Sunday 18 July 2010

Dansette Dansette – Tender Trap (Fortuna Pop!)

Ten years (nearly) and three albums in, it feels like Tender Trap are riding a creative high. Flanked by Elizabeth Morris and Katrina Dixon, Amelia Fletcher has created a modern indiepop girl group. This is not to belittle the rumbling bass and snaggly guitar contributed by long-term Tender Trap blokes Rob and John, but the ladies’ harmonies are truly a driving force on this record, bursting from the songs and layering them with a heart flipping loveliness that transforms the band’s music into something really special.

‘Dansette Dansette’ is Tender Trap’s homage to and update on the sixties girl group sound. The title track name-checks Sandy Shaw, Leslie Gore and The Supremes, the album is strewn with ‘Be My Baby’ drumbeats, sha la las, ba ba bas, big echoey guitars, all the ingredients that make up the kind of pop hit that’s sung in matching dresses and beehives with co-ordinated hand jiving. Only not, because hurrah! feminism has happened, so we can still thrill to sugar-sweet pop but not have to cringe because ‘girls’ can now write the songs and, you know, do tricky man stuff like play drums and guitars.

These are big catchy pop songs played with style and wit. Amelia’s silvery voice is sometimes sweet, sometimes rueful, sometimes annoyed (“We’re ready to get mean”). The guitars fuzz and grumble rather dirtily under the rollercoasting, trip-trap tumbling vocals, so one minute you’re going all shivery to the melodies, the next you catch a fizz of feedback and go ‘Yeah!’

The ba ba bas on the swooning ‘Suddenly’ are er, Heavenly, whilst the guitars crunch and reverberate in a JAMC kinda way. The Jesus And Mary Chain get a shout out (literally) on the wry ‘Do You Want A Boyfriend’, an entertaining gallop that manages to poke fun at indie boys AND inspect the notion of girl-pop en route.

The fabulous ‘Girls With Guns’ smashes dipping and diving three way harmonies up against knee trembling twangling Duane Eddy guitar to exhilarating effect. The urgent ‘2 To The N’, an energetic slice of catchiness pummelled along by some gleeful stand up drumming from Katrina, sees Amelia toying with some elementary maths –as is her want as an economics genius (see also previous album ‘6 Billion People’).

It’s not all hurtling one-two-three-four fuzzpop though, there’s room for the odd indiepop epic here; the gliding ‘Grand National’ and album closer ‘Capital L’ which manages to gather up all the elements that have gone before and build them into a heart-thumping, heart-cracking wonder that means you than have to go back to the beginning and play the whole record again.

Thursday 8 July 2010

Indietracks – Indiepop Compilation 2010

Ooh! Only a couple of weeks until we are once again plunged into Indietracks’ pop art world of waving from steam train windows, doing odd crafts, swigging beer in a retired carriage, lounging on the grass, and seeing fistfuls of thrilling bands. This year the good folks at Indietracks have surpassed themselves with the line-up as this 44 track (yeah, count ‘em why don’t you?) compilation amply demonstrates.

Here you will find current fizz pop darlings in the shape of The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, Love Is All, Allo Darlin’ and Standard Fare; olden tymes heroes The Pooh Sticks, The Orchids (they done a special new song here!), Secret Shine and The Cannanes. Or you can rootle out new sweet-hearts: The Felt Tips’ charming chiming; Internet Forever’s thumping sparklefest; The Blanche Hudson Weekend’s Blondie/Shop Assistants kiss-up in an echo-chamber.

CD1 ends with an invigorating shoutalong with Shrag on ‘Ghosts Before Breakfast’ which gets your blood pumping ready for CD2, a killer pop comp that takes in the clattery cape-pop of Veronica Falls, This Many Boyfriends’ jumpalong jittering, reverb-fabulous twanglin’ from The Specific Heats and the heart-swooning delicacy of The Middle Ones. See, indiepop can encompass a wide range of musics, The Millipedes’ wiggy Nuggets garage; a spot of breezy ukulele and trumpet wist-pop from Jam On Bread; The Just Joans’ drolly doleful smut-folk (exclusive track hereon!); gauzy bossa nova from Cineplexx; Betty And The Werewolves’ lollipop girlie-punk; La La Love You’s warp-speed hyper-pop. Not to mention the tremendous leap from the sublime to the ridiculous that is made between White Town’s Barretty ‘I Don’t Want To Fall In Love Again’ and M.J Hibbett and The Validator’s ‘We Are The Giant Robots’. It’s comforting to think that if giant robots do arrive to enslave the human race they’ll do it whilst singing this jaunty number.

There’s no excuse for not getting this record really. It’s great for building up yr festival anticipation. Play it whilst combing your wardrobe for perfect Indietracks outfits (e.g. button badges, excellently patterned frocks, way obscure tee-shirts, little corduroy caps, any kind of vaguely mod threads), or as a Derbyshire-bound road-trip soundtrack. If for some reason (what?) you’re not going to Indietracks, listen to this comp and have yr own in-house festival (stock up on fine ales, veg curry, felt badges and er, old locomotives). Finally, you can listen along whilst reliving your pop sozzled memories, looking at everyone’s Indietracks photos on Flickr and reading their hyper-charged reminiscences on the Anorak Forum. Singing on the platform, swooning in the church, dancing like a loon in front of the main stage…this’ll get your spirits soaring once the whole shebang is (sob!) over.

Wednesday 7 July 2010

You’ve been counting all the meltdowns you’ve been having. Fave Tunes May/June 2010

Harlequin – Heron Incredibly English folk rock, you can smell the overcast summer afternoons

One Last - Avi Buffalo Catchy and wistful and sunny afternoon-ish

Francis – Betty And The Werewolves Garagey in a Crystal Stilts way, sounds like strawberry ice-cream and regret.

Helicopter – Deerhunter Embraces you with soft guitars and soothes away the weariness

Radio Dept – Never Follow Suit Like hearing St Etienne’s ‘Only Love Can Break Your Heart’ through the wall.

Teenage Fanclub – Baby Lee In my head this is called ‘Geddy Lee’. Sounds good when sitting in the front seat on top of a number 8 bus first thing on a summer Saturday.

Long Flight – Future Islands Like ‘Sugar’ by My Bloody Valentine playing over an Animal Collective demo.

Sweetest Star – Easter Sun Deliciously aching indiecountrypsychfolkpop for staring at wispy clouds to.

Song – Turid Magical sixties Swedish psychfolk eddying round your ankles

Great Sky Bear – The Reading Rainbow Bratty, scratchy, soar-away pop. Plus the album artwork’s great

Harmonium – The Soundcarriers The United States of drifting through the ether.

Tuesday 6 July 2010

Camera & Tremor - The Tamborines (Beat-Mo Records)

It’s very late. Or maybe really early. You find yourself on a narrow sidestreet you’ve never really paid much attention to before. Sound throbs from an open doorway and you step closer to investigate. There’s a shabby corridor painted deep red, steep steps that lead you into a dimly lit basement room. It’s loud in here. Very loud. The noise is disorientating and you put out a hand to balance yourself. Turns out you’re clutching the edge of the bar, so you order yourself a drink. It’s vodka or nothing here. A pure, clean rush. It burns satisfyingly on your lips as you flick your eyes across the crowd. Everyone’s dressed entirely in black. Some of them wear sunglasses and move languidly through the noise as if it’s physically restraining them. Some shake their heavy fringes in time to the ricochet drumbeats.

A man’s voice singing, “I trip inside your wired mind”. There’s a band onstage. Shaky Super 8 film flickers across the back wall and camouflages the players. You see an eye here, a hand there, a pointy boot, a perfect bowlcut. Three people are making that colossal sound. Guitar and keyboard growl and throb, whine and shimmer whilst the drummer hammers it all home. It’s heavy and it makes you want to move. To nod your head and stamp your feet. You move closer to the stage and let the music judder through you, sound-waves pulsing the air around your face.

Then you’re taken by surprise. A tambourine shaken HARD splits the dissonance. There’s sweetness amongst the snarl. The fuzz ‘n’ distortion crowd are here because they like a hit of POP with their raw power. A taste of honey with their bouquet of barbed wire kisses. Here are tunes that dip and glide and make you feel secretly serene. You realise that these songs are going to be indelibly inked into your mind from now on. There’ll always be a swooping melody or a keyboard line tumbling over and over to rush you along through the tumult. The noise is building again, pedals are stomped, strings are scratched, four notes on the keyboard that won’t take no for an answer. Ultra-white strobe lights shiver on and off, on and off, on and off, slicing up the room into disconnected slivers off space and time…

You wake on Sunday Morning. In your head there’s a honey bee buzz. Unfurling your clenched fingers you find you’re clutching a scrap of paper. Written in tiny letters, all lower-case, it says, ‘camera & tremor’.