Saturday, December 13, 2008

Podcast #8: Christmas pop sparkle

Today's crazy wind and ruthless rain couldn't take the sparkle away. I haven't decorated or anything but my fairy lights are twinkling all around me and I'm smiling. This podcast is not just about the joy of it all, but don't we all love a good weepy Christmas song? And snow songs are the best.

Download it here (30 MB)

Tracklisting (32' 43")

Tomorrow's World - I don't intend to spend Christmas without you
Pocketbooks - Christmas in your sights
My First Keyboard - Christmas is only good if you're a girl (boy)
Action Biker - Frosty snow winter
Dennis Driscoll - It's snowing
The Middle Ones - Christmas (baby, please come home)
Nixon - Anorak Christmas
The Long Blondes - Christmas is cancelled
Eux Autres - Another Christmas at home
Brighter - Christmas
The Tidy Ups - Snow song
The Aislers Set - Christmas song


Thursday, December 04, 2008

Shine like stars

London can be frustrating: for one, it's nowhere near Oliver; then it's enormous and I can't even sneak out of work in town to go see the Pains of Being Pure at Heart play an in-store show in Shoreditch; and finally, it's got pubs where you can't get pissed for less than £200. But on Tuesday night, after a depressing day at work, I was walking down Brixton Hill in the freezing cold, hands in pockets, and as I turned right to get to the Windmill, it occurred to me that for most people this was just another Tuesday night and for me it was the Tuesday night I was going to see Vivian Girls, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart (unexpectedly!) and Betty and the Werewolves, just 20 minutes away from my flat, safe from the hipsters, surrounded by friends, practically submerged in reasonably-priced vodka. It was amazing, my head's still buzzing, even now. Two hours' worth of pop moments felt and understood so deeply, smiled so widely, danced so hard - all this means that I need to love London forever.

Here's another lovely song for Olliepops, a little story about the bright things he's bound to see in his life:

Airport Girl, 'Shine Like Stars'

Saturday, November 29, 2008


My best friend and his girlfriend had their gorgeous baby boy today and I'm speechless with joy and amazement. The world is just about the loveliest it's ever been and I don't know what to do with myself!

Here's a brilliant song to celebrate the birth of sparklybaby! Have a drink for him as well - I just had loads :)

Aerospace, 'Pink Boy, Blue Girl'

Thursday, November 20, 2008

"Sometimes I can't tell providence from the timetable of my train"

Stood in a corner in a tea shop in Nottingham on Sunday, I thought I was dreaming when I heard this.

Everything will be OK. It may not feel like it today but we are winning our small battles with sadness every time we listen to a popsong, even a sad one.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Podcast #7: Spine-tingling

You don't want to be anywhere near me when I'm listening to these songs. Or, I dunno, maybe you do.

Download it here (25 MB)

Tracklisting (31' 22")

The Orchids - I was just dreaming
Tiny Microphone - You disappear
Slumber Party - Never again
Tompot Blenny - Thinking of ways of keeping you warm
Secret Shine - Deep thinker
The Pains of Being Pure at Heart - Come Saturday
Pipas - Barbapapa
The Bird and the Bee - Again and again
The Wake - All I asked you to do
This Mortal Coil - Late night

Heh, now I remember Kip introducing 'Come Saturday' at their Nottingham show last year as "a song about coming". Mmmm... See you later.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

All the good times we ever had

Suddenly there is this, the cutely-named Indiepopedia, a project started by Roque off that dreamy Cloudberry place. It looks lovely and I can’t wait to see it become big and exciting, a great companion to the Tweenet database (which was my Internet when I first logged in, in 1997. I didn’t care about anything else!).

For now though, I can’t even think about helping out or contributing anything. I can’t even bear looking at it. I don’t want to read about any new bands or discover facts about old ones. For now, indiepop has nothing to do with music and everything to do with the friends I’ve made, and the floors I’ve slept on, and the bright smiles hello and the hungover hugs goodbye, and the trains I’ve travelled on in the snow and the sunshine to be with them, and the bottles of vodka and JD we’ve shared, the teasing, the endless discussions and the silences, the dancing, always the dancing. My friends that understand why now is more important than anything, the friends I don’t have to explain myself to that have given me the biggest joys of my life without even realising, my friends whose eyes shimmer when they get tipsy and they smile and talk a bit faster, still sweetly. Whenever we are together I keep wishing for time to stop. But it never does, and it never will and maybe that’s okay because it isn’t forever and no indiepopedia will ever be able to record what we do. Oh but next time we wake up on a floor somewhere and stumble on each other on the way to a cup of tea, maybe that’s another one for our discography.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Silhouette town

The drive past the docks in Grimsby must be breaking the hearts of every single person entering the town. You've come all the way on the noisily unrewarding A180 just to be faced with a pile of derelict buildings left to be eaten by rust and grey skies. It's a hopeless sight. A town at the edge of not quite the county everyone thinks it's in, with its one amazing gift, the sea, being taken away from it slowly and painfully. When we were going past the docks on Saturday afternoon my head was filled with apocalyptic fear: I grew up near a port too. What if it ever ends up this way? It'd be the end of world, surely. But as we turn the corner, people are still there, walking, shopping, breathing, drinking and I realise I shouldn't be so melodramatic.

But there's still room for melodrama in North Lincolnshire. As we walk to Blundell Park, I realise that this is not like any other football match I've been to before. There's nothing festive about the atmosphere, there is no electricity, no expectation. Yet people sit and watch through those first 15 painful minutes, nearly quietly, murmuring swear words and instructions to the players under their breaths, occasionally uttering something loud enough for someone to hear. As Town is starting to make a bit of an effort, we get up to cheer and I turn to the left and catch a glimpse of the Humber Estuary. That's the melodrama of Blundell Park: as their team sinks deeper and deeper down the League Two table and the music of their collective voices gets more and more difficult to decipher from the sighs of desperation, there's still the twinkly lights of the Humber Estuary to look at during the season, there is some hope and there will be a happy ending. A happier ending rather. The floodlights and the glimpses of the Estuary and a team that can play football without resorting to diving, especially when it momentarily forgets about hopelessness; being surrounded by people who could seriously do with a big hug during these 90 minutes; being in a town that reminds me of where I grew up, only colder and quieter, all those things fill me with so much love for this place and this team that I nearly smile. I could do this every weekend just so I can be there at that moment when their fortunes are reversed and they can smile with me. Or so I can put my arms around them if things become unbearable. I want to be here when they finally get a striker who can take a chance.

GY, will you let me heart you?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Ambition is pollution

A friend of mine was blogging the other day about his new indiepop dance night, wondering why he felt deflated during the second one of those. Earlier that day I was having a look at the playlist from that night and swooning because it was one marvellous song after another and, as I've really missed dancing with abandon, I was imagining myself there that night, imagining the breathlessness and the sheer happiness of being there at that moment, something I only get when I dance to an indiepop song I love. I just couldn't figure out how a night like that could make anyone feel not quite right - but, of course, I've been there and I should know. The fear of an empty dancefloor is enough to make a drunken dj sober. The fear of people not recognising any other Sea Urchins songs apart from 'Christine Pristine' and therefore not moving. The terror of realising that the Eux Autres song that brought you to your knees the other night (and which you hurriedly wrote down so that you wouldn't forget to play at your night) draws a blank with most people around you. What are you supposed to do?

Well, I don't know. My answer was to shut the shop for a bit and enjoy hearing other people's records. Maybe the answer is to keep going and keep it as safe as can be. But what's the limit of compromise and why would you want to compromise anyway? If there is one amazing thing about listening to a genre of music that no-one ever really cares about apart from your friends and some weirdos off the internet, that is the fact that you do it on your own terms. There is no pressure apart from the pressure you put on yourself to try and make everyone understand why you're so crazy about that music. And what happens if they don't care? Do you give up? We learnt from Stoke! that that's out of the question. 

When that dancefloor's full, all the kids look so beautiful. We bloody do and all. And I've been on dancefloors with five people dancing who filled it with so much love and such wide smiles that I felt ready and willing to expire there and then, just die of sparkliness and lack of breath.

People on the indiepop list were discussing illegal downloading a few days ago and the conversation moved to the value of pop music and someone mentioned the lack of ambition that seems to permeate indiepop. But that's our blessing! Not being bothered about whether you want to make money out of music is not a petit bourgeois sentiment, it's proof that you'd rather do it anyway, free from the compromises of capitalism. If we can't avoid living within this oppressive, status-driven system, we can at least enjoy removing ourselves from it during the little time we've got left, float above its suffocating restrictions and just do what we want to do (write music, release records, play records, write fanzines) without fear or sparing a single thought for the future. 

It's what we do here now that matters with music. Ambition and compromise is what makes mainstream music awful, it makes it into a job for the people who write it. And jobs are shit, we all know that.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Podcast #6: Dance around the livingroom

Go on, dance!

One of my favourite things about living in a top floor flat and not being overlooked is that I can dance around without anyone noticing. Apart from the kitchen - I've had the neighbours watching me there before (they liked it). But yes, it really is great and it makes me even happier than seeing people smiling to themselves in the street, which I think it's the loveliest thing of all.

So here are some songs to whirl around to. The podcast is about 30 minutes long, which is what it should take you to make a quick dinner (serving suggestion only).

Download it here (27 MB)

Tracklisting (29' 22")

The Blue Minkies - Boyfriend in a box
Sportique - If you ever change your mind
The Andersen Tapes - Cross Country
How Many Beans Make Five - I could well believe that
Professor Pez - Papillon (Escape from Ulfsnes island)
Go Sailor - Windy
The Budgies - I love you (so what should I do?)
Verdurin - Mademoiselle de Ponsac
Dolly Mixture - He's so frisky
The Gentle Smiles - Mando Diao
My Little Airport - My little banana
France Gall - Avant la bagarre


Saturday, August 30, 2008

End of play today

I need to do a new podcast, listen to a gazillion seven-inches that I haven't had time to even look at since they arrived in the post, reply to friends' emails, think of where to put all those books that are coming from Brussels via Athens, learn computer geekery and understand what happens in cricket (again). I hate how much time jobs steal from us and how they make our brains shrink. My memory is terrible (my mum insists it's because I don't eat meat - still bitter after all those years) but work worries have been erasing whatever good there is left on there to replace it with anxiety about Blu-ray logos and editing terrifyingly bad copy. At the end of the working day on Friday, I cleared my desk and opened a notebook to make a list of the good, interesting things that I wanted to do this weekend, like updating the Caramel site, listening to Camila's last two popcasts, sowing some herbs for the kitchen windowsill, walking to Brockwell Park, making cupcakes, installing the Apache server again, staring out the window, eating strawberry Petits Filous and writing some lyrics. All I could really do without difficulty was to sleep. Work is ruining my life.

But: ha! Next week is going to be so brilliant that the sun is going to be shining over me the whole time and that's because there will be pop in huge doses and friends and because by then I'll have decided that work is not worth worrying about, not when you can worry about whether cranberry or fresh lemonade make a better mixer for vodka than, say, tonic.

Monday, August 11, 2008

You can keep your culture, you can keep your morals

The Deirdres are not a band: they are a precious poetic ideal and a vulnerable one at that. Something to be protected and cherished; something that sits outside reality. There is no calculation in what they do. Their songs are systems of resistance and those of us who dance around at their shows become part of that moment when intelligence and nonsense are finally one, as they should be, and the joy of touching hands also serves as a force for the revolution.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

It lingers brightly too

Everyone's reading fanzines in the morning at the campsite, fried bread and baked beans, taking 20 minutes to walk 10 feet because of all the hugs, veggie burger and a cup of tea at the café, surrounded by friends, pretty Swedish girls hanging out in the toilets, Colin Clary's hips and Max's crazy barytone voice, David dancing, Stuart asks The Smittens to play one more song, Amy's felt badges (I bought a train-shaped one), Jo kissing my bottom, the slow road train to the festival site, everywhere you turn a sweet friendly face, Pete's choice of T-shirts made me smile, the Middle Ones harmonising in the church, the baby is moving, Julie Mai 68s is shitfaced by midday, Jeremy throws the drumsticks, someone nearly dies, shade and beer in the buffet car, let's run to catch Gregory Webster, the hottest train ride ever, Neil's face through the train driver's window, singing along to 'I'll Still Be There', tears are running, 'The Kids Are Solid Gold', I love my life, who's-playing-where confusion, the Manhattans playing the glorious 'Jonny Boy', Pete Horowitz dancing like he's about to take off, Rocker's keeping score, 19 minutes. "The Deirdres!", attempting to run to the outdoor stage, the first notes of 'Electro Magic', Russell acting like a Rock God, Gemma being a good kid, losing it during 'Fun to Pretend', this is all I ever dreamt of, Milky Wimpshake sends us into space, the happiest couple of hours of my life, it's overwhelming again, a train ride at dusk, it's quiet again, "Was it you that did that song about Dr Beeching last night? It was great!" says the train driver "Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!", you're full of smiles, KateGoes and balloons, Sophie shouting from the train window "We played 'Electro Magic' for you!", blowing kisses, platform singalongs once more, 'Don't Stop', 'Dylan in the Movies', 'Sparkly', 'You Can Hide Your Love Forever', holding back tears again, 'Decent', drinking vodka from the bottle, goodbye Indietracks, chip butty, whiskey from the bottle, tonieee's Socialist Republic of Indietracks, hiccups, suddenly all is quiet, "Talulah Gosh was a popstar for a day", I've never been happier.

I don't want to get up, tomatoes on toast, a jar of Nutella, thankyous, The Blue Minkies on the stereo, turn right, over Blackfriars Bridge, it's over.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

It lingers brightly

I don't know how we can get away with Indietracks. It's so removed from everything we know real life to be and even further removed from what escapist fun is to most people. It can't even be called escapism because there is no real attempt to create a separate reality. It just is what it is in the most effortless way. I guess I am answering my own question here.

There is no easy way to describe the three days we just had in meaningful prose. And no, don't worry, I'm not going to write a poem about it. Or a song. I guess the easiest way for me to do it, especially when I'm still so tired is to try and remember scattered moments that made Indietracks the dreamlike experience that it was.

Hang on, let me cut my wristband first.

OK, here we go:

Lentil bake in a breezy kitchen, a cat lazying in the garden, falling asleep on the sofa while reading A Wild Sheep Chase, a phonecall, a car waiting outside, the "Eeeeeeeeeee!" as we see the first sign to the campsite, setting up home on a tartan blanket next to Jono's blue 2cv, seeing the Steepletone dansette in Tony's carboot, wearing the red T-shirt with the words 'Those loyal to pop, come!', putting the tent up, meeting Colin, having a veggie barbeque at Neil and Sarah's campervan, Ray's vegetable pakoras, chocolate cake from Neil's birthday, walking to the Indietracks site and grinning as we get towards the entrance, the excitement of the new, Stuart, the sun is setting, hugging Liechtenstein and Jorgen, down by the platform for the first drink from the train carriage bar, watching Lola Pattison doing the indie kid, teasing Dan Pocketbooks, sipping vodka slowly and looking around, we are here at last. Dancing to The Sea Urchins on the platform with Renée and Naemi, meeting Viktor, he used to be in Dorotea, "I *love* your band and most my friends do too!", he doesn't believe it until I drag everyone along to meet him, funny photo of Emma and Dan makes us delirious, we don’t get drunk before the bar closes, straight to bed...

This isn't working. I'll be here forever writing about every single moment because every single moment of it mattered. Saturday was a strange experience because it started badly: I was overwhelmed. The merchandise stall (which I was responsible for) was chaotic, some of my favourite bands were playing and I couldn't see them (most notably The Just Joans), it was boiling hot and I didn't know what I was doing or where everyone was. Sitting on the grass for five minutes, I remember saying "Festivals are shit, aren't they?". Hey, what do I know? I'm a wimp, alright? Because then it was time to see Liechtenstein and as I was watching them surrounded by an appreciative crowd, it didn't feel that bad anymore and I was slowly finding my feet. As they sang their monochrome beauty 'Apathy' and put their guitars down, I grabbed Pete from Horowitz and we ran to main stage to catch Pocketbooks who had just started their set. We arrived halfway through 'Falling Leaves' and Pete said "What a song to walk in to!" and so we ran down the front and joined the sweetest bunch of people as they were swaying and smiling. Twenty minutes later I was ecstatic. I saw Pocketbooks' first gig a couple of years ago, it was shambles; and now they were being adored by a huge crowd of indiepop kids who couldn't stop dancing. It felt like everything we were trying to do in this little world of ours was coming together and it was time to stop worrying and start partying. It was just the greatest thing I could possibly hope for, to see my friends playing so beautifully, with such confidence and a glorious sense of the pop moment. Lardpony in the sweaty church were amazing as well; it was nearly impossible to keep seated during 'Zombie Bride' and I don't know why I stayed seated. These are the bands we've loved in sparsely attended gigs all over the country and now, in front of our very eyes, we are joined by crowds who get it as well. How did that happen?

The beauty of being able to jump on a train and let it slow things down a bit, and falling sweetly asleep as the sun was setting. This is perfect.

... as was catching Harvey Williams in the church. It's Harvey, you know? The man invented the indieboy and all his troubles and he was sitting there singing those songs as we were welling up because everything was how we imagined it when we first started getting excited about indiepop. I think Harvey felt the same way and when he did 'Anorak City' and 'You Should All Be Murdered' on the acoustic guitar and people were dancing and shouting out the words, I felt happier than I could ever hope to be. Until then, because Sunday made me even happier. It never ends. Fuck the Wedding Present and their stupid photography rules. Harvey Williams is one of the reasons Indietracks even exists and it was very very special.

Drunk, emotional and tired - the disco sounds completely perfect but it passes me by because my legs are breaking. I wander around the site, almost crying with a sudden feeling of loneliness and don't even think to look at the platform where the Just Joans are playing and I miss them for the second time. Gah! But I catch up eventually and I'm reminded once again that the power of what we have lies in the most simple things, the things we don't shout about, the crazy oxymoron of shyness and self-confidence that makes people pick up a guitar and play a few songs on a train platform on a Saturday night - this, again, is perfect. So perfect that it's almost impossible to take it all in.

to be continued

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Kids are the same

When I was seventeen (which, as it happens, was seventeen years ago) my letters to Amelia Fletcher and Matt Haynes were filled with really moving stories about how lonely it felt to be an indiepop kid in Athens. So maybe I was hoping they would feel sorry for me and send me some free records but mostly I was being honest. It was a loneliness in numbers because there were quite a few of us - but we felt isolated and everything was happening so far away that by the time any news reached us, they were already old and we were struggling to understand what was going on at the other side of Europe. Flyers reprinted in our fanzines always belonged to the past and we were feeling nostalgic about things we'd never lived.

Now of course there is the internet and Indietracks and I've got a bit more money and the fun never stops. I do pop things and pop things happen to me that I never imagined when I was seventeen. And when me and mr honeypop decided to go to New York for this year's Popfest, it felt like an amazing indiepop adventure and I was peeing in my pants with excitement because I was going to see all those bands and get to walk around a city I only knew from the movies. Nothing could go wrong, the plan was perfect. But I hadn't quite understood just how perfect it was: I went to New York and on the first day of the Popfest I went downstairs at the Cakeshop, stood in front of the stage and a boy I'd never seen in my life before turned and smiled at me and I waved at him. It was Roque! We got to talk and do a group-hug with Kip half an hour later but at that moment it dawned on me just how far we'd come in creating a group of friends from all over the world and how important that was. And as I spent the rest of the popfest sitting around and chatting to wonderful people and getting post-popshow hugs from strangers, I just couldn't believe my luck. I mean, look at us: London, Miami, Stockholm, New York, Chicago, Stoke, Montreal, San Francisco, Glasgow... It didn't feel like a long way to travel to find so much warmth and understanding. The glow on people's faces on Sunday afternoon, I'll just never forget. A patio full of the most awesome talent, the stripiest T-shirts, the brightest smiles and the happiest conversations about pop and nothing at all.


Monday, May 12, 2008

Podcast #5: Summer girls

I can't stand the heat (another allergic reaction I get to anything remotely related to Greece!) but I love the sunshine and its lazy ways and how it makes you a bit cheeky and silly. I love its hopefulness and the ice cream. I love how it makes water taste like nectar and how it won't let me go to sleep. I love seeing things in it, things that look unimportant under any other light. I love how it means summer, how it makes me crave the seaside, how it makes me happy to be a girl.

I've been waiting to do an all-girl podcast for ages and today seemed like a good time to hear these voices blending like one big sunbeam.

You can download it here (28 MB).

Tracklisting (30'36")

Ice cream!
Strawberry Fair - Give Up
Let's Whisper - A Wonderful Year
Zipper - Un Buen Chaparrón
Eux Autres - Other Girls
Vivian Girls - Wild Eyes
Slow Down Tallahassee - The Beautiful Light
Komon - Something in my Eyes
Bare Knees - Love in Stereo
The Haircuts - What's A Girl To Do
The Garlands - Why Did I Trust You
Lucky Lucky Pigeons - Keep on Kingie
Action Biker - Love for Sure
The Darlings - Push the Button

Hope you like it!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Le jardin de Gilroy

Today I opened all my windows, stayed in bed until stupid late watching indiepop videos on Youtube, went for a lovely walk in the sweet afternoon sunshine, fed some squirrels, made a leek and potato hotpot and an apple and pear crumble, and remembered Gilroy - the band of Cathy off Heavenly and Paul from the McTells. You won't really find much about them on the old Google (not even on Twee Net; although Nancy posted about them less than a year ago) but as far as I know they only released the two seven-inches on Bi-Joopiter which were loud and a bit garage-y pop mayhem-y. *love* 'Renaissance Girl' is particularly ace. So, via the power of witchcraft, I made them into mp3s and here they are:

Download each song separately from
Download all the songs as one zip file from Mediafire

Renaissance Girl (bi-joop 029, 1995)
A1: Renaissance Girl
B1: Sophists
B2: Spanked

Get Grubby with Gilroy (bi-joop 030, 1996)
A1: Lube Tube
A2: Cut & Run
B1: I Want What She's Having
B2: Lube Tube (again!)


Monday, April 21, 2008

Surprise! Surprise! It's acoustic

Sitting with my back to a room full of lovely people on Sunday night in Sheffield, I was picturing them smiling. I wanted to turn around and look at someone and smile back, and I wanted to whisper "How ace is that?!" so I could feel a bit less alone (or noticeable) in my wide-eyed amazement. I mean, you know, I've been to a lot of amazing popshows but every single moment on Sunday night was quietly monumental, an affirmation of simplicity.

'An acoustic night' is not a description that would make me drop everything and run to see a show. 'An acoustic guitar and bleeps' is a slightly more appealing prospect but then it wasn't even an accurate description for that night (it's a long story). The thing is, I am normally slightly scared of acoustic performances because of their nakedness. I get nervous on the artist's behalf because I can't possibly imagine how anyone can be so bold as to get up and play without amplification and let themselves be so utterly exposed. I admire it but I don't enjoy it. That's why I was so surprised at the Red Deer on Sunday: I felt elated and brilliant. No-one was dancing, there was no noise to hide your drunkness behind, but it was as absorbing as I imagine watching the Earth from space must be - and just as surprising.

Not that I wasn't expecting to enjoy seeing Pete, Steve Jam on Bread, Numberdan and Frankie Machine - I couldn't wait. But it was that element of surprise that blew me away. Four people turn up with some really pretty songs and they play them and they don't even realise how beautiful they look or how mesmerising, moving and luminous they sound. They often apologise for being rubbish but all we witness is relentless charm. There is no self-indulgence in these acoustic pop songs, they are not precious. They are fragile and radiant and the unexpected magic is in the way the voice breaks or the way the eyes shyly travel around the room or down to the floor.

A wise old man once said that 'acoustic' is not a genre but a mode of arrangement and he was right. I am narrow-minded and I haven't got time for a lot of things but I've always got time for indiepop and acoustic indiepop breaks a lot of stupid rules that shouldn't exist anyway and, boy, am I glad it does.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

My heart beats too fast for our friendship to last

God bless My Darling YOU! and their brilliant titles.

In the absence of spring, one has to find other ways to keep going. I book train tickets. Having gone through a really dark patch recently, I've decided I'd rather exhaust myself by jumping on trains at every opportunity to see pop and people than wallow in misery. The little bookshelf in the spare room where I keep all the tickets is now positively packed with ticket printouts and that makes me feel human and helps me breathe because they transform my immediate future into a place of possible joy. Almost certain joy, in fact, because I've never had a bad time when I've been away dancing or sitting around drinking. And there is the simple happiness of sitting on a train listening to music and reading which is about the most peaceful thing I can think of.

At the last Spiral Scratch, my friends Remi and Delphine gave me a copy of the second release on their new label Phonic Kidnapping, a totally mind-blowing Left Banke-esque song by Cocoanut Groove. The record looks beautiful and you could tell straight away that that piece of vinyl came straight out of a moment when someone fell in love. That'll never stop making me happy about the process of starting a record label. You are idly sitting there, listening to things and something hits you with the strength of a thousand hurricanes, so strong that it makes you say 'I want to do this, everyone needs to know'. I remember Innocent Label and This Happy Feeling from Greece having started like that as well, with a boy playing a tape down the phone to his friend saying "This is the greatest thing ever, let's start a label". The best thing about stories like that is that they are true. I still see them every day. Brilliant or what?

Thursday, April 03, 2008

I need to have some fun and fast

I think my brain is about to explode. I don't think I've ever needed to have fun more than I do now.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Podcast#4: It's complicated!

This podcast is about love. It's something I don't really talk about much but indiepop songs help me figure it all out - how teenage of me. It's true though: I am a pretty simple person and love still bemuses me and makes me hysterical and helpless. Some of the songs on this podcast mean a lot to me (like 'The Red Door') and others are there because their viewpoint surprised me (like 'Fun to Pretend'). I love you, I like you, I fancy you, I miss you, kisses, let's have fun, it's fine as it is, it's not enough, I am lost, I am so happy, mmm sex, you broke my heart, this is it, long-distance, domesticity, lovers or friends, security, cuddles. It's all in there, in one hour of lovely pop. It sounds so simple, doesn't it? I wish it bloody was.

Download it here or here (53 MB)

Tracklisting (60 mins)

Boycrazy - Bad things
The Airfields - Yr so wonderful
KateGoes - Heartbeat
Figurine - Let's make our love song
The Happy Couple - Another sunny day
Slow Down Tallahassee - U R Grace U R
La Buena Vida - Dulce y callado
Aerospace - Summer days are for ever
The Positions - Bliss!
Blueboy - The joy of living
The Deirdres - Fun to pretend
The Orchids - If you can't find love
The Frost - A song about us
Frànçois & The Atlas Mountains - I'm so glad I met you
The Aislers Set - The red door
Comet Gain - Don't fall in love if you want to die in peace
Rocketship - I'm lost without you here
Trembling Blue Stars - Missing the moon

Thanks for listening to it.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Perfect right now

Hee! Aw, Peggy...

Our split single is officially out in a couple of weeks but we've already sold almost half the copies on pre-orders and at the Pobpah popshows. I am deliriously happy. Not because they are going so fast (I can't keep up, make it stop) but because I've just lived through that excitement and I know every single pixel of it, I know where it comes from and where it's going. Seeing everyone from Atomic Beat Records play together at the Betsey on 23rd February made me realise just how easy it is for brilliant things to happen. OK, so it's stressful for five minutes - but I didn't really do anything and yet something extraordinary happened which involved having three seven-inch singles on a table by the door and four sparkly bands playing music on stage at the other end. Somewhere in the middle, there was a confused, amazed and happy me grinning my head off.

The last Pains of Being Pure at Heart show at the Buffalo Bar last Friday was life-altering in a way that made me think that absolutely anything is possible and that fuzzy guitars, pop vocals, moshpit dancing and explosive drumming can save the world. And although my night ended eating Marshmallow Fluff out of the jar at 3am and passing out with my clothes on at 5am, nothing ever made more sense than this last week because everything we do we mean it and our hearts are pure, our minds filthy and our bodies filled with the joy of living.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Now that you're here, the party can start

If I were to die in my sleep tonight, that'd be fine. I am not scared, I wouldn't protest. There was a moment at about 2am on Tuesday morning, when I was dancing and playing some giraffe-shaped castanets just as Alex, Kip, Kurt and Peggy of the Pains of Being Pure at Heart finally walked through the door of Jaynie's flat and the rest of us were playing them the daft song we've been writing for them while getting worried about their whereabouts - there was that moment, when I felt so fulfilled, so happy, so grounded in the present. Look at us all, we can have fun. We don't have to be anything else than what we are now. We don't care if we look silly because we are among friends. Just at that moment, we all knew what was important and what was important was that we were there then, lost in a haze of warmth, some of it alcohol-fuelled, admittedly, but most of all it was bliss. The moment all of us finally found each other in that room, the smiles, the relief, the disbelief and that absolute understanding of what was going through each other's minds. We were as beautiful as anything could ever be and our life was amazing. Fuck it, it still is.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Podcast #3: Hey hey pretty pop!

With my computer healthy enough again to play more than two songs without crashing, with the sun shining brightly, with thoughts of bare feet tempted by the sea, here is my third podcast. It's music I wanted to listen to this morning and that's about as far as I got with a theme


Download it here (35 MB). I am off to eat a clementine.

Tracklisting (36'13")

Pencil Tin - Poignant
Pocketbooks - Don't stop
The Airfields - Never see you smile
Liechtenstein - Universal appeal
Kissamatic Lovebubbles - Roxanne
The Bumblebees - Cool Science
Sparky's Magic Piano - Something somewhere
Kanda - True friends are golden
Pop Tarts - Hallo Franzi
Kawaii - Crowded room
Cessna - Explain to me again
The Gloombuttons - Every little thing
The Winter Club - Mix tapes that Lucy made
The Mai 68s - Froth on the daydream

Thursday, January 31, 2008

It's not snobbery

Some people wear music snobbery like a badge. A worn-out, badge of course, not one of those shiny brand new ones - ugh. They constantly proclaim their love for the obscure and their dismissal of the mainstream. They accuse their friends of being lazy with their music choices. Oh and they laugh about it and say that in the end it's all in the name of fun and yes, music taste is personal and no, don't cry, your taste is not shit. I didn't mean it that way.

Oh hello.

Last night our little popgang put on a little popshow. It was one of those things we wanted to do to make January slightly more bearable. The idea was to get three bands we really love play a bright pop night and if anyone turned up we would consider that a bonus. It turns out loads of people wanted to brighten up their January; it turns out people were ready for indiepop in large doses; it turns out this bloody thing works and it's all worth it and everything is going to be OK!

The room was packed all night which made me smile so much I almost passed out at one point. I watched the nervous bunch of pretty kids called The Deirdres try to find their instruments, wear capes and get on stage with the sole purpose of making everyone as happy as possible and felt relieved because seeing the surprise on people's faces, I knew that their version of fun was the version of fun that the people in that room were after. And when Pocketbooks started singing out their shiny pop poetry and everyone was watching smitten, I realised that I am not a snob and Pocketbooks shouldn't be obscure. They are glorious and sparkly and I wished I could explain to a lazy music journalist what they sound like but all I'd get would be how they should do this and that and the other and then maybe, *maybe* someone might notice. I am not a snob. I just like lovely music. Sparky's Magic Piano had everyone mesmerised because their songwriting is really quite stunning. They didn't want to stop playing because they could see that girl down the front swaying and singing along and I bet they could also see just how miraculous everyone thought they were. You couldn't miss it. I'd love to claim the night as a Spiral Scratch triumph but I know that it was a triumph of the quiet sparkly minority that doesn't listen to indiepop because it's obscure but because it matters and it's not ambitious in any way other than striving for the lazy perfection. It's flawed and it's pretty which is as perfect as anything can ever be. So stop calling me a snob: it's not about obscurity, I am not trying to be clever, I only want to have a dance and a cuddlejump.

Monday, January 21, 2008

It's a choice between a bass and a glockenspiel

First of all, here is an mp3: it's one of my favourite songs of all time and as I am not one for end-of-year lists or polls or anything that makes you compare and contrast when you should be dancing or daydreaming, I thought I'd post a song that doesn't make me nostalgic or even particularly happy. It just makes me swoon.

Red Sleeping Beauty, 'You're the Kind' (.mp3)

As I am sitting in silence in the spare room, the noise of the wind is deafening, despite the double glazing. I can probably feel it more than I can hear it but the lights of Brixton twinkle so brightly behind the bare trees that they become almost audible. I love saying 'I am shattered', especially when I am. I am shattered. The sound of people talking makes my head bang and I can't understand a word that anyone is saying. I type out emails and click 'delete' instead of 'send'. I think of the future and cry. I go to bed and my eyes hurt when I close them and I move my limbs around in despair, and lose my patience. Pop music is only something I double-click on to listen to, or a flyer on Photoshop that takes ages to load. Still, I am proud and my eyes shine as I catch the bus in the rain in the morning because there are things to look forward to, random little things like popshows, or shivering in the cold watching football, or sleeping on a floor surrounded by people whose hearts are in the same place as yours (the right place, in case you are wondering) or waiting for a delivery of a shiny new bass guitar.

There is hope. It's small but very bright. Blindingly so.

And this, this is the brightest thing of all: