Choo Choo Trains

The Choo Choo Trains – not to be confused with the excellent Velvet Crush precursor band Choo Choo Train in the US – are a London trio making what they say is “Girl-Guide shoegaze” but is really just understated bashful jangle-pop. It’s a bit like Camera Obscura on an austerity budget and all the better for that minimalism.

They have a 5-song 7” EP released on now sadly vanished Manic Pop! Records.

Manic Pop! Records was a new small label from Minnesota, USA set up in 2012 and dedicated to releasing 7” singles from great undiscovered pop bands from around the world. After releasing over a dozen sparkling pop gems in the past year the label has vanished from the internet – website, and social media accounts gone. Some detective work from a member of one of the bands with a release pending on the label explains his understanding of the situation in this blog post.

Sadly it looks like the Manic Pop! Records dream is over. A victim of naive over-enthusiasm? There may be a darker clue in the name. With so many releases in such a short time and, I assume, no established distribution or mail-order networks, it would be very easy – fuelled by unrealistic optimism – to over-extend financially on this kind of project.

The demand in the current economic climate for the physical artefact of 7” vinyl was not helped by the US postal prices rises early in 2013 doubling the cost of international airmail for parcels and making it even more difficult for these kind of small-scale labour of love labels to have the kind of cash-flow needed to survive and sustain themselves over time.

Add to that the inherent difficulties in promoting so much new music from so many unknown bands to an indifferent world and the outcome was perhaps inevitable. But I can sure sympathise with these sentiments:

“he did what he did because he feels that the bands he loves, the bands that get little recognition for the blood and sweat that they pour into their music, deserved to be signed to a great label. In my opinion, it simply became too difficult for him to say no to signing great, under-recognized bands.”

During its short but prolific run Manic Pop! Records was responsible for a commendable burst of 80’s-influenced dreamy jangle-pop. The label had a remarkable hit rate with the dozen or so 7” releases it did make. No duds and most would sit happily in my 7” record collection. Long may the name – and that unrealistic ideal – live on in discerning 7” collections around the world.

The split of the pressing between the label and the bands at least means there are a few copies still able to be tracked down from the bands via their own Bandcamp pages. Here’s a few more of the best:

Fire Island Pines
Mini Dresses
Gorgeous Bully
The Delaplains
The Airplanes
Zebra Hunt