'Last Train To Eastleigh!' #3 Summer 2015

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richpassivity
Posts: 1448
Joined: Tue Sep 16, 2008 12:55 pm
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Location: Eastleigh,Hampshire, England

'Last Train To Eastleigh!' #3 Summer 2015

Post by richpassivity » Mon Jul 13, 2015 12:41 pm

Only 18 months after the last one, #3 of my paper zine/one-sheeter 'Last Train To Eastleigh!' is out now! :)
Similar format to the last 2 with articles entitled 'Pop Anarchy!', 'Southampton Indiepop City' & the usual reviews.
PM me if you'd like one
One thing that we've known from the start
Deep down inside, we're punk rockers at heart

richpassivity
Posts: 1448
Joined: Tue Sep 16, 2008 12:55 pm
Last.fm: http://www.last.fm/user/
Location: Eastleigh,Hampshire, England

Re: 'Last Train To Eastleigh!' #3 Summer 2015

Post by richpassivity » Tue Aug 11, 2015 11:09 am

One thing that we've known from the start
Deep down inside, we're punk rockers at heart

richpassivity
Posts: 1448
Joined: Tue Sep 16, 2008 12:55 pm
Last.fm: http://www.last.fm/user/
Location: Eastleigh,Hampshire, England

Re: 'Last Train To Eastleigh!' #3 Summer 2015

Post by richpassivity » Fri Jan 22, 2016 11:25 am

Just realised I hadn't posted the contents of the last issue that came out last summer so here it is:-

'LAST TRAIN TO EASTLEIGH!’ #3 – SUMMER 2015
Welcome to the latest ‘Last Train To Eastleigh!’ & only a mere 18 months since #2! Once again there are no fancy graphics, with simply the words & the band names in bold to break up the text! The premise remains to keep a local indiepop focus, both from a contemporary & an historical perspective. The Wedge gig review is a little old I know but it’s not as if this is the ‘NME’ & in particular I wanted to include the stuff on the fantastic FLOWERS! All feedback or comments are appreciated & further copies of this (along with #1 & 2) are available for a stamp from the contact point below, or you can just send me something nice like a mixtape/CD!

In addition to those mentioned elsewhere within this issue, once again there have been plenty of superb albums since #2. As proof I offer those by the likes of GOLD-BEARS, ALPACA SPORTS, THE ORCHIDS, THE HOBBES FANCLUB, THE HIT PARADE, FEAR OF MEN, ALLO DARLIN’ (3rd LP ‘We Come From The Same Place’ is by far their best!), THE PRIMITIVES, TRICK MAMMOTH, ALVVAYS, THE CATENARY WIRES, ULTIMATE PAINTING, VIC GODARD & THE SUBWAY SECT, THE VASELINES, LIGHTNING IN A TWILIGHT HOUR, JOANNA GRUESOME & TIGERCATS (not forgetting 7”s by JUNE BRIDES & ZIPPER!) as examples! Also reissues by ST CHRISTOPHER, 1000 VIOLINS, THE CHILLS, JASMINE MINKS, A RIOT OF COLOUR & the expanded ‘C86’ boxset. Forthcoming are new albums by SEAPONY, STRAWBERRY WHIPLASH & THE SCHOOL… it’s a good time to be into this stuff!

I turn 50 in December & at least 2 bands mentioned in these pages will be playing my Birthday gig/all-dayer at The Joiners (http://www.joinerslive.co.uk) on Saturday 12 December! Thanks to all my friends & everyone who has helped with or said kind words about ‘Last Train To Eastleigh!’ &/or ‘The Sun Shines Here!’. Above all, this is once again dedicated with love to Geraldine & Rhys. See you all next time! Rich – June 2015…

COMMUNICATE!...
Rich
17 Oak Tree Way,
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Hampshire,
SO50 4JN
UK
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richpassivityAThotmailDOTcom

‘THE SUN SHINES HERE!’...
Last time out there was a Manifesto for my DJ sets under ‘The Sun Shines Here!’ banner, so I thought I’d update what’s been happening since then…

Doing this is something I absolutely love & sadly it doesn’t happen often enough! I was privileged to DJ THE FIREWORKS gig at The Cellar last year & then the last Sofa City Collective (http://www.issu.com/sofacity) gig there just before the Cellar closed in December. At the Joiners, I’ve DJed gigs by THE PAINS OF BEING PURE AT HEART, THE HISTORY OF APPLE PIE & WILD SMILES. The emphasis remains on indiepop old & new, with a smattering of classic punk rock & ‘60s girls.

I get a kick out of strangers coming up & asking what the ANDERSEN TAPES & ANOTHER SUNNY DAY songs are I’m playing. The onstage praise from Kip at the PAINS gig about the quality of tunes I’d played was nice & seeing the reaction to THE GO-BETWEENS’ ‘Love Goes On!’ at THE FIREWORKS makes everything worthwhile!

If you picked this up at the ALVVAYS Joiners gig, I hope you enjoyed my set before/between bands. You can normally see playlists posted within a day or two of the gig on the Anorak forum (http://www.anorakforum.com), as well as the contents of this fanzine & future ‘The Sun Shines Here!’ events…

SOUTHAMPTON INDIEPOP CITY (PART 3)!…
Time for a report on what’s been happening locally since last time & stuff that I’d overlooked… Southampton’s DEAD RABBITS are an ace mix of shoegaze, psychedelia, & THE JESUS & MARY CHAIN. They’ve played on mainland Europe a fair bit & just released their 2nd album ‘Time Is Your Only Enemy’ on Fuzz Club Records (http://www.deadrabbitsuk.tumblr.com). PALE SEAS followed up their 7”s with the ‘Places To Haunt’ 10” EP (Native Pop) (http://www.soundcloud.com/paleseas). WILD SMILES released their debut ‘Always Tomorrow’ album (Sunday Best) last Autumn & completed a European tour (http://www.wildsmiles.co.uk). DEAD RABBITS, PALE SEAS & WILD SMILES all played May’s ‘Common People’ festival in Southampton.

ACCRINGTON STANLEY (http://www.accrington-stanley.com) continue to gig in the local area & frontman Dan O’Farrell has also been playing solo gigs. Also part of the Sofa City stable are THE STURMEY ARCHERS. Mainly the vehicle of prolific songwriter Paddy Conner, their gigs with NEKO ROSHI (http://www.soundcloud.com/neko-roshi) have been fun & how could a BLONDIE fan like me fail to enjoy a STURMEYS song like ‘I Love You More Than Debbie Harry’? (http://www.soundcloud.com/paddyconner). Also check out THE DIAMOND AGE & SWORDZZZ (more on both next time!).

Named after the BEAT HAPPENING song, ‘Honey Pot’ ‘zine #1 was a cool-looking mix of cut n’ paste graphics/art and strips. Ayesha has left Southampton for Newcastle and hopefully there will be another issue soon (http://www.honeypotzine.tumblr.com). Talking of former Southampton residents, last time I wrote about the superb SCALE MODELS & Ross has since left Australia for Madison, Wisconsin & formed AUTOMATICALLY YOURS. They have just issued their 9 track album ‘The Trouble With The World Is Me’ in tape & digital formats & it’s indiepop of the highest calibre! (http://www.automaticallyyours.bandcamp.com). Ross is also involved with a weekly indiepop radio show on WSUM (http://www.wsum.org) called ‘One, Two, Twee!’ (http://www.onetwotweeradio.tumblr.com).

Gigwise, last year Talking Heads saw PROPER ORNAMENTS (decent LP on Fortuna Pop!) supporting TOY & then SWEET BABOO. There was a fun SHOPPING/DOG LEGS gig at Avondale House last year too. New West Quay Road venue the Engine Rooms has hosted JULIAN COPE (WIRE & BUZZCOCKS too) & THE WEDDING PRESENT play there on 16th October! (http://www.engineroomssouthampton.com) BLACK TAMBOURINES again played Club Psychedelia at Lennons (& the Railway Inn Winchester also).

Talked about the 1987 MIGHTY MIGHTY John Peel Roadshow Uni gig last time & my mate John has confirmed that it was a student-only deal. He & his mates chatted to the legendary DJ there & even got THE PRIMITIVES played for them on Peel’s show soon after! Have somehow previously overlooked THE SIDDELEYS’ Labour Club gig that Rob the Postie put on around 1989! SIDDELEYS frontwoman Johnny Johnson was actually from Southampton & their great ‘Sunshine Thuggery’ 12” is being reissued on Firestation (http://www.firestation-records.de). THE MONOCHROME SET played Southampton Uni a couple of times in 1982 & 1985. More recently in 2009, THE LOVELY EGGS played a poorly attended gig at Hamptons that I would have gone to if I’d known about it – lucky for me then that they are playing at Talking Heads on 5th November!

Pompey saw BELLE & SEBASTIAN/DUM DUM GIRLS at the Guildhall in May. 2014’s Southsea Fest again had an indie pop presence (FEAR OF MEN, ULTIMATE PAINTING, MARTHA & PROPER ORNAMENTS). Southsea’s Pie & Vinyl (http://www.pieandvinyl.co.uk) had an in-store by ‘80s Peel faves BOB – check out their reissues (http://www.3loopmusic.com). Saw Gosport’s PAUL GROOVY & THE POP ART EXPERIENCE at the Wedge last Xmas - nice mix of ‘60s garage covers & fuzzed out originals! There’s been talk of a retrospective CD & also a book of photos from the early ‘80s indiepop era (http://www.thepopartexperience.bandcamp.com). Also from Gosport were Sarah Records’ ACTION PAINTING! & members later played in SOCIALIST LEISURE PARTY, who did a 7” on Cloudberry called ‘Turktown Saints’ - Turktown being a colloquial term for Gosport! Anything I’ve missed (THE STOCKHOLM MONSTERS played Southampton in the 80s or did I just imagine that?) & further updates next time…

POP ANARCHY!…
“Pop meets anarchy & I love them both!” ‘Pop Anarchy!’. A gem tucked away on a 1987 CHESTERF!ELDS b-side but one that has always struck a chord with me and my feeling that indiepop is intrinsically political and D.I.Y. Here are some thoughts, examples & experiences based on that idea…

It is an undeniable fact that there would be no indiepop scene without the influence and spirit of punk rock. BUZZCOCKS’ ‘Spiral Scratch’ & THE DESPERATE BICYCLES set the template for D.I.Y. records & Mark P’s ‘Sniffin’ Glue’ did the same for fanzines. It may sound like a cliché but punk rock really did change my life. I grew up on a council estate with Labour-voting parents. My grandfather was a Communist in the 1930s & at the East London mural commemorating the 1936 Battle of Cable Street (Mosley’s fascist Blackshirts did not pass!), there is a photo of my Grandad from the day on the information board. However, my politics/beliefs (leftie/veggie) predominantly came from my punk rock education that began at 13. It remains the biggest cultural influence on my life.

I started working in 1985 & began widening the scope of what I bought beyond straight punk rock. Records by JASMINE MINKS, JUNE BRIDES, THE WEDDING PRESENT & particularly SHOP ASSISTANTS’ amazing ‘Shopping Parade’ 7” were key indiepop entry points for me. The violence I’d seen at a CONFLICT gig in Salisbury around the same time impacted on me & musically it didn’t really take much of a leap from HAGAR THE WOMB or THE LOST CHERREES to SHOP ASSISTANTS!

Others had clearly made the same journey. Early on THE JUNE BRIDES played with anarcho-punk bands like THE MOB & APOSTLES at the Anarchy Centre & old Ambulance Station in London and in the sleevenotes to Cherry Red’s ‘Every Conversation’ 2xCD discography, talking about the offer EMI-owned Parlophone made to THE JUNE BRIDES, Phil Wilson said: “We believed in the independent ethic & don’t forget that we’d been on anti-capitalist marches, done miners benefits & several of the band considered themselves anarchists. Signing to EMI would have felt like an absolute betrayal of our ideals”. When I read this I got a surge of pride & if I hadn’t already known that THE JUNE BRIDES were one of the greats, this would have only reinforced it! THE CLOSE LOBSTERS covered THE MOB’s ‘Mirror Breaks’ for their 1987 Peel session. Before he co-founded LUSH, Chris Acland played in the Cumbria anarcho band A TOUCH OF HYSTERIA. Just prior to his tragic suicide in 1996, Chris returned to his punk roots drumming on the 1st HARD SKIN LP. HARD SKIN continue to this day with Fat Bob on bass – Fat Bob is Sean Forbes who compiled and provided sleeve-notes for the ‘Rough Trade Shops: Indiepop’ compilations – hearing the first around 2005 was key to me getting back into the indiepop.

We’re getting ahead of ourselves here though. Back in the early ‘80s, pioneers like THE MONOCHROME SET lampooned Latin American dictatorships in ‘Jet Set Junta’. Cork’s MICRODISNEY married gorgeous tunes to often caustic lyrics (‘Pink Skinned Man’) & titled an album ‘We Hate You South African Bastards’ – toned down to ‘Love Your Enemies’ for the post-Apartheid era in the recent Cherry Red reissues! THE CHEFS challenged expectations of what a woman should look like in ‘Let’s Make Up’. THE TV PERSONALITIES’ ‘King & Country’ explored similar anti-war territory to THE JAM’s brilliant ‘Little Boy Soldiers’, while a glorious record like THE WILD SWANS’ ‘The Revolutionary Spirit’ made you feel like anything was possible. ORANGE JUICE were important for their non-macho stance, both lyrically & in the way they presented themselves. Ditto THE SMITHS & the words to ‘Meat Is Murder’ impacted on a generation of indie kids in the same way that FLUX OF PINK INDIANS’ had on punks like me – although Morrissey’s recent views on UKIP are a totally different story!

Bob Stanley’s notes for the ‘CD86’ compilation talked about the “socialism in practice” of the C86 era & the D.I.Y. aspect of how things operated – self-released/independent records, gigs & fanzines. On a trip to Rough Trade in London in early ‘86 I bought #2 of Matt Haynes & Mark Carnell’s ‘Are You Scared To Get Happy?’ & Matt’s solo ‘The Sun Shines Here’ fanzine & as a result all later ‘AYSTGH?’. As well as turning me on to many great bands (HURRAH!/CARE etc), I loved the incendiary attitude & passionate ideals.

Matt had also been a part of the great Sha-La-La flexi label (some came with copies of ‘AYSTGH?’) & with Clare Wadd started Sarah Records in 1987. Sarah got off to a flyer with THE SEA URCHINS’ sublime ‘Pristine Christine’ 7” & over the next 8 years they released some wonderful records & with impeccable integrity laid down a marker on how a label should operate.

Last year there was a Sarah exhibition ‘Between Hello & Goodbye’ at the Arnolfini in Bristol, with an accompanying zine. The zine makes it clear the U.K. music press perceived the label as simply being shy boys singing of unrequited love & in reviews used wholly inappropriate phrases like “slackwristed”. Not that there’s anything wrong with singing about love/lust per se but it certainly wasn’t always the case with Sarah. First anti-Poll Tax record? THE ORCHIDS’ ‘Defy The Law’ on their 2nd Sarah 7” in 1988. The song’s sentiments were backed up by the “ORCHIDS Say Pay No Poll Tax!” on the insert & “Fuck The Poll Tax!” on the run-off groove! Fellow Scots THE WAKE railed against the then Prime Minister on their ‘Major John’ 7”. BLUEBOY’s ‘Clearer’ & ‘Fontelle’ protested the Tories’ anti-gay Clause 28 law & in gems like ‘This Love Is Not Wrong’ & ‘So Said Kay’, THE FIELD MICE kicked back at society’s idea of the norm in relationships/sexuality, while ‘Sensitive’ questioned perceptions about what it is to be a man.

There’s been a glut of Sarah-related activity recently. As well as the Arnolfini exhibition, last year saw Lucy Dawkins’ ‘My Secret World’ documentary film (screenings around the world & hopefully a DVD release) & Michael White’s ‘Popkiss’ book on the label is published by Bloomsbury this autumn. Details of all these events & links to all things Sarah (music & fanzine texts etc) can be found at their excellent official website (http://www.sarahrecords.org.uk).

Lyrically the most political indiepop band were MCCARTHY, who between 1985-1990 produced some of the most amazing music from any era. Fusing a defiantly, sharp left-wing stance to incredible melodies in classics like ‘Red Sleeping Beauty’ (“While there’s still a world to win, my Red Dream is everything”) & ‘We Are All Bourgeois Now’, which sounds even more prescient now than it did at the height of the Thatcher-era. In 2014, Cherry Red issued the ‘Complete Albums, Singles & BBC Sessions Collection’ 4xCD box! (http://www.cherryred.co.uk) Optic Nerve have also been issuing expanded vinyl versions of the LPs (http://www.opticnerverecordings.com). LAETITIA SADIER who sang on the last MCCARTHY LP & went on to STEREOLAB, continues the class war on 2014’s ‘Something Shines’ album (Drag City) but sadly her Winchester Railway Inn last year was cancelled.

Whilst THE ROSEHIPS wrote self-explanatory songs like ‘Bloodstained Fur’ & (the instrumental) ‘A Slow Painful Death To Vivisectionists’, sometimes things weren’t as obvious as they first appeared – THE OGDENS’ 1988 single ‘It’s A Beautiful Day’ initially comes across like a typical ba-ba-ba happy ditty until the “Government has had its day, people out there throwing bricks, listen to the sound of breaking glass, it’s a beautiful day” verse kicks in. Edinburgh’s JESSE GARON & THE DESPERADOES may have jangled whilst “Splashing along through George Square” but they also eulogised about “Bringing down the Grand Hotel” in Brighton with Thatcher & members of her Tory cabinet inside. When the news broke that the witch was finally dead, the first song I thought of was HEFNER’s ‘The Day That Thatcher Dies’ & mainman DARREN HAYMAN’s latest album ‘Chants For Socialists’ (WIAIWYA) is based on the 19th century words of William Morris.

The Riot Grrrl scene of the early ‘90s & bands like BIKINI KILL, HUGGY BEAR (1994 Joiners gig) & BRATMOBILE (ditto 1993) influenced and impacted on indiepop with its inspiring feminist message and can-do sense of empowerment. The equally politically-charged D.I.Y. hardcore scene has also cross-fertilised with indiepop. Canada’s FUCKED UP covered songs by DOLLY MIXTURE, SHOP ASSISTANTS & ANOTHER SUNNY DAY & played gigs with compatriots ALVVAYS. Onstage at the VIVIAN GIRLS’ 2010 Joiners gig, Katy dedicated their set to the man (me!) in the SSD hoodie! More recently Katy herself has sported POISON IDEA & TALK IS POISON t-shirts in LA SERA photos. MILKY WIMPSHAKE covered ‘Barcode Punk’ by their Newcastle friends EBOLA on their debut LP & played gigs for the S.T.E. (punk/hardcore collective that I was part of here in Southampton). Guitarist Pete Dale was also one half of the fervently D.I.Y. Slampt label & this year’s ace ‘Encore, Un Effort’ yellow vinyl LP (Fortuna Pop!), retains MILKY WIMPSHAKE’s political suss, as witnessed at a recent fine Brighton gig with labelmates MARTHA (ace ‘Courting Strong’ album!).

Exciting, current bands like JOANNA GRUESOME & THE SPOOK SCHOOL confront misogyny/sexism, both in song & interviews. Advances in communications/technology have expanded international indiepop cooperation, with labels like Sweden’s Fraction Discs releasing 7”s by MOSCOW OLYMPICS from the Philippines. This isn’t however some kind of dominant imperialism – it’s a two-way process with the Peruvian Susy Records releasing discs by Swedes ALPACA SPORTS & the U.K.’s ST CHRISTOPHER. In these xenophobic times with the lurch to the right, anything that can help understanding each other’s cultures/differences is important. Locally, ACCRINGTON STANLEY played a benefit at the Joiners for the campaign against C4’s divisive & stereotypical ‘Immigration Street’ TV programme about the Derby Road area in Southampton.

THE JASMINE MINKS sang: “I’d like to write songs about flowers & holding hands…but the world’s no place for a romantic today”. Of course that last line is untrue but it is a timely reminder in this climate of the Tories’ austerity con cutting public services, while they & their wealthy friends get richer, that a political edge is a vital facet of indiepop…

THE WEDDING PRESENT/FLOWERS – PORTSMOUTH WEDGEWOOD ROOMS – 4/11/14…
Following their ‘George Best’, ‘Bizarro’ & ‘Seamonsters’ tours, THE WEDDING PRESENT similarly showcase their ‘Watusi’ album from 1994 in its entirety. Seeing as this was not their biggest selling album it wasn’t a bad Tuesday night crowd at the Wedge.

Was umming and ahhing about this gig & the announcement that FLOWERS were the tour support was the deciding factor to go. My initial impression about their Bernard Butler (SUEDE) produced debut album ‘Do What You Want To, It’s What You Should Do’ (Fortuna Pop), was that whilst the songs were great, I kind of missed the fuzz from the singles & the demos Rachel sent me. This notion didn’t last long & the album was soon a firm favourite. FLOWERS ooze charm without needing to say too much on stage. From those who hadn’t seen them before there were a few raised eyebrows at Rachel’s 1 string bass but her crystal-clear voice that wouldn’t be out of place on some early ‘70s ‘acid-folk’ album (like TREES), won the crowd over. In #2 I wrote that Sam was a ‘The Sun Shines Here!’ regular at the Cellar & watching him play these fantastic songs, I almost had to resist the urge to shout: “He’s one of our own!”. Lovely to chat to them afterwards & Southampton gig soon please! (http://www.flowersdomusic.bandcamp.com)

The first time I saw the WEDDOES was in Summer 1986 at the Timebox club at the Bull & Gate in Kentish Town & a bill that also included MIGHTY MIGHTY, THE CHESTERF!ELDS & CLOSE LOBSTERS. I’ve seen them a dozen or so times since & they never fail to entertain. ‘Watusi’ was never my favourite album of theirs but perhaps I should re-visit - Edsel have reissued deluxe versions of the albums (http://www.scopitones.co.uk), because in this context at least those songs stood up. There were a few gripes that the following set contained too few early songs but I was pleased with the clutch of ‘Take Fountain’ tunes (‘Perfect Blue’ & ‘Interstate 5’), as that 2005 album (along with GO-BETWEENS’ ‘Oceans Apart’ & TEENAGE FANCLUB’s ‘Man Made’) helped steer me back down the indiepop path.

Chatting to Andy & Lou on the way down, we discussed that there are two things you can always count on at WEDDING PRESENT gigs. Firstly David Gedge will explain that they don’t play encores. Secondly early on at Pompey gigs he will make a joke about how great it is to be in Southampton and vice versa. I was surprised tonight that he didn’t do this but the reason he didn’t became clear when he introduced the band & finished with “drummer Charlie’s from Southampton!” to good-natured boos & cheers & a quip from Gedge that he’d “been waiting to say that all night”!

The drive home listening to Andy’s tapes of John Peel’s ‘Festive 50s’ from the ‘80s rounded off what had been another fine evening…

DISCS…
THE FIREWORKS ‘Switch Me On’ CD – Shelflife.
First album on an American label from a London/Brighton band, following 2 fine singles (both also on Shelflife) & a killer Sofa City gig on Good Friday last year. This is as sublime as those tasters hinted it might be. Mostly this is energetic fare recalling SHOP ASSISTANTS & their U.S. nieces & nephews BLACK TAMBOURINE or AISLERS SET, complete with the fuzz & feedback snarl of early JESUS & MARY CHAIN. Sometimes when Matthew sings & THE FIREWORKS slow it down (like on ‘Tightrope’), they recall PRIMAL SCREAM (when they were good!) & closer ‘In The Morning’ conjures up some kind of SYD BARRETT/VELVET UNDERGROUND hybrid! An album that the band & fans alike can be truly proud of! (http://www.shelflife.com) (http://www.thefireworksgopop.bandcamp.com)

LIME CRUSH 7” – Fettkakao.
Saw this Austrian band at a hometown gig at Rhiz in Vienna last month & was blown away by their energy & sharp melodies. This 3 song 7” comes across as akin to JOANNA GRUESOME, LOVE IS ALL or even KLEENEX & like the live set sees them swapping around their instruments. The closing ‘Honk Tonk’ probably just about takes it if pushed but it’s all a splendid punk rock rush & I look forward to hearing more very soon. Costa DJing THE EASTERN DARK’s ‘Johnny & Dee Dee’ 7” at the Rhiz reminded me what a great single that was & so is this! (http://www.fettkakao.com)

PALE LIGHTS ‘Before There Were Pictures’ LP – Calico Cat.
I first heard this New York-based band led by Englishman abroad Phil Sutton (ex COMET GAIN/VELOCETTE) via the Cloudberry blog (http://www.cloudberryrecords.com) & one blast of their ‘The Boy Of Your Dreams’ led me to send off for the single it came from. This subsequent debut album came out in Spring 2014 & was my favourite of the year. Literate pop songs that hold their own against THE GO-BETWEENS, FELT & Flying Nun deities like THE BATS & THE CHILLS & some tasteful guitar breaks contribute to an album of enduring charm. ‘The Boy Of Your Dreams’ reappears here & remains the finest indiepop song of the last 5 years but the rest are top drawer too. Due to its age I was considering not reviewing this album, until I heard the news that they (Calico Cat is Phil’s label) had issued it on CD (with added single/digital tracks), so it’s still relevant & in any case, it’s not as if this superb album or band has been over-exposed! (http://www.palelights.bandcamp.com)

PERSONAL BEST ‘Arnos Vale’ LP – Specialist Subject.
Debut album from a Bristol group but one with a local connection as bassist Tom Hussey has played in Pompey/South Coast hardcore bands for years. PERSONAL BEST are way poppier than anything Tom’s done before though & this is a stunning collection of punchy songs, with hooks & tunes to die for. Kate’s fine voice leads us through strong words that address the emotions & politics of relationships/sexual identity & particularly how they are perceived (“There is no such thing as unnatural. There is no such thing as abnormal…”). ‘This Is What We Look Like’ gave both Geraldine & I goosebumps when they played it at their Joiners gig last month but the other 9 songs here are equally swell. Lovely orange vinyl & download code complete the deal & this is without a doubt the album of 2015 so far! (http://www.personalbest.bandcamp.com) (http://www.specialistsubjectrecords.co.uk)

THE POPGUNS ‘Pop Fiction’ CD – Matinee
First time I listened to this I was slightly disappointed, deeming this highly-anticipated return of THE POPGUNS to be a mite too polished. What was I thinking? Subsequent frequent airings have changed my opinion for the better & I now rate this as highly as their classic ‘80s/‘90s material. ‘Still Waiting For The Winter’ references past glories & like THE FIELD MICE, THE POPGUNS’ music evokes a certain poignancy that is hard to express with mere words. Wendy’s voice is as strong as ever & I’d defy anyone not to be bowled over by ‘If You Ever Change Your Mind’ or ‘I’ll See You Later’. There’s been talk of a Joiners gig (they played there several times in their original heyday) so hopefully that comes off. (http://www.matineerecordings.com)
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