22
May

So the Pale Spectres 7″ got delayed until June. The pressing plant gave me this excuse:
Yes, the 7″ press mold had a problem and many orders were pressed off-center (including yours), so the press had to be stopped for one week while a new mold was installed, then we had to make new labels for the repress of your order. All is fixed now and the press works fine. It just caused a lot of delay on 7″ orders that we have to catch up. Your order is planned to ship out on June 6th or sooner.

I’m very sorry about this delay. As you can see, they didn’t tell me anything in advance. As I was waiting and waiting for the record to arrive, thinking it would be by my door any day, I wrote to ask about it to the pressing plant. And only then I got this reply. I’m beyond frustrated. But I really hope they wait is worth it, that the record looks and sounds gloriously.

My main concern of course is that I will be away on vacations starting this Thursday, the 25th, until June 7th. I will be in Finland most of the time, with one-day trips to Tallinn, Estonia, and Luleå, Sweden. During the time I’m away I won’t be able to post any orders. So any orders placed during those days I will post as soon as I get back to New York. There are some good news though, by the time I’m back, The Potting Sheds compilation release should be arriving. Tentatively the release date by this fab release will be June 15th!

Don’t have that many news for this week, a shame as there won’t probably be any other posts for two weeks or so, but I’ll let you know the few tidbits of indiepop news from around the world I could gather the past days.

Firestation Records is celebrating their 20th anniversary with a concert in Berlin. 2 bands have been announced, the legendary The Railway Children and the up-and-coming New Street Adventure (who I don’t know yet). You can check more information for this October 21st gig at the Privatclub through the event page on Facebook.

So I go to check out New Street Adventure. I know I already like The Railway Children and was already lucky enough to see them last year at NYC Popfest. I go to their website, and their to the music tab. The London band have a new album titled “Stubborn Sons” that came out on March 24th on the Acid Jazz label. I press play on the Soundcloud, the first song to play is “Hangin’ On Hangin’ Up”. It is not exactly indiepop, but it is poppy enough for my taste. I like it. It may not be my favourite sort of music, but it is very enjoyable. I’ll try the next one, “Why Should We Do Anything?”. More soul-pop. This one not as uptempo as the first one. Maybe I skip to another one. But I don’t find any other song I like as much as the first one. To each their own then.

Then of course The Popguns are back! They unveiled a new video for the song “So Long” that will be included in their next album titled “Sugar Kisses” on Matinée. It is said that the album will be out sometime around June 9th. The song sounds timeless. The Popguns never disappoint. Sadly for me this song was also released as a promo CD single, limited to just 20 copies, with the song “Sugar Kisses”. Of course, because the time difference and all, when I went to Bandcamp to see if I could buy a copy, it was already sold out. Anyways, very happy to see them back in form and I hope to catch them live one more time. That time at NYC Popfest was unforgettable!

Sea Blite is a band I stumbled upon on Youtube. I found their song “Cerulean” and thought, well, this actually sounds pretty good! Who are they? They have a Soundcloud but there’s nothing in there. It does say though that this song will be out soon on Death Records. I check this label’s website. Not very indiepop, more hipster than anything, but I can’t find any information about the band. I believe they are from California, but I could be wrong.

My last discovery is the band Atrás Tigre from Santiago de Compostela, Spain. I find them on Bandcamp, through their label Triunvirato. Their new album, released May 19th, came out as a 10-song LP. All of the songs can be streamed and they seem to be in Galician, I don’t think since I’ve heard indiepop in this language since I heard some few Aerolíneas Federales songs in that language so long ago. They have a dark feel to the songs, maybe influenced by Décima Víctima, but not losing their pop sensibility. It is very interesting. I look forward to ordering this record as soon as I come back from vacations. On their Bandcamp they have two other releases, one that is just a song, “Escapar”, and a tape EP titled “Atrás Tigre”. The band is formed by Pedro, Olalla, Xiana, Lois, José Ramón and Ibán.

And that’s the roundup for this week. When I’m back I hope to have an update for Pale Spectres and Potting Sheds. Seems June will be a very busy month for Cloudberry!

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Sonic Flower Groove is the debut album by Scottish indie rock band Primal Scream, released on 5 October 1987. Sonic Flower Groove featured psychedelic, Byrdsy jangle pop and was the only Primal Scream album to feature founder member Jim Beattie (credited as ‘Jim Navajo’). The album sold well enough to reach number 62 in the UK Album Chart, but performed poorly by major-label standards. The disappointment was a major reason for the original Primal Scream splitting up shortly after Sonic Flower Groove, leaving vocalist Bobby Gillespie and the guitar duo of Andrew Innes and Robert “Throb” Young to reorganize the band.

But not today. I won’t speak of Primal Scream. But about a band from Germany that named themselves after their first album, Sonic Flower Groove.

They released one record. One 7″ titled “Beeblebrox Ravin'”. I hope one day it can be part of my collection. So far I haven’t managed to have it at home. I know so little about this band, and as you can expect, there is very little written about them on the web as well.

I guess the name of the EP made me curious. What is Beeblebrox? I guess I’m not too cool, as I didn’t know that Zaphod Beeblebrox is a fictional character in the various versions of the humorous science fiction story The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.He is from a planet in the vicinity of Betelgeuse, and is a “semi-half-cousin” of Ford Prefect, with whom he “shares three of the same mothers”. Because of “an accident with a contraceptive and a time machine”, his direct ancestors from his father are also his direct descendants.

That also explains the name of the first song on this 7″ EP: “Zaphod Told Me”. The other song on the A side was titled “Lush”. On the B side, on the other hand, the songs are “London” and “Mother”. The record was released in 1991 by the label Heaven Sent (catalog HS 003). But to be honest I’ve never heard any of these songs. What I’ve heard are the songs the band released on many compilations.

They participated in 1990 in a tape compilation titled “Heaven Sent”, guess who released that? Heaven Sent too of course. The song that they contributed was “See The Light”. On Heaven Sent they shared the tape with among others The Wilde Plains who I’ve interviewed before. We’ll come back to this in a bit.

Next year they were to contribute the song “Strange Thoughts” to the tape compilation “It’s All About Love” on the Smuf label (catalog SMUF 003). The Smuf label was a pre-Firestation Records label that released also a Greek only indiepop tape compilation and the classic CD compilation “16 Goldene Hits” that I’ve mentioned before on the blog. On “It’s All About Love” the band shares the tape with so many fantastic indiepop bands, from The Aurbisons to Panda Pops.

In 1993 the band was to contribute the song “Summer” for another Heaven Sent compilation: “Try Another Flavour!”. This was HS 004 and was actually a CD compilation.  Many classic indiepop bands appear here that I’ve interviewed before like Jane Pow or Rorschach.

The band continues with their contribution to compilations, but no other release. Why no album? Why no other 7″? Who knows. The song “Blue” appears on the “Garage-Flowers” tape compilation by the Baby Talk label. It feels more of an international compilation. There are Australian bands, Spanish bands, French bands and of course German bands.

Their last contribution to a compilation is for another tape in 1995. It is for the Bliss Aquamarine tape “Sapphire”. They actually appear with two songs this time, “Cloudburst” and “Up Here”. Other cool bands to check out in this compilation are Peru and The Waiting List.

Remember I said I was going to go back to the Wilde Plains interview? Well, that’s because on that interview I actually got some information about this band. Just a little, but still, much more than in the whole world wide web. One of the members of The Wilde Plains, Andi, had been part of the band. It seems the scene in Worms was a bit small and a lot of the bands shared members. Andi was the keyboardist in The Wilde Plains. I had interviewed Bernd who played guitars and did the vocals.

But I get to know a little bit more thanks to this interview. Heaven Sent was run by Ralf Hoffmann, nicknamed “Hopemann”. He was actually also a member of Sonic Flower Groove. At least we know one name from the band. Not the girl vocalist, but probably the guitar player.

And this is when I hit a wall. I can’t find much more about them. But now it is when I ask your help. Do you remember them? In which other Worms bands were the members involved? Did they record any more songs? Maybe you have a spare copy of the 7″? Anything would help!

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Listen
Sonic Flower Groove – Cloudburst

15
May

Still awaiting for news for the Pale Spectres 7″. Taking forever. I’ve sent a couple of emails today to pester the pressing plant to tell me what’s going on. The estimated shipping date is past due and I can’t really wait any longer. It has taken forever for this record and I really need it NOW!

On the other hand I already have an interview prepared to publish for tomorrow, which is a good thing, as interviews are a becoming rare these days on the blog, not because of me, I keep writing questions and questions, but sadly bands are not answering them. Which is a shame. Anyhow, there have been some interesting news during the past few days that I want to share with you, at least we can keep up to date with indiepop news.

Our friends The Pains of Being Pure at Heart are back and they have just shared the song “Anymore” on their Soundcloud. This song is taken from their upcoming July 14th album titled “The Echo of Pleasure”. This is their 4th album (damn, how time passes!) and will be released on their own label Painbow Records.

Perhaps the news that made me most excited the past weekend was  that “Right Here”, the documentary about The Go-Betweens, has been announced to debut at this year’s Sydney Film Festival (June 15-16). You can watch the trailer on Youtube and I just got the chills by watching that. I can’t imagine how I will feel when watching the documentary. The only problem for all of us, far away from Australia, is that we have no clue when will this be available for us to watch it. It has been announced that it will also be available this year on Australian TV channel ABC sometime later this year.

Speaking of movies, the Morrissey biopic “England is Mine” has been announced to premiere on July 2nd at the Edinburgh International Film Festival. I couldn’t find a trailer for it but I found some video of Jack Lowden, who plays Morrissey, talking about it.

The Hepburns, one of my favourite bands, have a new free download song on their Bandcamp. The song is titled “Confusin’ Myself with Rock ‘n Roll“. It is a cover version of a song by Norwegian artist Frode Fivel.

The Lotus Eaters are re-issuing their classic album “No Sense of Sin”. The album includes an alternative mix of “You Fill Me With Need” and also accompanying it comes a free 7″ with the songs “It Hurts” and “You Don’t Need Someone New”. And by the looks on the photos, they release looks stunning! The record is being released by the label Vinyl 180 and you can pre-order it here as it will come out on June 30th. And so I just ordered it. 20 pounds with the shipping costs to the US.

And lastly, remember I talked about Paris Popfest some time ago? Well they have finally announced their lineup! The festival is taking place during two days in Septemeber, on Friday 22nd at L’Espace B and Saturday 23rd at Le Hasard Ludique. If you want to check out more information about the festival check out their Facebook page. There is only one unknown band for me in the lineup, Parenthesisdotdotdot, that I will check out now. The rest of the lineup so far include The Luxembourg Signal, White Town, Spearmint, Papa Topo, The Catenary Wires and Mehdi Zannad ft. Dorian Pimpernel. True, I’m not too familiar with the last band, but Mehdi was Fugu who released on Sugarfrost. At least, I know his band from back in the day. Maybe I should check what he has been putting out lately.

It is a strong lineup for their first festival. Would be good to know who is the surprise guest. I don’t know if it is worth for me to travel to France this time though, I’ve seen 90% of the bands. I need to give it some thought. But if you haven’t seen Spearmint or Papa Topo yet, believe me, those two bands for sure know how to put a good show! And they have fantastic footstompers of songs!

Okay I’m at Parenthesisdotdotdot website checking the music. It is a one-man band from London that has lived before in Norway and Ipswich. Simple electronic pop, I listen firstly to “The Run Out Groove” and I don’t like it much. I skipped the first song on the list as it is a remix, I prefer avoiding remixes, never been a fan. “Sixteen Weeks” sounds much better. I may give it another chance. Let’s listen to a third song. I choose “Parennie” which is the one with more plays on the list. Mmm, it’s alright. But not my kind of music.

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St Ives is a seaside town, civil parish and port in Cornwall. The town lies north of Penzance and west of Camborne on the coast of the Celtic Sea. In former times it was commercially dependent on fishing. The decline in fishing, however, caused a shift in commercial emphasis, and the town is now primarily a popular seaside resort.

On Another Sunny Day’s reissue of “London Weekend” on Cherry Red (the original is the Sarah ones, you all know that), there were 6 extra recordings. A couple of them are duly credited to OMD (“Genetic Engineering”) and the Bee Gees (“Kilburn Towers”). There’s another cover though at least, “The Boy from St. Ives”, which is the 18th track on the aforementioned CD.

I wouldn’t have known about it if it wasn’t for the internet and digging here and there. This recording by Another Sunny Day comes actually from some early demos by the band. On Discogs an unofficial Another Sunny Day tape bootleg, released by the curiously named Baby Panda in 1991, includes this cover alongside “Eternal”, “Her Friend”, “I Guess I’m the One Who’s To Blame”, “I Want You”, “It’s OK if you Don’t Want Me” and “What’s Wrong”.

Through a forum I found out that “The Boy From St Ives” was actually a cover of The Rubbish Men, who as Harvey Williams from Another Sunny Day, also hailed from Cornwall. I stumbled upon this piece of information all of sudden. I think I was researching some other indiepop band at the time. In any case, I decided that one day I had to find out more about The Rubbish Men. Maybe, just maybe, I could find more information about them.

I wasn’t the first to go down this track. The blog Adding Machine starts investigating about the connection of the song, Another Sunny Day and The Choughs. The Choughs? Who? He posts both versions of the songs, the Another Sunny Day one (which he calls the best song ever by ASD!), and The Choughs. After closely listening to The Choughs version, I can be sure it is the same recording as The Rubbish Men’s I had listened before. But were they The Choughs or The Rubbish Men? Or maybe they just changed names at some point?

This blog wonders about if they were local heroes, or if Harvey had been in the band. He has no answers. There are no comments. And both of these posts were written in 2013. I guess no one cared to shed some light on this mystery.

Youtube will come to my rescue. I could find “The Boy from St. Ives” and there is a little info in the description area. We know that this song is a demo dating from 1986. We also get to know the band members, Brendan O’Casey, Jonathan Jago, Rick Williams and David Clive. And that’s not all! There are more The Rubbish Men recordings on Youtube!

I find another cool sounding song from a home demo from around 1987 titled “The Woolworth Tree“. Another one from 1986 titled “Moored“, and another one titled “Clocks and Ghosts” taken from a rehearsal tape.

And that’s not all! To my surprise there are 40 minutes of a live performance at the legendary Tropic Club in Bristol! Wow! And it sounds magnificent! The gig dates from November 13, 1986. I learn some more song names from their repertoire like “Wishing Well”.

Don’t know what happened to The Rubbish Men. I could find that Jonathan Jago went to a hardcore band named Dog Bite and that’s about it. Then for Brendan O’Casey and Rick Williams I could find a photo of them on a tumblr titled Two Punks and a Tandem. Not sure how to link directly to the photo, but if you scroll down a bit you’ll probably find it. Both guys are posing with other friends at the legendary venue the Millhouse.

I couldn’t find much more on the web. Maybe some of you remember them? Maybe there were more recordings? What I’ve heard sounds good to my ears. Especially the 1986 songs and the live gig. I wold definitely want to know more, like who were The Choughs? and for sure help that blog, Adding Machine, and find out what was their connection with Another Sunny Day?!

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Listen
The Rubbish Men – The Boy From St. Ives

10
May

When time is on your side, you shouldn’t waste it. Is investigating indiepop a waste of time? It is one of my favourite hobbies, and while I wait for the Champions League semifinals to start in 45 minutes I can explore some new music I found on the internet. It is not easy though, it takes me some days to find a handful of bands worth recommending. I save their pages as soon as I find them so I don’t forget. A bit of disciple is necessary.

I have an interview to write to, for the blog. I’ve written a few lately but I haven’t got the band’s answers. Only Resque were quick enough to answer theirs and that one came out really nice. I wish bands in general were excited and quick enough to give me their replies. I know, I ask a lot of questions. They are long interviews. But 5 questions wouldn’t tell the story of the band. Especially of the bands I interview who have almost no information about them on the web.

Las Kasettes: this fantastic Pamplona band released two 7″s that I duly ordered when they come out on their hometown’s premier indiepop label Chin Chin Records. Seems that Chin Chin is closing shop though and that was truly sad news for me, as I was a big fan of theirs. Their design and their taste was immaculate when it comes to P!O!P! music. Las Kasettes have found a new home at KOTJ Records from Spain as well and they have just released their debut album, an LP titled “Bajo el Sol” and you can stream it on their Bandcamp. The band is formed by Edurne and Maier and the whole album is a parade of cover versions of different bands including The Beach Boys, Girls at Our Best or The Clovers.

Río Arga: another Spanish band on another Spanish label. 6 songs available to stream on Bandcamp and also released on tape (ugh tapes…) by Mondo Canapé Records, the same ones who released the wonderful Whalo. The label is based in Alicante and the band, I believe, hail from Pamplona. The band is formed by Txema, Alex, Nico and Laura and this is a really promising debut. I look forward to their next effort already! (and hope they release these 6 songs as a CDR at least)

Fazerdaze: I’ve heard many good things about this band, I see their record on my Instagram feed and also on my Facebook one. My friends seem to love this Auckland, New Zealand, band. Definitely being released in legendary Flying Nun Records gives the band important credentials. So I stream the songs from their debut album “Morningside” from their Bandcamp and I’m not impressed, it doesn’t have all the pop moments I’d like! But there is one song that I think shines over the rest, a song that is such a hit, a wonderful song, and that is why I recommend this record. Just for the one song. It is titled “Lucky Girl” and it is a rush of infectious melodies that I can’t get out of my head.

Brightener: is the solo project of Palm Springs, California, Will Sturgeon. He has a new album that was recorded between 2015 and 2017 and is  titled “Headroom”. It is a short one, 8 songs, but aren’t they nice? Soft jangle pop, performed with elegance, and available not only on Bandcamp streaming but on CD digipack. Just $8. There are some very good moments in the album like the songs “Filters II” or “Help U Better Then” where I can hear so many classic American indiepop bands from the 90s and early 00s.

Kidsmoke: here’s another one for my Indietracks organizers, another one that they missed. This band from Wrexham claims to be inspired by The Smiths and some other not so good bands like Wild Nothing or Real Estate. In any case, their songs sound fine to my ears and that’s what matters. Their last song is titled “And Mine Alone” and I’m guessing was released as a digital single last April. There are many more releases for us to discover and enjoy.  The band was formed in 2013 by Lance Williams on vocals and guitars, James Stickels on bass,  Sophie Ballamy on guitar and Ash Turner on drums.

Peonies: last band for today’s review and possible for the week! I don’t have any other saved discoveries at the moment so probably it will have to wait for next Monday, well if I don’t decide to write about something else altogether. Peonies is a band from Jakarta, Indonesia. That means they make good pop. Indiepop from Indonesia is nowadays strong, there are so many good bands there that it one doesn’t get surprised anymore by their quality at song craftsmanship! The band has been going since 2015 and is formed by Jodi Setiawan, Cinta Rimandya Marezi and Paramitha Citta Prabaswara. They have signed to Nanaba Records and I’m not sure if they have released something or not. I hope they have. You can listen to a bunch of their songs on Soundcloud.

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If you read my last post about Wrong Door Raid you will be at least somewhat familiar with the compilation “Dungannon Musicians Collective 5” where The Hasbeens also participated. As I previously mentioned, in this compilation there were 5 bands, all of them part of this collective (I don’t know if there were any more bands in the collective other than the 5): The Hasbeens, Tiberius Minnows, McGovern, Wrong Door Raid and The Moon. Today is time for investigating The Hasbeens, leaving just The Moon, whose song “Place” is very nice, and Tiberius Minnows for hopefully an interview later on as they seem to be available for contacting online. McGovern is a rockier band and so perhaps doesn’t fit well in the blog.

As you know this compilation came out in 1988 and was released by Castle Records (DMCAST1) and according to Discogs it was the sole release on the label. This compilation was put together with effort by the bands in the collective and the DMC chairman, Mark Hamill, playing gigs to raise money and so on.

I was surprised by my friend Tim Hall’s comment, saying that it was unimaginable that Dungannon could have an indiepop scene. Maybe it wasn’t really an indiepop scene, maybe it was. I don’t know. At least there were some bands making some great music, much of it flying under the radar. I believe only Tiberius Minnows ended up releasing further records. The other bands were to leave their 2 songs on this compilation as their legacy.

Luckily this compilation was well-thought, and the label put together a booklet with information about each band. The Hasbeens are the first band to appear on the booklet as they were also the first band on the compilation, opening the A side with the poppy “Trivial”. They were to close the compilation as well, with their song “Showbands Must Go” as the last song on the B side. The lyrics for the latter are included in the booklet.

There is a big difference style-wise between their songs. I love the poppier, happy-go-lucky feeling of “Trivial”, while I’m not a big fan of the 80s heavy and rockier “Showbands Must Go”. I wonder what style they preferred in their other recordings if they had any.

We get the band members first name only on the booklet. We know that the band was formed in March 1987 by:
Kevin on guitars, Gary on bass guitar, Patrick on vocals and Stephen on drums.

The photo I’ve posted was taken by Cathal McCall. I googled him and I could find a  Queen’s University Belfast professor with the same name. Could it be him?

Other people credited in the recordings were Karen Herron, Cathy McCausland, Sharon McKillon and Oonagh O’Sullivan. They were the kids that sung on “Showbands Must Go”. Maybe Karen Herron was the daughter of S.J. Herron from McGovern, another band in the collective? The band also thanks a Gary for the work in the studio.

Aside from these facts I couldn’t find any more clues about the band. It seems they just went into total obscurity. At least for Wrong Door Raid there was a Soundcloud, never updated and all, but there were was something tangible that they existed and left something. For The Hasbeens the web is virgin territory. There’s nothing whatsoever about them. It seems actually the only Hasbeens one could find online is a brand, Swedish Hasbeens, specializing in clogs shoes.

Anyone remember them?

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Listen
The Hasbeens – Trivial

 

08
May

While I eagerly await for the Pale Spectres 7″s to arrive any day now, I continue to find indiepop bands on the web. Not in the hopes of releasing them something, at this point I have already all releases for this year lined up, but to prove myself that indiepop is still going strong even though it doesn’t catch the attention of the press or festival organizers.

Sea Shrine: Cris from The Royal Landscaping Society shared with me their Bandcamp after falling head over heels for the song “Soft Alarm”. Upon listening to it, I also thought, “wow! this is truly great!”. It is  classic early 90s indiepop, the guitar strums and chimes the way we all love while the soft vocals blend perfectly. The band seems to be a one man project, a mysterious Thomas is behind it. He is based in West Virginia and he has 5 songs up on the Bandcamp, sadly I can’t say I love the other tracks, but “Soft Alarm” is totally a winner!

Skittle Alley: our friend Fanou has a new album out on Discos de Kirlián from Barcelona. It is titled “End of a Story” and it is limited to just 100 copies. The album includes 9 songs and it is very affordable at just 4 euros! It is just what you expect from the Limoges one-man band, lo-fi bedroom indiepop, perfect for a rainy afternoon.

Snowflakes: it seems the releases they have on Bandcamp are actually more than a decade old. This band from Tokyo, Japan, are firm followers of that they call neo-acoustic in the country of the rising sun. You can hear three releases on their Bandcamp, “Snowflakes” which was their debut 7″ in 2003, “Waiting For” that was also a 7″ released in the summer of 2007, and “Light”, their latest, released this year on tape. Not sure where you can actually find or buy the proper physical releases, but all songs are available for streaming and they sound pretty pretty.

Goodly Thousands: I’m sure I’ve mentioned them before on the blog, I love this band. They have released a couple of 7″s on Shelflife Records and now I found a month old song on their Soundcloud titled “Spree” that sounds glorious to my ears. Maybe it is already time for an album from this Dublin band. Check it out by clicking on the link!

Love Dance: they seem to be back with the song “All the Time”. I was very lucky to see them some years at Indietracks, where I remember they stayed at the same hotel as me, and would see them have breakfast every morning at the Mansfield Premier Inn. They put a fantastic gig that time. Since them they have been quiet, very quiet. I sent them a message some time ago, to check if they were still making music. They were. They told me they had a label already. I believe they meant Brilliance Records who are releasing digitally this beautiful piece of art titled “All the Time”. It is actually a single that will be included in their next album.

 Star Tropics:  the Chicago band is back with a CD album on Fastcut Records. I don’t know much about them to be honest as their Bandcamp and or Soundcloud are not updated, nor their Facebook page. None of these pages have any notice about this release. I wonder why. Maybe they are waiting for their US version of the release which I think is coming as an LP on Shelflife? Anyways, the Japanese version has the song “Tempest” as a bonus track. Would be nice to find out something else about this album, right? Previous songs on Soundcloud sounded pretty good.

And speaking of Shelflife I had a look at their forthcoming catalogue just now and noticed that there is a forthcoming The Keep Left Signs 7″!  That I look forward to!

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Dungannon (from Irish: Dún Geanainn, meaning “Geanann’s stronghold”) is a town in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland. It is the third-largest town in the county (after Omagh and Strabane) and had a population of 15,889 at the 2011 Census. The Dungannon and South Tyrone Borough Council had its headquarters in the town, though since 2015 it has been covered by Mid-Ulster District Council.For centuries, it was the ‘capital’ of the O’Neill dynasty, who dominated most of Ulster and built a castle on the hill. After the O’Neills’ defeat in the Nine Years’ War, the English founded a plantation town on the site, which grew into what is now Dungannon. Dungannon has won Ulster in Bloom’s Best Kept Town Award five times. It currently has the highest percentage of immigrants of any town in Northern Ireland.

Today I decided to pick up another record from my collection, one of those rare ones, a compilation this time.

“Dungannon Musicians Collective 5” was a record I didn’t know about when we were looking through racks of old vinyl stock in Toronto. My friend Jessel introduced me to a world of fantastic records that afternoon. And he picked up for me this compilation LP that was released in 1988 mostly because it included two songs by Tiberius Minnows. Yes, I know, Tiberius Minnows, what a fantastic band, and yes they do deserve a post on the blog. Though I think an interview would make more sense as they are pretty active on their Facebook.

There were 4 more bands on it that I had no clue about, each one contributing 2 songs. There were The Hasbeens, McGovern, The moon and Wrong Door Raid, plus Tiberius Minnows. I had to explore them. See who were they. The record luckily comes with a booklet where some basic information is available for each band.

I think the first song that caught my attention that wasn’t by Tiberius Minnows, who I already knew thanks to the Leamington Spa series, was “Seasons” by Wrong Door Raid. I really liked the guitars. This was the opening track on the B side. They had another song, “Balance is Everything”, closing the A side, but for me, their better song is “Seasons”, even though they include the lyrics for “Balance is Everything” on the booklet.

This record was released by Castle Records (catalog DMCAST1) and we learn a bit about this release thanks to a “prologue” or introduction on the booklet. It says that the DMC (Dungannon Musicians Collective) began in 1987 with Keith Campbell who had a motivation to help up and coming bands. A small team was assembled at the time. Sadly Keith was to pass away but the team was to continue the project for the release of this LP. All bands that contributed were part of this team and they played many gigs to raise money for the record.

Mark Hamill, chairman of the DMC, and Paul Jackson, wrote these introductory notes on the booklet. They thank a lot of people among them people that worked for Dungannon’s government.

When I reach the page where Wrong Door Raid have their photo and “Balance is Everything”‘s lyrics, I find the band members names. That’s something. Maybe with them I can find out more about this band? These two songs were the only ones they seem to have released. It doesn’t seem to be anything.

Martin Campbell played drums, Stephen Conlon played bass, Paul Jackson (who I assume is the same Paul Jackson behind the introductory notes) on vocals and Noel McHugh on guitars. The piano on “Balance is Everything” was played by Paul Donaghy.

As you expect with these obscure bands it is almost impossible to find any information on the web. Luckily I did find a Wrong Door Raid Soundcloud by Paul Jackson. Sadly there is only one song on it and it doesn’t seem he updates the Soundcloud often. The song “People People” was uploaded 5 years ago. It does sound different to the ones on the DMC compilation. It is more like a country song. We also see that Paul is now based in Belfast. There’s nothing more.

I’ve written about a bunch of Irish bands lately. Seems like there is still a lot to discover, many hidden treasures. I wonder if Wrong Door Raid left more recordings from that time, with those chiming guitars that appear all of a sudden on “Seasons”. I really hope so. Anyone else remembers them?

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Listen
Wrong Door Raid – Seasons

04
May

On my last post I said I had mentioned all the bands worth recommending from the Latin American Twee 6th compilation. I missed one, The Spiracles, mainly because I thought they had appeared on the blog some time ago. But after a quick search I found out that they had no mention whatsoever here. So I want to make amends with my terrible memory now.

The Spiracles as far as I know are a Peruvian band though their Bandcamp has them hailing from Toronto, Canada. Might be a mistake? Or maybe some members have relocated? I don’t really know. The song that appeared on the compilation was “Beneath A Sky of Stars”, and it is a pretty dreampop song. The song is part of an April 2016 eponymous release that is available digitally. All of the songs on this digital release are reworks of already released songs, all of them had already appeared on their 2014 album “Last Night I Dreamt About You”. The band is formed by Romina Roggero, Enrique Medina, Luis Rodriguez and Franco Bahamonde. I like their music, just wish they were a bit more orderly when it comes to their songs and releases! It is a bit confusing having them all over the place.

After, I went back and did a quick recap of the Latin American Twee vol. 5 download compilation earlier today. On an earlier blog post I recommended from it Un Verano en Portugal, Verano del 83, 1994 and María. I missed some bands that deserve your attention too.

  • Las Piñas: the song that introduced me to this band is the catchy “Hawaii”. This song is included in their 2016 album “Espanto Caribe” which was released on CD and tape by the American label Yippee Ki Yay from San Antonio, Texas The band is formed by Sofía Cardich, Antonela Perigo and Celina Ortale, an all-girl band, just like my friend Jennifer has been asking for. They hail from La Plata in Argentina. I wonder, are they fans of Estudiantes or Gimnasia y Esgrima? Or Platense maybe?
  • Ruidas: another band from Argentina, also from La Plata. They don’t have a proper release yet, but 3 songs available dating from October 2016 to download and stream on Bandcamp. The first song I heard was “UUU” and I thought that it was great! The band is formed by Vitro Hache, Min H. Felt and Niña Niño. Of course those are not their real names. Anyhow, this sounds good and I look forward to hearing more by them!
  • María Morena: I don’t know anything about this band, just that they are from Lima, Peru. They had one song, “1996” on the compilation “Todos Mis Sentimientos Adolescentes” that was released by La Flor Records. It reminds me to the times I hunted for demos from up and coming Spanish bands on Soulseek sometime around the early 2000s. The naive sound, the girl vocals, are a weakness to me. There are some live videos on Youtube too.

I also had a look at the latest Indietracks announcements, checking out if there was anything that I was missing out, some new discovery perhaps. Definitely the best band to be booked this year by Indietracks is Luby Sparks from Japan. I have already recommended them on the blog and I can’t wait to get their 7″ from the Sailyard label (hello Masami! don’t forget about it!). Then Baby Arms could be another interesting addition to the festival. Their song on the CD16 compilation was a favourite. Of course there is also The Understudies, a favourite band of mine, but they are not a new name for the festival, and probably all of you have already heard their classy songs. But that’s about it. The rest of announcements are truly disappointments.

Among the DJs announced, I’d be curious about Evripidis’ Jukebox, that is Evripidis from the Barcelona based indiepop band Evripidis and his Tragedies. I feel he may play some good proper indiepop. Then How Does it Feel To Be Loved? repeats once again. The other DJs, Offbeat and Sweet Revange are unknowns to me. Who are they?

A new release on the Chinese premier indiepop label, Boring Productions, is available now. That means I need to get in touch with Jovi again, and it feels like yesterday since I ordered some of his latest releases. This time around it is not a Chinese band, but a Russian band: Малыш Камю. They have an 11 song album titled “Nobody Wants to Play With Me” and it is a fantastic continuation of beautiful bedroom pop after their debut on a 3″ on Cris’ Little Treasure Label. You can actually stream the whole release on Bandcamp, but it is available on both CD and cassette. So I urge you to get the physical release even though if you don’t understand a thing of Russian. On the CD booklet the lyrics are translated to English. For those new to the band, Malish Kamu (that’s how you say their name), are Evgeniy and Kate, a couple from Taganrog in Russia. Where is Taganrog? It is on the Sea of Azov, kinda close to Rostov-on-Don. Quite remote for indiepop lovers, right?

The classic Huntington Beach, California, band, The Arrogants, have uploaded a bunch of demos and rarities to their Bandcamp. The band was active between 1997 and 2005 and released some records on Shelflife Records which are true treasures in my CD collection. For some reason I missed their compilation “You’ve Always Known When Best to Say Goodbye” even though some copies were distributed by Plastilina Records. I could never get a copy sent to me from Lima to Miami. And then when I visited Lima on vacations, I believe Jalito never saved me a copy. That made me angry of course. Anyhow, you can check all these rare recordings if you click here.

I don’t know if it is sold out all over the place. I hope Ed Shelflife has still a copy somewhere for me. The Fireworks released on April 21st, a new 7″ with 3 songs and well, as usual, it sounds magnificent. The songs on this red-coloured sleeve record are “Dream About You”, “Better Without You Now” and “We’ve Been Wasting Time”. The record was released by Shelflife in the US and on Opposite Number for Europe. You can stream all songs on their Bandcamp. A must have!

And to close these week’s reviews, I discovered a South Korean band, from Busan, that put out a 7″ out for Record Store Day that sounds really good! I want to get this record! The band is called Say Sue Me and their EP is titled “Semin”. Sadly the story behind this release is not very nice, it is titled after the name of the original drummer in the band who has been in a coma for the last year. Two of the songs on the EP come from older releases, with him drumming: “My Problem” from their 2015 EP and “One Week” from their debut album. The two other songs “But I Like You” and “I Just Wanna Dance”, which are new, are drummed by their friend Casey McKeever. The band members are Jae Young on bass, Kim Byungkyu on guitar, Sumi Choi on vocals and guitar and the aforementioned Kang Semin. It has been a while since I heard a fine sounding Korean band, maybe since Linus Blanket. I need to investigate more. They are at the moment touring the UK.

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Another week that I manage to have enough time to write two posts. This time though it is not strictly indiepop archaeology. Not a guilty pleasure either. This is fantastic pop to my ears. Straight-up pop. And as I finally bought the 7″ with the songs “Tarde Para Amarte” and “No Empeñes Mi Visón”, I thought it was a good time to recommend this gem and to relive some memories that the A side of this record brings to me.

I can’t recall the first time I heard “Tarde Para Amarte” (translates in English as “An Afternoon to Love You”). I must have been a kid. I didn’t know who sang the song. I just grew up remembering the chorus. It is catchy, you can’t deny that.

No, my family didn’t have the record. I grew up in Lima, and during the late 80s, it wasn’t the best time to be around. My country suffered the violence of the terrorist group Shining Path. But musically it probably was a golden age. The radio in Peru would play fantastic and obscure pop from all over. And as there was a renaissance of pop sung in Spanish, radio DJs looked all over the place for novelties. And that is how, I imagine, Bongos Atómicos, from Valencia, Spain, became much more popular in Lima, than in their own country.

Yes, I found out that they appeared on a 1987 edition of Spanish magazine Rock Delux, their sort of NME. But it seems they never achieved much there. I’m sure some people in the Valencia region remember them. But talking to Spanish friends during the years, they honestly had never heard them ever. I guess they weren’t played much on Spanish radio. Whereas in Peru they were played since 1987, the year they released all their records.

I could find on a blog that Radio 1160 from Lima started playing “Tarde Para Amarte” on April of 1987. I was just 3 years old then. Radios would play it still during the 90s. It was a popular song, well known even at alternative discos. It wasn’t the only band from Spain that had more of a following in Peru than in their home country. Among others there was Religión, Club Naval, Flash Strato (who I’ve written on the blog before), Pato de Goma or Tiernos Mansebos, among others. Bands that never played in Peru. But their records and songs were important for a generation.

I wasn’t part of that generation that danced and partied with these songs. I came afterwards. I love the songs nonetheless. I always had a pop sensibility for melodies and catchiness. I think it is thanks to this pop education that I love indiepop. I think many of you will understand me.

I was to rediscover “Tarde Para Amarte” many years after. Around the early 2000s I was rediscovering all these Spanish bands that I once had heard when I was a kid, bands I didn’t remember their names, songs that I didn’t know belonged to this or that band. Through Soulseek I found out that this particular song was from Bongos Atómicos. Since then I’ve DJed it many times, and not only in Lima, but also in England and Germany.

I particularly remember the one time I DJed in Lima, at a Plastilina Pop Party. I saw people singing the song out loud and dancing like possessed! I didn’t expect that! And it wasn’t the older generation, it was my generation, younger people that loved this sort of music.

I only knew this song by Bongos Atómicos for a long time. It was only lately that thanks to Youtube I was to hear to more of their songs. They were varied, some good, some not as good. But it didn’t matter to me. The good thing was that the two songs on the 7″ I bought today are their best. And I’m glad they were released together.

But I don’t know anything about the band. My knowledge was limited to know that they were from Valencia, in Spain. I had read that somewhere. It is time to dig the web, see what I could find about them. There wasn’t that much, there was enough though.

The band started to make a splash after recording their first demo. It won the 2nd “Concurso de Maquetas” contest organized by the Rock de Lux magazine. Thanks to that the band was to record their eponymous mini-LP at the Pertegás studios in their hometown. 5 songs were recorded then: “Uska Dara (Un Cuento Turco)“, “Tarde Para Amarte” and “Nunca Debimos Llegar Juntos Tan Lejos” for the A side and “Puede Resultar Divertido”  “No Empeñes mi Visón” and an instrumental version of “Nunca Debimos Llegar Juntos Tan Tarde” for the B side. The record was released by Producciones Twins (catalog T 2518), the same label that became popular for releasing perhaps the biggest band of the Spanish 80s, Hombres G. The record came out with an insert including the lyrics for the songs.

This same record was released in Peru. Probably it is the only other country that released it. I don’t think it is as popular anywhere else in the Spanish-speaking world. In Peru it was also released in 1987 through the label Epic (catalog SE 3431).

From what I’ve gathered, in Spain their most well-known song was “Uska Dara” which was actually a version of a Turkish song that was popularized in the 60s by Eartha Kitt. You can hear her version here. This song was released as the first single from the mini-LP as a 7″ with “Puede Resultar Divertido” on the B side. It was released by Producciones Twins in 1987 as well (catalog T-1776). It was also released on a 12″ but on this version both songs get the remix treatment. “Uska Dara” gets the “Desacato remix” while “Nunca Debimos Llegar Juntos Tan Lejos (instrumental)” got the “Madrugada remix”. The 12″ catalog was T-1234.

Their only other release was the 7″ I am waiting happily to arrive home. Released by Producciones Twins (catalog T-1788) in 1987, “Tarde Para Amarte” was the A side and “No Empeñes Mi Visón” on the B side as I’ve mentioned before.

My first stop in my detective work was a blog called El Viaje Sónico. On a post dating from 2010 I learn some important facts about the band. First off the lineup:
– Rafa Villaba on drums and percussion
– Alberto Tarín on guitars and keyboards
– Rosa Elena on vocals
– Begoña aka. Kanekalón on backing vocals

The produced for their record was Esteban Leivas. During the recording of their mini-LP they had some help from different musicians including Nacho Mañó on bass (he was a member of the band Presuntos Implicados), Perico Sambeat on sax and Vicente Quintana who does the intro on “Uska Dara”. Their manager was Rafa Cervera, who at the time was perhaps the best regarded music critic in Valencia. He even appears on the back sleeve of the record.

The article mentions that the band would also record another song, “Bon Gos, Atomic Os” for a compilation titled “Un Poc de Rock” where 6 Valencian bands were included. It was released by the label Xiu-Xiu Records also in 1987 (catalog XIU-BN-4). Seems they were only around for that year. The curious thing about this contribution is that they are listed as Bongos Atómicos and Remigi Palmero. Who is this Remigi? And the song included, that is the first one on the album, is a play on words of the band name. In Valencian, “bon gos, atomic os” means good dog, atomic bone. This song was composed by Cervera, Tarín and Villalba. It is a very different song if you compare it to the mini-LP. It is probably my least favourite song by them.

After the band split, Rafa Villalba and Alberto Tarín went to join a much more famous band, Seguridad Social. The two girls from the band, Rosa Elena and Kanekalón disappeared from he face of Earth.

Luckily my investigation doesn’t end up here. I found an article penned by the band’s manager, Rafa Cervera, dated from February this year. From it I could gather even more information and some fine promo pictures.

The first thing I learn is that the band performed on TV on a morning programme hosted by Jesús Hermida in TVE. It doesn’t say the name of the programme. Or the year. I only wonder if this performance will appear someday on Youtube. It seems the host didn’t like the band.

Rafa Cervera tells that he was obsessed by some demo recordings by Rafa Villalba. he thought they were unique, they were unlike anything he says. He was in love in particular with a song titled “Chiquitere” and he was on a mission to release it. After a lot of convincing, Rafa C. convinced Rafa V. to start a band. The band was called initially El Discreto Encanto and they played live for the first time in 1985. They shared lineup with Juana La Loca, Comité Cisne and Muzak among others.

Before being in Bongos Atómicos, Alberto Tarín had been in a band Segunda Sección. Never heard them. And I had never heard how El Discreto Encanto sounded like. Did they record any demos? Rafa V. used to DJ at Brillante then. At the same club worked Rosa Elena Sanjuán as a waitress. She joined the band. And then Begoña Kanekalón too, who had been previously on a theatre group named Putre Plastics.

It was in 1986 that they changed their name to Bongos Atómicos after a Lydia Lunch song (“Atomic Bongos“).

The band didn’t play much live. There was an instrumental song “El de las Ballenas” that ended up being used by Diego Manrique as the theme song for his radio show “Solo Para Ellas” on Radio 3. The song that obsessed Rafa C. was a song from those early demos by Rafa V. titled “Chiquitere”. He thought about it as a hit. They re-recorded it at the Tabalet studios and they included it in the demo contest that they won. What other songs were included in this demo?

I mentioned earlier that the prize was recording a record for Twins. Well, there was another prize. They got an electronic drum machine by Roland. Rafa mentions his and Rafa V.’s influences. They liked Paul Haig, The Gist, The Raincoats. Good bands definitely. The record label director, Paco Martín, didn’t let the band record the song “Chiquitere”. He didn’t see it as commercial enough. So they went and recorded “Uska Dara” as the promotional single.

Rafa C. complains that the label didn’t care for the release. It wasn’t promoted properly, perhaps because the band wasn’t interested in touring the whole of Spain, but most probably because the label only thought about money. It seems it was a bittersweet situation for the band making this record. Even that TV appearance on TVE wasn’t meant for them, but for another band in the label. As this other band wasn’t going to be able to show up they gave the slot to Bongos Atómicos. Without a real lineup, Rafa C. ended up playing bass and they asked another friend, Luz Divina to play keyboards. The two other girls in the band were dressed in silicon dresses and it really didn’t fit for the children segment of the TV show, the time where they were slotted to perform! It was disaster. That was the biggest highlight for them.

Years later, in 1993, Rafa Villalba was to record “Chiquitere“. The lyrics being the same, but with a much dancier rhythm. More like a batucada number. Not for me. Not my style. But it was a success.

To my surprise Rafa C. links a Youtube video of a Peruvian band named Nicoleta (never head them before) covering “Tarde Para Amarte”. A surprise for them as well, having no clue how the hell their long forgotten record and songs ended up being classics in a South American country.

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Listen
Bongos Atómicos – Tarde Para Amarte

01
May

As I promised last week, I was going to recommend some new bands, mostly from the download compilation the Facebook page Latin American Twee put together like a couple of weeks ago. You can check out the tracklist by clicking here. There’s also a download link there if you want to get the whole thing. As I’ve mentioned before, Latin American Twee, is a cool Facebook page run by Impermeable Records’ (the ones who released CD16 late last year) Joel. He hails from Peru and seems to be on a crusade with the serious intention of documenting, revitalizing and promoting indiepop made south of Rio Grande.

Some of the bands on the compilation have already been mentioned on the blog, so let’s find out ones that I’ve never heard before.

  • Armisticio: armistice is a strange name for an indiepop band, right? Anyhow this is the product of just one man, Matías Soto, from Santiago, Chile. The song on the compilation is “Mantener” and it’s a dream pop number. I check out their Bandcamp and notice they have three releases, the first one dating from June 2015. “Mantener” is taken from his latest, “Espiral”, released in 2016. It is a 10 track album and is a mix of classic indiepop and electronic beats. It reminds me quite a bit to Spanish classic band Dar Ful Ful. This is quite nice indeed. Wonder if it was released physically? Seems to be available only digitally.
  • Ignacio del Pórtico: not a recent release this one. The song Joel has picked is “Cataratas del Paraíso” and it comes from a July, 2015 released titled “Regalos del Sosiego”. Not sure again if there’s a physical version for this 10 track album. It also seems to be a one man project. Ignacio seems to come not from Buenos Aires, but from Posadas, in Misiones province, in Argentina. That’s not common. At least I don’t think it is. The guitar work on the songs are my favourite thing about it, they jangle and chime, especially on the upbeat songs, which are definitely his best.
  • Clan de Venus: this quartet hails from León in Mexico. They are formed by Norman Orozco on guitars and vocals, Diego Chávez on guitars, Óscar Villegas on bass and Hugo Hernández on drums. They have a four song EP available on their Bandcamp, and it is from there that Joel has picked the song “Isla Nube”. So far, on this compilation, this might be my favourite song. All songs included in the EP, which is available on the super Emma’s House Records on CD, are upbeat and jangly, reminding me a lot to what Los Waldners from Costa Rica are doing these days.
  • Fish Magic: another one-man project, this time from Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. The man behind Fish Magic is Mário Quinderé and he has many more releases on his Bandcamp. The song on the comp is “Blue Light” and that is also the oppening track in his latest album, “Sky High”, that was released in December 2016. The album seems to have been released by the label Midsummer Madness though it seems only digitally. The album has some rockier moments, which are my least favourite, but when Fish Magic goes poppy, it is pretty good, like for example on “Into the Ocean” that sounds a bit like Lovejoy!
  • Useless Youth: finally a band that has released their record physically! Their debut 10 track album titled “The Coldest Ocean” is available to buy on their Bandcamp as well as a t-shirts. The band is formed by Pepe on guitars and vocals, Ian on guitars, Yak on bass and Emiliano on drums. They hail from Mexico City and from the tags they’ve chosen on their Bandcamp I see they must like c86, twee and shoegaze. They must know a thing, or two! I feel there’s potential on the songs, though they sound very thin a lot of the times. The guitars are nice, but I feel the bass and drums could be more present? Maybe I’m just being too demanding! The thing is, the song that gives the album its title, “The Coldest Ocean”, is definitely my favourite. There are very nice guitars throughout and that’s what I’m going to remember Useless Youth for.
  • Gativideo: there’s a 4 song EP on their Bandcamp, their only release it seems. This Buenos Aires band is formed by Renzo Montalbano (great last name! I’m a big fan of Inspector Montalbano), Ignacio Fischman, Juan Pablo Fenu and Ignacio Morelli. Sadly I only like the same song Joel liked, “Flash”, the opening track. The other 3 songs on the EP are not poppy at all. But “Flash” is dreamy and even has the class to mention Luis Miguel on its lyrics. That is quite risky if you want to be taken seriously, though maybe times have changed and now hipsters embrace “The Sun of America” as the Mexican crooner was once christened.

I think that’s the best I could pick from the compilation. There were other bands on it like Winter Waves, Jóvenes Adultos, Gaax or The Friendship that really didn’t do much for me. But maybe they are up your alley. You should check the comp out, there are great tracks from other bands I’ve raved here like Dan Dan Dero, Patio Solar or Medio Hermano.

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I’m a happy person, thanks to Carrick, last Saturday I got some amazing indiepop records at the WFMU record fair in Brooklyn. But of course the quest for all the holy grails of indiepop (in my book that is), continues. Can’t stop looking for bands and records that I’m still missing. Today I hope some of you could find me with 2 records, by the same band, A Better Mousetrap.

A mousetrap is a type of animal trap designed primarily to catch mice; however, it may also, accidentally or not, trap other small animals. Mousetraps are usually set somewhere indoors where there is a suspected infestation of rodents. The trap that is credited as the first patented lethal mousetrap was a set of spring-loaded, cast-iron jaws dubbed “Royal No. 1”. It was patented on November 4, 1879, by James M. A historical reference is found in the Alciati, Emblemata from 1534. Other mouse traps in art from: Gerrit Dou The mouse trap 1650, Nicolas de Larmessin, Rowlandson 1799, Francis Wheatley 1790s, Edmund Bristow 1787-1876 and more can be seen in a blog post by Patricia Bixler Reber. The conventional mousetrap with a spring-loaded snap mechanism resting on a block of wood first appeared in 1884, and to this day is still considered to be one of the most inexpensive and effective mousetraps.

There is very little on the web about A Better Mousetrap. We know they released one 7″ and one 12″, both in 1987, and that was it. So we’ll go investigate these releases first. See what sort of hints they can give us.

The 7″ had 2 songs, “The Road to Kingdom Come” on the A side and “We Are All Going To Die” on the B side, and was released by Cuddly Records (catalog CUD 001). Of course, this was the only release on this label. Is it safe to assume it was a self-release? The artwork is a black and white cartoon, you can tell there was sense of humour in this band.  I haven’t heard both songs, I’ve only had the chance to listen to the B side “We Are All Going To Die”,  but could it be “The Road to Kingdom Come” lyrics printed on the back sleeve? It looks that way. On the back sleeve we get to know the band lineup:
– Silas Sibbring on vocals
– Les Watkins on guitars, harmonica and vocals
– Gerry McGowan on bass and vocals
– Carl D’Inal on drums

This 7″ was recorded at Neosound Studios in Tottenham. It was produced and engineered by Mike Neophytou and the band. The art was by Mike Mitchell.

So Tottenham. Where they Londoners then?

The “A Nice Cup of Tea” EP was the 12″. This was their second release. This one was released by Tuff! Enuff (TUFFER 001). There is another release on the label by a band called Jeremy Gluck & Friends according to Discogs but I feel this is a mistake, an error. Both have catalog 001, so it must just be that there was another label with the same name. Meaning this was also a self-release?

On the EP there are 5 songs. On the A side we find “Goodbye Cruel World” and “Beautiful Place”. On the B side there are “Pigs Will Fly”, “The World is Mad” and “A Nice Cup of Tea”. The song I have heard from this EP is the opening one, “Goodbye Cruel World”. The songs, this time, were recorded at Airwave Studios on Kilburn High Road, London, “at the bottom of a narrowish staircase” on August 1987. They must have been Londoners!

The record was produced and engineered by Barry Lane and A Better Mousetrap with “much hilarity and little fuss” according to the back sleeve. Again we see the sense of humour all over the back sleeve, especially where the band members are listed! Like it says that Gerry McGowan makes spaghetti or Carl makes a teacup.

There was one other appearance by the band. With the song “A Road to Kingdom Come”, they would participate in a compilation in 1988. The compilation was titled “Vinyl Virgins” and was released by Mighty Sheffield Records (catalog CM 001). You would guess that by the name these were bands that haven’t been on vinyl before, but clearly A Better Mousetrap had been already.

A Better Mousetrap opens the compilation, they have the first song. Other bands on it are The Warhols, The Things, The Australians, The Gallery and more. It seems it was a mix of genres on it. Seems there was some punk and hard rock on it.

Then how to find more information? I wonder if those were their real names. Carl D’inal, sounds like cardinal, might have been a joke? What about the rest? I couldn’t find anything online about them.

I have no clue. Couldn’t find any information about gigs, or anything at all. Maybe some of you remember them? Maybe someone has some spare copies to trade with me? What about other recordings? Where there more? I’d love to hear both releases in their entirety as well. Anyhow, whatever help in this indiepop archaeology project is much appreciated!

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Listen
A Better Mousetrap – Goodbye Cruel World

27
Apr

Let’s end April on  a high mark. As the Pale Spectres 7″ release gets closer and closer and as I approved The Potting Sheds retrospective artwork proofs today, I think I can go ahead and prepare a new blog post for you all. Things at Cloudberry are looking good and I should start looking out for the next Cloudberry Cake Kitchen release. Do you have any suggestions?

There are some new music I want to share with you before I do some indiepop archaeology.

  1. My friend Jonas from Bedroom Eyes, who I haven’t seen in many years, but continues to release fabulous music, have a new album out this May 12th of the label Startracks. The album is titled “Greeting From Northern Sweden” and at the moment he is promoting it with the song “After I was a Kid But Before I Grew Up”. The song has all the classic ingredients that are the trademark of Bedroom Eyes since 2006 (was it that year when I first heard his music?). Meaning smart lyrics, catchy melodies, and straight-up guitars.  For the song Bedroom Eyes has made a nostalgia video, with VHS feeling, and more than a nod to Twin Peaks. Looking forward to getting y hands on the album!
  2. More friends making fantastic music. Some time ago I recommended the song “Modern Art” by Burning Hearts. Almost a year ago I think. That song was part of their new album that will finally be released on May 19th on Solina Records. As far as I know it is only available on vinyl and digital. The album is titled “Battlefields” and they are now promoting it with the song “Bodies as Battlefields” which you can stream from Soundcloud. The album contains 9 songs and I’m really hoping to be able to buy it when I visit Finland at the end of May. It will be my first visit so I hope someone can recommend me some record stores where I can buy it I can’t miss this new gem by Jessika and Henry.
  3. The Sailyard label, sister label of Fastcut Records, run by Masami  from Wallflower and Atsushi from Miles Apart Records have a new release that I need to get. I don’t know how I will manage to get it, as I already asked Masami for some of the previous releases, but now there are more and more! Seems like they are on a roll! Well, on May 27th they will release a 7″ by Mariana in Our Heads. I’m sure I’ve recommended this band before, when they released their debut cassette on Miles Apart Records. On this new 7″ they release two songs, “Anemone” and “Yarn”. The song that is available for streaming is “Anemone” and it is brilliant. So so dreamy.
  4. Fastcut Records is not leaving everything to Sailyard, they have a fantastic sounding new release by Cloudberry-favourite band Wallflower coming out late May. After I’ve listened a few times the song “Nowhere“, remembering the terrific show they put in New York Popfest, I can only say the band keeps getting better and better! So happy for my friends in the band them! Their new release is a 7” vinyl record that will come with a mini zine and it was produced by Ian Catt. I need this record as well. I’m going to be so poor soon!
  5. Continuing with this roundup of friends making news, Papa Topo are part of a movie, did you know? They are main characters as well. The movie is called “La Maldita Primavera”, I suppose a nod to Mexican legend Yuri’s classic song of the same name, and it is going to be debuting the D’a Film Festival of Barcelona on May 4th. It seems too that Elefant Recods will be releasing the soundtrack of the movie. There’s a movie teaser available in Youtube. Looks like a fun movie and I hope it will be available to watch this side of the Atlantic soon enough!
  6. Pacífico, the Barcelona band that shares band members with Papa Topo and Jessica and The Fletchers are also going to have a new release sometime soon. It will be a tape, which is a shame for me as I haven’t changed my mind about tapes, I still dislike them, with 3 songs on it. The good thing is that the song they have leaked, “Noches Blancas“, sounds fab. Crash-pop at its best, wonderful shambling! The release date hasn’t been announced yet, but it will be released by El Genio Equivocado.

And that’s it for now. I still have for next week to go through the Latin American bands on the latest compilation of Latin American Twee! and also I haven’t checked the newest additions to Indietracks and see if there’s anything to recommend on here. So there’s still stuff for next week!

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Sedgemoor is a low-lying area of land in Somerset, England. It lies close to sea level south of the Polden Hills, historically largely marsh (or “moor” in its older sense). The eastern part is known as King’s Sedgemoor, and the western part West Sedgemoor. Sedgemoor is part of the area now known as the Somerset Levels and Moors. Historically the area was known as the site of the Battle of Sedgemoor.

That’s where they came from. Sedgemoor. Somerset.

4 years ago I was DJing in London. Jennifer had invited me to a Colour Me Pop event where The Secret History, Comet Gain and Pale Spectres played. I think that was the first and only time I got to play The Sedgemorons’ “Drop Dead Darling” to more people than me, myself, and I.

From that time, no, earlier than that, I’ve been meaning to recommend it on my blog. Why I didn’t do it before? I don’t really know. I guess my band selections do come randomly. Perhaps affected by moods. Or what record I’ve just got on my mailbox or which one I rediscovered at home. Sadly The Sedgemorons is not a record I own. That definitely might have been a cause for me not having investigated them before.

So yes, I do hope to find a copy. And that is going to be a goal for this year, definitely. I love this song. I figure that when you think of that compilation that everyone has raved about, the “Sharon Signs to Cherry Red”, that has even been reissued on vinyl for Record Store Day, you wonder why the hell a song like this one wasn’t included? I know, I can be very demanding. But I do think there are better songs, like this one, that many that are included. I hope though, if the compiler does a 2nd volume, please read this blog, I’ve recommended so many female fronted bands from the mid 80s that have terrific songs and would make a better compilation. Seriously.

The Sedgemorons had two releases. Only their 2nd, the 7″ is listed on Discogs. Let’s start there, that’s the one I want. The 7″ included two songs, “Drop Dead Darling” and “I Need a Girlfriend”. It was released in 1985 by the Sheep Worrying Records label. Catalog was SW102.  The art for the record came printed in a cool fuchsia tint. On Discogs, only another release is listed under this label, a 1982 7″ compilation titled “Sheep Worrying”. Let’s see if we find more.

On the labels, we see some credits for the songs. “Drop Dead Darling” is credited to Kane and Smedly while “I Need a Girlfriend” to Beaslley and Smedley. Both songs were recorded at Monitor Studios and produced by the band.

I do find information about their label on a website that looks like it was made during the time Geocities reigned supreme. And here we will learn something important about The Sedgemorons, that they were created to pay a debt!
This label grew out of the Bridgewater-based magazine and entertainments promoter, Sheep Worrying, founded by Brian Smedley. It released the single “False Nose/County Councillor”(1980) and two tape albums, Internal Organs (1978) and Going Shopping (1980) by The Dangerous Brothers. Sheep Worrying Records Former Address: 34 Alfoxton Road Bridgwater, Somerset. Was formed by Brian Smedley. In 1984 the Sheep Worrying Organisation had got itself into debt and needed funding to keep it going. No-one involved had any money-and so the editorial team determined to form a band to gig themselves out of debt. The Sedgemorons was formed to play cabaret style music in pubs and clubs simply to raise money quickly.. Although this started to happen and during the 2 years of the groups existence, the debt was paid off the initial remit  was ditched as the individuals involved began to write their own music and  came up with a classic rock-send up stage show. The band Brian Smedley (Lead Guitar), Stuart Croskell (bass), Gareth Beasley (Rhythm Guitar), Kevin Freeman (drums), Anne Dixey/Betty Bonkers & Lianne Bruce/Bobby Bland (lead vocals) and later Barry Thompson (sax), Distributed By Sheep Worrying Records.

On that website there’s the whole catalog for the label, actually only 3 releases. We also learnt the band lineup. It was a big band! More than 6 members! But what about Bridgwater? I never known that place? For some reason on Wikipedia it is not spelled BridgEwater but Bridgwater. I suppose that’s the correct spelling?

Bridgwater is a market town and civil parish in Somerset, England. At the 2011 census, it had a population of 35,886. Bridgwater is at the edge of the Somerset Levels, in level and well-wooded country; to the north are the Mendips and to the west the Quantock hills. The town lies along both sides of the River Parrett, 10 miles (16 km) from its mouth, has been a major port and trading centre and maintains a large industrial base. It is linked to Taunton by the Bridgwater and Taunton Canal. Bridgwater is between two junctions of the M5 motorway and Bridgwater railway station is on the main railway line between Bristol and Taunton. Historically, the town had a politically radical tendency. The Battle of Sedgemoor, where the Monmouth Rebellion was finally crushed in 1685, was fought nearby. Notable buildings include the Church of St Mary and the house in Blake Street, largely restored, which was the birthplace of Admiral Blake in 1598, and is now the Blake Museum. The town has an arts centre and plays host to the annual Bridgwater Guy Fawkes Carnival.

A quick stop on the John Peel wiki tells us that on May 13th of 1985 Mr. Peel played “Drop Dead Darling”.

From another early-internet era looking website we learn that the band was actually played several times by John Peel, and that it got reviews on Sounds and Melody Maker, and that even Cherry Red (who didn’t include them on the compilation I was complaining about earlier!) courted them. From this page we learn about their first release. It was a cassette album titled “We’re Bonkers” and it was recorded live. I haven’t been able to find a tracklist for it. I hope I do!

The band also toured a stage musical named “Rock n Roll is Pretty Exciting” where they played songs such as “Car Park Attendant of My Dreams”. On these shows the band also performed poetry.

By the end of 1985 the band was over. Beasley and Dixey formed the band “The Inflatable Ducks” while Smedly and Bruce formed “Red Smed & The Hot Trot Smash the System Boogie Band”. Croskell went to college and formed “The Bernard” while Freeman played with “The Alkaloids”.

Speaking of Red Smed, I found a blogspot of theirs. Luckily there is a 2014 post about them where there’s even more information about The Sedgemorons. From this post we learn that the Sheep Worrying debt ascended to 1000 pounds and some more details about their musical. But the gem to be found here is a Youtube video for the song “I Need a Girlfriend“. It actually it was filmed while The Sedgemorons were rehearsing in the upstairs room of the Bridgwater Arts Centre when BBC2 was filming a documentary about this place!

On Youtube I would find more stuff. Brian Smedley has an account and on it I could find the performance of the poem “Greed” at the Antelope Inn Sherborne on September 22nd of 1985. On the same account I could find a cover of “Drop Dead Darling” by Brian’s later band, Red Smed & the Hot Trot Smash the System Boogie Band. Sounds cool! But I think I like better the original! Something about the vocals I think.

That’s a lot of information I could dig up. I couldn’t find the tracklist for their live cassette or any song to stream from it. I hope I listen to it one day. I really like both songs on the 7″. I hope to find a copy too sometime. It’s much better to listen to it on your turntable, right? And now I hope to investigate the bands they formed after too. Maybe there are some pop gems there. I’m crossing my fingers.

Do you remember them?

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Listen
The Sedgemorons – Drop Dead Darling

24
Apr

How to start a new week? With indiepop of course.

If last week I shared teaser songs for The Primitives and BMX Bandits new releases, now they have new videos to promote them. The Primitives have released a video for the song “I’ll Trust the Wind” that is part of the “New Thrills” single out on Elefant on May 5th. It sounds like classic Primitives, so no complains on my part! Great stuff!

The BMX Bandits new video is for the song “How Not to Care” which will be part of their new album “Forever”. This record will be released on May 19th also on Elefant. It’s not one of the poppier BMX Bandits song that everyone loves, but a nice introspective song.

And lastly, another new Elefant Records thanks to Lia Pamina. The song that gets the video treatment is “Better Off Without You” that was included in her debut album “Love Is Enough”. A lovely song, and an evocative video too. It seems it is summer already in Spain.

Another favourite artist of mine, Rose Elinor Dougall, also has a new video out taken from their wonderful last album. The song that gets the video is “Space to Be” and I recommend checking it out if you haven’t yet.

Again today I found out about a new download compilation of Latin American pop bands on the Facebook page “Latin American Twee!”. I haven’t yet listened to the songs but hopefully many of them will be good discoveries for next post. What do you say?

Also the not so very nice label Cherry Red has announced a 3CD compilation titled “C88”. It is already up for pre-orders and it continues the trend they started when they reissued C86 with extras as a boxset in 2014, and then later they continued with the C87 boxset. I don’t understand why the write the song first on the tracklist and the artist second, but here is the tracklist for this release:

DISC 1
1. ON TAPE The Pooh Sticks
2. ELEPHANT STONE (7” Version) The Stone Roses
3. WHERE DO YOU GO (Flexi Version) The Popguns
4. (WILL NOBODY SAVE) LOUISE The Man From Delmonte
5. ARE YOU HAPPY NOW? (Molesworth Version) The Charlottes
6. THE THINGS YOU WANT The Snapdragons
7. A SHELTERED LIFE Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine
8. ONE SUMMER Moss Poles
9. LIES Bridewell Taxis
10. DEFY THE LAW The Orchids
11. HAPPY LIKE YESTERDAY The Groovy Little Numbers
12. JULIE CHRISTIE The Driscolls
13. HIGH – Choo Choo Train
14. CREMATION TOWN The Poppyheads
15. TATTERED, TANGLED AND TORN Bradford
16. SO HAPPY TO BE ALIVE Thrilled Skinny
17. SISTER GOODBYE The Prayers
18. ANORAK CITY Another Sunny Day
19. SHE’S GONE The Train Set
20. BARNOON HILL Pacific
21. FOREVER HOLIDAY (Ediesta Version) Blow-Up
22. MARY’S GARDEN The Mock Turtles
23. THE PENNINE SPITTER King Of The Slums
24. COLOURS AND SHAPES (Demo) Pale Saints
25. THE BALLAD OF JET HARRIS Apple Boutique

DISC 2
1. THE HILL The House Of Love
2. DYING FOR IT The Vaselines
3. KIRSTY Bob
4. SLACK TIME Cud
5. PLEASE RAIN FALL The Sea Urchins
6. SHAME ON YOU The Darling Buds
7. PRIZE Kitchens Of Distinction
8. TOO MANY SHADOWS The Heart Throbs
9. DO IT FOR FUN The Bachelor Pad
10. THEY FELL FOR WORDS LIKE LOVE Hangman’s Beautiful Daughters
11. GIVING WAY TO TRAINS Murrumbidgee Whalers
12. WHAT’S GOING DOWN The Shamen
13. HEAVEN KNOWS The Flatmates
14. SPELL IT OUT The Waltones
15. MRS SUSAN SPENCE The Wilderness Children
16. YESTERDAY – The Nivens
17. REAL WORLD Baby Lemonade
18. VILLAGE GREEN The Clouds
19. FIRE ESCAPE Rote Kapelle
20. MAD DOGS Emily
21. THE 18:10 TO YEOVIL JUNCTION Bubblegum Splash
22. MICHAEL FUREY Metro Trinity
23. THEME FROM COW Inspiral Carpets

DISC 3
1. SUN, SEA, SAND The Revolving Paint Dream
2. SURFAROUND The Fizzbombs
3. PLASTER SAINT The Church Grims
4. CRUSH THE FLOWERS (Demo) The Wake
5. SUNSHINE THUGGERY The Siddeleys
6. CLEAR Whirl
7. A MILLION ZILLION MILES Annie & The Aeroplanes
8. YOU OPENED UP MY EYES Fat Tulips
9. CINCINNATI Holidaymakers
10. THE CAMERA LOVES ME Would-Be-Goods
11. ANYWHERE BUT HOME The Caretaker Race
12. WHO WORKS THE WEATHER The Great Leap Forward
13. CUBANS IN THE BLUEFIELDS East Village
14. BYTHESEA ROAD The Haywains
15. THE OLD ROAD OUT OF TOWN The Wishing Stones
16. SHAKE The Corn Dollies
17. LAND OF GOLD Bluetrain
18. THE SUN SLID DOWN BEHIND THE TOWER Reserve
19. APPLE OF MY EYE Remember Fun
20. MORNING O’GRADY Yeah Jazz
21. DON’T BURY ME YET The Raw Herbs
22. CURRY CRAZY Bad Dream Fancy Dress
23. ON MY WAY The Claim
24. GLASTONBURY Rodney Allen

A few cool songs that are not too popular like the ones by Annie & The Aeroplanes, The Wilderness Children or Murrumbidgee Whalers on the compilation. That is cool, definitely, to introduce some obscure gems to the casual fan. Then there are a bunch of good choices like The Fat Tulips’ “You Opened Up My Eyes”, definitely, it is great to see especially CD #3. I think that one is pretty strong.

As you know this label attitudes and ways are not of my liking. It is hard to support them or give them a recommendation. But I can’t pretend that this isn’t a fine compilation. It is. I just hope they treated all bands right, and that they were duly informed that they were included in this record.

Mostly I buy these compilations because of their booklets, to see what extra information about the bands is available. Hopefully there’s some good biographies on this one. Still nothing like the good old The Sound of Leamington Spa compilations, with these sort of compilations I miss them more and more.

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Last week while I was doing my investigation of Feargal is the Applejack I ended up discovering a band I had never heard before, The Skips.

My introduction came through the “Dostoevesky lose its Flavour on the Bedpost Overnight?” compilation tape that was uploaded to Youtube by the Disques Fridge account, which is of course the label Mickey Rourke’s Fridge from Dublin, Ireland. The second song, after “Limbo Police” by Freres Jackman, and just before the fab “Talking to Yourself” by Feargal is the Applejack, is a sweet pop tune called “My Silver Cloud” by The Skips. I fell for it immediately.

As I mentioned before, this compilation was a tape released in 1992 and was the fourth release in this label (catalog MRF 004). Where else to find information about them? I tried Irish Rock.org but there was absolutely nothing there. Thankfully our friends from The Fanning Sessions Archive had two posts about them, each with two songs!

All four songs are from the same 1988 Fanning Session. On the first post, you can stream the songs “What do You Mean” and “You’re in Love”. On the second post the ones that you could listen are “Scream From Within” and “Forever Free”. There is also a bit of information about the band and thanks to that we can say that the lineup was:
Amanda Claxton on vocals
Derrick Dalton on guitars
Pete Corrigan on bass
Darren Nolan on drums

The Fanning Session was produced by Ian Wilson.

Ian Wilson was one of the founding producers of RTÉ 2FM. He produced Dave Fanning’s rock show for 11 years; began the Fanning Sessions in 1980; organised the ‘Lark in the Park’ outdoor concerts all over Ireland and also kicked off the country’s first free outdoor dance shows, ‘The Beat on the Street’.In the meantime he launched 2FM live, for 16 years now the main live broadcast and recording operation on the island, with over 1,000 acts recorded and broadcast at every major festival and live event. He founded and was chair for six years of the EBU’s Eurosonic group, co-ordinating the activities of Europe’s main 67 music/rock/ young radio stations, and started the Eurodance cross Europe live dance shows. He also brought the 2FM Dance sessions live from clubs all over Ireland with a full video stream on the Internet. At the moment Ian is in charge of alternative music and music production on RTÉ 2FM. In past lives he worked on pirate radio, for In Dublin magazine, was president and vice-president of the student bodies in TCD, following on from being Ents officer for two years. He is married to ‘Morning Ireland’ presenter, Aine Lawlor.

Sadly on these same posts it says that Derrick Dalton passed away in 2008.

And then I decide to turn to Google and see what else I can dig. Sadly what I was to find were mostly news of Derrick’s passing away. Probably the most interesting article is the one by Hot Press. On it many musicians remember the late Derrick Dalton. Among them, the vocalist of The Skips, Amanda Claxton, leaves some words:

I first met Derrick when I was 17 and singing in a band called The Skips. He was the guitarist with Hey Paulette. We had no guitarist at the time and they had no drummer, so a fair swap was made and we traded Darren for Derrick! It was an arrangement that worked very well for many years, as we played music together and became firm friends. Derrick once told me that he would quite happily play guitar in his bedroom and didn’t care if no-one ever heard his music, so long as he was happy with it. That was Derrick to the core; it was just about the music. I’m the better for having been his friend and he will be greatly missed.

So Derrick had also been in the most amazing band Hey Paulette and then left for The Skips.

Another article I found was the one on The Irish Times. On it Derrick’s wife, Laura James, remembers her late husband. IT also mentions some other bands he was in like Crumb, The Deportees, and Aeromodeller. This last band I remember very much as I loved this album released by Yes Boy Icecream in 2010. I suppose then posthumously. I didn’t know then that was the case.

The last newspaper article I found comes from The Independent. It dates from 2010 and it says that then, for the two year anniversary of Derrick’s passing away, there was a special tribute gig with The Dinah Brand, Thread Pulls, Richer Than Astronauts and Little Beauties. It was also the release gig for the Aeromodeller album.

I believe The Little Beauties is the band Amanda and Darren have now. They have released an album titled “A Rude Awakening”.

I found then an Irish Music Database website where there are some family trees. That way I could find out that Derrick Dalton had been in so many bands. Aside from the ones I mentioned already he was in The Bus Pigs, Mexican Pets, $1000 Wedding, Melba and Villa R. I have never heard these bands. Would love to see if I can find any MP3s or releases by them. I’m very curious now.

I tried then googling the rest of the band members, but I couldn’t find anything else music-related. Possibly they went to other bands. I hope so. I couldn’t find if the band had any proper releases or perhaps other compilation appearances. So far I only know these 5 songs. But I would love to hear more. So far with the Irish bands I posted lately I haven’t had much luck finding out more about them, perhaps because I only posted Irish bands now and then before, mostly they were English and so perhaps the Irish didn’t pay much attention to the blog? Who knows. But I definitely want to learn more. It seems there was a fabulous scene in the late 80s in Dublin. I want to hear more jangle pop from it.

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Listen
The Skips – My Silver Cloud

20
Apr

There’s been a bunch of interesting news this week! So I can do two posts this week!

Firstly let me start with the most important news according to me, the one that involves the label. That is that finally I can announce the 9th Cloudberry Cake Kitchen release: The Potting Sheds!!!!! Right now I have uploaded a taster for you all on Soundcloud. That is the song “Take it Away (quickly)” that you can start sharing and loving all around! The album contains 20 songs and it is your classic Cake Kitchen custom made digipak, meaning it comes with our classic indiepop fanzine design plus full liner notes. More info and pre-order button very soon on the website. The album will be out this summer, hopefully early July. I’ll keep you informed here!

Stephen Lawson from the band Bluenose B who I was in touch and interviewed just some weeks ago has two new solo songs on Youtube. They sound fresh as a lettuce and you can check them both if you click the links for “Summer Girl” and “Marianne“. Very nice videos indeed, DIY style, with cool images of Stephen on about town.

The Legendary Hearts, who I interviewed as well, have two new singles out. Both have their accompanying videos on Youtube. You can check out the jangly goodness of “Faded by the Sun” and “Make a Home” if you click on the links. Really nice stuff!

John Douglass and Steve Hogg from Kid Sinister, another band I interviewed some years ago, have a new album titled “September Song” out on July 6th. That same day they will be performing a launch gig at The Cube Cinema in Bristol if you are around. You can listen to two tracks from the album on their Soundcloud. I link them here: “The Devil I Know” and “Blues in the Morning“. I especially like the poppier “The Devil I Know”. It is great to see both John and Steve back in action!

Thanks to the Sugarfrost Records Facebook page I got to know about some cool live recordings from B-flower. There is a very nice cover of The Smiths’ “This Charming Man” dating from November 1990 in Kyoto. Then from the same year there’s covers of Felt’s “Rain of Crystal Spires” and “Don’t Die on My Doorstep“. And later from 1991 another Smith’s cover for “You Just Haven’t Earned it yet Baby“. And that’s not all, there’s an 1988 live cover of The Smiths’ “Asleep“. That’s very early B-flower!

Two other classic bands have new releases coming up on Elefant Records. I’m talking about The Primitives and the BMX Bandits. The Primitives are at the moment promoting their new single “New Thrills” with the song “Oh Honey Sweet” which I suppose is the B side as Tracy Tracy is not singing! The BMX Bandits, on the other hand, are releasing an album titled “Forever”. The song “It’s In Her Eyes (With Dr Cosmo’s Tape Lab)” is the song the band and the label are using to promote it. Good to know that both bands are still going strong!

And last but not least, in this recap of classic band news, it seems the Scottish documentary about post-punk (1979-1985), Big Gold Dream, is available on Youtube now. I ordered the DVD and I’m happy to have supported this effort as I hope there will be more documentaries where indiepop/c86 is covered.  (Not anymore, seems because of copyright, it has been taken down)

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Applejack is a strong apple-flavored alcoholic beverage produced from apples, popular in the American colonial period. The name derives from “jacking”, a term for “increasing” (alcohol content) and specifically for “freeze distilling”, the traditional method of producing the drink.

I’m going to guess that the band, being Irish, named themselves after Feargal Sharkey. For those unaware Feargal Sharkey was the vocalist of The Undertones! A little bio coming from Wikipedia too:
Seán Feargal Sharkey (born 13 August 1958) is a singer from Northern Ireland most widely known as the lead vocalist of pop punk band The Undertones in the 1970s and 1980s, and also for solo works in the 1980s and 1990s. His 1985 solo single “A Good Heart” was an international success. After becoming less musically active in the early 1990s, he has performed various roles supporting the UK’s commercial music industry, winning several awards and honours for his work in that area.

Or perhaps, the vocalist of Feargal is the Applejack was actually called Feargal? Could be too, no?

It is definitely a disappointment that Discogs doesn’t have Feargal is the Applejack in its database. This will complicate our detective work. Where to start? As last week I decided to check on the website Irish Rock. Yes, even though I’m not sure where in Ireland they were from, I’m 100% sure that they were Irish.

Irishrock.org doesn’t have them in their database either. But they do have a compilation on there that Feargal is the Applejack contributed to. Titled “My Favourite Things”, this tape compilation was released by the label Mickey Rourke’s Fridge in 1993. The catalog was MRF11. This label does appear on Discogs, it was the label that released the classic (and favourite band of mine) Hey Paulette.

On “My Favourite Things” the band Feargal is the Applejack appears on the B side with the song “Come On Home”. I look forward to hearing this song sometime. Other bands that appear on the compilation were The Dadas, The River Babies, The Wiporwills, Eilleen Gogan & Niall O’Sullivan, 16 Again, Freres Jackman, Interference, The Quack Squad, Revenants, Hank Halfhead & the Rambling Turkeys, Rapture, The Deportees, Sean Foy, Sean A. McDermott & The Wayfaring Strangers. Aside from The Dadas  I’m not familiar with any of them!

Then I stumble upon Boards.ie, an Irish message board. On a post dating from September 18, 2008, a user remembers Feargal is the Applejack:
Feargal Is The Applejack – a small Dublin band which sounded very like the realism of Whipping boy and the spoken word type vocals of Fearghal McKee.

So the band must have been from Dublin. A quick googling tells me that Feargal McKee was part of the band Whipping Boy. Honestly I’m not familiar with this band and I believe there is no connection between them. From some of the songs I hear on Youtube, they sound much rockier, 90s alternative sounding.

The one song I do know from Feargal is the Applejack is titled “Talking to Yourself”, and what a song it is. I love the vocals, the guitar, the melodies, the vibe. Top song. This song seems that came from another Mickey Rourke’s Fridge compilation, one titled “Dostoevesky Lose Its Flavour on the Bedpost Overnight?”. This compilation is available in its entirety on Youtube. It was released in 1992 and was the fourth release on the label, catalog MRF 004. The other bands to appear were Freres Jackman, The Skips, Hey Paulette, Icehead and Grievous Angels. The compilation was compiled by Seán McDermott.

The last mention I find on the web about Feargal is the Applejack comes from a PDF thanks to the Westland Library. It is a scan of the Westland Observer from Westland, Michigan in the US. Strange, no? How did the tape “Dostoevesky Lose Its Flavour on the Bedpost Overnight?” gets a review in such  a place? Who knows! But there it is on the June 22nd, 1992, edition of the paper. It says:
…Side two stays more’with convention, albeit damn fine sounding. An Irish ska band? “Limbo Police” by Freres Jack-man deftly captures a bit of the blue beat spirit while; Feargal is the Applejack’s ‘Talking to Yourself is sugary pop gloriously doused with arsenic….

I also could find an abandoned Myspace for the band, one where the songs don’t stream anymore. At least I could find out that the band recorded some more songs. From the same demo tape as “Come On Home” and “Talking to Yourself” come the songs “You” and “Fire Alarm”. There were also live recordings for the songs “Beautiful (Gerry)” and “Talking to Yourself”. There are also a bunch of press photos available.

Then there is also the connection with the band Cliff Edge Panic. As I wrote about them in my previous post, after this short-lived band split, some members went to Feargal is the Applejack.

Not much more on the web. I would love to know who where the band members. Would love to listen to their other songs. If they had more recordings other than the demo tape. If they played many gigs. What did they do after. So many questions. Maybe someone remembers them? In the meantime I’ll enjoy this song and maybe discover some more Irish indiepop on the “Dostoevesky Lose Its Flavour on the Bedpost Overnight?” tape on Youtube.

EDIT 22/04/17: Seán McDermott from Disques Fridge reminded me that there was a promo video for Talking to Yourself. I had seen it on Youtube and thought I talked about it on the post, but seems it totally slipped from me! If you hadn’t seen it yet, please check here.

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Listen
Feargal is the Applejack -Talking to Yourself

17
Apr

I’ve been getting some good feedback after reviewing “newer” bands on the blog. People have told me that these days it is very difficult to find new bands on the web, that there’s not a good filter to find them.

So I’ll recommend some new discoveries today. Before that though I want to give a big thanks to Wally from The Beautiful Music who has sent me some of his releases, Dot Dash, Armstrong, Roy Moller and more, because I’ve been enjoying them lots this weekend. Also huge thanks to Ronny because this past weekend The BV’s debut album arrived home. It is a gem. Get it before it sells out!

In the coming days there will be another 10th anniversary offer. This time around we’ll have the “Paul Towler pack”, which includes two 7″s where he has been involved, The Westfield Mining Disaster and The Haywains ones. For domestic orders you can get both 7″s for $12 including postage, while for those abroad the price will be $20. That offer should be up on the website tomorrow and it will be available until May 15th.

So here are some new recommendations for you all.

Medio Hermano: It translates to half brother. This is the last band that was added last week to the Lima Popfest lineup which I already covered on a past blog post. The band hails from Chile and their last release is the album “Lucha Libre” (2016). This record has 9 songs and it says it was released by Sudamerican Records, though I’m not sure if there are physical copies for it or if it is a digital-only release. Would be good to know as I’m liking what I hear. The band is formed by Juan Fernando Rubilar, Ricardo Herrera, Leo Saavedra and Luis Herrera. The Santiago band have more releases on their Bandcamp and I look forward to explore them. For the time being I’m enjoying the cool guitar pop of their last record! Lucky those at Lima Popfest, wish I could be there!

Un Verano en Portugal: I feel a lot of the bands I recommend today will be from Latin American countries, and that is thanks to the Facebook page “Latin American Twee” that my friend Joel runs. Now and then he puts together MP3 compilations of bands he discovers. I downloaded the latest one, his fifth volume, and found some good bands that I will recommend. The first one is this one whose names translates to “a summer in Portugal”. I believe their name is taken from a 2013 movie of the same name. The band seems to be the solo project of Jesús who is also part of the great band Pure Morning whose album I was sad to miss and now seems sold out. Anyhow there are a bunch of wonderful P!O!P! tunes on their Soundcloud. Glorious.

Verano del 83: More summer bands. This one with nostalgia for the summer of 1983, a time when the band members weren’t probably not even around! I could only find a Facebook for the band, and several songs uploaded to Youtube. No Bandcamp or Soundcloud. The band seems to hail from Trujillo, in the north of Peru. The song that caught my attention was “Llévame a Casa” which seems will also be the name of their debut album which they are working on at the moment. Their last song to be available on the web is called “Friends” and sounds good too. The band’s sound sounds a lot like Vacaciones from Murcia, Spain. And that’s always a good thing!

1994: I thought I had recommended this Tamperley, Argentina, band before. I couldn’t find myself mentioning them on my blog through the search function. Who knows. I went back thanks to Joel’s compilation to their self-titled release from 2015 on Bancamp. There there are 5 songs of lo-fi upbeat indiepop. The songs are pure gold, they are naive and fun. They also have punk influences clearly, they make me think of Vancouver’s finests Cub. The song “Historias de Mentirita” is a hit! The band is formed by Diego Medina, Guido Pasciucco and Valentina Schwarz.

María: last band for this week, María from Buenos Aires, Argentina, is not to be confused by the fab Maria from Oxnard, California, that released some 7″ singles almost 10 years ago! This María sing in Spanish and have a four song EP that was released by Compacta Discos on tape. Oh yes, more tapes. Tapes, I’m not a fan of yours. Shame. Because the 4 songs on this EP are superb. The band is formed by Germán Kresser on guitars, Leandro Pancotti on bass, Florencia Agra on vocals, Jorge García on drums and Boris Domínguez on guitars and synths. A fantastic debut indeed that I hope a lot more people start paying attention. The EP is titled “Breve Cielo” and if you are only going to listen to one song to get a taster, try “¿Qué es el otoño?” which may be or not be inspired by the 1976 Argentinean Oscar-winning movie of the same name.

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Seems like I’ve been on a streak of Irish bands on the blog. Today won’t be an exception, I’ll continue the trend, trying to find out more about long forgotten bands, obscure recordings, and most importantly GREAT pop music that deserves to be heard.

So then, have you ever heard of Cliff Edge Panic?

Usually in cases like this, when there’s an Irish band involved, we go directly to Irishrock.org. Last time it didn’t work out with the band Red Circus. This time it does. There’s an entry for the band. Firstly we learn they were from Dublin and that they were active around 1986. A good year to be around, no?

We also get to know that the band was formed by:
Ken Corbett – vocals
John Prendergast – guitar
Ger Corbett – rhythm guitar
Mark Willis – bass
Dave Burke – drums

There is just a very short bio on the website where we get just a few interesting bits of information. It says that the band played many gigs in 1986, including the Comet All-Day Festival in August of that year. They split in 1987. That was before their one and only appearance on a physical record. I’ll get onto that soon.

We also know that two members, John Prendergast and Mark Willis went to form The Train Walkers afterwards and Dave Burke to the Slowest Clock. The Train Walkers were around a bit longer, around 3 years and released some records. Slowest Clock the same, released a bunch of records up to 1994. Would be interesting to investigate these two bands, never heard them!

Back to Cliff Edge Panic. Their one appearance on vinyl, right? Indeed. That was on a compilation titled “Comet EP One” released by Comet Records in 1986 according to Discogs (1987 according to Irish Rock). On the compilation there are 3 songs on each side, and we see Cypress Mine!, a favourite band of mine, on the B side. Also Slowest Clock, the band Dave Burke was to join afterwards appears on this compilation on the A side. Cliff Edge Panic appears last on the B side with the wonderful song “Girl on the Bridge”. Other bands on the compilation are The Experiment, The Summerhouse and Baby Sex Priest.

I find a ReverbNation page for the band. Sadly there’s no music for the band but an interesting bio which I’m copying here:
Originally known as Fractured Fairy Tales, Dublin rock band Cliff Edge Panic were an enigmatic five-piece that brightened up that city’s live scene during 1986. Strong song writing from three members of the band – John Prendergast (guitar), and brothers, Ken (vocals) and Ger Corbett (rhythm guitar) – made for an impressive set. Mark Wills (bass), and Dave Burke (drums), who replaced original drummer, Geri, completed the line-up. Legendary Hot Press writer Bill Graham chose Cliff Edge Panic as the highlight of the all-day Comet Festival in August ’86, and was a regular at the band’s gigs in Dublin’s Underground. Their only release was ‘Girl On The Bridge’ which featured on the first Comet EP, in early ’87. However, the increased interest the band received, thanks to generous airplay and favourable press, was offset by the fact that they’d split up just before the record was released. Members of the band later resurfaced in The Train Walkers, The Slowest Clock, and Feargal Is The Applejack! In 2001, a limited edition, Cliff Edge Panic retrospective CD was released. The CD will be reissued in early 2011, to coincide with the band’s 25th anniversary live shows.

Interesting! There was a CD released!! And I didn’t know once again. Will I be able to find out now? And also someone in the band was in Feargal is the Applejack. Who was it?

Then I find the same bio on an Archive.org page. And what’s even better I find another song by the band which I’ve never heard before, “Flower”. You can check that here!

Later, a Myspace, where no songs stream sadly. At least I get to know some more song titles, “Secret Conversations”, “Children (live)”, “Soldier of Misfortune (live)” and “One Night in a Million (live)”.

My next stop is the Irish Nuggets blog. There they put together a compilation on Spotify (the evil!) and Cliff Edge Panic is included. The cool thing is that a blurb was written for each track. Thanks to that we get to know a bit more about the Comet EP release, it says:
After relocating his record shop to the Temple Bar area of Dublin, Gorehound Brian O’Kelly did his bit for up and coming bands by releasing a series of various artists compilations. Named after the new record shop, Comet Records released a six track EP and a 14 track LP in 1987. ‘Everything I Ever Wanted’ by The Summerhouse and ‘Girl On The Bridge’ by Cliff Edge Panic featured alongside tracks by The Slowest Clock, and Cypress Mine on EP1, while ‘There’s A Mountain’ by Backwards Into Paradise and ‘Barbarous’ by Cork band The 3355409s were highlights of LP2.

My last stop is a Facebook page for the band. Seems it was created last year, 2016, but it seems not to be maintained. Only one post of “Girl on the Bridge” is up on the page.  At least I got the pleasure to click on the Like button.

Back to the Feargal is the Applejack connection. I like this band a lot and I’ve meant to write about them on the blog. Maybe next week could be a good opportunity if no one gets in touch about Cliff Edge Panic, no? Anyhow, who was in both bands? I can’t figure it out just yet.

The other mystery to be solved is that of the CD. The only information I could find was that John Prendergast issued the CD. I read that he also did a compilation CD for his other band Train Walkers as part of a degree course in media production. Both CDs were sold through his website but it doesn’t exist anymore. What a shame.

This is where I hit a wall. I can’t find out more about them. I figure that the compilation CD included all their recordings. I want to listen to that! Maybe someone can help with that? In the meantime I’ll explore the other bands they were in. Could be fun!

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Listen
Cliff Edge Panic – Girl on the Bridge