26
Jun

After the good two weeks of releases, Pale Spectres 7″ and The Potting Sheds CD, there’s a little calm now at Cloudberry. But that doesn’t mean the excitement disappears. There’s a new 7″ ready to go to press and it will be announced later this week through our Facebook page. That’s not all, we are already talking to a band we love for a retrospective CD, to be the 10th Cloudberry Cake Kitchen release. But wait, there’s even more. Just got four songs to be mastered by a new Swedish band. Yes, that will be yet another 7″, as we start getting closer to the 50th 7″ release on the label. Here at Cloudberry we don’t stop loving our indiepop!

This week I have even more indiepop news, some a bit older now, but maybe you’ve missed them. So let’s start!

Teenage Superstars is a new documentary that was just screened at the Edinburgh International Film Festival. The film is directed by Grant McPhee, same person behind the Big Gold Dream documentary we all bought DVDs not so long ago! On this documentary Grant covers the time after Big Gold Dream, the time of bands like The Pastels, BMX Bandits, Soup Dragons, The Vaselines and more. I can’t wait for it to be released on DVD or screened somewhere in NYC.  There’s a Facebook page for the film.

Desperate Journalist, a band I’ve raved and championed many times in the blog, have a new video out for the song “Why Are You So Boring?“. This is the 4th single taken from their second album, “Grow Up” and I’m very happy about it as it is one of my favourite songs in there. The video is a collage of the band at different gigs and other snippets of videos, and it includes the lyrics for singing along. Great stuff!

Andreas Dorau is releasing his 10th studio album “Die Liebe und der Ärger der Anderen” on July 7th. To promote the record (which comes in either double CD, double vinyl, as a box set including the album and a flexi disc and tape), Dorau has put together a video for the song “Ossi mit Schwan“. Now, how to get myself a copy on this side of the Atlantic? I’m sure it won’t be easily found here…

Peruvian band Almirante Ackbar also has new videos. They are promoting their new album “Sonidos Ultrasónicos y Audibles Para Callar al Perro del Vecino” which will be out on July 14th. In the past three weeks two videos have appeared on their Facebook. The first one was for the song “Fiebre de la Amplitud“, a song I actually played on my podcast a long time ago. The second song was just published today and it is called “Alquimia Espiritual” and sounds ace. Hope the album gets released in physical format!

Jetstream Pony is the new project of Shaun Charman from The Fireworks (and previously Wedding Present and The Popguns) and Beth Arzy fr0m The Fireworks/Luxembourg Signal/Trembling Blue Stars. They have so far 2 demo songs on their Soundcloud, “Out of Reach” and “Not the One”, and as you can expect by the people involved, they sound brilliant. The Croydon/Brighton band is preparing alongside the fantastic Augsburg label Kleine Untergrund Schallplatten a 7″ that will include two other songs, “Like You Less” and “Had Enough”. This is very promising, hopefully the band keeps the songs coming!

Lastly a band I discovered before I traveled to Finland. I was looking for any gigs while I was going to be there and well, couldn’t find any. But I found a poppy band that I thought sounded quite nice, The New Tigers. It seems they’ve been going for some years now and have a couple of releases. Their latest, the “Vindications EP”, dating from 2016. You can check them out on Bandcamp of course. The band hails from Turku, a town I actually visited for a day and really enjoyed the vibe alongside the river, and the castle of course. To my surprise Ville, who I met once upon a time in NYC when he was playing with Cats on Fire, is the drummer of this band! I didn’t know this connection, I really liked all the music he was involved with, and at some point we talked about some project he was making with his then girlfriend. I think some recordings were made, but I never got to listen to them. I’m sure I would have loved them. But it is good to see that he continues making music with the New Tigers but also solo with his new project Verandan. Soliti, their label, has a song available for streaming “Gold in the Hills” and sounds classic. Loving it!

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This week post comes courtesy of the Fanning Sessions blog really. Last week he sent me a message saying that a reader was compiling a radio show and asked him if he wanted to request any songs. He picked “Road of the Lonely” by Bam Bam and the Calling,  and then he shared it with me.

I had no clue who they were. First time I heard their long name. The song sounded good. The quality and the style told me it was from the 80s. They were definitely Irish, Fanning Sessions only deals with the Irish. But what else? My first instinct was to check out Discogs.

There I would find immediately a small biography and thanks to that I was going to get some perspective:

From Derry, Northern Ireland, Bam Bam and The Calling were formed in 1983 by Paul McCartney, ex of late 70s punk band Graffiti, with Tom Doherty. They are best known now for That Petrol Emotion taking their name from the title of one of their songs. The band split sometime towards the end of the 1980s, although they reformed in September 2000 for a one-off charity gig in aid of Derry City Football Club.

Paul P J McCartney: Vocals & Guitar
John McCloskey: Guitar
Joe Brown: Bass
Thomas Doherty: Drums

Three releases being listed. The first one from 1987 is a single that came out on both 7″ and 12″ format. It was released by Great Records (catalog GREAT 01) and included the songs “Scraping Off the Shine” and “Colum McKeever Sings“. The 12” also included on the B side another song, “Presley”. The producer for this record was Sean O’Neil from That Petrol Emotion. David Ros was the engineer. The record was recorded at Greenhouse Studios in London.

In 1988 the band was to release another single, again in both formats. The same label, Great Records (catalog GREAT 02), released it. The songs on the 7″ were “Neck Tattoo” and “Cautious Navigations”. The 12″ added on the B side the song “Glory”.

The other release listed is a split flexi shared with the band Man Ray. The song Bam Bam and the Calling contributed was “New Surroundings”. It seems this flexi came along the Helden Magazine (catalog HL03).

My next stop ends up being the great website Irish Rock. On it there are some cool old photos and flyers. They have an extended biography there, one that says that That Petrol Emotion took their name from a song of Bam Bam and the Calling. There was a link, an early lineup of Bam Bam had Raymond Gorman who was to join That Petrol Emotion. When this happened Bam Bam split for a while. That was around 1983 or 84. Only in 1985 the band reconviened.

The band appeared on “Channel One” on BBC NI in 1986 performing two songs, “New Surroundings” and “Talking Aloud” live at The Venue in Derry.

It seems there was a live tape recorded at the Gweedore Bar in 1986 that was probably sold at gigs or as a bootleg.

The band split just before 1990. Paul McCartney at this time briefly joined Rare, the post That Petrol Emotion band as he is credited in the 1990 single “Set Me On Fire”. Afterwards Paul formed The Deadly Engines and released records with Setanta.

Here also there’s a little more info about their reunion gig in 2000. They opened for The Moondogs and The Undertones. Since then the band has performed occasionally.

Irish Rock also includes some extra discography. For example a dateless demo tape that included the songs “Scraping Off the Shine”, “Secret Meeting”, “Presley”, “Neck Tattoo”, “Talking Aloud” and “Day 15”. Also a Radio Foyle session from February 1986 with the songs “Bad Getting Bigger”, “Give the Wings Back to Bird”, “I Call To You” and “Kitchen Dogs”.

Next up I stumble upon an old Myspace. There are a bunch of songs but the only one I can seem to stream is a demo version of “Talking Aloud”. The only other song I haven’t mentioned before is “Fencewire (live)”.

Then a sort of Wiki. Here I find that Paul had also been involved with a band called The Rural Felini where he was joined by his brothers Gavin and Rio as well as David Doherty. Also that John McCloskey, the guitarist from Bam Bam, was involved in the establishment of The Nerve Centre in Derry and in his guise as writer, director animator was nominated for a BAFTA award in 2008. Wow.

I found out too that Joe Brown is now involved in a band called The Gatefolds.

Well well, Fanning Sessions have a lot of information on Bam Bam and the Calling. The first post they did was in 2009. Then four songs were posted from the demo, “Talking Aloud”, “Scraping Off the Shine” and “Neck Tattoo”. Then there are a bunch of posts promoting gigs for the band, from 2011 and 2012. But the last post on the blog about them is one dating from 2013 and it is a Fanning Session from 1987! The songs here are “Road of The Lonely”, “Only Sing” and “Scraping Off the Shine”.

My last stop is Facebook. Yes, I could find a Facebook page for the band. Perhaps I should have started there, sent them a message, see if they could tell me the story. But maybe this way works too. Maybe they can fill in the blanks left by this post. Not much information or songs on their Facebook, but it does promote their gigs and the band seem to share videos of their influences. From it I stumbled upon a Soundcloud page with recordings of different bands the band members have been involved with.

Which is the song then that That Petrol Emotion took their name from? Were there any recordings from that first lienup of the band? Why didn’t they get to record more songs? Did they play in England perhaps? Many questions still to be asked. Does anyone remember them?

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Listen
Bam Bam and the Calling – Road of the Lonely

 

19
Jun

Hello! This is a very exciting time for Cloudberry!! Last Friday we released the long-awaited and ultra brilliant 7″ EP by the Pale Spectres from Paris. This Friday too we have yet another release, The Potting Sheds retrospective compilation “Leaving By the Back Door”! Both releases are the perfect soundtrack for this summer. And you can already order them both from our website.

Now onto more indiepop news all around the world. Remember the band Sea Blite whose video for the song “Cerulean” I recommended some weeks ago? Well the band was kind enough to send me a download code for their first EP. The self-titled 4 song EP is released on tape by Death Records but now you can also stream all four songs from the band’s Bandcamp. Now I can be sure to say that the band hails from San Francisco and that it is formed by Lauren Matsui on guitars and vocals, Galine Tumasyan on vocals and bass, Andrew Bush on drums and Jen Mundy on lead guitar. The songs are fantastic, I still like “Cerulean” the best but “Pretend”, “Woolly Sweater” and “Skeleton Couch” are no fillers, but proper good songs in their own right!

Kocliko Records is a new label from Bera, in Spain. Bera seems to be a small town in Navarre. Never heard of it but looks nice on photos. I should go sometime. This new label has made a splash in the indiepop world the last few weeks announcing a couple of releases. The first one is the Tomiji EP and it is a cracker. Who is Tomiji? Well, a good friend of mine, Thomas from Pale Spectres. Yes, Tomiji is his solo project and on this 7″ there are 4 fab pop songs that are not to be missed. The 7″ is not out yet (I’ll let you know when it is), but for now the four songs, “Let’s Flip a Coin”, “Home”, “I’ll Love You Forever” and “After All” are available from streaming on Bandcamp. A great debut that no indiepop lover should miss!

The second release the label has announced is by the band Business of Dreams. On the Bandcamp it doesn’t say much about this release or the band. On Facebook I find some information. The band is the solo project of Corey Cunningham from Los Angeles, CA. There are 10 songs  on the album and they sound pretty good! It is not straight-up indiepop, not the classic sound. But it is dreamy, elegant, classy pop, driven by synths. It sounds very 80s too. I like it. Another good release, so far both choices in Kocliko are pure gold.

Who are Port Sulphur? I don’t really know who are behind this band. I couldn’t find a Facebook page. But I found two songs on Bandcamp, part of a split single on The Creeping Bent Organisation. “Orient Express” is the song I love here, it even features James Kirk (!!) from Orange Juice, who actually co-wrote this song (and it shows!). It is just WOW! The second song is “Hope / Less”and features Alan Vega. This one is not really up my street. But I tell you, “Orient Express”, is there, a contender for my favourite song at least for June.

Last news for this week, and I still have a lot more to share, as I have said before now I’m keeping tabs on everything I see on the web that I feel is worthwhile! The label Discos de Kirlian from Barcelona, Spain, have a new 7″ out now by the Stockholm band We.The Pigs. The band is formed by Veronika and Martin, with Fredrik, Niklas, Johan and  one Cloudberry friend, Charley, who released a 3″ with his older band The Mare almost 10 years ago! Anyhow, this new 7″ EP has four songs, “Start Over”, “Too Young”, “Wake Up” and “Go Away”. And as usual you can stream the four tracks on Bandcamp. The band is actually playing a release show on July 5th at PSB alongside the band Venetian Blinds. Here is more info for the event. Wish I could be there!

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For this week I decided to do the same thing as last week, look into the archives of the fantastic series of the Sound of Leamington Spa. This time I picked up volume 4, and because I’ve been lately on an Irish sort of run on the blog, I decided to see what I could find about Beethoven’s Kiss.

First of all I must say that I don’t own their 7″. I don’t know how many copies were pressed. They only released the one. But from the liner notes included on the booklet I was going to learn a bit more about this band, which I thought was pretty obscure, but it isn’t so:
“The Wonder of You” was the last single release of Belfast band Victim in 1988. The band went under the name Beethoven’s Kiss for the one single because the recording was a departure from their normal punk style. The name was taken from the famous incident in classical music history when the master Beethoven kissed the young Franz Liszt during a performance to confirm his acknowledgement of his brilliance. The band pressed up the record themselves and it was never officially released, with copies going only to radio stations and record companies. The band comprised of Wes Graham on bass/vocals; Joe Moody on guitar/vocals; Kev Williams (formerly with Mick Hucknall’s Frantic Elevators) who joined the band on drums when Mike Joyce left to join The Smiths, and Toni Isaac on keyboards/backing vocals. The B-side of the single, “Don’t Break It” was a song Victim had been playing for years and features on a CD compilation of the band’s material released in March 2003 on Overground Records entitled “Everything”. It features Victim’s three singles and 15 previously unreleased tracks. Victim emerged from the burgeoning Ulster punk scene in 1977 and their first single “Strange Thing By Night” was released on Belfast’s Good Vibrations label. Victim were the first punk band to play the legendary Harp Bar in Belfast and moved to Manchester in 1979. There they signed to TJM Records and released two more singles. They toured the UK extensively and filled a six-week support slot supporting The Damned. Mike Joyce, who plays on several of the tracks on the new CD release, went to gain international fame in The Smiths. The band broke up in late 1988 a few months after recording “The Wonder of You”. Founder members Wes Graham and Joe Moody are currently recording new material for release later this year under the name WEBCORE.”

Ok the record was never officially released. That explains a couple of things. I check on Discogs the information for this release. According to this site it came out in 1989 and not in 1988 as the band says. Who is right? And the only interesting information here is that the songs were recorded at Square Studios in Bury, Lancashire. The record was released by the band’s own Akashic Records (catalog AK0001).

This name, Akashic, made me Google for their meaning and I learned a thing today, in theosophy and anthroposophy, the Akashic records are a compendium of all human events, thoughts, words, emotions and intent ever to have occurred, believed by theosophists to be encoded in a non-physical plane of existence known as the etheric plane. There are anecdotal accounts but no scientific evidence for existence of the Akashic records. Akasha (ākāśa आकाश) is the Sanskrit word for “aether” or “atmosphere”. Also, in Hindi, Akash (आकाश) means “sky” or “heaven”.

I look now into the Irish Music Database website. Here there are family trees for several bands. There are more connections with other bands. Already mentioned were Victim and The Frantic Elevators, but for example Joe Moody was in The Androids and Wes Graham and Joe Moody were in Emergency.

My next stop is a Victim biography on the Spit Records website. On it there is a whole paragraph dedicated to Beethoven’s Kiss:
In the ensuing months Wes and Joe set about recruiting a permanent replacement for Mike and had to debate whether or not to stick with the name Victim. Mike had been a close friend and his departure hit hard. After toying with the name Victim A.D., they opted to continue as Victim, occasionally going under the name Beethoven’s Kiss when they wanted to try out new material which was a departure from traditional punk. They brought in Kev Williams who had been drummer with The Frantic Elevators before Mick Hucknall split that band to form Simply Red. The recorded four tracks in 1985 for a promotional four-track cassette EP that attracted considerable interest and almost clinched a deal with Chrysalis Records. Next they recorded a single ‘The Strangest Stars’, which sadly was not released. They recruited Toni Isaac on keyboards – she was the girl leaning on the lamppost on Jilted John’s single of the same name! Victim then recorded ‘The Wonder of You’ (not the Elvis song) and ‘Don’t Break It’ in 1988 at Square One Studios in Bury, where Black were mixing ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ the same week. The songs were pressed up as a self-financed single released soon after on the band’s own Akashic Records and went out under the name Beethoven’s Kiss. The label on the sleeve states that the single was released in 1989, but according to the band it was released in 1988! The band were anxious to showcase the new melodic acoustic songs the band was developing, combined with the raunchiness of old Victim songs. The A side was a new song while ‘Don’t Break It’ was an old song Joe had written in Belfast some years earlier. Some months later the band recorded five new songs, which they felt confident would attract record company interest. However it was not to be and in 1990 Wes and Joe shelved the Victim/Beethoven’s Kiss project and brought the curtain down on the life of a band which had been in existence for just over a decade. For the record, a few other musicians who very briefly played in Victim were John Hawthrone, Simmo and Dave Goodlad.

So 4 songs were recorded at this session. Only 2 were released. Where are the other two songs?! I would love so much to hear them!

I looked for Webcore, to see if I could find Joe Moody. But I found no information about this band. Did they record anything? I did find a Youtube channel of his and it seems from it that he is still making music with the band Joe Zero. I just heard the song “Rock n’ Roll Wars” which is a preview of their upcoming album and it is a lot of fun!

Not much more to add about Beethoven’s Kiss. It seems it was just a one-off that left at least one fabulous song (I haven’t had the chance to hear the B-side yet! so I can’t say if I like it or not!). There are 2 more recordings at least but I cross my fingers there are more from this period. Why did Victim change their sound? Why did they decided to change names? Why wasn’t the record officially released? Why no one picked up this record and release it? So many questions, very few answers. Did the band play live as Beethoven’s Kiss at all?  Any of you remember them?

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Listen
Beethoven’s Kiss – The Wonder of You

12
Jun

This Friday, the 16th is our release date for the Pale Spectres 7″. All pre-orders have been posted and I’m sending copies to your favourite stores. Because this is an important event and you have already heard “D(r)iving“, the band has uploaded another song from the 7”, “Goodbye“. Enjoy them and order your record!

Well this week there are so many indiepop news that is not easy to make a choice for where to start. I will say though that while I was on vacations there weren’t that many indiepop moments like they used to be in the past. There were no indiepop gigs in Finland. I did go to a record store to buy the new Burning Hearts album, “Battlefields”, and probably that was my indiepop highlight for the trip.

Jessika from Burning Hearts told me that I should be able to get the record from a shop called Levykauppa Äx. So I duly went after visiting the Church in the Rock. There was one on the way to the place we were staying, on Frederikinkatu, close to the Kamppi Center. I looked around and couldn’t find the record. I couldn’t find any indiepop records for that matter. I had to ask to the clerk and told me they didn’t have it but they had the record at another Levykauppa Äx store, the one in Kallio, the hipster neighborhood. So the day after, after going through some World Fair kind of festival that had food from all over, I found the store on Hakaniemen Torikatu or Hagnästorsgatan. Yeah all streets in Helsinki have Finnish and Swedish names. That was really cool. Anyhow, I couldn’t find the record either, but the clerk found it for me. Again I browsed to see if I could find any other Finnish indiepop records, maybe Cessna, The Kidneys or the first Poverty Stinks. But nothing to be found. Anyways, it was a good buy as the record doesn’t seem to be easily available anywhere else in the world.

My other indiepop moments have to do while roadtripping through the Lakeland of Finland, on the way to and back from Savonlinna. My friend Jose brought a little bluetooth speaker and we played mostly El Último Vecino, but I think the best moment was when we played Family’s “Viaje a los Sueños Polares”. Those who understand the lyrics for this song would understand why it is such a perfect song for the setting! It was quite magical! We played it a couple of times, until the battery died.

As I’ve been making notes for news to be shared with you, many other bands announce more news. The weekend was good too. On Saturday I went to Rough Trade and listened to Flying Nun’s Roger Sheperd talk about his book “In Love of These Times”. It was very interesting. I could relate sometimes too. And he had a good sense of humour I thought. I didn’t like the other panelist, nor the interviewer, but well, it was a free thingie so I guess that’s what you get. And then Martin Phillipps playing solo (and with Hamish Kilgour doing some percussion) a bunch of The Chills songs. That was quite something. So happy that I got my lazy self out of Queens all the way to sweaty and packed Williamsburg.

I’ll start this week with the announcement of the new video for “Neon” by The BV’s. I have raved and raved about them. Time after time I feel their songs are just fantastic. They never let me down. Why haven’t they done a 7″ on Cloudberry? I ask myself the same question. In any case, you have to know that “Neon” was included in their first LP “Speaking From a Distance” on Kleine Untergrund Schallplatten which is also brilliant.

I knew about The Royal Landscaping Society going to record for Matinée for ages now. But only a week ago it was official. To mark this event the band and the label shared a gem of  a song, “Moon“. The song is part of the new compilation “Matinée Idols” that is coming out soon. In the near future the band will release a 7″ and as I have heard a little of it, let me tell you it is one you can’t miss. And hopefully, crossing fingers, after that release, they’ll release the long-awaited 7″ on Cloudberry we announced on the fanzine some time ago!

Another band to sign to Matinée is Tinsel Heart. I loved this band when they appeared suddenly on my Facebook some months ago. I wanted to offer them a release but other responsibilities and the economy didn’t let me! The good news is that they found a good home and they are sharing the song “Talk” that also appears on the “Matinée Idols” compilation. Later this year they will release a 7″ as well.

And lastly, also from Matinée is the new The Popguns album. Some weeks ago there was a new song shared by them on their Bandcamp with a limited run CD that I missed. Now you can stream the 10 songs from the album for free but even better you can buy the album “Sugar Kisses” directly from them if you are in the UK or from Matinée in the US. It sounds very good to my ears. Need to message Jimmy!

And coming back to the Augsburg label, the fab Kleine Untergrund Schallplatten, they have announced that they will release the 2nd album by New Yorkers Pale Lights. And another band related to this label, but now on Tapete Records, Zimt, have a new video out, I’m guessing as a promo for their debut album “Glückstiraden” out on August 25th. The song is titled “Schwaches Herz” and what else can I say aside that this is classic pop!

And that’s good enough for this week. There’s a bunch of more news I’m saving for next week. Maybe they won’t be news news by then, but maybe you find something that you missed out!

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It was one of those days. I went back to the classic, if not legendary, Leamington Spa series. Went to look for bands I barely remember. Ones I don’t own their records. Ones that I should find out more. And so I skipped volume 1 and 2. It seems I’ve covered most of those bands already. But on volume 3 there was a band I barely recalled, The Irregulars. Who were they?

The booklet has a photo of the band and some bio. That was a good start.
“Well we all met at school and shared an affinity for The Beatles, floppy fringes, bottled lager and making a racket. We graduated from appalling covers band to actually making some half decent tunes. On our day we sounded like a cross between Orange Juice and Jilted John and were the self proclaimed “Sound of Young Hornchurch”. But we got fed up with playing to one man and his dog in Camden and settled for infrequent gigs in youth clubs instead. Half the time we couldn’t afford the petrol money out of Hornchurch anyway. Chris”

The band was from Hornchurch and one of the members was named Chris. No last name sadly. Where is Hornchurch though? I’ve never heard of that place.
Hornchurch is a suburban town in the London Borough of Havering, East London, England, 15.2 miles (24.5 km) east-northeast of Charing Cross. Historically an ancient parish in the county of Essex, that became the manor and liberty of Havering, Hornchurch shifted from agriculture to other industries with the growing significance of nearby Romford as a market town and centre of administration. As part of the suburban growth of London in the 20th century, Hornchurch significantly expanded and increased in population, becoming an urban district in 1926, and forming part of Greater London since 1965. It is the location of Queen’s Theatre, Havering Sixth Form College and Havering College of Further and Higher Education.

Well, it is in London. Been to London, but never heard of it. Seems I need to do a lot of exploring in perhaps my favourite city still.

My next stop is Discogs. I learn that they actually released something. One flexi in 1988. It was released by the Rocking Frog Promotions label (catalog HORNY TOAD 1). This seems to be the only release by this label, then it may be safe to assume it was a self-release. On the single sided flexi two songs were included “Julie” and “Against the Grain of My Life”. The second song was the one that was included in the Sound of Leamington Spa Vol. 3. I have never heard “Julie”. Maybe someone out there can help?

It seems the flexi didn’t have a proper picture sleeve cover. That is a shame. Maybe it was just used as a promotion tool to get gigs and press reviews. They weren’t especially looking forward to shifting copies. Maybe.

I found some more information on the web. The 2 songs were recorded at Reel to Reel by Joe Steel in Brixton. The sax on “Against the Grain” was played by Terry (Higson) Edwards) from The Scapegoats. I could actually find a website for Terry. Still no clue about The Irregulars band members.

I keep digging deeper and deeper on the web. I find that the band supported in their time the likes of The Wolfhounds, Close Lobsters, Miaow, The Bodines, Blow-Up, McCarthy, Talulah Gosh, Mighty Mighty, The Primitives and Primal Scream.

I couldn’t find anything else. Maybe some of you remember them? I would love what happened to the band members. If they released anything else. If they recorded any other songs. Or if anyone has a spare flexi? Any information would be appreciated!

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Listen
The Irregulars – Against the Grain of My Life

08
Jun

Moi! Jet-lagged, and with ten thousand things to take care of, that’s how I woke up today, just after returning yesterday from my almost two-week vacation in Finland. I’m exhausted. I had so much energy while traveling, criss-crossing the country and making daytrips to Estonia and Sweden. Would love to share my experiences with you, and will do so shortly. Not on today’s post but next week. This week what I want to do is to get up to date with you all.

First things first then. The Pale Spectres 7″ arrived. They were waiting at home for me. All pre-orders will start shipping this week. The official release date will be announced pretty soon. But you can order the record now and I’ll post them right away. Then The Potting Sheds compilation is ready at the pressing plant. They should be delivered to Cloudberry HQ next week or the following as the latest. Seems like a great start for this summer!

I have a bunch of indiepop news that I have compiled in the past 2 or so weeks since my last post. I’ll tell you 4 this time, and more on the next week. Bear with me. My energy has been drained. And imagine that I got home yesterday and there was no internet. It seems the city while trimming the tree in front of my house cut the cable that provides me internet. I had a technician come in today very early. He finished the job, everything was working. 20 minutes later a food truck passes by and cuts the cable. Who could be more unlucky than me. I left another technician fixing this issue and had to come to work on a barely working 3rd world country subway. I cross my fingers that I’ll have internet when back home. It is not easy the US, especially after coming back from a country, Finland, where things seems to work well, with punctuality.

I’ll start with Alvvays, a superb indiepop band that is loved and cherished by popkids and hipsters. While I was on vacation I couldn’t help but notice all my friends were reposting their new song “In Undertow“. Well, finally I’m listening to it. Yeah, I don’t travel with a computer, my phone is enough to check emails and that sort of thing. And so I wait until getting home to listen to music. I don’t feel comfortable listening to music on the phone generally. Which reminds me, I have to listen to a song by a band I want to release after I finish this post! Anyhow, this pretty song by Alvvays will be included in their second album, “Antisocialites”. It is coming out on September 8th and the band has announced a bunch of gigs starting August and all the way through December. For us in New York, we’ll get the chance to see them on October 5th at Brooklyn Steel.

Talking of NYC gigs, this Saturday at 2pm, Martin Phillips from The Chills will be playing a live set at Rough Trade. The event says that the event is really a talk with Flying Nun’s founder Roger Shepherd. He will be discussing his book “In Love With These Times” alongside Captured Tracks’ Mike Sniper. I love Flying Nun. I don’t like Captured Tracks at all. Bad pairing I’d say. But what can you do. I will just go and enjoy Martin’s music. That is what I care for. And maybe grab a copy of the book? More info on the event here.

My Barcelona friends Papa Topo have a new video out. It is already a year since they released the fantastic album “Ópalo Negro” and so they are celebrating the occasion releasing a new video for perhaps my favourite song in the album, “Enero” . Is that an Evangelion t-shirt Adrià? How much fun it is to see all of the gang, Adrià, Julia, Óscar and Sonia dancing and showing their moves in Power Rangers sort of costumes. I love the video. Reminds me of a lot of cheesy shows I saw when I was a kid like Jiban, Liveman or Flashman.

And last recommendation for this week is also another video by another Spanish band, Axolotes Mexicanos. The song is titled “Trececatorce” and is just being released for now as a digital single. I don’t care much for digital releases as you might know, so I just enjoy, on repeat, this fun little song.

There are many more news for me to cover involving so many bands that I hold dear. But I think that can wait until next week, right?

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A few weeks ago Stefano from Milano, Italy, was visiting NYC. We were having a beer and a burger at a Korean place. Why not. And of course we were talking about indiepop. And the conversation took the obvious turn. Why aren’t there any good Italian indiepop bands? Some say Fitness Forever is an indiepop band, but they aren’t really, are they? It is very hard to think of one with the classic indiepop sound.

It is surprising. I know many Italian indiepop fans. A lot. I once had this same conversation with Peter from Twee.net and he also wondered the same thing. How come there haven’t been good Italian indiepop? And suddenly while talking with Stefano I remembered one band. But at that exact moment their name I couldn’t recall. I told him, “there is a fine band, from the 90s, from Vicenza I think, but I can’t recall the name. Not all of their songs are proper indiepop, but some are and they are great!”.

I remember it now, Blanco y Tango. How do I know about them? Through another indiepop fan, Matthew. I am very grateful for all the indiepop friends that share their knowledge with me! That way I probably will never run out of songs to listen to. But how there was one classic sounding indiepop band in Italy once and now there aren’t? I don’t understand it. But first maybe it would be wise to investigate about them. To be honest, I know about nothing about them.

Discogs usually is my first stop when I go on the lookout for information. There is a tape by Blanco y Tango listed. It is an eleven song album titled “Sogni D’Estate”. The cover looks like a black and white photocopy. The songs are:
A1. L’Entusiasmo E L’Essenziale
A2. Solo Luci
A3. Give Me
A4. Su Di Noi
A5. With Or Without You
A6. Vorrei Scordarmi Di Te
A7. Lay Down
B1. Ci Sei
B2. Sally
B3. Io Correro
B4. Ti Penso

The tape was released by the label Shiny Sunset (catalog Sunset 2) in 1994. This same label had released other compilations and a tape album by the fantastic Snowbirds (who deserve a post here, right?). In some of these compilations released by Shiny Sunset, Blanco y Negro appeared.

The first ever Shiny Sunset release, “The Stunning Scenery of A Shiny Sunset”, had the song “L’Entusiasmo E L”Essenziale”. On “The Charming Trip in the World of Dreams”, Shiny Sunset 5, they contributed the songs “Cite del Nord” and “All to Have It”. On Shiny Sunset 8, “A World of Popkisses”, they had “Fuori O Dentro Te”, “Se Io Fossi Come Te”, “Forse Chissa” and “The Mermaid”. Then on Shiny Sunset 9, “The Colours of an Enchanted Dawn”, they provided the song “Se Io Fossi Come Te”. It is important to say that these were fine compilations, they counted with classic indiepop bands in them like They Mayfields, Acid House Kings, Bomb Pops, Red Sleeping Beauty, Love Parade, and more! Who were these Shiny Sunset? What I could find out is that it was actually an Italian label ran by Marco Pagano from Creazzo. So yeah, there used to be a proper indiepop tape label in Italy too!

Creazzo was in the province of Vicenza. So there was a connection surely with the band Blanco y Tango.

Vicenza is a city in northeastern Italy. It is in the Veneto region at the northern base of the Monte Berico, where it straddles the Bacchiglione River. Vicenza is approximately 60 kilometres (37 mi) west of Venice and 200 kilometres (120 mi) east of Milan.Vicenza is a thriving and cosmopolitan city, with a rich history and culture, and many museums, art galleries, piazzas, villas, churches and elegant Renaissance palazzi. With the Palladian Villas of the Veneto in the surrounding area, and his renowned Teatro Olimpico (Olympic Theater), the “city of Palladio” has been listed as an UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1994.

Well, there is a Facebook page for the band. Not too many likes. Maybe we can change that. First important information, the band members:
Elisabetta R. on vocals
Caterina R on vocals and guitars
Giuseppe M. on guitars
Alex S. on bass
Marco Z. on drums (up to 1991)
Giovanni Z. on drums (after 1991)

Then there’s a little biography, from it we know that the band was born in 1991. That at the beginning the band style was heavily influenced by English pop and then they moved to a more pop-rock sound. They played many gigs and didn’t record an album. The tape on Shiny Sunset is actually their demo-tape. They also contributed a song to the “Rock Contest” album, though I’m not sure what this is actually.

On the Facebook page I see many stills from what seems a live performance. Maybe it was broadcasted on TV?

The next stop on the web is Soundcloud. We find Giuseppe Mantia’s account where he has uploaded a bunch of Blanco y Tango songs. Here you can listen to “01”, “I Will Find My Lover”, “Interferenze”, “Mermaid” and “Se Io Fossi Come Te”. I dig a little further and find out Giuseppe has been in other bands like Pneuma and Poesia e Diva.

I try to find out more about the other members of the band but it looks difficult. Not having their last name makes it harder.

I feel my favourite song is “L’entusiasmo e l’essenziale”. That’s when they are at their poppiest. Not all of the songs on their demo or the Soundcloud will sound indiepop. Some are darker, some rockier. But the band could chime guitars in a fantastically, in a way I haven’t heard any other Italian band. Listen and tell me if I’m wrong!

Does anyone remember them? What happened to the members afterwards? Have you heard any other fine Italian indiepop bands? Would love to know more!

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Listen
Blanco y Tango – L’entusiasmo e l’essenziale

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