Saturday, July 24, 2021

Bevy of Blooms From Fleur

I was going to post about the many charms of Fleur several months ago, but then both 7" singles and the LP sold out. Happily, everything has been repressed, and now you have what I imagine will be a small window to catch up.

Here are the vitals. Fleur is Dutch singer Floor Elman. She sings in French and is backed by Les Robots. Her songs appear on Spanish label Bickerton Records. She also fronts a band called the Colour Collection on the same label. By now, your head should be spinning. The sound of Fleur takes you back to yé-yé with a splash of '66 garage. Names popping up to describe Fleur include Les Terribles, France Gall, April March and, of course, Françoise Hardy. Yes, her voice is that good.

While we're here, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the other stable of stars on Bickerton from all over the world. In particular, I'm really digging '60s-inspired Dutch band the Mocks and Americans the Premonitions. Both are on the shopping list. Bickerton has a slew of incredible reissues that will be of interest to regular readers too, from the likes of the Pandoras, Phil Seymour, the Times and many more. Take a gander at Bickerton's roster.

Back to Fleur. For those of us on this side of the pond feeling wary about ordering from Spain, Richmond-based label 6131 Records has just come to the rescue with a release of the self-titled album from 2020. If you can possibly spare the time, you can listen to the 2019 and 2020 singles as well as the album via bandcamp below. Get ready for your next obsession.

Monday, July 12, 2021

The MIDDYs: Favorite Albums

Will need to make this quick. Mom is in town for the first time since the pandemic began. Here are the 10 albums (in no particular order) I have been listening to from the first half of 2021. If you saw my pal McPop's album list in the comments section of my favorite songs post earlier this month, there won't be too many surprises below. I should add I moved the album from Holsapple & Stamey from the reissues list to this one because, frankly, it's not really a reissue and makes more sense here. I replaced it with a real prize by the Apartments. Would love to hear about the albums you have been listening to from the first half of 2021. July is off to a great start too. The new one from the Goon Sax is a real keeper.

The Reds, Pinks & Purples - 'Uncommon Weather'
The Lodger - 'Cul-De-Sac of Love'
The Catenary Wires - 'Birling Gap'
Massage - 'Still Life'
Holsapple & Stamey - 'Our Back Pages'
The Boys With the Perpetual Nervousness - 'Songs From Another Life'
Quivers - 'Golden Doubt'
The Telephone Numbers - 'The Ballad of Doug'
The Chills - 'Scatterbrain'
Various - 'Something Beautiful'

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

The MIDDYs: Favorite Reissues

Nancy earns the oh-so coveted graphic spot because, put simply, I have listened to her double-LP compilation more than any other reissue so far this year. 'Start Walkin'' kicks off a Sinatra reissue campaign that will have me reaching for my wallet at least a couple of more times in the coming months. In no particular order, here are my other reissued favorites from the past six months.

Various - Optic Sevens 3.0 Series
Best singles club ever! Highlights this time around included Chin-Chin, Girls at Our Best and the Clouds.

BMX Bandits - 'Star Wars' and Janice Long sessions 1986-1987
Duglas gets his due in 2021. Trifecta with 'Life Goes On' reissue due in late fall.

Nancy Sinatra - 'Start Walkin' 1965-1976'
Her version of "Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)" just might be better than Cher's. Booklet includes fine photos and in-depth interview.

Dropkick - 'The Best of Dropkick'
Only 300 copies on vinyl missed the mark, but that's the lone complaint. Turns out the older material was as good as recent albums.

Stereolab - 'Electrically Possessed [Switched On Vol. 4]'
Collection of mostly 21st century odds and ends has proven I should have been paying attention beyond the '90s.

Linda Smith - 'Till Another Time: 1988-1996'
Took a punt on this lo-fi charmer because of my complete trust in anything put out by Captured Tracks. Rewarded once again.

The Clean - 'Mister Pop' and 'Unknown Country'
Merge continues to mine the band's discography for a grateful American audience. LPs from 2009 and 1996 get a vinyl upgrade.

Remember Fun - 'Contentment'
The secret is out. This band and the Church Grims are two of the best janglers you never heard of to ever come out of Scotland.

Oh-OK - 'The Complete Reissue'
Back in print after a decade! Linda and Lynda... unsung heroes from the famed DB Recs' stable once again resurrected by HHBTM.

Martin Newell - 'The Off White Album'
Louis Philippe inspired like Andy Partridge did on predecessor 'The Greatest Living Englishman' with similarly satisfying results.

Various - 'Nice Try, Sunshine!'
Fourteen (mostly) obscure indie-pop bands straight outta Sweden get a new lease on life.

The Verlaines - 'Live at the Windsor Castle, Auckland, May 1986'
The title says it all, doesn't it? Flying Nun vets perfrom an entire show during the band's salad days.

The Replacements - 'Pleased to Meet Me Outtakes & Alternates'
Always liked the album but not quite enough to buy the expensive deluxe edition. This RSD release was the perfect solution.

The Apartments - 'A Life Full of Farewells'
Was always late to this band's charms. Catching up with the '90s era due to a vinyl press from French label Talitres.

The Loft - 'Ghost Trains & Country Lanes – Studio, Stage And Sessions 1984-2015'
Time to trade in your copies of 'Once Around the Fair' and 'Magpie Eyes.' As the title implies, this is those comps plus a whole lot more.

Jasmine Minks - John Peel session 1986 and Janice Long session 1986
New label Precious Recordings of London have proven they know how to assemble something special. BBC sessions from Blueboy are up next.

Saturday, July 3, 2021

The MIDDYs: Favorite Songs

I know you have been marking your calendars and waiting for this moment with bated breath. Without further ado, here are my favorite songs (in no particular order) from the first half of the year. Albums and reissues will follow. Extra points to the first reader who identifies the undeserving Grammy winner above.

A few of these picks will feel like old friends. After a stint with Terry Chambers as TC&I, Colin Moulding had, seemingly, given it all up. Yet, here he is, one of the stars of the beloved XTC, with his first solo single. Before this year, I had not bought an album from Teenage Fanclub since 'Howdy' more than 20 years ago. Although 'Endless Arcade' probably won't make my list, there are bright spots. These days, Crowded House are mostly a family affair plus Mitchell Froom, and it's great to have one of my favorite songwriters back at it. Speaking of long-awaited comebacks, Acid House Kings have given us their first new music in a decade. A couple of names that may surprise you are Jim McCulloch of Soup Dragons and Rachel Love from Dolly Mixture. These new sounds are worlds away from their old bands, but the quality is there in spades.

A quick word about Verandan. That's Ville Hopponen's latest project. You will know him best from Cats on Fire. How often do you mourn the loss of that band? Amelia and Rob are on the list twice, first with Hue Williams, formerly of Pooh Sticks, as Swansea Sound. I didn't include any songs from albums that will make my MIDDYs list, but the Catenary Wires are here with a recent cover of the Mamas and the Papas that my family has been listening to obsessively. If you have paid attention to past lists on these pages, just about everyone else has appeared here before except Hadda Be. The Scottish band has received plenty of favorable press, and I will agree album 'Another Life' has its moments. What are your favorite songs from 2021 so far?

Colin Moulding - "The Hardest Battle"
The Goon Sax - "Make Time 4 Love"
Massage - "Michael Is My Girlfriend"
The Umbrellas - "She Buys Herself Flowers"
Teenage Fanclub - "Home"
Crowded House - "To the Island"
Gruff Rhys - "Loan Your Loneliness"
A Certain Ratio - "Keep It Together"
Red Sleeping Beauty (featuring Mary Wyer) - "Second Time"
Acid House Kings - "A Little Dancing"
Jim McCulloch - "When I Mean What I Say"
Verandan - "Hideaway"
Stephen's Shore - "Brisbane Radio"
Real Numbers - "Brighter Then"
Boyracer - "Bulletproof"
NAH... - "Airy Day"
Rachel Love - "Primrose Hill"
Swansea Sound - "Indies of the World"
Hadda Be - "Another Life"
Ducks Ltd. - "As Big as All Outside"
The Catenary Wires - "California Dreamin'"