Entries tagged with: The Smittens
by Bill Pearis
NYC synthpop band The Ballet have been hibernating the last few years, rarely playing live and no recorded material since 2009's terrific Bear Life. The band are finally getting around to doing something again, having signed with Fortuna Pop who will release The Ballet's new album, I Blame Society, on June 10. You can check out the video for "Is Anyone Out There?" below. It's a little less overtly Magnetic Fields-y than we've maybe heard before, but it's definitely whetting my appetite for the album.
The Ballet were always good live -- they played an BV show in 2006 -- and you can see their first NYC gig in ages on Saturday (6/1) afternoon at Spike Hill, which is part of NYC Popfest and is free. It also features Vermont's charming The Smittens, Norwegian band Making Marks and Austin's Silkies.
Set times for the Spike Hill show, plus The Ballet video and streams from the other bands playing below...
by Bill Pearis
Close Lobsters / The School
We already knew that The Monochrome Set would be performing at this year's NYC Popfest (May 30 - June 2) but now the rest of the line-up has been announced and it's pretty great with appearances from New Zealand Flying Nun legends The Bats, two bands who featured on NME's legendary C-86 cassette (Scotland's Close Lobsters [!] and London's The Wolfhounds), and long-running California band The Orange Peels; plus newer bands like Wales' The School, UK group Flowers, Hobbes Fanclub and Tigercats, Sweden's Alpaca Sport and Azur Blue, Norway's Making Marks, and Spain's Zipper; and American groups Ringo Deathstarr, Math & Physics Club, Literature, Ski Lodge and more.
I'm particularly excited for Close Lobsters whose debut album Foxheads Stalk This Land is a big favorite of mine. (You can stream it below.) I don't think they've played here in 25 years. Also exciting is the return of The Bats who haven't played NYC since 2006. The band, which features The Clean's Robert Scott, have an amazing cannon of work, including classic albums like Daddy's Highway, 1989's The Law of Things and, most recently, 2011's Free All Monsters.
Alpaca Sports, Azure Blue, Flowers, French Films, Hobbes Fanclub, Tigercats, and Zipper are all making their first U.S. visits for Popfest. NYC Popfest has created a Spotify playlist with all the bands playing this year and made a downloadable mix which you can grab at the top of this post.
Festival passes are on sale now and tickets to individual shows will be on sale later this week. Venues and individual line-ups stil to come, but full band list, flyer and a few videos are below.
photos by Dominick Mastrangelo
Leaving Mornington Crescent
"The fourth annual NYC Popfest, which ran from Thursday [May 20th] through Sunday [May 23], consisted of five showcases featuring more than 30 bands, mostly those that adhered to a few key tenets: summery, lo-fi, melodic, twee, nonconfrontational. This was indie-pop in the vein of the late 1980s through the mid-'90s, a mode that has been creeping back into fashion as part of a broader full-scale pop revivalism in indie rock.It's been almost a month since NYC PopFest happened, and we actually already posted a set of pictures from the first night at Cake Shop back then. BUT, like the NY Times, Dominick, who got the flu right after the fest, was also on hand. His pictures from the first two days, now finally ready for posting, continue below...
From Best Coast to Dum Dum Girls to the Pains of Being Pure at Heart to Vivian Girls to Strange Boys and beyond, pop is ascendant once again, especially the sort with debts to clean-cut '50s rock and girl-group pop and soul." [NY Times]
by Bill Pearis
DOWNLOAD: The Wake - Oh Pamela (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: Neverever - Blue Jeans (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: Neverever - Young and Dumb (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: Tender Trap - Girls with Guns (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: Allo Darlin - Dreaming (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: Allo Darlin' - My Heart is a Drummer (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: Veronica Falls - Found Love in a Graveyard (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: Moustache of Insanity - Amazon Wishlist (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: Horowitz - Winona (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: The Embassy - It Pays to Belong (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: Leaving Mornington Crescent - Corners (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: Very Truly Yours - I'd Write You a Song (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: Pants Yell! - Cold Hands (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: Brown Recluse - Night Train (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: BOAT - We've Been Friends Since 1989 (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: Bunnygrunt - Hometown Rockstar (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: Bears - Wait and See (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: Gold-Bears - Tally (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: The Sea Lions - I Wish I Was Lou Reed (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: One Happy Island - Temporary Tattoo (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: The Young Friends - Make Out Point (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: Apple Orchard - Half Steps to Bright Smiles (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: Dream Diary - Bird in My Garden (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: World Atlas - Winter Stories (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: My Teenage Stride - Creep Academy (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: Cotton Candy - Fantastic & Spectacular (MP3)
NYC Popfest 2010 starts on Thursday with four days of cheery tunes and good vibes. And with temperatures that are supposed to climb into the '80s, we may finally answer the question, "When is it too hot to wear a vintage cardigan?" In years past, Popfest has played host to the likes of Pains of Being Pure at Heart ('07 & '08), Cats on Fire ('08 & '09), The Radio Dept ('09), BMX Bandits ('07), The Drums ('09), and lots more.
This year's line-up is pop-solid and we're giving away a Festival Pass that will get one person into all four nights. Just send an email to BVCONTESTS@HOTMAIL.COM with the subject line "POPFEST" and we'll pick a winner at random and notify them Wednesday night (tonight). Please note, some of these Popfest shows are 21+.
Festival passes are otherwise sold out, but there are currently still tickets available for all four shows, though I think you might want to act quick on the Cake Shop (5/20) and Don Hills (5/21) shows as they're at small venues. Here's an overview of what's going on, complete with MP3s for almost every band playing (above).
Popfest organizers scored a coup getting Scottish indiepop legends The Wake (not the American goth band of the same name) to play the big Saturday (5/22) show at the Bell House. While they the attention their Factory Records labelmates New Order and Happy Mondays (or even A Certain Ratio) received, their catalog is well-regarded, especially 1985's Here Comes Everybody which is a bona fide indie classic. Check out "O Pamela" at the top of this post. The band's hazy, reverb-laden sound has parallels to current bands like The Radio Dept or Wild Nothing, or any of the chillwave groups out there. The Wake are working on a new album due out this year. This is their only U.S. show. Stick around after The Wake's show for a DJ set from Victoria Bergsman.
Bunnygrunt date back to the early '90s cuddlecore scene (a genre which now sounds like some kind of porn for Furries) and were contemporaries of bands like Tiger Trap and Tullycraft. Reformed since 2004, these Saint Louis indie legends are pretty much patron saints to Popfest bands.
At the all-day Sunday (5/23) show at The Littlefield show features the first and only U.S. performance by enigmatic Swedish duo The Embassy who's music is somewhere between indiepop and Balearic disco. I liked 2005's Tacking which came out on the Service label, home of Jens Lekman, Studio and The Tough Alliance. Check out "It Pays to Belong" at the top of this post. but the band have been rather quiet since. Maybe we'll find out what's going on with them at the show.
Then there's Veronica Falls play the 5/20 show at Cake Shop. Maybe you saw them this past weekend when they played Glasslands on Saturday and Bruar Falls on Sunday. Their Glasslands performance was great, and they were surprisingly rockin', given the gentle nature of some of their recordings. Singer/guitarist James Hoare is a student of the David Gedge school of manic strumming, especially on their "Found Love in a Graveyard" single that becomes almost like an extended VU jam onstage.
Singer Roxanne Clifford and drummer Patrick Doyle were both in Glasgow's The Royal We, whose singer Jihae is now in Neverever who will play the Littlefield show on Sunday. The band also features her n0w-husband Wallace Meek who was in fellow Glaswegian band Bricolage but they now call Los Angeles their home. The band's debut, Angelic Swells, is out next week on Slumberland and is fairly indebted to '60s girl groups. Check out "Blue Genes" at the top of this post. I'll admit that part of me hopes we'll get a Veronica Falls/Neverever supergroup to play Royal We's awesome single "All the Rage" (the band never played America) but I'm not holding my breath.
Tender Trap play the Friday (5/21) show at Don Hill's which is also the bi-weekly Mondo! party. Not to be confused with anthemic Australian band The Temper Trap, The Tender Trap features Amelia Fletcher and Rob Pursey who were both in iconic indiepop bands Tallulah Gosh, Heavenly and Marine Research. I was a big fan of their last album, 2006's 6 Billion People, Their new album, Dansette Dansette, is out June 22 on Slumberland Records and you can download "Girls with Guns" from it at the top of this post.
Recently added to Tender Trap's lineup is Elizabeth Darling of Allo Darlin who also play the Don Hills/Mondo! show. Their debut album is out June 7 (in the UK at least, not sure if anyone's grabbed it up stateside) and is full of bouncy and charming guitar pop not too far removed from Belle & Sebastian. Their single "The Polaroid Song" is one of my favorite tracks of 2009 and you can watch the Breakfast Club homage video for it at the bottom of this post. And you can download a couple tracks from the album at the top of this post. Allo Darlin are also making the most of their trip, playing a short East Coast tour. Dates are at the bottom of this post.
Moustache of Insanity
Allo Darlin's Will Harrison also plays in Moustache of Insanity who are playing the free daytime show on Saturday at Spike Hill. Sometimes compared to Moldy Peaches, the band should provide some levity (and cheap keyboards) to the proceedings. Check out "Amazon Wishlist" at the top of this post for an idea of what you're in for, and if you want to hear more, you can download a zip of their new EP here and there are loads of downloads via their website.
Leaving Mornington Crescent
And it wouldn't be a Popfest without some Swedish bands. In addition to The Embassy, there's Leaving Mornington Crescent who play Cake Shop on Thursday, and A Smile and a Whisper at Littlefield on Sunday.
The Don Hill's show on Friday will be the last-ever NYC show for Boston's Pants Yell! who are splitting up after playing a farewell show in their hometown next week.
One of the many highlights of The Bell House show is Seattle's BOAT who will play some non-popfest shows too.
One Happy Island
This will be the second year in a row at Popfest for Chicago's Very Truly Yours, who are playing the e debut LP was just released this spring. You can download at track from it at the top of this post. Recommended if you like winsome, Camera Obscura style. pop. Also back from last year are Vermont's Smittens (5/21 Don Hill's), and it will be the second Popfest for Boston's One Happy Island who last played it in 2008 and play this year at the Saturday afternoon free show at Spike Hill. Check out "Temporary Tattoo" at the top of this post.
There's a few animal bands (in addition to Bunnygrunt): Cleveland, OH's Bears, who play the Bell House show (5/22), are lush and lovely with gorgeous harmonies. Check out "Wait and See" at the top of this post, whereas Gold Bears (Spike Hill, free day show 5/22) from Atlanta, are more in the shambly tradition of The Shop Assistants and Boyracer. Then there's local duo Elephant Parade (Cake Shop on 5/20) who play laptoppy folk, and the Sea Lions (Oxnard, CA playing the Sunday show at Littlefield) evoke comparisons to the Pastels and The Clean.
More out-of-town American bands: Sweater Girls are from Los Angeles and feature Allan Kingdom of C-86-era UK group The Siddelys; and Santa Monica Swim & Dive Club are actually from Michigan and play super-twee acoustic pop; The Young Friends are from Arizona but sound like Scotland 1980; and Apple Orchard hail from Richmond, California and make dreamy, Field Mice-ish pop (lots of free MP3s on their website).
Florida's For Ex-Lovers Only named themselves after a Black Tamborine song and kind of sound like that too. They play Littlefield on Saturday.
Opening the Don Hills show on Friday are Cotton Candy, which is Mark Robinson's current band that also features his wife. There's more a capella covers of old commercial jingles than you might expect from the former frontman of Unrest (who are reforming briefly).
And of course NYC is well represented. In addition to previously mentioned Elephant Parade, indiepop stalwarts My Teenage Stride, who are the only band to have played all for NYC Popfests, will play the big Bell House show on Saturday, as do World Atlas (NYC's answer to Belle & Sebastian); Dream Diary (NYC's answer to The Pastels/Field Mice) play Cake Shop on Thursday, and the shoegazy Corita play the free Saturday afternoon show at Spike Hill. And The Secret History make their third appearance at the Fest at Littlefield on Sunday.
Ok, I think I got everybody in there. Day-by-day Popfest schedule, plus some other tour dates and videos after the jump.
by Bill Pearis
The line-up for the fourth annual NYC Popfest has just been announced, which will happen May 20 - 23 at a variety of venues in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Thirty-two bands from around the world will be playing, and I think it's a pretty strong bunch of bands. Highlights for me include Veronica Falls (pictured above) which features ex-members of The Royal We and Sexy Kids; newly-reformed Glasgow/Factory Records legends The Wake who'll have a new album out this year; London all-girl trio The Tender Trap (not to be confused with The Temper Trap); winsome Allo Darlin' who are also from London and will be at SXSW this year; L.A.'s Neverever (until recently known as the Champagne Socialists); and Seattle's awesome BOAT.
A few MP3s to whet your Popfest appetite. Ticket info hasn't been announced yet, but you can follow the Popfest blog or Twitter for updates. You can check out the full NYC Popfest line-up after the jump.
photos by Dominick Mastrangelo
Suburban Kids with Biblical Names
NYC Popfest ended last Sunday with a marathon of a show in the basement of Cake Shop on the Lower East Side. We already posted the pictures of The Drums (with a short summary of that day), and you can browse pics from the first three nights of NYC Popfest HERE. Now check out the rest from day four (5/17), with a bunch of videos, below...
DOWNLOAD: The Secret History - It's Not the End of the World Jonah (MP3)
The Secret History
The New York City Popfest continued on Saturday night (5/16) with a packed line-up and packed house at Brooklyn's Bell House. Following openers Computer Perfection, California-based Eux Autres put in a super energetic set. From the persistent "bam bam bam" of the drums to the classic trade off of boy/girl vocals complete with girl group-esque harmonies, Eux Autres captured true the pop spirit of the festival. The were buoyed by trumpet playing from the Ladybug Transistor's Gary Olson, Brooklyn's go-to musician for indie trumpeting.
The Secret History, who rose from the ashes of indie new wave darlings My Favorite, followed with pop melodies from the eerie, narrative driven side of the spectrum. Lead vocalist Lisa Ronson, clad in all black, and vocalist Erin Dermondy, clad in all white, were a glamorous site, but were too frozen at times for the dramatics the songs demanded as they invoked monsters and dead rock stars. Lisa's talents as a singer were best showcased during a cover of the Smiths' "Reel Around the Fountain," which singer and keyboardist Michael Grace, Jr. explained was "the reason he started writing pop songs and will never write a hit." At one point during the set Michael wore a tambourine as a halo, which served as a fitting popfest metaphor.
Following The Secret History's densely orchestrated anthems, Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Pant Yell! played an enjoyably straight-ahead, indie rock set. It was heavy on the jangly guitar and three boys in the band wore their earnest hearts on their stripped sleeves.
The lineup's crown jewel were Swedish headliners The Radio Dept. in their second US appearance since 2003 (their first was one night earlier). The band delivered shimmering, dreamy pop with plenty of laptop-based layers and effects-laden guitars to keep Shoegaze fans satisfied. Their use of electronic, as opposed to live, drums made their set musically less energetic than the other bands, but the sound was still nice and full and the energy on the stage dynamic.
While from stage The Radio Dept. delivered down tempo, atmospheric pop with song titles like "I Wanted You to Feel the Same" and "The Worst Taste in Music" the sold-out crowd acted like they were at the indie-pop equivalent of an arena rock concert. The merest "thank you" uttered by the band brought forth roaring applause and cheers. While The Radio Dept.'s danceable beats and charming crush of sounds seem best suited for mild-mannered bopping, the activity of most of the crowd during their set, they also inspired fist pumping and ecstatic hand waving. After their one-song encore legions of fans rushed towards the stage to thank the band as they exited to howling applause. It was clear Brooklynites demand their pop and have high expectations for Swedish bands to deliver it. Thought their set felt short at 40 minutes, The Radio Dept. fans were not disappointed.
by Bill Pearis
DOWNLOAD: The Radio Dept - Freddie and the Trojan Horse (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: The Radio Dept - Why Won't You Talk About It? (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: The Radio Dept - The Worst Taste in Music (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: Liechtenstein - Stalking Skills (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: Cats on Fire - Letters from a Voyage to Sweden (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: Burning Hearts - I Lost My Color Vision (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: Computer Perfection - The Fool is Hurt (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: Hidden Ghost Balloon Ship - Hidden Ghost Balloon Ship (Zip)
DOWNLOAD: The Icicles - La Ti Da (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: Pants Yell - Magenta and Green (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: The Smittens - Stop the Bombs! (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: Eux Autres - When I'm Up (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: Knight School - Pregnant Again (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: My Teenage Stride - Ears Like Golden Bats (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: The Metric Mile - How to Beat the SAT (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: The Secret History - It's Not the End of the World Jonah (MP3)
DOWNLOAD: The Ballet - In My Head (MP3)
The Radio Dept
Enigmatic Swedish band The Radio Dept. are to play their first U.S. show since 2003 (which was in San Francisco), as part of the third-annual NYC Popfest which happens this year from May 14 - 17. Whether or not the band will have finished their delayed follow-up to 2005's Pet Grief remains to be seen, but there are lots of folks who've been waiting years for Radio Dept to play here and, so far, the Popfest date is the only one they're doing.
While the Radio Dept will no-doubt be the biggest draw, NYC Popfest has put together a pretty great lineup including a few other notable acts, more Swedes: all-girl trio Liechtenstein, who've put out a bunch of great 7-inches and will have a new EP out on Slumberland in May. We'll also get two bands from Finland: Cats on Fire, who made their U.S. debut at last year's fest; and the lovely synth-acoustic pop of Burning Hearts whose debut album, Aboa Sleeping, was released last month.
North America is well represented as you might expect. Detroit gives us Computer Perfection (who are not synth pop despite the name), and offshoot band Hidden Ghost Ship, whose very good debut album you can download for free. (The link is at the top of this post.) There's also Grand Rapids' The Icicles whose song "La Ti Da" you might know from a Target commercial; Boston's awesome Pants Yell! who were one of my favorites from last year's event; Ohio's The 1959 Hat Company and Afternoon Naps; California brings us L.A.'s The Tartans (12-strings and glockenspeil pop) and San Francisco's Eux Autres (janglepop); Vermont's Smittens (who remind me of '90s indie pop band Small Factory); Athens, GA's great power popppers Casper & the Cookies; Chicago's Very Truly Yours (classic twee pop) and Canada's Rose Melberg.
The bulk of the bands are from NYC, and include: My Teenage Stride whose new Emusic single "Creep Academy" is one of my favorite songs they've ever done; Knight School (who I've written about before); Boy Genius (ditto) and The Secret History (double ditto); plus the newly-quintet-ed The Metric Mile, Soft City, Dream Bitches, The Ballet, Strega, and Don Lennon.
Most of the Popfest shows will happen at Cake Shop, with a Friday night show at Don Hill's in conjunction with Mondo! and the Radio Dept. show at The Bell House. Unlike the two previous years, there's no BBQ/day show at Union Pool. Pricing and that sort of thing hasn't been ironed out yet, but the individual night's lineups are below: