Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Track of the Week: Screaming Maldini – Life In Glorious Stereo

Clear plenty of room in yr pop library; this is a BIG song.

Label: Hip Hip Hip / Alcopop!
Released: 18 June
Listen: Bandcamp

Sheffield progressive pop collective Screaming Maldini have finally unveiled the lead single from their forthcoming self-titled debut album. And if there's ever been a song with as descriptive a title as 'Life In Glorious Stereo' then it has never come our way.

We've heard things described as being 'pocket symphonies' before and would be tempted to talk about this as such, if it wasn't for the fact that we've never had any item of clothing before with pockets big enough to contain this. This song is absolutely HUGE.

Amazingly 'Life in Glorious Stereo' makes The Polyphonic Spree seem toned down in their approach. But where the Spree get their effect from packing in the personnel Maldni manage it as a tight six-piece, bouncing vocal harmonies across the pop chorus, ELO-esque synth bridges and crazy sound effects that all join together for one of the greatest pop hits of 2012.

With both the single and it's b-side 'Minor Alterations' multiple listens aren't just recommended but essential. So much is packed into these two songs, and with such attention to detail, you'll miss plenty on the first few listens. So tuck in and prepare yourself for what's sure to be a stunning album.

For people interested in previous Maldini releases, Alcopop! has two excellent EPs, whilst the bonkers 'Monkey See, Badger Do' is available on thelimited edition Keep Pop Loud compilation CD.

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Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Track of the Week: Gaz Coombes - Fanfare

The highlight of a terrific solo album from the sideburns behind many of the best songs of the '90s

Label: Hot Fruit Records
Released: 21 May
Get It: Album Here Come The Bombs

Although their bouncy bed-riding antics provided many (myself included) the lasting image of Britpop – the sound of a carefree summer through a pure pop filter – Supergrass were much more then jingoistic British beat revivalists.*

Remember if you will that along with 'Alright' their chart peak was the riffy, dark 'Richard III' and the solo work of singer Gaz Coombes comes as less of a surprise. There has always been an undercurrent of something 'other' about the group and this more than anything else (sideburns aside) that Here Come The Bombs brings out of the Supergrass legacy.

Although the album works very well as a whole piece, necessity dictates that I bring out one here as an example of what makes the record so great. Single 'Hot Fruit' is a fine example of the record, but has already been doing the rounds for some time. As such let's take a quick look at 'Fanfare'.

Built around an electronic pulse, 'Fanfare' is as much Boo Radleys swirling psych as it it Supergrass at their most hazily mature (think the quieter moments of Road To Rouen), but with addend progressive tenancies from the vintage synthesisers and sequencers. There's probably some Pink Floyd influence in there, but this is much better than anything that that band ever committed to tape.

Without the huge hooks of Supergrass, this feels almost ephemeral, but the unmistakable vocal ensures that it's also familiar. That it nearly drifts past just ensures that you want to listen more to get a firmer grasp. But don't just take my word. Stream Here Come The Bombs at The Guardian.

*There's another argument here about what Britpop actually was, and how it was hijacked, but that's for another time.

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Note: From now Track of the Week will have no fixed day. Keep an eye on our Twitter for when it drops... or just keep checking back.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Tell Me Something You Do Like: Olympians

For the second instalment in our new feature series Ben, from ace math-popsters Olympians, defends grammar.

We've featured Olympians a few times on Keep Pop Loud and to give us another excuse to shout about them - this time specifically about the second of their Book Club singles - we got them to tell us about something that they do like.

And to accompany this feature it comes recommended that you wrap your ears around 'The Dictionary' - see it all ties together... sort of -  which is the terrific follow up to 'The Great Gatsby'.

The vocal harmonies take centre stage here whilst musically instruments wrap themselves around each other in swirling waves. It's an intricate little composition and performed with a tenderness where many (supposedly) similar bands prize aloof superiority. Which brings us nicely to grammar - Olympians "something" of choice.

Of course we're joking. They'd never be like that. Read below for a fantastic take on why grammar is such an important tool, but not a weapon. And as a Friday treat here's the video for 'The Dictionary'


The possibilities, when faced with the task of talking about something you like, even for a morose tosser like me, are almost endless, but everyone likes sweets and high fives and red trousers, right, so where's the fun in that?  More interesting would be to lean to a subject which has had a bad press or general hate surrounding it, you know, like warmongering or conservative MPs. I don't like either of those obviously but I bloody love grammar (despite all the hate crimes committed in its name). It is sadly often disliked, for two reasons, either by people who don't understand it (which we can ignore because it's a stupid excuse) or because it often comes hand in hand with unwieldy pedantry. For many, grammar is a pointless, outdated set of rules that just make things complicated. Why differentiate between 'fewer' and 'less' when we can just have one word? Having needless rules all over the place just get in the way, right? WRONG. Rules are glorious. Once you learn them you don't have to think any more about whether the things you say make sense and have universality. Our language is exciting because of its eccentricities, they are interesting, purposeful, fragile and beautiful. Creatively, it's much easier to produce things within boundaries or frameworks. If someone says: "Write a concept album", you go: "Erm, that's a bit cheesy isn't it? Sounds like a bit of an undertaking. 'Spose I could give it a go...". If someone says: "Write a concept album about Bruce Springsteen on the moon", you go: "Ha, great! I'll start with the snare! See you in a week!"

There is a somewhat populist view that if enough people do things incorrectly then the definition of what is correct changes - it's just evolution, right? I think this is a little mistaken, and the evolution of language is an incredible and consistently fascinating thing, but generally what's great about it is that it's a reflection of people's ability to streamline, not just indescriminately get things wrong. The great vowel shift, our loss of gender and tense endings which don't depend on the person doing the verbing (in our regular verbs -ed) are great examples of this. I would say that green grocers arbitrarily splashing around apostrophes isn't. Some pedants see this evolution as laziness, but I think it's more efficiency.

Grammar is a great analogy for many things. Its evolution over the years is similar in many ways to human evolution. Our language has qualities and processes which developed because they had to in order to convey ideas clearly and unambiguously, just like opposable thumbs had to develop in order to enable us to open cans of fosters.

Obviously the main reason I like grammar is that as a sports-fearing gangly loser it's one of the few things that I can feel commanding and macho about. Being geeky is very much a form of pompousness. I learnt very slowly as a teenager that people don't respond very favourably to being corrected when they misspeak, but I now realise there are more subversive ways to be a pedant that don't upset people. (I save the sarcastic out-and-out corrections for replying to council letters of complaint now). For instance I like to use the spelling 'program' or the word enormousness or end my sentences in prepositions (if they're verb particles). There. I didn't tell anyone I was doing it, I just did it. I didn't correct anyone. Just said things. And I feel great inside because I won the grammar game a little bit. And if some trumped up arrogant know-it-all quack tells me "ACTUALLY it's spelt programme/enormity is probably the word you're looking for/you can't end sentences like that" then I calmly reply "you know programme is just a made up Frenchified version of the real spelling/enormity is a serious crime not size/prepositional endings were pointlessly banned by over enthusiastic middle age monks trying to impose inappropriate Latin rules on our language to make it more formal. So fuck you!" 

And then everyone - people that hate the grammar pedants, and people that love grammar - everyone is happy. Together, embraced in the warm joy of wordly correctitude. Everyone happy. Except the teacher I just corrected who then had me suspended.


 You can subscribe to Olympians bookclub here or visit their fab label Barely Regal. Meanwhile they're also at your usual internet places:

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Monday, 14 May 2012

Track of the Week: Paintings Of Ships – Summer Love

Guitar pop done perfectly. It's Track of the Week, of course.

Get It: Forthcoming album English Weather

We first wrote about Paintings of Ships last year when they released the ace single 'Love Will Always Follow You Around'. That was Track of the Week and now they're returned with new single 'Summer Love' it's only right that they take the slot again.

Fuzzy and instantaneous, 'Summer Love' is a simple sounding song about the joys of the season through nostalgic eyes. There's not really a lot else to say, to be perfectly honest; this is guitar pop streamlined to just it's essential components and delivered with charm and honesty.

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Monday, 7 May 2012

Track of the Week: MJ Hibbett / Pris / The Winter Olympics

The first ever three-way-tie for Track of the Week from artists we love so much we've released their music.

So much incredible music landed on the internet in the last week that there was no choice but to make this weeks top track a triple post featuring three alumni from the Keep Pop Loud CD.

MJ Hibbett – The Stores Of Not To Be
Label: House Vs Home Records
Released: 1 May

First up is MJ Hibbett continuing is characteristically phenomenal year with this stand-alone single. If you're familiar with the songs of the indiepop legend you'll know what to expect, and there's certainly comparisons to be drawn to '2000AD Nan', but in short this is just a phenomenally written song. About the things that just aren't meant to be, and the missed chances that should have been it makes you feel kind of sad but in a positive way. Another Hibbett song to help you through life in other words.

Pris – A-Bomb In White Heat
Label: ???
Released: ???
Get It: ???

Pris' return has been a while coming, but very much worth it. 'A-Bomb In White Heat' is possibly their best track yet and a world away from the girl-group aping 'Icon On A Motorbike'. Like pop, punk and new wave all thrown in together with swagger and attitude it's a real mission statement for the band. Martial drums, a slinky bassline and minimal fuss, it's exactly what you'd hope pop to be in the 21st Century.

The Winter Olympics – I Prefer The Early Stuff
Label: Freakscene Records
Released: 28 May
Get It: Church of Merch (soon)

Another group who are sounding a little different to what you might expect. The Winter Olympics have announced new single 'I Prefer The Early Stuff' which shows off their meaty rock side. Still with the pop-culture referencing lyrics that we love them for this is emotively charged (thanks to Andrew Wagstaff's vocals) but with gnarly guitar and massive hooks. It's not ll rock bluster though – the lryics will make you smile and the rhythm section work tightly to make you dance. In other words this does everything you could reasonably expect. And then some more.

If you can't wait to get ahold of all of these songs, there is still a limited amount of Keep Pop Loud compilation CDs available here. MJ Hibbett, Pris and The Winter Olympics feature alongside Glam Chops, Bordeauxxx, Dogs Die In Hot Cars and more....

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