December 31, 2008

Missed classic: Hey lover

This is probably not the best song by The Aislers Set. There's Mission bells, The red door, Emotional levy, My boyfriend (could be a Spanish man), Hit the snow, and plenty more beautiful classics that might be better.

What Hey lover is though, is definitely the most catchy song Amy Linton ever wrote. Also possibly one of the most ignored. The band take a leap back in time here and perform as if they're one of Phil Spector's super girl-groups, almost casually creating perfect pop.

The song was originally released on a Slumberland split single, with on the flip Dreaming of Lily by The How, which was a project of Steward Anderson from Boyracer and Matt Hartman from Linton's previous band Henry's Dress.

As a bonus (which I think is almost as nice as the actual post) I included two covers that go nicely with the sixties sound of their own composition. Yeh, yeh is orginally by Georgie Fame and Not too young to get married is a cover of a song orginally recorded by The Raindrops, I think.

Download (Mediafire)
1. The Aislers Set - Hey lover
2. The Aislers Set - Not too young to get married
3. The Aislers Set - Yeh, yeh

December 29, 2008


The last days of the year... days like any other? Yes and no. Of course the clock keeps ticking as fast as always. Of course New Year's Day is just a name on the calendar. Of course changes can be made any day of any year.

Isn't it terrifying to be honest to yourself?

We love some structure, don't we? So an end, or a new beginning, is a convenient moment to look in the mirror. As silly as New Year's resolutions are, it does us no harm to look at our shortcomings and plan to improve our characters and actions. Wikipedia says: "A New Year's Resolution is a commitment that an individual makes to a project or the reforming of a habit, often a lifestyle change that is generally interpreted as advantageous."

Isn't it terrifying to be honest to yourself?

Drag your thoughts away from your troubles. How much time did you waste in 2008 feeling sorry for yourself, how much time did you lose being afraid? How much time did you lose blaming others? I know I lost more than I can even start to explain. It's funny how that defensive wall of excuses always seems so very convenient.

Isn't it terrifying to be honest to yourself?

I'm going to be a father in 2009. I'll move to a new city and buy a new house. I'm hoping to find a new job. It's crystal clear to me that this coming year will spectacularly change everything I know. I'm forced out of my comfort zone and that's a very scary thing. It's also the best thing that can happen to me.

Isn't it terrifying... well, enough of that already. A strange thing has been happening to me lately. Whether it's the approaching fatherhood or just me finally growing up, I have no idea, but I've felt an irresistable urge to leave all the negativity and worries and fear and anger and blame safely in the past. It only does harm.

I do remember this is supposed to be a weblog about pop music. You probably came here to read about a band you like, or about a band you don't know yet but will love in the future. No worries, in 2009 I will keep posts about my personal thoughts limited to an absolute minimum.

Love without getting tired.

Download (Mediafire)
1. David Bowie - Changes
2. The Innocence Mission - Beautiful change
3. Cat Stevens - Moonshadow
4. Bishop Allen - Things are what you make of them

December 24, 2008

WeePOP! compilation

WeePOP! will start the new year nicely with releasing their second mini compilation Starting anew, featuring seven bands all new to the label (including the brilliant Horowitz). Of course it'll all be packaged in their fine and already famous handcut sleeves.

Pre-order here

December 23, 2008

A reminder of the way things change

555 Recordings is a label owned by Boyracer frontman Stewart Anderson. Most of you know that. The label's got all kinds of fine 7-inches and albums in stock by various acts like The Aislers Set and, obviously, Boyracer. While you're at the site, have a look around at everything available.

I started this post though to remind you of 555/Red Square Recording's fine series of coloured vinyl 7" compilations The way things change. Volume 1 and 2 are no longer available, but for only 4 dollars a piece I think there's not much reason not to want to have volume 3 to 6. Look! Aren't they great?

Volume 3 (yellow vinyl): The Cannanes, Mirah, Figurine, C.O.C.O., Men In Fur, Seasick Crocodile

Volume 4 (green vinyl): The Lucksmiths, Loveletter Band, Six Cents And Natalie, Casino Ashtrays, Second Story Man, Snow Fairies

Volume 5 (blue vinyl): Architecture In Helsinki, Cex, Boyracer, Origami, Dennis Driscoll, Sleepy Township

Volume 6 (purple vinyl): All Girl Summer Fun Band, Rocketship, Escargogos, Putney Swope, Tall Boy, Possom Moods

Visit the 555 website or myspace or Red Square Recordings myspace to get your hands on these unique mini compilations (six bands on each one!) while they're still available.

December 21, 2008

A Sunday shuffle

Usually I'm an obsessively picky listener, but sometimes on a hazy Sunday when your mind is not completely awake yet it's good to just hit that shuffle button and let the music play. This way all the forgotten favourites get a chance to surprise me and remind me of their existence and brilliance.

Of course I hadn't forgotten about that Colin Clary song. I only added that because every Sunday needs it.

Download (Mediafire)
1. Acid House Kings - She fakes apples
2. The Judy's - Right down the line
3. The Crabs - She is a Titan
4. Colin Clary and The Magogs - The shape of this town

December 19, 2008

Interview: Soda Fountain Rag

Soda Fountain Rag is the solo project of Ragnhild Hogstad Jordahl from Bergen, Norway. Back in April she released her powerful debut album It's Rag Time! on Yesboyicecream, after having released EPs on Cloudberry, Anorak Records and Myhoney Records earlier. One listen and it's clear that Ragnhild is not an average pop songwriter. Two listens and you'll be intrigued. Three listens and you'll be obsessed. At least, that's what happened to me. Who is this one woman band?

Can you describe how, when and why you started making music?

Not really. I can't remember when I started making small melodies and such, but the Soda Fountain Rag-thing started early in 2006. Back then it was just for fun, and just for me, but after a little while I wanted to make the songs available for other people to listen to. I was very happy when I found out that some people actually liked it, as I am a sucker for attention.

I'm assuming you named yourself after the Duke Ellington song. What was the kind of music you grew up with?

I grew up in a household with a lot of classical music. I remember seeing my first opera when I was 9 (it was Il Trovatore by Verdi), and I really loved it. I was also a big fan of Vivaldi, but this had to be kept quiet, as some of the other kids allready kinda disliked me. I also loved The Beatles as a kid. Later on Radiohead was a really important band for me, until they stuck their collective head so far up their own arses that it became impossible to listen to them anymore. In the late teenage years and the early 20's Manic Street Preachers and Broder Daniel became the most important bands. I still haven't found a band that can knock the Manics' Holy Bible down from my all time favourite album list.

The list of influences on your website range from Eminem to Bach, and from Rough Bunnies to riding your mum's bicycle. What are current bands or singers you like to listen to?

Early this year I got so fed up with all the cute indie pop I had been filling my head with, and as a result I listened to nothing but Eminem for about a month. He's great. This fall I've been listening a lot to Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber, who apart from having a great name is a quite cool baroque composer. Check out his Rosary/Mystery Sonatas! Other great things are Hästpojken and Vapnet. Bach is, and always will be, the king.

Apart from playing as Soda Fountain Rag you play drums in The April Skies and violin and keyboard in Herr Nilsson. Is Soda Fountain Rag your main project, or does every band get equal attention?

Every band does not get equal attention, but there's no need for that either as my role in the different bands are... different. The April Skies have done only one gig this past year, but that was great fun! And I love being in Herr Nilsson. I honestly think being asked to join that band is one of the very best things that have ever happened to me. It's the greatest gang of people I know of. This fall there's been too little music in my life, because I was finishing my master in philosophy and I find it hard to concentrate on more than one thing at the time.

Do you feel part of the music scene in Bergen? And part of a bigger pop scene worldwide?

In Bergen: no. Worldwide: maybe.

So far you've been recording solo, while playing live with a band (with Anders Kaasen on guitar and Nickolai Nilsen on bass). Has this been a conscious choice? Do you prefer working alone?

Yes. Solitude is often a good thing. Not having to explain things or make appointments and agreements is quite practical, and it's easier to do things fast that way. Fast is good. I have however done some recordings with the band in Italy, and that was great fun, and it sounds nice too, so I think having the opportunity to do both things is the best.

The album It's Rag Time! was released earlier this year, while it had been recorded back in 2006. Why the delay?

This is not quite correct. I think I figured out that about half of the album is recorded in 2006, the rest in 2007. Things take time. After the recording of the songs there's the mixing (and this includes quite a bit of cleaning up my mess) and mastering and the cover art and the this and the that and... you get the idea! It took longer time than I expected, but I don't mind as I didn't have to do any stressful things myself. And I absolutely love the cover art. I think it captures the songs in a good way.

Does this maybe mean we can expect a new release relatively soon?


Who is Ragnhild Hogstad Jordahl when you're not making music?

Ragnhild Hogstad Jordahl is very much the same person when she's making music as she is when she's not. One should get some idea from my songs; the revengefulness, the sadness, the happiness, the madness (both interpretations), the childlikeness, the love for books and the love of love is all very much present in my life.

Is there any chance we can see you play some shows outside Norway again soon?

I don’t know.

We'll just have to hope and wait and see, then. Merry Christmas, Rag!

Soda Fountain Rag myspace
Yesboyicecream Records
Anorak Records
Cloudberry Records
Myhoney Records

Download (Mediafire):
1. Soda Fountain Rag - Don't kill the clowns
2. Soda Fountain Rag - Monkey girl

Bonus download:
Herr Nilsson have a free MP3 EP up on their blog.

December 18, 2008

Undercover poplover, part 7

Today we have some ace indiepop tunes by Ace Of Base, Cliff Richard and Lindsey Buckingham.

Download (Mediafire)
1. The Mountain Goats - The sign
2. Northern Portrait - Some people
3. Bunnygrunt - Holiday road

December 16, 2008

Interview: Summer Cats

One of the most pleasant surprises this year was the sudden emergence of the Summer Cats. Left and right releases by the Melbourne five-piece suddenly popped up to brighten our days. The sunshine indiepop provided by Scott S, Scott B, Hugh, Irene and Julia made such an impression in 2008 that it's already very hard to imagine that they weren't here long before. Summer Cats Scott Stevens (vocals/tambourine/handclaps) and Scott Brewer (guitar/bass/vocals) took some time to look back with us on a year of fun and brilliant pop, and more.

Hello Summer Cats! Could you please give us a short history of the band?

Scott S: Ok! Well as a band we've been pottering around since the tail end of 2006. We seemed to come together really quickly once Hugh joined Scott and I. After that it now seems like Julia and Irene just appeared out of thin air and we started to make the racket we make... a bit like some kinda Monkees clip where band members appear with their gear and start playing mid song!

You've been quite busy releasing singles this year. There have been releases on Cloudberry, Popboomerang, WeePOP!, Knock Yr Socks Off and Slumberland. I've read somewhere that you've also wanted to release a full-length LP... how's that one coming?

Scott S: Hmmm, when you put them in a list it does seem like we've been busy eh! We recorded our LP in November and we're hoping to have it all mixed and finished by January... fingers crossed. As to when it will be coming out well we're not really sure! We're happy so far as it's only about 35 minutes long and a short pop LP is a good LP!

How do you usually put your songs together? Is this a band effort?

Scott S: Absolutely! Everyone is actively involved in the songwriting though as you'd imagine it can vary from tune to tune. We're not particularly prescriptive on how they have to start as often one of us will bring in a bit of a song and the rest of us then get to work with what remains. One thing that seems to work for us is completing a song quickly (once we start working...) as we're easily distracted.

In the past year you've shared singles with Eux Autres and The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart. Great bands! Are you fans as well? What are other current bands that you enjoy?

Scott S: Being involved in split singles is actually pretty darn exciting. Both the The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart and Eux Autres are bands we love and it was a bit like playing a gig with bands you like (you know you get in for free to see a band you would have paid to see).

2008 has been another crazy year for great releases. My favourite LP was by Deerhunter and favourite 7" was by Cocoanut Groove. But it is hard to separate as I've also been enjoying 2008 releases by: The Lodger, Je Suis Animal, Days, This Is Ivy League, Minisnap, Robert Forster... actually this list will keep on going so I’ll stop it now.

How do you find out about new music nowadays?

Scott S: Mostly through blogs like yours, friends and I still have a soft spot for the ol' Mojo magazine. It's probably gotten a little crazy to digest all the stuff I read about now that it's easier to hear what people are doing.

You're an Australian band. If at all, in what way do you think being from Melbourne influences your sound or the way the band approaches music? Do you feel part of an Australian pop community?

Scott S: It's possibly easier for someone not from Australia or Melbourne to define if we sound regional to our Southern Hemisphere locale... we can't tell! I've often thought that the distance from the rest of the world is slightly diminished in its role compared to what it was 20 years ago for Australian bands. I'd think our influences are a jumble of mostly international bands.

Pop bands are few and far between locally which does tend to make them pretty individual and noticeable when they appear around town. Bands in the past like The Sugargliders, The Cat's Miaow, The Cannanes and now like The Zebras, Crayon Fields, The Lucksmiths and The Motifs are certainly bands we feel an affinity with.

Can you share a fond music-related childhood memory?

Scott S: Angus Young from AC/DC in the jailbreak clip had the same pajamas that I had... well it meant a lot to me as a four year old...

Can you remember a specific band, album or musical moment that made you rethink music, something that made you aware of the more independent side of music?

Scott S: Hearing Red Sleeping Beauty by McCarthy and the cover of Felicity by The Wedding Present changed everything for my ears. And not long after I got to see the clip for Just like Honey by The Jesus and Mary Chain and it seemed to confirm where my musical tastes were heading. All of these songs were like secrets in Melbourne at the time, hard to hear and hard to find which of course makes you more determined to hear them!

The band is actively involved with the Knock Yr Socks Off label. Which band would be your dream-signing? Maybe more realistically, what can we expect from the label in the future?

Scott B: Dream signing huh? Hmmm, I think I've done pretty well with the bands I've released stuff for so far. Eux Autres and The Motifs are very fine company to be associated with. There are currently two LPs slated for next year; the first is by Huon (its going to be a split release with Stew Anderson's 555 label), the other one I'll keep a secret for now, but in reference to the first part of the question it does happen to be by my absolute favourite band of the last few years (that isn't Summer Cats of course!). Hopefully I might be able to do some other fun stuff but I think those two will keep me busy enough.

Back to the band! What's around the corner for the Summer Cats? Do you have an international tour or a new release scheduled that we can look forward to?

Scott S: We'll hopefully have the album out early in 2009 so fingers crossed on that. Also in the hopefully category will be a 5 or 6 track release on Plastilina also in the early part of 2009. We're dreaming also of an international tour in 2009. Apart from that we're hoping for some more 7" releases as you can never have too many 7" singles!

How and where will you be celebrating your Christmas this year?

Scott S: Ah, the best way: family, pets and fried cheese!

It'll be the same for me this year. Except for the fried cheese, perhaps. Merry Christmas!

Summer Cats myspace
Slumberland Records
Cloudberry Records
Knock Yr Socks Off Records

Download (right click, save as)
1. Summer Cats - Discotèque
2. Summer Cats - Plastic Christmas trees

December 14, 2008

Missed classic: Over 21

I already celebrated the classic Henry's Dress album Bust 'Em Green on this blog about a year ago. The file I added to that post (including the fantastic Target practice) is still available for download, for who's interested.

Amy Linton was improving quickly both as a singer and as a songwriter around this time. The first Henry's Dress EP is a good excercise in distorted pop, but it's not much more than good. The above-mentioned Bust 'Em Green was an immense step forward.

During that same time Amy was drumming for Go Sailor. It seems Go Sailor-singer Rose Melberg's catchiness was contagious and inspired Linton to move a bit away from noise towards melody. This is of course most apparent on her biggest masterpiece so far: her next band The Aislers Sets' second album The Last Match, on which Amy's relaxed vocals are mixed over one top tune after the other.

Everyone knows most of that. Right?

Between Bust 'Em Green and The Aislers Set's debut album Terrible Things Happen Henry's Dress released a final tour only split-7" with Rocketship on Slumberland imprint I Wish I Was A Slumberland Record. The first of two Henry's Dress songs on that 7", Over 21, is a wonderful noisy indiepop smash hit. Well, it would be. It should be. The problem with obscure releases like that: they're easily missed. And that's what weblogs are for.

This is still very obviously a Henry's Dress style punk song, but it contains all the signs of Great Pop to come.

Download (Mediafire)
1. Henry's Dress - Over 21

December 10, 2008

Another Christmas at home

It's that time of the season again. Sinterklaas has gone back home to Spain, the Christmas tree is up on the Dam Square, and you can't turn on the radio without hearing Christmas songs. Which is all very nice. But my girlfriend is in the USA, and I'm here, another Christmas at home in Amsterdam. It'll be lonely this Christmas, again.

Eux Autres will keep me company.

Eux Autres website
Eux Autres myspace

Download (Mediafire)
1. Eux Autres - Another Christmas at home
2. Eux Autres - Merry Xmas everybody

December 07, 2008

Klaus & Kinski

I was quite certain I'd heard Klaus & Kinski before, about a year ago. I was also quite certain I wasn't very impressed. I was either wrong back then, or mistaken about which band I've heard. Recently I've been listening to their debut album Tu hoguera está ardiendo and it's very good.

A description from the website of Elefant Records gives you an idea what to expect. Klaus & Kinski are "(...) covering from bolero to electronic music, bossa-nova, country-folk, melodic Italian songs from the 70s, 80s style, (kind of) standard indie music and even shoegazer."

Like eclectic? You've found your band.

Klaus & Kinski myspace
Buy their album from Jabalina Música
Buy their album from Elefant Records

Download (Mediafire)
1. Klaus & Kinski - Nunca estás a la altura
2. Klaus & Kinski - Mengele y el amor

December 05, 2008

A December thought

"Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it." - Buddha

When was the last time you had an original thought?

It's a serious and difficult question, isn't it? I don't mean to be pretentious, at all. It's just an interesting thing to think about. Personally, I've come out of highschool and then university with an education of other people's knowledge. Especially at university, the intention should be to create original thinkers, to create scientists who don't just accept and repeat, but think. But if you attended any kind of school yourself, you'll know it often wasn't like that. Teachers usually don't reward an original thought; they want to read in your answers what they defined to be true. They want your knowledge to be The Truth. With sources mentioned. It's as absurd as it is understandable.

We are told by Karl Popper: "Whenever a theory appears to you as the only possible one, take this as a sign that you have neither understood the theory nor the problem which it was intended to solve," and I think, oh yes, he's right. But I don't understand, not really. Because if we're honest, we act to the opposite. If I'm wrong, I admire you.

So I ask myself, and if you're willing to think with me, you, again: when was the last time you had a thought really and purely of your own? One not based on what you've once read. One not based on what your books and your newspapers tell you? One not based on what people you like or admire tell you? One not based just on habits and comformity?

It's so hard to think for yourself because not a lot is harder than forgetting, or shaking a habit.

I often find myself thoughtlessly defending things. I often find myself thoughtlessly opposing or even judging things. Or people. I'm not talking about intuition. It's easily my biggest weakness. This weakness is not in being wrong or right. It's in basing my sentiment on what I've been told. I've been told it so often that I've started to think it's my own opinion.

What makes you believe you're right about things? Why do you really love the music you love? What are you doing for others? Are you happy? Are you annoyed with this post?

I don't want your answers. But I would love if you would think about it.

Download (Mediafire)
1. Daryll-Ann - Surely justice
2. Moby Grape - Naked, if I want to
3. Yo La Tengo - You can have it all

December 03, 2008

It's time to remember Po!

When you hear the winsome jangly guitars, wistful female vocals and lose yourself in the dark lyrics and light melodies of Po!, you'd imagine this band to be one of the pop crowd's favourites. As it turns out though, Po! seems to be one of indiepop's best kept secrets.

The band was formed in 1987 in Leicester by singer and guitarist Ruth Miller. Ruth emerged as a very talented writer of appealing and original pop. Between the first Po! release, 1988's Hopscotch In The Snow flexi and their last, 1998's Horse Blanket Weather LP the band recorded a number of singles, Peel sessions and albums, all of which are hard to find but certainly worth searching for.

I worship Po! and so should you.

1. Po! - Sunday never comes around
2. Po! - Haunt you
3. Po! - Joybang!

December 01, 2008

Tell me why...?

Today at work we moved to an open office floor. Gone is all the privacy. I already hate it. At least six people have a clear view on my computer screen.

Maybe it's just general Monday morning-grumpiness, but everything irritates me.
Say hi to my colleagues in the comments? (Sigh.)

Download (Mediafire)
1. Magnetic Fields - Long-forgotten fairytale
2. Hari and Aino - Second song
3. Horowitz - Animal soup