19
Sep

What a quiet week for indiepop!! I think I’m starting to get used to weeks were there are absolutely no interesting news for our favourite music. And that is starting to worry me! Long gone are the day when I would find new bands all the time. Now who is making music, releasing zines or setting up labels?

The only nice surprise this week is the arrival at home of the 2nd issue of the Botanic Garden zine, all the way from China. As I don’t understand what is written I don’t have a very objective view about it. I just know it is lovingly put together, on quality paper and printed in colour. If you want to order a copy you can from their website.  I don’t see number 2 listed though, hopefully it will be available soon.This time again they asked to translate an article from the blog, one relating to New York Popfest. It also includes other articles, some recommendations, and a CDR with a bunch of cool songs from various acts.

There’s also the book Robert Forster from the Go-Betweens published not long ago titled “Grant & I”. I haven’t ordered it yet, but is definitely on my to-read list. I think it has only been published in Australia but there are ways to get it from different stores online, depending where you live.

The past week, on Facebook, the page C86 and all That: Indie 1983-86 was showing around some visuals for the book Neil Taylor is writing about C86. The artwork is really nice, recalling the fanzine style of the time. It is very clean and polished I thought, and I really like that. I wonder if purists would argue that there’s too much negative space on the art, and it should be much busier, like most fanzines were. Supposedly the book will be out early next year. Looking forward to that.

Aside from this small little news, I haven’t seen anything else worthwhile around. Maybe I missed something? Maybe there were some ace releases?

Next week I’ll go over Lima Popfest’s lineup for their 2016 Spring Edition to be celebrated on October 1st. Again they have a lineup of bands from Argentina, Chile and Peru. Hopefully there will be some new discoveries as there has been in previous years.

What else is coming up? Would love to hear your thoughts on the state of our beloved music.

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Steamtown, U.S.A., was a steam locomotive museum that ran steam excursions out of North Walpole, New Hampshire, and Bellows Falls, Vermont, from the 1960s to 1983. The museum was founded by millionaire seafood industrialist F. Nelson Blount. The non-profit Steamtown Foundation took over operations following his death in 1967. Because of Vermont’s air quality regulations restricting steam excursions, declining visitor attendance, and disputes over the use of track, some pieces of the collection were relocated to Scranton, Pennsylvania, in the mid-1980s and the rest were auctioned off. After the move, Steamtown continued to operate in Scranton but failed to attract the expected 200,000–400,000 visitors. Within two years the tourist attraction was facing bankruptcy, and more pieces of the collection were sold to pay off debt.

Don’t know if Birmingham’s Steamtown took their name from the American museum. Perhaps. English people are very fond of trains and railways and I always thought that was a very good thing. But the truth is, it has been years since I wanted to write a piece about a band I barely know anything, Steamtown.

The only known song by them is “Living & Loving”. It appeared on at least two tape compilations. On the legendary “Corrupt Postman” released in 1988 on Windmill Records and on “Hacia La Luz” on Elefant Records in 1990 (catalog ER-5). That’s it. But hey, I love this song.

When guitars sound like this, when they ramshackle like this, I feel in heaven. Everything crashing and breaking, guitars going fast, fast, fast. Crash-pop at its finest. But it gained no attention from labels it seems? There were no releases!!

I think I remember there was a post about them on The Cudgels’ Stephen Davies’  blog about Steamtown. Sadly the blog is no more and even looking into old snapshots on the Internet Wayback Machine I couldn’t find this post. The only thing I could really find on old emails was that Stephen told me that a Spencer Roberts was part of the band. I was told he was a big fan of Postcard Records but not really of indiepop, according to Stephen he didn’t own any Field Mice records or anything like that.

The other tip he gave me was that Spencer was, at the time, part of The Leaking Machine. The Leaking Machine being a band that included some ex-members of Mighty Mighty. And then doing a bit of research I could find that Spencer was also part of Oporto who released a 7″ on Sunday Records in 1994. The last news from Spencer comes from around October 2009. He appeared under his name on a CDR compilation titled “The Garage Pop EP” released by Stephen Davies on his own Please Rain Fall Records.

But about Steamtown nothing. I can’t find anything at all. I wonder if there were more recordings made in the same session of “Living & Loving”, or even before or after. It doesn’t matter. I would really like to hear. I’m a sucker for this sort of shambolic pop!

Who were the other band members? What other bands were they involved? Does anyone remember them?

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Listen
Steamtown – Living & Loving

12 Responses to “:: Steamtown”

I remember them, in fact, the Siddeleys played with Steamtown in Birmingham in August 1988. Lovely boys. I think Spencer is on Facebook.

Allan KIngdom
September 19th, 2016

Hooola Roque,

En España hay un sello muy interesante, Pretty Olivia Records se llama, no para de sacar joyonas de todo tipo…POP sin fecha de caducidad, que se decía antes 😉

Saludos,
Manuel Soleado

Manuel Soleado
September 19th, 2016

That’s great! Just the one song? Shame.

Phil
September 19th, 2016

Hi Roque,

You are correct, I did write a piece on Steamtown on my Please Rain Fall blog. The blog finished because I felt I had said all I wanted to say about that part of my life and didn’t really want it hanging around once I had lost interest. I know some people really liked the content but once I decide to move on, I tend to sever all ties. If I do a blog again, it would have to be about new, interesting music but there doesn’t seem to be much around.

You are quite right, Spencer was in Steamtown. The singer was a guy called Andy Tomlinson who also put on some great gigs around Birmingham. There were no other releases by the band. A point worth mentioning about indie bands around this time is that, although they were tiny, they didn’t look to other tiny indie bands for inspiration. Most of the groups didn’t get on particularly well and inspiration came from the greats such as The Who, Jam, Pistols, X Ray Spex and, on the indie side, Orange Juice, JAMC, Smiths etc.

Nowadays you have lots of crap little indie bands copying each other and telling themselves how wonderful
they are. Hence, my comment about Spencer not knowing anything about The Field Mice. I think Andy Tomlinson is on Facebook if you wanted to get further info, he is a nice guy.

Glad to see you are still writing, I check in every so often and was pleased to see my name mentioned. Thanks!

Stephen
September 19th, 2016

Hey, did you miss that Allo Darlin’ called it quits? I guess that’s not terribly surprising. They had grade A tunes and devoted fans. Maybe a new band or two will come out of the split. I can only think they were a bright spot for Fortuna Pop. Also, no surprise that FP called it a day as recently they lacked a ‘big name’ (Martha?) to carry the show. FP appeared to be operating on a level that needed a Pains or Allo Darlin to keep it going.

Praise to all the bands and labels (no matter the size), who put themselves out there to make something happen.

newwavehalifax
September 19th, 2016

Manuel, pues claro que conozco Pretty Olivia y tengo varios discos. Los de Loor a los Heroes y el LP de The Rainyard son básicos. También lo de Wild Poppies. Así que si lo tengo en mente y siempre escucho las novedades aunque últimamente no es el jangle pop de siempre y no termino de engancharme, seguro pronto Javi volverá a darme el gusto de sacar algo brillante, espero con ansias lo de Cypress Mine!!

Roque
September 20th, 2016

Allan and Stephen, will try to contact them through Facebook though I always feel shy about it. I think as they are private profiles, it’s kinda annoying of me going on about 20, 30 years ago. Maybe they don’t want to talk about this stuff haha. I prefer if they get in touch, if they show interest. I used to contact a lot of people through Facebook before but from experience I think sometimes it is not the best of ideas!!

Also, yeah, that’s great to know the name of the vocalist of the band Stephen. I think you did a small interview, didn’t you? Maybe if you find it in your emails or somewhere else do you mind sharing it with me?

Hope you blog again Stephen. I promise to release some amazing music 😉

Roque
September 20th, 2016

NewWaveHalifax, no, didn’t miss that. It was all over my Facebook. I’ve never been a fan, never got into their music and as Fortuna Pop has asked many times, I prefer not saying anything else about this band that I haven’t said before, ignore them and just avoid any trouble with their very opinionated fans!

I’m pretty sure Fortuna Pop didn’t call it quits for not having a big name but for some personal reasons. Anyways, which indiepop label has a big name? I think there are no big names in indiepop! We are all so tiny! 😉 In any case, not a fan of Martha either.

Roque
September 20th, 2016

I may have walked in at “quiet week”, but nothing wrong with holding an opinion.

I think there’s a few levels that indiepop operates at, you have a sharp eye for the grassroots. Then there are Tweepop poll winners like Alvvays and Camera Obscura on commercial-indie labels Polyvinyl and 4AD. Allo Darlin were Tweepop poll winners as well, and on mid-level labels. Why has the 2015 Tweepop poll never been compiled, as it at least a rough guide to the popular indiepop bands?

I just ordered the Stephen’s Shore 7″ from Cloudberry, thank you for putting it out. ‘Ocean Blue’ is a very good, classic sounding song. Well spotted 🙂

newwavehalifax
September 20th, 2016

Thanks for your order! I will post it asap! 🙂

True, Camera Obscura and Alvvays are quite big names. But they are as you say on commercial-indie labels even though at some point Camera Obscura made Elefant quite a profit. But I don’t think the Twee.net poll winners mean that much, if you notice really there are always less than 100 voters. Usually around 60 to 70 people were voting the last few years. I don’t know why it wasn’t compiled this year. Peter Twee.net has been kind of disconnected from the scene, he is even letting his record collection go. It is difficult times for indiepop!!

I think right now the only way to notice which bands are more popular than others is who plays more gigs. I can’t think of another way for us to figure out.

Hope you like the Stephen’s Shore 7″, I’m very happy with this release, as you say, classic sounding!

Roque
September 20th, 2016

Lovely discovery once again! As an avid reader of your blog may I request a band I’d really like to know more about: Storm house. I really love their song “Inside” which was on some compilation with the Suncharms and Catherine Wheel. The name of that compilation eludes me right now.

Shwappy
September 20th, 2016

Hi Shwappy! Thanks for being an avid reader of the blog! Oh! I don’t have that compilation. It is the “I MIght Walk Home Again” CD comp on Wilde Club Records. I’ll be happy to dig more information about this band but do you mind sending me that song? I’ve never heard it!
All the best,
/R

Roque
September 20th, 2016