Archives for posts with tag: WIAIWYA


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.

Horology“Horology” is the name of a wonderful album of lush cinematic retro-futurist pop by UK duo Red Red Eyes. Here’s the slow burning “Wildfires” from the album:

Slow lush long-form pop can be hard to do well, and “Wildfires” manages a few twists and turns as it flares over 6 minutes.

The album “Horology” contains 9 gems that are, yes, occasionally reminiscent of that peculiar timeless style and audio world Broadcast occupied, particularly the bit that was a kind of lush cinematic pop-noir homage to an impossibly cool and completely imaginary past of exotic European films we never saw, and journeys we never made, other than in our fevered imaginations.

The twangy guitars of Xavier Watkins sometimes evoke John Barry film scores and even some Morricone type hints too but Laura McMahon’s low-impact vocals draw the focus inwards creating a more intimate listening experience when the guitars are not blazing off in flights of delirious fancy.

Behind the guitar arrangements and voice are some mood-enhancing keyboard washes, synth bass pulses and motorik drum-beats. Add this all together and “Horology” is an album that fits together very beautifully inside itself, if that makes sense. A perfect musical soundtrack for a road trip at night too.

It’s on WIAIWYA of course – all the usual formats. Get it.

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 


“Better” is the second track of a four song cassette EP released yesterday by London keyboard player Emma Winston under the name Deerful.

“Better” envelopes the senses with layers of blissful synth washes and hypnotic repetition  upon which the vocal melody plays out. It captures perfectly a mood of enigmatic melancholic rapture as spellbinding as the music of another favourite London band, Leaf Library (check their brilliant “Daylight Versions” album).

Judging by the notes accompanying the release it may be a song about recovery from depression using the power of imagination:  “I believed my life would be exactly as I made it/ I believed a future lay within my sight.” Although intended as personal reflection, it can’t help but make any listener’s day better.

It’s not entirely typical of Deerful though because the other songs here (and the first side of the beautiful WIAIWYA Single Club “Moon Maps”/ “Hush Me” single from Deerful a few months ago) are more in the style of the kind of perfect minimalist electronic pop miniatures that fans of early Magnetic Fields will appreciate and enjoy.


Leaf Library
“Rings of Saturn” is one of two preview songs available to stream ahead of the upcoming release of the debut album from UK band The Leaf Library.

The album from which “Rings of Saturn” is taken from is glorious. Every so often albums come along which just cast a spell of magic so powerful you can’t escape them. “Daylight Versions” is one of these.

The Leaf Library say – with a hint of self-deprecation – they make “droney, two-chord pop that’s stuck halfway between the garage and the bedroom, all topped with lyrical love songs to buildings, stationery and the weather.” In fact this subdued and reflective music unfurls itself just perfectly and without much fuss. At times it is almost impossibly and unbearably perfect.

If you need touchstones for reference then the quieter sonic lullabies on Yo La Tengo albums is a good starting point. But it is also a bit like experiencing The Clientele’s ghostly pastoral elegies warped through the drone melodies of Stereolab. There’s a strong sense of place and season even if it seems filtered through the haze of half-sleep. Kate Gibson’s low-key vocals are all part of the welcome here too, their soft, compelling tones and uncomplicated delivery reminiscent at times of Broadcast’s Trish Keenan.

Beyond the hypnotic repetitive caress of the songs, The Leaf Library introduce textures varying from gently pulsing electronica, washes of ambient noise, piano, horns, strings. It’s more ambient/ experimental electronic folk pop than psychedelic rock and the difficulty categorising it is all part of the mystery and magic here. One of my albums of the year already.

“Daylight Versions” is released on UK label WIAIWYA on 30 October and can be pre-ordered from the label here.

Knife Pleats
“Things I Hold” kicks of side two of the brand new Knife Pleats album “Hat Bark Beach”, just released on 29 September by WIAIWYA in the UK and Lost Sound Tapes in North America.

Knife Pleats is the latest band formed by the prolific and influential Vancouver musician Rose Melberg. She is joined here by Kaity McWhinney and Tracey Vath (of Love Cuts) and drummer Gregor Phillips. Of Melberg’s earlier bands Tiger Trap are perhaps the best known, but there’s a half dozen others plus solo recordings. “Cast Away The Clouds” (2007) in particular is a highly recommended beautiful solo album.

There’s an easy familiarity about the frantic-paced pop here on “Hat Bark Beach” – all 12 songs are in the 2 minute to 2 & 1/2 minute range. But listening to the whole album reveals as many shades of difference as there are songs.

Sometimes Knife Pleats channel the kind of primal 80s indie-pop frenzy of The Shop Assistants, other times perhaps the pulsing sophistication of early Stereoloab – an indication there’s much more depth and breadth here than any one bouncy guitar pop formula.

The upbeat/downbeat songs here are bursting with fuzz & jangle pop, propelled by insistent simple drumming and topped with glorious pop melodies and engaging vocals. Melberg’s warm voice is perfectly understated, capturing nuanced resignation when singing about downs and ups of everyday life. It may all add up to a familiar musical style, but few do it better than Knife Pleats on “Hat Bark Beach”.

It’s already one of my favourite albums released this year.

'Doll' / 'Candy Darling' by Trick Mammoth - 7" WIAIWYA picture disc

‘Doll’ / ‘Candy Darling’ by Trick Mammoth – 7″ WIAIWYA picture disc

Congratulations, you have made it to the end of NZ Music Month for 2014. So has PopLib! A song-a-day-May against the odds. Actually pretty easy to find a great song a day to post. As with last year, I made some new discoveries in the process.

For Day 31 I’m going to finish with the other side of the 7″ single I started the month with. Here’s ‘Doll’ by Trick Mammoth from their WIAIWYA (‘Where It’s At Is Where You Are’) 7777777 2014 singles club picture disc:

The single is a thing of beauty – not just the upbeat-downbeat nature of the Adrian Ng’s song-writing and Millie Lovelock’s perfect melancholy vocal sigh. Each of the 7 picture discs in the series is a stage of the process of making music, illustrated by a different artist from the UK or Europe. There may still be a few copies of this collectible single available here – collectible because it was made in limited quantities and was reviewed in Record Collector magazine as ‘Single Cream’ pick for the month.

From 'Record Collector' magazine

From ‘Record Collector’ magazine

Last year I did a ‘song-a-day’ New Zealand music feature in protest/ celebration of ‘New Zealand Music Month’.

The protest part is that I (and many others involved in ‘New Zealand Music’) live, breath, sleep & dream New Zealand music every day and night of every month of every year.

I just don’t like the idea of a focus on New Zealand music for one month any more than I like the idea of one ‘Record Store Day’ (especially as now captured to benefit the larger labels). NZ Music Month is usually done through one-off events and promotional campaigns funded by NZ Music Commission and sponsors that are not part of the normal day-to-day struggle of bands and musicians playing and touring here.

These events – showcases – have a production budget most bands (and venues) would love to have. That’s great, it’s a help (some of my labels bands have played at these, so I’m not ungrateful), but it does little to sustain New Zealand music for the rest of the year. I understand why it is done this way and the intentions are good. It’s just I’d much rather see the energy and money that goes into NZ Music Month directed in a way that better supports the survival of those things essential to sustaining independent music making in NZ year-round – infrastructure supporting making music, playing live, touring and promoting music 12 months of the year.

However, regardless of my feelings about NZ Music Month, I try to celebrate New Zealand (and other) music here all year round, so I will see if I can introduce a new NZ band/ musician or song every day this month…
flower drum

First up is Trick Mammoth ‘Candy Darling’. I said I wouldn’t use PopLib to plug my own label’s releases. Trick Mammoth are on Fishrider Records but this 7″ single is on a UK label so it is not a Fishrider release and I can happily include it here as my first song for the month – and promote a very fine UK label which clearly appreciates ‘New Zealand Music’ from afar.

WIAIWYA (‘Where It’s At Is Where You Are’) is a long-running UK ‘indie-pop’ label from London. They have released a singles club series for the past few years called 7777777. It is obsessively a celebration of all things 7. The 7″ singles (all individual picture discs – seven releases a year) are each released on the 7th day of a month. There are 777 copies, with most going to subscribers and only 77 available for general sale.

Somehow WIAIWYA discovered Trick Mammoth through their early self-recorded, self-released demos and followed their progress last year as they recorded and released a few pre-release singles for their debut album ‘Floristry’. They invited them to contribute two songs for their 7777777 2014 singles club series. These were recorded in Dunedin a few days before Christmas last year. The single itself is officially released on 7 May and features ‘Doll’ (lead vocals by Millie) and this song ‘Candy Darling’ (lead vocals by Adrian).

Trivial fact for train-spotter music types here – the recording was made by Tex Houston in the same venue he has recorded The Clean, 3Ds, Magik Heads, Verlaines and David Kilgour. The amp Millie uses here for those overloaded lead guitar lines is an old Sunn 0)))) tube amp used by the 3Ds.