Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Album Review: Dananananaykroyd – There Is A Way

Released: June 13th
Label: Pizza College

Thrillingly one dimensional, Dananananaykroyd’s second album is everything that we want it to be. From the epic guitar fun that is ‘Reboot’s instrumental intro to the cacophonous ‘Make A Fist’ there’s no let up… and it’s chuffing ace.

You’ve seen the video for ‘Muscle Memory’, and seeing as you’re on Keep Pop Loud you’re vaguely familiar with the Dananananaykroyd shtick, so musically There Is A Way doesn’t need much description. Carrying over from Hey Everyone! is the Hot Club de Paris-on-steroids guitar riffs and eardrum splitting drums. Only this time the drum kits have been reduced to one and the dual vocal attack is brought to the fore. Otherwise, this is more of what we love.

With no pop smash such as ‘Black Wax’ to break up proceedings initial listens to There Is A Way can get tiring on the ears and lead you to zone out a bit. But fear not, after several plays you’ll get used to this level of awesome and the songs zip by with choruses that you’ll just need to yell/scream along to. The only thing that'll stop you singing ‘E Numbers’ at full volume on the bus will be not being able to decipher the lyrics.

That’s not to say that there are no deft flourishes. The nimble groove of ‘Think And Feel’ marks the song out as a highlight and dead cert for future single release, while the aforementioned opener ‘Reboot’ (hopefully a reference to the mid 90’s TV show) ensures that the album slinks into earshot before letting lose with all firepower. Firepower like ‘E Numbers’. Opening with a QOTSA-like pummel, it finds room for handclaps and a big old grin. Easily the best example of what to expect from this album.

Essentially Dananananaykroyd are always more fun live than on record, but There Is A Way comes very close to capturing the energy. Being on album number two means that they’ve already outlived what was expected from their novelty name and with the underground alive with hardcore pop bands and DIY rock acts you could even argue that this album is the true sound of 2011

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Album Review: Thomas Tantrum – Mad By Moonlight

Released: 13th June
Label: Stranger Records

It's seemed like one hell of a wait for Thomas Tantrum's second record. Their self-titled debut came out all the way back in 2008, and with a tour nearly a year ago providing a tantalisting glimpse at the second album breaths have been baited ever since. Luckily, Mad By Moonlight is not only worth the time spent but at times exceeds what we could even have hoped for.

'Sleep' is one of these moments. A terrific piece of pop songcraft which sees the band members pulling in seemingly different directions for the verses before slotting perfectly into place for a magical dancefloor filling chorus. It's only once we segue back into the verses again do we realise how rather odd they sound. That 'Sleep' is paired with Mad By Moonlight's other lead single 'Hot Hot Summer' draws attention to how brilliant Thomas Tantrum are at writing radio friendly singles yet simultaneously ensuring that the album feels front weighted. And that's the only issue with this record that truly prevents it as a piece of work from exceeding it's predecessor.

It's all too easy to tune out during 'Turning Blue' and 'On The Phone' especially if the main or only time you get to listen to records at any great length is during that terror of the modern age – the morning commute. Don't get us wrong, these aren't bad tracks – not by any means – all are well written with non-intrusive production, it's just that after the run of incredible singles we've been spoiled and it's hard for these to compare. Hell, for those with more conducive space to listen these tracks could even reveal themselves to be superior.

'Face The Music' has a wonderful eighties chime that Megan Thomas' vocal sways charismatically over in a traditionally pop fashion. This voice is in face the Tantrum's greatest asset elevating even the more passive moments into pretty and sparkling little gems. Contrasting this evolution is 'Cold Gold', the song that's most in line with what we heard on album #1. Spiky and with a pronounced post-punk flavour it's certainly best experienced pulling shapes in the bedroom. That the vocal goes a bit talky at times cements it's place in our hearts and on the tracklisting.

Other moments worthy of mention are 'We Are The People' and 'Supermodel'. The first is a cementing of all that makes and has ever made Thomas Tantrum great. Superb musicianship (especially with regards to the drumming) and a tightly wound acerbic jangling artpop performance that make it irresistible. The latter on the other hand sees the band stretch themselves, with softly tapped drums and Megan's jazzy vocal accompanied by a double bass giving off a smoky and sultry air. In lesser hands 'Supermodel' would sound like an indiepop band hitting the button marked 'Jazz' in the studio, in Thomas Tantrum's deft capabilities it's the crowning closer to a superb little pop album.

To close, if nothing else Mad By Moonlight gives Thomas Tantrum a shot at the top table of British artpop. When they stretch themselves even further Kate Jackson will have to look over her shoulder and at the rate they're going this isn't a far fetched prospect.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Track Of The Week: Kaiser Chiefs - Heard It Break

When it comes to the fortunes of the Yorkshire element of the Mid-00s breakthrough brigade the difference in audience anticipation between Leeds’ Kaiser Chiefs and Sheffield’s Arctic Monkeys could be no more different. Arctic Monkeys with nothing to prove simply invited us to ‘suck it and see and fucked off to do their own thing as they always have. For Kaiser Chiefs to survive in a climate where anthemic pop from guitar bands is derived - in favour of the quieter shades from groups such as Wild Beasts -nothing less than their best, most satisfying and carefully subtle set yet was demanded.

And they’ve only gone and pulled it off.

To highlight this best it is ‘Heard It Break’ (from the definitive band-selected version of The Future Is Medieval - which hits the shops today) that’s Track of the Week.

Initial listens suggest that there’s much more longevity in the 13 songs (+ Bonus) that are presented, but ‘Heard It Break’ immediately sticks out with a skittering garage beat that underpins Kaiser Chiefs most electronic song to date. The instrumentation is played incredibly tightly, winding itself around said beat whist Ricky Wilson’s vocal is filtered through a reverberation effect. The lyrics retain Kaisers playfulness but relegate any vocal filler to the waste bin with the “oh-oh-oh”s.

Time may yet prove ‘Man On Mars’ to be far superior to ‘Heard It Break’ but initial listens guarantee that this stands out and sticks in the mind.

Keep Pop Loud

(Please note: Regular indiepop service will resume tomorrow)

Friday, 24 June 2011

Milk Maid - Not Me

Did you ever wonder what Nine Black Alps are up to these days? Well, after their third album their bassist left and he's now back with a band called Milk Maid who released their debut LP Yucca through Fat Cat Records on Monday.

From that album there's a single called 'Not Me' that seems like the perfect way to round off the week.

So, what can we expect from Milk Maid if we've not bothered to listen to that above video. More grungy college rock?

Nope, fuzzy lo-fi jangly goodness. Imagine Yuck with even lower production values. Melodic and hazy, at the two minute mark it goes full-on into a Jesus And Mary Chain type noise-fest, before revving itself back to crackling indiepop life again.

There's a massive dollop of early '90s going on here, but this sounds like it's been rescued of a long forgotten (but much loved) cassette tape, rather than a band from today trying to re-appropriate the sounds and aesthetics.

Milk Maid are making an appearance at Sheffield's Tramlines Festival this year at The Bowery on Saturday and are one that I'm definitely going to aim to catch.

Meanwhile if you've loved what you've heard here (and why wouldn't you?) then you can pick up Yucca through visiting Milk Maid's website.

Keep Pop Loud

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Scumbag Philosopher – God Is Dead So I Listen To Radiohead

Scumbag Philosopher are a band destined to divide opinion. If it's not enough that they keep their attitudes and politics to the fore, the vocal is distinctly closer to being spoken that it is sung. In the same way that when most people (not me I assure you) first heard Art Brut and couldn't decide on whether they thought the band were shit or genius, it may take a few listens to anything by this gang of Norwich dwellers to decide if you actually like them or not.

If you don't have time for that then that's fine. However you will have 'God Is Dead So I Listen To Radiohead' in your head right from the first play. Sneakily and smartly it gets itself into yr consciousness and refuses to let go until you give it another listen. And another.

The artwork is ace. Clearly.

The Fall (with whom they've toured) are an obvious reference point. As are the aforementioned Art Brut. But unlike most of their contemporary art-popsters Scumbag Philosopher are pretty angry. Or at least, they don't like to hide any negativity. Intelligently letting out their scathing assault here on a certain type of Radiohead fan – the song was originally called 'Suburban Nietzsche Freak' (back when the band went under the name of Fuck Dress).

As you might expect, the lyrics are the key here. So I won't go spoiling them for you. Have a listen and a sly grin as you can be pretty much certain that Scumbag Philosopher are describing more than half of the Drowned In Sound message boards.

Scumbag Philosopher are certainly persistent, so don't expect that this'll be the last that you or I'll hear from and of them. So whatever you conclude – and I'm definitely leaning towards embracing the band – you have to appreciate their lack of compromise and DIY attitudes .

It's probably worth noting that Scumbag Philosopher aren't attacking Radiohead specifically here – more the attitudes that underpin a certain type of music fandom that in the past they attribute to Bowie fans – but I think probably points more towards a certain prog sect.

Keep Pop Loud

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

H Bird - Danger Makers EP

Following on from their excellent album Operation: Fascination, H Bird have seen fit to supply us with a brand new EP. Three songs long, there's two completely new tracks supported by a live version of album highlight 'Danger Makers', to which the EP borrows it's name.

Going under the bracketed subtitle Live Grenades at Close Range Version, 'Danger Makers' comes to life even more than it's excellent studio counterpart. With the guitar more to fore it cements itself as one of the great underground pop earworms of the year. When you download this EP and fall in love with H Bird you won't be able to wait to get hold of the album, especially with the guarantee that it's not the out-and-out best song.

So then, the two newbies: 'Are You Coming On To Me' and 'A Millionairess In A Ruby Ring'. With the love that H Bird are getting at KPL Towers it may not surprise you to learn that one of these two songs is to appear on the inaugural Keep Pop Loud compilation CD – the only physical release it's due to get...

But we'll tease you on which one for now....

'Are You Coming On To Me' is the more guitar driven of the two, with a prominent riff and a snappy drum machine. There's even a brief bit of guitar heroics that wouldn't sound too out of place on the classic N64 game F-Zero X. But don't worry, this isn't DragonForce. We're still in the good old pop territory that we love, with a synthesiser keeping an eye on proceedings and the trademark H Bird vocal that you'd have heard on the excellent 'Violet'.

Which takes us on to 'A Millionairess In A Ruby Ring'. Squelchy synths and an ice cool vocal give the impression of an updated Human League, for the 21st Century (minus Phil Oakey of course). The vocal is ice cool with the detached air that betrays the Saint Etienne and Dubstar influences. It's perhaps the less immediate of the two, but in the long run better for it.

So yeah, H Bird are delivering on every promise that pop has ever made you - so you'd better follow Keep Pop Loud on Twitter for more info on when this ace EP is going to hit the internet.

And find the record label on Facebook too to find out just which song we've picked of H Bird's for the CD and who'll be joining them.

Go to Corporate Records site now to download this EP

Keep Pop Loud

Monday, 20 June 2011

Track Of The Week: Best Coast – Gone Again

There's a post on Everett True's Collapse Board about the destruction of indie rock's core values in relation to accepting the commercial buck. As this week's top track comes from a corporately run project it seems like a good time to take a look at this and perhaps offer a riposte.

The crux of the argument on Collapse Board is thus:
“The idea that a person should not allow a song to be used in a commercial comes from the unwritten rule that to do so would be to help move product, to debase the idea of Art, and to reduce your song to a mere jingle.”

Whilst this is a fair argument for the most part, it ignores completely that selling music commercially reduces the songs to “mere jingles” to sell physical/digital albums, t-shirts and gig tickets. To take this side of the argument already refuses to see popular culture as art by the fact that it exists in a capitalist society. This argument also sees the manipulation process one way. It refuses to see the sought-after music in a position of power and gives the artist no capacity for free will. It refutes the power it claims art can have.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that corporations are a force for good on this earth. But they have budgets that they're willing to throw at the counterculture, and there's critics saying we should turn this down. If not us then they'll give the cash to Ke$ha, who'll barely notice it. Why not let our bands take it so that they can eat well and record the music that they want to.

This brings us on to the Track of the Week itself. A newbie from the excellent Best Coast – that's been recorded for a Singles Project from US TV channel Adult Swim. The sponsorship comes from some sort of car (although I forget what) and is responsible for this song being recorded. It's a great song, and I'm thoroughly glad that it exists. It pushes Best Coast's sound into a more sophisticated direction (sounding at once like the most carefree of summers and the magical of Christmases) whilst slotting in nicely with what they achieved on Crazy For You.

Also, it's a free download. Yes, the corporate money means that you get a great new song from a fantastic band. So in the future, let's make our bands not take the corporate money and we can sit there without new songs, fully paid for by someone else whilst some vacuous pop star earns more cash.

Yeah, that'll show them.

Keep Pop Loud

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Alcopop! is 50

It may only seem like yesterday that we last wrote about Alcopop! or an associated act (turns out it was actually last Thursday) but that’s only because we love them so hard.

Anyway, this latest news from Team PoP is a big one…. It’s the details of their 50th Release:
We grew up on a diet of Jurassic Park and Sensible Soccer (and all we have left is this lousy record label)
Yes, that’s the title.

And Alcopop! being Alcopop! haven’t just released a bog standard CD. Oh, no – there’s a jacket available too.

Here’s the statement from the Alcoblog:

CDs are cool and all, but because we bloody love exciting stuff too – we’ve taken a nod from our (well, Jack PoP anyways) fabourite label ever Fierce Panda, and created our very own Alcopop050 jacket. They’re being produced as we speak so excuse the crap artist rendering in the shop (that was mine – ahem) but they’re made by Dickies, hand embroidered with the Alcopop logo, as well as featuring a New York Cosmos style Alcopop Records patch. They’re very limited to 50 and available in S, M, L or XL.

And being the uber smashing chaps that they are. They’re offering a ‘skint’ version where they’re offering it AT COST to make sure that everyone can get one. I’ve ordered mine so you’d better get in quick.

Here’s the tracklisting for the CD (via Alter The Press). As well as being a corker it’s a comprehensive history of the label, from the first single to latest signings. You can guarentee there’ll be a review on KPL very soon after our CD and jacket lands on our doorstep.

1.) Encyclopedia - Emily
2.) 4 or 5 Magicians – Forever on the Edge
3.) Stagecoach – We Got Tazers
4.) Johnny Foreigner – Cranes and Cranes and Cranes and Cranes
5.) The Attika State - Recycle
6.) Hush the Many (Heed the Few) - Revolve
7.) My First Tooth – Margaret Yen
8.) Screaming Maldini - Miniatures
9.) Midget - My Infatuation
10.) Sam Isaac – Sideways
11.) - She’s an Eyeful on the Alley
12.) Jumping Ships – Heart & Hope
13.) LightGuides – The Casting Call
14.) Cut the Blue Wire – No Song of Mine
15.) Ute – Strong Arms (Elephant Cover)
16.) goFASTER>> - Good Times
(Bonus Track: Elephants - Ivory Coast (To Victory) [The Unofficial World Cup 2010 anthem for The Ivory Coast]

Read more and see the artwork for the release on the Alcoblog

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Album Review: Tellison – The Wages Of Fear

Released: 4th July
Label: Naim Edge

I pretty much bypassed all previous waves of punk and emo as they broke. When pop-punk was the rage in my teenage years I was more concerned with other – non pop based – things. The harder British end of things that included Hundred Reasons simply passed me by... and I sidestepped haircut emo on the grounds that it was a bit shit. Now that I've got more of an open mind and open ears Tellison drop The Wages Of Fear, and make a stab at taking the album of the year crown.

Not that Tellison are an emo band but they do bear inflictions - a guitar sound here and a strained vocal there – that may have been enough to put me off a few years ago when I thought I knew what I liked. What's key is these elements being joined by multiple part harmonies, synths and drum machines to create something affecting and transcendent of any genre. In short: The Wages Of Fear is a collection of immediate, instantaneous songs, superbly written and excellently performed. Tellison write songs that will endure.

Take 'Collarbone' for one. The lead single from the album that was released as a 7" on Big Scary Monsters at the end of last year. Six months on now and it's still on constant repeat. Likewise there seems very little chance that anyone will tire of 'Say Silence (Heaven And Earth)' when we're still finding joys in the band's 2007 debut Contact! Contact!. And these are the full throttle singles.

'Horses' takes a different tact, starting with a crunch before a post-hardcore bass riff is joined by squealing guitars and a chorus that recalls the moments where The Automatic delivered what they promised. It's truly exhilarating and shows, with clean production, the heights the best of our bands can scale when given half the chance. But for all its firepower (and it boasts firepower to rival that of You Animals 'Shotgun Valentine) and vigour 'Horses' isn't the best track here. Neither is the epic brilliance of 'Rapture'.

No, that's a contest between the aforementioned 'Collarbone' and opener 'Get On'. Despite the incongruous title it boasts a lyrical theme that cuts straight to the core. Boasting a piano in the mix and chiming guitars the lyrics “I picked up some moves in my youth and I'm scared that I've lost them” and “I may have some writers block but I'm still useful to you.” really hit home to someone who's looking failure in the face pretty much everywhere right now. “Do I quit trying to write this book?” they ask. I'd suggest that they keep with it, cause if the book's half as good as The Wages Of Fear it'll be worth battling through the block.

With the emotive drive coming from failures and curtailed romances The Wages Of Fear is easy to relate to. There's a tremendous amount of uncertainty in most of our lives at the moment, and what we need during those times is to listen to a band who we can shout along to as they try to exorcise their own demons. An essential purchase.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Live Review: The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart & support @ The Queens Social Club, Sheffield

I’ve decided that I like The Queens Social Club. Well, team KPL wouldn’t be back there otherwise.

Actually that’s a lie. For this line-up of course we bloody would! Drowned in Sound Events have excelled themselves again in managing to get a decent size act to come through Sheffield when far too many are bypassing in favour of Leeds. But hey, if we can see The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart in a decent venue as opposed to a shite one, then all the better.

Opening for The Pains, and taking to the stage at the mega-early time of quarter to eight, is a brand-spanking-new band called Milkteeth. The five-piece are actually the reason why we’ve got to the venue so early. Their frontman is none other than former Long Blondes guitarist/songwriter Dorian Cox – a chap responsible for writing the majority of one of KPL’s all-time favourite records.

Although having taken a completely different angle to his former band, Milkteeth still manage to utterly delight. The Fall are clearly a massive influence on their sound, but rather than taking the aggressive route of the similarly inspired The Neat, Milkteeth take the repetition and mumbling and add their own distinct spin. Like Mark E Smith re-editing the early Pulp records, vocals are mumbled and keyboards set a desolate and eerie view of Sheffield. There’s the feel that perhaps Dorian still isn’t fully used to his frontman role, but regardless, Milkteeth are definitely ones to watch.

Unlike the second support, whose Kings of Leon meets Glasvegas stadium reaching rock would be tolerable if not for the bad vocals. On the crescendos the guitars manage more bite than the above description may let you believe, but the overall impression of Nerves isn’t a positive one.

Fanzine are better. Much better. Combining influences as ‘diverse’ as Weezer and Pavement they deliver a set full of killer grungey slacker pop hits. Seeing as my feet barely stopped tapping it’s probably only fair that we give Stagecoach plenty of warning: Watch your backs boys – there’s competition!

It’s only when The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart take to the stage that the house lights finally go down. With the stage lights shimmering off the pink tinsel backdrop they get us going with ‘Belong’. It’s a long-held belief at KPL Towers that if a song’s good enough to open yr latest record then it’s good enough to open yr shows. And so the title track from the group’s excellent second album sounds every bit as distorted, melodic, magic and crunching as it does on record.

The PoBP@H are one of those groups that you don’t realise have quiet that many indiepop smashes until you encounter them in the live arena. ‘Say No To Love’, ‘Heart In Your Heartbreak’ and ‘The Body’ dominate the second-album heavy first segment of the set. Peggy Wang is a sheet of dark black hair behind her keyboard stand, whist Kyp Bergman and leads his fellow guitar player Christoph and bassist Alex in wrestling walls of noise and melody out of their instruments.

The band having drawn a crowd with a slightly older average age than one might expect means that the audience at the Queens is somewhat subdued throughout. Whether it’s this feeding Kyps aggression into his guitar or whether there are technical issues we can’t say, but he doesn’t seem massively happy. Still the crowd are certainly enjoying the show. There’s loud cheers and masses of applause after every track – especially The Pains best known song ‘Young Adult Friction’.

Coming back on for the encore Bergman thanks the crowd for coming out and gives a shout to the many excellent bands that the Steel City has produced over the decades, “we suck much more than they do” he announced apologetically. And whilst it may be true that The Pains of Being Pure At Heart aren’t as good as Pulp, it’s worth remembering that Sheffield has also produced bands of the calibre of Milburn and Little Man Tate – and I’m sure that we can all appreciate that they suck much more than The Pains ever will.

Anyway, it’s just Kyp and his guitar for ‘Contender’, a song which proves to be an all out highlight of the evening. His bandmates return afterward though, and conclude a rather excellent evening with ‘Too Tough’. There’s few bands with melodic chops as refined as The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart right now and with two classic indiepop records under their belt we can’t help but think that they’re a bona-fide radio hit away from breaking out and becoming a much wider success. On the basis of tonight’s performance they could slay much larger venues than this Working Men’s Club.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Track of the Week: Kidnapper Bell – Everything Ever

Yes, Keep Pop Loud Records is go! We're gradually announcing the acts that are appearing on the exclusive, limited edition compilation CD and this week's Track of the Week is one of them - joining the previously announced Screaming Maldini, The Half Rabbits and Bordeauxxx.

Kidnapper Bell contribute the new song 'Everything Ever' as a showcase of their unique combination of new wave and scatter-shot punk-pop and demonstrate how they're by far the most exciting band to come out of Birmingham since Johnny Foreigner.

There's been some changes in Kidnapper Bell's camp since we last heard from them on the 'Falling And Laughing' / 'Mouthful Of Pennies' AA Side, with the departure of their drummer. But with recording continuing apace there's a bright future for the band with a planned EP for over the Summer and talk of a shift in direction – possibly as a side project.

But for now there's 'Everything Ever', which you can stream below. At once spikey and epic you can immediately tell why we wanted them for the CD. As well as being one of the few acts around to demonstrate a skilled application of post-punk influences they've got the DIY aesthetic down to a T, creating wonderful handmade packages for their excellent music and we're excited to have them on board.

To be the first to find out who's joining KB on the tracklisting for Keep Pop Loud head to the Keep Pop Loud Records Facebook page and give us a Like. You'll be rewarded with eternal love.

Kidnapper Bell - Everything Ever by kidnapperbell

Friday, 10 June 2011

Keep Pop Loud Records & Facebook

As you may have seen: Keep Pop Loud has started up a record label! – HURRAH!!

As a part of the set-up for this there is now a Facebook page for KPL that you can go and ‘Like’. This page will mainly focus on the Record Label side of things whilst this here blog will continue on as normal with the Track of the Week and other features bringing extraordinary new indiepop to your attention.

Of course there’s a page for the Record Label here too. From there you’ll be able to purchase our releases and stream exclusive tracks.

So here’s the BIG news:

Keep Pop Loud Records is very pleased to announce that the first ever release on the label is going to be a 15 Track self-titled compilation CD in unique handmade packaging… which you can see a teaser image of here.

The first three bands that we’re excited to confirm for 'Keep Pop Loud' are wonderful indiepopsters Bordeaxxx, Oxford’s post-punk heroes The Half Rabbits and Sheffield’s quirk-core geniuses Screaming Maldini.

Keep your eyes out and make sure you ‘Like’ the Facebook page for the full tracklisting and release information as soon as it’s announced.

The CD is a strictly limited edition and there’s only going to be 100 copies made EVER, so you’ll have to get in quick….

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Screaming Maldini

Strangely, and despite everything, the paths of myself and Screaming Maldini had never passed until about two weeks ago. Even stranger is that they've never really been mentioned on Keep Pop Loud. Well let's say we rectify all of that right now.

Ladies and Gentlement – Sheffield's premier quirk-core popsters... SCREAMING MALDINI!!!

Signed to Alcopop! Records this Sheffield six-piece have already released two excellent EPs – And The Kookaburra.. and Restless Hearts And Silent Pioneers and will be releasing their debut album this year on French label HipHipHip.

Singer/guitarist Nick had previously cut his chops in defunct Sheffield post-punk heroes Situationists, forming Screaming Maldini after their split. He's joined by Gina (percussion & keyboards), Andy (trumpet), Chris (keyboards), Annie (bass) and Tom (drums). All of whom sing. Aside from Tom that is. The unorthodox line-up and plethora of vocals results in a mixture of offbeat indie and smart pop that feels like it could only ever have come together in the studenty suburbs of the Steel City that the band calls home.

Playing Peace In The Park this weekend just past (Saturday 4th) meant that I finally got around to seeing Screaming Maldini in their live setting. (This is despite essentially living minutes walk from their various members.) Wedged in-between some acoustic guitar playing cowboys and a band horrifically called the Mother Folkers they played a wonderful set that included the above 'Secret Sounds', 'The Extrodinary' and newbie 'Snowflake' all dressed in bright pink garments.

In fact we're so enamored with Screaming Maldini we've asked them to appear on the inaugural Keep Pop Loud Records release. To find out more about this exclusive compilation CD head over to our Facebook!

Screaming Madini are touring France with Alcopop! Label mates Johnny Foreigner over the summer. (Check their Facebook for dates)  but if you can't wait that long (or don't live in France) then come and see them at Tramlines where I believe they're playing SoYo.

Screaming Maldini's forthcoming album is set to be one of the best of the year, and certainly the most out-there. So prepare yourself by picking up their EPs from the Alcopop! Shop. 

Monday, 6 June 2011

Track Of The Week: Paintings Of Ships – Love Will Always Follow You Around

It's been a bit of a hectic week on the pop front. Coldplay landed a new single. Kaiser Chiefs came up with a new idea for releasing albums. And Nicola Roberts from Girls Aloud unveiled the video for her debut single (which sounds a bit like M.I.A. remixing The Go! Team). So this weeks most essential track that you absolutely have to hear is from Paintings Of Ships, and it's called 'Love Will Always Follow You Around'

This single was released as a free download back in April, and as such isn't perhaps as new as the above mentioned. But what it is is so much better.

Paintings Of Ships are based in North London, but come from all over the place. They like mentioning that their (Matt) drummer is from Ashby-de-la-Zouch which bares repeating as it gives the me the chance to mention the Leicstershire towns other musical exports; Young Knives and Cat from Pris. The other two members of Paintings Of Ships are guitarist/singer Daniel and bassist/singer Catherine.

As a band they're only about 18 months old, having formed at the end of 2009. But already with 'Love Will Always Follow You Around' they've achieved the indiepop perfection that so many bands spend their careers falling so far short of.

Their early 90's influences may be apparent, but unlike groups such as Yuck - whose debt to the era centres on a single set of groups - Paintings Of Ships look to a wider sonic pallet from Sonic Youth to Blur to come up with a killer combination of massive hooks and fuzzy guitar noise. It's genuine pop that makes yr head spin. Listen to 'Love Will Always Follow You Around' and you'll just want to pogo around in the park in the sunshine.

Remember the name Paintings Of Ships. They'll be one of your favourite bands by the end of the year.

Friday, 3 June 2011

The Perms

It's pop-punk/popwerpop o'clock. And our treat to lead us into the weekend is from Winnepeg trio The Perms – a band you may have come across on the Alcopop! compilation Alcopopular 4.

Relative unknowns in this country, The Perms have released five albums in Canada since their formation in 1998 with the latest being Sofia Nights, from which their new single 'High School High' is taken.

As you might be able to tell from the title, 'High School High' is a fun slice of summery guitar pop that's all about youthful hedonism and reacting to being confined in a small town. Sound-wise recalling both the better moments of The Offspring's later years and britpop legends Midget it's a earworm waiting to happen with plenty of bounce.

If you're one of those who takes everything with regards to music far too seriously, then The Perms probably aren't for you. This isn't music for beard stroking or dissecting, it's music for having fun with. But don't worry, The Perms are more than a few years outside of High School, so this isn't dumb frat-pop. There's a reflective nostalgia to 'High School High' that ensures it stands up to headphone enjoyment.

So kick back, crack open a beer and enjoy the weekend with The Perms.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Album Review: Pete And The Pirates - One Thousand Pictures

Label: Stolen Recordings
Released: 23rd May

Considering their complete lack of gimmicks, Pete And The Pirates are a pretty spectacular group. With their debut album Little Death quietly sweeping up in 2008's end of year lists - thanks to excellent songwriting and a hearts-on-sleeve approach - they created a lot of anticipation for album number two. One Thousand Pictures may have been a long time coming, but boy is it worth the wait. Exquisitely crafted and finely honed, Pete And The Pirates have surpassed all expectations and released one of the best albums of 2011.

Not that you'd expect that from the understated opening of 'Can't Fish'. Chiming guitars and intervening keyboards cover the percussive splashes in a beautiful melody that's lead by what's Pete And The Pirates signature calling card – a perfect vocal. Chief Pirate Thomas Sanders has a voice that can melt hearts from across the room, and it's this factor that chief links the band back to the days of their debut album. Otherwise musically, things have evolved somewhat.

Frequently more minimal than might be expected, Pete And The Pirates have mastered the motorik beat and deploy it to great effect. Witness lead single from the album 'Come To The Bar'. It's their longest song to date and prominently uses a keyboard over the Krautrock groove with soaring choruses that will put a big silly grin on yr face. Despite the running length of over five minutes it doesn't outstay it's welcome and eventually wobbles itself apart to make way for the metronomic tick of 'Winter 1', a song that takes multiple listens before revealing itself as a whirring masterclass in understatement.

More conventional is next single 'United'. With bouncy guitars it manages to sound at once a classic and unsteady on it's feet it's the most likely on the record to get stuck in yr head. It's understandable why they've singled it out for radio play but doesn't stand out any more in the context of One Thousand Pictures than The Rumble Strips recalling 'Motorbike' or atmospheric 'Shotgun'.

The latter of these could easily be argued to be one of the best songs on the record. Creeping and broody it's a hell of a departure from Little Death. A steady beat and a drone accompanies the vocal and little else for the most part, before a Morricone style guitar part winds it's way through the fog. But 'Shotgun' has competition – from closer 'Half Moon Street'. The best example of that aforementioned vocal and featuring the lyrics “Don't make me feel stupid, I'll do that on my own” it's a wonderful and memorable way to close such a terrific record.

Aside from an ill-considered (and far too rapid) fade-out on ‘Blood Gets Thin’ (which is later reprised), there are no holes to poke into One Thousand Pictures. What it lacks in giddy anthems such as ‘Mr Understanding’ it makes up for in subtlety and a lasting satisfaction that comes from repeated plays, whilst the three year wait since Little Death is more than made up for by ‘Come To The Bar’ alone.

One Thousand Pictures is where great melodies and refined musicianship meet artistic integrity, refined musicianship and indestructible knack for crafting perfect pop. I think you know which record it is that you need to buy next.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011


Following on from the coverage of Our Lost Infantry it's probably best if we introduce you to their sometime tour mates Olympians and their single 'Foreign Language'

Olympians - Foreign Language from Runaway on Vimeo.

Seeing as I've given you the video to watch and the link to download the song for free from Olympians bandcamp you'd think there's no point in me writing about it wouldn’t you? Well, you'd be wrong. And should probably know KPL well enough by now to know that I don't just shut up.

Hailing from Norwich, Olympians claim that the only equipment they have or ever will own is “one drum set, one bass, two guitars, two keyboards, a glockenspiel and a trumpet”, which makes you wonder what they do for amps. The above single is perhaps the best representation of their blend of fuzzed up wonder and 'math pop' intricacy' recalling Youthmovies and even moments of Young Knives circa Superabundance.

Hopefully it'll enamour you enough that you'll consider putting their Evil Pop EP To Our Wives And Sweethearts on yr list of things to buy. It features a song called 'You Don't Have To Be A Prick To Work Here, But You Are', which is enough to at least get these Olympians a gold in the song title event.