Welcome to your weekly catch up on the “This Is How It Feels To Be Indie” radio show hosted by Adam Jeffery on Radio Scarborough. Adam was back in the hot seat this week after missing a show by taking a trip out to see The Bluetones in Leeds. And in case you’re wondering, we do have evidence that he was in fact at the gig and not skiving off as there’s photographic evidence of him with last week’s Vigil victim (sorry – participant) Mark Whitworth. I have to say, this is what I enjoy most about the online indie community; lots of new friendships have been formed due to our mutual love of music.
Anyway, back to the show. I have to point out here that Adam was attacked by some technical gremlins last week and the upload of the show to Mixcloud didn’t work very well. We seem to have lost all of the chat from Adam (a few tweeters thought this might be a good thing anyway…) but fear not, at least all the music is here, which is it’s all about anyway. The Indie Vigil and Johny’s Lost Indie Classics also survived the gremlin attack.
Have a look at the full track listing on the Indie Radio Facebook page to find out the rundown which included the likes of Supergrass, Gene, The Family Cat and Shed Seven amongst others. If you are on Facebook, please give the page a “like” and share it with your friends.
The weekly feature of “The Best off a Best Of” (hosted in conjunction with Everything Indie Over 40) was a particularly difficult one this time for a lot of people, me included. It was The Singles by The Bluetones and to find a “best” song was pretty damn hard. In the end the winning song was “Bluetonic” and of those folks who voted for it on Twitter (including me again) the winner of a glamourous EIO40 t-shirt was Matt Jones (@maffrj). Congrats to Matt!
Now, this week’s Vigil belongs to someone on Twitter who is a bit of a mystery. The gender of the person in question has been the subject of many tweets, with myself and Dawn Bovingdon being convinced it’s a lady whilst some people think the person behind the twitter handle @0151Omski is in fact a man. Well, I can now reveal (although not quite exclusively as this is going out after the show) that our friend is in fact called Tracey!
And now you all know! So let’s find out a bit more about Tracey Holyhead before we go through her song choices:
I’m an exiled Midlander who came to Uni in Liverpool and never left. There has been some debate on twitter as to whether I’m a man or a woman; I can reveal that Nicola and Dawn are right, I am a woman. I’m an ex-Goth who can’t seem to get out of the habit of wearing black (the exception being those purple gig boots!) I went to my first gig when I was 11 years old (Adam and the Ants at Birmingham Odeon), got the bug and have carried on ever since.
Let’s see what Tracey has picked as her three tracks:
The Teardrop Explodes – “Bouncing Babies”
Starting off with something from my adopted home town of Liverpool, from somebody who also came here from the Midlands, The Teardrop Explodes. I’m a huge fan of the Archdrude and my biggest regret is turning down the opportunity to see the Teardrops at Birmingham Odeon on the Kilimanjaro tour. I’ve made up for it since though.
The Fall – “There’s a Ghost In My House”
This was borrowed by a band whose biggest hits have been covers of other people’s songs. This band splits opinion in the Indie Over 40 community. It’s John Peel’s favourites The Fall and Ghost In My House. (I once got taken to Heaton Park to visit Fall photo shoot areas of the park and then went to the pub where they shot the video for this song – uninteresting Fall fact).
The Vryll Society – “Air”
Really tough as there’s so much good music out there at the moment; I’ve gone for something local. The Vryll Society – Air from their new EP Pangea. They’re going on tour in October so catch them if you can as they are fantastic live. Their frontman, Michael Ellis, is a cross between Bobby Gillespie and Tim Burgess.
Some great songs there I think you’ll agree. Big thanks to Tracey for not only sharing her track choices with us, but for also revealing her real name!
Remember, if you want to get involved email Adam at Adam.firstname.lastname@example.org and include why you’ve picked the songs and a bit about yourself so we can feature your story on these very pages.
Listen in to the show next week to find out who will be featured in the vigil and then come and join us for a debrief along with a replay of their tracks.
Wild, ebullient garage indie-pop deserves a place in everyone’s heart. Especially when it’s as captivating and distractingly melodious as “Get Bummed Out”, the new single from Sports. From their second album, All of Something, it’s a gleefully revved-up run through of an externalised inner-monologue, taking the listener through the highs and lows of a dream(ed) romance in double-quick time.
All Of Something is out on October 30th, on Father/Daughter records. The 12″ is available as three different vinyl variations: 150 on Gold Vinyl, 250 on Gold & Purple Splatter on Ultra Clear Vinyl , and 200 on Virgin Black Vinyl. Preorder from Father/Daughter or Bandcamp.
“Translucent Amber” is the debut release by Swedish folk rock band Mountains of the Moon. As debuts go, it’s up there with the loveliest and the warmest. Softly picked acoustic guitars are met by close harmonies, peace, love and misunderstanding. After three minutes there’s a brief but controlled burst of fire before the song’s fade. Beautiful.
Mountains of the Moon came to life in the autumn of 2014 after lead singer Adam Huttunen and producer Martin Zaar started working together in their Stockholm-based studio. They later added bass player Jessica Tjörnmark and drummer Alexander Lund, and started work on their independent debut EP.
“Translucent Amber” is taken from the band’s upcoming EP Overgrown, due out this winter.
Ruth is the first track from the self-titled debut EP by Wedding.
Written and recorded by the normally Manchester-based Thomas Craig with New Yorker Zachary Taube during the pair’s time in Germany, Craig says of the recording:
A lot of the warm nostalgic elements came from watching a cold grey Winter turn to lovely Berlin Spring and the feeling of possibility that came with that.
The self-produced EP was recorded to tape-machine, which might answer the questions in your head as you listen to its honest irregularities. This is analogue in every chewed-up, warped sense of the word. You’ll hear in it that blissed-out Mac DeMarco guitar sound as the decades flutter by on the breeze of the song’s ever-present slides.
“Wedding” is out on October 16th, on RIP Records. It will be a cassette release, of course. (You’ll also be able to get it digitally).
There’s a myth in the nostalgia industry that paints each decade in different colours. Reality is rather more blended. The 1960s witnessed great change, socially and culturally: by the middle of the decade, four-fifths of UK homes had a television, and they had shows like Ready Steady Go! and Top of the Pops to watch. It was even OK now to borrow your servant’s copy of “Lady Chatterley’s Lover”. But just as the world didn’t suddenly become neon-lit and full of yuppies and shoulder pads the moment the last chimes of 1979 were heard, neither did London become a swinging flash mob twenty years earlier. And no, everybody was not too busy discovering sex…
Take the first number one album of the 1960s, The Explosive! Freddy Cannon, by Freddy Cannon. It was the first time in the UK that an album by (that 1950s creation) a rock ‘n roll singer had topped the charts. “The greatest decade in the history of mankind” had begun with what now seems a throwback, its style and joyful abandon utterly modern in its day, but now closer in tone to the music hall era, where some of its tracks had originated, than any present day rockism.
Some time passed, roughly ten years in fact, before the decade closed, appropriately given their cultural dominance of the day, with The Beatles atop the charts. Although Abbey Road wasn’t the final Beatles studio album to be released, it did mark the last time the four were all fab and recording together. Earlier that year they’d made their famous rooftop appearance, the band’s last public performance.
And when the decade was over, The Beatles had scored 10 of its 13 biggest selling albums. No other artist got close: only the soundtracks to The Sound of Music, South Pacific and West Side Story outsold any albums by The Beatles in the 1960s. It’s no wonder people have long agreed that we’ll never see the like of it again.
Which is absolutely fine by me.
Whether it’s Monopoly or 50 Shades of Grey, I can’t stand a runaway leader. It’s just not possible for that one thing to be so outstandingly brilliant in its field that it naturally and rightfully kicks all competition to the kerb. Magnified through the rose-tinted spy-glass of time, you end up with a cultural landscape that appears blandly homogenous. Take 1966, the year London did finally swinging, the year a World Cup victory was achieved. In 1966, a total of four albums topped the chart. Four! They were: The Soundtrack to The Sound of Music, Aftermath by The Rolling Stones, and Rubber Soul and Revolver by The Beatles. And you thought 1991 was a tiresome struggle, with Bryan Adams taking up most of the summer and autumn on top of the singles chart, and Simply Red on their way to having the best selling album two years in a row with Stars. 1967 wasn’t much better – you had The Monkees (two albums), The Sound of Music (again), Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (for half the year), and Mr Val Doonican (Val Doonican Rocks, but Gently).
So, not a lot of variety, and a runaway leader.
The other thing I can’t stand is being told what to like, and there’s an awful lot of that about when it comes to the ’60s. Eat your greens, learn your musical history, respect the icons, it’s all derivative, that modern music, it’s all been done before you know, and better. What do you mean you don’t like The Velvet Undergound? And what’s that enormous elephant doing in here?
Ah, yes. I was coming to that.
You see, I own Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Of course I do: it’s a statistical inevitability given the size of my album collection. I also have a copy of Rubber Soul, although I’ve listened to it maybe twice. And yes, Revolver is in there, too. And I love it.
After I got into the madchester scene and baggy indie in the early 90s I found “She Said She Said” on Revolver, and my mind was, to use the modern parlance, a little bit blown. it seemed to so perfectly encapsulate the sound I loved, with its percussion bouncing all over the place, the constant presence of that lead guitar melody, and lyrics you could drop seamlessly into any number of indie-pop hits.
And then Revolver goes and closes with “Tomorrow Never Knows”, and Freddy Cannon, kicked to the kerb, lies in the gutter looking up at the stars, wondering which gave birth to the new sound. They appear to be dancing, laughing, but it could just be the LSD talking. And while I’m feeling confessional, The Blue Album and The Red Album (I much preferred the latter) were among the tapes in my Dad’s collection that I most frequently played. Nothing quite matched a Buddy Holly compilation, I found, but since tragedy took him in February 1959 he’s not a part of this story other than for us to wonder what might have been, what his incredible talent could have stretched to, and how pop music could have been his to shape for years to come.
But apart from The Beatles, what have the 1960s ever done for me?
My confused feelings about the 1960s are best summed up by a compilation album I bought, probably in about 1990 or 1991, seduced no doubt by the budget price. Top Ten Hits of the 60s was a 1988 album released on the Music For Pleasure label. It contains 16 hits of the decade, by artists ranging from The Animals (“House of the Rising Sun”), The Hollies (“Look Through Any Window”), The Beach Boys (“Do It Again”) to the hippy sounds of The Flower Pot Men (“Let’s Go To San Francisco”), and not one but two appearances each by Cliff Richard and The Shadows – together on “In The Country”, and separately with “The Twelfth of Never” and “FBI”.
Yes, that’s two Cliff Richard appearances. Whether or not he appears on either of the Now! compilations I own that puts him, in terms of number of tracks I’ve bought, ahead of The Velvet Underground and The Who. Until last year it would have put him ahead of Marvin Gaye.
For no discernible reason of continuity The Temperence Seven’s 1961 number four hit Pasadena is also included. A nine-piece who based their sound around old-time jazz, they rose during the trad-jazz revival and were sunk along with so many others by the Beatles behemoth.
So, apart from misjudged cheapo compilation purchases and Revolver, what have the 1960s ever done for me?
Well, there’s this, for starters:
If you don’t know The Box Tops, and despite the huge success of “The Letter” in 1967 it’s possible you don’t, the kid out front is Alex Chilton, later to become lead singer of Big Star, a band second in influence only to The Velvet Underground, and who I found through listening to Teenage Fanclub and from seeing their name referenced by the likes of Michael Stipe.
And then there’s some of my favourite albums – albums I’ve been listening to since I started exploring beyond the scattergun and feeble offerings of Top Ten Hits of the 60s, like Astral Weeks (1968) and Blonde on Blonde (1966). Songs that never seem to grow old, like “Wichita Lineman” (Glen Campbell, 1968), “She’s Not There” (The Zombies, 1965), “San Francisco” (Scott McKenzie, 1967), “Castles in the Sand” (Jimi Hendrix, 1968) and “California Soul” (Marlena Shaw, 1969).
There are artists that have grown old, but whose music from the 60s can still electrify, like the hard not to love Neil Young, whose ’60s output alone puts many to shame: from Buffalo Springfield…
……to his solo / crazy horse releases
There’s Simon & Garfunkel, who provided in The Graduate (1967) one of the finest movie soundtracks of all time, and whose 1968 song “America” evokes the spirit of frustrated freedom as well as any. I was thrilled in 2003 to see them live, their differences reconciled for long enough to charm audiences once again. They even brought out The Everly Brothers for a mid-set performance, so that was two legendary duos from the 60s in one night.
And there’s Nick Drake, about whom I could write another thousand words (it’s ok, I won’t) without blinking or pausing, and whose debut album Five Leaves Left was released in the Summer / Autumn of 1969. I was handed a copy of Drake’s third and final album Pink Moon (1972) by a friend at school one day. He wasn’t a friend I can ever remember talking about music with, he just handed me this CD with the words “I think you’ll like this”. He was right, but I don’t think he could have anticipated the extent of the obsession he was helping to create.
It still feels like a select shortlist, but every time I think about it, I think of ways to lengthen it. And this is really only a snapshot of a decade based on the parts that I’ve fallen in love with at one time or another. And it’s not just strictly limited to music. As well as The Graduate, there’s the emergence of James Bond on screen through the decade, and Lindsay Anderson’s “If….”, a tale of anarchic rebellion set in a public school. This in turn led me to the fascinating Missa Luba, the Sanctus from which features prominently in the film.
I’d always had this feeling that the 1970s had more influence on my musical soul, but I’m less certain of this now. True, the influence on my ’90s and future indie tastes seemed to flow more from that decade: Big Star were active in the 1970s; it was arguably Neil Young’s greatest decade; ’60s David Bowie had little impact compared to his later output. And yet, there are moments when the 1960s creeps in. There are nods to it in a lot of jangly indie-pop and Britpop, and even instances of overt mimicry: compare “You Don’t Understand” by The House of Love (1992) with “I’m a Man” by The Spencer Davis Group (1967) or “In The Country” (1966) with “Wrapped up in Books” from Belle & Sebastian’s 2003 album Dear Catastrophe Waitress. Krautrock, which has inspired wave after wave of new music, was a 70s innovation, but one with some links back to the 60s: like Bowie and Young, Can released their first album before the decade was out. Stevie Wonder, whose Songs in the Key of Life has been a favourite of mine since being turned on to it by Giles Smith, had already had nine Top 40 hits in the UK by the end of the 60s. Those hits include “Uptight (Everything’s Alright)”, a Motown classic that still sounds dazzling and fresh 50 years on. You can make the same claim for many of the classic Northern Soul sounds that I adore.
So what HAVE the 60s ever done for me? Apart from give me one of my favourite films, one of my favourite soundtracks, one of my favourite artists, a great part of my musical education growing up, and starts for other artists who would go on to influence the music I listen to for decades to come, that is?
Well, nothing, really.
Note: This piece was originally written for and appeared on Music vs. The World, in April 2015.
I’ve said it before, and with great certainty I know this won’t be the last time: sometimes you just can’t beat simple things done well. At first, “Everything”, the second single from LA’s Swerve, sounds like it might be taking that idea a touch too far, but it’s all part of a greater plan. As the song develops, a little extra riff gets added here, a harmony is dropped in there, and new vocal melodies are found here, there and everywhere. By the end, you’re listening to a full-on exhibition of top-notch indie guitaring in the ’90s Brit-style.
Swerve is the creation of Los Angeles based songwriter Gregory Mahdesian. Officially formed in early 2015 with drummer Casey Baird, guitarist Ryan Berti, and bassist Brandon Duncan, the band are gearing up for a big 2016: expect festival appearances, a debut EP, and who knows how much more…
Atmosphere. By God there’s some of it floating around at the start of “Soak”, the new track from Liverpool’s Cavalry.
Special. Makes you feel part of something, or something that’s about to be. Something you want to stick around for. A touch of Elbow album-opener about it, or “New York Morning”.
Confident. To place elements far enough apart to act independently, but close enough to react together without being forced. To build a story and a momentum, then change it up at the halfway point and do it all again.
Catch Cavalry live this Autumn:
30th September: The Shacklewell Arms, London
15th October: The Eagle, Manchester
For anyone into the melodic end of the shoegazing and dream pop spectrum, the sound of Lost in These Machines – a new track from Butterfly Child – dropping languidly from the heavens 17 years after their last album, could be chill-inducing.
This is one of those times when music surely is sweet anticipation: textures both vocal and instrumental, and perfectly summed up in the track’s press release by the description “euphorically melancholic”, revolve around a goldilocks beat that’s just the right size to complete the whole soundscape.
When I started working on the record I happened to find the same drum machine that I used on the old Butterfly Child records from the early 90’s at a thrift store for £10. I enjoyed the simplicity and lack of options it presented. Even though I rarely follow this train of thought, sometimes less is more.
Lost in These Machines is taken from the album Futures, out on November 27th 2015, on Dell’Orso Records.
Back in March we featured the powerful and stunning “World on Fire”, from Lila Rose. The track was a force all of its own, but then later in the month a video was released that added even more intensity (and co-incidentally / embarrassingly, we described it as “stunning and powerful”).
“This Could Be Ha”, taken from the same album (We.Animals) is more of the same in the sense that it repeats on both counts: yes, it is stunning; yes, it is powerful. I’m not ashamed to stick to those same words again, although I could add thoughtful, intense, cinematic, dramatic… you get the idea.
The video for “This Could Be Ha” features two figures – The Seeker, played by Lila Rose, and The Ego, played by Daniel Garcia, who also conceived, directed, shot and edited the video. Full screen it, sink into it, savour it.
Here’s “not the Spectre theme” by “not Sam Smith”. Can we just all agree now that it would have made a better choice than his insipid warble?
Now, some people, almost all of whom I predict would self-identify as Sam Smith fans, have come out in defence of “Writing’s On The Wall”. Me, I couldn’t make it all the way through, falling about thirty seconds short and quite unable to withstand the onslaught. It’s so stereotypically Bond-themeish at the start as to pass beyond parody into the secret garden of the egregious. And then it threatens to launch into Earth Song, and there are weird Will Young bits. But not good Will Young. “Do you expect me to listen to this?” I silently cried. But answer came there none. Sam Smith claims (perhaps unwisely) to have written the song in only twenty minutes. Remarkably, a single listen seems to go on for much, much longer. And, incidentally, when you say you wrote it in twenty minutes, presumably you mean the melody – which starts off plain and veers off into something that sounds like mostly improvised – and the lyrics – which I don’t recall (sorry), but which I’m guessing are from the fall / call / wall school. I’m guessing you didn’t also arrange all the instrumentation in that twenty minutes, though, because that bit is both difficult and quite good.
“Spectre”, on the other hand, is about averagely Bond-themeish, with strings, a touch of brass and plenty of drama, and a last-minute maelstrom. Despite being quite a bit longer than Smith’s track, it feels a good deal shorter. They’ve also figured out how to get the word “Spectre” and variations on the rhyme into the song without having to resort to Goldeneye-style madness. Bravo. Although I still think a lyric about “Jody Scheckter, Tax inspector” would have also been viable.
Waking up this morning and listening to Sam’s song felt comforting because nothing in the world had changed. The cat yawned, the wallpaper was still there and Sam Smith really must regret telling everyone he wrote it in 20 minutes; it shows.Spectres
Cheatahs have shared another track from their forthcoming second album Mythologies, due out at the end of next month.
“Signs to Lorelei” follows and matches “Seven Sisters” in setting anticipation pretty high for the full-length release. A rough diamond in contrast to “Seven Sisters”, and if everyone will excuse the dated musical references for a moment, where that track had tones of early Catherine Wheel in some of the guitar work, “Signs to Lorelei” offers up Ride-like vocals alongside its wavering instruments, themselves sounding like loose experiments in recording to tape.
The band says of the song:
“Signs to Lorelei” began with a synth melody that Marc created, around which the rest of us composed our parts. It came together remarkably quickly. Essentially a bedroom recording, it has a hopeful quality to it which I really like, and is one of a couple of gentle moments on the album. It’s one of my favorites. The Lorelei is a rock on the eastern bank of the Rhine near St. Goarshausen, Germany. In German folkore, Lorelei is a mermaid (or Rhinemaiden), who is referred to in Germanic art and literature.
13 – BROOKLYN New York – Cameo (The Loving Cup)
14 – BROOKLYN New York – Silent Barn
15 – NEW YORK – Pianos
17 – NEW YORK – The Bowery Electric
17 – NEW YORK – Pianos
20 – CAMBRIDGE Massachusetts – The Middle Downstairs
21 – MONTREAL Quebec – Divan Orange
22 – TORONTO Ontario – Silver Dollar Room
23 – DETROIT Michigan – Majestic Theatre
24 – CHICAGO Illinois – Subterranean
25 – SPRINGFIELD Massachusetts -The Outland Ballroom
26 – DALLAS Texas – Club Dada
27 – AUSTIN Texas – Sidewinder
28 – PHOENIX Arizona – The Rebel Lounge
29 – SAN DIEGO California – Soda Bar
30 – LOS ANGELES California – The Echo
03 – SAN FRANCISCO California – Rickshaw Stop
05 – PORTLAND Oregan – Analog Theatre & DRD Records Little Theater
06 – SEATTLE Washington – Barboza
07 – VANCOUVER British Columbia – The Media Club
08 – VICTORIA, British Columbia – Upstairs Cabaret
09 – BELLINGHAM Washington – The Shakedown
17 – SHEFFIELD Picture House Social
18 – MANCHESTER Soup Kitchen
19 – EDINBURGH Sneaky Petes
20 – LEEDS Wharf Chambers
21 – BRIGHTON The Green Door Store
From the opening words – “Girl you suck!” – it’s pretty clear where Not As Cool As Me is going, emotionally speaking. And goes and goes, and doesn’t let up, until what you have, curled and vicious, is the song you’ll play next time you know it’s over and you’re not going to let it lie. Or when you’re well and truly trousered and you’ve made a horrible mistake that you’re going to have to work pretty hard to undo the next morning, which will not be easy on account of the absolutely stinking hangover you’re forced to swim through.
I love this, by the way. Probably could have made that clearer in the first paragraph.