15
Jan

So nice, I’m at home today. It is a holiday here in the US and I’m taking it easy. Hope you are having a nice Monday too, and wish you a good start of the week. As I write these lines I’m updating the website and now you can pre-order the new CD that we are releasing later this winter by The County Fathers. The tentative release date is March 15th but I’ll confirm it with you all that are interested soon. The album as you might have noticed includes the 3 songs from the one and only record they released, the “Lightheaded” 12″ that came out on Ugly Man, plus 10 more unreleased songs! I’m sure you all lovers of classic jangle pop will love this retrospective album!

Last week there were a few interesting news that are worth mentioning. So let’s start!

Linda Guilala: our Vigo friends have released a new song/video that will be part of a 7″ that is going to be released this 26th of January. The song is called “Primavera Negra” and it continues the path the band started in their latest album “Psiconautica”. It is a brilliant new song, and I’m having such a good time seeing Iván fooling around like a kid! Catchy, classy, I definitely will order this record!

Alborotador Gomasio: the Madrid based band is releasing a new album on the 19th, next week! It is going to be titled “Luz y Resistencia” and will be released by the Spanish label Limbo Starr. The band has just shared a new song on Youtube and I’m enjoying it a lot. “Agosto, Bailando el Caos” is the name of it and as I said will be included in this new release that will be available on vinyl LP and CD. Hopefully I can get this record when I visit Madrid Popfest!

Tiny Fireflies: one of my favourite US bands is Tiny Fireflies. That is no surprise. On top of that I can call both Kristine and Lisle my friends. I was even lucky to have a few songs on different 3″CDs on Cloudberry in the past. True, that 7″ by them is still one that hasn’t happened, but hey, they band is self-releasing a 7″ very soon that has two songs, “2040” and “Nothing“. You can check both lovely tracks on their SoundCloud. Dreamy and timeless, and supposedly we will all be able to order the record at the end of February. That sounds like a long wait, but I’m sure patience will pay off! Looking forward to have this record on my collection. Oh! And the artwork for it looks very cool too!

The Hit Parade: I haven’t ordered yet the new The Hit Parade 7″. That is not good. Where is it being sold in the US? I should check Jigsaw. If not I hope someone can bring me a copy from the UK to Madrid? Maybe. If not I will just have to order it from a UK store. Some weeks ago I recommended the A side, “Oh Honey I…”, now it is time to listen to the B side, “History of Art”, which is available to stream on Youtube. It even has the lyrics for singing along. The song is one of melancholy, it is not the upbeat bouncy Hit Parade, but a slow, bittersweet, one, classic sounding Julian.

The Catherines: this one-man band from Hamburg has already been recommended on the blog too. But I found out they have a new song on BandCamp called “If You Knew What’s Behind Her Smile You Wouldn’t Want to Make Her Happy” and I really liked it. Jangly and upbeat, it is a nice cool song ready for anyone to add in a CD mix swap (it’s been a while since I’ve done one of those! I would love to do one soon!).

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It has been many years since I heard Friends Ahoj for the first time. It was just the one song, “Have You Seen That Girl?” that was uploaded to Youtube by my then Japanese friend Takashi. He was also kind enough to prepare me some Mp3 folders on dropbox with a lot of obscure indiepop goodies. That was when he was friendly, not competitive with me. At some point, as many readers on the blog know, this Japanese indiepop collector decided to stop sharing songs with me and complain that I didn’t give him credit on the bands that appeared on the blog. Of course this wasn’t true, I did give credit when it was due, but well, I guess he assumed one could only find music if it was through him. Strange people one encounters in the indiepop world indeed.

Anyways, I played many times this song. I remember it was the first time I had transferred Mp3s to my phone, then an iPhone, for a trip I was going to do to London. I remember riding the London red buses playing all these songs he had shared, and I clearly remember being on the bus around Tufnell Park and listening to Friends Ahoj. It is quite interesting how a song can transport you to a moment, be part of a particular memory.

I liked the song, but the truth is that years later I was to hear the other song on the one and only 7″ they released, “Grandstand Girls”, and I must say that I like this song better! How come if this song doesn’t connect me to anything, doesn’t bring up any memories. Well, it is a strange thing, and I don’t have a proper answer. I like both songs, but I enjoy “Grandstand Girls” more, at least right now!

I read someones copy came with German candy. Did all of them? The single sided single came out in 1993 on the Ice-Cube Toneporter label (ICE 5) with the two songs I mentioned as a double A sided single. I don’t see any other releases listed for this label but it does say that this was a sister label to Eiswürfel Tonträger who had released singles by Die Busfahrer or I, Ludicrous. Now that I think of it, I did interview Die Busfahrer time ago and Mathias Hill, the man behind the man, did tell me it was his own label. Maybe he remembers the Friends Ahoj? He did mention that some of the copies of this record include a stamp out of G. Gottschling’s collection and a pack of ahoj-brause. Some kind of an off-shoot from the Merricks, with Günter Gottschling singing, quite charming, very 60s-pop.

The single was released as a limited edition. Not sure how many copies, but I’m still missing a copy myself! The record sleeve also seems to have come in different colors. I’ve seen it in yellow, white and even blue. On the back sleeve there are lyrics for both songs. I can’t see any band lineup but it does say that both songs were recorded during a warm spring in 1993 in studio one at Radio Hartwich and that the artwork was designed by B-A-Wake factory.

Even though there was only one 7″ the band was involved in a handful of compilations according to Discogs. Not surprisingly some of them came on the aforementioned Eiswürfel Tonträger label. On the second release by this label (EIS 2) from 1992, the “Wagweiser Durch’s Eiswürfelland” tape compilation the band contributes the song “Dark Rooms”. Something interesting to mention is that their name appears as Friends Ahoi. With an I instead of a J. Thanks to this compilation, were all bands are listed with the city they are from, we get to know that the band hailed from Wolfratshausen.

Wolfratshausen is a town of the district of Bad Tölz-Wolfratshausen, located in Bavaria, Germany. The town had a population of 18,122 as of 31 December 2014. The first mention of “Wolveradeshusun” appears in documents from the year 1003. About 100 years later, Otto II, the Graf of Deißen-Andechs, built a castle on a hill overlooking the valley. The castle was destroyed on 7 April 1734 when lightning struck the tower storing black powder. Stones from the ruins were transported to Munich where they were used to build the Residenz.

In 1993 the band was to appear on another tape compilation, now on the “Frischer Morgentau” comp released by Steinpilz Tonträger (STEIN 1). I remember seeing many copies of this tape at Pete Hahndorf’s place in Bremen. Might it be the label of his brother? My memory tells me yes, but I can’t confirm it. Friends Ahoi (again with an I) appears with the song “Step by Step”.

1994 would see two compilation appearances. On Eiswürfel Tonträger’s “Die Schönste Platte Der Welt” CD compilation the band appears with “We Might Be Giants” and “The Man Who Sold Manhattan (For a Dime)”. Two songs. I see our friend Krischan wrote the liner notes for this CD! I should track this record down. The other compilation I was to mention was the “Ein Spätsommercocktail” 7″ released by Steinpilz Tonträger (STEIN 2). Here they contribute the song “Mushroom Seller”.

Lastly there is another compilation that has no date on Discogs. “Limited Europopsongs” was released by Meller Welle Produkte (MEL 21) as a tape compilation. It was very limited, just 100 copies and it came along with the first 100 copies of the compilation tape “Europopsongs” (MEL 20). Anyways, on this tape the band appears with two more songs, “My Woody’s Called Woody” and “Drink To Me”.

That’s about it. So I count, 8 songs? That’s all they released. But what is itching me is that I can’t seem to find any band members names aside from Günter Gottschling. I found where they were from, but that’s all. There is of course information about Günter and his involvement with the Merricks, but nothing about Friends Ahoj. I do find plenty of Japanese websites mentioning the single, seems indiepop fans over there love it, playing it at DJ nights. But I can’t seem to find anything else, not even in German. So maybe some of you who remember them can help solve the mystery behind this obscure Bavarian band?

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Listen
Friends Ahoj – Grandstand Girls

12
Jan

Thanks so much to Jonny Hankins for the interview! Thanks to Ricky from the Madchester Rave On Blog I got in touch with Jonny because 1. I had written about them on the blog and was looking for more information and 2. the band was reuniting for a gig in Manchester. These were definitely two great reasons to ask Jonny if he was up for answering all my questions and so I could learn the story behind this great Manchester band from the mid and late 80s!

++ Hi Jonny!  Thanks so much for getting in touch and being up for this interview! I notice that there is going to be a Bounce the Mouse reunion gig! How did this happen? When and where will it be? Was it easy to figure out the logistics for this to happen?

Hi, yes there is going to be a reunion on 3rd February, at Gullivers in Manchester. It is a celebration that 30 years have passed since the recording of Will you Ever Say, and its later release. We have loosely kept in touch over the years, more sporadic between some members and closer with others, but we have never fully lost touch. A couple of years ago the other members met up for a beer while Steve was in the UK but I was abroad, and you know however you interpret the events it was a great period for us, making records, touring, our first experience in the music industry, and so you inevitably refer to these things when you meet up after years. Last year I was 50 and I had a party in Manchester, Adam and tom came as did loads of other musician mates from the time that I am still in touch with like the New Fads, Thrush puppies and old road crew and sound engineers, and I think that ignited the spark. Steve had a trip to the Uk to plan so we decided to meet up. Why not even have a practice? Why not do a gig. We got a fair bit of interest and so here we are, or will be anyway, Saturday night in Manchester.

++ I see that you are all living in different places around the world, how did this happen? And are you still making music wherever you are?

Yes Steve went to the USA a long time ago, I think at least 20 years ago. I think he got football coaching qualifications at first and got into sport management, which is still his line. I am not sure exactly because we only ever talk about music, but I know he is in sport. I went first to Italy, then the USA and now I live in the Netherlands. I have always done music. In Italy I played in a blues band and collaborated with a DJ called Kres, we did a kind of Run DMC inspired hip hop with a rapper, and I did theatre training and did cabaret and story telling with a band. In the USA I was part of an organization called the Revels, I did a big scale musical and Christmas album, and made a film that Kres wrote the music for and we did a couple of shows over there. In the Netherlands I play in a 25 piece percussion band. I have expanded my repertoire but have managed to continue at a more or less professional level wherever I have lived.

++ So where were you all from originally? Manchester?

Yes we were all brought up in Greater Manchester. I worked with Adam and we decided to get a band together, which we called Bounce the Mouse. After a couple of years we disbanded and formed another band under the same name, and that is all of the members that we know now.

++ And had you been involved with any other bands prior Bounce the Mouse?

Adam and I had started with this previous incarnation, but I had been playing music since I was a kid. I played guitar in my first band when I was 13 or 14. Steve and Tom had both had experience in the local band scene, so we had a few contacts when we started. Steve knew a lot of people in the Manchester scene and we managed to start on a higher level than we had operated on. None of us were complete beginners.

++ What would you say were your first music memories? Like what sort of music did you listen to at home growing up? Or what was your first instrument and how did you get it?

My mum and dad were great jazz lovers, so my first musical experiences were with trad jazz. I saw a lot of bands with trumpets and trombones. My dad liked blues, Robert Johnson and some of the wilder jazz singers, as well as the Carpenters and a lot of easy listening from the 70’s like the Manhattan Transfer. One of my early favourites was Tom Jones, and I liked the Shadows, and they were the first group I ever saw with my parents at a big concert at the Apollo in Manchester, late 70’s. That is very uncool, but if you think about the 90’s surf guitar bands that were around like Huevos Rancheros it was the direct forerunner of that wave, and that was cool. I played, well tried to play various instruments when I was young, but I was no good so ended up as a drummer. Yes the jokes are true. I tried trumpet and played a type of xylophone instrument in a marching band when I was in my early teens. I have always had a guitar and had lessons but I can’t play it even today.

The first club band I saw was Orange Juice at the Hacienda in about 1983. That was after I started work and was introduced to indie and rock music on a large scale.

++ At the time of forming Bounce the Mouse what would you say were your influences?

Well we listened to a range of stuff, The Doors, Julian Cope, Velvet Underground and Echo and the Bunnymen amongst others. I think we were influenced by the bands around at the times a bit too, like the Bodines and Orange Juice , but also Spear of Destiny and some of the noiser stuff that was current. We never quite fit in with what we used to call jangly music because we were a bit noisier, although that was the circuit we were on. We had a Marshall, and so the sound reflected that. The Smiths were massive too, and a lot of bands were influenced both by Jonny Maar in terms of guitar sound and by Morrissey, but we didn’t have those sounds. The Stone Roses were a big influence, as were the Happy Mondays. And we saw a lot of other bands, and played with everyone from McCarthy to Carter and the Levelers and Blur. You take something from everything you hear I think, especially if you think that we saw these bands regularly. I saw the New fads about 90 times, Cud and the Family Cat about 40 or 50, the Levellers 20, and I think that influences what you do.

++ How did the band start? How did you all know each other? Was there ever any lineup changes?

Myself and Adam wanted to continue our adventure after the first Bounce experience, and we asked around in the local music shops and looked for adverts from other members. Manchester was buzzing at that time, and that is how we got together. And because we knew people and were already in the flow we started playing very quickly, and we were playing real venues like the Boardwalk and that led us just to being in the right place, I don’t know about the right time, but it gave us possibilities.

We stayed with the original line up until toward the end of the band, when we tried out a couple of new members in order to add something to the sound, but the nucleus was always the same with some fringe help.

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

There are a few possibilities here. We spent some time chosing the name and had various mouse like suggestions. One of our stories involved animal feeding. In the original Bounce the Mouse we had a bass player who had a Monitor Lizard in a glass box in his bedroom. He used to feed it live mice, but as it was not Malaysia but Manchester the lizard was not very active. So he had a pair of long pliers that he used to feed it with, something like a giant thing that you might imagine used in an operation in a hospital, but to get the lizard interested in the mouse he used to bounce the mouse on the lizard’s head. Another more plausible possibility is that it comes from a Peter Gabriel lyric. “I prefer this to be a mouse called Bounce, rather than an unkind act”.

++ Where did you use to practice?

We practiced at a rehearsal room in Chorlton in Manchester that was owned by a drummer called Mark. He had a band that made a few records too, a kind of funky outfit, and we would go twice a week. Then we moved to a rehearsal room in the city centre called Redhouse. This was an underground world with a small 8 track studio and 4 or 5 spaces full of bands. Everyone started there, there was a sofa and we would meet up with other bands and play. I still see Trevor the old sound engineer sometimes, and various other members of bands that were down there. It was damp and the gear smelled when we put it in the van, but it was a busy place. We played there twice a week throughout our time.

++ Your first release was the “Will You Ever Say?” single on your own label. I read that it happened because during a gig at the Boardwalk you met Chris Nagle and he urged you to record that song. Do you remember what gig was that? And why did he urged you to do so?

I can’t remember the gig, but he was a regular and had access to downtime at Strawberry Studios as well as having a name in the industry. He came over after the gig and suggested that he would produce it if we payed for the studio, overnight, not at full rate. So we took it. We were playing regularly there at that time, as I said before we were in the right places.

++ I love that single, that song is truly a favourite of mine. So if you don’t mind, would you tell me the story behind “Will You Ever Say?”?

Well we were a new band when we wrote that song, and we were writing 2 or 3 songs a week. Some of them got lost before they were played, but we had a lot of imagination. If you think about the arrangement with the bass introduction and the swing of the main part it is really quite original, and the vocal line is catchy, so it stood out in the set for that I think. And when we recorded with Nagle we did not change the arrangement as we did with later productions, it just kind of grew out of nothing into what it sounds like still today. It captures a feeling I think, and did at the time.

++ The songs for this first record were recorded at Strawberry Studios in Stockport. How was that experience? I read it was quite productive as they would later offer you releasing as second single!

Well Strawberry had been a big studio a few years before. It was the first 24 track outside London, and had done a lot of stuff, so you can’t help but feel that when you are there. We were always in overnight with Nagle, and so had the place to ourselves. And although it was a bit dated inside, the desk and technology had been at the highest professional level. Apart from the odd demo this was our first studio experience, following in the tracks of Joy Division and many other famous Mancunions, so it was exciting. Jimmy Hendrix had played in the pub over the road, it had been the centre of the North West music industry, and was still operating on a high level although losing pace with technology. We had a good relationship with Nagle and the in house engineer Jonathan Barrett and as they wanted to relaunch a record company that had existed in the past (I think it was even called Strawberry Records) they asked us if we would like to put something out. A great opportunity.

++ So in 1989 you released “Like Lorraine” on both 7″ and 12″ on Big Round Records. At this time you got the chance to play shows with The Levellers, The Family Cat and Cud. You got the support of the label. Did you see much difference between being on a label or being a self-released band?

Yes we had a small budget for promotion, so we could make some postcards and the record company paid for both 12” and 7 and all of the promotional distribution. They had a good distribution deal (we had gone through Red Rhino with the first single and they had gone bankrupt), and they knew a lot of people. I think the real difference was that we had met our manger Jim Tracey who was Social Secretary at the Manchester Polytechnic and he used his contacts to book out a tour. So we had 4 extra pairs of hands, and that allowed us to tour and promote the single. It was a professional team, we did about 30 dates to promote the single in the May, than toured again in September, it got us a lot of press and sold the records.

++ And who was this Lorraine? A real person or not?

Well it tells a story, and as we know stories are always true at the time that they are being told.

++ And why was the record released on both 7″ and 12″ formats?

Well Dj’s played 12” at that time not so much 7. So if you wanted to get something played in a club you had to produce a 12” version. And we were fontunate that we had some backing, and so we did both.

++ At the end of that year you changed your name to Sinister Groove. Why was that?

Well we started to get major record company interest, and they wanted to see if they could make a serious commercial band, that is what they want, and so we under their influence looked for a more serious sounding name. We played under both names toward the end of that year, so there was no sudden stop and start, we played on one night under one name and on another under the new name. EG records and Island put up some money for us to do some demos under the new name, and they wouldn’t have done that had they thought that we wouldn’t bend a little towards commercialism.

++ I notice too that the sound of the band changed with the name change. What sort of sound were you looking for at this time?

Times had changed and musical sounds had changed. The arrival of the Happy Mondays, Stone Roses and New Fads really introduced this groove feel. Our change in sound reflected what we were listening to and who we were playing with. But the change in sound was also tied to this change and the record company interest. And we changed producers. We started working with Clive Martin, and that was a dramatic change. He was an internationally known producer, had won an Oscar for the soundtrack to 7 Years in Tibet and gold disks with the Hunters and Collectors in Australia and Le Negre Verde in France. And his influence changed the sound. But the Happy Mondays had broken through too, and there was a lot more dance influence in guitar music, so the musical genre changed at the same time as our production capabilities. We had stepped up a level in production quality and resources, which brought expectation, and you can hear the difference. We were looking for a sound that you could get played on daytime radio 1.

++ Are there any more songs by Bounce the Mouse that remain unreleased?

We recorded “Get Down”, that was never released that had been an early BTM song, but as I say this was at a time when we were playing under both names so any of the Sinister Groove demos that are about are of songs that were played under both names. I think the sound had changed by the time the name changes, and the effect of the resources made the sound seen so different. There was no gap though and you can only write a few songs in a year, especially if you are playing a lot, so I don’t think you should see them as separate entities. So there are loads of unreleased songs that were played by Bounce the Mouse but recorded as Sinister Groove.

++ And what would you say was your favourite song of your whole Bounce the Mouse repertoire and why?

I think Sugar Hates Spice is my favourite to play for the groove, it is lazy but noisy. Get Down too, it marked the passage into thinking about the music in terms of dance rather than rock. We even made a version with just a drum machine, aiming for a kind of I Feel Love feel.

++ What about gigs? Did you play many? What were your favourites? Were there any bad ones?

Yes, we played loads over a short period, real touring. 3 days on, one day off. Huddersfield Polytechnic always treated us well, real food and a full rider. Playing with Pulp in London and Blur at the Hacienda, the Alnwick Festival was our first festival, playing with Hellbastard amongst others. Soho and the New Fads gigs in London were great, and a turning point in our carrer and playing ability, so I have fond memories of those shows, touring with the Family Cat was always fun and the Aberystwyth University gig stands out. We played the Mean Fiddler which was another fine show and the Treworgy festival in Cornwall with our mates the Levellers in the crowd, all good fun. We had a few very poor ones though, crossing the line into punk ethics that I wouldn’t like to relive, smashing stuff up, thinking we were rock n roll, playing to empty venues (the George Roby in London being the example), but it is a trade you have to learn. To learn the limit of what is show and what not, how much alcohol you can drink and what you can and cannot say.

++ And where was the farthest you played from home?

We only played in England, the farthest was the Cornwall festival, probably 500 Km, but we played the entire country, and more than once. Every city you have ever heard off and another 30 that you have never heard of.

++ Did you get much attention from the press or the radio?

We got loads of press just due to the fact that we gigged a lot. Local radio played our records and we did a lot of interviews, we got a few plays on national BBC Radio 1 as Sinister Groove too. Various press articles in the NME and Melody Maker, we got a mention every week in the gig guides and reviews for the records. Not all good, but not all bad either.

++ What about fanzines? I know they were big back in the 80s, maybe you were involved with them?

Yes M62 was a good local fanzine and they wrote about us, as did a few others like Kill Everyone Now another Manchester based Zine. Later when I joined Dumb we targeted the fanzines much better, they were missed in the early days as we went for national press. We did get it though so I don’t want to say it was a mistake.

++ Then what happened? When and why did you decide to call it a day?

Well we had been pushed and pulled by record company interest. That had led us to taking on new members, and changing what we wanted and aimed for, what we thought about what we were doing and into being critical of what we were doing and probably of each other. It is not a healthy way to lead your life, you are trying to please different people who want different things, and at some point we decided that were not going to be able to do it and it wasn’t fun anymore. We realized I think that the reason we had started was not the same reason we were doing it for now, and we decided to call it a day.

++ What did you all do afterwards? I know you were involved with Dumb, but what about the rest?

Adam moved into acoustic music, and became a very accomplished acoustic guitarist. He is well know on the local scene. Tom took a break for a while, but has always played and kept his contact with other local musicians, Steve went off to the USA and I don’t really know how much he has done, and as I said before I was a founding member of Dumb, then did a load of other entertainment stuff. None of us has lost contact, and you see the results now that we have begun playing together, we are all better musicians that we were then. Although we play less we play as mature players, we have continued to learn.

++ How do you feel when people tag your music or you as a C86 band? Do you like that term?

As I said we were always a bit too noisy and probably uncool for the scene that this term really reflects, although we toured with a lot of the bands that were on the original cassette and we definitely got press interest off the back of that scene. We were not at the end of the day trying to fit into that scene either, we wanted to sell loads of records, and we thought they were all singing about miserable stuff that was a bit too introverted. The early BTM stuff was noisier, Will You Ever Say was the closest to that sound, but the set did not really sound like that. Like Lorraine certainly wouldn’t fit into that category. It was a movement though and it helped all indie bands at that time I think as it created an image for a kind of movement, and being crap and cheap recording was no longer a problem.

++ And today, aside from music, what other hobbies do you have?

I still do theatre, I like to write, I write for my job too and I see what I do as art. I use the skills we used as a struggling band to promote myself and the organization I work for. I learned a lot and I still use it. I was a teacher for 10 years and stage experience is good for that, now I do lectures in Universities and it is good for that too.

++ One last question, what expectations do you have for this upcoming gig of Bounce the Mouse, going back to the UK and all?!

Well I am sure we are going to have a great time, and we will not be the only old people at the gig. There will be loads of our old peers, and I believe they are doing free camomile behind the bar and allowing pipes and slippers.

++ Alright! That was quite a talk, anything else you’d like to add?

Well thanks for giving us the chance to share this time. I find it both strange and warming that there is interest in this music from years ago, and that people like you re writing about it and people actually want to read it, it’s great. I used to say that when you make a record it’s like immortality, someone somewhere will find it in 30 years and play it, and here you are. Great, and thanks.

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Listen
Bounce The Mouse – Will You Ever Say?

11
Jan

So you know the good news! We are releasing “Lightheaded”, a retrospective compilation by the Manchester band The County Fathers!! Very excited about it of course! It is part of our Cloudberry Cake Kitchen and will be our 10th release in this series. We are very thrilled about it, and I hope you too. There are 13 songs in total and we hope for it to be out by March 15th! You can check out the opening track “Lightheaded” now in our SoundCloud. Preorder button coming soon!

The Sherbet Fountains: I’ve been enjoying a lot the track that Laz from Bubblegum Lemonade made available on Youtube by his 80s band The Sherbet Fountains. I was always curious about these songs, since I heard Bubblegum Lemonade  for the first time on Myspace and found out about his previous projects like The Search Engines (top stuff!). Anyways, check out the Sherbet Fountains song “Unpredictable“. Doesn’t it leave you wanting for more? For those curious there is a small bio: The Sherbet Fountains were, from left to right, Maggie (violin / drums), Gordon (drums), Ally T (vocals), Laz (guitar), David (bass / keyboards). They played gigs in and around Kilmarnock, Scotland during 1987 and 1988. Would be very cool to do an interview don’t you think?!

Luby Sparks: I missed out their “Thursday” video, now it is the first time I see it and well, the song is brilliant as all everything I’ve heard. The video though, is not very exciting I must say. There’s a hand on a cake and some words appear, on the screen. I don’t understand it much. Anyways, thought sharing it! This debut CD, “Thursday” was a limited release by WDR/LR2 and included 4 songs “Thursday”, “Pop”, “1979 (Demo)” and “Water (Demo)”. I should try to find it!

For Tracy Hyde: I believe For Tracy Hyde released their second album. I need to track it down, I think it is called “He(R)” and has 10 songs. One of them is “Underwater Girl” for which the band made a video to promote the new record! This is one of my favourite contemporary Japanese indiepop bands since I discovered them last year. Great melodies and bright chiming guitars, what else can one ask for?

Death Valley Rally: I wasn’t aware of this Norfolk, Virginia, band until looking for new sounds on Bandcamp I stumbled upon their Part Time Punks Live Session. The band have releases that date back to 2013, so they are not new. But well, I’ve only “met” them. This live session has 5 songs, “Cutting the Distance”, “Northern Lights”, “Her Sparkle Dims”, “Until it Melts Away” and “Tick Tick Boom!”. A bit shoegaze, but with a nice feel for melodies.

Kokkamango: lastly I found this kind of novelty, a Malaysian tweepop band formed by Vesta on vocals, KOKKA (laptop and synth) and Chris (guitar). They have a 3 song EP available on Bandcamp titled “星期天适合。。。” They say they are heavily influenced by Spanish and Swedish indiepop. The bad news though is that these songs date from 2014. Are they still going??! It seems so! According to their Facebook which they have been updating during all 2017.

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Seems like the bands to be featured this year are quite varied. So far. It hasn’t been on purpose though, I post about bands I feel curious at the moment without any particular agenda. Of course, I must like their music. That’s the only rule I follow.

Most of the times I write about bands I don’t own their records. Why? Because I have probably heard one or two songs by the band thanks to the internet and I’m curious about listening to the rest. Also because I feel I don’t know them. It is different. If I own a record I feel that I kind of know the band, even if there is little information on the sleeve. If I don’t own the record the band becomes much more of a mystery. That is the case with the Australian band The Silent Reach who as far as I know only released one 12″ back back in the day. It was a self-release so it doesn’t seem it is an easy record to find.

What do I know about that 12″. To be honest, very little. Mostly what’s on Discogs. That it was self-released with a catalog number SR12001 in 1989 and included three songs. On the A side there was the brilliant “Melancholy Love Song” and “Moving” and on the B side the song “Teddy Bears”. That’s it. Not much more. Of course I could tell you that on the cover there’s this photograph of some leafless trees. But can’t say much about the back cover as I’ve never seen it.

There are also no compilation appearances listed.

As you can expect there is not much on the web about them. No reviews. No blog entries in general. I do find a small review by a Japanese fan on Mixi.jp. This person compares the sound of the band to that of The Razorcuts or The Servants as well as Brighter. He mentions it has a beautiful sound.

But I am going to hit the jackpot soon. I keep googling and googling until I find two important pages. One, a Facebook page. Two, a SoundCloud page.

There is not much information on these websites but there is important one. For example now I know the band started in 1986 in Melbourne. Of course, the land of so many fantastic pop bands. It also makes me think and wonder when where there be a proper compilation of the jangle pop, the indiepop, of that time period of Australian indiepop. I still hope one day that project Pete Hahndorf for Twee.net had, to release “The Sound of Glen Waverley” compilations, becomes a reality. I would have done it years ago if only Egg Records didn’t tell me they were going to do it. But as you see, it was never done. And now I’m kind of working on other projects and don’t plan getting involved in compilations. Maybe in a few years if no one has done it yet.

Anyways… we also get to know the band lineup though we don’t know exactly which instruments each of them played. We see that the band members were Andrew Lawrence, Scott MacKenzie, Greg McPherson, Stephen Zafir, Martin Homberger and Mathew Homberger. It says that there were a couple of changes and in the end they were just a 4 piece. Who were in that final lineup? Doesn’t say.

The SoundCloud page offers the opportunity to listen to the 3 songs on the record. But that’s not all. There are 11 more songs available to stream!! That is fantastic! And they are ordered chronologically.

I am not sure how they are grouped. Maybe by demos? Or recording session? The thing is that there is under the title “S” the songs “Introduction”, “I’ve Been Dying”, “Flash”, “Settling Things” and “Still. Under the name “Narcissus” there is “Three”, “Train” and “She Fall”. And lastly under the umbrella of “Again” there are 3 more songs, “Crystalline”, “Fall” and “Endeavour”.

My next instinct it is to find more information about the band members. I couldn’t find anything else by the Homberger brothers (they were brothers, right?) but my next search, Stephen Zafir, does give me one result. I see that him and also Scott McKenzie were involved in a band called Verdaine since 2006. It does seem that they haven’t updated the site since 2013 though, so not sure if they are still going on.

As you can imagine, that’s all I was going to find about them. No gigs mentioned. No other releases mentioned. Or compilation appearances. If they were involved with any other bands before or after. Their memory just in obscurity. Why? Maybe some of you remember them? Would be interesting to know what happened with them? What are they up to now? How come they self-released that great record of theirs? Any clues to any of these questions?!

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Listen
The Silent Reach – Melancholy Love Song

08
Jan

When this post is up it will have already happened. I talk about this LA Indiepop Party I was invited on Facebook. It is happening on January 7th at the Grand Star Jazz Club. But, the good thing about it is that there are two bands playing that I wasn’t familiar with, so I checked them out!

Suzie True: there’s only one song on their Bandcamp but it is quite a winner! The song is called “Rat Kid” and one kind of melts with the sweet vocals of Lexi, who also plays bass. The band is just not her of course, there is Dustyn Hiett on guitar and Sarah on drums. There is not much more information about the band, just that they are a self proclaimed sad girl 3 piece pop band from Los Angeles.

Fragile Gang: they took their band name from a Pastels song. That says a lot right? The Los Angeles band is formed by Matt Schmitz on drums, Clint Newsom on bass, Arlo Klahr on guitar and vocals and Aisling Cormack on guitar and vocals as well. They have a 9 song album, which is quite varied, you get from introspective melancholic songs to upbeat more punky ones, and is  available on Bandcamp. It is titled “For Esme” and was released back in 2014. A long time ago indeed! What have they been doing since? Would be interesting to know if they have any new songs or releases.

But that is not all, I could find some more discoveries (I’m trying to keep it at 5 per post).

Lilac: I heard from the Stockholm band just before Christmas, but as I was going away I couldn’t check out their new EP. Well, time to make amends and have a listen. I loved their previous effort and recommended it, but now there are 4 new shoegazy/dreampop songs available and well, I let myself enjoy them. “Carbines”, “Pale”, “Fever” and “Slow Shapes” make the new “Slow Shapes EP” that is available at the moment only digitally. My favourite song I think is the opening track, “Carbines”, with chiming guitars and an upbeat and catchy melody. Good stuff! Hope to see them release a proper record sometime soon!

The Raft: I’ve recommended two previous EPs by the Neston, UK, band on the blog. Today I have the chance to recommend the third one that is available on Bandcamp. Titled “Orion EP” and it may as well be my favourite so far. The EP opens with the wonderful “Blue and Blue” which sounds timeless and classic, a brilliant indiepop song. The other three songs are great too, there is “Orion”, “Into You” and “My Elusive Friend”. Looking forward to the next release by Phil Wilson, the man behind this one man band.

The Still: another fine Tokyo band in the horizon. The Still have a 4 song EP titled “Evergreen” that does sound great. It opens with “Evergreen” and then we get to enjoy “Film”, “Slumber” and “(We Used to Spend Time Together at the) Beach”. Not much info on the Bandcamp, so can’t say much about them aside that their jangly guitars are up my street.

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Time for classic C86, jangly pop, from England. Time for The Enormous Room.

I have to say I don’t know much about them, aside that they released a 12″ and a flexi back in the mid 80s. So why don’t you come along and join me through my “research” about this obscure band.

I suppose they took their name after The Enormous Room (The Green-Eyed Stores), a 1922 autobiographical novel by the poet and novelist E. E. Cummings about his temporary imprisonment in France during World War I. Cummings served as an ambulance driver during the war. In late August 1917 his friend and colleague, William Slater Brown (known in the book only as B.), was arrested by French authorities as a result of anti-war sentiments B. had expressed in some letters. When questioned, Cummings stood by his friend and was also arrested. While Cummings was in captivity at La Ferté-Macé, his father received an erroneous letter to the effect that his son had been lost at sea. The cable was later rescinded, but the subsequent lack of information on his son’s whereabouts left the elder Cummings distraught. Meanwhile, Cummings and B. had the bad luck to be transported to La Ferté only five days after the local commissioners in charge of reviewing cases for trial and pardon had left – and the commissioners were not expected back until November. When they finally did arrive, they agreed to allow Cummings, as an official “suspect”, a supervised release in the remote commune of Oloron-Sainte-Marie. B. was ordered to be transferred to a prison in Précigné. Before Cummings was to depart, he was unconditionally released from La Ferté due to U.S. diplomatic intervention. He arrived in New York City on January 1, 1918. Cummings thus spent over four months in the prison. He met a number of interesting characters and had many picaresque adventures, which he compiled into The Enormous Room. The book is written as a mix between Cummings’ well-known unconventional grammar and diction and the witty voice of a young Harvard-educated intellectual in an absurd situation. The title of the book refers to the large room where Cummings slept beside thirty or so other prisoners. However, it also serves as an allegory for Cummings’ mind and his memories of the prison – such that when he describes the many residents of his shared cell, they still live in the “enormous room” of his mind.

That would make sense, right? What else do we know straight off the bat? We know they released two records, both in 1986. At the moment I don’t own any sadly, but I’ll try to make sure to get them sometime soon. I’m not sure which one came out first. So let’s start with the “100 Different Words” 12″ released by Sharp Records (CAL 5). This label based in Peterborough and the story says that it was owned by Peter Sharp who also ran a supermarket in the 80s. Aside from The Enormous Room, the label also released the brilliant The Passmore Sisters.

The 12″ by The Enormous Room had four songs, two on each side. The A side had the wonderful “100 Different Words” and “Sylvia’s Children”. While the B side had “Melanie and Martin” and “You Wrote a Book”. The record was recorded in London and engineered by Chris Mansbridge. Mansbridge had experience in production working with bands like The Blow Monkeys, The Lurkers, Family Fodder and even the aforementioned The Passmore Sisters.

The cover of the record has a green and black photo of the band. The back cover has the band lineup as well as a few credits. The lineup for this record was Jay Derbyshire on bass guitar, Robbie McCarthy on drums, Duncan Paterson on guitars and Christopher Darke on vocals and rhythm guitar. Dave Annal is credited for playing organ and clavichord. The sleeve was designed by Peter. Yes, just Peter, no last name. Songs are credited t Darke, Paterson, Derbyshire and McCarthy.

The same band lineup recorded their other release, which happened to be a flexi with two songs “I Don’t Need You” and “Melanie And Martin”. I’m not sure if the second song was a different version of the one that appeared on the 12″ or not. This record also happened to be the first ever release on the Medium Cool label. From the back of the record we learn something very important, the band hailed from Watford, home of the Hornets. Also it is important to notice that Watford is quite close to London, only 24 km away from central London. That must have been convenient for the band to play gigs and possibly to sign for Medium Cool who were based in Brockley, in London. On the back sleeve there are also thanks to Dave Annal again for playing clavichord and to Graham and Chris at Elephant Studios. I suppose that is where the songs were recorded.

Discogs lists two compilation appearances. The first one dates from 1987, a LP compilation released by Food Records (Bite 5) titled “Imminent 5”. This was actually the 5th and last compilation of a series that started in 1985 and that were compiled by someone called Andy Hurt. At first I thought he ran the label too but according to Discogs it was David Balfe who ran Food who would later become pretty big releasing Blur. Anyhow, The Enormous Room appeared on this record with a song that wasn’t available on any of their releases, “Here Today”. That means we know at least of 6 original songs of the band were out there. On this record a bunch of other classic bands appear like The Jack Rubies, Yeah Jazz, The Primitives, the BMX Bandits and more.

Their second compilation appearance is more of a footnote. The song “I Don’t Need You” appears last, on the 3rd CD, of the expanded C86 boxset that was released by Cherry Red in 2014. Of course there is no information whatsoever about the band on the booklet and they were probably included on the record because Cherry Red owns all Medium Cool recordings. This is quite a shame for fans like me because that means a retrospective by this band will probably never happen as Cherry Red won’t release it as it is not a big band and Cherry Red won’t let other labels do it unless they pay unreasonable amounts of money. On top of that, the label sold the rights of the songs without bands knowing so. At least the band’s I’ve talked to in the past told me so.

There’s nothing else on Discogs about them, but I can definitely Google and try to find any other details about the band. First thing I find is a mention of them on Krister’s old blog “Heaven is Above Your Head”. Here I learn that my good friend Mark Freeth from The Mayfields actually failed an audition for The Enormous Room before he joined The Mayfields!

What else? On the Vinyl Destination blog I see a comment mentioning a 1986 gig in Oxford at a venue called Freuds where The Bodines, Miaow and The Enormous Room played. But not much else.

I will try then to look for the band members, maybe they continued playing music? I couldn’t find them. Maybe only Dave Annal on Facebook who seems to be a fan of Everton, but then he wasn’t part of the band, only credited to clavichord and organ. So yeah, no luck.

What happened to them then? Why only 2 records and both in 1986? What did they do after? Did they make more music? Are there any more recordings by the band? What I’ve heard I really like. I hope one day there is a proper retrospective album by them. Do you remember them? Did you ever see them play live? Would love to know their story!

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Listen
The Enormous Room – 100 Different Words

04
Jan

Happy happy 2018!! Now this post is being written in 2018. Believe me. All these music discoveries, even if they were released in previous years, have been found by me this year. So that counts right? This year too will mark the 10th anniversary of the blog. Isn’t that something? How should we celebrate? Is there a cool ingenious, creative, way that you may think of? I think it needs a good brainstorming.

Well, well, so let’s start. Let’s see what I can find!

Glass Arcades: will this be the last time I recommend the band? It depends on how prolific the one-man band from Cardiff is really. These 3 last songs under the title of “Cwtch” are to be part 6 out of 6 in a series of monthly releases. So maybe this will be the last time Anton Salmine’s music is featured on the blog? I hope not. I really enjoy his tunes, and in the case of “Post-Everything”, “Death/Intermission” and “On Happiness” I can say there is no exception. Dreamy as always.

Magic Bullets: the San Francisco band has made available a tape titled “Young Man’s Fancy Cassette” which is actually an unreleased album that was recorded between 2007 and 2009 just before their second album came out. The album has 11 songs (including a cover of The Lines’ classic “Nerve Pylon”). A very fine release, sadly only on tape, by people that went to form bands that I’m not really fan of at all! How funny. It is true here that I like their “early work” much much more. I hope it gets a CD release at least.

Breeze: their “Record” came out on December 29th on Hand Drawn Dracula Records from Toronto. Breeze are also form Toronto and are formed by Josh Korody on vocals, guitars, Kyle Connolly on guitar, bass and vocals and Shawn Dell on drums and keyboards. It seems the record is only available digitally, but if you like some upbeat jangly tunes, here are 11 very fine tracks!

Candy Opera: some unexpected news from Firestation Records. The unknown band Candy Opera will be releasing an album titled “45 Revolutions Per Minute” on February 23rd. It will come out on vinyl (16 songs) and CD (18 songs). All of these songs were recorded between early 1983 and 1993 in various studios in Liverpool. Who were they? How did they end up on Firestation after all these years? Did they release anything back in the day? Many questions arise, but the truth is that I’m really enjoying the two songs available to stream on the label’s SoundCloud. Check “Diane” and “What a Way to Travel“.

Lucie, Too: this fab Japanese girl band has a new video out for the song “Lucky” and it is brilliant! Now, how do I get their music? On the Youtube video it says the band is on ThisTime Records but I went to the website and couldn’t find the record. Maybe I should look somewhere else! Or maybe, there is no record and this song is only available digitally? That might be the case. The band hails from Utsunomiya and is formed by Kanako Sekizawa, Naho Shibahara and Chisato Kokubo. Hope to hear more from these girls!

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Just before 2017 was over I bought the only 7″ that the Swedish band Dynamo Propeller released. I had seen their name on Twee.net and was curious about them as they were around in the late 80s, a time where Swedish indiepop wasn’t really a thing.

Luckily I was able to listen on Youtube to the two songs that are included in the record, “Meeting” on the A side and “Wintertime” on the flipside. They were proper guitar pop tunes, with boy/girl vocals, and this made my curiosity even bigger. Who were they? From where in Sweden did they come from? What happened to them? Weren’t there more releases really? I had no clue. The enigmatic cover, with the black and white photography of two strange looking kids, only added to the mystery.

I found a copy of the record for a very fair price on Discogs. I believe it is not complicated to do so. The record came out in 1989 on the Hot Stuff label (COOL 5). I have a few records by this label which was not only a label but an important mailorder and distributor in Sweden. They were based in the city of Älmhult which I still haven’t visited. I read that this small city is quite important in Sweden as the first ever IKEA was built, thus you can check out IKEA museum there. Also Carl Linneaus was born in an area called Råshult which is part of Ämhult municipality.

On the back cover there is not much information about the band. Both music and lyrics are credited to Dynamo Propeller. Where would I find more information about the band? It was on Youtube that I was going to find some more details about the band. Yes, while I played “Meeting” one more time I noticed that on the “related videos” tab some Dynamo Propeller songs were appearing. They were unknown to me. Were they by the same band? They were on a different account. But maybe. I had to have a look.

The first song I heard there was the song “So Fine“. It is a guitar pop song. That is true. It is not as good as the ones on the record, but I think I’m on the right track. There are credits for the musicians and they have Swedish last names. That is definitely a good thing, I might be on the right track. I also notice that this song comes from a 1989 demo tape. The dates match. This must be the same Dynamo Propeller. In that case then, G. Hausenkamp sang and played bass, T. Gudmundsson played guitar, M. Sköld the drums, M. Persson sound FX and P.O. Valastig (Nilsson) bass.

There is also “Rotten Bird“, “Overkill“, “A Room in Vain” (where Gudmundssen plays cello), “A Life in Anguish“, “Like Passions Remember” and “Spit on the Floor“, all from the aforementioned 1989 demo tape.

Also that same account has a song by a band called Gargoyle. This song called “Freeze Dried” dates from the 1990s and here we get some more details about Dynamo Propeller. First of all we see that Gargoyle was based in Malmö. Does this mean Dynamo Propeller was based there too? Probably. The other important information we get is that a many of the members of Dynamo Propeller were in Gargoyle. We also learn their first names. Mathias Sköld, Torbjörn Gudmundsson, Göran Hausenkamp and P.O. Nilsson (Valastig) played in this band too. Only M. Persson is missing from the Dynamo Propellers.

But I could find Magnus Leif Persson on Soundcloud thanks that he had uploaded to SoundCloud the song “Like Passions Remember“. Fantastic! Here I was to learn that this is a 4channel version of the song that was recorded at the basement of the Studio XX artist-collective in Malmö in 1988. Ok, that confirms it. They were from Malmö.

On the SoundCloud I notice that Magnus is now based in Stockholm. Maybe after Dynamo Propeller he moved there and that’s why he wasn’t in Gargoyle? He has two other songs there by the bands Pölsa and DIMWITS. I suppose these were his own bands too.

One last find on the web about the band comes from the Swedish Music Collecting website Musikon. There are a few details about the band. For example that the two songs on the 7″ were recorded and mixed at Ljudstudio Holken in Älmhult. There is also a quote from Per, who ran Hot Stuff, saying that Dynamo Propeller were students at the time of the recordings. That he can’t remember them much, that they only had a brief contact with him, just for the 7″. That there were four guys and one girl. That he hadn’t heard from them since.

I keep looking for more information. I see that there is a Swedish artist named Göran Hausenkamp. There are many of his paintings available for auction. Is it the same Göran as in the band? Maybe. I could find a small bio were it mentions he was born in 1962 and lived in Lund between 1986 and 1987 and then in Malmö. Things match.

What about the other members? I don’t have it as clear, maybe Torbjörn Gudmundsson is an architect, or maybe not. Mathias Sköld could be a composer and sound artist or not. Not easy to confirm my hunches.

I wonder what’s the story behind this band. Seems they didn’t leave much, only a demo tape and 2 songs on a 7”. Are there more recordings? Where did they play gigs? Who did they support or who supported them? Why did they split? What sort of music where they into at the time? It seems like a very good story waiting to be told.

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Listen
Dynamo Propeller – Meeting

02
Jan

Happy new year! Happy 2018!! Because I wanted to start as soon as possible writing on the blog I’m kind of cheating by writing this article in advance. I’m only getting back from Mexico on January 1st, but kind of late. So as I want this post to be live on the 2nd I did my indiepop research just before traveling. So there might be some Christmas songs (I know it is over but maybe you want to save them for next year?) or other dated things, we’ll see. Just enjoy these cool indiepop news I have for you.

And to start of course is the tracklist for the mighty new The Sound of Leamington Spa volume. Yes! Firestation Records has unveiled the twenty tracks that will be on the record that will be released on double vinyl and CD on February 23rd! It is said that the vinyl version has one secret bonustrack. That is kind of not the best news for me as I just wanted the CD, now I need to get both formats. I don’t want to be overcritical but I’d prefer for these sort of releases to have the same tracks for both versions! I don’t mind if an album has a different tracklist in CD and in vinyl, but something as important as these compilations, well, I’m not that keen in that idea!! They are a document of the times, it should keep it straight for all! Anyways, the 20 songs are (not counting the secret one of course):
1. The Liberty Thieves – The Smile On Your Face
2. Rorschach – Gabriel
3. Windy Miller – Win By Miles
4. The Believers – Save The Planet
5. And So To Bed – Around My Neck
6. Things In General – Goodbye To Happiness
7. Jim Jiminee – Sleeping Once Again
8. Peppermint Parlour – Falling
9. The Last Peach – Golden Shower
10. Peruvian Hipsters – Tony Hadley
11. Shame – Real Tears
12. The Daisychain Connection – Mood Swings
13. The Bedflowers – Making Out In Public Places
14. The Hypocrites – Nothing To Add
15. Black And White Lovers – Passion Of Mine
16. Stranger Than Fiction – The Realization
17. Beware The Dog – Nasty Things
18. The Mechanical Hearts – Southside Blues
19. The Monkey Run – Bats
20. The Caz Carnaby Five – To Believe Is Everything

Looks good, doesn’t it? Some of the bands have been featured here in the blog. Maybe more than half of them actually! And many of them with interviews! So that’s why I’ve linked to the article pages on the blog so you can learn a bit more about them.

So what else have I found?

The Flatmates: a bit late for me to post this indeed, but . The Flatmates have just uploaded a new song called “Come On, Santa!” which you can stream or buy from the Local Underground BandCamp. The song sounds more like a Lisa Bouvier song than a Flatmates song so if the name thing doesn’t bother you, it is a very enjoyable song.

The Stems: well, this doesn’t has much publicity it seems, but just by luck I stumbled upon the Citadel Records mailorder and saw that their album “At First Sight Violets Are Blue” is being reissued for its 30th anniversary in a limited digipak edition that includes 3 bonus tracks! It came out on November 10th and it is said that a vinyl version will be released sometime this 2018!

Shy Boys: at the time I’m writing this there are only 9 copies available of their self-titled 7″ Box Bedroom Rebels Records. This lovely jangly release has 8 songs in total and it seems 6 of them have already been released before. According to the description on BandCamp the band should have been on Sarah or Postcard. Don’t know about that. But that there are some good moments here, there are like in the standout track “Life is Peachy”.

Seafang: lastly the Saint Petersburg, Florida, have two brand new songs on their BandCamp and they are all Christmas-y Check out “Happy When It Snows” and “You Trashed My Christmas” and add them to your Christmas mix!

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bell cow: a cow, especially the lead cow of a herd, having a bell attached to a collar around its neck so that the herd can be located easily.

I thought starting the year with Flower Bellcow, a band whose sole release is still on my Discogs wantlist! Maybe someone can help me track down a copy of their “Thing of Every Day” 7″!

I first heard of this Japanese band on a compilation released by Shelflife Records in 2001 titled “Picnic Basket (A Shelflife International op Compilation)” (LIFE 020). On this CD the band was in very good company, you could find songs by bands like The Pearly Gatecrashers, Pinkie, Postal Blue or One Night Suzan among others. Flower Bellcow’s song “Thing of Every Day” is the seventh track on the album.

I loved the song immediately, the quirky vocals, the fun trumpets and the very catchy melody. I wanted to know more about them, who they were? if they had any other releases? Discogs was going to be my first stop into this indiepop investigation…

The first thing I notice is that in 1999 they had one song called “Pastel Mood” on a tape compilation called “Galaxy Xmas” released by Galaxy Train in Japan (GAL-006). I have never heard this Christmas-themed compilation, but looks fantastic even though I only know a few bands on it like Watoo Watoo, Girlboy Girl or The Skywriters.

That same year, probably before that compilation, the Galaxy Train label released their one and only release: “Thing of Everyday” 7″ (GAL 005). This record had three songs, the title song on the A side and “Rewarded Scapegoat” and “Consolation” on the B side.

I try to find more information of course and stumble upon a Galaxy Train website with the catalog. On it there is like an essay link where I supposed there was going to be more information about the band. Indeed there is sort of an article written by someone called Hosoda. He says that the first time he heard the b and was at a showcase of guitar pop bands. At the time he thought of Flower Bellcow as a “soft psychedelic bubblegum” that was influenced by Swedish indiepop. But aside from that there is really no information about the band, like who were the members or where in Japan they were based. Or even where was this showcase held!

I found a geocities page next. This one is for Galaxy Train events. Flower Bellcow played many of them it seems. The first one they played was the 2nd event where they shared the bill with Peatmos and Smiley at the West Dart Club. Their next one was the 6th Galaxy Train event where they played with Red Go-Cart and Tricorollars at the Club Rock’N’Roll.

On the 7th event the band played with Red Go-Cart, Tricorollars and Alien Rubish. The 8th event saw the band share the gig with Chain Letter and Poussin* at the West Dart Club. At that same venue the 9th event was held. Flower Bellcow played alongside De Kooning, Clean Boy* Messy Girl and Strawberry Land. And then the 10th event saw the bands Flower Bellcow, Poussin*, Hour Musik and Apartment Star. That was the last time we see the band play these events. Nonetheless, the last Galaxy Train event listed, the 18th one on April 30th 2001 at the West Dart Club, we see that a band called Snowball is being mentioned to have Flower Bellcow members. What does this mean? I look into the Galaxy Train catalogue on Discogs to find that Snowball also appeared on the “Galaxy Xmas” tape comp with the song “We Took Their Respective Seat”. There are no proper releases by Snowball but also appearances on two other compilations, on the “Galaxy Beach” tape comp and ont he “Pop Jingu Volume 3” released by Clover Records. So there was definitely some overlapping between the bands in 1999 but it does seem that Snowball continued playing after Flower Bellcow as no more in 2001? Or maybe both bands were still going on. Sadly I can’t confirm either theory as I don’t know the band member’s names and who were in both bands. Or even there is the possibility that all members were in both bands! Who knows!

I found a blog called “Le Petitmec Réfectoire” which is obviously written in Japanese. I use Google Translate to try to figure things out where Flower Bellcow is mentioned. I’m not entirely sure what it says, but I think I can say, thanks to this article that the band actually hailed from the city of Nagoya. Can anyone confirm me this?!

I keep digging and digging. Hooray! I think I found another two songs by the band! The songs “Holiday in the Sun” and “My Small Circle” were released on a CD compilation titled “Cherrios!’98” that was released by Bananafish Records in Japan (BFCD-01). This compilation was limited to 980 copies and included other bands like 101 Dalmatians, Chain Letter, Floppy Disco and more. It was released, obviously, in 1998. So this is seems to be the first appearance by the band ever!

That seems to be all I could find about the band. Well, there might have been a Nico-chan or not in the band. I am not sure. Same with a Toku-chan. Maybe some Japanese readers tell me if this is true or not! In any case, any other information about the band would be greatly appreciated! And of course, if anyone has a spare copy of the 7″ or even the “Cherrios!’98” compilation please let me know! Would be great to start the year learning the whole story of this Japanese band!

EDIT – Our friend Tomohiro Wakai from the band Flannel shared with us some information about the band! According to the liner notes of the 7″ we learn that: Sayuri Nishimoto (Vo. She works as support member of ‘ETT’ and ‘GUIRO’), Asai a.k.a Nicolas (Gt.), Miwako (trumpet), Nori (drum), Obata (bass, and he is the member of ‘Snowball’).

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