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- Limited to 150, coloured vinyl, jukebox hole, record middle, tote bag, badge, mp3 download
Martha return with their second album Blisters In The Pit Of My Heart in July, via Fortuna POP! (UK/EU) and Dirtnap Records (US). Produced again by MJ from Hookworms, the album explores the difficulties in staying political, staying passionate and staying punk over the course of eleven expertly crafted pop songs.
Hailing from Pity Me near Durham, Martha play energetic, impassioned power pop with intricate vocal interplay and lush four-part harmonies, informed by 90s indie rock and contemporary garage punk. The band is comprised of J. Cairns (guitar), Daniel Ellis (guitar), Naomi Griffin (bass), and Nathan Stephens Griffin (drums). All four members sing and write the songs. Daniel and Nathan also play in Onsind, while Naomi also plays in No Ditching. Their debut album “Courting Strong” came out in 2014 and was included in NPR's top 50 albums of that year, winning them the epithet “One of Britain's best rock bands”.
If the band’s first album, 'Courting Strong', was about punks growing up, then 'Blisters In The Pit Of My Heart' is about grown-ups staying punk. It's an album about trying to stay creative and passionate and making the most of everything in spite of the many obstacles that get in the way. It documents the way things like work, money, expectations and mental health issues can impact on your ability to do the things you want to do and be the person you want to be. It’s about resistance to those things. It's about finding strength and solace in friendships, love, and taking motivation from the people in your life who really inspire you.
As Nathan explains: “Playing music is something that is really important to all of us, but it’s also something that takes a lot of time and energy and emotional strain. This record is for everyone who leads a secret double life, devoting every weekend, every day of annual leave, all of their disposable income, every drop of creative energy to something as ethereal as music and art. It’s about persevering and still doing the things you love, even when most normal people can't understand why on earth you do it.”
Taking inspiration from such likely and unlikely sources as The Replacements, Heart, Billy Bragg, Thin Lizzy, Cheap Trick, The Go-Gos and Radiator Hospital, the album bursts into life with “Christine”, “a love song filtered through the messiness of anxiety and night terror” that takes inspiration from “Threads”, the British TV drama of the 1980s about nuclear war, and is followed by the rousing “Chekhov's Hangnail”, with backing vocals from Ellis Jones of Trust Fund.
The catchy “Precarious (The Supermarket Song)” finds romance in the washing powder aisle, while “Goldman’s Detective Agency” shows the band’s playful side as they re-imagine 19th century anarchist Emma Goldman as a private eye vanquishing corrupt cops and politicians. Nearly every song here is a potential single, from the infectious “Do Whatever” and “11:45, Legless In Brandon” to outsider anthem “The Awkward Ones” and the Billy Bragg / Coronation Street-referencing “Curly and Raquel”. The album concludes with “St Paul's (Westerberg Comprehensive)”, a song about being caught up in the toxic culture of a Catholic comprehensive school. “It’s for the kids who had the guts to be queer at school and for those who didn’t figure themselves out until they got out of school. “
Following a Glastonbury appearance last year at the personal invitation of Billy Bragg, the band will be playing UK dates in July and August before taking to the stage at End Of The Road in September. It’s going to be a busy old time for the band, what with double lives and everything, but, with passion and love dripping out of every second of “Blisters In The Pit Of My Heart”, you know they’ll find a way.
2. Chekhov's Hangnail
3. Precarious (The Supermarket Song)
4. Do Whatever
5. Goldman's Detective Agency
6. The Awkward Ones
7. Icecream And Sunscreen
8. 11:45, Legless In Brandon
9. Curly & Raquel
10. Do Nothing
11. St. Paul's (Westerberg Comprehensive)
London five-piece Evans the Death return with Vanilla, their most ambitious and experimental album to date, eschewing the more traditional pop structures and hooks of their first two albums, 2012’s self-titled debut and 2015’s critically acclaimed Expect Delays. While Expect Delays was a step towards something more interesting, more collaborative, experimental and abrasive - a bleak, introspective kind of album that still retained a pop sensibility - Vanilla sees the band veer in an ever more adventurous direction: more aggressive, extroverted and raw.
Named after the undertaker in Dylan Thomas’ radio play, Under Milk Wood, the band was formed by brothers Dan and Olly Moss after meeting singer Katherine Whitaker at a Let’s Wrestle show. After numerous line-ups, the band is now completed by James Burkitt on drums and Daniel Raphael on bass. The new album was recorded at Lightship95 in London with producer Rory Attwell, who worked on both of their previous records. Highly variegated in style and mood, brimming with extreme contrasts, from noisy to funky to melodic, energetic to dejected, full of chaos and restlessness, the album was the result of a carefully planned recording strategy, as Dan Moss explains:
“We deliberately booked very little time in the studio, and we pretty much did everything live, together in the room – there was no trying to fix any mistakes. What you hear is very close to what we did in that moment – so technically, while it isn’t overly polished or slick, it’s a very high fidelity recording – an accurate reproduction of the original source. I think that gives it more of an urgency and honesty than the first two. We decided to limit ourselves to 8 tracks and this meant we were restricted in how much we could alter things after recording, and the amount of overdubs we could do – which is what we wanted.”
With no specific musical reference point, the songs on Vanilla veer wildly in style, lending a real energy and vitality to the flow of the album. There’s the psychedelic snarl of “Haunted Wheelchair” built around dissonant, ominous, jazz-like chords, which build a sense of dread and paranoia but also a strange excitement. Dan explains: “I wasn’t getting enough sleep. Then before recording the song, while on my way to a party I got assaulted out of the blue, and I had to have surgery for a broken jaw. I used that incident to hang the lyrics on, but really it’s about that strange feeling I was already having anyway.”
There’s also the no-wave party vibe of “Suitcase Jimmy”, a semi-improvised portrait of a fictional down-at-heel actor built around a Wilko Johnson-ish guitar part. “Hey! Buddy” is an “unintentionally mean-spirited” askew pop tune from the point of view of a cloying and over-zealous fan of the band. While the wartime dancehall of “Cable St. Blues” is an odd duet between two parts of the psyche, representing “an argument you have with yourself, about depression and extreme self-criticism and self-doubt, struggling to function”, and named after the site of the 1936 riots where the band wrote the album. “I wanted the end to sound like a New Orleans jazz funeral”, says Dan.
Newest member Daniel Raphael’s present to the band, “Hot Sauce” is led by a groovy, capacious bassline, while Olly’s “Armchair Theatre”, the quietest, prettiest song on the record, starts out like a soft rock classic and turns in to a gorgeously mournful song with the lyric “I took you to the park / kickin’ through used Johnnies and dry leaves”. And “Welcome to Usk” drews on Ennio Morricone’s spaghetti western soundtracks and parts of Vivian Kubrick’s score for Full Metal Jacket, with a banging disco section thrown in for good measure. “When we first got this song right I got so excited I threw up my dinner”, says Dan. “It has three different time signatures!”
A dark, howling, ragged storm of an album, impossible to categorise, Vanilla is anything but – a far cry from the bland, unimaginative music that pervades the airwaves. It is a brittle, brilliant new chapter in the story of a band who never fail to surprise.
1. Haunted Wheelchair
2. Suitcase Jimmy
3. No Imitations
4. Hey! Buddy
5. Cable St. Blues
7. Hot Sauce
8. Armchair Theatre
9. Welcome to Usk
10. European Bison
Dublin quintet September Girls return with an impassioned musical and political statement in their new album Age of Indignation, a title that succinctly sums up its inherent anger and restless dissatisfaction. The ten tracks bristle with atmospheric textures and dark-hearted noise, tackling complex subject matter such as feminism, religion and life in Ireland at this point in history along the way.
Formed in Dublin in 2011 and named after the Big Star song (by way of The Bangles), September Girls share songwriting and vocal duties amongst each of the band members. They comprise Paula Cullen on bass, Caoimhe Derwin and Jessie Ward O’Sullivan on guitar, Lauren Kerchner on keys and drummer Sarah Grimes, who debuts her first composition for the band with the closing track “Wolves”. Oliver Ackermann from A Place To Bury Strangers contributes vocals to “Jaw on the Floor”.
Age of Indignation follows September Girls’ debut Cursing the Sea (2014), an album that enjoyed considerable critical acclaim from the likes of The Guardian, The Fly, NME, The Sunday Times, The Observer and Uncut amongst others, with Time Magazine naming them as one of the 11 best new bands in the world. Since then the band have played slots at SXSW and CMJ as well as UK festivals such as Beacons, Great Escape, and Liverpool Psych Fest, not to mention a mobbed show in Berwick Street for Record Store Day. In late 2014 the band released a four-track EP Veneer, building on the foundations of Cursing the Sea and anticipating Age of Indignation, as they headed down a darker path.
As opposed to their debut album, which was recorded mainly at home, Age of Indignation was recorded at Dublin’s Orphan Studios, lending it a more assured, powerful sound. The album opens with the starkly bleak guitar riff of “Ghost”, before the band’s political views come to the fore with songs such as “Jaw on the Floor”, which is inspired by both the feminist movement and the 1916 Rising in Ireland, and “Catholic Guilt”, which deals with anger towards the Catholic Church, particularly from the viewpoint of being a woman, referencing the W.B. Yeats poem “September 1913”. Title track “Age of Indignation” addresses the ugly side of social media, while lead single “Love No One” comments on the vacuousness of modern society, mourning a narcissist's inability to see true beauty.
Brutally honest and brilliantly realised, Age of Indignation is a masterful album from a band confident enough to leave their influences behind. Still retaining the swirling psychedelia and intensity of their debut, this time round they are tighter and more controlled, whilst underneath something much darker and urgent is at work. This is music at its most riveting and atmospheric.
2. Jaw On The Floor
3. Catholic Guilt
4. Blue Eyes
5. Age of Indignation
6. Love No One
8. John of Gods
Spilt Milk is the brand new album from indie auteur Pete Astor, previously of The Loft, The Weather Prophets, and other esteemed acts. It was recorded onto ½ inch tape at the home studio of James Hoare of Ultimate Painting, The Proper Ornaments and Veronica Falls, with James playing guitar, bass, drums, keyboards and singing backing vocals. “He was”, says Astor, “an amazing band.” Other contributions came from members of Astor's live band, with Pam Berry (Black Tambourine, Withered Hand) supplying vocals, Jack Hayter (Hefner) on pedal steel, Alison Cotton (The Left Outsides) on viola, and Robin Christian (Male Bonding) and Susan Milanovic (Feathers) on drums.
The album has all the hallmarks of a future Pete Astor classic, drawing together key strands and tributaries of his work over the years, blending intuitive songwriting, acute lyrics and incisive melodies. After many years making more experimental, electronic music Astor has come full circle to the sound that made his name. He explains, “I’m back to being myself, bringing together sounds that I’ve used over time to make a record that sounds more like me than me!”
From the opening track “Really Something” to the recent single “Mr Music” (a favourite of Marc Riley and Gideon Coe on BBC 6 music) the album’s re-connects Astor’s bespoke guitar pop with his long-standing embrace of The Velvet Underground’s musical DNA. Other standout tracks include “My Right Hand”, a hymn to everyone’s best friend, with guest appearances from Tony Hancock, Marvin Gaye, Philip Larkin and a host of ex-girlfriends; the slow burning drama of “The Getting There” recalling the atmospheres of Astor’s 80s kindred spirits, The Go-Betweens. Also, there is the wry drive of “Very Good Lock”, summed up by Astor as “a description of an injurious medical condition that often affects the male of the species”. Elsewhere there are the gorgeous harmonies of the grown up country lament “Good Enough”, which wouldn’t be out of place on one of George Jones’ most heartbroken albums.
Spilt Milk is part of a continuum: from Astor’s beginnings with The Loft and The Weather Prophets on Creation Records in the 1980s, via his solo work through the 1990s and his more left field albums with The Wisdom of Harry and Ellis Island Sound on Matador Records, Heavenly and Peacefrog, through to his return to solo work with the Songbox album in 2012. As well as this ongoing musical activity, Astor is also Senior Lecturer at the University of Westminster, where he teaches, researches and writes about music; 2014 saw the publication of his study of Richard Hell and the Voidoids’ Blank Generation as part of Bloomsbury’s 33 1/3 Series.
Astor remains in touch, engaged and vital in a way that is rare with someone with such longevity. The album continues the story of one of one of England’s most respected and significant songwriters. As Astor says, “time passes, shit happens; some losses, some gains. Don’t cry – but I did!”
This is Spilt Milk."Quintessentially English yet Cohenesque pastoral folk-pop songs bent the way of French chanson. Lovely, every one - and a striking reminder of Astor's influence on artists from Belle & Sebastian to Luke Haines" - Uncut
There’s something great about a three-piece – think The Cocteau Twins, The Clean, Galaxie 500 – and the way that irreducible nucleus takes its strength from its limitations, making a virtue of its purity. And so it is with London trio Flowers, returning with their second album Everybody's Dying To Meet You in February 2016 via Fortuna Pop! (EU) and Kanine (US). Over the course of ten intensely thrilling pop songs, singer Rachel Kenedy's ethereal vocals and Sam Ayres textured guitar are backed by the powerful, metronomic beat of drummer Jordan Hockley.
Flowers began with Sam’s year-long search for a singer, and when he posted one last fateful advert, stating he wanted to make pop songs like "early Madonna through a broken tape machine", this led him to Rachel. Right away the two fell into a deeply creative and romantic partnership. Currently sharing a flat in East London with their adorable dog Batman, they restore vintage musical equipment and feverishly record demos.
The first batch, polished up by none other than Bernard Butler, turned into debut Do What You Want To, It's What You Should Do released in 2013. Created during a period of illness for Ayres, the result is an album that, while exquisite in its own way, is necessarily subdued in tone.
For Everybody’s Dying to Meet You the band retreated to Bark Studios in Walthamstow to work with producer Brian O'Shaughnessey (The Clientele, Primal Scream, My Bloody Valentine), a return home for Sam, who was born and spent most of his life in the area. It proved to be the perfect fit for Flowers, the sessions enabling them to capture the essence of both their dynamic live sound and their distortion-laden home demos. Effortlessly blending pop songs with noise while leaving space for more stripped back elements, the recordings strike a perfect balance between the sweetness of Rachel’s voice and Sam’s abrasive guitar stylings. Their musical inspirations, from shoegaze, C86 and New Zealand’s Flying Nun label, are now evident.
The infuriatingly catchy first single and opening track “Pull My Arm” nearly didn’t make it onto the album. Written during rehearsals for their tour with Luna after album recording sessions had finished, the band hastily booked another day at Bark and laid it down the day after the tour finished. Band favourite “Ego Loss” began with Sam playing with a new guitar pedal and writing a punk number… before the addition of Rachel’s words saw it morph into something completely different. Other highlights include the pop rush of “Bitter Pill” and the mesmeric, slow-burning “Intrusive Thoughts”.
Armed with a youthful intensity and determination that shows in their songs, Flowers have succeeded in harnessing their singular magic. Exuberant and electrifying, Everybody’s Dying To Meet You crackles with confidence.
1. Pull My Arm
2. Bitter Pill
3. Ego Loss
4. All At Once
5. Intrusive Thoughts
6. How Do You Do
8. Russian Doll
9. My Only Friend
10. Bathroom Sink
Gatefold CD / LP (Repress now on Fizzy Pop Blue Vinyl!!, Gatefold LP 500 only)
The debut album from Mammoth Penguins, the new band fronted by Emma Kupa, formerly of BBC 6 Music favourites Standard Fare.
The album is an exhilarating collection of indie anthems, with Emma's candid songwriting and heartfelt vocals at the fore. Chugging away like a great lost Weezer record, the songs are bold, loud and outrageously catchy, with lyrics that hit just the right chord, exploring the burgeoning responsibilities of being in your late 20s/early 30s.
When the much-loved Standard Fare called it a day after nine years and two albums, Emma Kupa upped sticks and moved from Sheffield to Cambridge, where she recruited Mark Boxall (bass) and Tom Barden (drums). Previously the bassist and lead singer in Standard Fare, Emma relished the switch to guitar in Mammoth Penguins, allowing her the space to deliver her trademark soaring vocals and to indulge in the occasional mean guitar solo.
Recorded by producer Owen Turner (Magoo, Factory Floor), Hide and Seek captures the band at the age they're at right now, reflecting on different aspects of being in their late twenties. Some songs explore the more serious side of life and relationships, such as "Make a Difference". On the other hand, the jaunty "March of the Penguins" deals with having to act like an adult when you still feel young. Elsewhere the rip-roaring "Propped Up", with call-and-response backing vocals, talks about how we're all dependent on others to distract us from negative thoughts, and the infectiously poppy "The Hermit" tells the story of trying to get in touch with a friend who has withdrawn from society.
Encapsulating the album's dilemma is the final track, "When I Was Your Age", a gloriously messy and loud song about feeling inadequate about one’s achievements.
1. Work It Out
2. Propped Up
3. Cries At The Movies
5. Strength In My Legs
6. We Won't Go There
7. Chewing Gum
9. The Hermit
10. March Of The Penguins
11. Make A Difference
12. When I Was Your Age
Click the drop-down menu above to see bargain priced CD and LP + limited edition screenprinted T-shirt bundles.
Due to rising international pressure, Joanna Gruesome’s new album Peanut Butter will finally enter the world via Fortuna POP! (UK/Japan), Slumberland (US) and Turnstile (RoW). Rival groups will be disappointed to learn that the record is a further experiment in combining hyper-melodic pop music with sonic violence. Officials have confirmed that the album contains a record number of hooks, traces of nut and elements of jangle pop, British hardcore punk, atonal music, screaming and drone organs. Yet they have issued warnings of "a marriage of radical politics with peanut butter spread". One authorised statement reads: “Weighing in at a concise 25 minutes, the album hurtles through its ten songs, each one a succinct, powerful gem.”
Like their debut, the new album was recorded by MJ from Hookworms, with the aim of heightening the group's "pop" and "aggressive" elements to excessive and hitherto unrecorded levels.
As songwriter Owen Williams explains: “We tried to make it shorter, more economical and attempted to pack as many hooks and screams in as quickly possible in order to avoid short changing the consumer or wasting her/his/their time. Lyrically it’s more obtuse and surreal but also attempts to mock trad masculine rock themes whenever things do get more lucid. But sometimes musically we embrace them by doing embarrassing guitar solos. I'm not sure how much else I'm at liberty to say but one thing I will disclose is that the record is a response to threats posed by rival groups."
The record has also seen the group explore new and potentially dangerous lyrical territory. Opener Last Year is reportedly about experiencing personal tragedy and the occult in a waterpark and a pizza restaurant. Yet Jamie (Luvver) is a straightforward pop song about having a crush on someone named Jamie, queer literature and Welsh public transport. These tracks are followed by the incredibly catchy Honestly Do Yr Worst, a song about espionage, rival groups and the radical possibilities of peanut butter spread.
Things become surreal on There Is No Function Stacy, a song about “someone called Stacy who wrongly believes a party is happening that she’s been invited to. The narrator has to painfully explain to her that there was never a party and she fabricated it all”, while on Crayon Williams addresses his approach to lyrics directly. “Sometimes you can undermine hetero macho rock shit through nonsense words, obtuse statements, action, melody, sound or aesthetic rather than through traditional lyrics.”
Speaking confidentially, one official confirms that “The sixth track, I Don't Wanna Relax, is yet another hook-filled potential single. This is swiftly followed by Jerome (Liar), a fan favourite based on a subversive folk tale.” On Separate Bedrooms, the group cover a song by Bristol DIY act Black Terror (now performing as “CUP WINNERS' CUP”), a group known for their attention to melody. The penultimate track is the “crushing, sparkling” Psykick Espionage, a song about telepathy and the occult in rock’n’roll, and “the first time I ate an avocado”.
The record is brought to a close by Hey! I Wanna Be Your Best Friend, a heartwarming number about radical friendship and Thin Lizzy appreciation. Under media interrogation, guitarist George Nicholls confesses to the themes of the record: “It’s about radical politics, fancying people and espionage. The first record was more about violence and revenge fantasy, whereas this one is more about peanut butter."
Comprised of Alanna McArdle (vocals), Owen Williams (guitar), Max Warren (bass), George Nicholls (guitar & organ) and David Sandford (drums), the band members originally met on a wine tasting holiday. Their debut album Weird Sister took the world by storm when it was released in September 2013, and went on to win the 2014 Welsh Music Prize. Overwhelming press support saw glowing, hysterical reviews across the board with particular interest from media outlets 'Pitchfork' and 'the NME'.
On the radio their singles have scored a remarkable four out of four on the 'BBC 6 Music playlist' and the band have played sessions for both 'Lauren Laverne' on '6 Music' and for 'Huw Stephens' on 'BBC Radio One'. Since the release of Weird Sister the band have been constantly hounded, surfacing from hiding only to release split singles with Bristol’s Trust Fund and New York’s Perfect Pussy, as well as touring with Los Campesinos!, Speedy Ortiz and Stephen Malkmus.
1. Last Year
2. Jamie (Luvver)
3. Honestly Do Yr Worst
4. There Is No Function Stacy
6. I Don't Wanna Relax
7. Jerome (Liar)
8. Separate Bedrooms
9. Psykick Espionage
10. Hey! I Wanna Be Yr Best Friend
Prog-influenced Nottingham quintet The Chemistry Experiment are set to release their second album, the intriguingly titled “Gongs Played By Voice”, through Fortuna POP! in January, some ten years after the release of their debut album “The Melancholy Death Of…”. Housed in beautiful artwork by the Bulgarian artist Gyukov, a set designer in communist Bulgaria, the new album sees the band conclude the transition from their indie roots with nine beautifully arranged and recorded songs that encompass such influences as Will Oldham/Bonnie Prince Billy, Tindersticks, King Crimson and Soft Machine.
Formed by songwriter Steven J. Kirk (vocals, guitar) and Paul Stone (bass) and completed by Emily Kawasaki (keyboards), Lee Tombs (flute, vocals) and Martin Craig (drums), two of the band have long since departed from their Nottingham origins with Kirk now resident in Bologna, Italy and Kawasaki living in Brighton where she plays in krautrock grrrlgruppe Slum Of Legs. The release of “The Melancholy Death Of…” in 2005 saw critical if not financial success with the NME awarding the record 8/10 and describing it as “Strange, gargantuan rhythms, weird instrumentation and a singer who sounds like Kurt Wagner under ten feet of snow”.
If the geographic dispersion of the band wasn’t challenging enough, in 2009 drummer Craig was diagnosed with MS. “It has made drumming somewhat tricky”, he says.“I still gnash my teeth to the rhythm of the music though, and I feel honoured to join the company of Ronnie Lane, Clive Burr, and Don van Vliet.” All of which may go some way to explaining the My Bloody Valentine-like gestation of their second album, although Tombs posits a more positive explanation, saying, “ ‘Difficult second albums’ are difficult because people spend 5-10 years gathering up what they need for the first, and then have to knock out the next one in a matter of months. We overcame that problem by taking ten years.”
Loosely based around the theme of seasons, elements and the sea, the album opens with the wondrous “Hung Lam”, followed by the track “Rainy Day”, on which Stone employed the little known technique of water percussion. “Martin and I started swirling water in saucepans and tapping the edge of the pan to make the woooo noise. I’d heard something similar on an Edith Piaf record”.
The fantastically catchy “Leo & Magician” has an even more fantastical plot. “It’s about a scarecrow who runs away from his farm, leaving the farmer (Leo) without a way to protect his crops from the birds,” says Kirk. “Luckily Leo’s friend Magician comes along, and although he can’t help him with the scarecrow due to union rules, he turns Leo into a cat to scare away the birds, and that is why birds to this day are scared of cats. The scarecrow also abducts Leo’s wife but I didn’t want to go into that in the song.”
Other songs include the beautiful “We Have Seasons”, “Jandek Bakery”, “The Event and the Experiment” (“It’s kinda the same story as Valis by Phillip K Dick”) and a cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Story of Isaac”, but perhaps the standout track on the album is “Channel Light Vessel” which Kirk describes as the best song he ever wrote and says, “This is about the sea, and sailors, and a boy I read about on BBC news who impaled himself on a fence trying to pick conkers.”
The album concludes with the nine minute long “A Good Wind”, describing a windy day on the coast of Australia and the classic battle between good and evil, nature and synthetic, human and vocoder. Like many things about The Chemistry Experiment it’s unique, slightly odd, and shouldn’t really work but somehow does. In the ten years since their last record a thousand faceless indie bands have made a thousand dreary records, while The Chemistry Experiment have ploughed their idiosyncratic furrow to produce “Gongs Played By Voices”, the perfect distillation of their strange and distinct vision.
Tracklisting:1. Hung Lam
Initial copies of the LP ship with a limited edition Risograph art print and bookmark designed by Allo Darlin' guitarist Paul Rains.
The 3RD full-length recording from the much loved Anglo-Australian four-piece is made up of smart, beautiful pop music, with lyrics that resonate with experience and melodies that chime, echo and soar.
The album combines the eagerness, urgency and immediacy of their 2010 debut with the contemplation, sophistication and ambition of their 2012 follow-up Europe, and yet it goes beyond either both sonically and in song. It was written at a time of considerable change for songwriter Elizabeth Morris, a time during which she fell in love, moved to Italy and got married - not that that seems to have hindered the songwriting process. They then returned to their spiritual home of Soup Studios.
The intention was to capture a more instinctive and fluid live studio sound and to play as well as possible while the red button was on, a different approach to the more piecemeal recording of their previous two albums. Or as Paul Rains put it, “We've used three years of touring to try and get some of that sweat and grime and togetherness and sweetness and anxiety onto a record.” One of the themes of the new record is new beginnings and things drawing to a close. ”Nothing feels the way it did before and I am grateful for that”, sings Elizabeth on "Crickets in the Rain", a song written after her move to Italy and which she describes as “anti-nostalgia”. Built along the same lines is the gorgeous “History Lessons”, of which Elizabeth says, “I guess at some point I became a bit tired of everything seeming better in the past, from music to relationships to buildings to societies. We´re a bit obsessed with it and it can become overwhelming.
We don´t live in the present. This song is trying to express that frustration.” Among the highlights of the album is “Bright Eyes”, a duet with guitarist Paul Rains. Elizabeth again, “I wanted to write another duet, but the only problem with doing that is that when you play live it´s very rare that the person you recorded it with can be there. So I thought it would be great to write a song with Paul singing the other part. Another standout is the Twin Peaks-referencing “Half-Heart Necklace”, based on a true story from Elizabeth’s hometown. “There had been some murders, and this girl who was my age was missing and presumed killed. It turned out she had been hiding for years in her boyfriend´s cupboard, and she was charged for wasting police time”.
Other notable tracks include the rollicking “Kings and Queens”, inspired by a show they played in the USA with their friends and kindred spirits The Wave Pictures, and “Romance and Adventure”, originally earmarked for a film soundtrack and written in response to a challenge from Paul to write a pop song in a minor key. Allo Darlin’ were formed by Elizabeth Morris, fellow Australian Bill Botting (bass), Paul Rains (guitar), and Michael Collins (drums).
Their debut album was named No. 2 record of the year by eMusic. Their second album ‘Europe’ scored 8.1 on Pitchfork, was made USA Today’s Album Of The Week, and garnered praise from Uncut, Q, NME, The Quietus and The Guardian. It was named Rough Trade Shop’s Album Of The Month and was their biggest selling album of the year. The band have been playlisted at BBC 6Music and have recorded many sessions for 6 Music & XFM, as well being Steve Lamacq’s personal pick for BBC Introducing. Allo Darlin’ have produced a wonderful record - thoughtful and exciting and exquisitely played – that will please their existing army of fans and newcomers alike.
"Breezy rom-pop brilliance." 8/10, NME
“Classic indie pop... doesn't rewrite the formula for wistful bedsit charm as much as show that it can still be carried out masterfully.” Pitchfork
“A masterclass of modern cult pop.” The Guardian
Recorded at Soup Studios with producer Simon Trought at the helm, and inspired by the psycho-geography of walks in North London woods and in the forgotten grey hinterland of the city’s back streets, Comet Gain's seventh album “Paperback Ghosts” comes soaked in autumn melancholy. Tender-hearted but not miserable, defiant but not angry, it maintains the delicate balance that has always been Comet Gain’s strength.
Heavyweight Vinyl LP + MP3 Download Card.
Mining the rich territories of The Velvet Underground and The Beach Boys, their debut album proper "Wooden Head" features fourteen thrillingly taut and melodic pop songs with a deep, dark undercurrent. Comprised of Argentinian Max Claps and James Hoare (also of Veronica Falls) – who both sing and write the songs – and joined by Daniel Nellis (bass) and Robert Syme (drums), the band have already shared stages with the likes of Real Estate, Woods, Crystal Stilts, Toy and Metronomy. Maximo Claps arrived in London in 2008 on a one-way ticket from Buenos Aires, aided by former Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham.
Oldham had produced a record by Claps' Argentinian band of the time but the group had fallen apart in a mess of drugs and acrimony and Claps' family were attempting to intervene by sending him to a mental hospital. The only option seemed to be to flee the country. As Claps recalls, "The day before flying to the UK I got run over by a car and had to escape hospital in order to make it so I arrived with bandages and my head all stitched up." A few weeks later Max walked into the vintage clothes shop where James Hoare sat behind the counter reading a book on The Velvet Underground, and attempted to cause a diversion while his kleptomaniac girlfriend stole a pair of boots. “She didn't steal them in the end,” says Max. “They weren't her size”. However, the shop assistant and the would-be accomplice bonded over a mutual love of the Velvets, Love, Felt and West Coast pop and began writing together, taking their name from a song by the pioneering soft psych band The Free Design. In 2010 they released their first single, "Recalling", following it up with a five-song EP for London label No Pain in Pop.
In 2013 Lo Recordings released all their output to date on a collection titled "Waiting for the Summer", followed by the single “First Step Out” in February 2014. Their new album was recorded at a studio in Hackney, as well as at home in their old flat in Whitechapel on a broken 8-track reel-to-reel bought off eBay from an angry guy who threatened to shoot them and chop off their balls when they attempted to return it - a terrifying experience for a pair of skinny indie boys.
Taking inspiration from Berlin-era Lou Reed, Jesus and Mary Chain’s “Darklands”, The Television Personalities and West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band, the songs are breezy and easy on the ear, with sublime harmonies and chiming Byrdsian guitar, but with a darker twist and a pervasive air of melancholy. Stand-out tracks include the beautiful but sad “Summer’s Gone” (about mental illness), “Magazine” (an upbeat number written from the perspective of a bullet in the barrel of a gun) and “You’ll See” (about how when you die you’ll see everyone you know, all there lined up in a row).
With "Wooden Head", The Proper Ornaments prove that it is still possible to create an album of pure pop perfection. Max's girlfriend may not have stolen the boots, but The Proper Ornaments are about to steal your heart. “The joint project of James and Max, through romantic drama that borders on that of The Libertines. And when you hear The Proper Ornaments you’ll see why it’s all worth it.
4. Now I Understand
5. Don't You Want To Know (What you're going to be)
8. Step Into The Cold
9. Tire Me Out
10. Always There
11. Summers Gone
12. What Am I To Do
13. You Shouldn't Have Gone
14. You'll See