Saturday, 23 March 2019

Record Store Day 2019: a very small wants list

Every year I dip my toes into the Record Store Day saga by making a list of what I want, or, you know, wouldn’t mind having. This year’s wants list is especially thin. I’m going to talk myself out of buying most of these.

Van Morrison - Astral Weeks Alternative
The 4 extra songs from the CD reissue. What, I wonder, is so good about Madame George (Take 4)? I don’t know what take is on the original album. Maybe this take has an exciting flute solo. I’m pretty sure I don’t need a longer version of Slim Slow Rider. I definitely don’t need to relieve myself of £22 for alternative versions of 4 songs.

Pete Rock - Return Of The SP-1200
How many times have I played my double vinyl copy of Mecca And The Soul Brother (Instrumentals)? Not many. Could I buy Pete Rock’s PeteStrumentals and PeteStrumentals 2 for the same price as this juvenilia? Yes, so I may as well. Thanks for the reminder, Record Store Day.

Dexys Midnight Runners At The BBC 1982
Fuck it, I’m just going to buy this.

Nikki Sudden and Dave Kusworth - Robespierre's Velvet Basement
Record Store Day aka expensive vinyl pressings of bonus CDs. Yep, I’ll buy this as well.

Soccer Mommy - For Young Hearts
January 2018, I went to a gig at the Lexington I was certain would define music for the year ahead:
Honey Harper
Snail Mail
Soccer Mommy

Honey Harper were my favourites, but their output remains one EP. Snail Mail and Soccer Mommy put out albums which I didn’t warm to, but many went wild for (I know, there’s no accounting for my taste). Soccer Mommy’s first tape, her best recordings, on vinyl? Don’t mind if I do.

What I really want
A new Honey Harper record. New music by new bands.

What I really wanted last year
No shops had I Am The Cosmos by Chris Bell. Plenty of ebayers did. It changed hands for silly money, then calmed down. Which is what happens every year. I got one this week for $10 from the label. There's a lesson there that won't be learned.

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Tight Knit - Too Hot

Too Hot is a one-shot at dirty garage pop glory and it works. Maybe like Deers they’ll conquer the world or like Destiny 3000 burn out in victorious flames with just one record.

And if you think that sounds good, you must listen to Want You which is no ordinary b-side. Hitting the midpoint between insistent post-punk and ragged indiepop (Beat Happening’s Cast a Shadow or The Pastels’ Baby Honey, say) this is essential.

Tight Knit sound like they’ve thrown every ounce of everything they’ve got at this record as if it might be their only chance. As someone once sang, when you ain't got nothing, you got nothing to lose.


Monday, 25 February 2019

Dumb Things

That's dumb things as in the line from The Go-Betweens' most moving love song, Apology Accepted: "I used to say dumb things, I guess I still do."

Similarly, Dumb Things are from Brisbane and their album is more proof that the very best tapes get a vinyl pressing. They're part of the increasingly countrified Australian indie sound - file them next to Dag, The Twerps and Grandstands.

Their woozy rock sometimes recalls the rustic beauty of Pavement's Crooked Rain. Maybe the lazy, insomniac California sunshine is the same in Queensland. Listen to No One Comes Around for proof.



One of the quietly pleasing outcomes of Australia's vibrant underground this past decade is some bands - Lower Plenty, Dick Diver, Scott & Charlene's Wedding most obviously - showing their Paul Kelly love. His time hadn't come for the previous generation of hip Australian guitar bands, but if anything his folky songwriting and balladry is now an overt and very welcome influence. I can hear it in Dumb Things.

Yes, Paul Kelly does have a song called Dumb Things, but since that's not his finest moment, I'm sticking with The Go-Betweens as the influence for the band's name.

Monorail are the only UK stockists.

Sunday, 24 February 2019

The Anemic Boyfriends ‎– Fake I.D.

Nothing feeds the sound of the suburbs quite like alienation, parental discord and isolation. It's the same sound and spirit, only magnified, when it's made in Alaska.

The Anemic Boyfriends' teen rebellion anthem is the sound of Alaska, 1981. Our heroine is "getting tired of sitting around bored with nothing to do" because "you can't go out and party when you're only 15". So here's what she's going to do:

Going to find me some guy with a real big car
A ton of mascara and my real tight pants
Cos I want to go out and get drunk and dance

It's fabulously slutty like The Cookies' Girls Grow Up Faster Than Boys and owes as much to Suzi Quatro's glam pop as it does to new wave's bare-boned catchiness. Hozac are reissuing this 7". You're going to want to buy it.


Thursday, 7 February 2019

Sporten Ar Dod

They were the Swedish Dolly Mixture - three schoolgirls certain that punk’s greatest legacy was The Undertones’ second album, Hypnotised, and now you mention it The Jam made some pretty good singles.

In 1981 Eva, Ulla and Asa made a tape of songs about chocolate and boys. There’s a hymn to Twixes (Raider), a primitive, passionate tribute to Bruce Foxton (sample lyric: Bruce, Bruce, Bruce, Bruce, Bruce….you get the idea) and a pagan tribute to John Peel (disappointingly, this doesn’t go John, John John…). That’s side 1.

Side 2 is a 1982 live recording proving, like their studio effort, their tinny trebliness was equal to the Swell Maps and they’d obviously been listening to the Raincoats. Sporten Ar Dod (Sport Is Dead - man, these girls hated PE at school) are DIY punk forged in the blind devotion to some other bands and declaring their love by forming a band.

And even if they only knew a handful of chords, that was enough. This fine reissue by Fördämning Arkiv, the new reissue branch of I Dischi Del Barone, captures their spirit. As someone once said - you know who, I suspect; Sporten Ar Dod swore their young lives on it - teenage dreams, so hard to beat.


Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Body Type

The obvious starting point is Beach House, bedroom pop with the curtains open. Slightly less obviously, they want to be the Cocteau Twins and a 1970s AOR band (I'm going to say Wings, but I might be making things up).

Most obscurely, they remind me of a certain Sydney sound I was certain was coming through 4 years ago in The Cathys and Black Springs. Superior jangle, muffled beats and the very real possibility that the only dolewave band they gave a shit about was Scott & Charlene's Wedding. Okay, Dick Diver as well.

There's a video for Dry Grass featuring Lindy Morrison. They're keeping very good company.

Friday, 4 January 2019

Cornelius covers The Pastels



Before he strode the world as a remixer to the stars, Cornelius was rather more indiepop. There may in fact have been none more indiepop than Cornelius's first band, Lollipop Sonic.

Not only did they cover The Pastels' debut single Heavens Above on tape, they released the Talulah Gosh inspired Goodbye Our Pastels Badges on a flexi. And then had another flexi disc.

That was 1988 and 1989, when they changed their name to Flipper's Guitar and signed to Polystar. The flexi disc songs turned up on their first album, Three Cheers For Our Side (did I mention they were a bit indiepop?).

Years later Keigo Oyamada became Cornelius. During the Bowlie festival in 1999, I met Cornelius. The VIP area wasn't policed. I was rather in my cups and found myself in his chalet. His interpreter translated my enthusiasm for Lollipop Sonic and Flipper's Guitar. Cornelius was horrified. He plied me with CDs and other merch in lieu of hush money.

Or he just wanted the pissed bloke out of his chalet.

Of course, by this time Cornelius and The Pastels had remixed each other's work. But this 1988 cover is where it started.