Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Indietracks 2013: Every year until we die

It's over for another year, then. We slip back into "normal" life (this really isn't normal) and sit and wonder why every weekend can't be like Indietracks, where you sit with your friends, drinking, and go off to watch another band that'll make your jaw drop open once every three or four songs.

We had another magical year; and I think the Saturday in particular was the best day I've ever had at Indietracks, for a variety of reasons, not least being able to make it back to the hotel to see the exciting bit of What Lies Beneath with Harrison Ford. I'm kidding; Fever Dream were the highlight for me, and I really see no reason at all why they shouldn't be huge. I was watching them with Leon from The Hobbes Fanclub (oh, how I namedrop!), and he mentioned something about wishing he was the same age as the band so that he could throw himself around like that when he was playing with his band. I wish I was the same age as Fever Dream so that I could throw myself around whilst listening to them. Might try it next time I've got the house to myself...

Other great things were: The Lovely Eggs, Fear of Men, Milky Wimpshake, Big Wave, Jerv for looking after that cymbal stand, the bar staff asking where everyone had come from, the staff at Carnival of Food, Leon's adult poncho, Alpaca Sports, Haiku Salut, Tunabunny, Cars Can Be Blue, the very nice staff at Sainsbury's caff, seeing very peaky indiepop comrades in Sainsbury's caff each morning, the fella who danced his way to the front during Finnmark, and generally being so deliriously happy (pissed) that by 8pm on Saturday night I didn't care that it was chucking it down, because all I could see was familiar, happy smiling faces.

Really sad I missed The Fireworks, but I'll see them in six weeks time, so that's something to look forward to.

In truth, Indietracks is our holiday each year; the one time where we can be truly selfish and do what we want for three days. To have that and be surrounded by so many wonderful friends and brilliant bands makes it the best place on earth once a year. Without wanting to get completely mushy, these really are days I'll remember for the rest of my life. Well, perhaps the bits before about 7pm, anyway.

That last train journey back from Swanick to Butterley is where it all really kicks in, and you start to think why life outside of this tiny bubble we've created for ourselves bothers existing, with its cruelty and nastiness and arrogance. Sure, that exists in tiny parts indiepop too for sure, but let's not talk about that.

We got home, we slumped, but we couldn't sleep because our hearts were at Swanwick Junction, and they might always be.

Huge thanks to everyone involved in any way. The last six years and ten Indietracks events have been the best times of my life. Whatever happens next, we'll always have that.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Pre-Indietracks singles round-up

If, like me, you've got to somehow cram a full week's work into three and half days this week, then you'll understand that long reviews of these fantastic singles might have to wait for another day.

However, if you want to know what the best single to be released this year is, then look no further than the mighty Math and Physics Club who continue to lead the way in perfect pop with the hand-clap laden 'Long Drag' (Matinee Recordings). Recorded at the Dub Narcotic studios, 'Long Drag' sees Math and Physics Club in a confident, almost sassy mood. The band has come such a long way since that brittle, beautiful first ep, and it's a wonderful thing to behold. B-side 'Across the Paper' waves hello at the past, with its soft-shuffle, bluegrass-tinged strings and coy vocal. It's a quite wonderful little package of songs, and bodes well for the forthcoming album.

Also out on Matinee this month is a new single by long-lost legends The Steinbecks. Not seen around these parts since the mid-2000, 'At Arkaroo Rock' might have been borne out of the recent fantastic Sugargliders retrospective. This is green, lush introspective pop music with inch perfect guitar phrases, and the usual love of nature that comes through on all Meadows brothers recordings. 'All Desires Known' barely exists, and has an almost mediaeval air about it, whilst 'Cabin Fever' is the most instant song here, and shambling ode to drunken camping trips. We've all been there, sweetheart.

The Very Most were one of several casualties from Manic Pop Records sadly closing down, but their new ep 'Just a Pup' deserves to be heard. The lead track takes from The School quite heavily, with jaunty keyboards and what sounds like a bit of brass in there. There's also the most summery guitar solo you'll ever hear. It's a hit for me.

Flowers continue to wow the smart set in London with their buzzsaw pop and choirgirl vocals. They've so far left me a bit high and dry, but 'Until Your Dead' (Fortuna Pop!) hits the spot alright. It's a righteous, full-on aural assault that never really strays far from pop classic bracket. Over on t'b-side and 'Clover' steals the show for me, being both charming and a little bit brutal.. Now that they're sounding much more than Primitives copyists, maybe it's time they were adored a little more.

I'm off to immerse myself in regional business journalism for the next 72 hours. See you at Indietracks!

Sunday, 14 July 2013

The Ballet - Turn You (Fortuna POP!)

Taken from their wonderful new album "I Blame Society", The Ballet's new single is a perfect little package of synthpop. It's a cute story of a make-believe world in which Greg Goldberg can "turn" anyone he chooses gay.*

This song fair throbs with intent, but is at the same coy and distant, as Goldberg sits in the corner of the nightclub almost consoling himself at how unjust the world is. And he leaves on his on his on his own and goes home and he cries and he has a pie.

B-side 'Time Machine' is another song of yearning and the desire to change someone, but is a delightful, fluffy folly, which has the most addictive keyboard line perhaps ever written.

I can't say I've ever really paid much attention to The Ballet, and more fool me. You should not only buy this excellent single, but also invest time, money, and all your worldly emotion in 'I Blame Society'. Pop music this affecting rarely gets the audience it deserves; make sure you don't miss out.

*someone should make this into a film.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Week of Wonders - Piggybacks (Happy Happy Birthday to Me Records)

Featuring the endlessly fascinating Leif Anders, ex of Orca Team, Week of Wonders' debut single 'Piggbacks' is bullet of refreshment during the stifling heat of the weekend.

Leif's voice is immediately recognisable, but this time he's backed by thrashing drums and a guitar that sounds like it's set to steel drum setting. It's an instant hit of sunshine pop accompanied by the most wonderful, weird video featuring the best cat I've seen in a while. Look at its face!

Last summer was a blast. Orca Team were such a short, sweet celebration, and it's a terrible shame they're no longer with us (anyone who saw their stint in the UK last year couldn't fail to fall in love), but, if Week of Wonders keep this kind of early season form up, they'll surely worm a similar way into our hearts. Forget the 'tropical punk' title - this doesn't deserve to be pigeonholed.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Nottingham pop all-dayer: One out, one in

It is with a heavy heart that the ace September Girls can no longer play the Nottingham Pop All-Dayer on 14th September. The band are busy recording their debut album, and it seems unfair to make them come all this way to sleep on a Travelodge floor, so we gave them the night off to finishing some things called "overdubs"... whatever that means.

Stand by your beds, though, because Glasgow's mighty Felt Tips have only gone and taken their place. Jump into their grave as quick, would they?

BUT SERIOUSLY FOLKS, The Felt Tips are great (as if you didn't know already know that). So, make sure you get your ticket before anyone else does.

The line-up (with one band yet to be added) now reads:

The Proctors
Fever Dream
Allo Darlin
The Fireworks
The Felt Tips
The Flatmates

w/ Big Pink Cake DJs