16
Oct

I only noticed today that it is actually the 9th anniversary of the Cloudberry blog. 9 years of writing about indiepop. 9 years of interviewing indiepop bands. Definitely the blog is one of the few resources these days to cover exhaustively the music we all love. At the time I started the blog there were many others, sadly Cloudberry Cake has outlived them.

The way we get our news has changed, that is true. Indiepop groups on Facebook are quite successful. Not totally, but they are a good resource. The only problem is that there is no curation and sometimes it can end up being a free for all situation. Another dynamic that has become quite fashionable is that of having indiepop being reviewed or debut the digital release on random hipster blogs. It is a way to get the message through. Maybe it works, maybe it gets a new audience. When I did that, debuting some videos on some website it didn’t make any difference if I’m honest.

What will happen in the next year or two? Or the next five? How will we get to know what’s new in indiepop? What are the next cool bands? The indiepop-list is almost dead. I have to be checking day and day again on Bandcamp and other sites for any uploads. I trust my friends who post on their own personal Facebook links to bands they’ve discovered. But Facebook also hides stories. I can’t follow all the posts the bands I follow post as I don’t see them. It really is a hustle. Because of all these problems I feel a blog is still a good way to present information for our case. All news are centralized and a good search function helps tracking and finding what you came looking for in the first place.

I continue ask myself when will I stop? I don’t have a date. It is true I wish many of the articles, especially the interviews would be great on a book. I wish I could do that. If I had the time or money. Maybe there’s a publisher interested, who knows. In any case I feel one more year of blogging won’t be a problem. I have the energy for that. Not a problem.

Making it to 10 years would be a success. I still don’t check how many readers I have, but the last year I feel I’ve had more comments. And that makes me terribly happy. Getting in touch with bands or getting to know about bands from people that saw them, that experienced them live or were friends with. I want to continue writing down for posterity what indiepop meant and means. This is history, and shouldn’t just be forgotten.

After those words, just a couple of new discoveries for you to check, I didn’t want to leave you empty-handed!

You can now order the latest 3 Shelflife releases, that is Pia Fraus, Airiel and The Luxembourg Signal albums. In the past weeks we could stream many of these records on different websites but The Luxembourg Signal’s. Now it is available to stream on the Big Takeover website and you can listen to it if you want to check if this is up your street. The album is a co-release with Kleine Undergrund Schallplatten releasing the record for Europe. The band formed by Beth Arzy and Betsy Moyer on vocals, Johnny Joyner on guitars, Brian Espinosa on drums, Kelly Davis on guitars and Daniel Kumiega on bass and Ginny Pitchford on keyboards has just been touring Europe with people loving their shows. I still haven’t seen them. When they played Indietracks in 2015, I didn’t go. Tough luck. This record also comes with a surprise, it has guest vocals from Bobby Wratten on the song “Fall Feeling”. Sounds like a very fine record, now I need to get a copy.

A recent discovery for me is California’s The Molochs who have a few records. Their latest, “America’s Velvet Glory” , was released this January on vinyl, CD and tape. The record has 11 guitar pop songs influenced by The Go-Betweens, Flying Nun Records and perhaps The Smiths? I hear some country sometimes too.  There are a few promo videos for some of the songs of the record, you can check “You and Me” and also “No More Cryin‘”. The Los Angeles band seem to have toured Europe quite well, even playing Primavera. They are formed by Lucas Fitzsimons, Ryan Foster, Cameron Gartung, Derek Cowart and Mateo Leonardo. The band releases their records on the Innovative Leisure label.

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Ticking checkboxes, many countries have already been featured in this indiepop world tour. I hope you have discovered some new music from all around the world. Indiepop, guitar pop, are not exclusive to the British Isles. That’s a fact. Definitely there’s less quantity in other countries but by no means less quality. So far, when it comes to Latin America, I’ve featured Brazil, Argentina and Mexico. Too little. Maybe it is time to check out Chile, the country where the band who we are releasing next on our label, My Light Shines For You, hails from.

Of course, I’m not going to be talking about them now. We are here to rediscover lost, forgotten bands, not contemporary ones! I think my first sort of indiepop connection with Chile was through Soulseek too. It seems that story of Myspace and Soulseek seem to be a thread in my last posts. Well, that was my indiepop education in the early and mid 2000s. That’s the time I made so many good friends from all over the world and discovered music from every corner. That’s how I met Alejandra from Les Ondes Martenot. What a beautiful band. I thought at the time that they must be the only band making indiepop proper in South America. Probably they were. It was around 2003 or so. They sounded like a beautiful mix of La Buena Vida and Camera Obscura. But as I’m in touch with her still it doesn’t make sense to dedicate an article, I feel it will be much better to do a proper interview. I should do that. I wonder why it’s been almost 10 years on the blog and I haven’t interviewed so many friends I’ve made through the years.

Chilean music was never unknown to me. Mainstream bands like Los Prisioneros were very important while I was growing up. I still like their music, they are classic. I even saw them live when they reunited and played in Miami. Other bands from the 90s like Los Tres or Lucybell were well known and you could hear them on the radio. The Chilean scene output wasn’t as big as Argentina or Mexico but they managed to break through. I remember in the early 2000s underground fanzines in Lima were covering bands like Congelador or Panico. I wasn’t a fan of them, they weren’t pop, jangly, or neither of the things I like. But they were there. I always wondered if there had been any bands in the 90s that actually played pop. Only later, much later, maybe 10 years ago or so I discovered a band called Malcorazón which was heavily influenced by Lush and I became very curious about them. Why had I never heard them while I was living down in South America?

Malcorazón (sometimes spelled too as Mal Corazón) would roughly translate as “bad heart”. According to Discogs, which as you know is my first stop when digging for information, they were a Chilean indie, indie pop, indie rock, shoegazing & pop band, formed 1989 in San Bernardo, Santiago. There seems to have been a bunch of lineup changes, so I’ll just save myself sometime and copy/paste that information:
– Cathy Lean: lead vocals, guitar (1989 – •).
– Cristián López: guitar (1989 – 1994).
– Carlos González: bass (1989 – 1996).
– Rodrigo Norambuena: drums (1989 – 1997).
– Jorge Flores: guitar (1994 – 2004).
– Thomas Kalbhenn: bass (1996 – 1997).
– Sandra Neumann: keyboards (1996 – 1997).
– Cristián Córdova: drums (1997 – •)
– Giovanni Quezada: bass (2002 – 2004).
– Cristian Herrera: guitar (2011 – •).
– Maximiliano Parra: keyboards (2011 – •).
– Mauricio Horment: bass (2011 – •).

As you can see, lead vocalist Cathy Lean was the only one to be part of the band since day one. Listed on Discogs are two albums, “San Bernardo” from 1995 and “Abismo” from 2003. I definitely recommend the first one, which is really pretty, influenced by Lush or The Sundays.

San Bernardo is a city of Chile, part of the Greater Santiago conurbation. Administratively, it is a commune and the capital of the Maipo Province in the Santiago Metropolitan Region. It is the seat of the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Bernardo. The Chena hills, located in the basin of San Bernardo, are home to an Incan sacred site known as the Huaca of Chena or Chena’s Pucará. Initially thought to be a fortress, the structure in the southern tip of the Chena hills has been denominated as a huaca a sacred place, a space of ritual use. The Chena’s Pucará was observed to have a zoomorphic design, resembling a puma, which is a characteristic of Incan ceremonial and sacred structures. The word Chena means puma in oestrous cycle in the Quechuan language.

“San Bernardo” came out on the label Alerce (catalog ALCE 853) which is actually a folk label. So that was a strange choice. Perhaps there weren’t many options at the time. It came out only on cassette, which is a shame. The album had 10 songs, all written by Cathy and music by Carlos González. The songs being: “Eternos Días de Invierno”, “Promesas”, “Noche en Espiral”, “Maravilla de Piedra”, “Vendrás”, “Sin Fin”, “Aguas Azules”, “Tras la Faz”, “Sin Piedad” and “10 de Agosto”. The last song actually contains a fragment of Lush’s “Lit Up”. The artwork for this tape was done by Italo Miranda and the design by Carol Vieytes. The photos were taken by Pablo Borón. The band had help from Alejandro Gómez on guitars and Gabriel Vigliensoni on samplers. The songs were recorded, engineered and mixed by Iván Quiroz with the help of Luis Serrano, Claudio Hijerra and Roberto Espinoza. It was recorded in the Filmo Centro studio and mastered in the Ricardo García studio.

The second album, with a totally different lineup almost came out on La Oreja label. “Abismo” saw a departure of their sound, becoming a bit more electronic. It is also much more mainstream. I wonder if they had some success with it? There were ten songs on it, “Abismo”, “Esperaré Por Ti”, “Todo Peor”, “Alma en Pena”, “Es Sólo el Comienzo”, “Carne Cruda”, “Luz de Amanecer” and “Coma”. There was a promo video for “Todo Peor” and the record was recorded, produced and mixed by Cristián Heyne. The album came out on CD format and the art was created by Javier Pañella, Paula Asensio and Carolina Maury. It was recorded at the Luna studio between April 2001 and March 2003. It was mastered at the Clio studio.

There is just one compilation appearance listed, one that is prior to the release of their album. On the 1994 CD compilation “Con el Corazón Aquí 2” released by Fondart, ATR – Asociación de Trabajadores del Rock, they contributed the song “La Muerte Atada”.

I come back to the first album, which as I said before, is my favourite, I like the sound in it. I recommend checking out the promo video for the song “Eternos Días de Invierno” which is very The Sundays in a way, don’t you think? I then find out the website MusicaPopular.cl where there is a biography of the band. Here I will learn a bunch of interesting facts. According to the MusicaPopular page the band was heavily influenced by The Sundays and The Smiths. They praise the guitar player Cristián López. What happened to him after leaving the band in 1994? I read he collaborated later with a mainstream band called Javiera y los Imposibles. It also mentions that in 1993 Cathy Lean became an actress in some TV series. I could find that she appeared at least in one that was called “Rojo y Miel”. The story says that at that time, 1993, the band already had demos for an album but López left the band suddenly. What happened with these recordings? There’s no mention. It only says that because of this situation the band lost the chance to sign to EMI and had to write new songs so they could finally release their first album. It is at this time they release the aforementioned promo vide which didn’t get much press or support. The actress Malú Gatica, which is well-known in their country and who is, according to IMDB, the only Chilean actress to work in Hollywood, appears on the video.

After the album was released, a 2nd crisis, the bassist Carlos González, decided to leave the band. At this moment the new lineup decides to explore with electronic sounds. They changed their name to Rever and released a single and an album. After that period the band would change their name back to Malcorazón and released their second album. A curious fact is that their promo single, “Todo Peor”, was covered  by the band Kudai on their 2003 album “Nadha”.

It is also worth mentioning that Cathy released a solo single titled “Última Oportunidad” in 2006.

After that, there were more releases too. There is an EP that dates from 2011 that is called “Pásalo Bien” which I have just found on Bandcamp. 4 songs on it, well actually 3 and a remix: “Pásalo Bien”, “Última Oportunidad”, “Un Día Más” and “Pásalo Bien (Sokio remix)”. I couldn’t find if this was released in any format, though I did find the band playing it live on a TV show called “Sin Dios Ni Late“. There was also a soundtrack appearance, with the song “Luz de Amanecer”, from the “Los Debutantes” movie in 2003.

On Youtube I found another TV appearance by the band on the national television channel of Chile programme “Contigo en Verano” dating from 1997. On it the presenter even shows a clip from where Cathy and himself were part of the TV series “Rojo y Miel”. On this appearance the band plays their arguably best song, “Eternos Días de Verano” and Cathy looks quite a bit like Rachel Goswell!

There are more TV appearances. A cool one from 1995 on the La Red TV channel playing “Eternos Días de Verano” and “Vendrás“. Or a 1994 appearance on the show “Extra Jóvenes” playing the song “La Muerte Atada“. And also there is a badly sounding Youtube video of the band playing the song “Noche en Espiral” at some place called Dinamo.

There are some interviews on the web but mostly about their later period. As I said I’m curious about their early days, the “San Bernardo” album and the 6 years before that release. Like I want to hear those demos recorded with Cristián López. On an interview Cathy says that those songs were so beautiful. I would love to hear them. Some song titles from that period were “Al Camino”, “Azul” and two that actually got released, “La Muerte Atada” and “Maravilla de Piedra”. I want to know how come no one in Chile has reissued that beautiful first album, “San Bernardo”, in some other format other than tape. A CD would a booklet with nicely written liner notes would be great. Or a vinyl LP. I wonder about that period. I wonder why they didn’t become more of a household name. I wonder how popular they were at the time? They did play in TV, but did they play much live? Where? Did they tour their country? Many questions, and not many answers, but a very nice first record full of chiming guitars that is worth rediscovering.

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Listen
Malcorazón – Eternos Días de Invierno‎

12
Oct

Well, I was expecting to be the happiest today, but well, I’m only moderately happy. On Tuesday my home country, Peru, played Colombia in what is the South American qualifiers to the Russia 2018 World Cup. A win was to qualify us directly but that didn’t happen. What happened was that we tied and so we are not eliminated but neither qualified. We have to play two more games, an international play off against New Zealand next month. In theory Peru is a better team. But this is football, and you have to play the games first. Anything can happen. So yes, happy to the extent that we are still alive after 18 games in the most difficult qualifiers in the world and that we are two games away of me seeing Peru for the first time in a World Cup (last time was 1982). I have to wait another month to know if I will buy plane tickets to Russia, I’m very positive that that will be the case (sorry my kiwi friends!).

As it is becoming usual on the blog, Thursdays are also new post days. Not much to tell about Cloudberry right now, but let’s see what new sounds or interesting news we can find in the indiepopworld.

Ultra happy that finally we can hear the 6 songs from the Verandan EP. Weeks and weeks of anticipation since the first time we heard the first song of Ville Hopponen’s new project. We recommended this band time and time again. We wondered where those songs that were popping up on SoundCloud were going to end up. Finally it seems it is a digital EP that is right now available on all digital platforms. Me, I’m streaming it from Bandcamp. And what can I tell you, it is everything that I expected. It is beautiful. My only concern, request, complain, is that I want this in some physical format. Will it be released on vinyl? on CD? I need this on my collection. It can’t just be a digital release!!

All these exclusive premieres on blogs or magazines I have no clue they exist is becoming a new norm for some indiepop releases. This time I had to head to a webzine called God is in the TV to be able to stream the new Pia Fraus‘ album “Field Ceremony”. You can do that now too if you like. Or you can wait a couple more days, until October 16, for the release date. Maybe the second option is better, we support the band, the label, and we don’t give clicks to random pages?? Or am I wrong?

Another Chinese band I discovered lately was Self Party. But I wasn’t sure if I should or not recommend them. You see less than half of their songs are good, the others are not my style. But when they are good, like on “Jaguar-Jaguar” or “Regina Sue” it is quite refreshing, especially the first one which is my favourite. The band hails from Hangzhou and have a digital album titled “Pop Songs” on Bandcamp.

Then thanks to the Latin American Twee page I end up on the Bandcamp of a new Peruvian band named Los Niños Vudú. The band has made available their first release, a digital EP titled “Pueblo Libre”. It has 5 songs, “Multicolor”, “Para Siempre”, “Girasoles”, “Por las Azoteas” and “Niños de Pueblo Libre”, and they are quite good! I’m guessing this is a very young band and that maybe they hail from the Lima district Pueblo Libre that gives the EP its name. I haven’t seen them playing events with any of the Peruvian bands I follow on Facebook, but hopefully they start making a fuss, this is a very promising debut and I hope it gets released in some way. The band is formed by Inti Arteaga on vocals and guitars, Andoni Granda on guitars, César Horruitiner on drums, Adrián Muñoz on bass and Rodrigo Urbiola on keyboards.

Lastly some fantastic news from The Honeydrips! The Stockholm band is back with a new album titled “Give Each Other Some Solace” and it will be available in 12″ vinyl LP and cassette. The album is expected to come out on October 27 and right now the band is previewing two of the songs (out of 8) on their Bandcamp: “Through the Darkness” and “DCI Gates”. I am very happy to see Mikael returning in top form with The Honeydrips! Both songs are brilliant! The copies for this record will be very limited it seems so don’t miss it! Also keep an eye on this page, as very soon, I hope, there will be news about a new project Mikael is involved with!!!

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I wanted to visit Asia again in this indiepop world tour but not sure what is missing? Hong Kong perhaps? I can’t think of any older obscure bands. I know before The Pancakes there were some bands that had Dejay in them like Tricycle Riders, The Postcard or Ginger Biscuits, but never heard any of their songs so I can’t tell if they were good or not. So Asia seems to be covered now with features on bands from Japan, Singapore, Philippines, Indonesia and Taiwan. Maybe there’s something to dig in Malaysia or Thailand? Maybe someone could recommend something.

Our story today is about the little known Serbian indiepop fans and the band Mizu.

My first contact with them was going through be during the golden years of indiepop in the early and mid 2000s. That is when I was always discovering music through Soulseek and being part of the Twee Folks room in that P2P music sharing program. There I was to meet Nikola who would introduce me to another Nikola, one that had released an indiepop compilation in Serbia called “A View of Our Dreams”. His label was called On a Balcony, a play on words on the Balkans, and it came out in 2002. It included many superb bands, La Casa Azul, One Night Suzan, Aquadays, The Crooner and more. But to my surprise there were no Serbian bands. Why?

I guess with that question I got introduced to Serbian guitar pop. The first band I was to be aware was Eva Braun which actually had one record where they sing in English under the name Viva Braun, “The Nowhere Land”, that was released in the US by Zip Records. I own this one. But the Serbian band I played the most during those years was Mizu.

Nikola introduced them to me. He sent me one song, “Dobar Dan”, which I thought was brilliant. Almost immediately he sent me their one and only album. And I really enjoyed. There was not much more to know about them then, nor did I went into indiepop archaeology at that time. Now many years later I decide to rediscover this song, this band, learn their story.

First thing, “Dobar Dan”, means “good day”. Mizu seems to mean table? What is good is that the band actually has a small bio on Discogs, there it says that the band hailed from Bečej and were formed by the end of 1997. The name was the idea of the band’s first bass player Saša Ajdanov.

Bečej is a town and municipality located in the South Bačka District of the autonomous province of Vojvodina, Serbia. The town has a population of 23,895, while the municipality has 37,351 inhabitants. It is a multiethnic town, predominantly inhabited by Serbs and Hungarians.

It also says that some of their more memorable concerts were the ones they played as warm up band for Veliki Prezir at Rex and then in Barutana with Eva Braun. They also appeared on a “Live Session” on NS Plus. Their album on CD was supposed to be released in 2000 by Automatik records but that never happened, only some promo copies were available. That would explain why on Discogs their album is listed as an MP3 album that dates from 2008 on Label Star.

I was listening to this album quite a lot back in 2003, 2004. Maybe later too. At some point my MP3 hard drive died and lost it. Now that I think of it, this might have been the pivotal point for me to dislike MP3 releases. They are ephemeral. Physical records are always the way to go.

The album had 13 songs: “Dvadeset I Dva”, “U Velikom Stilu”, “Sve”, “Pogledaj”, “Konan”, “Kompromis”, “Dobar Dan”, “Vožnja, “Ispod Noći”, “Kraj”, “Jedna Reč”, “En” and “Korpa Korpa Cveća”. The credits for the record are as follows, Boris Smoje on vocals and guitar, Marko Vujkov on bass, Igor Batinić on guitar, piano and backing vocals and Dragan Bašić on drums and percussion. They got help by Vanjus (Ivan Milinkov) on synthetizer, Seva (Dušan Ševarlić from Eva Braun)  and Kole (Vladimir Kolarić, leader of Veliki Prezir) on backing vocals. The record was mixed by Jan Šaš and it was recorded by Dušan Ševarlić as well. So there was some sort of scene between these guitar pop bands in Serbia? Mizu, and the legendary Eva Braun?

I then check the band members, what other projects are listed under their names on Discogs? Boris seems to have been involved in the band Superstudio and also on Rebel Star. On the other hand Marko was involved in the pop punk band Super S Karamelom.

That Live Session on NS Plus that I mentioned earlier is actually available on Youtube! It dates from April 1998 and on it there is an interview to the band (wish I understood a word) and 4 songs, “En”, “Sve”, “Kraj” and “Dvadeset i Dva”.

Happily this is not the only thing I was to find on Youtube. There is the promo video for the song “Dvadeset i Dva” and watching it for the first time now make me terribly giddy. The 90s so well reflected here.

Then I find the setlists for Indie-Go!, the Belgrade Indie Night, that my friend Nikola used to host. Such good setlists, they must have been long nights, everyone dancing. I see that he even played some Cloudberries, like Horowitz’ “Tracyanne”, but also I see that Mizu’s “Dobar Dan” was a staple in the club.

On Discogs the band is listed to have a compilation appearance, but definitely that is not them. I wonder though if they actually appeared on any compilation?

I couldn’t find much more information. What other gigs did they play? Did they record any more songs? Are there any unreleased tracks? What happened with that label Automatik? Why wasn’t their album released during their time and only many years after and only on MP3?Any other Serbian bands you’d recommend? Maybe some other bands from the Balkans? Many questions that hopefully get answered! Now discover this upbeat and jangly pop song called “Dobar Dan”, a classic to my ears!

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Listen
Mizu – Dobar Dan

09
Oct

I’m still unpacking boxes and records and reordering everything of course. I’m almost done though. As I say these things I’m also discussing with two bands for new 7″s and little by little reaching the 50th Cloudberry 7″ is becoming no more of a dream but a reality. And that is quite exciting!

I haven’t written down many news during the last 4 days. Since my last post. Actually only one, that Gingerlys have a 2nd song from their album now available to stream. It is called “See You Cry” and it is superb of course. I reviewed already the first single, “Turtledoves”, off their self titled album just a week ago I think, and now there is this lovely, sweet, new song. It looks like their album is going to be a winner. I hope though that I get to listen their whole album soon instead of recommending a song every week!

OK! There was one more but no music to listen. That is that Firestation Records will be releasing a new record by the Love Parade!! It is titled “Out to Sea” and it is a 6 song EP recorded in 1991. It will be available in CD and vinyl.

Well, now it is time to dig the internet, let’s see what we find on Bandcamp and SoundCloud. Thanks to my friend David from Madrid I found out a band from Gainesville, Florida, called UV-TV. He posted the song “Glass” on his Facebook and thought that it was some great shambolic pop. Then I noticed that it wasn’t their latest effort. Their last release is an EP titled “Go Away” that was released by the very fine Emotional Response label that is ran by Stewart from Boyracer. Shame I hear them this late as last week I placed not one, but two orders from them. It will have to wait a few weeks then, but there are some terrific songs here, check them out!

Grrrl Gang hail from Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Earlier this year they released two songs on the Indonesian label Kolibri Records. The songs being “Bathroom” and “Thrills” Just a digital single I believe. The songs are sweet and on the lo-fi side of indiepop. There is an official music video for Bathroom and Thrills which seems to have been recorded in France and is very cool! The band is formed by Angeeta Santana on vocals and guitar, Edo Alventa on guitar and Akbar Rumandung on bass.

The Japanese label Galaxy Train keeps releasing new music and their latest offering is a tape, limited to 48 copies, of the Japanese band Dronjo Kept By 4. There are 6 songs, mostly lo-fi, that ate quite nice. The tape includes a booklet and some stickers. It is titled “Lost in Perspective EP” and the songs included are “Three Chord City”, “Kitty Roly”, “Rain Kids”, “Tobin Sprout on the Moon River”, “Dry Gin” and “Toddle”.

Howlin Banana Records is a DIY record label based in Paris and they have just released a digital single by the band The Soap Opera. The band is formed by Bloody Bulga on guitars and vocals, Professeur Zorrino on guitars nad vocals and Holden Brahms on drums. They seem to be French too. The two songs are straight up indiepop and they are titled “Eggs to Hatch and Cats to Kill” and “No Name No Pack Drill”.  They are quite good and I especially like the opening song which there is a promo video on Youtube!! That was exciting. And then I find out that there will be an album to be released in November by the same label that put the digital release and also Ample Play from the UK. Looking forward to it!

And lastly, our friend Brian Castriota, who released a 7″ with us under the name Earth First, has a new album out with his new band, Fimbria. The album is titled “Eternal Return” and is available on a limited edition CD and a limited edition cassette. He told me to check out the last song of the album, “Passage”, he told me there’s some jangle in it. I check it out and it is such a beauty of a song, such fragility. Then I play the whole album, now in order. Yes, it is not exactly indiepop, but it is a really pretty electronic album, with pop sensibility, and a lot of elegance.

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Super: very good or pleasant; excellent.

It is time to return to Europe. Still many important countries missing in this world tour. Today we need to stop in Finland, a country I visited this year and every time I think about it, I feel nostalgia for its cleanliness, for its lakes, the bright green of the trees and the good times I had in the many cities I visited. I hope to visit again in the future!

My only complain would be that there was absolutely no indiepop around. Ok, I didn’t travel for it, but would have been nice to see some bands live. As I’ve mentioned before, it took me a couple of record stores until I found the Burning Hearts LP that had just been released. It wasn’t easy. I looked through the bins and the racks at these record stores in Helsinki and I couldn’t find anything worthy! That was a shame. But it didn’t matter in the end, look, I saw Olavinlinna castle and drove through that beautiful landscape that is Punkaharju and that paid my trip. And crossed the Arctic Circle too!

Generally speaking Finland hasn’t produced huge amounts of indiepop, but when there has been indiepop it has been great, fantastic even. Think of Le Futur Pompiste, Cats on Fire, Burning Hearts or even back in the day with the likes of Cessna. It is time then to focus on Finland and one of their finest bands, Super.

On Discogs the band is considered a lounge-pop group. A lot of late 90s bands were described like that. But I’ll start reviewing their discography with the record I discovered them, a compilation titled “Seven Summers International Pop Volume 2” that was released by my good friend Peter Hahndorf on his own TweeNet Communications (TweeNetTwo) and Kindercore Records (KC023) in 1998. It was actually in Bremen, when I visited him, that he gave me a copy of the CD, a compilation that may well be some sort of indiepop world tour of the time with bands spanning all over the world. On it I was going to listen Super for the first time, and their song “All-American Cheesecake” was soon going to become a true favourite of mine!

It is true that I don’t own their whole discography, I will probably go slowly until at some point I get all their albums, singles and EPs. It is hard to complete discographies. But I do own a few of their releases and I know they are pretty good and I will be happy to recommend them to you. The band’s first record was an EP titled “Spark” that was released in 1995 by Tangerine Records (TANG 007). It included three songs “Spark”, “People’s Democratic Movement” and “Trouble With Sex”.

The year after the band was to release another CD EP, “Tempted”. The band had changed labels now and were on Odor (ODOR 0,2). Three songs were included, “I Didn’t Expect to Be This Tempted”, “Historical Sights, Out of the Blue”, “Spare Us From This Infinite Moment”. Here on Discogs I do find credits, Teemu Soininen on bass, Arto Ellonen on Congas, Ville Hietala on drums, tambourine, melodica, keyboards, backing vocals, Jukka Tiirikainen on flugelhorn, Jussi Pietilä on guitar, Okke Komulainen on organ, electric piano, keyboards, samplers and loops, Teho Majamäki on vibraphone, and Minna Joenniemi and her sweet vocals. The record was mixed by Janne Haavisto and recorded by Tuomo Puranen. The interesting thing about this EP is that it was going to be reissued by Odor the year after as Odor 0,3 with four songs. The first song was going to get the name shortened to “Tempted”, and then there was “Misty Hours”, “Bingo Hostess Goes Berserk (Skillsters Remix)” and “A Day With the Crimplene Kids”. Why the reissue and why so soon? And why change the tracklist?

They were going to catch the attention of the Japenese label Escalator Records, and in 1997 they were to release the “Tickets” EP in both CD (ESC012) and 7″ vinyl format (ESINGLE3). On the CD version there were 5 songs, “All-American Cheesecake”, “Last Flight to Sardinia”, “Roadblock”, “Bilbo Baggins” and “Frostbite”. A song about Bilbo Baggins from Lord of The Rings? Yes, that’s true, and it goes like this, “Bilbo, Bilbo Baggins, only three feet tall, Bilbo, Bilbo Baggins, the bravest little Hobbit of them all”. Amazing. The 7″ version only included three songs and in a different order. On the A side there was “Last Flight to Sardinia” while on the B side we find “Frostbite” and “All-American Cheesecake”. By now we know that the bands lyricists were Minna and Ville.

That same year, 1997, would see the light their first album, “Rendezvous with Super” released in Finland by Odor (Odor 1,0) and in Japan by Quattro (QTCY 2097). The album had twelve songs, “Caruamba Wax”, “Girls Go Bravo!”, “Bingo Hostess Goes Berserk!”, “People’s Democratic Movement”, “Proposal”, “Misty Hours”, “Tempted”, “True Gentleman”, “Travelogue”, “Historical Sights”, “Wicky-Wacko Rodeo” and “Coup de Soleil”. It was recorded at Hitsville IV Studio and Finnvox. Hitsville IV being a studio based in Helsinki run by Janne Haavisto and Tom Nyman while Finnvox is run by Risto Hemmi these days in Helsinki. Here we can already define the band members, we know that the core of the band were Minna Joenniemi, Ville Hietala, Okke Komulainen and Teemu Soininen.

As expected the Japanese version of the album on Quattro came with three bonus tracks, “A Day Out with the Crimplene Kids”, “Infinite Moment” and “Spark”. It also had different cover art, front and back. Also it is important to mention that there was a CD Promo for the album with just the song “Girls Go Bravo!”.

The same Japanese label, Quattro was to release a 7″ in 1999 (Quattro Disc 003) with the song “The Broken Girls” on the A side and a remix of it on the B side, “The Broken Girls (Super Splendid Strings Escape Mix, Remixed by Escalator Team)”.

That year, 1999, was to see the release of the band’s second album, “Tipsy” on Odor (Odor 3,0). The album had 10 songs this time, “Welcome to Our Soundscape”, “The Broken Girls”, “Don’t Tell Me You Jog”, “Love Was a Bomb”, “Departures”, “Disco Solitaire”, “Golden Boy”, “Country Star”, “We Hate Muscle Men!” and “Ice Cubes”. Aside from the core of the band here we see the band got help from Juha Kulmala on drums, percussion and handclaps, Tintti Simola on flugelhorn and trumpet, Serafiina Kämi on flute, Arimo Komulainen on trombone, Teho Majamäki on vibraphone, and Andrei Sytchak, Elina Huusko, Emma Toppinen, Tanja Jukarainen and Tuula Nurmo added strings. The record was mastered by Mika Jussila and was mixed by Ian Cat (yes, that Ian Catt) except the second track, “The Broken Girls”, which was mixed by Risto Hemmi.

And of course the Japanese were going to release the album. In 2001 the label Quattro put out “Tipsy” (QTCY-73006) and instead of adding bonus tracks they included an extra 3″ CD with four songs: “The Broken Girls (Super Splendid Strings Escape Mix)”, “Persian Risk”, “Calypso at the Office” and “Scary Waltz”.

Now onto the compilations! If we go chronologically we know that “Tempted” was included in the CD compilation “Tähti CD 6/96” released by Enormi-Opus Oy (TÄHTI CD 6) and also in 1997s “Bonus CD 6: Finnish Dance & Pop” that was released by Äänitealan Yhteismarkkinointi (BONUS CD 6). “Tempted” was going to be included in more compilations. On the “Reindeer Rock ’97” CD by CD-Linja OY (Poropromo 97), on “Europodium – Exitos Europeos – Top of the European Pops – Top Europeu 01/98” (98MEU01) that was released by RFI Musique in France in 1998 and where they appear alongside The Corrs (!) and also on the “Odor Sampler ’98” released by Odor (ODOR1998) where not only “Tempted” was included but “Girls Go Bravo!” too.

The song “The Broken Girls” was to appear on two compilations, on the “Popkomm Licensing Guide” released by Fono Magazine (Popkommcd 01) in 1999 and on the “Levottomat Soundtrack” released by BMG Finland in 2002. Levottomat being a movie which I have not seen, but I guess I’m curious now.

The song “Line Dance” appeared on the “Epe’s Star 2000” CD promo compilation released by Poko Records in 1998. And then the song “Disco Solitaire” on the “Reindeer Rock ’99” comp that came out on CD-Linja OY (Poropromo 99). “Love Was a Bomb” came out on another Odor sampler, “The Finland Odor Sampler” (ODOR P 99) in 1999 obviously.

Lastly the song “Car & Chauffeur” appeared on two CD compilations, on “Reindeer Rock 2000” released by Suomalaisen Musiikin Tiedotuskeskus (Poropromo 2000) and on the 4CD Boxset “Sivulliset – Valikoima Suomalaista Viahtoehtorockia Vuosilta 1985-2000” released by Poko Records (Valosa 1) in 2005. This last one looks like a cool compilation with Finish bands from those years, I may want to get this! Maybe discover a tune or two!

Now time to look if the band members were involved in any other projects. When I look at Minna, it doesn’t look like it. Okke Komulainen does seem to have been in a few bands: Bomfunk MC’s, Liekki, Skillsters, Skillsters Plus One, Sleepy Sleepers and as himself, as Okke, on a compilation titled “Pyssy 5”.

Then I noticed that Ville Hietala’s real name was Ville Särmä and that the has also been in bands like Kevin, Tanssiva Karhu and Them Bird Things.

I do find a Wikipedia page for Minna. It seems she is now a cultural publisher and has been involved in many different cultural programs in Finland. I also see that her father was the Peace and Political Scientist Pertti Joenniemi.

I then find an article on the website Elävä Arkisto where they are called the Finnish Cardigans and how they became a hit in Japan. I also find out  that they weren’t from Helsinki but from Tampere it seems. On that same article do check the short clip were we see Minna having lots of fun dancing!

Now I wonder, are there no promo videos for the band? There must be! But I can’t find any. I did find Minna having a speech at the Interesting Helsinki conference.

An interesting blog post not exactly about Super is the one on PhinnWeb where the author discusses Tampere Pop. It is good to read it to have some background and also because there’s a cool photo of Iisa Pajula from the band Regina and Minna that was taken from the morning paper Aamulehti.

But definitely the coolest thing I found was that on the TweeNet website there is a page with info about the bands on Seven Summers. There is an address for Minna Joenniemi and what was really amazing is that when I stayed in Helsinki in May I stayed in the same street, Uudenmaankatu. I stayed at number 13 and it seems she lived on 33. Wow!

I couldn’t find much more. I guess if I knew Finnish I would have better luck at choosing my search terms on Google. I wonder if they had been in bands before Super. If they recorded any videos. If they still have unreleased songs? Why did they split? What did they do after? What made them make pop in a country were metal is more popular? I don’t know, I have many questions, that I hope get answered some day, in the meantime I’ll keep enjoying their music.

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Listen
Super –
All-American Cheesecake

05
Oct

Now the My Light Shines for You! 7″ is being pressed and it is time to look into what will bring next year for Cloudberry. We want to do another release in our Cloudberry Cake Kitchen series as soon as possible and even though I’ve been talking and discussing with several bands I would love to have your input, maybe you have some great ideas that I could explore!

This week I continued gathering indiepop from all over the place so let’s do a roundup of all those songs and bands!

Firstly I must say I’m very happy that Boring Productions from China will be releasing the Sound and Fury album in the near future. In my previous post I championed the Chengdu band and little did I know they had already been in touch with the Shenzhen label. So that’s good news and we better keep our eyes peeled for the release date which seems to be next month!

Madrid’s Puzzles y Dragones has been a favourite band of mine for a long time. They’ve also been silent for a long time. But suddenly the label Discos de Kirlian has a new song streaming by this lovely band formed by Miguel López, Mark Williams, Begoña Casado, Sergio Alarcón, Alberto Robla and our friend Dani de la Mancha. The lovely “Fuerzas Absurdas” is the new digital single the label and the band are using to promote the album “Vuelven Puzzles y Dragones” that is set to be released this November. So far this is the only song available to listen from the album but in any case, I can’t wait for this record to be released!

Stockholm one-girl band Boys has a new song as well and it is called “Rabbits”. I’ve been following Nora Karlsson’s band for years now and for some reason or another I don’t own any physical copies of her music. Aside from digital EPs I believe the only real record is a cassette titled “Love on Tour” released last year. And you know my not so good relationship with tapes. Well, it seems this will be the first time I actually get my hands on something by Boys because the label PNKSLM is releasing a split 7″ with “Rabbits” and Magic Potion’s “Rest Yr Skull” on October 20th. Sadly I don’t like Magic Potion’s song so in the end the 7″ ends up being a bit pricey for me as $16.00 dollars including shipping for one song is steep these days… but maybe some of you do appreciate Magic Potion? Anyhow, the Boys track is superb as her previous efforts so hopefully soon there is a 7″ or anything just by herself. if PNKSLM can’t offer that, hey, this humble label is happy to offer that.

Then of course the news of The Spook School‘s new video for “Still Alive” might be old news for many of you faithful followers of the Edinburgh four-piece band. What is interesting is that this new video is a promo piece for their new album “Could it be Different?” that is coming out on January 26 on Alcopop Records in the UK and Slumberland in the US. It was a big question to know which European label was going to become home of The Spook School after the demise of Fortuna Pop, and now that has been answered. I don’t know much about Alcopop, don’t know the people behind it. My only experience with them is that they released the last Helen Love CD, and I was very grateful about it even though the pressing had some issues. Anyways, enjoy the new track and let’s wait for their new album!

A Spanish band I discovered recently is Autoescuela. The band is formed by just two guys, David and Santí, and they hail from Asturias, in the north of Spain. They have just put out a tape titled “Recopa” which is a collection of 25 short bedroom pop songs. On top of it, the tape comes with a 32 page fanzine. This whole package has been released by the Barcelona label Snap! Clap! Club and there are only 100 copies so run and get it if you are into fun upbeat lo-fi songs!

And lastly I want to recommend a superb track by Seazoo titled “Shoreline”. The vocals are fantastic here! I have recommended them long time ago, maybe more than a year ago when they uploaded their song “Telephone Jones” which I really liked. But this new one I think I’m enjoying even more! Why is there no album yet by this Welsh band?! It seems I missed their Jumbo EP CD and Im very sad about that… and was there a 7″ for “Teeth / Skulls”? I missed that too. I shouldn’t miss their next one! At this pace I’m going to be broke!

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Pillbox: Pill organizer or pillbox or pill box, a special container for storing scheduled doses of one’s medications.
Pillbox, a flat, cylindrical shaped figure, such as:
Gaussian pillbox, used in calculations for vector fields
Pillbox cavity, a cylindrical microwave cavity
Pillbox hat, a small woman’s hat with a flat crown and straight, upright sides, and no brim

Our indiepop “world tour” continues in October and after featuring a Belgian band it is time to go back to Asia. In this occasion why not go all the way to Taiwan and discover the little known band Dolly’s Pillbox that was around in the mid noughties? It will also be the first time I feature a Taiwanese band on the blog and that is for sure a cool thing!

I don’t know much about Taiwan to be honest. Never been there, though I would love to in the future. I did go once to eat Taiwanese food in Flushing, NY. I remember having at the Gu-Shine Restaurant some unknown dishes to me like jellyfish in scallion sauce or baby fish with hot peppers and aside there been a Taiwanese girl in my school class for a year who I didn’t interact much sadly (the poor girl didn’t know a thing of Spanish or English so she had such a hard time and didn’t come back to school the next year), those were the moments I’ve been closer to Taiwan.

But around 2005 or 2006, when everyone of us were learning the ropes of social networks on Myspace, I found out about Taipei’s Dolly’s Pillbox there. I am pretty sure I exchanged messages with their vocalist, Cathy Tang, but can’t recall what about. I recall having either her or the band on my Myspace “top ten” (remember that?) for some time. I liked the songs and their uber-twee look and style. It is true, those were my twee-est years, when I was so much into cutesy bands like The Maybellines or All Girl Summer Fun Band.

In 2006 the band was to release their one and only record, a CD EP titled “How are You Today?” on the label Silent Agreement (catalog SAIP014). Back then it was quite impossible to find their record. You had to buy it directly from the band and Paypal wasn’t available all over the world. I never got around to get it. Only today while writing these lines I found a copy on Discogs and ordered it. Hopefully it arrives safe and sound. I didn’t even know the label Silent Agreement then but now I see they put out a My Little Airport single in 2015 too.

The EP has seven songs: “Sugar Boy”, “In Our Stillness”, “Blah Blah Blah”, “Road Movie”, “Rainy Day Playground”, “Summer Blows the Breeze Warm” and “Bedtime Plus”. All of them are sweet tunes. The band was formed by Cathy Tang on harmonica and vocals, Jubow Kao on bass, Bambi Jiang on guitar and Meimei Ju on drums and percussion. Cathy also wrote all the lyrics. The record was mixed and recorded by Luxia Wu and mastered by Rick Hu.

I found a small review of the EP on the website Pacifiction Records who used to sell the record int he US it seems: “Sometimes fun and bouncy, sometimes sad and rainy, but always cute, Dolly’s Pillbox rented a studio to take rockstar pictures… but ended up forming a band and recording this delightful EP of fun songs. Despite hand claps and upbeat bass lines, their songs are bittersweet moments as seen in “Blah, Blah, Blah,” which tells a story about a girl who is getting over someone who “is not so precious anymore.” If you’ve had a bad day, I’m sure you wouldn’t mind having Dolly’s Pillbox handy to make things a little better.”

The band also seems to have appeared on at least one compilation. They contributed the song “Light Blue Car” to the CD compilation “All the Girls I’ve Ever Loved (Now Love Other Boys)” that was released by the Pop Song Romance fanzine in 2009. I kind of remember this compilation in my blurry memory, I believe the person responsible of the zine and this compilation was a Californian called Claude Cardenas who used to post on the indiepop-list. Now that I see the tracklist I kind of feel ashamed of missing it, it is a pretty strong album with Cloudberry related bands like Very Truly Yours, Komon, Bonnie & Clyde or The Jealous Sea among others!

Looking if they appeared on any other compilations I find that they contributed the song “Bedtime Plus” to the double CD compilation “Lobo III” released by White Wabit Records in 2003 (catalog TW026). They also had “Sugar Boy” on the CD compilation “Grass Festival 2006” released by White Wabit in 2003 (catalog TW033).

I keep looking for more information about them, especially would like to know what did they do after Dolly’s Pillbox was no more. I find the blog Jenny is in a Bad Mood and there it is, a Youtube video where the band covers Japanese band Advantage Lucy’s “杏花的季節“.

I keep searching and find a quote taken from the website they used to have, this corroborates the story from Pacifiction Records: “In Starbucks, while eating breakfast, Cathy and Jubow were joking around about renting a practice band room where they could take pictures of cool, fake rockers together for fun. but unaccountably, the rumor of forming the band was let out and Jubow and Cathy earnestly started looking for band members….” So with this we know that in the beginning there were only two members. I also notice that Cathy is (or was then) a graphic artist and she did all the art for the band. Thanks to that I check on Google Images some graphics she did for each of the band members, kind of like a small little bio. For Cathy it says she is a Sagittarius, a model daughter, a little animal’s savior, everlasting busy & sleepy, a child at heart and single. For Jubow, she is a Taurus, a CD Shop bride, that she has cute dimples and rosy cheeks, that she measures 1.64 m, and that she is single no more. For Bambi, he is a Virgo, a history major, a Fender Telecaster lover, mommy’s boy, and single. Lastly, Meimei is a Pisces (like me!), a CD Shop darling, a petite pocket girl, sweet, smart and fun fun!, and single.

Why not check their old Myspace, maybe there is some info there. I giddily see the fantastic Chicago band Fireflies in their top 8. Then I notice a song that wasn’t listed in their CD, “Bambi Rocks”. I could find a live performance of this song and it sounds GREAT! Check it out on Youtube. I would love to listen the studio version sometime.

Another blog that featured them was the fantastic Japan Live blog. I’ve discovered a few bands thanks to it, and here Ken M tells the story when he saw Dolly’s Pillbox at the Formoz Festival when he visited Taipei in 2006. Another place that has some information is Last.fm, there it mentions that Bambi joined the band in the summer of 2004 and Meimei in the autumn of 2005.

But then I reach a wall. I don’t know what happened to the band members. Perhaps Cathy continued her career as a graphic designer and Bambi now teaches history at university. Who knows really. Would be nice to know they continued making music. For me they were the first band I ever listened from Taiwan making proper indiepop, with the right influences and all. I wonder if anyone else remembers them? Maybe you saw them play at a gig? Maybe you saw them at a festival? Did they have any more songs? Would be nice to know what are they up to now, maybe do an interview too.

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Listen
Dolly’s Pillbox – Sugar Boy

02
Oct

Moved. Settles. But not unpacked. Little by little I’ll have to organize my record collection and the Cloudberry stock. But now things are a bit more organized and I can send to press the My Light Shines for You 7″ at last! Damn! It got delayed and delayed, but now finally, after I finish writing this post, I’ll fill the paperwork for the pressing plant.

And then focus on the next Cloudberry releases of course. That is a good plan I think. But now it is time to review some new indiepop I’ve found on the web!

Definitely one of the most exciting discoveries as of late is Okama Flannel Boy from Mexico City. What a sound!! If you like Orange Juice you are going to cry of happiness, because this is very good. Fernando Torres is behind this one-man band who have two songs on their Bandcamp, the fantastic “Carolina St.” and a cover of Biff Rose’s “Fill Your Heart”. Jangly, chiming, upbeat, catchy, what is not to like about these songs? Top stuff!!

We have already recommended Glass Arcades on the blog but it is no crime to do it again. The Cardiff band has three new songs available to stream on their Bandcamp, “Nothingism”, “Lune” and “Second Violins” and they have the trademark sound of Anton Salmine who has been creating dreamy pop for some time now!

Our friends from Boring Productions, the fantastic Chinese indiepop label based in Shenzhen, have a new release out by Butterbeer. It is an album and it is coming in tape, CD and vinyl LP format! The album is available to order now and it is titled “Obliviate”. It has 8 songs and I’ve seen already many friends on Facebook sharing the song “Listening to Another Sunny Day Makes Me Forget You”. Butterbeer is an indiepop duo formed by Jovi (from Atta Girl) and Rye (from Chestnut Bakery) and this album was actually recorded two years ago and only now it is being released. Well, I need to get in touch with Jovi and see if I can get the new record!!

It came to my attention that one of my favourite bands to ever come from the US, I mean the band Holiday, has uploaded a gig to Matt Snow’s SoundCloud account. This is an important gig, from when they played live at The Fez in New York City on January 17, 1997. This was Holiday’s final show and it was part of the New York City Popfest, 1997 edition. I wish I had been there! Also if you check Calvin Chin’s SoundCloud account there are live recordings from an unknown Chicago gig.

Another fantastic find is that of Jakarta’s Secret Meadow. They have just uploaded a new song called “I Am You” and I’m liking it a lot. I don’t think I was aware of this band prior though I notice they have a few more songs on their Bandcamp. See, it is not true as many of you say that I’m on top of things. That’s impossible. Secreat Meadow formed in early 2016 and is formed by Ricardo Taufano on guitars, vocals and synth, Jaro Petang on guitar and synth, Arief Wijaya on bass and Mulyana Viqry on drums.

And my last recommendation for this week is not a new one, it dates from May 2016, but I discovered the band Sound and Fury from Chengdu, China, only this week. There is no Facebook or any link on their Bandcamp so I don’t know much about their background but from the photo that is uploaded I assume it is a four-piece with a girl vocalist. There are 6 superb sweet dreampop/shoegaze sounding songs on their page and I’m really impressed by them! First time I hear and like a band from Chengdu!

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Continuing with this revision of indiepop bands from the most prominent countries around the world it is time to feature a Belgian band. It is definitely it won’t be the first time a band from Belgium will be showcased, I remember having at least written about Peter and the Lions before, but it is going to be interesting as I have to be honest, I couldn’t remember Mosaic Eyes were Belgian. For some reason I always thought they hailed from the UK!

In genetics, a mosaic (or mosaicism) means the presence of two different genotypes in an individual which developed from a single fertilized egg. As a result, the individual has two or more genetically different cell lines derived from a single zygote. This is easiest to see with eye colours. When eye colours vary between the two eyes, or within one or both eyes, the condition is called heterochromia iridis (= ‘different coloured iris’). It can have many different causes, both genetic and accidental. For example, David Bowie had the appearance of different eye colours due to an injury that caused one pupil to be permanently dilated.

I’m assuming then that their name comes from this sort of mosaic and not from the art/images creating by assembling small pieces of glass, stones or whatever. I do know I own one of their records, their 7″ that was released in 1992 on Sunday Records titled “Europe Not So Far… EP”. But did they release anything else? I don’t know. But it is time to do our investigation, find out any details about the band.

On Discogs I see 3 releases, including the 7″ I own. I do notice that the band hailed from Nivelles in Belgium.
Nivelles is a Walloon city and municipality located in the Belgian province of Walloon Brabant. The Nivelles municipality includes the old communes of Baulers, Bornival, Thines, and Monstreux. The Nivelles district includes all the municipalities in Walloon Brabant. The Collegiate Church of Saint Gertrude has been classified as a heritage site of Wallonia.

So I check out the “Europe Not So Far… EP”. It was released in 1992 on the US label Sunday Records (catalog Sunday 019). A very fine label if you ask me. There were three songs in it, “There is No End To This” and “Vicious Games” on the A side and “Moody Morning” on the B side.

The other release listed dating from 1992 was a CD EP titled “A Sunday Dress Till Monday” that came out on the Distorsion label (catalog DISTO 001). Distorsion was a French label that I’m not familiar with, other bands they released were Prohibition and Colm. On the CD there were four songs, “Let’s Party”, “Moody Morning”, “Mother” and “Sweet Cuddle”. All songs were recorded at Flight Case Studio, which happened to be in Brussels. Here I find that the band was formed by Ener on vocals, David and Miguel on guitar, Laurant on bass and Valentine on drums. The design for the artwork is credited to Laurent, Sophie and Debil’mac.

The other release that is listed is a cassette. It has no date so I couldn’t say when it was released. It is titled “There Is No End To This” and included six songs. On the A side there’s “Mother”, “Happy World” and “Vicious Games”, while on the B side there’s “There is No End to This”, “Klaus’ Eyes” and “Exctasy”. Here we see that Ener is the vocalist, Valentine is drumming and David playing guitar. The bass though has a different name, Arthur. The art for the tape was created by someone named Véronique.

There are many compilation appearances too. In 1992 they were to appear on a label across the southern border. On the tape compilation “Garden Party” on the French label Aliénor Records they had the song “Klaus’ Eyes”. This seems to have been a very fine compilation with bands like The Bedflowers, Bulldozer Crash and The Spinning Wheels among others. This was the first release on the label, and has the catalog ALIEN α [Alpha].

In 1993 they had the song “Exactas” on the cassette compilation “Polythene Star” released by Flaming Katy (FK001). We’ve mentioned this label before in this indiepop tour when we featured the Welsh band Southville.

“Klaus’ Eyes” was to appear on another compilation. This time it was on the “Try Another Flavour” CD released by the German label Heaven Sent Records (catalog HS004). This compilation also had a bunch of fantastic bands like The Suncharms, 14 Iced Bears and Jane Pow to name a few!

It seems 1993 was the band’s year, they had “Vicious Games” on the CD compilation “The Noise and The Melodies – The Pearl Compilation” (PERLE 1) that came along the Pearl Fanzine. This was a Germany fanzine and the compilation had a bunch of classic bands like Acid House Kings, Eva Luna or Red Letter Day. The compilation included a booklet. Did it had any details about Mosaic Eyes?

The song “There is No End to This” was to appear in that same year, 1993, on the tape comp “Astral Plane” that was released by Glidge Records (Glidge 002). This was a UK label that released a couple of indiepop cassette compilations. On this, their second comp, there were bands from many countries. I could see La Sintesis from Spain, All About Chad from the US, The Cat’s Miaow from Australia, clearly the compiler knew already in 1993 how international indiepop is!

The Belgian label Contrast was to include them on a compilation 7″ that included three bands in 1993 as well. It was part of their Split Single Club and this was their first release (CT 001). The other bands that shared the 7″ were Antiseptic Beauty and Les Autres. Mosaic Eyes contributed the song “Silver Flower”

In 1996 the band was to appear on the revisionist compilation that Sunday Records put out tracking their history as a label. The songs “Vicious Game” and “There’s No End to This” appeared on the classic “Songs About Our Past (Part 1) ‘The Other Side of Sunday'” (catalog SUNDAY 800).

There is another compilation appearance listed but has no date. The song “Klaus’ Eyes” appeared on yet another Pearl fanzine compilation: “Nachtsonne – The Noise and the Melodies”. A bunch of fantastic bands appear on this compilation too like The Cudgels, The Ammonites, The Waiting List and more.

Time to explore the seas of Google, see what there’s to find about Mosaic Eyes. My first stop is a post from 2014 on the PyrolyseBred blog. Here he mentions the story about Nivelles that appears on the liner notes of the classic Sarah compilation”There and Back Again Lane”. The story is about a poorly organized Heavenly gig in this town: “December 28th 1991. We’re in Brussels, or what we were promised would be Brussels but is actually this nameless and drab little dormitory town a few miles outside the ring-road and of course no-one’s done any publicity. We’re given meals in the pizza restaurant a few doors down the road, Heavenly at one table, the TVPs  at the next… we eat, drink, play to an empty room and then spend the night on a cold hard floor fifteen miles south in Nivelles (…)”

I find on ISSUU the whole issue number 7 of the French fanzine Hyacinth. This fanzine was around from 1989 to 1994 and was based in Paris. I believe it might be scanned because there’s an exclusive Nirvana interview. But there is a mention of Mosaic Eyes. There’s a review of a gig they played alongside Purple Hands, Earwig, Sunflowers and Gallon Drunk at the V.K. in Brussells on September 20th, 1991. They are compared to Spacemen 3.

On a Geocities page I found that Mosaic Eyes supported My Bloody Valentine on April 30th, 1992, at the Ancienne Belgique in Brussels.

I could find that David, one of the guitarists, was involved in a band called The Album around 2008-2010. As far as I know there was an EP released. I could find an old Myspace with the songs, “Go Ahead Cry”, “Vicious Eyes”, “Surrender”, “Wash My Hands” and “Never Felt So Good”.

There’s not much more on the web about them. Can’t find if the band members were involved in any other bands and I still need to get their CD EP. I wonder what happened to them. Why didn’t they get to release an album? If they left unreleased songs? Why did they split? What other gigs did they play and which other indiepop bands did they support? Many questions, little answers, but some very good songs they left behind.

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Listen
Mosaic Eyes – Sweetless Cuddle

28
Sep

Well, tomorrow I move to a new apartment. Had to take the day off from work. Also the “moving sale” offers on the website are no more. Thanks to everyone that helped me move less boxes. Hopefully you liked the records. With the move I’ll be able to buy records again. I’ve been missing that the past month. There have been a bunch of new releases I’ve wanted. Even better, now I can finally send to press My Light Shines For You 7″, which I feel terribly guilty for making them wait until I figured out where I would live. I needed an address to ship the records anyhow, so couldn’t do much. So yes, they’ll be a bit delayed, but next week they go to press for sure. I’ll keep you updated!

It was just last week that I interviewed Patrick O’Sullivan from So She Said and now he has shared with me his new SoundCloud page where he has uploaded songs from different periods of his music journey. Definitely worth checking them out, there are a few unreleased treats in there, like “Kids Can Crawl” and “At Home in June”, as well as the classic So She Said’s “So Happy”, and more!

Through the Facebook page Latin American Twee I discovered a few new bands. The first one was Contenti from Buenos Aires, Argentina. The page has shared the promo video for the song “Largos Caminos” and I really enjoyed it. So I went to look for more on Bandcamp and found out that the band has a 5 song EP available so far only to stream. The songs are “Largos Caminos”, “Algo Está Llegando”, “Sustancias”, “Las Cosas en Cualquier Lugar” and “Adentro & Afuera”. There is not much information about the band but it seems that it is actually a one man band driven by a young guy called Lucas. This is very very nice.

The other band I discovered was Rubor Cassata and their song “Marbella Club Festiva”. So I went looking for more and I couldn’t find a Bandcamp. There was a Soundcloud with just one demo song. But then I did find on Youtube a 2017 “complete album” uploaded by the band. There are 6 songs that one has to listen like a cassette, song after song, no skipping. The songs are “Manda Fruta”, “Marbella Club Festiva”, “Noba Sintua”, “Divagando”, “Rubor” and “Alexis”. The band hails from Santiago, Chile, and from I’ve gathered it has Claudio Zaguán on vocals and guitars, who has been part of another band we’ve raved here, Patio Solar. The rest of the band is composed by Pablo on bass, Almendra on vocals and Simón on drums.

Our Madrid friends from Alborotador Gomasio are releasing a new album in November. It will be published by the label Limbo Starr and has been titled “Luz y Resistencia”. To promote it the band has just unveiled a promo video for the song “La Reacción Impotente” and it is what you’d expect from this pop band with a punk attitude, an upbeat corker with catchy lyrics. Long are the days of the band being a ramshackle delight, when they were running fanzines and spearheading a DIY scene in Spain, now they are way tighter, a more serious band bus still, very much enjoyable.

I had no clue there was such a beautiful band in Houston, Texas, called Rose Ette. I only found them on Bandcamp and I see that they have had two tapes released in the past few years. The latest one is from February 2017 and is a cassingle, a cassette single, with 2 songs: “Skin” and “Predator”. The previous one is a 6 song EP and is now sold out and was titled “Jungle” and dates from 2015. The band is formed by Teresa Vicinanza on vocals and guitar, Daniela Hernandez on vocals and lead guitar, Jessica Baldauf on bass and John Baldwin on drums. The band is delightfully indiepop, sweet, sugary with an edge, and the guitars chime as I like them to chime. Will have to keep an eye on them!

Well, I also found a jangly guitar pop band from Japan called The Clovers. This thanks to the great David from Spain who is always posting new discoveries on Facebook. I heard a beauty of a song on Youtube called “ララバイ” I think, which is available in some format on the band’s website. I don’t know if it is CD or 7″, but I think it is a CD! I’ve written to the band on Facebook and hopefully will get to know more about them because their sound is superb!

And that wraps it for this week!!

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Time to finally visit Indonesia in this indiepop world tour and it is a well deserved visit. It must be true that Indonesia is the Asian country, after Japan, that has been more involved in indiepop. There are many, many, bands that we all love, that we follow and that are already indiepop classics like Astrolab, Sunny Summer Day, Sharesprings, and more. On Cloudberry we even did a series of three 3″ CDs that were called The Sound of Young Java were we showcased what was happening in the South East Asia country in the mid, late 2000s. Lately the scene seems to be growing and we discover new bands every week as you might have noticed on the blog when now and then I’m recommending new music from that country. So definitely it was time to check out perhaps one of the bands that spearheaded the movement, a band that I believe is well known in Indonesia, but didn’t get the attention of the rest of popkids in the world: Blossom Diary.

It seems pretty obvious that the band took their name from Blossom Dearie, an American jazz singer and pianist. She had a recognizably light[vague] and girlish[weasel words] voice.One of the last supper club/cabaret performers, she performed regular engagements in London and New York City over many years. She collaborated with many musicians, including Johnny Mercer, Miles Davis, Jack Segal, Johnny Mandel, Duncan Lamont, and Dave Frishberg, among others.

I first heard about them when Joz from Maritime Records sent me a couple of Mp3s for me to listen. I had no clue who were they, I hadn’t even seen them on Myspace. I was already head over hills with Indonesian bands like the aforementioned Astrolab or Sunny Summer Day and other up and coming bands like Funny Little Dream, Arch of Cinema or Leach Me Lemonade among others, who were already appearing on Cloudberry releases. So at the time I heard the beautiful jangle sounds of Blossom Diary I knew this was an important band. The problem was, with many Indonesian bands from that time, there was going to be impossible to find their releases.

And then, of course, did I know they had any releases? There was no Discogs then. And so how would I find that information? Maybe that’s why I kind of forgot about them through the years. It is only now that I’m doing this recap of indiepop bands from all around the world that their name popped up again on my mind and decided it was time to find out any details about them, maybe their whole story if possible. I was going to find almost immediately two important details, where they come from and who formed the band. The band was from Bandung Pop City and they formed in the year 2000 with Dias on vocals and guitars, Angga on guitar, Donny on drums and Denny and bass.

I look for them on Discogs and to my surprise there is one release listed and it seems as it is a compilation of all of their songs! Wow, that’s fantastic news. I need to order this. Definitely next week when I’m already in my new apartment. So please, leave me a copy available. The CD album titled “…Is Dead” was released last year, 2016, on the label Anoa Records (catalog ANOA-009) and includes 17 songs! They are: “About the Poor Boy”, “Four of Us”, “The Rain Always Had an Answer”, “Cool Friend”, “9 O’clock at the Train Station”, “Something Like Your Smile”, “Perfect Dream There”, “Sweetest Smile”, “You Never Want Me”, “Something Should I Regret”, “She Never Come Home”, “Candy Kiss” “Highway Cross Your Mind”, “Redam”, “I’ve Taste the Sky”, “Ambrose (Demo)”, “Something Should I Regret (Ripple Magazine #7 Bonus Cassette)”.

My next finding was an article dating from March of 2017 on the Jakarta Post. Here I find many more important details about the band. Firstly here it says the band was formed in 1999 and not in 2000. So which date is correct? Then I find that the band split in 2005. The article is actually a review of the anthology CD we found on Discogs, but here we find information about an album the band released in 2003, a self-titled debut album on Marmalade Records. We’ll have to investigate.

The first hit when looking for Blossom Diary and Marmalade Records is actually a CD compilation titled “Pop Shower: Marmalade Records Compilation” that was released by the Japanese label Quince Records (catalog QRCP 14) in 2003. It is a sampler of what was happening in Indonesia at the time and Blossom Diary appears with “Something Should I Regret” and “You Never Want Me”. Other bands on the compilation were Sweaters, Showbiz, Santa Monica and Montecarlo.

I keep looking and I find an Indonesian blog called Wasted Records. I could understand that the band actually had a couple more releaseses. There was of course their appearance on the Ripple Magazine #7 tape in 2001 with “Something I Should Regret” (that song is in the compilation album), an appearance on the compilation “Delicatessen” on Poptastic Records from 2002, a CD single for “About the Poor Boy” in 2004 and another compilation appearance on the “Do Re Mi” comp by Paviliun Records in 2006.

Then to Youtube, here I find a promo video for their song “She’ll Never Come Home” and what of course, this is jangly brilliance!

I continue the search and stop at RateYourMusic. Here I find more band members. Hmm. Maybe there were lineup changes during their time? Ardiyasa “Dias” S. (vocals, guitar), Angga A. (guitar, vocals), Donny (drums), Denny (bass), Andi S. (guitar, vocals), Iyus (bass), Ade K. (drums). And then on Twee.net they have an entry where their 2003 is listed. It seems then that it was released as a cassette and included the songs: “The Rain Always Had an Answer”, “9 O’Clock at the Train Station”, “Candy Kiss”, “Cool Friend”, “Perfect Dream There”, “She Will Never Come Home”, “Something Like Your Smile”, “Something I Should Regret”, “Sweetest Smile” and “You Never Want Me”.

Their influences are also listed, Ride, Mojave 3, Orange Juice, Field Mice, Blueboy, Belle and Sebastian, The Smiths, Sarah Records and more.

I try to translate with Google Translate a 2015 interview on the Indonesian blog How Does it Feel to Feel. Here the blogger interviews Angga Adiyatama from the band. Here I learn that Dias and Angga were both from Jakarta and moved to Bandung for college and there it is when the band formed. It also seems the band split because they returned to Jakarta, leaving Bandung.

There is not much more information about the band, like what other bands were they were involved with (I did find that the drummer Ade K. was playing in a band called NICK) or whereabouts did they play gigs. Maybe in some Indonesian blogs there is that information but it is very hard to come by for me. Definitely Indonesian is not an easy language aside from some words I could guess. I do find that their legacy is very much alive, like for example the band Piccadilly has a video on Youtube covering the song “About the Poor Boy“.

I know my Indonesian friends will fill in the blanks and let me know what happened to this fantastic Bandung band. How important were they for the scene that was starting to make some noise after their demise, and what are the Blossom Diary boys up to now. Would also love to know which songs did they contribute to the Popstatic compilation and to the Paviliun one. I couldn’t find that information. And also, I need to order their anthology CD, which I hope, as the band deserves, comes with proper liner notes and a story, a story that I’m missing.

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Listen
Blossom Diary – Perfect Dream There

25
Sep

How to start this new week? Perhaps it is a good idea to do so by the Kickstarter campaign Julia Parnell has created so she can make a project everyone will love, “The Chills Film – A Theatrical Documentary“. Wow! A documentary about one of the best bands ever. Of course this has to happen. All the information about this project, as well as a video teaser, are on the Kickstarter page. I hope this gets done and they raise the money. And hopefully too I get to see The Chills live once more. I can only boast saying I’ve seeing them twice, plus another time when Martin played solo at Rough Trade.

Gingerlys, the top New York band, for sure one of my favourites of this city, will be releasing finally their first album this November 17 on Babe City and Topshelf Records. It will be self-titled and will be released on 12″ vinyl limited to 300 copies, cassette and CD. So all formats covered. One can’t complain. The album comes with some beautiful artwork it seems if the art that appears on the Bandcamp is the album cover. To promote their upcoming release they have unveiled a song from it and what a gem of a song it is. The song is called “Turtledoves” and contains all the ingredients the Gingerlys have made us used to. If the rest of the songs are as good as this one, this is definitely one record no one can miss!

Anida, Peter, Suki and Ages form the Jakarta, Indonesia, band Sugarsting. They started as a band in May 2006 and they have just published their first song on SoundCloud. It is a demo for the song “Chasing Pony” and I’m loving it. I especially love Anida’s vocals, she has a tone I’m not that used to I guess, but that sounds really cool here. This is superb jangly and upbeat pop. I hope to hear more from them soon!!

Bodega Sisters are from Stockholm but they seem to really like NYC. First because of the name of the band, second because the only song they have on SoundCloud is titled “Btwn. 1st & A”, and you know those are two avenues in Manhattan. Thirdly the lyrics are all about New York, from Tompkins Park to Duane Reade pharmacies and nods to the popular Bedford stop for the L train, and more. I don’t know much more about this band, but definitely this song has left me with a big big smile on the face. I guess familiar names, familiar places, will do that to you, especially if the music is also fab!

The Osaka band Ether Feels has a new song on their SoundCloud and it is pretty good! The band, if you are not familiar with them, is a shoegaze project by Tomo, Yoko, Yoshino, Kita and Takuya, and were formed in 2015. I don’t know if this song will be released in any other way, there is no information about that, but you should check “Moonshine” for sure. You will enjoy it!

Lastly the Brooklyn duo called No Kill have a very sweet new song streaming on their Bandcamp called “Eddie Vedder”, but that’s not all, they have actually made a a video for it. It is the first time I hear from this band even though we are in the same city. I wonder if they play live or are they a studio project. The band is formed by Jamie Cougar on guitar, drums and vocals, and Andrew Trouwborst on guitar and vocals. They have even more songs on their Bandcamp, so check them out.

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Before there was Pia Fraus and its label, Seksound, in the indie scene, Estonia wasn’t a country anyone associated to indiepop music. That is very true. But that doesn’t mean that there weren’t pop bands before even if there were just a few.

I think the first band that I heard from Estonia was Bizarre. But I wanted to dig more, I wanted to find more bands. What I had heard wasn’t enough. I was sure there had to be more songs I liked from Estonia. And happily I was going to stumble, thanks to a recommendation on the indiepop-list, with a tape compilation called “Sue Darling is Back to Meet Forwards”.

I believe it was Alexander Bailey from the label Radio Khartoum one of the first to champion Eestipop, pop from Estonia. In fact, I’m sure I discovered Bizarre thanks to his recommendations. On the indiepop-list he was to recommend this tape compilation saying: “not as consistent as the Bizarre album, but there are a few tracks here which shouldn’t be missed, and as I expect that the prices for both are quite low by Western standards, it’s probably a good risk.”  And when he describes Isadore Flore’s song on the compilation, “Make Up & Martini”, he says it is a ” lovely pop song, not quite cocktail, but classy all the same.”

I had to listen to this song. I was beyond curious. It was going to take many years for me to finally find the song, and it was going to happen through Kohviradio.com. Kohvi Radio, if you must know, is an online internet radio and mixtape download site based in Tallinn, Estonia. They have a big back catalogue of Estonian indie music and more, so it is definitely a good tool for exploring sounds from that country.

So I heard the song, and I loved it. It was sort of a Siesta Records, él Records, kind of sound. Classy. So now I wanted to know more about them. Who were they? I checked out the tape compilation on Discogs. I notice it was released in 1997 by Sally Cinnamon Music (catalog SAL006M.C.). Interesting, a label named after a Stone Roses song. The label was based in Tartu, Estonia, and was founded by Lauri Liivak. Laurii seems to have been a winner of 19 Estonian Music Awards. The label would later be renamed to Forwards. I check their catalog, I’m familiar with Bizarre, but there are other bands like Pedigree or Nyrok City. Will I like them? I also notice that there was a 1993 cassette compilation called “Sue Darling”. So this was the first volume, and “Sue Darling is Back to Meet Forwards” was the second?

On Discogs a note kind of answers that last question: “A logical follow-up to the “Sue Darling” (released in 1993). At that time another bunch of Estonian unsigned bands were recorded for the “Sue Darling 2”, but due to the financial problems Sally Cinnamon Music couldn’t release it. “Sue Darling is back to meet Forwards” includes eight bands recorded in 1993 (Sue’s Side) as well as eight bands recorded in 1996/97 in Forwards Studio (Forwards Side).”

Isadora Flore’s song appear in the Forwards part. Might this “Forwards” also have helped the label to be renamed to that name? Possibly.

Then I head to Rateyourmusic where the tape is listed. Here I notice that they have two band members listed for the band, Lauri Tikerpe on vocals and Marek Talts on guitar. Lauri Tikerpe had done vocals for “Fantawine” a song of Bizarre’s “Café de Flor” album. Also I could see listed some guest vocals on a single by Rainer Jancis in 2008 and lyrics credits for a Metro Luminal song. But no other band of his own it seems.

When it comes to Marek Talts there seems to be much more music involvement. He had been part of the band Ro:Toro which was a folk band that released an album in 2006 called “Estonian Bagpipe” . I see also credits for guitar playing inSitimaan, Tiit Born, InBoiler, Rull’s Royce Orchestra, Hedvig Hanson, Liisi Koikson, Ootus and more. Very busy.

But still no information about Isadora Flore. Why? Perhaps because they didn’t release anything. But this song, “Make-Up and Martini”, where did it come from? Didn’t they record a demo perhaps? There have to be more songs from the same recording session or not?

I was to find some more details on Facebook, and again thanks to Khovi Radio. They had a small post where they were publicizing the Isadora Flore song, that they have streaming for free. What does it say? “To begin with, we dust off the track Make up and Martini (1997) by the 1990s indie-band Isadora Flore from Tartu. The song, created in the spirit of the ROMO movement started by the Melody Maker magazine, features vocals by Lauri Tikerpe who is currently known as the nightingale of the band Väljasõit Rohelisse. The band featured Karl “Monodire” Kermes on drums, Indrek Sooniste on bass and Marek Talts on guitars. The latter is also the author of the song. The track was recorded at the Tartu Päikeseraadio (Tartu Sun Radio) for the indietape Sue Darling. “

Finally, the whole band lineup. And we know now they were from Tartu.

Tartu is the second largest city of Estonia, after Estonia’s political and financial capital Tallinn. Tartu is often considered the intellectual centre of the country, especially since it is home to the nation’s oldest and most renowned university, the University of Tartu. The city also houses the Supreme Court of Estonia, the Ministry of Education and Research and the new impressive building of the Estonian National Museum opened to public on October 2016. It is also the birthplace of Estonian Song Festivals. Situated 186 kilometres southeast of Tallinn and 245 kilometres northeast of Riga, Tartu lies on the Emajõgi (“Mother river”), which connects the two largest lakes of Estonia.

The only Estonian city I’ve visited is Tallinn, and I thought it was beautiful. Been twice there. Not Tartu, not yet. Would love to visit.

I couldn’t find any information for the two other members, Karl and Indrek, on Discogs. I did find that Väljasõit Rohelisse, Lauri’s band, released a 10″ in 2012. Probably not indiepop.

Not much more information on Isadora Flore. I keep asking myself about the band name. Who is Isadora? And why are there no other known songs by the band? Or no releases at all? A true mystery of Eestipop in the 90s.

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Listen
Isadora Flore – Make-up and Martini

21
Sep

I’m exhausted to say the least, the past days I’ve been waking up at 6:30am every day to get to work and cover for my boss as he is on vacations. I’m not a morning person at all, so this is really hard. I can’t fall asleep early and a couple of hours after I finally do, I have to wake up to catch a subway to the city. For me this is as tough as it gets. I don’t mind working, but having to wake up at these uncivilized hours is a torment to me.

While I work I listen to music and try to find new sounds, new music that might be worth recommending or who knows, maybe good for the label. Especially at this new schedule where my football radio shows don’t start until later during the day. So the mornings end up being a good time to discover bands and hopefully they keep myself awake.

So what have I found the past few days?

There’s the band Beautyness from Minneapolis, Minnesota, who have two songs on their Bandcamp. The songs “Cynics Bliss” and “Spell” are free to stream and also free to download. They are both upbeat indiepop songs and I’m left curious to hear what the band has in store for the future. The guitars on the songs are really nice I think. The band is formed by David Martini, Scott Martini and Matt R.

Peruvian band Dan Dan Dero have already enjoyed good reviews on the blog, but as it is the case with this blog every time a current band has some important news, worthy of talking about them again, I will recommend again. On Monday the band released the first video for the first single from their upcoming album. There are no details about this album, aside that it will be released in October. The band is right now touring abroad for the first time, in Colombia, and so this news come in a great moment for the band. Check out the video for “Detonador” and try not to get a seizure.

Cat in the Case is a Taiwanese band who released three songs on Bandcamp last June. The songs being: “Summer”, “Bog Down” and “Something New”. They are surprisingly really good. Girl vocals over distorted guitars and superb pop melodies. Of course I check out their Facebook to look for more information and aside the numbers, they formed in 2015, I can’t understand Mandarin, so yeah, not friendly for the rest of the world sadly! But that doesn’t matter if the songs are this good, right?! Speaking of which, I do have to feature a Taiwanese band on the blog sometime soon, right?

Fourth entry for this post comes from Manchester. The Breaks only have one song uploaded (and with lyrics!) on Bandcamp and it is a fine slice of noisy shoegaze/pop. There is no other information about the band or the song, or anything, we only know the song title, “Honey”. EDIT – Actually there are four songs. I don’t know how I missed that. There is “Honey” of course but also there is “I Need”, “Biscuit Factory” and “Misery”. Also I was pointed to a promo video for “Honey” on Youtube! And even found out they hail from Burnley. 

And lastly, I have just discovered the Glaswegian band Life Model who released a tape last July with 4 really good songs. The “Lucky EP” came out on Frux Tapes Records from Durham, UK, and it seems that there are only 6 copies available of the limited edition of 50. If it wasn’t a tape I would hurry and buy this, but you know how much I dislike tapes. So yes, I’m streaming the four songs, “Skin and Bones”, “Lucky”, “4ever” and “Together” on repeat now. I would like to know more about them though and I see on their Bandcamp that they have songs dating from 2012! The band is formed by Sophie Evans, Chris Smith, Joanne McCafferty and Michael McDonald. How come they haven’t played Indietracks yet? An unsolved mystery indeed.

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I visited France for the first time last year. I had such a good time and hope to go back as soon as I can. There are still many castles and cathedrals to visit, and more. I didn’t get around to have much indiepop in my trip but to me, France, has a long tradition of great indiepop bands that even though is not huge in numbers, there’s always been quality.

This weekend there’s Paris Popfest, it will be its first edition. I’m going to miss it but there are many friends going. I’m sure it will be a lot of fun and there is of course that Field Mice sort of band with Michael Hiscock that I think will be a treat for everyone.

So yes, France is important for indiepop. There are many fans and there’s even a great record store, Hands and Arms, that carries indiepop from all over. The last release on Cloudberry was a 7″ by a French band, Pale Spectres. So really, it makes sense to stop in France for our next featured band in this indiepop world tour.

I own the two proper releases of Les Poissons Solubles but in due honesty I don’t know much about this band. I thought then, while thinking of many French bands that I like, that it would be interesting to find out any details that could paint a better picture of the band.

Then what about the soluble fish? That’s what their name means, right? Fish that can be dissolved in water.  Let’s see what there is to be found.

As it is become a norm in these investigations, my first stop to find any hints and details is Discogs. Here to my surprise I see a demo tape listed, this one I don’t own. It has no catalogue number nor artwork. It only says that this demo was on a Sony C60 cassette and dates of 1993 or 1994. On it there are 8 songs, “Here Comes the Summer”, “Can’t We Start Again”, “Ne Passe Plus #1”, “My Small Red Sun”, “1 2 3”, “Perfect Day”, “Le Canal du Midi” and “Ne Passe Plus #2”.

Their first proper release was a split 7″ that came out on the great Waaaah! label. The band contributed two songs, “Can’t We Start Again” and “My Small Red Sun” to this 7″ that was shared with the Snowbirds in 1994 (catalog BULL 27-0). The Snowbirds had “Love Will Come My Way” and “Impossible Dream”. I can see that the two songs were included in the demo.

Then it seems there was a long period where there was no releases by the band. It was going to be 5 years later, in 1999, that the band was to release its first 7″ on their own, the “Here Comes the Summer” 7″ on the very fine label Plastic Pancake (catalog 008). “Here Comes the Summer” was indeed in the 1994 demo and also the closing song, “1 2 3”. The only “new” song would be “Mathilda Jane” that opened the B side.

There are also a few compilation appearances listed. The song “Can’t We Start Again” was included in the “Summer 93 Hits” tape in that same year. That means the band and this song was already around 1993, prior to the demo. This tape compilation came with a 32 mini-booklet, I wonder if in there there’s any information about the band.

They were to appear too on the tape “Etreinte & Tempo” released by Disco 2000 (discompil 01) and JMS Records in France. The song they had on it was “Perfect Day” and it says on a note that the majority of the bands on this tape were from the Toulouse area. Were Les Poissons Solubles from there? Quite close, they were from Montauban as the Anorak City blog confirms.

Montauban is a commune in the Tarn-et-Garonne department in the Occitanie region in southern France. It is the capital of the department and lies 50 kilometres north of Toulouse. Montauban is the most populated town in Tarn-et-Garonne, and the sixth most populated of Occitanie behind Toulouse, Montpellier, Nîmes, Perpignan and Béziers. In 2013, there were 57,921 inhabitants, called “Montalbanais”. The town has been classified “Ville d’art et d’histoire” (City of art and history) since 2015. The town, built mainly of a reddish brick, stands on the right bank of the Tarn River at its confluence with the Tescou.

Lastly, they had the song “My Small Red Sun” on the tape compilation “Superqualifragilistic” released by Nessie Records (NESS587).

Now, have you heard their songs? The girl/boy vocals that I die for? On Last.fm they are likened to the Fat Tulips, Heavenly and Ruth Miller. I also see that there is a hello to a Nathalie. Was Nathalie the vocalist?

Of course my friend Alex from 7iete Pulgadas wrote about the band when he featured the split flexi with the Snowbirds. Sadly he doesn’t know any other details. I can see some people commenting how good the song “Can’t We Start Again” is, and I can only agree! What a gem of a song!

I can’t find any more information about the band. No band members, no other releases, no other compilation appearances or gigs played. This is a question to my French friends, who were Les Poissons Solubles, and what are they doing now?

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Listen
Les Poissons Solubles – Can’t We Start Again

18
Sep

Three posts in a row, Saturday, Sunday, Monday. Two interviews and now featuring new indiepop bands and an old forgotten one. At this pace the Cloudberry Cake book is going to consist of 30 volumes!

Where to start this week? Bandcamp perhaps? Let’s do it. Why not start with the explosive Sharesprings from Indonesia? Wow! They have two new songs on Bandcamp, “Trush!” and “Ivory Tower” and I’m hooked immediately! Wow, how can they make such a racket with their anorak-style pop! Ardhi, Putriani, Rusli and Yehezkiel are on it again. Totally recommendable this digital single. Hope to see this on a physical release and not on a tape!

Swimming Tapes hail from London and they have a new EP out on B3 Records. It is a 12″ titled “Soft Sea Blue” with four songs, “When We Can Hide”, “Alison”, “What’s On Your Mind” and “Queen’s Parade”. I don’t know much about the band so I had to check their previous releases which include a digital EP, “Souvenirs EP”, and a sold out 7″, “Set the Fire/Souvenirs”. The band seems to be playing a bunch of gigs in the coming months at top places like The Lexington and Rough Trade East. What else I know about them? A quick look and I see that they are formed by Robbie Reid, Jason Hawthorne, Louis Price, Paddy Conn and Andrew Evans and they have management.

Speaking of management, I contacted a band last week because I really like their music and of course they directed me to their manager. Maybe in that sense I’m too DIY, I can’t work/deal with management. They have such high expectations, and I feel their priorities are wrong (or at least they don’t coincide with mine). I understand they want to make the band big, huge, but I feel many times they just create obstacles in the way. I don’t know, what is your take on them? For me, in my experience, “trying” to work with someone in the middle, between label and band has always been a hustle. It is like I give a message, then it goes through the manager filter and ends up in the band many times with the message distorted. And it is the same way back. In the years running my label I must admit I have avoided bands with management 100% of the times.

That said, I still love the the music and the bands. Moving on, I continue digging for new sounds and find out about a Phoenix, Arizona, dreampop band called Citrus Clouds. Their last release, “Ultra Sound”, has 7 songs and seems to be only available for streaming. Actually, only two songs you can play, “Ocean Eyes” and the worthy “Life Happens”. The band has been around for some years now, they started in 2014 and they are formed by Erick Pineda, Stacie Huttleston and Angelica Pedrego. Ah! Always nice to see Spanish last names playing indiepop, makes me terribly happy. Oh! and all their previous releases are all streamable.

Unhappybirthday from Germany do sound good. I only discovered them and I see a bunch of my friends are already fans on Facebook. Always late, always late. I’m now listening to their album “Kraken” and it is quite a surprise. There are 7 songs but originally it was released as a 5-track EP on Night-People Records in 2013. This 7 song release is actually out on vinyl, on a 12″ by Wave Tension Records. Now, will there be copies still when I can order it when I move? I feel I’m going to be so poor when I’m at my new place with the many records I need to buy!! I’ll keep my fingers crossed. Maybe I shouldn’t recommend any music so no one of you buys the records before I do?!

Justine Never Knew the Rules is a new band for me as well. They are from Sao Paulo in Brazil and they play some noisy pop. Their latest song is titled “Polar Bear (Hibernation Song)” and is actually great. They seem to have been around for some time, their first release uploaded to Bandcamp is a demo dating from 2013. I should explore the rest of their discography when I have some time, definitely. The band seems to be formed by four friends, Marcel Marques, Maurício Barros, Bruno Fontes and Gabriel Wittemburg. And they are signed to the most important Brazilian label probably? Midsummer Madness.

Even as We Speak, please please don’t sell out your record until I move in two weeks so I can order it. They are promoting the “Black Forest” EP now with a video for the song “Clouds” and it feels timeless. Like if the band never stopped playing. And that’s not all, the band is playing gigs and all. Will they come back to New York? Last year was magic. I hope they do. This record is not to be missed by anyone, me says.

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So we take a plane now from Changi Airport in Singapore and land at Ezeiza International Airport in Buenos Aires, Argentina, to continue our indiepop world tour.

It must have been around 2005 or 2006 that I heard of Lu for the first time on Myspace. Those were really good years for indiepop, Myspace became one a great tool for finding and connecting with bands (and then releasing them too!).

At that time I was still running Mira el Péndulo, an indiepop blog written in Spanish. We covered bands from all over the world but I always tried to find good indiepop from Latin America and Spain. That was the audience, and also I thought if we introduced these bands to them maybe, just maybe, they will get influenced, inspired, and start their own indiepop bands. I hoped for that.

I can’t recall exactly how I discovered Lu. By chance probably. A lot of times you’d just check out the friends of bands you liked and that way you’d find similar bands. I think it must have been that way. I stumbled on Lu’s Myspace and found two songs that were part of their demo: “Los Poderes de Sandra” and “Los Pulmones de las Nubes”.

I remember loving “Los Poderes de Sandra” very much at that time, and I didn’t waste any time to write about them on my blog. I had no clue who was behind these songs, or if there were any more songs. It was a mystery. Today I can’t recall clearly how “Los Pulmones de las Nubes” sounded like. I think it was an instrumental but I’m not sure. As usual the song doesn’t play on the old, forgotten, Myspace. Actually none of the two songs stream there.

I think that it was thanks to the blog that I got in touch with the person behind the band, Ignacio Aguiló. I believe this was a solo project, kind of a side project to his band Hacia Dos Veranos. This was a proper band, with releases and all. They were an instrumental band but you could see on their jangly tracks many nods to indiepop. They even covered an instrumental of Brittle Stars. But as you know, when it comes to me, I can enjoy a bit some instrumentals, but generally speaking it doesn’t connect with me. I need lyrics. So I was never into them. But it wasn’t a surprise that both bands had Ignacio, you could tell he had a good music palette.

When in touch I think I remember him telling me he had many more Lu songs, that he was going to send them to me for a possible release at Plastilina. That would have been nice. We wanted to support indiepop in Latin America and here was a brilliant sounding band. I never received those tracks and with time we lost touch. I believe Ignacio is now living in the UK and I’m not sure if he is involved with any bands there. He should.

I believe the only proper appearance of Lu was on a CDR titled “Granada 2”. This was a compilation released by Molecula Records in Mexico in the mid 2000s (I couldn’t find the year). On this compilation the band appears with “Los Poderes de Sandra”. I see some other good bands in this compilation like the Spanish Linda Guilala or Nobel.

The band didn’t make a splash and was quickly forgotten. I couldn’t find any information on the web if they ever played live in Buenos Aires. I lost touch with Ignacio long time ago, he was one of the people who say that Facebook is for close friends only, and so I don’t know more about his music. A shame really as I really loved what he was doing with Lu and I always hoped to hear more songs, at least an EP worth of songs. There had been indiepop bands in Argentina but it is hard to find one with the sort of preciousness and fragility that Lu had. In any case, I leave this post for posterity, to make sure people know this beauty of a song existed.

What other Argentinean indiepop bands do you like?

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Listen
Lu – Los Poderes de Sandra

14
Sep

It is quite stressful not being able to buy new records. As I’m moving at the end of the month I don’t want to order anything that may arrive at the address I’m living now when I’m not there anymore! That would be awful. At the same time, seeing new records coming out and not being able to buy them, scared that they may sell out is not the nicest of feelings. For example the new Even as We Speak record. I want it very much. And I see posts by the band saying that it is selling so good here and there. Will I manage to get a copy? I just need to wait until the beginning of October to get it, that and some other records, sure the Alvvays one too, but that one won’t sell out, surely they’ve printed thousands and thousands of copies.

Speaking of Alvvays, the video for “Dreams Tonite” has been released. There is not much more to say about their “Antisocialites” album, for many it is the best record of the year and that might be true. I’m very bad to make lists and remember what has been released this year, but definitely this is one of the bests if not the best. Anyhow, we’ve played the song many times, now it is quite lovely to put some imagery to it, tricky imagery where the band has been superimposed over old footage.

The Spanish Amanda, the fantastic English bedroom band of Huw Darling that once released an album on Firestation Records titled “Brave New Girl” and who I interviewed on the blog now has BandCamp presence. “The Ballad of the Spanish Amanda” is a collection of favourites and rare recordings by the band and it is thoroughly enjoyable. But that is not all, there are also recordings by Huw Darling before The Spanish Amanda. We find the band London Fields which was a short-lived alias in the mid-90s before developing into The Spanish Amanda, and I can only say wow, wow, wow!! Hope the 6 songs on there get released in a CD or something. But what about The Spanish Amanda, what was Huw doing? It seems he formed a band called The Chickpea Darlings alongside Jo Darling (ex-Abstinence & Sensibility) and Freddy Darling (ex-RSPCA). They have an album streaming on Bandcamp titled “Poet’s Day” with 10 songs. The band is self-described as middle-aged bedroom miserablists with C86 tendencies. What’s not too like?

Lost Film from Easthampton, Massachussetts, is unknown to me. The band formed by Jimmy Hewitt on guitars, vocals and synthetizer and Ben Husk on drums, has been releasing songs since 2014 when they recorded their first demo. As I’m not familiar with their music I start exploring. I see that their only proper physical release was a tape album in 2015 titled “Imago”, then the rest of their output seems to  have been only in digital formats. Their latest is brand new, the “Broken Spectre” album is set to be released in October. At the moment only one song is streamable, “Burn”, and it is quite a beauty.

This past week we’ve also seen Shelflife promoting the new Airiel record and that is definitely a good thing. The label has uploaded two of the album’s song to their SoundCloud and I’ve been playing them time after time. The first one to be uploaded was “Painkillers” and yesterday, “Your Lips, My Mouth“. As usual, top tracks by the shoegaze/dreampop Chicago band.

It is no secret I’m a big fan of Brisbane band Major Leagues, I’ve championed them for years now and how I wish I had worked with any of the many cool bands that appeared in Brisbane 3, 4, years go. For a reason or another that didn’t work out, but I have been a fan of Major Leagues, Go Violets, Babaganouj, Tempura Nights and many more. It was really exciting then when I stumbled this week upon Poolshop, which is the name Jaimee Fryer from Major Leagues is using for her dreampop bedroom project. There are a bunch of songs here, my favourites being “Can You Dream”, “You’re Alright Alone”, and “How Long”.

And it is time to close this week of recommendations with Strawberry Runners, which I’m quite surprised to see they hail from New York according to their Facebook (or Connecticut according to Bandcamp). Of course, I live here and I have never heard about them until now. Well, I do see they play a show in Ridgewood in October, but that’s like the end of the world for me. So far. But maybe I’ll get myself together and make it. I’m very curious. I heard the song “Garden Hose” today and thought it was really good and I see that it is part of the album “In the Garden, In the Night” that will be released on the 20th of October on Salinas Records. It seems though that previously the band had released a tape 3 years ago, one titled “Hatcher Creek EP” that had two songs, “Hatcher Creek” and “When We Were Good”. It seems this one is still available on Bandcamp. Anyhow, their new one that coming out in October will be released on vinyl and it will include 5 songs, “Garden Hose”, “Brother”, “Dog Days”, “Trouble” and “Your Bed Was Tall”. The band is formed by Emi Night on vocals, guitars and mandolin, Davy Timm on trumpet, vocals and keyboards, Sam Kelley on guitars, Tyler Morse on bass and vocals, Max Barcelow on drums, vocals and Rich Goldberg on keyboards. Definitely a band to keep an eye on, especially because they know how to add trumpets to their songs, I’m a sucker for indiepop songs with trumpets, what can I say!

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Time to continue the indiepop world tour and it is time to return to Asia and visit Singapore. There were a few bands I was recommended on Facebook by Wayne Tan like The Oddfellows, Pagans, Padres and more, but there was one, that I was already familiar with, as I own their one and only album, that I figured would be pretty interesting: Serenaide. Interesting because I know their songs, but I really know nothing about them.

In 2005 I was already running Plastilina Records with Jalito, at the time we were reaching out to several smaller labels around the world like Music is My Girlfriend from Sweden or Fruit Records from Singapore. We would exchange our releases, we would send a small stock of ours and we would receive a stock of theirs. That way we could sell small amounts of each other records in our home countries. Of course, I would keep a copy of each of their releases for my collection.

As I said Fruit Records was one of the labels we were in touch and had a good relationship. They appeared in the indiepop stage around the same time as us. Isman and Elisa, Fruit Records label owners, were very passionate about indiepop especially about South East Asian bands. Their label was to release Mocca from Indonesia or Ferns from Malaysia for example. But the first release the label put out was from a Singaporean band, Serenaide. For me it was a total surprise, I had never heard a band from that small country, I wasn’t even aware that there were many indiepop fans there. Now I know Vernon in real life and some others through Facebook and I know how passionate they are about music too!

Anyhow, the first package of Fruit Records we received included the album “The Other End of The Receiver” by Serenaide (catalog FRUIT001) which was released in late 2004 if I remember correctly. Of course at that time we all used Myspace and I friended them there. I also believe that I wrote a post about the band on my old blog, but that memory is hazy, maybe that didn’t happen. I just knew that I liked the record, it was unexpected, and my favourite song in the 10 track album was “The Girl from Katong”. Of course, I’ve never visited Singapore, it is on my list, so I had to find out where or what was Katong.

Katong, also known as Tanjong Katong, is a residential neighbourhood in the Central Region of Singapore, located near the seafront. It used to be located by the sea, but land has been reclaimed all the way to East Coast Park to provide more land for housing and recreational purposes due to the shortage of land in the late 1960s after Singapore gained independence. Katong was the location of many villas and mansions of the wealthy elite in the late 19th to the mid-20th centuries. They made their fortunes in the Far East and built seaside resorts, villas and manors along the beachfront of Katong, beginning from Katong Park to the end of the East Coast. Katong’s rich cultural mix has contributed to its unique cuisine. Katong is well known for its restaurants serving Peranakan cuisine and particularly, a spicy Straits Chinese noodle soup called Katong Laksa.

Okay, I suppose the day I visit Singapore, I’ll visit Katong, at least to try the Katong Laksa. What else is there to see there? I play their album once again and I listen to the songs in order, “The Sweetest”, “The Hands of the Doctor”, “Furry Animal Fury”, “The Girl from Katong”, “Lonely Bedroom Encounters”, “190 – Confession”, “Sofa Series”, “Midnight”, “Would You Like to Hear it Too?” and “Cameo Appearance”.

The band was formed by Pheyroz Yusuf on vocals and guitars, Zuremy Ibrahim (later replaced by Remy) on guitars and vocals, Mimi Yahya on bass guitar, Shakir Samat on drums. On later lineups we’d also find Natalie on violins and Eugene on keyboards. On the credits I notice that all songs were written by Pheyroz except “The Girl From Katong” and “Would You Like to Hear it Too?” which was written and sung by Zuremy. On the album Natalie Soh is credited for violin (I guess she wasn’t still in the band) and Kevin Foo on keyboards.

Kevin Foo also produced the album which was recorded and mixed at The Loft Studios. The record was mastered by Jeffrey Lam.

But this album wasn’t their first appearance on a physical record. They had already appeared with two songs on a 2003 compilation titled “The Show Must Go On…” which was released by Soundschemers as a sort of Singaporean band sampler. The songs Serenaide contributed were “The Sweetest” and “The Girl From Katong”. Were they the same recordings as the ones in the album though? Other bands on this compilation were Seven Sundays, Radium Rags and The Marilyns among others. I don’t know any, but I know The Marilyns played at least one gig together with Serenaide.

In 2004, when Fruit Records was being born, the label released another sampler. This time was a mini-album titled “Fruit Records Pop Cuts” (catalog FRUIT00) and it had three songs by Serenaide, “The Sweetest”, “Sofa Series” and “Hands of the Doctor”. There were also three songs by Mocca and two by Homogenie. Mocca did release on Fruit Records afterwards, but Homegenic didn’t. Who were they?

Lastly the band was to appear one more time on another Fruit Records compilation. The band contributed “The Girl from Katong” on the very recommendable “Peachy Little Secrets…” CD (FRUIT003) that came out in 2006. On this compilation you will find top tracks by La Casa Azul, Little Name, Annemarie and Mocca ft. Karolina Komstedt.

I found their Bandcamp, but there’s no information there. At least you can stream for free the whole album there. But from there I end up in their Facebook. Here I learn a few interesting bits about the band. It is shocking though that the band started in 1999! That really is a surprise. They were already a band 6 years before they released their album. That is not that common these days. Maybe there were no labels in Singapore ready to support local bands until Fruit appeared? It might be the case.

I look in their Facebook, which hasn’t been updated since last year, for more info. I start from the bottom, and see that Indonesian band Brilliant at Breakfast covered this same song I love, “Girl from Katong” on July 29 of 2011. How cool!

Then I see that the band played the Mosaic Music Festival in 2013. Then another interesting detail is that this brilliant song, “Girl from Katong” was on a movie! The song was included as part of the soundtrack of the Singaporean movie Sandcastle that was released in 2010.

I keep googling. I found a lovely and detailed post dating from last year, 2016, on the blog City Youths. On  it I learn that the band split at some point after their album and reformed in 2011. Does this mean they are still active? Another find is that of the blog 360 de Separación from my good friend Manolo. His review of the album is written in both English and Spanish. Oh the nostalgia! These years were so great for blogging, making many friends, such great memories.

On Bandcamp I found another cover of “The Girl From Katong“.  This time by another Singaporean band, Elektone. It is interesting with its electronic beats, it is really lovely but I prefer the original! And yet another one, by Ashruff from Admiralty in Singapore, on SoundCloud.

My next find is even better. It is an interview with the band on BetaMusic. I finally start to get to know the band. From this interview I learn that the band toured Indonesia and Kuala Lumpur, that they were big fans of The Smiths, Pulp, Lightning Seeds and more and that in 2005 they were hoping to become known in Japan. Did they get to do that?

Another interview dating from 2013, when they reformed to play the Mosaic festival is up on Music Weekly Asia. There aren’t really many details here, it is quite short, just a couple of questions but I learn that “The Girl from Katong” was actually used in a sex scene on the aforementioned movie Sandcastle.

At this time, after seeing that the band actually received some praise by mainstream media I start wondering if the band was popular among Singaporeans, if they got some recognition at least? Were their songs played on radio perhaps? Or on TV?

What is strange too is that there is very little information about the band members. Did they make music with other bands? What are they doing now? Why are weren’t there more recordings, not even from their second period when they came back? As I said, I don’t know much about Serenaide, and there’s really few information about the band. There is information about the record, but that’s all. Would be interesting to know the story behind them.

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Listen
Serenaide – The Girl From Katong