The first thing you need to know about Free Loan Investments is that if you do a search for them on the internet, you will be bombarded with dodgy sites promising to help you get rich quick. The second thing you need to know about Free Loan Investments is that they are a now disbanded quartet. The third thing you need to know about Free Loan Investments is that they made tuneful jangly pop music in the Talulah Gosh mould.
It matters not that they are Swedish or that band member Roger Gunnarsson was also in Nixon or that Amanda Aldervall went on to form the Busy Band. Nor that they both count Amelia Fletcher among their heroes.
Have a listen to the lovely-sounding but viciously-titled Kick His Balls Out. When has anything so pretty had such bite to it?
The Rainbirds were a female-fronted German band led by singer Katharina Franck, who released eight albums between 1987 and 1999. Now, I can't for the life of me remember how I first discovered them, but as it was in 1989 - and seeing as they never charted here in the UK - the chances are it was (good old) MTV Europe who gave me my first taste of this fine band.
The hypnotically wonderful single Sea of Time was the first Rainbirds record I ever bought, and it remains my favourite song of theirs even to this day; although, in fairness - as is often the way with me when it comes to keeping up with slightly obscure bands that I really like - I only ever got round to buying two of their eight albums, so for all I know the other six may contain songs even better than this one! I doubt it, though, as Sea of Time is the absolute bee's knees as far as I'm concerned. See what you think!
Evening, all. Hope you're having a good weekend. A trio of perfect pop songs from Brooklyn-based My Teenage Stride for you today - every one a winner! (all three are right click and "Save Target As" jobs.)
Ahh, the traditional British seaside holiday - you just can't beat it. Inexplicably unsuccessful mid-90s Fierce Panda signings Pullover would seem to concur - certainly if their fabulous 1996 single Holiday is anything to go by. The video's great fun, too. (ten bonus points to the first person who can successfully identify the English seaside town featured in the video!)
(can you believe that clip's been up on You Tube for over six months, yet has only been viewed forty-three times so far?)
A bit more info on Pullover, gleaned from their MySpace page: Carol Isherwood sings, Lee Damarell plays the bass guitar, Michael Malley plays the guitar and Joe Duddell plays the drums. They're from Manchester, have recorded two albums - the first of which never saw the light of day due to record company problems (how frustrating); there is better news about the second, however. They promise that All You Need Is Love will be released soon on their own Knitwear Records label. I just hope this pans out for them. A decade plus is a hell of a long time to be waiting for your first album release, after all. In the meantime, here are a couple of Pullover MP3s to tide us over. The first, White Horses and Shooting Stars, is my favourite song of theirs, a gorgeous, life-affirming number encouraging the listener to believe in themselves, follow their dreams and never settle for second best. A trifle quixotic, maybe, but very well-meaning and uplifting sentiments, and a great song to boot.
The second track is the aforementioned You Tube favourite Holiday, which brings us right back to where we started from, to paraphrase Maxine Nightingale.*
(*I very nearly said Sinitta, there, but thought better of it in the end!)
There's something about indiepop with male/female vocals. I can't quite say why it hits the spot so delightfully but Pocketbooks are a great example of gender-blender tweeness.
They are currently Andy, Dan, Emma, Mark and Jonny, having recently undergone a small line-up change (losing early guitarist Ben and gaining drummer Jonny). Pocketbooks' lyrics are eloquent and generally about the everyday rather than the extraordinary, but each song is something special. Having just talked about the joy of male and female vocals together, the track below is just Emma singing but is really lovely. Give it a listen and then try telling me that lo-fi indiepop isn't brilliant!
Andy recorded a full album before the band had formed properly and you can download that by going to the Pocketbooks website. The downloadable song below is from that album, entitled Proofreading. (Another track from Proofreading was included on the superb How Does It Feel To Be Loved? compilation, The Kids At The Club.) This time it's just Andy singing, but it's also a joyous song. (Don't worry, we'll get to the mixed vocals soon...)
Here for your viewing pleasure is a live Pocketbooks performance of 'Cross The Line', the single released on Atomic Beat Records (still available as far as I'm aware, although only 400 in total). There are those male/female vocals I was rambling on about at the beginning!
As a bonus, I'm including an mp3 by Pocketbooks' labelmate, Pete Green. Pete is a man after my own black heart - he likes MJ Hibbett and hates Myspace. In fact he's written a song about exactly why he hasn't got a Myspace page.
As you may guess, Pete Green doesn't have a Myspace (because, as he mentioned, Myspace flipping sucks!) but to hear more, you can visit his website, Spaklemotion.co.uk, or his Last.fm page. By the way, if you haven't signed up to Last.fm yet, you should really consider it. It's a great way to find new music and also to keep an eye on what you've been listening to most. (I'm on there as ozgoelz.)
Merseyside has given us the Beatles, Echo and the Bunnymen, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Half Man Half Biscuit, Kathryn Williams, Ladytron, Ooberman, Zombina and the Skeletones, The Boo Radleys, Cast..okay, we'll gloss over that last one, but what I'm saying is the city has given us a lot of quality music over the years. I have another name to add to that illustrious (veering towards cult) list. A little name. Well, in fact, it is Little Name. Little Name at one point was a band but on the current record (How To Swim And Live) is just Lee Barker. Little Name combines poppy tunes (often with trumpets) with sensitive, longing lyrics and isn't that just the kind of music I love? Apparently, Lee has suffered from debilitating panic attacks which is something I've had experience of several times (my own panic attacks, not his, obviously...). I don't know how much of a direct influence that has had on his music, but I appreciate the way he approaches subjects.
The Faith Brothers were a mid-80s outfit from Fulham in west London who managed to pull off the rare trick of combining heartfelt socialist sentiments in their lyrics with yer actual, rousing indiepop melodies.
Now, I'd like to say I first stumbled across the Faith Brothers at some intimate fund-raising gig for the striking miners or something, but alas the truth is far more prosaic: I first heard them on a lazy weekday morning during my school holidays! In the summer of 1985, to be precise, when they were featured on the now long-since defunct breakfast television franchise TV-am as part of a feature on up-and-coming "bands to watch".
The featured song on TV-am was the brilliant A Stranger On Home Ground (they showed the video, if memory serves) and, despite the fact that this was a million miles removed from the sort of pop fodder I'd been used to thus far in my callow existence (Baltimora, Mai Tai and Denise LaSalle were very big that summer), I was immediately smitten. It still remains one of the best singles of the eighties for me even now. See what you think:
Two albums were to follow over the next two years, Eventide and A Human Sound, but, as is so often the case, the Faith Brothers never achieved the commercial acclaim their music so richly deserved. But they left some truly wondrous music behind. The 1986 single Whistling In The Dark is every bit as fantastic as A Stranger... and contains one of the most damning lyrical indictments of the government and life in Thatcher's Britain ever committed to vinyl:
From all that you elect you cower Hypocrisy governs every waking hour Humankind is overlooked By liars, cheats and crooks selling souls for power
Pretty unequivocal, that! And there's plenty more elsewhere in the song:
The band's leader, Billy Franks, is still gigging and releasing solo albums in 2007, and, incredibly generously, has made pretty much the entire Faith Brothers back catalogue - both the studio albums plus a whole host of rare b-sides and live tracks - available to download for free at his website. There's also the option - one I'd strongly recommend! - of making a voluntary donation to Billy via Paypal after you've downloaded his songs. (be rude not to really!)
Sometimes you come across a band or artist and you wonder why the hell they aren't signed to a label. At this point it's easy to become depressed at the lack of music taste in the world, but if you are me, you blog about it and hope that more people will take an interest and like them too.
This brings me to Ida Maria. She's a 23 year old Norwegian (from a tiny place called Nesna) who is now living in Sweden - ah, those Scandinavians again! Ida Maria and her band, Johannes Lindberg, Olle Lundin and Stefan Törnby, make (mainly) punky pop music. Excellent punky pop music. There's something about her vocal style that sounds really familiar, but I wouldn't compare her directly to anyone due to the variety of her style, although there's more than a hint of Björk in there.
If you decide you like her style (and why wouldn't you?!), the good news is that she's coming to the UK next month and has gigs scheduled at The Roadhouse in Manchester on 12th September and Old Blue Last in London (Shoreditch) on 20th September.
Ida Maria duetted with Pelle Carlberg on the brilliantly titled 'I Love You, You Imbecile', as mentioned in passing by John in this blog. The video is below.
Here are two Ida Maria mp3s for you to download. The first, Louie, is a melodious track that moves along apace and almost cries out for handclaps! Oh My God features Timo Räisänen and is a much more raucous affair - ace! Both are right click and 'save as' jobbies.
These are great songs but I would strongly recommend that you go to Ida Maria's myspace page and listen to the songs there. They are possibly even better. My favourite is 'Better When You're Naked'. Also head over to the NRK Urørt site where there are more songs to download. I have nowhere to send you to buy her music as of yet but you will know the moment that I do. (Come on, Ida Maria, hurry up and sell us stuff!)
Below you can watch her doing a jazzy song, Pleasure, and looking incredibly cool with a bass guitar.
Today's You Tube clip features Sky Sports' football (w)anchor Richard Keys being caught off-camera making disparaging remarks about a recent Euro 2008 qualifier between the Faroe Islands and Scotland. ("Daft little ground, silly game, fuck off.")
In other footballing news, the English season starts tomorrow. Not before time, either. This summer feels like it's been going on forever. Here's to a (hopefully) stonking nine months' worth of football, anyway - culminating, I sincerely hope, in another Premier League title for the mighty Arsenal!
A pretty momentous day for me, today, music technology-wise. Thanks to a practical demonstration from my co-blogger, followed by her sending me home with an easy-to-follow, step-by-step, idiot-proof written guide (which came in very handy also; ta, Spikey!), I'm now able to convert my old vinyl records to MP3. Hooray. Who knew it was such a straightforward procedure?!
So, with this in mind, today's Three of a kind features three songs plucked from the one box of vinyl I currently have at my disposal (I have tons of records, but most of them are currently languishing in storage at my folks' house - a legacy of the years & years I spent living in a flat approximately the size of a box of Swan Vestas.)
First up, it's Nick Lowe with his 1978 #7 smash I Love The Sound of Breaking Glass. The venerable Mr Lowe is still going strong in 2007 and his new album At My Age is available from all good stores now, as they say.
Secondly it's a fantastic 1984 Peel session track from The Go-Betweens, Second-Hand Furniture. This song is made even better by the fact that Grant is actually ad-libbing the catalogue of objects. Respect very much due.
Completing today's eclectic line-up is Saturday Love, a mid-80s dancefloor/pop 40 smash by Cherrelle featuring Alexander O'Neal. It's ironic that Alex only merits a "featuring" on this one, given that he went on to become a pretty huge star (in more ways than one) off the back of it, while Saturday Love was pretty much as good as it got for Cherrelle, certainly in the UK. Fair play to her, though, it's a terrific number, sprinkled with a healthy dose of the old Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis production magic. Marvellous.
Here we go then, fresh from the vinyl archives - and with apologies to the marketing division of Kellogg's - some snatched crackling pop!
I have to confess that there are times when I don't listen all that carefully to the lyrics of songs because the tune grabs me straight away and I'm a bit too lazy to pay proper attention after I know I like how it sounds. Then there are times when I have an excuse for not having a clue what the song is about. Like when it's in Icelandic. Dýrðin (pronounced 'deer-thin') are an Icelandic five-piece comprising Hafdis Hreiðarsdóttir, Einar Hreiðarsson, Magnús Hákon Axelsson, Þórarinn Kristjánsson and new keyboardist Kolbrún Karlsdóttir. The band began in 1994 and gradually increased from Einar and Magnus to become the fully-formed group they are now (although they took a long break between 1995 and 2002). Dýrðin make energetic pop songs which would be perfect to sing along to if I spoke Icelandic, but I'm perfectly happy to hum. To my ears they sound similar to Heavenly, All Girl Summer Fun Band and a lot of Japanese pop. All of these are Very Good Things.
Every song of theirs I hear is the type of track I would call a stand-out, but if I had to pick just one for everyone to listen to, it would be Popp og Co. I have no idea what it's about, but it's jolly good!
Thanks to You Tube coming up trumps once again, today we're able to bring you a five-minute clip of the rather wonderful Sarah Nyberg Pergament AKA Action Biker performing two songs at last month's Rip It Up festival in Sweden: Eating Noddemix and La Conjugaison Pour Tous.
Now, it's devilishly hard to get hold of any Action Biker records - they seem to be about as rare as hen's teeth - so I'm unfortunately unable to leave any links here as to where you can buy them (but if anyone does know, please, let us know!).
In the meantime, here are a couple of Action Biker classics (that I have managed to find) for your listening pleasure: Farrah and Sandy Edwards. (Yes, Prisoner Cell Block H fans, that Sandy Edwards!)
The band I'll be talking about today come from Sweden (surely that country has given us more than its fair share of fantastic music already?). Stockholm, to be precise. That's about all I know about them, to be honest! Well, that and the fact there are five members of the band - Andrea Dahlkild, Gunnar Jacobsson, Kristoffer Rengfors, Pontus Leander and Robert Klaesson. Hari and Aino have recently released a single containing three tracks on the excellent Cloudberry Records label. You can download the tracks from the Hari and Aino myspace page but CDs with artwork are far better than silly old mp3s, aren't they? Having said that, here are a couple of mp3s for you to be listening to in the meantime.
The single, Your Heartache And Mine, is my favourite track of Hari and Aino's. Download it below and witness them playing it live here. Then buy it because it's so blummin' brilliant!
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