November 29, 2009

Interview: Pants Yell!

I showed my feelings towards this band already a couple of weeks ago, when I wrote a bit about the new album. No need to add a lot to that from my side: Pants Yell! are fantastic. Let's hear what the band's frontman Andrew Churchman has to say instead.

Hello Andrew! Can you please give us a short history of the band so far? How did the three of you meet, and why did you decide to start making music together?

I began writing songs under the name Pants Yell in 2001 while a senior in high school. In 2003 Sterling and I, along with our first drummer Carly, began playing as a proper band. We all met at art school. We started playing music together because Carly was the only drummer I knew. Sterling saw our first show and wanted to be a part of the group so he joined as a keyboard player but soon took up the bass. In 2006 Casey joined the band as our new drummer.

New album Received Pronunciation is out this month on the legendary Slumberland Records. On their website the label calls itself your ‘spiritual home’. Do you feel that way too? How did you end up releasing this album on Slumberland?

Yes, we do feel that Slumberland Records is our spiritual home. They have been one of my favorite record label since I was a teenager and we've been hugely influenced by the bands they've put out. I think we're a perfect fit for the label.

Is it true that Received Pronunciation will be the final Pants Yell! album? If so, why?

Yes, this will be our final album. I want to end the band on a high note and not drag on. This is our fourth album - that's a good number for an indie-pop band.

Can you tell us a little bit more about the album? I notice you’re still an impressive and subtle storyteller. I also notice the horns and strings that coloured the previous album have gone. How did the songs and sound for this album come about? And how did you choose the title?

I wanted this album to be sparse and a little rawer. I wanted it to sound like us playing in a live in a living room, but with a coupel of extra guitar players. I was very influenced by the Sea and Cake album The Biz. It just sounds like a bunch of dudes playing music in a basement. The album title comes from Jessica of the Would-Be-Goods accent.

Your last album was called Alison Statton. On your myspace there’s a little video message from Alison Statton herself. How did that happen? Did you ever consider asking her for recording a song together? I’m sure it’d sound rather great!

You know what, I never thought of approaching her to record a song together - that's a great idea!

That video was taken by some friends of ours in Paris who went to a Young Marble Giants gig and had her tape that message. They posted it on the internet to surprise us. It was a big surprise.

Apart from the already mentioned Alison Statton and her Young Marble Giants, what kind of music did you grow up with? Do you remember what music did make you want to be in a band yourselves?

I grew up listening to Nirvana, Sonic Youth, Polvo - lots of indierock. I started getting into indie-pop when I began high school - Belle & Sebastian, Aislers Set, Felt. Nirvana was the band that made me want to be in a band myself. Kurt Cobain made me want to start playing guitar. I got my first guitar when I was 10 years old and the first song I learned how to play was Smells Like Teen Spirit.

Pants Yell!’s own music stands out for being so… elegant? Ooh, that sounds a bit boring, doesn’t it? That’s not at all what I mean though. ‘Subtle’ might be a better word. It seems like you deliberately hold back in your way of singing and playing to draw attention to the flow of the words and melody. Are you never tempted to be more raucous?

Yes, we get much more raucous live. I think it's a nice dynamic to have the album and the live show be two different things.

Sorry, but I need to ask: what’s the story behind the name Pants Yell!?

There is no story - I just liked how the two words looked together. I've always been a fan of band names that start with P.

What’s coming up for Pants Yell! in the coming year? Can we hope for a European tour?

Well, we've announced that this is going to be our final record so we will be disbanding in the spring, but we will be playing plenty of shows before that time and will more than likely have a 7" single being released in the spring as well.

Let's hope the end of Pants Yell! won't be the end of you making music. I'm looking forward to hearing about your next project in the future. Thanks Andrew!

Pants Yell! myspace
Slumberland Records
Soft Abuse

Download (right click, save as)
1. Pants Yell! - Cold hands
2. Pants Yell! - Kids are the same
3. Pants Yell! - Magenta and green

November 26, 2009

Undercover poplover, part 18

"Sometimes I feel I gotta get away
Bells chime, I know I gotta get away
And I know if I don't, I'll go out of my mind"

Download (mediafire)
1. The Motorcycle Boy - His latest flame
2. Les Calamités - The kids are alright
3. Mo-Dettes - Milord

November 25, 2009

The Ballet - Bear life

It's been a couple of years since The Ballet released their impressive debut Mattachine!, which has been out of print for a long time. Now finally there's new album Bear life, released November 21.

Still very melodic, still very gay, still very Stephin Merritt. In short: still very great.

Buy Bear life
Buy Mattachine! from iTunes

The Ballet website
The Ballet myspace

Download (right click, save as)
The Ballet - The house on fire (from Bear life)
The Ballet - I hate the war (from Mattachine!)
The Ballet - In my head (from Mattachine!)

November 24, 2009

Been hiding

Website NYCTaper has an ace and excellent recording up of the already legendary set at the Slumberland 20th Anniversary Concert, where Linton performed Henry's Dress- and The Aislers Set songs backed by the Crystal Stilts.

"The biggest surprise at the Slumberland 20th Anniversary Concert at Bell House on Saturday was the completely unannounced appearance by Amy Linton, who performed three of her songs backed by JB, Kyle and Andy of Crystal Stilts. While technically not an Henry’s Dress or The Aislers Set reunion, the brief set was raw and fun."

Let's hope Linton loved this as much as we do, and picks up performing and recording soon.

Setlist November 14, 2009:
01 Introduction
02 You Killed a Boy For Me (Henry’s Dress)
03 Banter/tuning
04 Target Practice (Henry’s Dress)
05 Banter/tuning
06 The Red Door (The Aislers Set)

Download here (follow link)

November 15, 2009

Free Motifs

I know I just wrote about Holiday Records a very short while ago, but now they've got a release by The Motifs up:

"Beautiful reworkings of classic Motifs songs plus a brand new one! They are probably the best and certainly the most precious band in Australia."

The Motifs myspace
Download here (follow link)

November 09, 2009

Undercover poplover, part 17

"Remember the other day
I would call, you would say
"Baby, how's your day?"
But today, it ain't the same
Every other word is "Uh huh", "Yeah, okay""

Download (Mediafire)
1. of Montreal - Spanish dance troupe
2. The Hidden Cameras - Say my name
3. Eels - Altar boy

November 07, 2009

The Blanche Hudson Weekend

Still sad about the end of The Manhattan Love Suicides? Well, so am I of course. But here's The Blanche Hudson Weekend, The Manhattan's Caroline and Darren with friends. Lots of fuzz, lots of 60s ghosts, lots of raw and pretty tunes. Well, at least three so far.

Their debut 7" single, The Letters To Daddy EP, is available for pre-order on Squirrel Records now.

Order here

Download (Mediafire)
1. The Blanche Hudson Weekend - Crying shame

November 05, 2009

Interview: Zipper-Cremallera

Maria, David and Oscar from Madrid, Spain, are responsible for some of the most addictive and danceable pop songs of the last few years. It's been a while though since Zipper-Cremallera released 11, their fantastic debut album. I thought it was time to get to know the band a little bit better, and to see what they're up to.

Hello Maria! Can you give us a short history of the band? How did you meet? When and why did you decide to start a band together?

We met at the university in 1996!! At the beginning we were four and have changed second guitarist twice. Finally, the three of us decided to go on together as a trio. Oscar plays the drums and sings a little, David plays the guitar and sings backing voices and I play the bass guitar and normally sing.

I know it’s silly, but it’s still unclear to me what your actual band name is. Is it Zipper-Cremallera? Or is it Cremallera in Spain and Zipper for us English speakers?

Yes, both mean the same and it’s true that we decided to change the name to Zipper-Cremallera when we started to sing in both languages. At the beginning we only sang in English. But now, the meaning could be different. Perhaps in the future there could be two projects…

Like you just said, you sing in both Spanish and English. How have the reactions in Spain been? Are you a bit popular?

It depends on the year or moment that we’re going through. When we started, there were many Spanish bands that sang in English, then it changed and these bands were criticized and now, it’s changed again and there's a mixture. We’ve just been doing what we felt at each moment all these years. We’re not very popular in Spain, though, but have some good true fans (I could tell you all their names).

You were picked up by Cloudberry, WeePOP! and Liliput. Was it you who found the labels, or did they find you? Is the independent 'DIY' spirit of these labels important to you, or are you secretly hoping for a big record deal in the future?

Cloudberry and WeePop! found us thanks to myspace. And we’re very thankful to them because many people from all the world know us thanks to them. And Liliput Records is (or was) a Spanish little record label in Spain. But, it was dissolved last year, so we’re completely free again. But thanks to them too we've released our first long album in Spain.

To be honest, I’m not very aware of a lot of Spanish bands or a Spanish pop scene. Is there a community or scene you feel part of? Which other Spanish bands should we be paying attention to?

There's not really a huge pop scene right now. There are some bands that do similar things and we like them like Papa Topo, Linda Guilala, Indienella or M.A.L. You should listen to them.

A quote from your website: “We’d like to be the soundtrack of a really stupid happy moment of your life. One of those moments that won’t last in your memory for having been decisive for your future but you’ll vaguely remember it as one of the best from your past.” Can you tell us about one of those moments from your own life, and what music brings back that memory?

For example, David can't stop listening to Bicycle ride by the Swedish band The Never Invited To Parties, and I remember when I had to study for the exams that I always found more interesting to translate every song by Talulah Gosh...

Speaking of memories: what was the kind of music you grew up with? When was punk or indiepop introduced into your lives?

We grew up with the Spanish 80's pop music. Later, in the high-school we started to delve into British indiepop bands, we shared our cassettes with new discoveries to each other and finally myspace has opened our range of countries, especially Sweden.

First you played the London Popfest, and then Indietracks. It’s been an exciting year for the band! Do you like being on stage? What’s been your favourite performance so far?

We're very lucky for playing in both festivals. The London Popfest opened our door for the Indietracks and it's been amazing. We really love our English audience. I think we've played more times in England this year than in Spain. It's funny, but we feel more comfortable there. Our favorite performance was also at the London Popfest. The venue was completely full, it was sold out!! (though it's not a very huge place...) And we shared stage with Amelia Fletcher!!

It’s been a little while since your last release. Can we expect anything new sometime soon? Have you been writing or recording new songs?

In fact, we're recording 11 new songs right now. We think they'll be finished by the end of November. Some of them are going to be for a vinyl with Cloudberry Records, some of them for another vinyl with the Scottish record label Bubblegum Records and the rest of them, we will see...

Thank you Maria!

Zipper-Cremallera myspace
Cloudberry Records
Embajada de Liliput
WeePOP! Records
Bubblegum Records

Download (right click, save as)
1. Zipper-Cremallera - Former friends

November 02, 2009

Pants Yell! - Received pronunciation

Pants Yell! are one of those rare great bands that come out with a good debut, and then keep getting better with each subsequent album. So good even, that their third, Alison Statton, was my #1 album of 2007. Now here's the fourth, Received pronunciation.

I've just hit the 'order' button on the Slumberland website half an hour ago, so I can't tell you a lot more about this than the very obvious: New Pants Yell! On Slumberland! I'm excited!

Buy this album here
Pants Yell myspace

Download (right click, save as)
1. Pants Yell! - Cold hands