Thursday, 29 September 2011

Live Review: The Subways / The Computers / The Dancers @ The Foundry, Sheffield

It's been a long time since I last saw The Subways. The last time would have been in 2005, around the time of the first release of 'Oh Yeah'. I'd seen them three times within six months, which at 17 was a big deal. And travelling all the way from Peterborough to London to see such a small act play in a tiny venue (downstairs below The Astoria) was a big commitment. Over the years since this my attention to The Subways waned. I grew away from their youthful rock'n'roll and as such when I decided to go see them again in Sheffield (to promote an album I've still not heard) I really didn't know if I was going to get it or if the show would see me stood like an old man at the back watching teenage memories played back on stage.

But before The Subways there's the small matter of support acts. First on are The Dancers, a three piece from France who begin their set very soon after doors open. Luckily The Foundry is filling up fast and the crowd seem relatively attentive. Bouncy and poppy The Dancers manage to recall a wave of mid-00's Scouse pop that didn't get the attention it deserved. With the hooks of The Wombats, energy of goFASTER>> and slight otherness of Elle S'appelle they're a three piece that pack a pocket sized punch. Definitely ones to investigate further.

The Computers are second and are ones that you've more chance of being familiar with, seeing as it is they've made a bit of an impact with their recent album This Is The Computers and its mix of classic 50's rock n roll and contemporary hardcore. To the unfamiliar the set probably sounds a bit samey, but thankfully is delivered with excellent showmanship that sees the frotnman playing from both the front barrier and middle of the crowd. For me it's the rock n roll piano playing that punctuates the punk racket that makes it. It just begs the question: why more bands don't use this excellent sound?

And so onto the main act. There's a decent crowd at least. In fact from where we are it seems like a rather brilliant turnout. Still, there doesn't seem to be much lingering anticipation. Looking around there's the feeling that everyone knows exactly what to expect. Me aside, of course. I'm still wondering if I'm going to get this. Then the band come on.

Charlotte's a ball of energy from the off, bounding across to her bass. Billy gets a roar from the crowd simply from a wave of his arms. Sheffield clearly loves The Subways. Then they OPEN with 'Oh Yeah'. And bugger me, if it doesn't all come gushing back. This is phenomenal. This is everything that used to excite me about rock music and still does today. The crowd are instantly on fire and it's been a long time since I've seen a band on this size stage looking like they're having so much fun.

Although drummer Josh is the powerhouse that propels The Subways it's Billy and Charlotte's show. He's red of hair, shirt and guitar. She's a blur of blonde mane and sparkling gold top. Between his spinning of guitar around his torso and her command of the stage they're two flames burning through hit after hit. It's tracks from the debut that please the most, with 'Young For Eternity' and 'City Pavement' having aged very well and 'Mary' being the out-and-out highlight of the set. “This is a song I wrote about my mum” says Billy introducing it, but it's the look on his face when the whole crowd sing every word back that makes it. Superb.

I'm not sure why it is that Sheffield has such an affinity with this originally Welwyn Garden City based trio. Perhaps it's because Charlotte has recently made the Steel City her home after splitting with Billy. Or maybe it's because Sheffield knows a good thing when it hears it. Songs from this month's under-performing Money And Celebrity album are greeted as well as those from Top 10 All Or Nothing. 'We Don't Need Money To Have A Good Time' particularly gets the crowd into a frenzy. It's memorable if slightly dumb, but all the better for it. This is party rock and roll of the sorts that deserves to be played on pub duke boxes alongside Thin Lizzy, The Runaways and chart-slaying Ash. 'Kiss Kiss Bang Bang' in particular from the new ones sounds fantastic.

'Obsession' sees Billy encouraging an enlargement of the circle pit. “I wanna see the biggest hole you've ever seen in Sheffield” he commands. And aside from the crater on Northumberland Road the crowd succeed. The pit is the full size of the dancefloor. I don't participate though. It may finally be clicking that these early Subways songs were as much love letters to rock and roll itself as they were to his childhood sweetheart/bassist and that running through these is keeping the band young for eternity just as my decent into old-man-hood has been caused by listening to Elbow and drinking too much tea, but that doesn't mean my ankles can leap back into the pit. Not just yet at least.

The fairly straightforward encore consists of 'At 1am' (still their finest moment on record), 'Kalifornia' and recent single 'It's A Party'. It's a great close and I can't help but wonder if Andrew WK feels slightly jealous of The Subways impinging on his territory with a glam-dirty stomper about partying. Either way, it's a more than satisfying close to a set that leaves me with something to think about. I may have gone along trying to recapture some of my younger days, but never would I have expected to have learnt from The Subways.

I had some Monster Munch when I got home.

I feel younger already.

Keep Pop Loud

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Album Reviews: Mariachi El Bronx / Howling Bells / Scroobius Pip / Mastodon

Mariachi El BronxMariachi El Bronx II (Wichita Recordings)
More of the same from the LA Punk band, turned Mariachi wonders. The songcraft is arguably more finely tuned than on Mariachi el Bronx and everything's just that bit more special. With a wonderfully produced, luscious sound this is probably the most uplifting album that you'll hear all year. A real treat if you're willing to go off the beaten path. Whilst it's a shame that this has hit after the summer has finished it's a sure-fire way to bring the sunny vibes into your desolate winter.

Howling BellsThe Loudest Engine (Cooking Vinyl)
Despite a cohesive sound and some deft flourishes (such as the keyboards on 'Charlatan' and 'The Wilderness's whirlwind outro) The Loudest Engine fails to scale the same heights as Howling Bells previous work. Their guitar work is mighty fine, but vocalist Juanita Stein occasionally forgets to use her voice with the seductive subtly that makes the band truly great. 'Into The Sky' is brilliant, however the album just lacks a little magic. More fairy dust and less production next time, please.

Scroobius Pip Distraction Pieces (Speech Development)
With a more aggressive live sound (blink-182's Travis Barker provides drums on one song) than on his Dan Le Sac collaborations Scroobius Pip has made his finest album since Angles. The less pop-focused structure betrays Pip's beat-poetry origins and there's some really special moments when the inspiration strikes just right (a sample of The Lovely Eggs for example). 'Broken Promise' and 'Introdiction' are easily among his best songs with the former captivating utterly and the latter containing, arguably, some of his best lyrics yet. Across Distraction Pieces the subject of death (murder and suicide) looms large, but Pip always provides a twist and in doing so ensures his place in our music collection.

MastodonThe Hunter (Roadrunner)
Eschewing the lengthy prog structures of Crack The Skye, Mastodon's fifth album condenses the bands experimentation into 13 digestible chunks. Although this is still clearly an album birthed from metal there's plenty of other touchstones to give it appeal outside of the sub-clture. The awesome 'Curl Of The Burl' features a wicked QOTSA-esqe southern rock groove whilst 'Stargasm' is home to some gloriously spacey keyboards. There's much more going on across The Hunter ('Thickening' is particularly weird) than there's time to go into on an indiepop site such as this, but the record is proof enough that Mastodon are the only contemporary metal band worth bothering with for anyone but the hardcore.

Monday, 26 September 2011

Track of the Week (Part 2): Dum Dum Girls - Bedroom Eyes

I was asked in an interview recently why it is that Keep Pop Loud focuses on indiepop. Well, there's no easy answer to that, but one key reason would be that it has always formed to core of what I've listened to, it's the music that I enjoy the most and it's where I find solace.

Noise is great, although I tend to go there when I'm feeling upbeat. When I'm glum, as today I can only really smother myself in something with a gut-wrenchingly beautiful melody. Preferably something with yearning lyrics. And more than likely something with a lady singing on.

At various points in my life I've become immersed in albums by The Pipettes and Those Dancing Days when feeling this way, and I daresay unless my employment situation improves somewhat Only In Dreams (the second album from Dum Dum Girls and the record that 'Bedroom Eyes' is lifted from) will join these ranks. But then again, 'Bedroom Eyes' is so wonderful, so life-affirming, so fucking amazing, that it's almost worth feeling shit, so that in the long run such a wonderful song can mean that bit more.


Keep Pop Loud

Track of the Week: Among Brothers - Loved

After much anticipation, the follow up to Among Brothers Homes EP, the single 'Loved' is released today and claims the band their first Track of the Week spot on Keep Pop Loud.

If you've bought the Keep Pop Loud CD you'll be familiar with the band from their contribution 'Bare Teeth' and this is as good a primer as any to prepare you for what you're about to hear on the new single. Intricate and unique it's a giant swell of strings and electronic orchestration that's enough to lift even the glummest of spirits and calls to mind the bracing winds on the edge of a cliff.

If you, like me, miss Grammatics then Among Brothers are very much for you. A wonderfully contemporary take on indiepop and the promise of so much more to come.

'Loved' is available from the usual digital retailers, but you're probably best off getting it from their bandcamp page.

Keep Pop Loud

Friday, 23 September 2011

Compilation Review: Art Is Hard Records – Dry Route To Devon

Label: Art Is Hard Records
Released: 26th September (Map) / Now (download)

I'm consuming at lot more compilations at the moment. More, I think, than I ever have done in the past. Although I hate to add more fuel to the 'album is dead' fire I think this change in my listening habits is merely a reaction to the fact that despite me being out of a 'proper' job I'm busier than ever. Compilations are just easier to dip into and out of. Get the right one and it allows you to sample a bit of everything that you're after at that point in time.

And so we come to Art Is Hard Records an their  Dry Route To Devon. Very much 'the right one' for this point in time. Like Alcopop! Records annual Alcopopular releases (and to a lesser extent our very own Keep Pop Loud CD) this release has sought to make music available in a way that's both physical and collectable whilst innovative and novel. The physical side to the release comes in the form of a large map of the South West of England with QR codes embedded representing the location of the bands featured – with the idea that you can scan them with your smart phone and access the music as soon as you've purchased the map. Great!

Of course instant access is only worthwhile if the songs are any good, and at the end of the day that's what you're wanting to know. Or at least you would be had you not already gathered that I think this release is pretty special.

My personal highlight is Big Wave and their song 'Wild Strawberries' which I wrote about as Track of the Week on Monday. Big Wave represent Torquay on the map and supply what is a sublimely pure slice of pop that would not sound out of place on the seminal Rough Trade Shops Indiepop 01 CD. But say indiepop, in the traditional sense, isn't your thing? Well then, how about the brother/sister noise pop duo of Hysterical Injury? Abrasive but melodic they come across as a bit DFA 1979 with a female vocal that's a bit Elastica meets Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. Listen to it. You'll know what I mean. And even if you don't you'll like what you hear anyway.

Now, it'd be really easy for me here to go through every single song on the album, outlining a vague description, and if it were the case that you'd have to go to great lengths to hear the music, that is what I'd do. Good for you then that you can listen to it right here. At only 35 minutes (and a few seconds) it won't take you long to get an overview of what we're looking at. If more pointers are what you're after however then fans of scuzzy rock n roll should go straight for Lost Dawn's 'Blog Baby Blues' whilst those who like their lo-fi need to look at Yrrs whose 'Gravel Pit' is a barely decipherable mess of guitar fuzz and melody. It works, but only just.

On the more electronic side of things there's a few examples of the sort of 'blog pop' that I normally won't go out of my way for. As Art Is Hard have demonstrated, this is very much my loss. Both Rock Hudson (Bournemouth) and Adjust Your Set (Portsmouth) produce the best examples of heard of this all year, with the latter edging out ahead by combining the gloopyness that we expect with a crisp guitar line and euphoric edge. The appropriately titled 'In Motion' will make your train journey (be it to Devon or not) feel that much more epic than you'd expect.

As this is such an excellent compilation I feel remiss now for not mentioning everything. Gorgeous Bully, Safari Park, WeMakeNoises, Fire Island Pines and Olo Worms are all worth your time and are probably even better than my words can do justice to. Basically you should do your ears a massive favour and listen to this. When you like what you hear you can order the map.

More than a compilation of 'local bands' Dry Route To Devon is a love letter to its locality, a taster of what's AMAZING about underground pop and something pretty to hang on your wall.

Keep Pop Loud

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Album Review: Slow Club – Paradise

Label: Moshi Moshi
Released: 12th September

From opener 'Two Cousins' right through to the album's 'hidden' title track it's clear that Paradise is the sound of Slow Club surpassing all expectations.

At the time when Slow Club were first starting up in Sheffield I was working at the Students Union where they used to play. A sound engineer friend remarked to me, about the band, that he was glad of their existence because otherwise they'd be two 'boring singer-songwriter' types rather than just one band. Always having found Slow Club to have been, at worst, rather pleasant I refrained from commenting. However that there was a grain of truth in what this sound engineer was saying shows a lot about what the band used to be.

As much as they hated it, it's really no surprise that they've been called 'twee' a lot in the past. Charles was a stereotypical indiepop boy, whilst Rebecca used to play percussion on an old chair. They wrote ramshackle melodies with titles like 'Come On Youth' and 'Let's Fall Back In Love'. They were, and sorry if you're reading this guys, twee.

Fast forward to 2011, Slow Club, no longer particularly affiliated with Sheffield have released what feels in every respect to be a classic pop record. Refined, but retaining the quirk and spirit the duo have always possessed it's something of a treasure with many disparate highlights coming together to form a satisfyingly complete record.

Whilst 'Two Cousins' is a personal favourite there's every chance that when you approach Paradise there'll be another that you just won't be able to shake. 'If We're Still Alive' takes the more clattering approach of some of Slow Club's early material and is all the more charming for it, whilst 'Where I'm Waking' comes onto the listener in a way that's guaranteed to prick up a few, shall we say, ears. More subdued moments such as 'Hackney Marsh' and 'You, Earth Or Ash' make it feel as though sitting through Paradise is a rifle through some long lost collection of old vinyl LPs. It's new on the ears but feels very much like it could have been around forever.

Whilst it's not a complaint, as such, Charles' vocal plays much less of a part on Paradise than it did on Yeah, So?. Clearly Rebecca is the central focus now and with pre-release publicity mentioning her split with Gareth Campesinos! she's clearly on her way to becoming an indiepop icon. It's not a takeover of the sound though, with Charles' musical compositions and textures proving to be the factor that keeps us coming back time and again to the album.

So, yeah... time will tell if Paradise becomes the classic (cult or otherwise) that it promises to be. However if you've any sense you'll get in there now. For not only is this one of the best albums of 2011 but that way you'll still have chance to grab the bonus disc which is essential for the Arab Strab men (Malcolm Middleton &a Aidan Moffat)'s version of 'Two Cousins'. It's brill!

Keep Pop Loud

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

"Good books and nice cups of tea" a chat with H Bird's Aug Stone

For part three in our series of email chats with acts from the Keep Pop Loud CD we sent the multi-talented Aug Stone a series of quick questions. As songwriter and founding member of H Bird you'll be aware of his excellent synth-pop creations that have been featured on Keep Pop Loud over the past year. But like the wider popscene there's a lot more going on that's just below the surface...

First off, for anyone who might not know, who are H Bird?

H Bird are Kate Dornan, Kasia Middleton and myself, Aug Stone. We’re a synthpop trio from London. We like good books and nice cups of tea.

How did the band come about and where is the name from?

I had been wanting to do a project like this for years, combining my lifelong love of 60s girl groups and synthpop. I don’t think I’ve ever publicly said where the name came from but since you asked, I’ll tell you. Back in Boston, MA around the year 2000, before Paris Hilton started using it, my friends and I were throwing around the word “hot”, usually to describe songs by Depeche Mode and the Pet Shop Boys. It soon got shortened to just “H”. “Oh, that’s H!” we’d say. Anyway, fast forward to September 2003 when I’ve just moved to London for the first time and I’m sitting at an internet cafĂ© in Kentish Town emailing one of my best friends back in Boston, Rick Webb. I thought it would really annoy my friends back home if I immediately started using British slang as soon as I got to London. So I’m sitting there typing and this gorgeous French girl sits down at the computer next to mine, so I typed to Rick “There is an H bird sitting next to me.” And Rick wrote back “H Bird would make a great band name.” I decided there and then that would be the name for this project. I like it because if I hadn’t told you that, you wouldn’t have any idea where it came from. It could be someone’s first initial and last name, it could be anything. And that’s why I like it as a name for a pop group – it’s enigmatic, open to interpretation, and it sounds cool.

So anyway, I wrote all these songs and I met Kate around that time because her band Fosca and my old band Lifestyle were supposed to tour the States together, but sadly that never happened. When I moved back to London in 2005 I was still writing and I asked Kate if she’d like to collaborate on some songs and I was hoping she would play keyboards in the band when it came together. I had no idea she could sing. You don’t think someone who can play every instrument will also have a great voice. I was really trying hard to find a singer at that point and I went to see Scarlet’s Well at Water Rats one night and Kate, as well as playing synth for them, also sang lead on one song and I was blown away. I knew she should be the singer of H Bird. I gave her the demo of “Pink Lights & Champagne” at the Luke Haines gig at the ICA later that summer and she came over and sang on that and a few other demos and then we recorded 4 songs with Ian Catt as sort of a sampler. Then Ian from HDIF heard “Pink Lights” and offered us a gig so we formed the live band. Kasia was the obvious choice as she was a good friend of ours and she also can play any instrument. We played every two weeks after that, writing “Violet” and “Allodynia” then too.

There's an element of H Bird's sound that rooted in early 90's British pop, why do you think no-one else is going there at the moment?

Hmm, I never really think of our sound as early 90s but I can see that, that’s when Saint Etienne started. Yeah, those years seem to have been skipped over and it’s gone straight to the Britpop revival, hasn’t it?

This may not have been how it actually was, but how I remember the early 90s was there was really a lot going on, a freer time before movements started to form again and the word ‘alternative’, and how can that possibly describe a sound?, came to label just about everything. It might’ve been different over here but this is how I remember it as an American who has always been in love with British music. ‘120 Minutes’ was great back then, more things were being given chances in the mainstream because, as usual at any given time in the music industry, no one had any idea what was going on. Then “Alternative”, then “Britpop” came along and more and more boring clones were getting signed and pushing the more interesting bands out of airplay slots. What I was listening to back then – the Jesus & Mary Chain (buying Honey’s Dead was a life-changing experience), Dinosaur Jr., Fugazi, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Chainsaw Kittens, Lush, Daisy Chainsaw, Smashing Pumpkins, Fishbone, Ned’s Atomic Dustbin – I don’t really see a lot of similarities between. So to answer your question, maybe because there’s not as much of an identifiable early-90s sound?

Though Shrag, not to say they’re doing it, sometimes remind me of early Lush at points, which is great.

You've got your comic (The Beekeeper) too, what's your involvement with that and what prompted it?

I write The Beekeeper scripts and Steve Horry draws it. They’re free downloads on the site if anyone’s interested. I’ve gotten really into comics the past couple of years. I always loved Asterix and Tintin when I was growing up and whenever I’d read an interview with Alan Moore he’d always sound so right on. But it wasn’t until the past few years that I’ve started reading more comics. I just finished Grant Morrison’s The Invisibles, which was amazing. I’m also loving Jacques Tardi’s work lately.

I had an idea for a comic and I was talking to Steve about drawing it and he suggested that since I was new to all this that we start slow and that I should write some short, 3 or 4 page stories before diving into something huge. A few days after he suggested that, I had a fever and couldn’t sleep so I got out of bed at 3 a.m. and wrote the very first Beekeeper story, which has nothing to do with my original idea and is really quite bizarre. I came to really love the idea though and I’ve written a bunch of scripts now, there should be a new one up on the site soon. I’ve got plenty of ideas for comics, have been working on a bunch of different scripts for other stories too, if there are any artists out there reading this.

So, it's 'A Millionairess In A Ruby Ring' that we've got on the Keep Pop Loud compilation. Is there any story behind this or anything that people might not know about the song?

This is actually an AUNTIE song (another project of mine), though I’ve not actually got around to finishing the AUNTIE version. Sean Drinkwater from Freezepop and Lifestyle covered it and we used his version as the theme to The Oxford Dons - (a comedy short film that Jamie Manners and I made - . I play an ex-CIA agent and Jamie is a professor of 18th Century Albanian Poetry. Together we solve crimes.) When we played the last H Bird gig before Kasia moved to L.A. we were going to cover it too as I always liked to make each H Bird gig special and play unique set lists, but we had to cut it due to time. We did cover Lifestyle’s “Are You Coming On To Me?” at that gig and we later recorded both of those songs for the Danger Makers EP, a free download from Corporate Records.

I wrote “Millionairess” at the time I was reading Ulysses and I always keep a running list of good song titles. Somewhere within Ulysses Joyce uses the word “millionairess” and he might mention a ruby ring too but it would take forever to go back and check ; )

14 A Millionairess In A Ruby Ring - H Bird by Keep Pop Loud

When I was writing the song, the lead synth line reminded me of something Sean Drinkwater would write so I put in a little homage in the lyrics as well, the “fly your spaceship into the sun” bit. Sean used to tell me that Duran Duran’s Seven And The Ragged Tiger would be the perfect album to listen to if you had stolen a space shuttle and were flying it directly into the sun. He even made up special cd which changed the track order a little and included “Is There Something I Should Know?” which he felt (and I agree) was wrongfully tacked onto the cd issue of their first record, when chronologically it belonged with SATRT. That has always stuck with me and whenever I interview a band now, my standard final question is “What would the soundtrack be if you had stolen a space shuttle and were flying it directly into the sun?”

The Danger Makers EP (on which 'Millionairess' features) was released as a free download, what stopped you from doing a physical release?

It’s tough doing physical releases these days, having to pay for pressing copies and then storing the inventory, especial if you’re just going to give it away for free. So much easier just to make it a download. I would love to have the H Bird stuff released on 12” vinyl, the covers would look awesome that way, but it just doesn’t make financial sense. I’ve put up almost everything I’ve ever released on Corporate Records (The Indelicates internet label), lots of it for free. It’s great.

You also recently put up the music you recorded with The Soft Close-Ups as a free download too.

I love The Soft Close-Ups stuff, I’m very proud of those songs. And it’s great working with David Shah. He’s a brilliant lyricist and has an amazing voice. Luxembourg were one of my favourite bands so I was really excited when we started working together. “In Retrospect” is a collection of everything we’ve done so far. And we’ll be recording a new EP in October with a full live band, I’m really looking forward to that. I think these new songs coming up are some of the loveliest pieces of music I’ve ever written.

I also put out an AUNTIE EP this year with two of my favourite singers each taking a song, Goolkasian from The Elevator Drops  and Mikey Georgeson from David Devant & His Spirit Wife and Mr. Solo. I think they’re two of my best songs and I’m thrilled they agreed to sing on them. And I’ve been releasing free downloads as Eiscafe of collaborations with different people. The plan was to try and do a song a week, I’ve got a ton of music stockpiled and am looking for people to write lyrics and sing them, but I’ve had TONS of computer and studio trouble this year and I’ve only just got that fixed so hopefully we’ll get some more out.

The underground pop scene is pretty vibrant over in the UK at the moment, what's your favourite part of what's going on?

I like that people just seem to be doing stuff, like they get an idea and they make it happen. People like David Barnett, who allegedly retired from show business almost 2 years ago, has been on like 5 albums this year, we did “Slag To Love” together, and has been playing tons of gigs with different bands, and even has a new band where he’s playing new songs and old favourites. Or Trev Oddbox is always doing something, putting on and putting out records by bands he likes. You wanted to put out a cd and you’re doing it. It’s awesome. There’s a lot of great bands around at the moment, and the only one I can think of that has a proper record label behind them is Art Brut. But there’s a ton of good bands playing gigs and putting out great records and it’s awesome that I keep discovering more.

Are there any new bands that you can recommend us

My two favourite bands that I’ve heard this year are Pris and The Hall of Mirrors. Pris are set to take over the world, they’ve got the right idea about what pop should be. Their songs are fantastic, like a Kenickie-style burst of energy. And The Hall Of Mirrors make really lovely, dreamy pop songs. Both are all about huge amazing songs that that just make you go YES! Paisley and Charlie are excellent as well, their record just came out. They make Saint Etienne-esque pop like we do. Mary-Anne from The Kid, who were a great Swedish band, I once described them as “like New Order and Throwing Muses thrown into a dangerous amusement park ride”, has a new free download single out. With David Sundqvilst of The Kick who are also very good and have a bunch of free stuff out. May Roosevelt makes scary but beautiful electronic pop. Jonny Cola & The A-Grades know how to glitter up a pop song. And David Shah’s other project, The Melting Ice Caps, is really really lovely. I really like Hong Kong In The 60s’ spacepop as well. Gwenno from The Pipettes’ solo stuff is ace.

Who is your favourite pop star?

After finally seeing Pulp in July, after 17 years of trying, I think Jarvis is the best popstar in the world. It was just amazing to watch him perform. He had the moves, the energy, the intensity but he’s incredibly sincere about it all too, which really comes through and feels like it’s the most important thing. He’s really just himself. He doesn’t put himself up there to be idolized, he’s there to make everyone feel a part of and share this truly wonderful experience which is what pop is all about to me.

David Bowie too, for his incredible body of work, how he managed to move between styles and master them whilst also being enormously innovative.

Mikey Georgeson (David Devant & His Spirit Wife, Mr. Solo) is also an amazing popstar. A spectacular performer (literally) and fantastic, prolific songwriter. His songs are shining glimpses of another universe where everything is pure pop.

Cat from Pris is gonna make a great pop star, actually she already is. She’s got a very clear idea of what pop should be and the sass and style to pull it off.

Siouxsie is another of my favourite pop stars. How in every image of her, and there were tons, she always looked impeccable and evocative, matching the mood of the music the image represented. All her records were very physical visual artifacts as well as sonic ones.

Pop is a very special wonderland and a true popstar is a magician with the powers to bring you there.

What's next on the cards for you and for H Bird?

Kate and I did an Eiscafe song, “Apricot Lipstick”, back in February that I really love and we recorded another one called “Pale Green Eyeshadow” right before my computer and studio collapsed. But I just need to mix it so hopefully that will be ready soon. I think we’re all open to future H Bird stuff it’s just we’ve all sort of gone off in different directions for the time being, but no need to rule anything out.

I’ve got a ton of music written that I’m looking for people to write lyrics to and sing. There’s the new Soft Close-Ups single coming up and hopefully there’ll be a lot more music there. I’ve been doing solo gigs which have been a lot of fun. More gigs all around would be nice. Yeah, so there’s plenty more music to come.

Cheers! And good luck with it all.

So there you have it. H Bird's 'A Millionairess In A Ruby Ring' joins the rest of the amazing talent on the Keep Pop Loud CD. Talent that includes Pris and Glam Chops (which features Eddie Argos and Mikey Georgeson) that if you feel so inclined (and we'd be ever-so-grateful) you can buy from the KPL store.

If it's any extra incentive the artwork features cats! Look >>>

Keep Pop Loud

Monday, 19 September 2011

Track of the Week: Big Wave - Wild Strawberries

If you're wondering (quite rightly) why it is that utterly sublime releases by Dum Dum Girls and Los Campesinos! have yet to attain Track of the Week status then it's probably down to them coming my way early in the week and therefore too late to take this slot. Plus you've already heard them anyway.

Hopefully this week's top pick is something that you won't have come across however. It's by a band called Big Wave and is available on an excellent compilation on Art Is Hard Records. But you can listen to it right now.

'Wild Strawberries' sounds like it's been unearthed from a time capsule. A long forgotten gem from the eighties when indiepop was all new. Not retro or contrived it's simply a sweet and pure piece of pop music. Stripped to its bare bones the song could have just as easily crept out of the 1950's with "ba-ba-ba-baa"s and a gently woozy melody.

Big Wave hail from Devon and can be found on said aforementioned compilation. Titled Dry Route To Devon the release comes with a lovely screen printed map with embedded QR codes that allow you to listen on yr smart phone. It's an innovative idea if ever there was one, and KPL will be brining you a full review of the compilation during the week.

In the meantime if you want to delve into the waters beforehand, Big Wave is absolutely perfect for you to be getting on with.

Keep Pop Loud

Friday, 16 September 2011

Album Review: Grouplove – Never Trust A Happy Song

Label: Atlantic
Released: 5th September

It's one of the great pop injustices of the year that Foster The People's plodding (if catchy) 'Pumped Up Kicks' can be heard coming from every single radio and television in the UK, where fellow LA residents Grouplove and their excellently giddy 'Colours' remains a hit only amongst the listeners of 6Music. This says much more about the general singles purchasing population than it does about Grouplove.

Beginning very well (with handclaps) 'Itching On A Photograph' kicks off the record, and instantly it's obvious what we're dealing with. Grouplove deal in big pop tunes with everything-and-the-kitchen sink thrown in. Jangly guitars, semi-wild vocals, multiple-part harmonies and the sort of massive sounding drums that make you want to throw shapes around the sticky dancefloor. Despite any allusions to mid-decade mainstream indiepop it's genuinely exciting and when paired with current radio single 'Tongue Tied' forms an unbeatable opening pair.

With a (Hot Fuss era) Killers-eqsue bassline it sounds like a proper hit. The underpinning synthesisers bring a different element to Grouplove's sonic pallet than we witnessed on their first recordings resulting in an amalgamation of MGMT cool and Black Kids exuberance. Every time this comes on it's impossible to resist the urge to pogo like a loon. You've been warned.

'Lovely' cup suffers from some lyrics that are bound to grate on some people (“You're such a lovely cup / Why don't you fill me up”) but as it fronts a tune that's in the vain of R.E.M.'s Green there's every chance that you can let it slide. Plus it exists between 'Tongue Tied' and 'Colours', the latter of which is easily one of the best singles of the year. It's just sheer brilliance!

I mean will you just clock the drumming on that. It's track four on what's as strong an opening salvo as you're likely to hear on a pop album this year.

Midway 'Naked Kids' makes a surprising return from the EP/mini-album. With a more slacker vibe it sits in much better than expected, slowing the pace and giving some breathing room. As much as it smacks of privilege (“Cruising on the highway with my friends, top down / And we're all on our way to the beach”) there's an element to the delivery that suggests a more subversive undercurrent. Be it a mockery of the rich kids or a comment on the 'missing generation' that have no work to go to either way it's alright by these ears and British class-conscious sensibilities.

Elsewhere Grouplove show off their versatility with this pop malarkey. 'Slow', with it's looser structure, swirling keyboards and backing vocalist Hannah Hooper taking the lead, feels more like an interlude than full blown single and 'Cruel And Beautiful World' is their country number. Well, obviously it's not country in the modern day, tacky Nashville, dress up sense, but rather a foot-tapper that's lead by some neat twanging guitar and Hooper and (front man) Christian Zucconi's joint vocals. Further variety is added by 'Spun' which features a drastically different vocal style. It's been described as their radio rock hit with good reason. Plus it's a little bit shouty.

Perhaps 'Betty's A Bombshell' and 'Love Will Save Your Soul' are fillers, but Grouplove are still a young band. So whilst Never Trust A Happy Song isn't a great album it's at least two thirds of the way there. An emotional counterpoint to the anthemic pop tunes (perhaps the swooning 'Get Giddy' from the aforementioned EP) would have proved the simple push it needed. As it stands Grouplove's debut is simply great fun and a sure-fire hit with discerning indie fans who still like a good old dancefloor filler. It's just that there's occasionally the nagging feeling that this album is meant to have only a transitionary impact on it's audience but when the sugar rushes are this great then we need not worry about our long term dental health.

Keep Pop Loud

Thursday, 15 September 2011

EP Reviews: Katie Malco/Matt Emery/Warren Mallia - threEPeople

Released: August 22nd
Label: Alcopop! Records

Despite the rain it's been something of a dry summer this year. When we look at new releases that have come our way over the summer months noteworthy stuff is few-and-far-between. And while this has given me the chance to ensure that all of the sleeves for our very own compilation have been made prior to release date, it's also had the side-effect of making for a very slow blog. Sorry about that.

And now, like with the old bus analogy, many have come along at once. With this near-insurmountable pile of records to review it's Alcopop!'s split EP that's made its way easily and gracefully to the top of the pile.

Limited edition and in a hand painted sleeve the threEPeople EP marks Katie Malco's debut release on the label and backs her up with new contributions from old hands Matt Emery (drummer in Stagecoach) and Warren Mallia (guitarist from The Attika State) with each contributing one acoustic number each. As usual, with this being Alcopop! it's a different way of getting this music out there and expertly  highlights the talents of the three musicians.

'His Face Is A Map' is the opening number of the three and comes from Katie Malco. Definitely a cult artist in the making, it'll still be really great to see Katie break out from the underground pop scene and get wider acknowledgement of her talents. From the bare bones of the acoustic guitar Katie's multi-tracked vocals provide subtle harmonies which along with a swell of additional instrumentation brings the track to a nice climax. Her voice is incredibly pretty and gives the release an essential feminine touch.

Matt Emery's contribution is the biggest surprise on the CD due to the previously reviewed Pulled Apart By Matt Emery download. Said EP of Pulled Apart By Horses covers focused mainly on Matt's vocal and classical sounding piano work. 'Ghost Dreaming', like Katie's song feels suited to a rainy afternoon, it's reflective and gentle sounding but with a strong tune. If on paper this sounds a bit too MOR then fear not, this sits in nicely with the indiepop that we're used to from Alcopop!, if somewhat contrasting to the catchy slacker-tunes of Stagecoach. Lovely!

Rounding off the EP is '6 Shots', Warren Mallia's song. As Warren provides some vocals for The Attika State anyway this brings a more familiar voice to proceedings. A rawer cut than the previous two numbers '6 Shots' comes across very much like an acoustic track from his band. It's easy to imagine the acoustic riffs coming from a fully amplified guitar and backed up by the full might of the five piece line-up. Catchy with an up-beat tune that's nicely juxtaposed with the darker lyrics. This is classic pop songwriting.

Autumn is by far my favourite season, and as currently I'm unemployed I'm looking for the perfect soundtrack to get me out of the house and job hunting on the wind-strewn and leaf-blown streets. Last time I was in this position Those Dancing Days debut record wormed it's way into my heart to become one of my favourite albums of the decade. There's a place again for a record to get under my skin in this way and the threEPeople stands a very good chance of being that.

Keep Pop Loud

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

"Spread the indie butter on the toast of love" a chat with Bordeauxxx

You might have noticed that Keep Pop Loud has a CD out. It's fifteen of the finest slices of pop madness that we've heard over the past year, and in order to persuade you to part with (only) five of your hard-earned pounds we're catching up with some of the acts that feature.

So far you'll have heard the contributions from The Winter Olympics, MJ Hibbett and Glam Chops. Hopefully you'll also have seen our Kidnapper Bell interview. Today however it's the turn of ace indiepopsters Bordeauxxx to run through some of the KPL questions.

...and it seems that they've had a bit fun with the answers...

So then, to start with can you introduce the band for anyone who might not know?

- Martin: We're four boys and a girl in a pop group called Bordeauxxx

- Nat: Jon is hairy, Charlie is a cat, Martin has the tiny eyes, Amy is apparently a female and I'm the charming one with the massive willy

- Jon: Nat is the one who comes across drunk in interviews.

How did Bordeauxxx come about and how long have you been going?

- Jon: We all met at Uni, and we've been going just over a year and a half. Me, Martin, Amy and Nat were thinking of starting a band, and then Amy got drunk and invited Charlie to join because he had cool hair.

- Martin: I was in the toilet at the time, and when I got back I thought she'd pulled.

The song on the Keep Pop Loud CD is 'Every Holiday Is A Disaster', is there anything about that song you can tell us that we don't already know?

- Nat: If you play it backwards it's actually an old episode of Changing Rooms

- Martin: From conception to completion it actually took us almost a year to write - finding a structure that worked was difficult with this song. You think with all that time, I'd have managed to get some decent lyrics done too, but they were still being chopped and changed right up until I was actually in the vocal booth. Luckily I think I stuck with a good set... Also, Changing Rooms.

- Amy: It’s my favourite song we have written so far!

- Jon: One of the vocal takes that got left on the cutting room floor includes me overdoing the shouty bits and ending up sounding like Chewbacca...

Every Holiday Is A Disaster by bordeauxxx

You've been self-releasing in the past. How has that been working out and would you ever consider working with a label?
- Jon: I think our music video for Heartstrings is something that I'm really proud of, since it literally cost us £16 (inside scoop: we spent all of that on balloons). Having no label support or budget means we have to work harder and be smarter, and I think those are good things for any creative project.

- Martin: Our EP has been out about a year now, and I think we're all surprised at how well it's done. We do enjoy the whole DIY thing and how personal it is - though it's tough work. If we were fortunate enough to be offered a label release of our next EP then we'd welcome it with open arms! Especially Amy...

Amy: Yeah, being the Bordeauxxx CD making and distributing factory is pretty demanding so some help on that front would definitely be appreciated!

There's a lot of really exciting stuff going off in the pop underground at the moment. Lots of bands doing lots of different things. Is it a good time to be in a group right now?

- Nat: No, cos back in the day, before I existed, you could probably just say 'I'm in a band' and get loads of chicks, and not even feel bad about it. Now if you say that you sound like a nobhead.

- Martin: Chandler Bing to Rachel Green "I go to college, AND, I'm in a band". It worked.

- Charlie: Try going to Brighton and saying you're in a band. Chances are you're talking to someone who is also in a band, or knows someone that's in a band that are more famous than you.

- Jon: I think it's a great time to be in a band, mostly because it's a fucking terrible time to be alive. If you can channel all of your social-networking-derived-longing and recession inspired ennui into something that actually resonates with other people (instead of just being 'that guy who complains about everything') then it's a good time to be making art.

Who is your favourite Pop Star?

- Nat: In the TV show Popstars my fave was Noel cos he had a nice face and a funny mum, though I fancied Suzanne.

- Martin: Danny, cos he loved his nan. Also Darius because everyone hated him for a while, then he cut his hair and became really good.

- Charlie: I never watched it. I feel like I missed out now.

Is there any gossip that you can let us in on?

- Amy: living with 3 out of 4 of the guys last year made for interesting housemates but I daren’t share any of their strange antics for fear of being kicked out of the band…

- Charlie: I heard Martin and Amy got off once?

- Jon: I heard Martin and Nat got off once…

- Martin: Not usually one to kiss and tell, but I'm working my way around the band.

- Nat: Did you know there's actually a place in France called Bordeaux?!?!?

What's next on the cards for Bordeauxxx?

- Martin: EP 2 and as much gigging as possible! I love visiting new towns for shows, we're currently planning a tour, so hopefully that happens so we get to go exploring in different jungles every day...

- Amy: Yeah I am super excited to record again, and getting some new music out to shove in peoples ears!

- Charlie: I still have one more year of university to plough through. But band is a high priority too! I just want to get a decent grade as well..

Is there anything you want to achieve with the band long term, or are you just happy taking each thing as it comes?

- Martin: As long as people listen, we'll be out there playing. I guess it's lucky that we're getting the chance to gig at such an exciting time for pop, and to be involved with such rad shows. We've been fortunate enough to share the stage with loads of bands we admire already... I think onwards and upwards is the plan, and it'll be fun seeing where we end up and who we get to meet.

- Nat: I want us to create a whole new genre of music that somehow physically reduces the atmosphere's concentration of greenhouse gases with each play.

- Charlie: That's so Nat.

- Amy: As much as Nat’s idea could potentially save the planet I do feel it is a little out of reach… but yeah what Martin said, ha.

- Jon: The environment can look after itself. I want to write my name on a hot girl's boobs without getting slapped in the face.

Why should fans of Bordeauxxx buy the Keep Pop Loud compilation CD?

- Martin: Glam Chops

- Nat: Cos spending money is good for the economy.

- Amy: To spread the indie butter on the toast of love.

- Charlie: Cos now putting a CD in a CD player and listening to it is well retro and cool and so you should probably do it.

- Jon: So they can check the tracklisting on the back whenever they forget how to spell our band's name.



So there you have it. Bordeauxxx join all of the aforementioned talent (plus others including Pocket Satellite, Dogs Die In Hot Cars and Pris) on the Keep Pop Loud CD, that if you feel so inclined (and we'd be ever-so-grateful) you can buy from the KPL store.

If it's any extra incentive the artwork features cats! Look > >

Keep Pop Loud

Monday, 12 September 2011

Track of the Week: MJ Hibbett – 2000AD Nan

It's no secret that MJ Hibbett is one of the all time favourite songwriters at KPL Towers. If you're reading this and somehow haven't heard the incredible album We Validate! then you can be excused from reading the rest of this to go and buy yourself a copy.

This means that all of you now know who MJ Hibbett is and no more introductions are needed for this indiepop legend.

Well, I'm absolutely chuffed here to bring you an exclusive new MJ Hibbett song, '2000AD Nan' that you can buy from us on the Keep Pop Loud CD... which is released TODAY!

But rather than me banging on about the track I'll give you some words that Mark himself has written on his own blog, regarding it's inception and meaning.

“A few years ago there was a spate of very similar letters appearing in the 2000AD letters page, from people who wished to pay tribute to their NANS. All over the world there were, and doubtless still are, people whose Nans had bought them their regular weekly comic as a special treat, and had then kept doing it when they left home. People talked about Nans stockpiling back issues until their next visit, or sending them all around the world, with the exchange becoming a constant symbol of their relationship. As 2000AD readers move into their thirties and forties the league of Nans gently declined in number, and it really touched me to think of all these lovely relationships which had, as a small but vital part, an incredibly violent, anarchic slice of weekly punk rock.

It probably helped that my own early comic buying years had involved my Nans - Nan Bertie used to get me The Beano (which I read while she read The Weekly News) and Nan Bike gave me the pocket money which bought Whizzer and Chips, Starlord and then 2000AD. I stirred in my own story to all the other stories I'd read and came up with some words which, invariably, got me a bit weepy whenever I sang them.”

So to get your hands on this BRAND NEW MJ Hibbett song, go and pick up a copy of the Keep Pop Loud CD

It's only £5 for 15 songs. Limited to 100 copies and comes in a sleeve made from second hand clothes!

03 2000AD Nan - MJ Hibbett by Keep Pop Loud

To read more about the other bands involved (including Dogs Die In Hot Cars, Art Brut's Eddie Argos and The Winter Olympics) go here!  

Thursday, 8 September 2011

"It's never been more fun" - An interview with KPL CD stars Kidnapper Bell

For the first in a series of quick chats with bands from the Keep Pop Loud Compilation we sent a few quick questions over to the very excellent Kidnapper Bell.

So, without any further waffle from me, Keith from the band talks about the past, the future and 'Everything Ever'

To start with, can you introduce the band for anyone who might not know?
Hi, we're Kidnapper Bell, Liam plays guitar and keys, Jenny plays bass and sings and I'm Keith and I sing and sometimes play guitar when Liam shows me the chords to play. Liam and Jenny are from Black Heath and I'm from Washington, DC but Bearwood is home now.

So, you're recording at the moment. Is it going well?
The going is good and we've got about 4 or 5 songs ready to almost go for a possible EP. When our drummer went we thought it might be difficult as far as writing goes but, and it might sound cliched, it's never been more fun and creative even though the sounds might be slightly different to what we've done before.

You said that you're going in a new direction with the material. Can you give us any indication of which form this new direction is taking?
Well for now since we're programming the beats it feels a bit more structured but we're trying out a new drummer soon so I'm excited to see what happens when we get this 20 something who looks 13 in to add live drums. I've never been very good at comparing our songs to other bands and genres though but hopefully we'll send you something soon and get your thoughts on where it all fits in, which would be helpful :) Liam's still got his array of pedals though and I'm still stuck in turn of the century college rock so we'll see!

With this potentially coming under a new name, could we be seeing the conclusion of Kidnapper Bell?
It's looking more likely just because with losing our drummer and finding out that the 3 of us are feeling all refreshed and stuff we keep thinking it would be a good idea to have a new name for a fresh start. Saying that, when we start playing live again we'll probably still play some of the old Kidnapper Bell songs as well. Contradictions ahoy.

Are you going to be self-releasing again? And how has self-releasing worked for the band in the past?
Not totally certain how the next one will be released. We self-released our first EP and then did the mini-album and the last AA single through Stressed Sumo in Derby, but through both types of releases we've been very involved in trying to sneak into the ears of people and in getting shows. Along the way we've met a load of great people from both bands and independent promoters who do it because they love it, even when success means just enough money to get the next gig on.

It's 'Everything Ever' that's on the Keep Pop Loud compilation. What can you tell us about it that we might not know?
It was produced by Tom Woodhead from ¡Forward, Russia! who heard one of our old songs, "The Great Outdoors" on the radio and contacted us about mixing a future song and "Everything Ever" ended up being that song. All I had at first lyric wise was the phrase "Everything Ever" which I wrote down on a petrol receipt while I was listening to the song "Unsatisfied" by The Replacements, and in particular the line "Every thing I've ever wanted, tell me what's wrong". Then I just kind of went off from there and well, I don't want to tip the cards too much in case I go "the song is about this", and then someone who might like it and has drawn their own meaning goes "well that's ruined it, thank you very little".

Kidnapper Bell - Everything Ever by kidnapperbell

How come you'd not released 'Everything Ever' before? It sounds like prime single material to me.
Mainly cause there were not enough songs recorded at the time it was mixed to put out an EP or an album. So there it sat, all alone, while many months later "Mouthful of Pennies" and "Falling and Laughing" ended up getting released together with "Everything Ever" being the odd one out. So it's really cool to see a song that some people have said they really liked getting a release on the KPL comp.

For a city of it's size we don't see many bands coming out of Birmingham. Why is that?
I guess living in Birmingham I see loads of bands around but not sure why more don't break out of the city. Even though I've lived here for 6 years I still feel like a tourist sometimes.

And are there some groups around your area that you can strongly recommend?
Off the top of my head and of the ones that are still going as far as I know I'd say Pandas and People, Ace Bushy Striptease, Falling and Laughing, Calories and of course Johnny Foreigner who's new single is really good and the A side reminds me of The Anniversary, who are one of my all time favorites.

Who's your favourite pop star?
I'll say Travis Shettel cause Piebald is one of those bands that I can go back to again and again and they will still have the same effect on me that they did when I first heard them. My old man rocking chair soundtrack will be Piebald.

When do you think we'll be hearing the results of your current recording sessions? You've got a pretty dedicated fan base out there that seem pretty eager
We hope to start recording in November so should have something in the not too distant future. Hopefully we'll get to playing live again as well. As for the people who like us, we love them more than they'd care to know and we hope they stick around for what comes next!

Thanks and good luck with recording.

The Keep Pop Loud Compilation is available to order now from the store. As well as Kidnapper Bell it features exclusive songs from MJ Hibbett, Screaming Maldini and Eddie Argos (from Art Brut)'s Glam Chops alongside ace stuff from The Winter Olympics, Pris and Dogs Die In Hot Cars.

There's only 100 made, so to avoid disappointment, you'd better order now!

Keep Pop Loud

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Mazes & Eagulls to release split 7"

Sorry to admit, but historically we've not been too keen on Eagulls at KPL Towers. Their set at Tramlines over the summer didn't exactly thrill us and we'd got them pegged as a bit... childish. Their sneers and lad-friendly punk-pop seemed a bit more NME bating than it did underground treat, so when we heard they were putting out a split record with awesome slacker-pop tykes Mazes we were a little surprised. But before you click away to read about some indistinct American act who peddle hazy pop that they claim is influenced by R&B, give this a chance as both sides have managed to get together for a nice scuzzy bit of exhilaration.

Of course it is Mazes that we're mostly in favour of, their contributions 'Farewell Summer' and 'Messenger' are excellent examples of the fuzzy hooks and 90's indebted tunes that made us fall for them when they supported Best Coast earlier in the year.

Mazes- Farewell Summer by italianbeachbabes

Comparisons to Pavement still stand, but Malkmus and co. created such fertile ground during their existence that when it's tended so well great crops are bound to spring. Frankly, in fact, it's a damn shame that this feel hasn't come back into the British indie scene long before now.

Mazes second contribution comes in the form of a cover. 'Messenger' was originally by Wipers, but as we're unfamiliar with that band (for now!) sounds to us like Mazes going for the peddle marked late-70s and coming up with some delightful retro rock and roll. Aces! (Also, if you've not yet bought their album A Thousand Heys yet, then you really should)

Mazes- Messenger by italianbeachbabes

Eagulls meanwhile surprise with some more than listenable contributions. The weak point of their live show seemed, to these pop senses, their sneering approximation of a lead singer whose 90's Mancunian stagecraft seemed more important to him than his actual singing. On record, this vocal is focused somewhat and let loose on their brand of retro punk, that takes in elements of more innovative acts as Sonic Youth on their lead track 'Possessed'.

Possessed by eagulls

It is still massively bratty, but by remembering to stick around a hook and going flat-out with the energy this manages the fun that their Tramlines set completely missed. Like Mazes Eagulls have also covered Wipers for the release, in their case 'Mystery'.

The single is being released by Italian Beach Babes, the label run by Eagulls bass player Conan. It's due out in time for Mazes headline tour where Milk Maid will support. (Dates below)
3 Leeds, Nation Of Shopkeepers
4 Manchester, The Kings Arms
5 Edinburgh, Sneaky Petes
6 Glasgow, Captains Rest
7 Newcastle, Dog & Parrot
8 Lancaster, Library
9 Nottingham, Spanky Van Dykes
10 Sheffield, The Harley
11 Oxford, Jericho
12 Birmingham, The Hare & Hounds
13 London, The Lexington
14 Brighton, The Hope

Keep Pop Loud

Monday, 5 September 2011

Track of the Week: Johnny Foreigner - (Don’t) Show Us Yr Fangs

It's safe to say that this autumn/winter looks set to be the best season for new releases in recent memory. With Grouplove and LightGuides already out of the blocks and Jumping Ships, Slow Club, Howling Bells, Mastodon, Nicola Roberts, Dum Dum Girls and Scroobius Pip all putting new records out there's going to more quality pop than you can shake a stick at across September/October. But by and far the forthcoming releases that are most exciting KPL Towers are albums no. 3 from Los Campesinos! and Johnny Foreigner.

Although Los Camp! were the first to announce details (and a rather tasty pre-order bundle), it's JoFo who've made tasters available first with this new single - available from Alcopop!

The double-A-side '(Don’t) Show Us Yr Fangs'/ 'The Hand That Slaps You Back' comes as a limited edition sticker and download, which is more than pretty cool in itself (there's a competition too, regarding the stickers!) but the real treat is the music that Johnny Foreigner have brewed this time around.

Although 'The Hand That Slaps You Back' is perhaps more what casual fans might expect from the band (razor sharp guitars, shouting, awesomeness), '(Don't) Show Us Yr Fangs' is one of the real beauties that keeps everyone coming back and devoting themselves to Johnny Foreigner.

Of new album Johnny Foreigner Vs Everything Alexei has said "it sounds perfect. it sounds like a huge expansive sprawling ambitious and personal version of us. it sounds like we do in our heads." Which apparently means that they sound in their heads even better than they do in mine. '...Yr Fangs' has a beautiful build up from delicate picking and careful drums to a fuzzy guitar driven climax that's affecting and gorgeous and ... well, everything you could want. It's a huge step up, even for the band that delivered the you thought you saw.. EP.

This album, due on November 7th could be the best thing Johnny Foreigner have ever done.

Johnny Foreigner - (don't) show us ur fangs by alcopop

Oh, and the digital artwork is sublime...

Keep Pop Loud

Friday, 2 September 2011

Keep Pop Loud - artwork revealed

Well, it's Friday... So for an extra special treat how about we show you all what the official artwork for the Keep Pop Loud CD looks like? I hope you like cats...

WOW! Yes, what you have there is the official artwork for our compilation that you can bung on yr iPod/iTunes. Now, as you know each copy of the CD comes in a unique sleeve and copies are shifting FAST! The pre-orders will be shipping VERY soon, so to guarantee that you'll be getting a copy order now!

Keep Pop Loud