04
Jan

Happy New Year!! Back for another year, the tenth year anniversary of Cloudberry, and the 9th for the blog. Let’s continue this indiepop dream for one more year!

What’s new then? I still haven’t recovered my hard drive, but I have received some new nice packages on the mail that I feel need to be recommended. Well, I did recommend one of them last week, the BV’s new EP “Runaway Neon” that came out on tape. Luckily the band was super nice to me and sent me a CDR version so I could listen to all the tracks, and wow! They are so good! Definitely one of my favourite newish bands in the indiepop world.

It seems then that the label Kleine Untergrund Schallplatten from Augusburg is kind of a King Midas now, every band that they are involved with, like the Bv’s, is really good. I got two new records from them today too and aside from the beautiful presentation, the music is fab. The records I got were a 7″ by the band Botschaft and a 12″ by Endlich Blüte.

The 12″ EP by Endlich Blüte is titled “Der Schöne Junge Mann” and you can actually stream all songs from their Bandcamp. There are only 200 copies of this record and I feel the price is very good. So there is no excuse for not getting it! On top of it all the band has a new video for the song “Eigenwohl” and you can check it here.

About Botschaft you can hear their jangly and elegant song “Niederlage” here, on their Soundcloud. You can also stream “Reproduktionsfunktion” there as well. Happiness. Germany keeping indiepop alive!

I hope Kleine Untergrund keeps on this perfect run!

On other indiepop news I could gather during the past few days I saw that Horsebeach have announced a new album titled “Beauty & Sadness” to come out on March 17th.

Desperate Journalist another favourite band of mine have a new song out too titled “Resolution” and it is gorgeous. Sadly it is not available for me to link to their Soundcloud, only a select few hipster websites seem to be able to, but I found it on a non-official Youtube. So you can listen to it there.

But is it an end of an era? I was thinking about this last week when Cake Shop, the iconic venue in the Lower East Side, announced that it was closing. At least it is an end of an era in New York. With no Popfest and now with no venue that was extremely friendly and supportive to indiepop bands, New York seems like an island. I don’t know what will happen here. Not even there’s a Mondo to listen a few indiepop hits and dance. That’s it. Indiepop, I believe, is agonizing in NY. Time to resurrect it somehow?

The news of Cake Shop closing wasn’t a surprise. Years ago they were looking for investors. It must be so hard to pay the rent in an area that is hip and happening. CBTweeBs as Michael Grace calls the venue was a place where I got to see so many amazing bands during the years, even before I moved to the city. Many bands associated to the label played there like The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Alpaca Sports, Zipper, Lost Tapes and so on. I saw many other cool bands there like Love is All, My Favorite, Airiel, Cola Jet Set and many more.

I used to start the nights with the cheap Genesee beer, and then continue with the Brooklyn lagers. The basement could get so warm, so hot, when it was packed of people. Standing on the seats on the righthand side of the basement just below the AC was the solution. The big table there were all the merch was sold, were I sat so many times and the line for the bathroom where one would meet always new people will be missed.

I didn’t go to the last shows, sadly the bands playing weren’t my cup of tea. I feel a bit bad for not supporting during the last days, but in due honesty I did go there quite often, even when there were no bands playing. If I was in the area and was up for a beer, the Cake Shop was always the first option. I liked the first floor for that, it wasn’t loud and the people that visited weren’t obnoxious, they were just like you and me, usually.

I have so many photos of friends and myself in this venue. Somehow it will be remembered by all our memories, for all those great nights of gigs and Popfest. I do hope that Andy can start another Cake Shop with the same name or another somewhere else in New York. It is important for the city to have the sort of people and venues that support bands like they did.

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How do we start the new year? What about a fantastic obscure band? Well, that’s the usual isn’t it? Let’s see what can we find about a band that a lot of serious indiepop fans love: The Beaujolais Brothers.

Beaujolais is a French Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) wine generally made of the Gamay grape which has a thin skin and is low in tannins. Like most AOC wines they are not labeled varietally. Whites from the region, which make up only 1% of its production, are made mostly with Chardonnay grapes though Aligoté is also permitted until 2024 (on condition the vines were planted before 2004). Beaujolais tends to be a very light-bodied red wine, with relatively high amounts of acidity. In some vintages, Beaujolais produces more wine than the Burgundy wine regions of Chablis, Côte d’Or, Côte Chalonnaise and Mâconnais put together.

Were they wine lovers then?

I don’t know much about the band, I’ve only heard the one song “Here Comes Summer”, and it is such a good song! Classic indiepop! Where does this song come from? From a 7″ released in 1988 on the Seagull Records label (CORK 001). I believe this is a self-release as there are no other releases on this label as far as I know. This was a double A side record, the other song was “Day After Day”.

Two people are credited on this record, the songs were written by M. Jamieson and R. Maberley.  Sadly there is no back sleeve photo uploaded to Discogs.

Keep digging. An unexpected turn of events. I find on Google some messages of Japanese fans to a Facebook page for Rodney Maberley. I think I hit the target. I will get to know more about the band now. Someone did the detective work for me.

I find on this profile page a small biography:
‘Le Mc Rod’ was a name borne of his busking in France and Scotland. He was a man of great musical talent and loved his life to be as simple as possible! He was full of cheesy one liners and cheese and picklle sandwiches. God bless you Rod love ya!

His full name was Rodney Keith Maberley and was born in Brighton, UK. There are more bands listed that he was involved with, aside from The Beaujolais Brothers he played with The Sexed up Lambeth boys, Ol’ Dirty Bar Stars, The Introze, The Dolphins, Heroes, Scuba Divers, Slime Time, Red Sox.

Sadly from this page I learn that it has been 8 years since he passed away. Terrible news.

I see some messages from people I know, there’s one saying that there’s a German label that wants to re-release the 7″ and probably a retrospective. Would that be Firestation? I bet on that.

It seems the page is being managed by his niece. It seems at some point there was a Facebook music player on the page were more songs by him were uploaded. Not sure if they were from The Beaujolais Brothers or from other bands.

There are also lots of photos on this page, many of him as a musician though I’m not sure which ones are from The Beaujolais Brothers. I could tell there are some by The Dolphins.

On Last.fm I could find people listening to songs by him, two songs that I don’t know if to which of his bands they belong. The names being “Moon Equipment” and “Julia”. I also tried to find out more about the other bands listed that he was involved with. But I couldn’t track any of them.

I then tried to track M. Jamieson, the other name that appears on The Beaujolais Brothers record. I couldn’t find anything either. Dead ends.

A true mystery. The one 7″ record that is classic. Were there unreleased songs? What about Rodney’s other bands? Did they sound similar to The Beaujolais Brothers? What happened to M. Jamieson? Was he involved in other bands? Would be great to know more about them and MAYBE find a copy of this 7″, would be nice to have it!

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Listen
The Beaujolais Brothers – Here Comes Summer

03
Jan

Thanks so much to Arthur Magee for the great interview! It’s been a while since I tried to interview this band that I first got to know thanks to the Leamington Spa series many many years ago. Then I was able to hear their one and only EP on Ugly Man and I was just like… wow! It was always a mystery for me why they are not much more known, more of a household name for guitar pop fans. Luckily now Arthur answers many of my questions and hopefully you’ll be discovering a new fantastic band or you’ll get to know a thing or two about this fab Manchester band.

++ Hi Arthur! Thanks a lot for being up for the interview once again. It was a long time since we were in touch, during the Myspace days, and now I have a new opportunity to ask you many questions! Of course I have to start this interview asking you about that perfect song of yours, “Pessimistic Man”, if you could tell me the story behind it?

It’s Stuart’s song. I’ll ask him. Stuart says:

Pessimistic man is the usual tale of a miserable Yorkshire lad trying to decide on what’s the worst thing happening in his life. Written in the time of the poll tax, campaign for nuclear disarmament, strikes and the everyday toil of trying to get a job and a mortgage, the ray of light is that all this is inconsequential and it is missing a loved one that is praying on the young lad’s mind.

++ There was a video for this song too. Where did you get the budget to make it? What do you remember the time making it, any anecdotes? And why was it black and white?

Budget!!! Are you joking. I blagged it from a friend of ours who ran a video company and the amount spent on it was NOTHING! It was filmed in Whitworth Park in Manchester on a bitterly cold Sunday in November. We got a lot of our friends down and just acted out scenes. Stuart or his brother Duncan made the props, the large bomb and the big heart. The furniture came from the flat Paul and I share in Hulme. I remember the Manchester Martyrs Parade passing down Oxford Road as we filmed. The video was in colour with some shots in black and white for the effect!

++ Let’s rewind a bit, was Fallover 24 your first band or had you been involved in other bands?

No Fallover 24 was my first and last band. Outside of Fallover 24, I’ve known excellent musicians, technically brilliant but they’ve never been able to match what I felt with Paul and Stuart. There was something magical there, I can’t explain it but there was.

++ And before that, what was your first instrument, what sort of music was heard at home when you were little?

Guitar. My mother loved Elvis, Roy Orbison and shows like West Side Story. I’d an Uncle Pat who played guitar and piano and he used to encourage us to write songs when we were kids. I can remember three of us sat on top of an upright piano as he played. He showed us that there was magic in the mundane, an incredible gift to give. When I was really young I heard and loved the Beatles and I watched the Monkees on TV. Actually how Fallover 24 lived was a bit like the Monkees except we didn’t have a beach house in Malibu, we’d a cockroach infested flat in Hulme, Manchester. As I got older I listened to more punk and ska bands as well as Motown, glam rock etc. I will always love the Undertones. Mostly, I love good songs and good songwriters whatever the genre or era. I’m a sucker for a good melody. Stuart was into David Bowie, Jonathan Richmond and Talking Heads whilst Paul liked Madness and bands like them. We’d a big range on influences in the group.

++ When starting Fallover 24 what sort of bands were you listening to? Did you follow any bands in Manchester at the time?

You know I really can’t remember too well. We used to go and see a lot of bands though. I became good friends with the Skol Bandeleros, who were a cowpunk band and the best live band on the scene by a country (excuse the pun) mile! The Man from Delmonte were good too. I saw the Stone Roses a few times and they were just about ok.

++ How was Manchester then? What were the places where you used to hang out? What were your favourite venues or clubs?

We lived in Hulme which was a horrendous 1960s housing project in inner city Manchester. The accommodation was so bad, they’d given up on it and rented it out to students. Bear in mind that Manchester has 50,000 students coming each year and they bring an energy. I’d studied in London for 3 years and I met more people in Manchester in 3 weeks than I did the whole time I was in London. People in Manchester tend to take you as they find you. It has a proud radical heritage and that still exists to this day, a sort of ‘Fuck You’ attitude but with a kind and open heart. There was real poverty in the city but also an incredible vibrancy. It felt like anything was possible and everyone seemed to be in a band. We had a regular gig at the Red Admiral in Hulme which was full of people selling nicked goods but it was run by a lovely Irish couple and they paid us. At the time, the place to go for bands was the International who’d a guy booking for them called Roger Eagles who really got some great bands there.

++ How did Fallover 24 start? How did you meet the rest of the members?

I met Stuart whilst he and I were trying to chat up the same girl. We ended up chatting each other up! Paul we met at a gig. Vic came from an advert in Melody Maker, drummers are always hard to get.

++ And where does the name Fallover 24 come from?

You each drink 24 cans of lager and what happens? You …(wait for it..) Fallover!!!

++ I read that the strength of the band was that you had 3 songwriters. How did that work for you? Like, how was the creative process when someone came up with a new song?

Mostly it was very, very good as we spurred each other on. Sometimes someone would have the whole song virtually written like Stuart did with Pessimistic Man and we’d add to it, Other times, we’d finish a song together. There was always a pressure to get your song heard which is probably why we never did the same set twice.

++ Your first gig was at The Red Admiral in Hulme. What do you remember from that day? How long did you play, who did you support, and what songs were on the setlist?

It was a Tuesday at the start of December. We’d actually supported a band at the Gallery but Stuart was ill so it was just Paul and myself and we played after about 2 rehearsals. I saw a picture recently and you can see I’m shouting the chords to him. At the Red Admiral, we used Harry from Gone to Earth as a drummer and Stuart was back so that was our first proper gig. I was so nervous, I was nearly sick but the idea was to face the fear, get going and make a start. Sometimes people in a group will wait until they’re ready but you’re never ready. Better to get up and do it and if you make mistakes, so what? I think we played for 40 minutes in front of our friends and after that we were up and running.

++ It’s said that you never played the same setlist twice, that must have been hard! What other gigs do you remember fondly and why? Is there any gig that you played that you would prefer forgetting, that wasn’t very good?

We didn’t play the same setlist twice. We used to rehearse constantly and we were all writing tunes. It kept it interesting for us but looking back, there were an awful lot of really good songs that people never heard. In retrospect we should have been a little more disciplined in our approach. Playing live we were a real mixed bag. I remember a gig in Belfast at a student club when we were really brilliant. That said, I can remember a few others when we were shocking. A big issue was acoustics playing in large spaces with the sound bouncing everywhere.

++ You recorded your first demo in 1986. What songs were in it? The same as in the EP later released on Ugly Man Records?

That was recorded at Out of the Blue in Manchester. The songs were:

The Greystone
Cloth Stained Blue
Shipyards
Questions

None of these were on the EP but Cloth Stained Blue was featured on The Sound of Leamington Spa compilation.

++ At that time you were supposed to record a single with Martin Hannett, is that right? What happened?

Martin heard the 4 track of Pessimistic Man and loved it so we went to Strawberry Studios to record it. He just wasn’t at it and it never worked out.

++ Then, in 1989, you would release the “Pessimistic Man” EP on Ugly Man Records. How did you end up in this label and how was your relationship with them?

I knew Guy whose label it was and we were getting fed up with Martin who’d miss recording sessions etc. We wanted to keep the momentum going so we went and recorded it ourselves.

++ Had there been interest from other labels? Maybe some majors?

The single and video secured interest from several Majors but to be honest we weren’t ready.

++ What do you remember from the recording sessions for the single? you recorded it yourselves, right?

Yes after we’d tried to record it with Martin Hannett. It was a studio in Old Trafford in Manchester and the only clear recollection I have is Paul pressing a large red button on the desk and nearly wiping all the recordings. It was like something from a cartoon, “Umm this button says, ‘Do Not Press’ but what could go wrong?” so he pressed it!

++ It must have been a highlight when you beat on the local charts the likes of The Stone Roses or The Happy Mondays. What position did you reach? And how did this impact the band?

It wasn’t a highlight, we were just trying to push the record and we did all that on our own with no support. I was glad that we were mentioned but no more than that.

++ How come this didn’t translate nationally?

We’d no support, no money for pluggers or advertising. The record was on the Ugly Man label but we’d paid for it ourselves. Essentially we were a corner shop competing against large corporations and we couldn’t do it. There was also a lot of inverted snobbery in the Indie scene, we weren’t ‘indie’ enough. I’ll explain what I mean. We were told that our video was going to be featured on Snub TV which was a national programme in the UK. We cobbled the last of our money together and sent it down to London by courier. We came home one day to a message from the show’s producer telling us that they weren’t going to play us as we weren’t indie enough! We were living in a cockroach and mouse infested flat in Hulme at the time. Not indie enough? A mouse drowned in our chip pan! It was a blow and not the only one. It felt like a punch in the stomach!

++ There’s only 4 songs on the EP, but I wonder if you recorded more songs at all? Perhaps there were more demo tapes?

There were. We recorded versions of songs on Stuart’s Tascam Porta Studio but we didn’t have the money to go into professional studios. In fact we only did this twice. Our first demo and the recordings for the EP.

++ What was the idea behind the artwork of the EP, that sad clown is the pessimistic man?

It was a great idea from Carl who did the graphics. Just inverting the normal perception of a cheery clown. Mind you clowns are scary now aren’t they? At one stage I wanted to change it to the Smiley icon beloved of the rave crowd but we didn’t have the time or money.

++ What happened in the spring of 1989, why did you split? And what did you all do after musically?

Looking back, I know I was suicidal and I think I was having a nervous breakdown. We’d set up a recording studio and to be honest it wasn’t really something I wanted to do. A lot of things came to a head and I wasn’t in a good place and I mean that literally, Paul had to talk me down from a ledge. I know I must have been hard to deal with as I was on a real downer at the time. We remained mates though. When you’ve driven 200 miles with only enough money for 2 cups of coffee between 4 people, it bonds you. It took me 2 to 3 years before I could look at a guitar and I started to play solo. I never wanted to be in another group. It would have been hard to replicate what we had. Sometimes we were abysmal but other times we were truly magical.

++ How was the press and radio? Did you get much attention from them?

A bit but like I said, the promotion budget was zilch. I thought, if you put out a great record, people will play it. I was naive, it doesn’t work like that. I think we sent it to the NME 8 times before we got a review. Melody Maker gave us a live review and John Peel played it. I’m not sure if local radio in Manchester even played it. We also got the video on late night MTV when it started in Europe. All this we did ourselves, ringing people up, hassling them etc. It’s what you need to do but it’s draining.

++ And what about the so called C86 scene, did you ever feel part of it? Did you get much attention from indiepop fanzines perhaps?

No, we didn’t feel part of it or at last I didn’t. People start bands for lots of reasons but it’s never to be part of a scene. That’s a terrible reason to start a band. Be yourself, do the music you love otherwise you’ll never do anything. We were friends with some bands in Manchester though and we met some wonderful, amazing people.

++ What about today, are you all still in touch? Making music perhaps?

I’ve always kept in touch with Paul and Stuart. They’re more than friends to me, more like brothers. We are a caring but dysfunctional family. Sadly, I’ve lost touch with Vic the drummer. I did speak with him a few years back but I’m not sure he wants to be found. We listened to some of our old 4 track demos and recordings we made of rehearsals and realised that actually we’ve written some really brilliant songs that have not been recorded properly never mind heard. We get together when we’ve the time and we’ve put 4 of our old songs down. How do they sound? Really great. We’re looking to get more recorded.

++ These days, what other hobbies do you enjoy having?

I run a walking tour in Belfast which is where I’m from. I love football but I’ve a family so outside of them and my guitar I don’t have a lot of free time. I try and listen to as much new music as I can usually in the car.

++ Are you still in Manchester? Has it changed much since those days in the 80s? Are there any good band still in town?

No I don’t live in Manchester anymore, I’m from Belfast and I live there now but I do go over. In fact I’m going in January to meet up with Paul and Stuart from Fallover 24 and rehearse some of our old songs. I’d like to get 4 more recorded soon. Stuart still lives in Manchester whilst Paul lives in Warwick in England’s West Midlands so you can see the logistics of getting us together are difficult. Manchester has changed incredibly in the last 15 years. It’s totally transformed and reminds me of New York. It will always produce bands but what makes Manchester special is the approach to music. Most places people go to hear what they know or have heard before. In Manchester they go to hear something new, something different which is incredibly liberating.

++ I guess we should start wrapping it, I think I might come up with even more questions if we don’t stop, but I would like to know what was the biggest highlight for you of being part of Fallover 24?

Meeting Martin Hannett was good, not because he was a so called legend but because he and I used to get on well and would go for a beer in Chorlton. Hearing the record unexpectedly on John Peel was lovely too but the real highlight was meeting wonderful people like Paul and Stuart who I was in Fallover 24 with, Mandy, Sue and Anthony from the Skol Bandeleros, Dave Thom and Harry from Little Douglas/Gone to Earth and many others like Tony Dooley or Sheridan McLoughlin, Herman and John Nancolis from a project called the Site. It was the worst of times but it was also the best of times too, to paraphrase Dickens.

++ Thanks again for the interview, anything else you’d like to add?

I always describe us as an unpopular pop group so we’re setting up a web site:

www.unpopularpopgroup.com

We’re recording our old songs as we never had the money first time around and people will be able to access them from the web site when we get it up and going. I think they sound fabulous, pure pop, two guitars, bass and drums with great tunes attached. We’re doing this for the love of it and because it’s still good fun and also because it’s always annoyed me that the songs never reached the light of day. Looking back, I’d say to anyone that if you want to do something, do it. To most people Fallover 24 never existed, we didn’t create a splash, more a pebble into the sea but that pebble still created small ripples and those ripples have come back to us from all over the world. People have contacted me from New York, Canada and Japan which I think is incredible. I’d like to think we did something positive which this world needs. So if you’ve got something you want to do, do it, life is short but make sure it’s positive. It might not work out how you wanted but at least you’ll have no regrets and when you’re a middle aged old fart like me you’ll have something to look back on. To paraphrase Helen Keller, “Life is an adventure or it is nothing”.

Oh and we’re available for weddings, bar mitzvahs etc…!

Love, light and peace

Fallover 24

You can contact us at: Fallover24@gmail.com

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Listen
Fallover 24 – Pessimistic Man

26
Dec

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!

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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.

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Listen
St. James Infirmary – Like a Boy Detective

19
Dec

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.

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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…

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Listen
A Strange Desire – Promise to Lie

12
Dec

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!).

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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?

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Listen
Bounce The Mouse – Will You Ever Say?

05
Dec

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.

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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!

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Listen
Splendid Fellows – Fields of Corn

01
Dec

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!

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Listen
Things in General – Raintown

29
Nov

Back from two weeks of vacations. I’m exhausted and jetlagged. In a way happy to escape from the heat of Thailand, but not that excited to be back in an office. There was little indiepop during the trip, but I did meet Peter from Twee.net for a day while I was in Railay Beach. That was fun, reminiscing past gigs, festivals and so on. Gossiping a bit, talking about records, his own collection that will be now housed in a museum and more. It was really great to catch up after some years. Last time we saw each other was in Madrid Popfest 2013.

As I’ve been away I have very little news about indiepop. Don’t know what has happened in the past two weeks. Were there any good releases? Any new bands popped up in Bandcamp? I will have to do my own research this week. For the next post I hope to find out some exciting news.

The one piece of news that is really important though, that we all learned yesterday, was that Indietracks is returning next year. There was a lot of doubts that it was going to happen again it seems. Fans were wondering for the past few weeks. But the news came and everyone started booking their Travelodges.

The dates for 2017 Indietracks are July 28th to the 30th. It will happen at the same location, the Midway Railway Centre in Derbyshire. There is one difference though from previous years, three of the organizers have left, Marianthi, Ian and Alice. Andy and Nat are still on it while Jasmine, Emma and Beck are joining Team Indietracks this time around. I don’t know these new members but I hope they book some great bands, proper indiepop for the pop fans. Definitely Marianthi and Ian will be missed, they booked so many fantastic bands during the years making me happy when I attended.

I don’t think I will be able to attend. But who knows, if the lineup starts shaping up nicely, I can make a big effort. I miss the festival so much. Fingers crossed. And good luck to the new organizers!

And about my vacations? Well, what else can I tell you. Visited Bangkok, Ayutthaya, Lobpuri, Sukhothai and Railay Beach. Lots of walking, temples, Buddha statues and monkeys. I wore a baseball cap and shorts, very unusual for me. In a way Thailand seemed so different to anywhere I visited, but other times it just felt like another Latin American city, Bangkok especially reminded me of Mexico City a lot.

I have to go through my photos, get my memory refreshed. I had some issue today with some of my photos, they seemed to be lost after I pressed ctrl+z, undo, on my new computer. How odd. I’m using a recovery program and I left it doing it’s thing. It seems like it was working. I hope so! So far this day has been so crappy.

I found Thai food a bit hit or miss. Some days it was fantastic but in general I think Thai food in New York is as good and sometimes even better. I may be mistaken, but that was my experience.

Taxi drivers, damn, they see you as a westerner and they try to rip you off. I was better using Uber really. Taxi drivers don’t want to use their meter and they just ask for a flat rate, a very expensive one. Well, not expensive if you convert to dollars, but definitely much more if they were to use the taxi meter.

All in all it was a fantastic adventure in Asia. Worth the very long flight. When I get my energy back, maybe I can write a bit of a tourist guide for the places I visited. Right now I just want to fall asleep!

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Roberto Durán Samaniego (born June 16, 1951) is a Panamanian former professional boxer who competed from 1968 to 2001. Widely regarded as one of the greatest boxers of all time, Durán was a versatile brawler and in-fighter in the ring, which earned him the nickname of “”Manos de Piedra” (“Hands of Stone”) for his devastating punching power.[1] He held world titles in four weight classes—lightweight (1972–1979), welterweight (1980), light middleweight (1983–1984) and middleweight (1989)—including a reign as the undisputed and lineal lightweight champion (1978–1979), and the lineal welterweight champion (1980).[2] He is also the second boxer to have competed over a span of five decades, the first being Jack Johnson. However, Durán is most infamous for abruptly forfeiting his welterweight title in the middle of his 1980 rematch with challenger Sugar Ray Leonard.

Today I want to introduce a band I know very little about: The Roberto Durans. I know almost nothing and the internet also knows barely anything about this band. There is barely anything but I’ll dig up everything I can. They are not even listed on Discogs!

They are not much of a mystery in the indiepop world. I’ve never heard anyone talking about them. Maybe not many know their existence. Never seen them on those wanted records lists. Never seen a blog post about them. I found them on Youtube and from there I started my “investigation”. First fact I can find about them is that they were based in Wakefield, UK.

Wakefield is a city in West Yorkshire, England, on the River Calder and the eastern edge of the Pennines, which had a population of 76,886 in 2001, increasing slightly for the five Wakefield wards (East, North, Rural, South and West) to 77,512 at the 2011 Census.

As far as I know they released just one record in 1990. It was a private pressing, self-released and it seems only 500 numbered copies were pressed. This 7″ included two songs, “Don’t Go Weird On Me Baby” on the A side and “T.B.O.O.E.T.K.M.” on the B side. What does the B side song mean? The catalog number was TKO 001.

On Youtube I could find 3 more songs. I assume these are from the same recording session as the 7″. They were uploaded 8 years ago I think by a member of the band. The songs are: “Jesus Drives a Harley“, “A Million Tears” (which is said to be inspired by Harvey Milk), “Dying to Meet You“. Also you can listen to the two songs that appear on the 7″,”Don’t Go Weird On Me Baby” and “T.B.O.O.E.T.K.M.“.

I wonder who were behind this band. From a Facebook page called “I See a Darkness” I feel one of the band members might have been Paul Stephenson but I can’t confirm this. I wonder if the band members had been in other bands before or after The Roberto Durans. If they were really big boxing fans. If they ever visited Panama. So many questions. Did they record more songs? Why were there no more releases? How big was their following? Maybe some of you remember them? And how the hell do I get a copy of their single? I would love to have it!

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Listen
The Roberto Durans – Dying to Meet You

07
Nov

Last post before vacations! Well, unless someone answers interview questions before I head to Thailand this Saturday morning. Very exciting! But before we have here an interesting week. Tomorrow there’s Presidential elections in the U.S. and I will be working around the clock, probably until midnight or later. Hopefully the result of the election is not a terrible one. It is a very scary election and I’m crossing my fingers for the best outcome. Then two days later, on Thursday is our official release date for The Seashells 7″ with the fantastic two songs “Thoughtlessness” and “A Comfort to A Fool”. The mighty return of the classic Umeå band! So quite a packed week!

On top of it all, last Friday I had my U.S. citizenship interview and I passed it. Now the next step seems to be the oath ceremony and I’ll be waiting for that. I was quite nervous but I didn’t make any mistake in the history/geography questions (to be fair they were pretty easy questions). I haven’t had an oral test in more than ten years! But yeah, it was quite an interesting experience.

I hear also that my good friend Peter from Twee.net will be at the same time in Thailand. That would be awesome if we could meet. Maybe there’s some indiepop stories in Thailand in the end! Things shaping nicely.

Then I got my new computer and I’ve been setting it up. I’m still lacking some programs. I haven’t done much to be honest as I’ve been addicted to Civilization VI. But about my other computer, the one that stopped working, I don’t much. A friend is checking it, a computer expert, and hopefully he can salvage the hard drive. I have listened to a bunch of records this week and I want to file them in my Excel sheet! And I can’t. I really feel silly for not having transferred my record collection to the cloud, maybe to Google Spreadsheets. I thought many times about doing that, but I never did. No excuse, laziness probably.

But what about the topic we are always interested in? Well as it is becoming normal the news are far and between. I think what has excited me the most are a number of gigs happening in the UK that I most probably won’t be able to attend.

The first, and I couldn’t find a link to a Facebook event but you can check the flyer here, is happening on Friday February 17th 2017 in Preston. Who is playing at The Continental? Well, it is a fantastic lineup, The Orchids, The Chesterf!elds and The Suncharms. Three top acts. How I wish even one of these bands would play in New York. Just one.

And what about the day after? Yes, on February 18th 2017 there’s An Evening of Indie Pop! at Gulliver’s in Manchester. Who is playing? The Chesterf!elds, Karen (which is the fab band Davey from Brilliant Corners has now) and Cherlie Big Time. Couldn’t find a Facebook event either, but here’s the flyer. Again, what a lineup! I would be a roadie for The Chesterf!elds if I could!

But much closer, this November 10th, in the continent, our friends and Cloudberry graduates Stephen’s Shore are playing a gig in Stockholm. So please if you are around don’t miss it. For this one there is a Facebook event page. It is happening this Thursday at 8pm at Under Bron.

Continuing with gigs, NYC favourite band Pale Lights are playing on November 19th at the Cake Shop. But that one I’ll be missing as I’ll be away. I still haven’t managed to get their last release and I’m quite worried it will sell out! Damn!

Then Olov Antonsson who used to be in The Tidy Ups and used to record under the name Cocoanut Groove is playing solo on November 26th in Stockholm’s venue Landet.

Maybe there’s more cool events happening. I don’t know. I was also wondering when will Indietracks 2017 be announced. I can’t recall previous years now, but I think it was around this time of the year when they would announce the dates for the next festival, right? Well, better to keep an eye.

Also it seems Firestation Records is now working on a Metro Trinity retrospective. Sounds like an ace project. At the time they seem to be asking fans and people to help with any recordings. Please check here and help if you can!

And last but not least, all-time favourite La Casa Azul has a new song out titled “Podría Ser Peor“. Hoping for a new album soon!

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Now, the time of our obscure band of the week right? I picked up a random Leamington Spa compilation today before leaving home. Kind of in a hurry. Today I needed a surprise, and it suddenly hit me, a song I remember liking a lot and about I knew nothing really: “Mrs. Harrington” by On the Waterfront. Did they release records? Who were they? I don’t own nothing by them. Who were On The Waterfront? And who was “Mrs. Harrington” if anyone at all?

I open the booklet included in the compilation. That’s the best part of these compilations perhaps, the booklets. I miss booklets. Now CDs (and LPs by default) come without booklets. It sucks. It makes me so annoyed. Nothing can replace them. And labels and bands don’t even try, you would think that they would attach a PDF or something, but not even. Anyways, I turned a bunch of pages and I saw, a whole page for On the Waterfront. What does it say?

“Essentially a live band, more powerful and ‘rocky’ than the EP portrays, played mainly around the London scene. ‘Mean Fiddler’, ‘Ronnie Scots’, ‘Rock Garden’, ‘Tramshead’, and all those great venues that were ‘live and kicking’ at the time. Some bigger gigs in provinces on the university and festival scene. Highlights such as supporting ‘the late great’ Steve Marriot, and the TV show ‘The Tube’. Tried to be topical rather than political, (but politics is always topical). Songs were often inspired by news stories. Mrs. Harrington a prime example, and sadly a story that’s still topical today. All members are still alive and well, and still playing, don’t think you ever get it out of your system. There is even talk of a 20 year reunion gig…. We’ll see. Jon Yallop”

And we also get the years they were active, 1983 to 1987. And the lineup:
– Bill Mayell – vocals/guitar
– Tony Fitzgerald – bass/vocals
– Paul Patch – drums/vocals
– Jon Yallop – guitars/vocals

Their origin? Tilbury in Essex, England.

Tilbury is a town in the borough of Thurrock, Essex, England. It was established in the late 19th century, on land that was mainly part of Chadwell St Mary. It contains a 16th century fort and an ancient cross-river ferry. Tilbury has a major deep-water port which contributes to the local economy.

Now what about their releases? We head to Discogs. They only have listed one 12″ EP with four songs. Two on each side:
A1. The Kids are Allright
A2. Never Surrender
B1. Far From the Madding Crowd
B2. Mrs. Harrington

Huh! “Mrs. Harrington” was not even an A side! Wow. The record was released by Wizz Records (catalog WIZZ1) in 1986. But I really doubt it is the same Wizz Records has as it is a house label. I think this must have been a self-release. I notice that in the cover there’s a picture of Colin MacInnes’ novel “Absolute Beginners” which I’ve never read.

Time to keep digging. It seems there’s not much online. I find a video with some footage of the band from the 80s. It is supposedly they only known footage of the band. This comes from a gig at the Rock Garden in London and also from a rehearsal venue in Essex. The track that accompany the images is “The Kids Are Allright”.

Someone comments in this video, a year ago, and says that Tony Fitzgerald is now a bass played who plays solo acoustic sets of covers and  some songs of his own and that also he is the bass player for the Northern Soul band The Signatures. Time to track The Signatures. I think this is their website. The problem is that I don’t see Tony’s name on the website or in their Facebook page. Maybe he left the band already?

What about the rest of the band? I find some info about Paul Patch, the drummer, on a website called The Various Assortments. It seems Paul Patch also goes under the name Billy Bad. He was born in Chelmsford and raised in Grays Thurrock. It seems he was in the famous Apple Computers 1984 commercial (!) among other interesting tidbits about his live. It says he has been in at least seventy (!) bands during his career like The Angels, Walking Wounded, Psycho Psycho, Dancing on the Telephone, etc etc. Seems he had a very eventful life!

About Jon Yallop, I think I found some music of his on Youtube. Unless there’s another Jon Yallop you can find a bunch of his songs on his channel.

What about Bill Mayell? Again, I’m not 100% sure but I found some photos that mention a Bill Mayell, a guitarist, being part of a band called “Take Oath” in the early 80s. Might he be the same one as In The Waterfront? Check these mod photos here.

And that’s where I hit the wall. Not bad, no? Found some extra information about each band member (I think!), and we got to listen to three of the songs on Youtube. The only one I couldn’t find was “Far from the Madding Crowd”. I couldn’t find a good price for the record, but hopefully I will at some point. I won’t forget about them. What about you? Do you remember from their London gigs? Did you use to see them hanging out in Tilbury? Would love to know more about this band!

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Listen
On the Waterfront – The Kids are Allright

31
Oct

It has been a bit of a nightmare week for me. Nothing going my way and my personal computer stopped working. I have most of Cloudberry stuff saved on external hard drives so that’s not much too worry, but still there are some important files, like the Excel with my record collection (!) and a bunch of rare music that I wish not to lose. Hopefully it will be fixed but then I already bought a new computer. Being honest, this computer was already a bit old but seemed to work just fine until one day decided it didn’t want to boot anymore.

So with that annoyance the week couldn’t be any worst. On top of that small details like crazy rain getting into the house thanks of an open window, losing a subway card, a fuse that blew, etc, just kept getting everything worse. How could one not get frustrated? I’ve tried not to. It is hard. Feels like it is a terrible moment. An astrologer probably would say Mercury is retrograde for me, or something like that. I spent a lot of money too on that new computer. New computers don’t seem to come with an optical drive, how would I play my music? Well, also have to buy an external CD/Blu Ray/DVD player. More expenses, all of a sudden.

Why don’t they include these drives anymore? I think Apple started with this trend. I’m so sure it is to kill the physical form of music, this way they just can get richer and richer with MP3 and streaming sales. Ah! That must be it. I’m not being cynical now.

So without a computer, now I’m on work’s computer, I haven’t been able to be on top of indiepop news. Has there been any?

I will start posting The Seashells 7″s starting tomorrow. So if you placed a pre-order you’ll get the record before its release day on November 10th. Very excited with this release. Now it is time to get the Pale Spectres 7″ pressed and the Some Other Day CD too. And then we’ll see how things are.

I did buy some records now that I remember. I placed a very expensive order from Saint Etienne online shop. I ordered the 12″ Foxbase Alpha vinyl boxed set that includes so many goodies, aside from the original album it comes with “Remains of the Day” an exclusive album that gathers ten rare “Foxbase Alpha” era recordings, a 7″ featuring the unreleased version of “Kiss and Make Up” featuring singer Moira Lambert, a 28 page book, three black and white portraits, trading cards, digital downloads and more. 50 pounds, plus crazy more pounds for shipping to the US. Oh well, I think it will be worth it. And also a black Foxbase Alpha t-shirt. Of course. When I ordered I didnt know I had to buy a new computer, so it felt like I was just treating myself. Now I feel a like a spender!

What about you? Have you made any good indiepop discoveries lately? Or bought anything worth recommending? Hopefully next week it is better, it will be the last week post before I go on vacations to Thailand (yay!).

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Les Tender Whiskers. I had never heard them. It was the end of the first decade of this century. 2008. I met one of my best and favourite friend, Nana. She would introduce me Les Tender Whiskers.

I’ve written many times before about her, about our friendship, roadtrips in Germany, festivals in England and more. It has been a while now since I saw her. 2014 in Berlin for the Throw That Beat in the Garbagecan! reunion. Time flies, but it feels like yesterday since we hanged out.

When I arrived in Essen she had some records waiting for me. One of them was a 7″ by Les Tender Whiskers. The 7″ included a song that for me it means my friend Nana, I can only picture her when I hear that song: “Marmalade Monster”. She would also include this song on a some CDR compilations she made for me. I suspect she always included this song on all of her compilations. It must have been one of her favourite songs ever.

Then on the same 7″ I would find out that there was a German version of this song. I wonder which one she heard first? I also learned that they had more releases and I would track them down, only now missing their last 7″ which I’m sure I’ll find it sooner than later.

There was never much online about this obscure band. They did release a bunch of records, but they were on smaller labels, not that familiar to the casual indiepop fan. But let’s start with Discogs perhaps?

Tender Whiskers was a performance act/simulated indie pop band from Germany that consisted of mainly non musicians & record shop employees with a 70s art rock background.
They pretended to be French and became infamous for abusing French bread onstage while playing tape loops of DeGaulle speeches at ear-splitting volume.

Original members:
Sardella Catwhisker
Eustache Muscardin
Hubert d’Aussisse
Jean-Luc LeWhirl
Olibier Dubois
Serge Manzaresque
Octave d’Aussisse
Arne Saknussen
Roky Erickson
Ambrose Libre

We know Peter Schlump from bands like Horror Vacui and Sandy & Boris was the one behind the Eustache Muscardin name. Elke Neugebauer was the one behind Sardella Catwhisker. Who were the rest? Maybe we’ll find out.

I actually at first thought they were French. As I said, I didn’t know much and I didn’t investigate. Les Tender Whiskers just meant my friend and not much else. It is very interesting how a song can create such vivid memories, how you can associate them to someone. I’m sure it happens to you, no? There are songs that remind me of different friends. Songs that I saw them singing like crazy at gigs, or even songs from their own bands. Say when I hear The Garlands I don’t really think of my friend Christin even if she sings all songs. It is only when the song “Open Arms” starts playing that a bunch of memories come to mind. It’s odd.

Les Tender Whiskers’ “Marmalade Monster” came out in 1993 on Mermaid Records (FRIGID 009). This same label had already released records by 14 Iced Bears or Yukio Yung. Some indiepop stuff. The single included three songs, on the A side just “Marmalade Monster” on the B side, “Who Loves You” and “Marmaladen Monster”. The producer for the record was Jean-Luc LeWhirl, real name Johannes Wöhrl. Olibier Dubois appears on the first two songs only. While Eustache and Sardella on all three. We can track down Olibier and find out his real name was Marc Frank (who seems to have his own Compost Records).

On the back of the sleeve we see a small story for each of the songs, definitely worth the read, very entertaining.

“Tell Me Faster” was going to be released in 1994 on the Teenage Kicks label (KICK 005). This label was based in Augsburg, in Germany, and had released some interesting indiepop like Mondfähre or Buddy Love visits Klaus Cornfield. This 7″ came out in different versions, on black vinyl, on blue vinyl and also on red vinyl. The songs included were “Tell Me faster (Whiskers of Mu Mu Mix)”, “Iss Die Marmelade” and “Hey Hey We’re The Whiskers”. The last one a cover of The Pooh Sticks “Hey Hey We’re The Pooh Sticks”.

The next year, in 1995 they release their last 7″, limited to 150 copies. It came out in Teenage Kicks (KICK 007) and it was a single sided clear vinyl. The songs included on that one side were “The Flower Song” and “Ice-Blue Pole”. On the credits we find Hubert d’Aussisse, his real name being Nic Cramer. Also T. Zilly who seems to have been Tico Zamora, an American guitarist from Washington D.C.

There’s a compilation appearance, from 1993. It is a tape, a promo tape from Mermaid Records. It is just called “A Mermaid Records Promotional Device” and it includes 6 songs by Les Tender Whiskers, 6 by Mondfähre and 12 by The Bartlebees. The songs by Les Tender Whiskers are different to the ones on the 7″ mostly, “Es Liegt Nur An Dir”, “Marmalade Monster”, “Who Loves You”, “Road Works in Communist Town”, “No Tape” and “Fara-Dodger’s Guide Thru’ the Galaxy”.

Their last release as far as I know is the one I finally got two weeks ago, the album “Mosterpussy” on Mermaid Records (BUM 16). It includes 10 songs: “Tell Me Faster”, “Marmaladen Monster”, “On Tape”, “The Flower Song”, “Who Loves You”, “Brecht Communiste”, “Iss Die Marmelade”, “Ice Blue Pole”, “Sag Es Mir”, “Im Wagen Vor Mir”. The first song being a Daniel Johnston cover and songs 3 and 5 being Pooh Sticks covers.

More credits here that we can figure out their real names. Florella was Marion Wöhrl, perhaps Johannes sister? Marigold is Tanja Mayr and Serge Manzaresque is Marian Tögel (from bands like Creeping Candies). And lastly Ambrose Libre being Ambros Brux who has worked on a project titled Nejet Nok.

 

The tape I mentioned earlier, the Mermaid Records promo seems to have been uploaded to Youtube! That is good news. The songs are actually not recorded in studio by they are from a live session. Please enjoy it here! So cool to hear “Mermeladen Monster” live!

Now onto compilation appearances. On Discogs we find four. The first one from 1992 on Mermaid Records’ “Mermaid Employee of the Month: Gustav Sackmüller”. On it they appear with “Hey Hey We’re The Pooh Sticks”. The catalog number for this CD compilation combo with 7″ vinyl and cassette was MIRABELL 665. Who was Gustav Sackmüller by the way?

Second appearance is in 1992 on “He Didn’t Even Draw a Fish on My Shower Curtain” CD compilation on Mermaind (MIRABELL 001). They contribute the same song as before.

In 1994 they will contribute “Tell Me Now Is It Really Love? (Light Mix)”, a cover of Daniel Johnston, to the compilation “The Onion Most Dangerous Game”, a box set that included a bunch of 7″s on the French label Aliénor Records (Alien Lambda).

Their last appearance dates of 1995, on the Candybars 7″ compilation on Little Teddy Recordings. The song included was “Ice Blue Pole”.

And that’s all I could dig about this mysterious German band. Which makes me ask the question, where in Germany were they from? I know so very little about their story. Their discography we know, but are we missing anything? Is there more unreleased material? Who knows. Would be great to find out more about them. Do you happen to remember Les Tender Whiskers?

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Listen
Les Tender Whiskers – Marmeladen Monster