Saturday, 30 April 2011

McAlmont & Butler - "Zoom"...

Steve Horry introduced me to "Zoom" about a month ago.  I'd never heard it before!  And I love this McAlmont & Butler version.  Bernard's playing is so, as always, amazing.  He's just got it - feel, style, and great melodic sense.  I still don't get all these guitar players who just play the chords (except for Johnny Ramone ; )  David McAlmont's voice is equally as awesome.  I've been alternating between this and his excellent collaboration with Michael Nyman. And what they say about the state of pop music at the beginning is equally true today, though I imagine it probably holds at any given time.

And here's the Fat Larry's Band original:

Friday, 29 April 2011

Lifestyle - "Wedding Day"...

This song seemed fitting for today : )  From Lifestyle's* long out-of-print 1998 debut "At The Risk Of Sounding Pretentious".    I'll  be posting more about Lifestyle in future but 'Pretentious' is amazing, the record that showed me it is possible to mix humour and pop music and have it actually be good.  Every one of these songs will be lodged in your head for years to come.  I remember going to the record release in October 1998 and was so blown away by the intensely out-of-place-for-almost-anywhere (certainly a bar in Allston, MA) 11-person spectacle of what I had just witnessed that I left in silence, speechless.  I usually like to, if I've met the band members before, tell them I enjoyed the gig, which I did, immensely, but after the over-the-top-ness of the performance, I didn't feel any sort of communication was possible ; )

 Wedding Day

And the "You're Gonna Make It Today" video from the album:

*2 free download albums there, including the songs "Come On" (my favourite song of last decade), "Shopping for Music", "Everyone's In Love", "Sound", a cover of Scott Walker's "Duchess", and lots more HITS.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Ian Catt - 'Katmandu'...

Just found out Ian Catt (Saint Etienne, The Field Mice, Trembling Blue Stars producer/collaborator) has put up his long lost solo album at Corporate Records.

From Ian's website:
9/03/11 -  In the mid-90's I recorded a solo album under the moniker KATMANDU . The original release on the now defunct Vinyl Japan label is very hard to come by, though copies do turn up on Ebay now and again. I regularly get asked if it's still available and get fed up with saying "no", so I have arranged a download only release on Corporate Records. If there is sufficient demand I may produce some CD's with the original artwork. In the meantime you can hear it here. A few tracks are free, the rest are a paltry 80p each, or £7.00 for the album. There are also TBS and Etienne mixes of "Welcome To California" in the archives somewhere. When I find them I'll put those up too.

Ian also used his magic recording my H Bird, rock stone & AUNTIE albums and EPs.  Those last two are free if you want them.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

'Agony' TV Theme...

Feeling rather ill again today so just a quick post.  A theme song I always liked, from the 1979 British sitcom starring Maureen Lipman.  Sung by Babs Fletcher, who I can find no other information about.

And while I'm here, another old tv theme I really like, the 'Shelley' theme, written by Ron Grainer, more famous for composing the 'Doctor Who' and 'Prisoner' themes.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Poly Styrene R.I.P.

I've been quite shaken up about this since my girlfriend informed me this morning.  Everything seemed exciting for her new album.  Which is really good. I love this song, especially the uplifting chorus:

Poly Styrene - White Gold

I fondly remember seeking out "Germ Free Adolescents" as a teenager after reading about X-Ray Spex in the Trouser Press Record Guide 4th Edition.  And remember the cassette itself, which I still have, being orange.  She was such a positive force, very much in evidence in this recent Von Pip interview.  So very very sad.  Rest in Peace.  And Thank You.

Monday, 25 April 2011

John Barry - Themes...

I've long had a theory that the worst Bond films produced the best theme songs.  'Moonraker' (as well as its disco version) and 'A View To A Kill' - fantastic songs, but the films weren't really all that good.  One exception, for me at least, is 'On Her Majesty's Secret Service'.  Opinion seems divided on George Lazenby, but I thought he was great and love this film.  I've read the book numerous times.  (When I first moved to London in 2003, I brought my old 80s paperback with me on the flight and 2/3 of the way through realized pages were missing, so one of the first things I did was go to the Notting Hill Gate Waterstone's to sit there and catch up).  But this was my introduction to Bond when I was 8 years old.  Our extended family had gone to Atlantic City for the weekend and my older cousins and I were left in the hotel room while our parents went to the casinos.  This was on TV.  I was fascinated, to say the least.  And this theme tune (an anomaly as an instrumental) is so badass and evocative.

And then there's 'The Persuaders' theme song which is so...Magnificent.  Otherworldly & Majestic - spacey synths, haunting strings and harpsichord conjure up an eerie pathway for a Slavic-tinged stately melodic procession.  Probably the best television show ever made, I can't recommend it enough.  Roger Moore and Tony Curtis as two millionaire playboys who travel the world chasing girls, drinking, gambling, just enjoying life really, and during the course of each episode a crime comes their way and they solve it, with style.  

And then there's the "Beat Girl" theme.  A dark, sexy, hipshaking stormer, just bursting with cool.

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Xymox - "Imagination"...

It's my birthday today!  So just a quick post of a song I absolutely LOVE. Xymox's "Imagination.  "I have seen your eyes in purple, I have seen your eyes in blue", oh yes.  There are a couple of gems on the 'Twist of Shadows' album.

Oh and my friend Larry just posted this on my Facebook wall.  I think it's absolutely fantastic.

And Tom Robinson played my Eiscafe song "Quitting You Is Harder Than Candy" last night on his BBC6 show.  A perfect start to the birthday.  You can listen here.  Now I'm off to enjoy the sunshine!

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Daisy Chainsaw - "Love Your Money"...

I just watched this video again for the first time in 19 years!  I fondly recall seeing Daisy Chainsaw on '120 Minutes' back in 1992, before I had my driving license, and asking my friend Jim, who worked near Secret Sounds, to pick up "Love Sick Pleasure" and "Generation Terrorists" for me.  Ah, what awesome days...  This was shortly before I was to visit London for the first time.  It was so exciting to be constantly discovering new music, and coming to UK, where so many of my favourite bands were from, everything about that trip was just WOW.  And this is one of the songs I always associate with that time.  And since I moved here in 2003, I'm really glad that "Love Your Money" still gets played at the clubs.  It's SUCH AN AMAZING SONG!  Still gets me excited.  A PURE BLAST OF ORIGINALITY.  One of those spectacular and special POP MOMENTS!

This often gets stuck in my head, and has so lately.  And since I saw The Dogbones at Stay Beautiful last night, and then Cherry Foxxx played "Love Your Money" a little later on in the evening, getting it VERY stuck in my head since, I thought I'd post about it : )

Authors' Birthdays (The Booklovers)...

Today marks the birthday of two of my all-time favourite authors - J.P. Donleavy (seriously, read him.  He can make you laugh out loud and bring a tear to your eye, often during the course of the same paragraph) and Vladimir Nabokov (look at those beautiful covers to the Vintage editions.  Having read the first paragraph of Nabokov's autobiography, "Speak, Memory" at my first English class at Boston University in 1994, I thought the prose was so beautiful I went to the bookstore immediately after class and purchased 4 of his books - the aforementioned, "Despair", "The Real Life Of Sebastian Knight" and "The Gift" - this last being the most beautiful book I have ever read).  And of course it's Shakespeare's birthday as well.

I do like this song but always cringe at the "Nab-a-koff" pronounciation of Nabokov's surname. Being of Russian descent, it just doesn't sound right to have the second syllable of a name not begin with a consonant sound.  Here's Nabokov on the pronounciation of his name.

In a January 1964 Playboy 'interview' with Alvin Toffler (Nabokov always insisted upon having the questions ahead of time and then simply, if the interviewer chose to visit, the author would read out his answers from notecards), Nabokov is quoted as saying:

I have no ear for music, a shortcoming I deplore bitterly.
When I attend a concert-- which happens about once in five
years-- one endeavors gamely to follow the sequence and
relationship of sounds but cannot keep it up for more than a
few minutes. Visual impressions, reflections of hands in
lacquered wood, a diligent bald spot over a fiddle, these take
over, and soon I am bored beyond measure by the motions of the
musicians. My knowledge of music is very slight; and I have a
special reason for finding my ignorance and inability so sad,
so unjust: There is a wonderful singer in my family-- my own
son. His great gifts, the rare beauty of his bass, and the
promise of a splendid career-- all this affects me deeply, and
I feel a fool during a technical conversation among musicians.
I am perfectly aware of the many parallels between the art
forms of music and those of literature, especially in matters
of structure, but what can I do if ear and brain refuse to
cooperate? I have found a queer substitute for music in chess--
more exactly, in the composing of chess problems.

J.P. Donleavy's Desert Island Discs can be found here.


And while we're here, which version of "Books" do you prefer? The Teardrop Explodes or Echo & The Bunnymen?

Friday, 22 April 2011


A few weeks ago I was introduced to the delightful Icelandic POP of Dýrðin .  Some excellent free mp3s there.  But by all means, buy the record! It's on Skipping Stones, the great indiepop label from my homestate of Connecticut.  I had been asking for songs about beekeeping on the indiepop list (as Mr. Horry and my soon-to-be-ready comic is entitled "The Beekeeper") and Magnus mentioned that "Hunangsdropar"("Honey Drops") might not mention beekeeping but does contain the line "eighteen billion bees".  Behold!:

And then last night he posted this gem:

Pac man by dyrdin

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Chainsaw Kittens...

It was one of those magical moments.  Suburban America, 1991-1993, '120 Minutes' really was a way of finding out about some great bands.  Of course, we were devouring every possible source we could find to learn about music, old and new.  I was so very lucky to see the one time MTV played Suede's "Metal Mickey" and that event influenced the course of my life immensely.  And it was one such springtime night, approaching 2 AM on a Monday in 1992, that I was introduced to the Chainsaw Kittens.  Very tired and knowing I had to get up for school the next day, nevertheless I was soon wide awake as Tyson's scream kicked them into the verse of "Connie I've Found The Door".  Energetic, Powerful, Melodic, with one of those falsetto "Woo"s that I love in the second verse, Relentless; it was like a kiss that completely kicks your ass.

I immediately wrote down the name and couldn't wait to get the 'Flipped Out In Singapore' album (produced by Butch Vig).  Say what you will about Connecticut, we had some great record stores - Brass City Records and Phoenix Records in Waterbury, Trash American Style in Danbury, and Secret Sounds in Bridgeport  - and it was at this last shop, a little later that summer, I still remember finding the Kittens tape.

I kept up with the Kittens throughout the years.  They had what I love -  great songs, style, cool song titles ("Shannon's Fellini Movie", "Angels Self Destruct", "Pop Heiress Dies"), that perfect combination of ROCK and POP (heavy melodic guitars with a excellent voice).  It's a shame I can't find "Sore On The Floor" anywhere on the internet.  It's just a sonic blast of PURE AWESOMENESS, all the excitement of rolling around with someone you really fancy.  Here's the title track from, arguably, their best album, 'Pop Heiress':


Wednesday, 20 April 2011

A Popular History Of Signs - "If She Was A Car"...

Very busy today - meeting Mr. Horry about The Beekeeper comic, recording a new Eiscafe song, finishing shooting a video for The Soft Close-Ups 'Fireworks', then off to see Pris - just a quick post then.  Hopefully will have more time tomorrow to get back into things.

A Popular History Of Signs' "If She Was A Car" came on my ipod last night.  I love both the band name and the song title, and of course the song.  A little bit Echo & The Bunnymen, a little bit INXS, a little bit Section 25, a whole lot Joy Division's "Atmosphere"; a great song:

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Luxemboug & Mr. Solo...

'The Luxembourg Underground', an article I wrote for my friend Cheap & Plastique's magazine, is now online.  Some of my all-time favourite music.  Tons of links and free music there.  Interviews I did with David Barnett, Mikey Georgeson and David Shah will be posted on that site over the course of this week too.  I'm still ill so I'll leave it there for today.


Monday, 18 April 2011

Kendra Smith/Hope Sandoval/Rainy Day...

My friend Val posted this over the weekend, which I thought was very interesting and lovely:

I had no idea Hope Sandoval was actually in Opal, but I guess there was some crossover before she and Dave Roback became Mazzy Star.

Been meaning to post about Kendra Smith, as I've loved her music ever since first hearing Opal's "Strange Delight".  Here's another one I'm very fond of, from her "Five Ways Of Disappearing Album":

And then there's the split 7" with Keith Levene & Hillel Slovak featuring the lovely, ethereal "Stille Im Meine Hamburg".  A 'holy grail' of sorts; I cherish my copy.  Found for only $4 at Brass City Records .  Rick Webb, who ripped this vinyl for me, pointed out that that's the way with holy grails - they take forever to find, but when you do, they're often not that expensive.

Which brings me to another one, the Rainy Day album , which I found at Trash American Style .  I'm not exactly sure why it hasn't been reissued but it's an amazing album of 60's covers.  Dave Roback's project featuring, amongst others,  Kendra Smith singing Big Star's "Holocaust" and Susannah Hoffs of The Bangles on The Velvet Underground's "I'll Be Your Mirror" and, my favourite on the album, Bob Dylan's "I'll Keep It With Mine":

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Gwenno/Brontosaurus Chorus/Lucky Soul...

Another quick post today as it was a year ago on the 15th that I went on my first date with the lovely Sophia.  We went to see Gwenno/Brontosaurus Chorus/Lucky Soul at Cargo.  We've both been ill so we're celebrating today.

I've always loved Gwenno's (yes, Gwenno from The Pipettes ) solo stuff.  I've seen her live like 10 times now and the songs are all excellent.  I even traveled down to Brighon to see her first solo gig back in 2008 at the Moksha Cafe.  Can't seem to find much up on the internet any more, which is a shame, especially as "Lime Chordial" is dreamy loveliness, but there's two songs for download here , including "U & I":

And Brontosaurus Chorus are always fun.  Big (of course, there's 8 of them), melodic pop songs.  "Distortion Pop" was one of my favourite songs of 2007.  And check out guitarist Rob Britton's (also ex-Luxembourgace solo album (it's free, grab it!).

And Lucky Soul's "Lips Are Unhappy" was one of my favourite songs of 2006:

Saturday, 16 April 2011

The Real Tuesday Weld and Vera Chytilová - "Daisies"...

I'm quite ill today so just a short little post.  The Real Tuesday Weld's "Daisies" has been stuck in my head since I decided this morning it would be an excellent idea to watch Vera Chytilová's surreal masterpiece "Daisies" again.  As far as I know the two are in no way related.

This is a different version than the one I have on 'The Return Of The Clerkenwell Kid' (check out 'On Lavender Hill' too, another of my faves).  It's a great tune and the lyrics are really good.  Follow The Clerkenwell Kid's blog here.

And the film "Daisies", WOW!  I was blown away when I first saw this last year.  Fun, vibrant, inventive, anarchic, surreal, it consistently impressed from shot to shot.  Bobby Barry of The Pipettes and Jamie Manners of The Vichy Government both recommended it to me.  With them being huge film buffs, I knew it would be good, but it became one of my all-time favourite films.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Bad Dream Fancy Dress...

In the hot summer of 2003, I was on holiday with my family.  Over from the States, we were traveling around the U.K.  With only a day in London at the beginning, I made sure to get up early and hit all the record shops I knew of.  And in the upstairs room of the Music Exchance in Notting Hill Gate (which we always considered Paradise) I discovered él Records .  Flipping through the Sarah/Creation/él section for Sarah releases, I came upon 'Metroland' by Always (why do I think it was a 10"?  Everywhere lists a 12" and I can't find any info about a 10", but all my vinyl is back in America.  If I had a record player in London, I'd be broke)  It looked STUNNING.  As you get older, the moments where you stumble upon whole new worlds of music get less and less frequent, and I have always been thankful for this one.  The artwork was lovely and it was a good band name.  It also had that air of mystery about it.  I held it in my hands for a very long time and in the end wrote down the name, as £26 for a record I'd never heard or heard of before was a bit steep, especially in those days when the exchange rate with the US dollar was over 2:1.  (This was for the best, as, at Avalanche in Edinburgh the next week, I was to find 'Metroland' for £2.)

I went downstairs, very curious about this él label (more posts to come in future) and decided to look for some more.  And came upon Bad Dream Fancy Dress' "Choirboys Gas".  Again, it LOOKED AMAZING.  And the song titles!!! "Lemon Tarts", "Curry Crazy"- with the flavourful-titled songs I was making then as rock stone (they're free, grab 'em!), I knew I needed to buy this.  If nothing else, it would look cool on my wall.  But I had a hunch, with this much dedication to the artwork, that the music would be quite special too.  So I forked out the £13 for a record I'd never heard or heard of before.  And it was one of the best decisions I ever made.  él Records has brought me much joy and inspiration in the times since (especially while making the H Bird record).  When I returned from my day of record shopping, I showed my cousin's 4-year-old son the 12" record and asked, "Do you know what this is?"  He had no idea ; )

I had to wait 2 weeks until I was reunited with my record player and could listen to these.  And they did not disappoint!  "Choirboys Gas" is such a shining example of POP!  Within seconds you're bouncing along to "The Supremes".  And then it's "Lemon Tarts", which is one of my favourite pop songs of all time.  "If you really want, to win my heart, you better start with a little lemon tart".  Wow.  And I've always wondered what "Spanish kissing" was, if anyone can enlighten me?

Here it is, uploaded with permission from Cherry Red:

Bad Dream Fancy Dress - Lemon Tarts

And "Curry Crazy" is just raucous, punk fun.  "Do you like it HOT?  Well so do I" & "We don't want boys, we want some spicy stuff".  Wow again.

This album is an utter joy; fun and catchy, pop, pure and simple.  As with nearly everything on él, it's delightful and unique, a POP GEM.  Buy it!  Buy it twice!  I ordered it on cd as soon as I was done listening to the 12", but buy it on vinyl if you can, the record sleeve just looks so good : )  And like them on Facebook ; )

Thursday, 14 April 2011


These days I get most of my new music recommendations from Von Pip and Unpopular .  So it was a nice combination when back in February Alistair posted about 'Blue Tack Baby', I thought it was AMAZING (instantly catchy, with everything about it stating "THIS IS POP.  THIS IS WHAT POP SHOULD BE."), and mentioned it to Andy who has gone wild about them , and again here ; )    Check out the first Von Pip Podcast too, it's got the 3 best bands of recent years ( The Indelicates , Pris, and Help Stamp Out Loneliness ) as well as Ride, The Mary Chain, Siouxsie and plenty more ace songs.  And Cat from Pris introduces 'True Romance'.

True Romance by I Love Pris

This song gets stuck in my head for days at a time.  And is even more powerful live.  I've seen them twice now and was very impressed.  Every song lets you know you've found something special, that's there's hope for Pop Music yet, still bands to gets excited about, fall in love with.  And they've got it all - the SONGS, the LOOK, the ATTITUDE, the VOICES.  Very much looking forward to the next gig on April 20th at The Monarch in Chalk Farm.  You should all come along.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

"Do You Like Boys?" (Si Señor/Freezepop/The Aprils)...

Greg Stekelman reminded me of this amazing song a few weeks ago on Twitter.

Find more si senor songs at Myspace Music

Ah, Si Señor .  The story begins, for me at least, sometime in the first half of 2001, when Sean Drinkwater and I were sitting around our The Archenemy Record Company office and we got a call, completely out of the blue, from a Danish journalist, Erik, who was in town to cover Aerosmith and wanted to check out what else Boston had to offer musically.  We went to meet him, a very nice guy, and when the other Archenemies (Rick, Jussi, Tony) got home, we all went to 'Mod Night' at the Common Ground.  A few weeks later we got a package with a cd and a letter from a Danish band called Si Señor.  We gave the cd a spin and quite liked it but didn't have the money to take on any new bands at that point.  But I emailed them and they expressed an interest in coming to the States for some gigs.  So I thought, "Why not?" and set some up.

It was an incredibly fun week.  Lifestyle (2 free records there, go on, grab 'em!) got to play with Bis at The Tune Inn in New Haven, CT on our way down for the first gig of the tour in NYC.  I fondly remember Bis dedicating a song to us because "we both ripped it off the same Duran Duran song".  Then to The Acme Underground in NYC (Sunday October 7th so my old emails tell me) where we finally met all of Si Señor, everyone having a great gig and then drinking the night away.  The excellent synthpop band Soviet also played that evening.  Then up to Boston for a gig at T.T. The Bear's with The Texas Governor (one of the first gigs, when it was just Goolkasian with Rick on a laptop) and the ace William Academy (2 free songs there, such nice guys and they even covered Electronic's "Gangster", which had us all very excited).  And the final gig of the tour was at this strange youth centre in New Hampshire - Lifestyle, Si Señor, Freezepop and The Texas Governor, where for the final song of the night, all the bands got on stage to perform "Feed The World" as Si Señor had covered it once and everyone "kinda knew it", or at least how it went.

Throughout the tour, everyone kept comparing Si Señor to Pulp, especially Jakob who, being thin and tall with glasses, inspired many whispers of "the Danish Jarvis Cocker".  Though personally I thought they sounded more like Blur, when Blur were at their punkiest.  Or, as koobaradio put it, "happy Smiths" : )  Sometime during that week, they went over to Tony "Boothnavy" Norton's  studio and recorded a new version of "Do You Like Boys?" (the one heard above) as they had always pictured it with the sort of sound that Tony is so good at.  And then the following April, Boothnavy spent the month in Copenhagen recording their record. You can hear some of the songs on their myspace.

And here's a TV performance of the ace "Something Illegal":

Freezepop later covered "Do You Like Boys?" on their 'Future Future Future Perfect' album (this is the version Greg mentioned):

Speaking of Freezepop, "Doppelganger" really is an amazing single, and has been stuck in my head a lot lately.  You can get it for free at their site.

And then yesterday, Liz Ohanesian introduced me to The Aprils , who reminded me a lot of Freezepop.  Check out Liz's article on them.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Dump - "Annabelle" (Nederglam)...

My girlfriend Sophia is a HUGE Glam fan (come to GlamRacket if you're in London!) and has been introducing me to a lot of great Nederglam.  That 'Clap Your Hands And Stamp Your Feet' compilation is AMAZING.  Lots of ace songs on there that I'll be posting about over the course of this blog.  But today, let's go with, the perhaps unfortunately named, Dump.  They only released 2 singles - "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow"/"You You" (1974) & "Annabelle"/"Baby Baby" (1975) - but wow, what 2 singles!  "Annabelle", to me, has everything.  It flat out ROCKS in the verses - powerful and insistent verging on menacing - and then comes in with a chorus so strong and catchy it's impossible to not have it stuck in your head forever afterwards.  One has to admire the singer's energy and enthusiasm, not to mention intensity.  Check out the handstand around 2:27 in "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?"!

These clips are taken from a 70's Dutch music program called 'Van Oekel's Discohoek'.  Bizarre and entertaining, Van Oekel, his accountant, and other actors often interrupt the musical performances with their own bits, adding to the confusion/strangeness by visibly reading from their scripts.  Such as in this clip of "Annabelle", so here's an uninterrupted version of the song (great blog too).  Not limited to only Dutch music, there are a number of clips of Donna Summer appearing on the show.

Monday, 11 April 2011


On Thursday April 7th, 2005, I headed down to The Windmill in Brixton to the very first How Does It Feel Presents .  This was still when I didn't know very many people in London but I didn't let that keep me from attending a gig every night of the week if something interesting was on (and there usually was).  I had been a big fan of the How Does It Feel clubnight since I had moved to London in 2003.  In fact, the 2nd weekend I was in London (the very 1st I went to the Strange Fruit club, who were to make me feel very at home in London and for whom I'm always thankful how AWESOME they made my first stay here) I went to see David Gedge guest DJ at HDIF and ran into Harvey Williams again, who also pointed out many other indiepop celebrities in the crowd.  I remember walking home that night and really realizing just how GREAT it was to be living in London.

First up was Wintergreen, who, checking my journal, I missed.  But I was to see them many times that year and I really like their stuff.  Then Vermont, who I always thought were fantastic.  I had seen them at the 2003 Strange Fruit festival (an absolutely spectacular 4 days of music and drinking, I mean look at this line-up.  The special guests were The Lucksmiths!)  I was so impressed, I immediately bought their ace 'Ins Kino' cd.  And I rather enjoyed them at this first HDIF Presents as well.

Tired and on my own, with Brixton being a very long way home if you live north of the river and miss the last tube, I debated leaving after Vermont's set.  But I had heard some good things about Sambassadeur and knowing they were Swedish and took their name from a Serge Gainsbourg song, I decided to give them a chance.  And was so glad I did.  I fondly recall standing by the bar, lights low, completely entranced by this melodic hypnotic pop.  Like The Magnetic Fields playing early New Order.

Here is my favourite Sambassadeur song, "Kate", from the 'Coastal Affairs' EP:

I've really enjoyed all their releases , especially the first record, which I fondly remember getting in the post from Labrador when I moved back to the States later that year and driving around my hometown listening to it.  Perfect autumn-driving indiepop.  So a few from that album:

Sunday, 10 April 2011


I just found out that my AUNTIE song, "Forever, Forensic & Too Few" (sung by Mikey Georgeson of David Devant & His Spirit Wife and Mr Solo,  one of my favourite singers and songwriters, I'll do a seperate post on his work later) is on the new INDIEplaylist!  If you've got Spotify, click here for it.  And the AUNTIE songs are free downloads if you just type in 0, or pay-what-you-want.

Under Cover Of A Streetlamp...

So how I first heard Breathless was, when I first joined Rockets Burst From The Streetlamps in 1998, we decided to each choose 2 songs that the band would cover.  As we'd rehearse 3 or 4 times a week, a lot of which was spent drinking wine and talking about amazing music (films & books too), so many songs came up that "we should cover", it was a good idea to narrow it down.  Discovering new music is always a joy for me, often approaching euphoric heights, and I'm still thankful today for Annie choosing Breathless' "Sometimes On Sunday" and Craig introducing me to Opal's "Strange Delight" and then their 'Early Recordings', which is just awesome.  I had only known 'Happy Nightmare Baby' and this is much different, more 'pop', more major keys.  (There's also 'Early Recordings Vol. 2' , I highly recommend the Totally Wired blog those are on, some great finds on there).  So I thought I'd post the 8 covers we choose.  And you know what?  We never covered any of them ; )

Craig's choices:

Opal's "Strange Delight":

Morrissey's "Jack The Ripper" (you probably know the released version so here's the 'rare original version'):

Rick's choices:

Crime & The City Solution's "On Every Train (Grain Will Bear Grain)":

Psychic TV's "I. C. Water":

Annie's choices:

Breathless' "Sometimes On Sunday":

I'm ashamed to admit I'm having trouble remembering her other choice.  It might've been Neil Young's "Helpless", it might have been Dream Academy's "Life In A Northern Town".  I'm waiting for her to get back to me.

Aug's choices:

The Jesus & Mary Chain's "Sidewalking" (wasn't there a proper, awesome, 'Sidewalking' video? I remember one - oh yeah, here it is, thanks Trev Oddbox.  Proper POP video, can't seem to embed it though):

New Order's "Age Of Consent":

Saturday, 9 April 2011


A few years ago my friend J, who I went to Jr. high & high school with but lost touch after that, and I realized we were both living in London.  J was one of the very few kids in our school who knew about cool music.  We used to trade Cure bootlegs and I remember him bouncing up and down in a big Dr. Seuss hat when James came to New Haven on the 'Laid' tour.  I went to J's birthday party last night at the Elephant & Castle bowling lanes and was very surprised indeed to see Dominic Appleton from Breathless amongst the party guests!  Breathless came over and played with my old band Rockets Burst From The Streetlamps (here, have our second album, 'Departed', for free.  And here's a collection of other tracks that came as a bonus disc.  'The Cartographer' was our pop single and I still think it's pretty special.  Actually, I think they all are : ) in Boston and New York in 1999 and then again in 2000.  Those gigs were pretty great.

'Chasing Promises' is my favourite Breathless album with 'Compulsion' being my favourite Breathless song.  Dreamy and beautiful with an insistent melodic pulse underneath, the line "we may never get quite so close again" gets me every time, reminding me of so many girls and that delicious moment of opportunity that lingers only for a second before things go whatever way they were going to, but in that moment contained all possibilities.  I remember very shyly telling Dominic at the CBGB's Gallery in NYC how much I loved that song and he laughed and told me they opened for My Bloody Valentine once and started with that song, and when it was over only one person clapped.  A very awkward moment.  But here it is in all its beauty:

And another enchanting soundscape from the same album, 'Here By Chance':

My other favourite Breathless song is the version of "Moment By Moment" on the 'Over And Over' EP .    It is just lovely and whisks you away on a sigh.  Unable to find a version to listen to, here's the video for the excellent 'Over And Over':

And "Don't Just Disappear" was the hit.  (There is an official video for this but the audio quality isn't that great on the youtube clip).

And, heck, here's the video for "All The Same" by Rockets Burst From The Streetlamps (this was on a 7" as it's quite different from the rest of our stuff):

Before I sign off, I should mention there's some other good stuff on Breathless' label, Tenor Vossa . I particularly like ...Bender and Moly.

Friday, 8 April 2011

Hanoi Rocks...

Hey everybody from Finland who keeps reading this, thanks very much!  In your honour, here's a post about Hanoi Rocks, who I've loved since I was 13.  I fondly recall getting the 4 reissues on Axl Rose's Uzi Suicide label for xmas 1989.  And putting "'Bangkok Shocks, Saigon Shakes, Hanoi Rocks' on my walkman as we drove to my grandmother's house for her xmas party.  And falling in love with it, especially "Tragedy", "11th Street Kids", "Don't You Ever Leave Me" and their cover of "Walking With My Angel".  I also loved the yellow, red, blue, and green colour scheme for each reissue cover.  Green is my favourite colour, yet another thing to recommend 'Back To Mystery City' to me, a near-perfect record with lots of highlights.  Glamrock, pure pop, or both, whatever you want to call it.  Here are two of my favourite Hanoi Rocks songs, both from 'Back To Mystery City':

And here's "Don't You Ever Leave Me" reworked from the first album on their 1984 record 'Two Steps From The Move' (their last before Razzle was killed in a car accident.  Michael Monroe and Andy McCoy reformed Hanoi Rocks in 2001 and have released some very good records, including 'Another Hostile Takeover', which has an excellent version of Phil Lynott's "Dear Miss Lonelyhearts".  I finally got to see them live at The Astoria in London, March 2008, a really excellent gig, meant a lot to me)  'Two Steps From The Move' also contains the ace 'Boulevard Of Broken Dreams'.

And here's a rare version of '11th Street Kids' from the first record (another great version on the live album 'All Those Wasted Years' .  In 1990 this was very hard to find and my uncle Frank finally tracked both video and album down for me on a business trip to Japan, for which I still am very thankful).  Live on Finnish TV show 'Rockilta':

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Aquadays - 'Sunshine Girl'...

Dreamy, lovely.  Like a long, slow gold-laden sigh of wistful happiness.  I had the pleasure of meeting Martin Aamot (whose new band is The Electric Pop Group) when I played in Gothenburg in 2003.  He brought me their 'Electric Songs' cd and I fell in love with it as soon as I put it on.  This was the only version I could find to listen to:

Find more artists like Aquadays at Myspace Music

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Nina Brodskaya - "S Lyubovyu Vstretitsya" (To Meet With A Love)...

In order to share this song and that of the previous post (Marianne Mendt's wonderful "Wie A Glock'n") was the whole reason I started this blog.  I discovered this magnificent slice of pop when I was trying to learn Russian a few years ago and was watching the comedy films of Leonid Gaidai .  I can highly recommend 'The Diamond Arm' but I was absolutely delighted to learn that there was already a film called 'Back To The Future', well 'Ivan Vasilievich: Back To The Future', released in Russia in 1973.  (I have since bought a DVD collection of Gaidai's work, but these are readily available on Netflix if you're in the States).  Even with my only-rudimentary grasp of Russian I found 'Ivan Vasilievich' very funny.  A scientist builds a time machine in his flat and accidentally sends his building manager and a thief back to 16th Century Moscow while Ivan The Terrible is transported to 1973?  Amazing!  It's apparently based on a 1935 play by Mikhail Bulgakov.  And quite early on in the film there's this:

Which immediately had me sitting up closer to the screen, completely captivated.  It took a bit of research but I was to learn that the singer is Nina Brodskaya (delighted to find this page, which has lots of mp3s of her early work that I'm eager to check out).  Here is the full mp3 of this song, which was sent to me by a very nice man named Juri, who has some more Russian songs up on his blog.  Aleksandr Zatsepin is the composer and worked a lot on Gaidai's films.  I've since bought his 'Izbrannoe' collection which is quite good, my favourite being 'Zvezdni Most'This looks quite interesting as well, Morricone and Zatsepin doing the soundtracks for 'La Tenda Rossa' as for some reason the Russian version had Morricone's score replaced.

Marianne Mendt - Wie A Glock'n...

This song is UTTERLY JOYOUS.  Listening, you just think "YES!!!  THIS IS WHAT POP SHOULD BE!!"  Driving, ebullient, really going for it.  Fun, with an insistent story to tell.  The title translates as "Like A Bell".  I discovered this a few years back on the ace 'The In-Kraut - Hip Shaking Grooves Made In Germany 1966-1974' compilation. 

Monday, 4 April 2011

Tin Tin - Toast And Marmalade For Tea...

Busy today but Harvey Williams posted this lovely lovely song last night.  Is that 2 modulations?!  Oh yes. Album and more info here.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Lesley Gore - "Sometimes"...

I have Patrick to thank for introducing me to this song (4:40 version in link).  I absolutely LOVE majorkey disco and funk like this.  That guitar riff gets you moving.  And that "woo" in the chorus always sends a shiver of pure joy up my spine.  Another song I find it impossible to listen to and not be happy.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Sweden To London Of A Summer Evening (via France & Japan)...

Two summers ago, my friends Sasha and Felix were over from Stockholm.  On the Saturday, the 4th of July, we went to see The Indelicates (my favourite band of recent years, more on them later) play an amazing gig.  It was on this night that the Eiscafe song "Slag To Love" began (free if you want it, just type in 0).  Sunday was a day of much-needed recuperation and on Monday evening we reconvened, made an incredibly spicy meal, drank some beer and listened to A LOT of ace music.  I had never seen the Serge Gainsbourg - D'Autres Nouvelles Des Etoiles DVD collection before.  And hadn't heard the amazing "Dents De Lait, Dents De Loup" duet with France Gall.  WOW!  Tragically there seems to never have been a proper recording of this song.  I can't find out much information about it either.  It seems "Dents De Lait, Dents De Loup" was some sort of French music television show in 1967, this possibly being its theme song.  That lovely slinky mod guitar sliding into bouncy major key pop.

They also introduced me to Alizée and this wonderful song:

As this glorious summer evening rounded midnight, my friends began to put on some Japanese psychpop/rock, introducing me to Yura Yura Teikoku whose "Hoshi Ni Nareta" is just beautiful, a perfect latenight soundtrack.  I was told that it roughly translates as "I Turned Into A Star".  It is the last song on their excellent "Memai" album.  I can't find a video of that but here's some other good ones:

And then at the other, darker, end of the pop spectrum came The Jacks whose fantastic first LP, "Vacant World", would a few weeks later soundtrack my hourlong attempt to find a highway, being lost on the unlit backroads of rural New Hampshire late at night.  I rather like this one:

Friday, 1 April 2011

Violet Lights...

As we're waiting for some proper H Bird videos to get made (and if anyone would like to make one, please get in touch!), I've put 2 songs from "Operation: Fascination" up with our lovely cover girl, drawn by Pippa Alice , just to have something on YouTube for people to hear.