Saturday, 14 October 2017

Early Riser - Currents

The cello is a much underused instrument in pop music. Welcome, then, Early Riser whose mixture of folk-punk and chamber pop features a lot of cello.

Currents is an album that strongly suggests that at a young age Early Riser found REM through Green and Out Of Time - frantic melodies, desperate romanticism and just the right side of goofiness - and then worked back to the Violent Femmes. There's some Suzanne Vega in here as well.

If you relate to acute awkwardness, magnified melodrama and hating your exes, or at least like hearing about those things set to battered guitars and, yes, cello, Currents is for you.




Friday, 13 October 2017

Weed Hounds - Double Life

The American shoegaze revival spluttered to a halt a couple of years ago. Of course, the genre might be called something else now, but I can't find the tunes however hard I look.

Hang out the bunting, then, because Weed Hounds are back after a 3-year break from their debut album. That album didn't kick up the fuss its blissful noise should have done, but it'll be rediscovered by enough people that it's eventually known, rightly, as a classic.

Double Life is more immediate - crashing riffs and gigantic tunes you can hear right away even with the fuzz turned up to 11. It's a mystery why commercial radio has yet to playlist this. Radio directors who want to find out what Alvvays fans are listening to in their bedrooms, and anyone else who loves noisy pop, head this way:

Sunday, 8 October 2017

It's The Mick Trouble EP

Jed Smith, an American musical mimic, has taken on a subject far too obscure for Weird Al Yankovic. This is a quite good impersonation of early Television Personalities, but it's very silly.

This prank record's official line is that Mick Trouble disappeared in the early 1980s, just before he was going to give pub rock's new wave kings Nick Lowe and Elvis Costello a run for their money.

Which is barely credible because this is nothing more than a Television Personalities pastiche. Smith's west London accent is pretty good, but would only fool anyone who thinks Dick Van Dyke's London accent wasn't all that bad.

The lyrics are untroubled by subtlety - take "snotrag in the loo" from a song called "Shut Your Bleeding Gob You Git". I ask you. Mainstream television comics likely did this kind of skit at the time. See Kenny Everett for reference.

The attention to detail is very good - from the trebly punk jangle to the spoken pay-off line at the end of "Shut Your Bleeding Gob You Git", which doffs its (railway driver's) cap to Where's Bill Grundy Now?

But if you really want a song that sends up London's punk scene in the late 70s, look no further than Part-Time Punks by the Television Personalities.

And if you really want a contemporary band that's very influenced by the Television Personalities, head straight to the Real Numbers, whose Wordless Wonder album last year is the real deal. It adds something to the original with its own wit and style. Panache, not pastiche, works.







Friday, 29 September 2017

Mope Grooves - Joy

"The day after we finished Joy (Sept 25 2k16), I checked myself in to the loony bin...I hadn't been to the farm since I was 18 (I'm 27) and I was surprised to learn that I am in fact still mental."
Stevie Pohlman, Mope Grooves

There's been a succession of musical microgenres in the past decade, chillwave and its loose variants, where artists act out their childhoods, or even nostalgia for halcyon days that predate their own birth, using dream-like sounds, cheap electronic instruments and basic melodic impulses.

Which is where Joy by Mope Grooves fits in, but mostly doesn't. Not just because of the flakiness of those microgenres' boundaries - go back 25 years and you'll find bands with a stack of Beach Boys albums and thrift store fx pedals doing similar things - but because the songs on Joy aren't meant to fit in.

These vignettes - most clock in between 1 and 2 minutes - are intense recreations of someone's inner life. Like Guided By Voices, Mope Grooves try to distil The White Album into pure pop songs. Like The Pastels - a while ago now, you understand - they stumble as if that was the best way to get somewhere. And like Television Personalities, it really is the sound of a nervous breakdown.

Even so, I reckon Stevie Pohlman is mostly a fan of Todd Rundgren and all of the tunes on Rhino's DIY: Come Out And Play - American Power Pop compilation rather than any old indie or microgenre stuff.

If these songs are ever nostalgic, it's only because, as a character in Woody Allen's Midnight In Paris says, it's "the romantic imagination of those people who find it difficult to cope with the present”. The album finishes with Flip The Record. You can take it as an instruction, but you'll most likely do just that unbidden.

The sleevenotes are genius, too:
"What do LPs do? Most bands agree they are important, more than the tape or youtube video, but nobody can really justify how expensive and inefficient they are. Nobody asked us to spend 1.5k to wait 4 months to release a record we mastered in November but we did it anyway."

Yes, you could listen to it on YouTube, but you really should buy it. It's a mere $7:

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Television Personalities - Beautiful Despair

In 1988 Television Personalities recorded Privilege. The backing tapes sat in a cupboard for 2 years gathering mould before they were cleaned up for release in 1990. It was their first album since 1984's The Painted Word and their first new material since 1986's How I Learned To Love The Bomb.

Dan Treacy told Melody Maker in March 1990 that he already had the next 2 TVPs albums written. 1992's double album Closer To God took care of that.

Most of the songs on Beautiful Despair are demos of Closer To God songs. Others are early versions of b-sides released later, with the added bonus of a vocal on the previously instrumental I Get Frightened Too.

Calling Beautiful Despair a "lost album" is exaggerating the situation just a little even if there are newly mined gems like the title track. Beautiful Despair is psychedelic angst through a budget synthesiser and can rub shoulders with the very best TVPs, but the pickings on this album are slim.

Beautiful Despair is for diehard fans only. Those fans who can join the dots between the album's other 'new' song, If You Fly Too High, based on a gig the TVPs played with the Lemonheads in 1989, and 1995's Evan Doesn't Ring Me Anymore.

The pricing is a little optimistic. It's £25 for a "Rough Trade exclusive" (coloured vinyl). Seeing how the TVPs reissues did on Record Store Day (not brilliantly) this album won't find new fans. It's charming enough to please current fans, like me - even if my pleasure is dimmed by the acknowledgement that there aren't any true quality TVPs recordings hiding in the vaults.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

The Surfing Magazines interview

The Surfing Magazines album is really very good. They say they like Bob Dylan and Neil Young. I think they've got some Creedence Clearwater Revival about them. We're both right.

And they've got a song, Goose Feather Bed, which uses the Bo Diddley beat. So there are questions. Seven questions, really. Dave Tattersall answered them.


What made you you think, "Man, the Wave Pictures are amazing, but if we got rid of Jonny and had half of Slow Club (Charles Watson) it would put it over the top"?

It can be difficult dealing with Jonny's moods day to day. Like many a great artist before him Jonny can be hard work. Those of you who have seen the Jackson Pollock movie with Ed Harris will know what I mean. For the sake of our mental health, Franic and I decided to take a short break from the fiery furnace of life with an unpredictable northern genius. Unfortunately it has transpired that Dom, who is drumming for The Surfing Magazines, is even more difficult to deal with than Jonny. We have replaced Jackson Pollock with a sort of hybrid of Mariah Carey and Idi Amin. And don't get me started on Charles Watson, who is so unpredictably northern that touring with him is like finding yourself in an episode of Last of the Summer Wine.      

I enjoyed your gig at All You Read Is Love recently. You play quite a few covers. There's Neil Young's Like A Hurricane...sorry, the American Pale Ale was very refreshing. What covers did you play?

Yes, we did Like A Hurricane. We did Vampire Blues, also by Neil Young. And You Ain't Goin' Nowhere by Bob Dylan. And Roll In My Sweet Baby's Arms, which is a bluegrass song that all the country boys used to do, I think Bill Monroe did it and Buck Owens did it... they all did it. And on the tour we have also covered The Man In Me, which is also by Bob Dylan. Mainly we like to cover Bob Dylan and Neil Young. We might throw in a Velvet Underground cover at some point. And Charles has floated the idea of us covering Albatross by Fleetwood Mac, which would be relaxing. 

You're named after The Go-Betweens song, but don't cover it. Any plans to?

No. 

Only one of The Beach Boys surfed. Which one of The Surfing Magazines reads surfing magazines?

None of us. Dom likes to read Viz, or at least look at the pictures. I'm partial to Classic Rock magazine myself. Franic likes Classic Trains magazine, your go-to read if you enjoy celebrating, as Franic does, the 'golden years of railroading' including the North American railroad scene from the late 1920s to the late 1970s. Charles is a Grazia man. 

Do you really think Bo Diddley eats pickled onion Monster Munch? I'm pretty sure that happened, but the American Pale Ale may have interfered with my memory.

If I had to guess, I'd say that Bo would have been a Roast Beef man.

Have you ever been somewhere so cold that your eyelashes froze?

I have not. I've never understood why anyone would go somewhere that cold. These so-called ''survival experts'' are really survival morons. A real expert would stay indoors.

Why do you keep calling me Big Dog?

It is your name.

I think that's quite enough hard-hitting investigative journalism for one day, don't you? So let's relax and enjoy New Day by The Surfing Magazines.

Monday, 4 September 2017

Hand Habits - Yr Heart

A proper music scribe would encourage you to listen to this (very good) song and persuade you, correctly, that you needed to buy it using the following terms: "formerly Kevin Morby's guitarist", "following her excellent, enigmatic album on Woodsist earlier this year" and "warmly intimate".

Some cub reviewer with enthusiasm undimmed by the prospect of a life reproducing press releases as content may well have done just that. I didn't check, to be honest with you. This blog's research budget goes entirely on import vinyl - like this terrific single.

"They call it understanding, they call it vulnerability," Meg Duffy decides on this campfire mopefest. I love it, and you will too if you love the gently psychedelic folk records by Woods and Real Estate. You'll really love it if you're also a fan of Belle Adair and the first Avi Buffalo album.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Marble Gods

Marble Gods’ first 4 songs are forged from gale-force riffs and solid gold pop hooks. They sound best played very loud. The band, almost inevitably, are from Scotland.

They might have taken their name from a Sad Day For Puppets song, but I’d have them as bigger fans of the Lemonheads, Sports, Belly, the Pains of Being Pure At Heart and Dinosaur Jr.

And if I had a club night, I’d have them on a dream bill with their most obvious contemporary sparring partners, Shunkan, Diet Cig and Bruising.

If anything, I expect Marble Gods will get noisier. I expect, too, that they’ll get even better. This is a very impressive start. Ones to watch for sure.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Vinyl is too expensive

Many records cost too much. It's the fault of record labels. Next year, why not rename Record Store Day "Record Label Day"? Some of the "limited" releases like Neil Young's Decade and The Cure's Acoustic Hits went on general release after the event at much cheaper prices.

That's after the labels, and some ebay touts, had made a ton of money. This week, Sandra Wright's Wounded Woman went on sale at £12. That's unsold stock from RSD 2015. What took them so long? Embarrassment, probably. Or hoping that buyers would forget they were trying to flog it for £22.

Don't believe any of the headlines about vinyl's revival. You may remember "Vinyl albums just outsold digital for the first time ever" last December. They didn't. They sold for more money (£2.4m v £2.1m) in one week only but they didn't sell more.

Most of that £2.4m was special purchases for Christmas presents. If you got a box set that you don't want, good luck selling it on. I was in a second-hand record shop on Saturday and the boss was complaining how hard it was to sell box sets. 

One of the biggest selling 7" singles of 2017 is Domino's reissue of Buzzcocks' Spiral Scratch. That's a pressing of 300. Its original release 40 years ago sold 16,000 copies.

You could pay £6.99 for the reissue or get a 40-year-old copy in VG+ condition for the same price. 

All vinyl is limited. There just isn't the market for it to be anything other than limited. Sure, low-run pressings put up the unit price, but some labels are taking the piss.

I yield to no-one in my love for The Orielles but Heavenly pressing 100 copies each of Sugar Tastes Like Salt on 7" and 12" and selling them for £15 is a cunt's trick. It's not as if their previous singles on other labels sold much more than that. 

I know Heavenly hasn't got EMI's money these days, but I'd rather it didn't try to take mine by creating fake demand with overpriced limited editions. 

Most indie labels run at a loss. It's a labour of love. I've got no complaint about their prices. 30 years ago Our Price sold all 7" singles at £1.79. That's £4.62 in today's money. Given that pressings in 2017 are in much lower quantities now than in 1987, each record costs more. But a 7" costs about £5 today. That's good for me, even if it leaves honest indie labels struggling. 

Which is no different a situation for labels - breaking even in 1987 was an achievement then as it is today.

The music business - the bigger labels, really - have got to stop marketing records as a luxury purchase. Otherwise they'll only sell records on Record Store Day and at Christmas to a richer, older demographic. And no kids will buy them. Of course, they're not looking long-term. 

The future is with the small indies who know the value of getting fans buying their records isn't the bottom line - it's to share the joy of music they love and celebrate that excitement by pressing it on vinyl.


Sunday, 20 August 2017

The cassette comeback is over (for me)

Perhaps the logical conclusion of the punk idea in recording was reached in the sphere of 'do-it-yourself' cassette tapes. During 1980, the music press began to publish details of a system whereby for the price of a blank cassette, a reader would be sent a copy of a set of songs or piece of music directly from the performers themselves. Many of these recordings were themselves made at home with only the aid of a single track tape recorder. DIY tapes represented the punk ideal of 'Xerox rock' in its purest form, by utilising technology that was available to, and manipulable by, almost anyone.
Dave Laing, One Chord Wonders
Can we stop pretending that, in all cases, labels and bands are releasing cassettes for non-commercial reasons? The launch in 2013 of Cassette Store Day buried that romantic idea.

Let me be clear: I'm not begrudging any label or band releasing cassettes and making money off them. They've got production and recording costs to cover. And they probably lost a ton of money at their last gig or are sitting on 200 unsold 7" singles.

I'm done with cassettes because I never play them. I was buying them for the artefact and just playing the downloads. And, yes, I do have a tape player. I don't have any romantic attachment for cassettes as a format, unless we're talking about them being the only way to hear music by underground bands. That was the case in the 1980s. It's not now.

I get that cassettes are for some fans the cheapest way for them to have a physical release by a band they love. I'm not knocking that. I'm still buying the downloads, just not the cassettes. In most cases, the cassettes are affordable, but international postage isn't.

Postage rates are hitting all labels regardless of format. Yes, I do have a romantic idea of vinyl, but anyone running a label or in a band making music who doesn't share that romance isn't going to release vinyl. The financial risk is too high. Again, I'm cool with that.

We're seeing the original DIY tape culture explained by Dave Laing embodied in today's DIY underground. Cassettes are cheap and easy, so go and do it.

I did, though, get a little weary of buying a cassette only for it to get a vinyl release down the line. It happened with many of the really good ones. This is a relatively small complaint - I'm genuinely happy that so many bands and labels are making and releasing great music.

Like I said, I'm still buying it, just not on cassette format. I stopped buying CDs years ago - I was a late adopter and never bought many. But I'm holding on to the ones I own. There will be a CD revival in the future. Of that I'm absolutely certain.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Brenton Wood

I'm going to list my top ten 60s soul albums:

This Is My Country - The Impressions
The Four Tops - Second Album
Brenton Wood - Gimme Little Sign

I'll stop there. The list will change any day I write it, but those 3 albums will always be in it. Even if you don't know those Impressions and Four Tops albums inside out, you know many of their songs. Brenton Wood, though, seems to have fallen through the cracks.

This is an error which history really should correct. The title tracks (in the USA this album was released as Oogum Boogum) are both classics, but the album is bursting full of greatness.

There are eleven originals - skinny R&B guitar, footstompers, soft shoe ballads, woozy keyboard - all written or co-written by Wood. Then there's a cover of Psychotic Reaction by Double Shot labelmates The Count Five which confirms Brenton Wood was making a world-first attempt at psychedelic soul on this album.

This album and the follow-up, Baby You Got It, have just been reissued on vinyl. That also features Gimme Little Sign, possibly in the entirely correct belief that it's one of the greatest ever songs and all albums are improved by its inclusion.

They're retailing at the thick end of £30. You could get an original Gimme Little Sign for that (but not Baby You Got It). Put them on your wants list and if you can only ever afford one, get the first.






Friday, 11 August 2017

Display Homes

The only thing missing from Australia's leading role in the international pop underground these past 5 years is a band influenced by Life Without Buildings.

You see, I think that Life Without Buildings' gig at Sydney's Annandale Hotel in 2002 must have lit several fuses. It's that blind devotion to their genius that convinces me they influenced every band (yes, every single band) that was a bit post-punk in the 21st century. 

But apart from a few of Per Purpose's early singles - and even that's a bit of a stretch - those fuses remained unlit in Australia.

I'll suggest that Display Homes have some of Life Without Buildings' chaotic rumble. They certainly share influences - the rubbery bass from the first two Go-Betweens albums, The Raincoats' art-school punk. 

Of course, Display Homes may have only ever heard early Fall records. These things don't matter. This song does. Listen to it:


Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Harkive: a day in the life of music listening

7,25am: I leap panther-like out of bed. There’s no time for the radio. There is time for a couple of songs on the walk to the swimming pool. My latest purchase on bandcamp is the new Shifters single. This is on a British label so it was much cheaper than their last single from the USA. They’re an Australian group. This may be the international pop underground in action or it may be the start of a bidding war.

The Shifters single cost £6 including postage. If it had been from the USA then it would have been 3 times more. Like their last single Creggan Shops was. That was worth it. This new one isn’t as good (most singles aren’t), so I’d have passed if it was £18.

Swimming pool to work. This walk is close to 4 miles. I give the Peter Perrett album another go. It’s light on bangers, isn’t it? As in absent. Apart from an ode to Kim Kardashian’s arse, it’s all love songs to his wife.

I make a mental note to play his last album, which was one of my favourite albums of 1996 (the others were Tigermilk and Denim On Ice since you ask, but there were probably others, it was 21 years ago after all).

This mental note will be forgotten during the day. They almost always are.

There’s still time before work to listen to the 2 advance tracks from Milk Teddy’s new album (which I bought 2 days ago). I must ration listens to these otherwise the album will be a disjointed listen by the time I get it. The songs are amazing though. If you think that XTC played by Roxy Music would be amazing. I do.

I have a quick look at the Twitters after my first meeting at work. There’s a link to an article about Felt’s Poem of the River, so I listen to the album. On YouTube.

I would have listened to this on my ipod, but that’s been out of action for 3 years. I used to digitise all my new 7” singles so I could listen to them out of the house. Now I listen to them if they’re on bandcamp or just not as much if they’re not.

So why buy 7” singles? Habit is the easy answer. The artefact is the more complex answer, which I don’t have the time to unpack here. Oh, there’s sound quality as well. But if you were familiar with some of the lo-fi shit I buy, you know that’s not the best weapon to bring to this fight.

Now I want to listen to Felt’s Goldmine Trash. There are some early singles on YouTube - VU treble, tribal drums - which remind me that 2 art students in Berlin are probably drunk on vodka and having sex to these right now.

Headphones off, because more meetings or interruptions.

Lunch: Conor Oberst’s Salutations. The albums I have on my phone are limited. I put the new ones on and keep them on there if I haven’t played them enough. If they have a download card, of course. I’m not going through that argument again.

Back to Twitter: I’m very pleased to see the Suggested Friends album is ready. I buy the vinyl on bandcamp and stream the 2 songs available now. They’ve been so much better live than on record. I’ve got high hopes. In my fantasy world Ric Ocasek has produced this record. One of these UK DIY bands - Suggested Friends. Muncie Girls, Personal Best - is going to make a powerpop record that goes gold in the USA.

Listening to I Don't Want To Be A Horcrux For Your Soul reminds me of hearing it live last year. I looked up ‘horcrux’ after the gig. It’s got something to do with the Harry Potters, but I forget what. I wonder if thinking of it as ‘whore crutch’ helps the listening experience. It doesn’t.

I check the spelling of horcrux - this blog is nothing if not thorough - on bandcamp and notice that the whole album’s now streaming. I’m going to listen to that.

1 hour and 50 minutes later: meetings got in the way. I console myself with the fact this is how I can afford to buy records. Or waste money on international postage. Something during the meeting reminds me there was a band called Hootie and the Blowfish. Or maybe that was in the toilet post-meeting. I don’t know what they sound like and I’m not going to find out. I suspect I wouldn’t enjoy them.

Right, that Suggested Friends album. Chicken is sort of an Only Ones banger, if I want to link things back to what I listened to this morning. I thought that when I heard it live last year. This isn’t a powerpop album after all. Ric Ocasek must have been busy.

It’s a soft rock album, sort of. Like Ay Carmela! (whatever did happen to them?) and maybe Sheer Mag. Or that’s what I want to think. Maybe they prefer 4 Non Blondes and Guns’n’Roses. We make our own connections as listeners.

*Googles Ay Carmela!* They had an album last year. I remember that now. I didn’t buy it. I must have had my reasons. I expect they weren’t very good reasons. Make mental note to listen to it again, but will probably forget.

I play the Suggested Friends album again. It’s quite short. It’s not light on bangers, is it? I may play this so often that I’m bored of it by the time I get the vinyl. We’re still not going to unpack that buying vinyl instead of downloads argument, but thanks for bringing it up again.

I’ll probably look up what ‘horcrux’ means again, though.

Tube home. I listen to the Sunset Dreams single from a month or two ago. I haven’t played it very much. Haven’t played it enough, it turns out.

Hi honey, I’m home! I stick on Watchout! by Martha and the Vandellas. This is the only 1 of the 5 albums I bought on Sunday that I haven’t played. I know it already as their best. This original cost £15. Every UK record fair has the same 2 or sometimes 3 Vandellas albums for £30-35. The same copies, I suspect. They never sell at that price. Watchout! Is never among them. Who in their right mind would get rid of this gem?

After emptying my bag post-work I find a download card for the forthcoming Mammoth Penguins album. John of the wiaiwya label had given it to me on Friday night. Why hadn’t I remembered? Because I got absolutely twatted. It had been a hard week. I expect this will be a very good album.

Aw, fuck. There are no song titles on the Mammoth Penguins album. I hate it when that happens. I’ll ask John for a refund. Or I would if I’d paid for it.

Anyway, back to Motown. I want to listen to California Soul by The Messengers, which takes me to the Motor City Grooves compilation. This features Barbara McNair’s Here I Am Baby, so it’s a result.

*Uploads Mammoth Penguins album to itunes* Oh, there are song titles. Sorry, John. I was going to make some up. Now I’ve had that idea, I might change all the song titles anyway. I’m playing it now.

Monorail alert me to the reissue of Event Horizons by The Necessaries. I stream it on YouTube. I like it, but I’m not sure if it’s a £22 album (plus postage) to be honest. Yeah, I know, I did mention earlier about sometimes paying £18 for new 7” singles. Using that kind of logic to justify record purchases is a one-way ticket to destitution.

I’ve stopped listening to The Necessaries. It’s not quite good enough.

And I’ve finished my book. I’ve gone back to work (I’m self-employed). This may be it for music listening today.






Saturday, 8 July 2017

Ebay's 6 signs you should keep your record collection

Ebay's advertorial in today's Guardian tries to convince record owners that they should sell their record collection. Ebay are wrong on every count.

There are, apparently, "six signs it's time to sell your vinyl collection". Each of those 6 signs is easily dismantled and reversed. So I'm going to do just that.

1. They treat the place like a hotel
No they fucking don't. They're more than "an ornament to any living room". They're a life history, they tell stories, they're the past, present and future.

Ebay thinks that record collectors have "cardboard boxes strewn everywhere". No record collector does. This is a straw man argument.

 "Sell them for yourself. For the space, for the money, for the freedom." Mate, the only time I've sold records is to buy more records.

2. The generation gap is widening
No, ebay, not all record collectors are DJs. Don't tell me to sell "rave-worthy vinyl and replacing them with something more laid-back". Even if I were the person you think I am (I'm not), I'll decide when I want to move from the main dancefloor to the chill-out room.

Spoiler alert: record collectors have music crossing several genres. We play what we want according to mood, not your rather antiquated idea of age-appropriate genres.

"They need to be with people who understand them now." Yeah, the people who bought them and still enjoy them.

3. It’s like sharing the house with a stranger
The bullshit-ometer needle is really in the red now: "Because your record collection no longer represents your taste in music – it represents your past taste in music, plus a ton of stuff that you bought for reasons that you’ve long forgotten. When these records first came into your life, it was exciting."

Sometimes I play a record I haven't played in 20 years. I might fall in love with its 9-day wonder all over again. It might lead me to something else I haven't played in too long. It'll remind me of things and it'll join the dots with something new I'm listening to.

I'm certain I own records I'll never play again. But I'm equally certain I've no idea what those records are. I'm keeping them all, thanks very much.

4. Something is missing between you
According to ebay, I don't own a record player. Seriously, fuck off. And if you want me to buy records from your site, please don't get people who know fuck all about condition or grading and have got no record player to test them on to sell on your site. Because there's way too much of that already.

5.You’re not spending any time together
What started out as a flimsy proposition is falling apart like a cheap toy. On their fifth point, ebay rehash their second point. Mate, I'm a record lover. I can spot a crappy remix a mile away let alone a few paragraphs apart.

6. They’re spending all their time with younger people
Ebay have packed a lot of bullshit into their final point. I'll rightly unpack these points so they deflate like the balloon at a party no one's turned up to:


  • "Like so many music lovers, you found your tastes by leafing through your parents’ records." No I didn't. Not one.
  • "Some became the germ of your own collection, and now, to your delight, your children have taken a shine to some of your records." Even if the State Sponsored Sterilisation Scheme hadn't intervened and I had children, I'd have those pesky kids disinfected and issued with white cotton gloves before they went near them.
  • "Sell what remains on eBay – and your record player." Hang on, according to point 4 I don't own a record player. Make your fucking mind up.
I've made my fucking mind up. I'm not selling my records on your site, paying your costs, queuing up at the post office and then regretting everything.


Friday, 7 July 2017

The Popguns C88 demos

These 1988 demos have been given a new lease of life. One label turned them down at the time because they were "too professional sounding".

It really was like that back then. Some of 1980s indie harboured the suspicion that not using biscuit tins for drums or hiding musical incompetence under gales of feedback meant wanting to be Dire Straits.

Medium Cool, the label that did sign them for 1989's Landslide single, had to persuade The Popguns their interest wasn't based on the band sharing a drummer with The Wedding Present.

I'm not sure why they were worried about that. 28 years later and I'm still not bored of listening to Landslide's crashing jangle. It sounds even fresher on this remix (where "remix" means the vocals are higher in the mix).

For your £2 on bandcamp you also get one of Landslide's b-sides (Leave It Alone, which always sounds like they'd listened quite closely to the House Of Love's Destroy The Heart), Where Do You Go? from their 1988 flexi (that's where the remix really helps out) and a previously unreleased song, Beat Me Up.

Two quid? Seriously, it's a bargain.



Thursday, 22 June 2017

The Sprinters

You know those "RIYL" blurbs that bands or labels put on their releases? If they were all as accurate as The Sprinters' effort, you'd know exactly when to open your wallet. The Sprinters claim they're like these bands: Ariel Pink, Real Estate, Pavement, Mac DeMarco, Yo La Tengo, Kurt Vile, The Feelies.

And they are. This eponymous debut album is 90s American indie (Pavement's brutal melodies, Yo La Tengo's narcotic noise). It's 1970s radio-friendly hits warped in the California sun (Ariel Pink), post-punk jangle (The Feelies), woozily dazed (see Mac DeMarco) and, hold up, let me swap Kurt Vile for Neil Young. You get the idea.

The Sprinters are from Wigan. They write pop songs like the 1960s have just ended and they're not sure where they're going. 20 years ago this record would have been released by Elephant 6. Rejoice that it's freshly made.



Friday, 16 June 2017

The Rain Parade - Emergency Third Rail Power Trip

The Rain Parade recorded Emergency Third Rail Power Trip in 1983 with the conviction that Eight Miles High, We Can Work It Out and Forever Changes were the 1960s’ most essential artefacts, and that punk’s true legacy was Marquee Moon. I expect they liked Pink Floyd as well, but I won’t hold that against them because this is a phenomenal record.

Bucketfull of Brains named it the best album of the 1980s. Alan McGee tried to licence it for Creation. To know this psychedelic masterpiece is to love it. Over 10 years ago I started working in a second-hand record shop in London. On my first day a woman asked for Emergency Third Rail Power Trip. We didn’t have it.

A colleague told me she came in every week to ask for it. The next week I promised I’d copy it for her. She was delighted. I brought the copy into the shop the next day. The woman never came back. The only explanation is that she’d found a copy in another shop. Her search for the holy grail of modern psychedelia was over.

Real Gone Music are reissuing it in August. You need this album. It includes the follow-up mini album, Explosions In A Glass Palace, which is very good but not quite in the same league. By this time founding member David Roback had left The Rain Parade. Opal and Mazzy Star came next, which you know all about. Or if you don’t, go into record shops every week until you find a copy of Opal’s Early Recordings.


Monday, 5 June 2017

Bonny Doon

I'm not certain how some Detroit garage musicians came to make a brilliant alt-country lp, but l'm delighted they did. Bonny Doon channel Smog's world weariness, Wilco's rich gloom and Dylan's wild mercury sound. It complements 2017's other near-perfect albums, Dag's Benefits of Solitude and Courtney Marie Andrews' Honest Life, with a psych side order of Woods and Real Estate.

What Time Is It In Portland? might not seem like one of the big questions, but it's about lost friends and an ex-lover. Bonny Doon give the subject - romantic chaos and melancholy longing - the gravitas it merits.

They show their garage roots on Lost My Way, though they've opened the door and let the light pour in. They realise what they're doing on the even grubbier Maine Vision isn't quite right so cut that song just shy of a minute.

All the other songs are played at leisure (or more often despair) and given room to breathe. This album is a low-key minor classic.



Saturday, 3 June 2017

Mr. Jukes feat. Charles Bradley "Grant Green"

This is possibly the biggest surprise since Sean Dickson claimed there'd always been a dance element to the Soup Dragons. Jack Steadman from Bombay Bicycle Club has gone to soul sampling and vocals from Charles Bradley with the storming Grant Green.

There's an album, God First, which has some songs as good (or almost) as Grant Green, and a few that mine the jazz catalogue too much for my taste. I expect Grant Green will get a 7" release at some point. It's what happens with the big soul cuts from albums (yep, album first, then 7" for "DJ demand" or maybe "record company bottom line").

Still, Mr Jukes stands up next to the Avalanches, Mr President and Hifi Sean. Stream it, I bet you'll find something you love.

Monday, 29 May 2017

Lab Coast

Lab Coast are the Canadian wing of the Elephant 6 and Kindercore fan club. They make short psych-pop songs that stop when they're on top. They sound like they could be on a bill with Apples in Stereo, Elf Power and Masters of the Hemisphere.

If their name suggests experimentation - not just the lab, but the lab coats anagram - then that's about right. Samples, FX pedals, cello and, yes, banjo rub shoulders. Very possibly on the same song. Like Wurld Series in New Zealand, Lab Coast are picking up DIY music with an adventurous spirit and pure pop hearts.

This album is a sort of greatest hits, or misses, or songs only released on cassette. You see, Lab Coast have been going since 2008 and bewilderingly the world has yet to fall at their feet. They toured the UK last week and I only found out the day after their last gig. Still, this record, though.




Wednesday, 10 May 2017

The Sneetches - Form Of Play: A Retrospective

The Left Banke, Raspberries, Buffalo Springfield, Fred Neil - you can tell a lot about The Sneetches from the acts they covered. They made pitch perfect pop with the psychedelia and powerpop on standby and enough originality to step out of the shadows.

The mid-90s saw a deterioration of classic rock influences with bands playing crude, banal pastiches. But from 1987 to 1995 The Sneetches played it with enough distance and homegrown tunes to come up with their own essentials.

Ironically, they were ahead of their time. Not that many people were interested in the very Beach Boys influenced Sometimes That's All We Have album, even with a Creation reissue in 1989. The heritage rock sound came later from bands who specialised in grandiose overinflation.

If you want something subtler, then The Sneetches are for you. They didn't sell a lot of records and weren't connected with any kind of movement, possibly because there's an honesty and genuine craft to their music. This compilation is a good starting point. It doesn't include 54 Hours, which for my money is their finest moment, but there are plenty of other hits that should have been.



Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Shit Girlfriend or shit Record Store Day

Shit Girlfriend released their fine debut single Mummy's Boy on Record Store Day. You might not have noticed. If you're what's become RSD's core demographic - classic rock fans of a certain age with plenty of disposable income - you definitely didn't notice because you were most likely queuing to buy one of these:


Shit Girlfriend didn't get any extra exposure because they released their splattered-vinyl single on RSD. But raising the single's profile didn't seem to be the purpose. The only benefit I can see is economic because it can retail at about 30-40% higher than normal.

It's easy to point out the hypocrisy in this move if Shit Girlfriend or their record label had been espousing any DIY ethic. If they were then I missed it. What they were doing is what most indie record labels do - release a limited version on coloured vinyl and a bigger run on standard black vinyl.

Indies do this to generate excitement at the tills - or more accurately their mail order department - simply so people buy the record before they get sick of it through endless streams.

Shit Girlfriend's single gets a bigger (or less restricted - honestly, and despite how much I enjoy the record, it's got a shelf life and one pressing was probably enough) release on May 19 on black vinyl. This is a new variation on the sales market the majors pulled in the late 1980s.

Back then labels were promoting CDs against the dominant cassette format (vinyl was already in decline) following the hardback/paperback model book publishers have always done. Pay more, get the better version.

However, the simple fact is that indie doesn't do very well on RSD. All non-heritage rock formats struggle (if you want to know how soul fails, I wrote about that a couple of years ago). This year saw the reissue of the first 4 Television Personalities albums. I don't know of many better albums. Even the 1991 reissues do very well on the second-hand market. But RSD isn't the time to reissue them.

I expect those Television Personalities albums will sell eventually (even if interest in them peaked around 5 to 10 years ago) but until they do they've got the stigma of being unsold RSD stock sitting in shops. The £29 asking price will have to come down to under £20 - the buyers aren't core RSD demographic so the price has got to reflect that.

Maybe next year the indies can take RSD off. Then whatever specials they were planning to do they can instead release just to independent record shops at prices the people who want them can afford. They'll be left with a lot less unsold stock and a lot more goodwill.




Tuesday, 2 May 2017

The Stroppies

Whoever's writing Melbourne's rock family tree has got another branch to work on. The Stroppies are Steph Hughes (Boomgates, Dick Diver), Gus Lord (The Twerps, Boomgates, The Stevens) and some names I don't recognise but are surely already in several bands I must hear.

The Stroppies aren't really about Boomgates' crashing garage rock or Dick Diver's suburban love songs, even if a few of their songs could fit into either of those bands' back catalogues. They're more about reaching out and searching for Raincoats' sratchy suss and Young Marble Giants' sense of space.

There's a tape with 7 songs. Start here:

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Girls in the Garage

The Girls in the Garage compilations make a fun series showcasing the flames that the Brit Invasion spark lit on the USA's young women. It widened its search to unearth gems from Europe (you must hear The Plommons from Sweden Beatles tribute Last Train To Liverpool), Singapore (you do want a version of Yummy Yummy Yummy sung in Chinese) and Australia (you really want Little Pattie's He's My Blonde Headed, Stompie Wompie Surfer Boy).

Some of the albums' liner notes haven't aged that well ("a trip down Mammary Lane", anyone?) but the compilers' enthusiasm and research can't be questioned.

Two of the last compilations were reissued for Record Store Day. I can't really fault the records, but I don't see the market for them. They were offered at £20 each, which is about the maximum you'd pay second hand.

Yes, I know some nutjob paid £91 for Volume 9 Oriental Special, but if I based my financial planning on what someone did once on ebay I'd be in the poorhouse.

Anyway, I'm sure you'll stumble across some of the compilations in the used racks or even unsold stock sitting there in the new releases. There's some novelty, some beat group classics, some surprises (yes, that is Cher in 1964 singing Ringo, I Love You) and a lot of the sound you've heard being made in recent years by the underground distaff scene. This is where it started.



Friday, 14 April 2017

Peter Perrett returns

The last time Peter Perrett released an album, 1996's Woke Up Sticky, it was at the top of the year's best releases.

The 3 albums he made with The Only Ones from 1978 to 1980 set the template without which the Manic Street Preachers would have been a pub rock band, The Libertines a Kinks covers band and The House Of Love stuck at home listening to Bob Dylan outtakes.

Perrett releases a new album, How The West Was Won, on June 30. The title track owes something to the Velvet Underground's Sweet Jane, but that didn't stop me ordering the album. You just know that many of these new songs will be freshly minted classics.

There's no word on a tour. Did you see The Only Ones live 10 years ago? Brilliant stuff. Perrett, though, is unpredictable. He had to be smuggled out of America, seven dates into a 20-date support tour with The Who, after deliberately running over a six-foot Chinese car park attendant who had been hassling him.

If there won't be any Perrett gigs, then perhaps his new label Domino could form a tribute band. A young Johnny Marr got kicked out of The Only Ones’ dressing room more than once. Robert Forster sang The Only Ones’ The Whole Of The Law at his 2010 “15 songs about London” gig, mimicking Peter Perrett’s louche drawl perfectly. He then offered his services as a singer if anyone was going to start an Only Ones tribute band.

Friday, 7 April 2017

Rocketship - Outer Otherness

It’s fair to ask why Rocketship haven’t released a pop classic as insistent and instant as I Love You Like The Way That I Used To Do, I'm Lost Without You Here or Hey, Hey Girl in the last 20 years. It's fair to answer that no one else has either.

Outer Otherness finds Rocketship in krautrock territory using what sounds like a 1980s drum machine sparring with a hypnotic, mournful keyboard tune last seen on a beach in Ibiza when everyone was coming down and marvelling at the mysteries and wonders their altered minds had conjured.

Even if *that* doesn’t quite get you unfurling your TUNE! banner it will get you holding up a scorecard declaring “NINE OUT OF TEN AT LEAST” before sticking it on repeat.

This is a split 7” single with Pia Fraus (from Estonia, geography fans) who trade in a superior line of blissed out shoegaze, all airy melodies like Wild Nothing and celestial psychedelia like Melody’s Echo Chamber. They’ve been releasing records since 2001, so I’ve got some catching up to do because this is a very good sound.




Friday, 24 March 2017

The Lucksmiths - how to tour on a budget

The Lucksmiths did their first European tour supporting Belle and Sebastian in 1998. They wrote to them asking to play, then flew from Melbourne to Amsterdam just in case they got the gig. They did.

They then toured the UK on their own, signing ('signing') to Fortuna POP! the following year. The Lucksmiths became experts at touring on the cheap. This involved scavenging bagels from dumpsters, getting a brewery to sponsor them and asking audience members if they could sleep on their floor after the gig.

"We'll have to go on forever, as we can't do anything else. We might have to be like ESG and get our children to be The Lucksmiths 20 years down the track."

This was 2002. The Lucksmiths are now all parents. The family band prediction is on.


Sodastream interview

Sodastream explain how they turned down a Blanco y Negro record deal for Tugboat so they could be on same label as Low.

This interview was published in TNT magazine in 2003 when they'd signed ('signed') with Fortuna POP! and released A Minor Revival.

I spoke to Pete Cohen last night. The excess baggage for the double bass was only $500 this time. There may be a kickstarter or a bucket handed round at tonight's gig.




"I grew my hair and discovered Smoke On The Water"

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Wurld Series - Air Goofy

Things I suspect Wurld Series have:
  • a collection of obscure psychedelic albums
  • some old effects pedals held together by packing tape
  • Mr Big The Medicine Man’s phone number
Thing I know they have:
  • a confrontational tape of tuneful noise
That tape is Air Goofy on the consistently excellent Melted Ice Cream label. It’s dispatched in a shrugging ‘take it or leave it way’. I’m taking it. It’s really quite brilliant. I bet they know that. How could they not?

I know - believe me, I know - a lot of bands are compared to Guided By Voices, but with Wurld Series it’s right on the button. They take Robert Pollard’s  “four Ps”, pop, punk, psych, and prog, and make hook-laden songs that have more ideas in them than some bands manage in a whole album.

And some of these songs are under a minute long. Oh, in case you’re worried about the prog thing, the longest song bows out in under 3 minutes.

Wurld Series even manage acid folk on Regional Perspectives and temper The Fall’s raging lunacy on AH’s 56th Dream. I’m still finding things in these songs. They’ll last.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

I Love Your Lifestyle - Fire

Punk's fire and fury with pop's instant bite and hardcore's melodic mayhem. It's a win-win-win situation. They boast guitar proficiency even if this is DIY, like The Only Ones did in punk's amateur hour, and it sounds great.

I can see them fitting in with British acts like Shit Present or Playlounge, all shredding guitars and chaotic tunes.

I Love Your Lifestyle (it's either an emo band name or sardonic, either way I'll pass on the t-shirt option) have a great way with song titles and waspish lyrics. Try their debut ep I Was a Loser in School or Nice Jacket. Not. and No Time For Major Fuck Ups from last year's album.

Friday, 17 March 2017

Dag - Benefits of Solitude

Another year, another great album from the Australian underground. Benefits of Solitude is a country record - despondency and alienation in equal measures - and an indie album looking to Microdisney's terminal doom and the wan light of early Smiths singles.

It's in the current Australian tradition of The Twerps - see also Lower Plenty, Ciggie Witch, Grandstands - and their kindred spirits Real Estate. Benefits of Solitude was in the same record bag this week as the new Real Estate album - even if the latter's In Mind is a welcome return to their best form, I know which one I prefer.

There are so many great songs on this album. Like a boxer I'm not knocked out but dizzy from the blows. I can't yet pick a favourite. Some of these songs will stay with me for years. Try this one for starters:



Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Foxy Morons

The sound of the suburbs intensified. The frustrated teenage dreams of living in a commuter town amplified by living in Tasmania, an island 150 miles away from the Australian mainland.



This is spare music, simple and brittle like the Marine Girls with a wayward punk spikiness like The Slits and broken-down strumming like The Cannanes. Each song only uses about 3 chords because that’s all they need to. It works.

Under The Sea might have a little too much in common with Girl Ray's Trouble - quite possibly coincidentally, so I won't hold that against them. These are early days and it sounds good whatever way you hold it up.

Home suggests where they might go next. It takes the Modern Lovers-style two-note twin engine guitar and keyboard drone of Mainland and turns out a woozy keyboard recalling Quasi’s Featuring “Birds”.

But Mainland tells us one of this 5-piece band has already gone. So this might be the last we hear from Foxy Morons (I know, the band name isn’t the greatest joke in rock history, but that seems to be a thing with Australian bands).

There's quite a Tasmanian scene at the moment. Unless Unity Floors’ Moving To Melbourne becomes the new Australian underground's anthem, it's a window to watch.


Sunday, 12 March 2017

How to win Fortuna POP! gig tickets

Rough Trade are offering a pair of tickets to the Fortuna POP! farewell gig to the person who (best, I presume) answers the question "Who's the best Fortuna POP! band & why?"

Let me help you here. I have form. Some years ago, Rough Trade were offering a bag to the person who best explained what records mean the most to them. Sean was desperate for the bag. Times were tough before the Pains Of Being Pure At Heart royalties came in.

Among my suggestions were "I'm on My Way" by Dean Parrish, because it was the traditional closing song at the Wigan Casino. And Fortuna POP!'s tagline is "more soul than the Wigan Casino". Which is a line from Bob's Brian Wilson's Bed. So I suggested that as well.

Sean won the bag. Did he thank me? Did he fuck.

Anyway, out of the same altruistic (mine, not Sean's) spirit, I've separated the FPOP! discography into bands who might help you win, and those who won't.

Oh, before you write your competition entry, remember that Sean's a sensitive boy. He blushes easily:
As the bass player in Airport Girl I find it difficult to be overly ethusive about our records in these mailouts. As anyone who knows me will tell you, I am virtually ego-less, possessing a sense of modesty similar to that of Mahatma Gandhi.
Bands you should write about for the competition
The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart
Allo Darlin'
Mark 700
The Butterflies Of Love
The Lucksmiths
Sodastream
The Mountain Movers
Let's Wrestle
Withered Hand
Mammoth Penguins

Retirement homes
(bands Sean gave the kiss of life to, sorry that image pains me too)
Comet Gain
Tender Trap
The Primitives

Band too early for the Luscious Jackson revival
Cannonball Jane (or how that Le Tigre comeback could have sounded better)

One-offs
(file under whatever happened to)
Taking Pictures
Mogul
Discordia (there were releases on other labels, should've have been bigger than DJ Shadow)
Mick Travis (they couldn't have been bigger than Tompaulin, but it was worth a try)
John Sims
Cinema Red and Blue
Karl Smith

Bands named after songs 
(It worked for Biff Bang Pow! but this isn't Creation)
September Girls
Cocoanut Groove

Also worked for Creation but not Fortuna POP!
Airport Girl - the label's Oasis. Two brothers...actually, it was really Rob Price who let Sean play the same bassline for every song at gigs; in the studio, Rob played the actual basslines.

Not really Fortuna POP! bands, they were on other labels (at least that's how I think of them don't @ me)
The Aislers Set (nothing not to love)
Spraydog (it seemed like every label had to release a record by them in the late 90s - they were good, but it was a long time ago)
Bearsuit
Chain And The Gang
Crystal Stilts (that first album still sounds phenomenal)
Peter Astor
Would-Be-Goods
Club 8
The Pipettes
The Wave Pictures
Tullycraft
Milky Wimpshake
The Proper Ornaments
The Ballet

Bidding war losses
(before Fortuna POP! upped their promotional and recording budgets, some bands fucked off after making brilliant debuts)
Fanfarlo
My Sad Captains

Bands stolen from other labels
(after Fortuna POP! had a promotional and recording budget)
Shrag
Tigercats

Bands inherited from Track & Field
Homescience
The Loves
Herman Dune
Darren Hayman
The Ladybug Transistor
Steven James Adams (sort of)

Bands I can't remember very well
Finlay
Twinkie

Band with a drug dealer on speed dial* so all touring bands' favourite support act
The Chemistry Experiment (*allegedly - don't sue me, I know some of you are responsible parents with respectable jobs)

Darren Hayman bands
Darren Hayman & The Secondary Modern
Hayman, Watkins, Trout & Lee
Darren Hayman And Emma Kupa
Darren Hayman And The Long Parliament
Darren Hayman

The DIY years
(actually, any of these might win, they're current and fahionable and very good)
Martha
Chorusgirl
Joanna Gruesome
The Spook School
Evans The Death
Flowers (alright, Bernard Butler produced them, but they're noisy and I've run out of categories)






Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Download cards with vinyl are wanted

Some record labels are grumbling about including download cards with vinyl pressings. Given the low redemption rates - between 5 and and 25% and dropping all the time, according to a survey of labels by Vinyl Me Please - it's easy to see the labels' frustration at the additional cost.

The alternatives, though, are either prohibitively expensive or inconvenient. I'm not prepared to pay Spotify £120 a year to stream music I already own. If they have it, of course.

YouTube is free to use, but you can't access any other apps if you're listening to it. Yes, I know it's a visual medium, but I don't need to stare at an album cover for 40 minutes.

Record labels have a different idea about the value of downloads than the record buyer. They want our email addresses so they can spam us with their newsletters. No thanks.

If you're demanding a download is sent to an email address, many people use an old hotmail address that they never otherwise check. If as happened last week, you demand a name and email address but I get the download directly, you'll get something like this:


Direct email marketing doesn't work. Labels know how effective download cards are. Before bitching quite so much about download cards, perhaps they can share the efficacy of their email marketing.

There are many better ways to reach fans - if I like a band or label, I follow them on Twitter. I don't need an email as well.

Some labels know this, of course. Which is why they let you download the album via one of your social media accounts. So they can use your account to harvest more contacts for their spam. Mate, I only want the Loyle Carner album download, which I've paid for, you don't get anything in return:


We know that technology drives music consumption. So when people had an ipod they had thousands of MP3s. Someone left a comment on my blog a few years ago claiming authority on music because he had over 100,000 MP3s. He reminded me of the young man I met at a party who had 11 Jonathan Richman albums. Great, I thought, we've got plenty of common ground to chat. But he'd never played even one of them.

The people who want downloads now are music fans. Storing them on a separate hard drive (or several hard drives) is fiddly and expensive, but still cheaper than a year's Spotify membership.

Unlike that student who had thousands of MP3s he's never listened to, I have a job. This means most of my music listening is done either commuting or at work. So I find the download card very important.

Of the 3 albums I bought last week, I've played the one without a download card the least. If I really loved that album I'd have digitised it so I could play it more. Which reminds me, sometimes the album really isn't very good, which is the only time I don't use the download card.

It's worth labels using quality as a metric - did the unsuccessful albums have a lower download rate? If so, they might just not be very good. The buyers have spoken.

What's never mentioned is that a lot of CDs come with download cards. This isn't so weird when you remember that a lot of people use laptops without CD drives. The CD is about the same price as the download, so they may as well have a CD for back up purposes, and because they want a physical object.

I don't know what the answer to this problem is. I know for sure that if labels stop making download cards then the saving won't be passed on to the buyer.

I do know that a centralised streaming service like Spotify isn't the answer for me. Free access to the album on a streaming service for vinyl buyers might work.

Free download at point of purchase from the label, which Numero Group do, doesn't work unless you live in the same country. You know about overseas postage rates, right?

And the answer is definitely not 'fill in this postcard with all of your details then pay for a stamp and post it to us' which Rough Trade tried in 2006: