Posts Tagged ‘Twee’

Mixtape: Frank Infatuation – Jangle Pop Heirs to the ’80s Underground

It seems only fitting that this latest mixtape should grace the site on the same day that the Strum & Thrum review posts. The compilation and its focus on overlooked jangle-pop provided a seed of inspiration, alongside other notables like Sarah roundups Shadow Factory and Temple Road, Take The Subway To The Suburbs and, naturally, the C86 comp. I figured if we’re going to round some of the gems of our current era up later on, might as well have a good starting point. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that this does not have the geographic specificity inherent in some of those. While it rounds up a particular sound of jangle / indie pop, the bands here swing from the U.S. to Australia and New Zealand, with stops in the UK. Though someday, someone will have a wealth of opportunity rounding up the sounds of San Francisco in the Aughts/Teens and it will be well worth a listen. For now, this one should find a bit of a crack in the clouds and give you an hour’s worth of bittersweet sunshine.

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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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Blue Jeans – “Friends & Lovers”

Got a brand-new track from Michigan jangle-pop trio Blue Jeans and its swimming in allusions to the golden years of the twee end of the spectrum. Shades of classic Slumberland, Cloudberry, Flying Nun, and Subway abound, and with good reason. The band boasts a trio of music writers, alongside Saturday Looks Good To Me’s Fred Thomas, at their core. The band leaves influences draped all over their sleeves and the joy they get from dipping into the fray is palpable. The song itself celebrates making records, listening to records, and loving records with the kind of anguish that makes one stay awake late at night playing a song over and over into the headphones until the dark finally wins the fight. They’ve captured the long sigh of indie-pop with the attention to detail of listeners who’ve made it their duty to absorb every last lingering lilt. Check out the zine-worthy video above and be sure to keep an eye out for their debut LP May 17th.



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Tullycraft

Seven albums in and well removed from the heyday of indie-pop that that they just barely caught in their own early years, Tullycraft are back with one of their best. The band was always just a tad late, but wiser and wryer than their classmates, having worn their “out-of-fashion” status proudly on their sleeves. The band made their mark with slogan-worthy ditties like “Pop Songs Your New Boyfriend is Too Stupid To Know About” and sentiments that rang, “Fuck Me, I’m Twee,” which they are. They definitely are. They’ve long been giving the young’uns a few role models to emulate, though, and as they litter zines and band badges across the bar for the taking, they’ve inspired more than a few of those introverts to pick up a powder blue strat and nerd out their own catalog.

Tullycraft are, in fact, textbook twee, but there’s a sense that they’ve been writing that book all along. They’re indie-pop historians and flameholders for the big, bright pastel worlds that are woven out of jangles, boy-girl harmonies, and overly dense lyrics. The hooks here decry parties soundtracked by radio staples, detail relationships built on what you like and not what you’re like, then map out the downfall of shared living spaces with proper doses of humor and ennui. Sean Tollefson and Jenny Mears keep things sweet, sometimes even saccharine, but if you’re looking for indie-pop that lets you escape without a little frosting and felt on your hands, you’d be wise to look elsewhere.

Tollefson spits out literate lyricism with the kind of tongue-twister plot cramming that made John Darnielle sit down and write some actual books to get it all in, but he manages to make each aural acrobatic as infectious as can be. The Railway Prince Hotel distills what’s best about the band and bottles it up for a new generation that could use a little optimism in a natty cardigan. In a lot of ways Tullycraft seems like the gateway drug to a long rabbit hole spent mining old BMX Bandits video clips and Tallulah Gosh b-sides that inevitably ends up with a strange late-night fascination with The Bus Stop label output that your friends write off as a phase. However, on grey days, overwhelming months, and sleepless nights its nice to know that Tullycraft are out there weaving agita into squirreled hooks and private moments of exuberance that wind up secret handshakes for the next generation.



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The Fortuna Pop! All-Stars – “You Can Hide Your Love Forever”

It was with a heavy heart that the world said goodbye to Fortuna Pop!, one of the UK’s most ardent gardeners of modern jangle-pop. However, in a bit of good news wrapped inside the bad, the label has one last treat for the faithful. Fulfilling the last obligation on their singles series, they’ve slipped out a farewell card from their roster. Members of Allo Darlin, Spook School, Comet Gain, Joanna Gruesome, Martha, The Ladybug Transistor and Pete Astor (among others) come together like the tweest version of Live Aid the world has ever seen and run through a celebratory cover of Comet Gain’s “You Can Hide Your Love Forever.” While the original 2001 single is a melancholy bit of bliss from a band that was always overdue, the Fortuna Pop! All-Stars version revamps it into a swooning wall of indie pop splendor. It’s a nice period on the works of a label that was a labor of love and a wellspring of taste.

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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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The Spook School

Scottish indie-poppers The Spook School have touched down among couple of labels that mark the best in twee pop and jumped-up jangle – Cloudberry and Fortuna Pop ¬– and now they tick another box in that succession with a new album for Slumberland. Toughened up and sparkled with some of the band’s best hooks yet, it’s actually a disservice to lump them in with the trappings of Twee, rather this is elastic, anthemic indie-pop to its core. The record swells with a kind of wide-eyed defiance that’s hosting a tug-o-war between earnestness and skepticism. They’re capturing that moment when life crests from indomitable truths of youth to the solar plexus punch of reality. It’s a hard transition for anyone and tougher still is weathering the let down without hardening the heart of the bearer. As they so adeptly surmise, “teenage hopes are never less than perfect, anyway.”

The band whips up the manic emotions of pre-adulthood with a crush of frothing guitars, spinning through vignettes of self-acceptance, self-confidence and self-awareness in dizzying rotoscope. Despite quite a bit of the heavy lyrical matter, the record still comes off as a celebration of youth rather than an exorcism of anguish. Would It Be Different? is bittersweet, crushing, uplifting and damnably catchy through it all. They pick up the yoke laid down by dozens of Scot-poppers before them and they drag the line as hard as a good many of them. This seems like a turning point for the band, out of their fawn legs and onto a surefooted future built on fizzing indie-pop with a dense tether.

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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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The Garbage & The Flowers – The Deep Niche

Prior to the current wave of scrambling, digging and tape dusting to find unreleased material, the ’90s embraced a wave of accessibility with the CD boom, allowing plenty of unheard gems to grasp some light at last. In ’97 Bo’Weavil Records released Eyes Rind as if Beggars, a compilation of mostly lost to time recordings by New Zealand group The Garbage & The Flowers. For many, it was a release that sparked a deeper interest in the island’s fertile scene and gave influence to many who would embrace a folk sound that found equal footing in gentle strokes and noisy outbursts. The original compilation culled together home recordings, 7″s and live tracks that summed up their time after Torben Tilly’s addition. The Deep Niche captures a time even earlier than Eyes Rind, and surprisingly still finds plenty of quality moments that the “definitive” comp missed.

The core trio here is Helen Johnstone, Yuri Frusin, and Paul Yates with Tilly adding some drums and eventually keys on some tracks. It captures as raw and as vital a sound as its predecessor, swinging from the John Cale touches of Johnstone’s viola scratch, to a tender twee that would feel right at home with some Sarah Records releases, and the breakdown clatter of centerpiece “29 years.” The album finds the band in their infancy, but still lets Frusin’s songwriting shine through. There’s a nerve that’s touched throughout these tracks, and even with their meager means and scratchy quality, they’re full of enough power to uphold the legend that the band has built over the last couple of decades. Grapefruit gratefully presents this album for those looking to delve even deeper into the band’s history.





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