Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Elefant Records' 20th Birthday party

An excellent Elefant Records party at the weekend. Coinciding with the anniversary of John Peel's passing on, it felt right to be at a night filled with upbeat indie and lofi pop bands, joyously running amok! A fledgling outing for Amelia Fletcher's new band with her husband, Rob Pursey was really welcome. Acoustic guitar and voices alone laid bare how wonderful Amelia's voice is, and how it's one of the best sounding voices in pop, ever. To hear her singing fill up the room so much, with just gently strummed strings backing it felt really moving. When Rob joined her on vocals, the music was very reminiscent of Magnetic Fields ‐ no bad thing, especially as they're pals!

Evans The Death may have passed me by up till now. I think they played a Twee as F*ck Night years ago. Hearing them live, their music really appealed. Strong vocals, and atypically structured indie guitar rock backing, quite chaotic as well as heartfelt. A lively set, and me and my friend were really sold! 

Another draw of the evening for me was Wild Balbina, all the way from Spain. I'm always after recommendations of Spanish indie, and Elefant Records is something of a bastion for such things, so there was already a feeling that I'd enjoy this band. All female singing, fuzzy guitars, and a surfing feel. Excellent fun!

Bought the single and a mini album on vinyl, one for me, one for a friend. Also got a Helen Love album for my boyfriend, and there was a free Elefant Records sampler on double CD which can't be bad!

I love the Parks and Recreation quote in the title of Wild Balbina's mini album!

Eat Tacos is one of the best recent singles of any band, so much fun. I really hope Wild Balbina have much success and can come back to the UK really soon.

Collectors Records, Kingston

For shame, I have not paid a visit to good old Keith's record emporium in Kingston, Surrey, this year. I was lucky to catch the shop before it closed the other day, and Keith kindly stayed open a bit longer so I could browse. He is one of the most knowledgeable of music shop owners, being able to answer my random questions off the top of his head, and add anything of interest or make recommendations along with stirling answers. He's keen to refer to his various books of charts for accuracy, and I love that instinct. Plus, he always has the latest Music Week on the counter, which all together creates the atmosphere of a traditional record shop, and I really appreciate all that.

We chatted about 4AD Records and how scarce the 80s and 90s stuff is on the secondhand market. He was able to supply me with a batch of 7 inch singles from the likes of Wolfgang Press, Modern English, and Colourbox, and I decided to buy them all up. I'm already set on Modern English, and there's a Colourbox fan in our midst, so it was just a punt on the Wolfgang Press stuff, a name I was familiar with years ago (oddly convinced they were goth, but they're offbeat dancey). Really pleased with Modern English, and it was a curio to give the other singles a spin if nothing else.

I have to explain how New Model Army records came to be in my swag. I never thought the band were for me, too bleak and industrial sounding maybe. But recently I was reading about the history of Archway Towers, and there was an interview with Joolz from New Model Army, and the band wrote a gloomy ode to the tower in the 80s, which I listened to and liked. So I bought a few singles on vinyl out of intrigue, and now I might be getting to like the band... I see they're touring soon, which would be interesting.

Not pictured above, but also a purchase from Collectors Records, Kingston, was the first Exploited album on vinyl ‐ A birthday present for a friend ! I'm sure they will love the PUNKS NOT DEAD spraypainted cover alone...

Lastly, I got an album by They Might Be Giants. This band are a bit too wackily quirky for me at times, but a few songs are really innovative and fun. I bought the album for my feller, and it's been appreciated. My favourite here is They'll Need a Crane, which I have on VHS on an indie compilation somewhere:

Monday, 6 October 2014

Record fair shopping: The Frank and Walters

Another cracking Soundbite record fair. The bargain indie box contained lots of curios. I've always got room for more early 90s indie 12 inch singles in my collection. I thought I'd give more Kitchens of Distinction a whirl, and The Frank and Walters were a familiar, positive name from mid 90s radio (just been listening to Indian Ocean and it takes me right back). A House are a band that one of our nice, loyal readers recommended to me personally, so had to be bought! These singles all came in at £2 or less each. 

I also had to buy a set of four 7 inch interview/picture discs of The Cure. I could probably listen to Robert Smith read several Dickens' novels uninterrupted and not feel anything but cheerily comforted, honestly!

The Frank and Walters EP had me dancing right away. They are incredibly worthy of greater investigation, and make for another addition to the long standing reasons why I should have been born between three and five years earlier than I was... The songs Happy Busman and Humphrey are even more sunny side up and brilliant than their titles.

Another of their songs I've found recently is Indie Love Song, which is from just a couple of years ago, as The Frank and Walters remain active (hooray)...

Something jaunty from the mid 90s too:

The Frank and Walters are playing Shepherds Bush Empire next month supporting Wonder Stuff and Carter USM. But it's sold out. Between this and Vashti Bunyan's church gig selling out, I feel a bit sad. Just have to buy all their albums, then...

The Kitchens of Distinction single is nicely swirly, and A House sound good and jangly though this song may be atypical of their stuff. 

Nice to note that Edwyn Collins was producer for the A House single, as well as The Frank and Walters one. I didn't realise he'd done so much production, but it must've all been fortifying for writing those episodes of West Heath Yard.

Record fairs are so good for unturning stuff I might otherwise not.

Go Kart Mozart, live in Bristol, 12th September, 2014

Hats off to The Brilliant Corners for organising the above event at The Exchange in Bristol over one weekend recently. Chance to catch the rarely seen Go Kart Mozart, as well as Amelia Fletcher's latest excellent musical endeavour, and lots of other great bands and nice touches in the mix. 

Having missed a Sarah Records inspired live event in the city this year, it was time to jump at the above. Sadly, I have to admit that it was only possible for us to hang round for the first leg of the event, with Go Kart Mozart, and how hard it was to miss Amelia Fletcher sing with both The Brilliant Corners and her new band The Catenary well as missing the incredible Haiku Salut, missing out on more free gummy bear sweets, and just the general ace atmosphere. I love Bristol for gigs. There is such community, and so much of a free and easy feel. It's an incredible city.

We did get the chance to chat to Amelia Fletcher on the Saturday, which was kindly and lovely. You can still get hold of copies of issue two of The All Thrills No Frills Music Bill paper fanzine, from the Etsy shop with this link, resplendent with a really in depth article on and interview with Amelia Fletcher/Tender Trap.

Go Kart Mozart/Lawrence were written about in our first issue of the fanzine, and since the event had the title of Fanzine, I managed to bring a bunch of copies along. Why do I keep ending up drinking halves and folding and stapling fanzines in the pubs of Notting Hill? I even copied the fanzines up in the area beforehand too. I ran out of staples, and have to apologise for that. Copying up issue two went awry and had to be forfeited for sale as well, which was glum.

There were some smart Go Kart Mozart keyrings on sale on the merch table, alongside copies of The All Thrills No Frills Music Bill fanzines... Earnings from the fanzines basically went on the keyrings. Sad that there were no Go Kart Mozart Tee shirts though.

It was surreal hearing that Lawrence had made it and was in the building about to perform. I mean, the last tour was pretty much all cancelled and I had never seen the band live up to then. I felt a genuine excitement, anticipation that I don't often get at gigs anymore, having been to so many. It was the most brilliant extravaganza of 70s style synth pop, and I was startled at the lack of dancing.

Couldn't really have asked for too much more from the setlist, it was an even mixture of stuff from all the albums. No Denim songs is a shame but totally expected. Some heckling requests for them, though not Felt for a change. I haven't much love for Felt in the face of Lawrence's newest material. I can't understand all the indie kids that go for all that, its comparably drab and they're missing out on ridiculously bright, fun, amusing, off kilter pop like no other with Go Kart Mozart.

Setlist, as transferred from my handwritten one on the back of some hotel stationery, went pretty much like this from memory:

West Brom Blues
Lawrence Takes Over (excerpt)
Come on You Lot
The Sun
Summer is Here
Electric Rock and Roll
We're Selfish and Lazy and Greedy
Donna and the Dopefiends
Glorious Chorus
Drinkin' Um Bongo (!)
White Stilettoes in the Sand
(a new song)
Donna and the Dopefiends (again!)

The most memorable, enjoyable gig in years.