Archives for posts with tag: London

All roads lead to Bandcamp. Reflecting earlier today on a treasured 7″ acquired in a record shop on cobbled Cockburn Street, Edinburgh, summer of 1980, by …and The Native Hipsters, called “There Goes Concorde Again” and find it is included on a compilation of their works released 21 years after the event, then loaded to Bandcamp. Here’s another song from the album, called “Stuck”:

…and The Native Hipsters originated from a duo – William Wilding and Nanette Greenblatt – adding Robert Cubitt and Tom Fawcett by the time they recorded their landmark chart-topping avant-garde experimental post-punk realist/surrealist/dadaist performance art single “There Goes Concorde Again” in 1980. Their home recording was self-released in the finest post-punk DIY tradition on their own Heater Volume Records on a 33 1/3 rpm 7″ with stamped labels, and a sleeve assembled by the band out of bits of old posters, meaning every sleeve was unique.

The song was played a bit on John Peel’s influential BBC radio show and the initial pressing of 500 they sold out. They re-pressed it a couple of times but continued to hand-craft the sleeves, even as the single reached #5 in the independent singles chart in the UK. According to wikipedia they declined an offer by Bowie/ T Rex producer Tony Visconti (!!!) to re-record the song, fearing commercialism.

The album is a mixed bag (in the best possible way) of 20 years of assembled avant-garde oddness. “Stuck” seems crafted from the same vein of quotidian observational weirdness as “There Goes Concorde Again”:

“Stuck my head through the railings of the park last night/ Don’t believe in the fire brigade so stayed there all night”

The sound collages on the album are a mix of cut’n’paste sound collages and baffling-strange storytelling. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea. This kind of thing annoys the hell out of some people. I love it.

It’s clear that for all the anti-art deconstruction of music, there are some very clever unconventional artistic minds here. The words and situations have disconcerting familiarity, but twisted into bizarre nonsense and delivered with an eery innocent childishness and menacing detachment at the same time.


Today’s Psychedelic Sunday offering comes from London jazz-adjacent psychedelic underground ensemble The Heliocentrics. “Burning Wooden Ships” is from their just-released new album “Infinity of Now”. It’s their 10th album, and 2nd to feature vocalist Barbora Patkova:

I wasn’t familiar with The Heliocentrics until I heard them playing on the store sound system in Relics record store in Dunedin this weekend. “Burning Wooden Ships” here sets out their stall, so to speak. It combines a wide range of analogue instruments, sounds and tones along with the interstellar overdrive of Kosmiche musik psychedelic space-rock, all assembled upon the foundation of some of the finest motorik locked drum grooves I’ve heard since Can’s Jaki Liebezeit human-drum-machine burned itself into my conscious decades ago. 

The Heliocentrics approach is explained far better on their Bandcamp page so I’ll use their own words:

“The Heliocentrics’ albums are all confounding pieces of work. Drawing equally from the funk universe of James Brown, the disorienting asymmetry of Sun Ra, the cinematic scope of Ennio Morricone, the sublime fusion of David Axelrod, Pierre Henry’s turned-on musique concrète, and Can’s beat-heavy Krautrock, they have pointed the way towards a brand new kind of psychedelia, one that could only come from a band of accomplished musicians who were also obsessive music fans. 

They have been playing together for nearly two decades and their collective drive is to find an individual voice. The Heliocentrics search for it in an alternate galaxy where the orbits of funk, jazz, psychedelic, electronic, avant-garde and “ethnic” music all revolve around “The One.”  The Heliocentrics have returned to develop their epic vision of psychedelic funk, while exploring the possibilities created by their myriad influences – Latin, African, and more.”

And yes, this is all as great and as weird and as wonderful as that explanation suggests it will be. Recommended for fans of Can, Broadcast, Jane Weaver, Sun Ra, and Fela Kuti.

PushpinPushpin are a youthful South London based band mixing together an intriguing genre-confounding combination of music styles. None more genre-confounding than the opening “Sea Song” here, which opens a recent album collecting together their songs released to date.

As they explain a little misleadingly on their Bandcamp page Pushpin “bring together a love of Grizzly Bear, Sigur Ros, Bjork, Led Zeppelin and far more. Expect chunky riffs and grooves combined with weird soundscapes.” 

It turns out the only thing you can reliably expect from this album is that no two songs will sound the same. Some songs – like the opening “Sea Song” posted here – sound like several different songs crafted together with decorative precision, like a kind of musical marquetry. 

Back in the 1970s this was called “Progressive Rock”, usually abbreviated to Prog. Not sure if that’s what it is still called today, but it is certainly not a far stretch to consider “Sea Song” alongside something like “A Plague of Lighthouse Keepers” by Van der Graaf Generator in spirit and ethos.  

“Sea Song” opens the imaginatively titled “Vol. 1” which Pushpin explain “is not really an album. it’s a collection of our releases up to this point. sorry if the flow is weird. it’s not meant to flow. it’s more of a gliding affair.”

“The flow is weird” is a perfect description for Pushpin because “Vol. 1” album features conventional (in a good way) indie-pop along with the more wild hyperactive progressive rock like “Sea Song”. And some which careen madly back and forward between the former and the latter. 

On the more conventional side are standouts like the synth pop smoothness of “Smooth Plane” and the glorious “Marble Star” with it’s shades of Super Furry Animals chorus (before things get a bit angular and abstract), and the big emo piano ballad of “Ferry Meadows”, which ends with the atmospheric interference of an electronic soundscape. Even the hyperactive progressive side is approachable, melodic, convincing, and willfully different just as starts to sound familiar. These songs may require a few listens to begin to reveal all their secrets but it’s worth the investment of your time.

If you want to hear more from Pushpin, and want to follow the journey this most intriguing and ambitiously musical fledgling band has started, then follow them on Soundcloud

The Leaf Library 2019UK ensemble The Leaf Library are about to release a new album, “The World Is A Bell”, another (giant) step in their on-going journey to perfect their unique style of folk-ambient melodic drone-pop. Here’s the radio edit of the first single from the album, “Hissing Waves”:

The Leaf Library style is built on hypnotic repetitive intertwining of rhythms, electric and acoustic instruments, textures and tones, and voices. It’s still more ambient/ experimental electronic folk pop than psychedelic rock or electronica, however this new album leads The Leaf Library into new even more experimental territory.

“The World Is A Bell” is an engaging and immersive meditation in accessible exploratory minimalist melodic drone-based music.  The double-helix spiral strands of music and voice twist and loop around on themselves, each track providing distinctive sonic DNA flowing between two elements.

At one extreme is the beautiful minimalist assembling of acoustic woodwind instruments and complex poly-rhythmic percussion into mathematical patterns, reminiscent at times of some of the quieter side of early Tortoise. At the other end of The Leaf Library’s drone spectrum the textures are more industrial, like a fleet of giant intergalactic hovercraft lawnmowers arriving on Earth from another planet, providing an unexpected Stars of The Lid level sonic experience of layered and soothing metal machine music.

“Hissing Waves”, with it’s twin-voiced lyrical meditation on “an endless looping cycle” of space and time, sits somewhere in the middle between the organic pastoral mood at one extreme and the mechanical hum at the other.  It serves as a perfect introduction to this enigmatic and individual album.

“The World Is A Bell” is released on WIAIWYA on 25 October 2019.

ToothpasteToothpaste are a London 4-piece mixing shoegaze and dream-pop together like alchemists on this 2019 single “Outside Panucci’s”:

Chief alchemist here in the magical transformation of melody, instruments and voices into something that glides through a heat-haze shimmer is bassist Daisy Edwards who engineered produced and mastered the recording.

Every part of the sound here – arrangement and production – contributes something to the feeling of vague ennui and nostalgic yearning (maybe?) the song is built on, and also captures perfectly the kind of weightlessness Slowdive perfected in their albums and EPs.

I’m a sucker for a good dream-pop/ shoegaze band and intrigued to hear more from Toothpaste. They have the makings of  GREAT dream-pop/shoegaze band on the strength of this song (and recording).


Witching WavesWitching Waves are a UK trio. Guitar/ voice, bass and drums. It’s post-punk, but with the emphasis on the punk. Fast, furious, unvarnished, abrasive, belligerent, intelligent. Witching Waves released a new-this-month album “Persistance” and here’s the opening track “Disintegration” to scour your ears:

Witching Waves are Emma Wigham (drums, vocals), Mark Jaspers (guitar, vocals) and Estella Adeyeri (bass, vocals). Everything about this is very good indeed, and in particular the brutal guitar playing, alternating between blistering walls of fuzz-blasted chords and angular discordant stabs, and the fiercely locked-in bass/ drums.

The self-recorded album contains 10 tracks and the frantic pace and appealingly abrasive pneumatic noise doesn’t let up much. Yet each track manages to cast a different spell and there’s melody and chorus hooks aplenty too.  “Persistance” is a powerful, authentic, enduring and endearing album.


FeatureFEATURE‘s album “Banishing Ritual” came out a year ago but was only picked up on PopLib’s radar last week. Here’s the opening track of buzz-saw punk, “Psalms”:

“Banishing Ritual” is a varied feast of fuzzy noise and a thrilling trip if you like your pop sharp, melodic, noisy and bristling with attitude.

“Psalms” – along with half the album, is in the kind of frenetic fuzzy melodic pop style of 80s Edinburgh (post)punks Shop Assistants, and half is a more sing-speak narrative in the style of 90s Brighton ‘Riot Grrrl’ band  Huggy Bear.  It’s a great combination of complementary song-writing styles adding up to a strong album worthy of your investigation.

There’s an LP version available from Upset the Rhythm.

birdieA new song from UK duo Birdie is a cause for celebration. So here’s “Bowling Green” from their 7″ single on the 7th and final year of WIAIWYA* 7777777 singles club release.

Birdie are not exactly the most prolific of outfits. When PopLib first (and last) featured a song from them it was 4 years ago and it was a song recorded 20 years prior to that.

They said of that Birdie song “Spiral Staircase”: “Birdie are Paul Kelly and Debsey Wykes, guitarist and backing vocalist with Saint Etienne. In 1996 Alan McGee paid for them to record a demo. McGee was too busy claiming 18 Wheeler and Heavy Stereo were the next big thing to listen properly to Spiral Staircase. What an addition Birdie would have been to Creation then! Spiral Staircase is a miniature masterpiece of Left Banke psychedelia and Laura Nyro pop.”

“Bowling Green” is another slice of low-key beautiful psychedelic pop. Simple and utterly perfect, and that’s clear even before the trumpet and baritone guitar instrumental break kicks in.

*Where It’s At Is Where You Are is WIAIWYA, a legendary London indie pop label with an exquisite design taste matched only by it’s taste for exquisite pop music. It has only featured one NZ band – Dunedin’s short-lived Trick Mammoth. Their “Candy Darling”/ “Doll” single was included in WIAIWYA’s 2014 7777777 singles club.


Leaf Library_St Pancras Old Church_wide_Cropped

The Leaf Library at St Pancras Old Church, London, 2016

The Leaf Library are the World Champions of drone-pop. The successful combination of somnambulist drone music and melodic pop music may seem an unlikely pairing but take a trip through “City in Reverse” and hear for yourself:

The gentle propulsion of the bass notes here is backed by a aural haze of tones. Within these you catch what almost sounds like the rise and fall of church bells wafting across parkland from afar on a warm summer breeze.

It’s the simplicity and minimalism here, repetition drenched in atmospheric tonal complexity, along with the rhythmic push and pull, the calm observant paired vocals, layered harmonies and the melody all working together that makes The Leaf Library masters of the understated elegance of drone-pop.

It’s from a new 7″ single out this week called “City in Reverse”/ Kendick Road”.  In addition to the two songs on the 7″, the download version comes with 4 extra tracks – re-mixes of songs off their earlier masterpiece album “Daylight Versions”. Although “re-mixes” is an inadequate way to describe the way these songs are pulled inside-out, stretched and teased into all sorts of weird and wonderful new shapes and inventive directions.

The music of The Leaf Library is forever associated with an unusually searing hot couple of days in London in mid-September last year during when I saw the band plus small woodwind orchestra play Daylight Versions live at Old St Pancras Church in London. Their music soundtracks memories of that week, particularly Kew Gardens with its intriguing art + drone installation The Hive and the endless hum and drone of a city of almost 9 millions people (and their machines).


The Hive – Kew Gardens 


Patience is a new project from Veronica Falls guitarist and songwriter Roxanne Clifford and “The Pressure” here is from a new – and already sold out -7″ single.

Synth pop may seem far from the traditional jangling guitar pop of Veronica Falls, and even further from Roxanne’s other stellar side projects like DIY-recorded Toy Love covers band Baggy Attitude.

But the heart of “The Pressure” is still POP and the song has the kind of structure, feel and of course vocal delivery that is from the same emotional landscape as the best Veronica Falls’ songs.

By that I mean the underlying sense of unease beneath the surface here. A tension, or anxiety about things left unresolved:

“My friends tell me you asked for me/ The world could end before we agree”

Although the limited edition (300) 7″ released on Glasgow label Night School Records is sold out you can still buy the single as a download.   Night School Records is also home to the hellishly wonderful new album by Ela Orleans, which PopLib introduced a few months ago, so it’s a label to keep an eye on.