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Thursday, 28 July 2011

Album Review: Alcopop! Records - We Grew Up On A Diet Of Jurassic Park And Sensible Soccer (and all we have left is this lousy record label)

Released: July 11th
Label: Alcopop! Records

It may be more a community than target market, but Alcopop! Records certainly know the sort of people who buy their CDs. Jurassic Park was one of  (if not the very) film that I saw at the cinema. I really liked dinosaurs when I was a kid. Now, it’s safe to say, I’m more into my indiepop. We Grew Up On A Diet Of Jurassic Park And Sensible Soccer (and all we have left is this lousy record label) basically feels like it was designed for me. But then it would.

I only came to Alcopop! relatively recently, with their signing of Johnny Foreigner. As such I’ve had some catching up to do with the back catalogue, but even if you're a pop fan completely new to the label, We Grew Up… is an excellent place to begin, covering from the first release on the label (Encyclopedia’s ‘Emily’) to very recent signings LightGuides. Across the way it traverses their big stars (Johnny Foreigner), long-time heroes (Stagecoach, My First Tooth), sadly split geniuses (Elephants), and otherwise forgotten greats (Hush The Many (Heed The Few)), alongside everything in between.

Well, everything may be a slight exaggeration. Emo-rockers Wolf Am I are oddly missing. But seeing as they’re now peddling landfill indie under the name Viva Brother, it’s probably best we forget them - for the meantime at least.

Anyway, Alcopop! being Alcopop!, We Grew Up… isn’t (and never could be) just a compilation of stuff that’s already appeared. Psych-folkers Ute take the opportunity to cover Elephants ‘Strong Arms’ single, the result of which is the most left-field moment on the CD. In turn Elephants unofficial World Cup anthem ‘Ivory Coast (To Victory)’ is dusted off as a bonus track, tucked after a minute of silence. Whatever yr experience of the label, there’s going to be something new on this, basically perfect, compilation CD.

It’s rare with compilations that it’s impossible to pick out any highlights. Here everything is utterly brilliant, regardless of familiarity. ‘Emily’ is a giddy rush of adolescence set to glam pop that’s as instantiations as you’d care to dream a song could be. Midget’s pop-punk may be about as different to My First Tooth’s indiepop-folk as a T-Rex is to a Stegosaurus but that doesn’t mean it’s possible to pick between them. Both ‘Big Infatuation’ and ‘Margaret Yen’ make you feel giddy and full of life as only the best pop music can. And that’s before the brilliantly bonkers Screaming Maldini or much missed goFASTER>> are even mentioned!

Crikey!

“We make our own mythologies” JoFo’s Alexei sings on ‘Cranes And Cranes And Cranes And Cranes’. It could well be the defining statement of our generation and Alcopop! have made their own mythology better than any other label you care to mention. It’s a world of excellent pop music, happy nostalgia, sporting underdogs, positivity and fun. There’s no better distillation of this outlook than on We Grew Up On A Diet Of Jurassic Park And Sensible Soccer (and all we have left is this lousy record label).

Happy 50th release Alcopop!. Here’s to the next 50.

And the 50 after that.

Keep Pop Loud

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Tramlines Review (Part 3) Sunday

Thankfully waking up Sunday morning was easier than I might have expected. Having not drunk the previous day and ending it at a quiet acoustic gig from Nat Johnson in the Cathedral, I felt pretty fresh and ready for an in the early afternoon wonder down to Tramlines main stage with Mrs KPL in tow.

Aiming to see The Crookes, we arrived a little earlier than expected, catching the last half of Dead Sons set. Having supported Arctic Monkeys at a couple of events they certainly knew their target audience well. Thankfully instead of being complete dullards like Milburn or Little Man Tate, Dead Sons backed the clichéd Monkeys-lite vocals and guitar with a crunching noise of rhythm section, keyboards and additional percussion. Much better than you might expect.

Following their excellent debut album this year I found myself rather looking forward to The Crookes when it transpired that they’d be playing the same day and stage as Ash. In their earlier days paying their dues at Fuzz Club I’d been none too impressed with what at the time felt like just another jangly pop band. Now that they’ve refined their sound and brought to the fore George Waite’s wonderful vocals and the ‘50s rock and roll influence they are really rather good. A perfect a treat in the Sheffield sunshine.

‘Chorus of Fools’ opens the set of material that’s drawn from both Chasing After Ghosts and EP Dreams Of Another Day. Before ‘Backstreet Lovers’ – the first song the band ever wrote together – the band apologise for pinching an area of the city for their name, despite not being originally from Sheffield. Thanks to their onstage charm and high quality songs the audience let them get away with it. But then again, with tracks as classic sounding as ‘Godless Girl’ and closer ‘Yes, Yes We Are Magicians’ they could just about get away with murder.

Unlike The Phantom Band. Now, don’t get me wrong, their combination of beardy American rock and blog friendly synth music sounds exactly up the street of Pitchfork readers, and it’s certainly toe tapping enough, it’s just perhaps a bit lost on indiepop fans such as myself who’d rather a band focus on their songs rather than attempted genre cross-breeding. Bands like Johnny Foreigner, The Futureheads and Ash for instance. I’ve been saying across this festival that it’s almost as if someone’s booked this with Keep Pop Loud in mind. These top three on the main stage’s final day are basically a dream come true. Three of the best live bands that are operating at this level all together for FREE – something that all of the bands go to pains to point out makes Sheffield the envy of music fans everywhere.

Johnny Foreigner are up first. They’re a band that I’ve seen more than any other in the past two years. Needless to say they don’t disappoint. ‘Feels Like Summer’ is the seasonal set opener and  Alexei is beaming from the stage. The crowd is thanked constantly and the he repeatedly apologies for not being Frankie & The Heartstrings (whom the band replaced on the bill). “This is more people than we usually play to on a whole tour,” Alexei says with a whopping great big grin on his face. ‘Eyes Wide Terrified’, ‘Sometimes In The Bullring’ and ‘Salt Peppa And Spinderella’ are all proof that Waited Up Til It Was Light is basically one of the greatest albums of all time. There’s little else I can say about JoFo’s live set that I’ve not said many times before. I love them to bits, through the new songs and chaotic set closer ‘The Coast Was Always Clear’.

Johnny Foreigner's Alexei and Kelly. Photo thanks to Jo Fleetham

In many ways The Futureheads are the complete opposite to JoFo. Where the latter always seem on the brink of letting their songs collapse in on themselves, the former are main stage pros who take to the stage for a solid wall-to-wall set of bona-fide hits. Tightly rocking their way through artpunk classics ‘Beginning Of The Twist’, ‘Heartbeat Song’, ‘Decent Days And Nights’, ‘Skip To The End’, ‘First Day’ and ‘Carnival Kids’ The Futureheads whip the crowd into a frenzy. The crowd in turn, kick up masses of dust that billow over Devonshire Green. A surprise highlight comes when the band respond to someone at the front hollering “KELIS!” by doing an impromptu backing-less cover of ‘A’capella’. Considering there’s been no rehearsal for this it’s bloody ace and wets my appetite even more for the (apparently) forthcoming A’capella record.

There’s only one way that The Futureheads can end their set and they know it. Thankfully being the pros and good humoured gents that they are they set it up by getting the two halves of the crowd to “O-O-Oh-Oh” off against each other. Of course it’s ‘Hounds Of Love’ a cover that’s now as classic as Kate Bush’s original.

Ash just make it in time for their set, having pegged it over from Manchester. Bloc Party’s Russell joins them again on guitar and they plough through a fantastic set that blows up so much dust I’m still coughing. Everything that you might expect is in place and everyone knows every word to ll the classics. Even Johnny Foreigner are watching from the crowd. ‘Girl From Mars’ sets the standard and it doesn’t noticeably drop from there on. A-Z Series tracks ‘Dead Disciples’, ‘Arcadia’ and ‘Joy Kicks Darkness’ slot in with ‘Oh Yeah’, ‘Walking Barefoot’, ‘Goldfinger’‘Kung Fu' and a cover of ‘Teenage Kicks’ all of which keep the crowd going.

‘Twilight Of The Innocents’ is a quieter moment before the band leave the stage, only to come back on for a three song encore. ‘Jack Names The Planets’ is first of the three and one of the highlights of the day. Next it’s a cover of Weezer’s ‘Only In Dreams’ (that I’d never seen them play live before) and ‘Burn Baby Burn’ to close. Faultless.

The only issue is, Ash have been on longer than expected so it’s touch and go if I’ll be able to get into Screaming Maldini or not. Luckily they’re about to start their penultimate song as we get into SOYO. With the disco ball reflecting pink across the carnival flags and Maldini’s bonkers trumpet laden pop it’s truly a party atmosphere and a juxtaposition with the dustbowl of a main stage. There’s time to pick up a copy of their new Secret Sounds EP from Gina after the set, before it’s time to head out again to see Standard Fare at the Redhouse.

With there being so much to see at Tramlines there’s bound to have been acts that I’ve missed, and two of those that stick in my mind are This Many Boyfriends and Nature Set, who are supporting Standard Fare tonight. So apologies to these guys if you’re reading, I’m sure you were fantastic. Standard Fare certainly were. It’s not been many months since I caught them at this same venue supporting Sourpatch and today it’s packed out for the Sheffield indiepopsters. Tonight the band go from being an act that I like to ones that I’ll gladly devote many many hours to. Fantastic musicians playing wonderful songs, Emma and the boys seem as delighted to be there as the crowd is to see them.

They play a mixture of songs from debut album The Noyelle Beat and their forthcoming second record and blow everyone away. ‘Fifteen’ is the opener and ‘Philadelphia’ and ‘Kudzu Girlfriend’ are amongst the highlights of what’s a very strong collection of songs. Also, as a Star Wars fan from back-in-the-day I’m pleased to hear a newbie beginning with the lyric “I’m not Darth Vader, Luke I’m not your father”. With one last trick to pull out for the encore Standard Fare follow a never-before-performed song they claim is ropey (it’s not) and then offer us a cover version. Rather than the expected indiepop obscurity, it transpires that this cover is none other than ‘I Want To Break Free’. If there’s anyone ashamed of knowing all of the words to one of Queen’s cheesier moments then no one’s showing it. It’s a great sing-along moment and a perfect way to close the weekend.

Best festival of 2011? Hell, yes. God knows what Tramlines 2012 will bring, but here’s betting it’s epic. We’re at a time when Sheffield’s music scene picked itself up and dusted itself down, and this time next year one of our new local heroes is bound to have broken through. For anyone that may have thought it’d disappeared, Sheffield – thanks in part to Tramlines – is well and truly at the centre of the musical map again. And long may it stay there.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Tramlines Review (Part 2) Friday and Saturday

So Tramlines 2011 begins properly on Friday, and as the advertising campaign stresses it's 'Free For All'. Now obviously this is a very fantastic thing, and as Los Campesinos! would mention on the Saturday night, there's not many councils across the country that would trust it's citizens and pop fans quite so much. Still, as becomes more apparent as the weekend goes on, the free entertainment factor means that those who are there to watch the bands can get their fun disrupted by the tools who just want to be seen.

There's not much sign of this where we are on Friday though. The Kate Jackson Group kick off the main section of my festival experience on the Barker's Pool Stage, erected between the classical façade of the City Hall and the horrid brutalism of John Lewis. This suits Jackson fine as she takes to the stage in style whilst her music often reflects or references the dingy and darkly glam. It takes Kate a song to warm up, which is understandable as she's been away for quite a few years. Still she's genuinely happy to be playing in Sheffield – her adopted hometown – for the first time in about three years. 'Date With Dawn' really kicks her set into gear and proves to be a decent showcase for her new material. If the demo's often seemed lacking, here they're given a full lease of life. Set highlight is titled 'The Pacific' and feels both driven and laid back, like a 70's radio hit come good. Elsewhere there's a horn player introduced to flesh out one song, whilst at other times the guitars – which are in danger of drowning out Kate's wail – riff on in a way that The Long Blondes would never allow themselves. All in all, it's a rather fine show with plenty of promise.

Town's got pretty busy by this point and a trip to the Forum brings no joy. (We're informed later that Hot Club de Paris midnight show here is ludicrously oversubscribed!) So we head to the Bowery in an attempt to see Let's Buy Happiness. Sadly it's full so we plump for a quiet pint in the University Arms. Deciding to make one last shot at it we go to The Harley and manage to cram right in at the back for Trophy Wife's set. It's rammed and we're stuck with people who'd rather talk loudly over the act, but nonetheless the band seem rather good. We can just about see the head of the singer and the bouncing sticks of the percussionist, but the sound of Trophy Wife's zingy math-pop recalls the dancier elements of Foals and the joyous side to Two Door Cinema Club's catalogue. A pleasant surprise.

Saturday again sees Team KPL hit the Barker's Pool stage. That it's sponsored by Nando's gives pretty much every act something to comment on. Aside that is from the one that's playing as we arrive. Although it says Eagulls on the bill I'm certain I hear them introduce themselves with a different name. Either way, they're pretty terrible. The musicians are competent enough, but rendered irrelevant by someone who is easily the worst singer of the weekend. Looking like a cross between Bez and the singer from The Drums he's tuneless and drags his knuckles round the stage whilst practically drooling down his cammo jacket. Horrendous.

Still, Copy Haho are on next, playing a set of songs from their recently released self-titled album. They're on good form and dryly funny. With the crowd still not fully warmed up the band sarcastically tell us how amazing we are. Even if it seems they're not fully feeling it, the songs come across really well. Closer 'Factory Floor' is a highlight, as is single 'Wrong Direction'. With their 90's college rock informed indie they're perhaps a bit at odd with their surroundings, but nonetheless I really like 'em. If you're currently unfamiliar then you really aught to go and check them out now.

Taking a punt Mrs KPL and I stick around for next act Spector. They're referred to as power-pop, which proves to fairly apt. At least the 'pop' bit of that is. Suited up, they look a little bit like Hurts expanded to a full band. Luckily they're not mere revivalists and actually have some good tunes. With a new-wave influence and some 50's rock n roll harmonies they manage to at once be highly accessible and completely odd. They close with vaguely familiar latest single 'Never Fade Away' and leave the impression that they're set for big things.

We stick with the same stage for the final trio of acts Young Legionnaire, Dananananaykroyd and Los Campesinos! for the very obvious reason that they're all right up our street. Young Legionnaire, for those that don't know, are lead by yourcodenameis:milo/The Automatic's Paul Mullen and feature Bloc Party's Gordon Moakes on bass. Unsurprisingly they're very much in the vain of ycni:m's collaboration with Moakes – wirey, abrasive guitars, piercing vocals and powerful, electro-informed basslines. They're very very good at what they do, and debut some songs from a forthcoming EP, but unfortunately my unfamiliarity with much of their recorded output means that a lot of the set blurs into one. Still, if post-hardcore is you bag then check out Young Legionnaire if you haven't already.

Now, if anyone ever asks you when it was that global megastars Dananananaykroyd turned into festival slaying crowd pleasers you can tell them that it was a Tramlines 2011. Like you would not believe, the Dana's turn the crowd of people largely unfamiliar with their music into huge partying mass. 'Reboot' opens the set in eardrum blasting fashion, but it's only a warm up. They get everyone crouching down ready to jump up into 'Watch This' and from there they just take it. It seems at one point as if they're about to initiate the Wall Of Hugs, but it's merely one of the singers getting into the pit. “If you're going to do that... Don't! Just don't!” they say, noticing the crowd getting a bit wild. One guy in a blue shirt is even singled out for being a mong. 'Think And Feel', 'Muscle Memory' and 'Black Wax' help to make up a 'greatest hits' set that's fun, funny and ridiculously entertaining. A real festival highlight!

In fact Los Campesinos! have a bit of difficulty following it. 'In Media Res' is a fantastic opener, but the crowd just aren't going for it right away. Then the bad start up 'Death To Los Campesinos!' and everything's alright. Los Camp! are pros and know how to put together a festival setlist, even if they're perhaps not used to playing next to a war memorial. Everything you'd expect from the eight-piece in is place with Gareth forming the focal point. If his presence on Twitter can occasionally be offputting then live he's completely different – genuine and funny he's a great stage presence taking the band through tracks from all three albums. It's hard to know how the families on the steps of city hall took the sweary 'Straight In At 101', but everyone loves 'You! Me! Dancing!'. 'Miserabelia' also serves to remind me how long it's been since I've listened to We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed. Closing pair 'The Sea Is A Good Place To Think About The Future' and 'Sweet Dreams, Sweet Cheeks' invoke some goosebumps before the stage closes for the night.

Although it's tempting to go and see The Duke Spirit at DQ I decide to go with Mrs KPL to the Cathedral to see (former Monkey Swallows The Universe singer) Nat Johnson with her band The Figureheads, who's already something of a musical legend in Sheffield. Now the Catherdral's not just the name for some bar type venue. No. It's actually the city's Cathedral. It's host to the acoustic stage this weekend, and Nat's headlining tonight. Outside the building is a bit squat and dark. Inside however it's high vaulted arches with a replacement frontage (from the WWII bombing) that blends nicely into the old features. The stage sits in the corner of there sets of arches and when we get there there's already plenty of people in the pews. We take a seat to the side and await the act.

With the blue lights glowing around the bases of the stone pillars, it's unlike any other set of the festival. Nat is a small figure in a red dress that's dwarfed by the scale of the building. But as soon as she sings it's truly spellbinding. I've been a fan of her voice for many years and there's something warmly familiar whenever I hear her sing. It's like coming home, in a way that I can't explain. Accompanied by a rotating set of musicians her gentle acoustic indiepop is delightful comprising of both new material and that that's appeared on EP releases. The only issue with the set is that some people behind us insist on talking. It's not nice when people do this at gigs at the best of times, but seriously Sheffield – If you want a chat over a drink go to a pub NOT an acoustic gig. Audience aside, Nat Johnson and the Figureheads round off my Saturday night in the perfect fashion and stick in the mind for delivering something truly special.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Track of the Week - Standard Fare - Kudzu Girlfriend (Live at Tramlines)

This Track of the Week very nearly didn't happen. As you'll have seen from this Guillemots live review it's been Tramlines Festival in Sheffield this weekend. And I've not stopped. With a combination of no time and far too much excellent live music to assimilate (there's a full review of the weekend forthcoming) I really didn't know what to give the Track of the Week to.

Then it occurred to me that Standard Fare haven't had a song in this slot yet, and seeing as they closed the festival for me with a triumphant gig at the Redhouse it's only really right that it goes to them.



Released as the first song a split 7" with One Happy Island on Thee Sheffield Phonographic Corporation earlier in the year, 'Kudzu Girlfriend' was one of the many highlights in Standard Fare's set, and the reason that I've selected it as Track of the Week (other than it being released this calendar year) is that it's an excellent showcase of the musical talents of the band.

I mentioned in the review of Standard Fare live back in February (when again they were at the Redhouse) that the band are extraordinarily good at playing their instruments and seeing bassist/singer Emma playing this still blew me away. It's this combination of skill and heart, of which all of Standard Fare's songs - covers or not - are overflowing with that makes the band such a wonderful proposition.

A real Tramlines highlight.

Plus you should hear them play Queen...

Keep Pop Loud

Friday, 22 July 2011

Tramlines Review (Part 1) Guillemots @ The Leadmill

Tramlines has been growing at a ridiculous rate since it’s inception. Now in its third year it’s spilled onto a fourth day allowing the Saturday night headliners Guillemots to play a free gig at the city’s semi-legendary Leadmill venue. It’s a turn of events which is pleasing to all at KPL towers who would have otherwise been torn between the four-piece and second stage headliners Los Campesinos!. It’s for this reason we brave a walk into town and potential venue busting queues to see Fyfe Dangerfield and co.

Of course there’s a support act on first. It is a gig after all. Paul Thomas Saunders and his three piece backing band come on a little later than the crown might’ve expected and in honesty don’t do an awful lot for me. With a similar sound to the stuff coming from the Communion stable his tracks have the tendency to plod in the live setting. Where he’s clearly aiming for an epic textured place his songs come across as samey, the noisier guitar parts serving to jolt us out of daydreaming. Still, the event’s free so we can’t complain overall and it’s not as though Saunders lacks in talent, it’s just that I prefer something a little bit scrappier or edgier.

Taking to the stage just before Guillemots set to sort out a sampler, frontman (and object of Mrs KPL’s desires) Fyfe Dangerfield gets a big old cheer. “I’ll see you later” he says to the crowd, and what do you know, about ten minutes later he brings to the stage (double) bassist Aristazabal Hawkes, guitarist/effects wizard MC Lord Magrão, and drummer extraordinaire/DJ Elephant Shampoo Greig Stewart. The band open with ‘Don’t Look Down’, the only track tonight that they’ll play from second album Red, building it up to it’s chaotic pop climax before taking it down again to the beautiful outro, over which Fyfe sings the chorus to Janelle Monáe’s ‘Cold War'.

Setting the standard for the night, Guillemots choice to eschew the bigger hits for more fan favourite tracks seems to work a treat, even if the same set on the Hallam FM sponsored main stage on Saturday could spell disaster. ‘Go Away’ from the From The Cliffs mini-album is aired in all it’s genre-disregarding glory and tracks from latest album Walk The River including ‘Vermillion’ and the dreamy ‘Inside’ are utterly delightful. It’s easy to mess up in a live setting with music as delicate as that released by Guillemots, but with strong songs and an incredible amount of talent between them they make it work.

‘Trains To Brazil’ gets perhaps the biggest reaction of the night. Deservedly so too, it still sounds like nothing else on earth. Oddly epic and epically odd it still has the power to induce goosebumps. But then so does ‘Made-up Lovesong #43’ which is played early on in the set and is introduced by Fyfe standing at the front of the stage with what may be the world’s smallest keyboard. The twinkling fairy lights draped behind the band add a bit more sparkle to proceedings, not that it’s needed. If there’s one issue with the performance tonight it’s that Magrão’s guitar is perhaps too low in the mix and Arista’s backing vocals are too high. It’s a minor gripe perhaps, but needs mentioning at this point just to bring the paragraph to a satisfactory close.

The second half of Guillemots set brings more delights, showcasing Walk The River fantastically. Current single ‘I Must Be A Lover’ – which I’ve perhaps not been too kind about in the past – sounds much better live than it’s recorded counterpart does. With the sound of strings coming through clearly in the mix (either from sampler or Magrão’s effects peddles) it reaches the heights it was always intended to manages to connect. Likewise the album’s finest moment ‘I Don’t Feel Amazing Now’ (performed early on) is complemented by pink and blue lights reflecting from the disco ball and single ‘We’re Here’ (done by a solo Fyfe with an electric guitar) result in a moments that are simply perfect.

Traditional set closer ‘Sao Paulo’ is the only way for Guillemots to encore and not a moment of the 12 minutes is wasted. For a non-single of such a length it’s always surprising to see that everyone knows the words. Unlike the cheers part way through lesser-known songs, everyone’s familiar with the pauses and movements of Through The Windwopane’s closer and by the time that the song’s waves of sound reach the climatic section the fairly lights gush blue under the cascading green light that bathes the band. The goosebumps are back and Guillemots have opened Tramlines perfectly.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Album Review: Copy Haho – Copy Haho

Released: 11th July
Label: Slow Learner

It's been a long road for Copy Haho. At least it seems like a long long time since we fell head-over-heels for their Bred For Skills & Magic EP (even though it only came out in '09). With it's tight snappy rythms and loopy Hot Club de Paris style guitars tracks such as 'Pulling Push Ups' and 'Cutting Out The Bad' were exactly the sort of thing we're after. Bit of a surprise then to find out that the four-piece have gone for a complete overhaul of their sound. With influences that are decidedly American in origin they've come up with something with more depth than we'd have expected whilst keeping excellent tunes in place.

When we were treated to the slacker-pop of 'Dying Breed' earlier in the year we should have known more what to expect from this self-titled album. The announcement of the cover art too was a bit of a giveaway as to the feel and overall sonic pallet that Copy Haho are playing with. Pavement and Los Campesinos! are more obvious touchstones, and it's the latter's jump in sound between initial releases and follow up that the Haho are most resembling.

But enough about the shift in sound. It's the tunes that matter first and foremost, and as has been mentioned these are in abundance. Take opener 'Factory Floor', which complements the fuzzy guitars with a Shins-like piano melody and vocal harmonies that sit in the background. Despite being about getting yr hands dirty and leaving the competitive to squabble it feels outdoorsy and laid back. A record to soundtrack summer unemployment if ever there was one.

Standing out elsewhere there's former single 'Wrong Direction' and insanely catchy 'Pestle And Mortar' that warrant mention, and far more detailed descriptions than I've time to give them. Suffice to say they're certain to be live favourites, the the latter particularly being buoyed by epic backing vocals. Still in comparison to 'Earthquake' they seem to lack something that's hard to pinpoint exactly. Don't get me wrong, it could well be that either of the previous turn out to be the best track of the year, but right now 'Earthquake' seems to have that SOMETHING. Perhaps it's in the sublime melody or the 'wooo-ooo-ooo-hooo's. Perhaps it's the way that the guitar zips about sounding at once fancy and understated. Perhaps it's just excellent.

Although clocking it at a fairly regular length (just shy of 36 minutes number fans) Copy Haho feels a little on the short side. Perhaps it's because of their refusal to master the fuck out of it or go full pelt all of the time, but it's easy on the ears. With all of the layers and additional flecks of instrumentation tickling yr pop buds and lulling you into a very nice place. If there's one complaint it's that this sometimes lets the music wash over, registering without imposing itself. But hey, Copy Haho have proved themselves on two releases already and this is only their debut. Anything more is eagerly anticipated.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Album Review: Scumbag Philosopher – It Means Nothing So It Means Nothing

Released: June 13th
Label: Words On Music

With It Means Nothing So It Means Nothing Scumbag Philosopher have set themselves up for some pretty easy digs. If these nine post-punk influenced songs missed the mark or failed to live up to their pretensions then it'd be all so easy to say that It Means Nothing simply means nothing.

That's not the case thankfully, and even though Scumbag Philosopher's influences are worn very clearly on their sleeves their music feels different and demonstrates a strong sonic identity. With the sarcastic and snarled spoken vocals here's going to be inevitable comparisons to The Fall, whilst musically the strictly tight guitar riffs and repetition recalls as much Wire as anyone else. If not for the lyrics it'd be very easy to mistake SP for an unearthed forgotten band.

However, as they attack suburban pseudo-philosophers ('God Is Dead So I Listen To Radiohead'), web 2.0 ('Social Networking Site') and the concept of celebrity ('Heroes At Home') it's more than apartment which decade they exist in. If there's any worry in yr mind that these concepts will be matched only with po-faced-ness and a bitter after-taste then you need not fear. These are delt with with dollops of dark humour and a penchant for rhymes that recalls MJ Hibbett.

Occasionally it's hard to know exactly who or what Scumbag Philosopher are getting at however. 'I Like Sums' for example details examples of obsessive mathematical behaviour whilst the cyclical repetitive post-punk backing gives off the fug of a post-industrial city. Repeat listens are necessary to scratch the surface on what initially feels over-simple. In a word – baffling. And similarly it's hard to know how to take closer 'On The Shortwave'. A love-letter to obsolete formats, it seems honest. If there's sarcasm present it's hard to detect. "I still buy records. Can't let vinyl down" could be as much a manifesto for the PoP underground as any other lyric this year.

'Isolation' is more typical from what we'd expect from a Gang of Four and Wire influenced four piece. Keeping to under three minutes (the whole album is actually pretty short) it offsets the abrasive guitars with a quite backing vocal from drummer Anne Reekie that feels at drastic odds with the lead-talking from Grant Madden.

Still, as great as 'Isolation' is it is going to be 'God Is Dead So I Listen To Radiohead' that SP are going to known for at this time in their career. Like Art Brut's 'Formed A Band' it sets the sonic trademark for the group whilst delivering something of a manifesto. By being staunchly anti-consumerist it shows up the hypocritical practices of a certain breed of music fan who believes themselves to be a revolutionary. With lyrics that include “I've got a will to power, that's why I don't shower” (spoken of course from the point of view of the song's character) SP show up a certain type of Radiohead fan to be no different from the crusty dinosaur rock fans that punk sought to replace.

If there's one mis-fire on It Means Nothing So It Means Nothing it comes in the form of 'Social Network Site'. It's difficult to attack something as popular with a younger generation without coming of as a curmudgeonly old-timer, and by using MySpace as the main frame of reference for the deconstruction (“I've got a friend called Tom, He runs a big dot com. He Really is a mate, He's top of my top eight”) it feels dated even if the lyrics are sharp and humorous.

But the press release does state that Scumbag Philosopher are proudly un-hip and Keep Pop Loud would be hard pressed to argue on that front. By going so far against the grain and risking vitriol from mistaken Radiohead fans Scumbag Philosopher risk being true modern day punks and therefore are a band to be cherished - or at least kept an eye on.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Track Of The Week: Kate Jackson Group - Date With Dawn

There should be no need to reiterate (again) how amazing and one-off The Long Blondes were. But they were, weren't they?

Previously when looking at the solo output of their singer I've been cautious not to give the rough demos any more praise than they warranted. As such I may have seemed a bit lukewarm and inadvertently persuaded myself not to get too excited about Kate Jackson's return. But the worries that her new outfit the Kate Jackson Group would do nothing but sully my memories of The Long Blondes have been completely dispelled by the first offering from the sessions for the forthcoming album.

Certainly 'Date With Dawn' fills in the gaps between the aforementioned demos and the New Wave glam of The Long Blondes. Without sacrificing in the snarl and sex appeal there seems to be greater commercial viability to the Kate Jackson Group however, and could well be the vehicle to propel Kate from indie and broadsheet darling to genuine mainstream contender.

With the definite potential to be an indie dancefloor smash 'Date With Dawn' is upbeat and catchy with razor sharp lyrics. The chorus is essentially the title with some 'oooohs' and 'aaahhs' thrown in for good measure and feels a bit freer than the tight constraints that we're used to Kate occupying. If there's one worry it's that 'Date With Dawn' lacks in the emotive appeal that's kept me going back to Someone To Drive You Home again and again. Still, time will either prove or dispel that and in the meantime this is an immediately fun and stylish pop song.

Providing Kate packages her Group right the forthcoming record should be a highlight of the year. It's perhaps a trivial thing to say, but as this stands musically somewhat in the shadow of her former group (not a bad thing in itself) we need to be sure we're getting the full deal. I've got faith in Kate Jackson to hit the nail on the head however and look forward very very much to hearing more from the Kate Jackson Group

Date With Dawn by KateJackson

Kate Jackson Group plays Tramlines Festival in Sheffield on Friday (22nd) on the Barker's Pool stage in support to other Steel City pop legends Heaven 17.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Our Lost Infantry – My God, It's Full Of Stars

In light of their being some fantastic rock bands buzzing about the UK right now and the fact that we've said some very nice things about Aldershot based four-pice Our Lost Infantry it only seems right to bring to your attention (somewhat belatedly) that they've a new single on their bandcamp. Hurrah!



The single is called 'My God, It's Full Of Stars' and it's available for a Pay What You Like price. Which is jolly nice of the chaps. As well as that you can listen to it just above this text. So you really don't need me to describe it for you. You should just scoot over and download it.

But seeing as it's Sunday and you're probably bored (or rushed off your feet and wanting some relief) I'll go to those lengths, for you dear Keep Pop Loud readers.

The neat and zippy guitar riff (that's one of the best KPL has seen all year) rolls over the keyboards whilst the stadium drums compliment the emotive vocal. The introduction of a piano under the vocal harmonies ensures that 'My God, It's Full Of Stars' sounds massive when the chorus hits. The grit on the rhythm section refuses to let up on the spoken word breakdown before everything jumps upward on the final chorus.

B-Side 'Vessels' is more experimental yet, bringing in a more progressive element to the pop rock sound. Beginning fairly expectedly it diverts from Coldplay-with-a-boot-up-the-arse introduction through a metal riffing middle passage. Despite the thrashing guitar and growled vocals this departure is bought in naturally after the gradual introduction of more textures. It's notable but not distracting from the overall tune which continues on throughout with the piano motif. Strange, but rather good methinks .

Again, Our Lost Infantry are for fans of contemporary rock groups like Tellison and Jumping Ships who all sound as though they could take on a large festival crowd and win.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Reviews of 2011 January-June

January
Among Brothers - Homes
British Sea Power – Valhalla Dancehall
Darren Hayman – January Songs (Part 1)
The Joy Formidable – The Big Roar

February
Chapel Club - Palace
The Go! Team – Rolling Blackouts
Elephants – I Won’t Forget You, You Won’t Forget Me
Frankie & The Heartstrings - Hunger
The Answering Machine - Lifeline

March
Chapel Club - Wintering EP
The Answering Machine – Rarities 2006-2011
The Lovely Eggs – Cob Dominoes
You Animals – Crimes, Creeps & Thrills
Those Dancing Days – Daydreams & Nightmares
MJ Hibbett – Wonderful Wednesday
Matt Emery – Pulled Apart By Matt Emery

April
Noah And The Whale – Last Night On Earth
The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart - Belong
Young Knives – Ornaments From The Silver Arcade
Grouplove - Grouplove
V/A - Sounds Of The City: Sheffield
Guillemots – Walk The River

May
The Half Rabbits - Optimists EP
Johnny Foreigner – Certain Songs Are Cursed EP
Franz Ferdinand - Covers EP
H Bird – Operation: Fascination
Freeze The Atlantic – Colour By Numbers EP
My First Tooth – Sleet And Snow
V/A - Hello Pink Mist
Art Brut – Brilliant! Tragic!

June
Pete And The Pirates – One Thousand Pictures
Tellison – The Wages Of Fear
H Bird – Danger Makers EP
Thomas Tantrum – Mad By Moonlight
Dananananaykroyd – There Is A Way

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Live: Alcopopalooza! @ The Windmill Brixton (Part 2)

So by the time evening sets in we’ve already been treated to enough ace pop that we’re feeling spoilt. Mrs KPL is tired too. Bless her. But there’s a whole night of amazing music to come. Part 1 of the KPL Alcopopalooza review was all about those non-Alcopop! acts that got us all warmed up and hot under the collar. Now it’s time to hear about how the core of Team PoP! did…

In front of a packed crowd, The Attika State took to the stage. Aside that is from singer Rudi Barella who decided that just in the crowd was a better place to belt out some PoP hits from. Opening with a couple of older tracks they instantly connect with the audience, the frontline of which knows every word and ever beat. Mixing in these older songs with tracks from Alcopop! released album Measures proves to be an inspired move as we all get a full picture of what The Attika State is all about. ‘The Horton Shuffle’ and ‘Celebration’ prove to be highlights, but every single one of their songs sounds as though it could overtake the world with a huge hook and energetic guitars.

The reception for Ute is slightly more subdued, with a smaller crowd gathering for the start of their set. It’s unsurprising really as the band are by far the most leftfield on the Alcopop! roster. Bookending the set with tracks from The Gambler EP their music comes across at various times like a darker Villagers or psychedelic Young Knives. There’s a lot of talent in this three piece at when they decide to break from proceedings to let out a bout of screaming (as they do during ‘The Innocent Tailor’) it’s equal parts baffling, entertaining and freighting.

On paper putting the two most similar acts on the bill next to each other seems like a false move, but when watching Jumping Ships and LighGuides in quick succession their differences become far more apparent than their similarities. Jumping Ships play what already feels like a greatest hits set. ‘Matterhorn’, ‘Bad Outweighed The Good’ and ‘Heart And Hope’ already sound much bigger than the venue with the latter being one of the best and most memorable tracks of the night. The set seems to be over really quickly and we’re left wondering how it is that Jumping Ships aren’t already massive.

LightGuides on the other hand (with their three-piece set up of two guitars and drums) sound far louder and more experimental than my far-too-limited interaction has lead me to believe they were. With one guitar creating the backbone of the music and the second one assaulting with ears and effects the band prove to be very unique and a great find. Never doubt Alcopop!.

Main support to Johnny Foreigner comes from Alcopop!’s longest serving band My First Tooth whose set is utterly delightful. With a three-piece frontline and a drummer at the back it’s shocking just how talented they are. Although lead vocal duties are dealt with by singer/guitarist Ross it’s violinist/singer/multi-instrumentalist Sophie who proves to be centre of focus, seemingly charged with interacting with the entranced crowd. Tracks from Territories are given an airing including beautiful recent single ‘Sleet And Snow’, a magical, pretty indiepop-folk song that’s miles and miles ahead of any other band operating in the sub-genre. If I’ve perhaps ignored My First Tooth in favour of the labels more immediate acts in the past I can guarantee that it won’t be happening in the future.

Not that I’ll be ditching Johnny Foreigner any time yet of course. I’ve got to a stage in my life where I don’t think that any band will mean as much to me as Pulp. Yet, instead of heading down to Hyde Park the previous weekend to see Jarvis & Co. it’s this week that I’ve come to Brixton and JoFo are the main reason. If there’s one band that could steal my heart and head from Pulp it’s them. I know this and. Then why am I always surprised at just how much they make my heart skip whenever I see them perform?

With Alexei and Kelly starting in the crowd, singing without amplification Junior is left to recreate the piano part of ‘Johnny Foreigner Vs You’ (from the frisbee EP) before the other two join him for a noisy shouty finish. It’s the start of another wonderful set, that the only fault I can find is that I have to leave just before the end to catch the last tube. ‘Lea Room’ and ‘Eyes Wide Terrified’ are aired from their debut whilst plenty of new songs squeeze into the set sounding punchier than the band have ever been. If nothing else I can barely contain my excitement at the prospect of a forthcoming album for the proper version of ‘With Who, Who And What I’ve Got’.

Still, as ever it’s ‘Salt Peppa And Spinderella’ that steals the show. The frontline of the audience (that includes Alcopop! mastermind Jack) is a mass of hair as they go absolutely mental. Could it be one of the best songs of all time? Of course it bloody is!

So we have to dash before JoFo finish. It’s a shame really but we can’t risk missing the train. We’ve not had a go on the Megadrive either. Ah well, a day of awesome pop and awesome company. Plus apparently we managed to drink the Windmill dry of Blackthrorn.

Keep Pop Loud

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Live: Alcopopalooza! @ The Windmill Brixton (Part 1)

It’s fitting that it’s Johnny Foreigner that are headlining the Windmill this night (Sat July 9th). My introduction to Alcopop! Records came through JoFo’s signing and it’s through a support slot that I first saw Stagecoach. The aforementioned aside though I’ve managed to miss seeing the rest of the Alcopop! roster, so getting them all (bar Freeze The Atlantic) together in one place proved impossible to resist. Brixton’s a fair trek from Sheffield, but with Mrs KPL in tow I was at Alcopopalooza III.

We arrived part way through Bellman’s set. Out in the compact beer garden with a mic stand wrapped in foliage we caught the Norwegian gent entertaining the expanding crowd with just his acoustic guitar for company. Sadly as we’d missed the opening we were only just getting into the set as it finished. But not to worry, at Alcopopalooza no sooner than one talented act leaves the stage than another is taking to it.

In quick succession we’re treated to acoustic sets from Dexy, Shoes & Socks Off and Hymns all of whom bring something very different to the table. Dexy (of Dexy & The Hand Me Downs) starts off with his acoustic pop, that whilst straightforward delights with it’s excellent songs and genuine performance. One song is dedicated to his cat that recently passed away and we’re treated to a cover of Weezer’s ‘Susanne’ that provides an excellent reference point for where Dexy sits in the pop pantheon.

Shoes & Socks Off is slightly more offbeat, alternating between electric and acoustic guitars and making use of pedals. His fuzzy indiepop is as good as anything during the day so far and it’s only once I sit down to review the gig that I regret not buying a copy of the forthcoming album from the chap.

Completely different yet again is Hymns. The Big Scary Monsters signed band are playing acoustically for the first time, playing radically altered versions of their noisy punk tracks. Stripped down to simple percussion, an acoustic guitar and a keyboard you’d be hard-pressed to have guess who they were. Still with the same strong vocal in place Hymns set is fantastic, brining into focus simply how well written their songs are.
Hymns in the garden. Photo by Lynn Sheldon

Topping off the outside section of the mini-festival was Katie Malco, who proves to be an outstanding highlight. Wowing the garden that’s so packed that people are having to watch around corners Katie had plenty to deal with including people pushing past and an Alsatian trying to muscle in on vocals. Still by keeping everyone’s attention on her and her songs Katie made it clear that she’s a real talent. We’d not have made ‘Florence Nightingale’s House.’ Track of the Week if it was otherwise.

After grabbing food from the BBQ team KPL heads inside to find Delta/Alaska have already begun their set. A jarring contrast to the outside vibe, Delta/Alaska’s music seems to thrive on darkness, so it’s appropriate that the corner of The Windmill that holds the stage is as dark as it’s possible to get in the very early evening. Playing songs including ‘D.L.O.I’ (from the Hello Pink Mist compilation) they made an excellent argument for being ones to watch and proved beyond any doubt (along with all of the other acts of the day) that Jack Pop! has flawless taste in music….

But I’m sure that you knew that already, after all the Alcopop! roster is going from strength to strength and there’s still an evening full of these acts to come at this stage. So come back tomorrow for the second part of the KPL Alcopopalooza review when there’ll be words about The Attika State, Ute, Jumping Ships, LightGuides, My First Tooth and of course Johnny Foreigner.

Keep Pop Loud

Monday, 11 July 2011

Track Of The Week: Katie Malco - Florence Nightingale's House.

After spending a weekend attending and travelling back from Alcopopalooza III at the Windmill in Brixton it's only right that Keep Pop Loud draws attention to one of the out-and-out highlights of the event by justly awarding Track of the Week to Katie Malco.

Fife born and London based, the singer songwriter describes herself as "Pop music for people that don't like Tinie Tempah and so on". An excellent description if ever there was one. It'd be very easy to compare her gentle acoustic sound to the mega-successful Laura Marling, but there's more of a sonic link to Sheffield's Monkey Swallows The Universe, especially on 'Florence Nightingale's House.'.

As far as I'm able to remember (I'm tired and I forgot to take a pen) this track came close to (or at) the end of Katie's set out in the beer garden. I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong however.

Where I can guarantee that I'm right is in saying that the packed garden was entirely wowed at this set from an amazingly talented woman. Despite multiple intrusions her songs captivated until the end and closed the outdoor section of the mini-festival perfectly... paving the way for a tasty BBQ.

There's definitely going to be more coverage of Katie Malco on Keep Pop Loud in the future, but in the meantime you can listen to 'Florence Nightingale's House.' as well as some of Katie's other songs over at her myspace page and stream or buy the EP Four Goodbyes from her bandcamp

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Lost Songs: The Be Be See – Disney Eyes

As is traditional, when I'm away for a couple of days I'll leave you with a lost classic pop song that deserves to be unearthed. The ironic thing is that as I'm not around to let you know that I've posted about it, it'll probably remain hidden.

Anyway, I'm in London/The South for a few days again and where last time was for a jolly and I left you with 'Something Colin Wore' by Twenty Three Persons (soon to feature on the Keep Pop Loud compilation) this time I'm leaving you with this essential piece of pop,



After a handful promising tracks including 'Eye T.V.' and 'You K Gold', The Be Be See released the single of a lifetime in 'Disney Eyes'. Following on from coverage in Artrocker they promptly split up. And we have no idea as to why. When discussing their influences everyone from Pulp to LCD Soundsystem to Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons was mentioned. 'Disney Eyes' showcases wonderfully how the band managed to condense decades of perfect pop into one cut of three minutes and thirty seven seconds.

In a way it's hard to blame The Be Be See for splitting after this. It's hard to build from a single of this quality. Regardless of what the individual members are up to now we've got this.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Review: Big Scary Monsters – BSM '11 Collection Part.1

The chances are that you're aware of Big Scary Monsters, the independent record label that's given us releases from (amongst others) Talons, Copy Haho, Tall Ships, Andrew W.K. and Tellison. With their annual download series, now in it's third year, they're going to prove how they're the record label most worthy of the attention of the discerning British rock fan.

From post-rock to weird math-pop and via so many sub-genres inbetween, the '11 Collection cements the Big Scary Monsters sound and is an excellent entry route into the harder end of the pop underground for people too baffled at the sheer scale of it to know where to start.

With a download every week it's easy to absorb each song individually and get a grasp of the full flavour. As a mass the 26 that make up the first six months of the Collection may well blur into a mess of LOUD if approaching them all for the first time. Of course, that's generally the fault of the listener and their lack of experience. Still, kicking things off with Rosa Valle's 'Mathmagician' is something of a smart move, epitomising the core sound (smart, hard rock that goes for the jugular) that spurs on BSM.

But there's many other highlights. For instance, Rival Schools frontman (and BSM signing) Walter Schreifels makes an appearance with the title track of his solo album. Shedding the post-hardcore of his day-job in favour of a semi-acoustic ballad that recalls Frank Turner, 'An Open Letter To The Scene' is a more than suitable advert for his change of direction. Mojo Fury contribute 'The Mann', a track which is all riffs and tight turns into the unexpected. (On a side note it's also works acoustically as it appeared on the B-Side to their single 'Colour Of The Bear'.

On the other hand there's the bonkers indie of Bear Cavalry ('Roman Summer'), the intricate pop of Everyone To The Anderson ('High Brow, Low Brow, No Eyebrow'), Alcopop!-punk heroes Jumping Ships ('Bad Outweighed The Good'), an exquisite post-rock head-fuck from Brontide ('Jura'), and thrash of the first order from Hawk Eyes (formerly known as Chickenhawk with 'Scorpieau' cut from their album Modern Bodies). All out top track however could well be the one supplied by Brew Records Castrovalva.

'Pump Pump' is such an exhilarating slice of hardcore, fist-pumping punk that it's impossible to physically resist. Slinging yr ears straight into a moshpit and pummelling them into submission. Fans of Pulled Apart By Horses, Hawk Eyes or any other exports from the Leeds scene from which Castrovalva have sprung will effectively cream themselves when they hear this (on the off-chance that they've not already).

But all of that isn't to say that that is all there is. Across the first half of the year the BSM '11 Collection will have thrown up multiple tracks that you'll really enjoy and (unless you're so completely immersed in the scene already) will not have heard. Plus, by the time we come to the end of 2011 there'll be approximately three CDs worth of material, a years worth of entertainment and more surprises than a series of Dr Who. All at a ridiculously cheap price (£15 including a free CD from a selection from the BSM catalogue and a 11% discount in the store).

What the rest of the year holds noone can say for certain, but it's a safe bet that there's some gems in the second half of the BSM '11 Collection. It makes Mondays worth getting up on.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Album Review: The Blood Arm - Turn And Face Me

Released: July 4th
Label: Pau!

For all I'm aware Fuzz Club was the only place in the world where The Blood Arm's star shone brightly. Circa 2006 'Suspicious Character' was a massive dancefloor hit. Played every week no one grew tired of it's tongue-in-cheek relentlessly fun tune. Parent album Lie Lover Lie was similarly excellent. They'd asked for our attention. Got it. And then disappeared.

Now, finally The Blood Arm have returned with Turn And Face Me and at a trim thirty five minutes it picks up from where they left off all those years ago. Unearthing the uncool sounds of pre-Beatles America and throwing the diverse mix into a satisfying slice of pop, the band rattle through their set with the vigour and humour of any number of British acts. It's no wonder they once toured with We Are Scientists.

Perhaps they even took some musical inspiration from them too. Turn And Face Me's lead single 'Relentless Love' marries the wiry guitars of WAS to a bouncing drum machine that recalls the legendary Bis. It's the nearest you get to a contemporary reference to their sound. 'I Need You' for instance is like Jerry Lee Lewis giving a group of junior Stooges a sugar rush. Fuzzy guitars threaten to overrun the piano for the first time, before the instrument makes a classic rock n roll comeback. Great balls of fire indeed.

The spectre of show tunes erupts on 'Starved For Affection', a song which shows The Blood Arm need not keep to a single pace. Going for a big finish there's a musical feel that's at once with their excellent showmanship. This live feel comes through on the record, which bursts of brass aside, feels at once crisp and cutback. There's no mess of production interfering, it's all kept back to the basic band set up. More wonder then that they manage to come out with the swinging 'Don't Let Him Break Your Heart' and Hawaiian flavoured closer 'Forever Is Strange'.

One thing is for certain, The Blood Arm do not operate in the hermetically sealed bubble of indie rock. There's often the impression they've been rifling through their grandparents record collection for elements to pinch and borrow – a practice of pilfering guilty pleasures you might argue if you believed in the concept. In wiser times this sound combined with often nonesencial lyrics ('Introducing Randy Newman' and 'D-D-D-D-Dementia') would have got the band onto television and a crossover to a wider audience.

The racing good fun of The Blood Arm will delight anyone who gets what I mean with the phrase Keep Pop Loud. Turn And Face Me is a superb new-wave record that melds all of it's influences nicely into a unique sound that's upbeat and unmistakable. Full marks.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Track Of The Week: The Blood Arm - 'The Creditors'

As this week finally sees the UK release of The Blood Arm's second proper album Turn And Face Me, it'd be wrong to give Track of the Week to anyone else. After all there's few other bands that could be accused of living up to the mandate of keeping pop loud than this LA four-piece.

At under three minutes 'The Creditors' is so riotously infectious that it's hard to believe that they've been away as long as they have. Keeping with their trademark artpop sound, Dyan's pinao carries the melody whilst Nathaniel Fregoso's vocal is quick and sharp. With the sonic pallet filled out by bursts of glorious brass and a meaty bass part it's one of the greatest slices of pure aural joy that you'll have heard all year.

Starting from a steady part The Blood Arm waste no time it getting to the lyrical hook - the first words from Nathaniel's mouth are “Fuck the creditors, they get what they deserve”. From there the band,, as a unit go from strength to strength (via a reference to 'Suspicious Character') so that by the time we're half way through we've got what is easily the biggest most carefree indie-dancefloor anthem of 2011.

A kiss off in a party tune may be nothing totally new, but The Blood Arm imbue 'The Creditors' with so much razzmatazz and skill with a tune that it sounds fresh, fun and fucking great. So fuck the creditors, let's party.

Friday, 1 July 2011

Pris - 'They Wear It Tight'

Glastonbury aside, the big news in the pop world this week came from - and dear god it's depressing to even type this - Brother. Who changed their name to the spectacularly shitter Viva Brother. It's almost like they're lining their music up to ask for a beating.

Thank fuck, then for Pris.

They've stormed in this week with another killer song 'They Wear It Tight'.

They Wear It Tight by I Love Pris

Whether or not the call of "Where have all the good punks gone" was written in direct response to Brother I couldn't say. But landing the track right now is incredibly timed. Musically it's kept tight to a digital rhythm with lashings of fuzzy bubblegum guitars whilst Cat's vocal treads a line between Courtney Love and Louise Werner. Singing at the close "We know that you will die out", is more a "Piss off" than kiss off and is the Pris manifesto in a nutshell.

I'm confident that Pris are going to be stars one day rather soon, but it seems rather unlikely they're going to want to toe the line and play ball with archaic organisations such as the NME. Pris are our band and if you can't revel in the sneers and massive pop choruses then you're probably in the wrong place.

Keep Pop Loud

Don't forget that Pris' debut single 'The Better You Look The More You See' / 'Blue Tack Baby' is due out soon too