Posts Tagged ‘Sarah Records’

The Springfields – Singles 1986-1991

Its absolutely fitting that The Springfields compilation should come out on Slumberland. The label had long attempted to release a single from the band, but their tenure ended before the connection could ever come to fruition. With Slumberland as the epicenter of a sound that long looked to the indiepop wave across the sea, The Springfields would have proven their quintessential band. They were American indiepop rooted deep in English sounds — not a common commodity in the timeframe of 1987-1991 as documented here. he Springfields were the first U.S. act to snag a single on that hub of UK pop activity, Sarah Records, with 1988’s “Sunflower.” They’d follow it up with releases on short-lived US levels Picture Book and Seminal Twang, but despite reaching out to UK fans and even Australia with a Sumershine release, they didn’t become part of the Slumberland family until now. Essentially, its just nice to see two American conduits of jangled joy coming together after all these years.

To some the band is also the polar half of Choo Choo Train, which served as the training grounds for much of Matthew Sweet’s circle of collaborators. Choo Choo Train was home to songwriters Paul Chastain and Rick Menck, but most of the same band members in CCT would come to release music withThe Springfields. The idea was that in Choo Choo Train the songwriting fall mostly to Chastain (and occasionally Sweet) and the The Springfields would become Menck’s banner, chasing the same influences that drove his favorite UK pop bands. Sweet rears his head again in The Springfields, documented here on the b-side “Are We Gonna Be Alright?” Mostly, though, this is a celebration of Menck’s output before the core would crumble and he’d go on to work under Sweet and Chastain would form Velvet Crush. In that regard, this is the flashpoint for so many power pop and indie pop points of origin. That alone makes it absolutely amazing to have these singles back in print and collected for the masses that haven’t heard them (of which, there are undoubtedly many).

The collection also winds up as a bit of a love letter to quite a few other bands that didn’t get their due on the first pass in The States, with quite a few of the b-sides winding up covers of bands that Menck enjoyed. The collection here contains covers of an unreleased Primal Scream track, (“Tomorrow Ends Today”), The Clouds (“Tranquil”), and The Pastels (“Million Tears”). Menck does each one justice and hopefully send listeners scrambling into the arms of those bands as well. There’s a Hollies cover thrown in as well, but they didn’t necessarily need the push the others did. There are hundreds of reissues sliding down the belts these days, but this one’s ranking pretty high on the necessary scale. Any jangle pop fan should have pushed ‘purchase’ around that first paragraph.



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Ex-Vöid – “Only One”

Post-Joanna Gruesome members have picked up as Ex-Vöid over the last year and it seems they can’t knock out a bad single. Continuing the reign of fuzz-thumped jangle-pop that permeated their first single, “Boyfriend,” they continue the love-worn territory on “Only One.” The song is swept up on the trappings of Sarah, Bus Stop, and Sha La La records releases and fittingly they’re releasing the single on a renewed Perfect Records as a joint venture between the band and The Field Mice’s Mark Dobson. Check out the Super 8 soaked video above and pop over to Bandcamp to check the spikier b-side that turns their indie-pop into a guitar-tapped fireball of punk. I’m excited to see that this was not a one-off and just savoring each new single that slides down the belt.



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Slumberland To Release The Springfields Singles Compilation

If you were an American indie pop fan in 1988, chances are you may have felt a little alone. While the C86 movement and sound took hold in the UK, here the prescription was likely grunge and lots of it, with the more aloof arms of College Rock and general “Alternative” not quite swooning at the idea of ’60 indebted sounds. Out west The Paisley Undergound had given way to some purchase for the same sounds, but even among those ranks the twee sounds of Sarah, Sha La La, Postcard, and Creation weren’t making the same impact here as at home. Thankfully there were a few homegrown outposts like Bus Stop and Picturebook that were giving the twee hearts of US bands a place to hang and, of course, just a year later Slumberland themselves would enter the fray and give a home to bands like Honeybunch, Velocity Girl, and Black Tambourine.

The label never released a Springfields release during the band’s original run, but now they’re gathering up the essential singles from the band’s short run and giving them a much-needed compilation and overview of this American indie-pop band’s impact on the sound. The band, notably included Ric Menck and Paul Chastain who would go on to work with Velvet Crush, Bag O’ Shells, Choo Choo Train and The Big Maybe. Should go without saying, but you need this one. You really do.



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Blueboy – If Wishes Were Horses

The past few years have seen an uptick in the renewal of the Sarah Records catalog, but there still remain a few great outliers that are in need of a vinyl refresh. Now, I’ve been lax on the Necessary Repress feature, but rest assured that the debut from Reading’s Blueboy would have made the cut. It’s a raw, gentle, bruised sort of record that’s built for swooning emotions and grey-skied walks. The band recorded the first demo for the song “Clearer” and sent it with hopes of a deal to Sarah. The label would issue it as a single in 1991. That single, along with the follow-up, “Popkiss” would both be included later CD reissues on Quattro and Cherry Red. Now Australian label A Colorful Storm has issued their long beloved debut album If Wishes Were Horses for the first time since 1992.

The record is brief, far more compact than anything else they’d release, but thre’s not a stumble in the bunch. Over eight tracks, the band would build off of the sounds that “Clearer” and “Popkiss” cemented, finding their way into a niche of pastoral indie-pop that fit nicely between releases by Brighter and The Orchids that year on Sarah. The band would follow the album up with the lengthier Unisex before losing members Mark Andes and Lloyd Armstrong in the wake of its release. While the follow-up is more complex, I’d have to lobby a preference for their debut. It’s a short, perfect shot of pop that captures the magic that Sarah were peddling.

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Boyracer – “Strong Arms / Teardrops”

Emotional Response continues to be a lifeline to Sarah Records in the here and now. After a string of reissues, including Even As We Speak, Action Painting, and Boyracer’s own earl EPs, the label is now working with the band on a new album due out later in the year But, bonus on bonus, these two non-album cuts have found their way out into the world early via a 75-run lathe cut single. “Strong Arms” is picks up nicely where vintage Boyracer left off, pinning a splash of fuzz to the jangle that long pervaded the Sarah roster. The song tumbles over itself in pure exhumeerance, veering wildly in its lane and spilling confetti out of the windows as it speeds away. The flip isn’t quite as breathless, but its a jolt of joy nontheless, if you can wrap old habits around Boyracer sneering about streaming albums. For fans of the band’s career (which stretched long after the seminal label folded through Slumberland, A Turntable Friend and Fluff Records) this is another great entry to their pristine run.



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Action Painting! – Trial Cuts 1989-1995

Emotional Response is stepping up and doing the universe a solid by rounding up the corners of the Sarah Records catalog and issuing them as much-needed archival compilations. There are full plans to get works by Secret Shine, Even As We Speak, Boyracer and Action Painting! together. For now, though, they’ve got the latter two pressed and dressed for your consumption. Action Painting! found their way to the seminal label late in the game. The Gosport band still operated within Sarah’s system of jangles and sighs, but they updated the sound with a harder edge than many of their labelmates, roping in a love for The Jam and The Go-Betweens then mashing them into an apparent swooning for The Buzzcocks.

Sadly, the band would only issue four singles in their tenure, three for Sarah and one for Damaged Goods, all of which rear their head on Trial Cuts 1980-1995, as do a fair number of demos that speak to what could have been had the band gotten ‘round to getting that LP together proper. This collection will have to stand in the stead of a real album, and while it’s a bit sprawling given that the band likely hat a taught ten or twelve piece they could have hacked out, it does cull together all the material collectors could ever whimper about in one convenient package. For jangle fans, new wave nuts, punk hangers-on and the like this is a pretty solid set that puts straight the history on a band lost to the fringes. Recommended you get into this one as soon as possible.



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NRP: The Orchids – Unholy Soul

Heading into another exploration of an album unfairly shuttled to the OOP shelf these days. This column seems particularly piercing in the looming shadow of yet another Record Store Day, with no doubt deserving gems from Disturbed and Jeff Beck’s – Truth (a record you can find easily for $5-7 in most used shops) preparing for their assent back to the shelves. Not that it’s all bad. On any other day I’d pop in for a copy of Burt Jansch’s L.A. Turnaround and oddball ‘90s poppers Chainsaw Kittens if I didn’t have them already. So here goes my continual wishlist to the gods of proper reissue, nominating the sophomore LP from Glaswegian janglers The Orchids.

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Mixtape: Shame About The Rain

Heading into the third installment of the RSTB Mixtape series here and this one speaks to a crucial influence on the site. There’s been no shortage of jangle pop in the last couple of years, particularly because a current crop of Aussie and US bands seem enamored with the sounds of Creation, Sarah, September and Flying Nun. This mix is a tribute to the sound of English rain. It’s full of faraway looks, pining hearts and more than a few hooks. By no means a definitive overview but I have to say, not a shabby collection of janglers here. Check out the stream and tracklist below.

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