Lazy Sunny Day – Annemarie
Kicking off part two of the March mix with this forty two second treat for the tweepop kids. From their ABC on TV set for Music Is My Girlfriend/Plastilina Records, this is the sound of the Indonesian indiepop underground, and if you like your guitars jangly, your drums cake box tinny and your vocals brittle and naïve then this is for you. Personally I struggle to listen to too much of this kind of thing in one sitting (it’s something like how I imagine overdosing on candyfloss would feel) but in perfectly succinct small doses like this cut, it hits the spot like a laser guided spangle.
Brand-New-Life – The Pines
There are those who would slot The Pines into a tweepop slot too, but I’m not one of them. For me, The Pines rise above all attempts to categorise and as a result they produce what is simply sublime and classy music. And that’s sublime and classy in the way of, say, Blossom Dearie, Anita O’Day or the Boswell Sisters. It’s got a lot to do with Pam Berry’s voice of course, which as any self-respecting indie-hipster will tell you is legendary. But it’s also as much to do with the way Joe Brooker’s vocal partners Berry’s, is to do with his exquisitely restrained guitar work and the shared aesthetic that the two of them have. The Pines are the sound of being in love with a time before the spectre of Rock emerged to soil the Pop dream; are a glorious glance back at a 1950s daydream lived through old advertisements and thrift store clothes. The twenty track It’s Been A While set on Matinee collects together some of their finest moments recorded between early 2000 and 2004. Many of these cuts were released on limited edition releases on small but perfectly formed independents, with two, including this perfect cover of a Young Marble Giants gem being previously unreleased. Essential listening, and no mistake.
Frankie Quinn – Tibi Lubin
Glasgow’s Tibi Lubin have been pretty quiet since their delectable I Don't See You As A Dead Girl album of, gosh, can it really be nearly three years ago? That is scary. Well I’m delighted to say that they are back, back, back! ‘Frankie Quinn’ leads off a sparkling three track 7” single on the Aufgeladen Und Bereit label. It’s pressed in pale lemon yellow and sounds as sprightly as it looks. Tibi Lubin are still marvellously like the Marine Girls meets Mo Tucker behind the bike sheds, trading the kinds of old 1950s records that The Pines are so similarly in thrall to. Imagine Susan from Gregory’s Girl playing The Chordettes and The Hi-Los in her head as she dances on her back in the park under the wide East Kilbride sky, and you’re getting close.
Fallen By The Wayside – The Left Outsides
Now I have a soft spot for The Left Outsides of course. Their Leaving the Frozen Butterflies Behind EP remains one of my favourite 3” releases from the I Wish I Was Unpopular label, and indeed the title track from that crops up again on their self-released And Colours In Between set. Ten tracks of sweet and gentle pysch-folk that carries the scent of an England that can so often feel lost and illusory. It’s the same kind of mythic England that the likes of July Skies, Gravenhurst or the Kinks have imagineered; a land of Stanley Spencer and Evelyn Waugh landscapes as viewed through the kaleidoscopic vision of The Chocolate Watch Band. The album is a mesmerising journey through a green and possibly pleasant land populated by faintly menacing characters in badger skins and fox masks. Just remember what happens at the end of The Wicker Man. These mediated memories of England might seem gentle and peaceful but there is a dark undertow here that unsettles with a glistening edge of death. The lighthouse shines bright and pure above the ghosts of wrecked ships; the sparsely beautiful moor hides the skeletons of bloody battles. This 200 copy limited edition set is certain to sell out fairly quickly, so get in quick.
Us And Our Friends - Tall Firs
Having shared bills with the likes of Sonic Youth and Oneida, you might think you know what Tall Firs are going to sound like. If you think they’re gonna come over all idiosyncratic and naturally strange then you are spot on. If you think they are gonna blow your mind with electrifried noise then, uh, think again. For their eponymous debut set on the Ecstatic Peace label is a masterpiece of restrained downbeat contemporary rock that whispers and breathes so lightly it’s almost not there. It’s a haunting record of heartbeats and harelips, the sound of the wind caressing guitar strings and candlelit whisky glasses emptied alone in the early morning.
Yawning Blue Messiah – Lou Barlow
Perro – La Jr
Two tracks courtesy of the fine people at Acuarela. You all know Lou Barlow of course. Whether it’s via Sebadoh, Sentridoh, Dinosaur Jr. or Lou’s Wasted Spaces, unless you’ve consciously blinded yourself to the world of American independent Rock in the last fifteen years or so (and I know those who have!) then you’ll have a soft spot for at least one of his manifestations. His five track Mirror Of The Eye EP is an Acuarela exclusive, and it’s a mighty fine record that shows Barlow to be at the peak of his powers. Rough edged diamonds that glisten in the mire. I could say ‘I don’t normally like this kind of thing, but…’ but I won’t. Because actually I do.
I know a lot less about La Jr than I do about Barlow, but I like their Dos Casas set every bit as much as Mirror Of The Eye. There is something of a bleak post-rock feel to the album, like Slint wandering in the Alpujarra. There is also something of Tindersticks’ morose seduction, which is nearly always a grand thing to experience. Place this set next to Tall Firs’ and you have a couple of fine collections for late night / early morning cinematic memoir making. Close your eyes and picture your scenes.
On A Gloomy Evening – Lite
Speaking of cinematic, Tokyo based instrumental band Lite’s Filmlets album on the Transduction label is obviously filled with such moments. Again, it’s got post-rock and math-rock leanings and at its best reminds me of the fluid backing to some of The Playwrights finest. Not something I’m going to be playing on repeat, but for a few tracks to drop in to mixes for some textural punctuation, this album is just the thing.
There Is No One Who Can Tell You Where You've Been – Butcher Boy
There are more hints of Tindersticks on the debut album by Glasgow’s Butcher Boy. All the indie hipsters know (about) Butcher Boy, for John Blair Hunt has been ploughing the furrow for the independent underground via his National Pop League night for several years now. Camera Obscura even wrote a song about it, and Belle And Sebastian did their album launch for Dear Catastrophe Waitress with a pop quiz there. All well and good then, but what about Butcher Boy? Well, this is where John puts his Pop obsessions into practice, is where he collects the references from his fascinations into songs that speak of hollow optimism and heady melancholia. All of which means that by rights I should really love this album. The references to the likes of Felt, Tindersticks and early Smiths are all ones that should have me nodding my head in approval and adding Butcher Boy to the list of names on my imaginary pencil case. Trouble is, I can’t. Trouble is, the Profit In Your Poetry album (from the uber-hip How Does It Feel To Be Loved people) pretty much passes me by. It fails to engage or enrage. I mean, I know it’s ‘good’, but… it’s just not for me. Give it ten years and I’ll probably dust it off and wonder why I could possibly have been so deaf, blind and stupid, but that’s the way it’s always been. Many others will rave and delight, whilst I sit and scratch my head apologetically in the corner. So be it.
Goodbye – The Loves
So how could I resist ending my mix with a track called ‘Goodbye’? Especially when it’s by a group as glorious as The Loves. They also have a track called ‘How Does It Feel To Be Loved’, which is a neat connection to the Butcher Boy track of course. Don’t you just love these links? Both that track and this are on the latest Technicolour set (on Fortuna Pop) from the Cardiff based group with the notoriously fluid lineup (25 members having come and go, and counting…) and if you have not yet picked it up, I urge you to do so at your earliest convenience. For The Loves make psych-garage-bubblegum-pop that’s infectious and hugely enjoyable, and Technicolour sounds exactly as a record with such a title should. Sparkly bright and outta sight.
© 2007 Alistair Fitchett