Archives for posts with tag: Teenage Fanclub

Here’s a welcome guitar pop resurrection of sorts, a contemporary UK band channeling some of that magic melodic jangling power-pop associated with the likes of Big Star, The Replacements, and Teenage Fanclub et al. Ex-Vöid, formed by Joanna Gruesome singers/ guitarists Lan McArdle and Owen Williams, take those familiar precursors and add an occasional blast of hardcore punk ferocity to keep the sweetness under control. “Chemical Reaction” is from the album “Bigger Than Before” recently released on UK label Prefect Records, and also New York punk label Don Giovanni Records.

“Bigger Than Before” is jam-packed with ultra-melodic pop hooks. I was playing Teenage Fanclub’s classic early album “Bandwagonesque” earlier today before coming across Ex-Vöid. There’s something about the paired lead vocals, the harmonies, the lyrics, the fuzzy jangle and glorious songcraft here that is just as thrilling to hear today as “Bandwagonesque” was all those years ago.

Prior to this album, McArdle and Williams released two EPs as Ex-Vöid: 2018’s Ex-Vöid and 2019’s Only One. McArdle departed Joanna Gruesome in 2015 after fronting the band in its earliest years, last appearing on the group’s second album Peanut Butter. Williams was also in Grubs, and Two White Cranes along with Roxy Brennan, one of the two singers who replaced McArdle in Joanna Gruesome in 2015.

In additional to the previously mentioned former Joanna Gruesome members Ex-Vöid is completed by bassist Laurie Foster and drummer Jonny Coddington. The album is said to be recorded in just over an hour in a studio in Hackney, with minimal overdubs and no breaks, which may explain the uncorked energy here.

Summer Flake 2019Summer Flake have just released a third album – “Seasons Change” – on Australian label Rice Is Nice. Here’s the blazing 2nd track “In The Dark”:

Summer Flake is Steph Crase (also in Fair Maiden) and accomplices. Summer Flake’s music is an Australasian distillation of the kind of melodic guitar pop perfected in the mid 1980s by the likes of Let’s Active and The Windbreakers and further developed in the 90s by Scottish band Teenage Fanclub and the Juliana Hatfield Three.

The melodic music and vocal harmonies sugar-coat a darker kind of down-beat melancholy resignation about life’s curve-balls creating perfect bittersweet jangling & twanging post-grunge guitar pop.

spinning-coin-2017Spinning Coin have a new single out soon, called “Raining on Hope Street”. It’s always raining in Glasgow.

Can’t find a Bandcamp or Soundcloud link and it’s another month before the 7″ will be available from their label Geographic Records via Domino Records but it’s too good not to share.

The song is quintessential Spinning Coin – all thin trebly raindrop splatter strums, unexpected chord changes and darting lead runs that twist around the multitude of melodic themes in the verse and choruses.

“Raining on Hope Street” may be about kind of lovelorn yearning of not being quite worthy or strong enough for someone –“If I had enough heart I’d give it to you” – and in their words and music evoke some of the similar emotional landscape of early Orange Juice and The Pastels while also channeling fiercer guitar skronk elements of early Teenage Fanclub.

The video is a visual treat of autumnal watery sunlight in Glasgow parklands, matching the spirit of the song to the psycho-geography of their city and its history of socialist independent pop music.


Summer Flake 2016When I first came across Summer Flake playing at a Camp A Low Hum music festival in 2013 they struck me as being a perfect Australasian distillation of the kind of emotionally devastating melodic grunge-pop perfected in the late 80s and 90s by Scottish band Teenage Fanclub.

This new album “Hello Friends” confirms that initial diagnosis but develops it further with a darker kind of down-beat melancholy and generally optimistic sense of I’ll-get-through-it hopelessness and resignation stirred through. Which is pretty much what the best pop does and why it makes us care. We’ve all been there, felt that sometime, right? Here’s “Wine Won’t Wash Away” from the album as a perfect example of what I’m on about.

The album is a welcoming mix of that almost jangling kind of post-grunge guitar-pop with a bit of shoegazey tremolo arm note-bending wooze (which I’m a sucker for at the best of times).

Vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter Steph Crase uses her voice in lush multi-tracked backing vocal arrangements to give the album its emotional heart, most beautifully set out on the sublime late-Beatle-era pop stylings of “So Long”.

“Hello Friends” by Summer Flake is out now (well, 8 April to be exact) and is available on LP from Rice Is Nice Records. You really ought to get it.





Barefood Sullen

I came across Indonesian label Anoa records recently when I heard about their compilation cassette of Indonesian shoegaze bands.

One of the bands discovered on their Bandcamp page is Barefood. “Sullen” is the title track from their December 2013 EP. It would sit comfortably alongside the classic 90s guitar pop of the likes of Teenage Fanclub or Catherine Wheel.

Barefood are Rachmad Triyadi (bass & vocals) and Ditto Pradwitto (guitars), joined on this EP by Novianto Ariprabowo (drums) and, on this song, “Sullen”, a shared lead vocal from Putriani Mulyadi, who also wrote the lyrics. All kinds of perfect, this.

The band appear to be based in Jakarta, capital and largest city of Indonesia, on the main island of Java.

The “Sullen” EP is fantastic, even without considering the weird cultural and generational divide between the post-shoegaze rock scene of the UK in the 90s and Indonesia in 2013, when this was recorded. There’s a more recent Barefood EP here and plenty more great stuff to check out on that shoegaze compilation too.

Stephanie Crase - Summer Flake

Stephanie Crase – Summer Flake

We have passed the half way mark of PopLib’s unofficial Aussie Music Month. It started as a joke following NZ Music Month. I thought I might get a week out of it to mention some Aussie albums I’d acquired recently on a trip across the Tasman to Sydney. But everywhere I turned I found cool stuff. A lot of it was jangly guitar pop… no surprises there. If you are looking for some Aussie labels with a bit more diversity try the ones on this Top 5 list.

Although… the Rice is Nice label included on this list has as fine a collection of Nuggets-style scuzzy lo-fi garage-psych guitar bands as Bedroom Suck & RIP Society. But amongst the scuzz is the perfect weary sigh of Adelaide’s Summer Flake, here unwinding ‘Naked or Nude’ from the recent album ‘You Can have it All’.

I saw Summer Flake at Camp A Low Hum 2013. Their melodic grunge haze reminded me of Teenage Fanclub. Stephanie Crase – who is Summer Flake – has featured in a few Aussie bands, most recently Batrider with Sarah Mary Chadwick. I think she is also part of Fair Maiden, mentioned at the start of the month.

Pastels Slow Summits

The Pastels have a new album out called “Slow Summits”. It’s their first full band release for about 16 years. They didn’t split & reform or anything like that. They’ve just been busy with other things & forgot their own stuff.  It’s a great album – warm, engaging, funny and a mixture of the expected and unexpected. But I completely lack any real objectivity when it comes to The Pastels so you should check it out for yourself. Difficult as it is for me to understand, some people just don’t get The Pastels.

The Pastels occupy a special place in my heart. They have done ever since I first heard their music sometime in the mid to late 1980s.

I can’t remember when I first heard them. Most likely I read about them before hearing them, probably in a NME article. That’s the way it happened back then. I would’ve made up my mind I liked them on the basis of reading about them and seeing a photo of them. Their conspicuous lack of rock & roll bearing in the photos – Stephen Pastel’s cardigans, duffle-coat & army-surplus anorak, Aggi, & later on Katrina, amongst the awkward boys – and descriptions of their cheerful pop amateurism captured my imagination.

Pastels 1980s

I probably first heard them on cassette tapes of radio shows mailed from a relative in Scotland. Their 1987 single “Crawl Babies” opens a taped 1987 broadcast of a ‘Rock on Scotland’ BBC Radio Scotland show. The Chills new single “I Love My Leather Jacket” follows a few songs later.

I was born in Scotland and, in three stints, spent 10 of the first 20 years of my life there. I was there when Scotland beat England 2-1 in a football match at Wembley in 1977 – a class-mate brought a glass jar to school allegedly containing a slice of Wembley turf dug up by an older brother during the post-match celebratory pitch invasion. I was there when punk (and then post-punk & New Wave) happened. Both were momentous events still recalled vividly, but it was only music’s cultural revolution that had an ongoing influence on my life.

Back in New Zealand in the 1980s I kept an interest in Scottish music. It wasn’t hard – it was all over the weekly music press for a while: ‘The Sound of Young Scotland’ – Orange Juice, Josef K, The Associates, Postcard Records, early Creation Records. And some of the recordings were either released in NZ or imported by stores like Dunedin’s Echo Records.

That probably explains why I paid attention to The Pastels. There were a lot of other Scottish bands from that mid-80s to mid-90s period I liked – Boy Hairdressers (later Teenage Fanclub), Primal Scream (in their first incarnation as a jangle-pop band), The Jasmine Minks, The Shop Assistants, The Vaselines & Jesse Garon & The Desperados. But The Pastels seemed the most ‘Dunedin’ of any of the Scottish bands somehow.

Pastels Sittin Pretty

All of this seemed to sit perfectly with things I was hearing in New Zealand at the time, particularly Dunedin bands like The Clean (then The Great Unwashed), Sneaky Feelings, The Chills, The Verlaines and The Orange and the Dunedin/ Christchurch band The Bats (who recorded half their debut album “Daddy’s Highway” in a Glasgow flat in 1986).

Last trip I made back to Scotland, in 1989, I bought “Suck on” (Our Price, Inverness) “Up for a Bit With The Pastels” (not sure where) and “Sittin’ Pretty” (Virgin Records, Edinburgh). That sustained the relationship during subsequent long periods when it seemed like The Pastels had vanished. In the days pre-internet in New Zealand it was hard to keep contact with a band once they fell off the pages of NME.
Pastels 3 albums
Five years later a compilation appeared called “Truckload of Trouble” which looked like a full-stop on their run (it wasn’t). It’s an excellent starting place to discover The Pastels yourself.

Or, you could start in 2013 with their latest album “Slow Summits” and work your way back (a few appearances on collaboration records in the past decade and “Mobile Safari” in the late 1990s).

“Slow Summits” is as light-footed and loveable as their earliest releases.  The Pastels haven’t so much aged gracefully into ‘mature indie-pop’ as just continued their distinctive character and idiosyncratic charms as an expression of where they are right now.  It’s a bit more polished perhaps (flutes, strings, orchestral arrangements in places and a crisp production thanks to Tortoise drummer John McEntire) but the songs are wonderful and the distinctive voices – Stephen’s low awkward croon and Katrina’s calm soft enchantment – are there as always. The Pastels line up has for a couple of decades now included various musicians from the Glasgow scene – notably Teenage Fanclub’s Norman Blake and Gerard Love, who were influenced and inspired by The Pastels in the 1980s. The line-up is further augmented by guests from previous collaborations too which leads the album down some interesting paths into extraordinary soundtrack instrumentals. But mostly it’s just perfect songs about the confusion of relationships and life. It still sounds as different and vital as anything they’ve done.

Read more about “Slow Summits” in an interview with Stephen here. And in another interview in which the interviewer sees a link between Glasgow, Olympia and Dunedin.