January 08, 2014

Pete Green - The Glass Delusion

In my mind Pete Green has been around forever – I interviewed him on this blog 6 (!) years ago – but after checking I now know it’s true: this is really his debut solo album. The main man behind The Regulars, The Pete Green Corporate Juggernaut and The Sweet Nothings released some great singles under his own name a handful of years back, but never got around to making it full length. Until now, with ‘The Glass Delusion’.

“I could have been much more than this, but this is all that there is”, Pete starts on the opening title track and immediate highlight. This is one of the most beautiful songs I’ve heard all year. It may be selfish to think that way, but it secretly – just a bit, and only for this reason – makes me quite happy about his sombre mood, because happy, content and confident songwriters rarely write songs like this that go straight through the chest and embrace our hearts.

If you mainly remember Pete from entertaining rants like ‘I haven't got a Myspace because Myspace fucking sucks’ and ‘Best British Band supported by Shockwaves’ you’re in for a surprise (even though some subtle humour still sneaks in at places). On this album we meet the singer-songwriter at his most sparse and introspective, and it fits him extremely well. His confessionalism is so intimate in most of these songs that it’s almost impossible to not imagine him sitting right next to you in your dark bedroom, sharing, venting but also soothing both his and your deepest emotions and frustrations. It’s not a happy record, but it never gets bleak or too gloomy. There’s always hope in the darkness and darkness in the hope. Like life, indeed. The way Pete quotes Katrina and the Waves’ ‘Walking on sunshine’ in ‘Bright horizon’ illustrates this perfectly: he’s not, in fact, walking on sunshine at all, but the option is there, a possibility for the future. His surprising cover of The Deirdres’ ‘Fun to pretend’ manages to fit the sometimes bitter, sometimes sweet suit of reality here perfectly and mixes in really well with the rest of the songs.

Even if life turns shit sometimes. Even if most of your days seem unfair. Even if your government does and says things that are the opposite of everything you stand for. Even if it’s cold, wet and windy outside. Or rather, especially when it’s cold, wet and windy outside: you’re not alone. Pete Green and ‘The Glass Delusion’ will be by your side, onward.

“One day we’ll find an island where no one’s ever been. One day we’re gonna go there, you and me.” ('One day we’ll find an island')

Until then, we’ll let it go by.

Pete Green bandcamp
Pete Green website

November 21, 2013

St Rupertsberg - I'm So Fucking Goddamn Lonely

Here's a song from 2011 that I didn't discover until November 2012, when I wasn't blogging. It's the catchiest thing imaginable despite its title, and it's been stuck in my head since I first heard it. Warning: people may give you weird looks when you're quietly singing this to yourself on the streets, but you will. If you're like me, you will.

St Rupertsberg are an all-girl octet from Wellington, New Zealand, and the eight girls are definitely worth your time and attention.

I've tried to contact the band several times, but I got no reply. Does anyone know if they're still going?

St Rupertsberg bandcamp
St Rupertsberg Facebook

November 14, 2013

Heathers - Teenage Clothes 7"

The first time I heard Heathers was earlier this year, around the time I was searching for bands for the first Candy Twist release. I stumbled upon ‘Teenage clothes’ and was sold right away. Something, I must admit, that doesn’t happen very often to me. I’m more of a ‘growing on me, slowly increasing appreciation’ kind of person. Not this time. ‘Teenage clothes’ grabbed me by my pop loving heart and wouldn’t let go. I wrote the two guys – Michael Francis and Thom Lucero - from LA the next day to ask them to be part of ‘Nobody’s Business’. Which, to my big pleasure, they accepted right away.

It’s quite a few couple of months later now, and in the meantime ‘Teenage clothes’ has been released as their debut 7” single, coupled with another irresistibly rocking pop gem, ‘I don’t wanna be adored’. The release date was September 16, but if you’re quick you should still be able to grab a copy from the band’s bandcamp or from their label.
While you’re at their bandcamp, have a listen to ‘Colossi of Memnon’ as well, a 7 minute and 24 seconds long monster of a song that still manages to hold my attention until the end, the way Velvet Underground, Modern Lovers and Joy Division often seemed to manage. Pop despite everything, even despite intention perhaps. These guys seem to have that rare gift of mixing pop and rock and roll and warmth and misery and love and… and… 
Heathers deserve your support and love. Give it to them here:

November 12, 2013

VA - Nobody's Business 12"

I almost forgot I still have this blog as well. Almost. Is it bad to get back to it to promote my own LP? Oh well, I'm going to anyway.

My brand new label (can I already call it that with just a single release?) will release the 12" DIY pop compilation 'Nobody's Business, volume one' one of these days. Last week I put the album up for streaming on bandcamp, and pre-orders can start now as well. I'm very excited about this!

The LP has brand new and exclusive songs on it by the following artists: The Fireworks, Cave Ghosts, The Hobbes Fanclub, Liechtenstein, Martha, The Felt Tips, Lost Tapes, Making Marks, Horowitz, Colour Me Wednesday, Heathers, and Young Romance.

I honestly think that every song here is very good. I really hope you'll feel the same way. Let me know what you think? That's half the fun for me of course, to hear your thoughts.

Thanks! I'm hoping to pick up writing here more regularly soon, so please do check back.

Listen here
Pre-order here
Follow this on Facebook here

November 19, 2012

Interview: Allo Darlin'

(Originally printed in Candy Twist zine #3, september 2012.)

Allo Darlin’ started conquering the world in 2007 (or 2008, if you don’t count the EP released as The Darlings) and five years later it seems like they’re still winning every battle with ease. This year’s album Europe is another step towards world domination, or at the very least admiration from all people with a heart that beats POP! For this interview I sent them a lot of questions, and then replaced most of them with a relevant fragment of a lyric, making up a story of past, present and future, and a sense of belonging.

Candy Twist: Hello Allo Darlin'! How are you all doing? What have you been up to lately? How was playing Indietracks this year?

Paul Rains: Hello! We are all well; we’re mainly planning and plotting at the moment for the autumn. We’ve been home in London for about two months after getting back from touring America so there’s a bit of dead time. Unfortunately with this summer being so filled with sports events it’s the worst time to play shows and the festival circuit has yet to properly wake up to Allo Darlin’. We had a blast in the US though - we took the Wave Pictures out with us this time. For the after tour-tour we played a handful of shows in Austria, then last week we were in Paris supporting Here We Go Magic.

Indietracks was amazing, yet again. I was a little apprehensive that we wouldn't be able to equal the show we played two years ago, because the reception we had in 2010 was overwhelming and unexpected. Lucky for us this year was equally as good; the crowd at that festival is just incredible. To witness an audience so captivated and moved by our set was very touching.

CT: I read somewhere that Elizabeth first picked up the ukulele in London in 2005. What made you fall in love with this instrument? Was it a spontaneous decision, or had you wanted to buy one for a long time already?

Elizabeth Morris: Really it was walking past the Duke of Uke shop in Hanbury St, as it was then. I loved Magnetic Fields and Jens Lekman songs with the ukulele on, and I wanted to give it a go. And then I saw this little shop. Little did I know that shop would be such a big part of my London story for the next few years! We recorded our debut underneath the shop, and the people we met there really influenced us, like Darren Hayman, The Wave Pictures and most of all Simon Trought.

I think the uke is a very inspiring instrument. All Allo Darlin' songs have been written on it. Somehow it just fits with what I do, I'm not a very good musician, but the uke manages to make songs sound more like songs than if I was trying to write on guitar or whatever. It just fits me.

"You see it's like loving 'Graceland', it's not allowed to be / but we know it's everybody's favourite / deep down in the place where music makes you happiest." (My Heart is a Drummer)

PR: Graceland was a big record in our childhoods. I think of all the records we were exposed to when we were young; it has the biggest influence on what we do now. That record I think has a very impressionable sound and at the time I don't think we would have heard anything else like it before. So there's that kind of mysterious quality to it but the songs are all really good, that's probably why we all got a bit hooked on it. That cassette was on constantly my dad's car stereo. The Rumours album, early Elton John, The Carpenters, were also things I remember being played often around the house. I nicked my Dad's copy of Monster by REM, which was one of the first albums I properly got into. It wasn't until I had musical loves of my own finding that I had a desire to revisit those albums again.

I think it can be healthy to be at least little shameless concerning music and of course people should be allowed to love anything that speaks to them. And that could be associating songs with memories or people you've known over how 'good' you might perceive that to be musically.  Fashion can play a part in how music is perceived, so I think the 'not allowed' idea maybe comes from that? People can make awful decisions based on fashion and whatever music might seem cool to us now may well be seen very differently in the future once we're more removed from it.

"I'm wondering if I've already heard all the songs that'll mean something / And I'm wondering if I've already met all the people that'll mean something" (Tallulah)

PR: Music always surprises me. I think if it wasn't still surprising I'd give up making it and move onto something else. For me Neil Young is a constant source of inspiration. I loved Joanna Newsom's last album, I thought that was incredible. And very brave to do over three discs of material. Dexy's Midnight Runners. Also bands we get to play with every so often, Darren Hayman, The Wave Pictures, Tigercats, Standard Fare. I was listening to Arthur Russell earlier, the sound of his records makes me want to do stuff. Paint, draw, think, play something I haven't played before... I can't explain how he's managed to do that.

I guess that's part of what you're looking for, giving people the desire to do something, to engage in a dialogue or participate in some kind of shared experience. Or just have a rockin' good time, I reckon that's definitely something to do with it.  

I think we'll leave people to work the meanings of our own songs out for themselves, that's all part of the magic.

"So I go to see my good friend / The one who sings in a riot grrrl band / The way she dances on the stage / It is so awesome" (Some people say)

EM: The friend in this song is real, but I'm not going to give it away. I'll let you guess! We do have a lot of friends in bands. It seems like most of my closest friends are in bands - either my own or their own. Which is amazing, because before I moved to London I didn't know anyone in bands.

I am often in awe of people we share a stage with. Touring the US with the Wave Pictures was such a pleasure, every night I didn't know how we could follow them. Some shows I thought they were the best band I've ever seen live. Darren Hayman is always incredible, even if he says he doesn't like playing live. When you see him play you know what great is. Standard Fare are another band that I feel so incredibly lucky to have played with so often. When Emma sings that song ‘Wow’ and her voice slides up to breaking point - that's a mesmerising moment.

I remember playing with Verity from Electrelane in Manchester a few years ago; she played a solo show. I was truly daunted. She was unbelievable and made me weep.

"There’s a question I’ve been meaning to ask you / How do you feel about Europe?" (Europe)

PR: Our European tour has been my personal favourite out of all of our tours. Which must seem a strange thing to say seeing as we had so many problems on the road and we ended up flat broke at the end of it. Every day was hard but also the best fun I've had in my life. The bad luck just seems to spur us on I think, we refused to be defeated and by the end of it we felt like we'd earned every show. I don't think we could or want to repeat the experience again because everything that happened was so unbelievable. It really was a tour of extremes and people say it's amazing that we didn't fall out with each other.

Playing mainland Europe is very different from the UK and US, yes. Some venues have proper arts funding so in general they are just better equipped at being able to provide for bands. Plus there's more variety when you're able to travel from one country to another in a relatively short space of time. The UK tour experience, with the exception of a few interesting cities, is a collection of identikit town centers by comparison.

America is a hard place to tour just because of the sheer size, but we're blessed with having growing audiences in most places there, really appreciative people and superfans who will travel miles to come and see us. The scale of it can be grueling though. When you're onstage after traveling for most of the 16 hours you've been awake, you have to really find something from somewhere to make your playing special. On the days I can't find it - that's when I feel like I've cheated everybody who has come to see us, even if they say it was a fantastic performance.

Europe does feel like a separate continent to me even though we're part of it. Actually it was my first time on the Eurostar to Paris the other day and I couldn't get over how quick the journey was. It still feels exotic to me when we go out into mainland Europe, because of the unfamiliarity, but also culturally it's very different from the UK. People have more taste there. Or maybe that's just Allo Darlin' fans. Very tasteful people!

"We found solace in the shattered dreams of England" (The Letter)

EM: What this record is really about is how the personal is political. Ideas of home, of longing and confusion. All of these things overwhelm the political. I'm trying to think if I've ever written an even remotely political song, and I can't think of one.

Perhaps I perceive things differently, being an outsider and an expat. But it also means I experience things differently when I go home to Australia. It's no longer my home, but it will always be "home". It's a strange thing. It means I'm always on the outside, and the flipside of that is that I belong everywhere.

London is where I've spent most of my adult life, it's the place where most of my dreams have come true. It's where all of my friends live. So that's where the solace comes in, but so many things are so wrong. In any case, at least the UK still has incredible news organisations and papers, which is very different from Australia, where the papers / TV channels are either owned by News International or mining magnates. Even the government broadcaster is the wrong side of right. It makes me sad, because I think Australia has such amazing potential to be a progressive country, like New Zealand, or Sweden. But instead we import this neo-con crap from America. It's terrible, and such a waste.

"And when the lights go out and you set the world to rights / When I find you under Capricornia skies" (Capricornia)

EM: I get homesick from time to time, and I wish my family was closer and I could see my old friends. And I miss the beach and the sun. But our families are proud of us, and they get Google alerts so they read all of our reviews, even if I never read them!

In October we're going to play in Australia for the first time, and I am so excited about it. My middle sister is getting married, and wanted Allo Darlin' to be her wedding band, so she's paying for the boys to come out and join me. We're playing about an hour of covers and then an hour of our own songs. It's such an amazing thing for her to do, but she's so excited about it.

hen we're flying down to Melbourne and joining Mark Monnone (ex Lucksmiths) and playing some Melbourne shows, including a backyard show with Bart & Friends, then driving up the East Coast back to Brisbane. I can't wait. I have no idea what to expect. My boyfriend Nik, who made the ‘Capricornia’, ‘Loneliness’ and ‘Dreaming’ videos for us, is coming too and filming it. The prodigal children return, or something!

"I wonder if you would wanna go there with me / When I'm finished over here / If you're not finished with me" (Tallulah) 

EM: I have no idea when I'll leave London, it's home for now. We've talked about moving somewhere else in Europe, like Berlin or Gothenburg. We especially think about this when times get tough financially or when it hasn't stopped raining for 3 months. Australia is so far away, and so isolated. That's part of what makes it so special, but for me being in a band, moving there would make it impossible to continue with the group. Who knows what the future holds, but it's been a pretty amazing 7 years so far in London.

Visit the band at http://allodarlin.com

(I put this interview online because I'm excited about their show in Paradiso, Amsterdam this Sunday (november 25). See you there?)

September 04, 2012

Order your 'Candy Twist #3' now!

I printed the first copies of Candy Twist #3 today. I don't have a lot of them yet, but I can send out the first few copies tomorrow.

This issue is 108 pages and features interviews with Allo Darlin', Sea Lions, The Great Leap Forward, Skinny Girl Diet, Martha, Tullycraft, Young Romance, The Wendy Darlings, Sock Puppets, Withered Hand and Mike 'HHBTM' Turner. Also: Indietracks journals by Hobbes Fanclub, Colour Me Wednesday and The Sunbathers, a round table with Sean Price, Kip Berman, Gail O'Hara, Pete Green, Roque Ruiz, Matt Haynes and Mike Turner, articles written by Mark Litten, Pete Bowers, Kofi Smith and me and mini-interviews with Robberie, Miguel Felt Tips, Vom Vorton, MJ Hibbett, Nat Johnson and Gary 'Dufflecoat' Sansom. The first 100 copies will include a lovely art postcard provided by Pete Bowers as an accompanying thing for his article.

Order your copy here

August 23, 2012

Concerts in Amsterdam

Allo Darlin' will be playing in Paradiso on November 25 and Deep Time will play at Occii on September 22. This is a unique chance to go see two brilliant bands in Amsterdam. It doesn't happen very often, so don't let this pass you by. I'll be there!

July 14, 2012

Interview: Colour Me Wednesday

(Originally printed in Candy Twist zine #1, february 2012.)

And suddenly (it seemed), everyone was talking about Colour Me Wednesday, a London ska/punk/pop four-piece. Candy Twist spoke to the ladies of the band to find out a bit more about this catchy quartet.

Candy Twist: Hello!. How are you all doing?

Harriet Doveton: GOOD!

Jennifer Doveton: Alright. A bit stressful at the moment but good.

CT: Can you give us a short history of Colour Me Wednesday? How did you all meet and when, how and why did you decide to start making music together?

HD: Well Jen and I are sisters and so we’ve known each other for, like, ages (laughs). I started the band when I was 18 with two other girls, we just started playing our instruments for fun. An upcoming battle of the bands competition made us realize we needed a singer and second guitarist.

JD: That’s when I stepped up. Sam and I had been doing a bit of music together so we decided to join forces with Harriet for this battle of the bands. It was nerve-wrecking. We did four covers, “I want you to want me” by Cheap Trick, “In Love With Bobby” by Identity No. 1, “Only For The Night” by RX Bandits and a sort of rocky version of “Toxic” by Britney Spears.

HD: We didn’t win (laughs).

JD: About three years ago we realized we wanted to be serious about this but the other two girls had moved on so Sam moved from second guitar to drums and we stole Danny from a band that we played a gig with.

HD: Yeah (laughs).

CT: You've been recording your debut album for a a bit now. Can you share some fun and interesting details about the album, and about recording it?

JD: Oh gawd, we’ve been working on it for ages in theory, but because we record our own stuff we’ve done versions of songs that ended up just being demos because we just weren’t happy with the sound, ‘cos we’re all self-taught and stuff. It’s also really hard letting go of the old songs to make room for new songs on the album, you grow so attached. We’ve been writing so many songs in the last six months, recording and getting feedback from people all over the world has really motivated us.

HD: We’re actually working on a song right now that we hope to feature on the album, it’s about being a vegetarian and the shit you get for it. It’s also for my final project at university – it’s gonna be paired with an animated music video.

JD: We love making music videos, an animated one is a real challenge actually.

HD: Yeah it’s gonna be hard.

CT: You call yourself a DIY ska and punk band. Are you slowly moving towards more indiepop than ska and punk, or is this just mostly happening in my imagination? Not that I care about those labels a lot, but I'm curious if there's indeed a conscious change in sound going on.

JD: I know it seems like that, because our most up to date recordings (on the 2011 sampler) happen to be our more poppy, melodic and non-ska songs. But there’s definite cross-over with the more DIY side of all those genres and sometimes it’s just things like the pre-amps or microphones you use that can make something sound more ‘punk’ rather than ‘indie’.

HD: I didn’t think indiepop was a specific or current scene before people started booking us for gigs that were described as ‘indiepop’ nights. But I guess we fit the bill.

JD: Yeah and most of our influences are indiepop or the poppier side of pop-punk, I realize. I always want to make our songs as poppy and melodic as possible because to me, catchiness is the mark of a truly good song. The ‘indie’ genre is a bit tarnished now though because of all these land-fill man-bands selling out stadiums, I feel the punk scene has more potential because it’s less commercially exploitable.

HD: Yeah and we do play a few less ska songs at the moment but the album is going to feature more than our live set.

CT: In the FAQ section of your site you explain "No, we don’t wanna play at yr racist pub, right-wing biker club etc. we will also never ‘pay to play’." Did you get a lot of weird requests, then? Can you also tell us some positive experiences? What has been a highlight of playing with the band so far?

JD: (laughs) I didn’t think anyone would ever read that. The fact that our website is meant to ‘sell’ or ‘market’ us really put me off so I sort of went completely the other way and put down some of the things that irritate me about the ‘industry’ or the ‘scene’ or whatever; mainly to put people off that wouldn’t like us anyway once they got to know us.

HD: We did play at a certain biker club a few times. It’s a really interesting place, you could do a great photo shoot there but the vibe is really off-putting. Not only that, when we announced the title of ‘Purge your inner Tory’ all the bikers stormed out (not that they were thrilled by our presence in the first place). After doing that once you don’t need to do it again.

JD: We’ll basically play any shit-hole once. But NO MORE THAN THAT!

HD: I like playing outside of London, like in Brighton or Sheffield. When you are specifically requested for a gig it really boosts your confidence and the promoters are generally nicer. We’ve had so many fun gigs…

JD: But we’re still waiting for that ultimate moment where people are really listening and singing along and stuff.

CT: You record your ows songs, make your own videos, design your own posters and sleeves and state on your website that you don't want to get signed. How did you get into being completely DIY, and what do you enjoy most about it? And also, maybe, what are DIY's limitations for you? Are there things that you would like for the band but can't do yourselves?

HD: Well, we’re all art students or have been art students so the DIY and creativity comes naturally or something like that. Basically we’re really into craft!

JD: Like with the website, the idea of marketing ourselves made me want to vomit. Getting signed is great for the few bands that can but I hate being competitive, I’d prefer to not have that added pressure and let things flow or grow naturally.

HD: The great thing about making our own CD covers and them all being individually handmade is that we don’t need to get attached or pick one design, some sleeves take just a couple of minutes others we spend a longer time on but either way we’re okay with giving them away and never seeing them again.

JD: It’s nice that someone else might really treasure them. And we are recycling! And all that stuff is the fun stuff, making posters, designing t-shirts, making collages, making music videos – why pay someone to do that when that’s what we love to do anyway?

HD: You have to be okay with making a loss sometimes, we buy our own recording equipment and we’ve had stuff stolen, like vocal microphones.

JD: Even though we use really cheap stuff, it still stacks up when something like that happens. Also, the label ‘DIY’ still makes people think of that analogue cassette tape aesthetic and our recordings are done on a PC which means you don’t get that rich, hissy analogue sound that people might associate with ‘true DIY’, but it’s the new DIY, not just the aesthetic.

CT: What was the kind of music that you grew up with? What did your parents or siblings listen to? What were your first records and attended shows?

HD: Jen and I grew up listening to Juliana Hatfield, listening in our parent’s car. She’s probably mine and Jen’s biggest influence.

JD: Also the Beatles because our dad is obsessed with them. They knew how to write a good pop tune.

HD: Danny grew up listening to Fleetwood Mac, him and his family go to see them live together.

JD: Sam told me he didn’t listen to music until he was about 12, and then it was Papa Roach!

(Both laugh)

JD: When I was young I would only listen to female singers, I just didn’t like male singers, apart from the Beatles of course, I used to wish that one day there’d be a radio show that would only play female vocalists. Actually I’ve fallen back into that preference now. Maybe it’s because there’s just too many male singers in bands, there’s less quality control, or maybe they are just shittier?

CT: The theme of this fanzine is 'happiness'. In your song 'What happened' you sing: "You had it right when you were just a kid, a little kid, watching kid’s TV / So good to be free / And happy / But you put those toys away / Resigned yourself to your fate". Do you feel like we often forget about happiness? How do you make sure you don't forget about your inner child?

JD: That song is about this deep fear I have, what scares me is that other people don’t worry about how short life is and they end up doing what is expected of them instead of what makes them happy. I have friends who I feel like were tricked into this 9-5 working life way too young, because they liked the novelty at first of ‘being an adult’ and having all this disposable income; but before they know it they’ve had to make loads of compromises. I think some things that are seen as inherently childish become luxuries or novelties which are then denied to grown-up people, especially women who often are forced to grow up faster than their male counterparts. A lot of the uplifting and subversive messages of the kid’s tv shows we watched in the 90s like “The Adventures of Pete and Pete” or “Clarissa Explains It All”, shows where the adults are really inept, still ring really true for me (laughs).

CT: If the world is going to end in 2012, what do you want to make sure to have done before that?

JD: Get on TV.

HD: Train my cat to be well-behaved. And yeah, CMW have got to get on TV…

JD: …to spread our radical propaganda (laughs).

CT: What else can we expect from you in 2012?

HD: Tour! Album! Zine! T-Shirts! Videos!

JD: Yeah we’re making a zine to go with the album, with all the lyrics and some stuff about the songs and stuff! It’s going to be so pretty!

CT: Thanks guys! We’ll be looking forward to that!

Visit Colour Me Wednesday at www.colourmewednesday.com
and download free MP3s from soundcloud.com/colourmewednesday