• Entry #11: The Unique And Incredible Dubstar

    25 dec 2013, 18:56

    Hello readers!

    After a long, long delay journal #11 is finally here. The following journal was written the evening of 24 December, but is posted today. I think this will be my last journal for this year, and maybe the final one I will write. See, by the things I’ve seen in the music world section I am interested in I have not found any new (or new to me) bands that capture my interest, or am unable to think up any old ones that do at this time which are fresh in a relative way, considering what is now trendy or common...and I don’t know when I will. So this journal could be my last, however that is not a definitive answer.


    “I’ll be around anywhere, any place you want me....”

    ------Dubstar, “Anywhere”

    Indeed, she will be. :-) The above lyrics say everything one needs to know about this fabulous group that I love. Who are they, and what makes them a unique and incredible combo? The following paragraphs will explain.

    First off an introduction to Dubstar, for those who don’t know them. They are an English band from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, who play indiepop dance music, and ballads done in the same style. Their main era is the 1990’s, their members are the very beautiful lead singer Sarah Blackwood (vocals) Steve Hillier ([electric] keyboards) and Chris Wilkie (guitar) having been on hiatus in the early to mid-00’s but recently reforming in 2010. Chris W. and Steve H. formed Dubstar in 1992, initially with Steve Hillier singing vocals. Their lead singer Sarah Blackwood joined Dubstar in 1993. According to their wiki entry: “Formerly known as The Joans, Dubstar were initially a two piece band, with Chris Wilkie playing guitar and Steve Hillier singing and playing keyboards. Gavin Lee joined The Joans in the Autumn of 1992 and played drums and latterly bass guitar before leaving to pursue a career at British Airways the following year. Performance artist and musician, Mark Greenwood[1] also played bass in the The Joans for a number gigs in the summer of 1992. Sarah Blackwood was invited to join the band in August 1993 after her boyfriend accidentally left a cassette tape of her singing in Steve Hillier's flat in Jesmond, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Blackwood replaced Hillier on vocals in early 1994, though he remained a key member of the group.” So begins their story, and one could say that if not for her boyfriend’s mistake, Dubstar may never have made music together. Indeed, it was a lucky accident! Moreover, per their entry on Wikipedia.org, “Dubstar appointed Darlington based record producer and talent manager Graeme Robinson as their manager after Robinson had seen them play in a sparsely attended Newcastle club in March 1994. Robinson renamed the band and provided studio time and produced independent demos of seventeen songs which he brought to the attention of former Sounds journalist, Andy Ross, who promptly signed the band to his Camden based label, Food Records. Ross engaged the services of Pet Shop Boys and New Order producer Stephen Hague to co-produce a number of tracks with Robinson for their critically acclaimed debut album Disgraceful (1995), and commissioned an advertising campaign featuring Robert Steel's controversial "pencil case vulva" artwork.” Indeed, the album art caused a stir. The wiki continues: Disgraceful's cover underwent a revision after some time on general release. The original cover—pictured here—contained a furry blue pencil case with a balloon inside, creating a somewhat labia-like effect. This was later revised to the current, slightly less blatant bunny slipper design. Some[?] have contested this move as censorship which entirely misconstrues the tongue -in-cheek humour of the original.”

    Despite all this, right from the get-go, Dubstar’s cover art for their first album Disgraceful (out in October 1995) catches the interest of indiepop and indie-dance fans. Their juxtaposition of dark and light elements within happy colourful scenes makes for a unique and interesting visual treat, and so with their first album art the visual looks were set for their following records. The music of Disgraceful itself is an even greater joy. What’s so special about it, the readers may ask? Let’s continue this analysis, shall we? :-)

    First of all...listening to “Disgraceful” Dubstar’s first album, is a unique and beautiful experience. The Dubstar sound, combining autumnal-cool synth work (featuring a blanket of atmosphere) Mr. C. Wilkie’s jangly electric guitar playing, pulsating techno type rhythms and beat-box style drum patterns plus arguably the pièce de résistance, Sarah Blackwood’s heartfelt, angelic voice [evoking an old folk singer’s] singing the songs in her native Northern [English] accent....is unique. Her vocal style is of an old crooner type akin to English singers like Morrissey with the same [Arab-style] muezzin-like intonation. Their sound can can best be described as electroacoustic (with their own spin on it). Dubstar’s music on their albums evokes the musical techniques of English bands like New Musik from the ‘80’s and the ‘Indietronica‘ style of German groups such as The Notwist and Lali Puna from the ‘90’s, but less indie. So they are a musically versatile group whose songs involve varied combinations of moods and colors, and they don’t really sound like anyone else. The melodies stick with the listener and the pieces are memorable. The whole package is an aural delight! The songs on Disgraceful are like folk tunes, telling stories about Miss Blackwood’s life as a young woman at the time with airs of English kitchen-sink drama; set to techno and synthpop inspired music taken from musicians like the Pet Shop Boys, New Order and of course Saint Etienne (who they were compared to) additionally with a strong jangle pop sound running throughout------derived from the original UK indiepop era a decade earlier...which comprised pop groups such as The Smiths, the Sarah Records combos and a big portion of the C86 indie music movement. It is a very strong [first] record with intelligent lyrics and just about every song on it is excellent, with Sarah Blackwood’s touching voice and pensive melodies piercing through. (Not sure if Miss Blackwood writes the music, but I think she does). I love that album, and each listener will have different songs that they particularly enjoy, but in my case to name a few I really like there’s “The Day I See You Again” “Week In Week Out” and “Not Once, Not Ever”. The emotional colors and lyrics of “Disgraceful” are serious generally, but not in a way that seems austere or very downcast-----the way that bands like Coldplay create those colors as is common in recent times. Sarah Blackwood’s singing is gorgeous, and she takes the listener on a colourful ride from start to finish on Disgraceful. It’s something I surely appreciate! It was not only a hit with fans of this musical group like myself....at its time of release in July 1995 in the UK it charted well, scoring within the Top 20 of the UK Singles Chart in January 1996 with their single from Disgraceful, “Not So Manic Now” which was actually a cover version of the same song by English indie-folk group Brick Supply. “Stars” another single from the album (and Dubstar’s most well-known song) was the peak of Dubstar’s chart days, placing within the Top 10 of the UK charts that same year. Despite their UK smash hit [first] record, their début album was not released in the US. Of course, people with a serious appreciation of quality pop music of the kind I and others enjoy will like it much more than any chart material aficionado. Needless to say Dubstar charted back then in the Top Ten, which is now unusual for a group of their type; but it was a case of being at the appropriate place, at the appropriate time. Their original era as a musical ensemble coincided with the Britpop movement in England, which spread to Europe and many other countries at the same time-----and saw a style of music that in an earlier era may not otherwise reached mainstream fame become one of the defining forms of music of the ‘90‘s since the major labels had capitalized on a type of indiepop music to reach the masses with at the time...which is part of UK indiepop history. There are those who may argue that it was wrong for a group like them to chart, since doing so and being in the mainstream would damage their indiepop credibility. In retrospect it was not that good of a move in my opinion, for a few reasons. One, it drew the gates open to their creations for people who weren’t particularly interested in their work to be exposed to their music. And two, it made them be associated with the Britpop crowd which was mainstream pop rock and they weren’t really a part of that scene. But, the ‘90’s in the UK were different times in several ways from the current era-----so it happened. However, their intelligent artistic essence and beautiful persona colors live on for the people who really appreciate them which is wonderful. The fact they were mainstream does not make them any less integral or enjoyable...since they were never massively famous or commercially successful in a big way.

    Around the time their singles from Disgraceful were published and charted, Dubstar released a few EP’s, such as “The Stars E.P.” from 1996 and the eight-track two CD single version of “Not So Manic Now” during the autumn of 1995. The most notable of these was “The Stars E.P.” which consisted of a few songs which are all beautiful. The song I like the best on “The Stars E.P.” is “Bow Wow Now” a beautiful jangly, yet synthpop tune about Miss Blackwood’s dog at the time and her friendship with her pet who apparently was dying, her dog is/was her best friend. Or, so I’ve read it’s about her dog somewhere but I am unable to recall where it was now. There’s also the song “Excuse Me Father” on the same E.P. which seems to be about a pregnant young girl going about her day, who faces the criticism and taunts of the people she knows and her neighbours also since apparently she was doing something she should not have, to say the least. I also enjoy that tune, as moody as it is.

    Following those releases, Sarah B. and company were at work on a then-new Dubstar album. “Goodbye” the follow-up to Disgraceful, which arrived in September 1997. What a great album! “Goodbye” Dubstar’s second album, is in the same vein as their first musically speaking and lyric wise, only with more depth to the songwriting and maybe the music which makes it even more beautiful than their first perhaps, a treat for their fans and lovers of top-quality female pop. The colors of the music and the emotions were a little more demonstrably indiepop than their last outing previously, with intelligent lyrics as always which displayed a blade-sharp wit and penetrating insight; and the stories of Miss Blackwood’s life carried on. As with their first album it’s hard to decide on the tune off Goodbye that I like the most since they’re all very good, but to name a few that I particularly like there’s “My Start In Wallsend” a beautiful anthem about love, “Wearchest” bursting with strength and determination and the upbeat “Cathedral Park” which is alternately joyous and melancholy. It seems to be a song about a couple who apparently have a rocky relationship at the time and in the narrative the girlfriend or wife (Miss Blackwood presumably) takes a walk in the park when something goes wrong between them, and she feels a mixture of joy and sadness while there if I am correct. Her boyfriend (or husband) meanwhile spends some nights at a bar drinking his troubles away, but in the interim he feels lonely----and yet the last thing they want is to be together at the time since they enjoy their time apart, however the woman still thinks about their relationship in the meantime while away enjoying herself at the park.

    Goodbye’s album art is distinctive, and two different covers were made for the UK and US editions. The UK edition was out, with ‘Dubstar’ written across the front with the album title both in big block letters, and featuring a bright yellow easy chair against a solid red background, with a navy blue rectangular throw pillow on the seat. The chair has pieces of an electric chair added to it such as a metallic bar at the chair foot attached to metallic ankle cuffs, a metal head strap and bowl-shaped headpiece with hand braces at the sides. A large long uncurled wire laid on the floor, stuck out from behind the bottom of the chair with a big electrical plug head attached to it. To say the least it was a creative idea, though sad and painful at the same time. It is a good visual summary of the type of songs on Goodbye which as the record cover illustration suggests are comfortable, yet electrifying in their emotional intensity. The US version of Goodbye had the same cover art, except the easy chair on it is an orange-red, the throw pillow on the chair’s seat is a bright deep red and the background is a solid dark blue. As mentioned before Dubstar’s visual aesthetic to their record covers was a mixture of contrasting elements, both happy and serious-coloured which look beautiful in an autumnal sort of way, if that makes sense. Apparently they were influenced by the prevailing direction of Britpop art at the time, with some influence from the US grunge movement...of course that’s probably just me saying that.

    Dubstar’s third album, “Make It Better” arrived the 28th of August 2000 in the UK and worldwide. Musical tides had turned in the meantime while Chris W., Steve H. and Sarah B. were on break, while the Britpop era was wrapping itself up the scene had changed...the trend in the UK at the time for guitar pop was combos like Coldplay, Doves, Embrace, and Feeder to name a few which are essentially straightforward pop rock of the purely chart kind, conservative in their orientation as artists. This is in contrast to an outfit like Dubstar who are filled with lively and beautiful emotional colors and much more purely pop than what was trendy in guitar music back then. Nevertheless, it seems that to some extent they were affected by these trends and it confused them somewhat; I say that because Make It Better, while still electroacoustic pop of the type their followers have come to love was not as good as their previous album or the one before that, to my mind. The song’s rhythms on Make It Better are a mixture of synthpop and electrified rock which can be described as ‘Rocktronica’ a term used by some music journalists, in contrast to their previous work. I didn’t care much for this album apart from a few songs when I heard it. The sound of the [electric] guitar was much more chart music-like than before and the synth playing was not as prominent to my ears as on their earlier albums. However it is still a Dubstar record with its merits. Some songs on it however are more or less in the style fans recognise from before I suppose, despite their new sound on that one. Namely, I enjoy the tunes “The Self Same Thing”, “Another Word”, “When The World Knows Your Name,” and another song whose name I am unable to remember now I think. I also like the b-side “New Friends”. I may have to return to that record one day to see if my thoughts have changed about it.

    Following Make It Better, a while afterward Dubstar disbanded in about 2002, when lead vocalist Sarah Blackwood joined UK indie-dance group Technique to replace singer Xan Tyler while touring with the synthpop ensemble Depeche Mode. Things went quiet for several years.

    Their best-of album Stars: The Best Of Dubstar was out in 2004 on major label EMI Records. Shortly thereafter Kate Holmes (the other half of Technique) and Miss Blackwood decided to write music together and formed the Electroclash combo Client. There was a reformation of Dubstar sometime later. Per the Dubstar wiki: “Posts in 2008 on their official Myspace page stated that the recording of their fourth album was underway.[4] However, in November 2008 they made a post to their Facebook group stating that Blackwood would not participate, and the future of the album was up in the air.[5] Blackwood and Wilkie have worked together in the interim, as Blackwood's first solo album, 2008's Acoustic at the Club Bar & Dining, features Wilkie on guitar; the seven-track live recording was released exclusively online, and consists of acoustic versions of Dubstar and Client songs, plus covers of tracks by The Smiths and New Order.” So the joy of Dubstar’s music is underway again, and at this time they are recording a new album that comes out either this year or sometime next year. According to their wiki: “On 12 April 2010, the band released a cover version of "I'm in Love with a German Film Star" for an Amnesty International project. Interviewed by Andrew Collins on BBC 6 Music that afternoon, Blackwood confirmed that the band were back together and would be going into studio to record tracks for a new Dubstar album, although she would continue to also record with Client.” Following a break a new Dubstar single “Circle Turns” was released the 21 of April 2012, the first from them in many years. It is a beautiful song that sees them back to their original sound which is exciting. As of October 2013-present, Dubstar are still recording their upcoming album which as far as I know has not been released yet. It should be a marvellous piece of popcraft as ever, and I am looking forward to hearing their latest work.

    In conclusion Dubstar are an incredible pop group with a fabulous, unique and artistic sound created by all involved, all given life by Sarah Blackwood’s lovely voice, her beauty, and most of all her sharp intelligence shown in the music and lyrics. The introductory lines from their tune “Anywhere” at the start of this journal serve as a hint to tell a newcomer to Dubstar that Miss Blackwood will be around whenever she or he wants her to be, at any place giving the listener beautiful music...and the guys will be there also. Their electrifying songs will never stop giving a high-voltage charge of emotion and the beauty that is alive within them, and other listeners who hear them might feel it too. And what’s more incredible than that?

    Thank you.
  • Entry #10: The Singular One Dove

    27 maj 2013, 07:40

    Hello dear readers!

    It has been a while since I've written any journals, and for some of you out there a long wait, but I am back again and have written the following after a spell of nothing...from being unsure how to start it. (I'm not sure how long I will take till the next one but it depends what happens I guess). Here it is below.

    By: vanilla_boy1
    Mon. 27 May 2013

    The Singular One Dove

    Crisp and glistening, artsy techno-pop beats. A mixture of many beautiful mental colours. A gentle female singing voice telling stories, cooing and whispering sweetly to one’s ears. What is this music, and what makes it one-of-a-kind?

    I am talking about a group I love, the marvellous Scottish pop band, One Dove!

    To answer the above questions an introduction is helpful for those who don’t know them. One Dove were an alternative dance band apparently from Glasgow, Scotland originally known as Dove...formed sometime in the beginning 1990’s; releasing their first single “Fallen” on local label Soma in October 1991 which brought them a record deal with company Junior Boy’s Own. They consisted of singer Dorothy (a.k.a. Dot) Allison, Ian Carmichael and Jim McKinven, a one-time member of indiepop group Altered Images. They began existence as a club music ensemble, but following a remix of their discotheque hit “White Love” remade commercially by producer Stephen Hague (better known as co-producer of the Pet Shop Boys and New Order) they became media darlings all around the U.K. appearing in publications such as Select and Q [magazines] and were often compared to Saint Etienne (who were a recent band around the time this happened) that also possessed a front-woman and were successful with their indie-dance crossover songs. During their tenure One Dove only released one album, titled "Morning Dove White" in 1993. According to wikipedia.org: “The album was originally set for release in 1992 but was delayed for a full year through disputes between the band and their new record company - London Records had taken over the Boy's Own label. The band were unhappy about the commercialisation of their sound, and the disputes were only resolved when the band agreed to release singles mixed by Stephen Hague, if they could work with him in the studio during the remix sessions... [the album] included the Andrew Weatherall version of "Fallen" [which was re-recorded in 1992 for inclusion on the album issued by Junior Boy’s Own] (minus the Supertramp sample) together with 12" mixes of "Transient Truth" and "White Love".

    source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/One_Dove

    Returning to the topic of the beginning paragraph, One Dove is great listening for indiepop and indie dance fans as mentioned, since the sound of One Dove and of course “Morning Dove White” is complex and unique. To answer the second question, One Dove have a style and an emotional colour all their own (or at least, for the time when they arrived on the scene). Sounding something like a cross between Saint Etienne, English ‘80’s synth duo Red Box and techno-pop men OMD (with a bit of ethereal goth thrown in) it is enticing to popmusic ears whilst being easy to listen to. The centre of it all is of course the sugary (yet not too sweet) voice of Dorothy (Dot) Allison singing all tracks which wraps around the listener with a fresh, cool, and suave feeling. Dot Allison’s vocals are youthful-sounding, and recall a teenage girl’s to these ears with their intimate vibe. All of the songs on Morning Dove White have different moods but all of them picture the band’s sound in full force. The song “White Love” (apparently about Ms. Allison pledging her love to a boyfriend) sounds bright, happy and upbeat yet has a mysterious, slightly dark edge to its beguiling synthpop melody. Similarly the tune “Why Don’t You Take Me” (seemingly about Dot wanting to go on exciting adventures with her man) is mellow and poppy whilst having a dark-coloured feeling spliced through it. The other songs on the record are variations on these elements it seems, with the album in flux between a happy and calm mood full of beautiful springlike colours and an almost gothic moodiness crossed with an edgy, sci-fi soundtrack leaning... melodies like “Fallen” and “White Love” being more so the happy side, and songs such as “There Goes The Cure” and “Transient Truth” the sad/serious tracks on the album as said before, if such a split can be made. That said, the best song on the album is perhaps “Breakdown” a beautiful and emotional number that I really love. It seems to be about an exhortation that Ms. Allison is making towards her lover to “break down and cry, like I do” as heard in the lyrics like she is doing [seemingly] over the fact that he, like herself at the time, is without her love in the night. Moreover, it has happened for a long time as the following lyrics show:

    And if the moon is an aid to romance everywhere
    Why is the night so full of dark despair
    And only dark can wax and wane
    And the small hours are hard to bear

    (Cry)
    Breakdown and cry (I Cry for you)
    Breakdown and cry (Cry)
    Breakdown and cry
    Cry (I do)

    The clouds, heavy and grey
    Make me wonder why I stay
    Alone, every night
    And every day is just the same

    With a romantic feeling and a lovely sound, it’s a fine work of art and possibly the high point of Morning Dove White.

    It is on account of this evidence that I love this band, even though they released only one album. Better still, through this brief exposition I hope to make the readers of this piece want to listen (and someday love, perhaps) the singular One Dove.
  • Entry #9----Sweetness And Light: The Beautiful Lush

    11 feb 2013, 03:26

    by: vanilla_boy1, Sun. 10 Feb. 2013

    See my life
    (I've been so tired)
    See my self
    (I've been uptight)
    See my life
    (I've been so tired)
    See my sight
    (I could disappear)

    See with you
    Memories fading fast
    And with you
    It's never going to last

    You are the sweetness in my eyes
    You are an apple in disguise

    See with you
    I never seemed to look the other way
    Only to stay, only to breathe, only to see
    That space and light is what I really need

    You are the sweetness in my eyes
    You are an apple in disguise
    I never wanted to tell lies

    You are the sweetness in my eyes

    You are the sweetness in my eyes
    You are an apple in disguise
    You are the juice I need for life
    You are the sweetness in my eyes.

    Source: http://www.metrolyrics.com/sweetness-light-lyrics-lush.html

    Hello!

    In this band I will describe a lovely band and group of people, the ones who wrote the above words. Who are they, and what can the reader tell from the above lyrics? To say a few words, it’s a declaration to someone the writer loves. And how do these lyrics tell of how beautiful this group is?

    I am talking about the beautiful and light Lush!

    To those unfamiliar with them, Lush are a band from London, England, formed in 1987 and broken up in 1998; at first known as The Baby Machines. They consist of Ms. Miki Berenyi (guitar and lead vocals) Ms. Emma Anderson (guitar and background vocals) Mr. Chris Rippon (bass guitar) and Mr. Chris Acland (till 1996) on drums. They were one of the first bands to attract the shoegazing label, later moving to Britpop; a style of melodic guitar-pop around [mostly] in Europe in the 1990’s.

    source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lush_(band)

    To those unfamiliar with it I will post the wiki article on shoegazing as well in case any readers are interested.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shoegazing

    Though Lush were active on the indie scene in England since the late eighties, it wasn’t until 1990 that they released their first compilation album, Gala, that can be considered their first album proper; out the 13 November 1990 following their mini-album, Scar out in early October 1989.

    What does Gala [the album] sound like? The first track on it, Emma Anderson’s “Sweetness And Light” the song which this entry is named after, gives the sound and theme of it away. A cascade of shimmering [electric] guitar chords with an ambient sound akin to relaxation music tapes and/or New Age, it is capped off nicely by Miki Berenyi’s vocals. In my opinion “Sweetness and Light” is a love song to Ms. Berenyi’s lover where she says she can’t live without him, expressed beautifully in poetic language. Miki Berenyi has a lovely voice which is [often] light, yet with substance; to my mind it recalls a loving nanny’s or mother’s...not to mention it’s filled with strength and character. Ms. Berenyi is very beautiful as well, of light skin, a fit body, and her firey bright red hair, given it’s characteristic bold colour because she dyed it at the time for many years; she has an exotic appearance....being of mixed Hungarian and Japanese blood. Her singing partner Miss Emma Anderson has a light choirgirl styling to her voice which goes well with Miki’s vocals, since it is lighter and sits well with Miki’s fuller tones. Similarly, the rest of the songs on Gala are musically interesting and varied in emotions-----but always beautiful and notably pop, which was something that set them apart from many of their peers. The following album, Spooky appeared in 1992 with a similar sound and theme to Gala. In my opinion, Lush did not quite recover the sound they had on their first two albums and they took a break for a while, returning in late spring 1994 with their third album Split.

    Split is my favourite album from Lush and in my opinion one of their best works of art. Ms. Berenyi, Ms. Anderson and the gentlemen are at their best in terms of melodies, vocals, and ideas. Much of Split is musically dark, yet more satisfying to me than their earlier work and has Miki Berenyi’s distinctive voice colouring the affair; the themes on Split [lyrically also] seem to be less about love and more about introspection. Moreover the sound of Split is less ethereal (or shoegaze) than their previous LP’s, what with songs such as “Light From A Dead Star” and “Desire Lines” that while shoegaze have a whiff of straight-ahead rock about them. “Desire Lines” appears to be about feeling lonely and depressed----which seems to be a thread running through Split, another thing making it different from their previous albums up to that point. Perhaps that album’s cover----consisting of a half black, half red background divided through the middle in two with green lettering across the top...and a group of whole lemons on the right-hand side...speaks to this observation.

    After the changes in musical direction of Split, Lush returned to the music scene in early spring 1996 with their third and last album to date, Lovelife. Lovelife surmised a change in musical direction for Lush, this time total. That album is an LP done in the popular Britpop style of the time that was common in those days in England, featuring mostly happy songs and a bright, upbeat sound; for the most part. The mark of the earlier Lush comes through in the song “Tralala” a slow lament about broken ties. Thematically and lyrically speaking the album, unlike many Britpop albums back then----is a half-and-half creature made of the stuff of Lush the indiepop and shoegaze band in terms of mood and lyrics; despite the upbeat tunes, and the Britpop Lush eager for some popular acceptance and more confident colour after years of underground status. So they never completely gave up what they always had been, it was more a desire to try something new artistically more than anything else on Lush’s part. Sadly, some time after releasing Lovelife early that year, their longstanding drummer Chris Acland committed suicide at his parent’s home in Burneside, Cumbria, Northeastern England; after years of battling depression. Following his death, his bandmates in Lush were devastated and went through a period of mourning----after this Lush was disbanded.


    source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_Acland

    As for Miki & Emma, their lives carried on after the tragedy. According to their wiki entry: “Miki Berenyi went on to work as a production editor at two major magazine publishers.[5] In 1998, Emma Anderson formed a new group, Sing-Sing, with singer Lisa O'Neill. Sing-Sing released two full-length albums but in January 2008, announced they were disbanding. Emma Anderson currently resides in London and has had various jobs in the music business in management, PR, accountancy and at a booking agency. Bassist Phil King played bass for The Jesus and Mary Chain but now works on a music magazine as a picture researcher.” As for Miki Berenyi, nowadays (as far as I know) she is occasionally the singer for the band Seinking Ships, a project of the Californian indie musician Eric Matthews; when she’s not working as an editor. Both articles can be found below in case any people reading want more info.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miki_Berenyi

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eric_Matthews_(music_personality)

    As for the rest of the band, one time member Phil King still plays in bands, and as for Steve Rippon, I’ve no idea what happened to him.

    In conclusion, I love Lush because their music is full of creative colour and beautiful sounds-----and for the unique vocals of Miki Berenyi; and besides all of this, they are a pop group for almost every mood. And what’s not to love about that? Music listeners who enjoy groups such as The Darling Buds and even The Cocteau Twins----among others, likely will enjoy the band as they will percieve the durable beauty of Lush.
  • Entry #8----Stay In The Sun: The Amazing Kenickie

    10 feb 2013, 05:18

    by: vanilla_boy1 Sat. 9 February 2013

    "I‘m in heaven,
    I have been told, (who told ya?).
    I‘m in heaven,
    I‘m too young to feel so old.”

    -----Kenickie, “In Your Car” At The Club, 1997.

    source: http://freespace.virgin.net/scott.wills/kenickie/iyc01.htm


    Hello again dear readers!

    In this journal I would like to discuss a very fun and youthful band. Who are they? Well, first of all, as the above lyrics indicate, the narrator in the above song is a young person who would like to stay young, likely forever. But how do those lyrics reveal that, and describe the band? They totally do! But before my readers can see that in earnest, I will say more about them so we can find out how and why. Let’s read on!

    Who am I talking about? A totally amazing band I love with all my heart...Kenickie! They are from the ‘90’s, but they certainly still resonate with teens and grown-ups alike who enjoy pure pop of the sweetest kind.

    For those discovering them for the first time, wikipedia.org says: “Kenickie were a four-piece rock band from Tyne and Wear, England. The band were formed in 1994 and consisted of lead vocalist, guitarist and lyricist Lauren Laverne (b. Lauren Gofton), drummer Johnny X (real name Pete Gofton, Lauren's brother), lead guitarist and occasional vocalist Marie du Santiago (b. Marie Nixon) and bass guitarist Emmy-Kate Montrose (b. Emma Jackson). The band's name comes from their favourite character in the 1970s film Grease.”

    source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kenickie

    Moreover, the article also states: “Kenickie originally worked with Newcastle punk label Slampt before signing to Saint Etienne's EMI subsidiary, EMIDisc. Kenickie registered in the UK Singles Chart, their highest position being No. 24 with the single "In Your Car",[1] which opened Top of the Pops on the 10 January 1997 edition. Their debut album At The Club, peaked at No. 9 in the UK Albums Chart in May 1997.[1] In the summer of 1997, Kenickie were scheduled to play Glastonbury; their set was postponed, due to rain, but took place later on the scheduled day.” For those unfamiliar with the Glastonbury festival they can find info on it here [if interested] at the following link:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glastonbury_Festival

    As can be seen in Kenickie’s wiki entry, they are a band who plays and sings songs relating to teenage life. (Johnny X provides drumming labours for the band). And no wonder, because they were teenagers upon writing and playing it. The songs on their début album, At The Club speak about that fact. The sound of the album is vibrant and full of bright musical colours. The music of their first album can best be described as belonging to the pop-punk genre that was common throughout the 1990’s, but with a light and bubblegum edge; not least due to Miss Lauren Laverne’s sugar-sweet vocals which are the heart and soul of Kenickie----she is effectively the one with the main spotlight of the group and one of the main stars of the band, alongside her bandmates Emmy-Kate Montrose and Marie Du Santiago who also sing along with her, often in the background and occasionally up front. (Also, they are part of the Britpop genre and movement which often characterised itself with bands like them with similar sounds, mostly from England). And what a voice she has! Gentle and full of teenage colour, it either evokes a beautiful little girl skipping outside on a bright and lovely summer’s day, enjoying the beautiful nature around her...while she’s singing of course, an invitation to the listener to play with her, or a teenage girl who’s a friend----depending on the person’s perspective. Listening to the album the songs radiate with the ideas of youth and the thought of being young forever; Miss Laverne herself burns with a passion for it. A part of the lyrics to one song on their debut, the spirited “In Your Car” give this away:

    “Tell us exactly,
    I said:

    You‘ve got a gift,
    I can tell by looking.
    Give us a lift,
    I get so tired of walking.

    (x2)
    Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah,
    yeah, yeah, yeah.

    I‘m in heaven,
    I have been told, (who told ya?).
    I‘m in heaven,
    I‘m too young to feel so old.

    What happened then?
    I asked him:

    Is this your car?
    It‘s quite a machine.
    Doting father,
    I see you keep it clean, oh.

    (x2)


    source: http://freespace.virgin.net/scott.wills/kenickie/iyc01.htm

    As seen in the lyrics excerpt, Miss Lauren wants to stay young, because she is, in the song. And that’s what Kenickie are all about! Being young and having wholesome fun with one's friends as she/he hangs out with them. Feeling beautiful as a teenager or young person (or those young at heart) and living life to the max---Kenickie wants you to join them in this youthful pursuit they are undertaking. To spend your time in peaceful bliss with them and with oneself. Isn’t that beautiful? And that’s why I love them---because they are beautiful!

    Unfortunately though they were not able to sustain their success as a group for very long. It seemed to some people at the time that Kenickie had lost their fire like a year or so after releasing their debut LP. According to their entry at wikipedia.org: "The band's second album, Get In appeared in 1998. It was generally less well-received than its predecessor in the music press (although Melody Maker rated it 8/10), and sold less well. Johnny X, who now referred to himself as Pete X, moved to guitar, with the live band augmented by Graham Christie (later of Data Panik) on drums and Dot Allen on keyboards.” Throughout their existence they only released two albums, At The Club and their second out a year later from their first, Get In in 1998. Unlike their debut At The Club, Get In, while still essentially the same old Kenickie of the debut featured a mellowed-out pop-rock type sound common to certain bands of the ‘90’s Britpop era such as Sleeper and Echobelly (active around the same time) and both which had female vocalists singing lead. Get In , musically speaking----is like a fractioned affair in terms of it’s sound with the vibrancy and energy of At The Club Kenickie at the core of the songs, veiled beneath mellow pop-rock arrangements. The songs on Get In are still fun (musically and lyrically) they’re just in a more pop-rock style, of the alternative music kind. Songs on that album, such as “Magnatron” “5 AM” “411 (La La La)” and “Lunch At Lassiter's” among others, testify to this. And of course, the number “Stay In The Sun” the track which this entry gets it’s title from found on that album, encapsulates this as well. Many of the numbers on Get In recall a relaxed afternoon strolling around at a park or nice square, or sitting at a table at a nice café with friends at noon while she or he is speaking to them. Nevertheless, Kenickie’s change in musical direction was not appreciated by the majority of their public at the time----and this eventually led to the band’s break-up. “Kenickie disbanded on 15 October 1998 after a London Astoria gig” according to their wiki page.

    After the band’s demise Miss Laverne continued her musical career for a while, and some of her former bandmates continued active in the music world, while others chose different careers. As their wiki entry says: "Du Santiago and Montrose went on to form a new band called Rosita, and released two singles before splitting up. Du Santiago is now a member of The Cornshed Sisters and former head of communications for the Northern region of the Arts Council. In Autumn 2012, she took up position as Chief Executive Officer at the University of Sunderland Students' Union.[2] Johnny X went on to record under the name J Xaverre. He toured with Peter Brewis of Field Music's new project 'The Week That Was' and went onto play in Frankie & The Heartstrings. The band's one-time touring keyboard player Tony O'Neill (known in the band as Elvis Wesley) is now an author, living in the United States. Montrose completed a PhD in sociology in 2010 and is now a post-doctoral fellow at King's College London.[3] Lauren Laverne released one solo EP, and sang on the 2000 Mint Royale single, "Don't Falter", which reached No. 15 in the UK chart.[4] Laverne also was an uncredited vocalist on The Divine Comedy's 2004 single "Come Home Billy Bird" which reached No. 25 in the same chart.[5] Since then she has presented various radio shows on radio station Xfm, most notably the breakfast show, before quitting in April 2007. She has also moved into television, originally as a guest on early episodes of music quiz Never Mind the Buzzcocks. She earned her own weekly spot on Channel 4 music show Planet Pop and became presenter, with Myleene Klass, of ITV music programme cd:uk in 2005, and hosted Channel 4's music show Transmission with Steve Jones in 2006 and 2007. She is currently lead host of BBC 2's The Culture Show and has her own daily radio show on BBC 6 Music, as well as occasionally deputising for holidaying presenters on BBC Radio 2. She now co-hosts Channel 4 show, 10 O'Clock Live, with David Mitchell, Jimmy Carr and Charlie Brooker.”

    In conclusion, I totally love Kenickie, not least for their honest and playful songs (that girls and boys alike can relate to) their positive energy, and their beautiful spirit which comes through brightly in the music and the pretty vocals of their frontwoman, Miss Lauren Laverne. And let’s not forget, for their evocation of lasting youth and beauty in song. Indiepop, alternative, and even pop-punk lovers should investigate this band since I think they have much that she or he will enjoy about them. They’re so cool!

    Thank you readers.
  • Entry #7----Junk The Morgue: The Wonders Of Saint Etienne

    4 feb 2013, 23:22

    by: vanilla_boy1, Mon. 4 February 2013

    “You can look at the stars, look at the ocean;
    The answer's somewhere, here's what I reckon:
    Close your eyes, kiss the future, junk the morgue.”

    -----Saint Etienne, “Junk The Morgue”, “So Tough” 1993.

    source: http://www.sing365.com/music/Lyric.nsf/Junk-The-Morgue-lyrics-Saint-Etienne/75358C9B72706D0248256996000BAA45

    Those are beautiful words painting a clean and happy picture. But how do the above lyrics encapsulate everything about the band I will discuss in this journal? In every way!

    But how? And, am I talking about a French city or the football [soccer] team? No, although in a way the soccer team does have something to do with them. What and who am I referring to, and why the name of the soccer team?

    I am talking about a wonderful band I love lots these days----the singular Saint Etienne! But what makes them wonderful? Picture the following: A voice as sweet as candy, recalling a good female friend’s; electric sounds just as comfortable on the disco floor as they are in one’s bedroom or even patio, and lyrics full of as much razor-sharp wit as much as they are of girlish charms. That’s right, put it all together and one has described this band! But who are they exactly, and what does it have to do with the previous question? It all begins in a far away land, many, many years ago....inspired by a historical summer.

    As an introduction to people reading about them for the first time, Saint Etienne are a British indie dance band who formed in 1990 in London, England, in an area known as Croydon. They are made up of lead singer and songwriter, Sarah Cracknell, and keyboardists/synth-masters [Robert] “Bob” Stanley and Peter Wiggs. Both ‘Bob’ & Peter co-write with Ms. Cracknell, or she does the same with them. At one time, as their wiki explains it “Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs were childhood friends and former music journalists. They originally planned that Saint Etienne would use a variety of different lead singers, and their first album, Foxbase Alpha features several vocalists, including Moira Lambert and Donna Savage. However, after working with Sarah Cracknell on "Nothing Can Stop Us", they decided to make her the permanent vocalist, and Cracknell has written or co-written many of the band's songs.” As far as their basic musical sound, it is [in simple terms] in line with the modern dance-pop or electronic disco-----having it’s roots at the height of Acid House music in England, [first] during 1988, also known as The Second Summer of Love. According to Wikipedia.org, it was called The Second Summer of Love because, [it] “generally refers to the summers of both 1988 and 1989 when electronic dance music and the prevalence of the drug MDMA fuelled an explosion in youth culture culminating in mass free parties and the era of the rave. LSD was also widely available and popular again. The music of this era fused dance beats with a psychedelic, 1960s flavour, and the dance culture drew parallels with the hedonism and freedom of the Summer of Love in San Francisco two decades earlier. Similarities with the Sixties included fashions such as Tie-dye. The smiley logo is synonymous with this period in the UK.” For more info on free parties readers can click here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_party

    However, their work also draws upon a variety of other influences and sounds such as 60‘s pop, ‘70’s disco and rock music, 80’s club music, and [alternative] indiepop to name a few which makes them multifaceted and eclectic. They are considered a part of the indiepop genre & community to which they belong to in spite of their appropriation of some commercial music elements. According to their entry from wikipedia.org: “Years later, The Times wrote that they "deftly fused the grooviness of Swinging Sixties London with a post-acid house backbeat". Their first two albums, Foxbase Alpha and So Tough feature sounds chiefly associated with house music, such as standard TR-909 drum patterns and Italo house piano riffs mixed with original sounds, notable by the use of found dialogue, sampled from 1960s British realist cinema Some of these earlier recordings included skits by satirist Chris Morris.[3]” Moreover, allmusic.com says the following about them: “Throughout the early '90s, Saint Etienne racked up a string of indie hit singles that were driven by deep club beats -- encompassing anything from house and techno to hip-hop and disco -- and layered with light melodies, detailed productions, clever lyrics, and Cracknell's breathy vocals. They revived the sounds of swinging London, as well as the concept of the three-minute pop single being a catchy, ephemeral piece of ear candy, in post-acid house Britain, thereby setting the stage for Brit-pop.” As far as the name they chose for themselves, apparently they couldn’t decide on something for a while but being that they were all soccer fans they named themselves after the French football team AS Saint Étienne, according to their entry on wikipedia.org here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Etienne_(band)


    So, musically they are interesting, and Foxbase Alpha is a good début from them being that it gives people the basics on Saint Etienne, outlining their sound and style. But my favourite album from them, as well as the one (in my opinion) that is ‘the quintessence of Saint Etienne’ as I told a musical friend...is the one that followed, So Tough. What a beautiful album! That CD is a parade of cool dancey sounds, gorgeous lyrics, and all-around girlish prettiness that defines the band, but more than anyone it describes Saint Etienne’s frontwoman...Miss Sarah Cracknell. The key to it all really is her voice, her words, and her style of singing. Sarah C’s vocals are beautiful, sweet, and soothed-sounding; her voice evokes either a nice [female] schoolteacher, a loving big sister’s, or a great girl friend’s----depending on the listener’s perspective. So Tough is practically like a concept album, while I’m not exactly certain what it’s about I think it’s basically about a young woman who travels through London and falls in love with the city-----and more than anything else, [falls in love] with the spirit of its people. Each song reads like a note of love to something she sees and hears there...and the lessons learned from all. It’s all beautifully expressed, but Miss Cracknell’s pretty voice and lyrics also connect the premise of the album to something greater than those...the harmony of the self and peace within the soul. Herself and her soul are included in there of course, not least reflected in her voice which is as light as the breeze on a lovely spring day, or a beautiful feather; she sings her heart out full of love to her audience. At least, that’s how I see it. Moreover, relating to the same...the songs themselves seem to contain traces or undercurrents of shoegaze either in the music or their words (which was another genre from around the same time period as So Tough ) that was about in the indiepop scene in the UK at the time; known for a peaceful vibe and often mellow sound that recalled New Age and/or ambient music. One song on the CD, titled “Junk The Morgue” captures the essence of what this band is about (in my opinion) in just a few words. The song lyrics read:

    “You can look at the stars, look at the ocean
    The answer's somewhere
    Here's what I reckon:
    Close your eyes
    Kiss the future
    Junk the morgue”

    “Leave the planet
    Junk the morgue”

    Source:

    http://www.lyricsmania.com/junk_the_morgue_lyrics_saint_etienne.html


    That’s why Saint Etienne are so beautiful! The beautiful message in their songs. In “Junk The Morgue” while the lyrics are simple there, my interpretation is Miss Cracknell is telling her listeners to find a warm and happy feeling that soothes their souls, and picture a lovely future [for themselves] in their minds; just concentrate on the feeling and let it take over-----feel beauty and love; thus ‘close your eyes, kiss the future (or the here and now, as some say) and ‘junk the morgue’ & let go of that dark and cold place that is getting in the way of serenity and joy.

    After So Tough, Saint Etienne, while they came close to expressing all they were on that album subsequently, never recaptured that same glory in a way. However, songs such as “Hug My Soul” and the beautiful “Marble Lions” from the follow-up Tiger Bay were in the same vein with a similar feeling as the songs from So Tough, with the tune and video for “Hug My Soul” being charming and childlike, what with Miss Sarah C. lying in bed singing and hugging her teddy among toys, and later grooving with a big bear in a cave in the clip for it. Likewise, “Marble Lions” is calm and elegant with Sarah Cracknell’s peaceful presence and quality clothing, and an orchestra supporting Sarah Cracknell’s dignified tone and words. Despite the changes to their lyrics & sound, through the years Saint Etienne have written many beautiful songs both in music and the thoughts stated. While they debuted in 1991, to this day they are still going strong with their warm and affable music formula. The beauty of Miss Sarah Cracknell and the loveliness of the music she creates with her creative partners Bob and Peter, (not to mention the extent of their discography and consistently pretty vibes) should be enough reason for listeners to perceive and explore the wonders of Saint Etienne.
  • Entry #6---Dream In Candy-Coloured Shadows: The Beauty Of The Darling Buds

    21 jan 2013, 19:56

    By: vanilla_boy1, Mon. 21 January 2013 AD

    “Walk on by with your head in the sky dream in candy coloured shadows” -----The Darling Buds, “Honeysuckle”, 1990. source: http://www.kafejo.com/muziko/dbuds/crawdadd.htm#honeysuckle

    What is the meaning of the above phrase? To those who don’t know, it’s anyone’s guess. I myself believe it’s just what it says to be; but what does it have to do with the group of people that will be discussed in this journal entry? Everything!

    “But, who are those people?” the reader might ask.

    It’s very simple really. They are a band I absolutely, positively love----The Darling Buds!

    To introduce them for those who don’t know them, according to their last.fm page “they were a Welsh indiepop band from Caerleon near Newport, Wales. The band were formed in 1986 and took their name from a British novel called The Darling Buds of May.” Additionally, Allmusic.com has the following to say about them: “With their Beatles-influenced vocal harmonies and hook-laden melodies, The Darling Buds were one of the most promising bands in Wales during the late '80s and early '90s. Firmly entrenched in the "blonde" period of British indie music, the group is remembered for the singing of blonde female vocalist, Andrea Lewis and the beatnik-like black clothing worn by the band's instrumentalists.” According to an internet article I read somewhere, the “blonde” period was a brief era of English indiepop music which composed the emergence of [pretty] blonde female vocalists singing lead vocals for an indie [rock] band----who played either jangly guitars, powerpop or “buzzsaw” ones, or a combination of both...and the woman’s backing musicians were all moody or rocker-looking men dressed in black clothing or biker-style wear; which was hot during the late 80’s and briefly in the early 90’s, mostly in England. To paraphrase the allmusic.com article, “If I Said”, The Darling Buds first single-----was out on their own record label Native, in the UK in early 1987. Moreover, according to this article here http://www.stutter.demon.co.uk/elastica/darling.html “At the height of "Blonde" in 1988 the band were signed up by by Epic and had moderate chart success with a top thirty single and album. They even managed a few appearances on Top Of The Pops.” That said, why exactly do I love them, and feel others should listen to them too?

    Well, it turns out their first album is called “Pop Said”... from 1988 and of course, they believe that pop [music] speaks to them! By the type of songs they have, I would say that they believe in the power of good pop music since of it they have a lot! Their first CD is a pop fest of positive, jangly powerpop, a good dose of “crunchy” revved-up, straight and raw-sounding electric guitar and efficient, spot-on drumming; provided by the guys who make up the rest of the band----Harley Farr on guitar, Mr. Bloss on drums (last name unknown) and Chris McDonough on bass; coming in later to replace Mr. Bloss was Jimmy Hughes in 1990, on drums. Most of all, the centre to “clicking” as they say with the group (as well as being the heart of the band) is their lead singer, Miss Andrea Lewis. When I first heard her and her band, I loved her vocals (and the other Buds) from the start! Unlike many of Miss Lewis’s contemporaries her band is not very “twee”, at least in terms of the sound they have. Dynamic, primary-coloured, and powerful, it has a lot of character; but is actually melodious and agreeable not least because of the pop melodies going on and the ever-so-sweet voice of Miss Lewis, colouring all everywhere. Most of all I think this is what defines the Darling Buds. Miss Andrea Lewis’s vocals have a pretty, [teenage] ‘schoolgirl’ type sound to them that I love so much, and she sings so sweetly...which gives me beautiful feelings inside. I love the way she sings or says her words, because she sounds like a nice girl who’s fun to hang out with & totally awesome! I’d imagine she’s lots of fun to be around! But I like it especially when she goes ‘oooooh’ and ‘aaaaaah’ for example...hitting high notes. She sounds like a beautiful young girl enjoying herself in the warm gentle sunshine on a lovely summer day; having fun while playing outside. Of course her voice is always beautiful and sweet; and looking at her band’s videos she looks beautiful as well...with her pretty figure and long blonde hair, her fabulous makeup and nails----that make her look like a gorgeous doll. She just looks amazing! She seems to be enjoying herself & being happy in the clips which is nice. Centrally to all, her band is really colourful, but how, and why?

    The Darling Buds second album Crawdaddy from 1990 contains the lyric introducing this journal entry from the song “Honeysuckle” where it also obtains it’s name from. In that song Ms. Lewis is singing about a boy with his ‘head in the clouds’...who [apparently] daydreams in colour, as her words are saying, ‘walk on by with your head in the sky, dream in candy-coloured-shadows.‘ The tune “Honeysuckle” gives the essence of this band away as another part says:

    “...oh it feels like snow and it's so sweet oh don't you know that it's like
    honeysuckle
    honeysuckle
    round about and inside out
    through all of our emotions
    in my sleep you drag me deep
    when you're pulling at my strings
    oh and it feels like
    if only it feels like oh
    and it feels like
    if only it feels like honeysuckle
    if only it feels like
    oh and it feels like if only it feels like
    Honeysuckle

    So, can the reader see what Miss Lewis and company want to make the listener feel? They want to make her/him feel beauty, exhilaration (or pleasure) and love. So beautiful! Now then, The Darling Buds are not shadowy...but they certainly have candy-coloured melodies and sounds, hence their colour! And they are artistically so as well... since I imagine Miss Lewis was the driving force behind the band’s art and concept, with the images of flowers to name an example, which dominate the group. I’m sure Miss Lewis herself would agree:-) since she is colourful too and so is the reason why The Darling Buds are so bright and happy. The sound of the album is much in keeping with the first with some disco-influenced tracks; it has all the sunshine and happiness (plus cute girly vibes I love) that characterises them. Their last album to date, “Erotica” from 1992 saw The Darling Buds tackle a different sound (for them) somewhat in keeping with the then-popular “alternative rock” genre, though it’s more accurate to say that they were shoegaze-inflected, early Britpop-style songs with tougher-sounding guitars and a slight tinge of modern disco rhythms.

    However, while their brightness lives on for those who love their music, in real life shortly after they reached success...something went terribly wrong. According to http://www.stutter.demon.co.uk/elastica/darling.html “Bloss left in 1990 and was replaced by Jimmy Hughes who had previously been the drummer in Black. The band then decided to go for a more sophisticated style with their second album and never really regained their previous popularity. The third and final album "Erotica" was released in 1992 but caused hardly a ripple amongst the music press, even though it was released a few weeks before Madonna's album of the same title. The band then toured the States for a year but decided to call it a day after getting throughly fed up with the music business...Andrea has since moved into acting and has toured with a local theatre company. She has also presented a music show called "The Slate" for BBC Wales. But as for the rest of the band, who knows?"

    In closing, I love The Darling Buds because they are pretty and fun but most of all since they are an example of what the best pop music should be...sweet, thrilling, and full of love and life. I feel anyone interested in the old-school indiepop scene, jangle pop, and even bands like Saint Etienne should check out this group as they have much she or he will enjoy...and to explore the wonderful candy-coloured world of a beautiful and very cool young woman!

    Thank you readers.
  • Entry #5: My thoughts on The High Violets.

    21 jan 2013, 00:11

    By vanilla_boy1, Sun. 20 January 2013 AD

    Hello readers! It has been a while since I've done an entry in this area on this site but as I said, I'd be back...and back again I am. I hope the readers enjoy what I have to say in the following paragraphs.

    Loud, melodic guitars? Check. Competent bass playing? Check. Fluid drum work? Check. Sweet and fresh-sounding female vocals? Check. Am I talking about Lindsay Lohan’s return to the music world? No! I am talking about an indiepop & shoegaze band called The High Violets. And why am I so excited about them? Let’s find out!

    I had first heard The High Violets several years ago, and came off with the idea that they were very much a shoegazer band in the mold of Lush, Swallow, Pia Fraus, Secret Shine, and so on-----not least because of their sound and the vocals of their lead singer, Miss Kaitlyn ni Donovan. And I was correct; since their early recordings (such as the “44 Down E.P.” from 2002 and the “Carry On Gravity E.P. “from 1999) were indeed shoegaze, except without the jangly edge that also often characterised Lush and groups of their stripe. Instead they had more atmosphere and spacey guitar to their work than Lush or Chapterhouse did, sort of along the lines of another 90’s shoegaze group [from the U.S.], Loveliescrushing. However they are not really from the nineties as apparently they began around 1999 but really hit their stride in the late 2000’s, and are still going strong at present. Several years had passed since that time, and I had not heard The High Violets again all the while, not least because I had delved into the world of British and European jangle pop. So one day...during the week on Monday, about two weeks ago, I heard them again after a long time gone without via the suggestion I should from someone I know. I first heard their song “Cool Green” and thought it was fantastic because it reminded me of another band I love, The Darling Buds. I loved every bit of that song, so I wrote to the person, via email...and said: “Wow nice!!! I love that song! A fabulous sound; and chilled-out vox. I don't know what that woman's name is but she has a pretty voice. That is one tuuuuune. Watery keyboards, windy 'spaced out' guitar, and a beautiful folk-style melody; it has it all. Just ace.” So, from then on I carried forward to hear their album “To Where You Are” from the 31st of January, 2006. I thought it was a totally awesome album! And then I thought The High Violets were a very cool band. I wrote in another mail message about the bands album: “A awesome CD; the songs on it I like best are "Cool Green", #1,"Sun Baby", #2 "Love Is Blinding", and #4 "Invitation". The High Violets are similar to this English band called The Darling Buds in their '90's days, with a little more clarity and a slight techno pulse. Very cool and beautiful songs...I would like to buy the album.” So indeed, later that afternoon I did buy that LP. Perhaps most notably of all, The High Violets are not English but instead hail from Portland, Oregon, USA which I thought was very nice since there are not too many U.S. people playing shoegaze-style pop. I felt my statement about them was accurate since the album [to me] recalled The Darling Buds in their early 90’s “Erotica” period, with the focused-sounding and discernible shoegaze-influenced indiepop songs and solid instrument playing, but most of all due to the sweet and cool vocals of their frontwoman Miss K. ni Donovan, mentioned at the beginning. She does not sing like Miss Andrea Lewis [of The Darling Buds] does to my mind, but overall the band reminded me of them since the sound and melodies channeled the ‘90’s. More accurately, I told one of my musical friends that Miss Kaitlyn ni Donovan’s vocals sound like those of the lead singer of the band Ladytron, [Ms. Helen Marnie]. I feel it’s of note to point out however that I like Miss K. ni Donovan’s voice more than Ms. Marnie’s; I like the way Ms. ni Donovan sings----she often sounds airy and beautiful and does it quite sweetly. I love it when she sings high notes...because she sounds like a female friend who is comforting the listener with gentle words, or a nice big sister who is showing those who hear her the beautiful feelings in her heart and why she says she’s pretty. When Miss K. ni Donovan sings low....I like it because it feels like she’s giving sweet whispers to me about her experiences, and it seems like she’s cooing playfully. At all times while singing, she sounds sweet and her vocals warm my heart-----and I guess that’s why I love her voice! It’s one of the main things that I love about The High Violets, which turned me on to them. And, l haven’t forgotten about the rest of the band, who are male... Clint Sargent who plays lead guitar, Colin Sheridan on bass guitar, and Luke Strahota on drums. Their instrument playing is excellent and economical, and functions hand in hand with Miss ni Donovan’s voice. I liked their aforementioned album from 2006, so later the same week I bought it I bought one of their earlier records, the aforementioned “44 Down” E.P. out the 21st of May, 2002, and their latest album “Cinema” out the 1 September 2010. As far as their latest album, my impressions of it was that it was even cooler and more groovy than the first one I bought :-) and I loved it! The album is more straight-ahead rock than their previous outings, but still unmistakably The High Violets; while less shoegaze and more indiepop Ms. K. ni Donovan still sounds gentle and sweet, and the guitars are melodic and electrified.

    So, in conclusion, I certainly love the High Violets and hope to hear more from them in the future. Their songs are cool and beautiful, and relate to the life experiences of a young woman (or person of either sex) told with honesty and emotion. While listening to them I feel what Miss Kaitlyn ni Donovan is saying and her wonderful, lovely, calm feminine energy that is so touching. I think their sound is cool too----and if anyone looking at this post likes The Darling Buds, Lush, 90’s bands like Eve’s Plum or even Ladytron, they should check them out. Miss Kaitlyn D. and the band is amazing, and I think others will feel the same as well!

    Thank you.
  • Entry #4: A cool artist, January 2013.

    7 jan 2013, 03:26

    Sun. 6 Jan 2013

    Hello again popfans!

    Okay, so the last entry I wrote wasn't my last one for this week, but this one will be it for a while. Again, that may change at some point in the future.

    This entry is just a short post about a newish female artist I am recently listening to (I say newish because I first heard her last year). Her name is Hafdis Huld, and she is a singer-songwriter from Reykjavik, Iceland. Lately I heard her recent tune "Pop Song" and I like it--- recalling a little bit of later period Saint Etienne (as well as Club 8) what I like the most about it is Huld's singing. She has a beautiful voice; light and sweet, it sounds very mellow and reassuring. I had the following to say about her to a musical friend:

    "Concerning Halfdis Huld's "Pop Song" I heard it all the way through again and this time I liked it, for some reason I could appreciate it more. That song sounds Saint Etiennish just a bit---like them during their "Smash The System: Singles And More" compilation era. I will try and see what else strikes my fancy from her, sometime. :-). " She is very beautiful as well :-)

    I had heard her previously a little bit and I have the feeling I will be listening to her songs for a while now. I told my musical friend also that "she sings like she is having a beautiful conversation with the listener late at night." Her voice evokes images of an intimate and beautiful setting, like a lovely young woman's room decorated with a gorgeous nature motif, or a tea party where the listener is the guest and a beautiful girl is delighted to have you around, and for you to listen to her stories---surrounded by pretty floral décor and lace while she is sweetly speaking her words. Just amazing!

    In conclusion, I thought I would write a post on her because she is a young beautiful artist that it's good for indiepop fans to know about, because she is perhaps the future successor to the mantle of another wonderful European band, Club 8. If any people reading this like Saint Etienne, Club 8 or even Sally Shapiro I think they should check her out, because I feel she may go far in the future. She writes intelligent pop songs that any fan of indie female vocalists does well to explore. She's so cool too! Her attitude is fresh, lovely, and fun...and isn't that what pop should be?

    Thank you for reading.
  • Entry #3, She Holds The World In Her Hands: why I prefer female voices these days,…

    6 jan 2013, 17:35

    By: vanilla_boy1 Sun. 6 Jan 2013

    Hello again p!o!p! people and alternative music lovers. I sense that, at least for now, I only have a few words to say about the above topic. That is, of what I can think of right now. This post may grow in the future.

    First of all, just to start off with it---the reason why I think I like female voices better than male ones right now is probably just because of brain wiring due to the fact I am male, or so they say. I mean, I read an article on the Yahoo! site like about two years back which said that to the male brain the female speaking voice sounds like music, because the male brain according to the article processes female [talking] voices like if they were music, that is they get processed by that brain in the same area which processes musical sound.* I thought to myself, that's crazy! (But then I'll believe anything, since it's a weird world people live in; where nothing is as it seems). Additionally, the article said that generally women's voices are higher than men's, so they have a natural musical tone to them; not least due to the way many women tend to speak which, often times, consists of rising and falling tones and/or pitches. So, to men, the article said, aforesaid voice sounds musical. So simply imagine the thrill a [straight] man may feel when he hears a woman (who has a great voice that he likes) sing. Its like music on top of music. It's marvellous!

    *Update: In case anyone reading is interested to read the source this post draws from, I have some news first; I was unable to locate the Yahoo! posting of the article. But, I found another one with practically the same info searching around the Net a few minutes ago. It's an old article from a science publication called Discover Magazine, dated November 2005. Despite the years it has on it, I imagine it's still prescient and of course interesting. Anyway here it is:

    http://discovermagazine.com/2005/nov/men-hear-womens#.UOqULY5UVlI

    The other reason is because, simply said, an attractive, soothing female singing voice, not least to me...can trigger thoughts of beautiful ideas and/or loveliness and peace. Psychologically speaking there's a story there, as the famous psychologist Carl Jung said among other things that every man possesses a female side to his psyche known as the anima---which is basically, according to him, a male's inner woman or girl.* Depending on the personality and practices of x man, the anima can surface from time to time in a variety of ways but very often is reflected in the inherent attraction of that male to female things, behaviours, or qualities; that is, if the man is straight. Mr. Jung, as far as I have read, did not conduct those studies upon gay or bisexual men. I am not sure what the anima relationship to them would be in that case. So, perhaps in hearing the lovely sounding girl's or ladie's singing voice, that stimulates a sensitive male's anima; and she can establish a kinship with that singer or vocal feel. And, if the [straight] man has an idea of it, or knows how to tap in to that female strength or vibration (some people also include what is known as an 'aura' there) he often may feel a special kind of exhilaration or pleasure from the female's voice; and so as a result he comes back for more time and time again.

    *In case any people are interested to learn more--the following is an article explaining the anima according to Jung, from wikipedia:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anima_and_animus

    and another article that explains it as well in a little more detail, it relates Jung's anima theory to cross-dressing, among other things. It's not such a straightforward read as the wiki, but helpful to know nonetheless:

    http://www.geocities.ws/karenspecial/junganima.html

    In closing, the recent comment of one of my musical friends sums it up nicely I believe. He said: "Well, I definitely feel in touch with my feminine, sensitive side. I just love the magical, powerful spirit and beauty of women. I really think that women hold the power to like another amazing universe or something. If that makes any sense? Their spirits are like an incredible gate way into a truly peaceful place where love and life flourish to the max...I obsess over women, among other things, but in a healthy way..female singers just happen to be my main choice for music...I feel like I can sort of go deeper and feel more intense magic and happiness with female singers." To which I replied: "Wow that was a striking cool comment! Yes it does [make sense] because I think I know how you meant those words. A woman with a great personality and a good character can show you a wonderful world, and her female essence; of light, love and beauty."

    I think that says it all.

    Thank you!

    P.S. I think this will be one of the last journal entries I shall write for some time now, starting this week; because sometime soon I have important things to do so I may not write an entry for each day, like I have so far---that may change later on. Thank you, dear readers!
  • Entry #2: The state of Indiepop

    6 jan 2013, 08:01

    By: vanilla_boy1, Sun. 6 Jan 2013 AD

    Hello indiepop women & men and alt pop lovers!

    OK, so this is my next journal entry below this paragraph, consisting of something I wrote nearly two years ago, with the date on which I wrote it indicated and the time I did it at just to remember it. So, if the references are dated, please consider, it is because I wrote it at that time. Indie-mp3.co.uk is no more as of the date of publication of the following material. The following is a piece concerning my interpretation of the state of indiepop I wrote back then which I feel still applies to today. As always, it is just my opinion being expressed here, so I hope no one takes that out of context. For those who have missed it, these journals are done with the intent of talking about the music I enjoy, indiepop and the likes. It's the music that many other people on this site enjoy as well. So, make yourselves comfortable ladies and gentlemen:-) because in the mode of a certain old show I will explain it all. In other words, I'll play Clarissa, while all the people gather round and listen. :-) (That's a reference for all the 90's children out there). :-) .

    19 March 2011 AD

    2:17 A.M.

    I Wish It Was Autumn All The Time

    I have noticed that most of the indiepop bands that are featured on indiemp3.co.uk, (or so it appears) are relentlessly sunny and upbeat. Now that’s not a bad thing, not at all. But for a while I grew tired of that music because I felt at the time since I had it figured out to a T, familiar with the sound and subject matter, I would give it a break. The reason for that, however, is because the popscene at present is divided between two ‘schools’ and one school is mainstream, highly successful and at the top while it’s bands are bland and rather dreary, and it affects the real indiepoppers in some way or form; or so I believe. The thing is since that is the effect that it has on the scene to my mind, in my opinion the times do not surmise such an overload of bright pop. The first group is the authentic indiepop artists; i.e. directly drawing from/descended from c86 (can be many things, typically jangle pop/twee, powerpop á lá Teenage Fanclub and others, or the more post-punk/aggressive c86 crowd, like Ron Johnson Records, Half Man Half Biscuit & the noisy groups on the c86 tape, hard jangle in the vein of Wedding Present/The Fall/Wolfhounds, etc) youthful, vibrant music with a sharp mind. (In a similar fashion you had the original nineties Britpop bands who also drew upon C86 indie as their musical influences, but mix them with the sound and production of today’s out-and-out pop rock, so it’s similar to what’s termed “adult alternative” e.g. 90’s groups like Matchbox 20, Goo Goo Dolls, Natalie Imbruglia, Hootie & The Blowfish, etc., an American sound; with a like intent. An everyman, workmanlike kind of vibe; well not all of them did I suppose. (Stuff that gets played in offices where people work, as a relief to pass the time with and not give it much thought). The other group are today’s Britpop bands, such as Coldplay & their soundalikes; Travis, Feeder, The Doves, Embrace, The Verve, Stereophonics, etc.. bands that got their start in the mid to late 90s as Britpop entered a decline. Unfortunately, there were bands like those even when Britpop was at its peak, like Ocean Colour Scene, Cast, Oasis, the aforementioned Verve (“A Northern Soul” era, 1995) and so on. Groups which were classicist, influenced by British Invasion bands and classic rock; also by a load of The Beatles, particularly Oasis. It was these stodgy combos which the Coldplay imitators modelled themselves after, except that now it was worse because not only were they doing that but they were copies of copies of each band. Those people either wanted to be Oasis, or The Verve. As a result their music is very watered down, though pleasant. However it came without the intellect of the earlier Britpop; instead with an emphasis on average peoples experiences/emotions and a singer-songwriter vibe overall. These groups don’t deserve to be called indie as there is hardly any indie in them. They only have a tinge and the rest is the stuff of a mainstream pop rock band, not indiepop at all. Some of their material is not bad, but the bad is very dull; inflicting pain on young people’s ears. That is, the ears of young people thirsty for pure pop. As it turned out, the primary-coloured, youthful sounds of the proper 90’s Britpop fell out of favour and fell away with time in the UK & abroad, and what took over after the fall was all of those boring “indie” bands. They soared to top heights and were very successful, effectively becoming the face of mainstream UK indie within a few years. A divide has been created between real and fake alt-pop, and so far it remains, with pop! people unable to break walls plus forfeits and see justice operate within. And it so happens because as with the proper Britpop before Coldplay, Coldplay & company sounds are a commercial creation and not an artistic outgrowth of the underground tied to punk. While true Britpop per the early-mid 90s type was often wonderful, commercial as it be, the current most popular incarnation of it is simply atrocious. At its worst, it is insipid, cringeworthy, dull, talent-emaciated radio fodder. At it’s best, it is light, melodic, emotive, agreeable pop rock.

    Why is this piece then titled autumn all the time? Because, since as aforesaid the times do not merit such sunny vibes in pop; sometimes, as with plaintive pop-rock, its better to feel bad to grow and prosper than be looking up but learn nothing at the moment; however, there’s nothing wrong with bright and happy tunes and a radiant outlook.
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