Archives for posts with tag: Paul Kelly

East Village

East Village are described as “one of the great lost bands”. As I had somehow managed to never hear them, or even hear of them, despite obsessive consumption of every jangling guitar pop artifact from the 1980s and 1990s, including some on labels East Village were on, I can attest to them being “lost” to my ears at least until now. Here’s “Strawberry Window” from their recently re-issued singles compilation “Hotrod Hotel”

East Village sound bolder than many of the ‘c86’ sound bands they are associated with, more American or Australian even, the mix of 6 & 12-string acoustic and electric guitars more sparkling than merely jangling. “Strawberry Window” and the other songs on “Hotrod Hotel” have more in common with the 1980s US ‘Paisley Pop’ movement (I’m thinking the peerless Windbreakers or Rain Parade here) and Australia’s The Go-Betweens.

Although I hadn’t heard East Village prior to this release I had heard more recent music by songwriter, guitarist, vocalist Paul Kelly. He teamed up with Debsy Wykes of Dolly Mixture as Birdie in the late 1990s and everything I have heard by Birdie is wonderful (and also hard to track down… which is all part of the adventure). “Deborah Wykes and Paul Kelly met whilst taking sabbaticals as members of St. Etienne’s band in 1994. Both had been writing their own songs and discovering a mutual love of The Shangri-Las and Love’s “Forever Changes”, formed their own band, BIRDIE.” (Birdie on Discogs) [There’s more on the East Village/ St Etienne/ Birdie overlaps on the Birdie page on Elefant Records website]

“Hotrod Hotel” is a perfect introduction to East Village, and an easy recommendation – and risk-free acquisition – for anyone who counts The Go-Betweens, Windbreakers, or Shack among their favourite bands. The LP release from Slumberland Records¬†looks glorious too, packed full of sleeve notes and photos. It is also available from UK mail-order specialists Norman Records if the US Postal prices give you heart palpitations.

Sorry for the long break since the last post. Other things on my mind. Mostly good things. But in the past week some shit things too. But you can always rely on a perfect song to help rebuild you when you are down. ‘Spiral Staircase’ by Birdie was that perfect song:

Not sure if it references the Pavement guitarist. Maybe it’s just about a spiral staircase. Stranger things have had songs written about them, even if architecture doesn’t often come to mind.

The song is one side of a split 7″ picture disc single released by London club/ label The Hangover Lounge. As well as being a “A Sunday club (2-9pm) to hear the perfect music to calm your minds after a hard Saturday night’s drinking and stave off the dread of the week ahead” in London it is also a label. The Hangover Lounge periodically releases 10″ EPs compiling artists who have played at the Hangover Lounge, usually exclusive or acoustic performances.

They say of this Birdie song: “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.”

The song might be almost 20 years old now, but it is as timeless – and out of time – now as it would have been in 1996.

The other side of the single is something new – and of course wonderful – from The Clientele.

These are all sold out, so a streaming listen here is your only option for the time being. I have a copy – much treasured and much played already – thanks to Ben who is one of the people involved in the Hangover Lounge and has a music blog you should follow, called Did Not Chart. He wrote this about Birdie.