Friday, 9 August 2013

Not much news is good news.

I've not got too much to write today, but I have just discovered that The Just Joans have announced a new ep, which is very exciting news for a slow Friday. A few details available here:-

I'm just using it as an excuse to post this song.

Will be back with some proper updates next week.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Colour Me Wednesday - I thought it was morning

Colour Me Wednesday are a four piece band who reside, and this is taken from their website, "mostly in uxbridge". Actually you can just look at their website if you want to know more about them. The important thing, for me at least is that they've just released a record through Discount Horse called "I thought it was morning"

To keep it short, it's an excellent little record, short, sharp and pretty damn angry; probably at you if you're the wrong sort of person. It's an album that lives in the now, it's concerned with the world and it's concerned about how we live in it; a song like Purge Your Inner Tory should make that very clear to you. If it doesn't you probably shouldn't be listening.

Musically, it's pretty punky and exciting, a rush of guitars married to sweet vocals, but there's enough happening here to keep one interested for the duration of the record, it's not the same one song over again, which happens to lesser bands. So there's the ska (but good ska, don't be put off) of Carefree, the rather menacing bass heavy sound of Lost On The High Street or the delicious kiss off of Bitter Boys which to these ears at least sounds reminiscent of Lush - always a good thing.

I could write reams of rubbish about what each individual song sounds like or whatever but the important thing here is that it sounds so VITAL, and that right at this minute, we need more bands like this. We need more female bands, we need more bands concerned with what's going on in the world, who'll write lyrics that mean something and make terrific records at the same time.

Colour Me Wednesday deserve your ears. You can listen to the record on their bandcamp
and as you'll see when you're there you can buy the record in a variety of packages. I really think you should.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Back In The Room

If repetition is the key to comedy then Beerandbands must be hilarious, because it seems like every other post is the one where I apologise about not posting for ages, and that I'll rectify this by posting more often. This is another one of those (sorry).

I do feel more invigorated and ready to write though; until the last week I'd not really been to many gigs, listened to much new music or immersed myself in anything worthy of bloggery really, but last week I went to see a few bands at The Maze in Nottingham (Cars Can Be Blue, Spook School, Big Wave, Tunabunny) of whom all were excellent, and then over the last weekend I made a return to Indietracks after skipping the last year. So yes, this is a blog about that festival (yeah I know I've done loads about Indietracks in the past too. What did I say about repetition? (keep up at the back).

We get there early on Friday and managed to go and have a swift one and a half at The Talbot tap in Ripley. It's a lovely pub, dead close to the festival site and worthy of a trip. Whilst on the little train that runs between Swanwick and Butterley we talked to a family (mum, dad and daughter) who were visiting for the first time. Whilst extolling the joys of the festival, we also mentioned how we had to go back every morning and feed our rabbit, prompting the daughter to tell us about a bunny rabbit toy she had and for them all to tell us how excited they were about getting to see The Pastels. It was nice to talk to completely new people at Indietracks albeit briefly and find them just as pleasant as everyone else who goes. Coming back we catch the latter half of The Tuts sets, who I'm not sure about but judging by the number of Tuts t-shirts on show for the rest of the festival everyone else loved them. Bis headline on Friday, and are what everyone wanted I think, close your eyes for a few seconds during Kandy Pop, and it's like it's that first TOTP performance all over again and that the last 18 (18? Jesus!) years haven't happened. Friday closes with sweaty after hours dancing in the disco tent to the djing skills of Show yr In Love who plays an excellent set which I dimly remember but definitely contained both Idlewild and Little Pink Stars by Radish.

Saturday dawns bright and harsh on hungover heads and tired feet, but a refreshing drive back to feed the rabbit and then a return to take the, always longer then I think, walk to the festival site is enough to wake me all over again. First up are The Art Club who I've not heard before. I don't know any of the songs but they make a very good impression on me. In some places they sound like The Sound, maybe a bit of Orange Juice/Postal Records stuff. A definite post punk element to them. They even do a quick little cover of 'Going Down' by the mighty Springsteen which was always going to curry favour in these parts.

There's time for a wander around and a catch up with people during which I feel like everyone seems a bit subdued which is odd for indietracks. I think I still remember it as knowing everyone there and everybody all sat together in one big group, and it's not quite like that, it can't be as so many extra people have taken the festival into their hearts over the years that it's not possible and it's a good thing too of course. I catch a bit of Pale Spectres who sound pretty great, and then dare to take a seat in the super hot tin church for Woog Riots. They're great, electro and silly and fun. They have quite a few interesting noise making machines (technical term) and almost spoken boy/girl vocals, songs about GG Allin and lo fi and the future. I want to say that they sound like Kraftwerk, but as they are (at least part) German that sounds lazy, but they do. Well like a kids reimaging of anyway. They end their set by turning off the euro beats and just playing with a saw and ukulele and the church goes utterly silent, and it's wonderful.

We sit down to watch The Secret History who I've been looking forward to, but for the most part they don't quite connect with me, but some of the songs, Johnny Anorak in particular, sound rocking and brilliant. It's while sitting down that the family mentioned above catch up with us again. The daughter eager to show us her toy bunny and the bag and pom pom pet she has made, whilst her mum extols how brilliant indietracks is and how much fun she's had including doing the cheerleading workshops. I think I take Indietracks for granted sometimes. Through gigs, and forums and doing this kind of thing for years, I know a lot of people who go and I know what to expect, and I know that all the people I see every year are going to have the best time. So it's lovely to be reminded that the festival provides for everyone, not just those involved in the indiepop 'scene', but those who have never heard the bands and don't really know anyone. The smiles on the faces of that family and hearing about how much fun they were having was a wonderful moment. You'll see on the internet how often everyone goes on about how welcoming Indietracks is, and how friendly and fun for everybody. Having that reaffirmed was an excellent and suprisingly moving thing. If you've never been and fear being the outsider, let this assuage your fears. This is a music festival for all.

After that I catch The Wave Pictures, who are on unbelievably good form. Long Island sounds excellent as always, the more recent stuff sounds as good as I've heard it, and Dave grinds out some phenomenal solos. Which make me smile because I remember the last time they played at the festival and loads of people really not liking it because of the soloing, and this time I reckon there was exponentially more of them then the first time. But they all fit, and it's not just noodling for noodlings sake, unlike some other bands I could mention (Herman Dune I'm looking in your direction)

Alas soon after the heavens split apart and all the rain that ever was spills out onto the festival. Retreating to the comfort of a nearby train I listen to the Brilliant Corners who sound absolutely ace, doing a full on greatest hits set. Soon after I run into Astrid Northern Spies, who has never really heard any Brilliant Corners, and has loved it. I'm never sure about the wisdom of reformed bands, but if they can continue to inspire and attract a new generation of fans then all power to them.

Sadly I miss Camera Obscura because they've been moved from the outdoor stage to the indoor due to rain, and it's so busy in there that the claustrophobia in me just can't take it, so we take the walk back to the campsite (which unsuprisingly seems like it takes forever this time). On the way I see Niall from Spook School, holding an umbrella and wearing shorts in a pounding storm; he's stewarding. I ask him if he's ok. "I'm doing my bit" he replies with a smile. Another little example of how much people love and will do for the festival. By the time I get back it's too soaking wet to dare to go back outside, so I listen to the campsite disco inside the tent, it's Lipstick On Your Collar doing the djing, and it sounds like it must have been amazing. The closing rendition of 'Total Eclipse Of The Heart' at 3am will stay with me for a good while yet.

Sunday is suprisingly warm and fairly dry by the time we get back on site, the day's threat of thunderstorms and rain never really manifests itself. We catch a bit of Bloomer who sound pretty rocking from where I'm standing and then head to the front to catch Seabirds.

I'd not seen Seabirds yet, though I saw Red Shoe Diaries a fair few times, and think I know what to expect, but they catch me by suprise. A much more robust sound than the RSD, new additions Ian Horowitz and Dan bringing added power. The songs are all suprisingly fully formed for such a new band, but it's the last song which may or may not be called 'Independent Horses' which really stands out. It's a future single and deserves to be massive. Really promising for the future all round really.

The next band I see/hear properly are Good Grief who are outstanding, playing totally catchy, punky songs. They really, really, impress me and I really want to see them again already. My friend Andrew and I actually end up singing along to some of the songs despite never having heard them before. They are that immediate.

We somehow manage to miss both Flowers and Alpaca Sports despite hearing great things about both, but are down the front for Lardpony. The last time I saw them at Indietracks it was in the church and Tom looked like he might just melt away in the heat, they were great then, and they are as great now. It's wonderful to have them back, and the new songs sound just as good as the old ones - Teen Wolf, Noxious Gas and Who Loves The Sol are all wheeled out for a delighted crowd.

After that it's Frozy in the church. I'm falling asleep a little at this point from the heat, but I appreciate the loveliness and the soft vocals, to me they sound a little like Yo La Tengo in places, my girlfriend says they are very anti-folk which I suspect they probably are. They have a very appreciate crowd, and the Middle Ones come and sing with them on one song which is a lovely little suprise.

Back to the indoor shed and The Ballet. I've waited to see the Ballet and I'm not disappointed. They are magnificent. Beautiful music, there's always the touch of The Magnetic Fields about the band and they definitely sound like them in places, but they've developed a lot over the years I think, and the material from their recent(and excellent) album pulls big cheers from the crowd. New single 'Turn You' is a particular highlight.

After that it's time for a sit down, before Helen Love. Who, well, sound exactly like Helen Love. They play all the hits and don't disappoint a rapturous crowd. Again I can't take the crowded indoor shed for too long (why on earth weren't they outside?) so I miss the finale. Stage invasion and glitter cannons ahoy!

The end of the festival is dawning but before it does there's the small matter of an indiepop singalong. A whole bunch of smiling faces, provided with toy instruments and ably encouraged/goaded by Markie and Toniee into belting out such classics as I'm From Barcelona and The Just Joans' 'What do We do Now'. They manage to rope in some special guests to, a nice turn from The Wendy Darlings is a highlight, and then it's all over and all that remains if for everyone to belt out 'If You Don't Pull' in their best/worst scottish accents. It's a tremendously fitting end. Whenever I think of indietracks past it's always the communal memories that stay with me; people bellowing out Belle and Sebastian songs outside the train shed the first year; everyone singing along to Love Is In The Air at La Casa Azul; The platform singalongs in 2008. This was definitely one of those. A reminder of the feeling of community that indiepop and this fesitval inspires. It's what it's all about. More of this sort of thing.

So another one comes to an end, and the exuberant feeling slowly fades into melancholia and the long wait til the next one, but the memories remain, and on top of all the great music if I take anything away with me this year, it's konwing that community spirit, big hearts, open arms, egalitarianism and the simple joy of being kind to your fellow man and woman all still exist in this country - Take that Cameron.

Well done to everyone who organises it every year; your efforts don't go unnoticed. Here's to many more.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Video Tuesday

There's times, like a dismally grey day in February; or the comedown after a weeks festival, or just the impenatrable fog of ennui derived from another working day, when you don't feel like doing anything. Just cannot be bothered. It's moments like those when I find music is at it's best, I think everyone has experienced the mood changing power of music, and at this moment in time there's nothing I want more than a little pop pick me up. Luckily for me then that there's three great pop songs (and videos) knocking about at the moment. Not a lot more to be said then just let these little nuggets of brilliance brighten your day.

Allo Darlin' - Capricornia

Eux Autres - Home Tonight

MJ Hibbett - A Little Bit

Also there's a little bit (ahem) on the making of the video on Hibbett's website which you should read.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Start All Over

Like a bedraggled phoenix struggling from the flames; like a snowdrop waiting to be crushed by a jackboot, Beerandbands rises again ready to hobble into action. To misquote a dour Mancunian "7 months is a long time", and that is truly the case; new bands and music rise and fall, ebb and flow, and vanish before anyone even noticed, and whilst I may have missed out on reporting on stuff over the last however long, it's pleasing to note that there's still a lot going on.

In fact it's a flurry of activity out there at the minute; exciting enough to move me to (relative) action.

Firstly, London Popfest. It was on last night and it's on over the weekend; allday on Saturday and from 1:00pm on Sunday. I believe Saturday is sold out but there's tickets for Friday and Sunday, both of which boast fantastic line-ups. If sadly you can't make it (much like me) then there's at least the brilliant consolation of a free download compilation of this years line-up. Which is more than worth the 5 - 10 minutes of your time it will take to download it.

Details of popfest - tickets, times, etc can be found on their website.
If London Popfest isn't enough to get you excited then surely the prospect of Indietracks must do. For some waiting for the first announcements of indietracks is a traditional. Bands waiting to be see if they can play, fans with fingerscrossed that their favourite will get a chance. The fact that a band who played the previous year won't usually play the next year, adds a nice spice to the mix. So yes, anyway, Indietracks have already announced there first few acts, and it looks as promising as ever. Go on HAVE A LOOK. It's a nice mix of the big hitter (Allo Darlin', Tender Trap), the new flavours (Colour Me Wednesday, Evans The Death, GoldBears) and the mysterious (Doggy.) I must admit I'm mostly excited about Language Of Flowers, I saw them once supporting Camera Obscura in, oh 2006 I think, and they were wonderful. I had no idea they were going to reform to do this. There are early bird tickets on the indietracks website I linked up there; and it's worth noting that the festival takes place earlier this year, just in case you're on auto pilot and have booked the wrong days off work! Finally the last couple of pages of the indietracks announcements page on has some videos of the announced bands so far.

One last indiepop festival to mention before I go, and it's a new one. On the 24th Of March there's going to be an indiepop alldayer in Leicester. I like the fact that there are more and more of these 'popfests' popping up all over the country it can only be a very, very good thing. This one has the always entertaining M.J Hibbett and Tender Trap for starters, but the line up is very good indeed.
There's a facebook events page for this one.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Promise fulfilled

There's something about the band Pocketbooks that always makes me think of summer, it's probably the bright sound that lingers in the music, a lyrical hint of it here and there or maybe there's an association there with Indietracks, it could be a whole host of other things too.

What I do know is that it makes me very happy that Pocketbooks have a new free to download single called 'Promises, Promises', a single which is definitely in keeping with the summer ideal.

It's properly excellent. Building on the sound they had on their album Flight Paths, it sounds more mature. Not in a serious boring sense, but in a way that sees them building on the potential they've always had and creating something even better with it. Typically bittersweet lyrically, there's lovely melodies on it, some great violin and best of all a fab tune. It's great to have something new from them, and it's even better that it's as good as this is. The artwork is ace too. If this is anything to go by the new album is going to be something quite, quite special.

You can download the track for FREE (and you'd be daft not to) -

While your at it you can early order the album from the always excellent Odd Box records right now too. Go on!

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Apple Eyes

Blimey it's been awhile again, hasn't it? I've been (in between bouts of doing nothing) playing gigs with the band I'm in and job hunting, oh and looking forward to the festival at the end of this month of course, speaking of which...

Me and my girlfriend were going through the list of bands playing Indietracks the other day to try and find out which ones we'd not heard before that we'd like to watch; she's not a massive indiepop fan so it's a little difficult. That said we were both interested in the description of Apples Eyes, and had a quick listen to some of their stuff and enjoyed it. Highly fortuitous then that a few days ago, said band got in touch with me to see if I wanted to tell you readers about them; and do you know what? I do.

The band began as the brainchild of Claire Hadidjenar and producer Matthew Walker, who together started putting together a whole bunch of instruments with a dash of electronics before topping it off with some vocal harmonies. They soon had interest from various places including BBC6 music's Tom Robinson (great taste that man has). It's not suprising he paid attention, they share music tastes as diverse as Phoenix, Flaming Lips, Cornelius, Bat for Lashes, Deerhoof and Elliott Smith.

The 2 have now gathered together a live band and are setting out on a tour in support of debut single 'Wild Beasts', which just happens to be released digitally this week, on the 14th to be precise. It's an excellent piece of music too. At it's most basic it's a bang on pop song, with a ace chorus. But there's much more to it then that, musically inventive, it doesn't keep still. It's bubbling with ideas, but they all combine to make a song that is as good as the sum of it's parts and then some? It's it electronic, yes but then it's folky too, and then there's that chorus. Whatever it's ace. You can have a listen to if you like :-

Wild Beasts by Apple Eyes

The other side of the release 'Lost Between The Lines' is just as good, which is a highly impressive feat.

As I say the single is out on the 14th as a download only release, so you'll be able to get that via Itunes and such outlets. You can check out stuff on Myspace too. They'll also be playing some gigs too:-

14th July with Pocketbooks and Wolventrix at The Wilmington Arms, London
16th July with Allo, Darlin' amongst others at The Haymakers in Cambridge.
31st July - INDIETRACKS - Indoor stage 13:45. See you there!

They'll also playing with some bands at Indietracks too in various capacities, but you'll have to find those out for yourself...