstudio in Katowice between 2007 and 2008.

Their second and last album came out two years after. In 2010, again on Gusstaff Records (catalog GRAM1001) they released”Stories Without Happy Ending”. On this album they had 12 songs: “Someone Like You”, “Wake Up”, “When You Return”, “My World”, “Sunday Comes”, “Little Joe”, “Scary Book”, “Oh, My Heart”, “Suzanne”, “Mr. Lonely”, “The Story of Our Picture” and “Rolling Around”. I remember a Cloudberry friend, John from Nottingham writing to me about this album. He was really loving it, especially the song “My World“, which had a fun cartoon video.

Discogs lists two compilation appearances. The song “My World” being included in the 2010 compilation “Gusstaff Ina Pill Vol. 10” and “The River” on another label compilation, “Gusstaff Ina Pill Vol. 7”. Both CDr promo samplers.

Wikipedia on the other hand has the track “10,000 Miles” appearing on a compilation titled “Alternative Trippin'”, a compilation released in 2007 by the label Chaos Management. Another compilation appearance would be on the “Alternative Program – Agnieszka Sydlowska” compilation from 2008 with the song “One Day in the Grass”.

Also in 2008 they had that same song, “One Day in the Grass”, on the “Offsesje 1” comp, which I believe is a music program on Polish Radio #3 run by Peter Stelmach every Friday.  Lastly that same year they would appear with the song “The River” on the compilation “Pop Nation 02” released by the Spanish label Bonvivant Records.

The band played many gigs according to the Wiki. They played at the first Off Festival in Katowice. They appeared on TV and radio, like on Trójka, TVP 3, Radioactive, Radio Kampus and Gazeta Wyborcza. There were other gigs like supporting Myslovitz, Lonely Drifter Karen, Troy Von Balthazar and Chris & Carla. Also a concert at the Polish Radio Studio.

So I look for these gigs on the web. And I find a BalconyTV gig in Poznan where they play “My World”. Also I stumble upon some acoustic presentations for the songs “One Day in the Grass” and “I Can’t Live Without You“. But more surprising is to see them playing in Lviv in Ukraine in 2010 or in China, in the city of Lijiang in 2010 at the Snow Mountain Festival. In general on Youtube, there are many live performances by the band, at festivals like Maj Music Festival or smaller gigs like the Art Festival Piotrków Trybunalski.

I look for more information about them on the web and there is not much, which is strange. As you saw on Youtube there were many videos. How strange. Also not much information about their albums. So why not check out the band members on Discogs, what else had they been involved with.

I see that Błażej Nowicki had played in the band Negatyw and also on Miss Polski. But what about the rest? Only Iowa Super Soccer seems to be listed for them.

There is not much more I could find. I look and look. Of course there’s the difficulty of the language, but still, even Polish sites have very little details about them, just like discography or band lineup. I wonder if they are no more. What are they doing now? Still making music? Anyone out there remembers them? And how come they got to play China? That must have been an experience!

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Listen
Iowa Super Soccer – My World

17
Nov

So very happy, Peru qualified for the World Cup, a party we haven’t been part since 1982!! I need to be in Russia next summer. I dream of it. Getting tickets to the games is going to prove the most difficult thing, but hopefully there’s a way. I’m very excited.

This is also the last post before I head out on vacations! Hope you’ve been enjoying this series of bands from all around the world. There’s been a lot of nice comments and messages especially from people that heard these bands for the first time. Also have gotten in touch with many of them! Some of these contacts have resulted in interviews and some others well, in nothing much. But still, I think it’s been a fun exercise and I still have at least a handful more countries and bands to feature after my vacation.

Having said that, it is time to discover some new indiepop on the web!

The Mallorys: what a nice discovery! I see a heavy influence of The Smiths in the songwriting and the music of this Lake Forest, Illinois, band. Their self-titled album has just been released on Bandcamp and also on home made tapes the band is selling for 8 bucks. There are 9 songs in total, all of them having witty song titles. The credits tell me that behind the band there’s one Danny Robles with the help of Emily Murmun on backing vocals. That’s it. Very talented this Danny!

Dumb Things: more tapes. 2017 has been the invasion of tapes. Cassettes and more cassettes. I have a few and since moving I don’t know where to put them. Oh well. I think I’m alone preferring a CDR as a cheap alternative over tapes. In any case there’s a fine label in Toulouse, France, named Hidden Bay Records that has been releasing a bunch of great records. I recommended them when they put out the Brunch Club tape remember? Well now it is time for Dumb Things from Pop City Brisbane. The band is formed by Pat, Maddie, Adam, James and Andy and they sound really great on the 10 songs of their self-titled tape debut!

Clemente: Daniel Soto from Culiacán, Mexico, goes under the name Clemente. He has just released on November 10th a CD EP on the same-city label Discos en Verano. The EP titled “Buenos Aires Soundtrack” has 6 songs and according to Daniel the songs are vignettes of the time he spent in Argentina. Right now you can stream two of the songs to be included, “Lobby Boy” and “Foto del Mar” and they are really nice, clearly influenced by Spanish bands like Family or Dar Ful Ful.

Sensaciones: Well after discovering this Mexican label I decided to explore what else is in their catalog. And I find this joint project by Daniel from Clemente and Jesús Sandoval from Emma’s House Records and Pure Morning. There is only one song titled “El Eco de Tu Voz” and the sound is not much different to the classy one that I was enjoying with Clemente.

Night Sports: And the last recommendation for this week is the latest release by Kocliko Records from Spain. The 10″ by Night Sports will be released on November 23rd but you can already enjoy the 6 songs to be included on BandCamp. Who are Night Sports? It is our friend Caspar Bock who used to be in Champagne Riot and for a bit on Northern Portrait, who I met just once, curiously in Spain. There are 6 songs of classy synth driven indiepop which would be great at an indiepop party (are there any still?!). I can’t wait to get mu hands on this record. Kocliko keeps surprising with very fine and unmissable releases!

Ok! I’m off to Lisbon for 9 days! See you in a little more than a week!! 🙂

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Our 39th band in this review! Quite amazing, isn’t it? As I said in previous posts I thought I was going to only be able to review around 30 bands, but this exercise has surprised me. I’ve found many new bands from all different corners of the world and I’ve been surprised by their quality. I hope you’ve been enjoying our “world tour” and today it is the turn for Canada. Who do I want to feature? A classic band who I know very little, Cannon Heath Down.

I remember listening to their music for the first time maybe 10 or 12 years ago on Myspace. I can’t remember if it was an official page or not. In Myspace a fan could set up a Music page for the band they wanted. That may sound odd as today that is not common. In any case I don’t know if it was official or not, but I was happy to discover a jangly band that was obscure but sounded brilliantly.

The band released one album during their time and with that album they reached cult status. I still don’t own it. That is embarrassing. I see a copy that is not expensive on Discogs now but it says the jacked has stains. I don’t need it mint, but stains? That is not good for me. The album was released in 1987 on the label Bongo Sunrise Records (catalog BSLP 5866-01). This label doesn’t have any other releases listed. Maybe it was a self-release?

The album had 13 songs, 6 on the A side and 7 on the flipside. On the A side we find “Light Your Eyes”, “Julia Rainbow”, “Je Suis Certain”, “Ma-de-moi-selle”, “Fortunate” and “A Charming Sound”. The B side had “Blue Skye”, “Bone of Contention”, “Having Dreams”, “Not Now”, “Safe as Milk”, “Quagmire” and “Belly Through”. It says that the album included a printed lyric sheet. The cover art has a cool color photo of the band.

The album was produced, mixed and performed by Cannon Heath Down. It was recorded and co-mixed by Cal Stephenson and Tom Ferris at Limited Vision, Coquitlom. Additional recording at Limited and the CHF Mobile. Preproduction at Bedrock Studio, Vancouver, British Columbia (David Osborne and Darryl Neudorf), and The Loving Room, Vancouver (Bill Sherbet and Bayou Drachma). Tape editing by Greg Reely at Mushroom Studios, Vancouver. Mastered at Location Recording, Burbank, California. Type and layout at Camart Studio, Burnaby, British Columbia. Photography: Chris Magnusson. Hair by Cair. Yeah, HAIR.

Discogs also lists one appearance. The band contributed the song “Bone of Contention” to the 1991 double CD compilation “Last Call: Vancouver Independent Music 1977-1988” that was released by Zulu Records (Zulu 5-2).

This song, “Bone of Contention”, actually had a promo video which is available on Youtube. It was the only video they made.

I find the website for the Museum of Canadian Music. This museum, based in Calgary, says that has the most comprehensive catalogue of more than 100 years of Canadian sound recordings. In this website I find a bunch of interesting information about the band.

The band was formed by Jeff Hay-Roe on guitar and vocals, Christopher Davenport on drums, Jonathan Brotherton on vocals and guitar and Cameron Brown on bass and they were based in Vancouver. The whole band lived together in a house in East Vancouver, Jon, Frank and Cam on the upper floor while Jeff and his wife Jacquie (and eventually their first daughter too) on the first floor. They had many cats.

Before being Cannon Heath Down the band was called The 5th of November. At that time only Jeff and Cam were in the band. Another friend of theirs, Rod, was the other member. Then they changed the name of the band to Bayou Drachma and during this period they used French names to call themselves, Pierre, Henri, Guy and Luc, all with the same last name, Lafleur. Later they would change their name to Cannon Heath Down after the book Watership Down which none of the members had read at the time.

Jon joined the band after seeing an advert for a drummer. In the end he didn’t end up being the drummer of the band, that was Frank. Now, who is Frank? I suppose that would be Christopher Davenport.

They also mention some bands they opened for like Grapes of Wrath, 54-40, Game Theory and the brilliant The Water Walk.

Another blog that wrote about them before me was the very fine Wilfully Obscure. Here he mentions a very interesting detail, that the band released in 1989 a tape titled “Peace Bum Days”. What was on it?!

To my surprise my search would made me go to Flickr. Here I found another release, a tape titled “Safe a Love” also released by Bongo Sunrise Records. There are also a bunch of clippings. On one I find that the band formed in the Autumn of 1985 and in January 1986 the band had already completed their first demo “Ma-de-moi-selle” which was released under the name of their previous band Bayou Drachma. This song received airplay on UBC campus radio station, CITR. The next spring the band started working on a recording project at Nettwerk’s Limited Vision studios. During the summer the band played its first gigs, playing with bands like U-Men, Go Four 3, The Rainwalkers and Stubborn Blood. Then the band went on a hiatus from performing but after their album was released they resumed gigging. It also mentions that the song “Bone of Contenetion” got airplay on CITR and SFU’s CJIV.

Finally I find the tracklist for “Peace Bum Days”. It says this was their 2nd album demo and was recorded on February 1989. What is strange is that says it was only made by Jonathan Brotherton and Christopher Davenport. What happened to the other two? The songs on this tape were “Julia Rainbow”, “Sunset Jim”, “Safe as Love”, “Ten Days for Boys”, “Like a Daughter”, “Deft H.”, “Baby Pool”, “Bright and Funny Too”, “Arms Around”, “Deft S.”, “Green Monkey”, “Je Suis”, “Feel Free” and “Day By Day”. Many songs!

I keep digging on the web. The band used to play a lot at a venue called The Town Pump. Another venue they played was the Commodore Ballroom.

I’ve heard only a handful from their album, but I start thinking that they would make a very nice collection for a reissue. Why hasn’t that happened yet? Maybe it could be a Cloudberry release? I definitely would like to listen to all their songs, but maybe this could be a good idea? I’m just thinking out loud.

There’s not much more on the web. Would be interesting to know what happened to them afterwards, if they continue making music. What are they doing now? Would love to know if there were recordings by their first band 5th of November. I would also love to hear the songs on the “Peace Bum Days”. There’s not much on the web about them, though can actually listen to a few songs on Youtube. They are these lovely jingle jangly songs, just as I like them. If you don’t know them yet, this is a good time to do so!

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Listen
Cannon Heath Down- Bone (of Contention)

13
Nov

Just a few more days for vacations. So needed! But my commitment to indiepop continues, hopefully with at least one more post before Friday. This year I want to finish this exercise of finding fine guitar pop, indiepop, around the world. I think I’m getting closer. Maybe at the end I can do some sort of diagram or graphic of the countries I found bands worthy to be featured here.

But as it is usual I don’t only care for the old, the classic, pop. I also want to find new sounds, new bands, the new generation of indiepop. So here are 5 recommendations to start this week!

For this review of new indiepop I must thank Pierre and his indiepop Facebook group Twee Lovers Club. It is there where I’ve found all of these!

The Primitives: The classic and legendary band has a new video by The Primitives for the song “Oh Honey Sweet”. This song is being included on the 10″ titled “New Thrills” that is being released by Elefant Records.

Math and Physics Club: their label, Matinée, has just unveiled the song “All the Mains are Down” on SoundCloud. This song is the first single from the forthcoming album “Lived Here Before”.  It is a brilliant and lovely by this already classic band who I’ve seen a few times, but never in the US I think! There are no more details about the record, so we can only wait!

The Legendary House Cats: John Girgus from Aberdeen has a new release out on his Bandcamp under this name. There are 12 songs which as the Bandcamp says are a collection of digital and streaming releases by this project. There are some remixes and some covers as well as some originals, and happily it is available on CD.

White Shoes & The Couples Company: the Indonesian band who has been around now for so many years (I remember we featured them on my very very old indiepop blog Mira el Péndulo) has a new video for the song “Hidup Hanya Sekali”. Here they add quite a Latin flavour to it. Or maybe that’s their new style? I haven’t been following them for years now if I’m honest!

Rocketship: the Portland based band has a new flexi disc out titled “Songs from Yorozuya Detective Story”. Yes, these are songs that were included in the movie with that name which I haven’t seen. Have you? The songs which are very very short are “Sisyphus Strut”, “Low Moon in Cancer” and “Low Strings in Cancer”. They are nice instrumentals, though I wish of course they had lyrics. You know me, I need lyrics to love my indiepop. But then, that is just me.

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Approaching the 40th featured country/band little by little. Today it is number 38 and it is the turn for Austria and the band Bicycle Thieves! Don’t confuse them with The Bicycle Thieves from the UK that we covered many years ago on the blog!

I know very little about the band to be honest. I only discovered about a week ago! I was trying to find out fine guitar pop from Austria and it turned out to be a difficult task. I knew of Die Brüder which Uwe had once recommended me and even made me buy one of their albums from a second hand shop in Berlin. But I thought that they were quite popular, not very obscure and you could easily find information about them on the web. So I had to dig further.

It was thanks to a blog called the Austro-Rock-Lexikon that I was going to find out about Bicycle Thieves. I thought their name sounded poppy enough, especially as there has been an English band with that name in the mid-eighties, and I tried my luck.

I was to find a treasure trove of press clippings and photos. They all looked very much DIY, in the indiepop spirit. I was sure I was in the right path to finding something interesting. What’s even luckier was that as soon as I searched for them on Google I was to stumble upon their Bandcamp. Now I could listen to them too!

So while I have their music playing I start my indiepop archaeology on Discogs. There I end up finding out that their first record, a 12″EP, came out in 1989 on Moon Records (catalog Apollo 1).  The “Gospel Marmite” EP is perhaps their poppiest, and definitely my favourite of their releases. On it they had 3 songs on the A side and 4 on the B side, 7 in total. On the A side there was “Mirror Man”, “Leaving By Train” and “There She Goes My Mind” and on the B side, “Bullets in My Gun”, “Sunflower Island”, “Down by the Fishes” and “Worms for Breakfast”. I listen to these songs and I think of Flying Nun Records. Don’t you?

On the back of the jacket we see that the band was formed by Ronald Hartwig, Peter Fally, Fritz Hartwig and Johannes Hönlinger. They were based in Vienna and the songs were recorded between January and February of 1989 by Gebhard Sengmüller. All songs were written by Ronald and the extra backing vocals on “Sunflower Island” are credited to Gary Danner. The artwork has these very cool insect diagrams. I like it a lot.

After this release their first album was to be released in 1991, “King Backwards II”. It came out on Moon Records (Apollo 2) and had 10 songs. I start to suspect that the label was their own. The A side had “Joe”, “Applecake Town”, “Belgium”, “God” and “Miriam”, while the B side had “Mesmerized”, “Romania”, “Christian”, “Karen” and “Magic Bus”. Here I see what instruments each of them played. Peter played bass, Michael, drums, Fritz guitar and Ronald guitar too. It says that the LP came with a lyrics sheet. This LP was recorded in Berlin and the art was made by Amina Handke.  On a review of the record their sound is compared to the Postcard bands.

Lastly, in 1992, the second album was released. Titled “The Liquid Dandies”, the 10 song record came out now on a different label, Sacro Egoismo (102). This was a label based in Baden and was around in the 90s. The songs on this record were “Mafia Methods, “The Liquid Dandies”, “Dead Line”, Life on One Leg” and “Gospel King” on the A side and “Stamboul Train”, “Losing My Religion”, “I Swallowed the Spoon (Instead of the Soup)”, “The Fryzas” and “Kafka’s Last Words” on the B side. 300 copies were made of this record.  This record was released after the band had already split. They are actually demo recordings it says, and yes, “Losing My Religion” is a cover of REM, but in a sort of tango.

I keep looking for information and notice that after the demise of the band Ronald was involved in a band called Trelkovsky. With this band he was to release a couple of CD albums. I could find a website for him but everything is in German, and I can’t seem to find different information to that on the Austro Lexikon site. It also seems that today Ronald is making music under the name Diatopia.

I look carefully to the press clippings, see if there is something interesting in them. I see one where it says that the band was around from 1986 to 1991. One that mentions them playing on October 29th 1989 at a venue called Chelsea. Another from 1991 when they played the Termine venue on February 20th.

I see on Youtube a little story on the Franz Bilik channel. Here he tells his experience about finding about the band: “first came across the Bicycle Thieves when Rainer Springenschmied mentioned them in an episode of the Punkerecke in FM4 (which was about a million times better than this travesty called “Basement Show” by the way) when he asked Panza if he paid attention to any of the bands after the first wave of Austrian punk bands and mentioned the Bicycle Thieves as an example. The Bicycle Thieves existed from 1987 to 1992. Musicwise they had a British post-punk influence going on with a lot of jangling guitars and hushed vocals. And while I definitely wouldn’t call the Bicycle Thieves punk in a musical way they certainly had a bit of the DIY spirit to them as well as releasing a record on the Viennese punk label Sacro Egoismo. After their split in 1992 guitarist/vocalist Roland Hartwig and drummer Michael Peter formed the experimental outfit Trelkovsky, who you can also hear on this channel.

I start to wonder if they appeared on any compilations. I couldn’t find any. Nor if the other members of the band were involved with other bands. What did Fritz or Peter do afterwards?

This is definitely the first time I mention an Austrian band on the blog, perhaps there are Austrian readers and can help. What else do you know about them?

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Listen
Bicycle Thieves – Leaving By Trains

10
Nov

Just one more week before going to Portugal! Yes, next Friday I’m off. Will be returning on the 27, so any orders placed after the 16 will be posted on the 28th. But any orders placed before the 16 will be posted this week. Promise.

There are still many more discoveries and recommendations while we patiently wait for the My Light Shines For You! 7″. Also very soon I’ll be announcing the next release on the Cloudberry Cake Kitchen, so keep reading the blog.

Youthcomics: I know about nothing about this Kyoto band. The thing I know is that they are releasing a tape on November 11th on the very very fine label Miles Apart Records from Japan. The limited edition cassette is titled “Shower of 411 sec.” and I don’t know how many songs it will include. The only certainty is that the song “Youth In Our Backyards”, which I’m loving now on SoundCloud will be included. It seems that Japan doesn’t stop producing superb guitar pop these days!

Sound and Fury: the Chengdu band who I was raving not so long ago on the blog signed to Boring Productions. With the label, which our friend Jovi runs, the band will be releasing an album titled “Sprout” on November 24th. Now they are promoting it with a video for the song “Honey Knows” which is brilliant! I think this might be one of my favourite Chinese bands ever. And I want to visit Chengdu someday too.

Corrections: I have to thank Rich Farnell for posting this band on his Facebook, that’s how I discovered this Queensland, Australia combo. I think what caught my attention was that Rich described their drum machine a bit like The Field Mice. “Idolatry” is the name of the album the band has released digitally on Bandcamp. Will it appear on a physical record? Who knows. The jangle pop here is a bit darker, a bit post punk, so some songs are not exactly what I love, but sometimes like on “Shout” or “Underground City”, which might be their poppiest, are pretty good!

Salad Boys: another find by Rich. Yes, I keep an eye on my friend’s Facebook pages to find out new music. Salad Boys hail from Christchurch, New Zealand, and what Rich shared was a bit old, a 7″ that was released in November0 2015 titled “Scarce Tracks”, which is a collection of 4 songs of non-album recordings. Their latest though is a limited tape titled “Giving Compliments to Strangers” which was originally released by the band to sell during their 2017 tour in Australia. Now it has been released “properly” by Shit Teeth records. The band is formed by Joe Sampson, Ben Odering and Matt Scobie.

I Won’t Have To Think About You: Compiled by Bayu and Moopie: that’s the name of the Australian pop compilation the Melbourne/Berlin label A Colourful Storm is releasing. And what a compilation this is! The bands on it are fantastic, you get The Cat’s Miaow, The Pearly Gatecrashers, Love Positions, The Cannanes and more. Wow wow wow! There are also bands I’ve never heard before on it like The Particles, Ya Ya Choral or Maestros and Dipsos. This is a must order! And actually you can now, it is a bit pricey for me, 23 euros including postage for the world. So if you want to buy me a Christmas gift…

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The 37th band on the Cloudberry Cake indiepop world tour hails from Malaysia! More specifically from Kuching, Sarawak, in Borneo.

Kuching, officially the City of Kuching, is the capital and the most populous city in the state of Sarawak in Malaysia. It is also the capital of Kuching Division. The city is situated on the Sarawak River at the southwest tip of the state of Sarawak on the island of Borneo and covers an area of 431 square kilometres with a population about 165,642 in the Kuching North administrative region and 159,490 in the Kuching South administrative region—a total of 325,132 people.[5] Kuching is a major food destination for tourists and the main gateway for travellers visiting Sarawak and Borneo. Kuching Wetlands National Park is located about 30 kilometres from the city and there are many other tourist attractions in and around Kuching such as Bako National Park, Semenggoh Wildlife Centre, Rainforest World Music Festival (RWMF), state assembly building, The Astana, Fort Margherita, Kuching Cat Museum, and Sarawak State Museum. The city has become one of the major industrial and commercial centres in East Malaysia.

Before finding about them my only knowledge on Malaysian guitar pop was that of Ferns who were part of the Cloudberry split 3″ series. They shared one of our 3″s with the British band The Shandy Express back in 2009. Before that they had an album on Fruit Records titled “On Botany” which is very recommendable. But aside from them, I had no clue about any other Malaysian band making melodic and catchy pop.

Now, because of this exercise of finding indiepop from all corners of the world, I was to be introduced to Nice Stupid Playground or Nicestupidplayground as it is sometimes written on the web. I’ll start on Discogs which has become the usual first stop for finding about bands. There I see that the band released two records. The first one, “My Life is My Parents’ Biggest Television”, was released in 2000 on the label Positive Tone from Malaysia. Even though it was on an indie label it was distributed and published by EMI. The record had 10 songs and they were: “Stereo Girl”, “Girlfriday”, “What If It Rains”, “Ballistic”, “Adult Life”, “Two”, “Nineteen”, “Discouraged”, “Favourite” and “Thank You”.

Their 2006 album “A Beautiful Life” was self released. It also had 10 songs, “Beautiful Life”, “Miracle”, “Happy”, “Chasing Butterfly”, “Telecommusication”, “If All Else Fails”, “Stronger Than Before”, “Closer”, “My Teenage View” and “Because We Are”. Clinton Ang, their now manager, was the one that offered to fund this release according to a biography on Last.fm. Not much more information about these two releases on Discogs, but I’m sure I’ll find more about them elsewhere. But first I want to check their compilation appearances.

In 1996 they had 4 songs on the compilation “Boys & Girls 1+1=3”. They were “Bedroom Window”, “She Wants”, “And I Don’t Admire (The Things That You Do)” and “Bedroom Window (Reprise)”. This release was released by Positive Tone on both CD and tape format (catalog PT 3004). These songs don’t appear on any of the albums.

“And I Don’t Admire (The Things That You Do)” also appears on the 1997 CD and tape compilation “Name of the Game (Malaysia’97 Fifa Coca Cola Cup)” that was released by Positive Tone (PT 3006). This CD celebrated the Fifa World Youth Championship that was held that year in Malaysia were the champions were Argentina.

In 1998 the song “Bedroom Window” was included on the CD compilation “Radio Friendly Songs!” that was released by Pony Canyon (PMCL 0534) in Malaysia. Later in the year 2000 “Stereo Girl” was to appear on two CD comps, “Pheaw! Vol.1” and “They Came From Planet Earth”, both released by EMI in Malaysia.

The last compilation appearance on Discogs dates from 2014. On the cassette sampler “Tales of the Insomniac Raksaksa” they contributed the song “Beautiful Life”. This tape was released by Teenage Head Records (THRRR01).

I start some searches on Google. I am going to stumble upon an old Tripod website for the band. Do you remember Tripod? Those were the days! On it there are some tidbits about their releases. For example “My Life is My Parent’s Biggest Television”‘s name comes from their second demo. The album was recorded at Craze Studio and Synchrozsound Studio between June and November 1999. “Stereo Girl” was the first single the band used to promote the record, and “Two” was the second.

They also mention the compilation “Boys & Girls 1+1=3”. They say the songs they contributed were actually the first professional recordings the band did since signing to the label Positive Tone. Bedroom Window was the first single from the album and the song itself lifted Nice Stupid Playground’s name at the local music scene when it was handpicked by a Hong Kong movie producer to be featured as a soundtrack song in this Holywood movie called “The Chinese Box” starred Jeremy Irons and Gong Li. This Boys & Girls album also won the Best English Album at the AIM Awards in 1997 and the album achieved a double platinum in the same year.

Listed here is also the demo “…Of Course We Didn’t” that was released in 1992. This demo was released in 1992 and was actually a sort of split demo with the band Mr. Wilson’s Garden, a side-project Charles fronted alongside Mady and Andy from Faded Face. Hmm, would love to hear the songs by this other band. Also we know have some names. Let’s keep digging.

The second demo, as I mentioned earlier, was titled “My Life is My Parents Biggest TV”. This tape came out in 1994 and was recorded at Sutera Music Studio. The songs included were “Shampoo Your Head”, “Drain Dance”, “Do Re Mi”, “My Life is My Parent’s Biggest TV” and “Flu in the Morning”.

The last thing that is listed in this page’s discography is a third demo titled “Thirtyzeroeight” that was released in 1995. They say this was the most success of their demos, getting rave reviews and getting the band signed to Positive Tone after Paul Moss, one of the label’s producers saw their potential. It had five songs, “And I Don’t Admire The Thing You Do”, “Kurt Goes to Heaven”, “She Wants”, “Bedroom Windown” and “Swinging Hair”.

There is also a news section which seems to have been updated last in 2013. It says the band was currently working on their 3rd album. It mentions that this album would represent the band’s first batch of new material since 1997. Wasn’t the album of 2000 and 2006 new material? Strange. Before saying that, in 2007 they were playing with the idea of releasing a Best Of compilation. I don’t think that happened either.

I also notice that the band lists here a few gigs they played, Rock the World in December of 2004 to an estimated crowd of 20 thousand (!!) and also the Band Fest in 2005. Other piece of interesting news is that for their second album the band recruited a new guitarist, Nappy, who used to be in the band Radish Fan/Blue Wagon.

What was I to find next? Guess what, a Wikipedia entry, in English. Here I get the band members, Charles Rossem on vocals, John Boniface on bass, Abdul Aziz on guitar, Nellfee Alwi on guitar and Danny Jopi on drums. Also Adrian Ed is listed as a guitarist. There is also a small biography: Frontman and lead singer Charles Rossem started Nicestupidplayground in 1992; and modeled the sound after a distant early 1980s British rock sound, citing his initial influences as the Cure, the Smiths and The Stone Roses. After several contributions to compilations, their hit song Bedroom Window landed on the album Boys & Girls 1+1=3 which featured their song as the first and main single; the compilation won several awards. After being let go from Positive Tone Records in 2003, Nicestupidplayground continued to tour minimally, offered meetings with fans upon the album release of A Beautiful Life.

The band won a couple of awards, like best music video on the show Video Muzik for “Bedroom Window”, a Double Platinum for “Boys & Girls 1+1=3” and Best English Album by Anugerah Industri Muzik for that same release in 1997.

The curious thing is that I can’t find the video for “Bedroom Window” on Youtube. They also made a video for “Stereo Girl”. I can’t find that one either. There are some live clips and many audio only Youtube videos, but not their promo videos. Why? Maybe EMI doesn’t allow them to be online? Or what?

What you will find though is several bands and people covering their songs. It seems they did make a mark in the Malaysian alternative (and perhaps mainstream?) music.

From the live videos, I can think that the band still plays up to this day. Probably not too often. They don’t seem to have a Facebook nor other presence on the web as a Bandcamp or a SoundCloud. So it is quite hard to know what they are doing these days. I think their latest gig was at a big festival called Rocktoberfest Borneo last October.

I wonder what happened to that third record they started working on. If there were any other similar Malaysian bands? I see the name of the new BorneoPop in some articles, there must have been more bands for there to be a scene, right? I would also love to hear the songs from their earlier tapes. I’ve found some on Youtube but not all. Also would be nice to hear Charles other band I mentioned. There are many questions unanswered, the internet don’t have much written about them but it has been quite a discovery for me to hear these songs coming all the way from Malaysia!

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Listen
Nice Stupid Playground – Stereo Girl

08
Nov

It is so soon that I’m going on vacation. Just for a week, but still. I really look forward to it. Need some rest, so I come re-energized to keep Cloudberry busy! And the blog too of course. Need to finish this world tour of bands, there are still a handful of countries that I want to “research”!

But of course there are indiepop news all the time so why don’t we get into that. That way I leave you with a lot of new music before I’m away. Also don’t miss tomorrow that I’ll publish one new interview!

Doble Pletina: Sadly I still haven’t got around to get the Barcelona band’s last album from 2016 titled “Así Es Como Escapó”. Not that easy to get indie releases from Spain in the US. Sometimes Jigsaw Records carries them, but if they don’t, I need to hope my friends help me. This is a shame, because I really like this band which I’ve seen once in Madrid and once in New York. But I’m not here to talk about how difficult it is to get their records but about their new video for the song “Mausoleo” which has just been released. It is a very strange concept perhaps, but who cares, the music is lovely of course.

The Seashells: Our friends from The Seashells, who we put out their return 7″ last year, have a new song! And that is brilliant news of course if you like jangly guitars, the classic melodies of indiepop, and that Swedish sensibility that we’ve been fans in indiepop since like forever now! The new song is titled “Moments of Being” and it just appeared out of the blue, according to the band to celebrate All Saint’s Day!

For Tracy Hyde: Since I discovered them not too long ago this Japanese band has become one of my favourites from that country. I remember when I wrote about them and I was pointed out that I didn’t do my research correctly, that they actually had an album out! I claimed that they didn’t! Embarrassing! Well, I made amends. I bought their album and has been played a lot on my personal CD player. The news now is that the band has a sweet new song on their SoundCloud titled “Floor”. And that is not the best news. Actually the best news is that this song will be part of a new album that will be released  on the 2nd of November. Well, we are past that date. Maybe it is out already! The new album titled “He(r) Art” has a whopping 17 songs. I look forward to having it!

Dan Dan Dero: The Lima band has been a usual in the blog. In the last few months they’ve released a couple of videos and now finally their debut album is out. It is titled “La Gran Implosión” and it has 9 dreamy indiepop songs. Most of the album is sung in Spanish but there are a few songs in English like “Tangerine” or “Muriel”. I think this is a very fine debut but I’m concerned about it being released properly, at the moment it is only available digitally. Will there be a physical release in some format? I really hope so, as I would love to have it in my collection!

The Hummingbirds: Well, it only says “Coming Soon”. It is not available yet to order. What am I talking about? An LP that will be available on the “Hindsight – A Night for Simon” that will be celebrated at the Factory Theatre in Merrickville. 9 tracks that were never before on vinyl, only available on CD on the “IV Recordings”. But it seems it won’t be easy to get hold of one of these beauties. It doesn’t really say how many copies will be pressed but ONLY if there are any copies left after that gig these LPs will be sold on a first come, first serve basis on Monday December 4th noon Sydney time and only limited to one per person. That means 16 hours less in New York so 8pm of Sunday??? I will need to set an alarm!

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36th! That is the number of countries I’ve featured so far and there are more to come! Now I’m very happy to present a band from Portugal, a country I will be visiting next week!!! I’m traveling for 8 days starting on the 17th! So yes, mark that day because I’ll be on vacations and won’t be able to post any records. So if you need any Cloudberry releases order now and there won’t be any delays!

Portuguese indiepop is not very well known. To be honest there have been only a few bands. On Cloudberry I released a 3″ back in 2007 of a band called Safety Matches. A fun twee-ish band. I lost contact with them so I’m not sure what they are up to these days. I really liked them. Aside from them I knew nothing, so once I asked a Cloudberry supporter if he could recommend me some  bands from his own country. He recommended me the band Jaguar. I thought they were alright, so I decided to explore any connections I could find with any other guitar pop bands. This is how I discovered the DIY label Bee Keeper that was around from 1994 to 1999 and released more than a few gems.

The story says that the Lisbon based Bee Keeper started out as a joke by Elsa Pires, and was about making things happen and about making music fly as far as you want it to go. Against boredom, inercia and foolish jealous competition. Bee Keeper defended a spirit of cooperation between everyone who care. You can do it if you really wanna do it. Make your little riot happen and do it yourself.
Act now, react now.
 
 That text appears on a BandCamp I found for the label, and it is very inspiring!

The label wasn’t only Elsa’s. Luis Futre was also part of it. There is a small story of the label and also the whole discography on a blog post by Under Review, a Portuguese blog that covers indie music. The discography, which I haven’t heard all, seems to be a mixed bag of music. There are all sorts, from indie rock to indie pop, everything done the DIY way. One of the few bands that made indiepop from the Bee Keeper bands was Captain Clown.

Their first appearance on the Bee Keeper catalog was on the CD compilation “This is Not a Damage Fanclub Tribute” that was released in 1996 (catalog BEE020). The edition of 500 copies was divided into two distinct parts. In the first part, 10 bands covered the  band Damage Fanclub. After these, 11 more bands appeared playing their own songs in a sub-titled part “Supermarket Music”. Captain Clown appears on the latter part with the song “Super Red Taxi”.

That same year the band was to release their one and only record, “7 Superheroes in Pink Driven Ambulance”. It came out on a format I’m not a fan of sadly, a tape. I haven’t been able to find a copy of it and haven’t had the chance to listen to the songs. I’m writing this post on the strength of the song from the compilation and in my curiosity of hearing this tape. Maybe someone could help.

The city of Castelo Branco  is a municipality and former bishopric in Castelo Branco District, in Centro Region, Portugal. The name means “white castle”. Castelo Branco gets its name from the prior existence of a Luso-Roman castrum or fortified settlement called Castra Leuca, on the summit of the hill of Colina da Cardosa. The population grew on the slopes of this hill.

The band hailed from Castelo Branco and according to the blog Under Review the band had 3 vocalists who sang true stories and that the band had 3 brothers who were in the band Mammies & Kids. Luckily this blog has a scan of the tape art and here I can find many important details. First the band members, Nuno Valente, Luis Valente and Inês Barata on vocals, Ricardo Mota on bass, Rui Osório and Vasco Daniel on guitars and Renato Jacobetty on drums. The songs were recorded in June 1996 at Estudio S. Tiago in Castelo Branco and produced by the band.

The fun art of the tape, a collage of different cartoons reminds me a bit of what was happening just across the border in Spain, with an interesting pop scene helmed by Elefant Records. Maybe there was some sort of influence. Or not. The tape included just 7 songs which were: “Super Red Taxi”, “Hello Again”, “17 (Seventeen)”, “Little Smile”, “Buzz”, “Friend” and “For Someone Special”.

What strikes me of course after all this information was to read the name Nuno Valente. It rang a bell almost immediately, an easy thing to a football fan like me. I remembered immediately the Portuguese player Nuno Valente that was part of the Portuguese national team in the Euro 2004 and the 2006 World Cup. I’m sure it is just a case of homonymy, but couldn’t stop thinking about it!

I look into the Bee Keeper discography for Mammies & Kids, see what they were about. It actually was a band that was around before Captain Clown. They released a tape titled “Pink Elephant is Gone?!” in 1995 (catalog Bee008) which is said to be influenced by Pavement. I do read on another blog, Braga Parks, that on this tape there was a Tullycraft and a Smudge cover. Which songs? I don’t know.

I start looking for more information about the band members. It is a difficult task as Captain Clown only has the previously mentioned compilation listed. But I do a good search and find that in 2010 Renato Jacobetty played percussion on the band Musgo’s CD album “O Negro de Boumkubé”. Also I see that Inês Barata played violin on a classical record by António Pinho Vargas. Is this the same Inês? I wonder as this CD was released in 1994 before she was in Captain Clown. If it was the same Inês wouldn’t she play violin on Captain Clown?

I couldn’t find anything else on the web. It seems like that era of Portuguese indie is not that well documented. There is barely anything written about that time. I do see that on Vimeo there has been an effort to unearth this music with small documentaries about the Bee Keeper bands. Sadly there’s nothing on Captain Clown, but you can find clips on Everground, Plasticine, Toast, Radioactive Man and Dr. Frankestein. It is said though that the intention was to release a full-fledged documentary about the label in 2012. Don’t know if that actually happened.

Do you remember them? Did they record any other songs? Did you ever see them play live? Would be interesting to get in touch and see if they can tell us the story of their fun band!

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Listen
Captain Clown – Super Red Taxi