Archive for May, 2012

Date: May 21st, 2012
Cate: graphic design

Mikkeller by Bedow

I’ve been a big fan of the Danish brewery Mikkeller for a few years, but I’ve never really liked their label designs. This year, they’ve teamed up with small Swedish agency Bedow for four seasonal brews, the first being this, the Pale Spring Ale. The new design is based on the ‘temperature dot’ that some beers have to show it’s the right temperature to drink. The same heat-sensitive colour has been used here to create a snowflake that turns into a sun as the beer bottle becomes warm (empty). I’m looking forward to seeing the next three seasons’ designs, and seeing this on the shelves at Ølbutikken or På Besök.

The excellent font used, Calibre, once again comes from New Zealand type foundry Klim, who’s Tiempos font is used throughout IL Magazine (see previous post).

Date: May 15th, 2012
Cate: graphic design, rediscovered

The Tikis

Among the Autumn recording artists (The Beau Brummels, The Vejtables, The Mojo Men etc.) The Tikis have become a footnote, although they later reached fame with a name change to Harpers Bizarre and a cover of a Simon & Garfunkel song. They did only release two singles, out of which the second seemed to have been pulled quite early and released instead on their new label Warner. The b-side to that single, and one of their best songs “Lost My Love Today”, was again chosen as the flip to the first Harpers Bizarre 45, and is also included as a bonus to the reissue of their first LP. The song’s gentle folk-rock trappings show the Tikis at their very best and I’ve played it a lot, along with “Happy With You” and “The Darkest Night of the Year”, which have turned up in my podcasts and dj sets.

The latter two are unreleased cuts, some of which were done for Autumn and eventually released on the Autumn Records compilation Dance With Me. More songs from the vaults appeared on Big Beat’s Someone to Love: The Birth of the San Francisco Sound. But as of yet, there hasn’t been a retrospective gathering all these tracks in one place. Until that day, you can get this makeshift compilation I’ve put together from all their released material so far. Perhaps there is even more waiting to be uncovered?

The Tikis
Pay Attention to Us!

Date: May 13th, 2012
Cate: new releases

SIDE35 | podcast

Here’s a quick mix with new material from some of 2012’s greatest.

Date: May 12th, 2012
Cate: graphic design

Post-typography

Sweden just got a new set of stamps called Typsnitt, showing five typefaces designed by Swedes. Traffic, Satura, Sispos, Indigo Antiqua and Berling Antikva range from 1951 to 2010. The engravings of these typefaces bring type to a conceptual full circle, that returns it to the pre-letterpress era. Satura was co-designed by Peter Bruhn, who is one of the country’s most reputable designers, having been involved with the previous redesign of newspaper Sydsvenskan and Malmö-based type foundry Fountain.

Date: May 9th, 2012
Cate: Music

SIDE34 | mix

Here then, is the 4th set of Bitter Bells that I put together over a year ago. The plan was four volumes with 23 tracks each, featuring all my favourite moody garage and folk-punk singles. Most of them I’ve found on the epic USA Garage Greats compilations. But there probably will be one or two more volumes in the near future.

Tracks 1-4 are perennial favourites, along with tracks 12,13 and 16. While most of the cuts are from Byrds-mania year 1966, this volume is still quite eclectic, featuring Dutch beat group The Sound Magics, The Gremlins from Auckland, New Zealand, as well as early single from The Flock. The insanely rare Beachnuts 45 is not by the Lou Reed group of the same name, and the other rarity here is the Ruff 45 by The Page Boys (never comped, only available at Garage Hangover).

SIDE34

01 The Mods – Days Mind the Time Cee Three 1000, 1966
02 The Roosters – You Gotta Run PSA 11032, 1966
03 The Trolls – Are You the One ABC-Paramount 10823, 1966
04 The Gremlins – I Can’t Say Zodiac 3000, 1967
05 The Bees – Forget Me Girl Mira 210, 1966
06 The Rooney Brothers – Just a Friend Columbia 44393, 1968
07 The Briks – It’s Your Choice acetate, 1966
08 The F.B.I. – Day Time – Night Time Gemini 501, 1967
09 The Shondells – It’s True Ikon Enterprises 167/168, 1965
10 The Page Boys – Sweet Love Ruff 1020, 1966
11 The Grapes of Wrath – Not a Man Storm, 1967
12 The Rovin’ Flames – Seven Million People Tampa Bay 1111, 1966
13 The Bad Seeds – Taste of the Same J-Beck 1002, 1965
14 The Sound Magics – Don’t You Remember Philips JF327972, 1965
15 The Enemys – My Dues Have Been Paid MGM K13525, 1966
16 The Plagues – I’ve Been Through It Before Fenton 2070, 1966
17 The Mysterions – Is It a Lie Jox 040, 1965
18 The Wrong Numbers – I Wonder Why Hit Cat 201, 1965
19 The Maltees Four – You Pacific Challenger 111, 1966
20 The Beachnuts – Nature’s Company Showcase 9902, 1967
21 The Flock – Can’t You See (That I Really Love Her) Destination 628, 1966
22 The Del-Fi’s – Now It’s Time DC 150, 1965
23 The Guilloteens – For My Own HBR 451, 1965

Date: May 6th, 2012
Cate: new releases
1 msg

Strawberry Whiplash | Hits In the Car

Here’s a record I’ve been meaning to write about for a while. It might not feel like it but this is, as a matter of fact, the first full-length record from the Glaswegian duo Strawberry Whiplash. After about six years, three EPs and numerous compilation appearances (“Summershine” being my favourite to this day), it’s high time for Laz to prove that Strawberry Whiplash is more than a side project to Bubblegum Lemonade (as whom he has already released two albums). Hits In the Car does just that, with strong songwriting, just enough humour to not tip into the comedy abyss, and essentially, variation in the material. With clever nods to pop history icons like The Monkees as much as forgotten footnotes like The Velvelettes, Laz is not the kind of person who’s averse to calling a song “Surfin’ USB”. On this record though, it feels like he’s laid off some of the referencing, both literal and sonic (usually JAMC fuzz, Byrds jangle) and just lets the songs shine. It’s still hard not to get a Jim Reid déjà-vu as he sings his parts in the duet “You Make Me Shine” with lead vocalist Sandra. But as much as it reminds me of Reid & Sandoval’s “Sometimes Always”, it’s a timeless feel that has been tapped into way before Lee & Nancy perfected it. There’s something for everyone here, from the simple upbeat “It Came to Nothing”, to languid maj7-heavy “Dining Out In Paris and London”. “Sleepy Head” would probably make even Kevin Shields satisfied. In all, it’s a versatile record with a full sound, combining real drums with drum machine to the effect of a convincing band recording. No real standouts (in a positive sense), but if I had to choose one it’d have to be “Everybody’s Texting” which is cleverly heartbreaking and melodically melancholic. Or perhaps melancholically melodic. Hear it in the latest podcast.

Hits In the Car was preceded at the tail end of last year by the excellent 7″ EP Stop, Look and Listen, whose title track is also on the album (that unfortunately isn’t available on vinyl from Matinée). The 7″ is well worth picking up with the same order, for the two excellent b-sides.

Date: May 5th, 2012
Cate: rediscovered
1 msg

The Combine & Small World

Recently I’ve done a couple of dj sets playing powerpop and mod revival groups. I came across a brilliant track called “Dreams Come True” which was only ever released on The Countdown Compilation, one of the finest of its kind. It’s credited to The Combine (no doubt named after the Jam number), but after I found the same song on a Small World (a another revival group I’d enjoyed on the excellent This Is Mod compilations)  record it was clear I needed to do some research.

It turns out Small World is one of my new favourite groups, having connections to others like The Rage, The Scene and The Combine. The Combine was formed around the same songwriting duo as Small World, but was probably a temporary venture. Small World formed in 1979 and not only released the excellent “First Impressions” 45, but also an earlier single on Dan Treacy’s Whaam! which surprised me since I thought I knew the label’s discography pretty well. But “Love Is Dead” was actually the third release on Whaam! and the first not by one of Treacy and Edward Ball’s groups. It was issued in a plain black sleeve, and none of the tracks made it onto the Whaam! compilation on Vinyl Japan.

You can still hear The Combine track on Ace Records’ Ready Steady Go – The Countdown Records Story, which features several of the tracks from the original 1985 compilation. The Small World retrospective I mentioned earlier is a truly essential double-disc set called Slight Detour, available from Detour, and also on Spotify. One of the best songs, “Purple”, also came out on 7″ in 2001. The band have reformed a few times and have a website with their story here.

Date: May 1st, 2012
Cate: new releases

Paul & Jessica | Sunflower 7″

Yesterday, the day of the seemingly heathen Swedish half-holiday Walpurgis Night, saw the release of Paul Messis’ first single as a duo together with Jessica Winters of London group The Hall of Mirrors. A fitting framing considering the soft psychedelic sounds of the two tracks, touching down halfway between English psychpop group Kaleidoscope and West Coast-styled folk-psych group The Growing Concern. Conceptually linked to classic duos like Sonny & Cher and Lee & Nancy, Paul and Jessica still manage to bring something new to this tested formula. The self-professed influence from The Folklords on Messis’ compositions is beautifully apparent on a-side “Sunflower”, which combines autoharp with sitar and 12-string guitar (watch the video below). Even better (and the opening track on the latest Record Turnover podcast) is “As Nightmares Turn to Dreams”, which reminds me of the majesty of The Ashes’ recordings (pre-Peanut Butter Conspiracy). Pick this great two-sider up on green vinyl from State Records.