Tuesday 27 March 2018


When people talk about a new band from Glasgow, I listen. Same way I do if they're from Dunedin or Melbourne. It'd be reckless not to. Especially when that band features members of Breakfast Muff and Spinning Coin.

Enough biography. Tell me what they sound like
Post-punk without the scratchiness. Misery and melody. They're the only band to realise that the first two Go-Betweens albums inspired Life Without Buildings' Any Other City, one of the key British albums of the last 20 years.

I'm basing all of this on one song, but it's a bloody good song. You should hear it.

Yes I should. Let the music play.

How am I supposed to find a band called "Hairband" on The Googs?
No idea. The Hit Parade do okay, so maybe it'll work out. Although I am hoping they say in an interview that "if anyone finds our music on the internet and listens to it, that's a bonus".

I'm told they've already signed to a label with some experience in the dark arts of marketing and social media, so we must hear more soon. We really must.

Can you end this torture by tying it in with some other Scottish bands?
I thought you'd never ask. Hairband are on the Glasgow Nights compilation in aid of Money Advice Scotland, alongside luminaries such as Franz Ferdinand, Mogwai and The Pastels.

Sunday 25 March 2018

Mope Grooves v the Marine Girls

So many bands are compared to the Marine Girls even though they don't really sound like them. The comparisons are more about a certain DIY simplicity, being physically trapped in the suburbs as the imagination roams free, a sonic sparseness, an ideal of doing what you want mistakes and all where the mistakes make the perfection.

And yet no bands cover them, apart from Unrest, once. It's obviously not through musical intimidation. It's more likely the Marine Girls in their teenage self-obsession created a spell that can't be broken. Even though they weren't fantastically original they didn't sound like anyone else. Okay, pedants, maybe the Raincoats a bit and those usual suspects the Velvet Underground.

Courtney Love told Tracey Thorn: "Kurt always wanted to do a cover of that song of yours, ‘In Love’." I'm sure that wasn't in the mind of Mope Grooves' Stevie Pohlman when she covered In Love for their new album, Vanished.

It's a shuddering, ramshackle interpretation that sounds enough like Mope Grooves - or not like the Marine Girls - to matter. If any other bands fancy overcoming their nerves, there could be a fascinating tribute album.

Saturday 24 March 2018

Roxanne needs an answer film

At 14 years old I was going gold
While I was putting dope hits in the mix
Ripping shows with Kane and Biz Markie
Fucking up Roxanne and taking out Sparky
Niggas came in flocks from blocks and blocks
To watch the Rox knock bitches out the box
And every place I played, I headlined

Those few lines from Shante's Big Mama do a better job of telling her story than the dramatisation of her life, Roxanne Roxanne. Or dramatisation of part of her life, 1984 to 1989, just before the release of her first album, so we don't even come close to 1992's Big Mama.

After the success of the four-part documentary Hip-Hop Evolution, it seems counter productive to sacrifice the music of a hip-hop great at the altar of domestic drama. The film starts promisingly with Shante's rap battle prowess, but that's just a set-up for a lot of reality-TV style back story.

When Roxanne's Revenge hits, the film focuses on Shante's alcoholic mother's reaction to finding out her daughter is being talked about. Shante is on the radio and in a local paper, but there's no mention of the record selling 250,000 copies in New York alone.

Calling the film Roxanne Roxanne, after the song that inspired her to write Roxanne's Revenge, is a mistake. It fortunately leads the way open for an answer film - a documentary focusing on a hip-hop great, her music, her rivals and her influence. You could call it Roxanne's Revenge.

Monday 5 March 2018

Birdie - Bowling Green: the truth revealed

Bowling Green was originally scheduled for release as a split single with The Clientele’s On A Summer Trail in 2014 on a label I co-ran, the Hangover Lounge.

At the last minute, Birdie pulled it, saying they weren’t happy with the mix. It would have been perfect for the label because it’s a hymn to Clerkenwell and environs, namechecking the Hangover Lounge’s venue, The Lexington, and its final resting place, the Betsey Trotwood.

Instead, we got Spiral Staircase, which they’d released 14 years earlier on their debut single. I didn’t think this was right and wanted to pull the release, or just have it as a one-sided Clientele record.

My colleagues disagreed. One of those colleagues, John Jervis, runs WIAIWYA, who are releasing Bowling Green. It’s only fair, then, to give everyone who bought a copy of Spiral Staircase/On A Summer Trail a free download. Right John? “Fuck off.”

Okay then. Paul Kelly of Birdie, how about I upload the demo to appease the masses? “Away with you, satan's dark messenger.”

Righto. Truthfully, Bowling Green is perfect for any label interested in releasing the very best popular music, especially if by ‘best’ you mean ‘Laura Nyro transplanting her Stoned Soul Picnic from Central Park to central London’.

A few years before we’d released Birdie’s first new material in 10 years, A Message To The Sun. Just before we sent that to be mastered Paul asked us not to release it. I managed to talk the perfectionist down that time. The label decided quickly and unanimously to use A Message To The Sun as the lead track on the second Hangover Lounge ep.

Like A Message To The Sun, Bowling Green was one of the songs Birdie recorded in 2002 for a planned third album. I’ve spent the best part of a decade trying to get them to finish that album.

It might yet happen. I started cajoling Paul and Martin Kelly into reforming East Village in 1996. A mere 19 (NINETEEN) years of browbeating, flattery and begging later, they played one song, Shipwrecked.