A DIY INDIEPOP VINYL & CASSETTE LABEL

The Smittens - Infinity Pools [Digital]

Artist: The Smittens
Title: Infinity Pools
Format: Digital
Cat#: Fika067SG4
Release date: 2nd November 2018
Bandcamp | Spotify | iTunes

Ahead of 3 shows this weekend with The Ballet, The Smittens release their latest single Infinity Pools, taken from this summer’s LP City Rock Dove.

Infinity Pools is a homage to Spanish tontipop, and also inspired by Max’s longstanding love of tropicália. It’s a heady mix of pretentious experimentation and the most basic, simple, silly, absurdly infectious pop. 

The digital single comes with a brand new remix of Cats for Cats, superbly re-crafted by The Ballet, and a version of Sapphire from Nixon.

Catch The Smittens and The Ballet this weekend here:

Nov 2nd: The Radio Bean, Burlington VT
Nov 3rd: C’Mon Everybody, Brooklyn NY [3pm early free show]
Nov 4th: The Fire, Philadelphia PA

The Smittens - Infinity Pools

Winter Sprinter 2019

Fika Recordings, Wiaiwya and Gare du Nord proudly present the return of annual Winter Sprinter!

Four nights, three labels, twelve bands, DJs… the perfect antidote to the post-Christmas blues in the intimate surroundings of The Lexington, from January 8th-11th.

Our first two headliners are Haiku Salut and Withered Hand, playing Thursday 10th and Friday 11th respectively.

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Haiku Salut are an instrumental dream-pop-post-folk-neo-everything trio from the Derbyshire Dales. The group consists of multi-instrumentalists Gemma Barkerwood, Sophie Barkerwood, and Louise Croft. Between them, Haiku Salut play accordion, piano, glockenspiel, trumpet, guitar, ukulele, drums, and melodica. Their music also features electronic elements, which they refer to as “loopery and laptopery”.

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Withered Hand is the songwriting output of Dan Willson. A cult figure in the Scottish music scene since 2009, Dan has released two widely acclaimed albums, New Gods (2014) and Good News (2009) and several lo-fi EPs. Currently working towards his third full length album, Withered Hand continues to tour and play one-off dates in venues from concert halls to living rooms.

We’ll be announcing the other two headliners and details of the rest of the line up shortly. In the meantime, you can buy super-early bird 4 day passes for the bargain price of £32, or individual tickets for Thursday or Friday for £11 each from wegottickets.com/fikarecordings.

Mikey Collins - Hoick [12"/CD]

Artist: Mikey Collins
Title: Hoick
Format: 12" album on black vinyl | CD in digifile sleeve
Cat#: Fika068LP | Fika068CD
Release date: 17th August 2018
Bandcamp | Spotify | iTunes

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Hoick is the solo album from Allo Darlin’ drummer Mikey Collins, who combines his love of solid grooves and joyous harmonies to create a fun and sonically varied record. Mikey played most of the instruments and mixed the record himself, with some assistance from Laura Kovic (Tigercats) on vocals and fellow Allo Darlin' member Paul Rains on lead guitar. The flicker of his previous band provided the building blocks of an upbeat, positive record, but Mikey wanted to add his own quirky, disco spin & sonic expansiveness, aided by co-producer John Winfield (who has worked with Jimmy Somerville), with the aim of making a record that people stood a chance of being able to dance to. To create this eclectic sound, Mikey draws on influences  as far flung as Dexy's Midnight Runners, Bruce Springsteen & Todd Rundgren as well as more current artists such as Night Works, Matthew E White and Father John Misty.

Mikey began working on the album while he was still touring with beloved Fortuna POP! signed indiepop outfit Allo Darlin’ and as a result it took a pretty long time to complete. The last few years were a conveyor belt of change as he; got married, had a child, bought a house, moved from London to be by the Kent coast (Ramsgate) and opened a residential studio Big Jelly Studios (where they’ve recorded albums by Girl Ray, Metronomy, Pete Doherty and the Puta Madres, Mt Wolf, Seamus Fogarty and many others including Elizabeth Morris from Allo Darlin’s new band, ELVA).  In short, he grew up.  The record journeys through these changes but has its roots firmly grounded in his new seaside habitat.  His identity with and connection to the area is even incorporated into the album artwork – a startling photograph by local photographer Jason Evans (who has worked with Radiohead and Keiran Hebden/Fourtet), incorporating flora and fauna of the region, an outer ring of pop glow that hints at the neon din of the seaside.  The idea for the image emerged after a discussion about the relationship between organic and synthesised sounds on the record and its need to represent the area.

Moving to the coast had a more profound effect on Mikey than he imagined, as he explains; “Mostly it’s about a seismic shift in life.  I probably delayed growing up in a lot of ways, touring can kind of help that - it’s a fantasy world in some ways!  I hadn't really stopped to appreciate what I had until I got a little bit of time and space to think.  Being by the sea is good for that.  I realised how many positives there are in my life and I wanted to channel some of that into a record."  Unsurprisingly there are a lot of references to the sea, falling in love and friendship on the album. This is evident in songs such as as “Falling”, which is about proposing to his wife – something he swore blind he'd never do! - to “Pinata”, a song about handing over your heart, wrapping it in a piñata and giving someone the bat (in a humorous way). "Side by Side" is a reflection on having spent a lot of time with a group of people and that, hopefully, the Allo Darlin' friendship would always endure.

"West Coast" is another uptempo disco-vibe, reflecting on time spent with long term tour buddies The Wave Pictures in California. In "Home Bird", Mikey tried to pay homage to to the grooves of older RnB tunes with a simple arrangement, Rolling Stones-esque riffs and thoughts about the dichotomy of missing home, but loving being on the road. The finger-picked, delicately arranged acoustic song, "Moving On", was recorded in one take in the upstairs flat of a cafe/bar (called Caboose) that Mike opened with his wife when they first moved to Ramsgate. An airplane flew overhead at a seemingly poignant moment, so Mike decided to keep that take, as explains; "it seemed like a perfect moment captured!”.  

The album title “Hoick” is a word that he used without thinking when lifting and throwing his daughter in the air. He only noticed it when she started saying it back to him - “I like the way it sounded... it's  a strange word, but when I thought about what it meant it seemed to encapsulate what I wanted the record to do; to lift up”.

Although the making of the record was a solo endeavour, live he is joined by a crack-team of musicians. Whilst he plays guitar and sings, in addition to the afore mentioned Laura Kovic, and lifelong friend, guitar maestro Paul Rains, he is joined by drummer Ian Button (Death In Vegas, Papernut Cambridge) and Tom Parkinson on bass.

Of the album Mikey states: “This has been the first musical project that I feel proud of the moment I finished it.  Normally it takes a bit of time and perspective.  It feels as happy, conflicted and dense as the inside of my brain feels most of the time, which is the danger / joy of the solo record...” Collins deftly blends a solid rhythm section with disco beats and old school R&B grooves, layering the bass lines, guitars, synths and harmonies to build up each track sonically. The result is a shimmering and glittering record that bursts with joy and wonder.

Mikey Collins - Hoick

“Collins – by accident or by design – has created a sun-drenched soundtrack to 2018’s summer heatwave, and much like the output of his old band Allo Darlin’, Hoik is a record ready and waiting to be fallen in love with.” London in Stereo

“I was initially remined just a bit of the Joe Jackson-Squeeze school of smart Brit pop; when it’s good it can be really good (e.g. “Home Bird,” where the foundation shifts to guitar, and the Brit folky “Moving”), but I kinda dig the synth-pop buoyancy more (shades of this mode lingers), and I hardly ever say that.” The Vinyl District [B]

“a summery solo album” Scottish Express [4/5]

“Hoick, the first solo album from Allo Darlin’ drummer Mikey Collins, is a real pleasure” Morning Star [4/5]

“Collins has made a mature, pleasant pop record here” Irish News

Hoick is eminently accessible and satisfying summer music, and its songs quickly become like old friends that you welcome them into your life whenever you hear them.  And in that, there is some real magic.” When You Motor Away

“It's not that the release is amazingly tuneful and invigorating in such a way as to suggest something not dependent on rhythms (though it is), it's just that I can't think of many drummers who have this sort of ease with a hook.” A Pessimist Is Never Disappointed

“a reflective album inspired by his becoming a father and moving to the coast of England. Yet, it’s got a lot of tricks up its sleeve, perhaps intentionally traditionally catchy and pop-friendly to put you in a good or nostalgic mood.” Since I Left You

“For this album musical influences have been taken from Bruce Springsteen, Dexy’s Midnight Runners and Norman staff ‘favourite’ Father John Misty, to name a few.” Norman Records

The Just Joans - Has Anybody Seen My Boy? [7"]

Artist: The Just Joans
Title: Has Anybody Seen My Boy?
Format: 7" single on transparent blue vinyl
Cat#: Fika069
Release date: 10th August 2018
Bandcamp | Spotify | iTunes

Cult Scottish miserabilists The Just Joans have a new double A-side single, following up on the success of 2017’s album You Might Be Smiling Now…, their first in over a decade.

Formed in Glasgow in 2005, The Just Joans have evolved from a shambling two-piece to an accomplished sextet that embraces rivalry and relationship in the vocals of siblings, David and Katie Pope.

Once described as ‘the missing link between The Magnetic Fields and The Proclaimers’, the band have used self-awareness and self-deprecation to continuously explore themes of angst, heartbreak and detachment in their songs.

From their 2006 debut album Last Tango in Motherwell through a series of successful EPs, to 2012’s compilation Buckfast Bottles In The Rain, the acerbic wit in David Pope’s observational lyrics have helped make the band a firm favourite of the indie-pop scene. Their rise has seen them play a plethora of international festivals, such as Wales Goes Pop, Indiefjords, NYC Popfest, and of course the Indietracks festival, of which they have been long-standing cult favourites since their first appearance in 2008.

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David Pope describes the two tracks from the 7” in characteristic Just Joans style:

Has Anybody Seen My Boy? is our attempt at writing a lost 60’s girl group track...had that girl group been from Motherwell.  3 minutes of bubblegum-tragi-pop. Flip side Who Does Susan Think She Is? is a direct message to the friends who swanned off to art school and came back 3 months later with dyed hair, a Polaroid camera and a snooty attitude. You know who you are…”

The artwork was created specially for the single by Doreen Kay who attends the weekly art cIass Katie Pope runs for adults who have learning disabilities.  Doreen's work often depicts popular cultural, including tv programmes and celebrities she likes. She also paints places she's enjoyed visiting and people she knows. We’re all very excited that she agreed to design the sleeve for this release. 

The Just Joans are David Pope (vocals and guitar), Katie Pope (vocals), Chris Elkin (lead guitar), Fraser Ford (bass guitar), Doog Cameron (keyboards) and Jason Sweeney (drums).

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"Two new songs from glum sibling centric Glaswegian indie rockers. The Just Joans, formed in 2005, are built around the tempestuous relationship only siblings can have, here provided by Katie and David Pope. Has Anybody Seen My Boy shows them capitalising off the energy of 2017's You Might Be Smiling Now... for a fresh opportunity to show off how miserable they are." Norman Records

"terrific weekend angst-pop" When You Motor Away

The Smittens - City Rock Dove [12"]

Artist: The Smittens
Title: City Rock Dove
Format: 12" album on heavyweight black vinyl, pressing of 400
Cat#: Fika067
Release date: 3rd August 2018
Bandcamp | Spotify | iTunes

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The Smittens are a 6-piece indiepop band that make upbeat and introspective tunes, tinged with vulnerability and optimism. While sonically the elements of multi-layered harmonies, countermelodies and ba-ba-ba singalong hooks still play a large part in The Smittens’ approach to songwriting, as each of the 4 main songwriters has grown, the overall perspective of the songs seems a bit moodier, and more serious. They’ve long since left behind the label of being a ‘cute’ or ‘twee’ band since their debut album 15 years ago.

City Rock Dove is instead an album of transition, ennui and nihilism; honing in on personal politics and gender queerness. The album contends with the turbulent changes of modern America serving only to cement the status quo - and it’s not just the outside world that’s changing either: The Smittens are also singing about the changes in themselves and taking a hard look inside. Gary Olson (Ladybug Transistor) returned to mix the new album, having been instrumental in helping develop the richer textures first seen on 2016’s Love Record Breaker EP.

The album opens with the coming-out anthem Three States, Dana’s very personal tale of change. His vocals for the song were recorded over 2 years during the course of his gender transition. It’s a window into vulnerability, fear, determination and growth: there’s beauty in complexity. Gender and sexuality are behind Cats for Cats, taking a gay dating app cliche (“masc. for masc.”) as the opening refrain, and contemplating being 40, in a long term relationship and how freedom of experimentation always comes with its own costs.

Infinity Pools is a homage to Spanish tontipop, and also inspired by Max’s longstanding love of tropicália. It’s a heady mix of pretentious experimentation and the most basic, simple, silly, absurdly infectious pop. 

Missy takes the lead on album closer Prince of Sweden, a love letter to Scandinavia. “I love Cole Porter’s song “You’re the Top” because it’s a rolling list of things that are the best-of-the-best and being the Prince of Sweden seemed like it could be one of those… at least as good as being compared to cellophane. No political innuendo intended.”

The band is friends first and open-hearted indiepop revolutionaries after that. Max Andrucki, Missy Bly, Colin Clary, Dana Kaplan, Holly Chagnon, and David Zacharis switch up instruments, song-writing, and singing to create catchy, harmony-driven pop anthems and queer love songs—always brilliantly lyrical, and often brazenly political. They’re based in Burlington, Vermont and in New York City. City Rock Dove is their 6th studio album, and third release with Fika Recordings.

The Smittens - City Rock Dove

Mikey Collins - Anchor in the Sea [Digital]

Artist: Mikey Collins
Title: Anchor in the Sea
Format: Digital single
Cat#: Fika068SG3
Release date: 3rd August 2018
Bandcamp | Spotify | iTunes

 

"Anchor In The Sea" is the new single to be taken from Mikey Collins' forthcoming album Hoick, due out on Fika Recordings on 17 August. The track was premiered by For The Rabbits, who described it as; "the sound of a pulsing bassy shuffle and bright synth tones, Mikey narrates a tale of how the effect of a single, seemingly insignificant moment can affect your life so greatly and pull you back to it, 'like an anchor in the sea'". They go on to try to pinpoint Mikey's sound; "Perhaps the nearest touchstone to the Mikey Collins sound comes in the music of Spacebomb head honcho, Matthew E. White, although unlike White and his gargantuan houseband, Mikey is doing almost everything himself, playing almost every instrument on the record."

To celebrate the release of the album, Collins headlines a show at London's Paper Dress Vintage on 14 August (with support from Simon Love and Babii). This follows a triumphant set at the Indietracks Festival in July, where he headlined the Church stage on the Sunday night, which ended in a standing ovation and hardly a dry eye in the venue.

Although the making of the record was a solo endeavour, live he is joined by a crack-team of musicians. Whilst he plays guitar and sings, in addition to the aforementioned Laura Kovic, and lifelong friend, guitar maestro Paul Rains, he is joined by drummer Ian Button (Death In Vegas, Papernut Cambridge) and Tom Parkinson on bass.

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“Mikey’s music is something of a sonic departure from his old band; the upbeat pop atmosphere remains, however into the mix comes a rhythmic freedom, and an expanse of intriguing sounds. Perhaps the nearest touchstone to the Mikey Collins sound comes in the music of Spacebomb head honcho, Matthew E. White, although unlike White and his gargantuan houseband, Mikey is doing almost everything himself, playing almost every instrument on the record.” For The Rabbits

“a shimmering blend of low-key electro and 80s pop” The i

Jessica's Brother - Jessica's Brother [12"/CD]

Artist: Jessica's Brother
Title: Jessica's Brother
Format: 12" album on black vinyl, pressing of 300 | CD in digifile sleeve
Cat#: Fika065LP/Fika065CD
Release date: 20th July 2018
Bandcamp | Spotify | iTunes

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Jessica’s Brother is the eponymous debut album from London trio Jessica’s Brother, comprised of songwriter Tom Charleston, Jonny Helm (drums, also of The Wave Pictures) and Charlie Higgs (bass, previously of Ramshackle Union Band). Channelling the spirit of the Brothers Grimm to create an otherworldly atmosphere, they weave their motley influences together making a rich and eclectic vision, with nods to Silver Jews, Jason Molina, Nick Cave, Richard Thompson and Neil Young. There are themes of joy, anger and silliness in a carefully crafted world with a colourful cast of characters. 

The trio formed in October 2016. Jonny and Charlie worked together in a framing business and had often talked about collaborating in a band together. Fate intervened when Jonny’s girlfriend Jessica introduced him to her brother Tom, and they found a songwriter in waiting. The trio clicked immediately and just nine months later they recorded the album with Laurie Sherman at The Booze Cube in Stoke Newington, with input from Darren Hayman. A few other friends joined them in the studio, including Dan Mayfield (Enderby’s Room), who added a dose of Bad Seeds/Dirty Three vibes on the violin and Paul Rains (Allo Darlin’/Tigercats) lent a hint of country twang on guitar and slide guitar.

With Jessica’s Brother, we see Tom Charleston’s songwriting blossoming in to a tour de force. Influenced more by poets than other musicians, he cites John Ashbery, T.S. Eliot and Philip Larkin as inspirations. He is drawn to how they can be irreverent, unassuming and playful, as he explains; “I suppose I wanted to offer something lyrically engaging and hopefully different.” His modestly lofty ambitions have paid off, with ten startling individual vignettes telling their own stories from a variety of narrator’s points of view. 

He tackles difficult subjects such as gender equality and the destructive nature of masculinity. These can be seen in tracks such as “One Of The Guys”, about the toxic nature of being one of the guys in a predatory pack, lamenting the masculine essentialism owned and largely perpetuated by the male sex. The single “Overnight Horror” revolves around the macho-masculine nightmare where, as Charleston explains, “the world has gone head-over-heels shitward and the narrator is reduced to selling his daughter or his wife to stay alive.”

Album opener is the Silver Jews-esque “Getting Obscene”, which sprang from a sense of going nowhere fast, acknowledged in a repetitious revolving chord which becomes an immersive rock’n’roll meditation. The tone completely changes with the next track “All The Better”, which is a hushed, eerie folk song exploring the melancholy and optimism of breaching adolescence and the limbo before adulthood; a simple tale of growing up. 

“Humdinger” is perhaps the one song on the album where the narrator is at ease with himself and the world. Though there are moments where this tranquility is nudged by outside tremors, so we know this moment is ephemeral.

Weaving a variety of influences from jangly indie-rock to gothic country and contemplative psych folk, Jessica’s Brother create the sound of a band coming together and getting caught up in the rush of starting new and enjoyable. The instruments clamber over each other in a small room, with Helm’s distinctive drumming counterbalances the gothic guitar thrums and wailing violin. Already lauded by the likes of The Guardian (for their first ever gig) and the Saatchi Magazine (for their first single), the scene is set for a bright future.

Jessica's Brother - Jessica's Brother

Getting Obscene video from Jessica's Brother

We've got a new video from Jessica's Brother for you, taken from their forthcoming album out tomorrow!

Jessica’s Brother is the eponymous debut album from London trio Jessica’s Brother, comprised of songwriter Tom Charleston, Jonny Helm (drums, also of The Wave Pictures) and Charlie Higgs (bass, previously of Ramshackle Union Band). Channelling the spirit of the Brothers Grimm to create an otherworldly atmosphere, they weave their motley influences together making a rich and eclectic vision, with nods to Silver Jews, Jason Molina, Nick Cave, Richard Thompson and Neil Young. There are themes of joy, anger and silliness in a carefully crafted world with a colourful cast of characters.

You can catch up with their recent session for Marc Riley’s BBC 6 Music show too via the iPlayer too!

“All in all a near perfect debut album that borrows from all the right bands, while making the sound their own given their individual skills coalescing in all the right spots. Long may they run.” Soundblab [9/10]

“The album’s swansong, ‘Cold, White and Blue Day’ marches Jessica’s Brother to it’s solemn conclusion as fast-paced vocals tell us all which remains. A fitting ending through the light and shadows of wandering minds in a debut which grabs it’s listeners and pulls them down a looping rabbit hole.” [7/10] The405

Jessica's Brother - Getting Obscene [Digital]

Artist: Jessica's Brother
Title: Getting Obscene
Format: Digital single
Cat#: Fika065SG4
Release date: 13th July 2018
Bandcamp | Spotify | iTunes

A week ahead of the release of their debut album, Jessica's Brother release Getting Obscene, the Silver Jews-esque opening track, which sprang from a sense of going nowhere fast, acknowledged in a repetitious revolving chord which becomes an immersive rock’n’roll meditation.

Jessica’s Brother is the eponymous debut album from London trio Jessica’s Brother, comprised of songwriter Tom Charleston, Jonny Helm (drums, also of The Wave Pictures) and Charlie Higgs (bass, previously of Ramshackle Union Band). Channelling the spirit of the Brothers Grimm to create an otherworldly atmosphere, they weave their motley influences together making a rich and eclectic vision, with nods to Silver Jews, Jason Molina, Nick Cave, Richard Thompson and Neil Young. There are themes of joy, anger and silliness in a carefully crafted world with a colourful cast of characters. 

The trio formed in October 2016. Jonny and Charlie worked together in a framing business and had often talked about collaborating in a band together. Fate intervened when Jonny’s girlfriend Jessica introduced him to her brother Tom, and they found a songwriter in waiting. The trio clicked immediately and just nine months later they recorded the album with Laurie Sherman at The Booze Cube in Stoke Newington, with input from Darren Hayman. A few other friends joined them in the studio, including Dan Mayfield (Enderby’s Room), who added a dose of Bad Seeds/Dirty Three vibes on the violin and Paul Rains (Allo Darlin’/Tigercats) lent a hint of country twang on guitar and slide guitar.

Jessica's Brother - Getting Obscene

The Smittens - Three States [Digital]

Artist: The Smittens
Title: Three States
Format: Digital single
Cat#: Fika067SG3
Release date: 13th July 2018
Bandcamp | Spotify | iTunes

Three States, the new single from The Smittens is out today!

“Three States is a coming out/transition anthem, I wrote this song amidst a need to capture the complexity of identity, politics, and everything so many of us get caught in between. There’s pressure on all of us to conform to certain standards, and it’s nearly impossible not to internalise the toxicity. The idea of three states came to me while driving back to Vermont after being at NYC Pride. It’s a window into vulnerability, fear, determination, growth, and ultimately, better living through modern day medicine. There’s beauty in complexity. What’s holding you back? What worlds are you caught between? May we all find the spaces in which we belong. Fuck the binary, baby.” The Smittens’ Dana

Pre-order the 12″ LP City Rock Dove now or listen to the new single on Spotify.