Archives for posts with tag: Slumberland Records

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.

Jeanines

Hot on the heels of an excellent 2019 album by Brooklyn jangle-pop outfit Jeanines comes a 4 song EP called “Things Change” on UK indie-pop wonder-label WIAIWYA. Here’s “Been in the Dark” from the upcoming (mid-March) release of the 7″ EP:

Jeanines are Alicia Jeanine (guitar/vocals) and Jed Smith (bass/drums). The fast-paced jangle-pop of “Been in the Dark” is adjacent to that 1980s style of the likes of Shop Assistants and Dolly Mixture, mixing DIY post-punk ethos with classic sixties pop pop-craft, and delivering it with the same kind of rapid-fire nervous energy of more contemporary janglers Veronica Falls.

But there is also just a hint of early Magnetic Fields in the way the song blends sunshine with melancholy, as the lyrics appear to reflect on identity anxiety while the song fills every second of its galloping 2 minute length with majestic melodies and frantic propulsive action.

The Sprinfields

“This Perfect Day” is the sparkling opening track from a recently-released compilation by jangling US  guitar band The Springfields called “Singles 1986 – 1991” just released on Slumberland Records.

The names Ric Menck and Paul Chastain should be well known to anyone familiar with 1980s and 1990s guitar pop. The Springfields, along with related bands Choo Choo Train and The Big Maybe, preceded the eventual formation of melodic guitar-pop heavyweights Velvet Crush, all sharing common sonic ground with the likes of Matthew Sweet and, through producer Mitch Easter, with his band Let’s Active.

While everyone talks about The Springfields influences being The Byrds and The Hollies the glorious opening track “This Perfect Day” seems more in thrall to The Beatles legendary B-Side “Rain” and the rolling feel of “Ticket to Ride”, with its effervescent melodic bass-lines, drum rolls, phased vocals and masterclass in crisp intertwined layers of sun-bright jangling guitars. It’s one of my all-time favourite songs.

The album collects the 5 singles they released on Sarah, Picture Book, Summershine and Seminal Twang plus an extra track not previously available on vinyl.The other songs do tend to follow that Byrds/ Hollies melodic jangle template more, and also overlap with both West Coast US Paisley Underground bands like Rain Parade and UK guitar pop bands like Primal Scream around the time of their first singles and album.

One explanation for why those first two songs “This Perfect Day” and “Bicycle Song” (or “Happy Bicycle”) sound different is that these songs –  the exact same recordings  – were actually released on a 7″ single as Choo Choo Trains (“This Perfect Day”/ “Happy Bicycle” on Picture Book Records.  It’s a single I’ve had – and adored – for years (thanks Richard).

The Springfields “Singles 1986 – 1991” compilation is an essential compilation for fans of pop with harmony vocals and guitars that jangle and chime.

Choo Choo Train single

Rat Columns David WestCan’t pretend to have kept up with the journey of peripatetic Western Australian musician David West and his band Rat Columns over the past 10 years, but here we are in 2019 with a hypnotic and beautiful single on San Francisco Bay Area label Slumberland Records (released a year ago in October 2018) – “Sometimes We’re Friends”:

Rat Columns on this single are David West (guitar and vocals), Amber Gempton (bass, vocals), Louis Hooper (keyboards), and Chris Cobilis (drums), with Cohen Bourgault guesting on violin.

Rat Columns have always had a knack on invoking the spirit of all the best melodic pop elements of post-punk and original ‘indie-pop’ era. “Sometimes We’re Friends” pulses along for 5 minutes of sparkling choppy pop with hints of Lightning Seeds and that special Sarah Records  euphoric-melancholic essence, while also mixing in textured layers of noise as the track surges to its end.

The songs on the EP were recorded at the same time as the most recent Rat Columns album Candle Power, so if you enjoy the songs here, seek out that album as well.

 

jeanines1-headerAnything released on California label Slumberland Records is worth checking out. Not everything on Slumberland jangles like crazy, but a fair chunk of the catalogue celebrates the jangling vibration of guitar strings. Jeanines have an LP coming out and here’s the ultra-jangling opener “Either Way”

It’s one minute and 44 seconds of pure pop. With its simple, effective drumming and classic, hook-filled melancholy melodicism it brings to mind the work of late 1980s Edinburgh band Shop Assistants – who added a bit more buzz-saw fuzz to their jangle – and Stateside contemporaries Black Tambourine.

Jeanines are from Brooklyn, NY. and are singer and songwriter Alicia Jeanine (guitar) together with multi-instrumentalist Jed Smith (bass and drums). Their 16 track self titled album is released by Slumberland Records mid June on LP, CD and Download.