Wednesday, May 26, 2021

'Big Noise' From Manchester

I'm over the moon about seeing the name Mike West today over at Charity Chic Music. CC has highlighted a couple of songs from West's 21st century Americana outfit Truckstop Honeymoon, and it was a delight to hear his voice again. If you ever wondered whether you can take Manchester out of the man, the answer is a resounding yes. Since his move to America in the '90s, West has developed a bona fide Kansas twang.

Since reading about Truckstop Honeymoon this morning, I have taken out my records from his much earlier band, the Man From Delmonte. You regulars may remember me digging deep with a series on them in 2018, but there is one album I didn't highlight. 'Big Noise' is a live recording from their home away from home, legendary Manchester club the Boardwalk, circa Jan. 13, 1989. It was released on Manchester-based label Bop Cassettes that same year. If that label sounds familiar, it may because of their famous 'Manchester North of England' compilation that came out in 1988 and featured the likes of James, Bradford, Pepplekade 14, Inspiral Carpets, the Waltones, the Railway Children and the aforementioned Man From Delmonte.

'Big Noise' was reissued by Vinyl Japan in 2000 at about the same time as they released a couple of compilations on the Man From Delmonte that gathered singles, radio sessions and other odds and ends presented as 'The Good Things in Life,' parts 1 and 2. Highly recommended. On with the show... ripped from vinyl moments ago. Thanks for the inspiration, CC.

The Good Things in Life
Big Noise
(Will Nobody Save) Louise
Lasha Me

Thursday, May 20, 2021

NB Is For New Boyracer

Big day, indie-pop fans! This is our first chance to hear a track from Boyracer's impending long player, and it's a cracker. Already, I can hear yourself asking, who are Stewart's partners in crime this time? If you have been paying attention, surprisingly, there are no surprises. Christina Riley makes a triumphant return after hanging around since 2019 and knocking it out of the park on 2020 album 'On a Promise.' When a band boasts 50-plus members since its inception, that makes her a bona fide veteran. Riley's guitar soars, but it's the way her voice melds with Stewart's that makes this duo such a sweet treat. Matty Green returns as well, and you no doubt remember that name from the band's salad days on Sarah and Slumberland.

Mark your calendars. Boyracer's 14th album, 'Assuaged,' hits the shelves on July 5 via Stewart's own Emotional Response label. (If I may digress, has his label been any stronger? Stewart's stable of stars have littered my recent year-end lists with the likes of Seablite, Mick Trouble, Even As We Speak, the Ocean Party, Blues Lawyer, the Bachelor Pad and a slew of Sarah reissues, to name just a few off the top of my head.) To whet your appetite for the album, Boyracer gives us a whole mess of hard-nosed jangle on "Bulletproof." A little more pop than punk on this one, it ought to come with a warning because this song is a real earworm. Don't expect to get much done today. I'm proud to premiere "Bulletproof" this morning with a handful of other like-minded indie-pop outlets.

For those of us of an, ahem, certain age, it's popular thinking "B Is For Boyracer" and the Sarah era is the band at its best. Hey, I love that early stuff too, but could this be conjecture? Stew and Christina have something pretty special going on right now, and there is plenty of room on this bandwagon. Climb aboard. Boyracer remains a riveting ride.

Sunday, May 16, 2021

An Encore to That Party From the Pooh Sticks

Picking up where we left off last time, in 1991, the Pooh Sticks one upped the 53rd & 3rd release of live album 'Orgasm' with a deluxe edition of sorts (before we knew the term) by putting out 'Multiple Orgasm' (get it?) on their original home, Steve Gregory's Swansea label Fierce Recordings. Side A of the album was the show featured in the last post. Side B contained 10 unreleased songs recorded in 1988. I'll let the notes from the back cover of 'Multiple Orgasm' fill in the details, but you'll see the plan was to duplicate the box set of their earlier single releases.

Songs 10-19 are studio recordings made by the Pooh Sticks over the two weekends immediately following [the perfomance on Side A]. Originally planned as "Multiple Orgasm", a boxed set of five 7" 45s ("Cinnamon"/"Do Something to Me"; "Saturday Night's The Big Night"/"It's a Good Day For A Parade"; "Do It Again (A Little Bit Slower)"/"Goody Goody Gumdrops"; "Force Fed By Love"/"Tear The Roof Right Off My Head"; "Just Another Minute"/"When The Night Falls) to follow up the successful "Alan McGee" set, the release was cancelled in favour of the 53rd & 3rd album.

A couple of the 10 songs would show up later in the '90s as B-sides to singles, but for the most part, "Multiple Orgasm" would be the only place you could pick up these rare tracks. I'll let you be the judge as to whether they should have been made more readily available, but I will say they aren't quite to the standard of the five singles in the "Alan McGee" box. Still enjoyable, nonetheless. Here a few of my favorites.

Saturday Night's the Big Night
Do It Again (A Little Bit Slower)
Goody Goody Gumdrops

Thursday, May 13, 2021

A Party With the Pooh Sticks

I finally got a hold of a physical copy of "Indies of the World," the latest single from indie-pop all-star band Swansea Sound featuring Hue Williams, Amelia Fletcher, Rob Pursey and Ian Button. You will want to seek this one out. As expected, the purchase also has my turntable busy with those early releases by the Pooh Sticks.

'Orgasm' is a live album released initially on the legendary 53rd & 3rd label. The show was recorded on Sept. 17, 1988, in Trudi Tangerine's basement. Trudi may or may not have been a member of the band. Honestly, I don't know. There is quite a bit of ambiguity surrounding personnel. What I do know is Trudi can write. Trudi's liner notes accompanying the Optic Nerve reissue of the 1988 box set of the five singles immediately following debut "On Tape" is a hell of a read.

'Orgasm' has the same vibe as Beach Boys' Party!' You feel as if you're eavesdropping on a few pals hanging out. There is a lot of banter between songs which made ripping the songs into individual tracks for today's post a challenge. Here are those five one-sided singles from the box set performed live. Sounds like a good time was had by all. More on the Pooh Sticks circa 1988 next time.

I Know Someone Who Knows Someone Who Knows Alan McGee Quite Well (Live)

Heroes and Villains (Live)

Indiepop Ain't Noise Pollution (Live)

1-2-3 Red Light (Live)

Heartbreak (Live)

Monday, May 10, 2021

Show Review Sends Chills

New Zealand correspondent Duncan has been to a show. Yes, a show. He's going to use terms like Indian summer and being out on a patio too. Let's control our envy and imagine a time when we are all seeing our favorite bands together again. Take it away, Duncan...

The Chills
Meow Club
7 May 2021

Friday treats us to a rare, warm Wellington autumn evening, and we're all determined to enjoy this last vestige of an Indian summer. The crowd has spilled out onto the Meow Club's patio and the road, as people enjoy a drink or two before the show. This is my third time seeing Martin Phillips (either with or without his Chills) in the last four years, and it would be easy to start taking the band for granted. But tonight they are simply excellent. In fact, I'd rate this the most enjoyable Chills show I've ever been too. It's one of those evenings where everything seemed to come together perfectly: the company of good friends, a great venue and terrific sound.

We are still discussing the big important issues of the day, like why Martin has given his last 12 LPs titles with the initials S.B., when the band finally emerge. The stage tonight is banked by shelves of books and antique radiograms. Very appropriate. The show's a sell-out, and the place is heaving. Martin looks resplendent in a lovely blue shirt and his bright red Gibson semi-acoustic. It's great to see him looking so healthy and happy and after all the years of illness and mental health issues.

Bathed in deep-blue light, the Chills set off with the customary opener, "The Night of Chill Blue", which still somehow manages to tingle the spine after all these years. As I look across to my friend Andrew, he points out that we are stood next to the minister of finance. It's moments like this that make living here in Aotearoa so special; I mean, how many other countries would you find yourself dancing and singing along to an 80s indie band with a senior government minister?

I think it's fair to say the band play it safe tonight. The first part of the show is packed with favourites:"'Bad Sugar", "Wet Blanket", a ferocious "Oncoming Day", and peaking with an exhilarating rush through the peaks and crests of "Male Monster From the Id". The band are on fine form, and playing with huge confidence. We get a smattering of new songs ("Little Alien", "Destiny", "Monolith"), of which "You're Immortal" is the real stand-out. Perhaps as close to an epic as Marty has penned, the song is lifted further by the addition of electric violin from Erica and trumpet from new bassist Callum, I'm transported to a world of pale fountains, orange skies and exploding teardrops. More of this please, Mr Phillips.

And then we're back to the hits. And although tonight's versions of "Kaleidoscope World" and "Pink Frost" are a bit flat, missing the brittle fragility of the originals, by the time "Heavenly Pop Hit" and "Leather Jacket" have the whole crowd dancing and wildly singing along, all is forgotten and a big grin is splashed across my face.

If I have any gripes, they are minor. Martin doesn't include any of his more more esoteric or interesting songs (highlights of recent shows have been unexpected treats like "Satin Doll" and "Lost In Space"), and yet again they don't play any of my personal favourites ("Flame Thrower", "House With A Hundred Rooms", or the eternally magnificent "Dan Destiny and the Silver Dawn"). But hey, you can't have everything! They encore as always with a celebratory romp through "Rolling Moon". It simply wouldn't be a Chills gig if it didn't end with everyone joyously singing along to, "Please, O God, don't take us home".

As the crowd reluctantly departs into the night, everyone is buzzing: We all seem to agree that this was a very special show. And so I walk home, whistling the refrain to "Rolling Moon" and feeling very lucky indeed to be alive and living here in Wellington, 2021.

The Chills' new LP, 'Scatterbrain', is available from Fire Records.


Thanks, Duncan. Wish I could have been there. It doesn't look like anyone has posted any clips from this show yet, but we can still enjoy a live song from recent times. New one "Destiny" was played at the Festival of Lights 2021 in New Plymouth, NZ. Enjoy.

Friday, May 7, 2021

'90s Power Pop! Schwing!

Sup. Did you catch that '90s phrase? I don't think the '90s were fly, as the kids used to say, and haven't had many nice things to say about that time on these pages. The decade did, however, produce some of my favorite power pop. Acts like the Sugarplastic, Wondermints, Matthew Sweet, Velocity Girl, Velvet Crush, Jellyfish (and its many offshoots) are just a few off the top of my head that had their finest moments, but I'm going to dig a little deeper because all of those bands have made appearances here before. The following are taken from the third volume of Rhino's excellent 'Poptopia' series that came out in 1997. This CD was always great in the car because there was no filler and was best listened to loudly. Highly recommended. If you don't like it, talk to the hand. Are you hating these '90s phrases yet?

If, like me, you worship at the altar of Big Star, you're going to dig Idle Wilds because it's clear this Philly outfit did as well. The band was on the Ardent label, the same one that released Big Star's albums, and Jody Stephens was even their A&R man. Alas, all of that Big Star mojo wasn't enough to crawl out of obscurity, and Idle Wilds called it quits very quickly. It was many years before Big Star became appreciated by the masses. Perhaps it can happen for Idle Wilds too. As if!

You're All Forgiven

I may have found another reason to dislike the '90s... ugly album covers. These last two have been pretty awful, eh? I have nice memories of listening to Baltimore band the Greenberry Woods when 'Rapple Dapple' came out in '94. The guy who owned the record store I was working at was crazy about them, and we played it to death. These guys had everything going for them. They were signed to Sire and had opening slots with a bunch of bands you would know. Two albums of catchy AM pop were met with indifference, and that was that. "Trampoline" has always been considered their signature tune. If you don't like this one, best to move on, but it's fly.


Are you getting jiggy with it?

I'm bugging out with all of this '90s lingo. Let's wrap it up. The Tearaways were a Cali band and the only one on this page that stuck around beyond the '90s. I don't know much about their career, but the band's first album was a slow grower that eventually got quite a buzz going in power-pop circles, especially when considering it was released on the band's own Fried Records. The Tearaways jumped around to a couple of indie labels during the decade, but all of these years later, it's that debut, 'See the Sound,' for which they are remembered. It was produced by veteran L.A. producer Earle Mankey, best known (by me, anyway) for working with 20/20, the Three O'Clock, the Pop and other So-Cal-based bands. I always liked the chorus to this slow side of power pop. "Jessica something... what was her name? Something about her remains." Whatever.

Jessica Something