30
Aug

I can say now that all pre-orders and recent orders of Stephen’s Shore debut 7″ have shipped and they are in the way to arrive to their new homes, if they haven’t already. I see someone has already added it to Discogs. Really cool. At the moment I can assure you that the record will be available at Jigsaw Records in the US and Stone Records in Japan. Hoping more mailorders get in touch during the week. So if you prefer to get them from there, be my guest. I understand you wanting to save some in postage.

Next important news is that as soon as I finish this post I will get all things together so I can send The Seashells 7″ to press. As you know, because I announced a month or so ago, this is the comeback of the classic Umeå band with two brand new songs. I’m very excited about this as I love the music and also because I’ve been a fan of the band for so long.

This weekend has been a bit tough for me though, I doubt any of you have heard of something called Bell’s palsy? well, supposedly it goes away in two weeks or so, but I got scared as hell. The right side of my face has some sort of mild paralysis and it is awfully annoying. I’m taking medicine and will go to therapy starting Friday. I know, very unlucky. But guess that’s life, no? At least it is supposed to disappear and all my muscle functions should recover.

So that means I may be a bit busier these coming weeks as all this definitely will take time from me. Especially time I use to go to the post office. So if the record you ordered takes a little longer, don’t worry, it will arrive for sure.

Also I just heard that we have someone very special to write the liner notes for Some Other Day. That, and the mastering of some tracks, are the final steps to get this compilation ready. I’m assuming now it will come out early next year.

Early next year too will be the release of the long, LONG, awaited Pale Spectres 7″. Everything is ready now and you can even download one of the songs from the website.

That’s the news from me this week. A bit quiet for indiepop, (aside from the announcement Peter from Twee.net will be giving away all his records (!!!) – but don’t get too excited, he is planning to donate them to a museum, kind of like something we discussed ages ago while in London… both having this idea of setting up a museum to preserve indiepop at the time, though of course, setting one up requires a lot of money!) but not so much for Cloudberry. I’m very excited with all the new music we will be putting out month after month. Will it be the final run?

———————————————————————-

Here’s another band/record I’ve always been so very curious from the first Leamington Spa compilation: Sister Rain.

I’ve had their record as a saved search both on eBay and Discogs, but to be honest, I never had any luck getting it. It doesn’t sell for too much on Discogs, but seems someone always gets there before me, when I get the email saying that Discogs has found the record, well it is there no more!!

I have never heard three of the songs included in the record. Just the first one, “Burt Reynolds”, the same one included in the first Leamington Spa comp. The other songs are: “Curtain Song”, “Window Cowboys” and “Is it Right?”. The last two on the B side. The record was released by Serene Records (catalog RAIN 001) in 1988. It is safe to assume that this was a self-release as there seems not to be any other releases in the label.

During those same years, the late 80s, there was another Sister Rain band in the world. There was a Sister Rain in Oslo, Norway. They have a much more presence on the internet and they released a handful of records. I wonder if our Sister Rain were aware of them?

I don’t think the photo on the sleeve depicts Burt Reynolds. Burton Leon “Burt” Reynolds (born February 11, 1936) is an American actor, director and producer. He has starred in many films, such as Deliverance, The Longest Yard, Smokey and the Bandit and Boogie Nights, in which he was nominated for his first Academy Award. It looks like a much older man.

The blue jacket, a Cloudberry blue (!), has some information on the back.
Steve Periac – voice, guitars
Dave Taylor – bass, violin
Beat – guitars, keyboards, vocals
Tiffer – drums, voice

All songs are credited to Banks, Breakey, Periac and Taylor. They were recorded at “Suite 16” in Rochdale, England. They were produced by Dave Fielding and engineered by C.J. Cover. The pic on the cover is credited to Geoff White.

I check the liner notes on the Leamington Spa CD. What new can we learn from it? It says:
Oldham, home of the Inspiral Carpets and Oldham Athletics, also produced Sister Rain in 1987. Their only official release was their “Burt Reynolds” 12″ from which we took the titletrack for our compilation. It was produced at “Suite 16 studio” Rochdale by former Chameleons member Dave Fielding. Due to their Rockdale connection (twintown of Bielefeld) they even managed to play a couple of gigs in Germany.

Pretty interesting. So they hailed from Oldham.
Oldham is a large town in Greater Manchester, England, amid the Pennines between the rivers Irk and Medlock, 5.3 miles (8.5 km) south-southeast of Rochdale and 6.9 miles (11.1 km) northeast of Manchester. Together with several smaller surrounding towns, it is part of the Metropolitan Borough of Oldham of which it is the administrative centre. Historically in Lancashire, and with little early history to speak of, Oldham rose to prominence in the 19th century as an international centre of textile manufacture. It was a boomtown of the Industrial Revolution, and among the first ever industrialised towns, rapidly becoming “one of the most important centres of cotton and textile industries in England”.

Rochdale, where they recorded the songs, is quite close actually. 8.5 km north northwest from Oldham.

My next stop is a Facebook page managed by the band. From here I get to know Beat and Tiffer’s real names, Nigel Banks and Chris Breakey, though I’m not 100% sure who is who.

We also get to know that they split in 1992, and that they were formed in Middleton (?!). Wait, so not Oldham? This is getting confusing! That is quite close to Oldham and Rochdale too. Maybe some were from Oldham, some from Middleton?

Anyhow they formed as a three piece originally until in 1987 Nigel joined them. They also toured France. Would be interesting to know which cities in France and Germany they played, right?

From there  we find a link to an old Myspace page. There are some songs I’ve never heard before there, “Frame to Frame”, “Crushed”, “All I Want” and “The Very last Time”. Sadly only “Frame to Frame” can be streamed. Where do these songs come from? Early recordings? Demos for a second single?

Time to investigate the whole Facebook wall for them. What will we find? We learn that they played in Sendenhorst, Germany on the 9th of Sept of 1990 at a venue called The Titanic. That they met again in 2009 and agreed to record a song titled “Watch Out for the Voodoo”, but then in 2010 they were wondering why the song never came to fruition. This song was a song that they only played live and was never recorded as a demo or anything.

At some point they were posting stuff on a Soundcloud page, not Sister Rain stuff, but stuff the members were producing. Today there’s only one song and it is called “It’s Awesome”. Before there were many others.

We know that there was another Sister Rain song titled “Straight Upstairs”. Also there’s a live video of Sister Rain from 1988. It seems then they were just called The Rain. There’s 26 minutes of footage. Maybe someone can help me figure out which songs they are playing?

Even more interesting, Dave Taylor, became, and is now, Lord Mayor of York. He is the first Green Party councillor to hold this position. York’s Lord Mayor is second only to London’s in precedence. There’s an interesting article/interview on York Press where he talks about his music past, mentioning Sister Rain too!

That’s all I could find. Seems some time ago there were more Sister Rain songs online, on Souncloud at least. I wonder why they were taken down. I would love to hear the rest of the songs that are on Myspace and cant be played. Maybe even more unreleased stuff they have. “Burt Reynolds” is such a great track, jangly heaven, that I can only be very curious about the rest!

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Listen
Sister Rain – Burt Reynolds

22
Aug

Well, well, this week we will definitely start shipping Stephen’s Shore debut 7″! We are very very excited! The records seems to be in a warehouse in Philadelphia and if nothing goes wrong they should arrive home in a couple of days as the latest. We are very sorry about the delay but I hope the wait will be worth it!

Also I’ve updated the website with the new artwork for Pale Spectres as well as a song to download from their EP. It is ready and will go to press very soon. First though we have The Seashells going to the pressing plant this week! It is very exciting at Cloudberry HQ right now! So many great releases that we really hope you enjoy!

At the moment it still seems very quiet in indiepop world. The only exciting news I’ve heard lately is that the Holiday Crowd will be releasing a new album soon on Shelflife. Speaking of Shelflife they also released a 7″ by the Close Lobsters titled “Desire and Signs EP” that I still don’t have! Shame on me. Maybe soon I can get it.

Yes, I’ve been very slow with new releases. But at least I managed to track down the Chestnut Bakery album thanks to a tip from John on the blog. It was the only release from the Chinese label Boring Productions that I was missing. I don’t think this is very new but still…

I should be getting soon too the new Juvenile Juvenile record. I’m a big fan of this Japanese band so getting their new record is great. It is released on a bit of a strange format. It is a 7″ with a CD. The 7″ includes two songs, “Planet Heaven” and “Perfect Lies”. The CD comes with 2 remixes: “Planet Heaven (Jesse Ruins Remix)” and “Perfect Lies (Teto2 Remix)”.

Don’t know what else there is right now in the indiepop world? Tell me what are your latest findings? What records have you bought? So far which are the records you’ve listened the most?

————————————————–

One of the biggest mysteries of indiepop has always been Hopkirk & Lee. Who were they? What happened to them? No one seems to know anything at all. A couple of weeks ago I was just chatting with my friend Vernon about them. He mentioned me a couple of interesting details I wasn’t aware of. I wondered why I had never showcased them on the blog. Thanks to the blog I’ve got in touch with so many obscure bands, maybe, just maybe, a little bit of the mystery behind this band could be solved.

The band only released 4 songs. The year was 1998 and Gallery Recordings was going to put the out on vinyl and CD. As far as I know this was the only release on this label. What is interesting though is that the 7″ record was actually a co-release with For Us Records. For Us Records was Rough Trade Shops in house label. This label was set up to release one off singles and albums that have either not been released on vinyl. Bands that appeared on this label are many, some favourite of mine like Spearmint, Sing-Sing or Kicker.

The 7″ and the CD was titled “Beneath the Apple Tree”. Catalog number was GAL 001 (and FU001 for the 7″ as well). The songs included were “Free Arthur Lee!”, “A Love Like Ivy”, “Summershine” and “My Line is Short”. The first two were on the A side, the other two on the B side. The only main difference between both versions is that the CD has a photo of the two members, it is very blurry, but at least we get an idea of who they were.

Oddly enough inside my 7″ record there is a small flyer, alongside a black and white tabloid size poster with the names of the songs, from Yakamashi Records. It says that Yakamashi is releasing this record as their first release. And then they list their next releases, by Nuzzle, The Aislers Set/Fairways and more. So many labels seem to have been involved in this record.

On the credits we find that the songs were performed, written, produced and arranged by Alex Hopkirk and Ronnie Lee. Antonia Fuchs played violin on “Free Arthur Lee!”.

Antonia Fuchs seems to have been (or maybe she is still) part of The London Session Orchestra. Has played in records by Joni Mitchell and Peter Gabriel.

The only other appearance of the band that I know of, is on the compilation “Casablanca”, released in 2002 by Elefant Records. The song included was “Free Arthur Lee!”. From the title of this song, and the sound of their music, it is clear that they loved the band Love obviously and that they were influenced by the 60s sound.

This song title comes from this incident of course: In late 1996, Lee was sentenced to 12 years for the negligent discharge of a firearm. California’s three strikes law meant Lee was forced to serve a prison term, having previously been convicted on “a couple of assault and drug charges” in the 1980s.

Back in the day they actually had a website. I believe the last time I may have accessed it was in 2008. It is no more today. The only thing on it I remember was an email and a photo of the record sleeve.

I was reading on a post from 2007 by the blog Finest Kiss that he actually got in touch with them. What happened was a bit surprising. First, there’s a fan from Poland saying he was the best man of one of the band members like in the early 90s. Then a second stranger pointed him to a myspace by a band called Bitter Herb. I’m very band with recognizing vocals, but our friend from Finest Kiss was pretty sure that Bitter Herb’s vocalist was the same as Hopkirk & Lee. He wrote to this myspace and he got a reply saying that they had never heard of “Hopkins and Lee”. A mischievous joke? Perhaps.

Rumours abounded it seems. Finest Kiss on a blog post from 2008 says that there was a rumour of them signing to a label and then the label going under. Also that they signed a deal with Ralph Macchio and Steve Vai to make a single EP and then go to hell. But that was it really. The Myspace page for this band doesn’t exist anymore.

We do know though that this band had 4 songs up: “Dancing Eyes”, “The British American Dream”, “The Legions of Romulus” and “Turning Like a Leaf”.

On the Red Roses For Me fanzine website there’s also some mention to the band and their release. He says he had heard rumours of the band being Scottish. But we don’t find any other clues in here.

I’m not sure what to think about this whole mystery. Many blogs have tried to uncover some truth. I feel that the names might just be pseudonyms. They sound so right, so good, for a band name. But who knows.

I’m sure those who own the record are very curious about this whole thing. Wonder if anyone can help us shed some light!? Perhaps the people in the labels that released this record?

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Listen
Hopkirk & Lee – Free Arthur Lee!

15
Aug

Should have started shipping today the Stephen’s Shore 7″ but a delay on the pressing plant will probably make me start shipping them either next week or in worst case scenario the week after. I’m very sorry about this, to all of you who have pre-ordered, but sadly this is out of my hands. I’m sure though that the wait will be worth it as the record is a cracker, all four songs are pure beauty.

Speaking of releases I heard from a little bird that at long last the mastering for the Pale Spectres 7″ will be ready very soon. This means that finally we will be able to release this record that is already a modern classic.

And if that is not enough next week I should be sending to the pressing plant the masters for The Seashells new 7″. Damn! It is getting busy here at Cloudberry at the end of 2016.

That’s the news on my side. What about you? What have you been up to? Watching the Olympics perhaps? Capturing Pokémon on your mobile? What’s going on? Here in New York we’ve been suffering a heat wave and I swear that this past weekend going out felt like hell.

I’ve been listening to a bunch of new-ish bands and also old bands. I’ll start with some old band links that are worth checking out if you haven’t already.

On this Mixcloud setlist you’ll find a bunch of nuggets from Ireland dating 1985-1987 thanks to the blog Irish Nuggets. There are classic bands like Microdisney or The Stars of Heaven but there are also many bands that you probably haven’t heard before. Some songs are not great mind you, and you can’t skip them, but I’m sure you’ll make a discovery or two.

Also, before I forget this is very important. You can hear on the Friends Again website all the demos the band recorded in 1981. Of course, you can also listen here to all their other songs, released and not (like the 1985 demos). But as we are all familiar with the songs included in the 1981 demos, this is such a treat!

Post-punk with a nice indiepop feel comes from Moscow band Commis Voyauger on their Bandcamp. This new EP “16.1” is really nice. Perhaps I’d like the volume of the vocals turned up a bit higher, but these are quite good songs.

The new band by Liam Coffey from the mythic Perth, Australia, band The Rainyard has a new band called The Lazybirds. They have an EP you can listen online on their Bandcamp titled “Drumbalow Sessions”.

Los Polares are part of a new crop of Chilean bands influenced by late 80s and early 90s indiepop, and a lot of it what we call twee. They sing in English and Spanish. They have their new EP on Bandcamp and it is called “Sobre El Inicio de los Polares”. There are three nice songs, “Oregon, 1959”, “La Época Migratoria” and “Cherry Red”. I look forward to hearing more from them.

Our friends from Fantastic Day also have a new release titled “Kaleidoscope” and it sounds AMAZING. The Hong Kong band who released a 3″ with us back in the day have put out a limited edition CD and also on LP format that includes 11 songs that is not to be missed.

And finally my favourite new release comes from Barcelona. Catalan C86 band Univers has put out their new album “Límit Constant” and it is REALLY good. I’m loving it. 10 songs of great guitar playing and classic melodies. I only see it now as a digital release on their Bandcamp, but I hope there will be a physical release.

————————————-

I am surprised to see that All Over the Place’s sole release can be bought from Discogs for cheap. I think I paid $10 plus postage many years back through eBay. Anyhow, it is good news for anyone that doesn’t own this record yet.

All Over the Place were a girl duo, formed by Tracey and Vanessa. They were around 20 years old when the record came out in 1990 on the venerable La-Di-Da Productions label (catalog La-Di-Da 014) that the great Grant Lyons ran in Brighton back in the day.

From the press release that some of these 12″s included, we know a bit of the story. All Over the Place first caught Grant’s attention thanks to their demo “Turn it Up” being played in BBC Radio Sussex. From that moment on they will be part of the La-Di-Da family, first contributing on compilations and later releasing their 12″.

Their first compilation appearance was in the classic 1990 compilation Borobudur (La-Di-Da 009) with the song “Sandstorm”. This same compilation was to be re-released on CD two years later thanks to King Records (KICP-272) with the only difference that the Flipper’s Guitar track wasn’t included in this version as it was a Japanese release already and I’m guessing they didn’t have the rights (?). It is important to notice that it is in this compilation that I learn the last names of Tracey and Vanessa: Fields and Elphick.

Their second compilation appearance was also in 1990. This time the song “Strange” appeared on yet another classic indiepop compilation, “Becket House”. It was released by the enigmatic Porritt’s Hill Records (Phew 002) who also put out a very rare tape titled “Spare a Thought” that included All Over the Place’s “Scattered” and among other things included a demo version of “Crush the Flowers” by The Wake. I don’t know when this tape was released by it is listed as Phew 001.

Also on 1990, All Over the Place was to appear with the song “Tired of Being Alone” on the “You Can’t Be Loved Forever No.3” tape that our good friend Phil Ball used to put out. I wonder if he was already familiar with the band or not before appearing in the charity compilation “Becket House” with his own band Are You Mr Riley.

Now it was time for them to put out their sole EP, their 12″. With a psychedelic kind of artwork, and the whole jacket printed in purple and white, the record included four songs. One A side, and three B sides. On the A side the fantastic “Scattered”. On the B side we find “Think Back On Me”, “Strange (Remix)” and “Back to Square One”. This EP was recorded with the help from Mark of the Liquid Faeries and Bill from How Many Beans Make Five. The press sheet says: “One can only describe Vanessa’s voice as beautiful, blending perfectly with Tracey’s haunting melodies”.

All songs were indeed written by both of them. We know that Vanessa sang and wrote the lyrics while Tracey played guitars and all instruments in “Back to Square One”. Mark helped with bass and Bill with drums. The record was produced by Grant Lyons and the band while the artwork is credited to Linette.

They would continue appearing on some more compilations. I actually discovered the band through the compilation “La-Di-Da… So Far” (La-Di-Da 018) that came out in 1991 and included three of their songs: “Sandstorm”, “Strange” and “Scattered”. What a fantastic compilation this is if you haven’t heard it. There are classic songs by Dead Famous People, Bobby Scarlet, How Many Beans Make Five and more.

In 1994 when I’m guessing the band wasn’t around anymore a song called “Half Life” appeared on a compilation titled “La-Di-Bloody-Da” released by who else, La-Di-Da (La-Di-Da 035). I haven’t heard this song though, or the compilation, so I better try to track it down!

I couldn’t find neither Tracey or Vanessa. I wonder if they continued making music after All Over the Place. Where are they now? What about that first demo “Turn it Up”? Were there more songs in that tape? Are there more unreleased songs?Do you remember them? Would be so interesting to find out!

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Listen
All Over the Place – Scattered

08
Aug

After getting such a nice email from my friend Jennifer recounting me with details her weekend at Indietracks, and also reading Ragnhild blog about her Soda Fountain Rag experience at the same festival, I got all teary-eyed and nostalgic wishing I had attended the festival of steam trains and indiepop (and some other questionable music).

I’m seriously considering going next year, if it happens of course. Indietracks and a side trip. Perhaps the north of Wales, a dream of mine since forever, visit Caernarfon, Harlech, Beaumaris, Conwy castles and more. Or take my girlfriend north, to Scotland, as she would like that very much.

I guess planning will start when the dates are announced and I book almost immediately a Travelodge room. That’s how it usually started. Ah! the memories!

But I thought about finding some new talents from the British isles, start giving the organizers some ideas of some indiepop music that could fit in the festival. Obviously this is by no means a request or a demand. I already know that their taste differ with mine. But maybe, just maybe, one day it will be like the first years, where it was a solely an indiepop festival worth traveling miles and miles, crossing an ocean.

Because folky and punky bands abound here. Garage too. So, put yourself in my shoes. Why would anyone pay a pricey transatlantic flight for the same old? We don’t get much indiepop here. Just NYC Popfest and the random My Favorite, Pale Lights or Gingerlys gig. That’s it. For someone hungry, thirsty, for pop, well Indietracks should be the panacea. Right?

Anyhow, I find myself on Bandcamp looking for bands in the British isles. Not anywhere else. Not even Europe. If they come from this area they are definitely cheaper to book, and probably even easier to get them in a short notice, if there’s an emergency like a band canceling last minute for example.

The first band I find is called Dott. They are Irish actually and their last tape titled “Beverly Baldwin” (gosh I hate tapes) has been nicely reviewed by Brooklyn Vegan it seems. Released on Mirror Universe Tapes from South Carolina (!), there are four songs by this band from Galway. This duo formed by Anna McCarthy and Evan O’Connor (already married to each other) sound quite nice, it is fuzzy pop with girl vocals. A nice little surprise.

Whalo is not technically exclusively Brit. They are half Swedish, half English. From Nottingham and from Stockholm. Another duo, Johanna Lageryd and Matthew Breed (don’t know if they are married) and yet another tape, this time released by Alicante, Spain’s, Mondo Canapé. Titled “Sleepy EP”, it includes 4 classic slices of indiepop. Jangly guitars, girl vocals and lo-fi production. Being from Nottingham, definitely should give them an edge and they should be booked for the Derbyshire festival. It’s just a bus ride away!

I don’t know where Glass Arcades are from. But they write “potato crisps” in their Facebook. They must be British. This is a one man project as far as I know. Anton Salmine writes, performs, mixes and produces. Their new EP is called “Singular Forms” and it is available online. Dreamy and jangly. If he puts a band together for a live performance, it could definitely be an early evening band in the church, don’t you think?

Remember The Hillfields? We put a 3″ here on Cloudberry many many years ago. Rob has put together a new London based band called Rapid Results College. Classic guitar pop, good to enjoy with a cup of tea. They have an album on CD now titled “In City Light” and it includes 10 songs. Worth checking out!

Small roundup, but interesting for sure. In the coming months I’ll keep digging some more, perhaps one of these bands do find a place in the most important indiepop festival in the world.

———————————————————

I didn’t know until today that you could actually buy moss covered poles. I found a place where you can get them for $6.99. Maybe there’s cheaper places. I don’t know what is their use though. Maybe someone can tell me?

The Moss Poles was another band I heard for the first time in those years when I was discovering indiepop online while hanging on Soulseek rooms like Twee Folks or Viajeros Polares. If I recall correctly the song “One Summer” was usually shared on mysterious folders titled “Future Leamington Spa” or something like that. Songs that should have been part of the great “Sound of Leamington Spa” compilations Firestation Records used to put out where obscure bands from the 80s were introduced to a new audience.

I remember too that The Moss Poles had an online presence. They had a website. I can’t remember though how it looked like. I do know that the Twee.net bio for the band was taken from that website, so it’s pretty legit:

The Moss Poles were formed by Nick Potter, Sean Bergin and Mick Kemp in the summer of 1987. They met whilst working together in University of London halls of residence in Camden, North London; Nick was already in a student band with Mick called Last of the V8s, which Sean joined as bassist. The other members of the V8s departed over time, leaving Nick, Sean, Mick and a drum machine. Their first gig was at the Half Moon in Herne Hill, for which they recruited a drummer, Brendon the American. The Moss Poles began to play gigs around London with different drummers (occassionally reverting to the drum machine for some gigs) and quickly built up a reputation as an outstanding live act. They were spotted by an A&R man for MCA, Tim Bulliment, who booked them in to do a demo of One Summer, one of the songs which most represented what the Moss Poles were about – fast, guitar driven post punk studded with harmonies and melodic hooks. The studio desk blew up so the session never happened; soon afterwards another session was arranged with Duran Duran’s producer – this didn’t work out so well. Then MCA introduced the band to Jeff Chegwin, a music publisher, who arranged a recording option with Warner on the fledgling Idea label (not to be confused the the XTC label of the same name). Jeff also introduced the band to Harry Barter, who became their manager. The single ‘One Summer’ was released in July 1987 and the music business began to take an interest; a Janice Long session got them national airplay and the gigs got bigger. The single ‘Underground’ was released soon after, and the band then went into the studio to record an album – Shorn – which was released late in 1987. The band continued to play gigs around London and got a couple of slots on GLR including a live lunchtime acoustic session. In March 1988 the Moss Poles went on tour. Steve Lamacq, who was a big fan of the band, came with them, following the van in his mini. After the tour ended, Sean left. Nick carried on, and Jeff got a deal with Mayking for a second album and third single; these were recorded in a studio in Wales with Nick’s friend Paul Breuer (later lead singer of Junior Cottonmouth) on bass. But the label went bust and all the tapes were seized due to non-payment of fees. Sean did rejoin the band and they did a few gigs in London to promote the new album, but the chemistry of the band had changed. In 1989, they reformed for one or two gigs before calling it a day. Sean now plays with an occasional punk band in Rugby and Nick lives in Australia. ‘One Summer’ still gets played on the radio occasionally, and it sounds as good as it ever did.

Twee.net lists them as if they were from Scotland. It is clear from the bio that they were based in London. That website used to have a download page but I believe all the songs that I downloaded from them were lost when my “music” hard drive stopped working. According to an old blog post from Power Populist there were 42 songs to download. Some of them from an unreleased 2nd album.

I do own two of their records, the “Shorn” LP and the “Underground” single. The one I’m missing is the “One Summer” single (which I just ordered to complete my collection). I believe I bought the ones I have when I went to a record shop in Greenwich many years ago.

“One Summer” came out on both 7″ (cat. Idea 006) and 12″ (Ideat 006) on Idea Records in 1987. It included “One Summer” on the A side and “Go Down” on the B side on the 7″. The 12″ added another song to the B side, “Blissful”.

Second single was “Underground”. This was Idea 007. Also released in 1987 this included two songs on the 7″ and three on the 12″. “Underground” was the A side whereas “Were You Happy?” was the B side. The 12″ added “The Sweetest Girl” to the B side. The record was produced by Andrew Fryer and The Moss Poles.

Idea Records was a great indiepop label, releasing classic records by The Jack Rubies, The Wolfhounds, Playing At Trains and The Wallflowers. With them they were to release also the Shorn LP in 1987. The catalog number was IDEALP 002 and it included 14 songs! There were 7 on each side, and you could find on the A side: “The Things You Say”, “Take it Or Leave it”, “Don’t Worry”, “Amanda Dreams”, “All in Your Eyes”, “I Hear You Scream” and “Don’t You Know?”. The B side had “Underground”, “More & More”, “The Sweetest Girl”, “You Came Up & Smiled”, “Little Prince”, “What Can I Do?”, “To Kiss You”.

From the credits we learn a few details, Dave Kirk helped with drums and Andrew Fryer with keyboards in this record. It was recorded and digitally mastered onto DAT at Chapell Studios.

Let’s keep digging. On Youtube I find a song called “10,000 Miles” and is dated 1989. It is said to have been the third single. Sadly it never got released. Luckily this same Youtube account, which I suspect must be from a Moss Poles member, has many more Moss Poles videos. All of them uploaded 6 years ago:
One Summer Live 1986
– A rehearsal from 1985 playing the song Loop
– The song “Blissful”
– “Here He Comes” live at Dingwalls in Camden
– “Little Prince” live at Dingwalls in Camden
– “Underground” live at Dingwalls in Camden
– “One Summer” live at Dingwalls in Camden
– “Take it Or Leave it” live at Dingwalls in Camden

Then I stumble upon Nick Potter’s Soundcloud. Here there are some more tunes by The Moss Poles, but most importantly two songs from the second album, “The Eucalyptus Crack” and “The Whole World’s Sinking”. Such great songs! What happened to this record? Why did it never come out?

Other song names I could find online were “Couldn’t Find a Reason”, “Don’t Think About Me” and “Your Ignorance”. May these three also be from that 2nd unreleased album?

The last item I could find about the Moss Poles is that they appeared on a compilation on Idea Records called “The Idea Compendium” (IDEALP 003) released in 1988. In this great compilation they contributed “One Summer” and “Go Down”.

Then I couldn’t find much more about them. I wonder why they took down their website. What happened to all of those songs that were available for download and if they will be available again. What happened to the band members afterwards? Were they involved with music? What about before being The Moss Poles? Had they been in bands? And what about that 2nd album, what’s the story behind it?

Anyone out there remembers them?

EDIT: Jessel shared with me the 2nd album. The tracks included are: “The Whole World’s Sinking”, “Pretty Blue Eyes”, “The Eucalyptus Crack”, “Tell Me”, “Don’t Stop To Think Of Me”, “Missing Her”, “Don’t Say Anything”, “Don’t Get Me Wrong”, “Your Ignorance”.

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Listen
The Moss Poles – One Summer

01
Aug

This past weekend I followed, on Facebook and Instagram, many friends that were at Indietracks posting photos and videos. I felt nostalgia and a bitter feeling for not being there. I hope it was great for those who attended and that everyone had a good time. That there were some bands that surprised, and others that confirmed their greatness. Hope beer was cold, and that the weather was perfect. I hope to hear from people about their experiences. Or read about them. I don’t think no one does Indietracks reviews anymore on blogs, but hopefully some of you will post some photo albums on Facebook, or perhaps write something somewhere so me, and everyone else that missed it, had a good picture of your experience.

Now, today after Indietracks was over, I’ve read already a couple of posts on Facebook saying that the label Fortuna Pop is no more. I looked in the label’s Facebook page but there’s nothing there saying so. Perhaps it was an announcement made at Indietracks? I wonder what happened. When I saw Sean at NYC Popfest a couple of months ago, it seemed Fortuna Pop was going strongly, supporting important bands that drew crowds bigger than your indiepop standard. Maybe after so many years he got tired? What has happened?

The past week I’ve been exchanging emails with a label from China. From Shenzhen specifically. That is the area in China that is immediately north from Hong Kong. I guess that may explain a bit that they are an indiepop label. The only other Chinese indiepop I’ve heard before in my life hails from Hong Kong. Not saying indiepop can’t happen in Xinjiang, but definitely is more possible in Shenzhen I think.

The label is called Boring Productions and so far they have four releases. The first one, a compilation called “Our Secret World”, includes covers of indiepop classics like “Anorak City” by A Hidden Trace or “Sensitive” by Zoo. From this first release we can already figure out what sort of sound this label champions, that of a bedroom produced dreampop.  A lo-fi shoegaze that is very appealing to me.

On this first compilation released in August 2015 we find 15 different bands. None of the names in the album is familiar to me. All new. I couldn’t say where they come from. Are they all from Shenzhen?

The second release on the label is an album by a band called Chestnut Bakery. This band appears on the “Our Secret World” compilation with the song “Saturday Afternoon”. The album titled “Diaries” seems to be the only one that has sold out. There are 10 songs that are classic indiepop. They are described as the most 90s shoegaze band in China in their bandcamp. The band is formed by Rye on guitar and vocals, Leo on guitar, Nadia on bass and Sango on drums. I think they might be my favourite band and the favourite release on Boring Productions. This is a great album and wish I had discovered them sooner so I could have a copy!

Third release is a tape just titled “Promo Tape: Bedroom Pop rules the Wolrd”. It seems there is a typo on world indeed on the cover photo. There are just four songs, one each for Milkmustache, The Cheers Cheers, Dripping Wet and Atta Girl. I don’t think this tape is actually part of the catalog but just a promo release for the next releases that will be out on the label. We know then that Milkmustache hails from Shenzhen, The Cheers Cheers from Shaoxing, Dripping Wet from Texast (?!) and Atta Girl we don’t know where from China.

Fourth and last release so far is the Milkmustache 4-song CD that came out just a week or so ago. The songs are “Shell Button”, “Dolphin”, “Submarine” and “Oh!Overload”. The CD comes with a very cool presentation, with what looks like a board game called Boring Productions adventure. It all looks so fresh and exciting with this label. Feels like the early days of a cool scene that is brewing in their area, reminding me of what Yay! did many years ago in Oxnard, California. I wonder what will happen next with Boring Productions and what amazing bands will introduce to indiepop fans. Efforts like this are what makes one keep faith in indiepop, there are still pockets in the world were music inspire and make people come together.

———————————————————-

Ages ago when the last Leamington Spa compilation was being put together there were a bunch of bands I had never heard before that were going to appear in that CD. Hugebigmassive was one of them. And always thought that at some point I should try to track their records and songs. I’ve tried believe me, but still I have heard just a few of them and haven’t had the luck to get my hands on their 2 records.

I still don’t know how to write their name, is it Hugebigmassive or Huge Big Massive? I see them written both ways. I’ll go with the first style as Discogs has it that way, but I wonder what was the band’s preference?

On the Leamington Spa #7 they go with the second option, all words spaced and there is a tiny bio:
Formed in 1986 originally as a three piece with surviving members from previous band Sister Crow – Andrew Sharman (guitar/vocals), Stuart Simpson (guitar/keys/backing vocals) and Karl Traae (bass). The drum machine was usurped in 1989 with the arrival of Kevin Tucker and his drums. Building a large following in their home town of Leicester HBM toured nationally playing on many high profile tours with the likes of Suede, Dodgy, Teenage Fanclub and Ocean Colour Scene resulting in numerous TV and radio appearances. HBM released two twelve inch EPs ‘Who wants more?’ and ‘Out of my mind’. With the collapse of the Berlin Wall they toured extensively in what was Czechoslovakia. Despite many approaches from record companies the band were deemed to be too ‘laddie’ in the pre Brit Pop era. Eventually in 1992 after playing themselves to death, HBM decided to call it a day of pursuing different musical outlets. All four members remain friends and keep in contact with each other (just).

The first of these EPs, “Who Wants More”. Came out on Tasty Records in 1991 (catalog TR 01), 5 years after forming. One can only wonder why didn’t they release anything else before. Perhaps they did some demo tapes? In any case the truth is that this record included three songs. On the A side we only find “Who Wants More” whereas on the B side there’s “Unfair” and “You Crazy People Kill Me”. The first one written by Simpson while the two on the B side by Sharman. I also think is safe to assume that Tasty Records was their own label as it seems the only two records released by this label were the two HBM releases.

On the Discogs page for this release we find a press sheet where their tour dates appear! We then know they played in 12 different venues in then Czechoslovakia in places like Plzen, Sokolov, Litvinov, Prague, Decin, Pardubice, Trebuc, Bratislava, Brno and Zdar. In the UK they also promoted this release playing in Leicester’s Princess Charlotte, at the Stoke Poly, Coventry’s “Tic Toc”, Nottingham Grand Central Diner, Cambridge Junction, Windsor Psykik Dance Hall, Oxford Jerico Tavern, Scraptoft Leicester Poly, Warwick University, Derby, and London ULU.

A year later three more songs would see the light of day. “Out of My Mind”, on the A side, and “Make it Happen” and “Here to Stay” on the B side, would appear on a new 12″ in 1991. Again released by Tasty Records (catalog TR 02), this record was produced by Paul Sampson from The Primitives.

It is the last song on this record, “Here to Stay” that appears on The Sound of Leamington Spa #7 released by Firestation Records some years ago. Don’t know if they had any other compilation appearances. But what I did find were some TV interview/appearances on Youtube. I don’t know exactly which TV program these recordings come from but there are two. The first one seems to show a promo video of the band and some bits of interview and the second one another interview and a live performance.

From the comments on these Youtube videos we find out some more song names like “Coming Down”, “Trouser Press” and “I’m Not a Policeman”. Also that they had played at Coalville Tech Students Union and Peterborough. Another Youtuber mentions that Andy Sharman used to be a delivery guy for a co-op in Wigston. All these fans do believe that this band should have been massive and seem to agree that it was just bad timing, that they appeared a bit too late in the indie wave. It was the early 90s with grunge taking it over.

A cassette titled “The Good, The Band and the Slightly Shop Soiled” seems to have existed as well as one called “The Elvis Underground” definitely confirming that they recorded more songs.

From what I could gather Karl Traee continued making music, he went to be in Perfume and releasing many many records after the demise of HBM. The only other member from HMB that continued involved in music afterwards was Andy Sharman, on a Leicester Mercury article I could find that he was also frontman of The Charmers and Sourpus and that lately he was leading a band called Produkty. Sharman says they are Leicester’s answer to Abba, though for sure this is rock n’roll. This is their bandcamp.

I wonder about HBM, about those tapes, about their name, about touring Bohemia, seems there’s a story to be told. And definitely “Here to Stay” should have been a hit.

Edit:
Gary Strickland from Honeyrider (and now Seafang) told me a couple of interesting facts about the band on Facebook. First that Tasty Reords was started by Andy Wright who ran The Princess Charlotte in Leicester and also managed HBM. Also Stuart Simpson joined him in the band Whirl from San Diego, flying all the way to California. When Whirl went to record with Paul Sampson (thanks to the HBM connection) in the UK Karl Traae was to join Whirl as well. Stuart would later be part of a band called Minithin that had two songs on the compilation Sunny Sunday Smile Volume 2 that Sunday Records released in 2000. The songs were “When We Were Something” and “The Next Life”. Thanks Gary!

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Listen
Hugebigmassive – Here to Stay