Monday, 30 April 2012

Track of the Week: Shark Teeth - Work & Romance

Leeds is fertile ground for indiepop right now, and Shark Teeth's new EP contains this pretty gem

Released: 30th April
Get It: Ltd CD / Download

Despite beating him to the name, Dev Hynes change in moniker from Lightspeed Champion to Blood Orange necessitated this Leeds indiepop gang changing their name from Blood Oranges to Shark Teeth. Which is how we find them now having today released their EP Wanna Get Drunk And Fool Around?.

As inviting as that title is Monday morning might not be the best time to participate. What Monday morning is the best time for however is devouring what we think is the top track of the week, and this Monday it's the highlight from said EP, the gentle and tender 'Work & Romance'.

Building from the softer intro, 'Work & Romance' swells up to British Sea Power levels of bracing brilliance, before calming itself back down again. Carried on a romantic guitar line and helped along by male-female harmonies and tottering drums, it's a classic little indiepop number and one to draw you into the rest of the super little EP.

After you've wrapped your ears around this you can also find their previous single 'The French Word For Love', released under their old name, for free download on their old Bandcamp page.

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Friday, 27 April 2012

Tell Me Something You Do Like: MJ Hibbett

Time for a BRAND NEW feature on Keep Pop Loud! 

In order to make sure that KPL isn't just review after review we thought it'd be nice to find more about the artists behind the pop. So, inspired by the MJ Hibbett song 'Tell Me Something You Do Like' (from the seminal We Validate) we thought we'd get some of our favourite pop-related people to tell us about something that they think is great. Absolutely anything at all is game...

And who better to write the inaugural feature that MJ Hibbett himself?

Hibbett has been very busy this year, by giving a live performance of Moon Horse Vs The Mars Men of Jupiter away via Bandcamp and before that releasing the FANTASTIC album Dinosaur Planet. You can listen to the latter of these below and while you are, you can read about... The Key Shaped Bottle Opener.



Several years I was stomping up the hill towards Brighton Station, heading for the last train home after a particularly jolly gig, and I thought "Sod it! I'm treating myself to a beer!"

I popped into the little supermarket nearby and got myself a couple of bottles of fairly posh bottled lager, zoomed through the station, hopped on the train and settled back for a special treat. It had been an awfully good evening during which I had, I thought, rocked fairly comprehensively, and what better way to celebrate than continuing the good times on the chugging train back to London?

It was only as we pulled out of the station that I realised my error: I'd got bottled lager, but had no way of opening it. Now, I know there are all kinds of different ways that people will recommend for opening bottles painlessly, but none of them seemed to work for me, and after fifteen minutes of twisting, knocking and dragging at the bottle top I was faced with the horrific prospect of gradually sobering up with two delicious bottles of impregnable lager glaring at me.

"This shall not stand!" I declared, and dug out my keys to have one finally go at jabbing, stabbing, and eventually wrenching the bottle top off, nearly knackering my keys in the process. "Human ingenuity wins again!" I halloed, as lager frothed all over my trousers. I cared little for the dampness, for I had BEER, and all was well!

It was only when I finally got home, still soggy, that I realised that in the process of opening the bottles I had ripped all the skin off my knuckles. All that cack handed keymanship against increasingly jagged bottle tops had reduced my fists to bloodied rags. Strangely I hadn't noticed at the time, but for the next couple of days they hurt like buggery.

Moaning about my injuries online one of my friends pointed me in the direction of this little beauty - a bottle opener shaped like a key! It was exactly what I needed - having an actual bottle opener attached to your key ring always seems like a sign of rampant alcoholism, as if you needed to get into bottles of beer precisely as much (and as often) as you needed to open your own front door, but having it look like a key was... well, I suppose it was exactly the same, but in disguise, which is probably worse.

I ordered one immediately and have never ever regretted it. Not only does it do its job perfectly, but it also leads me into delightful new social interactions. For instance, if I'm at a party it's the perfect excuse to stand near the beer counter and chat to anyone who comes over trying to open a bottle! It also means that I can choose proper Bottle Beer rather than relying on cans of nasty stuff when out and about, and if anyone catches me nicking their rider backstage at a gig the situation can easily be resolved simply by me showing off my delightful gadget. It never fails!

Also, if you're a bit of a show-off, you can always pretend it's a normal key and you're just dead good at opening bottles. I would, however, frown on such dishonesty.

I've most felt the joy of my little bottle opener when I've been without it. Last year I played a gig in a Church Hall and, as I'd already booked a hotel for the evening, thought I'd treat myself to some proper Posh Beers. Imagine my distress, then, when I went for my bottle opener and suddenly realised that I'd left it, along with my keys and Oyster Card, back in my hotel room! Once more desperate  for the longed for BOOZE I ended up sorely abusing the venue's kitchen facilities - being a Church Hall there was no bottle opener, so I ended up whacking the bottles on worktops and coating the floor (and myself) with ALE, once more ripping skin off my knuckles as I did so.

Next morning I headed for the station, slightly damp still and with bloodied hands, and was struck not just with a determination never to go out without my bottle opener again, but with a sense of complete idiocy. Here, of all places, I should have remembered to take it, for the gig had been in Brighton once again!


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Monday, 23 April 2012

Track of the Week: Stagecoach – 56K Dial-Up

Label: Alcopop! Records
Released: 21st April
Get It: Cassette Single / Digital Download  

It's been nearly a year since we last heard from slacker-pop heroes Stagecoach when they released the terrific double A side 'Jonah Lomu' / 'Tony Hawk' and the waiting has been starting to get to us. Fantastic news then that they've returned with a cracking new track as a taster for the eventual forthcoming debut album.

 Released on a limited edition green cassette for Record Store Day '56KDial-UP' is another impressive weapon in their arsenal. A combination of their ear for a tune with an inventive structure that refuses to sit still, it will keep fans of their EPs feeling at home, with the fuzzy guitars taking the lead and some additional keyboards putting a little sci-fi kick into the background. Carrying the torch from Supergrass, this is a summer smash!

Backed with a nice pop-tastic remix of 'Hang That Head', this cassette is certainly worth the massive queue at Crash Records on Saturday morning. But for those of you that weren't there it's available NOW from the Alcopop! shop, but you'll have to hurry.  

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Monday, 16 April 2012

Track of the Week: Citizens! - Reptile

Label: Kitsuné
Released: 16 April
Get It: Digital download single

Like pop? Then this is something that you want

When you're unemployed and depressed what you need is some upbeat glamorous pop with a vaguely seedy edge to perk you up. Maybe one of the creators needs to have some sort of creepy '70s moustache.

Oh, hi Citizens!

Seemingly formed from the ashes of Official Secrets Act, Citizens! fall between the dance grooves of Friendly Fires and the pop scale of Franz Ferdinand (Alex Kapranos produces here) with elements of their former incarnation thrown in for good measure. In other words they are exactly what you're after in a pop band right now.

'Reptile' appeared online a fair while ago but is released today as a digital single with a bucket-load of remixes, none of which I've got around to listening to. I'm sure they're good enough if that's yr kind of thing, but frankly I'm far too wrapped up in this slice of brilliance. 'Reptile' even manages to bring to mind the early 90's material of Pulp in it's gleeful use to keyboards to promote it's rubbery bassline.

Watch the dancing of frontman Thom in the video and try to pretend you don't feel like doing the same when you play this track. You won't be able to match his moves though.

As a bonus, you can download the equally ace 'Girlfriend' from Citizens! website for FREE.

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Monday, 9 April 2012

Track of the Week: Field Music - Rent

Label: Memphis Industries
Released: 21 April
Get It: actually, nearly RSD 7”

Actually really good. Very limited Release

As much as I love the concept of Record Store Day, the fact that some acts of such a massive size are releasing exclusives in such small quantity has turned the whole thing into a queuing competition. It's a shame really as the product that's being released this year seems to be of an incredibly high quality.

Of the releases showcased so far the best is easily this Field Music cover of the lesser-known Pet Shop Boys classic 'Rent'.

When exploring Pet Shop Boys catalogue it's apparent what strong songwriters they have always been. A group's massive success can sometimes obscure this, but thankfully Field Music have dug back into their parents record collection and seen the beauty and sadness in the music the brothers absorbed as children.

Although less commercial and of a completely different sound to PSB, Field Music likewise make proper pop music for adults. Too often ignored in favour of more youthful sounding acts they have with their past two records claimed their own place in music history alongside mavericks of equal standing such as Television Personalities, XTC and Sparks. This cover, alongside I'm sure the version of 'Heart' that accompanies it, is a fantastic addition to their cannon.

There better be a copy left by the time I can get into town on the 21st.

Listen to the song on Soundcloud or at Pitchfork

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Thursday, 5 April 2012

Rhubarb Bomb – The City Consumes Us 2007-2012

Label: Rhubarb Bomb
Released: 16 April
Get It: Pledge campaign

Eighteen songs. All exclusive. All worth your time and your money. All from Wakefield. Not many cities could pull that off.

Outside of Yorkshire and the pop underground Wakefield is only known as the town that gave us The Cribs. Well, apparently it's actually a city, and has actually in recent years given us at least seventeen other artists who can get yr pop-senses tingling as well as any from the music capitals.

The City Consumes Us arrives at a good time to promote the local scene. Just in the past year The Spills and Runaround Kids have leapt out of Wakefield with acclaimed guitar driven records and are spending 2012 consolidating their ace reputation with more new releases. Both are represented here, alongside the aforementioned The Cribs who supply a demo of 'Things Aren't Gonna Change'. Originally the closer from The New Fellas, the piano coda gives it a feel that's more in line with their lesser-known debut.

Contributions from the other two however are both new tracks. 'Cylinder Windows' by The Spills sits the band mid-way between Johnny Foreigner and Hot Club de Paris on it's zippy intro, before a growling bass takes centre stage for an expertly driven rock number. Runaround Kids on the other hand contribute 'Undress', a song that carries the impression that it'll be RK inspiring future generations of Wakefield bands.

But who are the bands that have influenced this crop of groups then? Track one, for a start comes from the defunt Pylon, who can definitely steak claim, but overall it's an act from 4.5 thousand miles away who leave the deepest impression. But as the press release says “hey, Pavement were awesome so what's the harm?”. Indeed, Piskie Sits, Tiny Planets and The Old House all prove delightful giving the first half of the compilation a overall feel and sound.

There is the exception of course, with indiepopsters The Research and their never released b-side 'Make No Plans For Me'. Sad but sweet sounding at the same time, like any song by the band it can be taken on it's own and sound like their best moment. If this band are unfamiliar, it's best go go check out their videos, post-haste.

This is all great, but it's the second half that really provides some surprises. The Whippets song 'This Town' is a highlight, with spoken work verses and yearning choruses taking the foreground over shining jangly pop. Sad, nostalgic and reflective it feels like the decade we're living through. Better still however is St Gregory Orange and their graceful, uplifting number 'Nights In The Drunk Tank'. Lyrically detailed and musically in the same ballpark as British Sea Power, it's a treat.

Also worth mentioning briefly are the off-kilter folk pop of The Passing Fancy, Skink & Demoralised's '60s inflicted spoken-word/beat pop, the Arab Strap-esque One Day, After School... and compilation finale 'Jamie Says He Wishes You Well' - a collaboration between Mi Mye and IMP.

However there's one song that really can not go without mention. 'At 21' by Little Japansese Toy. Recorded in 2001, and only a demo, it begins gracefully as a stately orchestral pulse before becoming a storming torrent of sound that only abates to heighten the impact of the next wave. Rolling and crashing over the listener, it really sounds like nothing else. Bracing and dramatic are words that could well have been given meaning just for this song.

So well done Wakefield, but most importantly well done Rhubarb Bomb for getting all of these together. Local councils should take note – for this is how you provide an essential local service.

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Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Track of the Week: Japandroids – The House That Heaven Built

Label: Polyvinyl Records
Released: 5th June
Get It: Forthcoming album Celebration Rock

Great band name. Even greater song.

If yesterday's Track of the Week had an element of punk in there, this is the real deal. Pure face-melting, wave goodbye to the socks, blistering rock music. If you've not come across Japandroids before (and seriously, where have you been?) then make sure you're ready for this one.

From the jagged and distorted guitar intro onwards there's no let up. The opener is like a feral Cribs minus the bass coming to rip you apart. It's at the same time the sweat of the club gig and the euphoria of the massive stadium with “wo-oh-ohs” over pummelling drums that pick you out of your seat with a great shot of adrenaline than you thought possible with mere rock music. Gaining pace as the track races along, it's miraculous that any human beings can keep this up for five minutes.

Yeah, 'Young Hearts Spark Fire' and 'Younger Us' were good. This is GREAT.

Japandroids - The House That Heaven Built

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Sunday, 1 April 2012

Track of the Week: Maxïmo Park – The National Health

Label: V2
Released: 11thth June
Get It: Forthcoming album The National Health

A superb new song from one of the brightest indie rock bands of the 00's. There's plenty of life in them yet.

Always apart from their peers for ability to combine arch artiness with full throttle live shows and decent record sales, it should come as no surprise that Maxïmo Park have taken a different approach to their fourth album than any of their contemporaries. Whilst later efforts by Kaiser Chiefs and The Futureheads have seen the groups mellow this first taster from the Park's fourth LP is their punchiest offering yet.

Although not punk per-say, there is an element to this running through 'The National Health in the shape of the aggressive guitar work. Nonetheless this is distinctively Maxïmo with Paul Smith's strong vocal delivering rapid lyrics on the lost identity and degradation of the nation. Which is something of a brave move in itself, with the current crop of hot young things avoiding such issues entirely and elements of the music press holding such releases as pretentious and patronising. Of course Maxïmo Park are neither and simply fit nicely into the lineage of excellent British bands with an eye for social detail and the need to document their surroundings.

Musically however there is slight shift away from the British music landscape. Although incorporating elements of Sonic Youth into second album Our Earthly Pleasures, the Park have always seemed to fit quite well into the art-rock pigeonhole. Nice to see here then a Hold Steady esque piano break adding an American element to proceedings and complementing the aforementioned energetic guitar work perfectly.

An excellent return.

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