Last post of 2016, wishing everyone a Happy New Year!!

I still can’t remember what records came out this year. Sure I know the ones that I just got from Shelflife or Matinée, but I’m sure there were many earlier on, but you know, I barely remember them! Thing is, as many of you know I keep this Excel document where I have written down all my records and I kind of have it ordered by purchase date, at least the last year. Then after a year is over I organize them alphabetically, that way I know which were the records I bought in the last year and I can tell you some of my highlights of the year. No lists though, I find them unfair.

But see, as I told you before my computer broke down. And yes, there were good news that the hard drive was saved by my girlfriend’s cousin (a computer whiz) he left to Mexico for holidays before I could meet him to get my hard drive. So yeah, no Excel sheet yet to check the records. I haven’t even stored my latest records and they are piling on my desk, instead of finding a good home in my shelves, waiting to be catalogued. This is definitely nerve wracking for me, for my order, for my way of storing and collecting records, but what can I do? It is my fault in the end, should have had my collection on the cloud or have a backup file, something. But no… I didn’t.

So that’s changing, that’s a resolution for next year. Being more cautious, more careful with digital stuff. Once I got fried a hard drive and lost thousands and thousands of MP3s of indiepop. A lot of rare stuff. I guess since that time I have issues with digital releases and MP3s. Understandable, no?

So yeah, won’t tell you what records were my favourite this year until I have it more clear.

What can I tell you then? These last weeks of every year are usually very quiet. That’s always like that. I did see something on my email a couple days ago, Phil Sutton from Pale Lights promoting a new song under another name, The Holiday Scene. It is a free song on Bandcamp called “Eight Dates a Week (Song for Hannukkah)” and it sounds a lot like Pale Lights if you ask me. It is very nice, lyrics by Lisa Goldstein (Pale Lights) and Dora Lubin (The Soft City) and all music played by Phil and Kyle Forester (Crystal Stilts) and vocals by Suzanne Nienaber. The song is intended to raise funs for Planned Parenthood, so they are asking for donations if you like the song. A good thing indeed.

Another worthy release that just came out is a cassette tape by Barcelona band Son Bou. A favourite band that released some fantastic records many years ago. Now they are back after a long silence with 7 songs on a limited edition of 50 tapes. Shame I’m no fan of tapes, but I’m really enjoying the tracks on Bandcamp. As I said before, why do just 50 copies of a tape when you can do 100 CDRs and they are way easier to listen to them. Why tapes? I will never understand this trend. Bring back CDR! Anyhow, the record is out on Snap! Clap! Club a label that seems to be on fire lately.

A Texas indiepop band? That seems like something from the 90s, doesn’t it? Well there is this band The Crystal Furs that also have a very late release this year, expected to ship December 27 it says. This is their first full-length album and it includes 9 songs, though only one, “Weightless“, can be streamed from Bandcamp. It sounds pretty nice, quite a surprise for a band hailing from Forth Worth, a city I visited back in 1994 (!).

And what a nice surprise is Battery Point from Chula Vista, California. It makes me happy when I see Spanish last names in bands in the US, makes me feel less lonely in the indiepop community in a way. This four piece have 3 songs up on their Bandcamp, “Street Lights”, “Eternal” and “Violet Dream” and they all sounds really good! What a promising band, and I wonder who they are? have they been in bands before? and if they have any plans for the future? A very nice discovery and one to keep an eye in 2017.

And so this is how I end up 2017, reviewing some up and coming bands, hoping for a good year for indiepop, and more, MORE, releases. Around the corner we will have Pale Spectres and My Light Shines for You 7″s and the Some Other Day retrospective. The blog will continue, on it’s 9th year of existence, trying to do a blog post each week, with some band you might have forgotten and some news or some reviews or whatever. And when possible interviews to bands that I care.

Happy 2017!


I wonder why today, coming out the 7 train, going to work on a Christmas day, St. James Infirmary came to mind. I was reading the fantastic Grant & I book (I’m halfway through) and started thinking of bands that I haven’t covered in the blog and that I barely know anything. I guess I do this exercise a lot, but I wonder what sort of connections brought me to a band that is very well regarded by me, that I keep in mind, that I have even uploaded a song to Youtube. But for some reason 8 years have had to pass on the blog for me to start writing some lines about them!

And I’m not the first one writing about them. I see that my good friend Alex in Madrid had already dedicated some lines to them, especially to their Angelikagool EP, back in 2007! So I’m quite late to the party even though I’m very sure I owned this EP and their flexi on Woosh already in 2007. I least that’s what I recall. My memory could be playing tricks on me though.

Alex raves a couple of the songs on the EP, especially “Terry Marriagehead” and the fabulous “Like a Boy Detective”.  I agree with him, those two are the best in this 4 song 7″. But lets start from the beginning.

There was a time once where fanzines were important and they brought the news of new up and coming bands. I still don’t know what would be the fanzines of our times. Blogs are dead (even if this isn’t). Well, with the fanzines “Two Pint Take Home -No. 4” and “Waterbomb No.4″ a flexi 7” came along. This was the flexi shared by The Sunflowers and St. James Infirmary, released by Woosh (which used to be a fanzine). The catalog was WOOSH 008 and it came out in 1989. Here in the blog I’ve celebrated Stephen’s Woosh label so many times and so it is no surprise this band would find home not only here on Woosh but also on Stephen’s second label, Lust. The song they included in the flexi was “The Boy Who Crossed the Street”. Keep in mind too that this song is also available on “The Woosh Collection” a CD released by Jigsaw in 2014 where all Woosh flexis are included!

Next record, going in order on Discogs, is the Altered Mixes 12″. I have never heard the songs in this record. They are just titled “Altered (Mix 1)” and “Altered (Mix 2)”. I’ve read not so good things about it, so I haven’t taken the risk before listening to it (not like me, huh?). This blue sleeve record came out in 1990 on Lust Records (catalogue LUST 6T).

Then another flexi, also from 1990, but this time on the Paint it Red label. This came out alongside the Paint it Red magazine No. 43 in November of that year. It figures. St. James Infirmary shares the flexi with The Lavender Faction and they contribute the song “Juicehead Ritual”.

And now the record I started the post with, “Angelkagool EP” on Lust Recordings. Catalogue LUST 2 (which means this actually came before the Altered Mixes 12″) and out in 1990. Four songs, on the A side, “Terry Marriagehead” and “The Shenanigans Begin Again” and on the B side “Her Voice Moves Me Thru Time” and “Like a Boy Detective”. 1000 copies made and a printing mistake seems to have put the back sleeve upside down.

On the back sleeve we find some information. First off some text titled “In Inventions, Waiting for Bill” credited to Jimmy Buxton, the produced of the record. The band line up is listed:
Tony Bennett – drums and vocals
G.W. Lang – vocals, guitars and organ
Michael Damain Hydes – vocals
Stephen Bennett – vocals

The songs were recorded by Tim Hartley. The drawing on the sleeve am I smart enough to guess that is the “Saint Klimt” by Skip Doncaster that is also credited on the back? We also find out that the band hailed from Ashington, Northumberland. Good clues for our detective work, just like a boy detective.

Ashington is a town and civil parish in Northumberland, England. With a population of around 27,000, measured at 27,764 at the 2011 Census; it was once a centre of the coal mining industry. The town is located some 15 miles (24 km) north of Newcastle upon Tyne. Many inhabitants have a distinctive accent and dialect known as Pitmatic. This varies from the regional dialect known as Geordie.

Discogs lists yet another 7″ but from a later time, from 1998. This means the band kept going even after the indiepop heydays. Released on a label called Sound Archive Recordings, St. James Infirmary’s 7″ included “Punk Rock (Saved My Best Friend’s Life)” and “Thanks a Bunch, Fat Boy”.

Let’s keep digging. Best bet that they took their name from:
“St. James Infirmary Blues”, sometimes known as “Gambler’s Blues,” is an American folksong of anonymous origin, though sometimes credited to the songwriter Joe Primrose (a pseudonym for Irving Mills). Louis Armstrong made it famous in his influential 1928 recording.

But that is just another guess. I do find a Bandcamp for St. James Infirmary and there I find an interesting bio.
St. James Infirmary, of Ashington, Northumberland, was formed in 1985 as the vehicle for singer, songwriter and multiinstrumentalist g.w.lang and has been continuously active ever since. g.w.l. is assisted in his work by an evolving and rotating cast of bandmates, and at last count, SJI has had something in the region of 40 members.

So G.W. Lang is really the main force behind the band. Was it like that always? Seems like it. Here on the Bandcamp there are a lot of recent-ish releases, none from the 80s. But here you can listen to the 7″ on Sound Archive Recordings. And that was 1998. Then the next release is titled “Abdicate” and it dates from 2002.

Then there are these releases titled Almanac. They go from Almanac 3.01 to Almanac 4.12. All in all there are 23 of these Almanacs, lots to listen. Also there is another release titled “Annex B to Planet X” that is mostly electronic tracks.

For the completists of websites, I could also find a Soundcloud page. Here there are a couple of the 80s songs, the ones that make me so happy! Do check some of the songs at the bottom, like “She’s Off Her Head” for example, proper indiepop! Wonder when was this one written and recorded.

Back to Discogs for a bit. I need to check if they appeared on compilations. Of course they did. I can see they appeared on the Mind The Gap tape in 1990. On this legendary tape compiled by the one and only Peter Hahndorf they included the song “Martha & Terry”. That same year on another classic tape, on the “Positively Teenage” compilation they contributed the song “The Sun Don’t Shine”.

Then another gap, 8 years. In 1998 they contribute the song “Heavy Handed Down” on the CD compilation “Pickle Patch Compilatio 1” released by Din Mak Records.

I know Discogs is missing something! One of my favourite songs by the band is “How Many Times” and that was included on the 2nd volume of the legendary “You Can’t Be Loved Forever” tape compilation series.

The boy detective has to keep going. And now perhaps the grail, on a St James Infirmary Facebook page (that has no profile photo!) I’m to find a lot of goodies. First off a band lineup that seems correct: G.W. Lang, Mark Oliver and Tony Bennett with Simon Foster, Bing Bongo, Bob Wire, Andrea Woodyer. I remember seeing the Bing Bongo name on the back sleeve of the “Angelkagool EP”, wonder what did he do in that record then.

There are a bunch of videos in the page, but for me the cherry on the cake is a video titled “Hey ho, see you down the discotheque, when I get my giro cheque”. It is a video from the 80s definitely. It sounds glorious to me. Jingle Jangly! Please check it out! Was it a promo video?!

From this Facebook page we know they are still playing. They even have a gig just around the corner, January 12 at the Prohibition Bar in Gateshead. So that’s good news! Maybe we’ll get in touch with the band and learn more about them, maybe an interview? That’d be nice.

And what you weren’t expecting, St. James Infirmary has a website. True the URL is not very helpful and Google wouldn’t give me this website by just searching their name. But doesn’t matter. I found it and it is time to dig on this sort of blog structured site. There’s so much here but it seems like a blog chronicling the band singe August 2011. I know, I’m more interested in the 80s stuff, and that’s kind of mean of me perhaps, and I go through the posts looking for something about those years. I especially want to know if they have more unreleased songs from that time. If they appeared on more tape compilations back then (I did find out that they were on a tape compilation just lately, on the “The Rough With the Smooth – A Glimpse of Paradise Vol 1” on Neen Records where the very hip Molly Nilsson also appears).

I wonder if you remember them. Many of you probably do as they are still going strong. I wonder about their indiepop days, if they played as many gigs as they do now. As I asked before, if they had more songs recorded. If they released demo tapes or participated on more compilations. Or even, if there are more jingle jangly videos for me to love.


St. James Infirmary – Like a Boy Detective


Merry Christmas to all the popkids in the world!

We are closing down this 2016 that has been quite rough. Even today we get terrible news from Berlin, I city I love so much, that many dear friends call home. It has been non-stop bad news in 2016, so hopefully 2017 will be much much better.

Indiepop got some bad news last week. Not comparable of course to what’s going around in the world, but it definitely affected many of us. Last Monday just after I posted my weekly blog post, after saying that we didn’t know what was happening with NYC Popfest, we got news. And for sure it wasn’t the sort of news we were hoping for. NYC Popfest was not going to happen in 2017. The message was clear:

Hello everyone,

As the year comes to a close and inquiries about performing at and attending Popfest come pouring in, I’m faced with delivering some sad news: NYC Popfest will go on hiatus beginning in 2017. This was an incredibly difficult decision for me to make. Over the past ten years Popfest has been a labor of love for me; however, at this time I need to focus on several important personal matters. I’ll re-evaulate next year to see what lies ahead for the festival. My deepest thanks go out to everyone who supported, played, and came to NYC Popfest over the last decade.

That was the message that appeared on the festival Facebook page. The organizer, Maz, also posted the same message on his personal page. Immediately countless of comments and shares showing fans support, surprise, sadness and nostalgia were made. I was a bit shocked. I mean, I kind of suspected it by conversations I had with Maz during 2016’s edition, but I was just very hopeful that in the end, after the fantastic lineup he put together this year he would have the inspiration, the drive, to do it again.

I totally understand why stop now. Of course, stopping when you are on top is great. It is much better than when you are on the low. So that’s that. But I don’t think that’s the main reason. The reason is that life happens. And it is definitely time for other people to take over. People that have the time, the drive. Doing a festival for almost 10 years is no easy task, and even though it gives you many fantastic moments and all, in the end you need a break.

True, on the message it says that it is a hiatus. That means many things, perhaps it is just a break. Maybe it takes a year, or two, and then Maz comes with full force and organizes another glorious festival. That would be ideal. He already has the know-how and has so many band contacts that he is the perfect candidate to keep doing this. The other possibility is that he is planning to hand the name to a new team of organizers. If that was the case hopefully those interested in doing so have the same good taste as Maz has. Many times we’ve seen how festivals, after changing organizers, or just even adding new organizers, become less exciting.

For me, NYC Popfest was a perfect festival. First it was the best thing that could happen when I was living in Miami, I could escape to New York and catch some fabulous bands and meet new and old friends. Then when I was in NYC it was a good time to host friends, go show my favourite restaurants to other popkids and dance until I didn’t feel my legs! It was just perfect having the festival in town. I was so lucky to attend to all editions but one, the 2009 one… one that still hurts because I missed it.

I DJed the festival twice. The first time it was the better one. When people danced nonstop. I treasure that night dearly. I think, within the US, that was the one time I felt happy to DJ. It was very sad when I had to hand the decks to someone else that day, for once, I had the energy to keep going for 3, 4 more hours. I usually get bored of DJing after the 1st hour now!

My memories of Popfest are all written over the blog. The bands I loved, the bands I didn’t like, the friends I made, the adventures, the places we visited and so on. I think all of the Popfests are documented in many posts here throughout the years. Even 2007, that happened before this blog was started, was covered extensively. Like that first meeting with BMX Bandits’ Duglas or going around with Poppolar’s Erico in a little car around town. Or Pete Hahndorf at Coney Island’s boardwalk looking very summery.

I can only thank Popfest for many of my best memories when it comes to indiepop. I wish it returns. I do. But if it doesn’t, I will carry with me so many fantastic friendships, songs and endless nights of partying. We were lucky to have it happen here in New York, in true a city with just a handful of indiepop bands and maybe 20 indiepop fans (am I exaggerating?), for 10 years. Cities with more indiepop fans like Glasgow or London didn’t have Popfests that lasted this long. That means Maz worked hard and believed in the community. And that matters to me.

That’s why I always championed Popfest, even if sometimes I disagreed with some decisions. Of course this were tiny details, nothing really important in the end, but you know who doesn’t have an opinion and who doesn’t want this or that band to play. But as I said before, in the end, because of the whole lineup, even if there was one or two bands you didn’t care, was so strong that these opinions didn’t matter. It was going to make any popkid happy.

So I just want to say thanks again to Popfest, to Maz, to all the bands that played there and to all the people that attended. I know this is a blow to the indiepop community, that it feels there are less and less releases, even less labels, not many festivals, and that indiepop is kind of going much more underground than before. It is like back to 1994 or so when indiepop was kind of forgotten, only a few carried on and would see a little rebirth in the late 90s and then later in around 2006 see a true renaissance of our favourite music. I know, I feel that way, that things are just kind of disappearing… but I hope there will be a new generation that will carry this over. There are new bands that sound great for starters. Now the other pieces in the puzzle, that of festival and gig organizers, fanzine writers, label people, have to start appearing and fitting in.

Thanks to Popfest for everything. You were amazing.


So there are is one more post after this one and then that will do for 2016. I always wonder what would be a good band to cover. I got a request not so long ago about the band Storm House that had one song released on the compilation “I Might Walk Home Alone” on Wilde Club Records. The song being “Inside”. I could find nothing at all about this band. So I wonder if anyone might help me?

I still don’t have that CD compilation. I know it is not crazy expensive and I should get it soon. But when I remember about it I already had spent all my budget for record shopping of the week! Oh! My bad memory. And so I looked into which other records are on my wantlist and I noticed that I still haven’t round getting an indiepop classic, A Strange Desire’s flexi single.

Released in 1987 as a self release (catalog ASD 001 – clearly ASD being A Strange Desire), it included 2 songs on the flexi’s single side, “Promie to Lie” and “Until Tomorrow”. Both songs credited to Simmons, Nicolas.

I believe the photocopied sleeves came in different colours. I’ve seen pictures of blue paper sleeves and yellow ones too with black ink. I’ve also seen yellow with red ink. I look into some scans of the back cover for more information thanks to 45cat. From it we can figure out that the two songs were recorded at BB Studios in Kingston, Surrey in January of 87.

Kingston upon Thames, also known as Kingston, is the principal settlement of the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames in southwest London. It was the ancient market town where Saxon kings were crowned. Kingston is situated 10 miles (16 kilometres) southwest of Charing Cross and is one of the major metropolitan centres identified in the London Plan.

The record was produced by A Strange Desire and engineered by James. Who is this enigmatic James with no last name?

We do know that the members were Tony Simmons on vocals and bass, Nick Nicolas on guitar and Yvette Haynes on drums. And they were not based in Kingston but in Harrow according to the contact address.

Harrow is a large suburban town in the London Borough of Harrow, northwest London, England. It is centred 10.5 miles (16.9 km) northwest of Charing Cross. Harrow-on-the-Hill includes the conservation area with a high proportion of listed buildings with a residential and institutional array of Georgian architecture and a few 17th century examples.

There are thanks on the sleeve for John Simmons and Julie Haynes. Family of the band members? I suppose so.

Another song is listed on Discogs that doesn’t appear on the flexi and that is “On Another Day”, another jangly gem. This track appeared on the compilation”The Timebox” released in 1987 on the Timebox Records label (catalog TIME 001). This compilation was engineered by Yukio Yung (of Yukio Yung fame!). This record included another band we really like in the blog like The Black Cillas. The Timebox was then a club based at the Bull and Gate pub in Kentish Town, London. So this compilation was some sort of a representation of the bands that had played the club, a very cool initiative indeed. The compilation was put together by Jon Beast and Ben Chalis.

The last appearance of the band was on, surprise surprise, The Sound of leamington Spa Vol. 5. They contributed the song “A Promise to Lie”, the same one as in the flexi. That fantastic lo-fi jangly gem. And even though it wasn’t a new song for me to listen it meant that there was going to be some more information about this obscure band on the booklet:

A Strange Desire formed in 1985. Guitarist Nick Nicolas and me, Tony Simmons (bass/vocals) had played together in various bands before; Yvette Haynes (drums) answered our advert in a music paper. We did loads of gigs, often together with My Bloody Valentine, mostly in the Camden area (me and Nick are both from Camden). We played at the usual venues – The Enterprise in Chalk Farm, The Bull and Gate, The Sir George Robey; plus quite a few squat gigs, including one at the Hope and Anchor. We never quite fitted in the indie scene of the time, not so much musically, but through our unwillingness to crawl to the “important” people. In early 1987 we released our one and only flexi – John Peel played it a few times which was a high point. In May 1987, we played a gig at a university in Paris. In our usual style it went from disaster (starting too loud) to triumph (the audience started to really get into it after a few songs), only to end in farce – the flexis we had taken with us to sell had been locked away in a room for safety, and after the gig no one could find the key. And that was that. We drifted back to London, sick of playing to small audiences at the same old places, and moved to other things…

Wow, what a story… I really hope they got back those flexis from the safe. And what about the other bands they had played in? Did they have a similar sound? And that gig in Paris? Did they play other places in France? Other countries too? I wonder who are the “important” people Tony mentions…

My last stop is a Myspace the band used to have. There is a very discography/biography there that I copy here:

1. “On Another Day” (Recorded in Shepherds Bush in 1986) Released 1987 on the Timebox Various Artists Compilation, Timebox Records in 1987 (I don’t even own a copy of this… You can hear it on Youtube)

2. “Promise To Lie”/”Wait Until Tomorrow” (recorded in Kingston (Surrey, not Jamaica:) Xmas 1986) released as a privately pressed flexi in 1987 on ASD Records. An absolute highpoint for me was when John Peel played the single a few times (see our song list for a recording of him talking about it). That he played it was all down to the lovely Klair Baldwin from Stowmarket who went round his house with the flexi. Thanks again, Klair (27 years on!) If you read this – please get in touch!

3. “Promise To Lie” released on “The Sound of Leamington Spa Vol 5” An obscure 80’s Indie Compilation released by German label Firestation Records in 2005. And that was that…

There were also some more songs other than the ones I mentioned before on the Myspace at some point. Sadly they don’t stream anymore. Would love to hear them. They are:
– Insanely Jealous (live 1986)
– Sometimes (1986)
– Wait Until Tomorrow (1986)
– It Has to End (1986)

There seems to have been a clip of John Peel introducing and playing A Strange Desire as well.

And that’s all I could find. Maybe some of you remember them from their Camden gigs? Or you own a spare copy of that flexi for me? Or you saw them in Paris? Maybe you even found the key for that room were all the flexis were stored! I wonder too what did they do after, if they were involved in any other bands. Such a cool sounding band and we know so little…


A Strange Desire – Promise to Lie


Almost done with the year. Happy to have released some great records this year, The Seashells, Stephen’s Shore and The Suncharms. For next year we have already in the pipeline Pale Spectres, Some Other Day, My Light Shines For You and Royal Landscaping Society. And hopefully more surprises! Would love to release a new fanzine definitely and I really want to get the Leamington Spa Series back to live, would have to talk to the Firestation guys, see if they wanna do it jointly. That would be a winning idea.

Still no news from New York Popfest, will it happen next year? That’s the big question for me. Also waiting for Indietracks to come up with their first announcements.

What about the Twee.net year end poll? Will it happen this year? Last year I think Peter forgot to close it and give the results. I think there were only a few people who voted, so maybe it wasn’t really interesting.

What else is new in indiepop? I think there was something going in the UK last weekend as everyone and their mothers were there. It must be something I’m not a fan of, but I hope they had fun.

Time perhaps to check Bandcamp see what is new? Maybe there are some cool new bands? It’s been a while…

I find first this chamber pop band (or is it a solo project?) called The Rowan. They hail from Glasgow and seems these 5 songs had been recorded over a span of 20 years, the oldest song being from 1995 and the newest from 2001.

Favourites of this blog, The BV’s, have a new release “Runaway Neon EP“. There are 7 songs on this tape, but only one is streaming on Bandcamp. I think I kind of arrived late as one of the editions of this tape is already sold out. There’s another edition, the regular one, still available. Shame I’m no fan of tapes, if not I’d be ordering this right away. Why don’t people release CD-Rs? Cheaper and easier to listen to. And to rip to MP3s too if needed. Bring back CD-Rs!

The Haywains have a Christmas single part of the Snowflakes Christmas Singles Club. The songs included are “Who Needs Summer?” and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town”. I haven’t got round getting the singles from this club since The Garlands, but this year they have The Haywains and The Manhattan Love Suicides, so  it seems like I need to place an order before it is too late.

The Argentinean band Las Ligas Menores, a band whose first album I have raved before on the blog, have 3 songs on Bandcamp as teasers for their second album to be released in 2017. The songs being “Ni Una Canción”, “Mis Amigos” and “Fotos”.

And for sure, do not miss the wonderful online only compilation by Soda Fountain Rag titled “The Lost Levels“. It includes tracks that once were released here, on Cloudberry, and also from other various labels. It has made me so happy to listen to all these tracks after such a long time. Classic indiepop from the mid 00s. Now, will Soda Fountain Rag release new stuff? I hope so!! Definitely one of the best pop bands ever to come out from Bergen (and Norway of course!).


So I’ve been writing a lot of interview questions for interviews that hopefully will be published on the blog. You know, it all depends if the bands actually answer them!

So had been going through the booklets of Leamington Spa compilations, just to get some information on what to ask bands, and while I do so, sometimes I do play the whole CD. Why not? It’s been a while since I listen to them and I keep rediscovering gems, obscure bands whose records I don’t have and who I want more information from.

That was the case of Bounce the Mouse today. What is happy news though is that I went to Discogs and found both their releases for cheap. That is a win-win situation. The only thing is that I preferred buying their second release on 7″ format instead of 12″, I’m more of a singles person, but then I will be missing one song, the last from the 12”!!

When reading the Leamington Spa volume 3 booklet, where they appear with the song “Will You Ever Say” I find:
“Were formed in 1987 by Jonny Hankins, Adam Black, Steve Kenny and Tom Armitage. In 1988 during a gig at the Boardwalk we met Chris Nagle and he urges us to record “Will You Ever Say” and release it on our own label. This we did. Unfortunately Red Rhino distribution went bankrupt and distribution was interrupted. The single was recorded at Strawberry Studios in Stockport and the management there asked us to record a second single as the first release on their new label. This we did again with Nagel and in May 1989 the second single “Like Lorraine” was released. An extensive tour followed including 6 shows with The Levellers, 4 with The Family Cat and several with Cud.
We toured again in September and received interest from EG Records and Island who paid for demos to be recorded with Clive Martin. Eventually due to this interest we changed the name of the band to Sinister Groove, recorded a single with Clive Martin which was released on Bad Girl Records (home of The Family Cat) and toured again with the above mentioned bands and the New Fads, Carter etc. We also recorded a cover of “Monday Monday” by The Mamas and The Papas for a compilation album of music from 1966 under the name “The Luddi Hell Death Squad”. In 1992 we split the band. Jonny Hankins went on to form “Dumb” making 1 albums and several singles and a John Peel Session. He now lives in Italy and plays in a blues band called “Bluesberry Jam”. The others left the music business.”

Let’s leave the questions from the liner notes on a side for a moment, and check out what Discogs lists for Bounce The Mouse. The first release is indeed “Will You Ever Say?” released on Moustrap Records (BTM 01). Self-released in 1988 it included three tracks, on the A side “Will You Ever Say?” and “Coventry” and “Wicked Stepladder” on the B side. A mouse illustration on the front cover.

The next year, 1989, “Like Lorraine” was released on both 12″ and 7″ format. The 12″ included “Like Lorraine”, “Sugar Hate Spice” and “The Man Won’t Listen”. The 7″ included only the first two songs. This release came out on Big Round Records (Big R 102). This same label released a bunch of records by the Milltown Brothers. We also know from the credits that the artwork for this single was done by Martin Kay, the photography by A.J. Wilkinson and the “style and cut” by Andrew Berry.

Questions arise. Where does the name of the band comes from? And were they based in Manchester or on another town nearby?

I find on the Manchester District Music Archive an advert from The Green Room where there’s a Bounce The Mouse gig f0r Wednesday 7pm 1988. They were going to be supported by Mysterious Fifth Member and Big Wednesday.

Then another flyer for June 24 1988 were they play at The International 1 along The Waltones. Then another artifact from the Uptown Music paper from November 1988 where there are to play at the International 1 on November 30th of 1988 with Willum Wozzum Bullum Buzzum and Knowing Irene.

Also on this site we know that the band was featured on the Rip it Up #1 fanzine along the likes of The Siddeleys, The Man From Delmonte, The Brilliant Corners and more.

I think I figure out where their name comes from. It seems to come from the Ringo Starr album “Scouse the Mouse”, in it Adam Faith interprets “Bounce the Mouse”. This is what Wikipedia has to say:
Starr appears as the album’s main character, Scouse the Mouse, who emigrates from Liverpool to the United States. Scouse is a word for things from Liverpool. Other characters are played by Adam Faith (“Bonce the Mouse”) and Barbara Dickson (“Molly Jolly”). The album was written and directed by Donald Pleasence. Most of the songs performed on the album were composed by Roger Brown.

About Sinister Groove I don’t know much, have never heard their music. Maybe someone can help me with that? There’s the 12″ released on Bad Girl with 4 songs and that’s about it. I wonder if they sound just the same as Bounce the Mouse?

And what about Dumb, the last band Jonny Hankins was involved in? Discogs lists two albums and 3 singles. I’m not familiar with their music, so perhaps I should check them out. Where to start?

And that’s really all I could find about this obscure Manchester area band. Now I await for the 2 records I just bought. I hope the other songs sound as good as “Will You Ever Say?”.

Do you remember them? Any anecdotes you could share?


Bounce The Mouse – Will You Ever Say?


Much better now of the jetlag though I do miss being on a permanent state of vacations. Back at work, the usual drill, the same restaurants around the office, the chilly weather in New York. It’s not bad, but I like the change. It is good though that around the corner, in January I’m traveling to Peru. But after that trip, I have nothing planned!

So this last week I’ve been more or less catching up with indiepop. There are some interesting news that are worth mentioning. I’ll start with Matinée Recordings. They have a couple new releases that are not to be missed. First off there’s the new album by Scottish favourites Bubblegum Lemonade titled “The Great Leap Forward”. Laz has been making fantastic songs for so long and a new collection of them is always welcome! I still feel very lucky to have seen this band live once as they have almost never played live! Feel privileged! And the other release is by a new band called The Perfect English Weather. This band is really Simon and Wendy from The Popguns and have crafted a pretty pretty album titled “Isobar Blues”.

Next stop, Night School Records. They have announced a 7″ by Strawberry Switchblade, but not just any 7″. This 7″ is the demo the band recorded in 1982 when they were a 4 piece. The record also comes with an insert with words by Stephen Pastel. You can preorder it now!

Then our friends The Color Waves have two new songs on Bandcamp: “Play Along” and “The Sky I Saw” and they are gorgeous, lush bedroom pop. Hopefully there are more songs in the way.

I also learned that the CD box set “Coals to Newcastle” by Orange Juice is available again. I missed it the first time around so this is a good opportunity for me and for all those that also missed it. I think I might get this for Christmas. It is a bit pricey but from what I see it contains, well, seems totally worth it!

Our friends The Artisans who I have recommended many times on the blog also have a new single, “The Ballad of Armley Jail”. It is inspired by the lives of two transgender women who gave up their fight inside male only prisons. It is going to be available on December 19th but you can listen to it on Soundcloud! Believe me, this is truly fantastic pop, shimmery and classic. I heard that this is a taster of The Artisans debut album coming out in early 2017!

I also received the 2 CD album “The Very Best of B-Flower”. I only started listening to it and it already gives me the chills! Songs that bring nostalgia to me, pop perfection from Japan. I know Jigsaw Records is carrying it in the US, and that might be your best bet if you want to get it. There must be a way to get it from Japan too, but I don’t know exactly how. Anyways, a very welcome retrospective to one of the best Japanese indiepop bands ever.

Well that’s a good roundup. I’m sure I’m missing more stuff but as I said it has been only a week and I’m only reconnecting to the world wide web.


Back to rediscovering some old Leamington Spa bands. This time I picked up volume #2 and it was track 11 that caught my attention, “Fields of Corn” by Splendid Fellows.

I don’t wait a second, I look for the band on the liner notes. I know nothing about Splendid Fellows. There’s a photo of the foursome, and some information:

“Field of Corn” was written by Vince Keenan and only saw the day of light a demo tape. Splendid Fellows was formed in March 1990 and split in 1992. No records were released but gigs were well attended. In July 1994 Vince Keenan returned to play Leeds Heineken Festival under the name The Haze Office with the drummer of Splendid Fellows, Gordon Leather. He already had used this name in the early 80s before becoming the later singer of 1000 Violins. Now he is performing acoustic gigs under the name of Spigott. And it is only a question of time before he is getting a new band together again.”

So the name of the song is “Field of Corn” or “Fields of Corn”? And what happened, did they ever get a new band together?

Why didn’t they release any records? I assume this song comes from a demo tape. I wonder about what other songs were on that tape. Were there more demo tapes other than this one?

Is it safe to think the band was based in Sheffield? The connection of Vince Keenan, once in 1000 Violins (at the time of the “Hey Man That’s Beautiful” album).

Also online I notice that Keenan’s old band is spelled Hays Office, not Haze Office. I keep digging and from an old blog I see that Vince was asked to be part of The Dylans after the demise of 1000 Violins but he decided to go his own way forming Splendid Fellows. It also seems that there used to be a SPIGGOT (notice that it is also written differently on the liner notes of Leamington Spa) website at least around 2005. On it there was even links to a page about The Hays Office, perhaps with information about it. Anyone remember this site?

Now onto the Beautiful Music label. They have released Television Personalities tribute albums. Vince Keenan contributes a modernized version of “Salvador Dali’s Garden Party” with assistance of Zane from Vib Gyor.

I still can’t find who were the other members of Splendid Fellows but I continue the detective work.

But where to continue? I can’t find anything else on the web. Maybe someone can point me where to look? And I want to listen to more songs! Please help me! There was definitely information online at some point, and now there’s none!


Splendid Fellows – Fields of Corn


Thanks so much to John Harkins for this interview! I didn’t know Things in General until stumbling upon their Bandcamp some months ago when I was searching for The English McCoy with whom they shared members. I loved the songs they had uploaded and was so sad to know that I had missed the limited CD they had released. Luckily was able to get in touch with John and ask him a bunch of questions.

++ Hi John! Thanks a lot for being up for this interview! How are you? Are you still based in Preston? Has it changed a lot since the days of Things in General?

Kev and I are both still in Preston. It has changed massively since the ’80’s. For a start the old Polytechnic is now a fairly large university and there are tens of thousands of students from all over the place, in fact the town has developed quite a bit, much the same as other provisional English towns. Preston is about 35 miles from Manchester and Liverpool, so it is massively overshadowed by its noisy neighbours.

++Tell me a bit about how it was back then in the mid 80s, were there any other like minded bands? Where would you usually hang out? What were your favourite venues to go check out bands?

For unsigned bands back in the ’80’s there wasn’t very much of an organised music scene, it was very rare to play in a venue with a house PA. There was no internet and no computers so there had to be a real DIY ethos to gigging. Begging and borrowing gear, promoting our own shows, making the posters, tickets and trying to drum up interest. The bands on the music scene were mainly based around groups of friends, our friends were in bands like The English McCoy & Dreamland. A lot of the time the same group of people would be in a few different bands together. Karl and Damian from Dreamland were in Fear The Fear and ProNoise, Miles, Darren and Paul from the English McCoy all played with Things in General at one time or another. Pete Cobb, a founding member of TiG, was in the English McCoy in their early days too. There were other bands in town that I liked but didn’t really know too well, Dandelion Adventure, Big Red Bus & Cornershop.

Our circle of indie/alternative bands used to hang out in a pub called The Exchange until it got “done up” then we moved to The Adelphi. There were some music pubs, most notably The Lamb, Joplins/Kings Arms and Maguires

There was the occasional “big gig” on at Preston Guild Hall, I saw The Smiths there in ’87.

Touring bands would play at Clouds, The Warehouse (aka Raiders), The Paradise Club and The Venue. The Stone Roses, The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Pogues and countless indie bands passed through these venues over the years.

To be honest, Things in General were more at home in a café than a pub or a music venue. There can be a lot of big egos in and around bands, Things in General much prefered a quieter life spending a long afternoon nursing a mug of tea in Bruccianis Café.

++ I read many of you were in different bands like James, Cornershop and the English McCoy, wondering if there’s any other bands missing in that list? And who were in which bands?

The English McCoy were good friends, Miles Salisbury played drums and Pete Cobb played keys in the early days of Things in General, after the McCoy split up Paul and Darren played keys and drums with TiG. We did some gigs together and I roadied for English McCoy in ’87 & ’88 around the time they were signed and put their single out. Happy times. Miles has just started playing again, in fact I’m doing a gig with him this weekend!

Mick Armistead did most of our recording at the Musicians Co-op in Lancaster. Mick joined James in 1988, around the time of James’ Gold Mother album. He toured with them for a year or so before leaving and recommending Mark Hunter as his replacement. I don’t think Mick was too comfortable with the level of attention that James were getting. He’s still engineering, producing and playing, I saw his band Montana Wildhack a while ago. Good guy, we used to drive him nuts.

Saffs (Anthony Saffery) was one of the Bruccianis cafe regulars, he was a lovely guy and sat in for a few gigs on guitar after Kath left the band around 1987. A few years later Saffs joined Cornershop, they had a No.1 single with Brimful of Asha. I was so pleased for his success, it helped him carve out a career in the industry.

++ Was Things in General your first band? How did the band come together? How did you all know each other?

The band formed out of the post punk era. Kev had been in a punk band called Urban Renewal in the early ‘80’s and knew Miles (drums), also of The English McCoy & Blank Students, Kath (flute and guitar) & Pete Cobb (keys). Andy and I were at school together, he was introduced to Kev and Kath at a party as a guitar player, they asked him to play bass and that was how the first line up came about.

A few people came and went, mainly drummers. Kath left Preston leading to a more guitar oriented sound, I joined on guitar in 1988.

For me personally before TiG I was messing about with my own stuff under the pseudonym Johnny Ligament, I’ve been working on my debut solo album for over 30 years….. 😉

++ Who came up with the name and what’s the story behind it?

No one can remember. Kev told me it just sort of sounded good.

++ At that time, who would you say were your influences?

It may sound a bit pretentious but Kev, in particular, didn’t really have musical influences. The songs came out the way the came out and that was that. I was more into guitar indie, Andy was in to The Cure and played huge bass solos with flanger, Kath would have a nice melody on the flute. We never really tried to be like anything, in that way the band were remarkably unambitious, it was what it was and if people liked it… great.

++ On Bandcamp we can listen to 15 songs that were part of a retrospective CD released in 2012 titled “The Generals”. Was wondering what sparked the idea to put together by yourselves this release?  And are there more songs recorded by the band that weren’t included in this CD?

Kev and I got chatting about 4 years ago. Initially it was just about getting the tracks that we recorded digitised for ourselves. Some people were interested so we put the best 15 on a CD and made a t-shirt.

There are another 10 to 15 tracks that aren’t on The Best of TiG CD, I may put them online at some point as The Rest of TiG.

++ All, but one, songs were recorded at the Blueprint Studio Lancaster and produced Mick Armistead. I guess you really liked working there. How was that experience? Any anecdotes you remember?

Blueprint studio is part of Lancaster Musicians Co-op. The Co-op is a fantastic resource for local musicians, it’s been there for 30+ years and hundreds of bands must have passed through there at one time or another. I was there a few years ago rehearsing with some friends and some of the faces from the ‘80’s were still knocking around like Dave (The Lovely Eggs), Ian (Montana Wildhack, Premier Kissoff) and Mick.

Mick was an ex-boyfriend of Kaths which is how we got to know him. He was infinitely patient with us and he seemed to know what we were looking for.

++ If you were to pick one song from the band, your favourite song, which one would that be and why?

I’m going to be cheeky and take two, one from my time in the band and one from before I joined.

My favourite from my time in the band is Raintown, it really sums up Kev’s songwriting and what it was like living in a northern town in the 1980’s.

Before I joined I really like Morning Air, the slower stuff with flute was so original.

++ How did the creative process work for the band?

The songs were Kev’s with a bit of tweaking by the band. Kev is a fairly self contained songwriter. I think in that we only tried to write a song collaboratively once and it never got into the set…..

++ Let’s talk about gigs. Did you play many? Which cities? Which bands do you remember supporting or that supported you?

We played a lot in Preston and Lancaster, Bodega Wine Bar, Yorkshire House, Kings Arms. Bigger gigs in Preston were at The Warehouse and The Venue. In Manchester we played the Boardwalk and Band on the Wall.

++ What would you were your best gigs and why? Was there any that was actually a bad gig?

I remember a really good gigs at The Venue (Preston Polytechnic) and the Boardwalk (Manchester). On the flip side we had a nightmare once at The Yorkshire House (Lancaster) because we turned up on the wrong day, and I think Kev once booked us at The Warehouse (Preston) as “Kevin Cross and the Wagon Trailers” there was much confusion when we turned up on the night.

++ The band lasted until 1990. Why did the band stop playing? Why did you split?

Some of our friends had done well out of music and as individuals some of us had our heads turned by that. We all knew that Things in General lacked the ambition as a band to make a big impression so we decided to part company. Darren and Andy started a band called Junk Mothers, Kev started Wholesome with Miles & Geoff from the early days of TiG. I got involved in a couple of bands that didn’t take off….

++ What did you guys do after? Are you all still in touch? Was there ever talks for a reunion?

We did a gig in ‘94 at the Adelphi in Preston, it was fun but it was always going to be a one off. I see Kev and Miles a lot.

++ And what about today? Are you still making music?

Kev and I started a Crossbill in 2012, it is a bit like Things in General but acoustic. Andy, Darren and Kath have moved away so I don’t see much of them. Kev and I have done some gigs with Pete Cobb’s band and Miles (solo) recently.

++ Aside from music, what other hobbies do you enjoy doing?

Most of the guys I’m in touch with still play music. Darren Baldwin is a fantastic photographer.

++ Let’s wrap it here, thanks a lot for the interview, anything else you’d like to add?

Thanks for taking an interest!


Things in General – Raintown