Thursday, 12 May 2011

My Favourite Piece of Plastic

My job at the moment is really doing my head in so I was trawling through old emails looking for forgotten fun. I found this thing I wrote about 4 years ago. It may well have appeared on The Autumn Store's blog some time back then, but I can't find it on there, so maybe not.

Anyway, here it is..

My Favourite Piece of Plastic

It’s the ‘Dialling Tone’ 7" by Milky Wimpshake. Many records I own have their special attractions – the Helen Love single with an Xmas message scratched into one side, the Cable 7" with fish etched into the see-through vinyl, the Bearsuit single which was "mummified", the one sided Teen Anthems 7" which I bought simply because of the title "I hate oasis (and I hate the Beatles)" which came with a photocopied wrap-round sleeve and hand written labels. I’ve got record of different sizes and weights, different colours, multicoloured, glittery vinyl hand numbered sleeves, hand made sleeves, one made of denim. And so on, but the Milky Wimpshake 7" takes the prize.

Unusually for me I can’t actually remember where I got it from, I’d hazard a guess at Tempest Records in Birmingham, but there’s a chance it could have been from one of my trips to Andy’s Records in Aberystwyth. Or even, given the date of release, possibly from Mike Lloyd’s in Wolverhampton.

I can still remember why I bought it though. I had heard of Milky Wimpshake because I owned a Bette Davis and The Balconettes 7" on Slampt. At the time, I had few friends with any interest in DIY/Indie, and little access to underground gigs –being 15 and dwelling deeply in the suburbs- and, back in those days, I had no Internet access. For these reasons I frequently bought records simply because I had seen the name in a distro list, or as playing with another band, or being on the same label. Any tenuous association was worth risking my paper-round money, and more often than not it paid off.

The record came in a red paper wrap-round sleeve, which was inside a clear plastic sheath, the sleeve had black print on front and back, a bored looking executive on the front (who now I can’t help but think looks like George Dubya, even though the record was released before most of us would have known who he was), with a picture of the band sitting on a sofa on the back. Printed inside was the story about how Milky Wimpshake formed – Because Pete met a girl who’d changed her name by Deed Poll to Joey Ramone. An Insert gave the information about the record label. Ferric Mordant’s tag line was "Round bits of plastic with music on" which I loved then and love now. It seems to me to be saying "what you hold in your hands is only an object, do not idolise it, do not pretend this represents something more than you yourself could achieve, records are made by people, PEOPLE LIKE YOU!"

Then we come to the songs, ‘Dialling Tone’ Itself remains one of my favourite songs to this day, easy to dance to, lyrics that are fun, knowing, and honest ("Your boyfriend seems so dull/He was probably born in hull" and "I wanna phone you when I come home drunk, Maybe I should become a monk/ Yea I know I’m your bit on the side, but I hope some day you’ll be all mine"). It always went on compilations I made and appeared whenever I DJ’d. Including the time I said I’d play a song specially for a girl if she turned up when I was DJing, and yea, I did fancy her, and maybe her boyfriend was from hull or somewhere, but it was never meant to mean anything, it was just meant to be an ace song to be enjoyed.

The B-side "True Love Will Find You In The End/Don’t Let Our Youth Go To Waste" is a Medley of a Daniel Johnston song and a Jonathan Richman Song. At the time I had no idea who Jonathan Richman was, but it was this version of his song that made me want to find out. The lyrics slay me every single time, and the one note guitar bit, it’s like a heart beating too fast because of what is happening, or what could happen, or what is being promised. "I could give you memories to rival Berlin in the ‘30s."

It’s my favourite piece of plastic, and I often take any opportunity to tell people that.

The links above are not just to Wikipedia or homepages. Hopefully they're to stuff that you might find a little more interesting.

Dialling tone:
True Love/Youth:
Sleeve & Notes:


I tried to fix the spacing on this post but for some reason I can't get it to word. Sorry about that.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Sourpatch - Crushin'

I was worried when I got the record out of the sleeve. The vinyl seemed a little warped. Well actually it seemed alarmingly warped. Everything was okay when I got it on the turntable, though. It plays fiiiiiiiiine..

The vinyl version of this album comes with a download code thingy for you youngsters and technophiles. The cover isn't in full colour -the CD version is, I think- but it does come with a lyrics insert doohickey, which is nice.

I've already said over on Anorak that each time I listen to this album I find my self thinking 'ooh, this is my favourite song on the album.' Then the next song starts and I think '..oh, no, this is my favourite song on the album!' This continues til I have to flip the record over. then it's repeated ad infinitum. It makes me feel extra guilty/stoopid for getting so trashed on the Friday of Popfest that I couldn't really take them in (though I do have vague recollections of possibly hug-ATTACKing one or more of them).

So do they actually sound like?

The interwebs will mention bands like Go Sailor, Cub, and '90's pop punk.' They're 2 guitars/bass/drums set up, several vocalists inc. some boy/girl stuff. At first I didn't really like the way the album was recorded (thought the vocals were too quiet), I'm not really sure how I came to that conclusion, cos within a day or so I had changed my mind.

They're a lovely, joyful (in an often sombre way) sort of shambolic indiepoppunk. It's exactly the sort of thing that we should all love. It's bouncy without being vacuous, it's sweet without being saccharine, it's fun without being funny, it's whimsical without being affected, and it's pop music, but it's far from twee.

They've got the album on CD and the 7" over at Pebble Records, for the album on vinyl I think you'll have to order it direct from Happy Happy Birthday To Me. What're you waiting for?

Monday, 28 February 2011

London Popfest 2011

Superfast, supercheap Virgin train to Euston, with free Wi-Fi... Wander to Camden and discover cheap veggie burger place is no more... Amble across the city (and The City) for a few hours (via V-Cross, St John's Gate)... Begin to realise my brand new £4.99 shoes are already totally fucked up... Walk up and down Cable Street but am unable to find the red plaque (cos it's on Dock Street)... Meet up with Clare Pop, then head over to meet other pop types in Shepherds Bush... Bush Hall has upsides (sounds, chandeliers, balcony) £3.80/can booze is one of the downsides... Tender Trap are my highlight for the evening... Friday is for Thai Food at The Miller, followed by 'Darkened Doorways' (lovely to share with others), then 'Strange Powers' (totally watchable, even as an unfan of Magnetic Fields)... Bored of the cold I buy a 1/2 price cardigan in H&M, Brixton... Comedy confusion in The Music Bar where Ben is told his chicken burger has become a beef burger as chickenburgers aren't served so the menu must have a 'spelling mistake'... It's payday for me and The Windmill has lots of beer and a merch desk... Town Bike & Sourpatch are top banana... Dancing til WAY past bedtime... Saturday is chinese buffet followed by Blue Posts, had to force the first couple of pints down battling with hangover... Enter The 100 Club to the opening notes of La Revolucion Sexual played by Twee Grrrls Club, hangover symptoms disappear... Wait for Humousexual... knackered guitar amp doesn't prevent a good number of terriblyexcited kids dancing, fists in the air to the likes of Oh Camberwell and Batty Street... Spend much of the day trying to avoid the eyes of people I went TOTALLY FANBOY over the night before, same with randoms I HUG-ATTACKED... Drink til it matters less... Go all FANBOY over Rob Price... Eux Autres nail their set... Think I may have accidentally sort of pulled a dude... Dance til late... Get called a 'cunt' by a Met Copper... Head across to The Lexinton for All Fringe No Knickers for more dancing to Sultans of Ping... Head east with a chatty taxi driver and a spare Swede... Early rise for Pop Quiz, Tony Wilson's Cock slaughter the competition... Head over to Bhel Poori House for dangerous amounts of curry... Find the following grafitti:'I bet the chef wanks in the curry, I would. Imagine all those uptight indie girls (not women, for sure) necking the whack.'... Enjoy the nervous dancing of Youngfuck's singer... Enjoy onstage banter of Girls Names' singer... Make a girl cry... Don't manage to say goodbye to everyone... Realise at Euston that my train ticket is for Monday... New ticket for train leaving 30 mins after I thought, arriving 90 mins after I'd thought... Birmingham City FC win the Carling Cup, my train makes this common knowledge... Popfest 2011 ends.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Fever Fever

So I lied, Lucksmiths next week.

Last night I went to see The Lovely Eggs cos they are ace. Everyone knows The Lovely Eggs are ace. What I didn't know is that Fever Fever are also ace.

I nearly saw Fever Fever some time last year when they played at the Victoria with The Lovely Eggs and Hotpants Romance. I didn't actually manage to see Fever Fever, though. This is because living in Dudley is a fucking ballache and pretty much makes existence anti-fun. I checked out some video clip somewhere of Fever Fever and didn't get it.

Last night I actually got to see Fever Fever and it was hella mega! As soon as they started I couldn't help but think of three sounds: early-ish Mudhoney, the first Help She Cant Swim album, and the criminally underrated Montana Pete. I'm fairly sure no one else would say they can hear these bands in Fever Fever's sound, but I reckon I can, SO THERE.

I was pretty surprised by how big a sound they manage to produce with just two guitars and drums, even when they go down to one guitar they still have a really impressive, chunky sound. I tried for ages to think of a better word but I couldn't. I will be winning no prizes for this post.

I've been looking around online and I still can't find anything by Fever Fever that does justice to the live set I witnessed last night. I'd definitely go see them again, though. I've half a mind to go to the Flapper tonight to see them. In fact, if I weren't flat-piss broke, and if I hadn't rolled in at 5 this morning, I would be heading for the bus right now.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Okay, I'm Sorry. Next post is The Lucksmiths..

I wanted to post this week, but I knew I wouldn't be able to say the right things about the stuff I wanted to post about.

So I figure a drunken post about something simple will do. RETRO HONPO are fucking mega. Here is some PROOF.

I heard them cos The legendary Alan 'The Doc' Farmer was DJing at The Aumtun Store all-dayer a couple of weeks ago. He sent some links to Dunc, Dunc posted them on Anorak.

The moral of the story? Retro Honpo are immesurably fucking mega.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Standard Fare/One Happy Island

Remember that Standard Fare,/One Happy Island record I mentioned the other day? Well that lovely, lovely slab of orange vinyl from Thee SPC has remained on my turntable since. The difference between this time and last is that I’ve been flipping it over, and over, and over.

I didn’t know until I received the record that each band have recorded one of the other band’s songs and one original. I was dead excited when I got this record, which is why it superceded the Defiance, Ohio album, and I was right to be excited. Each band’s cover is brilliant, they’ve both managed to make a cover sound as though it could be one of their own songs. Neither band try to ape the style or sound of the other band, so what we’ve got here is basically a great original-sounding song by each band, just that they didn’t happen to write them.

Standard Fare bash out another couple of their perfectly-crafted, slightly jerky power pop, and I’m always surprised that they manage to have such a big, full sound as a three-piece, how do they do that? The lyrics are the new one are great (as always) and the delivery is in Emma’s easily recognised, irresistible style.

The One Happy Island side gives us more of their chaotic, yet tuneful indiepop. I’ve always like how their songs sound almost as though they were recorded in the kitchen while there was a party going on in the living room (and I’m not just saying that because of ‘Secret Part That The Other Party Doesn’t Know About’), and that they sound like they might just fall apart at any second.

If you’ve any sympathy for indiepop in 2011, your life will certainly be enriched by this bloody great record.

One question, what the hell is a ‘dixie cup’?

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Defiance, Ohio

I just got some new records* which meant I had to remove the record that's been king of the deck for two or three weeks now.

That record is the most recent album by Defiance, Ohio, 2010's Midwestern Minutes. If you're at all familiar with Defiance, Ohio you will know that they inhabit that much-maligned land that is the genre known as folk punk. The punks whine that it isn't punk enough, others moan that 'they can't sing properly', and as ever, these miseries are missing the point entirely.

I don't remember how I first came to hear Defiance, Ohio, but it was in around 2005/06. The first song I heard was 'I don't want solidarity if it means holding hands with you' which nailed me with it's raucous pop-punk chorus and brilliant lyrics. Maybe I downloaded some more stuff (it's all free on their website), maybe I didn't. In the 2nd half of 2006 I did a runner from Nottingham, and in the brief period I was knocking about the West Midlands before going abroad Defiance, Ohio happened to be playing in Birmingham. What's more, is that my friend Winston Echo had been asked to support them. So not only did I get to see Defiance, Ohio, but I got to go not on my own. That night I bought the 2nd Defiance, Ohio album The Great Depression (which doesn't feature I Don't want Solidarity...

A couple of years later, I ordered a bunch of stuff from No Idea Records, amongst it was the first Defiance, Ohio album, Share What Ya Got. More great folk punk made living in the absolute middle of nowhere - surrounded by a peculiar combination of rich-ass holiday-makers, hoteliers, and dull-as-fuck fellow minimum wagers - slightly more sufferable. I dreamt of running away to the bright lights of Northampton to strong-arm Winston Echo into staring a folk punk band with me.

Later still, I'm visiting a friend in London and we decide to go to the punk rock record shop as part of a weekend of whim-based adventures (newly-discovered comic book shop, chinese buffet, bag of coffee from swanky coffee shop, Euston Tap, falafel fail, falafel win, pub club, Boris Karloff's house), and I see that there's a brand-spanking new Defiance, Ohio album. I was vaguely aware that they'd released another album since The Great Depression, and I also knew this wasn't it. So I skipped their third album (I'll get it one day) and went straight to Midwestern Minutes.

In my cold little room at the back of a decrepit terraced house - only metres from the home of a young J.R.R. Tolkien - in a hinterland between work and work, marked by Xmas and New Year, I put on my new Defiance, Ohio record. I knew what to expect, and I basically got it.

The new album was and is very much in the same vein as the other two records I have of theirs. However, there was something about this album that really did something for me. Keys to locks, striking chords, brain kissing, heart warming, smile-wrenching. All that shit.

I didn't even turn the record over for at least the first half-dozen plays. There's a song on there about a rosy picture of the end times, which just gives me some kind of hope. Perhaps not true hope, I don't think I'm really capable of that kind of belief, but hope in the knowledge that other people are at least dissatisfied with everything as it stands and yearn for something else (and perhaps are relying on forces bigger than ourselves, or any groups or societies).

Of course, this sort of thing is a not uncommon theme for Defiance, Ohio. For instance:

fuck this city, and fuck this filthy air/ let’s build a-frames in the woods and just live there/ we’ll all eat berries and build fires every night and forget this mistake we call modern life.

Or how about:

are you angry? are you searching for a better way to live? are you waiting? have you been waiting too long? what holds us back and how to burn the bridges of a culture that taught us to hate and fear and live like cogs in a machine and not like lovers friends and kin.). I think I lost my train of thought..

Anyway, this album is the same, but different. I think that's exactly what we (or at least, I) want from a band we already love, isn't it? Something that isn't just a repetition of their previous output, but also, doesn't become something new entirely and thought it may still be a great record, not what you wanted from the band, and loses the reason you loved them in the first place? Go on, call me reactionary.

I'm not really sure why I started writing, but I'm just about done, now.

* The Standard Fare/One Happy Island split on Thee SPC, and The first Hang Over Lounge EP.