Not much to say this week. Lush will reform, play a show and release a box set. I think that is the news. Everything else at the moment is just accessory. And that’s fair. It’s good to see this comeback, that so far will include a concert in London and a box set reissue. But what else there is to talk about when such big news eclipse everything else?

It’s tough, right? The other important announcement came from Firestation Records. They will be releasing a bunch of records that no one can miss. They are essential:
– A reissue of The Hardy Boys’ “Wonderful Lie” 12″ – A reissue of Ala Pana Fuzo’s “Friend” 7″ as a 12″
– A reissue of The Dubious Brothers album “The Foresight Saga” on vinyl as well
– The Love Parade, on both CD and vinyl, gets the treatment we’ve been expecting for a long time. A retrospective compilation called “All We Could Have Been (1989-1990)”. 15 songs that I can’t wait to have them at home.
– And last a retrospective for the obscure band The Banzai Babies called “The Sun’s Still Shining”

Another record that has been released lately is that of Rose McDowall’s. It’s called “Cut With the Cake Knife” and it’s available in CD and LP. It’s out on Night School Records and it’s a reissue of the limited 2004 release on Bad Fairy Productions, though the songs were recorded in their entirety in the late 80s. “So Vicious” was always a favourite song of mine, so it’s good to be able to have it on record, and not just in MP3, now.

I also got on the mail the McCarthy reissue on Optic Nerve. The 7″ that was included in the pre-order looks and sounds great. The album I haven’t played yet. But I was very happy to get such a big booklet, with lots of photos as well as the posters that accompany the release. Now where do I find frames for European size posters in the US? IKEA, right?

And last but not least our friends from Pretty Olivia Records in Spain have also a reissue. This time it’s for the great New Zealand band The Wild Poppies. The record, a double LP, is titled “Heroine: The Wild Poppies Complete Collection (1986-1989)”. Another record that can’t be missed.

So, after reading all this, how does your wallet feel? Skinnier? Mine starts to worry me!


Perth is a city in central Scotland, located on the banks of the River Tay. It is the administrative centre of Perth and Kinross council area and the historic county of Perthshire. According to the preliminary 2011 census results Perth, including its immediate suburbs, has a population of 50,000. Perth has been known as The Fair City since the publication of the story Fair Maid of Perth by Scottish writer Sir Walter Scott in 1828. During the later medieval period the city was also called St. John’s Toun or Saint Johnstoun by its inhabitants in reference to the main church dedicated to St. John the Baptist. This name is preserved by the city’s football team, St. Johnstone F.C.

Last week we were talking about a band from Perth, Scotland. I think we should do it again this week. And also another band that many years ago I was introduced to by Takashi, that strange Japanese man who knows so much about indiepop but it’s not so keen in sharing his knowledge with the rest.

The Divorce Brothers. What a good name for a band I thought. They only released one record, and their legacy on the web is non-existent. There’s absolutely nothing written about them aside from Takashi’s blog and the always reliable for it’s taste From a Northern Place blog. Discogs lists the record, released on Separation Records (Left 1db is the catalog number) in 1986. It was a 12″ EP, running at 45rpm and included 5 songs:
A1. To Understand
A2. That First Kiss
B1. Walk Out the Door
B2. The Divorcee
B3. The Liquidator

We know the members of the band too:
– Ian McIntosh on vocals and guitar
– Abe McIntosh on guitar
– Ged Lerpiniere on bass
– Paul Caswell on drums
– Derek Anderson on keyboards

Liz McKenzie did backing vocals, the engineer for the record was Dick Gibson and the producer was Reg Bottomskelp. The cover was designed by Nick Wright for Nature Morte and the band photos on the back cover were Jim Lees’.

There are a bunch of thank yous on the back too. I guess the names I can see as famous is that of Billy McKenzie of The Associates. I wonder, perhaps Liz, who was doing backing vocals for the band, was related to him? Also a club is thanked, one called Soul Kiss Club. Wonder if any of you ever attended it?

That’s all I could find really about them. The song I’m sharing is amazing, you are going to love it if you don’t already. I wonder though what happened to them, how come they only released one record, if they were involved in other bands, and what are they up to these days.

Also, it’s been a long time since I had these songs as MP3s, maybe someone can help me with them. I think they were lost when my hard drive got fried like 4 years ago. I don’t own the record, but if anyone has a spare, that’d be nice too!


The Divorce Brothers – That First Kiss


Hello indiepop darlings. How are you? I have some news for you, now you can preorder the Don’t Cry Shopgirl 7″ on our website. Scroll down to the Coming Soon releases and there you’ll find a nice button. I’m very excited about this release, as it’s so good and has taken a long time to happen. It includes 4 perfect slices of pop, and it has been dressed in a beautiful sleeve painted by Amanda from Alpaca Sports. It’s all very Sweden, and it’s all very friendly, the kind of record I love releasing. I hope you all like it!

Let’s see. Last week I saw Ed from Shelflife here in NYC and he gave me the new Red Sleeping Beauty 7″. I love it. I think everyone should get a copy, it sounds like classic RSB, back to the 90s. I miss that sound (even though I wasn’t listening to indiepop back then! I was just a schoolboy!). What I mean is, there needs to be a jangly revival! I don’t mind the noisy guitars, but I miss listening to crystalline guitars and clear vocals. There are not many releases that have that sort of sound these days, don’t you think?

The other big news this week was the announcement of the dates for Indietracks 2016. It will happen on the weekend of the 29 to the 31 of July, in the same place, at the same time, at the shed, at the church, at the main stage, on the trains. I know many friends have already booked their hotels. Should I? At this point I don’t think I’ll make it, though I really want to go again. I guess I will perhaps wait for the first announcements. I know that by doing so everything will be more expensive, hotel, airfare, etc. But I think it’s my safest bet at the moment. I miss it though so much, seeing friends and having a good time with them. I think many of my best weekends in my life have happened there, at what was the best indiepop festival for sure.

Then my indiepop week has been very quiet. At home I listened time and time again the compilation Firestation released of Reflection A.O.B. and while I walked the streets of NYC I listened to the Flyying Colours CD Shelflife released with their two EPs. I’m catching up with releases, and I know I have to get The School, Alpaca Sports and Jessica and the Fletchers new albums. I also broke the piggy bank this time and took a chance and ordered the Go-Betweens vinyl box set that Domino is re-releasing once again, I guess for the ones that missed it the first time around and also to make some big bucks so they can release ugly bands.

Also I’m patiently waiting for my Optic Nerve order with the McCarthy reissue (and 7″ reissue). I think this one will make me very happy even though I own this record already. But then, there’s nothing wrong with having many McCarthy records at home. They are the best band ever (the only shame is that Cherry Red owns their catalog), but what can you do. Nothing in the end is perfect.

I still read the “Pequeño Circo” book at nights. It’s so long, but it’s such a pleasure to read it. I didn’t live the indie scene of Spain, but reading about all these bands that meant something to me when I started listening to music is really exciting and nostalgic too. I’m already by page 600 and even though there’s still more to read, I don’t want it to end.

And that’s more or less what’s happening in my indiepop life. What is happening in yours? Have you discovered any amazing bands? Bought any cool records? Would love to know how all of you are doing.


Do any of you know about The Frazers?

Today I was just thinking about them. I remember I was introduced to them by Takashi, the Japanese guy that once was very nice and generous, who loved sharing songs with me and the rest, but suddenly turned bitter and angry. I wonder what happened to him.

Online there’s barely anything written about them. There’s two unlisted videos on Youtube and an entry on the From a Northern Place blog. Takashi has written on his defunct blog too about them, but he only wonders about why this record is so obscure (well, according to Google Translate).

On one of these videos (actually not a video, but you know, a song on Youtube) though, on the one for the song “Selfish”, the singer of The Frazers actually commented 5 years ago. He says: “The first disc i ever played and sang on, with a band that was called The Frazers. we were so young. feels like a hundred years ago. amazing guys. such laughs. good times. good friends. still feel proud of it. cheers! Ricky

So we know the first name of The Frazers vocalist. I inspect his Youtube acount and see he has uploaded a bunch of songs by Scottish bands, from Perth, from Dundee. I wonder if he was involved in any of them? Athletico PoP, Grapefruit, Spiral TV, The Amazing Love Bees, are some of them. I had never heard these bands, and they actually sound good!  Hard to pick one for you to check, but I would say check ‘Carnival Headache” by The Amazing Love Bees, a bit él sounding! If you have the time, check them all of course.

The band only released one 7″ on The Thistle label in 1988. The catalog was SRT8KS1420. There were two songs on it, on the A side was the amazing and upbeat “Selfish” and on the b side another guitar pop gem called “Get it Right”.

Safe to assume that the band hailed from Scotland I think, but I think that’s the only conjecture I can make at this point. This is is as obscure, and as good, as it gets!


The Frazers – Selfish


Thanks so much to Penny Priest for the interview! I wrote just some weeks ago about Penny because of her amazing song, “Sometimes”, that was included in one of the best indiepop compilations, “Manchester North of England”. It was the only song I knew existed from her and I was always so curious! So it was really cool to finally be in touch and learn her story!

++ Hi Penny! Thanks so much for getting in touch! I was always so curious about your song on the compilation “Manchester North of England”, so I’m very glad to be able to talk to you! So let’s start with the questionnaire!  So, what are you up to these days? Are you still based in Manchester?

I left Manchester 24 years ago! I was there as a student, doing a psychology degree at the university and then a teaching qualification. It seemed difficult to get teaching jobs in Manchester at the time, so I moved to the East End of London where I started my teaching career. It’s a long story but I later re-trained as a clinical psychologist and now live and work in Shropshire, a county kind of sandwiched between Birmingham and the Welsh borders.

++ Are you originally from Manchester? And how has the city influenced you in your music? I mean, a city with so many amazing bands, especially in the 80s, it must have been amazing time to be there, no?

I’m not from Manchester. I was born in Frimley, Surrey (the south of England) and then moved north to Hull after my dad was left a house there in his aunt’s will. My sister went to Salford University (next door to Manchester) and I liked the vibe when I visited there, so eventually ended up there myself. (My mum also went to Manchester University in the 50s, whilst she was a Catholic nun (!!!) and my son is about to start there this weekend!). It was great being in Manchester in the 80s, although I wouldn’t say the city influenced my music. When I write songs, I’m probably more influenced by other artists and music I like, regardless where it’s from. Having said that, I do feel an affinity with Irish music and Spanish music. There was plenty of Irish music in Manchester when I was there. A particularly good band at that time was Toss The Feathers.

++ And would you say the city has changed much? Back then what were the venues you used to go to? Or the pubs were you hanged with friend? Are they still around?

Well, it’s hard for me to say whether it’s changed much as I’ve hardly been back, although was there just last weekend to drop my son’s stuff off at his halls of residence. For a while back then, I used to live in an area called Rusholme, which was full of great curry houses. That has really changed now; far less curry houses and more Turkish and Afghan places with lots of shisha lounges. Apart from curry houses, I used to enjoy going to the Irish club in Chorlton cum Hardy, where I also lived for a while. I spent quite a bit of time in the Beech pub on the green there, too. For gigs, we would go to the university unions, or the International, the Boardwalk, the Green Room and the Band on the Wall. I don’t know if any of those are still there! I spent a fair bit of time in many of Manchester’s great pubs, but it’s hard to remember all the names and when I went up there the other weekend, at least one of those was no longer a pub.

++ When did you start making music? And did you always play under your name or were you also involved with bands?

I started making music probably when I was about four years old, sitting on a swing in my garden, singing tunes to myself. Once I learned to play the piano, I started writing tunes and even whole musicals. I also learned violin and wrote a string quartet at one point which actually got performed by myself and some friends! Around the age of 11 though, I began to feel restricted by the culture of competitiveness around classical music and I also began to think it was a bit uncool. So I gave up the violin and piano and a few years later picked up the guitar and just naturally started writing songs on there. I first performed at open mic nights near where I lived in Hull, which was not strictly legal at the age of 15, as a fair few pints of ale would also be involved! Probably the most important springboard for me was getting the opportunity to record a demo tape in my local BBC studio, BBC Radio Humberside. It was my big sister, Monica, I have to thank for this as she introduced me to her friend who was a sound engineer there. I sent that initial tape to John Slater, the journalist on City Life, who reviewed it and became my manager.

++ For the recording of your songs, did you have a proper band? Or how did that work?

Mostly I did gigs on my own, or paired up with one other friend. I longed to have a band behind me but it never really worked out at that time, although the song, Sometimes, was recorded with a band which included the former guitarist and bass player of the then-recently defunct indie band, Microdisney. It was Polygram Records who put us together.

++ And how did the creative process work for you? What inspired you? What came first lyrics or music?

Writing songs is/always was a very simple recipe for me; I would generally write songs when I was feeling miserable, although this didn’t necessarily mean the songs sounded miserable. As I was pretty poor/unskilled on the guitar, I used to retune different strings to totally random tunings which would often make it easier to come up with different chords, which I’d then put together, and a tune would magically follow. With only one or two exceptions, the music would come first and then the lyrics. Once I had the tune nailed, I could relax and enjoy writing the lyrics!

++ How did you end up in the compilation”Manchester North of England”?

I had John Slater to thank for that. He worked hard and got me a lot of good gigs. He knew lots of people and had a good idea of what would go down well, and where. He also was very encouraging of me and I think genuinely liked my songs. It was the journalist, Sarah Champion, who put ‘Manchester North of England’ together. I’m not sure if she approached John about me, or vice versa. She did do a few positive reviews of some of my gigs.

++ And if you don’t mind, what is the song that you contributed “Sometimes” about? What’s the story behind it?

Haha! That song was about my boyfriend at the time. I fell totally in love with him when I met him at the age of about 14. Basically, he didn’t love me like I loved him and the song was about how I would do anything for him but that wasn’t appreciated…I’ve grown up since then! Fortunately not all my songs are similar subject matter, but they are mostly about people I encounter in my life.

++ I don’t know of any other release of yours. Did you participate in any other compilations? Or perhaps you put any records out?

Well, once I left Manchester and moved down to London, I started teaching and got pregnant in a very short space of time, so life kind of intervened and I didn’t do much in the way of music apart from with the children I was teaching. I’d write a song every so often but didn’t pursue it any more actively than that. But slowly, once I’d left teaching, moved up to Shropshire and my two boys had grown a bit, I started to find more time for music again. I also met a wonderful musician here in Ludlow, where I live now, who was interested in meeting up and playing together. He nurtured my growing appreciation of folk music and it was wonderful to be making music again together with someone so talented and knowledgeable. We drank a lot of wine and smoked a lot of cigarettes and had a great laugh together too. We started recording stuff at a local studio and eventually found a fantastic bass player and drummer and produced a CD, Far Water. This coincided with my 40th birthday party where the band played, along with my then 18 year old son on backing guitar. We played at the Shrewsbury Folk Festival that same year, 2010, and sold a few CDs there. Life has moved on again though and I’m back in a bit of a musical slump now!

++ I know at least, because of a clipping I found online, that you used to sell your demos. So I wonder, how many demo tapes did you make and sell? And what were the tracks on them if you remember?

I didn’t sell any demos, but think perhaps John Slater sold them. I think it was probably the 3 tracks that we recorded at Out of the Blue studios in Manchester, which included Sometimes, and two other songs, Ordinary Girl, and Better. This demo and studio time was paid for by Polygram records, who had showed some interest in signing me, but following the demo, they decided they didn’t like my voice! I think maybe they didn’t like the way I looked either…I was never the coolest of people!

++ Then I found another clipping when it says you played some women-only gigs at The Gallery. Do you remember about that? How important was at that time to be involved in all-women activities?

I did play at least one women-only gig, somewhere like Oldham, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I remember there was a woman there who did a short show about witches, and how women used to get treated for stepping out of line, or not behaving as they were expected to. Apart from that, it’s a bit hazy. I think during that time of doing music in Manchester, it felt like I was in a bit of an unreal world and that I just went along with doing what people told me to.

++ Was it very hard for women to find gigs, or get the same treatment then? Do you think it has changed much compared to today?

Well, as I said before, I didn’t really ever pay much attention to that side of things, as John Slater would get the gigs and just tell me where and when I was playing and how much they were paying me. I really don’t know what it’s like these days, as I rarely do any gigs, and also I suspect it’s quite different out here in the sticks to out there in the big city.

++ And what about other gigs? Did you play many? Perhaps outside of Manchester? What was the best or the worst gig you remember? Anecdotes you could share?

I guess the most amazing one has to be, without any shadow of a doubt, the time I supported Nina Simone at the Manchester Apollo! This was very much a last minute thing. I was working in a die-cast metal parts factory at the time (a summer job in university holidays). I got back from work one evening to take a phone call from John, who asked me what I was doing that evening. He promptly told me to cancel my plans as I was supporting Nina Simone at the Manchester Apollo! God knows how I survived that! I remember I wore a long white dress and drank a fair bit of white wine before I went on. I got to meet Nina Simone afterwards. It’s a shame but maybe actually a good thing that back then I was so ignorant about so much music that I really didn’t appreciate how truly great she was. I think I would have refused to do the gig if I had realised! Second only to that experience, was one of the ‘Five Go To Play Guitar’ gigs. You mentioned these on your blog; five separate guitar acts, with myself, Johnny Dangerously (John Bramwell from I Am Kloot), George Borowski, Bob Dillinger and Kevin Seisay. I never really thought the idea worked that well as I didn’t really think people going to see comedy (Kevin and Bob), would be the sort of people who wanted to hear my stuff. At any rate, one of those gigs in the Green Room was compered by Steve Coogan, before he became a world famour comedian and actor. He bought me a drink in the bar at the break and if I’d been more savvy, maybe I would have taken that as some sort of invitation. I was only just 18 and way too innocent to realise what was going on!

++ You seem to have played with a bunch of cool bands, so I wonder what was your favourite band you played with?

Haha! I’m not sure which bands you’re referring to here, as I really haven’t. But I have to say my favourite collaboration has been with my friends here in Shropshire who produced the Far Water CD with me. Not only are they all great musicians, but they’re probably the most hilarious bunch of guys I’ve had the pleasure of spending time with. Really, it was always a laugh a minute and a miss those times! Happy memories though!

++ How was the press and the fanzine people with Penny Priest? How was your relationship with them?

Again, John Slater handled all that, so I wasn’t really aware of most of it. That was probably a good thing! One welcome bit of attention was from a fan, who bought me a drink at the bar about an hour after Steve Coogan had. I had just split up with the guy from the Sometimes song, so it was nice to have the attention. I ended up going out with this guy for the next couple of years!

++ During those late 80s there was an explosion of guitar pop bands in the UK. Did you feel part of a scene? And why do you think that during that particular time there were so many like minded bands like, perhaps, never before?

I didn’t really feel part of that. I was more influenced by women like Suzanne Vega, Tracy Thorn (from Everything But The Girl), Michelle Shocked, Natalie Merchant (10,000 Maniacs), Irish music and other stuff. Looking back, to me it seems the whole musical backdrop was very diverse and the Manchester scene was just one important part of that.

++ Did you continue making music during the 90s? Or did you stop?

Well as I said before, it’s been feast and famine with me over the years. Although I’m in a slump now, there will probably be another great creative period just around the corner. That seems to be the way it usually works. With my boys grown and no longer at home, I imagine there will time again for more music.

++ Are there any up and coming news, maybe gigs, for Penny Priest?

Watch this space, I guess!

++ These days, do you still pick up your guitar? What other hobbies aside from music do you have?

Ah well, this is part of the problem. When we moved to Shropshire I got into fell running. When arthritis in my knees put a stop to that, I got into cycling and cycling is a very time-intensive sport! I did an Ironman in Nice (France) in 2013, despite the arthritis and the fact that I can’t swim freestyle. I’ve recently done the Haute Route seven day cycling stage race in the Swiss Alps and Dolomites, so you can perhaps begin to understand how the music has taken a back seat!

++ What would you say has been your biggest highlight as a musician?

In some respects it would be easy to say the Nina Simone experience, but actually, and I’m not sure this is a highlight, but for me the most amazing thing is playing with a few other musicians and having unrehearsed moments where everything comes together and the music is so sublime it gives shivers down the spine…just that experience of making music is always a wonderful and priceless thing!

++ Last time I was in Manchester it was for such short time, but I really liked the city. You as a local, what are your favourite sights or places that no one should miss?

Well, I’m no longer there and I’m sure so much has changed. I’d like to go back to Chorlton Green for a pint outside the Beech on a sunny afternoon, though…

++ I’m just a bit curious, are you a Man United or City fan?

Liverpool. It’s a family thing.

++ Let’s wrap it here, thanks a lot for everything. Anything else you’d like to add?

Thanks for showing an interest. I hope you like the Far Water CD!


Penny Priest – Sometimes


Today I have finished mailing all pre-orders of The Color Waves 7″s. Hopefully your copy will arrive shortly. I want to thank everyone that has placed an order in the past months. By the end of the week I’ll be adding a pre-order button for Don’t Cry Shopgirl’s 7″, hope you can keep supporting the label as we want to continue putting out quality indiepop from bands that deserve it!

I’ve been busy at work with a big project that finally was published today. Now things may get a bit better and I should have some spare time to answer emails and fix my house for example! It’s been so hectic! Some days I would even go sleep very early. That’s not me. It was a big project about disappeared people in Mexico. A big interactive that already has started receiving some praise. Feels good.  But damn, it was so much work!

My friend Daniel in Peru asks me to make a flyer for him for Lima Popfest. They are celebrating a Spring edition on the 26th of this month. This year he decided to make two editions, it seems it works better this way in Lima. To be honest the only bands I was familiar with were Moon Over Soho and Dan Dan Dero. Moon Over Soho was a band from the early, mid 2000s. Now it seems they are back. They had a bunch of good songs and most importantly, I remember talking to them, they had good music taste. It’s been a while though. I read they are preparing a new EP to be released soon. Dan Dan Dero on the other hand, I discovered not so long ago. I mentioned them when I did a recap of Peruvian bands here on the blog. I think they might be my favourite band from the whole lineup this year.

The international bands come from Chile and Argentina this time. From Chile there’s Cristóbal Briceño, the leader of the band Ases Falsos, and from Argentina there’s Facu Tobogán, who plays solo but also is leader of the band Tobogán Andaluz. Seems Tobogán Andaluz is a very popular band in Peru as I’ve seen lots of people asking to book them on Facebook.

The other two bands on the bill are Invernal and Led Feder. Invernal is a band I discovered some time ago, but kind of forgot about them on my recap! I remember telling Daniel to book them for the first Lima Popfest. They are really good and I definitely recommend them. Proper indiepop with bright electric guitars and female vocals. Strange to say for me, but I actually like the Peruvian bands, the local bands, better this time around! This says a lot I think, it seems it’s a good time for guitar pop in Peru, and I look forward to any up and coming bands from there. Still a bit far from what I saw in Indonesia, especially in Bandung, where there was such an explosion of bands some years ago, but I feel that is what Lima is shaping up to be. I cross my fingers this exciting trend continues!

The event will happen again at the Discoteca Embassy in downtown Lima and the tickets cost 45  soles, something like 14 dollars. Cheap for a good night of music.


Le Beau Serge is a French film directed by Claude Chabrol, released in 1958. It has been cited as the first product of the Nouvelle Vague, or “French New Wave,” film movement. The film is often compared with Chabrol’s subsequent film Les Cousins, which also features Jean-Claude Brialy and Gérard Blain.

Translate it to Spanish and we have El Bello Sergio. But I’m not going to talk about the film today, but about a band from Málaga, Spain, who released 5 songs as a demo back in 1999. And since then they’ve been forgotten.

Well, not 100% forgotten. Some people still remember. I was talking to Cristóbal from The Royal Landscaping Society the other day, that I was hoping to dig some information about some of the bands that just left a demo or two back in the early 2000s, or even in the late 90s. That was a very prolific time when it came to indiepop in Spain. Throwing names, he mentioned El Bello Sergio. And I thought, that would be interesting, what happened to them?

I remember downloading their demo on Soulseek, more than a decade ago. I actually had a good collection of demos from Spanish bands. They mostly released them on CDR so it was easy to rip them to MP3 and be shared around. I lost that nice collection of MP3s, and that’s perhaps the day I learned that MP3s are worth nothing really, when my hard drive got fried. Since then I kind of forgot the names of the bands, and their songs.

But there was someone else who still remembered them, and in 2010 blogged about them. That was Rubén from Área 51 del Corazón blog (and also label). He actually posted about them and gave us a couple of interesting facts. We learn that the driving force for this project was Manolo Castro and that this demo included 5 songs: “Seguro que Vendrán”, “Mi Pequeño Hogar”, “Todos Duermen”, “La Noche de San Juan” and “Volverás”. The second song, “Mi Pequeño Hogar”, also gives name to the EP. My favourite, and it seems everyone’s too, was the last one, “Volverás”.

Rubén on his blog describes them as a band that has a sound close to La Buena Vida or Family and with vocals that reminds one of Fernando Alfaro from Surfin’ Bichos. On the comment section of the blog we find out that Manolo, after his stint with the band, worked as a producer (working with Lemon Fly) and also as a record label (called Sunday Morning Records and releasing the band Dos Mil Locos). He has also been involved with other bands like Model Monroe and Robby Robot.

So I check out these projects. To my surprise I find that Robby Robot has actually covered “Volverás”  as a techno pop song. It’s quite interesting to see it reworked like this. Seems he is still based in Malaga, in the South of Spain, and now keeps playing with this band along Daphne. It’s just a duo. They have put out a bunch of songs on their bandcamp and they are quite fun.

Aside from that, I barely know anything about El Bello Sergio. I can’t find information online really. Did they participate in those demo contests that were so popular in Spain back then? Did they play live a lot? Was it a full band or just Manolo recording at home? So many questions, that would be nice to see answered some time. In the meantime, enjoy this beauty called “Volverás”!


El Bello Sergio – Volverás


Thanks a lot to Sebastian Voß for the interview! The Grindcore Poppies didn’t release anything but two amazing songs on an indiepop compilation called “A View of Our Dreams” on a Serbian label. The songs were so good so I blogged about them some weeks ago. Then Sebastian got in touch and was willing to tell the story of the band! So here it is!

++ Hi Sebastian! Thanks so much for your time. I always liked those two tracks of Grindcore Poppies on the “A View of Our Dreams” compilation, so it’s really awesome that we can talk! So how are you? Are you making music these days??

Hej, Roque, I’m fine, thank you. And I’m so incredibly overwhelmed by your interest in my music due to the fact that lots of time have passed since „A View To Our Dreams“. Currently I’m still playing bass and drums in a Low-fi-band called Lancaster which sounds a little bit like Pavement, The Wedding Present and early Pastels. Provided that I find enough time I still do some homerecording. If you like, check „The Fisherman And His Soul“ at Soundcloud.

++  I always wondered, how come a German band ended up on an indiepop compilation in Serbia? How did that come about?

At the end of the nineties – when digital music was in its infancy – I would upload some of my Grindcore Poppies-tracks at mp3.com. Once upon a time, Nik and Ana from Belgrade ,who were passionate Indiepopfans and genre connaisseurs, wrote me a mail and told me about their compilation plans. They also told me that they found my songs by pure chance and then they would play „This Light Will Always Shine“ at an Indieclub venue two or three times and made it a little „hit” in Belgrade. On this occasion they asked if they could take one or two of my songs for their compilation. Because of being part of such an illustrious selection of fantastic bands and musicians it’s needless to say that I still feel quite honoured.

++ And those two songs that were on that comp, “This Light Will Always Shine” and “French Cars”, if you don’t mind, what’s the story behind them?

„This light…“ is about a chronically desperate girl that I would have a crush on when I was 17.
„French Cars“ deals with the question why the hell great French automobile manufacturer Citroen decided to stop its unique corporate design: Citroens had their rear wheels semi covered. When I was a little boy I was obsessed with cars and their distinguishing features. Nowadays, it’s nearly impossible to discriminate the European car brands. That makes me sad in an unexcited way, though.

++ Let’s go back in time, what was the first band you were involved with? And which other bands aside from Grindcore Poppies you’ve been in?

In 1992 I met my longterm musical companion André Boße who lived in the neighbouring town and who is a music writer right now. We found out that we had quite the same taste in music and after visiting a Jacobites gig together we started recording together some songs with a little mixing console . Our first band was called Funnybone. We left our hometown and started college in Münster. After a little while we sent a 4-track-demotape and would receive some warm-hearted feedback by the guys of Gleis 22, which is a legendary indie music club. They called us „next Indiepop sensation“ and asked us to play a X-mas gig in 1995. Enthusiastically, we definitely accepted – without actually having a proper band. So André and I rallied two friends, Bernd and Sten, who played bass and drums for two or three rehearsals. Although our first gig must have been absolute crap, we would acquire a good reputation as „Münster’s cutest Indieband“. In 1998 we even had the opportunity to support Nikki Sudden and we had some drinks with him after the gig. Such a nice guy who had been around a lot and who had some great stories! We’re still sad that he had passed.

++ When and how did Grindcore Poppies came about? Who were the members and how did you know each other?

Grindcore Poppies was always a home recording project. First quantum leap was the use of a TASCAM-Portastudio and a drum computer in the middle of the nineties. In this time „This time..“ was made as a classical bed room recording in my shared apartment. Two years later – together with a friend of mine, Sebastian Haass, who is a truly gifted singer and drummer and who had a rehearsal room and a digital 8-track-mixer –  I recorded a couple of more songs that I’ve stockpiled the years before. The style would slowly change into a more serious and mature kind of songwriting. I think ten years ago Sebastian had moved back to his hometown Bamberg in Franconia, which is located about 500 km away from here, so we enforcedly stopped recording together.

++ And why the name? Who came up with it? It’s so good!

Haha, that name was sheer interesting and funny sounding non-sense!

++ There was another song on Soundcloud called “Fallacious Falling Star”. This one is dedicated to Paddy MacAloon. So I wonder who were your influences and what are your favourite indiepop bands from all time?

If I was allowed to name but a few bands and influences I would say Prefab Sprout, The Wedding Present, BMX Bandits and other C86 bands. Some of my favorite indie labels were Creation, Postcard, Sarah, Firestation Tower, Flying Nun.

++ So you are based in Münster, right? How was that place at the time of the Grindcore Poppies? Has it changed much?

There are more than 70.000 college students here and I think Münster is still an interesting place for Indie music lovers. There are lots of fantastic bands and musicians, also a lot of clubs and discotheques.

++ Were there any other like-minded bands in town that you like?

It’s always been kind of a collective or a network I’ve been engaged with. Currently, I would like to recommend Them Cities, Elektrogrill, The Green Apple Sea, Bersarin Quartett.

++ And in general, in Germany, what have been your favourite guitar pop bands all-time?

My favourite German guitar pop bands are Blumfeld, Sharon Stoned, The Notwist, Goldstoned, Busch, Die Zimmermänner… and I could name more and more.

++ Aside from these three songs that we’ve mentioned, are there any more Grindcore Poppies recordings at all?

About more than twenty songs, I guess, but they are yet unreleased…

++ How did the creative process work for you? What do you remember from the recording sessions for the Grindcore Poppies songs?

Grindcore Poppies was indeed my very first vehicle for songs that I wrote on my own. In 1992 when I was a shy and inhibited wimp and still living in my parents’ house I started recording a bunch of songs, even albums which man could euphemistically file under „Psychedelic Folk“. I would put two ghettoblasters next to each other for a raw overdubbing technique and I would use drum samples, an acoustic guitar that I taught myself to play when I was 16, a balalaika, glockenspiel, oboe and recorders. The poor recording quality was my definition of punk attitude. And my girlfriend had to endure that albums on a weekly basis.

++ Oh! And did you ever considered making indiepop in German?

Not really…

++ Have you appeared on any other compilations?

Well, I took part on certain compilations and mixtapes as free giveaways.

++ And how come there was never a proper release for the band?

This is a good question. I don’t really know. I think that I was too shy, probably. But I really would have had released a 7’’.

++ What about gigs? Did you play many with the band? If so which were your favourite gigs and why?

There was no real Grindcore Poppies gig, but I played some of my songs with other bands. From 2002 to 2010 I played in a band called Stars Of Track And Field, later we changed the name to Stars Play Music. We played a small tour supporting Indiepop heroes „Slut“ from Ingolstadt promoting our album „Distance Is Necessary“ in 2008. Three gigs in a row in Cologne, Hamburg and Berlin, each gig with more than 500 people in the audience. That was a great experience and it was big fun.

++ When and why did the band split? What did you do after?

There were (and are) lots of other bands and projects with the Gleis 22 collective like The Delicious, Stars Play Music, Lancaster and Them Cities. At the moment I play some Grindcore Poppies songs together with two friends of mine in our rehearsal room. It works – and it’s great! Well, maybe this will be the beginning of a glorious return 😉 !

++ And aside from music what other hobbies do you like?

Other hobbies aside from music, are you kidding 😉 ? Well, since I’m ten years old I’ve passionately collected records. I am fascinated by discovering new stuff and back-catalogues. Except this I like hiking and cooking. And – last but not least – I have a little daughter who is nearly two years old. It’s such great fun playing with her and showing her how everything works around us. And I really like my job as a consultant medical doctor in a psychotherapeutical day care unit.

++ Tell me a bit about Münster. I was there many years ago for a day, but didn’t get someone to point me out what was the best to do there. So tell me, what are the sights that no one should miss? and what about the traditional dish from your town?

Well, it’s great to hear that you were in Münster as well and I hope that you had a good impression! Meanwhile I moved to a small village in the affluent area but as I’m working in Münster every day I still appreciate this town very much. It’s a large modern city and its clear medieval structure, a varied selection of cultural and academical offerings and – last but not least – the beautiful countryside around makes living here worthwhile. Concerning traditional dishes… ummm- you need to be an omnivore, I think. Westphalian dishes are well known for their rural and „hearty“ preparations of various meat products, ham and sausages. F.e. you could taste “Münsterländer Töttchen” (if you dare).

++ And I always ask this to German bands, what’s your favourite beer? and football team?

Personally, i mostly like cool and sharp Pilsener, my favourite brand is „Jever“ wich is brewed near the Northern Sea in Ostfriesland. Concerning football I cheer on VfB Stuttgart (which causes any true joy at the moment).

++ So let’s wrap it here, thanks again! Anything else you’d like to add?

It was a pleasure! Thank you and I wish you all the best!


Grindcore Poppies – This Light Will Always Shine


Thanks so much to Kieron Flaherty for the interview! I wrote just some weeks ago about the New Zealand band Perfect Garden, on how much I was loving their sound and how surprised I was that this band was so obscure when it deserved to be well known! Anyhow, Kieron got in touch and was very kind to share more songs with me. And how good were they! Now he tells me the story about the band, so read and you’ll fall in love with this band!

++ Hi Kieron! Thanks so much for getting in touch with me. Really loved the songs from Perfect Garden! They are so good! So let me ask you, are you still making music?

Hi Roque! Thanks for your interest and support. To answer your first question – I’m afraid not! I do have a battered old acoustic lying round the house that I use from time to time but certainly nothing serious and I haven’t been in a band for a LONG time…!

++ On the comment you left me on the blog, you say you hero-worshipped Bobby Gillespie. What were your favourite songs of him, and what do you think of the sound that eventually Primal Scream would have, leaving the jangly guitars behind. Were you still a fan then?

When it comes to my favourite songs by (early!) Primal Scream it’s hard to know where to start. I absolutely loved that band until Jim Beattie and Martin St John left. My absolute favourite is Black Star Carnival (b-side to Gentle Tuesday – nice and obscure!) Then we are on to It Happens, All Fall Down, May the sun shine bright for you, Bewitched and Bewildered, Gentle Tuesday, Tomorrow ends today, Velocity Girl, Treasure trip… I mean where do you end?! I do remember being given a tape of the Peel sessions by a friend who had been to England and taped it and for a while it was my most treasured possession.
As for their new sound… well let’s just say I’m not a fan.  I bought into the 2nd album and loved Ivy Ivy Ivy and some other tracks but it’s just the sense of betrayal I feel is too much for me to listen to them much these days. It’s more the fact that they left all the original fans behind and kinda laughed at them that really annoyed me. I saw them in ‘94 and sure it was fine and dandy but to not play any of the earlier material is a massive insult to the original fans. To be fair though I did meet Mr Gillespie in London a few years back and he was very friendly and talkative. I asked him if they would ever play the old classics live again… but he was very non-committal! He did sign my All Fall Down and Crystal Crescent singles though so fair play to him I suppose. I could rant about Primal Scream all day so I should leave it there…!

++ You were telling me that back then, when you were in Perfect Garden you were into the C86 scene. Are you still listening to this sort of sound? And what were/are your favourite C86 bands ever?

As with everyone as I’ve got older my music taste has diversified but to be honest I do still listen to a lot of jangly pop. I mean the Smiths and early Primals are never far away from my music player.
My favourite C86 bands? Well I loved Jesse Garon and the Desperadoes (still do of course!) They were just the perfect coming together of the scene for me. I loved lots of Scottish bands unsurprisingly… the Soup Dragons, The Shop Assistants, The Close Lobsters, The Pastels. Then there was Talulah Gosh, the Wedding Present, the Bodines, the Mighty Lemon Drops, Razorcuts, The Chesterfields, The Pooh Sticks…I could go on and on!

++ You were based in Dunedin. There was the whole Dunedin Sound too. How did that influence you? Did you feel part of it?

To be honest we didn’t really feel part of that scene at all. Most of those bands were a lot older than us and The Clean and The Chills had already moved on. I think it probably peaked around 85/86 and we were all just in school and not old enough to quite be taking it in. I did have an older brother with a great record collection who would bring those records home but I was more interested in what was happening in England to be honest. The band that did really happen when I was old enough to be going out were the Straightjacket Fits who were one of the greatest live bands I had/have ever seen.

++ And why do you think such an amazing explosion of bands appeared during that time in New Zealand? And that actually became quite well known! Like if you see, for example, there was a bunch of great Australian bands at the time but they are way more obscure! I’ve often wondered about this…

That is the million dollar question… and people in Dunedin are still asking it themselves I think! I think that being a student town had a big bearing on it. Also its isolation from the rest of the world meant that bands were able to develop and make their own music without a heavily critical music press breathing down their necks. To be honest I’m still kinda baffled by it all! I’m pretty proud that the Clean, The Bats, The Chills etc. are still mentioned as influences on loads of younger bands -especially coming from the States it seems.

++ Tell me a bit about the town, what were your favourite venues, what were the places you used to hang out?

There was certainly nothing glamourous about Dunedin when we grew up – it’s a much nicer place now – coffee shops on every corner! In the 80s it was mostly working men’s pubs – all a bit rough around the edges. Our favourite hangout was the Empire tavern or the Robbie Burns hotel. The Empire was the place to go see up and coming bands and we certainly played there a few times. I had many great nights there but alas I believe it’s not there anymore. The Captain Cook was another popular venue but that was more in the student part of town and we didn’t venture there too often. Dunedin is a pretty small place so it was easy to wander down George Street (the main street) and go to many different pubs on any given night.

++ How did Perfect Garden start as a band? How did you all meet?

Well me and Shane had been talking about starting a band for a while. We were really in love with the Primitives so we wanted a female singer. I was dating Karen at the time so we asked her if she fancied trying out and she turned out to be great. We had another drummer to start off with but he wanted to play guitar so we asked Aaron if he fancied joining and he did. Martin was someone we knew from another local band who looked good so he was in. I think the rule was you had to own a pair of winkle pickers and a black polo neck to be in the band!

++ Have you all been involved in bands before?

Yes – to a certain extent. Aaron and I were in a band called The Living End for a short time. I seem to remember Shane played stand up drums at one of our gigs… all very Mary Chain of course! Martin was in a couple of bands before we meet. It was all very chaotic of course – amazing that it ever came together to be honest!

++ Where does the name of the band come from?

To be honest it came from a mis-hearing down the phone! As with most bands the hardest bit is choosing a name-writing songs is easy compared to that! Anyway we were putting ideas around – I seem to remember ‘The Chain of Flowers’ as an idea after a line in Birthday by the Sugarcubes. I had heard that the name of the House of Love was from an underground erotic novel (A Spy in the House of Love by Anais Nin) so I asked around if anyway had heard of other names in this genre. I was talking to a friend who suggested ‘The Perfumed Garden’ – however I heard – ‘The ‘Perfect’ Garden’ and thought – brilliant! So there you have it – we should have been The Perfumed Garden – although I think either name would have been fine.

++ As I was saying, I loved all the songs I’ve heard. So do tell me how was the creative process for you guys? How did it work?

Most of the songs were worked out in the practice room. I don’t remember any of them being written fully formed – although I may be wrong. Mostly it would be a riff or a bassline that we would work on. The lyrics would normally be written by either Shane or Karen although I did contribute a few. We really were like magpies – taking influences from the bands we loved and turning them into our own songs. Looking back it’s hard to imagine that we ever came up with those tracks that sound quite individual but I’m sure most bands feel like this.

++ You were around only for around two years but I’ve seen you played many gigs including some with The Bats, is that right? What were your favourite gigs and why? Any anecdotes you could share?

Yeah we were quite lucky to score some really good support slots early on. This was mostly due to me being lucky enough to work at the local HMV shop which was populated with loads of people in Flying Nun bands! We had members of Look Blue Go Purple, The Bats, 3 Ds, Dead C – it was a hipsters paradise looking back. Anyway I got to know Rob Scott from the Bats who very graciously offered us a support slot with them. It was quite a thrill playing that gig but pretty nerve-wracking. I seem to remember my guitar string breaking and taking ages to put another one on and tune it! Anyway it seemed to go really well – no matter what that reviewer thought on the youtube video! We never got to the stage of headlining – always support. We played with the 3’ds a couple of times which was great – they were really nice as well. We had close ties to a couple of bands in Christchurch – Black Spring and Dolphin and so we did a few’ triple-headers’ with them-both in Dunedin and Christchurch. I have some memories of playing a charity gig at Sammys which was the largest venue in Dunedin. I remember playing Into the Ground and actually looking up from my guitar (I didn’t do that often!) and seeing people getting really into it… that was quite a thrill.

++ From what I know there was one tape released with four songs. “Into the Ground”, “End of the Perfect Sunshine”, “Amelia” and “Swirl”. Would you mind telling me the story behind these fantastic songs?

Well let me just say thank you for calling the songs fantastic – it means a lot after all these years! We never did get around to actually releasing the songs but I’ll get into that in the next question.

As for the songs – well this is how I remember it.

Into the Ground. Me and Shane were listening to a lot of Loop , Spacemen 3 and Ultra Vivid Scene (the Mercy seat was a real favourite) at the time and loved the idea of a long ‘droney’ song. It’s also a lot easier to play this type of riff when you are learning how to play-especially if you turn the distortion up! The original version went for over 6 minutes – I loved the idea of locking into a groove and just keeping it going.

End of the Perfect Sunshine. To me the best song we ever did. It came about from a bassline that Martin was messing about with. The guitar lines just followed it but where the big drum intro into the chorus was just one of those magical things that happen in practice rooms. I can say for sure that the chords for the chorus are the same as About You by the Mary Chain… I was very pleased to come up with that. Shane wrote the lyrics and I recall thinking…’this sounds like an indie classic’!

Amelia. This was built around a little riff I had from listening to The Bitter End from Felts wonderful Pictorial Jackson Review. I’m pretty sure the name of the song is a tribute to the wonderful Amelia Fletcher from Talulah Gosh. The lyrics were written by Karen and tell a tale of jealousy at a lover being fancied by another girl – and it causing considerable pain it seems.

Swirl. This one I remember the least. I think we just wanted a good thrashy song to play and worked out a pretty simple riff which Shane wailed all over. Im guessing we had probably heard the early Ride e.ps and were trying for something along those lines…

++ Was this tape a demo? Or was it a proper release? Where was it sold and how many copies were made?

The tape was a demo. Not long after we recorded these songs the band broke up as Shane headed to England. Subsequently what you see in the video is a mock up made by Karen and not a proper release. So I can safely say – none were made and none were sold!

++ On the tape it says it was mastered by Kevin Stokes for Failsafe Records. Was that your label?

We were never signed to anyone I’m afraid. Kevin was in a great band called Dolphin from Christchurch who we got to know through our friends in Black Spring who were also from Christchurch. Subsequently we did some recording in their studio which is where the songs you have heard were done. As an aside I remember writing to Sarah records around mid ‘89 just to tell them how much I was enjoying the music coming out on the label and I was thrilled to hear back from Matt and Clair a few weeks later. They were really interested that people in NZ were loving their label. Anyway I promised to send them our recordings but for some reason I didn’t do it…

++ And what do you remember from those recording sessions?

Not that much to be honest! Maybe we knew the band was coming to an end I’m not sure but I’m glad we got the songs down before we broke up. My main memories are trying to play the lead for Into the Ground (based on the solo at the end of Velocity Girl – although it may be hard to hear that!) and Kevin suggesting the wonderful backing vocals for End of the Perfect Sunshine which to me really make the song. When we heard that played back for the first time there were goosebumps for sure! As you can imagine it was done very quickly. All four songs were done in a day – recording doesn’t come cheap so we had to really hurry it along but I think we really managed to capture the band and what we were trying to do at the time.

++ Are there any more recordings by the band?

Yeah, just two. As mentioned earlier a longer version of Into the Ground and a lovely little pop song called Back for More – one of our very earliest tracks. They were recorded in Dunedin at the Radio One (Student Radio) recording studio – (no idea if it’s still there!) These two tracks got some play on Student Radio and I believe Into the Ground made No 1 in the Top 11 for a couple of weeks… so that was really pleasing looking back (thanks Aaron I had forgotten that!)

++ There’s one flyer of yours I saw that says “Indiepop Ain’t Noise Pollution!”. I wonder then if there were many indiepop fans in New Zealand at the time? And how did you find out about indiepop? How did you get into?

Well there were certainly a few fans and of course we all knew each other – Dunedin is a pretty small place as you can imagine – it’s easy to spot a fan of indie pop. I got into it, like many people I suspect, through loving the big two – the Smiths and the Mary Chain. Again being lucky to have an older brother who not only had a great record collection but also bought the NME from time to time (it wasn’t easy to get in N.Z in those days – and it was 3 months behind) made it possible for me to read about these amazing looking bands coming out of the U.K. If I saw a picture of a band with bowl cuts and leather trousers I wanted to buy their records! I also had met Shane who also had a big collection and a job which meant he was able to buy all the expensive imports of the day as a lot of these bands L.P’s were hard to come by in Dunedin at the time. From ‘86 onwards we were just lapping up everything to do with that scene. We devoured the music press and would buy anything mentioned, especially if it was on Creation. I also had a friend who went to England quite regularly and would bring back tapes of John Peel sessions and videos of the chart show so that was another way we got to know what was happening. Of course the greatest day was actually getting a copy of the actual C86 tape. I think it was a copy of a copy but boy did I treasure it… and play it a LOT!!

++ Perhaps you were big indiepop record collectors too?

Well as I said earlier Shane had an amazing collection when I met him as, being a little older than me he had left school and was working. I had a paper-run so I was able to afford an album a week… but it soon added up! Karen started to get really into as well and sometimes we would all be fighting at Echo Records (the best place in town for indie pop from England at the time) for the latest imports! I know Aaron was into the Sex Pistols in a big way and Martin was a big fan of 4ad (amongst other things) so all of these influences were bought to the table.

++ And was there any interest from labels to release your music? It’s hard for me to believe no one put your songs on vinyl!

Unfortunately not because as I say we broke up not long after we did them. I think the fire was perhaps going out of the band and I guess we knew Shane was leaving for England so looking back I don’t think there was any plans to put them out. I’m just so glad we managed to get something recorded that still sounds really good after all this time…

++ How was the press in New Zealand towards Perfect Garden? Was there good support? What about fanzines?

We did a few interviews with a couple of local fanzines and the local Dunedin papers. It was all very positive I seem to remember. Of course I was always waiting for the call from the NME that never came…!

++ Then what happened? When and why did you split?

It all comes back to Shane leaving for England I guess. I think we talked about carrying on and I’m sure we even tried another guitarist but it seems the fire just went out pretty quickly. It was about the middle of 1990 and as I say things were changing in England and indie pop was yesterday’s news and perhaps it felt like the band had had its day. I don’t think we ever had a band conversation about splitting up… I think we just all drifted away.

++ Did you all kept making music afterwards? Are you all still in touch?

Through the wonders of the internet and Facebook we are, to a point, all in touch. We are all spread across the Globe now- I’m in the U.K, Aaron is in N.Z, Karen is in Australia, Shane is in Canada and Martin is in Denmark so as I said – a reunion is unlikely! Aaron still plays in bands but I don’t think anyone else does – unless playing guitar to amuse my 6 year old counts!

++ And these days, what are you up to? What other hobbies do you like doing?

Well after many years living in London and going to see every band under the sun I prefer a quieter life in Cambridge these days with my partner and 6 year old son. I keep fit, watch films, drink coffee… and still play Sonic Flower Groove way too much!

++ Looking back, what would you say was the biggest highlight of Perfect Garden?

I guess the times I really enjoyed were being in the practice room and getting songs together. Anyone who has been in bands will know that thrill of a skeleton of an idea blossoming into a fully fledged song. I remember how fantastic to was to get End of the Perfect Sunshine together – me and Aaron would grin like idiots at each other as we built into the chorus – almost as if to say ‘did we really write THIS?!’ It’s those times I really miss – even to this day…

++ I’ve never been to New Zealand, though I hope I go one day. So if you don’t mind, what do you recommend me visiting in your town? And what about any traditional dishes that I shouldn’t miss?

If you ever visit Dunedin you MUST try the ‘cheese rolls’… they are legendary. As I say I don’t live there anymore but when I visit they are the first things I go for… along with Jimmy’s Pies! They are incredibly delicious. Dunedin is a pretty small but lively place as it’s a student town and I’m guessing as a fan of Flying Nun from the States it would be great to see all the places the bands played? So I would recommend visiting the Empire (not sure if it’s still open though!), The Captain Cook, The Oriental… legendary venues. Then it would be also worth venturing out of Dunedin to Central Otago to visit Wanaka and Queenstown which are stunningly beautiful!

++ Let’s wrap it here Kieron, thanks so much again, anything else you’d like to add?

I’d just like to say thanks to you for your interest! It’s been great trawling through my memories of a very short lived but really important part of my life. We had some fantastic times and wrote and played music that we couldn’t have expected to make when we started the band. We went from being slightly shambolic to a pretty tight unit in a relatively short space of time and I’m really proud of that. We also managed to write some pretty wonderful songs I think! On that note I’m going to post the rest of the songs online in the next few weeks.
Edit: here are all the songs https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A3C-jfbZ1e0&list=PLXAFG5whX2leDFhgR9Pg1LXhh9GYnMj0k


Perfect Garden – End of the Perfect Sunshine


I receive news that the new Alpaca Store is about to come out. On October the 2nd to be more precise. A beauty of a record released on 10″ on Elefant and on CD on Luxury Records. Seems the labels are taking pre-orders now too. I would buy it blindly, without listening to it, but I get a cool chance to hear the songs in their full glory (and not demo or unfinished versions) for the first time today too.

How beautiful all these songs are. 6 songs for quality pop. I will be fair and not review them right away, at first listen. I’ll have maybe 10, 20, more listens and next week let you know what I think. But my first impression is that it’s so good. So few records this year has brought me such a big smile on my face.

Speaking of that, there’s been another record that has been released in the past few days. And that’s the Brideshead new album on Shelflife. The Wiesbaden band that played a delightful set at the NYC Popfest, returns with their third album aptly titled “Never Grow Up”. Luckily for us the title is dead on, the band hasn’t “matured” and gotten a “mature sound”. They sound so fresh and fun as they always did. They’re promoting the album with the song “At 45rpm” for which they’ve recorded a promo video. I’ll look into doing an interview with them soon, the German indiepop heroes.

Another important news coming from Shelflife is the 7″ that marks the return of the classic and beloved Swedish band Red Sleeping Beauty. Two songs, “Always” and “Breaking Up is Easy” that are just pure pop candy. Reviewing these few new up and coming releases make me thing that indiepop could have a vibrant scene once again!

And I say that because these three releases have brilliant guitars, jangly ones. And that’s what many of us have been missing throughout this year. There’s been too much distortion lately on indiepop. Too much shouty stuff too. I like some of that, but there’s nothing wrong with the classic sound. I actually like it better.

And the last recommendation I have for you has some classy and elegant new wave influences thrown into it. Hails from Japan and it’s on Fastcut Records. They are called Moscow Club and their new 7″ has a beauty on the A side called “Celine” (with guest vocals by Amanda from Alpaca Sports) that you can’t miss. It seems their debut album will be released shortly too, on September 30!

A few goodies coming out. Not forgetting we have a beauty here too in Cloudberry with the release of The Color Waves this week. Happy times then!


Okay, time to head back to the 80s then, try to dig some info about yet another obscure guitar pop band from that prolific decade. This time around let’s get our detective gear and try to find out about a band that has one of the most curious and mysterious names in my record collection: Chinese Gangster Element.

I have no clue what they meant with that name. Sure there are Chinese gangsters. But it’s a bit odd. Also I think that in the UK the Chinese community is small. Or perhaps not? In any case it’s not comparable to the community here in the US, right? Speaking of which this week I was surprised to hear some indiepop from China, even covering Sarah Records, but that’s a story for another day.

I can’t really remember why I bought their one and only 7″. Perhaps I saw it on a list on Twee.net. Or somewhere online. To be honest it wasn’t hard to find. On Discogs it seems it sells for cheap. Which is good for us record collectors. The thing is, after you listen to “Jivin'”, the opening track, you’ll probably would want to hunt for it.

There are four tracks on the record. On the A side there’s “Jivin'” and “Chloe”. On the B side there’s “Muscle” and “In My Body”. The record was released on Ted Records (CGE 100) in the year of 1986. Say indiepop year 0. The artwork for the cover is also very mysterious, with a bunch of profile faces, five facing right, 2 upside down facing left. Strange illustration.

When we turn around the sleeve we get the band members:
Andy Greaves – guitar
Mick Haymer – bass
Fiona McBean – vocals
Kev Greaves – drums

So fair to assume that the guitar and drums were brothers? Or at least related? The record was engineered by Tony Bonner at Off Beat Studio in Leeds. And we get told to play the record loud. And the only other important hint left is that the band were based in Halifax.

Halifax is a minster town, in the Metropolitan Borough of Calderdale in West Yorkshire, England The town has been a centre of woollen manufacture from the 15th century onward, originally dealing through the Piece Hall. Halifax is known for Mackintosh’s chocolate and toffee products including Rolo, Quality Street and Rowntrees. Shibden Hall is also in Halifax. The Halifax Bank and Yorkshire Bank were also founded in Halifax. Dean Clough, one of the largest textile factories in the world at more than 1⁄2 mile (800 m) long, was in the north of the town. The premises have since been converted for office and retail use including a gym, theatre, Travelodge and radio station. The town’s name was recorded in about 1091 as Halyfax, from the Old English halh-gefeaxe, meaning “area of coarse grass in the nook of land”.

I find then a Facebook page called the Halifax Music Heritage Trail where Andy Greaves is mentioned. Perhaps I’m on the right trail. Then I find a club page where all the gigs played there are listed. It’s called the 1 in 12 Club. And we find out that the Chinese Gangster Element played there many times:
December 7 1983 – w/ Photomontage
April 4 1984 – w/ Gross National Product
January 1 1985
January 22 1986 – w/ Party Day
July 1 1988 – w/ The Adams Family

Almost every year they played at the club with the exception of 1987. Were they formed in 1983? Or before? And why did it take them 3 years to release their first record? Though to be fair on September 1st 1984 they recorded a Peel Session.

This session you can actually find it on Youtube thanks to the one and only Dave Driscoll. On this Session they recorded 4 songs: “Red”, “In My Body”, “Red Light” and “This is Hell”.

There’s also a compilation flexi that I still don’t own which has a song by Chinese Gangster Element. I haven’t heard this one. The song was called “Joey” I believe it’s a double-sided flexi as Discogs lists that on the A side there’s Fez with the song “Strange” and the Chinese Gangster Element song. While on the B side we have Roberta Junk with “How Many Friends?” and Langfiled Crane’s “Kiss Me Stephenson”. I haven’t heard any of the other bands before! This flexi was released by Spike’s Label (LYN 19817/18). The label was also based in Halifax.

Then Discogs lists 3 compilation appearances. Where there any more? We know they appeared on a record called Enemies of the State. This was put out by the same club  I mentioned ealier, 1 in 12, on it’s own imprint 1 in 12 Records (1 in 12 003). This record was part of a series of records titled Worst of the 1 in 12 Club. This was the 3rd volume and was released in 1984. The song Chinese Gangster Element contributed was “World’s On Fire”. This song too you can listen online on Youtube. The only other band that I know in this compilation is The Word whose “Schoolboy Saint” 7″ is a favorite of mine. The record was a Porky Prime Cut and you can read on the matrix “Say No To Masons And Part Time Politico´s — To Melanie + Keith From The Class War Boys” and “A Porky Prime Cut Are You An Enemy Of The State?”. Classic.

Next, in 1985, they contribute the song “Fast Town” to the compilation Folio Hearts on Confidential Records (file 005). This time I have no clue about any of the bands on the compilation. All songs seem to have been recorded at OHM Studio in Wakefield, West Yorkshire.

The last compilation listed is “New Songs for Mutants”. There’s no date for this record. The song that the band contributed was “Wet Dreams”. On this compilation the other known face is The Deep Freeze Mice. This tape was put out by Lakeland Records (LKND001).

Now I’ll search for the band members. Andy Greaves is easy to find. He seems to be playing up to this day on an ensemble called Greaves Taylor Gillon. There’s a small bio for Andy on their website:
Singer, songwriter, guitarist, mandolinist, poet and noted eccentric, Andy Greaves,, has been at the centre of the Calder Delta music scene since his debut in the 1980s with John Peel favourites The Chinese Gangster Element. Over the last 30 years he has created original music in genres as diverse as punk and country music. Andy currently fronts British Bluegrass rebels, The Tragics, as well as performing widely as a solo artist and poet

And that’s where the trail for the Chinese Gangster Element stops. I can’t find anything else about them. I wonder then, if anyone out there that remembers them can help me. Did they record any more songs? What happened to the other members? Were they involved with other bands? Would be nice to know!


Chinese Gangster Element – Jivin’


Hello everyone! I’m very happy this week as The Color Waves 7″s arrived home! Just waiting for the inserts to arrive home and as soon as I do will start posting all the pre-orders! The sleeves look beautiful and they have received a lot of praise for the beautiful design. Can you guess what sort of bird is in the cover?

But it’s not only the beautiful design on this record, it’s also the beautiful music. One that I loved since the first time I heard these two songs many months ago. For those who don’t know the Color Waves, it’s a transatlantic collaboration between Alison and Garry. She is based in the UK while Garry is in the US. Both were once part of the great band All My Friends from Scotland.

Anyhow, this time around we’ve pressed 300 copies. We hope to sell them fast enough to keep releasing more records! The music as I said is just so beautiful, please have a listen at their Bandcamp.

Also I’ve just updated the website with some more info about Don’t Cry Shopgirl and their 7″ coming out soon. You can now listen to one of the tracks, and as well see a small thumbnail of the beautiful artwork that Amanda Åkerman has done for us. I should be sending the record to press in a week or two. And adding at that time the pre-order button. You can’t miss this one either, you’ll get 4 songs of pure bliss!

What else? Well, we run out of the pink vinyl copies for the My Favorite LP, only blue vinyl now. Then we do have in project the Suncharms release on Cloudberry Cake Kitchen. So it’s not like I’m lazy here! Also I’ve been doing a bunch of interviews for the blog during this last week, so hopefully we’ll learn soon more about many of these fantastic obscure bands I’ve been featuring!

Then I should start planning the next fanzine. I will go back to the blue color and as I said it will be the last fanzine in the 400 series. Any suggestions on which Cloudberry bands you’d like to see on it, please send my way.

And that’s for the moment on the news side. But I do have a request today, if you have discovered lately a band that you think would fit nicely in the label? I’d love to hear it.

PS. I was once again called the indiepop police. I was insulted too. And they tag me. They really want my attention. Must hurt not to like their band?


Abercorn is a village and parish in West Lothian, Scotland. Close to the south coast of the Firth of Forth, the village is around 5 km (3.1 mi) west of South Queensferry.

I believe The Dancing Bears hailed from Abercorn. So you see, it says on the back sleeve of their one sole single: “Thanks to The Mussy Boys, The Abercorn Crowd and Steve for breaking the ice on so many occasions and also to JAM PA for the sound”.

No clue who The Mussy Boys were, but Abercorn is a town and it might have had a good crowd though on Wikipedia says the population continues to decline.

The Dancing Bears released one single in 1987, on the Big Noise label (BGN 1). It had two songs, one on each side. They were “Got To Get Out of Here” and “She’s My Girl”. I have only listened the A side, sadly I don’t own a copy of the record! In any case, I could find online, thanks to the great From A Northern Place blog the sleeve were I learn that the band was formed by Ritchie on guitar and vocals, Shaver on drums and Dave on bass. The record was produced by POC and The Dancing Bears. Not sure who or what is POC. The photography of the naked person on the cover was taken by Louise Mackay.

I looked a bit on Discogs. There’s not much of course. But I find that the label Big Noise was based in East Calder in Scotland.
East Calder is a small town located in West Lothian, Scotland. It is located about a mile east of Mid Calder and about a mile west of Wilkieston.

The remains of St Cuthbert’s Kirk look amazing there.

It seems they also released a band called Political Asylum, but they seem more punk than the Dancing Bears. Well, way more punk.

On the labels, there’s a credit for a last name, for the lyrics. That’s of Lambert. Which of the band members had that last name?

That’s all I could find about them. Pretty obscure sadly. But a good song. Maybe someone out there knows more about them?


Dancing Bears – Got To Get Out of Here”