Sunday, 25 January 2015

Tu Silencio (your silence)





Let us continue on on this Spanish thing I’ve got of late; there’s no one else but Samira to blame for this, as I’ve said.

You may think otherwise but my knowledge of Spanish Pop is embarrassingly limited. I’ve heard things, I’ve heard of things, but never really paid attention, unless when it comes to Elefant, and even then, only their more recent releases. It’s been only after Samira that its fervor and comeliness started to get under my skin.

First stop, Annika Records coming out of Barcelona, whose lovely Facebook page I’m currently devouring. Now, I’ve sworn to myself I wouldn’t waste any more money on postage this year, but that proved very hard to stick to. See, I just bought this off them, a double cd digipak comp which must be an indiepop artefact. The cd itself is discounted for a limited time but the postage is …ouch…

The whole thing sounds delicious (I already had mp3s) but the band I was most interested in was Superété. This was the band that Sandra Belda sung in before she took part in California Snow Story. Wonderful singer, reminds me a lot of Melanie Whittle from The Hermit Crabs. I’ve uploaded on soundcloud their only two tracks I could find, one from Roque’s blog (I should’ve known better to pay more attention to him) and one, still coming from Roque I believe, from this blog, once a great source for indiepop finds. Hopefully no one would mind.


Now I’m off to watch the election day specials!

Strange Geometry


I’ve no fucking clue what to talk about.* I come up with a thought or an idea every single morning, I swear, and then I have to go to work and the moment’s gone. Fucking jobs, eating away our time…

The other night I had the weirdest dream. I’m embarrassed to say…oh fuck it I’ll say it anyway. I’ve dreamt about the Lucksmiths many times, as I’ve said before. In many dreams, I see them play live somewhere and I end up married to Mark Mononne. That’s weird cos I’ve never had any romantic thoughts about him or any of the Lucksmiths. But on that one dream, guess who made a guest appearance?! That Gisele woman. What can I say, only yours truly could mix Gisele Bundchen and Mark Mononne in the same dream.

In other unrelated news, I’m still on antibiotics since last year, when this terrible fall-out in my family brought on a bout of bronchitis. I never get sick. Only when I’m extremely upset. Anyway, a couple of things this past week worth mentioning. Or not. Depending on how unhealthily often you visit this blog.

First, I’m sick and tired of hearing the word “underrated”. I’ve seen it a million times about The Go-Betweens but especially this week, when this box set thing came out. Underrated? Trying to solve the “why so underrated”, puzzle when it comes to your favourite band may look like trying to square the circle or understand Euclidean geometry, when it’s really a lot more simple. To begin with, the masses never really appreciated quality. The music fans/journos/media will never cite Go-Betweens next to Taylor Swift. If you ever thought that this would happen, obviously you don’t know much about music industry. Moreover, expecting 10 to 80 million losers to have better taste is impossible, it was always like this and it always will be. Not just in music but everywhere. Besides, seriously, do you want them to like our Go-Betweens? Because they can’t, they’re not made of the same stuff as you and me!

I won’t be boring you for much longer. I just want to say one more thing. I enjoy the search for and hunting down gorgeous pop music everyday and I like reading other blogs a lot more than I like writing on mine (yikes). But sometimes it can get frustrating, when it only lasts for the two minutes of a song or ideally for the duration of a lovingly compiled mix like this, or this. Then you start over. And it’s all too you know, ephemeral. It doesn’t last long. I guess that’s music, right? But, is this the case in indiepop or is, say, metal any different?


*now we both know that was a big LIE

Monday, 19 January 2015

What Would Jeremy Do?

A few years back I mused on what makes The Very Most’s music so joyful. I mean, every TVM song has the “I’m doing the chores but I feel like I’m out in a field picking up daisies” quality to it. That kept bugging me every single time I listened to Jeremy’s songs. In the meantime, I dropped this idea on him, that they should do a cover of a certain song, and I don’t care if you laugh at me admitting to having a soft spot for. A few months later, my wish was granted. It turned up like this:



I know…

Yep, it took a few years and a sad turn of events in my own family to finally unlock the mystery: it’s his three daughters Sylvia, Josie, and Mia and it works like this: every time they hug him they implant a tune in him, a melody, a good vibe which then he makes it into a song. So, I thought I’d interview him and find out if this is indeed the case.

-Jeremy, tell us, is it true, that the joyfulness of your songs channels the happiness and cheer you get from your daughters?

-That's a hard question to answer, but I think you're on to something with that. When I think about why I make music, the first thing I think of is my family. I want my kids to know that the pursuit of beauty is an important thing. I think the love and joy found within my family uplifts each member in different ways and causes us to find our own little way to add to the beauty found on this planet. I make my music. My wife Sarin makes beautiful books, toys, and crafts. My oldest daughter Josie plays the clarinet and piano. My daughter Mia writes some impressive fiction pieces about her current obsessions, and my daughter Sylvia can't stop drawing. (She's determined not to do anything musical, even though I'm convinced she'd be a really good drummer based on her mastery of a video game called Rhythm Heaven).


-What do you think makes your children happy?

-Everyone in our family is united by a love of slightly absurd comedy: The Simpsons, Homestar Runner, They Might Be Giants, Adventure Time. That said, what makes each child happiest is a little different. Josie, I think, is very concerned with being a good person and making a positive impact on the world. Mia might be the most tender-hearted person I know and she just wants everyone, everywhere, and regardless of species, to be happy and safe. Sylvia is driven to achieve and has a competitive streak a mile wide, but she's also really thoughtful and loving when you're a close friend or in her family.


-Another thing that I find puzzling is how the first time I heard your music it reminded me of Australian band The Zebras, now a highly acclaimed band but then, when I made that comment six years ago pretty obscure. I was also happy to discover later that their singer and guitarist is also called Jeremy! Is this a coincidence?* 

-It's no coincidence. We're the same person. It's hard maintaining a job, a family, and bands on two different continents, but I manage to pull it off somehow. (In all seriousness, the Zebras comparison makes me happy. I love those guys.)

-And now, to your next musical project. You’re going to be part of a single series on Dufflecoat Records. How’s that working out? The line-up for that series is truly amazing yet it hasn’t been fully backed. Why do you think that is?

-It's too depressing to think about. It's such a great lineup. There are a few reasons why it's not fully funded yet: not every band is promoting it, there are very few diehard indiepop fans, and the economy still isn't great. Probably the biggest reason, though, is the fact that everyone now gets effortless, free access to music. For a lot of people, music is something that just exists in the environment somehow, not something that you should set aside money in your budget for. Coffee and beer? Sure, let's spend $200 a month on those things. Music? Not so much.


-And how about your new album? Is that going to happen in 2015 you think?

-Well, our controversial synth-pop project will definitely be out in 2015. The next “normal” TVM album will probably be out in early 2016. I'll be sending you previews of the songs though, both as a member of the press and as my dear friend.


-Tell us what your favourite music is.

-My favorite music is ridiculously gorgeous music. Music with the prettiest tunes and best lyrics, lyrics that make you wanna laugh and cry simultaneously. Examples of this include Camera Obscura, Jonathan Richman, Belle and Sebastian, BMX Bandits, and Prefab Sprout. If I had to go for a two word phrase to capture what I love, it would be this: maximum poignancy. Oh, and I love The Beach Boys too.

-Finally, tell us what you think of Tracyanne Campbell

-Tracyanne Campbell is a songwriting genius and one of my favorite singers. I got to drive her and some of the other members of Camera Obscura around Boise for a couple hours. It was a bit surreal seeing her in my rear view mirror where normally I'd see Sylvia.**

*I think so
** :)

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Me olvidarás (You'll Forget About Me)


That’s just great, I got a new obsession now. I think it was Samira who opened this huge wormhole (that’s a tautology though, because what’s bigger than a wormhole right?) and I’ve been enamored with a number of bands who have this Spanish/Latin undercurrent. It appears I’ve even overlooked stuff coming from Elefant Records (my favorite label for the past 3 or 4 years).

The first two I both heard on Roque’s show, Cloudberry Radio and was totally blown away. Firstly, the smooth-voiced sweet-faced Cristina Quesada, whose music I find is the only case where the use of ukulele makes sense in.



Then it was this band, Los Waldners from Costa Rica. My, I can’t believe how great they sound.



And finally this…ah, I don’t remember why and how one click lead to another and I came across this magic… sadly, it proved impossible to track down and buy and I’ll tell ya, these things make it hard for me to sleep! It is a cover of one Jeanette apparently who I’ve never heard before. Hmm, “la voz principal del grupo PIC NIC”, youtube says… Reina Republicana have a new album coming out on March, yay!









Saturday, 10 January 2015

Stay this way Forever (a mix)



Now it’s as good a time as any to quit ranting and post some good music. This is happening via the next mix, which includes: indiepop old and new, retro and retro that sounds like retro, a couple classics…and that’s about it. Hope you like and stuff :)

I’ve got a few things lined up but I don’t know how (ir)regular the posting will be. If you want more updates about what I’m doing/listening (and why wouldn’t you) follow me in one of these places:

Facebook
Twitter
Soundcloud
Bandcamp
Last.fm

Oh right, I almost forgot this: I discovered that I reaaaally dislike that ethereal/shogaze/dreampop thing with gruff male vocals. Yeah…female vocals are so much better, and guess what, at least today, this applies to any type of music!

Tracklist:
The Siddeleys – Sunshine Thuggery
Girlfriendo – Cat Heaven
The Yearning – Gotta Pull Myself Together
PEP – Stephen
Lia Pamina – Whirlwind
Angela Deen – Gotta Hand It To The Boy
Patti & The Emblems – I'm Gonna Love You A Long Time
Trambeat – Soul Force
Marine Life – Big Sur
The Charade – The World Is Going Under
The School – Just Let Me Be
Pop At SummerKiss Berry
Wild Balbina - Eat Tacos
Les Chaussettes – Kate
Palmz – Stay This Way Forever
Big Quiet – Say Yes
Mope City – Small Eye
Crabapple – By Your Side
The Popinjays – Thinking About The Weather [bonus]

I Think too Much


Now, I’ve got a bone to pick with you…

I’m confused as to why this, my best mix by far (according to some people) has such few plays. The same some said the artists were too obscure. I think it is indeed because of that. People are hesitant (except les connoisseurs of course) to take a chance on an unknown artist or indeed few people, pay attention to an obscure blog from a bankrupt country (mine), whose writer has a terrible sounding name (mine). People nowadays want their new “favorite bands” validated for them from hype blogs like Pitchfork (spit!), The Fader, The Quietus, Brooklyn Vegan and… oh well this list that could go on forever. No, wait, I forgot Spin. Spin is da best. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice that bands get exposure and all but I do wonder if this translates to actual sales, word of mouth etc.

I’ve written about artists and said stuff before them many times and I never brag about it (okay, almost never) because I prefer to live in relevant obscurity just like the bands I love who care little about “success”. I’m not going to lecture you anymore; just bear in mind that those fancy sites appeal to people who listened few things besides David Bowie for most of their lives and that you will never, ever, find new indiepop music there. Take a look at my blogroll instead.

I’m most saddened that two songs especially passed you by. How can you not fall in love with my beautiful Samira? She now has become my new fave female vocalist and her voice makes me cry (especially in this song).



She home records as Samira’s Song A Day and I hope she sees this post and make her music NYP because as free downloads they don’t appear in my bandcamp collection!!!

And another one which passed unnoticed, this song in which Samira duets with Nic Hessler, formerly Catwalk, Yay! Records? Ring a bell? No? I thought so…





I wonder if I will ever get over my Nic Hessler obsession and why I like his music so much, but it is so wonderful to live in a world where he completely ignores my existence….

Friday, 26 December 2014

Upside Down (2014 in reverse)

I hope you had a lovely Christmas my dear pals…well mine, since you ask, was quite lovely as I finally got some much needed time to… clean the house. I particularly enjoyed washing the kitchen cabinets hanging upside down to get to the “tough spots” on the bottom cabinets. Ah, wasn’t so bad actually. I had the ipod on and was mentally drafting the lists below.

This, the last post of the year, features:

THE best album, and THE best 7” ep of the year, hands down
A mind-boggling mix of songs
A list of the best albums of the year
A list of the best singles of the year
A list of the best whatevers
The best three meh albums
My New Year’s Resolutions (who cares)
Three quizzes. Get at least one right and I post one of these to you free of charge.


Parts one to three are worth a look and a listen, the rest is me blathering on :) Also, something among all these shenanigans is not true. It happened, but I was not there (that’s quiz #1).


Best album of the year is, indisputably, and by some distance this:


Fun fact: when I recommended this album to Mr. Phil Wilson on Facebook and he said he liked it.


Best 7” ep of the year is The Very Most – Things Too Obvious to Sing. Quiz #2. Whose name is credited on the back cover???!!!!




Now, This is what I call a mind-boggling mix… in that the songs on it catch you off-guard with the vocal, chorus lines, harmonies and instrumentation and once you hear them, it’s impossible to get them out of your head. Let me point out that this can’t possibly be an exhaustive list for the year that was 2014. The quest for the perfect song is a never ending one. But at least we all try right? For more awesome songs released this year please check out the rest of my mixes here.




Tracklist
Samara Winter – Eu e Eu
Habibi - Sweetest Talk
The Primitives – Spin-O-Rama
Fair Maiden – Wait For You
Wharves – Mind You
Nick Hessler & Samira Winter – Can We Start Anew?
Totally Mild – Take Today
Girlpool – Alone at the Show
The Orielles – Hintering Waves
Babaganouj – Bluff
Wild Balbina – Stoned Heart
The Garment District – Secondhand Sunburn
Miriam – My Love Has Gone
Burnt Palms – Open My Eyes
Jessica & The Fletchers – Amelia
The Prams – My Best Friend
Rebel Kind – Baby Baby Baby
Cold Beat – Wave
The Wendy Darlings – Johnny
Tennis – Never Work for Free
Twerps – Conditional Report
Franny & Zooey – I Love You


Now, to the lists. Notice (!) that only ONE band appears in three different “categories” (that’s quiz #3)

Albums
The Zebras – Siesta (see above)

And not in particular order (I don’t have time for this)

Burnt Palms – The Girl You Knew
Alpaca Sports – Sealed With A Kiss
The Yearning – Dreamboats & Lemonade
Rebel Kind – Today
Tennis – Ritual In Repeat
The Popguns – Pop Fiction
The Ocean Party – Soft Focus
Constantin Veis presents The Glamorous Life Savers - Resurrected Elsewhere
Trick Mammoth – Floristry
The Hit Parade – Cornish Pop Songs
The Ocean Blue – Waterworks
Pale Lights – Before There Were Pictures
Watoo Watoo – Une Si Longue Attente
The Wendy Darlings – The Insufferable Fatigues of Idleness
Sugar Stems – Only Come Out at Night
Fear of Men – Loom (hyped, but still…)


7”/EPs/Digital singles
It’s been a great year. But you have to dig. I mean really dig. And if possible get an extra pair of ears.

The Very Most – Things Too Obvious To Sing

and
Math & Physics Club/Monnone Alone Split
Brideshead – The Mermaid
Colour Me Wednesday – Shut
The June Brides – She Seems Quite Free
Gingerlys – Jumprope
Marine Life – Fool of a Kind
Souvenir Stand – Surprise
Wild Balbina - Sisters Before Misters
The School - When I Fall In Love
Lia Pamina – How Come I
My Light Shines For You – Dias De Lluvia
Onward Chariots – Take me to Somewhere
Juniore – La Fin Du Monde
Cat Cat – Trees
The Aislers Set – Big Ocean
Tempura Nights – Whine
Love Cuts & Burnt Palms - Split Tape on Lost Sound Tapes
Persian Rugs – This is OK for Now
Fazerdaze – Fazerdaze
Jessica & The Fletchers / The Prams -Split Cassette
Mitchel Adam Johnson – Half Moon Lane
Trick Mammoth – Doll
The She’s – Dreamers
Trambeat – The City on Fire
Franny & Zooey – Bottled Up And Ready To Go
Palms on Fire – Cars

Best meh albums (sorry!)
Allo Darlin’
Alvvays
Flowers

THINGS/finds/discoveries/whatevers
This postcard
Cloudberry Radio!
This blog!
The Aislers Set reissues
The Aislers Set
This Amy Linton interview.
This Aislers Set live at Holocene, Portland, Oregon on September 23 where I got this t-shirt.



Miguel and Elin doing this and I bet it was Jennifer who picked the song!




The LESIGH zine



Sheila B.




Red Sleeping Beauty comping up with new record in 2015 & the Angergard brothers. One look at them and you get Chrismassy!



Finding the Jacaranda by accident (and remember why Tracyanne rhymed it why the heart’s a lonely hunter)



So many people/friends and artists on pics hugging their pets!


























New Year’s Resolutions (kudos to you if you made it this far)

Win something (no matter how insignificant or trite, just for the heck of it)
Buy a tambourine (not necessarily to become a busker, just for the heck of it)
Confess something (perhaps that, many times, my taste depends on my moods and that makes me unreliable as a blogger)
Buy more records
Read more blogs
Keep record collection neat, tidy and organized at all times
Write many blogposts and be wistful and witty
Listen to a record and never be the same person again
Make more mixes
Make a list
Make a list of lists
Make a bloody list

I’m pretty sure I left something out…See you next year!

Sunday, 21 December 2014

I Just Wanna Hold Your Hand (On Christmas Day)

It’s beginning to look nothing like Christmas here; not that I’m a fan per se, but when you got 18 degrees and it’s bright sunny outside you can’t feel Christmassy. Xmas is for the kids, who enjoy getting presents and putting up decorations and the like. And since I’m not spending Xmas with my niece this year (only New Year’s) I’m only kind of looking forward to four days’ rest and some last minute Xmas (record) shopping. Oh I’m making some end of year lists too. Mostly some stuff largely ignored by what music journalists want you to believe were this year’s best records. I wonder how many of the records being pushed as such would be on their lists if they had to actually pay for them???

Well, enough with the grumpiness for today, might however get on with this again during the holidays, when I’ll have more time. Lucky you! So today I opened up the windows to let the sunshine in, it is actually colder inside than it is outside. Just as well since few people in Greece can actually afford any form of heating, me included. I tell you, the amount I spent on records would be a tiny fragment to what I’d need for heating and I buy A LOT of records.

If you only needed to hear ONE Christmas song this year, it would have to be this one:



It’s a divine song in its own right and Maddie is an angel; the embodiment of the Christmas, or any good cheer spirit. It comes from Elefant’s festive compilation which I just ordered. I know it's a long shot but can it please get here before Xmas?


But why not revisit some more songs I’ve liked in the past but never shared?



This I was convinced was the best one ever. The fact that there are 774 plays of Catwalk in my lastfm profile (and like another 700 unscrobbled) without them ever having released a proper album probably says a lot about… er…, I do not know. But you get the idea. The eagle-eyed and fellow Hessler worshipers (now many in the world I do wonder) might have caught Captured Tracks (I know….) uploading an album’s worth of songs on soundcloud and removing it right afterwards. So that MUST mean there’s a Hessler album coming next year?! Please be so!





An older one from The School, Drummer Boy. Couldn’t find it anywhere to buy it though…




Little St. Nick by The Very Most whose Xmas ep I have on cd and I remember it being the only set of tunes that would put me in the Xmas spirit, some years back. Now, even that, doesn’t seem to work.




A tasty pre-Pale Lights project with lovely female vocals by one Dora Lubin. Where have I heard her before??




The popguns offering is so….The Popguns (pick up their album while you’re there!)


Finally, this delight from The Free Design. Feliz Navidad!

Sunday, 7 December 2014

As Long As I Have You (a mix)



Today’s mix is a little different. It features some of my favourite male vocalists and bands, old and new. The first one is coming soon on a Cloudberry 7”, vocals courtesy of Scott Stevens and lots of reverb. Then we have some folksy/exotic rhythms via Dragonfly Collector which is the new moniker for Clementine Castro (previously of The Camerawalls). Track three is Adriano Ribeiro from Postal Blue and track four is Mitchell Adam Johnson who is a musical genius and is what like 19? You may wanna check out his full band… The Glamorous Life Savers is Constantin Veis who you may know from Greece’s indiepop legends Fantastic Something. The next four are from artists featured here on the blog on various occasions, Jim Ruiz from his album from 2012, and Pale Lights, The Ocean Blue and The Very Most from 2014 releases. Then we go sort of Oceanic with the next five… The Prophet Hens and Cat Cat I wrote about recently, Brisbane’s The Bell Divers who I hadn’t heard from since 2008 and newly discovered The Ocean Party and Tam Vantage (formerly of Pop Singles). The mix closes with Alpaca Sports’ vocalist Andreas Jonsson who just liked our facebook page. Thank you, you’re awesome!

Tracklist (with buy links)

1. Parcel Post – Centimetres
2. Dragonfly Collector – Dragonfly Collector
3. Les Coquelicots – Can’t Say Goodbye
4. Mitchell Adam Johnson – Abbey Brown
5. The Glamorous Life Savers - Sweet Hill Observatory
6. Jim Ruiz Set – Just Believe in Me
7. Pale Lights – Twisting The Knife
8. The Ocean Blue - Ticket To Wyoming
9. The Very Most – Wond’ring
10. The Prophet Hens – High Times
11. Cat Cat – Going Away
12. The Bell Divers - Nine Times Out of Ten
13. Tam Vantage – The Boy Who Always Wins
14. The Ocean Party – Rocks
15. Alpaca Sports – As Long As I Have You
16. Pale Saints – Colours and Shapes [Bonus*]

*to me, this is the best male vocal of all time.

Monday, 1 December 2014

...in Brooklyn, NY


Remember when I predicted Phil Sutton had a cluster of songs hidden in his drawer? Yeah, I’m spooky like that…Again, that was in 2012 and their first album came out in May 2014. What happened there me???

In the meantime, Pale Lights already have a new single which is predictably, jingle-jangly wonderful and it makes me wonder what else is up Phil’s sleeve. I am ready now to make another prediction. He’ll have another album released by mid 2015. Or at least an ep.

I had pointed out then that judging by the first ep, and with the help of Gary Olson, this record was bound to be amazing. As with Burnt Palms, Gary Olson recorded this in his Brooklyn studio, Marlborough Farms (for which up until um… about that time, I thought it was a farm and wondered why the hell a band would use a farm for recording).

Phil has a slightly nasal voice, not overly manly thank goodness, and a guitar sound reminiscent of his most obvious influence, Felt, something that shouldn’t really work for me since I never did get Felt. It seems though many of my favourite artists were influenced by them and in this context, with their own touch added, it does, it really does work. Though not predictably…