Remember you can follow the SadPanda on Twitter - https://twitter.com/StreetlampBlog. To stay updated on the latest articles just follow @StreetlampBlog.

You can talk to the SadPanda too. E-mail: sadpanda@hotmail.co.uk

You can also now find us on Facebook , if that's your thing.

Wikileaks

To re-direct to wikileaks please click here. We will endeavour to keep this redirect updated in the event of an IP address change.

Lovely people who read The Streetlamp

Monday, 31 May 2010

Griff Says; It's Colorform - in sound and vision.



What a great month May has been so far for music. I've been so busy that I've neglected to mention Colorform; something that I've been meaning to do for some time and which I intend to remedy now. I came across Colorform on the CLLCT web-site and was immediately impressed by both the quality and the diversity of the songs on offer. I was also intrigued by the complementary visual element, which is part of the complete Colorform experience. You see, the musical component of Colorform comprises of; singer, lyricist, and guitarist Kate Logan, cellist Matt Logan and guitarist Ben Deibert. Seems straight-forward enough, right? However, in addition to the world of aural expression, Colorform also encompasses visual art. At all live performances and in rehearsals, NYC artist Sarah Valeri provides simultaneous live artwork, a process in which the two art forms are mutually inspired. When performing with the band, Sarah tapes a few sheets of drawing paper on the ground and uses pastels to draw on them as the music plays. Depending on the length of the set, she finishes one or two sheets of drawing. Each painting is unique and has a part of the venue in it. The drawings are up for sale after the show. Sarah is very much presented as an integral part of the band and at live shows her name is included in the band member introduction; “Sarah Valeri on colors".


As I've already mentioned , you can see Sarah's artwork, listen to the music and even download it for free at their CLLCT web-site. So why should you? Well, for those of you who need further convincing, we here at 'Streetlamp' have decided to give you a small taster of Colorform's unique brand of independent expression. We've provided two sample videos (below), which attempt to showcase the Colorform audio-visual experience. One of the things that has impressed me most about Colorform is that the band don't fall into the popular music cliche of using bowed strings as an afterthought to provide a superficial touch of classical sophistication. On the contrary, Matt's cello is absolutely central to the sound, and demonstrates an astonishing breadth of tone and expression. Possibly because of this, it can be difficult to describe the Colorform sound. On some songs, I think I can hear something akin to the stylish dream-pop of The Sundays, while on others their is an angrier almost aggressive vibe at work. If that sounds contradictory then have a listen and make your own mind up.





Hope you enjoyed those. The band can also be found on facebook, myspace and virb.

Griff
xx

Friday, 28 May 2010

Griff Says; Time for a short detour.


I wasn't planning to post today but I absolutely have to share this band with you. Called
Útidúr (pronounced: ooh! - detour) they are a twelve-piece indie-folk pop band from Iceland. They plan to record their first album this Summer. In the meantime the band has decided to give the world an early taste and have posted three demo/promo songs on
bandcamp. All the songs are available as free downloads.
If you like the idea of the sophisticated indie-folk of
The Cardigans mixed together with the orchestral folk eclecticism of
Beirut then I've a feeling you'll like Útidúr very much indeed.

<a href="http://utidur.bandcamp.com/track/mind-your-stay-demo">Mind Your Stay (demo) by Útidúr</a>

<a href="http://utidur.bandcamp.com/track/fishermans-friend-promo-recording">Fisherman's Friend (promo recording) by Útidúr</a>

Griff
xx

Thursday, 27 May 2010

~Kitten Wine~ #8: 'Barnoon Hill'


'Barnoon Hill' by Pacific

Her name was Amy.
I never found out her second name, nor much else about her, yet, like Proust's petit-madeleine dipped in linden tea, just the sound of her name transports me back to time of innocence when EVERY night seemed like some entrancing experience. In truth I only knew her for a few hours but somehow I can visualise almost every second of the time I spent with her.

It was a Saturday in very early 1989. My friends, Douglas and Sharon, were going to a party in Glasgow and asked me to come along. Sharon had just started working for Tennent’s Live (when the Tennent’s brewery used to sponsor live concerts) and she had been invited to a works get-together to break the ice. They picked me up from work and we drove to Sharon's house so I could get showered and changed.
Earlier in the day, at lunchtime, I had gone along to the local record shop with the intention of buying 'The Hairstyle Of The Devil' by Momus which Steve Wright had (bizarrely) been championing on his radio show.


The single was in amongst a pile of Creation 7" singles all of which came in generic sleeves and all of which cost a paltry 99 pence. So, I took the Momus single, a single by The Weather Prophets called 'Hollow Heart', and one I hadn't heard of, 'Barnoon Hill' by a band called Pacific. I had the three singles with me as we headed to Glasgow, not expecting to get them played of course, more as a badge of look-at-me-cool!
The place where the 'party' was to take place was in some ancient monstrosity of late 19th century Glaswegian architecture, which had now been renovated into student flats; big, draughty, full of ghosts and overlooking a section of the Clyde.
The party was hardly a swinging affair; dull, office-worker types sat around talking arse as they listened to Simple Minds, U2, Hipsway and Hue & Cry. Not good!

Then I saw her......

Breton shirt, unkempt black shoulder-length hair and an insouciant air about her. Trouble was she looked a little old....you know, like REALLY old...like maybe (gulp!) THIRTY!! In a moment of unexpected bravery I began speaking to her....her name was Amy, and as soon as I looked into her impenetrably dark eyes, I was lost. She had one of those posh, West-End-Of-Glasgow sing-song accents and every word she uttered hit me like a stolen kiss. It seemed she lived in the flat and had her own room there. We got on really well, like we'd known each other for ages. With the party loosening up she grabbed a bottle of Bacardi Gold and led me to her room. It was like walking into a blast furnace of patchouli and incense. Her window looked directly onto the Clyde and we sat there looking at the people walking by. She had one of those old-fashioned record players with the arm that allowed you to stack 6 or 7 singles on it at a time.
As the alcohol loosened our inhibitions she opened up the large window and showed me the scaffolding that was wrapped around the building. We could actually step out onto the scaffolding as a platform had been created just under her window sill. In a moment predating that awful Rod Stewart record 'The Motown Song', you know, the one about going on the roof and listening to The Miracles echo through the alley down below, we put some records on the player and stepped out onto the ledge. She had chosen three to go along with the three I had brought with me. She chose 'Cattle And Cane' by The Go-Betweens,


'Christine' by Siouxsie And The Banshees and 'A Forest' by The Cure, all of which made the first record of mine to be played, the Momus single, sound very slight indeed, but it's a song I love dearly and looking over the cold Glasgow cityscape as it ran parallel to the Clyde, it sounded glacial. The Weather Prophet's single played itself out in an unimposing fashion, a good track if a little unmemorable.

Amy smoked Gitanes unfiltered cigarettes which stank and looked like joints. She lit one for me and I tried to inhale it, but it was like breathing in a house-brick. I immediately felt giddy; the nicotine rush ripping straight through my head. The stylus clicked onto 'Barnoon Hill', the single by Pacific of which I knew nothing......

A single keyboard note, a run of a squidgy-sounding synthesizer rhythm track and then a girl speaking in Japanese. My head was spinning (not a good thing when you're up some scaffolding), I looked at the neon lights reflected in the mirror surface of the Clyde as they merged with the blanket of stars than glimmered above us.......a strummy 12-string guitar so gossamer light it barely registers and then the real vocals begin. A voice so ‘clipped English’ it made Neil Tennant sound like Arthur Mullard; think of Jagger's unbearable hoary Southern drawl on 'Exile On Main Street' and this was the polar opposite. Lyrical references to dreams, memories and blankets of deep snow followed and I allowed myself to become lost as the cellos took over. The cars below all had windscreens that resembled trays of diamonds....."As the dark side of happiness grows".....I extended my arms, crucifix style, soaking in the moment. Amy smiled at me, a smile so warm and dazzling that something inside me broke, I almost felt like jumping.....angel trumpets on the track now lifting me to a higher state; alcohol, very high tar smoke and the cold night air mixing with the sweetest smile and the perfect soundtrack....a needle-gun etching a memory on my soul....the chorus; "It's all going down now// And such secrets I can't hide// You're treading dirty water// You lose strength down deep inside"....how can a song so poignant and so mournful sound so uplifting? Then a girl's voice cut through the haze....I thought it was Amy and almost slipped in shock..."Talk to me// Talk but don't leave me"...but it was on the record....the chorus returns, sweet trumpets float on the ether and the song comes to an end. I stood there with a film of frost clinging to my jacket, a huge grin and a fire burning somewhere inside me.
We climbed back into the room and swigged some more Bacardi.

The rest of the night played out in subdued conversation and drowsy laughter.
In the morning we both played it cool, not letting on that we had shared a moment. We didn't swap numbers...I reckoned that if she was keen she'd ask Sharon for my number, and if I still felt the same way next weekend, I'd ask Sharon for Amy's number. But fate, and two pretty blonde girls called Gail and Louise, were waiting like snipers to gun me down and take my life in a totally different direction just a few days later.....and Amy became just another memory.

Some 20 odd years later as I listen again to 'Barnoon Hill' I realise I can't ever listen to it without thinking about her and that night on the scaffolding....

More tea, Marcel?



~Gordon~

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Griff says; 'All hands on deck! It's Rum Tum Tiddles'


Yaaar! Listen up ye scurvy dogs, Cap'n Griff has some good news for you. I received a nice e-mail containing some good news from the lovely Madeleine (pictured) of 'Rum Tum Tiddles' this week. If that band name doesn't ring any bells as yet then sit back, relax and prepare to be educated and enthralled. Rum Tum Tiddles are a band made up of Thomas Bevand, Madeleine Mosse and Fred Lambert. They are based in Nantes, France, although Madeleine, their singer, is English. Thomas and Madeleine met in the Balkans where they shared a very cold flat which experienced frequent shortages in electricity. This led to many candle-lit singing sessions, where Tom would play his guitar and Madeleine would sing covers (often of the gloomy folk variety). When they found themselves in France they began to play and sing with other people; leading to a very happy union with mandolin maestro Fred.

Calling themselves 'Rum Tum Tidles', the trio began to forge an amiable, acoustic, indie-folk sound, which can veer refreshingly from silly to poignant in the space of one song without ever compromising the quality of the song-writing. I first came across them a couple of years ago and since then have kept a close eye on them as a band definitely destined for bigger and better things. It appears my intuition was correct, as Madeleine's e-mail reveals:

"I have just posted news on myspace to say that our record will be out in the next few months (probably September.) It is called 'We Could Be Pirates' and will be released by Waterhouse Records in France. There will also be a new website with some free music to download and also to stream - coming very soon. We'll keep people posted about that through our myspace page."

I'm pleased to say that many of the songs from the band's first two albums, self-released on their own 'pirates' label, are already available as free downloads on their last.fm page. If you are still wondering what top-notch, cross-channel, indie-folk, pop jauntiness sounds like, then wonder no more. We here at 'The Streetlamp' have the following videos ready for your enjoyment:

'We Could Be Pirates' from 'Seven Hands'



'Are We Past' from 'Sad and Silly Songs'



and finally, as a little bonus, this claptastic version of 'It's Too Late'.




We hope you enjoyed that and we hope too that you'll support the band by visiting their site, going to see them play live and buying the new album when it comes out.

Griff
xx

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Griff says; 'Step into The Garden'

Aaaaah, now this is the sort of thing I just love; an odd, but charming, little lo-fi folk-pop song by a musican about whom I know absolutely nothing. The song is 'Garden', the artist appears to be a solo musician who goes by the name of 'It's Just A Kitten' and other than that I could find out very little. I stumbled across this on bandcamp and was immediately hooked by the fantastical lyrics, the earnest vocal delivery and the toy-piano solo. Even better, the song is available as a free download. Hurrah!
<a href="http://itsjustakitten.bandcamp.com/track/garden">garden by it's just a kitten</a>

The bandcamp page states that the vocal part and all of the music is performed by Justin Kitten, and there is a myspace page, which gives the extra information that he is based in Lyon in France. If anyone out there can provide any more information on the mysterious Justin then please do share it with us here at 'The Streetlamp'

Griff
xx

Monday, 17 May 2010

Griff says; 'El primer álbum de los Mittens!'


The Spanish indiepop band Mittens release their debut album 'Deer Park Mirage' today. Those of you who followed my earlier Wild Honey recommendation will definitely want to have a listen as Guillermo from Wild Honey is one of the members of Mittens. Guillermo writes songs for Mittens too and the music is a little similar to the Wild Honey sound but with a more solid pop backbone. The inclusion of female vocals and a twangy electric guitar sound combine to provide a pleasing twee and rather 60's pop feel with a hint of country music thrown in for good measure.
The album is available as a free download from bandcamp. If further convincing is required then have a wee listen to my two favourite tracks (below);


<a href="http://mittens.bandcamp.com/track/marblehead">Marblehead by Mittens</a>

<a href="http://mittens.bandcamp.com/track/insane">Insane by Mittens</a>

Griff
xx

Sunday, 16 May 2010

~Kitten Wine~ #7: '60 Minutes In The Anorak City'

'60 Minutes In The Anorak City' - A dissection of a mix-tape.

The mix-tape!
So quickly did they become retro. Mix-Cds, i-pods and Online Playlists all rapidly eradicated the art of the mix-tape, an art so smugly and erroneously eulogised in Nick Hornby's 'High Fidelity'.
I used to love mix-tapes....not necessarily making them for friends or potential girlfriends, but really just for myself. Small, compact, contained snapshots of a time and place. Reminders of a Summer, or of a girl.....or both! Of all the myriad mix-tapes I've scattered across the land there is still one that I have and still cherish dearly, and still play every now and again. I made the tape in the late Summer of 1988 as a way capturing my state of mind following, what I felt at the time, had been the greatest Summer of my life so far.
The cassette was/is a BASF C-60 and I titled the compilation 'One Hour In The Anorak City', an ironic reference to Sarah Records who had just begun around this time. One of the reasons I still love the tape and dread the day I ever lose it is that it contains several songs that I've long since lost the hard copies of, either because I swapped the record, or I only had a loan of the record at the time, or because it was taped off the radio.

So, on a cold and windy night in Central Scotland, let's relive the Golden Summer Of 1988....the train's about to leave from Platform Twee...........

"60 Minutes In The Anorak City"

Side A:

1)The Golden Dawn: 'My Secret World'
The cassette begins with what I must have felt at the time would be a perfect little introductory song. The Golden Dawn were on Sarah Records but were pretty atypical of the overall 'Sarah' sound. Their songs were riddled with feedback and they had more in common with The Velvet Underground or The Jesus And Mary Chain, and like The JAMC, The Golden Dawn were from Glasgow. 'My Secret World' barely last two minutes but it is the perfect opener as it alludes to a world that the listener can lose themselves in, and I like to think that this cassette is a little world in it's own.


2)The Sea Urchins: '
Pristine Christine'
Phew! Where do you begin with 'Pristine Christine'? The Magna Carta of all Twee Pop! 'Pristine Christine' was, of course, Sarah One, Sarah's first ever release and it's a perfect start. A twangy guitar ushers us in, but when the drums, tambourine and vocals kick in it's such a rush it's like being pebble-dashed with barley sugar, like the oxygen has turned into candy floss, like you've wrapped the belt around your arm and mainlined pure cane sugar! It's a perfect pop song and it still makes me giddy listening to it. I've seen it for sale in Record Collector for well in excess of £100, but to me it's priceless and irreplaceable.


3)The Bachelor Pad: 'Jack And Julian'
Another band from Glasgow, another burst of feedback. This is an absolutely brilliant song, "Oh, one's called Jack and one's called Julian// One shares a flat and the other is a hooligan// Late at night, a pillow fight...." The song is an absolute mess, there's so much happening, so much distortion....but it all works beautifully. I only have two singles by them, this and 'Do It For Fun' but I treasure them both dearly. I wish they'd been much bigger.


4)14 Iced Bears : 'Sure To See'
On the sleeve of the cassette I have this listed as 'Come Get Me' and this is because of the weird way the songs are listed on the sleeve of the single. Another Sarah Record(Sarah Five if your spodding!) and a truly wondrous one at that. The guitars seem to hover around the track like a sweet tingly vapour, the drums have an almost louche jazzy feel to them, but it's the bass that propels the song forward; a very languid, melodic bass line that practically takes over the song. The vocals and lyrics have that dreamy wistful feel that would come to embody Sarah's output, and the "Don't you want me anymore" refrain is still very moving to me all these years later. A song that improved my life....no kidding!


5)The Primitives: 'Keep Me In Mind'
Okay, okay....so I've dismissed The Primitives a little in previous Blogs, but I really love this track, especially the John Peel Session version which is the version I have on the cassette. In the Summer of 1988 myself and three friends went on holiday to a caravan in Arbroath and one of them had several recent Peel sessions on a tape of his own including The Wedding Present, Big Black, The Cocteau Twins, James and The Primitives....and it's this track that forever reminds me of us all posing furiously amid the caves of Lunan Bay.


6)Felt: 'Christopher Street'
A bit of a departure this one. Usually Felt would fit in perfectly with the songs here, but this track is from their atypical 'The Pictorial Jackson Review' album and has a bit of a Bob Dylan-'Positively 4th Street' feel to it. A very strident track with lots of swirly Hammond organ runs, it may seem a little out of place, but I'm glad it's on here.



7)The Sea Urchins: 'Sullen Eyes'
One of the B-side tracks from Sarah One, and more than a little similar to David Bowie's 'Sound And Vision'(albeit on a much smaller budget!). A really beautiful, emotion-tweaking song. Bizarrely the only song from Sarah One I didn't include on the tape, 'Everglades', is now my favourite Sea Urchins song. Sarah One may be worth a lot of money to collectors, but it's emotive sentimental value to me is off the scale.


8)Another Sunny Day: 'Anorak City'
It only lasts about 99 seconds and it comes on a 5" clear vinyl flexi-disc that was attached to a fanzine called 'Sarah Four'. It has a two-note guitar solo that breaks my heart every time I hear it, and it ends in a blast of feedback. It's SO good that I named the cassette after it. Anything else you need to know?


9)The Magic Shop: 'It's True'
Another flexi-disc. This came on the legendary Sha-la-la Records label and I probably got it with some now long discarded fanzine. This was the only track they ever released and, as I'm pretty sure the flexi-disc will by now be unplayable, it's inclusion on this cassette is all the more poignant and vital.

10)The Visitors: 'Goldmining'
This was on the other side of The Magic Shop's flexi-disc, and again this was the only track The Visitors ever released at the time. It's quite a bitter little anti-marriage song and I love it. A few years ago Matineé Records released the band's collected home recordings, so strong was interest in them. Again, it's inclusion on here is something I'm very thankful for.

11 Meat Whiplash: 'Don't Slip Up'
And so Side A comes to an end with a track I've already written about extensively enough in a previous Blog.

Side B:

1)The Vaselines: 'Rory Rides Me Raw'
"Galloping through the morning dew// There's only one thing that I wanna do to you// And it's true that we're gonna do it soon", a homoerotic paean to horseriding (yeah right!!) by Kurt Cobain's favourite band. In a paralell world this song would be Number One for weeks and get played at Lady Di's funeral.


2)The Dragsters: 'I'm Not An American'
From Greenock if I remember, although there's scant info on them on the Internet! Over a Marychain-esque buzzsaw attack comes a litany of American cliched naffness which I'm going to let speak for itself as I just love it: "Batman, The Shadow and the Silver Surfer// Another crummy lyric and a dumb pop tune// Only Manny, Moe & Jack are gonna know what I'm after// A ticker tape parade and a place on the moon// Drive-ins, vitamins, cable, Las Vegas// Cutting down a cherry tree and blaming a slave// Cosmetic surgery and medical trousers// There's no room for me in the home of the brave// Hip-hop and pinball and snow by the order// Beer drinking hippos and warm apple pie// Weird bearded gurus and tuxedoed dentists// A round of applause for the presidents who die// Empire State Building and the Grand Canyon// Building a home on Geronimo's face// Spray painting the subway and rapping your ears off// Without any legs I'll be last in the race// Ice cream and pool halls, the mob and the Klan// Bonnie & Clyde on the NBC news// Ding-dongs and folks songs, Star Wars and guns// America the beautiful, the home of the blues// Game shows for hobos, the Star Splattered Banner// French Fries and G.I.s in Budweiser shorts// 24 hours of 24 hours, the American dream in a foreigner's heart...."
I loved it then and I love it now!




3)The Bodines: 'God Bless'
The Bodines track 'Therese' was included on the NME's infamous C-86 compilation and is a pretty good song, but this was their debut single from a year before and came on Creation Records in the customary wraparound paper sleeve....and it's fantastic! "God bless everyone in this whole world but you!" Oh yes!!


4)Slaughter Joe: 'She's So Out Of Touch'
Joe Foster was involved in the whole Whaam! Records/Television Personalities scene of the early 80s and, as such, when Alan McGee started Creation Records he had Joe on board with him. As Slaughter Joe, Foster released the very Mary Chain-alike 'I'll Follow You Down', a very rough and raucous record indeed. That he followed it with this, a quite remarkable track very akin to The Velvet Underground's 'Sunday Morning' or 'Stephanie Says' confounded everyone. A very beautiful piece of music indeed!


5)McCarthy: 'Antiamericancretin'
Ever wonder what would happen if you crossed The Smiths with Crass? Probably not....but the effect would probably resemble the music of McCarthy; strident jangly pop music with extreme left-wing political subject matter as lyrics. This is another anti-American track which suggests that I was in a bit of a Pinko phase at the time. "This is my melancholy// My Country is a colony// Our once proud nation bowed beneath a baseball bat// Beneath an ice cold Cola can// English men, rise again// Throw off the yolk of the shake and the Coke" goes the vitriolic lyric before a flurry of shimmering guitars and then, "Away shallow USA// Britons shall never be slaves// Cleansed of your bases and your trivial TV// We'll be all the things we used to be". Yay Stalinism! The track comes from their 'The Well Of Lonliness' 12" E.P. Definitely a band for rediscovery!

6)Baby Lemonade: 'Real World'
Once again I have the wrong song title written on the sleeve....I've written'Secret Goldfish' but the track is actually 'Real World'. Baby Lemonade only played a handful of gigs, virtually all in Scotland, and they were contemporaries of Jesse Garon & The Desperadoes, releasing this song on Narodnik Records and having it produced by Douglas Hart of the Jesus & Mary Chain. Again this is very reminiscent of The Velvet Underground's 'Sunday Morning' which can only be a good thing.






7)The House Of Love: 'Nothing To Me'
Everyone thought they were going to be huge!
I saw The House Of Love for the first time in the Autumn of 1988 and the buzz behind them was enormous. Seen as the obvious successors to The Smiths, front man Guy Chadwick had his very own Johnny Marr in bonkers guitar genius Terry Bickers. How did they fail? Perhaps releasing three albums all called 'The House Of Love' didn't help, and perhaps scoring a dreadful own-goal by releasing a pretty dull album(their first for major label Fontana) when they had the whole world's attention didn't help. But this was a track on one of their Creation 12" E.Ps and it remains my favourite song by them. They played it at that first gig and it was, for me, the highlight of a fantastic show.



8)The Fizzbombs: 'Sign On The Line'
The Fizzbombs were a kind of Scottish Indie Supergroup, formed from members of Jesse Garon & The Desperadoes, Rote Kapele and The Shop Assistants. This was another release on Narodnik Records. Guitarist Margarita Vasquez-Ponte was also the drummer in Jesse Garon & The Desperadoes and when my band supported them in 1987, I borrowed her hi-hat as mine was completely knackered. A nice claim to fame.


9)The Pastels: 'I Wonder Why'

10)The Revolving Paint Dream: 'In The Afternoon'


11)Razorcuts: 'First Day'

12)Meat Whiplash: 'Here It Comes'
And so we have a run of four songs, all of which I've written about in previous Journals here which I hope shows how important these songs are to me.

13)Reserve: 'The Sun Slid Down Behind The Tower'
You would get the feeling that I put this compilation together in a deliberate manner; beginning with a little introduction and ending with a song about the sun setting at the end of the day, but I don't really remember it being like that at all. Maybe it was all subconcious. Anyway, this is a track from another flexi-disc that while being on Sha-la-la records, featured two bands on Sombrero Records, Reserve and The Siddleys . While I really love this track, I wish I had put The Siddeleys track on it too so that they would have been scorched into my psyche like the rest of the bands here. Unfortunately I never heard anything by The Siddeleys again till many years later and thought they were fantastic....all those years I could have been listening to them. Oh well.

And that's it....a 60 minute snapshot of my life in the late Summer of 1988. I love all of these bands and I love this cassette, and I dread the day something happens to it and I can no longer play it.

Till then.....once more with feeling!

~Gordon~

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Griff says; 'That's Entertainment!'

Hello all. Well, as promised in my last post, I'd like to talk a little bit more about aaahh-records wunderkind 'entertainmentforthebraindead'. This is the musical psuedonym of Julia Kotowski (pictured) currently a student at Cologne's Academy of Media Arts but, to those of us in the know, also a self-taught, lo-fi musician of breathtaking originality.

I first came across 'entertainmentforthebraindead' on myspace in 2007. At that time Julia had a collection of amazing, sparse, lullably-like yet melancholy songs which she'd recorded at home on a laptop with a USB microphone attached. Julia used guitar, ukulele, recorder and glockenspiel on her early work, all to great effect. The best feature of all though was the amazing, unconventional percussion. On these early songs Julia can be heard clapping, crumpling paper, opening and closing scissors and tapping on any household implement which comes to hand all to surprising yet artful creative effect. To my great joy, Julia released this collection of early songs as an album, called 'Hypersomnia', in Spring 2008.


Rather pleasingly, and a little smugly too perhaps, I can reveal that I am the proud possessor of a hand-made physical edition of this album complete with Julia's lovingly crafted lino-print cover. But you'll also be pleased to know that the album is still available as a free download which you can get from 'here'.
Such talent couldn't go unnoticed for long and the lovely people at aaahh-records soon picked up on Julia's work. Her next collection of songs was written, recorded and mixed and ready for public exposure in August 2008. Released as 'aaahh002', her second album was named 'Hydrophobia'

and is self-decribed as " 10 songs that mostly circle around the idea of drowning." It can be freely downloaded from the aaahh-records homepage. It has a similar gentle folk-pop sound to 'Hypersomnia' but better production values. Julia also introduces a xaphoon into the mix and, of course, the charming percussion is still evident; at one point a pepper-mill is even employed.

Julia's seemingly boundless creativity has also provided us with 'Seven (+1)' (also on aaahh-records) and 'Raw Timber'. Both were released in 2009. Today though I'd really like to talk about her latest work 'Roadkill'.


This is aaahh-records newest release and shows Julia at her creative, unconventional and frankly contrary best. You see, on this album, Julia accompanies herself almost exclusively with that most unloved of instruments....the banjo. Now, the world of lo-fi indie-folk is awash with ukulele, glockenspiel and melodica players, but banjo players are rather more thin on the ground. However, don't let that put you off, I'll let Julia explain herself:

"Sometimes a tiny, coincidental discovery can open completely new horizons. Like when you're on a crowded party and that one person you decide to talk to turns out to be the love of your life. Or when you're in a room full of instruments and for once you decide to not to pick the lute, not the weird, fascinating cello-like instrument on the wall... but the banjo.
The Roadkill EP was born from one of these discoveries. There are lots of instruments that I'd always really wished to own or be able to play, a piano, a cello, a harp, a clarinet... but I would never had expected that one day I could fall in love with a banjo.
Yet since this is exactly what happened, I decided to start exploring this instrument's versatility by recording a couple of songs equipped with nothing else but a banjo. (Well... I admit, there's a tambourine in one song..)
Over the last four months I collected those songs. They occasionally sprouted, sometimes several a day, sometimes none for weeks, and then grew and ripened. I harvested them at home, though a bit more carefully than usual. They tell little tales of friendship and failure, of discovering the world and of hiding at home, and the banjo helped tracing their contours and gave them a shape.
It brought me through a very cold winter. Now maybe it can brighten yours a bit, too?"



For those of you who still need convincing 'Streetlamp' have rather kindly provided two videos (below) of songs from 'Roadkill' for your listening pleasure. Enjoy!






Now get downloading!

Griff
xx


Friday, 14 May 2010

Griff says; 'Open your ears wide and say Aaahh!'


Today I'd like to talk about another of my favourite netlabels, namely aaahh-records. Purveyors of 'free and charming music', aaahh-records are champions of Creative Commons Licensed music. In their own words:

"We would like to introduce a quote from Richard Stallman who once said: “[…] To understand the concept, you should think of “free” as in “free speech”, not as in “free beer”". Although he was talking about free software, we would like to apply this attitude towards “free music”. So, all the songs realeased by our label are not only free in price. They carry the freedom to share, to remix and, of course, to listen to wherever, whenever and however you like.
Like many other netlabels, we would like to give you an interesting answer to the ongoing changes in the so-called music industry. But hold it .. in case you think we dislike good ol’ cd and vinyl, you should know that we will offer you real records, too - records you can touch, lick or nail to your wall. The difference is that the balance between free music and expensive records will be turned upside down. So again, “free”, in this sense, implies music the artist wants to share with the world, because he/she doesn’t like to see his/her music as an inflexible or colourless product."

If you've been paying attention at all to this blog you'll recognise that the above philosophy is music to my ears. However, a philosophy itself doesn't make a great netlabel. To win that description the label must also give us wonderful music. In this respect aaahh-records does not disappoint. Those of you who share my love of indie-folk pop will be delighted to make the acquaintance of acts such as 'The Wind Whistles'




and Emilie Lund

Sad blue mountain, by Emilie Lund from ictioscopio on Vimeo.



aaahh-records are also responsible for the release of work by one of my favourite artists of recent years; the incomparable Julia Kotowski who goes by the rather unwieldy moniker of 'entertainmentforthebraindead' but makes music of unsurpassed originality. Readers of 'Streetlamp' can expect a feature on Julia to follow very soon. In the meantime, as a present to you from aaahh-records in honour of their second birthday they have decided to compile some of their favourite remixes as a free download album. This can be downloaded from their homepage and, as if that's not good enough, there's more! They are giving away 10 unique handmade physical copies for free and will even ship them to you. If you would like a chance to win this wonderful remix compilation as a CD, you can send them an email, their address is: info@aaahh-records.net. They will pick 10 of you by a magic wonder randomizing algorithm and contact the winners via email. What are you waiting for?

Griff
xx

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

~Kitten Wine~ #6: Creation Records

Celebrating The Best Indiepop #6: 'Creation Records; Three Early Singles'

Remember when Creation Records ruled the school? I mean, like, REALLY
ruled the school!!! Long before they got bogged down with all the beige sludge that is 'the O word'. I could write page upon page about how much I hate 'the O word' but this Blog is here to celebrate music, not to pick at the scabs of those who stifle music with their bland ordinariness.
So, yeah, let's look back at when Creation were pretty much the cat's nadgers and look at three singles in particular which sum up that exciting and revolutionary time.

It all began, for us, with The Jesus & Mary Chain....we had just left school, in fact if I recall, some of us were still at school, when my friend Gary turned up at my house one day clutching some records. "You have got to hear this" he gushed, handing me the plastic bag in which The JAMC's 'Upside Down' resided. "Why is it in a wraparound paper sleeve and shoved into a polly bag" I asked. "It just is. It's just a wee Indie label they're on" he answered.

Photobucket

I put the record on the Dansette and waited....next thing, I felt like had been thrown across the room. 'Upside Down' propelled itself from the speakers in an explosion of honey and razorblades.....the pounding echo heavy drums, the feedback, the impassioned vocals, the killer riff....I wish I could say that I immediately proclaimed it to be a heady mix of The Velvet Underground and The Beach Boys, but back then I had yet to hear The Velvet Underground, and The Beach Boys were merely some 60s pop band my parents played when the sun shone, so I wasn't that sussed yet.
'Upside Down' rattled around in my skull for months....it was like the greatest record we had ever heard. The b-side was called 'Vegetable Man' and was equally good. We wondered who Syd Barrett was who had written it. When we found out he had been the original lead singer of Pink Floyd we were crestfallen...why were they recording something by those hoary old dinosaurs? Again, our naivety regarding music back then is almost embarrassingly quaint.


The Mary Chain became a galvanizing force amongst my friends, even more so than The Smiths whose archness alienated some. We read every interview like it was a manifesto for our lives, every new release was welcomed with street parties. 'Never Understand' was an immaculate follow up, and with 'You Trip Me Up' it almost became like they were taking the piss. With every utterance we danced in the streets; when they claimed their ambition was to be Number One in the UK and US simultaneously with a song called 'Jesus Fuck' we truly believed every word the Reid brothers spoke.
Then they released their debut album: 'Psychocandy'.
Everyone I know owns 'Psychocandy', it's the record that glues all the people I knew, post-school, together. It's release was timely....immediately after the horror that was the Live Aid concert. 'Psychocandy' took a flamethrower to the faces of those smug bastards who'd spewed their bleeding liberal hearts all over their Armani sleeves....all those old whores that Punk had wiped out were being given a second chance....how did this happen? 'Psychocandy' was something that was genuinely thrilling, genuinely sexy, genuinely dangerous in a time when Punk was, for the first time, being forgotten.
We had to wait a whole year for the next release, the wonderful 'Some Candy Talking' EP, but it was well worth it. Then came 'April Skies'....and sadly that's where the love affair ends. At the time I thought 'April Skies' was fantastic, but annoyingly The Mary Chain never seemed to progress beyond this point. The subsequent album 'Darklands' saw them adopt some kind of dark(Goth?) Rock which they would never seem to shake off. Each following release just sounded like an empty retread of the previous and all the magic, all the danger just seemed to vanish. I still went to see them every time they played Glasgow and they were always pretty wild live, but it just wasn't the same.

Back around the time between 'Upside Down' and 'Psychocandy' came another important Creation release; 'Don't Slip Up' by Meat Whiplash. Even though 'Upside Down' is a clattering, raucous punch-in-the-throat, it's still James Taylor compared to 'Don't Slip Up'.

Photobucket

Cut from the same cloth as The JAMC's debut, 'Don't Slip Up' is a thrilling, ragged, messy, dangerous SKKKKRRRREEEEEEEE of uproarious cacophony. It sounds like a record made by genuinely psychotic nutjobs who shouldn't be let within a hundred miles of a recording studio. The vocals; "No you mustn't slip up....AH HAAH HAAH!!" sound more like a threat than a chorus. And the B-side, 'Here It Comes' sounds even worse/better!! Equally jarring and genuinely scary, with a rogue drumbeat that knocks the song of it's axis every time it slips through the mix. I played it to death and even included both sides on my favourite ever mix-tape(which will from the basis of a future Blog) which I still cherish.
Photobucket
It was all housed in yet another wraparound sleeve 'designed'(in the loosest sense of the word) by then Mary Chain drummer Bobby Gillespie, and they never released another record, although I seem to recall a live cassette did the rounds for a while.
Almost preposterously the musicians from Meat Whiplash resurfaced as The Motorcycle Boy whose incredibly tight sound betrayed their MW past. The Motorcycle Boy released a fantastic single called 'Big Rock Candy Mountain' which the band I was in in the late 80s used to use as an intro song.

Photobucket



And speaking of Bobby Gillespie, we come to Creation's third Very Important Single. Now....you have to remember that around this time i.e. early 1985, POP was a dirty word. I had loved POP at school; Adam And The Ants, Japan(stop laughing!!), Blancmange and of course the BIGPOP of Dexys, Madness etc. But now, none of us would ever admit liking ::shudder:: Pop Music. Little did we realise that New Order, Julian Cope, The Specials, The Smiths, Echo & The Bunnymen and the whole 'Pillows & Prayers' roster were making some of the greatest Pop Music on Earth.
So when Bobby Gillespie's new outfit Primal Scream released their debut 7" on Creation; 'All Fall Down"/ "It Happens", we almost felt embarrassed to be listening to it, so joyous, sparkling and deliriously effervescent was it's pure sugar-rush. We couldn't compare it to The Byrds or The Loving Spoonful as again we hadn't discovered the pleasure of those bands yet. But we loved the way it went zzziiiiiiiiiiiinnnnnggggg, the way it went kkittttcccchhhaaaannggggg, and the way it swayed like a drunk at a wedding. One of my happiest memories of this single is my ~Sighrens~ cohort Griff serenading the entire upper floor of a doubledecker bus with 'It Happens' as we made our way to the local under-age drinking hostelry one Friday night back in the rain-drenched Summer of 1985. As the 'sha-la-la-la-la-la-lahs' swirled around the bus, I was convulsed with laughter as everyone else tried to avoid making eye-contact with 'the loony'.

Photobucket



Of course Primal Scream practically invented Indiepop and the whole C86 scene with such delights as 'Velocity Girl', 'Gentle Tuesday' and 'Crystal Crescent', and their psychedelic phase, 'Imperial', 'Sonic Flower Groove' etc really needs to be rediscovered properly.
In some people's eyes Bobby Gillespie is a bit of a bandwagon-jumping Indie chancer but he always seems to have been just one step ahead of his critics, and I guess he still is.



All of these singles are so life-affirmingly important to me that this Blog entry was so nearly called ' East Kilbride - So Much To Answer For' but that would just have been silly. So here's to a more innocent time when the only heady rushes that came in paper wraps inside polythene bags were the fantastic 7" Singles of Creation Records.

All Hail!!

~Gordon~

Sunday, 9 May 2010

~This Elegant Chaos~#1: Las Robertas

The Best In New Indiepop Music: #1 Las Robertas



Imagine The Pudding Pops soundtracking 'Beach Blanket Bingo'.....or The Faded Blue fronted by Ronnie Spector....or a Shangri Las/Fizzbombs jamfest overseen by Poison Ivy Rorshcach.....


Then you might get some kind of idea of Las Robertas, and why we here at 'The Streetlamp....' absolutely adore them. If Los Bros Hernandez had created an all-girl band they would probably sound a little(or a lot) like Las Robertas.
Las Robertas hail from San José, Costa Rica and they have been going for just around a year. The band consists of
Lola Miche, Mercedes Oller, Monserrat Vargas and Ana M. Valenciano; Monserrat and Mercedes had been friends through Myspace for a long time before, but it wasn't until they met up with Lola that the band began to take shape. Ana arrived a few months later and the line-up was complete.



The band's main inspirations are Punk and the C86 movement of the mid-80s, but what made them want to form a band was a desire to create a Punk/Soul hybrid with a soupcon of 60s Surf Movie thrown into the mix.

&ampamp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;a href="http://lasrobertas.bandcamp.com/track/damn-92"&ampamp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;Damn' 92 by Las Robertas&ampamp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/a&ampamp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;


Reference points on the band's music include The Beat Happening, The Raveonettes, Pussy Galore, The Cuties, All Girl Summer Fun Band as well as contemporaries Vivian Girls, Myelin Sheaths, Dum Dum Girls etc.

&ampamp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;a href="http://lasrobertas.bandcamp.com/track/in-between-buses-2"&ampamp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;In Between Buses by Las Robertas&ampamp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/a&ampamp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;



The girls have just released their first album 'Cry Out Loud' and the absolutely WONDERFUL news is that it's a available FREE to download from Bandcamp.
We urge you to do so now!!


Aaaaahh....Las Robertas.....consider us truly smitten!!




~Gordon~

Griff would like to add that he too is truly smitten. At last, no arguments as to what goes on 'The Streetlamp' HQ dansette this week!


More info on Las Robertas can be found at
Myspace and Last.fm

And be sure to check out their own Blogsite

Griff says; 'Here Comes the Summer!'


I received some happy news from 'The Woodlands' today which I though I'd share with you:

"To celebrate the eminent burst of summer onto the scene (for those of you in the northern hemisphere anyway), we are giving away a free download of 'Summerland' from our self-titled debut album to any and all."



Those of you as yet unfamiliar with 'The Woodlands' should know that they are Hannah & Samuel (pictured), a husband and wife indie folk-pop duo from Portland, Oregon, US. 'Summerland' is typical of their beautifully crafted, melodic songs and features the sort of intimate, breathy vocals and chaming glockenspiel accompaniment much loved by and lauded by me on this site so far.



If you enjoyed that, 'click here' for the link to the free download.

Griff
xx