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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Listen
Flower Bellcow – Thing of Everyday