What a difficult summer this has been for Cloudberry. I am a bit sad to say that the fanzine won’t be on time for Indietracks. Aside from not receiving answers for two of the interviews that are supposed to appear on it, I’m also missing a couple of songs for the CD. So it will have to wait a bit longer. Also sales have been very terrible this past June. I know summer is usually pretty terrible, but this might be the worst. I am allowed to complain about this, right?
I’m not in the best of moods about this of course. I feel that at Indietracks things might get better, I feel it’s one of the few times when indiepop fans are happy to support the bands and labels they love. Also of course they are saving on the steep postage prices. I’m hoping then that at that point I can look with a more positive view the near future for indiepop. Right now I’m a bit cynical once again.
This doesn’t mean that I think that indiepop will die. There are new bands appearing all the time! So it won’t! But at the same time these bands are not getting the right outlets for their music. Labels are scheduling less and less releases. Also there’s this stupid hip ideal of buying vinyl only. Wake up indiepop kids, indiepop was not about that sort of hipsterism. Wasn’t Sarah releasing on 45s as they were a cheaper medium than 12″s? There’s a point there. I think a CD right now is a totally fine format. I’m even more terrorized when a band only and solely demand that their releases have to be on vinyl. Some people sometimes need a reality check.
This of course has hit hard those who release on CDR format. I remember when Cloudberry started, I was burning and putting out a bunch of them. It was a great format. Many labels were doing it as well. These days, even though this format still is cheap, has almost disappeared. Nowadays bands and labels have found the cheap alternative to be tapes. The thing is, nobody is playing them. They come with a download code, and that’s what people are using it. So what about the phyisical copy, that cassette? It’s just a piece for the collection. To stand there, to look proud on a bookshelf perhaps. Is that really the point of us loving indiepop? To buy stuff that we won’t really have any sort of interaction with? Just to store it? Feels terribly fake.
I know these things come in circles. That ten years from now probably everyone will be buying CDs again. It’s always this sort of joke that happens within the music industry. I don’t take it seriously of course. I still support labels, bands, festivals, etc. The question I ask myself, because perhaps I’m failing at it, is how do I convince people this is the way to go? That instead of buying a download they should buy a record? That instead of owning an ipod they should invest in a nice turntable. How does one go against the current?
Perhaps then it’s time for self-releases and self-promotion. And self-distribution. Bands doing the whole process, those who are better at the business part, and not necessarily at the music part, will succeed, will get the people listening. In a way this is fair, but I feel that it will be harder to find the beautiful music, and the sort of filtering that exists through labels will be gone. It will just be a war of tags on bandcamp and soundcloud, where whoever who wants it, can call their music whatever genre or style it is. It will all be blurred. Here’s when I might start losing all hope.
Maybe I’m just jumping into conclusions. Maybe this is just a hiccup, but seeing a very quiet scene at the moment, a bunch of not-indiepop bands being booked at Indietracks, the lack of opinions, of voices on social media, low sales, and so on, could make anyone weary.
I do have a theory though of what may be causing this whole thing, and that’s the World Cup. Though I don’t remember how the World Cup affected 4 years ago, this year this might have been a bit of a game changer.
The fact is, I’m following it as well, only missing 2 matches so far. And my head mostly thinks about football every day. I even have made several groups with friends on facebook and whatsapp to just chat about each game. But Sunday this will be over, and I’ll cry for football being over, but perhaps indiepop fans will turn back their eyes into their other passion, indiepop!!
What do you think? What’s the state of indiepop as of July 2014?
Alfie is a 1966 British romantic comedy-drama film directed by Lewis Gilbert and starring Michael Caine. It is an adaptation by Bill Naughton of his own novel and play of the same name. Alfie tells the story of a young womaniser (Caine) who leads a self-centred life, purely for his own enjoyment, until events force him to question his uncaring behaviour and his loneliness. He cheats on numerous women, and despite his charm towards women, he treats them with disrespect and refers to them as “it”, using them for sex and for domestic purposes. Alfie frequently breaks the fourth wall by speaking directly to the camera narrating and justifying his actions. His words often contrast with or totally contradict his actions.
Safe to assume that the name of the band comes from the 1966 movie? I think so.
I think the first time I heard “Play On” by Alfie was during Indie Pop Days Berlin in 2011. It was on the night that wasn’t at the Wasserturm in Kreuzberg. It was a smaller venue that I can’t recall the name now where Bart played and Renée played a solo Liechtenstein show. Between the bands Jörgen was DJing. He brought original records, his own vinyl. This I always admire as I’m a bit of a chicken to bring them abroad to DJ! What if they break? Or I spill beer? Or they get scratched? Or stolen? No, no, too many risks!
And then suddenly Jörgen shows me a black and white sleeve. And he tells me: “These are the Swedish Orange Juice”. And kaboom! “Fool to Fall” is filling the venue with it’s fantastic rhythm. I’m awe-struck. How come I’ve never heard this before. I ask him for more information about the band. He told me he was lucky to find this record before the Japanese knew about it. Nowadays they know about it mind you, so of course I’ve never come upon a copy yet.
It’s been many years since that time. And I only noticed today that for some reason I never went out of my way looking for more information about this obscure Swedish band. So I started digging on Google see what I could find about this mighty band that only released the one 7″ but seems to have many more recorded songs. Maybe someone out there in Sweden should do a retrospective CD! Why not!
Alfie’s “Play On” was released in 1987 by the Enjoy label (catalog number JOY-8701). The label seems to have been the band’s own. Self-release then. The A side was the Pa-pa-pa filled jangle slice indiepop heaven of “Play On” while the B side was the more Scottish, Postcardish and utterly fabulous for any dancefloor “Fool to Fall”. Both songs hitting the 3:30 minute mark, they are true should have been classics! On Discogs the Enjoy label also has another Alfie release, a live tape. This one has the catalog N-8912. Of course the first two numbers in both releases are the year when it was released. Was the two second numbers the month perhaps? Or maybe there were 12 releases in between?
This live tape is a total mystery for me. It was recorded live at the Roxy, in Visby, on March 11 1988. The A side was the concert whereas the B side was the encores!! The songs included on the A side were “Evil Woman”, “Promises”, “Another Girl”, “Little Friend of Mine”, “It’s You (Y.O.U.)”, “So To Speak”. On the B side it looks like covers: “Ticket to Ride”, “All Day and All of the Night”, “Manic Monday”, “Whole Lotta Rosie”, “Twist & Shout”, “Just Can’t Get Enough”.
The next stop to find some clues about the band is of course the back of the sleeve of the 7″. Here it is clear that the band hails from Visby.
Visby is a locality and the seat of Gotland Municipality in Gotland County, Sweden with 23,576 inhabitants, as of 2012. Visby is also the episcopal see for the Diocese of Visby. It is the only locality with historical city status on the island of Gotland. The Hanseatic city of Visby is arguably the best-preserved medieval city in Scandinavia and since 1995, it is on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list. Among the most notable historical remains are the 3.4 km (2.1 mi) long town wall that encircles the town center, and a number of church ruins. The name “Visby” comes from the Old Norse Vis, (genitive singular of Vi) meaning “(pagan) place of sacrifices”, and by, meaning “city”. In the Gutasagan (mid 14th century) the place is referred to as just Wi meaning “holy place, place of worship”. Visby is sometimes called “The city of roses” and/or “The city of ruins”
That comes a bit as a surprise to me.I don’t think I know any other guitar pop bands from Visby. Was there perhaps a thriving scene in the late 80s?
The record was recorded at Sandkvie Studio in January of 87. The engineer was Micke Lyander. The record was later remixed by Alfie & Micke in September. The record was produced by Alfie, Micke and Kjell.
Below these credits a nod to Postcard Records and Orange Juice: “The Sound of Young Gotland”.
The band was formed by:
Tore Höghielm: bass, harmonica
Mattias Ek: vocals
Stefan Häglund: guitar
Johan Arvidsson: guitar
Magnus Häglund: drums
All songs were written by Stefan.
Then there’s this label that seems to have closed some years ago but was active around 2006 until 2012 or so. Seems to have been a CDR label and was called Bendi. I’ve tried getting in touch with no luck. This label has released a lot of quality stuff that was long out of print and would be great to be able to buy these things! Among these records there’s a compilation called “Recycled: Inhouse”. On this compilation the brothers Häglund contribute 18 songs! That is Stefan and Magnus from Alfie and Kjell from Biliardakademien. Alfie in this compilation contributes one song called “Another Girl” that was recorded in 1989 and was originally included in a tape called “Home Again, Finnegan” (Mate M8-8 1992).
This same label in 2006 was giving away a long lost recording by the band called “(A Lovely Day for) Goalkeeping”. The story about the says:
Alfies “(A lovely day for) Goalkeeping” have been disappeared but was recently found on an old tape cassette, only a couple of days before kick off. Furthermore, it’s exactly 20 years since Alfie was formed! We celebrate all this by giving away Alfie’s last recording for free! “(A lovely day for) Goalkeeping” was recorded in 1992 spelades in 1992 and became the last song they did together. The band had already gone from a quintet to a trio: Stefan Wesley (guitar, keyboards) and Magnus Háglund (drums, programming, keyboards) recorded demos on a four channel Fostex, and now and then called for Mattias Ek to come from Stockholm to add the vocals.
From the previous compilation we can say that Stefan had been involved in many bands like Spencer Hill, Eucalypso, Season’s Greatings, Doublheader, M.O.M.S., Control Addicts, Castro and Lord Protector & The Commonwealth. Magnus also was involved in Doubleheader, Trumslagarpojkarna and Doubleheader.
From the other members it must be noted that Johan Arvidsson was also part of Red Leg who released two 7″s, “Who Nose” and “La Fé Baisanté”, both in 1988, and Tore Höghielm was part of Blue Velvet who released “Backalirs Höskollektion -92” in 1992, and also part of the band Solicium (1994-2012) that recorded three albums “Solicium” (1994), “Follow” (2004), and “A Box Full of Boxes” (2008).
I found out that Stefan used to have a blog called Unga Moderna. It hasn’t been updated since 2010 though. In there I found a mention of Alfie and his friendship with Tore:
“I met Tore Höghielm first time in high school when we went had German class together. Then he was mostly a fun little guy who could “småtjafsa” with (in a nice way). Then when I started high school I shared a studio with my big brother Kjell for a while, and I was at home when he and Niklas would auditioned in search of a singer. And there was little Tore … They had chosen a song by The Church which he had received on tape to audition for (probably “Almost With You”). He did not get the job in Biljardakademien, but he suddenly had a new favorite band (The Church). We never hung out in high school, more than that we ran into each other at times. I played in my band (which was good) and he played in various bands (which was not very good), but when, a few years later needed a bassist for Alfie, I came to think of Tore. Maybe he played slightly too much at times, but he fitted in perfectly with the band.“
And that is about all I could dig about the band. If you know anything else that you’d like to share, or you have the songs from the tapes, or anything else, you know what that comment box below is for!
Alfie – Fool to Fall