Entries tagged with: Black Tambourine
by Bill Pearis
photo: Pete Astor w/ The Loft @ NYC Popfest 2015 (more by PSquared)
Pete Astor was in NYC earlier this year playing NYC Popfest with his old band The Loft. That band (and his other '80s band, The Weather Prophets) worked in a jangly, post-VU style that still sounds good today. (They were really good at Popfest.) In the '90s and on, he dabbled in jazz, electronics and other non-rock forms, but he returns to his roots on his new solo album, Spilt Milk, which will be out January 8 via Slumberland in the US and Fortuna Pop in the UK. For it he's enlisted kindred spirit James Haore of Ultimate Painting (and Proper Ornaments and Veronica Falls) who certainly knows how to make records like this. Haore not only produced the album, he also played bass, guitar, drums and sang backing vocals. Pete says, "I'm back to being myself, bringing together sounds that I've used over time to make a record that sounds more like me than me!"
Also helping out on the album were members of Pete's live band, including Pam Berry (Black Tambourine), Jack Hayter (Hefner) and others. If you like Ultimate Painting but have never heard Pete Astor, just know you're gonna like this. If you liked The Loft or Weather Prophets, you will like this. If you don't know either, you may still like this. You can stream "My Right Hand" from the album below.
by Bill Pearis
Spectres hail from Bristol, UK and make the kind of hazy, dark din that's not too far off from what Ride or Swervedriver did in their early days. Their debut album, Dying, came out back in February via Sonic Cathedral and is definitely worth a spin. Listen to the whole thing below. With the new James Bond film bearing a title very similar to their name, Spectres have done the logical thing and recorded their own unofficial Bond theme that mixes the sweeping elements inherent in the genre with their noisy predilections. And unlike Sam Smith, they dare to both title it and rhyme "Spectre." (Its b-side is a song called "Bondage.") It's out today via Sonic Cathedral (on gold vinyl!) and you can watch the video for it below.
In other indie James Bond news, label wiaiwya just released A Girl and a Gun - a Global POP Subterfuge, a new 007 tribute album featuring covers of the many movie themes by indiepop artists such as Hefner's Darren Hayman ("Goldfinger"), Black Tambourine's Pam Berry ("Underneath the Mango Tree" from Dr. No), onetime Voxtrox singer Ramesh (who collaborates with Charm Bracelet for "For Your Eyes Only") and 31 others. (This thing goes deep.) You can stream the whole thing below.
Spectre, the movie featuring Christoph Waltz as a Blofeld-like baddie, is out November 4.
by Andrew Sacher
Slumberland Records founder and Black Tambourine / Manatee member Mike Schulman has a new band called Hard Left, and the indie pop sounds you may associate him with are nowhere to be found here. Also featuring Boyracer's Stewart Anderson and Lunchbox's Tim Brown and Donna McKean, Hard Left make throwback punk recalling the late '70s UK era. If you're into stuff like Sham 69, Cockney Rejects or The Sex Pistols, this band is for you.
The band's debut LP, We Are Hard Left, comes out May 12 as the third release on the band's own label Future Perfect Records. We've got the premiere of its newest single, "Red Flag," which you can listen to below.
The California-based band also have a few upcoming shows in their home state. Those dates are listed below too...
by Bill Pearis
Scottish singer/songwriter Dan Willson will release New Gods, his second album as Withered Hand next week (3/25) via Slumberland. It's a sparkling collection of literate pop, and the record features appearances Black Tambourine's Pam Berry, Eugene Kelly of The Vaselines and members of Belle & Sebastian and Frightened Rabbit. It's a really lovely album. We're premiering a stream of the entire album which you can listen to below.
Withered Hand just played SXSW and he'll be in NYC this week for the first night of Chickfactor 22 at The Bell House on Thursday (3/20) with The Jim Ruiz Set, Lilys and Amor de Dias. Joining him onstage at this show are Pam Berry and Kenny Anderson (aka King Creosote) which should make for a special show. Tickets are still available.
Flyer for Chickfactor 22 (designed by Tae Won Yu) and the Withered Hand album stream, below...
photos by Dominick Mastrangelo; words by Bill Pearis
"I feel like we're some weird meat stuck between two pieces of amazing bread." Small Factory drummer Phoebe Summerquash was referring to her band's placement on the bill between Versus and reformed indiepop legends Black Tambourine at Night One of CF*2012: for the love of pop! The three night event at The Bell House celebrated the 20th Anniversary of the '90s-era zine and co-founder Gail O'Hara has gotten a lot of bands to reform/come out of hiding just for the occasion. "Someone said I am like the mafia," she joked. "No one can say no to me!"
Small Factory haven't played in 17 years but, despite Pheobe's protests, the trio sounded like no time had passed whatsoever and were the clear highlight of night one for this reviewer, a justification of the entire three-day shindig. Songs like "Hopefully," "What to Want" and "Suggestions" haven't aged a bit and the band was together and rockin'. (They also played Cake Shop on Friday.) Small Factory are also in some ways the quintessential chickfactor band. The have a song called "Versus Tape" and their cover of Lois Maffeo's "Valentine" had the entire audience singing. If there was a snapshot of the whole night, that was it.
Lois Maffeo, whose 1993 album Strumpet is a Clinton-era indie rock classic, did her own set earlier in the night, playing a few songs solo before bringing out "The Lois Plus": original drummer Molly Neuman and Heavenly's Peter Momtchiloff on electric guitar. She was a real charmer and the Strumpet-era songs really hold up. Lois is also a very funny person. "I'm so glad I made music in the '90s," she said. "'Magazine' is easy to rhyme. I have trouble working 'Tumblr' into my lyrics."
Versus, who are still a highly functioning band with a recent album on Merge, gave, unsurprisingly the tightest set of the evening but I'll admit to not paying that close attention, as I've seen them probably eight times in the last four years. Richard Balyut looked very Easter Sunday dapper in suit and bowtie.
Black Tambourine @ the Bell House
Headliners Black Tambourine were fun but felt more like you were watching some friends' pick-up band at a party. Which was essentially what happened. The instrument switching between Archie Moore, Brian Nelson and Mike Schulman every few songs felt arbitrary, like the all wanted their turn on drums, bass and guitar.
Which isn't to say it was bad at all. It was fun, and clearly they were having a blast. Schulman, in particular, tore into what ever instrument he was playing. And when Moore was on drums -- usually the more gothy, tribal songs (okay maybe it wasn't totally arbitrary) -- they sounded pretty great. Singer Pam Berry seemed nervous, but her voice was clear and as pretty as ever. And, as chickfactor founder Gail O'Hara said in her introduction, you could actually hear the vocals this time around. I never saw them back in the day, so I'll take her word on that.
In addition to BT classics like "Throw Aggi Off the Bridge," "For Ex-Lovers Only" and "We Can't Be Friends," the band did a number of covers including Love's "Can't Explain," The Ramones' "I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend," and "Dream Baby Dream" by Suicide. Rose Melberg came out to sing Strawberry Switchblade's "Since Yesterday" which had the place dancing. It was a genuine party atmosphere.
The night, which was hosted wittily by Gaylord Fields, started with two unannounced guests. The first was James McNew's Dump who played a low-key set that included a great cover of Prince's "Pop Life." And then Mark Robinson came out to excited cheers to do solo electric versions of Unrest's "Yes She is My Skinhead Girl" and "Isabel".
The chickfactor anniversary party continued on Wednesday with headliners The Aislers Set, Pipas, personal faves The Legendary Jim Ruiz Group and Bridget St. John and more, and then ended Thursday night... but more about those nights later.
Lots more photos and some videos of the first night's fun are after the jump....
by Bill Pearis
DOWNLOAD: Black Tambourine - What's Your Game? (MP3)
Black Tambourine at Artsphere, Washington DC (via Sammich's instagram)
Between most songs in Black Tambourine's set, Mike Schulman, Archie Moore, and (Washington City Paper staffer) Brian Nelson switched off between guitar, bass, and percussion. Singer Pam Berry, lectern in tow, stayed in the center--and because it was true to the original recordings, it was OK that her voice was a little low in the mix. Everything was loud, fast, and feedback-strewn. About 5 percent of the audience was absolutely flipping out. Seventy to 80 percent was mostly flipping out, but with less flailing. "We've practiced three times in a row, which is three more times in a row than we'd ever practiced before," Moore said after the show. [Washington City Paper]Black Tambourine are in the greater New York area, having played Maxwell's last night (with Fan Modine and Rose Melberg) and will headline tonight's first of three chickfactor 20th anniversary shows at The Bell House. Tonight (4/10 with Small Factory, Versus, the Lois Plus) and tomorrow (4/11 with The Aisler's Set, Pipas, Bridget St. John, The Legendary Jim Ruiz Group) are sold out but you can still get tickets to Thursday's closing show (4/12) with Stevie Jackson (Belle & Sebastian), Honey Bunch, The Pines, The Softies).
For those going tonight, there are two unannounced special guests opening the show, so get there at 8PM sharp! Black Tambourine's new EP of Ramones covers (download "What's Your Game?" above) isn't out till May 15 but I wouldn't be surprised if it was at the merch table tonight.
Additionally, for those Small Factory fans who couldn't get tickets tonight (or are maybe going to see Pulp), the reformed Rhode Islanders play Cake Shop on Friday (4/13) with Air Waves.
Click through to see the lovely poster for the chickfactor anniverary, done by Tae Won Yu (who did the art for Built to Spill's Perfect from Now On and Keep it Like a Secret).
by Bill Pearis
DOWNLOAD: Black Tambourine - What's Your Game? (MP3)
Black Tambourine back in the day...
The first night of chickfactor 2012: for the love of pop, which features sets from reunited Black Tambourine and Small Factory, sold out pretty quick, so Black Tambourine have added another show at Maxwells on Monday April 9 for those who didn't get tickets. It's with Fan Modine and Rose Melberg (Tiger Trap/Softies/Go Sailor) and tickets are still on sale and still available.
To commemorate chickfactor's 20th birthday, Black Tambourine have also recorded an EP of Ramones covers which will be released as a double 7" on Slumberland on May 15. Says the Slumberland press release:
It took a pretty special occasion to bring Black Tambourine out of retirement, even temporarily, and the 20th birthday of BT singer Pam Berry's Chickfactor magazine is definitely such an occasion. When the band were discussing the rather complicated logistics (members scattered across two continents) for the reunion shows, the thought of maybe doing some new recordings came to mind. The band quickly agreed that a tribute to one their favorite bands would be a fun project, and of course the Ramones jumped to the top of the list.You can download Black Tambourine's cover of "What's Your Game" (from the Ramones' 1977's LP Leave Home) which features backing vocals from the Rinettes (aka Linda Smith, Rose Melberg, Dee Dee from Dum Dum Girls and Jenny Robbins from Honeymoon Diary). You can also stream it below.
After choosing which songs to work on, the band recorded using the same methodology as they did for the bonus tracks on their self-titled 2010 compilation LP. The gentlemen in the band convened in Maryland to lay down the music, the rough mixes were sent to Pam in London so she could add her inimitable vocals, and then the resulting recordings were sent back to Maryland for Archie to mix.
The final result is OneTwoThreeFour, a double 7" and download EP featuring Black Tambourine's versions of four of their most-loved Ramones tunes.
In other chickfactor news, in addition to the Maxwell's show, the 20th anniversary party has added a show in Portland on May 30 at the Bunk Bar, with Barbara Manning, Joe Pernice, The Softies and Selector Dub Narcotic (Calvin Johnson in DJ mode).
Speaking of Joe Pernice, he'll appear in NYC at City Winery as part of John Wesley Harding's Cabinet of Wonders with Meg Baird (Espers), Bhi Bhiman, Sloane Crosley, A.M.Homes, Eugene Mirman, and Sondre Lerche on March 10th. Tickets are on sale.
Though the first night of the 3-day Bell House fest is sold out, you can still get tickets to the May 11 show (Legendary Jim Ruiz, Aislers Set, Pipas, Bridget St John) and the May 12 show (The Pines, The Softies, Stevie Jackson, Honeybunch).
There's also chickfactor shows in Arlington, VA's Artsphere on April 6 (Stevie Jackson, Frankie Rose, Honebunch, Dot Dash) and April 7 (Black Tambourine, Lilys, Fan Modine, Lorelei).
Click through for the stream of Black Tambourine's Ramones cover, plus cover art to the new EP...
by Bill Pearis
chickfactor #1 with cover stars Small Factory
chickfactor will celebrate its 20-year anniversary with five blissful nights of sparkling indie pop on the Northeast Corridor of the USA (three in NY; two in DC) including the first shows in years by Black Tambourine, Small Factory, Pipas, The Aislers Set, A Girl Called Eddy, The Softies, The Lois Plus, The Legendary Jim Ruiz Group and Fan Modine and rare performances from such pop luminaries asStevie Jackson (Belle & Sebastian), Frankie Rose, Lilys, Lorelei, Dot Dash, Versus, Bridget St John and Honey Bunch.Those who followed indiepop in the '90s most certainly read (and probably still have their copies of) fabled 'zine chickfactor, which was written all in lower-case and was read sideways like a calendar. Stephin Merritt was among the regular contributors and it was fun, funny and turned a lot of folks on to cool new sounds like Black Tambourine, Lois Maffeo, Small Factory, The Legendary Jim Ruiz Group, Tiger Trap and many more. Stevie Jackson wrote a song about it for the second Belle & Sebastian album, maybe you heard it.
chickfactor started in 1992 in D.C. and New York by pop-loving maniacs Pam Berry and Gail O'Hara, who used to travel up and down the East Coast seeing Small Factory, Honey Bunch, the Wedding Present and any other fine indie-pop bands of the era. We are spoiled silly and lucky as all get-out to be able to present this super-stellar line-up. Get your ticket fast, do not dilly-dally!
For chickfactor's 20th anniversary, founders Gail O'Hara and Pam Berry have put together a five-day, two-city festival that gathers many of the zine's most loved bands, many of whom haven't performed in 15 or more years. It happens April 6 and 7 at the Artisphere in Arlington, Virginia and then in NYC April 10 -12 at The Bell House (Maybe some of you went to the 10th anniversary show at Fez?).
The shows shows break down like this:
April 6 (Artispace, Arlington, VA): Stevie Jackson, Frankie Rose, Honey Bunch, The Dot Dash
April 7 (Artispace, Arlington, VA): Black Tambourine, Lilys, Fan Modine, Lorelei
April 10 (The Bell House, Brooklyn): Black Tambourine, Small Factory, Versus, The Lois Plus + Special Guests.
April 11 (The Bell House, Brooklyn): The Aislers Set, Pipas, Bridget St. John, The Legendary Jim Ruiz Group
April 12 (The Bell House, Brooklyn): Stevie Jackson, Honey Bunch, A Girl Called Eddy, The Softies
Black Tambourine (first East Coast shows in 20 years) and The Aislers Set (first in almost 10 years) are the big draws here, but this writer is especially excited about folk pop trio Small Factory who haven't played together in 15 years and Minneapolis' The Legendary Jim Ruiz Group whose 1995 album O Brother Where Art Thou? is a lost '90s classic (they're promising a new album this year too).
This comes a mere month before the sixth annual NYC Popfest (happening May 17 - 20) which means this spring is likely to be a very good year for indiepop fans. NYC Popfest hasn't divulged any of its line-up, but I hear it may be their most ambitious yet.
Click though for a detailed rundown of the chickfactor fest line-up, plus some vintage videos from the groups involved.
by Bill Pearis
DOWNLOAD: Summer Cats - Hey You (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: Summer Cats - Super (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: Summer Cats - Let's Go (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: Summer Cats - TV Guide (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: Black Tambourine - For Ex-Lovers Only (MP3)
As previously reported, Australia is invading America (and NYC) this month -- musically speaking -- and another battalion has been added to their ranks: Melbourne's Summer Cats. The band are making the most of their trip with a quick East Coast / Midwest tour -- including Mondo! at Don Hill's on Friday (3/5) and then Bruar Falls in Brooklyn on Sunday (3/7) -- then down to Austin for SXSW, then to California for the West Coast editions of Slumberland's 20th Anniversary concerts.
Summer Cats are an almost quintessentially Slumberland-sounding band: sunny male/female vocals, jangly guitars that sometimes get very very noisy, and vintage organ. The band kind of is vintage Slumberland too -- singer Scott Stevens spent a good portion of the '90s fronting shoegazers The Earthmen, whose "Cool Chick #59" was one of the label's early singles. After a string of 7"s on labels like Popboomerang and Cloudberry, Summer Cats became labelmates of Pains of Being Pure at Heart and Crystal Stilts and released their debut album, Songs for Tuesdays, last year.
There's a brand new single out from the band, "Your Timetable," that definitely dips into the band's distortion-loving side. You can download it's poppier flipside, "TV Guide," at the top of this post. There are three other Summer Cats tunes to download too, do check them out -- good stuff.
As for the West Coast Slumberland 20 shows are happening March 27 in San Francisco (sold out) at the Rickshaw Stop, and then the next night (3/28) at the Echo in Los Angeles. As much as I enjoyed the SL20 show at Bell House back in November, I'm more than a little jealous of the California line-ups, especially the San Francisco one. Both shows are headlined by UK indiepop stalwarts Boyracer who are currently claiming these will be their last-ever shows, plus Henry's Dress (original lineup!!!), Go Sailor (Rose Melberg of Tiger Trap/Softies and Amy Linton of Henry's Dress/Aisler's Set, their first show in 14 years!), and more recent Slumberland acts Brown Recluse, Devon Williams, Neverever (ex Royal We and Bricolage), and third-ever (and fourth-ever) live performances of Sic Alps side project, The How. The Rickshaw Stop show also has local Slumberland act Brilliant Colors. And Summer Cats, of course. Holy crap!
Summer Cats also play the Cake Shop/Slumberland showcase at SXSW (3/19 at the Mohawk) that also features The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Frankie & the Outs, Grass Widow, Reading Rainbow and Standard Fare (who we just posted about).
While on the subject of Slumberland Records, and to make this post as tangential (and Brooklyn Vegan-esque) as possible, as part of the label's 20th anniversary they're putting out a new compilation of one of their earliest bands: the short-lived but highly influential Black Tambourine. The group was made up of Pam Berry (also of Glo-Worm and co-founder of zine chickfactor), Velocity Girl's Archie Moore, Brian Nelson and Mike Schulman who runs Slumberland to this day. This replaces the label's previous Black Tambourine comp, offering up six previously unheard tracks. Two of those tracks are demos and the other four are brand new -- two originals, plus covers of Buddy Holly and Suicide. Out March 30, Black Tambourine will be available on CD and a gatefold double LP. Despite the new recordings, the band aren't getting back together or touring... so don't get too excited (editor's note: though I heard there is a chance of a UK show). There is a new video for their song "For Ex-Lovers Only," which you can watch below (and download an MP3 above).
After the jump there are Summer Cats videos and tour dates, and that Black Tambourine music video, album art and tracklist...