Saturday 28 May 2016


Scottish pop famously takes a chunk of its inspiration from America's west coast. Sometimes the traffic goes the other way. Which is where Smiles' debut 7" comes in -  Black Hearts is ringing guitars and punchy powerpop just like Teenage Fanclub's God Knows It's True:

They play a similar trick on Cold Cold Heart - sludgy riffs and loose-limbed solos, like how the Fannies hopped on Dinosaur Jr's, um, bandwagon early on. But these pop songs were made in California - like The Beach Boys (which the clever money says they got their name from), they're sad songs that sound happy.

Sunday 15 May 2016

Grant McLennan gig - some thanks

That went well, didn't it. Huge thanks to all the bands for playing - they were all brilliant, great musicians who each paid tribute to Grant, differently, distinctly, equally engaging and uplifting. And thanks to everyone who came - I know a lot of you travelled a long way. I spoke to many of you after the gig and know you had as good a time as I did.

I've had a lot of thanks personally and on social media, but there were many hands in this. The very least I could do is publicly thank them here.

John Jervis - he designed the flyer, gave me advice on promoting a gig of this scale and ran the merch stall.

Jonathan Turner of The Go-Betweens site who I relied on from the start for his contacts, suggestions and general wisdom. He also has a car and brought the rider to the venue.

Amos Memon for his expert stage management. Everything ran on time thanks to him. He was calm where I would have been flustered.

Bob Johnson, who's managed The Go-Betweens, and Robert and Grant since 1984. He brought old t-shirts and records, put them on the merch desk and then, very generously, said I could keep any proceeds and give them to the bands.  I did just that. And if there were any t-shirts left over I could give them to the bands. I did that, too.

Paul Kelly for designing the very stylish gig poster. Some are still available.

Kris Gillespie of Domino Records for his enthusiasm and contacts book.

My Hangover Lounge colleagues, Tim, Steve and John, who've contributed enormously to the successful running of our tribute gigs the 5 years previously.

That's all, folks
Within 24 hours people were already asking me about next year's event. I'm not doing one.

I started this annual tribute 6 years ago because it seemed remiss no one else was doing one. This event - the biggest by far, on the exact 10-year anniversary of Grant's death - is the right place to stop.

I loved every part of every McLennan gig we've put on. It was the least we could do.

But just because I've stopped doesn't mean you can't start. If you want to host a Grant McLennan tribute gig in, say, Brisbane, Glasgow or New York, please do. Get in touch and I'll put you in contact with anyone I know who can help you. I'll definitely come to any gig you put on.

Maybe I'll do something for the 15th or 20th anniversary. But now, over to you.

Thanks again.

Saturday 14 May 2016

How to do Record Store Day

I didn't do Record Store Day on 16 April 2016. That day I was on a stag do - the groom used to own a record shop. He didn't even know it was RSD. A lot of people really into records aren't that interested in RSD.

You'll have heard a lot of complaints about pressing plant delays in the run-up to RSD, choking supply of new records. The weeks after are no better. I get a lot of emails from record shops about their new stock. Sure enough, the weeks after RSD their 'new stock' is unsold RSD stock. Which is how I find out what I would have wanted if I'd bothered with the farrago.

And which is how I buy what I want at the retail price weeks after the event.

The Hope Sandoval single? Yes, please, I'll have that for £6.99.  You know, that 7" people were paying £30 for on ebay.

Come on, you must remember the Mazzy Star 7" from RSD 2014 that didn't sell out. People were paying £25 for it on ebay, but unsold stock was in the racks a week later for £7.

I've no idea why people were panicking about the Hope Sandoval 7". If the Mazzy Star 7" didn't sell, then there'd definitely be copies of the Hope Sandoval 7" left.

Most RSD 'specials' are released more in hope than expectation. The whole day is really just a bunfight for a few releases by major acts. The rest of it is smaller acts trying to get attention and a lot of heritage acts getting their back catalogue reissued on coloured vinyl. Good luck selling those.

Unless RSD imposes some quality control on its releases and reduces the volume of its output, it's hard to see it carrying on.

You know those pressing plant delays RSD causes? Well, serendipitously this year, two of 2016's best records landed on my doormat  on RSD - Albany by Spinning Coin and Half Hour by City Yelps. Nothing to do with RSD.

Now, if RSD wants what makes records exciting - the thrill of the new, the possibility of future glory, the hunt for the prize - then it should have a long, hard look at its business model.

Friday 13 May 2016

Buy the Grant McLennan tribute gig poster

Want a Grant McLennan tribute gig poster designed by film director Paul Kelly? You're in luck.

There are some left over from the gig. £10 gets you 2 copies of the poster, sent anywhere in the world.

If you're going to NYC popfest and want a poster, let me know and I'll bring some along. That also means I'm away for a week from Tuesday 17 May, so can't get to the post office for a while.

The posters are A2 and printed on high-quality stock.

Edit: now sold out. Thanks to everyone who bought one.

Friday 6 May 2016

Oslo House - Plateau

Omi Palone were the only band in the UK's DIY punk explosion of the last 5 years who knew the really exciting action was in Australia. And even if their sandpaper riffs and gritty approach sometimes leaned towards Eddy Current Suppression Ring - never my favourites - they tempered it with Feelies lugubrious jangle.

Philip Serfaty, lead Omi Palone, has broken out on his own as Oslo House and has taken The Feelies angle  -  more Here Before than post-punk jangle - via modern Americana. And it's magnificent.

Debut single Plateau is hazy psychedelia like Woods' Sun and Shade and soft pop like Belle Adair's most melancholy moments. More, please.

Monday 2 May 2016


As in "like peas" not "penis spelled wrong". Just to be on the safe side, I call them "Pinot" because their serious side - the delicious mauling of George Osborne dressed up as a poison-pen Dear John letter - shouldn't be lost in the smut.

Pinot's (yes, I'm sticking with that) jagged smash-and-grab riffs with simple and effective guitar solos suggests they owe as much to classic rock as punk pop. This is cut from the same cloth - same quality, too - as Mammoth Penguins.

Elsewhere, file them next to Colour Me Wednesday for politics, alienation, instant catchiness and sheer emotional force.

There's a tape. No sleeve, no download code. £5 at gigs. I'm not complaining. They're skint - thanks very much, George - and need the money.

TV Girl - Who Really Cares

TV Girl - Taking Whats Not Yours from Brad Petering on Vimeo.

Songs TV Girl haven't sampled but their brilliant Who Really Cares album of slacker rock, daisy age groove and Euro sleaze reminds me of:

Since I Left You - Avalanches
Loser - Beck
Cut Chemist Suite - Ozomatli
You Are The Light - Jens Lekman
Pumped Up Kicks - Foster The People
Hit - Sugarcubes
Melody - Serge Gainsbourg
Steal My Sunshine - Len

This isn't a list of songs for TV Girl to sample next time. They know what they're doing. And they're doing it really well. If I knew what I was doing I'd be making music not sitting in a bedroom blogging about it.

Bands they have sampled, who I'd never thought of sampling (which, again, is why I'm just listening and liking rather than making):
Frankie Cosmos

Frankie Cosmos is brilliant. I've not stopped listening to her latest album, Next Thing, just as I'll still be listening to Who Really Cares for a long time.